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Showing posts from February, 2010

Quench Not the Spirit

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Conversion to the Christian faith, the acceptance of the apostolic gospel,
was not a
thing which made little difference to men : it convulsed
their whole nature to its depths ; they were never the
same again ; they were new creatures, with a new life
in them, all fervour and flame.
A state so unlike nature, in the ordinary sense of
the term, was sure to have its inconveniences. The
Christian, even when he had received the gift of the
Holy Ghost, was still a man ; and as likely as not a
man who had to struggle against vanity, folly, ambition,
and selfishness of all kinds. His enthusiasm might
even seem, in the first instance, to aggravate, instead
of removing, his natural faults. It might drive him
to speak—for in a primitive church anybody who
pleased might speak—when it would have been better
for him to be silent. It might lead him to break out
in prayer or praise or exhortation, in a style which
made the wise sigh. And for those reasons the wise,
and such as thought themselves wise, would be apt to
dis…

Matterhorn

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Was it just for joy
That he pulled the sleigh
From the rafter of the shed that day?
Leaving wife abed
Early Saturday
To be on his way.

Was it just for joy
That he found the track
In the sagging spot in the fence out back?
Crunching hard-cap snow
Past the tamarack
He was going back.

Had it been this crisp
In a former time?
Had the sculptured ridge been this hard to climb?
Had the cardinal sung
In three-quarter time?
Then, when in his prime?

They would pick up speed
As the hill drew near.
Yes, and once right there they had spotted deer.
And perhaps a crow
Would announce, "They're here!"
My, the view was clear.

Then the reckless rush
To the vale below;
As the sleigh would hiss o'er the yielding snow.
And their breath would steam
In the upward tow.
They had loved it so.

Was it just for joy
He had come again?
To their Matterhorn, to their Crystal Glen?
To rehearse a play
Staged for little men,
But it's half-past ten!

Was it just for joy?
Or a missing boy?

But Still...

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I have bottomed out.
I have lost the day.
I have pain within;
I can scarcely pray.
I have watched dreams pale
In the time's harsh gale.
I have few to help.
I am gaunt and pale.
But still I have the Lord...


But still I have the Lord,
And He picks me up
With the thought of Him.
And He brings His light
Where before 'twas dim.
And He makes me see
With new eyes of grace;
As His Kingdom comes,
And I find my place.
So sufficed, I have all.

James 5:

11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Rutherford's Hymn

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The Sands of Time

The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes;
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were brightened by His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


The King there in His beauty
Without a veil is seen;
It were a well spent journey,
Though sev’n deaths lay between;
The Lamb with His fair army
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But …

He Remembers It All and Loves

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Isaiah 43:

1But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.


My wife got this scripture with particular force today. It has always comforted us to see how God remembers the man as "cheat" and as "prevailing prince", for these are the meanings of the two names Jacob and Israel.

Could it be that the Lord foresaw the patriarch in both of these dispositions. First as the scheming manipulator who robbed his brother Esau of rights of primogeniture, and robbed his future father-in-law Laban of flocks. Next He saw the …

Song of Hope

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Look to the top
Of the poplar.
Lifeless, and
Armoured with glaze.
Monochrome sky
For a back-drop.
Monochrome mood
Now, for days.
Caught in the
Doldrums of winter,
Dampened and
Chilled to the core.
Hear him, the pure
Note of promise.
Fluid and full,
Troubadour.
Perched above all
That is dreary.
Scarlet friend, come
With spring’s tune.
Singing the
Prophecy clearly:
“It’ll come,
It’ll come, soon.”

Bodily Resurrection

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"One of these days the graves are going to give up their dead"

"Where do you get that?" The man sitting across from me had been passing comment on the faith foundations listed in Hebrews 6:

1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

3And this will we do, if God permit.


He noted that the words were "resurrection of the dead" and not resurrection of the body. He could see the spirit journey to Heaven to meet Jesus as such a resurrection. He saw no literal promise here of some re-mix of the body out of its place of rest. He looked for no rapture of the faithful to meet the Lord; neither a pending physical Second Coming of Jesus to our beleaguered planet.

But what of Philippians 3?

21Who shall change our vile body, t…

Feel Like Joseph?

