Monday, December 23, 2013

Peace on Earth

    I really do need to start writing again. So much goes on in my life in a day/a week...God amazes me continually with what He is doing in my life and in the lives of those around me. I love Facebook and I post on it a lot...too much for some :) ... but it is a great way to communicate and to keep in touch. I much prefer connecting with people through there than just sitting and watching TV. I love to share pics and quotes, learn from others and see what's happening in the world around me. I'm not much for watching the's too depressing...but I love to hear what's happening in the lives of people in my life and seeing how God is moving in them and through them. 
As I read, I pray too and so to me it's not just a gossip column...I hate seeing it as that... but it's an encouragement and prayer session too. It can be used for wonderful things and it's so quick to be kept up to date and to send out encouragement to others through prayer requests and photos. I love those online hugs and chats! I don't know what I would do if I didn't have FB to keep in touch with my daughter who's on the other side of the world right now. Even though she's not in the room with me, it does feel as though she's right next door beside me through the computer. Technology can be an amazing thing when it's used right. :)
   Yesterday I had some of my family over and it was wonderful to bless my little mamma before Christmas. It's been tough to plan a family gathering this year with all of our families growing so much and people going in opposite directions. Family time is precious and I'm so thankful that each of us has that time with our kids, and for some, the time with the grandkids...I'm not at that point yet...hopefully not for a while yet. :)  I love the stages my kids are at right now and I know that when the grandparent time comes, I will love that time too. But for those that could stop by and enjoy some visiting yesterday, it was wonderful! One of the highlights was surprising gramma with a skype chat with Alysha in England. She was so pleased to see a 'picture' of one of her granddaughters on the computer but when she started to talk and move on the computer, well, that made gramma cry. :) It was a precious moment to share!
   But there was other things on my mind too. These past few days I've come into contact with many different people who've all got a story to tell and are all on a different journey. I spoke with a man who has no home and lives in a van, even through these bitter cold days, but often has a smile on his face and carries his Bible with him everywhere he goes. I spoke with my friend in England over video chat who asked me to walk outside and show her the bright blue skies above us because she rarely sees them where she lives and both her and her husband expressed how beautiful that sky was. I've sat with friends who are missing a loved one this Christmas...many are missing loved ones who've passed on and are not present with them on this earth any longer. There are friends who are not on good terms with family members and that makes the Christmas season tense and full of not-so-good memories. Single moms are struggling through this month as well and need a smile, a hug or words of encouragement. People in Ontario have been without power for hours and will be for days yet because of a major ice storm passing through that country. Others are into huge debates and discussions over the Duck Dynasty issue. Then there's a man who's struggling for life in a hospital bed....all of these people have a story...a testimony...someone who God has made in His image and who are all searching for the meaning of life...the purpose of their own lives.
   Through this all, there is to be love joy peace...and the greatest one being love. As Jesus and Phil Robertson would say, we need to love. Love is the greatest commandment and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love does not envy, does not boast, does not keep a record of wrongs, and it is kind, patient, forgiving and covers a multitude of sins. I love Love! This love dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit...God is love and He pours His love into us so that we can love others the way He's designed us to love...we just gotta want that love. :)  Then there is also the peace that comes from God that surpasses all understanding...oh how I love that peace and want it ever so much continually in my life. 
Before Jesus left this earth, in John 14:27 he said, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." Being a mom with teenagers, a daughter with extended family, a wife with a precious hubby, a friend with wonderful sisters in the Lord around her...keeping in mind what Proverbs 31:25-26 says is very important to me:  "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions."  It's easy to be afraid and allow fear to consume my thoughts...but that would be very unwise. :)  When I think of all my friends and family and those that I've spoke with in the past few weeks, I pray these verses over them and that is my wish for them all this Christmas.

   In addition to all that, I myself desire to be this woman in Proverbs and to also have the precious gift that Jesus left his disciples. To be filled with such an amazing surpassing-all-understanding peace, to have the incredible joy of the Lord that no circumstances around me can steal, to flow with an unspeakable grateful heart which is overflowing because of God's astounding goodness and to love unconditionally with the love that God gives freely to all who ask for it....yes that is who I desire to be and I yearn for all those greatly....and I know I can have them. :)        

 Wisdom  Kindness  Strength  Dignity  Courage  Peace of Mind   Salvation  No fear  

May it be so those around me...and in myself....may it be so.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Journey to Turkey & Greece 2014

standing on the Island of Patmos looking down at the harbor
beautiful islands along the coast on the way to Patmos
Island of Santorini
Have you ever wanted to go where the Apostle John wrote and spoke about the 7 Churches of Revelation or journey through some of the places where Paul went on his missionary journeys? I sure have! And now God is at work on making that dream a reality....Greece/Turkey is becoming more and more a reality each day.

