Posts

Showing posts from October, 2010

Decisions, Decisions...

Image
The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

By Robert Frost

Yeah, But God Is Still Good...

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

DISCERNMENT OF FAITH

"Faith as a grain of mustard seed. . ." Matthew 17:20

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, it may be so in the initial stages; but we do not earn anything by faith, faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tried…

Wanted: Under-Shepherds

Image
You are out there.
Really.
Doubting yourself,
Doubting the flesh,
Counting an inventory of hurts
And lesser humiliations.
Forgiving.
Giving.
Rejoicing in
Christ's ability,
Compassion, wisdom,
Manliness in the face of
Wicked devices.
Offering hope, warning.
The Grand Story.
Not your spin on it;
Just the Grand Story,
Able to unlock any heart.
Able to hug any neck,
An under-shepherd of
The foot-washing sort,
Having caught a glimpse,
Or two
Of the Master.
Never again to be common;
Never again to be free
Or desiring it.

Wise as Serpents, Really?

Image
In our dealings with people outside the faith Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The Apostle Paul told us to honour all men and to love the brotherhood. There is a graduation of affinity here.

I came across an interesting illustration from the story of David in 2 Samuel 10:

1 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, "I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me." So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. When David's men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite nobles said to Hanun their lord, "Do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you to express sympathy? Hasn't David sent them to you to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?" 4 So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle at…

The Cotter's Saturday Night

Image
(An excerpt taken from Robert Burns,1785)

XII.

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
The big ha'-bible, ance his father's pride;
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And "Let us worship God!" he says, with solemn air.
XIII.

They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
Perhaps "Dundee's" wild-warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive "Martyrs," worthy of the name;
Or noble "Elgin" beets the heav'nward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd ear no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
XIV.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was th…

Thank You, Mr. Hurlbut

Image
Recently, in going through some of her parents things, Hilary discovered a treasured old volume, Hurlbut's Life of Christ for Young and Old, (1915) by Rev. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut. This is a companion volume to the classic "Hurlbut's Story of the Bible".

Hilary remembers hearing stories read from its pages by her Mother and Father when she was very young. Who knows the impact which those moments had in drawing my wife to Christ? Who knows the sense of challenge, attraction and adventure?

I have started to examine the stories and I found even the introduction to be full of meaning. It reads in part:

"These then are some of the reasons why we should all seek to know the story of Jesus: because he is the greatest and most famous man that ever lived; because his story is full of interest and full of wonders, and is true; because he came to show us how kind and loving God is, and how willing to have us call upon him; because his life shows us a pattern of what we may be and…

Piper Awa

Image
In this blog I have often celebrated Things Scots. I have visited the country twice and delighted in its hills, heather, history and hospitality. Known to many as a nation of bridge builders, missionaries, union stewards, swordsmen and stag hunters it seems to have acquired a following abroad which far outnumbers the home crowd.

In the label group entitled Things Scots, you might examine such titles as "Landseer Remains" or "Prodigal Daughter" or "Macleod's Scottish Shop" or "Blair Knew Rutherford" or "Brooding Glencoe" to get a taste.

I suppose that the pull has come from my Father who served in Scotland and with the Air Force over the North Sea during the Second World War. I remember one story that he told occasionally with moist eyes. He was on leave in August from the Invergordon base and had gone to Edinburgh. The annual Scottish Tattoo was underway and the pipe and dance competitions took up a number of days. On the final eveni…

Glengarry Meeting House

Image
"Brothers and sisters, it is a delightful day of celebration for us as we dedicate this building. Fifteen months of hard work bringing us to this autumn day in the year of our Lord 1889. Remember all the expenditure of effort -logging, trimming, hauling, milling, framing, caulking, plastering, painting and adorning. You are all to be commended and thanked. No less than twenty-five families from the Township coming together in this fashion. I must also give thanks for the efforts in the assembly which preceded this kirk- the meetings in house, yard and barn over the years. And now, thankfully we have this place of worship. I would also report that in about ten days we should expect our shipment of Psalters from Montreal. So much from me. You know the other brothers seated up here with me: Cameron, Robert and Graham. We are happy to introduce to you on behalf of the district Brother Alistair who brings the morning's message."

With that Stewart took his seat with the three o…

Stumbling Like Saul in Our Day?

Image
(Taken from The Message by Eugene Peterson)

1 Samuel 15:
22-23 Then Samuel said,
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices—
empty rituals just for show?
He wants you to listen to him!
Plain listening is the thing,
not staging a lavish religious production.
Not doing what God tells you
is far worse than fooling around in the occult.
Getting self-important around God
is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors.
Because you said No to God's command,
he says No to your kingship.

24-25 Saul gave in and confessed, "I've sinned. I've trampled roughshod over God's Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people. I let them tell me what to do. Oh, absolve me of my sin! Take my hand and lead me to the altar so I can worship God!"