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God meant it for good - Genesis 50:20

God's deeper meanings. We are apt to see a malicious meaning; are we equally apt to detect the Divine and benevolent one? Our enemies are many, and they hate us with perfect hatred; they are ever laying their plots, and working their unholy purposes. But there is a greater and wiser than they, who, through all these plottings, is prosecuting His Divine purpose. There is another and deeper meaning than appears to the short sight of sense.

Let us believe that there is a Divine and deeper meaning in the adversities of our lives. - Joseph might be forgiven for not doing so; but with his history and that of many others before us, we have no excuse for despair in the face of crushing sorrow. Whether it comes from man or devil, all creatures are under the Divine control, holding to our lips cups which the Father's hand has mixed. He has no complicity with their evil, but they unconsciously perform His will. Even if you cannot see the Divine meaning…

Back From Despair

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(Today's entry in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)

Taking the Initiative Against Despair


Rise, let us be going —Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with…

Beautiful Woman

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She is extraordinarily short. Face aged well beyond her years. Hearing impaired on both sides. Hearing aids in place. Large eyeglasses. Irregular teeth. Balding above the forehead. Blunted tone of voice. Speaking impaired.

She is a beautiful person. I don't know her by name, but I have often seen her and had an exchange at an early morning coffee shop on my way to work.

Usually she is in the company of some disabled "workshop" friends who manifest Down's Syndrome. She is their consummate friend and help. Cheery. Generous. Hugging. Smiling. Bearing with their hurts and disappointments. Seemingly, like loving little children, all.

In the past there appeared to be a "boyfriend" who was as large as she is small.

I marvel at the patient treatment which they all get from staff and patrons at the Tim Horton's. Seldom an irritated sigh or shuffle or superior look from the others. Even when they are taking long in the line-up or changing their minds. Others are lear…

Hemmed In With Him

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Alone

"Alone" (Deut. 32:12).

"The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought
That so it might be till the height was reached;

But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, 'My child,
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.'

"I trembled, yet my heart's deep trust replied,
'So be it, Lord.' He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.

"But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

"And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light ineffable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.

"A little while, and we shall meet again
The loved and lost; but in th…

Heard on High

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The mid-week evening service had just concluded at Victory Tabernacle and Assistant Pastor Michael was spending a few moments with Board member Jake Klassen at the back of the sanctuary. The service had been pleasant with a sense of some liberty in the people to give testimony or a word of scripture in the "sharing time".

But the topic of their discussion was the Sunday morning service just past. It had been the launch of a new format which had been under consideration for months. New "renewal" praise. A larger, more contemporary band. A new audio-visual system to facilitate sermon messages and to hook into satellite meetings from ministries of interest.

They were discussing what they had observed in the praise session. New songs which were an adjustment for the people. No matter. The band had jacked up the volume. The praise team carried the lyrics with gusto. The people would catch on to the use of the overhead screen. Hadn't used the old Hymn Books once that m…

Be Ready When Gathering

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The other Friday night in the basement rec-room of some friends we attended a prayer gathering for the blessing of our Region, the aiding of the unfortunate, the opening up of Gospel hope, the dismantling of sectarian walls.

This was consistent with the initiative of Marc and Elizabeth Leacock who had proclaimed February 13th as a day of prayer for Kitchener-Waterloo. Their friends Paul Schulze and Sam Buick had also been helpful in the promotional effort. The day was announced on local inspirational radio in their Monday night program "The Christian Link" (http://thechristianlink.com/)

In our gathering it was very apparent that the people summoned had come prepared to do business. A protocol was set for the evening by Klaus and Joyce Kitt and attendees respectfully complied. Reverent praise was offered unto the Lord. There were participatory corporate prayers. Words of prophecy. Exhortation. Passages of scripture brought along. Moments of illumination shared. It all flowed as…

Olympic Rings

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For the next couple of weeks we will observe the outpourings of dedicated, hopeful athletic hearts in symmetry, power, speed, accuracy and pure art. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Yesterday we watched some of the moguls skiing and pairs figure skating. Some Canadian medals achieved. But to me that competitive tally between the countries is of little consequence. The real message of the event is the coming together of nations in peace and unity and common pursuit. The participants will never forget the experience.

