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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Saviour Is Born

Today is Christmas Eve. I look forward to our annual Christmas family dinner. We have celebrated with our children and grandchildren on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, because of time, distance and work schedules, not all of our children and grandchildren will be in attendance. The good news is that two of my grandsons will join me this afternoon for ice fishing before dinner. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every blessing as we prepare to celebrate the entry of our Lord and Saviour into this world. My blog will return on January 1, 2010.

Thank you for reading part or all of what I have written in the last six months. I have been blessed by the study and the writing. As the New Year approaches, I would like to encourage all to comment or make suggestions for topics etc. I must admit that it can get mighty lonely some nights as I write. I have no desire to evoke guilt in my readers, but if you have not commented because you felt I was buried in emails and did not have the time to respond, you are incorrect. The link to our email address is contained in my personal profile below.

Please continue to refer others to this blog site. I am more and more excited as it grows!

Have a great Christmas holiday as we celebrate the birth of Jesus!

14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Atheists There

A few days ago, I wrote about Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist and proponent of evolutionary thought. He has actually made it a mission with the emotion evoked by a holy war to discredit any religion that acknowledges God. Islam is as much a target as Christianity. Atheism has always confused me. Even in the years that I rejected any kind of religious belief, I always knew there was a God. I have known that since I could form my first thought. We all know it that way…so I thought.

Three years ago Lozanne and I spent 5 weeks in a regional cancer centre in order for me to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Every time I walked through that door, which was at least twice per day, I remembered the words spoken by my brother-in-law from the pulpit of our chapel. During one of his messages he said, “There are no atheists in the cancer ward”. How correct he is! Once you are in a situation that daily reminds you of your mortality, God becomes even more alive and real. You can feel His presence with renewed faith. In the cancer centre, you deal not only with your own battle, but those of others, some of whom are losing the battle before your very eyes. I can assure you that what you overhear in way of conversation in such a place is more talk about prayer and less talk about the existence of God. Bibles are not uncommon reading in the waiting rooms. God is mentioned openly and often, just as He is in the funeral home.

I often think lately about my own submission to the Lord during the 34 days I spent in the hospital recovering from two successive major surgeries. I was about as sick as you can get and still live to write about it. For weeks I was attached to every machine they could find. Tubes came and went from my body. I was fed through a direct line into my chest. I could move so little that the lower half of my body began to swell and grow very heavy. I reached a place that is difficult to explain. It was so peaceful that in a strange way I miss the feeling. When you have no options left in trying to use your own resources, you are forced to resort to leaning on the Lord. There is no other choice, but what a feeling it is! As I recovered, of course, I could feel myself moving away from that submission and relying more on my own powers. I remind myself often of the words of Matthew 11: 29-30.

29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Indeed this blog site is named after the yoke offered by Jesus. A yoke suggests that there are two pulling the load together. I try to remember every day which of us has the greater strength and I try very hard to submit to that strength.

Are you in the yoke? If you are in doubt about how to get into the yoke, my email account is monitored daily.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Light Has Shined

This morning my mind is in the past. One of my fondest Christmas memories was the carol singing at my elementary school. I attended a four room school from grade one to grade eight. Every class was double or triple graded, a condition that most parents in this day and age would not want to tolerate. Our school, though small in size, was modern for the day. It had a very distinct feature that I have not seen in any other school and I have seen many over the course of my career. The centre wall between the two classrooms on either side of the hallway could be moved to the other side of the hallway on either side resulting in a two classroom space that was used for concerts and other special occasions. One of those special occasions was singing carols just before the Christmas holiday. Moving the wall involved a warning to all to stay out of the way while the door panels were opened and two grade eight boys actually pushed the black boarded wall on rollers into the other side of the school. The total school population of about 100 children and four teachers, one of whom was the principal, would participate in the singing of Christian Christmas carols. The piano was rolled to the middle of the group and I still can hear the sound of that piano and 100 young voices who were not shy about singing. Except for the odd song like “Jingle Bells”, the vast majority of the singing was a worship and praise session. One of the favourite carols, which I don’t hear much these days was “We Three Kings of Orient Are”.

As a child, I was always strangely moved by the image of those three kings following a star in order to worship the newly born Baby Jesus. I could clearly see them riding their camels through the night guided by a very bright light, created by God Himself on the horizon, to the birthplace of Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. As a born again and soon to be senior citizen, I am in awe of the fact that the scene was described seven hundred and fifty years before the fact. In Isaiah 9: 1-2 we read:

1 ¶ Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles.
2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

It is really important to note that the Prophet Isaiah has written verse two in the past tense. To him the event has already taken place. It is already a done deal! I interpret the term “light” in three ways. It describes the star that guided the three magi. It is also an image of Jesus Christ who indeed grew up in Galilee, a place not well respected even in the first century. The third interpretation is a very personal one. I walked in darkness for forty-eight years. I dwelt in the land of the shadow of death. Upon me a great light has shined and I regard with joy the moment I accepted and embraced that light.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

In The Beginning

1 ¶ The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." (Psalm 14:1)

Yesterday I read an interview with Richard Dawkins in a magazine that I idly picked up while waiting for Lozanne at an appointment. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist who has become the world’s most prominent atheist. His last two best selling books are titled “The Greatest Show on Earth—The Evidence for Evolution” and “The God Delusion”. Mr. Dawkins has made a very lucrative career of furthering the tenets of evolutionary theory and atheism. While doing so, he takes the time to bash the beliefs of “creationists” and “religionists”. In one of his recent articles he placed creationists on a level with Holocaust deniers. The comment did not earn him much popularity in the United States of America where forty-four percent of the population claims to believe that God created the world. Interestingly, his books are advertised to be best sellers in Britain, Canada, Ireland and Australia with the U.S.A. not being mentioned.

After reading the interview, I was left with one impression. Richard Dawkins is a religious man. His religion is atheism. He believes that there is no God. His beliefs are as fervent and real to him as my beliefs are to me. Indeed, he reaches many more souls and convinces many more than my evangelism will ever achieve. He writes best selling books and articles and is invited to many speaking engagements and debates. He is often interviewed by the media. His passion is to discredit not only creationists, but even those who profess to believe in any kind of a higher power. I have just come back from the official Richard Dawkins website. I was interested to read that one of the debates that he had attended had been entitled, “Atheism the New Fundamentalism”. The website could have been that of any televangelist. It advertised his books and related articles for sale. There is even a Richard Dawkins Foundation which is encouraging donations so that the “truth” can be spread. There are fundraising events and conference advertisements seeking registrants. There is a forum for his supporters to leave their comments which are, surprise, surprise, very much in support of his work. Richard Dawkins is a religious man. He is determined to convert as many souls as he can to believing in nothing. I can’t imagine a more empty and hopeless existence. I am much happier contemplating the words of Psalm 42: 1-2.

1 ¶ As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It has become a rare event indeed for me to be in front of this keyboard in the middle of the afternoon. It is actually daylight. I am stuck with a wait and indeed the wait is stimulating me to write a blog. As I write, I am also keeping an eye on the driveway so as not to miss a much expected truck entering our yard. I am really waiting. Waiting is not one of my strong suits. This afternoon the experience is very frustrating. I am waiting for the furnace repair man who was to arrive this morning shortly after 10:00 A.M. When I finally called the office at 12:30 P.M., I was promised his presence by 1:30 P.M. It is 3:15 P.M. and I continue to wait. The house is not cold, but then again it is not as warm as it usually is which also adds frustration to the wait. Lozanne is wrapped in a large comforter. Since we a going out this evening, I am beginning to wonder if the service man will pull in as we are leaving. I marvel at the number of service companies who set a time that seems to satisfy the customer, but have little intention of meeting that commitment. On the other hand, I fully understand the demands on the service man’s time. He is moving as fast as he can amidst some rather unhappy homeowners, especially those without heat. If I could think of an alternative to waiting, I would be delighted to act upon it. One positive result of my wait is the scripture that the wait brings to mind.

