An Appointment With Nature

 

Over the summer months I have been focusing on writing a book. I haven’t had much exercise; not even working in the garden or walking. Despite a minimum of attention tomatoes, herbs and flowers have blossomed in the sunny summer we have had. Butterflies flutter and swallows swoop overhead . They are enjoying the end of summer sunshine.

My body was telling me it needed some exercise. I feel a bit stiff after sitting at a desk for hours on end.  I needed to get away from my computer and books.  I needed to get outdoors to see life around me.

Yesterday I awoke early to a warm, bright morning and decided to go for a cycle. I prefer cycling to walking. It is not too taxing pushing my bike along the Loughshore Rd. The seashore was just to my right. I heard the sound of stones hitting one another and stopped to investigate. I counted ten turnstones, tiny seabirds, busily upturning small stones and feeding on the juicy morsels of insects exposed. The birds were well camouflaged against the brown and grey seaweed and stones. One wouldn’t know they were there except for the noise they were making. I was delighted to discover them on my trip outdoors.

Each time Brendan and I go for a walk there is always something going on in nature. On the way home I noticed a dozen teal ducks who had come ashore to drink fresh water from a brook that trickles down to the sea. They were resting and preening their feathers. They were safe, warming themselves in the morning sunshine. How beautiful? What have I been missing?

A speaker once said that Nature is the bible of creation. Jesus said “Look at the birds.” I learn a lot from watching birds.

This morning I was full of aches and pains after cycling. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to stay resting under the blankets. I didn’t want more pain from exercising. Brendan encouraged me to come down for breakfast. After a chat and food I was revitalised. I persevered to go cycling again. I decided to keep up the exercise. What has nature in store for me this morning?

I got my bicycle out again. I wasn’t disappointed. I stopped to rest at Ballyhenry Island. It was low tide. A flocks of seagulls were sunbathing. I heard the chugg chugg of a boat in the distance. It was setting out towards the marine station where research is taking place. I watched as it came close.

A tall black bird caught my eye in the distance. It was flapping its wings. Perhaps it was stretching after feeding. It continued to flap and stretch its wings for fifteen minutes. I was amazed at its energy.   It’s not easy to see a cormorant up close.  They keep their distance from danger.  When on the ferry one can catch a glimpse of a cormorant as it surfaces after diving for food.  Their short legs and streamlined body help them easily glid into the water.  They have been likened to penguins. Bird Island off Kircubbin is where they can safely nest and rear their young.

I thought of the following scripture,
“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭148:7-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I imagined the cormorant was praising The Lord with its outstetched wings for more that fifteen minutes. I could not keep my arms raised for fifteen minutes. I marvelled as I watched the black bird in the distance.

It was time to return home. I look forward to tomorrow morning. What will the birds be doing?

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God is Merciful Again and Again.

Prayer from the book of Nehemiah

“On October 31 the people assembled again, and this time they fasted and dressed in sackcloth and sprinkled dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. They remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God.”
‭‭“Then the leaders of the Levites called out to the people:
“Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!”
Then they prayed:
“May your glorious name be praised!
May it be exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord.
You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars.
You made the earth and the seas and everything in them.
You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.
You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans and renamed him Abraham. When he had proved himself faithful, you made a covenant with him to give him and his descendants the land of the Canaan.
And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word.
You saw the misery of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea.
You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors.
You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.
You divided the sea for your people so they could walk through on dry land! And then you hurled their enemies into the depths of the sea.
They sank like stones beneath the mighty waters.
You led our ancestors by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night so that they could find their way.
“You gave them bread from heaven when they were hungry and water from the rock when they were thirsty.
You commanded them to go and take possession of the land you had sworn to give them. “But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them.
Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt.
But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.
You did not abandon them, even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, ‘This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!’
They committed terrible blasphemies. “But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness.
The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night.
You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.
For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!
“They went in and took possession of the land. You subdued whole nations before them.
Even the Canaanites, who inhabited the land, were powerless!
Your people could deal with these nations and their kings as they pleased.
Our ancestors captured fortified cities and fertile land.
They took over houses full of good things, with cisterns already dug and vineyards and olive groves and fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate until they were full and grew fat and enjoyed themselves in all your blessings.
But despite all this, they were disobedient and rebelled against you.
They turned their backs on your Law, they killed your prophets who warned them to return to you, and they committed terrible blasphemies.
So you handed them over to their enemies, who made them suffer.
But in their time of trouble they cried to you, and you heard them from heaven. In your great mercy, you sent them liberators who rescued them from their enemies.
But as soon as they were at peace, your people again committed evil in your sight, and once more you let their enemies conquer them.
Yet whenever your people turned and cried to you again for help, you listened once more from heaven. In your wonderful mercy, you rescued them many times!
In your love, you were patient with them for many years.
You sent your Spirit, who warned them through the prophets.
But still they wouldn’t listen! So once again you allowed the peoples of the land to conquer them.
But in your great mercy, you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever.
What a gracious and merciful God you are!
Every time you punished us you were being just. We have sinned greatly, and you gave us only what we deserved. Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your Law or listen to the warnings in your commands and laws.”
‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭9: 1-3, 5-12, 15-21, 24-28, 30-31, 33-34‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is a prayer the people of Israel prayed after some of them returned to Jerusalem. Their forefathers had been exiled to Babylon, seventy years before. The the temple in Jerusalem was torn down by their captors. The people gathered and acknowledged God and how he had been merciful to their forefathers even though they had sinned and went after other idols. They not only confessed their sins but acknowledged the sins of their forefathers. They humbled themselves with fasting.

