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Showing posts from December, 2010

Rend the Heavens

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Oh that thou wouldst rend the heavens; that thou wouldst come down.

This statement by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:1)has been going through my mind repeatedly for last few days. I thought that it was in one of the Psalms but discovered that it was at the tail-end of the prophecy where God is called upon to issue powerful supernatural judgment on the enemies of Israel. No sooner does he speak these words than the prophet acknowledges that all have failed to do the will of God and that 'all men's righteousnesses are as filthy rags'.

God's response is a baby in a humble setting in the City of David, and 'one who has not come into the world to condemn the world, but rather that the world through Him might be saved'. He intends to love His enemies into fellowship.

Isaiah has an inkling of this agenda as he states in the same chapter:

7And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and has…

Merry Christmas, Bud

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Yesterday I stopped in at a mall for some cough syrup and a peppermint tea for my daughter. She was stiffing it out at her office although little actual work was being done in the place, with Christmas break so close. Early signs of achy flu and cold with cough were giving her difficulty.

The Tim Horton's Coffee Shop was one of the few remaining smaller old design models. A long line-up. As is my fashion, I found something of interest to start up a conversation with the guy in front of me. He had a very early morning shift and was looking for lunch. Somehow I had turned on a switch. Information just poured out of this young man. The job; the marriage break-up; the access visit with the daughter several days away; the upcoming last minute shop at Wall-Mart; the Timmy's which he has just gotta have at home or at work. He had my undivided attention, and without censure. He liked that.

Once up at the counter, I heard him say "What'll you have Bud? My treat." It seemed …

Reflection

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Ralph stood gazing out the dining room window at the side of the house facing the barn. He and Marnie had finished the dishes. The turkey once more had been delightful with a little change in the dressing thanks to the yams.

He could see his wife behind him in the window's reflection as she fluffed up the den with cushions and stirred the fire to renewed life, throwing on another log.

The barnyard pole light threw an interesting cone of brilliance down upon the crystalline clearing. No wind disturbed the drifts. The sky was beautifully dark with the moon in first quarter, partially obscured by cloud.

"Hon, come on over for coffee and fruit cake." He was reluctant to leave his reverie.

Most of the dinner's conversation had concerned daughter Trina's family, moved to Alberta four months prior. The three year-old Benjy would be into full swing around the Christmas tree. The four month old Sarah and her somewhat delicate condition, the reason that there had been no reuni…

The Morning Call

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

Resurrection Hope
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

It was "very early in the morning" while "it was yet dark," that Jesus rose from the dead. Not the sun, but only the morning-star shone upon His opening tomb. The shadows had not fled, the citizens of Jerusalem had not awaked. It was still night--the hour of sleep and darkness, when He arose. Nor did his rising break the slumbers of the city. So shall it be "very early in the morning while it is yet dark," and when nought but the morning-star is shining, that Christ's body, the Church, shall arise. Like Him, His saints shall awak…

The Huron Carol

Note: After playing this version, scan the queue at the bottom of the screen for another rendering by The Elora Festival Singers. A totally different style of the old Canadian hymn by Father Jean de Brebeuf (1643), one of the martyrs of Huronia.

"The warfare escalated as Iroquois war parties came north into Huronia. The Jesuits who were friends of the Hurons became victims of this war. In 1646 Fr. Jougues and two lay helpers, René Goupil and Jean de la Lande, died at Auriesville. Then on July, 1648, Fr. Antoine Daniel was killed near Teanaostaiae. In March 1649 Fr. Jean de Brébeuf and Fr. Charles Lalemant were martyred at St. Ignace, a Huron village near Ste. Marie. That year Fathers Charles Garnier and Noel Chabanel were killed in Petun country.

In 1649 the remaining Jesuits had to abandon Ste Marie. Along with several hundred Hurons they retreated north to Christian Island in Georgian Bay. The following year the French missionaries and a few Huron helpers made the long journey ea…

Robert Shaw Chorale

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My parents used to play and play their albums at Christmas...


Note: The top painting I saw once in a local art store. Beautiful compilation! Winter's night. Church available. Light and its reflection. Lamb of God. Family abode. Evergreen.

House-Call Extraordinary

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(Taken from Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian Maclaren. Tammas Mitchell loves wife Annie beyond description. The lonely man never thought to have such a treasure, and now death threatens with symptoms well beyond the sphere of noble village Doctor MacLure. The only solution is to make the request of resourceful farmer Drumsheugh for the fee for the select medical services of Sir George from the City. The extraordinary winter house-call by cart follows...)

"A' seleckit the road this mornin', an' a' ken the depth tae an
inch; we 'ill get through this steadin' here tae the main road, but
oor worst job 'ill be crossin' the Tochty.