14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!(Psalm 27: 14)

Here we have a wait that is different in so many ways when compared to my wait today. We are able to wait on the LORD in confident expectation. We wait in faith. We wait in prayer. We wait in His will. We can trust His promises.

The greatest assurance comes after the wait. When we are in difficulties, even as mundane as waiting for the furnace repairman, the lord exhorts us to be of good courage and that He will strengthen our heart. Waiting on the Lord is so effective that David the psalmist tells us again to wait on the Lord. If through faith, we keep up our spirits even in time of difficulty, He will always make us stronger.

I feel much better now and behold the service man just pulled in!

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prayer Warrior

“Children‘s children are the crown of old men…” (Proverbs 17:6)

Lozanne and I have eight grandchildren. The youngest is two and the eldest is eleven. To state that we are proud of each and every one of them is indeed an understatement. When you are freed from the responsibility of raising children’s children, there is a special bond that grows. In a way, grandparents and their grandchildren understand each other in a way that transcends the generation gap.

This morning I am thrilled to introduce a guest writer. Jacob is our oldest grandson who sent me a very special short essay the other day. The following is some of what he had to say and is published with his permission.

I have learned that most people use Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.) as an excuse to just pray about the problem and not do anything about it. They just say “God will handle it. I mean, I did what I could.” But the reality is that’s not real prayer. There are a few easy steps to become a prayer warrior.

1. Praise God for everything he has done for you. He has blessed you with an awful lot, and we take him for granted, assuming He will give us what we want but don’t have. The reality is He can’t help you if you only pray about it once or twice. He wants to hear about your life and your problems.

2. Thank God for the problem you’re facing. It might sound crazy, but thank Him for it anyways. Tell Him how it hurt, thank Him for it and thank Him for giving you that problem. That problem will make you a stronger person in reality. It might hurt a lot, but it will make you stronger and you will feel good about yourself.

3. Ask for God’s will about what to do next. Instead of just asking for support and help, ask Him what to do. He knows what’s best for you and me. He wants to help you, and it is all a part of God’s big plan.

4. Pray for the strength to do God’s will. The truth is we can’t do anything on our own. God’s will might be for you to go to China, or to tell your close friend to stop picking on the younger grades. It’s not easy, but He will help you along the way, if you pray about it.

5. Thank Him for winning the war on the cross. He has won the war already, and it’s because of that that you can talk to Him.

6. Don’t let Satan make you feel guilty for doing God’s will. That’s his tool that works. If you’ve prayed about your problem and have done God’s will, Satan (the devil) will be really mad because you’ve done good. Just ignore it and know you’ve done something really huge. It might have felt really small, but it is actually huge.

These are lessons that took me a while to learn. Just know this, God loves you more than your mom or dad. He created you. And before he was creating the world he was thinking, “Wow. David Delonski is going to do something really big.” He was thinking how much he loves you, even though you haven’t even been created yet. He chose to think about you. God loves you a lot, and He wants to be with you in heaven for the rest of eternity. It’s a free gift. No charge whatsoever. Just ask Him to come into your life. It’s free, and He wants you in heaven. You can’t get into heaven without asking Him into your heart. When He died on the cross, He put all of man’s sins on that cross. He made it possible for us sinners to get to heaven. It doesn’t matter if you told your mom you didn’t take the last slice of pie, when you did or if you killed a man and terrorized a town. He doesn’t care. A sin is a sin. Even if that town doesn’t forgive you when you tortured it, if you ask God for forgiveness, He can forgive you. There isn’t a limit of chances. It’s not like baseball, 3 strikes you’re out. No, he wants you in heaven. He forgives you.

All in all, you can’t do anything without God. He loves you and wants to spend forever with you in heaven.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unto Us A Child Is Born

The annual Chapel Christmas Concert is scheduled for tomorrow evening. I have been involved in Christmas concerts since I was five years old. Our church Sunday school held one yearly as did the elementary school that I attended. I have no idea how many times I played a shepherd or a wise man in the required and much welcomed nativity play. Mother was usually responsible for putting the costumes together. Belted bath robes and the creative use of kerchiefs were commonly used to take the audience back to the first century. Most years Santa Claus also showed up at the end of the evening to hand out bags of very specialized Christmas candy.

When I became a teacher, I learned how much work went into the yearly production. Hours and hours of preparation and rehearsal were rewarded by the sound of applause on the appointed evening. As a principal, my function became that of master of ceremonies. Each segment of the concert required introduction and positive comments after their performance. The younger performers always drew the most applause. Even when they broke ranks and forgot weeks of practice, their performance was considered flawless by all, including their exhausted teacher. From my position on the stage, I was able to observe parents and grandparents scrambling for an improved vantage point to better see their personal favourite performer. Photographers choked the front aisle to get the perfect picture. I have even witnessed a mother going through the motions required of the song for her child to mimic on stage. Of course the teacher’s back was turned and she never saw the mother’s help. Maintaining the attention of a concert audience is a very substantial public speaking challenge. Their attention is fully on the reason or reasons they came to the concert in the first place. As a school board administrator, I attended an untold number of Christmas concerts. As an objective observer on the floor and in the audience, I really came to understand that a concert audience is almost a distinctive living organism. There was continual movement in and out of the room and constant chatter about the children on the stage. They are focussed totally on the children in the performance and their excitement is palpable.

Throughout my career every school concert included Christian content. Of course there were secular songs and drama, but somewhere in the program there was a segment celebrating the arrival of the Baby Jesus. One of the more well known lines spoken in nativity plays is “For unto us a Child is born”. Countless narrators have mouthed those words probably not realizing that they were actually written seven hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born. We read two astounding prophetic verses in Isaiah 9: 6-7

6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…” is the only part of these two verses that relates to the celebration of the birth of Christ. The remaining words refer to what is yet to come when Jesus returns to this world. I love the powerful words used to describe Him. I also find it so reassuring that that part one of the prophecy has already happened. We are now in a period of Grace awaiting part two which is our Saviour’s return.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whiter Than Snow

This morning I am consumed by thoughts of snow. There is little mystery to my obsession. Snow has been falling since yesterday morning. It is quite simply beautiful. At the same time, I am well aware that it will cause some heavy labour later today, as it did yesterday as well. Despite its inherent beauty and usefulness for winter sports and activities, snow must be moved so that we can function. The snow blower will get a work out today as will the snow blower operator. Before that reality is faced, I am taken with the breathtaking whiteness of the landscape. It is indeed difficult to think of anything on this earth that is whiter than snow. There is a brightly lit Christmas tree just outside the window of the kitchen and the accumulated snow makes it all the more beautiful in the predawn darkness.

I have been contemplating how snow is mentioned in the Bible. It is of course considered a power of God in bringing much needed moisture to the earth. The Book of Job speaks of a “treasury of snow” which is controlled by God. (Job 38:22) It is used in multiple descriptions of those suffering from leprosy. Miriam’s instant transformation to a leper is a classic example of describing someone with leprosy as “white as snow”. (Numbers 12:10) Snow is often used to describe the whiteness of the garments or hair of God or of Jesus. When describing the transfiguration of Jesus, Mark tells us that “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow…”. (Mark 9: 3) My favourite use of the imagery of snow is actually a promise of God. It is a promise that I marvel at every day. The first seven verses of Psalm 51 are always a great comfort for me and in verse seven I am assured that I will be “whiter than snow”.

1 ¶ To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight––That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 ¶ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

As David cries out to the LORD in this Psalm, we are reminded that God is always willing, when we acknowledge our sin, to wash us and cleanse us so that we become “whiter than snow”. To Him our sins are just gone. They are put far away from Him forever. They simply don’t exist. We are free of them. I marvel at how this could possibly happen and then remind myself that Jesus came to earth to take all of my sins upon Himself so that I could be redeemed as someone who God sees as “whiter than snow”. Snow is indeed a beautiful thing this morning.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The last two days I have had difficult mornings with my health improving as the day wears on. I have to admit to substantial discouragement after six weeks of feeling very well. This morning while I was half-heartedly browsing through Chapter 21 of the Book of Luke, I literally stumbled on six words that made me stop and really think.

