Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

We Have It Too Good

Image
The elderly woman approached me in the dairy section with a look of recognition. She was a fellow-member of the seniors' Bible study at the church and she did not have me in the context of part-time dairy man. The broad smile appeared, and we went through simple re-introductions. She commented that she had not seen me recently in church with my wife.

I was obscure with my explanation.

Quickly she responded, "I tell you, we all have it too good. We will have to see some bad times before we are ready to see the Lord move again in our midst."

Looking quite alert in her eighty-third year she began to tell me of revival which she witnessed in Eastern Europe and Russia in the five years following World War Two. She was Romanian born and came under Nazi and then Russian occupation. Thousands of youths had been rounded up by the Russians and were headed to repopulate and redevelop the land ravaged by the onslaught of the Fuhrer. Her command of the Russian language was excellent a…

Big or Small Wave?

Image
Pastor Ernest went directly to his study after service. Shaking a few hands at the door, he walked right by Terry, his associate, without comment.

What had happened immediately after the teaching was unprecedented, offensive but also haunting. He had just summarized his third session on the fruit of the Spirit and was about to call the assembly to sing "Breathe on Me, Breath of God", when an unfamiliar male voice piped up from the back of the sanctuary. It had the appearance of prophecy, something not too common in this pentecostal assembly over the last several years:

"I must tell you of my disappointment. I see that you have become too comfortable with my Word. You no longer tremble. Chewing upon a crumb of it you think that you possess the whole loaf. You will not wait upon me. You are compelled to keep up the jubilant pace, although you have small cause for rejoicing. You are cool. You do not supplicate for my arrival. You do not hush yourselves to receive my still sm…

Stephen's Power

Image
Acts 6:
10And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he (Stephen)spake.


Conviction or contumely. Stephen's message and demeanour would provoke either one or the other.

We know that he was one of the seven deacons chosen in Jerusalem for church administrative activity, but that his ministry was powerful in the fruit of conversions and healings.

What sort of man was this? Full of faith. Full of power. Full of the Spirit. Full of wisdom and the remarkable story of God's dealing with His people (see Acts 7). Of honest report.

I am particularly interested in the significance of stating that his spirit could not be resisted. Many preachers have the facts. They have the wisdom of scripture. But they lecture. The fervour is missing. The confidence of calling. The boldness to state the truth even though it chafes. The certainty of present spiritual warfare. The certainty of present spiritual power. The fisherman's zeal for souls.

Yesterday I uncovered some old ca…

Enemies Become Family

Image
I recall the scene in the Book of Acts where Stephen is giving the account of his faith and the religionists of the day can hardly stand to hear him. The text says that they gnashed upon him with their teeth, and rushed to stone him to death.

Gnashed with their teeth. The sort of thing a crazy man does. And in this instance who was crazy? The one telling of God's faithful keeping of His people up to and including the arrival of Messiah? Or the ones insisting on viciously quenching the message which threatened their stultifying tradition?

Doubtless many of these persecutors were eventually horrified by their action here, learned more of the Christian community in their midst, repented and were saved. Among that number was Saul of Tarsus, eventually to become the Apostle Paul.

The immediately preceding post on this blog (dealing with the Elliot story of missions to Ecuador) provoked me to re-visit this concept of enemies becoming members of the family of faith. I see this as a tremend…

"...To Gain What He Cannot Lose"

Image
(Taken from an article in Wikipedia on the best-selling book "Through Gates of Splendour")

"Through Gates of Splendor is a 1957 best selling book written by Elisabeth Elliot. The book tells the story of Operation Auca, an attempt of five American missionaries - Jim Elliot (the author's husband), Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian - to reach the Huaorani tribe of eastern Ecuador. All five of the men were killed by the tribe. The book is Elliot's first book, and arguably her most well known work.

The title of the book is derived from the fourth stanza of the hymn "We Rest on Thee". This hymn was famously sung by the missionaries before the men left for Waodaoni territory in September 1955. The lines read:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender.
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

Elliot wrote the book while still a mi…

Liberty

Image
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

"Liberty has many aspects to it, but no liberty is going to help people as much as testimony. I find people who don't know how to testify properly. We must testify only as the Spirit gives utterance. We find in the book of revelation that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10)

Sometimes our flesh keeps us down, but our hearts are so full that they lift us up. Have you ever been like that? The flesh is fastening you to your seat, but your heart is bubbling over. At last the heart has more power, and you stand up. Then in that heart affection for Jesus, in the Spirit of love and in the knowledge of truth, you begin to testify, and when you are done, you sit down. Liberty used wrongly goes on after you have finished saying what God wants you to say, and it spoils the meeting. Do not use your liberty except for the glory of God.

...Never finish up with something too long;…

Magnifical Construction

Image
The house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical.

Ye ... as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house. - Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. - Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. - What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. - Ye ... are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for …

Have I Seen?