The opening ceremony was visually pleasing in spite of the faltering cooperation of the large Olympic flame. But there I was listening to a Canadian chanteuse (k.d. Lang) singing the song "Hallelujah" written by a Canadian poet (Leonard Cohen) which included these lyrics:

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
Th…

As Unto the Lord

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Our Every-Day Life


“He answereth and saith unto them.”

Luke. 3:11


In John’s several answers to the different inquiries made of him we see that religion is not something entirely apart from our every-day life. He did not tell these men to fast for a week, or to leave their business and retire to a monastery, or to enter upon a long course of devotions. Nothing of the kind. They were to begin at once to live according to God’s commandments in their own particular calling, to do their every-day work religiously. The “people” were to begin to practise the law of love, thus giving up their greed and selfishness. The “publicans” were to cease to practise extortion, and begin to deal honestly and justly with all men. The “soldiers” were to refrain from all acts of violence. He did not tell them to give up their calling, but to do their duty as good and true men in their calling, to carry the principles of true religion into all their actions.

It is well for us to catch this lesson. A good many p…

Mind of Christ

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In cross examination by the religionists of His age, Jesus was asked which was the greatest of the laws. He responded in Matthew 22 as follows;

37... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.


He was recalling Moses' great standard from Deuteronomy 6.

But that precedent did not include the final words "with all thy mind". Why the addition? I believe that it is not the natural mind or the legalistic mind which can love the Lord as required. But rather the imparted "mind of Christ".

This is a New Covenant opportunity which through the new birth and the indwelling Spirit gives us eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand the things which are spiritually discerned, the things which are wisdom from above, but considered foolishness by the natural man.

Jesus was constantly saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear, etc." In just such a fashion our m…

I Think It Harder, Lord

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I think it harder,
Lord, to cast
the cares of those I love
on You,
than to cast mine.
We, growing older,
learn at last
that You
are merciful
and true.
Not one time
have you failed me,
Lord -
why fear that You'll
fail mine?

(Ruth Bell Graham 1920-2007)

Dostoyevsky and His Testament

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He was found writing and circulating pamphlets against the czarist regime. Standing in front of a firing squad with other unfortunates, blindfolded. Waiting for that dreadful word, "Fire".

But instead rough hands pulled him away from the place of death, yanked off the blindfold. Reprieve! And a new order to make profit from these troublemakers in the work camps of Siberia. Ten years hard, cold labour.

Shocked and puzzled, Fyodor Dostoyevsky waited for his transport, wondering whether to thank God or Lady Luck. On the day of departure in the bustle of line-ups at the train, a woman placed a pocket New Testament in his hand, squeezed it, and gazed upon him briefly with eyes of hope. She was accompanied by another and together they whispered that he might examine it in his spare time. Then they were gone.

That Testament became his hiding place, his focus of good, of hope. With stolen hours and stolen candle light he studied the record of the Man of Mercy and meditated upon the hea…

Made For Storms

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The storm’s approach
The eagle sees.
He waits for it
Atop the trees.

The meadow runs.
Retreats in fear.
The wily fox,
The white-tail deer.

And skies grow black.
And crack with light.
And wind careens,
As day turns night.

The smell of rain
And topsoil stirred
Are ancient clues
To this great bird.

That soon will come
An upward rush.
His pinions locked.
A mighty push.

To launch the prince
Of loftier skies
Above the storm.
Or else he dies.

While far below
In gopher towns,
In flash-flood’s flow,
A partridge drowns.

(Painting by Robert Bateman)

(See also our earlier post entitled Grounded Eagle)

Gipsy Smith

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All this time, while my father was living this life of fiddling and drinking and sinning, he was under the deepest conviction. He always said his prayers night and morning and asked God to give him power over drink, but every time temptation came in his way he fell before it. He was like the chaff driven before the wind. He hated himself afterwards because he had been so easily overcome. He was so concerned about his soul that he could rest nowhere. If he had been able to read the Word of God, I feel sure, and he, looking back on those days, feels sure, that he would have found the way of life. His sister and her husband, who had no children, came to travel with us. She could struggle her way through a little of the New Testament, and used to read to my father about the sufferings of Christ and His death upon the tree for sinful men. She told my father it was the sins of the people which nailed Him there, and he often felt in his heart that he was one of them. She was deeply moved whe…

