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Showing posts from February, 2011

Just a Visit, Someday

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I mentioned a Cuban friend David in an earlier post. He told me a story about his Father, a pastor in the home country.

The safety of house churches appears to vacillate in Cuba from year to year. Sometimes there is rest and the worship goes on undisturbed. Other times, unannounced investigations and house raids, often of deplorable violence and destruction.

In one such raid the storm troopers used clubs and pipes. David's Father was severely beaten about the head and back. Complaints were forwarded to government officials and charges of "excessive force" were laid against a few of the officers.

At the summation of the hearing the Pastor was called upon to give a victim impact statement. Did he seek revenge, punishment, dismissal? No. He simply stated that he hoped someday the officer would visit his house to share a coffee or two in peace. This pre-disposition toward forgiveness worked mightily upon the policeman and in subsequent years he became a believer and a pastor.

S…

An Ounce of Heart

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

Finding Christ

“We have found the Messias.”

John 1:41

We must notice the kind of argument Andrew used with his brother. He just went to him with a great joy in his heart, ‘the joy of discovery and of satisfaction,’ and told him about it. An English preacher gives in a sermon this illustration, showing how much more convincing power there is in a little bit of real Christian life than there is in a large amount of apologetics.

A minister delivered in his pulpit a very fine course of lectures in refutation of some form of infidelity. He delivered the course chiefly for the benefit of one man that attended his place of worship. The man was sceptical, and the preacher hoped to remove his doubts. Shortly after the close of the lectures this man came and declared himself a Christian. The minister was very glad, and said to him, “Which of my discourses was it that removed your doubts?” The answer was, “Oh, it was not any of your sermons that in…

Seemingly Naive

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Jesus said an unsettling thing in the 16th chapter of Luke. He was telling the story of the dishonest steward whose chicanery had been discovered. Knowing that he was about to be dismissed, he went around to his master's customers and cut favourable deals, thereby ensuring their favour and support for himself for the future. Jesus concluded:

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Said another way, the time taken to come to understand God is time not dedicated to engineering, stocks and bonds, manufacture, disease research or empire building. We as children of light and as members of the True Vine have been given other priorities and assignments. (That is not to say we should not fulfil some worthy task or vocation. But fruitfulness comes first.)

Now consider the image presented in the 15th chapter of Ezekiel. Israel is compared to a vine (see also Isaiah 5 and Ho…

Teen Territory

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David is a workmate at the factory. Yesterday we had an assignment off-site and a good opportunity to talk as we worked. This man is Cuban with wife and three children. Both sides of the family have had rich experience in Gospel ministry. Frequently their efforts have been challenged or impeded by the anti-Church policies of the Castro regime. There have been beatings, house church invasions and jail terms. The term "seditious gathering" gets used often.

David has functioned as an associate pastor in a Latin American church in Kitchener. He has also examined other churches in the area looking especially for worship opportunities for his children. This he says is the biggest area of downfall in the local assemblies. The teens need to be exposed to legitimate worship opportunities with their peers and not just program.

Youth Church is not meant to be just another YMCA, bowling ally, cinema or lecture hall. The focus is not entertainment, ethics or education. It is worship and wi…

Defib: Starting Over

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I am required every three years to renew a first aid designation with St. John's Ambulance. It comes with my job description at the plant. I am attending this week, and for the first time receiving instruction on the AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

When a casualty is experiencing certain types of irregular heart rhythms bringing on an attack the portable can be used in combination with CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) to bring on the right rhythm.

But first the casualty must die!

The AED is a smart machine. It has audio chips which will talk the operator through all of the necessary steps and precautions before pushing the shock button. WHAM at 40 amps!