Note: Our religious services must have momentum, so we think. They roll on without pause, without hush, without any real expectation that God will arrive with His sovereign age…

Ours is Simplicity

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

And he said, Sibboleth - Judges 12:6

It was only the omission of "h," but it meant the death of the man who missed it. One little letter, and the whole wonder and beauty of a human life was forfeited. It is only recently that the peace of an empire was in jeopardy, because a full-stop was misplaced. This scene has become proverbial of those who exact compliance with some arbitrary test, before admitting their fellows into their sect or church. But how thankful we should be, that our admission to the privilege of the Kingdom of God does not depend upon our pronunciation; that the reality of the new-birth is not tested by the accuracy with which we utter the creed; that we shall not be excluded from the gates of the New Jerusalem because we fail in the utterance of an "h"!

Our acceptance with God does not depend on how much we believe. The woman who was healed had very inadequate notions of faith and Christ. She tho…

Ready to Give the Reason

Image
Allan needed this break. Time to stretch. Check the tires. Load security. Last time here was about six weeks ago. Good food. Always full of drivers. Probably would recognize some. First name basis. Easy discussion about loads. Different fleets and working conditions. Police from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

This part of Pennsylvania was beautiful...particularly in autumn. Rolling hills. Small well-kept farms. But treacherous with the lowering of the sun. Lengthening shadows. Sudden steep down-slopes or curves. He felt his eyes strained and his frame tense.
Thankfully no bothersome "lot lizards" getting in his way as he did his walk-around (pathetic young prostitutes cruising the service stops in vans).

Once inside he immediately appreciated the warm lighting, cozy temperature and delightful smells. Waitress with the poofy hair and knowing smile gave him a grin and pointed to a few empty tables in the far corner by the mural with all those beautiful painted Kenworths.

What would…

Melchizedek

Image
The name means "my King is righteousness".

See some of Spurgeon's exposition on Psalm 110 (The Treasury of David)

Verse 4. We have now reached the heart of the psalm, which is also the very centre and soul of our faith. Our Lord Jesus is a Priest King by the ancient oath of Jehovah: "he glorified not himself to be made an high priest," but was ordained there unto from of old, and was called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek. It must be a solemn and a sure matter which leads the Eternal to swear, and with him an oath fixes and settles the decree for ever; but in this case, as if to make assurance a thousand times sure, it is added," and will mot repent." It is done, and done for ever and ever; Jesus is sworn in to be the priest of his people, and he must abide so even to the end, because his commission is sealed by the unchanging oath of the immutable Jehovah. If his priesthood could be revoked, and his authority removed, it would be t…

In the Grip of Grace

Image
2 Corinthians 5:

13For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

There are those who cannot escape the hold and the infatuation of the Cross. They are baffled by the fact that they have been chosen by Jesus; purchased by His precious blood; re-directed to His purposes; walking daily in His "whisperings"; looking for the revelation of Him in everyday occurrence. Church program plays small part in this; rather the love of Christ.

To the world they appear immensely impractical, naive, lop-sided, headed for disappointment, painfully fastid…

Still Hoping for the Home

Image
Today on the radio, driving home, I heard a song entitled "Lead Me" by the group Sanctus Real. Apparently it has been on the top of the Gospel charts for over two months. And no wonder!

It is a beautiful prayer for strength for the male singer to be the husband, to be the father that he wants to be in his role in the family. The wife needs cherishing and strength. The children need guidance and companionship. The man faces real world pressures and buckles to the advertised standard, and not the Godly one. He cries out for God to lead him, strengthen him, be with him.

It appears that all are "hungry for love", and through God the rich dwelling place of a real home is accomplished.

I love this song. It has been so popular, and this surprisingly so in an age when we suspect that the traditional family is losing ground. Oh for everyone to see the shallowness and starvation of convenient alternatives to marriage, of trinkets for the kids instead of quality time with their …

The Detonator

Image
(Today's prayer in Knocking at God's Door by Oswald Chambers)

Lord, increase my certainty that I am taken up into Thy consciousness, and not that I take Thee into mine. "For in all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee."

Overriding Love

Image
(Taken from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)

Out of the Wreck I Rise

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35

God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says - "I will be with him in trouble." It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man's life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God. We are "more than conquerors in all these things." Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in. I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there.

"Shall tribulation . . . ?" Tribulation is never a noble thing;…

Inheritance

Image
At this time of year when one contemplates and gives thanks and observes the very evident change of season, it would be appropriate to repeat the following:

It’s the joy of our sins all forgiven.
It’s the peace of the Lord’s resumed smile.
It’s the hope of new tasks in the Kingdom.
It’s the hush of His presence a while.
It’s the promise of kin never parting.
It’s the safety of homes filled with grace.
It’s the dignity love gives the lowly.
It’s the Body where each has his place.
It’s the troop of a marvelous Captain.
It’s the news of a battle well won.
It’s the end of all fretful endeavour.
It’s a right-standing now in God’s Son.
It’s the certainty His Word is faithful.
It’s the relish in simplest of prayer.
It’s the blazing of light at life’s passing.
It’s the knowing our Christ will be there.

