Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

The bible challenges us to maturity. Yet, without contradiction, Jesus emphasizes the importance of possessing childlike qualities in our relationships with God and others.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

Simple Faith!

As a new Christian, my Sunday School Superintendent asked if I would be willing to teach a group of two and three-year old children. I quickly learned what a dozen children can do with scissors and glue in a short amount of time! But I learned so much more!

Faith Trust

Children receive and believe with open heart and hand the love of God; they absorb truth like a dry sponge.

The older we get the more reasoning and intellect can hinder us from receiving in faith God’s love for us and His gift of salvation. It seems too simplistic, too easy, for most adults. A child, however, will believe with unquestioning faith biblical truth.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

Though fundamental to our Christian walk, having a childlike faith is perhaps the hardest to regain. Yet, it is absolutely necessary!

Joyous Expectation! Hope!

A friend related this true story of her little niece:

One day she awoke excited and asked with great anticipation, “Is today the day I get a bunny rabbit?”

Her parents had never heard her request or had in any way suggested they would gift her with a rabbit, so they were quite surprised.

Later that afternoon, she excitedly bounced into the house after school, “Is my bunny here? Did it come today?”

The next day was a repeat! She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, “Is today the day? Is my bunny coming today?”

After school, she was anxious to play with her new pet, “Is my bunny here? Was today the day my bunny came?”

Expectation Hope

Day after day, week after week, month after month, her excitement and joyous anticipation never wavered! Every morning she was sure “today” would be the day her beautiful pet would arrive! Every afternoon, she had unwavering hope that today was “the day“.

Finally, months later her joy was complete; a little rabbit awaited her when she arrived home from school.

As the story was being shared with my friend, her young niece was giggling in an adjacent room as she played with her bunny. This story clearly illustrates the anticipation and hope that we are called to.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Everything He has for us is good! When we come to Him, we can expect He will respond out of His absolute goodness.

“You are good, and what you do is good…”
Psalm 119:68

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Like a little child, we can confidently hope in God, the Source and fullness of all that is good. Out of His nature, He generously gives all that is good.

Wonder!

When our granddaughter with young, she had a fascination for all creatures, but especially ladybugs.  By spending time with a children, the wonder of creation can be re-ignited in us too.

Wonder

Creation has the ability to point us to The CreatorAs a matter of fact, creation so clearly directs us to God that we are “without excuse!”

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

We are invited to slow our pace and see God in His creation, regaining a childlike desire to know, examine and understand more fully everything around us.

God is not intimidated by our questions. He never grows weary of our curious wonder while believing Him for the impossible and unexplainable.

Simply Childlike

The next time we have opportunity to spend time with a child may we see it as God’s invitation to ask which childlike attributes He might want to revive in us:

  • vulnerability and trust
  • abandon and joy
  • curiosity and capacity to learn and grow
  • ability to forgive quickly and fully
  • love without reservation

Childlike

No matter how old we may be, it is wise to regain the childlike qualities we have lost, placing our hands into the hands of our Father and allowing Him to lead the way.

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Another thought: Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith Is”

Leadership 101 – Take it from the Eagles

Biblical View of Leadership
Being a prairie girl, rarely have I spotted an eagle. Usually it has been in spring or late fall as they follow the migratory path of geese. Each sighting is inspiring! These majestic birds are leaders in every way.
It is no wonder the bible references eagles often.
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
… run and not grow weary.
 walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

Leaders Rise Above

Eagles fly at elevations up to 10,000 feet.

“Pigeons scavenge on the ground and grumble and complain all day long. Eagles fly.”
Dr. Myles Munroe

Though cranes, vultures and geese fly higher than eagles, eagles soar effortless on upper level currents. When other birds take cover from a coming storm, eagles seizes thermal opportunities for updraft and lift.

Great leaders are problem solvers! They don’t hang around on the ground complaining. Leaders pick up the challenge and find resolutions. They are high flyers! Leaders thrive on challenges using them as instruments to propel both themselves and others forward.

