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Showing posts from April, 2011

Problem With This Poem? Really?

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The House by the Side of the Road

THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the s…

She Went In a Commoner...

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That's the comment that stands out from the Royal Wedding of William and Kate this morning.

Yeah, I confess, I got up early to view it on the "telly". The parks, Buckingham, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Parliament, The Abbey. Been there. Done that. Loved it immensely. Still do.

They say that probably one-third of the world's population will see the event. Media extravaganza. When the service began, and with the first hymn, "Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah", the attendees did not appear "into" the singing. Song sheets in hand, but eyes roaming the faces, the dresses, the fancy hats, the tuxes and elaborate abbey adornment. Disappointing to me. The words of that hymn say so much about what that couple will need. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

But the core of the wedding service was recited with clarity. Marriage. Its solemnity, exclusivity, longevity, constancy, intimacy, procreativity and joy. In keeping with the Judeo-Christian imagery of Ad…

Eilean Donan Castle

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Options for Old Ears...Any Ears

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He had said something to the effect that you can't take it with you. All the praises of those in your circle will one day amount to nothing. He read a disturbing portion of Psalm 49, and then smiled and stared at the seniors gathered in the retirement chapel. Some were alone. Some had a spouse or friend. Some in wheelchairs.

The next thing that they heard was a portion of a song. He presented it in a passable baritone:
"Surely...Surely...He hath borne our grief...Surely...Surely...He hath borne our grief...He hath borne our grief and carried all our sorrows...Surely He hath borne our grief and carried all our sorrows."

That was familiar. That was Handel. The Messiah. Yeah, that's right.

The speaker continued, "That is the Good News, folks, for the taking. This is Easter Morning. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is fact in history. He has come through death and the worst that men and the devil could throw at him, and he will never again die. The established fact assu…

Two Builders

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(With thanks for the images to Max Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent)

The first is a financial planner . All his career he has been helping himself and his acquaintances to amass wealth and security. Each downturn has been matched with a re-direct to a vehicle promising upturn. A never ending study and fretting in certificates, funds, securities, futures and currencies. Always one more move or twist in world market conditions. The man has had to be vigilant, constantly. He tells himself he has been building good packages which will never come to an end...But they do, and the mans finds himself alone, penniless and standing before some sort of admissions procedure: "What think ye of Christ? How have you measured Him?"

Another scenario. A little boy at the seashore with his Dad. He loves these sorts of holidays. Dad will have his book. He will have the sand, his imagination and the surf. All afternoon the child packs and grooves his creation. Turrets. Brickwork. Motes and bridg…

Even Now? Apostles?

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No, I am not talking of a succession of authority out of Vatican City or Salt Lake City or Kansas City.

I am talking about a ministry gift, a parenting, guiding spirit to enable the fledgling churches and to bring focus to the power of resurrection in the Body of Christ.

This parenting attachment never wanes. I see it in my own wife as she regards her thirty-something daughter and remembers the precious little girl in pretty dresses and big curls.

Some will say that apostles must have been specifically commissioned by Jesus and must have seen Him in His resurrected person. This gives them a particular point of view in hearing the Apostle Paul speak to the Corinthians, 'Did I not see our resurrected Lord? Have not the works of an apostle been done before you?'(1 Corinthians 9 and 2 Corinthians 12)

We see the listing of various gifts in First Corinthians 12:

27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily…

I Can Only Imagine

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There is a moment in this song by Mercy Me when the throat is tightened with emotion. It is gripped. You will recognize it...

The Sign Read...

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I drove by this little unassuming building. Nothing really suggested that it was a church, but it had an orderly, colourful spring garden in the front, a rude cross in the middle of it and a sign over the door which read as follows:

Assembly of the Banquet Guests, Holding Nothing in Their Hands, and Desperate for the Generous Host To Arrive That They Might Kiss His Pierced Feet, and Feast and Act Upon His Every Word

Sounds like a good place. No presumptuous labels such as Glory, Victorious, World-Wide, Full Gospel, Shekinah or Soaring. Perhaps too they have caught the message that the Host has sent out the invitation to both good and bad (Matthew 22:8-10). They need only come, give thanks and hear. He will accomplish the rest. And He does.

