Climbing Mountains?

I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.

I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.

As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”

You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.

I didn’t understand.

“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.

And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.

I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.

A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)

Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)

 

 

Summer Church Camp Saves

At the risk of sounding psycho, there is a dark force that keeps us from surrendering to that which is good for the soul.

SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for example. So many people excuse themselves from pinching pennies and marking calendars in order for their children to attend camp. I still regret that my husband and I did not make time for family camp!  I regret saving my pennies for other less important things.

There is also this frame of mind that creeps in and tells us that summer church camp is maybe just a little too churchy. We don’t want our kids to be too churchy do we?

When I was a child SUMMER CHURCH CAMP saved my life, or should I say that is where the ‘saving’ began? Thank you to my parents for allowing me to go. It was at summer church camp I was introduced to God’s love and truth, and a relationship that would never let me down.

Do you want your children to develop integrity? Do you want your children to understand the importance of friendship? Do you want your child to understand the importance of commitment? Would you like your child to become a leader in the community?  Do you want your children’s eyes to be opened to possibilities? Do you want your child to know there is someone who loves them, who will never let them down, who can transform them into a relational and faithful person?

Don’t let your earthly wisdom cloud your brain. Allowing your children to be taught about God is not forcing them to believe, but giving them an opportunity to choose. Allowing your children to be around other people who are seeking God’s goodness, is a positive and real experience. Real people working, and playing, and learning along side other real people in the midst of a myriad of issues, in an adventurous outdoor setting, away from the usual pressures of life.

Choose SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for your children, choose IT for yourself. Choose it for your family, and watch your joy multiply through the years!

1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom

Signed: Saved and proud to be churchy, happy, healthy and a leader in my community – Cindy Palin

P.S. I love you Jesus

 

One of the Chosen

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I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.

How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.

And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)

Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).

How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?

What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.

I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.

“One of the Chosen” first draft

Verse: 1

I find myself dreamin’ from time to time,

how destiny called this heart of mine.

I hear the soft shuffle of sandals in sand

and reach out to take his hand.

His voice is familiar but I don’t know why,

He asks me to leave all I’ve known behind

I follow his footprints, and the Sea disappears

I awake to find I am here.

Chorus:

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To take up my cross, to give up my life

I am One of the chosen the body of Christ

Verse Two:

I think of Stephen summoned to speak

The surge of the Spirit and the crowd at his feet

The smell of the dirt mixed with his dried blood

the stones where he once stood

And that voice so familiar saying ‘well done’

Christ in the clouds at the right hand of God

Stephen closes his eyes, and the world disappears

I know why I am here

Chorus:

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish my life

I am One of the chosen, the body of Christ

Bridge:

We are the chosen the body of Christ

Few are called indeed

May we follow our Lord with all His might

and reveal this mystery

Congregational Choruses

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To carry our cross, to give Him our lives

We are the chosen, the body of Christ

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish our lives

We are the chosen the body of Christ

©Cindy Palin/June 9, 2017

The Promise

I awoke this a.m. and found it hard to get going. The sun helped. My warm bath soothed. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin a new day with the right attitude.

I flipped through some old songs and found a worship chorus I wrote back in two thousand and four. It made me think of my Grandmother who told me, “the best time to be thankful is when you don’t feel like it.”

“And how do you do that” I asked her.

“Choose an attitude of praise” she replied.

So I took the song “I Will Hold to Your Promise”, and went down memory lane, out loud, at the piano.

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I confess with my mouth

I believe with my heart now

I accept your gift of love

take my sin to the west

throw it over your shoulder

cover me and lift me up

I will hold to the promise

I will see you one day

I will hold to the promise you have made,

my Lord

I will hold to the promise

I will see you one day

I will hold to the promise you have made

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

“Promise” is a beautiful word. God has promised to forgive of us of our sins, to be in relationship with us, and to return for us one day.

Suggested reading 2nd Peter, chapter 3 – The Day of the Lord.

Our Past Does Not Define Us

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lyrics by Cindy Palin

Sweet Mercy

Emerging from a long line of sorrow and of rage

Curious as a child, who invited it to stay?

Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies

Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.

Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair

The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there

Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might

Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night

And where the rage died, the peace grew

And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through

Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy

The lineage of hatred determines not your name

The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim

Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time

Sweet mercy has another plan in mind

My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14

Song written by ©Cindy Palin/November 22/06

Who Walks the Recesses of the Deep

The stars, the stars above the waters. I looked up and out of the oval glass, then down to the blackness beneath. “God” my thoughts echoed into His silence, “I’m jammed in this metal tube, above your great expanse.” “But your spirit has wings” He answered instantly.

Reaching forward I found the flight information with a touch of the screen. We were still about five hours out of Brisbane. The ocean’s trenches and scattered islands off the east coast of Australia were identified. Seeing the features described made the Sea less foreboding, but no less deep.

“It had to be deep God, for You to compassionately hurl our sins there” another spirit thought spoke (Micah 7:19)

Saturday I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and still thinking about the ocean, “the sounds of Your breathing, the mist of Your nostrils, and yes, the depths of Your love.” I searched the web for those same “trench” names glowing on the airplane screen, instead I found a 3D map of the ocean floor, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/3d-map-of-australia-seafloor/5372132

I gazed at the swirls and globs of turquoise and teal clay on the map. I imagined Your hand reaching for Your magic dust. “Do You, the Master of the universe keep Your coloured paints in jars, or do you just think, and it appears?” It was You who first whispered the idea of colour, and their hints and hues into the world and our ears, as life burst forth from the womb.

“Do You have tools like we do, with wooden handles and sliver blades, to scrape the ocean floor and shape the underwater mountain ranges?” I asked and quickly scoffed at my question. “Of course not” I answered myself.

You trace the trenches with Your finger nails, and imprint the basins with the palm of Your hand!

My God, my God – who has “walked the recesses of the deep” Job 38:16.

 

 

 

We Need This Kind of Love

How do we find this kind of love? How do we grow this kind of love? How do we be this kind of love? (Pertaining to the song “All We Need” © Cindy Palin, Nov. 2005, posted yesterday)

1 John 4:17-21 (The Message)

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

The reason why we human beings fail at love so miserably is because we expect love to be an easy thing. Many of us haven’t healed from past wounds. Many of us drag baggage into our so called ‘love nest”, and expect love to flourish amongst the garbage.

Many times we want love, and not God, and the two are synonymous. God first loved us and because He did, it is possible through him to love unconditionally, without fear, and with forgiveness and faithfulness.

We cannot truly love without the author of love.

All we need is love? The love we need is God, and then everything else will take shape accordingly.

Beware, love grows at different rates. Our friendships, our commitments, our covenants are not about choosing the drive through. Instant love does not exist. Instant love is temporary pleasure, and then you feel emptier than when you first started searching.

God’s love transforms us so that we are able to love others, love our spouses, love our children, and their children and cultivate generations of love.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you believe you need to know God to love? Do you recognize there is baggage in your life, sin that is weighing you down? Perhaps you are all too painfully aware of the baggage you carry, the confusion you brought into your relationship – ask for help. Put your pride aside. I recommend laying out on the floor face down – and ask for help. Don’t trust in your own strength, your own sense of responsibility or lack thereof. We can do all things through Him and by His strength (Phil 4:13).

Walk in His love, and you will be love to others.

Ephesians 5:2 The Message 

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

 

 

 

The Father’s Heart

One out of four women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This song is dedicated to our little boys and girls, and to our mothers and fathers, to our sisters and brothers who have suffered sexual trauma. May we all continue to work towards solutions. I know there is hope and healing available from our Father’s heart.

 

Louder Than The Lies

Recently,  building with Shelter Canada in El Salvador, I noticed one of the family’s relatives had a television in their nearby home. I was immediately reminded of a dear friend of ours who visited a Zulu Chief in South Africa. Upon his arrival he noted that the Chief was watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “terminator” role on television. Even more recently I was having a discussion with someone in my own neighbourhood regarding a prominent Hollywood celebrity who works as a bounty hunter.

All of these observations, and subsequent conversations have something in common. Each occurrence was in the midst of an impoverished reality, people needing homes, food, education, facing life threatening situations. I ached at the thought of the pseudo reality many have chosen to live in. I grieved at the realization millions of souls around the globe are influenced by false truths that offer no real food for their spirit. Many of the messages streaming into our minds are negative and violent, encouraging a tough and calloused approach to life.

