Prepare for the End of Your World

Leave a comment
“Galaxy” – © 2020 by V. Nesdoly

Yesterday a newsfeed headline “How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World” caught my eye. I didn’t read the article right away, but it got me thinking.

Are we near the “complete end of the world”? The spreading covid19 virus, the doom and gloom of climate change purveyors, the local civil unrest over aboriginal land claims, and more, compound to give me a feeling that life, if not about to end may not return to “normal” anytime soon…maybe ever.

The danger that the covid19 virus poses to seniors (I’m in that age group) is especially concerning. And so, in my staring match with mortality, I ask myself, am I ready for the end? Are you?

I did read the above article this morning. I’m not sure I like its answers. It describes a “rewilding movement” where people get back to stone age living—making fire, hunting, wearing animal skins, eating roots and herbs, living in communes of yurts, basically like the hippies of the 1960s, only more primitive.  

“Rewilding” may be a solution if commerce grinds to a halt and technology dies. Trouble is, there’s still a personal end of the world beyond that. How do I prepare for the complete end of my personal world?

For me that means being ready to die and meet God.

Suppose you were to die today and stand before God, and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?”* What would you say? Would you say, I’ve done my best; I’ve done more good things than bad; I’ve been better than John down the street…?

I live with the conviction that we can give God a satisfactory answer. The Bible explains it this way.

1. Grace

– Heaven is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8,9).

– It is not earned or deserved (Romans 6:23).

2. Man

– But man (humans, males and females) are sinners (Romans 3:23)

– We don’t and can’t live up to heaven’s standard of perfection (Matthew 5:48).

– We can’t save ourselves (Proverbs 14:12).

3. God

– Is merciful (Jeremiah 31:3b).

– But He is also just and must punish sin (Exodus 34:7b).

In order to solve the dilemma of His mercy and justice…

4. Jesus

– God sent Jesus to earth 2000+ years ago to live and die as the infinite perfect God-man (John 1:1,14).

– For 33 years Jesus lived on earth. Those years are recorded in the Bible (books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

– At the age of 33 years, Jesus was crucified—died.

– His death was/is the payment to God that our sins deserve (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

–  His death in our stead shows God’s mercy while at the same time satisfying God’s need for justice. We call it GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

5. Faith

– We accept this gift of Christ’s death on our behalf through faith.

– It is more than intellectual faith, but a believing faith where I entrust our lives to Him now and for eternity (Acts 16:31).

– If we have believed in Him in this way, we know that He will accept us into heaven because He has said so (John 3:16; 6:37,47; John 14:1-3).

And so, when we come to the end of our personal world, and stand before God and He asks us, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” I can say, you can say, because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin.

Need to explore more? Get yourself a Bible or access one online. Read it. Start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

* This explanation of the Gospel is adapted from Evangelism Explosion materials.

Israel Trip – Day 3 (Magdala)

Leave a comment

Our last visit of the day was to Magdala. This is the site of an archeological dig which has unearthed an early synagogue as well as more remains of ancient life. It is also famous for being the city that Mary Magdalene was from.

IMG_1282

The oldest synagogue on the Sea of Galilee, thought to be from the first century. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

A beautiful church (Duc In Altum: “Put out into the deep”) on the site commemorates not only Mary Magdalene but other women in Jesus’ life. Our Irish tour guide from the Magdala site (Celine Kelly) was an entertaining and passionate storyteller. She made the visit unforgettable.

She pointed out the church’s many features. The Women’s Atrium dedicated to Jesus’ women disciples has eight pillars. Seven hold inscriptions of women’s names:

Mary Magdalene (John 20:1);

Susanna and Joanna (Luke 8:3);

Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38);

Salome (Matthew 20:20, Mark 15);

Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:15);

Maria Cleophas (John 19:25);

And “Aliae Multae”: “many other women” who supported Jesus – Mark 15:41.