Interestingly enough, the sign had thirty-three words. Significant number.

Relevant, Refreshing and Holy

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Godlessness, recoiling,
Strikes again the blow.
Jesus’ name is slandered.
Lord, that they might know.

(He is all the glory.
He is all the praise.
He is all the answer,
For these restless days.)

Fear of God is lacking.
Love of Christ is rare.
Churches hide their candle.
Do they really care?

“Men are all-sufficient;”
So the journals sing.
(Why need we a “saviour”?
Strange, out-dated thing.)

Still the candle flickers,
Touching one by one,
Hearts that seek for better,
Hearts that hear the Son.

Stop the superficial!
Stop the sad parade!
There is not a blessing,
But that God has made!

He will soon take action,
Laying bare men’s games.
Burning through the districts
With revival’s flames!

Then Christ gets the glory.
Then the ransomed sing.
Then awakened folk see
God in everything.

Lord, please send revival!
Send once more the rain!
Holy, happy wonders
In our midst again.

Almost Home

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A Wednesday afternoon. Keith ran the stairs two at a time to the fourth floor. He knew the service door push-button combination. No time for the elevator. Stewart and Krista were already there and Nurse Katie, senior woman in George Cromarty's wing. There was evidence that the Doctor had just left.

"Hi guys, when did it happen?"

Stewart turned slowly from his uncle, "About 9:45. Katie was the first one to know."

The nurse put her hand on Keith's shoulder. "He had had a good breakfast. Shared some laughter with one of the newer residents. A volunteer wheeled him back and all seemed OK. I got a ring at the desk an hour later. He was all smiles. Told me that we hadn't had our mid-week "chin-wag". Told me a bit about what is going on at the Church, Keith.

Then he reached over to the side table for his Bible and handed it to me. Asked me to open it where the paper clip was, and to start reading at the 6th verse through the 19th. There, Stewart…

Where Is He Now?

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(Taken from a sermon of Robert Murray M'Cheyne, Dundee, 1836. I just opened the book at random a few minutes ago to this page.)

He is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. He is upon the throne with God in His glorified body, and his throne is forever. A sceptre is put into His hand-a sceptre of righteousness, and the oil of gladness is poured over Him. All power is given to Him in heaven and on earth.

Oh, brethren, could you and I pass this day through these heavens, and see what is now going on in the sanctuary above,-could you see what the child of God now sees who died last night,-could you see the Lamb with the scars of His five deep wounds in the very midst of the throne, surrounded by all the redeemed, every one having harps and golden vials full of odours,-could you see the many angels round about the throne, whose number is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, all singing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,"-and were one of th…

Fragrance of Good Friday Prayer

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"Lord, I was wakened by the cardinals singing. Day off work. I also heard the roar and clatter of the neighbourhood garbage truck. Some must still work. Some might even vote today, if desired. I imagine the churches meeting in observance. The larger number of the community still wondering why things must slow down. Still wondering why something so bloody could ever be named "Good".

The "good", of course is in your intentions, Father. Is in the obedient record of your Son's earth mission. May the pause be pregnant for all of us today. May the scattered messages accumulate unto your glory. The cards, the hymns, the Passion films, the message of the Passover as counter-point, the pure white of the lilies, the regal purple and gold of the Easter merchandise.

I confess that I have often been too hard on the churches. Forgive me. They remain your pillar of truth; your lighthouse of rescue; your seed-bed of new family; your place of pause, praise and petition. May …

Thanks Again, Ron

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The Resurrection by Ron DiCianni is a mural standing 12 foot high by 40 foot long. It was commissioned for the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas.







Ron's art often depicts today's people needing supernatural help. How wonderful to sense Jesus in the room, Jesus at the sick bed, Jesus in the moment of contrition, Jesus ever coming to us as it was promised.








