Follow me on Twitter at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Message of the Cross

This morning I have been contemplating a situation that occurred when I was a superintendent of schools about twenty years ago. I am not proud of my actions in handling this situation, but the telling of the story magnifies a truth that is clearly spoken in the New Testament. I must make it clear that I was not yet a born again Christian. Indeed I did my best to keep “religion” out of our public schools. I was certainly not an atheist, but protecting young minds from the influences of organized religion and those who were, in my mind at least, far too intense in their public faith was part of my work persona.

Any request to distribute written materials in more than one school required the consent of the appropriate superintendent of schools. I had been requested to review a pamphlet inviting parents to register their children for a summer camp owned and operated by a local church. On the folded pamphlet cover was a cross. I can’t believe that I was silly enough to actually call the reverend and inform him that the content of the pamphlet was acceptable, but that the cross would have to be removed from the front cover. I explained to this flabbergasted man of the cloth that the symbol was far too Christian and may cause complaints from parents. Let’s just say that this gentlemen retained necessary decorum, but he was not happy. By the same afternoon, I began to receive phone calls from trustees of the board. Callers were calling them to object to my decision which the trustees “suggested” that I reverse. The pamphlets were indeed approved and distributed with the cross intact. In the end, I felt very foolish for my refusal of the cross. In 1Corinthians 1:18 we read about that very foolishness.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The Amplified Bible actually refers to the message of the cross as “sheer absurdity and folly” to those who are perishing. Until I was forty-eight years of age, I was perishing. I found the message of the cross absurd. Now, due to the grace of God, I am not perishing. I am saved. I am assured that I will live forever with Jesus in heaven. The cross is now a symbol of the power of God. God so loved me that he sent His son to die on that cross in order that I be redeemed. How I needed to be redeemed! How thankful I am for that redemption! The Bible tells me very directly about my foolishness in making a foolish decision so long ago.

(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, March 27, 2010


Each morning Lozanne and I enjoy a devotional time. Lately we have been very regular in our attempts to make time for the Lord. Several days ago the reading we experienced before praying was Revelation 21: 1-4. The Apostle John describes his vision that is clearly, in my mind at least, that of heaven.

1 ¶ I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.

2 I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

3 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God.

4 He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone."

I have thought about heaven a great deal in the last few years. The Bible tells us some things about the Kingdom of Heaven, but many details are simply waiting for our discovery as we enter in to what has to be beyond our wildest imagination. Isaiah 64:4 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 2:9 telling us that we can’t even begin to imagine what God has in store for us. I am aware that some commentators don’t see this verse as a reference to heaven. I disagree.

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Have you ever just let your imagination take over and attempted to visualize the splendour of heaven? Not everything I look forward to can be proven by the Bible, but I can still look forward to it nevertheless. Verse 4 in Revelation 21 gives us a really good start. There will be no death, no pain and definitely no tears. I imagine being bathed in beautiful and pure light. I believe that we will have brand new glorified bodies with all the missing and defective parts replaced. No matter at what point in life you entered heaven, you will be in the prime of life for eternity. I suspect that the prime of life will be thirty-three years of age, the age that our saviour rose into heaven. I believe that we will know and speak to loved ones gone before us. Relationships like marriage will be different but acknowledged and remembered. I believe that we will be put to work in heaven. Our individual talents will be exercised for the glory of God in a stress free environment forever. We are told of many mansions being prepared for us by Jesus. I look forward to the type of home that I will enjoy for eternity. I don’t think it outrageous to suppose that favourite pets may join us in heaven.

It occurs to me that I may have placed too many human expectations within my visualization. Heaven may be completely different than my musings, but I am sure of one thing. It will be fantastic! Peace and love will reign. Most of all I look forward to speaking to and being with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ for all of 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, March 23, 2010