"Ye see the bridge hes been shakin' wi' this winter's flood, and we
daurna venture on it, sae we hev tae ford, and the snaw's been
melting up Urtach way. There's nae doot the water's gey big, and
it's threatenin' tae rise, but we 'ill win through wi' a warstle.

"It micht be safer ta…

And on the Twenty-Seventh...

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The Big Day will soon arrive. You know, the one before all the Boxing Day sales. Fleeting images of family, good will toward men, an overwhelming table of food, a much too early morning of wreckage and wrapping paper.

But stop. Remember the old German carol, "Still, Still, Still". The silent pause. The adoration. The hope. At Bethlehem.

I must admit that I am over-weary of the short-lived hype. It almost causes me to minimalize the Day. After all there is no convincing proof that Christ's birthday came during winter. Rather it was an emperor's edict to have something in the Church to rival pagan festivals.

I would ask the question, "What warms you to the prospect of peace, good will, charity, unselfishness and dawning light on the 27th of December and days thereafter?" Men of good will? Doubtful. I see the message and the life force of Jesus at the root of all benevolence in our society.

To be without Him is to be without real hope. One might just as well eat, …

Resurrection Body

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

But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept - 1 Corinthians 15:20

Words which are altogether transcendent! How they thrill us and inspire! What memories they recall! How impossible is it not to feel their majesty. Surely no brain nor lip of man had begotten them! They bear the mint-mark of heaven.

On the day that Jesus arose, the first-fruit sheaf of the barley harvest was being waved by the High Priest in the Temple, as the representative of the myriads that stood stacked amid the stubble of the fields. It was the specimen sheaf--representative, pattern, and pledge of all the rest. The risen Christ is the pattern and pledge of what His people will be when their bodies shall be fashioned anew in the likeness of His resurrection.

He is pattern.--His body bore the same general outlines as before; so will theirs. It was recognizable by those who had known and loved Him, even to the tones of His voice; so …

Ready, Like the Donkey

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They said, the Lord hath need of him - Luke 19:34

Oh, could I hear Thee say as much of me, my blessed Lord! Here, where two ways meet, I have been standing long, waiting for a purpose worthy to fill my soul, and task the powers that are, as yet, only in the first burst of young life.

Thou needest much and many in Thy great redemptive work. The boat to cross the lake; the line to catch the fish; the bread and fish to feed the crowds; the baskets to gather up the fragments; the chalice to hold the wine; the dish to hold the sop; the little child to be the text for Thy sermon; the clay for the blind man's eyes; the tender women to minister of their substance; the apostles to preach Thy Gospel. Canst Thou not find a nitch for me also?

Thou requirest undivided loyalty. - Born of the Virgin's womb, laid in death where man's dust had never come, Thou must have a colt on which none had ever sat. I cannot give Thee a heart which has never known another; but I profess to Thee that t…

Christ's Bondservant

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Make me a captive, Lord,
And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword,
And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms
When by myself I stand;
Imprison me within Thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.

My heart is weak and poor
Until it master find;
It has no spring of action sure—
It varies with the wind:
It cannot freely move
Till Thou has wrought its chain;
Enslave it with Thy matchless love,
And deathless it shall reign.

My power is faint and low
Till I have learned to serve:
It wants the needed fire to glow,
It wants the breeze to nerve;
It cannot drive the world
Until itself be driven;
Its flag can only be unfurled
When Thou shalt breathe from heaven

My will is not my own
Till thou has made it Thine;
If it would reach a monarch’s throne
It must its crown resign:
It only stands unbent
Amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leant
And found in Thee its life.

–George Matheson (1842-1906)

Bustling Bethlehem

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No room
Amidst the thrash of life,
The stores and wares of trade.
The household sphere.
The daily grind.
The roles which must be played.

No room
Reserved for inner peace,
For solace without price.
For eyes that see
Beyond the now.
For change, for hope, for Christ.

Great Job, David Phelps!

If any song needs presentation at this time it is the classic "O Holy Night".

Scooping Tiny Tim

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Who steps in to help a child having difficulties in his home environment? The extended family? The neighbourhood? The school? The Church? Nope; rather the government and a growing social service industry.

Admittedly there are cases of real abuse or of a need for short-term alternative housing , or for counselling or a breathing space for a parent. But the reality is that social service has a large percentage of workers, young, unmarried, without children of their own and receiving daily lectures on the frightening prospects of professional liability.

I remember the news story of a clean sweep of children's aid in a prairie community. The new appointees went through all of the case files and multiplied shockingly the number of child apprehensions. Better to be safe than sorry. Let the parents struggle in court to prove themselves worthy. And in this fashion many youngsters were introduced to a long and sad line of foster homes. Parents gone. Roots torn.

