Praying Twice

Do you sometimes whisper quick prayers for assistance ?

Whenever I noticed ‘Linda’ at church, I prayed that God would give me extra focus and concentration.

I was our church’s music director, and led the congregation in singing.

Linda was one of the most enthusiastic singers I had ever met. She was also blessed with an extremely powerful voice. She, however, did not sing in tune. Technically, Linda lacked pitch accuracy.

Whenever I began to play and sing, Linda joyfully joined in.

However, Linda sang ‘her own tune’, and thus I needed true focus and concentration not to start wandering off key myself. Then, there was the morning when Linda’s notes were so different from my own, that for about half a minute, our voices blended together in exquisite harmony !

This is how God hears our voices when we are praising him in song. He does not notice the quality of our voices ; He delights to see the unity that his children show when they praise Him together.

God inhabits the praises of his people. (Psalm 22:3)

Here in NL, congregational singing is still not allowed. Whoever would have thought that group singing could be considered a dangerous activity ?

When covid restrictions are lifted, it will be joyful to once again sing praises to God.

As St. Augustine said : ‘They who sing once pray twice.’

Photo courtesy of iStock

Flower Flora Daisy and Music Notes Sheets Photo

House Of One

Whoever thought that this could happen ?

A new worship centre is the first of its kind.

In Berlin, Germany, construction has started on a unique new place of worship. Christians, Jews, and Muslims will be able to worship under one roof , although in separate areas, in a new venture called ‘The House of One’.

Pictured in the internet photo are the three faith leaders who will lead worship in three separate areas.

The new church is being built on the former site of Berlin’s first church, St. Peter’s, which was torn down under Communism in 1964.

There will be a common room where members of other religions will also be invited to visit.

The worship centre has received many donations, and has collected the million Euros needed to begin construction. I find this a good idea ; it seems better to pray in the same building rather than to argue and fight.

My friend Lorna told me that I am naive in approving of this ‘House of One’, since she thought that this was the beginning of the One World Religion. She is suspicious of this, but she isn’t sure why.

So now I am somewhat confused.

May God grant us wisdom and discernment.

Who Knew ?

I was surprised when I noticed them growing fainter.

As a septuagenarian, I’m aware that aging brings many changes.

But no one told me that my fingerprints would start to disappear.

Who knew?

As people age, their fingerprints, or friction ridges, start to become fainter because the skin gets thinner and loses elasticity. No wonder it was getting challenging gripping things and opening jars.

I’m happy now that I didn’t give in to my family’s strong suggestion to update my old, but dainty cellphone.

A phone that opens on fingerprint recognition might not have worked for me.

Fingerprints, or friction ridges, begin to develop in a baby while still in the womb, at about 3-4 months gestation.

As we know, they are unique to each individual, therefore they are useful in forensic investigations. The ridges on the fingers and palms also help us to grip things firmly.

Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God is endlessly creative, and delights in variety.

Because of my fading fingerprints, I plan to update to a phone that opens with facial recognition.

May God give us the grace to cheerfully accept the unexpected changes that aging can bring.

Our Father in heaven, who provided friction ridges for us while we were still unborn, guides us tenderly throughout our lives, as we trust Him, and He is especially compassionate with us as our fingerprints become fainter.

Photo by Sally

The Argument

I was on high alert as I entered our seaside chapel for a prayer meeting. A heated argument could be heard. Because of past trauma, angry voices make me highly anxious.

‘Sarah’, and ‘Elizabeth’ were having still another of their many disagreements.

This time it was due to the fact that Sarah had brought a beautiful arrangement of lupins in a vase to place in front of the altar. These gorgeous large wildflowers bloom in abundance in Newfoundland in the summer.

Alas, Elizabeth had already placed an artificial arrangement of pink and white blooms in that spot.

This irked Sarah, who felt the need to remind Elizabeth too loudly that artificial flowers were not allowed in Catholic churches.

Elizabeth felt that the fake flowers were fine. She said that they were more practical, and would look cheerful for years. She said that she felt sad when real flowers started to wilt, and she felt that they were messy.

Sarah confidently defended her position. Real flowers take a prominent place in the Church since live flowers represent the sacrifice of life. Symbolically, flowers represent Christ’s sacrifice for humanity.

Finally, ‘Joan’ , our group’s peacemaker, suggested that Elizabeth place her artificial arrangement at the back of the church. Four years later, it is still there, looking as cheerful as ever.

When Christians bicker and argue, it is, what RJ Dawson calls, ‘a bad witness’.

