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Friday, February 26, 2010

Six Million Dollar Man

When our son Jeremy was about four years old, he announced to us in a rather matter of fact manner that he had just swallowed a quarter. It was more of an announcement for our information than any cause for concern. Without thinking to ask the inevitable question of why he would do such a thing, we drove him to the emergency room. There we met with our family doctor. Imagine meeting your family doctor at the emergency room in our new modern and improved health care system! An x-ray did indeed confirm an object that looked much like a large coin wending its way down the digestive tract and indeed no further action except confirmation of exit would be necessary. The doctor did have the presence of mind to ask the question, “Why did you swallow a quarter?” The answer was simple and logical. Jeremy was playing “The Six Million Dollar Man” and he had charged his batteries.

“The Six Million Dollar Man” was, for the young and uninitiated reader, a television series that was popular in the mid seventies. The hero of the piece was a man who had been horribly injured in an accident and had been put back together again with the use of man-made bionic parts. This of course made him somewhat superhuman and as a result of great value to those who had paid the six million dollars to have him fixed. He did go about doing good things as I recall. I wonder what the six million dollar figure would be in inflated cost in this day and age. He did indeed have batteries that needed charging from time to time. I doubt that swallowing quarters was the way it was done, but I am sure it is about as logical as what was portrayed on the show. I must admit that the show was what had to be characterized as a cleverly written imaginative story. It bore little resemblance to reality. Thinking about “The Six Million Dollar Man” this morning puts me in mind of something Peter wrote in 2Peter 1: 16-18.

16 ¶ For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Peter is telling us that the power and majesty that is Jesus Christ is not some contrived story. Peter, James and John were there on the mountain and witnessed with their own eyes the transfiguration of Jesus. They saw with their own eyes Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah. They heard with their own ears the actual words spoken by God Himself. Peter goes on later in this same chapter to tell us that the same is true with regard to prophecy and scripture. What the Bible tells us about Jesus is not some cunningly devised fable, but most certainly the inerrant Word of God. Peter, as were many others, was an actual witness to the power and glory of Jesus during the years of His ministry on earth. Peter knew Him personally and even watched from the shadows as He was condemned and crucified for our redemption. Men and women will continue to cunningly devise fables for our entertainment or worse, but the story of the gospel is not one of them. We have this assurance from an actual historical eye witness to all that was Jesus on this earth.

(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, February 24, 2010

More than Can be Numbered

There is a distinctly unique sound that is generated by an air cooled car engine. Once you have driven a Volkswagen Beetle or van from the sixties the sound is always with you. Indeed you may quietly wish that your much more luxurious and modern car had that very sound. It was a kind of a whine that became slightly more high pitched with the changing of each gear as you accelerated. It was a comforting and yet exciting sound at the same time. I recall that sound vividly when I remember a Sunday morning in the fall of 1968. I was on my way alone for a week of practice teaching. It was the first of the eight required weeks spent in real classrooms. I was nervous about the prospect of having to actually teach the class by myself later in the week. I was driving to a boarding house in Huntsville, Ontario. Lozanne was expecting our first baby and had remained at home.

Our blue 1962 Volkswagen Beetle with its very modest 1200 cc engine was responding well to its young driver; the same foolish driver who decided that the car ahead on the two lane highway was moving just a bit too slowly. I saw nothing coming and pulled out to pass on what appeared to be a long straight stretch of road. I was about to learn a terrifying lesson in passing safety. To my horror, a car exiting a gas station ahead of me turned without looking to the right into my lane. There I was right beside the car I was passing about one hundred yards from a head on collision that in a small car with a rear engine would have most certainly been fatal. Speeding up quickly was not an option. Neither was slamming on the brakes. The driver beside me sized up the situation and attempted to slow down and pull over on the right to give me enough room to get by. I was positive, even as I pulled over at the last second, that I was about to hit the car with a terrified looking couple coming toward me. To this day, I am certain that I missed both cars by no more than one half of an inch. All three cars pulled off the road hundreds of yards apart and sat in stunned silence. No one got out. We just sat and contemplated what could have been for about fifteen minutes. Since that day, I do not pass a vehicle when there is an entrance to the road on the passing lane. All too often, drivers will look to their left, but quickly forget that someone could pull out to pass and neglect to look to the right. Indeed when I pull onto a highway, I look both ways each and every time.

