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To Whom We Go First

Image by Annie Spratt of Unsplash.com

Caring for people in my confidential workplace has its specific challenges, but where there is challenge there lives the possibility for spiritual growth and wisdom.

The most important lesson I have learned in our faith based, not-for-profit this year, is to trust God. God is big enough for every situation. Doesn’t everyone trust God in all their circumstances? We’re taught about trusting God in the Bible, but trusting God is not in our nature. It is something that needs to be learned and practiced in our relationship with Him.

You can measure your ability to trust God just by reflecting on your actions in one day’s work.  Recently one of my clients was booked in for her regular weekly appointment. She had a difficult story, and listening to her pain had become very challenging for me. I knew she had to drive in from the country. I glanced at the clock. I had just enough time to cancel. I wasn’t feeling strong enough to share in her pain that day. I reached for the phone, but before I could punch in the numbers I paused. “Dear Lord” I began, “do you want me to cancel this appointment?” My spirit sensed the answer was ‘no’. In that moment I could also sense I needed to pray and trust God to be present in our time together. I put the phone down and laid my head on my desk.

Thirty minutes later she arrived with a smile, something I had not seen in all of our visits yet. I closed the door as she sat down, and she grinned at me again. “I am so glad to be here”, she exclaimed.  She continued to explain that having someone to talk to one day out of the week had cleared her mind on all the other six. She was no longer all consumed by the extreme trauma she had experienced as a young woman. My shoulders relaxed as I pulled up a chair beside her. I was so glad I had listened to the Spirit’s guiding, and had chosen to trust Him.

Another very important lesson in trusting God came about during a staff debriefing. One of my esteemed colleagues was helping a client who was in dire need. The first plan of action out of my colleague’s mouth was to talk to the Pastor about her client’s situation. This is one of the reasons we debrief, so we can help one another identify the best course of action in a crisis. I gently reminded her that if she went to the Pastor about her client she would be violating her client’s confidence, and our organization’s confidentiality agreement. It would be far better for her to encourage her client to speak to the Pastor herself. She could even accompany her there. More importantly, in this situation, going to the Pastor first revealed a common tale – a lack of trust in God. It is easier for us to immediately go to our Pastor and Shepherd, mentor or friend in times of need, and pour out what ever is on our heart, but God should be the first one we run to.

No matter what challenges we are facing we should always go to God first. We are not breaching any confidentiality agreement by bowing our heads before our Almighty God, and casting our cares upon him.

Who would you go to next? Well… that could be a topic for another time, but I am trusting God for the Holy Spirit to show you. In closing I would like to share a short poem I was inspired to write after these lessons.

To Whom We Go First

It’s not in the sound, or the language or form

but to whom we go first when the bleakness is born.

It’s not in your strength, or your nature, or name

but to whom you go first when the world pours the pain.

It’s nothing of man, yet we boast in our knowing.

It graces our lips if our hearts heed the calling.

It numbers our days, yet the promise keeps growing.

One God and one truth, He be first in my going.

by Cindy Palin ©October/November 2019

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To Love is a Costly Call

To love is a costly call, for love can have no strings
it steals time and breaks your heart and wrinkles everything

To love is to gamble if it were not for the Christ
Who swallowed death to save my heart because He knows my fight

The one I lose so hopelessly each morning when I wake
Because my heart is human and it hungers more to blame

To lust and twist and use this life for what I want instead
I merely open up my mouth and I can smell the dead (Matt.15:17-19)

To love is impossible without my anguished prayer
Please help me God to love so much I cannot help but care

Even when no not one of them desires my love at all
When I am trampled under foot, mocked and scorned and mauled

To love is a costly call for you were bled bone dry
No earthly guaranteed result, love clearly means to die

So as I die each of these days you've granted me O Lord
I'm watching for the many seeds You spoke of in Your Word (John 12:24)

©Cindy Palin May 2019




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Consider Your Sources

I know the information inundation is over the top when I can’t even put my bare feet on the floor in the morning without asking God to order my day. I use to be able to wait until I got to the breakfast table to ask him such things, but not anymore. I now have to strategically place all my electronic devices from my morning reach to prevent myself from getting sucked into the vortex of the virtual world. I want to receive my marching orders first. I want to live in reality.

Information is crucial, and I am so thankful I can open up my laptop and google for an answer to a question without having to run down to my local library, or rummage through a box of dusty books. But there is so many readily available info bites at our finger tips that our brain is finding it harder and harder to know what to do with them. If you see smoke coming from your ears beware of an impending short circuit.

I was scrolling through my instagram feed last night and my concern about our obsessive information stimulation took a turn. Not only am I overwhelmed with what is available, I am questioning its validity? Every little scripted meme with its correlating photograph is meant to roll off the tongue, and change our lives, but is it truth? How much power does each little quote actually have? And I know live video on instagram is the shazam, but too much of it is like listening to a stranger in the airport talk out loud to someone on their phone. Do we really want all these people taking up space in our heads? I could say the remedy is to be selective, but I believe human wisdom isn’t capable of selectivity without God’s help.

I came across a portion of scripture the other day, while reading “40 Days of Decrease” by author Alicia Britt Chole. While on this earth, Jesus never spoke from his own authority, but the Father’s (John 12:49). This tells me that we need to consider our words carefully. Where are they coming from and for what purpose? By whose authority are we speaking?

In John 14 we hear Jesus asking us to obey His words, the Father’s words (vs 23-24). These verses underline the truth that God’s words are life and not confusion. He is asking us to obey them that we might live. I know for certain this technology age is not what God had in mind when He said he wanted us to have life to the ‘full’ (John 10:10).