Some of Ron's images will stay with me forever. Faithful old Simeon holding the Christ infant aloft and weeping with joy. The prophet Isaiah with a sort of aura around his head containing the words spoken of Messiah -wonderful counselor, Prince of peace, everlasting Father, the mighty God. The woman caught in adultery looking to Jesus for reprieve. The parents praying bed-side over their child. The preacher giving his message, surrounded by a cloud of Bible witnesses. The distraught young man being held up from behind by Jesus, and holding limply in his one hand the hammer used for the spikes at the Crucifixion.

Although Angels Were Ready...

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(Taken from The King Has Come by Charles Spurgeon)

Matthew 22:

53Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

How royally our King speaks! He was the true Master of the situation. He had but to pray to His Father, and "more than twelve legions of angels" would come flashing down from the court of heaven. Each timid disciple might have found himself captain of an angelic legion, while their Lord might have had as many more as he chose. There was, however, one difficulty in the way: "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Jesus thought more of fulfilling the scriptures than of being delivered from the hands of wicked me. Neither Jewish bands nor Roman ropes could have held Him captive if He had not been under the bond of a mightier force, even that eternal covenant into which He had entered on behal…

My God, My God

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The cry comes from the darkness of an execution. The accused has called himself a King. He has said that he is truth incarnate. He has said that he could easily summon a host of angels to the scene if that would further his peculiar plan. But instead he hangs there listening to the groans of his two colleagues and the jeers of a mob out of control.

His mother is front and centre, trying to restrain the tears and deliver a gaze of courage and compassion to the jewel of her heart. His dear friend wraps arms of protection around her, shielding her from the jostling and the raised arms.

The friend thinks to himself, "Master why cry, My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? Better to cry, Peace be still. Or give the people to eat. Or take up your bed and walk. Or come out of him you foul spirit. Or fools, hypocrites you make a mockery of religion. Or come unto me and I will give you rest. Or look for me from the clouds of heaven with the angels."

(Note: But "My God, my God!&qu…

John the Beloved Stands

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In John 18 we follow Jesus from Gethsemane to the palace of the High Priest. We flinch as we anticipate Peter's rooster-heralded denials. But we miss something concerning John:

15And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
16But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

John went into the hall of stiff and starched religion and stood as a witness to the abuse which was being heaped upon Jesus' name and mission. Do we go into such places and stand with Jesus against hypocrisy, man-made tradition, compromise with worldly priorities and play-things, coldness of heart, misrepresentation of the Word of God, prayerlessness?

Well done brave beloved one. You are soon going to receive your Lord's sweet bequest of His Mother; and she your mi…

Robin's Egg Blue

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My wife drove me to work this morning and we chatted for a while in the front parking lot. She chuckled to herself pointing out to me a robin feeding on the front lawn. So chubby, this one! Pulling away with gusto on a worm. Just how do they sound them out? The tug of war is always amusing.

Then an image hit me. This pregnant mamma bird would soon have a beautiful sky blue egg or two. The magic of it! A sort of dull gray and orange bird with heaven in her lyrical song gives birth to sky-blue. There is no sense to it. It is just a part of the artistic and diverse fun-and-games of our Creator.

I hadn't thought of those eggs in a while. Soon broken pieces of them will be found on the ground and little imploring red mouths in the nest.

True Bread

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This Easter Season many will reflect over the Communion Service. The Lord's bravery. His majesty. His loyalty. His sufficiency.

One of my real treasures is a book well over a hundred years old by Charles Jerdan, LL.B entitled "For The Lord's Table". One excerpt I noted in my Bible:

" John 6:48-51
Wherever the Lord Jesus is received as the food of the soul, He is supremely satisfying.The True Bread imparts and sustains life. The Saviour meets the hunger of the mind for truth, the hunger of the conscience for righteousness, the hunger of the will for liberty, and the hunger of the heart for love."