Fearless Leaders - Eagles

“There are three things too amazing for me;
four things I do not understand;
the way of an eagle in the sky ….”
Psalms 30:18,19 

There were a handful of things the psalmist found difficult to comprehend; the first one, mentioned is how eagles fly.

Leaders Build Relationships of Trust

Eagles are monogamous, generally mating for life. When a male eagle wants to mate, she first tests his commitment. Then and only then, will she allow him to mate with her.

Developing this high level of commitment ensures relationship that will endure through all seasons.

Protective Leaders - Eagles

An eagle’s nest can weigh a ton or more. That’s a lot of nest!  Both eagles and leaders take seriously the responsibility of those they have been entrusted with.  They develop an environment of care and protection.

“Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?
On the cliff he dwells and lodges, upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place.
From there he spies out food;
His eyes see it from afar.”
Job 39:27-29 

Leaders are Visionary

Leaders are long-sighted – “eagle-eyed”! They have a capacity to see what others miss!

Visionary Leaders - Eagles

Sight is the eagle’s strongest sense. I read once that an eagle can see a dime in the grass a mile away. True or not, I don’t know. Eagles do have a wider range of vision and see about five times better than humans. They also see a wider spectrum of colour than we do.

Godly leaders continually have divine foresight to see and perceive what is not humanly possible. They are able to see opportunities, detect threats or spot out fresh food to nourish the young.

Leaders Don’t Eat Dead Meat!

Eagles, unlike vultures, always eat and feed their young fresh food. Leaders maintain personal strength by guarding their eyes, ears and hearts carefully.  The media offers up a lot of “dead meat” these days!

Godly leaders intentionally study and read the word, participate in private and corporate worship and enjoy authentic relationship.

Leaders Train the Young

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.”
Deuteronomy 32:11

Leaders of Strength - Eagles

To help strengthen and train their young, a mother eagle throws the eaglet out of the nest.  As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies underneath catching them and bringing them back to safety. Together they continue the process until the eaglet is strong and confident to fly and soar on its own.

Leaders use their strength to strengthen others. They guide those around them to grow, sometimes even pushing them beyond their comfort zone. In so doing godly leaders are willing to do whatever is necessary to train and elevate others, equipping them to soar.

Leaders Self-Examine

“Who satisfies your years with good things,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”
Psalms 103:5 

The life-span of an eagle is thirty to forty years, much longer than most birds. Perhaps, that is why the psalmist thanks God for “renewing” our years like an eagle.

Self Examining Leaders - Eagles

A strong leader examines his life carefully in view of eternity. He will look back and take stock, ignoring neither the good nor bad experiences and learning from both. He will create checks and balances for personal and professional growth. Proper periods of rest, nourishing food, and adequate exercise are conscious choices he makes in his renewal process. He willingly maintains relationships of genuine accountability.

Inspired by these amazing birds, my focus shifts instinctively from the created to the Creator of all things. I want to learn well, what He is teaching me in these moments.

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Here’s more reading on leadership:

Moses – The Defining Qualities of a Great Leader

 

Isaiah 45 – “Turn to Me” Today is the Day of Salvation

I have read the bible many times; each time revealing how far my life is from its teachings. However, this one thing I know, God relentlessly pursues and captivates me, drawing me inexplicably to call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 

A thousand voices resound just as many variations of this theme, “Call on the Lord and be saved.” Countless people continue at risk reputation, security and even their lives to declare this truth.

“There is salvation in no one else!
God has given no other name under heaven
by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

The simplicity is profound

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”
Isaiah 45:22

“Look to Me”

I remember the  farming days, before GPS, wanting to drive a straight line through a vast field. Fixing my gaze on a point at the far end of the field, I would direct the farm equipment for it. However, every time I turned and looked in another direction I would be to taken slightly off course. Refocus! Reset my track!

Straight

There are many places one can look to attempt to satisfy the deepest longings and cravings of the human heart. I have tried more than my share of alternatives!

Truly, there is only One direction to find salvation. The thought of this singular path is upsetting to many, but reality none the less.