As I sat in that idling car on that morning, I was sure that my escape was nothing short of a miracle. As I recall the vivid detail of that memory, even today, I still feel it was a miraculous escape. I also know that even then, twenty-eight years before I would come to know the Lord, His hand was upon Lozanne and me. His plan for us evidently would unfold later in life. The irony is that the miraculous escape from death or injury was nothing compared to what the Lord would do for me further down the road of life. He sought me out at just the right time and offered to me forgiveness and redemption through salvation. Who can even fathom His infinite mercies and His long suffering patience? Indeed his interventions and constant mercies are more than can be numbered!

5 Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered. (Psalm 40:5)

(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.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Me and My House

On the wall of our rustic dining room is a sign of great historical significance. On the sign are the burnished words “Bummers’ Roost”. Hanging just below that sign hangs another which reads “The Halls”. The signs are large and the varnish shows signs of some outdoor duty. These prized pieces of heavy wood were inherited from my parents who hung them outside of their several recreational vehicles as they camped in many campgrounds. They were a gift from my sister and her husband who had them custom made by a craftsman from Victoria, British Columbia. One glance at these two signs reminds me of my parents full of life and vitality many years ago. The signs hung outside of my youngest son’s cottage for a year or so until they were put up inside our country home.

The significance of the term “Bummer’s Roost” is one that could get lost in the mists of time. My paternal grandfather often told stories of lumbering at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a very young man, he spent several winters in various bush camps in and around South River, Ontario. Somewhere deep in the bush was a hotel frequented almost exclusively by these rough and tough bush workers. He loved to recall some of the colourful anecdotes that may indeed have been half legend and half truth about this almost surreal location called “The Bummers’ Roost”. It was apparently a lively spot frequented by young and strong men. By the very definition of the word bummer, some of the patrons were plainly loafers and dawdlers. My parents made the name live on after my grandfather’s passing by acquiring the signs now in our house. As I age myself, I am struck with the richness of the memories of those gone before us. I marvel at thinking of them when they were much younger than I presently am.

I believe it to be very important to carry on family traditions within our home. The signs are a constant reminder of my parents, my grandparents and their lives. Of much greater importance to me; however, is a decision made and kept in this house. Joshua, the faithful warrior who took over from Moses and led the chosen people into the land of Canaan, knew the importance of this decision and stated it very clearly in Joshua 25:15.

15 ¶ "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Joshua in a very concise statement summarizes a choice we all have to make. There is no alternative other than making one clear choice. You simply believe and accept the lordship of our saviour or you do not. There is no middle ground. You serve and worship Him or you don’t. God Himself has left that choice to us. After many years of trying to avoid the decision, Lozanne and I made the all important choice. There is no looking back. There are no regrets. We look forward to the glory of heaven.

There is another sign in our home. It resides at the front door and it was made for us by a wonderful Christian woman who now resides in heaven. That sign states clearly, “But as for me and my house, we will serve 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.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our Refuge and Strength

This morning I find myself wondering about global warming. I really don’t know where to point the finger and get it all fixed, but I do know ultimately Who is in control. I have observed lately some different behaviour in nature. We have had, so far, a very mild winter with not a lot of snow. Several days ago, I found tracks made by a very large moose close to our home. I can’t recall seeing such mobile moose in the winter before. As I was looking at the huge tracks in the snow and enjoying Marley’s olfactory delight in finding them, a very large bird caught my attention. The largest eagle I have ever seen in eastern Canada was hovering in the wind about a hundred feet above us. The wing span must have been six feet or more. I suspect that this noble creature was actually contemplating a run at Marley, but realized that her fifty pound weight would be impossible to manage. I am glad that I did not have a small lap dog outside instead of the medium sized Marley. What a magnificent predatory creature that eagle was. I would suspect the warmer weather has made hunting easy and thus the size of that full grown adult bird. Near our home, Marley has found multiple field mice actually burrowing in the snow. I have never seen this behaviour before. Usually field mice look for much more protection against the elements. Unfortunately for them, Marley has found a new sport in hunting them down. Although she does not eat them, they do not survive her enthusiastic greetings.

The fourth observation is something I have never in my life experienced. We have ants in the basement. It is February and we have ants! I normally do battle with ants twice per year, once in May and once in July. It is just considered a normal natural phenomenon when you choose to live in the country. For about a week, I put out multiple ant traps, pour powdered soap into outside ant hills and place an ant repellent around the foundation of the house. Eventually I win, or at least the ants make me think so, but it would appear that my only weapon during the winter months will be ant traps. I suspect my favourite hardware store staff may look at me a little strangely when I attempt to purchase some. The only logical explanation I can think of for the appearance of ants in February is that the frost has not gone down very deep into the soil.