(Picture by Maynard Dixon)

As Dying and Behold We Live

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

By Death We Live

"As dying and behold we live" (2 Cor. 6:9).

I had a bed of asters last summer, that reached clear across my garden in the country. Oh, how gaily they bloomed. They were planted late. On the sides were yet fresh blossoming flowers, while the tops had gone to seed. Early frosts came, and I found one day that that long line of radiant beauty was seared, and I said, "Ah! the season is too much for them; they have perished"; and I bade them farewell.

I disliked to go and look at the bed, it looked so like a graveyard of flowers. But, four or five weeks ago one of my men called my attention to the fact that along the whole line of that bed there were asters coming up in the greatest abundance; and I looked, and behold, for every plant that I thought the winter had destroyed there were fifty plants that it had planted. What did those frosts and surly winds do?

They caught my flowers, they slew…

Family Thanksgiving

Image
This is the first Thanksgiving without my Dad.

I can remember his excitement at the prospect of going up near Georgian Bay to close the cottage of his good friend Bill Ward. The two would prepare for it like kids going to summer camp. The steaks. The I.P.A. The fancy breakfasts. The hike through the bush. The sounds of the geese, the blue jays, the red squirrels, the chipmunks who would feed from their laps. On a couple of occasions I was included in the odyssey. I remember the fascination of watching a stand of silver birch empty themselves of yellow in a single windy day. Neighbours down the lake shore (from Sudbury) would be called over. Perhaps their boys would offer a couple of partridge from a traditional Thanksgiving hunt. And then the bracing chill of the clear, starry autumnal night air.

Or perhaps even earlier it would have been a leisurely Thanksgiving at home with the football on TV and Dad in his Adidas suit doing the leisurely progressive afternoon soup pot extravaganza...…

Christ Made Unto Us...

Image
(Taken from the classic exposition on Ephesians "Sit, Walk, Stand" by Watchman Nee, 1957)

"Recall once again the great words of 1 Corinthians 1:30. Not only did God set us 'in Christ'. By Him also 'Christ Jesus...was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.' This is one of the grandest statements in scripture. He 'was made unto us...' If we believe this, we can put in there anything we need, and can know that God has made it good; for, through the Holy Spirit within us, the Lord Jesus is Himself made unto us whatever we lack. We have been accustomed to look upon holiness as a virtue, upon humility as a grace, upon love as a gift to be sought from God. But the Christ of God is Himself everything that we shall ever need.

Many a time in my need I used to think of Christ as a Person apart,and failed to identify Him in this practical way with the things I felt so strongly the lack of. For two whole years I was …

Tutored by God

Image
I had told my wife some of the impact which I had felt from having read of the life of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist.

She quickly responded, "Yes Doug, and I have found my attention drawn quite extraordinarily this morning to Psalm 146. Hadn't given it all that much thought before."

Listen to the Psalmist:

1Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

2While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

3Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

4His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

5Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

6Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

7Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

8The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that …

Don't Waste Your Sorrows

Image
Years ago I was given a copy of a book by this title. The donor, Bob was a friend who taught a class of special needs children. He was aware that Hilary and I were going through difficulties and he wanted to encourage us with honest insight on the purposes of suffering.

The author Paul Billheimer had enjoyed a vibrant ministry together with his wife until a serious heart attack put him on his back with little or no chance of returning to his beloved vocation. The Billheimers stayed close to the promises of God regarding healing and submitted to extensive treatment. The sense of hopelessness passed with the increasing realization of God's presence and love. Paul was returned to activity as counsel for the TBN Network (Paul and Jan Crouch).

The testing and victory led to the above-mentioned book which is a part of a trilogy of titles (Purposes in prayer; purposes in suffering; priority of love). I strongly recommend this writer.

He suggests that the greatest Sufferer of all is God who …

Narrative of a "Chattel"

Image
I have been greatly moved in reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass(1845). It is a masterful adventure, commentary on deplorable social condition and argument on the true Christianity versus the false.

Frederick, born into slavery, did not know his actual date of birth; neither the identity of his father (suspected to be white). His early days were spent on a substantial Maryland farm estate where hierarchy was so significant that Owner seldom knew slave, nor Property his Possessor. As a young child Frederick witnessed the harsh working conditions, the scant diet, the whippings, the dissipation of the permitted "holidays", the humiliation of the men-servants, the constant belittling of their contributions, the base exploitation of the more attractive women, the intensifying evil and deceit of the hired taskmaster and the pervasive fear of being sold away.

By way of separation on the estate his family ties became insignificant. An early assignment to a young an…