Bird Watching Again.

I’m telling my children who are returning for Christmas to make sure they bring warm hats and gloves. No we are not going skiing. I’m planning to go Bird Watching instead of Christmas shopping. I have plenty of binoculars to share and I am blessed to live by the an inland sea Lough which invites many birds to stop a while. I will not have to organize a long journey. There is a variety of bird life nearby.

I am being restored in my mind and body as I take time beside still waters as Psalm 23 says.

He leads me beside still waters to restore my soul.

I discovered a group of birds I had not encountered before yesterday. They were a delight to watch. I was happy to look at these birds for a while. God too is taking pleasure in his creation.
I was reading today from Revelation 4 v 8 to 11

8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”
9 Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created everything,
And it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.

When I returned home I got out my bird books. Brendan has bought me quite a few over the years. I looked up my favorite one. It gives pictures and descriptions of the most common birds found on our shores. There were all kinds of birds, ducks, geese, swans, sea gulls, oystercatchers, and waders but there was no sign of my discovery. I looked through another. It must have been bought in America. No luck here either.

At last I picked up a hard backed book with a picture on the front. At last. There on the front cover was my new discovery, a bird with a few feathers sticking up from its crown, a Lapwing.

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According to the book the lapwing has green feathers on his back and wings. I was not close enough to see the green colour of the back wings. His underbody is white. The lapwing gather is flocks. When one takes flight they all do. Their black under feathers make up a full wing span and aides it to spin, twist and dive in flight.
This bird is distinctive because of the tuft of feathers on his head.

Yesterday this group of lapwings were resting along the shore. They were within easy sight as the full tide allowed the water to come up near the bank. They were well camouflaged amid the stones and seaweed on the shore.

I didn’t have my binoculars or note book with me. I will make sure we are fully equipped for our nature study day at Christmas time. Who knows what other residents or visitors to our Irish shores I will find when I next go bird watching.
It will not cost us money. There will be no temptation to overspend or visit coffee shops. Just a flask and a few nibbles will help the bird watchers to endure. They will enjoy it so much; a welcome change from work and study. Time to breathe fresh air, slow down and hang out together like the birds. Time to heal and be restored. A time for peace.

Honor and Worship God

How do we honor and worship God in our lives today.

I was listening to a recorded Christian Service on Radio Ulster on Sunday 19 th June 2016.  It was held in St George’s Church in Belfast to celebrate 200 years since it’s opening.

I enjoy singing praise songs to worship God on my own or sing along to a CD.  I attend small groups of people who gather to worship God.  In a small group, people can be shy to sing or to lift up their voices.  The pressure often is on the guitarist and singer to carry the worship meeting.  But the service I listened to on the radio was different from the small groups I am used to.

From St George’s the organ sounded and lifted up the choir’s voices.  When I listened to the organ blasting out the music it allowed for people to sing along whether they sung in tune or not, or whether they sang high or low.  I noticed that the speaker spoke clearly and loudly for all to hear.  It seemed as if the service was being help at another time in the past.  I wondered were the pews full of people on last Sunday.  We don’t know.  Perhaps when this church was dedicated all those years ago people gathered with enthusiasm to praise and thank The Lord and make loud noises with the organ and choir.

I was reminded of David’s psalm in 1 Chronicles 15 where it is describes how David had prepared himself and the people to bring the Ark of The Lord back to Jerusalem.  There were musicians and singers making music to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant into the middle of  God’s people.

“David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he had prepared for it.

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.

Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.

So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭15:3, 16, 22, 28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He appointed singers and music players to make loud noises to celebrate.   David danced like a mad man before the presence of The Lord and the people.  His wife rebuked him later for acting so foolishly.  She was left barren because of her complaint.  He was not ashamed to praise his God who delivered him in many situations in his life.

Today we dance to a different song than David of old.  You may be watching football matches.  The different supporters shout out their anthems for their teams.  They are not afraid to lift up their voices.  Their spirits are lifted and everyone waits in anticipation to see if their team wins.  The pop stars, U2, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Bruce Springstein or the Rolling Stones fill stadiums with people to hear their concerts.  The footballers and stars are millionaires because of the people’s worship of them.  People join along in the song and dance with their faviourite stars and pay a lot of money to attend.  Today do we show the same enthusiasm for our God as we do the pop stars or our football teams?  Do we give as much money to a minister of God as one gives at the ticket box for these shows.