Desperately Wicked

Yesterday I was listening to a story on my car radio. I was shocked by the evil about which it was centered. Being a student of the Holy Bible, I should not have been shocked. The heart of human kind is summarized with great precision in the Bible and the picture is not a pretty one. It seems that what first appeared to be a pilot of a reality television game show entitled “The Game of Death” was actually a social experiment that is to become a documentary film in France. Eighty contestants, who thought they were to be on a game show, agreed contractually that they would be willing to administer electric shocks to other contestants when answers were incorrect. With the exception of the contestants, everyone else involved in the show, including the audience, the host and the contestants to be the victims of the electric shocks were actors. The whole show was a carefully contrived attempt at eliciting the worst of human behaviour from those who thought they were the actual contestants. When contestants were required to shock who they thought was a fellow contestant, they were placed under a great deal of peer pressure by the demands of the host and the loud audience demanding punishment of the victim. As the game progressed the severity of the mock electric shocks was increased to the point of being lethal. Despite the screams of pain and the begging for mercy of the actor playing the victim, contestants were pressured unmercifully to actually “kill” the actor playing the losing contestant. The sad commentary is that of the eighty contestants only 16 refused to continue and 64 were willing to comply with the crowd and inflict great pain and even death. The conclusion of this social experiment showed exactly what the Bible tells us about human behavior.

9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)

I could keep adding quotes. Human beings are indeed sinners who unfortunately can be greatly influenced by the evil of those around them. The greatest evil in my opinion was the man who devised this diabolical experiment in order to document what he already knew. I can’t even imagine the trauma caused to the sixty-four who must live with such a horrible opinion of themselves after the fact. The damage done to these people can’t even be estimated. All will need intensive therapy in order to be able to live with themselves. In retrospect, it was observed that those who refused to continue complying all seemed to have some previous experience at being able to rebel against the system or to resist what appeared to be authority. I wish I could self-righteously declare right here and now that I would have been in the righteous sixteen. I hope, had I been there, that I would have had the moral backbone to refuse to go with the crowd, but hope is the only assurance I have. As Jeremiah put it, who can know the depths of depravity possible in human behaviour? We are indeed all sinners and as such we need a saviour who was willing to pay the price of our redemption. That Saviour is Jesus Christ. Have you accepted the free gift of His work on the cross of Calvary?

(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, March 19, 2010

Australia Day

Yesterday my daughter and our grandson came to join us for dinner. Liam was diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder known as autism before he was two years old. His moderate autism affects his socialization and communication skills. The progress he has made in his first ten years of life is nothing short of amazing. As he becomes older, his frustration levels and the resulting behaviors continue to steadily improve and he simply emanates a zest and joy for life that we should all envy.

When he arrived for dinner, he asked us if “we were ready for it?” and then announced with great enthusiasm to Lozanne and I that it was Australia Day and that we would be celebrating this special day at dinner. Indeed he brought a cake and watched with obvious anticipation as his mother inscribed with a pink icing tube the words “Happy Australia Day”. He insisted throughout dinner that we should wish each other a happy Australia Day. Dinner conversation centered upon the special day we were celebrating and also Liam’s travel plans to the city in the spring of 2011. He told us of his plans to visit such exotic sites as Pizza Hut and Tom’s Aquarium, which I am assured actually exists. Liam spends a lot of time on the internet. As the cake was served, he gave us a rousing rendition of the song “Happy Australia Day” which included a tribute to dear Marley Dadoll. Marley is our English Springer Spaniel and Dadoll is a nickname for Lozanne because she always greeted our infant grandchildren with the exclamation of “What a doll!” Liam and his older brother now refer to us as Grandma and Grandpa Dadoll.

I must admit that Liam’s joy in the moment really affected my mood yesterday. I was not having a very good day, but his enthusiasm was quite simply infectious. He is a living example of the words found in Proverbs 17:22.

22 ¶ A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

The most sobering yet amusing discovery that I stumbled upon this morning has given me much pause. I was almost positive that Australia Day was a creation of Liam’s active imagination. I said nothing of the sort to him yesterday, but indeed I discounted the existence of such a day. Imagine my red face when I entered “Australia Day” into the Google search engine and came up with hundreds of references to an actual day celebrated by Australians. They celebrate their nationhood and their culture on January 26th each and every year. We were celebrating the day a little late, but our celebration was indeed real. That revelation brought to mind two verses that are also in Proverbs 17. The fool in this case is glad he held his peace.

27 ¶ He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

(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, March 17, 2010

Uncle Charlie

This morning I was reminded by a random circumstance, that involved my ever increasing use of a flashlight, of a man I respected very much. Indeed our youngest son is named after him. He left this world about thirty-five years ago. When Lozanne and I were first married, we rented for a three year period an upstairs apartment from Lozanne’s Great Aunt and Uncle, Delina and Charles. Both were characters worthy of a blog, but this morning Uncle Charlie, when he was in his mid-seventies, is on my mind. He was a very caring, intelligent and, let us say, prudent man. Others may have characterized him as overly cautious and a worrier. Since his personality was much like mine, especially as I age, I prefer to refer to him as wise and prudent.

