Showing posts from October, 2009

Holy Sonnet


Wilt thou love God, as he thee? then digest,
My Soule, this wholsome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy brest.
The Father having begot a Sonne most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne'r begonne)
Hath deign'd to chuse thee by adoption,
Coheire to his glory, and Sabbaths endlesse rest;
And as a robb'd man, which by search doth finde
His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy it againe;
The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine,
Us whom he had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde.
'Twas much, that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.

John Donne (1573-1631)

Christ Cracks Hard Cases

God chose Saul. What was he? A blasphemer. A
persecutor. That is grace. Our God is gracious and He loves
to show His mercy to the vilest and worst of men. There was
a notable character in the town in which I lived who was
known as the worst man in the town. He was so vile, and his
language was so horrible, that even wicked men could not
stand it. In England they have what is known as the public
hangman who has to perform all the executions. This man
held that appointment and he told me later that he believed
that when he performed the execution of men who had
committed murder, that the demon power that was in them
would come upon him and that in consequence he was
possessed with a legion of demons. His life was so miserable
that he purposed to make an end of life. He went down to a
certain depot and purchased a ticket. The English trains are
much different from the American. In every coach there are a
number of small compartments and it is easy for anyone who
wants to commit suicide to open the door o…

Little Letter with Punch

From Paul in a Roman prison to Philemon, wealthy householder at Colossae. Not much to look at, if size matters. One chapter. Twenty-five verses. Very personal in nature. Recalling a former time when Paul introduced the Gospel to that household.

But something very unusual has developed. Paul has been ministered to in custody by a young man recently arrived in Rome named Onesimus.The name translates "useful".

There was a time when the younger had proved useful to Philemon as a slave of his household. But then a theft. A flight to freedom and Rome. An introduction to Paul and a life of new hope in the Gospel.

Over time Paul comes to realize the wrongdoing of his new friend. He insists that the old score must be settled. But this slave faces very dangerous prospects. The law of the Empire would allow the master to kill the thief, or cut off his hand, or allow him back into service.

What will be the decision now in light of the common bond of Christian faith between master and slave?…

That I May Know Him

Knowledge of Christ

“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me?”

John 14:9

There seems to be pain in the Master’s question. This disciple had been with Him for three years. He had seen His beautiful and gentle life. He had witnessed His works of power. Surely by this time, after such long and close intimacy, the disciple ought to have known Jesus. Yet Jesus tells him here that he did not really know Him.

We get this lesson — that it is possible to be with Christ a long time, and to know very much about Him, without ‘knowing’ Him in the true sense of the word. Philip knew Jesus as a man, as a worker of miracles, as having a very beautiful character; but he seems never to have gone below the surface in understanding Him. He did not know Him as the revealer of the Father. He never saw divine glory in the radiance that streamed from that blessed life. And not to know Christ in this aspect, to know Him only as a man, is not to know Him at all. To leave out the divine i…

Hope from the Hill

A dearly loved friend is struggling with station in life. On a drive into the country this afternoon Hilary and I were discussing the situation and wondering whether our Christ-directed comments to the person had been an encouragement or an untimely stumbling-block (There is a significant difference in this based on God's timing.)

I commented that perhaps our "mongrel" experience of finance, social connection, employment and Christian assembly had gotten in the way with this friend. But then, almost prophetically, I blurted to Hilary that "if we had possessed any commendable resilience at all it had come from the blessing of relatively good health, family and hope from the hill."

Hmmm. Hope from the hill. That's it! The sure-fire victory message, circumstances notwithstanding:

"1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that …


Gordon Grieve is a prophet from Guelph ( He pastors a small fellowship with his wife Judy, and accepts invitations abroad to conferences, prayer vigils and church gatherings where he shares impressions which he has received before God. His messages of edification, exhortation and comfort to the Body of Christ are backed soundly by scripture and personal anecdote. One of such was the foundation of an earlier blog post entitled "A Voice for Him".

On Friday we heard Gord again at a housechurch gathering where he reported that God had been impressing him to tell the Church to pull back for a time from frantic program and evangelistic pursuits. The motive was right but for this region the timing and the "soil preparation" were wrong. In his prayer time he was only hearing God say, "Ssshhh...Sit...Quiet...Repent".

He was sad to report that pastors and churches were largely not open to this loss of momentum. Cities needed to be saved. Crusades …

Throwing the Switch

The impression of that short video clip remains with me.

It starts at the outskirts of a small American town, dated approximately sixty years ago. It is summer time and a father is leaving the house for work. He bids a good day to wife and pre-teen son.