The eighth pillar is unmarked and “stands for women of all time who love God and live by faith. Each woman can spiritually inscribe her name as a poignant reminder of her role in the history of humanity” – Magdala: Walk Where Jesus Taught booklet, p. 6,7.

The cupola includes an image of folded hands that “… signify the importance of women who accompany Jesus in the mission of extending the kingdom through prayer” – Ibid p. 7.

IMG_1283

The church has four beautiful mosaic chapels.

IMG_1285

The Mary Magdalene Chapel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1288

The Daughter of Jairus Chapel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1287

Walking on Water Chapel

And the Fishers of Men Chapel (which I missed photographing).

The main chapel has a boat-shaped altar and rests on beautiful marble (I think she said imported from Norway) that looks a lot like waves of water,

IMG_1290

Boat-shaped Altar. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

IMG_1291

Imported marble resembles waves of water. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Down some stairs, is the “Encounter Chapel” which “makes use of original stones found in the excavation of the road and marketplaces near the port” – Ibid p. 14.

Here on display is another beautiful painting depicting the woman with the issue of blood touching Jesus’ clothes (Mark 5:25). Our guide told us stories of numerous healings having taken place in this chapel when people came to meditate and pray.

IMG_1289

Painting depicting the woman with an issue of blood, reaching out and touching Jesus’ clothes. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our visit to Magdala was a wonderful way to end our day of sightseeing.

From Magdala we traveled  by bus to Tiberias and the Kinar Hotel where we checked in, had a delicious buffet dinner, and spent the night.

Waves over me #BibleJournaling

Leave a comment

With the recent rains and cooler temperatures it feels like summer is over. But what a summer it’s been! In our little corner of earth it’s been unusually hot and dry with hundreds of wildfires burning in the hinterland of the province. Thousands have had to leave their fire-endangered homes to take refuge in temporary shelters till the threat passed.

In other places hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes have been the threats—threats that are ongoing for some.

Psalm 42 seems like an appropriate expression for so many people:

“My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
‘Where is your God?’” – Psalm 42:3.

and

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterfalls
All your waves and billows have gone over me” – Psalm 42:7.

Rebekah R. Jones tackled this psalm in her Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge seriesWeek 20 blog post and video. Her interpretation was a double-page spread of stylized waves, rendered in brilliant Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens. So pretty!

I decided to go realistic instead and, using pencil and pencil crayon, journaled a wave with a person standing just below it, about to be swamped by its breaking force. I’m sure that’s how many people have felt as they’ve faced this summer’s natural (and other) disasters.

IMG_0062

Bible Art Journal entry for Psalm 42:7,8  (V. Nesdoly)

But God is still in the house, despite what it looks or feels like. With the Sons of Korah we can say:

“The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night, His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life” – Psalm 42:8.

 

(Note the sun rays peeking out behind the cloud and spray.)

May your “prayers to the God of my life” lead to “songs in the night,” whatever life is throwing at you.

When you don’t have a clue … #BibleJournaling

Leave a comment

Do you believe in prayer? Or a better question might be, do you believe that God acts in response to our prayers?

Prayer was the sermon topic at church on August 6th. Jason, one of our talented young pastors, began his talk by reading the story of Peter encountering the lame beggar on his way into church. The beggar asked for money. Peter replied, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” – Acts 3:6. Then he brought the man healing in Jesus’ name.

Jason suggested this, I think profound, paradigm for Christ-followers: “When we’re out of our resources, we’re not at the end of our service.”

So true! We may not have a clue about what to do and may not have anything to give. But we can invite Someone into the situation who has more than a clue and can make every difference!

Jason’s talk was a challenge to bring Jesus into situations through prayer, not only during formal prayer times but for each other in unlikely places, during and about the ups and downs of life. Through prayer, we can invite God’s limitless resources and power into difficult, even impossible circumstances. (You can hear/watch all of Jason’s sermon “Intro to Prayer Ministry” HERE.)

I journaled Jason’s statement in my Bible so I wouldn’t forget.