It is fair; however, to characterize him as overly cautious about a few special situations. He was forever smelling the obvious odour of natural gas in his basement. He often called me down to confirm his suspicions. Even though I informed him that I could not smell gas, he inevitably called the gas company who always good-naturedly arrived almost immediately to perform yet another negative test for the presence of gas in the air. When the aging tenant of the back apartment stubbornly burned sugar in her oven to dispel what she termed as bad smells, he was certain that a fire had started in that apartment and would make a futile check of her unit each and every time. I suspect she enjoyed the attention. When I regularly came in late from my travels in order to gain university credits in distant towns, he would meet me in the wee hours of the morning by shining his flashlight in my car as I pulled up. Concerned about the wellbeing of Lozanne who was very much expecting and our eldest daughter, he was waiting there every Friday night, or should I say Saturday morning, for a whole semester. Every time he backed his 1955 blue Chevrolet out of the garage, he would honk his horn. This was not a short beep. Rather, it was a long sustained holding down of the horn in order to warn any walkers, of which there were very few, that he was backing up. Lozanne asked him repeatedly to cease and desist in the afternoon when the baby was sleeping. Despite a promise to do so, he could never bring himself to the point where he would not cause that long sustained blast of a very old fashioned and loud horn.

Uncle Charlie was in many ways very much like me or should I say I am much like he was. I am not quite so obsessive about certain situations, but I admit that I am fairly prudent. Indeed I have admitted in the past in this blog my propensity to worry. Jesus tells us in the New Testament that worry is futile. I was very interested the other day to find the same advice in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 8: 12-13 we find the words.

12 "Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.

13 The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread.

The Amplified Bible makes these two verses very clear by telling us not to fear what others fear and indeed we are not to cause others to fear. We are to reign in our worry and our paranoia. We are to regard God as our only hope of safety and security. We are literally to make Him our only fear, lest we offend Him by being fearful about situations in our lives. We have only one thing to fear in this life and that is not accepting a loving and gracious God. Personally, I understand from verse 13 that we can actually turn our worry over to a loving God who is more than willing to actually embody that worry by absorbing it, indeed actually soaking it up to remove it from us. Are you a worrier? Fear God (love and respect Him) and you can then forget the rest of your worries!

(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, March 15, 2010

What a Love

With the approach of the long weekend in the month of May, as a child, I anticipated very much the opening of fishing season. We lived on the south side of a very large lake. The pickerel spawned every May on that side of the lake. Fishing was excellent for about a month after the opening of the season. Virtually every late afternoon during those years found me observing the wind and the weather on the lake as I returned home from school. My very small nine foot punt, which I had purchased used for ten dollars, when I was about eight years of age, was only good for calm evenings. My father and I would row out a few hundred yards and then begin moving down the shoreline. It was considered normal to catch your legal limit of six good sized pickerel each before the sun went down completely. I can still taste the battered fish my mother fried on some special evenings, usually weekend evenings, after ten o’clock at night.

There were some evenings when large waves rolled into shore. On those nights my father would sometimes take me in the car down the lake shore to a protuberance of rocky land known as Cherry’s Point. There we would join many other fishermen and women casting our lines from shore. Many lures were lost on the rocks during these evenings. This was a minor inconvenience, because I would return in the summer and dive from my boat to retrieve many of those same lures for the next fishing season. One particular evening remains forever imprinted on my memory. I had hooked the largest Northern Pike that I have ever seen up close on the end of a fishing line. Both my father and I were very excited as we worked to land this fish that must have weighed in at over fifteen pounds. The inevitable happened. As the fish approached the rocky shore line, it used its considerable size and strength to snap the fishing line at the last possible moment. My father was just reaching out to drag in my prize. What I remember so vividly about that evening was not my disappointment at losing the fish, but how visibly upset my father was for MY loss. He didn’t care about the loss of the fish, but he did care so very much that I would be upset by the loss. What I remember is a raw example of a father’s love in action. Like all good fathers he wanted to protect me and virtually guarantee success and no disappointments in life. It is impossible to attain such heights for human fathers. It is most certainly possible for our heavenly Father. We read of this most powerful love in 1John 3: 1-2.