Come let us return to The Lord.  Like David let us prepare our hearts and prepare a place for God to return into our midst and let us lift up our voices and music to praise and thank him.  Let us honor and worship God alone.

Sacrifice is True Worship

The Air Transat plane had a bumpy landing into Calgary.  This city on the Canadian prairie presents a challenge to any pilot. Winds from the Rockies circulate over the area. I had been traveling for eight hours.  I held my neighbor’s hand.  She was frightened.  The tension eased and many passengers disembarked.  The rest of us were continuing our journey onto Vancouver.

I had a toothache over the previous weekend.  It was bank holiday Monday so my dentist was not available.  I needed attention as I was leaving for Vancouver on Tuesday.  I got some penicillin and pain relief from an emergency dentist at the City hospital.  I thought that will sort my condition till I get back in a week’s time.

The toothache did not ease on the journey.  I doubled the dose of medication.  My head was so sore I couldn’t enjoy any movies or music offered.  I dozed on and off.  I comforted a lady beside me who was traveling on her own.  When the flight landed in Calgary I rushed to the bathroom.  I was feeling sick.  Why did I not stay at home.  This long journey is all too much.  Why did my son have to get married in Canada so far away from home. Too much a sacrifice.

Then I remembered the scripture,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I will make my body a living sacrifice despite the pain.  This is true worship to God.

I have suffered other pain over the past two years.  I have had heartache.  My husband and I had travelled to Vancouver many times over the past ten years, speaking about the love of God to many people.  Canadian friends have visited Ireland.  I encouraged the connection between ourselves and Canada because of a dream.  This dream has tested my heart over the past two years.

My son David moved to live in Toronto two years ago.  He and Jacquelyn have a baby girl.  I now have a Candian grandchild!  The Irish/Canada dream connection was strengthened.  I have visited them in Toronto.  It is not too far to travel from Ireland.  There are good flight connections out of Dubin.

When Isaac finished his studies two years ago he too left for Canada.  He had spent some time in an internship as part of his degree.  I thought he was going to visit friends there and would return after a few months.  He has been working in Vancouver ever since.  He developed a relationship with a Canadian girl.  Will I see him again?  Vancouver is 7000 Kilometres away across the ocean and continent, the end of the earth!

I thought back to Irish mothers whose sons left for America down through the decades because of circumstances, famine, hardship or war.  Many left N Ireland during the recent troubles in the seventies.  These mothers made sacrifices to let their sons leave and give them an opportunity of a better life.  Many did not see their children again.

As a mother I have a choice.  I can nurture the grief and mourn over my two sons who live far away.  I may not see my grand children growing up.  I can remain sad.  I don’t want to internalize my pain and develop some sickness as a result of my depressed situation.  That’s what happened when I had cancer.

God has healed me of fourth stage cancer and saved me from dying six years ago.  I don’t want to get sick again.  I choose not to internalize my heartache.  I cast my pain upon Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus became a Sacrifice on the Cross when he shed his blood and died.  He took all my suffering and pain.  I share in his suffering as I experience the pain in my heart of  my children leaving home.  I will not deny the pain and say I am alright.  I have gone through the valley of loneliness and sadness.  I will offer up this pain of toothache and heartache as a sacrifice.  Jesus mother Mary watched as her son was cruelly killed.  Her heart was pierced.  Jesus spoke to the women as he carried his cross to Calvery.  He knew that women would suffer in child bearing and rearing.

A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Luke‬ ‭23:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I awaken in the night with Jetlag.  I hear a train’s horn blowing.  The sound gets stronger as it passes nearby.  It is a familiar sound from my visits to Canada in the past.  At day break I hear new sounds.  Chuck chuck, whistle whistle, chirrup, chirrup, the sounds of a dawn chorus. These sounds speak to me to welcome me to this different country before anyone else is up.  We have been hosted in a beautiful home in the woodland.  We have attended barbecues, breakfasts and been well received in Vancouver.

The wedding day has arrived.  The bride and bridesmaids are excited.  They are getting ready.  The bridegroom, our son, has found his bride.
Jesus has healed me.  My toothache has gone.  My heart is healed.