God’s invitation still stands, “Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.” NLT

Trusting

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
Psalm 20:7

Where is your point of trust? For many it is in position, power or wealth. All give a false sense of security. All are temporary at best.

A missions trip to Cambodia challenged my thinking.  Decades ago Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge thrust this beautiful nation into destruction! In a matter of days, the “Pearl of the East” lay in ruins: credentials and degrees meant nothing, thriving businesses nullified, family structure decimated, religious freedom denied, as money blew in drifts down empty streets. The world stood at a distance in disbelief.

Cambodia

Where then does one put their trust?

The Invitation

Turn to me.”

These words continue

to invite and welcome
like a winding path through unknown territory
to wonder
at what beauty and rest ahead.

God’s path is neither winding nor uncertain! His path is straight, narrow and sure!

Straight Path

Today is a perfect day to turn and trust in no other than Christ Jesus.

“For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you,
now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

Salvation

For many the stumbling block is responding to the pure simplicity of the invitation. A heartfelt prayer is the springboard of this incredible journey.

I borrow the words from a children’s book, “Olivia & Me” to help you get started:

“I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins.
Please forgive me.
Come into my life and give me your life.
I want to do my best to live for you,
in Jesus’ Name,
Amen.”

 

The Journey Begins

 

The Voice of Someone That Can Be Trusted – Make Every Effort!

Warning - Make Every Effort

I don’t know about you, but when someone gives me a warning the first thing I do is examine the life of the one speaking. I certainly value the warning of a trusted friend above that of a stranger; the weight of a warning coming from the mature exceeds that of a small child. Today I read the warnings of someone that can be trusted, “…make every effort…” His name is Peter.

No, not the impulsive, impetuous, unreliable Peter! These are words spoken from the steadfast and trustworthy Peter whose days or even hours are numbered. The warrior of Christ Peter, who would soon be executed as his Lord was, targets the mark of our weakness.

Make Every Effort

He knew how easy it is to settle in to complacency or drift off course to some strange doctrine. He knew we are prone to sitting too long or wandering too far. Peter gives a passionate warning!

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given,
complementing your basic faith with good character,
spiritual understanding
alert discipline,
passionate patience, reverent wonder
warm friendliness,
and generous love,
each dimension fitting into and developing the others.”
2 Peter 1:5-7 MSG

“So don’t lose a minute“! Our culture today would call that “preachy”! “Who are you to tell us what to do,” might be today’s normal response. I have free choice!

Listen carefully to someone who can be trusted – trusted completely! Differently bible versions express the strength to words:

So don’t lose a minute
make every effort
in all earnestness
giving all diligence
employing all care….

Earnestness

Why?

I find the “why” in the last few words of this little book.

“The day of the Lord will come…”
2 Peter 3:10

Everything we see and know here will end; every temporal thing gone forever!

“Since everything is going to be destroyed in this way,
what holy and godly lives you should live.”
2 Peter 3:11

Then he says it again, “…make every effort”.

There are many things that are worth effort! Far too much of my energy goes towards things that really don’t measure up! In fact, I am able to waste exceeding amounts of time with the trivial, unimportant, or inessential.

There is something about these words that pierce deep into my heart this morning, convicting me of present patterns and convincing me of a better way.

“Make every effort
to be found spotless,
blameless and at peace
with him…”
2 Peter 3:14

All Care

Make Every Effort

“Make every effort!” These are words that ring in my heart as warnings from someone who has walked more than one mile in dusty shoes, wept tears of bitter grief of opportunities lost, and consistently proved himself to be entirely faithful.

“Make every effort!”  No minced words or soft landings! Powerful and thankfully preachy words!

“Make every effort”  to live a way acceptable to God and honouring to man.

“Make every effort!”

“Giving All Diligence..”

Lord in a world of mistrust and critical judgment
I desire to hold to Your Word
trusting them explicitly –
inspired, Spirit breathed words
lovingly and forcefully spoken…
Give me courage and strength to put them into practise
making every effort to live a
holy and godly life
as I wait for your coming.
Lord Jesus, I hold your words and warnings!
Your words to me…
to us all….