1 ¶ Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

What an incredible love we enjoy in becoming the sons and daughters of God. God loves us so much that he has taken us into His family and granted to us all of the benefits, including an unbelievable inheritance, of being in His family. Of course the world, which does not understand Him, does not understand us either. Understood or not, we are still the children of God. When Jesus returns or as He greets us in heaven, we will recognize Him immediately and at that moment we shall be like Him. I believe that we will be like Jesus in a spiritual sense, not physically. What a moment that will be! Our inheritance is an eternity in heaven without sin, sickness, sorrow or death. That is what I call a Father’s love. Have you accepted the Father’s love?

(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, March 13, 2010

The Ten Commandments

In the spring of 1957, I was nine years old. In that year, the fifth most financially successful motion picture of all time was released. Cecil B. Demille’s “The Ten Commandments”, the epic story of Moses and the rescue of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, was heralded as a brilliant piece of modern movie technology and a very moving and exciting story. I remember vividly going with my parents on a spring evening to see the picture. It was indeed a little too “adult” for a child of that day, but it is one of my most memorable movie experiences. I enjoyed it so much that I was allowed to return for two more matinee showings of the movie that had taken hold of my imagination. I was allowed to catch the township bus, attend the movie alone at the Capitol Theatre and return home by myself. I am sure that the cost of the afternoon, including popcorn was less than one dollar.

I was enthralled by the grandeur of God and His relationship with Charlton Heston who convincingly played a youthful as well as an elderly Moses. The movie is packed with special effects like God cutting the Ten Commandments into stone tablets with His powerful voice and what appeared to be lightening flashes. The images of the hovering green misty disease that killed the Egyptian first born, during the night of the first Passover, I remember like yesterday. The Israelite multitude passing through the parted Red Sea appeared very real to a child. The violence of the subsequent drowning of the Egyptian army was something to behold. I realize now so many years later that I was greatly affected in a spiritual way by the film. Now that I am biblically literate, I am aware that there were many historical and biblical inaccuracies within the film. When I watch parts of the movie now each and every Easter on some television station, I am somewhat amused by the very stiff dialogue that doesn’t seem to flow nor is it very realistic to the modern ear. That didn’t seem to matter to a nine year old who has maintained for fifty three years a sense of reverence in reviewing the Ten Commandments as they are found in Exodus 20: 3-17.

1 "You shall have no other gods before Me.

2 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

3 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

4 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.

5 ¶ "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

6 "You shall not murder.

7 "You shall not commit adultery.

8 "You shall not steal.

9 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10 "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s."

(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, March 11, 2010

Defend Your Faith

On January 4, 2005, my mother passed away in her sleep. Within two days of receiving the unexpected phone call, Lozanne and I were on a flight to Victoria, British Columbia. My mother had been a very healthy and active eighty-four year old who was also the primary caregiver to my father. Her death was indeed a shock. Somewhere over the dark, cold and frozen prairies, the pilot announced that the Victoria airport and indeed the Vancouver airport had been closed due to snow on the runways and poor visibility. We had been diverted to Calgary where we were forced to find a very bad hotel room, get a few hours of sleep and return to the airport at 5:30 A.M. in order to be informed that we could fly in three hours time to Vancouver. Victoria airport was still closed.

While we waited in the departure lounge, I took the opportunity to prepare for my mother’s funeral. She had asked that I conduct her funeral when the need would inevitably arise. To say that I was unprepared for this huge responsibility was an understatement. I spread my Bible open and began to take some notes from John 11. I had decided that I would give a message of hope found in the words of Jesus when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” While I was very deep in thought, a clean cut middle aged man approached me and asked if I would keep an eye on his laptop computer while he went to the washroom. I said yes and then realized from years of experience with laptops that he had asked me, a virtual stranger, to watch a very high end and expensive piece of hardware, not to mention the information contained on the hard drive. I wonder to this day if it was the very visible Bible that evoked what I perceived to be such unwarranted trust. Lozanne and I struck up a conversation with this man when he returned to the lounge. He was a high ranking officer in the Canadian Forces who worked in the field of information technology.