19 "By your patience possess your souls. (Luke 21:19, New King James Version)

In The Message the words are paraphrased as “Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” The Revised Standard Version renders this very brief verse as “By your endurance you will gain your lives”.

The obvious dawned on me as I contemplated these words spoken by my saviour two thousand years ago. Whatever happens, I simply have to endure in order to graduate to heaven at the time appointed by my God. It won’t be a minute before; nor will it be a minute after the time as recorded from the beginning of time. How I feel each and every day is part of the pre-destined plan to enter into eternity. All I have to do is endure.

It did not escape me that all of us have to endure. My endurance is based on a very simple premise. I endure physical disability and a mild one at that, compared to most. Others have to endure as well. Often we have no idea what path of endurance our brothers and sisters are on. The death or loss, for varied reasons, of loved ones is cause for endurance. Depression and anxiety plague many. Job loss and financial difficulties may cause the need to endure. Family dysfunction and separation and divorce lead to endurance. Dealing with handicapped or problem children and teenagers is something to be endured. Looking after aging parents may lead to a path of endurance. The invisible endurance of others may involve temptation to sin or addiction.

It also has not escaped me that as I sit here at my keyboard in my safe rural house, my exposure to persecution for my Christian views is limited to emails or comments that I can delete with a click of the mouse. Indeed the closest I come to being persecuted is the lack of email that I receive from old friends. Many young people in the workplace and even in our schools suffer a great deal for shining their light. They too must endure and by doing so gain my admiration and respect for their daily walk.

Obviously, gaining my respect pales in comparison to the assurance spoken by Jesus so long ago. “By your endurance you will gain your lives”. Enduring it all gets you to heaven!

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bethlehem It Is

From the age of six, until I was about nine or ten years of age, I had the privilege of spending a week or two every year in the farm house of my great aunt and uncle. They lived on a beautiful acreage and worked a successful business that included maple syrup production, a lumber mill and general farming which encompassed the sale of eggs, meat and vegetables. One of my most vivid memories of a visit there in late winter is one of my independent explorations of the farm buildings. I entered the barn that housed the pigs, cows and horses. I cannot describe to you the foul smells and strange noises that emitted from that stable. Despite daily cleaning of the stalls, the stench quite simply took my breath away. The breathing of the animals created visible vapours in the air. The visual sensation and noise of constant movement added to the din and confusion caused by the natural noises made by the animals. The rustling of the mice and feral barn cats was decidedly distracting. The air was dank and cold. In short, it was an uncomfortable and some might say, scary place.

It was in just such a place that the Lord Jesus Christ was born. God actually chose such a place to have His Son make an entry into this world. Given my personal experience as a child, I marvel at that. It is hard to imagine a more humble entry into this world. I marvel even more how our Saviour, who is God come to Earth, came to be born in a foul, smelly and decidedly unsanitary stable in the small town of Bethlehem. The prophet Micah tells us hundreds of years before the birth of Christ that Jesus will be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. We read this prophecy in Micah 5:2

2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."

I am greatly entertained by the fact recorded in Matthew 2: 1-4 that God chose to use the great and powerful, but clueless, Caesar Augustus to call a census of all the inhabitants of the Roman world. By doing so, he unwittingly caused Joseph and Mary to travel to the betrothed male’s ancestral home in order to be recorded in the count. Because so many had travelled there for the same reason, there was no room at the inn and a manger surrounded by domestic animals became the only crib for the baby whose parents had to seek protection from the elements in a dank and smelly stable.

Caesar Augustus, the most powerful man in the world at the right time and the right place, was simply a puppet set in motion by God for his divine purposes. The Bible actually tells us that the census was thought to be world-wide by the Romans. We can be assured that Jesus, in retrospect, the most famous and remembered person in history, was probably of the least importance in Rome’s attempt at calculating its power and wealth. Jesus and his parents can only find shelter in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem. This of course is a preview of how the world was and still does accept its Saviour. God came personally to offer us eternal salvation. He chose to come as a helpless infant in the most humble of situations. His acceptance by the world on that night continues to be replicated with the exception of those of us, who over the last two centuries have realized who he was, still is and will always be, and have professed Him to be the Son of God and have worshiped Him as such.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Worry Not

This morning I spent several good hours outside. The weather was seasonal and pleasant. I was able to start and use our snow blower in order to clear away the first real snow of the year. Last year, I could not clear the snow on my own and was forced to hire a neighbour with a tractor for most of the winter. I then serviced my antique 1994 Skidoo that I purchased three years ago for a mere $500.00. I was able to start the engine and get it into position for the coming winter season. Last year I did not have the strength to pull the starter cord. The machine sat unused for months. It was not once, in the entirety of the winter, found on the lake beside ice fishing holes. This year I can’t wait until the lake is frozen and the ice fishing can begin.

The irony is, that although I had what I have already admitted was a good morning, I spent most of the time anxious and worried. You name it and I worry about it. I am such a worrier that I have made it a fine art. Unfortunately, at times, it is a sinful art and a very negative influence in my life of faith. I worried about my children for decades, indeed sometimes I still do. Now I worry mostly about my grandchildren and other things that are not germane to this message. My readers don’t need to know the silly details. If you are anxiety ridden and a worrier like me, and I know some of you are, please read with me the words of Jesus. We both need the reminder.

25 ¶ "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life... (Matthew 6:25)

In the next seven verses, Jesus assures us that, if we are faithful, our material needs will be more than met. There is simply no need to worry about it. Worrying will get us absolutely nowhere. The Lord will provide and indeed He has. Jesus then gives some more very sage instruction.

33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6: 33-34)

If we seek first the kingdom of God, we will receive all that we need in both the material and the spiritual realm. In other words, if we can rely upon our faith, we no longer have to spend time in worry about tomorrow. Sufficient is the day for its own trouble.

Admittedly, I have difficulty obeying this sage instruction. When I am weak and in worry there is but one answer. I must pray for renewed faith in order to overcome the anxiety and the worry. Through prayer He provides the faith and the relief from unreasonable worry. Please try it. It works!

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wake Up!

On a recent week day morning, I was alone in the house and enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the local newspaper. Marley, our English Springer Spaniel, was blissfully sleeping beside me on the couch. We have long since given up any pretence of keeping her off the leather furniture. Her nose, as is her habit, was close to my leg, just in case I may decide to scratch her ears. Her breathing was deep and very regular.

I was startled by a distinct rapping sound coming from what seemed to be from above the ceiling. My first thought, like everyone who owns a home in the country, was that I had a new tenant in the attic that was due for a troublesome and perhaps protracted eviction. I was relieved when I saw tail feathers dip below the top of the window and realized that we had a very large, and admittedly not too bright woodpecker, working on the wood facia of the eaves.

I was very surprised at Marley’s reaction, or lack thereof, to the annoying noise. Normally the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker in the wild or even on the television sound track will send her into a frenzy of running and barking. What I witnessed entertained me over the next few minutes. First one of her large brown eyes opened up, then the other, ever so slowly. Next to move on our very sleepy dog was her right ear. It lifted ever so carefully and slowly as did the left ear as the bothersome noise continued. Finally, and with great reluctance, she lifted her head up high enough to try to get a glimpse of this new threat. Her tail next moved from its normally relaxed state to a downward position tucked next to her body. Slowly she began to growl as her body tensed up to spring on the enemy. All of a sudden, she was fully awake and jumped to the floor in a frenzy of barking and attempting to lead me to the door so that she could do her job and rid the world of this pesky woodpecker. Marley did her job admirably well. We haven’t seen the woodpecker near the house since that day.

Her uncharacteristic long and protracted reluctance to fully wake up and do what God intended her to do reminded me of a verse I recently read in the Book of Romans.