By the time the machine arrives, CPR has begun, a two-handed, straight-armed, forceful down pushing over the casualty's sternum at a sequence of 30 pushes and then two puffs of air into the mouth. This manoeuvre effectively sandwiches and massages the heart between ribs and backbone. Wired adhesive pads are attached to…

Marveling at Unbelief

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(Taken from Alexander MacLaren's Exposition of Mark's Gospel)

Mark 6:

3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

4But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

5And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

6And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

But there is another consideration that I would like to suggest in
reference to this limitation of our Lord's power, by reason of the
prevalence of an atmosphere of unbelief, and that is that it is a
pathetic proof of His manhood's being influenced by all the emotions
and circumstances that influence us. We all know how hearts expand in
the warm atmosphere of affection and sympathy, and shut themselves up
like tende…

Listen, and Go There

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Canada's outstanding nature sound recording artist, Dan Gibson has released a number of habitat packages under the "Solitudes" label.

I have been in the thickness of forest where sound has been delivered as if in a soft velvet tube, and the God of the forest has allowed me tenure, and the singers of the forest have pulsed with Him.

Symphony of Birds

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I share with my parents a real fascination with the colour, antics and cycles of birds. Over the years the backyard feeder station was a continuing education and entertainment. Hikes to the country, bush or lake were always productive. Binoculars poised.

In an earlier post I mentioned the site of Steve Gosser, a birder and photographer (http://home.comcast.net/~sgosser/). I include here a nine minute you-tube video of photos from 2010. Congratulations Steve! Beautiful, stirring collection.



(Painting by Jeanne Brenneman, "Red Bobber")

(See again our post of August 15, 2009 entitled "Up and Gone")

Note: There are more nature videos as you proceed to the Video Bar section at the bottom right (scrolled) of this page.

Rag of a Man

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The last post gave a beautiful portrayal of death being the glorious graduation of a long, dedicated life. But there is also a time to fight and to lean upon the promises of God:

"With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91)

I can think of another story by that revivalist and master storyteller R. W. Schambach.

He was conducting a crusade of several days in an assembly hall and he was approaching the end of the final service. Suddenly he could see a woman of middle age coming down the centre aisle with a look of grim determination and with a bundle in a blanket over her shoulder.

She blurted out, "Preacher I got no more time! My man is dying of cancer! Here, look."

With that she lay down the bundle carefully and unrolled it to reveal a terribly gaunt but tall man clothed only in his pyjamas.

"Pray for him, that he might recover and soon. The doctor has given him only a couple more days. Now, man do what you've been called to d…

Go Down, Death

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God must sound something like Wintley Phipps!

Also Under Authority

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The good leader has already proved that he too can be led with order, dignity and respect. In the story of the healing of the centurion's servant by Jesus (Luke 7 and Matthew 8) a very interesting principle is demonstrated.

The centurion, a Gentile, is greatly troubled by the serious illness of his servant, and he decides to petition the One in the area who has proved His authority over illness and other troubles of the human condition... Jesus.

Part way through the process the messengers of the Roman respectfully suggest that Jesus need not trouble Himself to attend personally. Rather that He simply speak the word of authority over powers of darkness and the man no doubt would be healed.

Jesus marvels at this kind of faith and gives exactly what is desired with a word. No visit. No laying on of hands. No application of herb, ointment or potion. No speaking within earshot of the infirm.

The centurion had said the following:

7Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee:…

Unfettered

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Lynn Pearcey is a regular participant in our Reading-Discussion Group. She operates from a wheelchair. She is a poet of extraordinary honesty and hope.

Healing

I was clever
wasn't I
to build a wall
so high
to hide
a wounded heart
that time could not heal?

Until

I looked around and listened
and saw
the sun
still shone
and life went on.

And

Others too
were hiding
wounded hearts
that time alone will heal

And

We too will laugh again someday.





Twice

Could we live twice?
Once,
Stumbling and trembling
Stains on our knees, and mud on our fingers
and doubts looming like shadows,
over all too small dreams,
and then again,
free.

If I could live twice,
I'd
alter the stance and the breadth of my world,
replay all the scenes with the knowledge of now,
change all the fragments and shards of my life,

Except one,
the thing within me that chose you for a Friend.



Untitled

My heart still aches with sadness
and secret tears still flow.
What it meant for me to lose you?
No one will ever know.
When the days are sad and lonely,
and everyth…

Touching Jesus

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I have mentioned before how impressed I have been with the account of Jesus' tireless service to people in Luke chapters 7 and 8.

