The Stairway to Heaven.

Two weeks ago I read this scripture.
“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth. ””
‭‭John‬ ‭1:51‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I had never noticed this reading before. I remember another story from the Old Testament where Jacob had a dream.

 

Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!””‭‭Genesis‬ ‭28:11-13, 17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On holiday in Greece recently I visited a Craft shop. The Artists make their pieces from reclaimed items they find on the beach. I too work with stuff from the shore where I live in Northern Ireland. Small sticks, driftwood, pottery, Seaglass and bits of rope are some of things I find. The man of the shop made ships and boats. On each one was a ladder that went from the deck of the ship up the mast. Ladders also figured on the lady’s work. Here is an image of a ladder reaching up from the earth to the clouds above. It is from a piece of art I bought form a craft shop in Greece.

I was excited to see the image of the ladder. I was thinking back to the scripture about Jesus being a stairway or a ladder. I told the couple what the image of the ladder can mean. They were very happy to hear what I had to say.

The theme of the ladder came to me again today. I was reading Merlin Carothers’s book Proson to Praise. In it Merlin recalls a vision he had.

“I saw a bright summer day. Up above was a solid heavy black cloud. A ladder extended from the ground into the dark cloud. At the base of the ladder were lots of people who wanted to get a chance to climb the ladder. They had heard that beyond the cloud was something beautiful. Some people tried to climb. As soon as they got to the dark cloud they came sliding down again. Merlin climbed the ladder. He kept going through the dark cloud even though it was difficult. He came into intense brightness.”

The Lord explained to Merlin that the ladder represents praising God. Some people start out praising God but give up when times get difficult. They lose faith and go sliding back. When one continues to praise God he comes to a place where he can walk on difficulties no matter how dark they seem as long as he keeps his eyes off the problem and looks to the Lord.

I’m encouraged today after reading about Praise. I will believe that God can work all things together for good as we praise him and thank him no matter how difficult the situation gets. He is in control. Keep clinging to the ladder of praise and keep going up. Keep clinging onto Jesus who is the stairway to heaven. He takes us from the earth to heaven, just as Jacob saw in his dream.

 

 

The Word of God

I was out yesterday gathering items along the sea shore to use in craft making. Just back from a recent holiday, I am invigorated and have plenty of energy. I was inspired by visiting some craft shops when I was away. Small sticks, driftwood, pottery and bits of rope were some of my find. What particularly interested me today was any flat pieces of wood.

A good sized rectangular piece was lying on one of the rocks. When I turned it over the remains of a placard was still attached to it. On it were these words in large bold letters,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ”. The word Jesus is missing. This is a sentence from the Bible in 1 Timothy 2 verse 5.

Placards with a passage from scripture on it, I think are peculiar to Northern Ireland. You may find a notice with a scripture passage on a piece of wood nailed to a tree or hanging on a lamppost along a country road. Someone put it there in the hope of evangelising some unbeliever.

In the Provence where I live some Protestants try to evangelise Catholics with these notices. We had war in Northern Ireland because there was division and misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants which led to hatred and murder of one another. One can easily take offence when one doesn’t agree with the another. Someone took offence at the placard, and dumped it in the sea!!  As a teenager I remember a street evangelist reached me a tract with a scripture on it.  He did not communicate with me to explain what he was giving me.  I wasn’t interested and threw it away. I was offended just like someone with the same attitude threw this placard in the sea!

Back as a teenager if someone had told me about God’s love for me and demonstrated it to me by being kind, giving, and coming along side me to identify with me and get to know me I may have received their tract. It’s not enough to preach at one. One needs to show love. It never fails.

As I write this on reflection I met my husband in my late teens. He did the very things I have just recounted. He came along side me, was giving and kind. He showed me love. That is why I responded and fell in love.

There were troubles in Northern Ireland because, no matter what religion one had, we didn’t know God’s unconditional love, blessing, care, tenderness, forgiveness, healing, comfort and debts cancelled. Like all humankind without God, our hearts were hard and bitter. We didn’t understand one another. There was little generosity or forbearing one another.

I got to know God more later in my twenties when I met some loving women who introduced me to the Word of God. I began to read the scriptures and believed what they said. I believe in God our creator and in his son Jesus and The Holy Spirit. This same God healed me from Malignant Cancer.

I should be in the grave today. God is alive. He is real. Jesus tomb is the only empty one. He arose from the dead. I can tell you this for sure. He rescued me from the grave to tell others about him. He shed his blood on the cross and became a sacrifice to forgive all people their sins and bring them to heaven.  If you believe in Jesus your heart can be healed and you can be sure of heaven.

When I overturned the piece of wood today I thought to myself, God’s Word will not return void. Isaiah 55 v 11 says

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me void. But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

He can use all kinds of ways to speak to people and get their attention. God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam when he wouldn’t listen.  I want to encourage you through my story of God’s love in saving me from death.  Believe in the miracle working God for yourself.  Believe in Jesus and get to know him through reading his word.

The words on the placard, all messy with seaweed is still speaking. I retrieved it. I will publish it. Through the internet I can send this scripture far and wide across the nations.

