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Showing posts from June, 2010

Grieving Necessary

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In the aftermath of my father's death I am tender toward the presence of God. I am not disappointed that He gathered Dad unto Himself. It was time, and the hasty progress of the impact of the brain tumour saved Jack Blair the struggle and humiliation of lingering in a less than characteristic state.

In a late-hour conversation with my daughter and Mother it was suggested to him "that he was doing a good job". Dad turned to Lauren and looked her straight in the eye and said, "Yes, and I must keep on doing a good job." He repeated it. What did he mean? I must bravely meet the pain? I must accept the environment of this palliative care ward? I must die well? Something in the whole exchange made my daughter conclude that he meant the latter.

Decades ago he had watched his ailing grandmother Watson, bed-ridden, still trying to watch her beloved Detroit Tigers baseball team on television and saying, "I am ready for the Good Lord to take me." I don't know …

Oh, How Fortunate

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Oh, how fortunate I am to be His purchase, His younger brother, His disciple, His recuperating patient, his balladeer, His understudy, His charge, His ambassador, His friend. (Beatitudes written in my Bible)

Bring On the Billows

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(From today's entry in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

A noted scientist observing that "early voyagers fancied that the coral-building animals instinctively built up the great circles of the Atoll Islands to afford themselves protection in the inner parts," has disproved this fancy by showing that the insect builders can only live and thrive fronting the open ocean, and in the highly aerated foam of its resistless billows. So it has been commonly thought that protected ease is the most favorable condition of life, whereas all the noblest and strongest lives prove on the contrary that the endurance of hardship is the making of the men, and the factor that
distinguishes between existence and vigorous vitality. Hardship makes character. --Selected

"Now thanks be unto God Who always leads us forth to triumph with the Anointed One, and Who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14, literal translation).

Speak to the Rock

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(Today's entry in Our Daily Homily by F. B. Meyer)

Speak ye to the rock; and Moses smote the rock twice. - Numbers 20:8-11

What a miracle of grace is here! Nothing could have been mort explicit than the Divine command that Moses should, on this occasion, simply speak to the rock. We cannot fathom the deep reason; perhaps it was because the Spiritual Rock of our salvation could not be smitten by the soldier's spear twice. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Moreover, we are taught to wait on God each time we perform duties which appear similar, for the ways in which they should be performed may vary widely. It is clear, whatever the reason, that Moses was to speak, not smite.

However, he grievously disobeyed; largely, probably, because he could not believe that mere speech would suffice for the miracle. He thought that he must do something to aid God, not realizing how slight a part man's is in the Divine esteem. No flesh may glory in His presence. Go…

Firefly

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Yesterday we held a celebration funeral service in London for my father Jack Bernard Blair (1922-2010).

I had stayed overnight at the old family home and I was awake well before dawn. I put on the kettle, made some Earl Gray tea and instant oatmeal, and then went out onto the back steps to watch the morning happen, and to finish the preparation of my comments for the funeral service.

I heard the echoing wake-up chorus of robins, cardinals and finches in the mature trees, and I delighted in the fact that we were going to have a sunny, mild Monday.

Suddenly my attention was arrested by a small flashing light in bold contrast to the dark tree-line behind. It flashed, and then a hiatus and movement. It flashed again and another gap, and so on. It came in my direction. A single firefly. It rose above and then disappeared over the top of my parents' home and proceeded northward.

I knew with a certainty that it continued to flash and travel beyond my view, and would do so until overtaken by …

Hand of Christ

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Last night was an extraordinary night with men at the church.

Following our study and discussion the night was closed with prayer, and the subject of my Father's funeral came up. At one point I prayed and expressed my heart's desire that Monday would be a suitable tribute and thanksgiving concerning Dad, and that my Mom would receive a blessing and a comfort. She has been grieving and fretting. All very hard for an eighty-four year old.

I began to weep in the prayer, and weep heavily. Some of the men got up from their seats and placed hands of comfort and agreement upon my shoulders and back. The prayer continued. One by one they went back to their seats until it seemed to me that only one hand remained.

I finally opened my eyes to realize that at the last there had been no one at my side although the pressure on my shoulder had continued. A voice within suggested "hand of Christ". The impression then continued, "The hand of Christ had been on your person since the…

Full-Bodied Travel

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I returned from a meeting with parties involved in Dad's funeral. I opted for a back-roads route from London to Waterloo through the farmlands near Thorndale.