From studies it is shown that brain cells grow when one fasts. Fasting helps to change and heal our minds. Old cells in our brain that remember thoughts that are not Godly can be washed away and new cells with new thoughts can come into the new cells. It has been shown by Dr Leaf that when one repents or changes his mind his brain cells change. God causes us to change our mind.

So fasting and confessing our sins of our generation past breaks curses from our forebears. To get free from generational curses one has to admit he could be under a curse. Then he can ask God to forgive and heal. The power of the curse down the generations has to be broken by someone whom God has anointed to pray in such a way.

This is what it means in Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Do you want restoration? Are you praying for revival? Are you praying for healing? Are you praying for renewal of your youth. Then you need to confess your sins and the sins of your forefathers.

Then God will hear from heaven and heal you.

Living in Harmony

Watching a wildlife program about Japan has inspired me.

The most northerly island, Hokkaido has the harshest climate of all the islands of Japan. The people who have settled there are farmers who grow cereals and flowers in the short summer. Fishermen harvest the rich sea before the cold of winter freezes it over.

In September the Pacific salmon begin to return to the rivers of Hokkaido to spawn. Black bears gather at the coast to feast on the fish that team in the river mouths. Fishermen who also collect the bounty of salmon, sit mending their nets. These men and bears live in harmony with each other. There is plenty of food for both. Often a mother bear is fiercely protective of her cubs, but there is no need to fear in Hokkaido.

The farmers have reclaimed marshland on the coastlands. They were once the feeding grounds of large, tall, white birds called the Red Crowned Cranes. To the Japanese they are symbols of beauty and long life. A century ago their numbers were reduced to thirty pairs. They were in danger of extinction. The farmers, who drained the cranes’s feeding areas, rescued the cranes by giving them grain through the winter when the ground is frozen. Their numbers have now grown to 1000. Here is another example of men and wildlife living in harmony. They co-exist in the harsh conditions.

These cranes are known most of all for their singing and dancing. When they gather in large numbers they put on a show. The enormous birds lift up their heads and raise a deep call from their throats. They pirouette, jump and flap their large wings. They don’t crash on the icy ground. Their performance reminded me of the ballet dancers I saw recently in “Giselle.” The male star leapt across the stage. The many ballerinas created an enchanting atmosphere with their movements in the second act.

The Red Crested Cranes are an example to us. They live in a cold, harsh environment. They could chose a more comfortable climate. Instead they flourish, dance and sing where they are meant to be. Their beauty, strength and endurance are to be admired. I am encouraged to lift up my voice and dance, like the cranes before the One who created me, even in the most difficult of situations. The psalmist calls us to praise Him. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150 like King David danced with all his might before the Lord when he brought back the Ark of the Lord.

Praise Flows out of Love

Everyone flourishes under praise.  When I was spoon feeding my grandchild this evening I congratulated her on each spoonful she accepted, chewed and swallowed.  Before we knew she had the whole bowlful finished.  My son was able to enjoy his dinner while I looked after Ava.  Normally she would help herself.  Dinner would be spread all around the table and on the floor.  Dinner time was a delight and peaceful without having to persuade Ava to finish her dinner.  No one cared about the mess.  What we did enjoy was our meal together at grand dad’s house.

Our two sons and their families are visiting from Canada.  We are getting together for our son Patrick’s wedding next week.  I am alive to celebrate my son’s wedding and to enjoy my sons visiting from Canada.

When I praise my husband he doesn’t know what hit him.  A light turns on and he would do anything for me.  But sadly I forget too often to thank or praise him.  Recently a friend was praising me for my work and it was very humbling to accept her thanks and approval.  Often one is negative instead of appreciating what a friend, daughter or son does, or value their worth.  I am often guilty of seeing what someone doesn’t do instead of praising them for who he or she is.