Whatever the cause, we have had a very mild winter. All of nature seems to be reacting differently to the conditions. Although so far the consequences of so called global warming have not been widely catastrophic, with the exception of a few very mean hurricanes, the natural world is upset. I wonder what changes my grandchildren will experience. I wonder if those changes will be catastrophic. That contemplation of the future this morning has taken me to Psalm 46: 1-3. I have quoted from Psalm 46 in past blogs and I suspect it will appear again in my writing.

1 ¶ To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Despite the troubles brought on by our mismanagement of the God’s resources, ultimately we know Who is in charge. I see the power of God in all of them, the moose, the eagle, the mice and the ants. I can simply observe and know that He is in control and indeed I can rejoice in that fact. The final two verses of Psalm 46 sum up that rejoicing much better than I can.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

(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, February 18, 2010

Blessed Hope

I have been reflecting on part of my last blog. Actually, I have been considering in more depth the concept of hope. All of us have hopes and dreams. Some of them are day to day, selfish and not worth mentioning. Some of them are of much more import. We hope that we can make a decent living. We hope we and those around us will be healthy. We hope for happiness in relationships. We hope our children and grandchildren will be strong, capable and succeed on their own in this world. Some of us hope for a comfortable and healthy old age. To hope is a very human condition. I have realized this morning that there are basically two hopes that have very long lasting consequences. Both are described in the Bible and both are guaranteed to happen if indeed you believe in the Son of God. In Hebrews 6: 18-19 we read of the first of the two really important hopes that we should acknowledge often.

18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

By the assurance of two unchangeable things, the promise as well as the oath taken by God, and God does not ever deceive us, we can hold onto a very special hope. We who believe have that hope that is anchored so solidly that it cannot be pulled from our grasp. Indeed it is anchored by the very presence of God. That hope is the certainty that when we die, and except for the fulfillment of the second and following hope, there is no escaping that event, we will go to heaven and we have the further assurance that Jesus has gone before us to prepare the way for us.

The second hope that we have is often overlooked and that is the return of Jesus to this earth to gather all believers both living and dead and take them to heaven. This is often called the rapture, a word which is not in the Bible. Although we have no idea when this event will occur, this promise is also spoken as a guarantee. We find this hope in Titus 2:13

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

The word “blessed” in this context signifies that it is an immutable promise to us by God that indeed His son will appear and take us directly to heaven. We always have the hope as believers that Jesus will return for His church. His church is quite simply those who believe and worship Him.

We therefore have two hopes that make all of our other hopes of minor consequence. Both hopes rest on a reality that lasts for eternity. They do not just contain the hope of success and good health for just a few years here on this earth. These hopes are for eternity. These hopes centre upon two promises that last forever. There are two possibilities that both end in an eternity in heaven with Jesus. We can enter through the portal of death or we can enter by way of a magnificent escort. Either way our hope rests on heaven. What an empty life it must be to hope only for this short and sometimes difficult life time.

(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, February 15, 2010

Our Forerunner

During my career as an educator, for better or for worse, I suffered from what I now acknowledge as an affliction of sorts. That affliction was ambition. The teacher had to become a vice-principal. The vice-principal had to become a principal. The principal had to become a superintendent and finally the superintendent had to become the director of education. In order to become a superintendent, it was necessary to become qualified as a supervisory officer. It was a qualification that I thought about achieving for several years before attempting it. The final encouragement came from observing a respected colleague go through the gruelling process and become qualified. Indeed in making the grade, he became a forerunner of sorts for me. He became an example I thought I might be able to follow.

In those days there was no set of courses you could take and become qualified as is the case today. There was simply a provincial written examination followed by an oral examination if you passed the written. The written examination consisted of curriculum and program questions as well as questions relating to knowledge of the Education Act and its regulations and as well as a lesser section on business items. After resolving to sit the written examination, I studied about three hours per day by myself from July until I traveled to write the exam in early January. The exam was termed an open book examination, but I had already been warned by my forerunner that if I took the time to verify facts in the three hour examination, I was probably not going to pass. I discovered by the sheer volume to be answered in order to achieve at least a 60% passing grade that I didn’t even have time to look up. It was also a well known rumour that I suspect was fact that the Ministry of Education allowed a passing rate of 37% of those who wrote the supervisory officer examination. When I left the examination completely drained, I was sure that I had failed and that I would not attempt the examination ever again. I was shocked the next month when I received a phone call informing me of an unknown passing grade and an invitation to the oral examination. The oral component consisted of five or six Ministry Education Officers assaulting me with every question they could dream up for about an hour. Composure was as important as the actual answers, I am sure.