The scene shifts to a stretch of railroad and a long trestle bridge over a gorge. The bridge has two distinct tracks each contained with safety fencing. Part of the one track is down for repair and the father is assessing the job.

At the north end of the bridge a tall stand of trees borders the rail line as it executes a gentle curve leading to the small clearing at the gorge's approach.

Scene shifts to the household again and mother has noticed that father forgot his lunch for the day. The son responds, "I thought I heard Dad say that he was checking out the trestle bridge at rail mile 237. That's only an hour's walk from here. I'll take it to him." The boy is then shown happily hiking the rails through some plea…

Ecce Homo

As God's timetable for redemption came to the point of crisis in Passion Week, it was as if the people were constrained to speak truthful words on the plight of Jesus of Nazareth.

The High Priest was threatened by news of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. He suggested to his associates that Jesus be eliminated. He stated that 'it was expedient that one man die for the people so that the nation not perish'. Of course he was attempting to avoid repurcussions from Rome should the people rise up in support of the miracle-working Nazarene.

The crowds on Palm Sunday welcomed the donkey-riding teacher with words from Psalm 118, 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' There was a messianic connotation to their song. Perhaps 430 years of waiting since Malachi's promise would now come to a close. But the people failed to continue with the next verse of that Psalm: " 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even u…

Remission's Cup

The Remission of Sins

“This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Matthew 26:28

So right in the heart of the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of two things, — of the price paid for our redemption, and of the deliverance that this redemption brings to us. The price paid was the precious blood of Christ; the deliverance is the remission of sins.

There is a singular Oriental custom which may help us better to understand the way Christ made atonement for our sins. “When a debt had to be settled,” says Dr. A. J. Gordon¹, “either by full payment or forgiveness, it was the usage for the creditor to take the cancelled bond and nail it over the door of him who had owed it, that all passers-by might see that it was paid. Oh, blessed story or our remission! There is the cross, the door of grace, behind which a bankrupt world lies in hopeless debt to the law. See Jesus, our bondsman and brother, coming forth with the long list of our indebtedness in His han…


Believers will manifest more or less of the influence of the Holy Ghost in their demeanour and lives in proportion to their degree of yieldedness in daily communion.
Watching and praying. Note the distinction. The former is an exercise of quiet submission, waiting for the input or leading of the Spirit. The latter pertains to verbalized supplication, praise, seeking, thanksgiving and confession.

I have often heard believers of the Pentecostal or Charismatic persuasion suggesting that they are "spirit-filled". They link the experience of Holy Ghost baptism and tongues with this assertion. They refer to a portion of Ephesians 5 in this regard:

17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

The sense of the 18th verse is that we are to be constantly rece…

Christ in Concrete

For years in used book stores I had passed by the novel "Christ in Concrete" by Pietro di Donato, copyright 1939. It was one of two great books on the condition of labour released that year. The other was "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck telling the story of the tenuous existence of migrant farm workers and the bigotry which they encountered in their trek from the central dust bowls to verdant California.

Di Donato's book deals with the condition of bricklayers and high rise steel men in the Lower East Side of New York City at a time just before the Great Depression.

The protagonist is a young teen, Paul, son of Geremio, foreman of a crew of brick and mortar men of Italian origin. These men return day by day to a building site called "Job" with its physically taxing duties, its pressured pace of production, its sub-standard scaffold network and its under-spec materials.

One day, Good Friday in fact, calamity strikes and the scaffold fails and numb…

Proof Positive

At a break from work today I was glancing through a commentary on the First Epistle to the Thessalonians by James Denney (a volume in the English series The Expositor's Bible)

Paul was confirming his correspondents' election of God in the following words:

Chapter 1

5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

To undergo affliction for the Word's sake with supernatural joy! A very strong sign of the deposit of Christ within an individual. That peculiar privilege of sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings, and for righteousness' sake.

We are told that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution". (2 Timothy 3:12). Not to launch a sordid campaign to invite or attract censure and leering look…

M'Cheyne's Rebuke

...You should have been "living epistles known and read of all men". You know that a lighted lamp is a very small thing, and it burns calmly and without noise; yet "it giveth light to all that are within the house". So if you had day by day the blood of Christ upon your conscience, - walking a forgiven and adopted child of God, - having a calm peace in your bosom and a heavenly hope in your eye, - having the Holy Spirit filling you with a sweet, tender, chaste, compassionate, forgiving love to all the world, - Oh, had you shone thus for two years back, how many of your friends and neighbours that are going down to hell might have been saying this day, "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God"!