11 ¶ And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

We are currently enjoying a period of grace; a time granted by the Lord so that many more will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, become believers and get saved. We have no idea when this grace period will be ended with the return of Jesus Christ. This verse tells us it is high time we woke up and understood the shortness of time. We must become spiritually alert, foster our own salvation and indeed speak the gospel truths as often as possible so that others may realize their own salvation.

Are you awake, alert and ready for the return of the Lord?

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

It Is all About You

Yesterday I experienced a moment of clarity that is all too rare. I was at chapel and participating in the Lord’s Supper. Some readers may know the Lord’s Supper as Communion or Breaking of Bread. Several months ago, on several occasions when I was not physically able to go to chapel, I experienced the Lord’s Supper alone at our kitchen table. It can be a powerful experience done corporately and, as I have discovered, enjoyed independently. When I was alone, I regularly turned to Luke 22 to read the story of the Last Supper. Yesterday morning, for some reason, I turned there as the loaf was being passed around and I read again the story of the Last Supper. When I came to the two verses directly related to taking the bread and the cup, it is like I had never read the verses before. One word jumped right of the page in both of the verses. Jesus is the speaker in verses 19 and 20 in the 22nd chapter of The Book of Luke.

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

I have always read the above two verses with a fairly clear understanding of what Jesus wants us to do and why. He wants us to remember his sacrifice on the cross and to specifically remember the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood. What I have missed is the personalization embedded in the verses. His body is given “for you” and His blood is shed “for you”. Yesterday morning I internalized that, yes He came to earth, suffered and died for all mankind, including those believers sitting with me at the Lord’s Supper, but I also realized with flash of understanding like I have never felt before that he did it for me! His body was given for me. His blood was shed for me. I sat there in awe. Why would he do that for me? Why would he assure me the forgiveness of my past and continuing sins and welcome me to a life in eternity with Him? Why me?

I can’t understand it, but I can appreciate it and I do.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Terror By Night

The night was cold and crisp. The near full moon allowed an almost daylight view of the immediate snowscape. Our snowshoes moved easily over the partly packed trail. It was the month before I turned sixteen and it would be my last winter camping expedition with the Boys Scouts of Canada. Winter camping found us in a very rough log cabin with a fireplace and a barrel woodstove that had to be watched in two hour shifts by two scouts throughout the whole night. Since I was the eldest, I was dispatched by the scout master to retrieve three younger boys at the concession road which was about a mile down the trail. A parent was driving them to be met at the road’s end by our escort which consisted of myself and two other boys closer to my age.

The trek out to the road had been uneventful. Our feet were beginning to hurt a bit as the cold temperature started to penetrate our high cut moccasins. As we headed back toward the camp, the boy at the end of the line said with some alarm, “There is something back there!” I had been in the lead, but now snow shoed back to assure him that his imagination was playing tricks on him. In order to prove my point, I shone my flashlight into the trees beside the trail behind us. The light was immediately reflected back at me by six pairs of yellow glowing eyes which I instantly realized belonged to six timber wolves. The pack was stopped as we were and peered at us from a distance of about seventy-five feet. All of the boys saw the sight and indeed now we could see the pack rather clearly without the use of a flashlight. I suppressed my own terror and told the others to keep moving. I tried yelling and waving my arms to scatter our unwelcome escort. They did not move. As soon as we started to move as a group, so did they. They maintained the seventy-five foot distance with an eerie accuracy. Intellectually I knew that they would not attack as long as we remained upright, in a group and moving. Knowing something intellectually and living through the fear are two different things. I told the boys in front of me with as much confidence as I could muster that indeed they would not attack strong looking upright individuals in a group. Our subsequent safe arrival at the camp was the longest three quarters of a mile in my life. The pack followed us to within exactly seventy-five feet of the door. It goes without saying that the batteries in my flashlight were absolutely dead as we arrived at the door.

At the time, so many years ago, I did not have any comfort from the Word of God to rely upon. There are many verses in the Bible that provide comfort in difficult circumstances. My favourite Psalm is the one that directly addresses fear and dread. Psalm 91 reads as follows:

1 ¶ He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (Psalm 91: 1-6)

We are reminded to not even fear the “terror by night” or the “pestilence that walks in darkness” because our God is our protector, our fortress and our refuge. I love the last four verses of Psalm 91. If we know and acknowledge His name, he promises to deliver and honour us. That is what I call comfort.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation." (Psalm 91: 13-16)

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Time of the End

¶ "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
4 "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12: 1-4)

This morning I am in awe of the Word of God. I am intrigued by the possibilities. Most Bible scholars would agree that Daniel, when he refers to “the time of the end”, is speaking of the second coming of Jesus to this earth in order to gather in believers both alive and dead and escort them to heaven. This will signal the seven year period termed the Great Tribulation. Most scholars, until recently, and indeed some still refuse to change their minds, have maintained that verse four refers to the expected resulting confusion and great desire to study the Word of God prior to and during the Great Tribulation period. I personally see in the light of personal experience, as do others, a completely different meaning to the prophecy. What I am discussing this morning has absolutely nothing to do with the “2012 end of the world” nonsense that has become popular in the media.

In my short lifetime of just over six decades, I have witnessed milk and ice home delivery in horse drawn wagons. The development of car and truck technology has evolved from the basic to the very sophisticated. This has resulted in the building of many roads and freeways to handle the greatly expanded traffic. Air travel has developed from a primitive state to a very common and fast mode of transportation using very sophisticated jet engines and computer technology. In my lifetime space travel has become a reality. Speeds of 20,000 miles per hour are used outside the atmosphere of the earth. High speed trains are common in most parts of the urbanized world. No other generation has travelled long distances as quickly and frequently as my and the following generations. “…many shall run to and fro…” (Daniel 12:4) has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

As a small child, I recall being held up by my mother so that I could speak into a huge telephone mouthpiece protruding from a large wooden box on the wall. She held the heavy wired earpiece to my ear so that I could speak to my father on the telephone. As I grew older, the advent of the dial telephone ended the need to give a number to the human operator in order to place a call. Long distance technology, touch tone and wireless phones were to follow. I now can use a very compact cell phone to place calls, send texts, exchange email or search the internet. I did not see a television until I was six years old. Now I sit in front of a 52 inch color screen and have , not just one channel available to me, but hundreds of channels made possible by satellite technology. The invention and development of the computer led the world to the advent of the internet. I am still in awe of the easy availability of knowledge, both good and bad, that is attainable as I sit at my kitchen table. I was taught as a child and indeed as an adult to read and attain knowledge from a limited number of text and reference books. I was taught to write as a child with the use of straight pen and a bottle of ink. “…and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) also takes on a whole new meaning for me in the wake of my life experiences.

Jesus made it clear to us that we would not and could not know the time of his return. He did speak of certain signs that would signal the beginning of the end. I must admit that my reading of the Book of Daniel gives me pause of late. Never have the inhabitants of this world experienced advances to transportation, technology and the absolute explosion of knowledge that we currently enjoy.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He is in Control

As regular readers will be aware, Lozanne and I returned last week from a three year check up with my out of town oncologist. I was surprised by the thoroughness of the process. This wasn’t a cursory look at laboratory results. The clinic time was longer than usual and the planning of monitoring into the next two years was extensive. I had hoped to be dismissed from three month blood work and six month visits. That did not happen. The very good news is that, by all indications, I am cancer free. I have the Great Physician to thank for what three years ago would have been an admittedly unexpected diagnosis and prognosis.

Our trip was not entirely uneventful. Just a few kilometres from home, we were hit by a large stone thrown from the tires of an eighteen wheeler. It was still dark and we did not see the stone that sounded more like a boulder when it hit the windshield. It was disconcerting to say the least. It took me a good ten seconds to realize what had happened. The sound of the rock hitting our car was as loud as a gun shot. The force of the blow was so violent that there were actually small pieces of glass on the dashboard. The windshield was miraculously still intact, but there were two splits from side to side and top to bottom. The stone hit on the passenger side of the windshield where Lozanne was sitting. She could actually feel the force of the blow and I suspect some flying small pieces of glass. She was completely unhurt, but shaken up, as I was. Again we have our God to thank that the worst outcome was the expense of a new windshield installed three days after the mishap.