If only people could get near and touch the Master in His travels. The old Gospel chorus by John Stallings told the following:

A woman tried many physicians,
Yet grew worse, so to Jesus she came.
And when the crowd tried to restrain her,
She whispered these words through her pain.

Chorus:
Touching Jesus is all that really matters,
Then your life will never be the same.
There is only one way to touch Him,
Just believe when you call on His name.


We read about the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of His garment. She was considered accursed. Untouchable. Barred from worship. Denied normal relations with her husband. Having spent all her substance on physicians.

Then there was the funeral procession in Nain with the unfortuate young man and the grieving widow mother. Jesus touched the funeral bier and the young man was restored to life.

Then there was the s…

Never Alone

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I am saying nothing about the sensitive genius of Ron DiCianni's art. Just look for yourselves.












(Painting titles: The Clay...Never Alone...In the Wilderness)

(Courtesy of Ron DiCianni and TapestryProductions.com)

(See earlier post Simeon's Day, December 15, 2009)

Glorious Day

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Never disappointed by the recording artists Casting Crowns:

Landing a Punch on Cancer

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A year ago (January 31, 2010) I wrote a post entitled "Large Requests of God". I had had a discussion with a customer at our grocery store about the situation faced by her son's girlfriend. A tumour in the brain disabling the young woman from her teaching career.

Right there in the aisle, I offered a prayer with her and a short note of encouragement on a piece of cardboard for her convalescing friend.

This Saturday the customer appeared again and caught my attention to tell me that the cancer was in some form of remission and the girl was persevering. The young woman had wanted to thank me for the brief prayer and note, and to acknowledge the comfort received by the fact that someone was out there praying.

I have never met the young teacher. I have a passion to wrestle with cancer and the paralyzing fear which it causes.(experiences with clients, my dad's Aunt Edith, my Dad, my one-time next-door neighbour, my factory work-mate Bob, a respected judge back in Chatham, my…

Getting Both the Vertical and Horizontal

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Saturday again, and my weekly shift at the grocery store. Turned from the milk display to see my old friend Steve looking for a special brand of "free-range" eggs.

The last encounter was a couple of months ago when Hilary and I visited his home church and had a chat before service. We didn't show again. I knew that that would have him concerned.

I first made Steve's acquaintance at a small downtown Kitchener church where he held an associate pastor's role. He had ministry papers from the Four Square denomination. This little fellowship was non-denominational and charismatic.

Steve is a considerate, courteous, conscionable Christian man, almost too shy to say what's on his mind. A few summers ago, and before he remarried, Steve and I had made a commitment together to go one evening a week to main street Kitchener to hand out tracts and talk to passers-by about Jesus. Some interesting stories and encounters.

In our last talk I had shared our frustration about findi…

New Reality for Mom

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I was thinking today of the courage of my Mother. Lost her best friend and helpmate seven months ago. Moved out of the comfortable home of over fifty-five years. Disposed of most of the contents and keepsakes. Gone the daily routine of cleaning, meal preparation, shopping, driving, basking in the comfortable backyard complete with gardens, bird-feeder and pool.

Now residing in a senior's retirement "village". Her little apartment tastefully accoutered with only a few of the fine old pieces of furniture, paintings, lamps, figurines and photos of happy times. Adjusting to meal times, medicine times and bath times. Taking her seat at the same dining room table with a couple of new and appreciative friends.

One son in Toronto. The other in Waterloo. Few of the old friends remaining. Occasionally visits from colleagues from high school or nursing or the golf club or the United Church. But new friends to be made in the "village" community, in the "movie room"…

Zeitgeist

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A friend of my daughter made the first film in this series available to us.

There is clearly a New Age Spirituality behind it all. Viewers are told to develop the "Now", the potential in the mind of the noble human creature unfettered by either guilt from the past or fear for the present or future. This potential is exponentially increased as like-minded citizens come together in agreement for the improvement of society and the environment. Remember the Coca Cola commercial? "We are the world. We are the children..."