The morning's heavy rain had yielded to a variegated sky with clouds and sunshine throwing their passing procession on the rolling green and gold fields below.

I suddenly remembered a trip which I took with Dad while still a pre-teen to Thorndale Abattoir to pick up a large quantity of pork from that butcher.

Throughout the trip Dad was pointing to familiar country roads which he had traveled as a sales rep for Dominion Rubber. "Look Doug on that wire fence...a meadowlark. Listen, behind us at four o'clock, the saucy call of a red-wing. Down that road a farmer who had had such a difficult time getting his herd started. Those clouds tell me Son, that we're in for some pretty heavy rain in the next couple of hours."

That was the way it was with Dad. Keenly alert. Loving the road. Great sense of nature. Simple…

Gentle Leading

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(Today's entry in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

Gentle Leading

"I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure" (Gen. 33:14).

What a beautiful picture of Jacob's thoughtfulness for the cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do, but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he said, "I will lead on softly." "For ye have not passed this way heretofore" (Josh.3:4.). We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it all…

Love You, Dad

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Blair, Jack Bernard - Passed away into the presence of the Lord on the 15th day of June, 2010, age eighty-eight. Dear husband of Beverley (nee Roberts) and father of Douglas of Waterloo and Scott of Toronto, and grandfather of Lauren, Jordan, Jake and Peter. Graduate of Galt Collegiate; radar specialist in the RCAF posted in Scotland during World War Two; sales manager with Dominion Rubber Company; proprietor in Tom Munro Sporting Goods Ltd.; executive of London Downtown Business Improvement Area; member of Gyro Club and Kiwanis Club of Forest City. Enthusiastic supporter of Sunningdale Golf and Country Club, London Curling Club, Robinson Memorial United Church, London Family YMCA and Camp Queen Elizabeth. Friends may call on Sunday from 2 - 5 pm at the James A. Harris Funeral Home, 220 St. James St. at Richmond, where the memorial service will be conducted on Monday, June 21 at 11:00 a.m. by Rev. Keith Rameshwar. Cremation followed by private interment at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. …

A Thousand Tongues

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I can't get the following hymn by Charles Wesley out of my thoughts. Efforts are focused on the final days for my father, Jack Blair, who is dealing with a brain tumour and general system shut-down at age 88. He has the best of medical care at University Hospital in London, but he is no longer conscious and struggles at breathing. He will soon see Jesus. I had a most comforting phone conversation today with the newly arrived pastor at my parents' former home church (Robinson Memorial United). Keith has graciously agreed to participate in the funeral service. His words in our chat on the Christian hope were a real help to me.

Yesterday I sat alone with Dad for a couple of hours by his bed. He did not engage or acknowledge me. A couple of times abnormal noise in the room caused him to open his eyes toward the ceiling, but then back to laboured sleep under heavy medication. I spoke to him, thanked him, held him and suggested that Jesus was close. People have told me that the sub-c…

Charismatics

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I remember reading a book by John F. MacArthur Jr. entitled "The Charismatics". He was summarizing the gifts of the Holy Ghost (charisma) and the four-fold ministry appointments (1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4).

At one point he addressed the signs and wonders manifested in the Book of Acts confirming the Word of God, and suggested that these were reserved for the apostles, those who had seen the resurrected Christ and had been sent in the original commission out of Jerusalem.

He gives a quote from Paul where that envoy asks the Corinthians, 'Did I not do the works of an apostle among you?'

2 Corinthians 12:
12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, in wonders, and mighty deeds.

I no sooner read that suggestion than the Spirit quickened to me the recollection of Ananias, a believer (not an apostle) who prayed for the blind Saul after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Read from Acts 9:

3And as he journeyed, he came …

Where Two Ways Met

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Mark 11:
4And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.


Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem for the final week. A colt was to be his royal mount. This had been prophesied by Zechariah (chapter 9).

Now we are told that the mount would be found where two ways met...an intersection.

Oh yes, a mighty intersection. The convergence of the prophetic with the fulfilment; the faith with the fact; the obedient believer with his destiny.

Somewhere in the writings of prophecy teacher Grant Jeffrey I remember reading that the entrance by Jesus on Palm Sunday was the fulfilment of the prophet Daniel's timetable (chapter 9) to the EXACT day! Messiah arrived right on schedule.