A character’s persona, and imaginary world, whether on television, in a video game, music video, or novel – offers the observer an escape from reality, a reality that may be very difficult. This escape is only temporary. Reality is always right around the corner.

What kind of real food do we need to be sharing with one another so our lives have purpose, and meaning, and hope? What kind of truth can we be living out loud to help our loved ones, and neighbours get up every morning and seize the day? With God’s help truth can be louder than the lies.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home Away from Home

They opened a black rod iron gate that faced the street, and in we rolled with our suitcases trailing behind, over the threshold into our home away from home, through a meeting room with white stacked chairs, and into a courtyard full of foliage.victoria-el-salvador

To the right is where a vehicle was parked each night, with two side doors, one for the vehicle to come and go, and one for us to enter and exit every day. To my left was a corridor where the men turned to their sleeping quarters, one big room with four bunk beds and three singles. These areas were tucked under the upstairs living quarters.

We women were instructed to go straight ahead and further in, past the parking on the right, and the men’s quarters, a counter and bathroom on the left – towards an outdoor washing station (where we would get our clothes washed throughout the week). The station was a flat stone surface where our friend would roll and knead the clothes with lye soap and water.

A few steps in towards the washing station was where the courtyard opened to El Salvador’s sky, with a myriad of tropical plants and vines. A sharp right past the greenery and a stand alone corner bathroom, and up three stairs. Another right turn up six or seven more steep steps, at least for we short ones. There was a railing I could hang onto, but I did so carefully so as not to disturb the precious vines clinging to the same. I noted how my friends, who were taller, seemed to take the stairs so effortlessly, and how I sometimes had to take two hops for every one, especially at the end of the day.

I loved how the stairwell shared the outside cinder block wall, and every time I reached the top I would pause and look out at the carpeted hills of green, and the place across the side street where a woman ground corn by hand. This spot also became Martin’s secret espionage station, where he would lie in wait to pummel our unsuspecting friends below with water balloons (all in good fun).

At the top of the stairs lay a row of three bedrooms, a bathroom, and then a fourth bedroom, each with single beds and bunks. The previously open eve of the roof had been sealed, perhaps to keep humans and bugs apart, or to keep us dry? Rumour had it the gecko’s liked to visit, but I never saw one. My roomy found one in the sink one morning and decided he got there first, thus her decision to brush her teeth in the shower. We were told about the gigantic bugs that resembled grasshoppers, and one of those clung to the outside of our bedroom door for most of the week. I named him Jiminy Cricket, but he never once mentioned Pinocchio.

The first couple of nights, when I awoke to use the bathroom, I would click on my flashlight and try to unlock our door as quietly as possible. I would then tip toe down the outdoor corridor hoping not to see the rumoured midnight cat robber, who came looking for bread. I’d reach my destination, jump inside and lock the door behind me, and then remind myself to breath. Every once and a while I would scold my brain for entertaining thoughts of some critter hiding behind the shower curtain.

At first, the thought of a nocturnal cat thief, snooping for bread, didn’t fizz me much, but we were soon told the said “cat” may not be your average house hold variety, but a jungle one instead? Someone may have been pulling our legs, but my quiet bathroom exits became louder in order to frighten any real threat away, hoping to keep any jungle cat from pulling my real leg.

I loved waking up to the sound of the rooster’s crow, even though their singing began around 3:00 a.m. Yes, there were several of them. Perhaps they were singing the traditional El Salvadorian welcome song? And then there were the birds that came to dance on our roof around 6:00 a.m. Perhaps they were concerned we may sleep in?

The clothes drying on the lines criss crossing the courtyard, and our railing every morning reminded me of my childhood, hanging out clothes on the farm. My eyes always drifted over the walls of the compound to a collage of red pines on yonder hill, and a ribbon of road that wound off into the distant jungle. It made me wonder what lie beyond, and conclude how big the world really is, and reel at the great deal of detail God put into Creation.

My home away from home reminded me of how much God truly cares about you and me.

“But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Some how the words “thank you” don’t quite say enough to God and our El Salvadorian hosts.

Gracias