(Given by M'Cheyne in a pastoral letter dated March 20, 1839 and reproduced in Memoirs and Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne by A. A.Bonar)

This zeal for the clean and clear presentation of Christ to the world can also be found in the words of Paul …

The Constancy of Christ

(Taken from a letter from Samuel Rutherford to Alexander Gordon of Garloch, 1637)

If Christ were as I am, that time could work upon him to alter him, or that the morrow could bring a new day to him,or bring a new mind to him, as it is to me a new day, I could not keep a house or a covenant with him. Bit I find Christ to be Christ, and that he is far, far, even infinite heaven's height above men; and that is all our happiness.

Sinners can do nothing but make wounds, that Christ may heal them; and make debts, that he may pay them; and make falls, that he may raise them; and make deaths, that he may quicken them; and spin out and dig hells for themselves, that he may ransom them.

Now, I will bless the Lord that ever there was such a thing as the free grace of God, and a free ransom given for sold souls: Only, alas! Guiltiness maketh me ahamed to apply to Christ, and to think it pride in me to put out my unclean and withered hand to such a Saviour. But it is neither shame nor pride for …

Manasseh, Bad Apple

Hezekiah had exercised a righteous influence over Judah. He had removed idolatrous worship. He had boldly resisted the threats of the mighty King of Assyria, Sennacherib, outside his walls. He had sought the input of the prophet Isaiah on many important issues. He had prayed his way through a life-threatening illness. One of the mighty prayers of the Old Testament is his. (Isaiah 37:15-29)

But his son was another matter. Doubtless he had seen Manasseh rolling his eyes at traditional worship and looking with interest at the idols and lasciviousness of the neighbouring nations. Doubtless Hezekiah had taken his son's tendencies before the Lord in ernest prayer. But the old King died without concrete evidence that his prayers were being answered.

The new king in time totally reversed the measures of his father. Bringing in an abominable variety of idols, temple prostitution, spiritualism, child sacrifice, desecration of the house of God (installing a monument to the Queen of Heaven). B…

What is His Name?

Exodus 3:

13And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

God gave only Yahweh as the term of reference. Jehovah. The eternal, uncreated, sovereign "I AM". To Moses' culture a parent would name a child. An artist would name a creation. A writer would name his work, a songster his song. A landowner would name his estate.

In Eden Adam had been given authority to name all the creatures. He took it upon himself to name his helpmate "Eve". This presumption led to the curse of woman striving against man.

But who was in the place to name the Eternal? Through the ages he would be called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was as if he had been saying, "I can not…

Now Thank We All

Rural Charge

Richard arrived ninety minutes early.
There had been some difficulty
Starting up the old Chev.
First frost on the glass.
Heater rudely whining
At season’s change.

Samantha busy in the back
Preparing Communion’s elements.
Pew upon pew checked
For hymnals and print-outs
On their mission relief challenge.
Bibles waiting, as always.

Truck noise in the lot
Announcing Harry, Sam and Art.
The hardware store.
The dairy farm.
The township office.
Come to welcome and worship.

Sanctuary lights left off.
The early sun brings delights,
As it warms the one
Stained glass, Christ
With his shouldered lamb
Back from its wanderings.

Another car arrives
With tell-tale tic-a-tic.
The two women finally settled
Upon harvest treats worthy
Of the after-hour.
But this year minus Christina.

Art’s Christina…so sudden.
He at the piano
Sampling a few strains:
“Now thank we all our God...”
And he was thankful
For rescue of friends, memories.

Richard reflects on year’s near close.
One wedding, funeral, two baby girls.
Two farm foreclo…

Wrath Against What?

Another image sticks with me from the book "He Loves Me" by Wayne Jacobsen.

He was trying to emphasize that God hates the sin and loves the sinner. He recalls an incident when his family were on summer holidays and staying at a country property. His wife was occupied with something in the kitchen, and his son had gone across the road to play in an open field.

Quickly he heard the son's cries. He saw his wife immediately respond and run to the door. He recalls that the look on her face was absolutely frightening, something terribly angry, something he had never seen before.

At the screen door he could see his little boy's body jerking and swinging madly at the air. The lad had wandered into a bees' nest and was being stung repeatedly. His wife took a couple of swings with her dish towel and swept the child up into her arms and headed for safety. She was stung repeatedly in this rescue. Both mother and child needed medical attention.

For Jacobsen this incident was an e…

Noble Rescue

My Friends

The man above was a murderer, the man below was a thief;
And I lay there in the bunk between, ailing beyond belief;
A weary armful of skin and bone, wasted with pain and grief.