Interestingly at this very mome…

The Magi

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(Taken from The Life of Jesus Christ by James Stalker, 1879)

It was probably after the presentation in the temple and after the parents had carried back their child to Bethlehem, where it was their intention to reside instead of returning to Nazareth, that He (Jesus) was visited by the Wise Men of the East. These were members of the learned class of the Magians, the repositories of science, philosophy, medical skill and religious mysteries in the countries beyond the Euphrates. Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus tell us that in the regions from whence they came, there then prevailed an expectation that a great king was to arise in Judaea. We know also from the calculations of the great astronomer Kepler, that at this very time there was visible in the heavens a brilliant temporary star. Now the Magi were ardent students of astrology and believed that any unusual phenomenon in the heavens was the sign of some remarkable event on earth; and it is possible that, connecting this star, to whic…

Who Will Love Me For Me?

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Heard this song by J.J. Heller on the radio this morning. It tells of unconditional love. The lover is not concerned about beauty, achievements, talent, popularity, social standing or any of the the other things which seem to turn us on. He does not hold on to past failures. He simply cherishes his beloved because it is his nature to think the best and to see the good and the wonder in the other.

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become.
Who will love me for me?
'Cause nobody has shown me
What love really means.

Bethlehem King

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This is the King?
This is the King?
This is the one for whom all angels sing?
This is the King?
Wee fragile thing.
This is the Son of the Lord?

Here in this stall?
Here in this stall?
Here in this squalor, so rude, beasts and all?
Here in this stall?
By God's own call?
This is the Son of the Lord?

Of this maid born?
Of this maid born?
Of this girl resting in straw to keep warm?
Of this maid born?
Salvation's horn?
This is the Son of the Lord?

By shepherds praised?
By shepherds praised?
By simple shepherds, unlearned and amazed?
By shepherds praised?
Our Good News raised?
This is the Son of the Lord?

What times of strife.
What times of strife.
What risk that Herod would snuff out his life.
What times of strife.
Wickedness rife.
Could he be Son of the Lord?

Star's diadem?
Star's diadem?
On David's city, the promise of men.
Star's diadem?
O'er Bethlehem.
Long looked for Son of the Lord?

Strange men offer.
Strange men offer.
Strange gifts of frankincense, rich gold and myrrh
Strange signs of priest…

Mothers of Salem

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When mothers of Salem
Their children brought to Jesus,
The stern disciples drove them back
And bade them depart.

But Jesus saw them
Ere they fled, and sweetly smiled,
And kindly said:
"Suffer little children to come unto me."

I chuckle whenever I hear this children's hymn. Imagine it being offered up as a Christmas song in the midst of the standard commercial fare (Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Jingle Bells). This is exactly what I did as a very young child attending one of my Dad's service club Christmas parties. Children had been asked to contribute their favourite carol to the program. Some were off-key, some were shy and muted, some were mumbled and then forceful with a few remembered refrains. But young Doug? He was loud and off-topic. Or was I?

Strangely, the experience does remain in my memory. Probably because of the puzzled looks which appeared on the faces of adults as I did my best in honour of Jesus. My parents even looked a little …

Kenny

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I see him periodically around town. Coffee shops. Malls. Doing his postal delivery.

I remember the night when I first met Kenny over 16 years ago. We were on the bus at end of work day. He was complaining out loud, almost to anyone who would listen. He was shocked at changes to Kitchener. Apparently he had been absent for a considerable time. He had been in a restaurant earlier that afternoon and had had to ask for a key to use the washroom.

"Imagine a place so fearful and vandalized that even the 'John' has to be locked up! What has happened to my home town. The place where I had lived with wife and daughters! I have been in large American cities and have not seen this kind of paranoia!"

Well, by this time he really had my attention, and a free chair had opened up for us to sit together. Kenny was pleased that he had found a listener while all other faces had remained eyes forward, disconnected.

Soon I was being told that he once was the husband of a beloved local telev…

The Mountain Sanctuary

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(Taken from Tales and Sketches of the Covenanters, 1900, Anonymous, Richard Edward King Ltd.)

Bleak was the winter Sabbath morn,
And dreary was the sky,
When the persecuted left their caves,
To worship the Most High.
An unfrequented mountain gorge
Received a trembling flock;
Their canopy was mist and clouds-
Their altar was the rock.

And from that lonely, rugged spot,
Ascended, rich and rare,
The incense of the contrite heart-
The sacrifice of prayer.
And angels, from the heights of heaven,
Did look complacent down
On the honour'd heads that soon should wear
The martyr's glorious crown.