The producers liken the message to the visions of a John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lennon..."Imagine."

Religion simply handicaps people from thinking, and plunges them into a panic response to condemning priest-craft. Sin is everywhere. Repentance is crucial and ongoing. Man must scramble for a scapegoat. The plan of redemption is denied. The deity of Jesus is denied. The similarity of super mothers and sons is explored from oth…

Yeah, But Is He Happy?

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This will be said of the pastor, the Christian witness, the parent, the neighbour, the workmate. Does he reflect honestly and realistically the joy, praise, optimism and consistency which such a purportedly good faith should yield?

How is he to attain it? By unsullied obedience and a clear conscience. By curiosity and a continuously teachable nature. By a healthy sense of humour. By unending thankfulness, as the blessings truly cannot be numbered. By an honest vision of the sovereignty of God, and that that is as it should be. By a quick willingness to forgive. By a full and personal appropriation of Christ's noble work at the Cross. By an ability to take benefit from seasons of rest and recreation. By trusted friends, intimates and prayer partners. By a refusal to become the slave of advertised fashions and lifestyles of the age.

But such a joy is not the manufactured product of the will alone. It takes grace. It takes the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gent…

Sudden Conversion

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(Taken from The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ by James Stalker and concerning the two thieves with Jesus at Calvary)

It was an awful extreme of wickedness to be engaged, so near their own end, in hurling opprobrious words at a fellow-sufferer. Of course, the very excess of pain made crucified persons reckless; and to be engaged doing anything, especially anything violent, helped to make them forget their agony. It mattered not who or what was the object of attack; they were reduced to the condition of tortured animals; and the trapped brute bites at anything which approaches it. This was the state of the impenitent thief. But the other drew back from his companion with horror. The very excess of sin overleaped itself; and for the first time he saw how vile a wretch he was. This was brought home to him by the contrast of the patience and peace of Jesus. His brutal companion had hitherto been his ideal; but now he perceives how base is his ferocious courage in comparison with the stren…

The Anchor Holds

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Here is a wonderful song by Ray Boltz. To know the power of the sea is something. But far greater to know the overcoming power of the One who made the sea and can readily tell it to hush. This is our forerunner Jesus. How I love that word! Forerunner. He has gone before us through that veil of mortality and death and has fastened the anchor which keeps the soul.

Hear now the You Tube clip.

Chaplaincy to Whomsoever

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Visit them. Share in the predicament. Exhort. Pray. Look them square in the face. Name their name. Smile. Wish them God's blessing. Promise to come back.

I am reminded of an excellent book by Henri Nouwen. It was entitled The Wounded Healer. In it he wrote of a young candidate for the priesthood who had taken to visiting regularly one chronically ill patient in hospital. The day came when it became clear that a very serious surgery was necessary, one with small percentages of success. The student, very shy and very vulnerable in his service, struggled with what to say, how to encourage in the ordeal.

Finally at the tail end of his visit and with the procedure just hours away, he blurted out, "Harry I can give no guarantees. I have no surefire solution to offer. I only know that we have prayed; that God is good all the time; that I will see you after this is over. Keep looking up."

And according to Nouwen that was all that needed to be said; should be said about the providen…

Still Mere Chicks

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I was sitting with several elderly people in the lounge on the second floor of the rest home. It was a brief period of time together reading and examining a few of the Psalms. (Other times it would be fiction, short stories, poetry.) I had picked three of the more familiar chapters and it was a real treat to hear some of the folks recite along with me as I read.

There was a time when the Psalms were woven into the fabric of many people's lives from school, church and the family dinner table. Not necessarily as a vehicle for Christian witness but as a groping and outreach and thanksgiving toward God.

I reminded the people that for me the Book of Psalms was very much like a "little Bible within the Bible", addressing all of the major themes of redemption and heart conditions of the various psalmists, principally David the shepherd-king. We then had a little review of the Goliath-slingshot episode "to prime the pump".

Together we examined the 121st (protector down fr…

Are You Ready to be Offered?