My feet were froze, and the lifeless toes were purple and green and gray;
The little flesh that clung to my bones, you could punch it in holes like clay;
The skin on my gums was a sullen black, and slowly peeling away.

I was sure enough in a direful fix, and often I wondered why
They did not take the chance that was left and leave me alone to die,
Or finish me off with a dose of dope -- so utterly lost was I.

But no; they brewed me the green-spruce tea, and nursed me there like a child;
And the homicide he was good to me, and bathed my sores and smiled;
And the thief he starved that I might be fed, and his eyes were kind and mild.

Yet they were woefully wicked men, and often at night in pain
I heard the murderer speak of his deed and dream it over again;
I heard the poor thief sorrowing for the dead s…

Into the Patience of Christ


"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ."-- 2Th3:5 (R.V.).

THE BELOVED disciple greets his companions as sharing "in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" (Rev 1:9). It is a noble combination; as though the royalty of Christian character were in proportion to the share we have in the quiet waiting of our Lord. He waited patiently from all eternity, until the fullness of the times had come, and the hour of His Incarnation struck; He waited patiently for thirty years in Nazareth, whilst preparing for His life-work. When He returned in triumph to the Father, He sat down at His right hand until His enemies were made His footstool. Throughout the ages He quietly waits, in sure expectation of the destined end, when all rule and authority and power shall be put down. All the anguish of the world lies on His heart; every question as to the righteousness and equity of God is felt by Him…

This Man Receiveth Sinners

Luke 15

1.Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2.And the Pharisees and scribes murmered saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

That's just it. The Lord has come to minister to those who have a real sense of their deficit. If they attempt to bluff and claim self-righteousness, then He moves on. He says that the Physician has come to minister to the sick, and to those who will acknowledge that they are sick.

Consider how Jesus dealt with the woman who came to the well in mid-day heat as recorded in John 4. Presumably she chose that time to avoid numbers of other women. She had had many husbands and was the subject of much gossip. Presently she was living common-law. All this Jesus knew by the gift of knowledge. When he stated these facts to her, there did not seem to be condemnation in his countenance or a roadblock to the interview. He was there to dispense "living water" regardless. He was there for her alone.

There is a fa…

They Need Fruit

Nothing But Leaves

“Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon.”

Mark 11:13

There were many other fig trees in that region, but Jesus did not turn to any of them to look for food, because they gave no promise, made no show or pretence of having fruit. He went to this tree because by its early leaves it declared to all who saw it that it had also early fruit. Christ does not expect to find spiritual fruit on the life of the godless man or the worldly woman; but He does expect it on the life of the man or woman who professes to be a Christian.

As Jesus turned to that fig tree, drawn thereto by the tree’s profession of fruitfulness, so hungry souls turn to the Church and to God’s professed people to find spiritual food. What that tree with leaves and no fruit was to Jesus, the Jewish Church was to the people whose soul hungered for spiritual food. With their burden of sin, with their deep heart-questionings, with their sorrows, with their unsa…

Stop the Performance

It has been said that the churches get good at "sin management", at "performance evaluation", at checklists on the road to "the holy goal line".

Parishioners find themselves asking questions and measuring themselves. How can I do better? How can I be better? How can I really gain the Lord's approval? Where lies the power to be sold out for Jesus, to die daily? How can I be a genuine success in spiritual terms?

Sounds like good stuff. My faith journey in Pentecostal circles was full of it. I read too much of Charles Finney going on about "entire sanctification". I had the sixth chapter of Hebrews drilled into me about the fearful prospect of backsliding from my position of grace.

All the while a little ceramic plaque was posted in our house, speaking daily to me. It showed a submissive child nestling into the palm of a large and capable hand, Jesus' hand. The sub-text read, "neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand". (John 1…