A Bird’s Eye View

I’m looking out from an apartment on the third level of an hotel in Greece. I have a bird’s eye view of the sea in the distance, trees, mountains, clouds, tourists and birds. Just above me two sparrows are making a home under the roof tiles. I look down the row of apartments and notice other sparrows flitting in and out from under roof tiles. In this hotel, not only do you get an apartment to stay in, you also get the company of a couple of sparrows rearing their young above your balcony.

It is May in Greece. The weather hasn’t settled yet to be sure of uninterrupted sunshine for the tourist. One takes a risk to take a holiday at this time. We have had rain, sunshine, west winds and east winds blowing. I have my winter coat with me just to be sure to be warm if the temperatures drop.

The swallows are making their nests as well. They build where a wall meets an overhanging roof. They can be a bit messy and visiting tourists may not take kindly to a bird making his nest on their balcony. As a couple of swallows start to build the owners come along and remove the offending mud shelter. The next day the swallows start over again. So it goes till the birds are defeated and it’s too late to have their young.

Today I was able to continue my bird watching when we were out for a meal. I saw how one man has come to terms with the visiting swallows and his visiting tourists. He has built boxes around the nests and a platform below to catch any bird droppings. So no mess for the tourists to see. There is a welcome for the tourists and the swallows. Some swallows have come back to the same nest for years. They flew in and out while we had our meal . This owner has learned to be eco friendly. I looked up as one of the swallows sat proudly on the nest to hatch her young knowing she was secure in the shelter provided by the human owner. Man and birds are living in harmony.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭84:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God knows the sparrow and the swallow. I am blessed when they are around.

Spring Visitors

Here in Ireland, a few weeks ago on Easter Sunday the sun was shining and many families and their granny’s and dogs were out for a drive. The two ferry boats between Portaferry and Strangford were racing across The Narrows to help the travellers on their day out; perhaps to visit the festivities at Castle ward, Castlewellan or Newcastle. Others from Strangford come to visit the Aquarium in Portaferry or take a tour of the Ards Peninsula.

We had taken a drive a few days before to pick up our daughter who returned for Easter. The water had filled Strangford Lough as far up as Newtownards. It reached up to the wall that separated the the road from the sea. I looked down through the clear water as we drove along the shore. I marvelled. Where else is there a place where one can drive for miles so close to the shore? I was enjoying the Lord’s provision of leading me beside still waters to restore my soul. We continued to enjoy the Easter weekend of rest.

Easter Monday is memorable for me. Nine years ago I went to the Accident and Emergency in the local town. I was later diagnosed with fourth stage cancer. Praise God I am staying alive after my experience with cancer. I celebrated the victory over the weekend with my family.

On Tuesday the weather changed. Grey clouds rolled in on stormy winds from the east. There was a chill in the air. Warm coats were picked up again. All the visitors had gone. They returned home revived and refreshed from having time out in the country.

I noticed different visitors outside my window. The swallows have arrived for the summer. They nest under the eaves and rear their young. There was no time wasted. A couple of them inspected the nest used last year and began mending it, flying in and out with mud in their beaks.

All the ways of nature have a purpose. The swallows have travelled thousands of miles from Africa. The strong south east winds helped them on their way. The same winds carried the Brent Geese north on their return journey to Canada. I miss their calls as they gathered beneath our garden to drink from the fresh water stream. They have been feeding on the eel grass along Strangford Lough since September. When the Brent Geese arrive they look like ducks. When they leave they have grown fat and look like geese.

I will enjoy the company of the swallows over the summer along with the resident forest and sea birds. The blackbirds, robins, pigeons, pheasants, doves, thrush, starlings and sparrows are busy making nests for their young. The call of the doves in the morning replace the Brent Geese. The other birds join the chorus as the sun begins to rise in the east.

The time of singing of birds has come. Sap is rising through the tree trunks. The leaves burst open and discard their shells. The sticky pollen of the sycamore tree in front of the house is falling all around. Another thing the wind carries to other trees to pollenate them. The pear and apple blossoms are in full bloom waiting for the bees from a neighbor’s hive to collect their nectar. All nature is busy increasing and multiplying.

Yet more visitors arrived below on the Lough. A beautiful tall yacht drew up within my view below. The owners are getting it ready for sailing events over the summer. I watched as it was secured to a buoy. It is the season for yachtsmen to put their vessels back in the water. A crane lifts the boats, which look like big birds, and settle them on the water.

It’s good to be alive and see life abundant all around.  Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly.  He has done that for me.  It’s the devil who comes to rob, steal, kill and destroy.  John 10 v 10

Where is Love?

Some people say I am always quoting from the Old Testament. You are old fashioned. Speak to us for the New Testament. They tell me, “Jesus spoke to us about love. He said to love your neighbour. It’s not loving your neighbour if you condemn him to hell if he isn’t obeying the commandments.”