To See Thy Glory

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To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

He longed not so much to see the sanctuary as to see his God; he looked through the veil of ceremonies to the invisible One. Often had his heart been gladdened by communion with God in the outward ordinances, and for this great blessing he sighs again; as well he might, for it is the weightiest of all earth's sorrows for a Christian man to lose the conscious presence of his covenant God. He remembers and mentions the two attributes which had most impressed themselves upon his mind when he had been rapt in adoration in the holy place; upon these his mind had dwelt in the preceding Psalm, and the savour of that contemplation is evidently upon his heart when in the wilderness: these he desires to behold again in the place of his banishment. It is a precious thought that the divine power and glory are not confined in their manifestation to any places or localities; they are to be heard above the roaring of the sea…

Fear of the Lord

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Imagine if a congregation gathered to minister unto the Lord rather than to "get" from Him. Teaching and fellowship would take a back seat to waiting upon the Father's initiative. Songs of adoration and thanksgiving rather than performances. Extended periods of silence and expectation in corporate prayer. More straight reading from the sacred text and less teaching from it.

Perhaps initially it would lack the flow and momentum of our eighty minute program packages. But I suspect that with a focus upon the Lord's arrival, the "holy hush" would lead to messages, praise, prophecy and manifestation around the room. There would be a quickening adjustment from the traditional lecturn-audience format.

The ministry team would have to be prepared to step back and allow something more participatory to occur. The atmosphere would be one of excitement moderated by courtesy and a respectful weighing of input. Services would contain surprises, comforts, reminders, admoniti…

Comfort in Grief

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(Taken from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford)

To LADY KENMURE, on the occasion of the death of her infant daughter

MADAM, -- Saluting your Ladyship with grace and mercy from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I was sorry, at my departure, leaving your Ladyship in grief, and would be still grieved at it if I were not assured that ye have one with you in the furnace whose visage is like unto the Son of God. I am glad that ye have been acquainted from your youth with the wrestlings of God, knowing that if ye were not dear to God, and if your health did not require so much of Him, He would not spend so much physic upon you. All the brethren and sisters of Christ must be conform to His image and copy in suffering (Rom. 8.29). And some do more vividly resemble the copy than others. Think, Madam, that it is a part of your glory to be enrolled among those whom one of the elders pointed out to John, 'These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes …

As With Moses...

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(Taken from Our Daily Homily by F. B. Meyer)

He Smote the Egyptian - Exodus 2:12

This was creature-strength, wrought on by creature-passion, and ending in creature-failure. Moses stood on an eminence, and reached down to these poor brethren of his with a passing spasm of pity. He was very careful to look this way and that, so as not to invalidate his own position at court. And fear for himself carried him swiftly from the scene of his people's woes. It was a brief effort to do the Divine work of redemption in his own energy. Long years must pass, during which God would drain away drop by drop his strength, his resolution, and his very desire to be an emancipator; that when he had become nothing, God through him might effect His almighty will.

We sometimes smite the Egyptian within. - We rise up against some tyrant passion, and strike two or three vigorous blows. Our efforts to rid ourselves of its thrall originate and are prosecuted in our own resolve. At first the conflict seems ea…

Affirmation

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Line-ups. Busy people. Pre-occupied. Impatient. Disinclined to engage. Detached. Rushed.

I was in Toronto the other day and I guess that the impersonal nature of the place left an impression.

Yet how easy it seems to bring down those walls with a smile, a simple courtesy extended, a favour performed, a willingness to listen for a few moments. People may not admit it, but they are craving recognition, affirmation and a sense that they matter.

These are difficult economic times with looming threats of shut-down, depletion of savings, rising prices, reduction of community services and increasing irrelevance of the advertised lifestyle. Our media, politicians and business movers simply do not know what the average person faces in the "new economy". They do not speak for us or listen with pure motives.

In the midst of it all a tremendous service can be rendered by those who exhibit a willingness to stop, listen, care and render simple acts of encouragement and help.

I remember a time …