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Showing posts from July, 2010

One Now...More to Follow

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The parishioner approached the podium slowly and with head bowed in deliberate thought:

"Pastor, I want to thank you for this opportunity to share some of the struggles which Jesus has carried me through and to rejoice in His sensitive availability and keeping care.

I do this at the risk of sounding like just another one who is in love with the sound of his own voice, or who takes inverse pride in his adversities and survival.
But friends I am tired of remaining hidden as the programs of this church would otherwise allow. I smile and shake hands and sing when invited and gaze at the overhead screen and listen to the teachings and put into the plate.

I hunger for fellowship as it appeared in the First Church, for participation, for face-to-face ministry, for transparency, for real information exchange, so as to receive prayer and be able to offer up intelligent burdened prayer for others. This is how I see family working. But I do not see it here in operation...yet..."

(The speake…

Do You Need to Thrust?

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Ten of the disciples had seen the risen Lord. Judas was gone. Thomas had missed the visit. When he got the news he suggested that he would have to see and handle the physical evidence of Jesus' victory over the grave.

I do not know the spirit in which he made his statement. Was it confrontational as if to say, "I'm from Missouri, boys and you're going to have to give me hard evidence"? Was it issued out of a humble and contrite heart as if to say, "I mustn't be as faithful as you fellows. You're going to have to help me with my unbelief. Simple words won't take me across"?

But Jesus did return for an appearance with Thomas present, perhaps specially for him, and he said, " behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side." The word "thrust" suggests violence similar to the spear thrust of the Roman soldier into that side to corroborate death.

In the last few months Jesus had repeatedly forecast that he …

The Feel of the Wood

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We have just finished cleaning out the family homestead in London. Mom (Bev) is in a retirement home. Dad (Jack) rests in peace. Last Saturday I walked through empty room after empty room. Many rich memories. Fifty-six years of stuff accumulated there.

I took particular interest in the downstairs workshop where for years Dad had worked on his beloved carvings of birds. Much steadier hands then. Much clearer eyes.

The shop had a wide variety of specialty saws, files, planes and wood-burning equipment. Items now for the enjoyment of grandchildren. Also many manuals on technique, many posters and photographs and volumes of the Ducks Unlimited subscription.

I found plugs of wood representing projects barely begun before macular degeneration did its ugly work. How he had prided himself in the detail of feathers and postures and distinctive markings. How he loved the scenery of loon on a lake, of Canada geese flocking into a freshly cut field, of wood ducks in a row on a submerged log displayi…

Grace and Supplications

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Zechariah 12:

10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

What an appropriate description of the Holy Spirit is contained in this prophecy! The gifted Holy Ghost will be the initiator and sustainer of the Church. He will also accomplish a great ingathering of Jews in the latter days, when in dreadful apocolyptic events they recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Spirit of Grace - Every aspect of grace is communicated through the Spirit: repentance, new birth, adoption, wisdom, love and all of its fruit, faith, equipment for service, the Word of God, intimate communion, hope for the future. All of the good things of God being made available in His sovereign disposition.

Spirit of Supplications - The Holy Ghost i…

Best Possible Spin

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"What is the best possible spin on the facts in your face?"

That's a paraphrase of a portion of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13:5).

5(Charity) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

We have all heard ourselves or friends saying things like the following:
"I think he has it in for me."
"Was she trying to ridicule me with that remark?"
"I think he misunderstood completely what I was trying to say."
"Seems as if my input was ignored completely."

In this world of push and shove it is apparent that we try too hard to get inside other people's heads. We are concerned about our appearance, our influence, our due respect.

We remind ourselves that we have been told to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." But with little effort the serpent aspect takes over and we are fostering all kinds of suspicious and un-Christian thoughts. We call it "discernment" when in…

Bow Down, Lord

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Psalm 86:

(In lowliness of heart one calls for the condescension of God to hear, to rescue, to vindicate...)

1Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.

2Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

3Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

4Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.


