Doubting It

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“Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.”
— Oswald Chambers

I’ve met lovely, honest people who tell me that they wish they could believe in a loving God of grace, but it is a struggle for them. I’ve also met people who believe in God but are not sure that Jesus Christ is the only way to make contact with him. I’ve met people who believe that Jesus is real and He was willing to lay down his life for them, but they don’t want to get close to an angry Father God. Others think God is great but they have trouble with the whole history of “Christian” behaviour thing.

Others believe in Christ and do all the expected life-style things, but are skeptical that he talks to people today or heals them or miraculously intervenes in their lives because, after 40 years of doing church, they have never seen it.

Some of us journey on this road doing the best we can with the doubts that make us feel too small for the task. When we read expressions like “man or woman of God” or “giants of the faith” we know that it is not referring to us.

Sometimes it’s a matter of needing our hearts healed or enlarged until we can receive. A child whose birth dad left on her second birthday is going to find it hard to believe that a heavenly father promises to stay involved in her life. A boy whose parents were impossible to please will likewise assume that God is angry and disappointed in him. A person who was betrayed by a so-called Christian, especially an older brother, or worse a clergyman, will wonder where this so-called loving self-sacrificing Jesus disappeared to when the going got rough, and if this a set-up to be used again. A person who has been lied to will not buy every story they are told, and if believing every ancient account of events in the Bible is a requirement for a relationship with God they have a large fence to climb.

Here’s the thing. Walking by faith does not require truckloads of faith. Faith is exercised; that’s how it grows. It starts with baby steps. As we take risks and find that God is not like authority figures who berated,  beguiled and betrayed,  we can take another step. When we give up trying to appease an angry God, and he doesn’t smite us, we take another step. When we see an important lesson in one of Jesus’ stories we take another step. When we dare to pray to him to find lost car keys and have a picture in our minds of them lying under a shrub by the back door, and there they are, we take another step. When we trust another person on this road and are nakedly open about our own scarred story of pain and they treat it like a precious privilege to be protected, we take another step. We are healed inside bit by bit and enlarge our capacity to think and feel differently.

Paul, the guy who distrusted the stories about this Jesus of Nazareth character so much that he had his followers dragged off to prison, later wrote that his prayer  was that people, who were like he once was and who have huge doubts, would be strengthened with Jesus’ power in their inner being enough to have the capacity to be able to start to be able to comprehend his love. Our wounds have left holes in our hearts that love just pours through. We all need him to move first. So he did.

Jesus understands and is relentlessly kind. He is not shocked by our doubts, and understands the barriers religious people have left in the way in attempts to protect themselves from their own doubts.

If all you have is one tiny little speck of faith it’s all you need to start this journey. Eventually it will move mountains.

Darkness is Only Threatened by Light

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The Darkness is not threatened by religion,



loud music,


crowds of Christians,

spiritual warfare,

prophetic conventions,

or revivals.

Darkness is only threatened by Light,

and to the extent that we have Light,

to that extent the Darkness loses its power over us.

When we abide in perfect Light then Darkness has no power whatsoever.

And light is nothing more or less than the revelation of Christ in His Glory.

—Chip Brogden


Cultivate Faithfulness

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A heavy frost has already finished off most of the plants in the gardens at Fort Steele Farms, but I was surprised to see a row of Swiss chard (or “squished hard” as one of my grandchildren calls it) glowing in the sunlight. It was the inspiration for this work. It was also the inspiration for remembering this scripture:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:3,4)

Cultivating faithfulness with joyful, trusting vulnerability leads to the freedom to become who God knows you to be, full of life and delightful colour long after others have given up in adversity. Perseverance builds hope -the kind of hope that does not disappoint.

The End of the Beginning

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As summer ends I watch the exchange of green to gold and orange and red with mixed feeling. Autumn is probably my favourite season, partly because of the bitter-sweetness of it. I feel a need to grab every moment and soak in the colour craziness before the monotone of winter descends

Old age can be a time of bitter-sweet beauty as well. I’ve watched some elderly people fade into bitter grey resentment and I’ve watched some press on in colourful joyful hope. It’s a choice often made in the spring.


It is you, not I, who have been carried from before you were born.
        Indeed, when you were still in the womb, I was taking care of you.
     And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you.
        When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak,
    And your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have.
        I will carry you and save you.

(Isaiah 46:3,4)

L’Shanah Tovah

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I saw this pomegranate tree growing wild near the place where Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened. From that moment he did not see merely the surrounding threat that wished to destroy them, he also saw the Lord’s greater reality.

At Rosh Hashanah, the head of the Jewish New Year, I pray, “Open our eyes to behold your plans, Lord.”

To You we give all the glory.

A Thin Silence

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I can’t hear normally right now. A nasty cold has tormented my sinuses for almost a month and has now taken up residence in my ears. For several days my left ear has not been giving my brain the usual messages. Voices on the phone sound like they are coming through a kazoo on the other side of a heavy door. I can’t hear the sound of my feet on the trail, or the wind in the trees. At the same time normal noises are painfully loud.  I avoid nerve-jarring distorted noise at the level of normal conversation, and run from loud sounds that feel like a slap to the ears, yet I strain to hear the quiet things, like the little ping that tells me I have a message on my cell phone. I feel like I am shut up inside my own head (where the sound of chewing my breakfast crunchies is like giant aliens devouring some hapless metropolis in a sci-fi flick.)