I was duly granted a Supervisory Officer Certificate and waited another two years in order to become a Superintendent of Education. I doubt I would have attempted the very challenging process without a forerunner…the one who went before and shed light on so many of the unknowns before me.

I have found another forerunner and how I value Him! The word “forerunner” is found only once in the whole of the Bible. It is found in Hebrews 6: 18-20.

18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

By the assurance of two unchangeable things, the promise as well as the oath taken by God, and God does not ever deceive us, we can hold onto a very special hope. We who believe have that hope that is anchored so solidly that it cannot be pulled from our grasp. Indeed it is anchored by the very presence of God. The hope is the certainty that we will go to heaven. Why I am not afraid to enter into an eternity in the presence of God? My forerunner, Jesus Himself, has entered in and patiently awaits my arrival! I know that since he died for my sake and rose from the dead that so shall I.

One of my favourite hymns “Whispering Hope” written in 1868 by Septimus Winner sums up the glorious hope before us. The words of the hymn describe in a very poetic way the dark process of physical death followed by the glory of entering into eternity with our forerunner, Jesus. The refrain between the verses sums up the hope we have in our forerunner.

“Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice”

(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, February 12, 2010

The Summer of 76

It was a warm sunny day in early July, 1976. I was sitting in our almost new forest green American Motors Sportabout station wagon with our three children. Tami was seven years old, Jeremy four and Jess was 18 months of age. Our small station wagon was packed to the rafters with everything required to survive yet another summer in a university residence apartment. We had repeated this summer adventure for the previous six years. The number of dependents kept growing throughout those years. Lozanne returned to the car, after receiving laboratory results, to announce with her usual good humour that the next summer there would be four young ones in the car, should we choose to go to summer school again. I immediately tried to imagine where the fourth would fit into our present vehicle and drew a blank. Strangely enough, Josh fit in just fine the following summer.

We proceeded to drive the distance to Laurentian University where my principal’s certificate awaited after six weeks of classes. The weather that summer was very wet and cool. There were other young families present in the residence as well. The kids had the run of the campus and enjoyed a great summer. I will always remember young children and toddlers running joyfully through the library making just a little too much noise. No one, including the librarian, seemed to notice or care. It was the summer of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the Russian athletes were sequestered at Laurentian University and were often seen working out on the outdoor track and fields nearby. The USSR was very communist at the time and there was always the fear that some of their athletes may try to defect. We often walked the kids down to the track facility to watch the amazing athletic ability of the Olympic competitors. We were very welcome to do so…from a distance. I don’t know whether to call them KGB agents, security police or just bodyguards, but there was definitely a rather menacing line of them to stop any adult from approaching the athletes. When the action had slowed down; however, small children were allowed to mingle amongst the friendly young Russian competitors. On several occasions we watched the kids interact on the field with the athletes while we adults in turn were watched equally as carefully.

As I remember these events, I am reminded of a scene in the Bible where children were initially not welcomed but turned back. This description is found in the Book of Mark 10: 13-16.

13 ¶ Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus was not happy at all with His disciples for not allowing the little children to come to him. Their parents had, in faith, brought the children to Jesus so that he could bless them. Jesus then tells us one of the great truths of His good news. In order to enter into the kingdom of God, we all, no matter our age, must receive our salvation with the innocence, wonder and awe of a child. I have also realized through this scripture selection this morning the importance of allowing children exposure to Jesus while their minds are so ready to learn and receive the great truths of the gospel. There is an admonition to all parents within this selection. Jesus is telling us of the importance of introducing the wonders of the gospel to children from the earliest possible moment. Verse 16 is one of the most beautifully descriptive snapshots in the Bible. What a blessing those children received!

(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, February 10, 2010


Two weeks ago I went for my regular three month blood test. There is one number that gets my attention and that of my oncologist. One test is called, in order to simplify I am sure, CEA, which stands for carcinoembryonic antigen. It looks for the quantity of a protein in the blood that is normally present during fetal development. It is a key to causing cell adhesion in the developing baby. Since the production of this antigen stops before birth, it should not be found in the blood of healthy adults. It has been known since the sixties that it appears in the blood of those who have colorectal cancer. In the follow up period after treatment, it can be an indicator of metastasis of the cancer to other parts of the body. The test is used in other types of cancer and oddly heavy smokers will show raised levels as well. I have taken this test every three months since 2006. Each and every one of those more than twelve times causes anxiety in this patient.