When Christians are very vocal about who is right, and who is wrong, our ego-filled petty ‘battles’ are unlikely to draw others to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

It is inevitable that we are going to disagree in some areas, but may our differences of opinion always be worked out in a spirit of love, and mutual respect.

Photo of Newfoundland lupins on Pexels

What’s Cooking ?

Have you noticed how some things may be better in theory than in reality ?

A new church was opened in the village, and its pastor used a new technique to try to entice members.

He planned to serve breakfast to prospective congregants before the Sunday morning church service.

This was unusual, since most churches may serve refreshments after the service.

My husband and I attended this new venture, since we like to be supportive of everyone in the village.

It was lovely to see the great care the church members had taken to feed each other. There were all kinds of goodies, and great fellowship.

However, eventually it was found that people had difficulty starting the church service on time, since everyone was so engrossed in breakfast conversation.

Ladies began to trade recipes, especially for muffins and sweets, and the church service started later each week.

The members who had prepared and cooked the food also seemed less attentive during the service, since they were tired from all the preparation, and they knew that they still had clean up duties ahead of them.

We returned to our home church after a while and we still wonder if the breakfasts are ongoing.

We liked this church, and we appreciated the ladies’ ‘Food Ministry’ of care, and love.The atmosphere contrasted with our home church, where members make a frantic rush to the door the minute the service ends.

There appears to be two types of churches, those where congregants like to break bread and socialize, and others where members pray and dash away.

May the Lord give us the grace to feed each other, with physical and spiritual food.

Photo by Joao Marcelo Martins

A New ‘Religion’

Do you enjoy the smell of fresh-cut grass ?

It was surprising to learn that this scent is produced by the tiny plants when they are feeling upset.

Chemicals called green-leaf volatiles ( GLVs) are released by grass plants as a distress signal when the mower cuts them , and this odor acts as a warning to other plants of approaching danger. (sources available on internet).

Further evidence of plants feeling pain was produced by a large scale study done at Tel Aviv University in 2019. Studies on tomato and tobacco plants showed that the plants screamed in response to being injured. The screams are silent to our ears of course, but they were measured using ultrasound technology.

The ‘Plant Rights’ Movement is gaining momentum.

In 2008, Switzerland became the first country to officially recognize the rights of plants. Plants must be treated with dignity, and never humiliated, it is maintained.

These concepts have been formally incorporated into the Swiss Constitution.

We are expected, of course, to care for the world, since it is God’s beloved creation, but we need to avoid entering environmental madness. Studying plant pain seems somewhat superfluous when human lives are in peril in the womb.

There is also a danger of worshipping what has been created rather than the Creator.

Statistically, people who ‘leave’ organized religion tend to gravitate to the new religion of Environmentalism, where salvation becomes secondary to ‘saving the planet’.

Although sustainability is a noble concept, let us be aware that urban atheists in particular seem to be attracted to Environmentalism as a religion.

Lawnmowers are getting ready to come out now here in our village. The beautiful stillness will be interrupted by their grumbling sounds.

However, I now know that tiny grass plants would rather grow long and sway in the wind.

May God grant us wisdom and discernment .

Photo courtesy of iStock

Beautiful garden during the Spring.

Missed Opportunity

Did you ever sit beside an annoying passenger on a plane ?

I was sitting beside the window on a plane going to Mexico.

My research hadn’t been going well, and I felt discouraged.

So my husband suggested that I take a vacation to Mexico, for a change of pace.

He was really busy at work, and my friends had family responsibilities, so I was travelling alone.

A young man with a tattoo on his right hand sat down beside me and greeted me warmly. I said hello, and continued reading my Bible, hoping he would get the message that I didn’t want to talk.

Then, he did the unthinkable. He pulled out a bottle of liquor from his carry-on, and offered me a drink in a tiny plastic cup. I remember that it was ‘Bailey’s Irish Cream’. Again I rejected his offer of hospitality, and I watched with amazement as he passed out tiny cups to the passengers around us, avoiding the notice of the stewardesses.

He tried to engage me again, and asked : ‘ Are you a Christian ?’ Again, I weakly responded ‘yes’, and kept on with my reading.

Still determined, he asked : ‘Is that a Bible you’re reading?’ I told him that yes, it was, and I kept on reading. He did not speak to me again.

After the plane landed, the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that I had missed an opportunity to share the Good News of Salvation with the young man. I could have told him about Jesus, and how He had changed my life. I could have told him that I used to drink and party before my conversion experience.