When we arrived in Vancouver, the airport in Victoria was still closed. It would be necessary to find transportation to the ferry and cross over to the island as walk-on passengers. A group of six of us agreed to share the cost of a limousine. The air force officer was one of the group. When we finally made it to the ferry, he sat down to make the journey with Lozanne and myself. As she so often does, Lozanne seized the opportunity to witness her faith to this man. Unlike so many others, he seemed to welcome the attempt and indeed was at least willing to discuss and debate with her. Given his willingness to listen and discuss, most of the 90 minute journey was spent in witnessing. Peter tells us that, as Christians, we should be ready to do just what she did, defend her faith. We read in 1 Peter 3:15 the following words.

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

We are asked to set apart Christ as holy and we are to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. If anyone asks you to account for the light that shines as hope within you, you should be ready to do just that. You should do it courteously and respectfully. You should not be forcing your faith on those who do not want to hear about it, but ready to speak of Christ to anyone who is willing to listen. I often wonder about the effects of her faithful words spoken to a stranger on a cold and rough January ferry ride to my mother’s funeral.

(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, March 9, 2010

The Gideons

For some years after I retired, until ill health forced my resignation, I was a member of the Gideons. The Gideons, as mentioned in my last blog, raise funds in order to distribute Bibles around the world. Their only aim is to distribute the Word of God. They distribute Bibles to schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and hotels. Nursing and police graduates are also offered a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.

Several years ago, when a group of us were visiting hotels and motels to replace any stolen, lost or damaged Bibles, I was shocked by the reaction of one motel manager. Invariably when two of us presented ourselves to the front desk of any given establishment, we were treated cordially and with respect. Also invariably we were asked to leave a certain number of volumes for their stock room. That was until we stopped and knocked on the locked office door of a small town motel. After a lengthy wait at the door, we were just about to simply leave when a middle aged woman came to the door. We stated our business as usual and soon realized that this manager or owner was visibly agitated. We actually had started to back up when she exploded. I don’t know how else to describe her aggressive outburst. She yelled and screamed things that I don’t wish to repeat in print. She advanced at us very aggressively. For our safety and indeed for her safety, we beat a hasty retreat into the idling car and much like escaping bandits demanded that the driver “step on it”. Within a few hundred yards, the driver pulled over to the side of the road and the four of us began to see the humour in the whole scene. It was fairly obvious that the establishment that was last on our list for the day did not want any Bibles. I have often wondered since why the woman had reacted to vehemently to the offer of the printed Word of God. It was evident that I should not return and ask the question directly. The only answer I can ever come up with is that the light of our faith must have offended her. She desired darkness and our light fairly blinded her eyes and caused great anger…palpable, frightening anger. In 2Corinthians 4: 6-7 we read about the light of the gospel as it shines forth from believers.

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

The Apostle Paul is making an obvious reference to Gideon who in the Book of Judges, after being advised very directly by God Himself, led 300 men into battle against a much larger army. By placing torches in empty pitchers, the three hundred were able to get very close to the sleeping enemy and by blowing trumpets, yelling and pulling the flaming torches from the “earthen vessels”, drove the enemy off in a panic. Verse seven makes it plain that for the believer, our light is within a frail and disposable human body. Quite literally, when we visited the small town motel, the reaction of that woman to the light released from our “earthen vessels” was something like the panic displayed by the enemies of Gideon and 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, March 7, 2010

A Light to My Path

Last evening as I was dozing off, I heard just a snippet of a television news story that should have surprised me. Unfortunately, it was not shock that I felt, but disappointment. A couple in Southern Ontario has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission against a district school board for allowing Bibles to be distributed to Grade five students. The Gideons have been distributing the small New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs since the 1950’s, I believe. You may have kept this volume as a memorable souvenir of your childhood. Many school boards have stopped the practice and some have asked the parents to sign a consent form prior to the distribution of the New Testament. In my thirteen years as a senior administrator in a school board, I received not one question or complaint about the distribution of the Gideon New Testaments to all grade five students. What has changed? Apparently there is less and less tolerance for any mention of Christianity within our schools. I suspect this is not related to multi-culturalism or indeed the growing diversity of religions in Canada. It is more directly related a move to limit as much as possible the spread of the Word of God.

This line of thinking confuses me. I have accumulated no less than five translations of the Holy Bible and indeed I use them almost daily in the writing of this blog. I have recently replaced my paper back copy of the Amplified Bible with a large print leather bound edition. This beautiful volume rounds out the New International Version, the King James Version, the New King James Version and The Message Bible that I use in my study of the Word of God. Online I also consult from time to time the Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Version and the English Standard Version. The more I read the Word of God, the more I want to learn what it really means. The wisdom found in any Bible is more than I can find in a lifetime of study. New revelations just keep appearing before my eyes. I cannot fathom the need to discourage any student in our society from reading what can also be termed the greatest piece of literature every published. Any student of literature or history in Western society is required to have a working knowledge of the Bible by even the most atheistic of teachers and professors.