We have got mixed up about love. Jesus said Greater love has no man but he lays down his life for another. John 15 v 13. Making one feel good, don’t say anything to upset anyone isn’t what Jesus meant. He said he came to bring division. Even a household will be divided against itself.  Jesus is our example.  He will never ask us to do anything he has not already done.  He gave his life, he died on the cross for us.  He served his disciples while he was alive.

Well I was reading from the New Testament this morning. Here is what I read.

““Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We are not living just for this life. There is life after death. Jesus came to tell us about the Father God who gives eternal life in heaven if we believe in him and obey him. If we don’t believe in Jesus we are condemned to hell. I choose to live on the earth believing in Jesus and his Father and obeying him. I have the promise of going to heaven when I die.

Please take this opportunity to believe in Jesus and follow him.  You will have eternal life in heaven as you remain in Jesus.

“Bones” in Crisis

I have a friend, Caroline, staying for a few days. I had planned to do a craft fair but it was called off due to bad weather.

Instead we went for a drive in my camper van. I wanted to show her some of the local beauty spots.

I was driving along telling her about adventures in my camper van, “Bones”. I got excited recalling some of the stories.

My daughter was in Zanzibar recently. She said all the vans in that country are just like my vehicle. They are popular because they are easy to fix. No modern technology there.

I called into a petrol station to get some fuel. I needed a key to open the fuel cap so I had to turn off the ignition. “Sweet Caroline”, an old song from the seventies, was booming from a loud speaker.

I returned to continue our trip. Oh no! There was no response to the ignition key. There was no life in Bones. Sweet Caroline was not impressed. My earlier joy dropped into my boots.

Should I call the AA out? Should I ring Brendan. He would not be impressed. I decided to ask for help locally. A young man was having lunch in his delivery van. I asked him if I could link the jump leads to his battery. He kindly offered to help. He drew his vehicle along side mine.

Next task was to open the bonnet. That done, the guy hooked the jump leads to my battery. But he didn’t know where the battery was in his vehicle! Modern vehicles have new technology. Bones has none. No automatic windows or doors.

He apologised and left. I looked for another unsuspecting young man. He hooked up to his battery. Now we were business. I turned the key. No response from my vehicle. The young man said let’s wait for a while to give the battery a charge. We waited but that there was no change. The young man left.

Another man came to help. He was a mechanic. He checked the battery. He said the battery is fully charged. He tightened up the connections and tried the jump leads again. Still no response in Bones’ battery.

What was wrong with Bones? Was it about to die? No more adventures?

Will I call the AA? I didn’t like the thought of waiting around till they came. Would Bones have to be towed away? The mechanic was perplexed. My van was blocking up his petrol pumps.

I had a flash of inspiration. I’ll try the other key on the key ring. I turned the key. Hooray! Bones sprung into life. The engine was happily turning over. I had been using the wrong key!

Joy returned. Caroline was sweet again and we had a great day. Another adventure to record.

A Turbulent Flight Home

Yesterday my husband and I were enjoying chatting and having lunch with friends, our last meal together before we left Israel. We sat on the balcony enjoying the sunshine and warmth which had returned after much rain. Our hosts had made a Greek salad with bread and Calamari Pasta. I savoured and had plenty of the delicious food. The meal strengthened us for the journey ahead. We had just finished when the taxi man called to say he was waiting outside. After quick farewells we got the taxi to the TelAviv airport.

We checked the times of flights at Ben Guirion airport. Ours was the only one that showed the flight was delayed. When it came time to board old and young, babies in arms, Arabs, Jews and returning tourists gathered at the Gate for departures. An infant cried the whole time. There were Orthodox Jews on board, some old, feeble, humble men with long white beards and black hats. The attendants welcomed us on board and helped settle mothers with young and the old.

We were allocated our seats at the very back of the EasyJet aeroplane. This economic airline has no frills or extra comforts, but gets you places one could not otherwise afford to go. We didn’t mind because we had an unoccupied seat on the inside giving us space to stretch and have a sleep if need be. We were thankful.

The pilot spoke before our departure and apologised for the delay due to baggage handling back in the UK. He announced the flight time would be five and a half hours, which seemed a lot longer than our flight there. He didn’t tell us about the turbulence on the way over. The pilot has to slow down through turbulence. There were no frills but plenty of spills and thrills ahead of us.

We were strapped in our seats for the first two and a half hours of the trip home! The plane shook and jerked. Mothers and babies were sick. The flight attendants were going up and down the aisle giving out orange plastic bags and cups of water to help the sick.
I was praying as I do when turbulence hits on a journey. But never has it lasted so long.

I thought of the scripture when Jesus was asleep on a pillow at the back of the boat in the storm! Brendan and I were at the back of the aeroplane in a storm. He rebuked the disciples for being fearful and having little faith. Mark 4 v 38 to 40 KJV

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

I decided not to be fearful and trust in God. I prayed for many others who were vulnerable. Brendan sang in my ear a song “I feel pretty”. We heard it in the movie we watched one night on Netfix. It’s called Anger Management staring Jack Nicolson. He got his clients to sing a song if they were in a difficult situation. Not only was Brendan singing but he ordered some snacks and a drink from the attendant. He was not fearful but enjoyed a few treats in the storm.