Image
Have I seen
Around the corner
Young mother in wheelchair
Pushed by sensitive son
Legs limp and thin
After the accident?
Or at the store,
Frail, neatly coiffed elder
Holding purchases
Mere inches from the eyes
Hiding her blindness?

Or young man
In the one good suit,
Files underarm,
Seeking again today
That job of promise
In the wake
Of broken promises?
Or single mother
In the parking lot,
Trying to contain
Three youngsters
Who cry, compete
And complain?

For so long they were invisible.

But then came
A Great Pain,
A faltering,
A disruption
In schedule
And in connection.
An embarrassment
A helplessness
A slip from the ranks
All in the mercies of Providence.

And I see them now,
And I feel the pulse
And reach out.

A Break From It All

Image
Craig was nursing the dregs of his third cup. Wondering what had just happened . He certainly hoped Jerry would show two days hence and that Ken would be available to offer some much needed help.

It was the third day of Craig's summer break, and this one was a real break. The kids were at camp. Kate was off on a long planned trip to Cape Breton with her sister. He had resolved to resist making any contact with the office.

One day's long country drive out of town. The second sunning in Victoria Park with a good mystery novel and watching the spontaneity of families at play and kids trying to get the slip on parents.

This day had been overcast and he had crossed town to an unfamiliar coffee shop. In came a thirty something business man with tie loosened at collar, sleeves rolled back and hair somewhat dishevelled. He seemed very distracted, and Craig had approached conversation delicately.

"Jerry" finally dismissed with the social niceties by saying, "I'm sorry Cr…

Steve Gosser's Birds

Image
I am pleased to bring to your attention a beautiful photography website. It is hosted by Steve Gosser of Pennsylvania. http://home.comcast.net/~sgosser/

Apparently Steve is quite a recent venturer into bird photography (2005). He has also left his home state for some more exotic "birdings". It is clear that this man has the requisite patience for the really good shot which shows not only the features of each specimen, but also characteristic or quizzical activities.

I can imagine the freedom and delight of a day in the bush or field or lake, hoping for some good discovery and just the right vantage point.

One accomplished friend of mine often stated that it is all a question of snapping lots of shots. "If you don't click, you don't get to keep. Careful study and photo-editing at a later time will enhance your colour, lighting and composition."

I have a hard time imagining that Steve is one of these rapid shoot-from-the-hip types. His work is just too artistic. …

When the Priest Comes Near

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

When ye draw nigh unto the battle, the priest shall approach - Deuteronomy 20:2

When Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings, the priest of the Most High appeared to welcome him, and to prepare him for the still more subtle encounter which awaited him with the king of Sodom. As Abraham drew nigh to that battle the priest approached.

Whenever a battle is imminent, look out for the Priest. - Do not go to the war at your own charges, you cannot stand against the mighty power of your arch-adversary. Look around, and see the Priest stand. What Priest? The Apostle and High Priest of your confession. He will offer prayer for you, and anoint your shield with the precious oil, and put His hand upon your hand as you feebly draw the bow.

"What makes you so bold, my lad?" the captain asked of a stripling as he went into the fight. And the answer came quickly, "My mother put her hands on my head and blessed me ere I left ou…

Pluck

Image
(Taken from An All Round Ministry by Charles Spurgeon)

The common policy of our churches is that of great prudence. We do not, as a rule, attempt anything beyond our strength. We measure means, and calculate possibilities with economical accuracy; then we strike off a large discount for contingencies, and a still larger percentage as provision for our ease, and so we accomplish little because we have no idea of doing much. I would to God we had more "pluck." I know of no fitter word to describe what I mean; though the word may better suit the camp than the church, we will for once borrow from the barracks. Bear in mind that there is nothing like courage even in ordinary things. Sir Richard Sutton, when he was ambassador to Prussia, was taken by Frederick the Great to see his regiment of giants, every one of whom stood six feet six in his shoes. The king said to him, "Do you think any regiment in the English army could fight my men, man for man?" Sir Richard answered…

Early Morning Walk

Image
Single Rose of Sharon
At corner bush.
Single goldfinch dipping
Over perennial garden.
Single black squirrel
Peeking 'round the trunk.
Single mourning dove
High on the wire.
Single walker en route.
Me.
Single thought attests:
"Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff
They comfort me."

(Photo by Steve Gosser. See http://home.comcast.net/~sgosser/)

A Smack of a Kiss

Image
It was Saturday and I was on duty at the grocery store. From around the corner of the aisle I could hear a loud smack and then a giggle. Curious, I went over to find a Middle Eastern man leaning over his grocery cart to give his two year old daughter another kiss. She was a beautiful child with arresting eyes and long mid-brown hair. For the moment she was delighting in Daddy's attention, unaware of others around, unaware I think of her own beauty. Another man stood to the side. Probably the uncle. His expression to me said, 'Oh yes, I must wait this through. He gets this way often with the child.' The spontaneity of gushing love was a treat to see.