Like most cancer related testing, it takes two weeks to process and come up with a number. I am very aware of my average which has been consistently low. Despite that, I continue to dread the third week following testing. That is when I learn the number and breathe a sigh of relief. Human nature causes us, at least it causes me, I am sure, to wonder each and every time if this is the test that will suggest that the cancer has spread. As a Bible believing Christian, I wonder when I will finally submit and simply trust and obey. This morning I sought some comfort in the Bible and found myself in the Book of Isaiah. I have read this verse several times before, but a very stark truth rose up from the print this morning. In Isaiah 26:3 I read:

3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

I am reminded by the Lord that there is a something that I have to do in order to find peace. My mind must stay on Him. In doing so, I exercise and demonstrate my faith and my trust. I realized today that when I do indeed stay within His Word and stay in prayer then the promised peace becomes perfect. It is then and only then that I can relax and leave it to 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.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Time and Chance

As I age, I continue to be amazed with the speed of change in this world, particularly technological change. Just assessing what is on my desk this morning has started me to think about the effects of time. I have decided to list the items that I would not have been able to identify on sight without a lot of investigation when I was twenty-two years old. I was not a student then, but a married man and a practicing educator. Here is the stunning list.

laptop computer
usb thumb drive
Ipod Touch
remote telephone receiver
inkjet printer
digital clock
blank cd’s
desk top computer with monitor
3.5 inch floppy disks
power bar
television remote control
VHS videotape
Post it Notes
compact fluorescent light bulb
keyless car entry remote control

I am shocked that I can find 17 items on my desk alone without getting up to walk around the house. I wonder what the total would be then. In forty years the changes are quite simply astounding. I would suggest that there has never been a forty years in all of human history to rival the speed of change. The words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:11 come to me this morning as I reflect on this.

11 ¶ I returned and saw under the sun that––The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

The words “time and chance” really are excellent descriptors of what has occurred in the last forty years to bring about so many unprecedented changes. Solomon who was granted great wisdom by God Himself speaks in the Book of Ecclesiastes at considerable length of the conditions that he saw “under the sun”. By this phrase he is describing worldly things not spiritual things. He is describing the way the world works without tapping into the power of God. Throughout the 12 chapters he constantly reminds us that whatever happens in this world under the sun is nothing but vanity. Life without God is futile, vain, false, and short. We might be tempted in this modern world to make some or all of my list of seventeen items our idols. Haven’t we become so self-reliant? Solomon offers us a warning that in the world the fastest doesn’t always win the race, the most powerful does not always prevail, the smartest aren’t always the best fed and don’t always get rich, nor are they always promoted to lofty positions. Time and chance stand in their way. You win some and you lose some. The most telling of Solomon’s wisdom comes at the very end of the book in Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14.

13 ¶ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

There is only one answer that makes any sense. We are to revere and love our Creator. We are to know who He is and to worship Him. The only way to cope with “time and chance” and to find true happiness is to find our God. We know with the benefit of being able to read the New Testament that this is best done through the acceptance of the Son of God. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are freed from the harsh judgement outlined in verse 14. Rise above this world of vanity and deal with “time and chance” through the power of God and His Son!

(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, February 4, 2010

Abba Father

This very early and frigid morning my mind has gone back thirty years to a family road trip we took to Florida. Our children were aged three, five, eight and eleven. My father-in-law graciously lent us his 1979 Chrysler New Yorker and we actually drove to his double wide mobile home in Hollywood, Florida. What was different about this trip was that we stayed in Florida for the whole month of July. Other than the obligatory excursion to Disneyland, we spent a fantastic and relaxing month pool side in very hot weather. Driving long distances with four young children requires some special planning. Days began very early with the rising of the sun. These same days ended by three-thirty in the afternoon with the registration at a hotel or motel that just had to have a swimming pool and air conditioning. Meals were eaten at every MacDonald’s Restaurant that we could discover along the way. Crayons and paper, as well as colouring books, were kept in plentiful supply. Age appropriate reading materials were mandatory. The first day of driving was the worst. Let’s just say that the kids were working out a lasting seating plan in somewhat of a combative way. Being larger seemed to be a real advantage. As we were navigating through the freeways in Toronto in order to head west to the Windsor/ Detroit border crossing, Lozanne turned to me and said, “Are we insane to even think we could do this?” Despite our initial doubts, we managed to make it across the border, get lost in the suburbs of Detroit and actually registered at a very bad Day’s Inn near Cincinnati, Ohio. On the following days, an easy routine was followed and other than the odd flare up in the back seat, behaviour was generally exemplary. The hotel quality improved as we learned what to look for in our accommodation. Lozanne and I have very fond memories of that trip. I am not sure how much our younger children remember of that month, but I suspect at least one memory has made it through the years.