As we drove towards home, I thought a great deal about how the Lord is in control. He directs the hands of the physician in effecting a cure. He directs the trajectory of a flying rock so that it will be a glancing blow. He is in control of every facet of our lives and for that fact I am most thankful.

My thoughts turned to being able to recommence the writing of my messages for this space. I recognized then and there another example of how the Lord is in control. We read this fact in Isaiah 55: 10-11.

10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

In publishing the Word of God, I really have come to believe that the Lord has allowed me to serve him despite my disabilities in the last year or so. I haven’t until recently been able to go out and speak His Word. Despite that fact, he gave me a laptop, a satellite internet connection and the time to sow His seeds with my devotional blogs. The deal that I have with the Lord is really simple. I cast forth His Word into the virtual world of the internet and He makes sure that these same words that I publish, His words not mine, do the work that he intends for them. As it says above, these words do not return to Him void. They accomplish what he pleases and prosper in the things for which He has sent them.

How thankful I am that He is in control.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Secret Santa

As Christmas approaches, some of the traditions surrounding the holiday come to mind. In the workplace, attempts are made by the few, in order to bolster the Christmas spirit of the many, to institute some pretty silly ideas (in my opinion) like Secret Santa. To the uninitiated, Secret Santa involves placing a number of secret gifts so that the recipient you have picked by chance will find them without knowing who purchased and placed the gifts. At times messages are sent, perhaps unintentionally, to the recipient. One such gift that I received many years ago is still on my bookshelf. It is a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook. The message being sent was that I should stop being such a “boy scout” and stop trying to please so many people and to be a little less efficient or should I dare say it, prepared. The international motto of the Boy Scouts was and I suspect still is “Be prepared.” The message was a veiled insult that I still consider a compliment.

The word “prepared” shows up four times in the very brief Book of Jonah. Jonah is known of course by most children who have ever attended Sunday School or even watched a VeggieTale movie as the man who was swallowed by the whale and after three days deposited back on dry land by the whale. Adult Bible believing readers know Jonah as one of the most unwilling, yet successful evangelists in all history. The Lord forced him to bring dire warnings to the people of the city of Nineveh and at least one hundred and twenty thousand citizens listened, repented and were saved. Such was his distaste for evangelistic work that Jonah wasn’t the least bit happy even with his own success and complained bitterly about it.

In verse 17 of Chapter 1 of the Book of Jonah, we read the following very well known verse.

17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The LORD also prepared a plant to shade Jonah after his work was done (Jonah 4:6), a worm to eat the plant to take away that shade (Jonah 4: 7) and finally a “vehement east wind” (Jonah 4:8) in order to get Jonah’s very close attention so that He could teach him a very valuable lesson in setting his evangelistic priorities. Jesus Himself, when the Pharisees ask for a sign, tells us that Jonah is the only sign they will see. We read this in Matthew 12: 39-41.

39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

As Jonah spent three days in the great fish, so Jesus spent three days in the grave. As Jesus was resurrected in three days, so Jonah was rescued from the stomach of the whale in three days. As Jonah, albeit unwillingly, sought to prophesy and preach, so did Jesus. Jesus also tells us that the people of Nineveh listened to Jonah and repented, but even “one greater than he”, who is of course Jesus, could not convince the hard hearted Jewish leaders of His day.

The definition of the word “prepared” suggests determination and resolve in making ready to complete a task. It is evident to me that God the Father was prepared to sacrifice His Son for our salvation. Happily for us, God the Son was prepared to do just that. Now we can take great solace that Jesus has gone to heaven in order to prepare a place there for us and indeed He is prepared even as I write this morning to come back and take us personally to heaven. Are you prepared to receive Him?

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What the Locusts Have Eaten

Next week I have a follow up appointment with my oncologist. Normally I dread these appointments. The required laboratory tests are completed three weeks prior to the event and for three years I have waited for the much expected frown followed by the blunt truth. Oncologists, I am sure, take extra hours in medical school studying “The Blunt Truth 101”. They can very objectively, because of much practice, I am certain, tell you very directly what you would rather not hear. This visit is different. For the first time in this battle, I am beginning to feel much better. The temporary damages done by aggressive treatments seem to be abating. My immunity and energy level are much improved in the last month or so. The permanent damages done are simply being accepted over time. My motto is now “Get over it!”

Several years ago when I was feeling particularly vulnerable to what has been termed “the plague of the 20th Century”, I remember looking in the mirror as Lozanne and I were going out for coffee and saying, “Why is my father going out for coffee today”? Without skipping a beat, Lozanne looked in the mirror beside me and declared, “What is more disturbing is that my mother is going out with him!” There is no doubt that being sick or caring for someone who is ill can make you look old. While I was in the hospital three years ago, the lady who rents out television sets to patients came into my hospital room and said to Lozanne, “Does your Dad want to rent a T.V.? Despite my weak protests from amidst the various beeping machines and tubes entering and exiting my body from the strangest of places about our relative closeness in age, all Lozanne could do was find the situation uproariously funny. I must admit that now I can find the situation just somewhat amusing.

Our battle with cancer has spanned a period of five years. The intense fighting has been for the last three years. As I am better able to cope with life and indeed work and play hard outside, I am beginning to appreciate so much what the Lord has done for us. I have always been assured of heaven throughout the ordeal. I can’t even begin to recite the lessons learned through adversity and I can’t thank Him enough for improved health and vigour. One of my favourite Bible verses comes to mind. It is a very simple thought and for a believer it is a promise that you can count on!

25 "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,…(Joel 2: 25)

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lift Up Your Eyes

This morning, as I was driving to town for supplies, I tuned into a talk radio show. The host was interviewing Terence Dickinson a renowned and much published science writer and amateur astronomer. Mr. Dickinson has recently written a book about the loss of the night sky in most of urban Canada. Light from our expanding cities and suburbs has made it very difficult to see the night sky like it should be seen. As an example, most interested observers of the night sky are not able to see the beauty of the Milky Way Galaxy. Those who live in more rural areas in Canada have a much better view of the stars. Our country home is situated where light pollution is not the least bit evident and I am quite simply in awe when I step away a few hundred feet from the house. The night view upward on a clear night is undeniably breathtaking.

Terence Dickinson has gone to great lengths to enjoy and study the night sky where it is most accessible. He has travelled the world to observe it from the best possible vantage points. He described this morning the view from a remote high altitude desert in Chile. He was outside the observatory on site when the music of Mozart could be heard as the large telescope doors opened. Apparently the professional astronomer in the observatory has a penchant for Mozart played on a very powerful stereo system while he works. Mr. Dickinson describes the emotions he felt as he listened to the music and looked up into the crystal clear and black night sky. The effect of the visual and auditory splendour was so great that he fell to his knees in awe. He was speechless and unable to even stand up given the power of the majesty before him.

At this point the radio host asked the obvious question that most listeners were wondering. He asked if the experience had a spiritual element for Mr. Dickinson. He answered in the affirmative, but quickly disappointed this listener. He said it was spiritual in the sense of the unparalleled beauty and the many unanswered questions concerning this universe that we may never fully comprehend. It is spiritual to him in the sense of wondering if others are out there looking for us. In other words it is very spiritual to him within the sphere of exciting and beautiful scientific study.

When I walk with Marley our spaniel friend into the open fields behind our home on a clear night, I am in absolute awe at the size and grandeur of the universe before me. The prophet Isaiah sums up my thoughts with the following words found in Isaiah 40:26.

26 Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing.

When I look up into the night sky, I cannot imagine any other conclusion than my God created all of this. Who or what else could have done it? He brings all of these stars out each and every night. He has named each and every one of them and never in all His power and might even forgets one of them. When He calls them, all are present and have been since He created them. The night sky was there before I was born and will be there long after I am gone from this earth.