And grey-hair'd sires forget their griefs,
And all their wrongs forgave,
When they heard of Him whose power burst
The barriers of the grave.
And widows, poor and desolate,
And homeless orphans pray'd
For pardon from the throne on high
On their oppressor's head.

(Picture: Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scene of Imprisonment and Starvation)

Swept Clean

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Pastor Weston, previously mentioned, cites from a poem by the Scotsman Robert Pollok:

"The guilty earth,
Inanimate, debased, and stained by sin,
Seat of rebellion, of corruption long,
And tainted with mortality throughout-
God sentenced next; and sent the final fires
Of ruin forth, to burn and to destroy...
See! how the mountains, how the valleys burn,
The Andes burn, the Alps, the Apennines,
Taurus and Atlas; all the islands burn;
The Ocean burns, and rolls his waves of flame.
See how the lightnings, barbed, red with wrath,
Sent from the quiver of Omnipotence,
Cross and recross the fiery gloom, and burn
Into the centre!- burn without, within,
And help the native fires, which God awoke,
And kindled with the fury of His wrath.
As inly troubled, now she seems to shake;
The flames, dividing, now, a moment fall;
And now, in one conglomerated mass
Rising, they glow on high, prodigious blaze!
Then fall and sink again, as if, within,
The fuel, burned to ashes, was consumed.
So burned the earth upon that dread…

Gets Pretty Hot!

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"Oh, that fiery end of the world scenario is just a device to get people into churches. Science pretty much confirms that we will lose our heat and freeze before that ever happens." I remember the sceptic's comments.

Well the warnings and the attractions of the Bible are also pretty much a device to get people into churches. The propoganda of righteousness. Those who opt out are gambling with their souls and not just the weather forecast years hence.

I found a musty, stiff old paperback in the basement recently. Copywritten 1940 from Zondervan Publishers and authored by Frank S. Weston, M.A., D.D. For years he was a Bible College professor and Baptist pastor in Toronto.

I found even his preface to be interesting:
"I am now an old man. For over forty years I have taught the Bible in colleges. The vague teaching on the future place and conditions of those who are to enjoy the eternal life prompted me to write this book. I know of no work along the same lines. I hope it wi…

With God, Enough...

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The stakes had been driven in Karl's field following a paltry yield of barley. The benches had come from the assembly hall down the town-line road. The posters had been tacked to the post office bulletin board. The preachers in no less than four denominations had announced the special week from their pulpits. And now Brother Fuller was in town, and the opening Friday night just hours away.

That afternoon Fuller had brought together two dozen pillars of prayer in the tent and for 90 minutes they had importuned God's visit and power upon their struggling, recession-weary community. He said that the Master in Mark 6 had called His followers out of the everyday into a desert place, a dry place, and there He had performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Not in the city but out in the desert places. And this is where these faithful people of Oklahoma had found themselves for the last four years.

Dusk with its cooling realization had come, and my wife and I, together with another…

The Battle is Fierce

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I feel that I must write this. It is a sort of retraction from a previous entry (Are You With Me?). Still on a sick-day's leave. Was listening to a message on the local faith radio station. Came into it a few minutes late, but sensed that I recognized the speaker's voice, cadence, style. It was Associate Pastor Joanne from a local full-Gospel assembly.

She was developing on the theme of Christ's temptation in the wilderness. The message was all about a tunnel penetrating, stormy lake crossing, refiner's fire enduring kind of faith. Jesus having emerged from the challenges of the enemy, knowing full well who He was according to God's word, was truly in the power of the Spirit to bless and to minister. It was only at this point that He could pronounce His wonderful purposes as in Luke 4: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor..."

Here is the message for us. We are a threat to the enemy. He will lob over…

That the Bird May Fly Out

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Today, a sick day home from the factory, I found the following in a random opening of the Letters of Samuel Rutherford (to William Glendinning from Aberdeen, 1637).

And for myself: I think if a poor, weak, dying sheep seek for an old dyke and the lee-side of an hill in a storm, I have cause to long for a covert from this storm, in heaven. I know none will take my room over my head there. But certainly sleepy bodies will be at rest and a well-made bed, and an old crazed bark at a shore, amd a wearied traveller at home, and a breathless horse at the rink's end. I see nothing in this life but sin and the sour fruits of sin. And , oh, what a burden is sin! And what a slavery and miserable bondage is it , to be at the nod, and yeas and nays, of such a lord-master as a body of sin! Truly, when I think of it, it is a wonder that Christ maketh not fire and ashes of such a dry branch as I am. I would often lie down under Christ's feet and bid him trample upon me, when I consider my guil…