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

If I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all—Philippians 2:17

Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer—to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want to have certain people watching me and saying, ’Well done.’ “

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased . . .” (Philippians 4:12). Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket—to be so totally insignif…

Only Sin Makes Junk

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(Today's entry in In Green Pastures by J. R. Miller)

God’s Plan for our Lives

God does not merely make souls and send them into this world to take bodies and grow up amid crowds of other souls with bodies, to take their chances and make what they can of their destinies. He plans specifically for each life. He deals with us as individuals. He knows us by name, and loves us each one with a love as distinct and personal as if each was the only child he had on this earth. He has a definite plan for each life. It is always a beautiful plan too, for he never designs marring and ruin for a life. He never made a human soul for the express purpose of being lost. God’s design for each life is that it shall reach a holy character, do good work in the world, fill a worthy place, however humble, and fill it well, so as to honour God and bless the world.

Desperate Quest for Goodness

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Again I have been enlightened from Psalm 103 by Mark Guy Pearse. (1842-1930; Cornish Methodist preacher)

"Who satisfieth thy mouth (ornament, spirit) with good things;"

He suggests that in all the kingdom of living beings man alone is dissatisfied, and most seriously so. He may surpass other creatures in reasoning power, use of tools, communication, team work, creativity, joy, grief and other emotions. He has shown himself to have dominion over much of his environment, making it serve his purposes. But he remains a searcher with a need which cannot be satisfied by the things around him. He is after the goodness of God.

Pearse reminds us that this is the image (reflection) in which Adam was formed, which reflection was lost in large part in the Fall. It is as if the heart of man universally cries somewhere within, " I shall be satisfied when I awake with His likeness."

Now hear Pearse: "Think then- If there should come to thee One who knows thee through and through…

Turning Visions into Life

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(Taken from our new link In Green Pastures by J. R. Miller)

God gives us visions of spiritual beauty that we may turn them into realities in common life. All our heavenward aspirations we should bring down and work into acts. All our longings and desires we should make true in experiences. Every day's Bible text taken into the heart should shine forth to-morrow in some new touch of spiritual beauty. As the look of the face is caught in the camera and held there, so every time Christ looks in upon our souls, even for an instant, some impression of his features should become fixed there, and remain as part of our own spiritual beauty. So in all our life the words of Christ we hear, the lessons we are taught, and the holy influences that touch our souls, should enter into our very being and reappear in disposition, character, deeds.

By the Fingernails

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At nightfall the man stumbles off the cliff side and manages to grab some tree roots on the way down. Holding on for dear life. Sound of booming surf behind and below. Looks like a helpless situation and a fatal fall. Suddenly he hears a voice say, "Let go of the roots and I will save you." He dismisses the message as a delusion and struggles to hold . But his hands and shoulders are hurting like hell. He finds himself speaking to the voice, "Prove that you are real and I will let go." The answer, "Nope that's not my way...first you must let go."

Similar exchange goes on for some time and finally the exhausted man releases his grip and falls back and down into the darkness. Five and a half feet onto a sandy beach!

Every believer has had this experience with the promises of God. But has found such promises to be true, and has gone on to discover an amazing cohesiveness and unity in the scriptures. (starting in a garden; ending in a garden; starting with…

All Thy Diseases

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(Again from Praise: Meditations in the 103rd Psalm by Mark Guy Pearse)

"And yet in sickness and in suffering this may be our song- He healeth all thy diseases.. If not now, yet some time, and that soon. Our Master hath an old doctor, very clever. A little rough at times, perhaps as skilful doctors are apt to be, and at first his patients are afraid of him, but only at first. It matters not to him what the ailing is, or how long standing. Nor is his remedy a long and costly process-one touch of his hand, and they whose sins are forgiven at once can sing of Him who healeth all their diseases. See the patients as they come to his house-the pale faces, the shrivelled forms, the withered limbs, the dull-eyed that stumble groping their way, the dull-eared that none can direct. So they troop to him. And lo! they step forth again made whole. Eyes that flash in their gladness, beholding the King in His beauty. Ears on which breaks the music of the Celestial City. Old saints who have forgot…