Keith's Questions Crop Up

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Time to stop in the tale of Pastor Keith and his desire to see more grass-roots participation in the church. All of the articles (posts)are contained under the "Surgeons Cut" label, and could be printed out in hard copy as a working paper. (Start at the bottom of the run with A Voice for Him)

There is no simple fix for the problems of stultifying routine and over-dependence upon professional ministry. One cannot point-by-point lay out a format to force increased spiritual zeal and sincerity. Service and evangelistic opportunities will be different in each community. The momentum achieved in "theatrical" worship will be hard to reverse for something more participatory. Words from the floor have their place. Trust will have to be developed before testimony fulfills its powerful purpose in a gathering. Believers are personally responsible for moving beyond the basics in their understanding of God's Word, and the Gospel in particular. Bible study helps abound. Corpo…

New Home for Fish

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Beth could see that young Michael was in a frump. It was Saturday morning. He was playing with his waffle in the pool of syrup. His sister had gone over to a girlfriend's to work on a project for school. His Dad had left early for the Church. That Fast again.

"Mike, let's hop in the car and go down to the market. I have a surprise."

....The pet shop had been busy, and the five-year old was all eyes. Colourful birds. One that talked! A couple of sleepy puppies. Lizards that you could hardly make out on the dried sticks of wood on the gravel. And lots of fish of all colours. It had been a difficult decision as to which goldfish, but finally they were back in the car-bagged fish, food, dip-net, large glass bowl, special gravel and a little ceramic sunken ship.

Home in the kitchen Beth had already set out a bowl of water to attain room temperature. She gently poured the new family member out of the bag and into the bowl. The little guy froze for a moment in his new surround…

When the Spirit Comes

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In the 16th chapter of John, perhaps more than anywhere else in the Gospels, Jesus explains to His friends what influence the Holy Spirit will soon have in their lives.

They can expect much greater intimacy with Jesus and His agenda because of the Spirit's influence. They can expect an increase in the convicting power in their words, actions and demeanour, because of the sway of the Spirit. And they can expect a much greater degree of ostracism and persecution, just as their Lord had seen it.

Jesus is honest. He knows what is in the heart of man. He will not spare his friends the news that things are going to get tough. Idols will be shaken. Pass-times and associations will be held up to the light. Hypocrisies will become transparent. Man-made rules will be exposed in all of their futility.

Not only the wicked but the self-righteous are going to balk at this, even to the point of violence and murder, whether it be of the person or of the reputation. And when you stumble, which you wi…

Feeding One's Ears

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"Dad, are you going away some place in a sportscar?"

"Why do you ask that, Mike?"

"Well Mom said that you were leaving us on a Fast for today and Saturday."

It was hard for Keith to suppress the roar at the kitchen table. This five year-old could be such a hoot!

"No Son a fast is something you do with God, not something that takes you on a trip.

"So what are you gonna do?"

"Well I am going to my Church study. Closing the door. Sitting down in the big chair in the corner. Opening my Bible. Telling God how much I love Him. And listening. No food. No messages. No visitors. Probably little done at home either."

"Why would you do that? You like Mom's cooking, don't you?"

"Of course, but this time it is important that I feed my ears. Not my stomach. My hobbies. My reading. My television. My jogging. My sermon preparation. My friends' invitations. Even my time with you guys and Mom. I am telling God that in the midst o…

More to Lady Culross

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(Taken from Samuel Rutherford and His Correspondents by Alexander Whyte)

It was from his silent prison in Aberdeen that Samuel Rutherford wrote to Lady Culross the letter in which this sentence stands: 'I see that grace groweth best in winter.' Rutherford had had but a short and unsettled summer among the birds at Anwoth. His wife and his two children had been taken from him there, and now that which he loved more than wife or child had been taken from him too —his pulpit and pastoral work for Jesus Christ. He felt his banishment all the more keenly that he was the first of the evangelical ministers of Scotland to be so silenced. He will have plenty of companions in tribulation soon, if that will be any comfort to him; but, as it is, he confesses to Lady Culross that it was a peculiar pang to him to be 'the first in the kingdom put to utter silence.' The bitterness of banishment has been sung in immortal strains by Dante, whose grace under banishment also grew to a frui…

Phil Driscoll

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There has been a rush of creativity these past few days. I believe that God is speaking to some of the faithful about re-direction and revival. Our little story about Keith's ultimatum is a case in point.