I fall to my knees at the power and majesty of the view, not because of the intrinsic and awesome beauty of that view, but because of the power and greatness of my personal God.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stand and Knock

I find it strange what we are able to recall from our early childhood. As I age, I find myself remembering fifty-five year old events better than what happened last evening. At the same time, others can recall to me a mutually lived event from years ago and I have absolutely no recollection of the memory so vivid to them. The event doesn’t need to be momentous in any way. It just was and the memory is. The recollection of it is a very individual matter.

I am sure that I was only four or five years of age when I enjoyed one of my first independent walks in our neighbourhood. In those years children were allowed so much more freedom at a younger age due supposedly to living in a safer world. I did learn very early to avoid the local bully. I hiked through the fields behind our house and soon came to the street bordering that field. I started down the sidewalk and soon came to a small church. I can still remember how I felt compelled to approach the door of that chapel. It was as if I was being drawn to the large double door at the end of the walk way. I sincerely believe that we are all spiritual beings and indeed from a very early age we are drawn even to inanimate objects such as a building where the faithful meet. I walked up to the door and knocked. There of course was no response to my knock, but deep down I was hoping for a response. We all need a response to our spiritual quest.

As it turns out, as I learned much later in life, I had the knocking situation reversed. It was not me who should have knocked, but it was me who had a choice to open the door and admit the ultimate answer to my spiritual search. In Revelation 3: 20 we read the words of Jesus.

20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Jesus is talking to the members of the Church at Laodicea, but there is no doubt in my mind and those of assorted biblical scholars that the invitation is much wider than one offered only to church members. Jesus is the one who is initiating this relationship. We all feel the urge from the earliest of years to open that door for Him. The invitation is made to all of us. Jesus says that He will allow “anyone” to open the door. He does not force Himself on us. We have a choice to make. We can, and many do, refuse to open the door so that He grows tired of knocking and speaking to us and finally leaves. He may return to knock again and then again maybe He will never return to knock another day. In many ways, it all sounds so simple and indeed it is. All we have to do is to acknowledge His knock that we all hear and begin to listen to His voice. When we open the door, a relationship is started. Dining together is associated in virtually every culture on earth and within every historical period with love and friendship. If the door is opened, a religion does not come through the door, but a relationship with the Son of God.

I repeat…we all hear the knock. Have you answered that door?

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Strength and Courage

From the time I was eight or nine until I was fifteen years old, I was involved in the Boy Scouts of Canada. I learned more about persistence, leadership and courage under difficult circumstances than I did anywhere else in my youth. In my last year of involvement, our much respected scout master resigned and was replaced by another very interesting character in my young life. This man had a middle European accent and some very unique skills. He taught us much about surviving in the worst of outdoor circumstances and was an amazing example of courage.

Roman had immigrated to Canada by way of the United States after the Second World War from the Czech Republic, then called Czechoslovakia. In 1939 his reaction to the Nazi occupation and threat to his homeland was to join the Czech underground movement. Because of his hunting and outdoor survival skills, learned as a child, he was immediately drafted into moving intelligence that would eventually reach the American forces by way of the Black Forest. How he made his way through Austria and/or Hungary in order to reach the forested rectangle of 200 Kilometres by 60 kilometres in southwest Germany was never completely explained. Before the war was over, he actually worked directly with and for the American Army. The Black Forest was a heavily guarded frontier bordering on neutral Switzerland. Being caught crossing over resulted in being immediately shot or even worse, being questioned and then hanged. He spent days and nights hiding within a few feet of German guards. He could only move at night and often the journey was slow and difficult. I can’t even imagine the courage required to withstand years of such danger. I suspect strongly so many years later that a strong faith in God had to be part of that fortitude.

Another brave warrior found within the pages of the Bible has left us a record of how God bolstered his courage. A good friend recently ended an uplifting email message with this thought just the other day. In Joshua 1: 6-9 we read the following.

"Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Joshua was charged with the responsibility to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. It seemed to most that conquering the land was impossible. Indeed it was impossible without the love and power of the God of the universe. God tells Joshua three times to be strong and to be courageous. He tells him something to which we should pay very close attention. He tells him to know and to adhere to the Word of God at all times. The LORD also promises to be with Joshua, and indeed all believers, wherever we go. In verse 5 we find the greatest comfort of all:

5 … I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Lesson Lived

My last message introduced to you a flight instructor who taught me how to fly in 1966. Sam was 110 years old at the time. Actually he was probably a bit older than I am right now, but from the perspective of an 18 year old, he was ancient. Sam would rank right up there with one of the most interesting characters I have ever met. It is strange that I should think of him so often these days. He was a man of few words who exuded a wisdom that we all envy. He could teach so much with just a gesture or a look. Like everyone else in the sixties, Sam was a smoker who could hand roll a cigarette with an expertise that was enviable even by a non-smoker in the present day. He was capable of the one handed perfect cigarette.

Early in my flight training career he directed me to climb to four thousand feet over a very large lake. We were seven or eight miles from shore over the white capped water when we reached the height he requested. At that point he announced, “I have control” and proceeded to explain to me that he was about to demonstrate an incipient spin and how to recover from it. In my naïveté I though to myself, “How bad can this be?”. He pulled back on the throttle and pulled the nose straight up in the air. I was beginning to suspect how bad this could be. As the airplane stalled in the air, it actually slid downward and backward in the air. The left wing then suddenly dipped and the nose fell toward the lake below. If you can imagine your most terrifying midway ride and then multiply it by five, you have an idea of the sensation of spinning downward nose first towards the lake…the rough white capped lake that now seemed so close. Since we seemed, in my mind at least, to be spinning forever, I looked back over my shoulder in desperation wondering if Sam had passed out or something. I know I certainly felt like doing so! What I witnessed will be seared into my mind as long as I remain on this earth. Sam was rolling a cigarette as we plummeted to earth, well… water covered earth. Indeed he even took the time to light the perfectly rolled smoke with his Zippo lighter prior to explaining how to pull out of an incipient spin and indeed demonstrating it rather successfully at who knows what altitude. I will never forget what a stall or an incipient spin is, nor will I forget how to get out of one, which I quickly learned to do just as the stall was over and the spin had hardly begun. I also learned that a stall was to be avoided at all costs. Like I said earlier, Sam was a man of few words who could teach so well by his actions or in this case his very delayed actions. Any good teacher will tell you that a lesson lived is a lesson learned.

The greatest teacher who ever lived also used many living lessons to reinforce His ministry. One of the best examples is found in The Book of John. The disciple named Thomas refused to believe the accounts of the other disciples who had seen the resurrected Jesus. He claimed that he would not believe He was alive and risen until he could see the marks left by the nails on the hands of Jesus and the wound in His side. (John 20: 26-29)

26 ¶ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"
27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Thomas is immediately transformed into a believer and indeed an apostle by actually seeing and feeling the wounds of the risen Jesus. All of the apostles, upon interacting with the resurrected Messiah, came out from behind locked doors and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and openly. Clearly a lesson lived is a lesson learned.

Having acknowledged that, I just love the last line of my selection today, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Are you blessed today?

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Leap of Faith

It was a perfect autumn day for flying. The weather was sunny and clear. There was just enough wind to make the direction of the breeze visually obvious on the surface of the water. I was cruising at 1500 feet on the downwind leg of a circuit when my flight instructor told me to land in the bay below us and to taxi on step to the island at the end of the bay. I completed the manoeuvre without a lot of thought until Sam told me to pull up to the dock of the only water access cottage on the island. He proceeded to open the door and exit the Champion two seat pontoon airplane. The next thing I heard I am glad that I had no prior knowledge thereof. He said that it was time for me to fly solo and that I was to push off, taxi into position, take off and fly one circuit and that I was to enter the bay on step again and pick him up. He proceeded in a very relaxed manner to roll yet another cigarette by hand. Other than being terrified at the prospect of not having him behind me in the cockpit, I took the news in stride and proceeded to execute just what he had told me to do. I have never felt more alone in my life of eighteen years as I slowly and carefully taxied out and turned the small plane into wind. He had chosen a spot in the fairly calm lake that had a take off and landing length that was literally miles in length. I suspect he had used it many times in the past for just this purpose.