Nourishing Alphabet Soup

Atonement - Heb.9

Birth/New Birth - John 3; 1 Peter 1; 2 Cor.5

Communion - 1 Cor.11; John 6

Death - Heb.9; 2 Cor.5

Eternal Life - John 11; 1 Cor.15

Forgiving - Matt.6; Matt.18

Giving - 2 Cor.8; Luke 6

Heaven/Hell - Luke 16

Incarnation - Luke 1; Heb.2

Judgment - Habakkuk 3; Psalm 98

Kenosis - Phil.2

Love of God - 1 Cor.13

Messiah - Psalm 22; Isaiah 53

Neighbours - Luke 10

Opposition - John 16

Peace of God - Phil.4

Quiet - Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 40:29-31; 1 Pet.3:4

Repentance - Psalm 51; Luke 18

Sovereignty of God - Romans 9; Job 38-42

Trials - Psalm 34; 2 Tim.3:12, 13

Unction - 1 John 2; Acts 10:38

Victory - Romans 8

Waiting - Isaiah 40; Habakkuk 2

Xceeding Abundantly Above - Ephesians 3:20

Yielding - Mark 14; Matt.10

Zion - Psalm 48; Zeph.3; Rev.21

Christ Holds the Child

On the other hand, distinguishing gifts of mind, heart, leisure, position, possessions, or anything else, are given us for others, and bind us to serve. Both things follow from the nature of Christ’s kingdom, which is a kingdom of love; for in love the vulgar distinctions of higher and lower are abolished, and service is delight. This is no mere pretty sentiment, but a law which grips hard and cuts deep. Christ’s servants have not learned it yet, and the world heeds it not; but, till it governs all human society, and pulls up ambition, domination, and pride of place by the roots, society will groan under ills which increase with the increase of wealth and culture in the hands of a selfish few.

II. Note the exhibition of the law in a life. Children are quick at finding out who loves them, and there would always be some hovering near for a smile from Christ. With what eyes of innocent wonder the child would look up at Him, as He gently set him there, in the open space in front of Himself…

Mennonite Memories

We had just moved to Waterloo, and seven-year old Lauren came running into the house, "Mom, Dad, a Mennonite, a real live Mennonite, out front...and a horse!" Sure enough one of the "quiet people" was clopping down Regina Street headed for the buggy stall near the City Hall. It was a sunny, chilly October morning.

We would soon be surprised by how much of an influence the Mennonite community had here. Churches. Flourishing crops. Farmers' markets. Quilters' festivals. Peter Etril Snyder's famed art gallery. Maple syrup. Roadside flower stands. (Pay in the money jar on the honour system, please.) "No Sunday Sales" signs at each lane. Barn raising bees. Sunday meeting houses, all white clapboard with large horse and buggy lots. Single room rural route schools.

Every generation would be represented. The elders with long beard, stiff-brimmed hat and rolled shirt-sleeves sitting porch-side with pipes aglow discussing cattle prices or the new addition…

Wigglesworth's Pep Talk

Ye Shall Receive Power

"Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon
you." The disciples had been asking whether the Lord would
at that time restore again the kingdom to Israel. Christ told
them that it was not for them to know the times and seasons
which the Father had put in His own power, but He
promised them that when they received the Holy Ghost they
should receive power to witness for Him in all the world. To
receive the Holy Ghost is to receive power with God, and
power with men.

There is a power of God and there is a power which is of
Satan. When the Holy Spirit fell in the early days, a number of
spiritists came to our meetings. They thought we had received
something like they had and they were coming to have a good
time. They filled the two front rows of our mission. When the
power of God fell, these imitators began their shaking and
muttering under the power of the devil. The Spirit of the
Lord came mightily upon me and I cried. "Now, you devils,
clear out of this!…

Just Like Clockwork

Three of my work-mates at the factory have taken their annual leave for deer hunting. I start to hear about their strategies in mid-summer. They have their licences, their individual arrangements with farmers or conservation areas for the requisite turf, their new techniques for silence and stalking.

One will employ ground level stealth, new gun and camouflage. Another a tree perch and special composite bow and arrows. I can almost identify with their eagerness. The autumn colour. The early mornings. The fresh air. The meals that taste better. The night's sleep that goes better. The wayside critters and birds who check them out. The evidence of migration and seasonal change all around. The frost on the pumpkin...But NOT the Bambi slaying. The last look of those liquid eyes through the gun scope. The hauling of the straight-legged wreck to the roadside, after perhaps the gutting and portioning of it deep in the bush or meadow.

I have never so much as shot a real gun, so perhaps I mis…

Fret Not

How many times have you been in a panic needlessly? Some demand presses in threateningly for tomorrow. Some shortcoming or error is magnified in your sight. Some need seems impossible to fill. The Sermon on the Mount tells us to have the simple confidence of birds and lilies. "Take no thought for tomorrow."

But for the time such good advice from our Elder Brother seems wasted on a "trembling leaf".

In such times I often turn to Psalm 37 - a favourite. Apparently it was also a favourite of John Wesley, that horseback-wandering, tireless preacher of England in the eighteenth century. His days were demanding, varied, unpredictable, fraught with adversity. But the Psalm told him to fret not, to wait patiently, to trust, to rest in the Lord, to cling to the honest-to-goodness fact that the righteous are never forsaken.

With prayer, trust in a Word of promise, the best that I can muster for the situation, the passage of time, God's undergirding hand, I come to see that …