Then Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit is coming to teach us (John 14:26). I am reminded I can depend on what the Holy Spirit is telling me. When I ask my Lord to order my day, I can trust the Holy Spirit to help me sift through the ocean of information crashing up against my head, and help me determine healthy priorities, His priorities.

The chapter continues to reveal that God’s words bring peace, and ‘not as the world gives’ (vs 27). I am reminded most of what I read on a day to day basis in social media, and the worldwide web can bring discord. Information doesn’t always enlighten. Too much information can cause confusion. Even empty words can weigh you down.

And finally, verse 27b reminds me God knows all the information in our world today is toying with our sanity, and Jesus answers us by saying “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”

All of this to say, don’t accept everything at face value (1 Thess. 5:21). Don’t talk for talking sake, walk the talk. And if you want to do that – consider your sources.

Cindy Palin

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Mental Health

Imagine the world’s main populace hanging out on one ol’ filthy couch, comfortable, and unwilling to budge regardless of who may be needing help. This is the image that I had when I wrote this song last night. I’ve been very aware of a great deal of young people warring with suicidal thoughts, and a great deal of grown ups not sure of what to say… It is okay to pause before we leap, but we must leap for humanity’s sake.

Gotta bone to pick with this indifferent populace.
How many lives will comfort cost this time?
You don't know him well,
but when he's dead, how do you tell
him you care?
Don't give me unfair!
Let's just grow up here!
Get off that stupid couch and stick your neck out.
Why don't you stick your neck out?

I'm a home sick for an indulgent kind o' fix,
where people try to love with all their might.
I don't know you well,
but just in case I wanna tell
you I care.
The world can laugh at me,
reject my empathy.
I'm up and off this couch,
to stick my neck out.
I'm gonna stick my neck out.

Someday the measure stick will break.
Someday the hungry will not ache.
Someday the rich and poor will shout,
we're up and off this filthy couch.
We're gonna stick our neck out,
Come on and stick your neck out!

©music and lyrics by Cindy Palin March 15, 2019
All Rights Reserved
Registered with SOCAN
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Daughter of Zion

Reading in John 12:12-19, 40 Days of Decrease Study by Alicia Britt Chole

Why a donkey I wondered? Humility and peace. Why the palm branches?Triumph and victory. They came to the processional because they had seen the signs. They wanted a King, but were not expecting a Saviour.

Their demands for Kings in the Old Testament pages, was an earthly fix. But a Saviour for the soul? An eternal remedy.

Every Easter season I revisit a song I wrote years ago called: Daughter of Zion. I have linked a chord sheet and will post a sound sample as well.

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Pondering the Prologue

Reading 40 Days of Decrease.

Even as I ponder the prologue, it is through tears. How often have we mourned over loss, and not considered the losses Christ faced?

“He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years” Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease.

I wept when I read that line. I think of my earthly father, now gone. I think of our loved ones across the miles that we cannot see anytime we want to.

And Jesus knows what that ache feels like.

I am excited to begin this journey. If you haven’t heard of this book be sure to visit the trailer above.

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Two Equations, Two Kinds of Wisdom

Praying for wisdom in someone’s life today, and as I contemplated their approach to life, two equations came to mind.

  1. Surrender = Life
  2. Control = Death

When we strive in our own strength, we are really trusting in ourselves, not God. To trust in ourself is to deny God His rightful place in our life, that is if we understand what it means to invite him in. To believe we can conquer with God’s help, is wisdom. To trust in ourself is wearisome.

  1. With God = Wisdom
  2. Without = Weary

I was reading in ‘Old Testament Wisdom Literature’, by O’Dowd and Bartholomew, where they speak of C.S. Lewis and his understanding of the modern day Christian’s idea of wisdom.

We have the head knowledge, much like Qohelet in the book of Eclesiastes, but to gain true wisdom, we must surrender to God’s process. C.S. Lewis helps us picture this process starting with a small cottage. We are thrilled God has come to live there, but when he starts to “knock walls down and reconstruct the house we are far less happy about his presence.”*

Last night I wanted to find some stretching exercises on the internet. I opened up the first file I found. It contained some yoga stretches without a lot of their verbal theology, however I smiled when I heard the young woman say, “now determine your intentions for the day.”

I choose life, I choose wisdom, and so determine to surrender to God’s intentions, and His plan. He’s been knocking down my walls for a while, can’t imagine He’ll stop until He’s finished.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21)

*C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Glasgow: Fount Paperbacks, 1977), p. 172

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This is what it means to have LIFE TO THE FULL

When I was in High School I dreamt of being a top notch student and working at a great job, and being part of the student council, having a cool boyfriend, and achieving all around success.

Later in life I found my long lost report card and read it. Apparently my top notch marks were in fact, a dream. I did get a job when I was sixteen but I was ill suited for it. My employers were very sweet just the same. I never did get to be on any student council, because I was too busy hoping there was counsel for my family. I had a boyfriend, but I wouldn’t say he was cool, more like predatory. So much for success.

But the full life I dreamt of then was a seed, a glimmer of hope of the joy I celebrate today. If we learn from our mistakes we are all the better for it. I couldn’t celebrate this full life I have without giving credit to the author, and the finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).

There are those who believe faith is for the weak, but this weak is wise (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

So here’s to wisdom, to eventually learning to choose wisely, enjoying a wonderful husband, our incredible gifted children, our two extraordinary grandchildren, our health, our home, work for our hands, and joy in our hearts. So this is what it means to have life to the full (John 10:10).

..and it is all because of HIm. It is all about trusting Him, no matter what anyone else says. He is the one who made us, and He is the one who knows who we really are, and what we really need to experience life to the full.

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