sunset from Santorini with the cruise ship in the distance
a main street in Ephesus which led to the port/harbor
I've had 3 wonderful people in my life who have already travelled to these parts of the world; my son Brandon on his way home from Bible school in England journeyed on his own throughout Europe, including Greece; my friend Donna from my Tuesday night Bible study group who toured Israel/Greece with her husband this past March and she was gracious to allow me to use her photos to share with you; and my friend Lorna Dueck from Listen Up TV/Context with Lorna Dueck had led a tour to Turkey and made a teaching video from it...such a great resource! If you'd like to watch them, go to this link to watch Lorna Dueck's Video Journal Through Turkey  I've learned so much from these three people and they have played a key part in this dream becoming a reality.
library at Ephesus

large amphitheatre near the Acropolis in Athens

Temple of the Goddess of Fertility in Athens Acts 17 - 'Paul
was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere'

Mars Hill at Athens Acts 17

The Bema Seat where Paul spoke from Acts 18
"Since my 2nd journey to Israel in 2009, I’ve been dreaming of continuing on to the footsteps of the Apostle Paul and also to ‘see’ the Churches of Revelation through the eyes of the Apostle John while walking through the land. On my 3rd journey with a group to the Holy Land, my tour guide Arie Harel and I began planning for the Greece/Turkey tour for 2014. It was so exciting! God had now brought me to the Holy Land with all of my family – 2008 with my hubby, son and pastor; 2009 with my middle daughter, 2011 with my youngest daughter – and now my heart yearned to go even deeper into the history of the church and the apostles….to continue the story of the New Testament after the time of Jesus. OH! I couldn’t wait! But in 2012, Jodi Kozan, Founder/President of Women's Journey of Faith (WJOF), asked if I was willing to take WJOF on a tour to Israel in 2013. After prayer and discussion I agreed, still knowing that my heart was yearning to go to Greece and Turkey in 2014. So the journey to Israel with WJOF became my first venture to the Holy Land without a member of my family, but my 4th trip in total. Jodi and I discussed the possibility of partnering together for this journey to Greece as well, so that is how we’ve come to this place…and now you will know… the rest…of the story. :)  It’s been an absolutely amazing journey that God has had me on! Oh how I praise Him for instilling the yearning in my heart to venture deeper with Him in this way! It is such a joy and a delight to take women on these tours and to grasp the writings in Scripture in such a brand new way walking in the footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles!"  Continue reading on the WJOF Tours blog... 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creation....Damaged.....Re-creation ♥

I met a woman....she is convinced that God hates women. :(  Through the choices that she's made, she's come to a place where she continually sees woman used and abused, damaged, thrown around and discarded. She was adopted and raised up in a Christian home attending church and has read the Bible through a few times. But through difficult life experiences from a teenager on, her heart has become bitter and sees no hope for woman. As she shared her hurting heart with me, her 6 month old baby fussed and whimpered...even he didn't like what he was hearing from his mamma. But as I told her how beautiful she was, what a beautiful baby she had and how much God loves her, this baby cooed and smiled. :)  She began arguing the fact and continued on in her hurt and the baby began whimpering again. I gently disagreed and reminded her that man cannot live alone, that God created woman as a good thing that man cannot live without but the Devil/sin took that beautiful creation and has turned it into something so lustful and twisted that God never intended...God is good, loves her and her baby and has an amazing plan for them both...and the baby wiggled with glee and smiled. ♥  Oh how the Good Lord uses the wee ones to minister to our broken hearts! made me smile too! :)

I walked away disheartened though. Some people, women, have incredible pain and can that be Lord? What has brought someone to that point? Who am I to be talking to her when I don't even know what I'm doing at times? At times I feel so helpless and inadequate myself. But this I know...I do know, without a doubt, that Jesus is the only answer.  Without him there is no much as humans try to convince themselves of it....a life without the Love of Christ grounded deeply within them, there is NO HOPE.  I came home with much on my heart and sat in the dark in my car and listened to a song asking the Holy Spirit coming down and reigning in desperate we are for him to speak, touch, move, live and love through us and how we cannot do anything alone without him.

This past Sunday we had Cassandra Basnett, founder of Justice Rising, come speak at our church. I've never met anyone quite like her. She's a young lady in her mid-20's who goes into the darkest places in our world and brings HOPE with the love of Jesus Christ. She walks into the brothels to rescue women, she goes into the war-torn areas and rescues child soldiers....she has no fear but the Armor of God with love surrounding her very being and she goes into these areas and brings hope and restoration. Her stories are amazing...why??...because of Jesus!