Instead, I had pre-judged the young man. His tattoo had made me wrongly think that this was someone who would not be interested in hearing about Jesus, our friend, brother, and Redeemer.

May the Lord make us sensitive to people who are interested in Christianity. They may be people that we least expect.

This, of course, occurred before strict travel restrictions were enacted. He certainly couldn’t have been able to smuggle alcohol onto a plane these days.

I would suggest that airlines prohibit passengers from wearing long, artificial nails when they are on planes. These can be dangerous, and they scare me !

Perhaps that is because I was once scratched by a cat as a child.

Photo by Filip Glieda

I Am

There is something sad about spending money for nothing; we all know the importance of money in our lives.

Sometimes wasting money can be really silly too.

A highly unusual statue was recently sold in Milan, Italy, for $18,300.

It was remarkable, because the statue is invisible !

Artist Salvatore Garau assured the public that although no one can see the sculpture, it exists, in his imagination. He promised to provide the new owner with a certificate of authenticity.

After I stopped laughing about this latest evidence of society’s growing bizarreness, I was struck by the name of the sculpture. It is called ‘Io Sono’, which translates into English as : I AM.

It was perhaps an audacious title for an invisible sculpture, since, when God identifies himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14, He reveals Himself as ‘I AM THAT I AM’ ..

God, the Great I Am , lead the Israelites through the desert, and He is the I Am who walks beside us each moment. The great I Am knows, and holds the future.

And so, as the world increases its rebellion, we stay calm and confident, knowing that God is in control, even when invisible statues called ‘I am’ are sold for thousands of dollars.

Photo from Salvatore Garau’s Instagram

Paris’s Happiest Day

Companion animals can provide us with much happiness.

We adopted a cuddly Golden Retriever puppy, and named her Paris, when we arrived at the seashore.

She grew strong and healthy and liked retrieving sticks and splashing in the water at the beach. Goldens have webbed feet.

Her happiest day, however, was the time she came to church with me.

I was one of the volunteers that cleaned the inside of the church. On my day to clean, Paris came me; with me ; she loved car rides.

She was delighted to be in the church! I had never seen her wag her tail so much !

She explored and sniffed her way joyfully around the building, perhaps realizing intuitively that she was in a special place.

She finally jumped up on a pew and rested there while I finished cleaning. ( I made sure to do an extra mopping before we left).

Perhaps some might be scandalized that I allowed my doggie in a church, but we need to understand, as the Bible teaches us, the definition of ‘church’. In 1 Peter 2: 4-5, we learn that the Church is made of living stones. You and I , and billions of other followers of Christ are the living stones that make up the body of Christ here on earth.

Perhaps through blogging, you have gained even greater understanding of how spread out we all are.

God has called us out of every tribe and nation to be Christ’s representatives, and to share the Good News of the Gospel.

The Universal Church has a particular tenderness towards pets. It was comforting when Pope Francis said, in 2014, that pets could make their way to heaven.

Our furbabies are certainly one of God’s choicest gifts to us.

Paris grew old here by the sea, and we provided palliative care to her. I had just finished telling her about the time when we went blueberry picking and she saw a moose, when she passed away. She is buried at the edge of our property, beside the sea where she loved to swim.

Let us say a prayer of thanksgiving for the precious animals that God gives us to enrich our lives.

Photo of Paris by Sally

What’s in a Name ?

Would you agree that we’ve all recently been instructed that some names are not politically correct, and that they can be offensive ?

Regarding old people, strictly taboo now are the words ‘geezer, coot, or little-old lady’.

‘Fuddy-duddy’ and ‘old fogie’ are also terms that should never be used.

I suggest that we also stop using the term ‘senior citizen’, since it is patronizing.

First used in the United States in the 1930s, senior citizen is a euphemism, for ‘old person’, and it tries to disguise Western Cuture’s fear of aging and death.

As a young person, I lived for a time, and conducted research, in an Ojibway Community in Western Canada. There, I learned how indigenous cultures show great respect to the old people in their communities, called, the ‘elders’.This trait is admirable, and worth emulating.

Worldwide, many other cultures, including those of Korea and India show the older members of society great respect for the wisdom that age and experience can bring.

Perhaps changing the term ‘senior citizen’ to ‘elder’ could be a first step in reducing ageist attitudes that are prevalent in North America.

I may ask our local drugstore to start offering ‘Elder Discounts’, rather than ‘Seniors’ Discounts’.

May God give us the grace to be respectful of everyone.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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