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Do you want to finish your journey of faith well? Here is some encouragement.

How to Finish Well No Matter Where We Start From

Moving and Change – Welcome or to be Avoided?

Moving is perhaps one of the most common sources of change. For some people change is marked on the calendar and celebrated with glee, like a child anticipating Christmas morning. For others change resembles opening a shuttered window overlooking a new and unknown experience. Yet for many their pace slows in purposeful delay of the inevitable. Moving and change! Welcome or to be avoided?

There is a lot of moving going on in our family these days. Just a little while ago, it was announced to the children of one family that a move was forthcoming. Each was asked for their input and thoughts into how that might look for them.

Moving

The oldest pondered the situation very carefully, weighing every angle possible in her young mind. Moving wouldn’t be easy! As a matter of fact, it would be difficult to leave a comfortable home and special friends. The final destination isn’t clear; the benefits of a move are uncertain. After a long discussion which included many questions, she set her resolve; the pros out-weighed the cons. The oldest was ready to cast an affirming vote.

The next child, who had been listening intently, had very little concern over the many options and outcomes. The family was moving together. With that fact reinforced, her world was secure here or there, now and then. A move is no big deal while being surrounded and supported by those you love.

The youngest had left the family round table of deliberation early and hastily. Just as everyone was beginning to wonder what she could be up to, she reappeared. Her oversized bags were already packed. The most prized of possessions  were in close tow already cased haphazardly. “Move now! Figure the details out later!” apparently was her motto.

Change

I’m still chuckling at the imagery! Yet, I realized most of us fit roughly into one of these three approaches to change:

  1. Positive change, in one opinion, will only occur after careful, calculated planning and preparation. Take your time and measure all possible outcomes is the best strategy. Then, and only then, proceed slowly and with caution.
  2. Change comes to us all! However, surrounded by loving support, even the most difficult adjustments can be approached confidently. Smooth change is possible when relationships are close and strong.
  3. Why sweat the small stuff? What’s the big fuss about? Pack your bags – board the bus – get with the program –  full throttle ahead! The details will work themselves out!

My wonderful husband is a #1. My poor husband is married to a #3. Fortunately, we have lots of family and friends (for whom we are very thankful) who make our life journey more of a #2.

IMG_7005

What about you? Do you fit snugly in any of these “boxes” of change or are you creating your own definition?

Ecclesiastes (not the most upbeat book of the bible) says,

“there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (3:1)

At least one of those activities, I’m certain, could be classified as “change”. It is true! Change comes as certain as the seasons on the Canadian prairies – and often just as unpredictable.

“…the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter…” (8:5-6)

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I need a whole lot more of wisdom! Few people develop the full understanding of “the proper time and procedure” when it comes to moving and change. Often I find myself galloping up a distant hill, while my Leader, Jesus, is inviting me to lie down in green pastures and drink from quiet waters. At other times, He is patiently beckoning me forward; I, on the other hand, am far too reluctant to leave

 the familiar
the safe and secure
the comfortable or easy
and, of course, the  predictable.

But before I, or you, get too hard on ourselves, there is another verse that carries a great deal of wisdom in seasons of moves and changes:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 MSG

“He’s the one who will keep you on track.” With that knowledge, I take a deep, relaxed breath. He will! My position is one

trusting in Him
leaning on Him
and listening for His voice
in the shifts and
changes of life…
He will take care of the rest!

Ok! Now it’s your turn; take that deep breath… lean back… smile a little and allow Him to “keep you on track!” The pressure is off!


 Times of Change

Even though times and seasons change,
You are constant…
Your presence is more than enough
through any move or change that comes my way…
Today, I chose to trust and lean in a little closer.
You are good all the time…
Faithfully You lead me, directing my paths.
May I approach change simply by
stepping in pace with your rhythm
my hand in your hand
and my feet on your feet.