This morning when I came downstairs to work on my Bible study, God knew EXACTLY what I needed to read. :)  He is amazing!! Here's some excerpts I read this morning from the True Woman - Divine Design study that was written by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh Demoss:

The design was incomplete. Without woman, the story just didn't make sense. 
How can a man express the story of Christ and the church without a bride? How could he showcase the relationship? How could he depict the union? How could he be fruitful without her? He couldn't.
And how could the man portray the love Christ would have for His bride, and how could that bride's respectful and adoring submission to Christ be pictured, unless the woman was brought to the man?
Woman was vital to the story line. Without her, there would be no story, and no one to hear it either. The creation of the woman provided a vital picture of Christ's bride.

After God created woman, things were Very Good.
God created woman delightful, remarkable, truly wonderful!

"Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work...The works of his hands are faithful and just."  Psalm 111:2-7

New life in Jesus gives us the freedom and power to live according to this divine design. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can delight in the differences between man and woman, live in accordance with Scripture's standards, and allow our manhood and womanhood to recite God's magnificent poem.

Much of humankind is badly damaged but the restoration can be even more amazing than the creation. We were created so beautifully by God but being born into a sinful world, damage, hurt and pain happen. "The original design was splendid. But the miracle of restoration enhances the beauty. Knowing the drama of 'our' whole story, one can only gaze in wonder. The creation was great. But the re-creation is even matter how ugly the layers of sin get, God is in the restoration business. He is a great, redeeming God who is making all things new, through the work of Christ on our behalf. His divine power and love can re-create and restore lives to its original design--that beautiful work of art intended to display the loveliness of Christ. Are you wanting a makeover? Will you let Him re-create you according to His Divine Design?"

Yes Lord, do a beautiful, completion work of restoration in our lives! ♥

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Another Journey to the Holy Land ♥

Wow!  In just a day and a few hours of sleep, I will be leaving for the Holy Land with a lovely group of ladies. ♥  This will be my 4th trip and I think I'm almost the most nervous. :)  But I know God has great things in store for us there! He's got amazing moment lined up for each one of us...including 3 of the women wanting to be baptized in the Jordan River! YAY!  OH! I KNOW God has great things in store for us on this pilgrimage.  :)

This is our lovely group of ladies who are going.....accept my dog Gracie. :)  Only Sandra is missing from this pic as she lives in Red Deer and won't be joining us until the day we leave.  Left to right is Gwen, Kathy, JoAnne, Pamela, Sherri, Alice, Jodi (with Gracie), Ruth, Lisa (me). :)

I pray that you will keep us in your prayers as we prepare and begin this journey.  If you'd like to follow along on a more indepth blog which we will be posting in daily, go on this link WJOF Ladies Tour to the Holy Land 

If you'd like to read of my previous journeys to Israel, click on Israel 2011, Israel 2009 or Israel 2008 on the main page of my Lisa's Pic's blog here. ♥

Monday, March 04, 2013

20 Years of Bible Study Memories

one of the first groups I led
It was just over 20 years ago, in the winter of 1992, when I was pregnant with Brandon that I began attending a ladies Bible study. I was immediately hooked! We were living in Dalmeny at the time and I had to quit work earlier than planned due to medical reasons with my pregnancy. I joined a ladies study in Dalmeny on Thursdays as well as one at Cornerstone on Fridays. After Brandon was born, the leader at Cornerstone was moving and she asked if I would continue on in leading the ladies study at Cornerstone. I immediately said yes! J So, what I learned on Thursdays at the study in Dalmeny, I turned around and began teaching it at the study at Cornerstone. Little did I know that I was beginning an amazing journey studying God’s Word with many dear sisters in Christ.   Here is a photo of one of the earlier groups that I led at Cornerstone...a blast to the past. J

having a picnic after a Friday morning study
  Hundreds of women have come across my path through Bible studies and I’ve learned so much from each and every one of them. I treasure all those jewels in my life and I know they treasure all the gems that we’ve gathered from God’s Word together. But it was in 2005 that God began a new journey in my life and he put it on my heart to go to Bolivia to visit missionaries. It was there in March 2006 that I was introduced to the indepth studies of Beth Moore. In 2007 about 30 of us ladies began our 1st Beth Moore study. It changed our lives and we haven’t turned back. Indepth studies have stretched us beyond what we have imagined. They have molded our character and deepened our walk with our Savior. Going to Israel with Pastor Russ in 2008 and then leading ladies groups to Israel in 2009 and 2011 have enriched the leadership of these studies in ways that I’ve never imagined!