After my checklist was complete and the rudder pulled up, I advanced the throttle and correctly placed the pontoons on step by pushing forward on the stick. As the Champ moved forward at an increasing rate of speed, I watched the tachometer and the air speed indicator until I hit the proper take off speed. I thought that number would be etched in my memory forever, but I must admit that as I sit in front of this keyboard so many years later, I have no idea what the proper lift off speed is for a Champion Cub. But I digress…In order to lift a pontoon plane off the water it is necessary that you break the suction caused by the water by lifting one pontoon off the water first and then rotating the stick ever so expertly so as to lift off the second pontoon. I lifted the left off first, followed by the right and it was as if the plane had become suddenly feather light. Indeed it leaped in to the air and the feeling was quite simply exhilarating. I climbed to circuit height and completed the circuit in a manner of minutes. I set down the pontoons onto the water of the bay in one of the smoothest landings I was ever to experience. I would later attempt to learn landing on skis and wheels. Pontoons are so much easier. It is like you are on a rail the second you stall out and touch the water. The plane proceeds straight ahead or indeed exactly where you steer it on step with almost no effort. Landing on wheels, as I was to learn later, presented a great adventure in trying to keep the airplane on the runway after every touch down. Sam greeted me with a grin as I taxied up to the dock. I did eventually earn a private pilot’s licence, but flew very few hours after that spring that I graduated from secondary school and made ready to attend university.

In my memory are etched both the exhilaration of the take off and the feeling of security of the landing on that day. Very close to exactly thirty years after that day, I made a decision while walking down a city street that was the equivalent to breaking the suction holding me down by lifting my left and then my right spiritual pontoon and leaping into the life of faith in Jesus Christ. There is no doubt about it. Accepting Jesus as your saviour is a leap of faith and it is both scary and exhilarating. Every time I land, spiritually speaking, it is as if those pontoons are on rails. Wherever I decide to go with His guidance, I know every time that I will pull in straight and safe. My saviour keeps me away from the skis and the wheels.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Spirit of Fear

I was very entertained recently to come across a newspaper picture and article from 1956. My mother collected and scrap booked long before it was the modern rage. There we were, six children lined up like steps of stairs from the eldest on the left to the youngest on the right. A smiling Mark is second from the right. The picture was taken in our school grounds…I would assume with the permission of our principal. Each of us held, with some confidence I might add, a baseball bat or large carved club over our right shoulder. The caption under the six inch by eight inch black and white picture reads, “Kids Carry Clubs in Rabies Scare”. The article goes on to describe how we have been armed and are ready to fend off the attack of rabid foxes on the way to and from school. The dangers to children in rural areas are emphasized and indeed all children are warned to stay away from all wild animals which may be acting strangely or are indeed already dead. Even as an eight year old, I recall being somewhat perplexed and confused by the adults present disarming us by collecting the clubs and sending us on our way home. The picture had been staged as a warning to others. There would be no club carrying kids in our rural, soon to become suburban, neighbourhood. The idea of course was to incite fear in the readers and thus respect for wild animals and their diseases.

Rabies was and still can be a fearful disease. It is a disease spread by mammals, including humans, that attacks the nervous system and until the advent of a vaccine resulted in most certain death resulting from extreme confusion, seizures and eventually fatal breathing problems. The disease has been all but eradicated in humans in North America through concerted efforts of public education and the use of an effective vaccine for those at risk. All domestic pets in North America are inoculated yearly in order to avoid the spread to dogs and cats from wild animals such as foxes, racoons and skunks. In some third world countries, the disease is still spread by livestock as well. In the middle of the last century it was still a well known and much feared disease.

As I looked at this picture of smiling children who are now or are soon to become senior citizens, I realized how often we are motivated by fear. There are times of course, especially in the face of imminent danger, that being afraid is necessary, but so often it is not. Jesus used the words “fear not” on multiple occasions in the New Testament. The quote that immediately came into my mind, however, was from 2Timothy 1:7.

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

When I find myself fearful, I remind myself of Paul’s advice to Timothy. Jesus also gives us very good advice regarding what we should properly fear in Matthew 10:28.

28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

If we are to fear at all, we should not fear things that can kill just the body, like rabies, but we should reserve our concern for the God of the universe who holds our entire lives, body and soul, in His hands now and for all eternity.

Finally in the Book of Revelation, John tells us what Jesus said to him regarding why he should not be afraid. (Rev. 1:17)

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
18 "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Indeed he is the Alpha and the Omega. He has always been, is now and He will always be. Because He was dead and is now alive forevermore, we can choose to be alive forevermore with Him in heaven by our belief and faith, not our fear.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twelve Smooth Stones

Last evening I had the privilege of delivering a Bible study message from the pulpit of our chapel. I have been unable in the past year with the exception of one other time to deliver a similar message. I felt good and it felt good to be able to have the strength to open God’s word in a chapel setting. We studied Chapter 4 of the Book of Joshua. Joshua was both a respected soldier and a man of great faith who lived about 1350 B.C. The Old Testament story in Chapter 4 describes Joshua leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. After forty years minus five days, the LORD stops the flow of the Jordan River so that the people can cross over the riverbed into their new home. The water was held back as long as a group of priests stood in the river holding the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD. We pick up the story at verse 1 of Chapter 4. (Joshua 4: 1-3)

1 ¶ And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying:
2 "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe,
3 "and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’"

Just as the LORD commanded, Joshua ordered that twelve smooth and rounded stones from the riverbed be placed on the western side of the River Jordan. These stones were to be used to build a monument to the LORD’s crossing of the river at Gilgal which is near the City of Jericho. The monument was to be a memorial to remind even coming generations of the day their God stopped the water and allowed them to be led into the Promised Land. Each stone was of a size and weight that a strong young man, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, could carry it. We resume reading at verse 9. (Joshua 4:9)

9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.

Joshua then replaces the twelve stones removed from the riverbed with stones most probably taken from the west side of the river bank. We don’t know if they were small or large, but it is likely they were rough field stone. A second monument is then built at the place where the priests stood holding the Ark of the Lord. This memorial would of course also commemorate the LORD’s stopping of the waters in order for the people to pass. It is likely that this monument would be submerged most of the time and not clearly visible.

Even in the Old Testament, we can find many references to the work to be finished on our behalf by the Lord Jesus Christ. These two monuments are no exception. Some believe that the rough field stone submerged in the river represents our sin being completely invisible and forgotten by a forgiving Jesus while the monument of smooth stones in Gilgal is a testament to the rebirth that is available through a belief in Jesus. William MacDonald, a much respected Bible commentary writer, has another explanation that I find most comforting. He writes in his Bible Believers Commentary that, “The stones in the riverbed speak of identification with Christ in death.” and that, “Those on the west bank speak of identification with Christ in resurrection”.

What beautiful thoughts! The submerged monument represents Jesus buried in the tomb. The very good news is that He was only there for three days. The monument at Gilgal celebrates that He is risen. Because Jesus is resurrected, I shall follow Him into heaven for all of eternity. I am so thankful that these monuments are recorded in the Bible for my and your benefit.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sower of the Seed

I have realized on this very early morning that I am about to write blog number 59. Almost three months of messages are posted to this my blog site. My aim has been simple. I have tried to scatter the word of God into the virtual wind with each message. My first objective in doing so has been to bring reminders, confirmations and comfort to the Christians who may read my work. My second objective and the one that I pray about the most is to provide the Word of God to those who may be searching for spiritual truth and an eventual relationship with their Saviour and their God. Jesus referred to the Word of God as seed. In three of the gospels, he tells the parable of the sower of the seed. It is my hope and prayer that I have become just that…a sower of the seed. I have no idea where the seed will land, but I must keep scattering it abroad.

Jesus tells us the parable of the sower of the seed in Mark 4: 3- 8.