This morning I cannot keep from remembering the words of Psalm 119: 103-106.

103 ¶ How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

105 ¶ NUN. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

106 ¶ I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.

It is the Word of God that gives us understanding and the ability to discern evil. It gives us the truth and only the truth. It is a light that guides the way through life to heaven. No wonder I have confirmed that I will follow the Word of God. The Amplified Bible renders this as “hearing, receiving, loving and obeying” the ordinances of 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, March 3, 2010

The Honor Due

I have had the occasion recently to discuss and think about what a friend once termed “end of life issues”. I am not referring to myself or our generation, although some of us are indeed, as Lozanne terms it, “on deck”. Many people of my generation are now trying to sort out the issues that inevitably arise as their parents become elderly. Difficult decisions confront many regarding the independence, health and required care for their aging parents. It can be an agonizing position to be in having to decide the immediate welfare and future of the two persons who nurtured and raised you. We are much more use to deferring to their wisdom with love and respect.

When I think of our own situation, I marvel how Lozanne and I did not have to make any long term decisions regarding the future of our parents. Lozanne’s mother passed away in 1992 when she was 69 years old. Lozanne’s father and both of my parents entered eternity within a six month period in 2005. Both my parents died 34 days apart and Lozanne’s father died five months later. The grief felt with their loss was great, but it has recently become apparent to me that we did not have to make one decision regarding their aging future. All were octogenarians living independently in their own homes when they passed away. Both of our fathers died after short illnesses and my mother passed away very suddenly in her sleep. We never had to consider the prospect of caring for them in our own home and better yet, we never once entered a nursing or retirement home to find them a safer place of care. I thank God for being spared those agonizing decisions. I like to believe that, if required, we would have risen to the occasion and done the right thing. Jesus made it very clear what the right thing was, and indeed is, in Mark 7: 8-13.

8 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men––the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."

9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

10 "For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’

11 "But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban" ––’(that is, a gift to God),

12 "then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother,

13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

Jesus is openly and plainly scolding the powerful Pharisees for their propensity to dream up new rules that better suited man, not God. They are man made rules that have no basis in the word of God. One of their practices was, when they became a Pharisee, to ignore the needs of their own parents because they gave that portion of their wealth directly to God. Indeed they are breaking one of the Ten Commandments in order to satisfy their own man made rule. Jesus makes our obligation to honor our mother and our father very clear. We are to look after them when and if they need us. I marvel at how little God required of us to fulfill our responsibilities. I pray that our children will have the same blessing.

(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, March 1, 2010

What a friend

When our eldest daughter was about three or four years of age, she had an imaginary friend. This relationship was not a brief and fleeting one, as you would normally expect. Wendy, pronounced Mendy by Tamara, was part of our lives for about eighteen months. Her presence was with us constantly. We had to be careful to acknowledge her at all times and to include her in all family plans. We had to be cautious of shutting the car door on her hand and to ensure that a chair was always ready for Mendy’s comfort. Mendy’s bedtime was coincidentally at the same time as Tami’s. Saying goodnight to Mendy was not an option, but mandatory. Mendy accompanied us on family trips and indeed was usually well behaved. I remember her well. Mendy disappeared from our lives as Tami began to explore the neighbourhood and made real friends. Their names were Beverly and Doreen or as Tami referred to them, Bef and Dream. I suspect the eldest child in a family may be more likely to have an imaginary friend. I thought of Mendy this morning for the first time in many years as I was contemplating the famous words penned by Joseph Scriven, a fellow Canadian, in 1855. The first verse of this famous hymn is as follows.

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

These words describe our need for a relationship with Jesus. It is this all important relationship that saves us, not religion. Jesus made the relationship so very clear; however, in one single and simple verse found in John 15:13.

13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Jesus did exactly that for anyone who wishes to be called one of His friends. He voluntarily went to the cross in order to pay our ransom once and for all. Through His sacrifice, the sacrifice of God returned to earth, we are redeemed. We don’t get what we truly deserve, but through His grace we are assured heaven and an eternity with our friend, Jesus. “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

(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.)