IMG_0029

Bible Art Journaling – Acts 3:6-8 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Self-portrait #BibleJournaling

2 Comments

A self-portrait in a Bible? Really!?

That was Rebekah R. Jones’ Week 17 Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge. In response to Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”), she created a lovely portrait of herself holding a container of art supplies. She transferred the image from a photograph and coloured it with ink tense pencils (devotional and video HERE).

Rebekah’s challenge was “Choose to create something that expresses you best. What God created and loves about you. He puts desires in our heart and loves to see us enjoy life.”

After watching the video I wondered, can I even do this? I’m so bad at drawing people!  What would I make? Do I have a picture that represents me in such an iconic way?

As I mulled over these things I remembered a photo hubby took of me some years ago. We were hiking on Salt Spring Island and in the background were trees, the rocky bluffs, and the ocean. I’ve always loved and felt a special kinship with the natural world so I decided to try and create a self-portrait using that photo.

P1010257

I printed the photo in black and white and traced over it, transferring it to my Bible page using graphite paper. Then I darkened the outline with pigma micron pens and the colour with pencil crayons and a little watercolour.

As I was working on my portrait, an incident came to mind. It happened on a January day in 2016. It had rained all day and I felt cooped up in the house. Late afternoon the rain stopped and I went for a short walk.

The glint of white and the shape of a duck-tail head caught my attention as I passed a local stream. Could it be the pair of ducks I’d seen there very occasionally?

I slowed, stopped, and sure enough. It was a couple of Hooded Mergansers. I watched as this showy pair swam, dived, and swam some more in front of me and my camera.

01-29-16 Mergansers

A pair of Hooded Mergansers, one of the photos I snapped that January day (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I was full of happiness as I walked home a few minutes later, overjoyed to have chanced on these lovely birds. “Thank You, Lord,” I prayed silently.

And then I sensed God saying to me, “Violet, I know you. I know you love such things. It was not by chance that you spotted and enjoyed those birds on your walk today. I was in it–not just for you but also for Me.

“I know you enjoy making things. So do I. And I love it when you appreciate and enjoy the things I have made, just like you love it when people appreciate and enjoy what you make.” {goosebumps much?}

On that day, then, I grasped in a deeper way than ever before, what it means that I am created in the image of God. And so I added a stream to my picture and drew a couple of mergansers swimming in it.

Gen 1_27

How would you illustrate Rebekah’s challenge of what expresses you best, of how you are created in God’s image? Maybe you should do it!

 

Surrounded by songs #BibleJournaling

Leave a comment

I’ve found several Bible verses to go along with my 2017 word LISTEN. One is Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Isn’t that beautiful? I had to make an entry for it in my journaling Bible.

The image that comes to mind when I hear that verse is a mother singing to her baby. I decided to try doing a baby sketch, but in a tree. A google image search pulled up a graphic that I somewhat copied.

I found simple bird sketches in The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling and penciled them in freehand, then inked over all the pencil lines with Pigma Micron pens (I have three: .01, .03, .05). I used pencil crayons to do the coloring.

Zeph 3-17(1)

Entry for Zephaniah 3:17 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

A little sequel:
Last week was my birthday. The morning after, as I lay in bed, the thought came to me: I forgot to spend some birthday time with the Lord yesterday.

As I breathed my “So sorry Lord” prayer, it was like He said to me, “That’s okay. I still have a present for you. It’s the music that I sing over you.”

About an hour later, hubby and I were in church at our early morning prayer meeting. We start that time with worship and this morning our leader, Joel, began with the beautiful song “No Longer Slaves” (Bethel Music). It starts:

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
All my fears are gone…”

{{Shivers}} What a birthday present! Thank you Lord!!

Save

A Traveler’s Advisory (review)

1 Comment

A Traveler's AdvisoryA Traveler’s Advisory by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In A Traveler’s Advisory, author Marcia Laycock takes readers from the Arctic Circle to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and home again. Each of the 52 meditations draws spiritual lessons from a travel experience (sections are titled “In the Air,” “On the Road,” “On Vacation,” and “Far Away Places”) and make practical applications to life.