By the stripes of Jesus I am healed.  Isaiah 53.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in Canada.  I will celebrate the day in victory grateful to have lived to see another of my children married and setting off and released into his new future.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sacrifice/

Are You in the Wilderness?

Jesus, the son of God came on earth as a baby boy to his mother Mary.  He stayed at home till he was thirty.  Perhaps Joseph died during that time. The scriptures do not tell us.  He would have looked after and helped his mother and his siblings.  He honoured his mother and cared for her.

The time came when Jesus determined in his heart to accomplish the work he left heaven to do on the earth.  He came to forgive mankind their sins, heal their diseases and destroy the works of the devil, who had ruled the earth since Adam and Eve sinned.

His ministry began when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by John.  The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove and a voice came from heaven , “You are my beloved Son,  with you I am well pleased.”  Those around heard the voice of God.  God was honouring his son before the people and also encouraging Jesus to go forward in his work.

Very often a son or daughter needs that encouragement and reassurance from a parent.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing.  The devil came to divert Jesus from his mission.  He knew Jesus was a threat to his dominion over the whole earth.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ” (‭Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭5-8‬ NIV)

The devil states that the kingdoms of the world have been given to him.  Jesus came to take away the devil’s authority over the kingdoms of this world.

The devil even knew the scriptures.
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (‭Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭9-10, 12‬ NIV)

It is good to pray.  It is even better to fast and pray.  The devil does not like you fasting.  When one fast one becomes weaker and vulnerable and knows one’s need of help.  The Holy Spirit and angels ministered to Jesus when he was fasting.  In the wilderness he was removed from people, family and friends and all worldly distractions.  After Jesus time of fasting he began his ministry.

Do you feel as if you are in a wilderness in your life?  You may be surrounded by people or work, but you have that dissatisfied feeling deep down.  Has your life not turned out the way you wanted?  Do you feel abandoned or neglected by God?  Are you sick? Are you thirsty? Do you want your life to count?  Do not despair.

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Signs and Wonders in Slovakia.

Slovakia is in Central Europe.  It’s people are peaceful but have suffered from other empires in Europe that have ruled over them.  Hungarians, Austrians, Turks, Germans and Russians have ruled over them through the centuries.  Recently the Slovaks celebrated the twenty fifth anniversary of their liberation from communism.
We stayed in a hotel on the last two nights of our stay in Bratislava.  The dining room was like a museum.   I was amazed at the animals that are displayed there.  On one wall were the hides of a bear, two leopards and two wolves.
I thought of the scriptures from proverbs,

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭28‬:‭15‬ NIV)

The Slovak people have had their share of others ruling over them.  The symbols of the dead animals remind me that those oppressors are not ruling over the Slovak people any more.  There is a new generation of people who are recovering from the former oppression and with God’s help are being set free and are prospering.  
Pope John Paul 11 said that Slovakia will help the rest of Europe.  How can a humble people influence the rest of the nations around about.  By their example of love, humility and forgiveness.  As they know God’s love they reach out to others.
Branio is a Worship leader who plays the guitar and sings in Slovakia.  He was having a week of meetings throughout the country while we were there.  On the Thursday night he fell and broke his wrist.  That would have meant he could not have continued the scheduled meetings.   Fifteen people gathered around him and prayed for him.  He could feel cracking in his wrist and the pain ease.  He composed himself and tried to play his guitar.  His wrist worked as normal.   He did not have to go to hospital.  He continued with his appointments for the rest of the week.
The prayers of many brought him healing.   God healed his arm.  There are signs and wonders happening in Slovakia. There is joy and freedom instead of oppression over the people. The lion and the bear are defeated.

Sunflowers Fully Ripened

I drove from Bratislava to Dolny Kobin when we were in Slovakia recently.
I saw for the first time fields of sunflowers.
I was amazed as the flowers raised their heads as the sun rose in the sky.
They stood tall in the full heat of the day.
As the cool of the evening came the sunflower heads bent down again.
It is how one worships God lifting one’s head to honor our Heavenly Father.
Or with heads bowed in humble adoration.
I took this snapshot on the way to the airport.

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The sunflower heads are bursting with seed and will soon be harvested.