For some reason I am reminded of Gospel musician Phil Driscoll. Coming out of the secular world of entertainment with a voice almost blown out, he resolved to sanctify his voice and horn to the greatest Glory. Something extraordinarily beautiful was made out of this hoarse songster.

I remember one album with the song "I love my Captain...and the creaking of the rigging in the wind. Think I'm gonna sail away with Him."

I looked at Wikipedia and noted that in the intervening years (2006) Phil was convicted in a scheme of tax fraud and mixture of ministry and personal funds. Should I drop him like a hot rock? Should I conclude that he never had the anointing? Jesus wouldn't.

Hear now another signal song:

What Those Strained Eyes Still See

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Thursday. Just after lunch. George Cromarty had navigated his chair on auto-drive down to the sun room. The warmth felt good.

His nephew Stewart was waiting for him there, just like clockwork. Every second Thursday.

"Hi Stu. Glad you could make it. How was traffic across town?

"Pretty much the same, old fellow. Krista sends her love. Wants you to know we will be up Sunday afternoon with something special. Pie. You already know the flavour."

"How is she keeping, Son? You know, the fibromyalgia?"

"It seems to be a little better with this spring. Doctor has some new twists with the treatment. But really, how little they know about this one. We pray, as always. We are thankful right now for the relief."

"I know Stu. Give her a kiss from me, will you? Until Sunday. Now I have the book. Same one as last time. A real personal favourite. Go to page 65. Dear old Rutherford. Transformed to poetry by Faith Cook. I have read it and re-read it for decades."

Th…

Keep on Rowin'

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Thursday morning 9:15. Keith in sweats. Jogging the neighbourhood. Seemingly a new lightness in his step. Down to the Church office in a lather. Samantha would be there already. Book entry day. Check up on correspondence. Messages. Written submissions from the night before. Home to change. Scheduled afternoon visitations,

"Mornin' boss."

"Good morning, Keith. Here's the paperwork. Phone message also from Todd Bushnell."

Todd, hmmmm. That was interesting. Big church across town. Same graduating year. Hadn't spoken in about six weeks. Dial him up. Personal cell phone this time. Three rings.

"Todd, it's Keith. Got your message. What's up?"

"Beef, how are ya? (nickname from college; two men sculling team; long story). Keith, I have heard from one of your people, who shall remain nameless, that you are turning things upside down over there...Now hold on; don't get upset; I am more curious than anything. Talk to me."

Kei…

Working Meeting

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Wednesday. Mid-week evening service. The damp weather hadn't helped but there was a presentable gathering. Several new faces. Keith had seated himself in one of the mid pews and was chatting with those nearby. The tone was casual.

Right on time Keith went half-way down the centre aisle and opened his Bible. He read from John 13. The gathering in the Upper Room. The meal. The sudden rising of Jesus and disrobing. The basin of water. The washing of friends' feet. The hesitation of Peter. The Lord's rebuke, and his question, "Know ye what I have done to you?" Finally the admonition in verse 17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

Then he stopped and prayed simply, "Lord take us now where you want us to go." A pause of fifteen seconds. "Friends would you simply get up and accompany us to the All-Purpose Room downstairs."

A surprised comment or two and the shuffle of numerous feet out the rear doors.

Beth and Bruce and Kare…

How Will the Home Fare?

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Keith closed the garage door and skipped up the back steps. He wondered if this might be an awkward dinner. He had almost forgotten the milk and margarine on the way home. Coat on the hook. Wash up at the back sink. A near stumble over Michael's tricycle. The kids already seated at the dinner table. Beth coming over from the counter to give him a peck on the cheek.