Friday morning study at Cornerstone Church
Over the last couple years, more and more women from different churches have been coming through Bible study. We’ve gone through a variety of studies like Loved by God by Liz Curtis Higgs, Nurture by Lisa Bevere, The Truth Project and then others by Beth Moore; Believing God, Breaking Free, Living Beyond Yourself, Anointed Transformed Redeemed (with Priscilla Shirer/Kay Arthur), To Live is Christ – the life of Paul and Jesus the One and Only.  In January we studied the life of the Apostle John called the Beloved Disciple. It was filmed right on location in Greece/Turkey and the Island of Patmos. My hope and prayer  is to take a ladies tour there in Spring 2014. This past summer was the first time we took part in a summer study. Along with thousands of women across the globe, about a dozen of us studied the book of Nehemiah by Kelly Minter. You are welcome to read what I’ve written about it at this link  So much rich Jewish history we learned in that study. 

Tabernacle Replica in Ontario

In September 2012 we journeyed through A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place – which was a study on the Old Testament Tabernacle and what it meant for the Israelites in the desert but also what it means for us today when Jesus says we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Incredibly powerful study and over 70 ladies, in 3 different groups had attended. We were so blessed!!  If you’d like to read about what I wrote about that study, you are welcome to go to this link as well In September, I had the joy of going to the Crossroads Centre in Ontario and literally walking through a replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle. What an experience!!  I am so thankful for that wonderful gift God gave me in that and to share with the ladies in the study groups.  We are all truly God’s Dwelling Place – our hearts – our lives – God with us!  

Thursday morning study at the
Warman Gospel Church
Pastor Russ often speaks about changing the world. Serving in and being a part of these ladies Bible studies over the years has definitely ‘changed the world’ both in my own life but also very much in the lives of these ladies who are a part of studying God’s Word. Each study impacts our lives and families. There’s nothing else quite like gathering together with a group of incredible women who are hungering to know more of God’s Word and to deepen their relationship with Him. It was such a delight to organize a bus trip to Calgary to attend a Beth Moore Conference this past June...such a reward for us that have journeyed through so many of her Bible studies. 

Tuesday night study in my home
We’ve already begun another study called Stepping Up  - a study on the Psalms of Ascent. We have learned so much already and in March, after completing this study, a group of us will be returning to Israel, Lord willing. We are all on a pilgrimage in our walk with God and it is particularly meaningful to be going through these Psalms of Ascent before returning to the Holy Land once again. In 4 different groups, there are about 110 women taking this study and about 30 of those who attend Cornerstone Church.  It’s definitely been an outreach ministry and some of those women have begun attending Cornerstone as a result.  What a joy and privilege it is to walk with these women!

It’s been extremely rewarding to lead these studies and to see the growth in the women. I love seeing who God is going to bring to each study that He’s led us to do and to see what He’s going to do in their lives! It brings me, and Him, much joy. J He handpicks each one. It’s an honor to lead these women, an honor to serve my church through this, and an honor to serve God through my life. Oh how I love Him and I love my church!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shout for Joy and Facedown and WHAT? ...Suffer??

So the people went away... to celebrate with GREAT JOY because they had HEARD GOD'S WORDS and understood them.

As I read these words this morning, I was overcome with joy and gladness as I have felt this way so many times when I've come away from hearing a powerful sermon at church or from spending a couple hours in Bible study with other women who are hungering to know more of the Word of God. "In Nehemiah 8:1-12 we read of how Ezra the priest brought the book of the law of Moses before the assembly of Israel when they were all helping to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  These were the words that God had given to Moses for the people of Israel to obey and Ezra read to them from early morning until noon. They all paid such close attention...they were hungry for God's Word and when he was finished reading 

"Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, "AMEN! AMEN!" as they lifted their hands toward heaven. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground." 

Oh, it brings instant tears to my eyes and my knees have a strong urge to go down to the ground along with them! Can you imagine  .... can you just imagine .... the JOY they had in their hearts as they heard the words of the LORD at this point in their lives. They'd just spent years in exile in Babylon after their beloved Jerusalem had been destroyed. Now they were back in their homeland, rebuilding the walls and the Temple and HEARING THE WORDS OF THE LORD once again. Oh yes they wept because they realized how far away they had gone from obeying God...but now they reheard the beloved words and they could once again sing His praises and REJOICE!  

The JOY of the LORD was their STRENGTH!