I think praise for someone comes out of a heart of love.  I have experienced the love of my family and friends when I was healed from Fourth stage bowel cancer.  They prayed to the One whom they believed and hoped would bring my healing.  I thank and value the help of doctors but they  admit they can treat cancer but do not offer a complete cure.  The One is Jesus.  When he was on earth he went about healing all those with diseases.

I have come to experience God’s complete healing from this deadly disease in my life.  He’s a God who answers prayer.

I am completely indebted to God for my life.  I now find it easy to thank and praise God every day and I want to tell others what a wonderful God he is.  Expressing praise in words and song from the heart to God brings an intimacy with the One who loves me.

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭48:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He returns his peace and love to me.  I am safe in his care where no enemy can touch me.  Other peoples’s negative words roll off me like water off a bird’s waterproof feathers.  When I am in difficult situations I am not afraid.   From this safe position I can value and praise others rather than express my frustration and negativity.

My heart has been changed by knowing God’s love and praise for me.  He values me.  Jesus lifted me up from the pit of despair, depression, disease, fear and death.  He said he can set me free because he died on the cross 2000 years ago to forgive my wrongdoing, to heal my disease and give me life and a hope and a future.  He conquered death by his own death on the cross.  We don’t have to die prematurely.  God promises three score and ten years of life.

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭90:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am now living in that future, a future of restoration, life, peace and love.  He is a God to be trusted and given praise.

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

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.

Marvelous Monday. Fly like an Eagle

On our recent visit to British Columbia, a friend of ours brought us to an area where eagles gathered.  It was marvelous to watch the magnificent birds close up as thimageey perched in the trees or flew overhead.  We spent the whole afternoon with our heads looking up and taking pictures of eagles.  I took this photo with my humble i Pad.

Recently my husband was telling a story to his grandchildren, just as he told his children in the past.

He was telling about the farmer who found an egg in the farmyard.  He put it under one of his hens who was brooding over her eggs.  Eventually the egg hatched and the bird grew.  It became bigger than the other chicks.  It had gangly legs, a big beak and sharp claws.  It had only one friend in the farmyard.

It looked up in the sky one day and saw a beautiful bird soaring high.  He asked his friend what kind of a bird is that.  He told him that is an eagle.  It flies all over the sky travelling miles and miles.  It is the king of the birds.  We are not like that.  The awkward bird was a young eagle.  It lived and died as a chicken.  It never got to fly with the eagles.

Brendan encouraged us to fly high like the eagle and do not be limited to the farmyard.  A friend who is staying with us at the moment explained the wings of an eagle represent praise and prayer in a believer’s life.  When we praise God and pray we rise above our circumstances and get free to soar on the wind wherever it takes us.

If you are in a difficult place right now, start praising God for his goodness and mercy.  Pray about whatever is troubling you and leave it with The Lord.  In no time you will feel lighter and not burdened by your impossible circumstances.  Trust God and fly high.  The answer will come.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”(‭Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭31‬ NIV)

I Hear the Brent Geese Honking.

My front door is one hundred and ten steps away from the sea shore.  This morning I can hear the honks of Canadian Brent geese that graze along the waters edge.  The sun is coming up over the hill to the left.  It will melt the crisp frost that has whitened the grass overnight.  It’s a new day dawning.

image

I think of the song by Matt Redman

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

[Chorus]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

The Brent geese come to this area of Strangford Lough for the winter.  I always think of our friends from Canada when I see them.  They remind me of the blessing Canadians have been to my husband and family.  Canadians have visited us and we have visited Canada.

There are four aeroplane trails going west to east as I look up in the sky.  Flight paths pass over Ireland from Canada to London.  After the Christmas festivities with friends and family my heart is being drawn to travel and the nations beyond to tell my story of God healing me from cancer.

I was reading from the scriptures this morning.

This message is from the LORD, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit. (‭Zechariah‬ ‭12‬:‭1‬ NLT)

How good it is to sing praises to our God.
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars and calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension! (‭Psalm 147 v 1 to 4

These scriptures remind me that the God who made the heavens, made me, and he healed my broken heart and healed my wounds and is restoring my life from sadness and sorrow.

I want to sing Bless The Lord Oh my soul.  I am alive to praise The Lord.  Psalm 88 says the dead cannot praise God.  It is good to be alive to hear and see the Brent Geese.

My sons, daughters and grand children were strumming on their guitars, playing a tin whistle and singing last night as we gathered together.  Songs of joy are filling our home and hearts.

One of my grand daughters gets up early to play her guitar and write songs.  She has to rush when her mum calls her for school.

He awakens me morning by morning and fills me with joy.