"Sorry I'm a bit late guys. I had a great visit with George Cromarty."

Ten year-old Becky's eyes strayed toward Mom in a knowing sort of way and then smiled up at Dad. Little Mike pushed across the table the crayon sketch which he had just completed: "That's the bush leading to the trout pond Dad. Remember? And the cardinal way up in that tree. And me on the dock with two good ones already in our basket."

Keith took a long look at the art and then brushed his son at the back of the head. "Good, Son, a really good picture. I think it gets the tack board for at least a week. Of course, y…

Down Goes the Gauntlet

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Old George wiped away the tears. It was Tuesday and he had just had a visit from the young pastor. Keith had told him of the surprising challenge which he had been burdened to issue. He was smiling in giving the news and animated. But the old church elder of former days, suffering almost total blindness and general atrophy of the limbs could not take it all in. Keith had left a CD copy of the message, knowing in his heart that George would rejoice at the development. And that he would pray.

George remembered eight years ago that whole process of selecting a new pastor. He had been drawn to Keith from the start in a field of six possibles. Other men stood taller; had a more compelling timbre in their voice; had papers from more prestigious Bible colleges. George had felt like the old prophet Samuel, passing by more imposing candidates for the runt of the litter, David. But David had had the key to God's heart. So did Keith.

During these last two years George had not been able to leav…

For Tender Plants Only

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For decades John's Nursery at the outskirts of town had been known to conscientious homeowners and developers. His promising shrubs, conifers, blossoming and fruit trees and reliable maples and ash had adorned many properties.

The acreage at his establishment had spread with new and different yields for a successful business. John knew well, and he had trained staff well in plant feeding, cultivation, pest control, grafting and other basics of the business. Orderly rows of species stretched right back to old lines of farm trees bordering the west and north limits of the original farm. John had often marveled at the size, girth and straightness of these old sentinels of the nursery. They had stood the test of time. It had seemed to John that they had needed next to no care. Probably some pruning, fertilizer and topping off would be advisable, but it had not happened. Meanwhile he poured the care upon his many saplings.

There had been little warning of the early spring storm which hit…

To Him That Believeth

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The note read briefly, "Pastor Keith, may I see you in your study for a few moments at 5:00 P.M. on Monday? Bruce Benton" It had been given to Keith by staff on Monday morning. Dropped into Sunday's collection plate.

Keith had spent a most painful twenty-four hours since his rebuke from the pulpit. Imagine, calling out luke-warmness; the crippling routine; denouncing many programs; turning a good forty percent of his responsibilities back over to the congregation. Wow! Had he heard God accurately on all of this?

But he had not been able to get an image out of his thoughts. It was in Mark's Gospel. Jesus coming into Jerusalem on the Monday morning of Passion Week. Hungry, and seeing a fig tree in His path. Although this tree showed leaves, it bore no fruit. To the surprise of His disciples Jesus cursed the tree. Later that same day he whipped the sellers and money-changers out of the temple. Two seemingly destructive acts ...by Jesus. Keith had examined the church for d…

A Most Needful Message

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Keith approached the pulpit, looked at all the familiar faces and gulped:

"Brothers and sisters, I was moved profoundly by something which I read last night about the priesthood of all believers. I am going to speak now from the heart. I love you. I want to see Jesus glorified in you. You will probably be upset by the following, but I am not deterred.

A comfort has set in around here. A luke-warmness. A busy-ness without fruit. I see faces repeatedly which seem to say 'Pastor, pray for me. Pastor teach me what I must know. Pastor affirm me and reassure that I am in the heavenly flock. Pastor show me what I must really know from John's Gospel, or Romans, or Daniel, or Proverbs, or Revelation. Smooth out all the knotty points. Pastor win souls for me. Pastor bring in God's presence for me.' I can entertain this sort of thing no longer.

I assure you that things are going to change. A coach demonstrates strategies, conducts fitness drills and then lets the team go out on…

Who Are the Priests Now?