3 "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.
4 "And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.
5 "Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.
6 "But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.
7 "And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
8 "But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."

This is one of the few of the many parables told by Jesus that He later explains to his disciples. We have the privilege of understanding this parable through Jesus Himself.

The sower goes out to spread the Word of God. Some of that seed falls by the wayside. Those who are on the wayside are those who don’t really wish to hear the Word. Because they have already refused to hear it, the devil comes and immediately takes away any retention or understanding that may lead to them being saved. Those on the wayside are of course in the majority. Most simply reject the Word of God and don’t even seem to be the least bit concerned about that rejection. The seed falling on stony ground represents those who hear the Word and receive it initially with joy, but their belief takes no root. They may believe for a short while, but soon a time of temptation or trial will draw them away. The seed falling on thorny ground speaks to those who have heard the word and embraced it, but the cares, temptations and pleasures of life prevent the seed from growing to maturity. The seed that falls on good ground is that which is embraced by those who truly want it and accept it. With patience they grow in faith and indeed spread the seed to others so that they may grow in their belief and be saved.

As I cast forth seed this morning, I pray that receptive hearts are reading my message. I pray that my seed cast into the wind will indeed land on good ground. I was one of those on the wayside for nearly half a century. My receptive heart actually grew from a willingness to hear, study and test the Word for a period that extended over three years. I pray that others will do the same.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Cattle On A Thousand Hills

Last week I was driving to town in order to go to the pharmacy and the hardware store. On the way, I drove by a beef farm that I have admired on passing many times before. There are usually many very healthy looking cows in the fields by the road. For the first time, the large herd was spread out on an expansive hill to the south just as the late morning sun was reaching the top of the hill. The bright sunlight accentuated the gold of the fading autumn grass. The scene caused me to slow down on the deserted highway and to actually bask in its pastoral beauty. The cattle were spread out evenly over the whole hill. Some were grazing while some were lying down and simply enjoying the warmth of the sun. The words of verse 10 in Psalm 50 came to me: “…the cattle on a thousand hills”. God is speaking directly to us in this revealing section of scripture. (Psalm 50: 10-15)

10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
12 "If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

God is telling us that sacrifices of animals in times past and sacrifices like good works or gifts of money now in the present are not what primarily pleases the Lord. It is a very simple concept. God already owns it all. All of the resources that each of us has collected over the years are simply on loan from Him. He allows us to make use of His resources until such time as we no longer need them. He does expect us to share some of what He lends to us in order to support His church, His workers and those most in need.

What God wants most is our gratitude for the use of His resources. He wants more than anything our fulfilled vows of worship. Finally, He is most pleased by our prayers even in our day of trouble. He promises to deliver us so that we can glorify Him.

Here we find a formula for devotion and prayer. We all should start our prayers with thanks for all that He has allowed us to use for our and His benefit. We should acknowledge that He created it all and indeed He owns it all. We then can express our love and devotion as part of those thanks. We are only then able to express our anxieties, difficulties and troubles as well as our desires for others and ourselves. We have an assurance in this Psalm that He will deliver us from trouble and indeed He does. The timing is not always according to our estimate or desires, but indeed He does deliver us time after time.

Our greatest gratitude should be for His free gift of redemption through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross of Calvary. For this we can thank Him for all eternity.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bread of Life

This morning we awoke to several inches of snow on the ground. Since most of the outside winter preparation work is complete, I decided it was time to start baking bread. I learned to bake bread from my father in the summer of 1994. Lozanne and I were visiting my parents in Victoria, British Columbia as we so often did when my parents were still alive. I know this from the laminated instructions and recipe that I wrote down in my daytimer on Thursday, August 4, 1994. My father was seventy-six years old that summer and his day long lesson is one of my most vivid memories of his senior years. In his retirement, my father had taken to baking bread according the recipe used by his mother, my grandmother.

Bread is not a very complex food. It consists of flour ground from grain, water, oil, salt, sugar and perhaps yeast. I know very well what is in a loaf of bread because I bake bread on a regular basis during the winter months. I enjoy baking it. We enjoy eating it. There is a very special aroma that fills the house when bread is in the oven. I believe that home made bread satisfies an emotional need within us and has for many centuries. Reading and following a recipe for baking bread is usually not sufficient to bake good bread. Some training is required. Actions like deciding what is lukewarm, proper kneading of the dough and recognizing when the dough is ready at several stages in the process are just as important as the mixing of the amounts of ingredients.

This morning, as I was doing the heavy work of mixing and kneading the dough, I thought of the words of Jesus in John 6: 35.

35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

What did Jesus mean when He said he was the bread of Life? As often happens in the word of God, the simplest of things offer the most profound of truths. To understand the significance of what Jesus said, we have to try to think like we are in the first century. Bread, in modern western society, although a prized commodity, is often thought of as something to complement a meal. During the ministry of Jesus, bread was more often than not the main course of a meal. In the first century, grain was the storable miracle food that could sustain life from day to day. It was harvested in the summer and stored for use over the winter months. It required no refrigeration and no preservatives. It simply had to be kept dry in grain or flour form and freezing would not even harm it. Without bread to sustain you in history, your life was over. The Lord’s Prayer, probably the most famous prayer in the western world, includes the petition, “Give us our daily bread”.

When He said, “I am the bread of life”, Jesus was speaking to a first century Jewish audience. How I wish I could have been there to hear just how he stated that very clear sentence. Verbal language is always so much more revealing than the written word. When Jesus referred to bread, all present knew He was talking about the most significant and important aspect of their very survival. Bread would have been so very important to this audience. Indeed it was an absolute necessity to their way of life. When we read that Jesus is bread, we know that He is making a comparison of Himself to something that is quite simply life sustaining. It couldn’t be any more important with lasting significance to all of us. We simply can’t do without it.

We simply can’t do without Him. Jesus follows verse 35 with another simple verse. If we desire everlasting life, we simply cannot do without Him.

40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Everyone Who Thirsts

The news coverage about James Arthur Ray has been difficult to avoid. James Arthur Ray is the New Age spiritual leader who once appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. As it turns out, the term cult leader would fit better than the term spiritual leader. Last week 50 people entered a sweat lodge at a resort in Arizona. Two hours later three persons were dead and over a dozen were rushed to hospital. The attendees had paid $10,000 each in order to attend a five day “spiritual warrior” conference. It would appear that hallucinations caused by heat stroke were masqueraded as a spiritual experience on the “warrior” level. Those who died were only 38, 40 and 49 years of age. The extreme heat resulted in dehydration, kidney failure and multiple organ shut down. A homicide investigation is now underway.

There can be no doubt. We all, as God’s children, seek spiritual truths…so much so that a whole fledgling New Age industry thrives. Billions of dollars are spent on seeking out the spiritual in our lives. Books are written, documentaries are filmed, interviews are given and conferences are booked all in the name of seeking our spiritual origins. All are seeking out a god of some description in order to find peace and order in this chaotic world. Some are also willing to pay many dollars for the pleasure. The great irony, of course, is that the prophet Isaiah addressed this very issue about 2700 years ago. In Isaiah 55: 1-2 we read.

1 ¶ "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

The need to find our spiritual roots is termed by Isaiah as a thirst and indeed it is. Each and every one of us has this thirst and we have had it from childhood. The water, wine and milk represent the joy of knowing God the Father and having the Holy Spirit within us. The greatest revelation of all is that it is free. There is no monetary price involved. Indeed, Isaiah very appropriately, even for the modern reader, warns against giving our wages for what does not satisfy. Each and every one of us is invited to seek out the true God and revel in His abundance. (Isaiah 55: 6)

6 ¶ Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

These words are often seen on signs posted along the highway by fervent believers. With so many thousands of people off searching in the wrong direction, they are even more urgently meaningful.

The Lord is very available. All we need to do is to acknowledge Him and call upon Him while he is near. There is no charge. There is no danger. There is only joyful reconciliation with the loving God of the universe.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)