(Taken from Spurgeon's Treasury of David)

Verse 1. Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me. In condescension to my littleness, and in pity to my weakness, "bow down thine ear, O Lord." When our prayers are lowly by reason of our humility, or feeble by reason of our sickness, or without wing by reason of our despondency, the Lord will bow down to them, the infinitely exalted Jehovah will have respect unto them. Faith, when she has the loftiest name of God on her tongue, and calls him Jehovah, yet dares to ask from him the most tender and condescending acts of love. Great as he is he lov…

Unwelcome One

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I hit like Vesuvius.
Greater emotional impact
Than one's first love.
Irrepressible as incoming tide.
Washing over sand castles.
I elicit self-doubt,
Self-pity,
Self-centredness.
I bring on red anger,
Social awkwardness,
Loner spirit.
I humiliate
With damp blubber.
Pluck the mournful strings,
Belly-high.
Drag up guilt for things
Not said; not done;
Not forgiven.
I pilfer memories.
And energy.
I cause friends
To keep distant,
To stammer,
To grow impatient.
I haunt with faces,
Gestures, music,
Abandoned wardrobe.
I roar
At the phrase
"Snap out of it."
Cause men to doubt
Their manhood.
Cause women to remember
Apron strings, rockers
And first school-days.
I befuddle and
Bring on mistakes,
Inefficiencies.
I slander God
And His kind.
(For a time.)
I tax prayer
Beyond itself.

But I also clean
The inner residues;
Flush out the vitriol;
Relieve the inexplicable;
Distill humble servant-spirit;
Develop new-found audacities,
Currencies, compassions.
Evoke the dark night,
That joy might
Come in the morning.

I am Grief.

Grey Owl's Guests

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Building my new camp
Lakeside
In this virgin Saskatchewan park.
Beaver family observes
My timber gathering
Patronizingly.
Little kits venture daily
Closer to the front porch
Mother observes
With occasional whine
Of caution.
I simulate her cries
And comforts
As I chink and place
The logs in age-old
Interlock.
Intentionally leaving
Water's edge corner
Of cabin unfinished.

Nine days into project
Mother drags healthy length
Onto front porch...
And then inside
To lapping water's corner.
Sliding effortlessly
Down mud bank with
First instalment.
So, a joint project now,
I guess?
Each visit brings
New-found respect
And growing common vocabulary.
Little kits observe
And lounge on my
Hardwood floor,
Or sun themselves
On the porch.

The mud I allow
Her for several days,
And marvel at her
Submarine pattings
And thumpings,
Barely audible.
Soon all furry activity
Switches to the outside.
I delight at the
Late afternoon
Aqua show.
Little ones joining in
With small filler branches.
I close in the remaining
Corner boards and trim.
Le…

Comeuppance

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Psalm 94:

1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.

2Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.

3LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?

4How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?

5They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.

6They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.

7Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.

8Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

9He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

10He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?

11The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

12Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

13That …

Consider the Terrain

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Hosea 6:

Israel Unrepentant

1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."

4 "What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.

5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth;
my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

A Study in Healing by Faith

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Healing Scriptures

Sovereignty of God – Romans 9: 15, 16 “I will have mercy…”

Loving-kindness of God: Study Psalm 107

Is it all of His mercy?
Can we stand upon covenant? (unilateral)

The Basic Bunch:
Exodus 15: 26
Numbers 21: 7-9 (the brazen serpent)
Psalm 103: 3, 4 (who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases)
Psalm 107: 17-20 (sent His word and healed them)
Isaiah 53: 4, 5 (are healed)
Isaiah 58: 11
Psalm 1: 2, 3
Malachi 4: 1, 2 (healing in his wings)
Matthew 8: 16, 17 (that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Isaias…)
Mark 2: 9 (‘as easy to say heal as to say sins are forgiven...’)
Mark 16: 17, 18 (lay hands on the sick)
1 Corinthians 12: 8-11 (gift of healing)
Galatians 3: 13, 14 (blessings of Abraham)
James 5: 14-16 (elders anointing and prayer of faith)
1 Peter 2: 23, 24 (were healed)
Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 (blessings of Abraham)

How to be Appropriated?
By the faith of friends: Matthew (9: 2-6)
By faith of petitioner: Matthew 9: 27-31 (2 blind men). Luke 8: 4 (woman with issue …

Missionary Text

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

What We can do for Others


“He sent them to preach.”

Luke 9:2


Apostles are not the only persons to whom Christ gives this same commission. He wants every one that he saves to go out and preach the gospel to others. Christian boys and girls can preach by living a sweet and beautiful life at home, at school, among companions. Beautiful living is the most eloquent of all preaching. There is a story of one who became a Christian; and when asked under whose preaching he had been converted, her replied: ”Under nobody’s preaching, but under Aunt Mary’s practising.” Every one ought to preach by faithful practising.