Written in Marcia’s characteristic warm, easy-to-read style, they make for fascinating and uplifting reading. Some of my favorites:

– Most fun: “Sea Shells and the Process of Faith” (p. 111)—hunting for sea shells on a Papua New Guinea beach.

– Sadly relatable: “A Wrong Turn to the Right Place” (p. 34)— going in circles is not fun!

– Would make my bucket list: “Angels in the Badlands” (p. 71)—a visit to the Passion Play in the Alberta Badlands.

– Most scary: “Doubts in the Storm” (p. 41)—being stuck on a highway from the Yukon to Alaska in a snowstorm.

– Most beautiful: “Small Miracles” (p. 87)—a hike through the Sepik area of New Guinea.

– Most weird: “An Appreciation of Light” (p. 73)—a trek through some skeleton-filled caves, a relic of cannibalism, in New Guinea.

Through these devotions we discover that God’s voice, help, direction, comfort, and protection can find us wherever we are.

A Traveler’s Advisory would be a wonderful volume to read while on holiday. Or if home-bound, enjoy these travels vicariously from the safety and comfort of your reading chair. Your life will be enriched and your appreciation for the Earth, its inhabitants, and the God who made them enhanced.

I received a copy of A Traveler’s Advisory from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

Fit for Prayer (review)

Leave a comment

Fit for Prayer (Fit for Faith)Fit for Prayer by Kimberley Payne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Fit for Prayer—Learn How to Fit Prayer and Physical Activity Into Your Daily Routine, author and lifestyle coach Kimberley Payne promises to help us “… gain insight into how to incorporate prayer and fitness into your daily routine”- Fit for Prayer, p. 5.

The book is divided into three sections. Chapters 1-3 talk about exercising our bodies. Chapters 4-6 deal with prayer. Chapters 7-8 are a self-test and action stops to take to incorporate exercise and prayer into daily life.

Though in Chapters 1-3 Payne doesn’t describe specific exercises in detail, the fourteen exercise strategies she lists (in Chapter 2) would benefit a person following any exercise program. Her example of an exercise goal plan (Chapter 3) is clear and the blank goal page along with five exercise-related questions would help anyone get started exercising regularly.

In the how-to-pray section (Chapters 4-6) Payne follows the chapter that defines prayer and its benefits (Chapter 4) with a chapter on what prayer consists of using P.A.T.H. as an acronym (praise, admit, thank, and help – Chapter 5). The last chapter in the section (6) describes how to set prayer goals.

The final section of the book, a multi-page True and False self-test (Chapter 7), is followed by “Action Plan,” (Chapter 8). That plan contains ordinary prayer strategies (like “Keep a prayer journal of answered prayers”) and strategies that combine prayer with exercise (like “Pray while walking” – p. 33).

Though short (only 36 pages of content) in Fit for Prayer Payne manages to deliver a practical and inspirational manual designed to motivate readers to cultivate physical and spiritual health simultaneously.

This is another book that would be useful for women’s groups and individuals. I expect I will be consulting my copy again in the soon-upon-us resolution making time of the year.

I received Fit for Prayer as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review. Visit Kimberley Payne’s website to check out other lifestyle materials she has authored and is offering as books, e-courses, and free programs.

View all my reviews

Pray, Write, Grow – review

2 Comments

Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing TogetherPray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together by Ed Cyzewski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Each year I choose a word or phrase as a focus for the twelve months ahead. My word for 2015 is “pray.” So when I saw the title of Ed Cyzewski’s latest book, I knew I wanted it.

Cyzewski’s premise is that prayer and writing are similar in many ways. In the first six chapters he shows how they both:
– Require space in our lives. We may need to jettison something else to fit them in.

“I’ve found it immensely helpful to set timers for both prayer and writing” – Ed Cyzewski, Pray, Write, Grow, Kindle Location 283.