In the days before DVD’s the only media that was available in a car was music. Cassette tapes were now in use and eight track machines had been retired. I remember one tape in particular that everyone enjoyed. That tape entitled “Momma Mia” was produced by the Swedish group called ABBA. I wish I could reverse the first "B" to make the name authentic, but my laptop will not cooperate. I have no idea how many times that tape was played during the four day periods spent travelling to and from Florida, but I am sure it was on a great deal. Everyone in the car enjoyed their music.

At the time, I had no idea that the word “Abba” appears three times in the New Testament. “Abba” is an Aramaic word which translates into English as “daddy” or “papa”. Aramaic was the language of the common man and woman in first century Palestine. It is the very intimate word for father that I suspect loses some of its meaning in the translation into modern English. This morning I have been thinking of its use in Romans 8:15.

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

As be become born again believers, we receive, through the Holy Spirit, the realization that unlike those trying to live by the law and the total sum of their “todos”, we are no longer slaves to being afraid of punishment for our sins. Rather we become acutely and delightfully aware of our position as sons and daughters of a very loving and forgiving God. At this realization we can truly cry out to our Daddy. Those living under the law would probably not approve or such an intimate term of endearment. As believers we can come to our Father in the confidence that our relationship is indeed an intimate one. Our Daddy loves us and will 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.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sharper Than A Two-edged Sword

During a recent visit, my three year old granddaughter surprised and entertained me with her insightful questions. I was delighted by her quiet and demure approach to ask me specific questions. One question involved my choice of a particular style of clothing. She wanted to know why I always wear bibbed pants better known as coveralls. Without going into graphic medical detail, I explained to her that for me they are very comfortable and that I can’t wear a belt. Her look suggested to me that the explanation was in some way incomplete. In retrospect, as suggested later by my son, her father, I probably should have simply explained that I do a lot of work around the house and the working man’s clothes are my best choice.

Another inquiry really impressed me. Her eye for detail caused her to ask why “that book” is always on the coffee table. The book she was referring to was the Holy Bible sitting open on a special ornate wooden stand on the table. Indeed, unless it is being read, it is always there. At times there are three different translations of the word of God open on the stand. I answered that the book was our Bible and it is very important that it be available and open to us. The answer was acceptable to her and I could sense that she felt that I had answered her question with the detail required she sought given her age.

I have since thought about her question and I have asked myself why we have “that book” out on the table for all who enter our home to see? I have itemized my answers to my own question.

1. The Bible is always readily available.
2. We always know where our Bibles are.
3. The ornate stand is decorative, as are the Bibles.
4. Visitors to our home immediately know that we read the Bible and that we are most probably Christians. Some who don’t know us that well, I am well aware, could and do conclude that we are “Bible thumpers”. I have spoken with several individuals who consider it a personal slight if you keep a Bible in plain view…a philosophical stance that has always escaped me, I must admit.
5. The Bibles are a visible testimony to our faith and our stand.
6. They keep the Word of God constantly before us and remind us of our love and respect for the Lord as well as his timeless communication to us.
7. Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Indeed the Word of God is a dynamic living force. It is capable of great discernment. Through study we can become discerning and capable of much increased understanding of this world and our place in it…or indeed our lack of place in it. Despite the fact it was written over the span of fifteen hundred years almost two millennia ago, it is absolutely relevant to the issues we face each and every day. It cuts through all of the falsities and propaganda offered up by a so called modern world. Without the Bible, I never would have come to know the Lord. There was not one mortal man who could have convinced me that I must be born again. I spent more that three years reading and digesting the Bible. It was difficult at first. The more I read and looked for the contradictions that I was sure were there, the more I became convinced of the gospel story and its promises. I read to find the weaknesses and the contradictions in the Bible and instead I found Jesus. I highly recommend a Bible on your coffee table.

(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.)