Many many years earlier, the people of Israel had another incredible facedown experience with God. In Leviticus 9 we read of Aaron and his sons preparing the sacrifices to God with the offerings the people brought to them. The Tabernacle had been completed and the people were given instructions on how to worship a Holy God and to live a holy life. Aaron presented the offerings to the LORD, just as God commanded him to do through Moses. 

"Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the whole burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. Next Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the GLORIOUS PRESENCE OF THE LORD APPEARED to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the LORD's presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this, they SHOUTED WITH JOY AND FELL FACE DOWN on the ground."

The Word of the Lord was so powerful then and His Presence was amazing.....and it still is today!

I want to be a SHOUT FOR JOY and a FALL FACEDOWN type of follower of Christ! Beth Moore speaks about this in the Stepping Up Bible study that over100 of us women are journeying through right now. I DO want to be that type of Christian! I don't want any fluff or feel good sermons or words....I want the passionate messages from the Word of God and the challenge to live our lives more passionately for God. That's why I LOVE Bible study! Getting together with other believers who are hungering for a deeper walk with God and to know more of His Word is so incredibly fills you up like nothing else can! I want to hear God more, I want to know more of His Word, I want to praise Him more, I want to experience more of His Power and Love and Grace, I want to see more and more people becoming passionate and hungering for more and more of Him too....oh how I desire for more of HIM!  So I want to take the challenge to become more of a facedown follower of Jesus Christ! I know I've lost the reverence that our ancestors had and I want it back. 

This morning I read such an incredibly beautiful and encouraging blog post from Liz Curtis Higgs. In it she is talking about the Book of Romans and how God CHOSE Saul - while he was standing on the sidelines, nodding his head and giving approval to the stoning of Stephen, a devout follower of Jesus...God CHOSE him! On the road to Damascus, Saul had an experience with the Lord and I'm sure he wasn't just standing up for it either...I'm certain he fell to the ground on his knees while saying "who are you Lord? what do you want with me?"  I'm sure he had a facedown type of an experience with the Light of Jesus shining down on him. See, it didn't matter too much to God what Saul WAS because God knew full well who Saul would BECOME. He would become a 'bond-servant' a 'slave', a 'prisoner' of Jesus his whole life completely for him and eventually dying for him. He wrote much of the New Testament and gave instructions to the early church on how to live their lives as believers/followers of Jesus Christ full of joy and passion. WOW! So my challenge I want to live the life that the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ are asking me to live? Do I want to live and be able to say with Paul "for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)  Am I prepared to suffer? Am I willing to share the sufferings of Christ on this earth? In our Sunday School class we've just started on The Cross and Suffering by David Platt , John Piper quotes "Wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians won't survive the days ahead." Am I ready?? I told my girls a few weeks ago that the desire is so strong in me to know more of the Bible and become stronger in my prayer life so that when really difficult days come - and they will - that I am able to stand firm on the foundation that I've been building on - Jesus Christ and The Bible. In the same class, D.A. Carson also quotes "Whatever the church does, it should prepare its members to face death and meet God." I believe that is what our pastor is teaching our prepare for the future, to move forward, to not be the same church at the end of the year that we are today - to be world changers, and to become more passionate full of zeal followers of Jesus Christ.

Am I ready? Do I want this? Do I want change in my life? Do I want to become a 'prisoner of Christ' like Paul was and to say "To live is Christ and to die is gain." Part of me so very much longs to become a "Shout for Joy - Facedown" type of Christian....I do want it....but am I willing to go through what it takes to become one? Liz Curtis Higgs says it perfectly. I totally resonate with her words and I will leave them with's deep my friends....are you willing to say the same words as she does at the end? I am....

Servant, slave, prisoner.
Conviction pierces my heart, sharp and swift. Small. Humble. I don’t pray to be those things. I don’t even want to be those things.
Oh, I’m happy to serve the Lord wherever I’m needed, but I’d rather not be thought of as a servant. And I definitely don’t wish to be treated like a slave, let alone like a prisoner.
Yet God said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). And Paul welcomed it. Even got excited about it. “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Few of us would say, “I’d like to suffer, please.” Yet Paul says, in essence, “Bring it.”

I’m so not there. Even after thirty years of knowing God, I’m not even close.
If this was my letter to the believers in Rome, the most I could say at the start is, “Liz, a…” What? Pew warmer? Choir member? Nice person? Groan.

This is the awful truth: I pray to be Christ-like, when I’m not even willing to be Paul-like.

The Lord’s patience overwhelms me. His grace astounds me. So, at the start of a new year, as I memorize chapters from the timeless book of Romans, I whisper again, “Change me, Lord.”

Please, please change me.