– Benefit from our undivided attention.

“Our prayer and writing will be most effective when we tune in to both ourselves and other people” – K.L. 370.

– Help us find healing from painful experiences and aid us in helping others.

“We don’t just heal by articulating past pain when we pray. We can also heal by writing about our pain, our fears, and our struggles. As my prayer and writing work together, I have often transitioned from prayer to writing as I’ve faced the anxiety of my past” – K.L.

– Have a physical component and grow stronger through exercise and a regimen.

“… this whole book is all about simple steps we can take to improve our spiritual, physical, and mental states as we seek to pray and write” – K.L. 740.

– Guide us toward our life’s purpose.

“If we want to share something meaningful and healing with others, we have to spend time up on the mountain” – K.L. 894.

– Need a great deal of faith.

“Living by faith shouldn’t feel safe. It should feel a bit wild and reckless” – K.L.922.

The seventh chapter is lists of prompts, resources, and links under the headings “Writing Quick Start” and “Prayer Quick Start.”

Cyzewski’s voice is encouraging. When he gives advice and suggestions he does it with a subtle, not commanding tone. He shares transparently about how prayer gave him insight into the childhood roots of his fear and anger. He tells about his struggles with worry when he quit his job to freelance full time. The awareness he gains through prayer and journaling opens his eyes to his passions, which then become his writing topics.

My two top takeaways from this book are:
1. An introduction to the Examen prayer practice (developed by Ignatius Loyola) that Cyzewski uses, explains, and recommends. His experience of how this daily discipline fosters spiritual intimacy with Christ in him whets the reader’s appetite to try it for him/herself.
2. The picture Cyzewski paints of an integrated writing life. In it prayer and writing intertwine to braid a trellis that aids growth in both areas.

I think this would be a great book for Christians writing in any genre to read.

View all my reviews

A praying-the-Bible prayer for writers

3 Comments

quill & map scrollI have, over the years, collected and memorized Bible verses that encouraged me as a writer. I’m also a great fan of praying Bible words back to God. I have combined those two things into a prayer for writers. Pray it over yourself and your work in 2013—and be blessed!

**************

Dear God, as the One who created words and who came as Word, we acknowledge that You are the creator of our tongues (the urge and ability to communicate) and the source of all wisdom about words.  Today we bring to You our work of producing and spreading written words.

Help us, first, to hear from You. May Your words sink deep into our own hearts. Help us to listen to them carefully for ourselves and then afterward go and tell our blog, e-zine, magazine and book readers, “This is what the Lord God says.”

Help us not only to write but to be bold to submit what we’ve written, for You have told us to cast our bread upon the waters with the promise that we will find it after many days. May we steward our time, talents and opportunities wisely for from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Help us to resist the urge to draw attention to our successes and praise ourselves, choosing instead to wait for You to lift us up and make us great.

May You be the one to expand our influence, the place of our tents, the curtains of our dwellings, the numbers of our blog readers, book buyers, friends, and followers. May we spare no effort but rather lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes in excellence so that the good news of Your kingdom will spread to the left and right. As a result of our words may followers of Jesus inherit the nations and make desolate godless cities alive again.

We roll our writing work on You. May You cause our thoughts to become agreeable to Your will so that our plans will be established and succeed. We need You to guide us continually, to satisfy our souls when we feel dry, and to strengthen our bones when we are tired. Help us to be as productive as watered gardens, our words as refreshing and life-giving as springs of water.

May the beauty and delightfulness and favour of the Lord our God be upon us: confirm and establish the work of our hands, yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it. Amen.

**************

The verses (using various translations) in the order which they appear: John 1:1,14; Exodus 4:11; Ezekiel 3:10-11; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Luke 12:48; Proverbs 27:22; James 4:10; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Isaiah 54:2-3; Proverbs 16:3; Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 90:16-17.

You might also like “A Blogger’s Prayer” by Ann Voskamp