What an odd and uncomfortable feeling – especially for someone whose lifestyle has focused on hearing the fine nuances of music for so many years. It’s taking its sweet time clearing up, this wretched infection, but in the meantime maybe there is something to be learned (or un-learned) even in this.

I thought about Elijah’s still small voice experience again today. After a tremendous victory on Mount Carmel in which the Lord rained down fire, and sent the rains at his request, he ran from the ugly threatening voice of the King’s wife. He ran all the way back to the place where Moses has his trumpet blast and fire on the mountain experience.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.”

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire the sound of a low whisper [or a sound, a thin silence]

And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.(1 Kings 19, 11 -13 ESV)

I think it was straining to hear a soft voice today that reminded me of the story. When I looked up the Hebrew words describing this “still, small voice” I found it was stiller and smaller than I thought. It was still like a calm sea after a storm. It was small like a particle of dust, less than a hair’s breadth, barely perceptible — except to a prophet who recognized it.

David wrote that the voice of the Lord thunders. Sometimes we can hear Him loud and clear. Moses and the children of Israel certainly did, and it scared most of them half to death. But sometimes his voice can only be heard in thin silence.

In thin silence there are no other sounds competing for attention. No other voices playing anything-you-can-preach-I-can-preach-louder – and which then add electronic amplification.

In thin silence we are forced to lean in closer, to wait for a particle of sound, the Voice that speaks in stillness.

Young Love, First Love


You know those dreams where you are back in high school or university and you realize you have an exam and you can’t remember your locker combination or the room number — or if you ever went to that class? Sometimes my life feels like that when I’m awake. I thought I was done with learning something and I find myself back in school — only this time it’s the school of higher un-learning.

This week the song “Young Love, First Love” has been going through my head.

“And the significance of that, Lord?”

“You have no idea how deep the acceptance of performance-oriented, hypo-grace, approval-seeking, ‘me-do-it-self’, busy-ness-is-next-to-godliness thinking runs. Churchianity is full of it. So are you.”

“Still? Seriously? I thought I was doing much better.”

“Pack your bags. We’re going on a love-trip.”

Ok, I’ve been thinking (again) about the warning to the church in Ephesus that although their diligent efforts are appreciated, God said they had a serious problem. They had left their first love. However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love.  Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways. “(Rev 2:4) The messenger told them to return to it or they stood in danger of losing their light (their understanding and their influence symbolized by a candle stand).

I began to realize that my secret reaction to the warning was an internal groan that even though I had worked hard all summer there was something else that should have been on the list. Oh yeah, remember to spend time loving God. Oh boy, something else to do before I can put out the cat and get some sleep.

“Think again,” He said. “You’ve got some un-learning to do.”

That’s where the song came in. (I know the word the Bible uses is agape, the type of perfect all-giving love God has, and not eros, the type of love that makes us get all hot and bothered and more than a little self-conscious, but I think the connection is still there.)  I remember telling a lonesome young woman bemoaning her unattached state, that when people fall in love they actually fall in love with themselves in a way. When we see ourselves through the eyes of someone we respect and who thinks we are worthy of their time and attention, we are willing to lower our barriers a little. Sometimes we misjudge the quality of character in a person and find ourselves the object of the attentions of some obsequious little stalker who will hit on anything, but we learn and move on. But the attentions of someone we admire? Wow. Weak knees and butterfly stomach time. It can be a little disorienting. (So how to get a person of quality to fall in love with you? Become a person of quality yourself.)

When we fall in love we are constantly aware of that person’s presence. We know exactly where they are in a room without even looking. We are fascinated by everything they are. We want to know everything about them, their values become our values, their heartaches become our heartaches, their victories become our victories. We talk only about them and we need to be near. We have the urge to merge.

To be loved by someone you deeply respect who thinks you are worthy of his sacrifices, who can make you realize how amazing you are? Wow! He or she will inspire you to become bold and become a better person and do greater things simply because he or she believes in you.

You don’t fall in love with someone who makes you feel ashamed, or ugly, or unable to change. You fall in love with someone who makes you aware of your own potential -simply because their very presence in you life makes you realize you are of value to someone important. (Are you listening, Self?)

The lines of the song that keep running through my head: Young love, first love, filled with true devotion.Young love, our love, we share with deep emotion.

That’s it. He’s asking us to return to true devotion and deep emotion by letting him love us the way he wants to.  Returning to the source of our motivation, knowing that the Being of ultimate quality, and worthy of infinite respect longs for us, means we can start to see ourselves through His eyes. He shows us how amazing we are; he emboldens us to become more than we ever thought we could be, because he says we are worthy of his attention, his time, his sacrifice.

When we do we will long to become like our beloved, to make his priorities ours, to understand his heart, to share his secrets and rejoice in his victories. When we return to our first love, we live and move and have our being in Him and our sanctified imagination is again motivated by His love -his perfect, unselfish, giving love.

We blossom.



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Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men.

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I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

(Song of Songs 2:3 ESV)


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I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance. I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries, and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false.  I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faint.

However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love.  Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways; go back to how you first acted. (Revelation 2:2-5 The Voice)

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If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message)

When I become so busy that I don’t have time to revel in God’s love, I have nothing left to give. Without knowing deeply how much he loves me and wants to spend time with me I become a performance-oriented, fear-based person who spews dire predictions instead of faith, cynical expectations in place of hope, condemnation rather than love. I hear God speaking about a better way. I hear him inviting me to return and lay my head against Jesus’ chest, until I can hear his heart beating for me. Everything good thing flows from there.