A little later having searched the aisles with a customer looking for a product, I returned to the dairy section to find a tall man standing alone and evidently impatient.

"May I help you find something, sir?"

"No, thanks, I'm just waiting, waiting for HER."

I turned to see a woman in her upper thirties in a…

Spirit of Competition

Image
Let's face it. Men are competitive. The struggle is often evident in conversation. The next speaker on the subject will have MORE detail and MORE of a handle on things than the last speaker.

At my workplace, it has gone something like this. A guy says that his friend has a new car, say, a black Honda Civic. The next guy adds that it is the souped-up version, and "charcoal" not black. The next knows the engine size. The next knows the consumer rating in the car magazine. The next states that that magazine is unreliable and in the pocket of North American automakers' interests...

Get the picture? It is the never-ending quest for "alpha dog". It started with young boys at play in the sandbox.

The other night at a men's Bible study I saw the same phenomenon, and must admit that I fell victim to the same temptation. The foundation text was from the end of chapter 8 in Romans, stating that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which we ha…

Beautiful Woman of Faith

Image
She was a friend of ours back in Chatham. Beautiful woman outwardly. Auburn hair. Striking brown eyes. The animated body language of the French in conversation.
At one time a hard working farm wife near a small rural village. Four sons in rapid succession.

The great tragedy of her past had been the farm equipment accident taking the life of her one young daughter. Then the increasing unspoken tension with a husband now pouring himself into building construction. The village, largely Roman Catholic, sided with him and ostracized Laura in many ways, after her encounter with Pentecost.

A move came into the City. The couple lived under the same roof though effectively separated. She came to my law office with suspicions of infidelity. The husband wanted a divorce. Initially she would not oblige. The litigation was a painful process with all the male faces of her family seemingly in opposition. (In later years some healings did occur with the sons.)

My wife became increasingly attached to Laur…

A Good Fistful

Image
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4)

When I see the blood I will pass over you. (Exodus 12)

I have found a ransom. (Job 33)

In wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3)

I have called thee by name. Thou art mine. (Isaiah 43)

Time and again I see these themes popping up in scripture. They are all answered in Jesus. Only believe.

Nursing Touch

Image
Another time
Before shift's close
I'll check in
On dear Fred.
And give a smile.
And squeeze the hand.
And tuck him into bed.

His left arm limp;
His left cheek drawn;
His speech now
Slow and odd.
And few have come.
And few have cared.
Oh use me now, dear God.

A businessman
He was 'til late.
And numbers
Ran his life.
And midnight oil
And corporate climb
Had cost him home and wife.

Is he asleep?
Though bedside lamp
Illumes the
Quiet nook?
The half-sipped juice.
The handy-wipes.
The dark blue Gideons' Book.

My first steps heard.
He slowly turns.
And just as
Slowly grins.
His good right hand
Wipes back the tear:
"I thought...you might drop in."

I touch his arm.
I pull the sheet.
I'm desperate
For some word.
The Testament
Is open yet,
At Psalms, One hundred-third.

I take the Book,
Approach the light,
And sit beside
My friend.
And one more time
Recite those words
Of mercy without end.

Of God who knows
Our darkest trait,
Our hardest
Pain to bear.
But still forgives
That we might live
Forever in His care.

I cl…

Though the Vision Tarry

Image
Habakkuk was a prophet who saw, but for a time did not understand. His nation was plagued by the threat of an oppressive people. He identified with the perplexity of his fellow citizens. Could a God of righteousness and might allow this to continue?

But as he considered the wickedness of the adversary, he had to recognize that his own people were guilty of much of the same. His "woes" were very telling:

Woe to the haughty.
Woe to the thief and the usurper.
Woe to the one who covets to enlarge his house by unjust gain.
Woe to the spiller of blood.
Woe to iniquitous leaders.
Woe to the winebibber who also causes his neighbour to stumble.
Woe to the idolator.

The prophet's trust in Almighty God could still have him proclaim, "the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him." The third chapter of this short book in very powerful imagery promises a coming move of judgment and reward. The prophet could only tremble and trust:

16When I heard, my belly…

Today's Men With the Book

Image
I remember a prior blog posting telling the story of John Ross of Brucefield Ontario. It was entitled The Man With the Book. Go back more than a century to Huron County rural experience and see this farmer-lay preacher, carrying his Testament with him everywhere and offering tid-bits of Bible to people whom he met expressing a need, hope or frustration.

What a simple ministry of foot-washing this might prove to be! As one shares, one takes the risk of missing the real point of concern with the listener. But prayer and the Spirit of God will facilitate. And I am not talking scatter-shot distribution as I have seen with many tract carriers. One must be led. One must be broken. One must be respectful. One must at least half-see an opening.

But then, what better offering than the warning, promise or hope of God through Christ.

I am going to explore this.

This morning I opted not to attend a local assembly. In a nearby coffee-shop, I was seated close to a threesome, obviously discussing churc…