But there are other ways. There is in the Bible a story of a little captive maid, far away from home, who told in her master’s house what the God of her own nation could do; and her words led to the healing of one leper at least. We can tell something about Christ — what He has done for us, what He can do for others; and our words may …

Stately

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He was, perhaps the most handsome man I had ever met. Closing in on sixty. Straight, direct brown eyes. Long braid. Aboriginal. He reminded me of a younger version of Chief Dan George of movie fame. The lines in his tanned face spoke of character; the eyes, of years of gentle assessment of his fellow men.

I was a young lawyer on duty counsel at Provincial Criminal Court giving people "off-the-hip" advice on their first court appearance. This gentleman was accompanied by his grand-daughter who had had an unfortunate encounter with the Wallaceburg police. He had arranged her bail. A Saturday night of drinking had led to public disturbance and abusive language to the attending constables.

I learned that the young woman had been roughly handled in custody, cuffed and made to fall down a flight of stairs en route to the lock-up. Now she just hung her head in embarrassment while grandfather told the story.

He paused and looked directly at me with incredulous, pained eyes as if to say…

Covenanter's Warning

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XXXIV. SAMUEL RUTHERFORD'S Letter To JOHN GORDON OF CARDONESS, the younger

(See the note on his father (Letter XXXII). The son, to whom this letter was addressed, was an uncivilized loose liver, and made his home a misery. Like his others to the same address, Rutherford's letter is outspoken and straight to the point. Nor could he ignore the fact that though the young man continued to attend church at times he came late and strode out before the service was over, behaving with the utmost irreverence and as if he was deliberately trying to insult his minister.)

MUCH HONORED SIR, -- I long to hear whether or not your soul be hand-fasted with Christ. Lose your time no longer: flee the follies of youth: gird up the loins of your mind, and make you ready for meeting the Lord. I have often summoned you, and now I summon you again, to compear before your Judge, to make a reckoning of your life. While ye have time, consider your ways. Oh that there were such an heart in you, as to th…

Life Preserver

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Out of curiosity and nostalgia Zeke had signed on for the final South Pacific voyage of the three-masted tall ship "Providence". Other members of the crew shared a similar background and desire. The Captain had been seasoned by many outings and testings over the years at sea.

There had been some concern over the sea-worthiness of the vessel this time round and the Captain had given extra attention to all abandon-ship procedures. Newcomers to the brine, the few novice adventurers had been most attentive. Some of the old salts, Zeke included, had simply chuckled at the exercises.

Thirty days out and with fewer islands sighted, the "Providence" encountered a storm which would have challenged its younger constitution. The Captain insisted that all passengers don their life-jackets and that preparations be made for the few landing craft to accommodate the elderly and sick. Come midnight the word was whispered round that the old hull was failing and taking in water at an a…

Not a Truncated Gospel

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(Taken from "Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People" by Will Metzger; InterVarsity Press)

How dangerous a half-truth can be when presented as the whole truth! For instance, the truth that God loves sinners is a wonderful part of the gospel. However, if the whole presentation of the gospel rests on this truth, distortion develops. Sinners can relax with the thought of God's love for them and find an excuse to delay repentance. The biblical truth can also be interpreted by non-Christians to mean "Love is God." That is, a human definition of love is substituted and sinners find great comfort in the fact that such love personified will never hurt them or judge them. A biblical truth thus becomes twisted into an excuse for complacency.

But what if the truth that God is love were balanced with God is light? God is pure, holy, perfect. He is angry with sin and will punish those who persist in it. The love of God is now given a backbone. It …

A Good Connection

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(Taken from a sermon by John G. Lake entitled "Sin in the Flesh")

...after you have fed on the Word, and your spirit is open to the truth of confession, you can't bottle God up. You can't lock him up. It has been God's method throughout all the ages to speak to people through those that are in right relation with Himself, and when you are in right relation with Him, the most normal and natural thing is, that He will use you to communicate Himself to others, and so you act as the medium through which He is to pour His message, by song or by testimony, or by prayer or by some other means; but you are His medium, you are His testifier, you are His spokesman, you are His instrument through which He is going to work. Beautiful, isn't it?

Now you see what keeps you in perfect communion, because you have to continually get new messages all the time from Him, so you live in perfect fellowship with Him, feeding on His Word, and telling out the things He does for you. An…