God is sovereign. He will have the accomplishment of all of His plans.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, by your grace, give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand, that I might do and say and go as you command, coming to my final destiny, and thereby…

Battling Declension

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(Taken from An All Round Ministry by Charles Spurgeon)

Dear brethren, have we ever reached our right condition as compared with our early ideal of what we hoped to be? Do you recollect when you first entered the College or the ministry? Do you remember what a high standard you set up for yourself? You did well to fix the mark high; for, if you aim at the moon, you will shoot higher than if you fired at a bush. You did well to have a high standard, but you do not well to fall short of it; and, yet, who does not fall short even of his own ideal? Do you not wish to hide your head when you contrast yourself with your Lord? He saved others, and therefore could not save Himself; but we are keen to guard ourselves and our reputations, and often act as if we thought self-preservation the highest law of nature. Our Lord endured great contradiction of sinners against Himself, while we are provoked if we are thwarted in any degree. He loved His sheep, and followed them when they went astray; but …

Industry of Hell

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(Taken from the famous sermon "Booze" by evangelist Billy Sunday)

I tell you, gentlemen, the American home is the dearest heritage of the people, for the people, and by the people, and when a man can go from home in the morning with the kisses of wife and children on his lips, and come back at night with an empty dinner bucket to a happy home, that man is a better man, whether white or black. Whatever takes away the comforts of home, whatever degrades that man or woman, whatever invades the sanctity of the home, is the deadliest foe to the home, to church, to state and school, and the saloon is the deadliest foe to the home, the church and the state, on top of God Almighty's dirt. And if all the combined forces of hell should assemble in conclave, and with them all the men on earth that hate and despise God, and purity, and virtue, if all the scum of the earth could mingle with the denizens of hell to try to think of the deadliest institution to home, to church and state,…

He Who Guides Us Home

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(Today's entry in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)

A Beacon-Light


“He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness.”

Mark 3:29

Few words in the Bible have caused more anxiety and fear than these. Learned men do not agree in their idea as to what it is to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost. But not matter about the exact meaning of the words; they stand here as a warning against a terrible danger. They are like a red light hung over a perilous rock. While we may not know just what constitutes the sin, it certainly is our duty to keep as far from its edge as possible.

And surely all wilful and determined resistance to the influence of the Holy Spirit is a step toward this point of awful peril. This utterance of our Lord should lead us to treat with the utmost reverence every appeal, persuasion, or bidding of the Holy Ghost, never to resist, but always to yield to his every influence. We have no other Friend in this world who can guide us home. If we drive him away from …

Son-Lit Preaching

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(Taken from An All Round Ministry by Charles Spurgeon)

A woman was once very busy in fetching out of her burning house her pictures and her choicest pieces of furniture. She had worked a long while, toiling hard to save her little treasures; when, on a sudden, it came to her mind that one of her children was missing. The child had been left in the burning house; and when the mother rushed back again, that chamber had long ago been consumed, and the child had, doubtless, perished. Then did she wring her hands, and bitterly bewail her folly. She seemed to curse every bit of furniture that she had saved, and wished that she had not saved it, because, by looking after such poor stuff, she had lost her child. Even so, every little piece of curious learning, and quaint proverb, and deep doctrine, that you manage to save from the fire, will only accuse your conscience if you let men's souls perish. We must have them saved; and it is infinitely better that fifty of those admirable discours…

Cheerfully Given

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Romans 12:
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Sometimes these gifts from God listed by Paul are referred to as the "motivational gifts". The other day my attention was drawn specifically to the last one in the list.

It is not enough to follow our Lord in the dispensing of mercy. One must do it in good cheer. No long faces as the meal is shared, or the care basket delivered, or the car drive for errands offered, or the children taken off the mother's hands for a day's respite, or the visit and conversation shared with the lonely senior. We are about the King's business and it must be a joy and a privilege to have the time…

Gutsy Prayer

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"Pastor, teach us to pray." The two young couples approached Eugene Peterson in absolute earnest. They felt that their prayers were awkward, insincere, imitative, short and ineffectual.

"Why don't you take a good look at the Psalms. King David was a man who knew how to pray. He covered most of the situations which you will face. Study his approach."

Weeks passed and the Pastor heard no more, but then a somewhat apologetic knock at the door of his study. "It doesn't seem to be helping, sir. The King James language seems so archaic and foreign. We cannot get at the heart of David through it all."

'Well friends, said Peterson, 'that is unfortunate because those prayers were really quite visceral, frank, elemental and unrestrained. If David were ticked off he let God know. If desperate he hollered out for help. If joyful, the very heart-strings sang. Perhaps I might attempt a paraphrase of a couple of them to break the ice for you.'

Thus began…