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Christ gave up the ghost. The thick veil in the Temple at Jerusalem split from top to bottom. In real terms the Mosaic economy had finished its course. The succession of high priests was ended. The beasts for sacrifice, no longer required.

One blood-letting would now have eternal focus. One High Priest, eternal office. And believers were enabled to approach holy functions and places standing in the righteousness of their Saviour. This is the New Covenant. We are told in the Letter to the Hebrews that we may now come boldly to the throne of grace that we might receive help.

We are told in Peter's First Letter that we have been raised to "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (chapter 2:5).

But might any veils still stand in the way of our service? How might we caution ourselves? Beware of the following:
1. Persisting in known sin. (Psalm 66:18)
2. Unforgiveness. (Mark 11:24-26)
3. Prayerlessness. (Mark 14:38)
4. Condemnation unchecked from Satan. (1 John 1:8,9)
5. I…

The Torn Veil

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(Taken from The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ by James Stalker)

The first sign was the rending of the veil of the temple. This was a heavy curtain covering the entrance to the Holy Place or the entrance to the Holy of Holies--most probably the latter. Both entrances were thus protected, and Josephus gives the following description of one of the curtains, which will probably convey a fair idea of either; five ells high and sixteen broad, of Babylonian texture, and wonderfully stitched of blue, white, scarlet and purple--representing the universe in its four elements--scarlet standing for fire and blue for air by their colours, and the white linen for earth and the purple for sea on account of their derivation, the one, from the flax of the earth and the other from the shellfish of the sea.

The fact that the rent proceeded from top to bottom was considered to indicate that it was made by the finger of God; but whether any physical means may have been employed we cannot tell. Some…

Who's On Deck?

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I am thankful for a significant upswing in the numbers of people visiting this blog each day. I have tried to discipline myself throughout to the fact that numbers are not the issue. It is as if I am earnestly sharing discoveries on the seashore with some hungry individual. I am reminded of the stories of the meek messenger getting what appeared to be only meagre results, but somewhere in the audience there was a Gospel dynamo in the making who would touch the hearts and destinies of many. Faithfully absorbing the power and the balance of the Good News.

And was it not that way with Jesus? Did He not have His most vital exchanges with individuals? Nicodemus. The Samaritan woman at the well. The palsied man at the pool. The rich young ruler. The man born blind. Peter at the shoreline breakfast.

And there is something else to be said. Every time I examine another facet of this wonderful diamond called Grace, I receive a new flash of light and encouragement. The giver is again giving of his…

Can't Go Back

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Changed

From the outskirts of the town,
Where of old the mile-stone stood,
Now a stranger, looking down
I beheld the shadowy crown
Of the dark and haunted wood.

Is it changed, or am I changed?
Ah! the oaks are fresh and green,
But the friends with whom I ranged
Through their thickets are estranged
By the years that intervene.

Bright as ever flows the sea,
Bright as ever shines the sun.
But, alas! they seem to me
Not the sun that used to be,
Not the tides that used to run.

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Note: There must be a gracious relinquishing of the things of youth. We strive, diet, exercise, take courses, venture upon new associations. But the changes that betray our former experience and capability are inevitable. The seeming simplicity and purity of those former things escape us now if we choose to re-visit. The eyes have changed; the heart has changed; the hopes have changed. There remains one compelling task. A yieldedness, and a preparation for eternity. Helping others in the same. And when th…

What a Day Brings...

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Jamie is a friend from the old neighbourhood, the old church group, the old high school, the old basketball team. He married Joanne, a contemporary of my wife's. He carved out a living for himself as a math teacher in Toronto. His wife, a physiotherapist. Before that the two of them traveled the world. And I do mean the world.

Jamie, we used to call him "Proc", is retired now and enjoying relatively good health. He remains a high school basketball referee and participates in Mokshu (Hot) Yoga. He finds all of that extreme stretching and meditating in the heat very beneficial. I learned most of this speaking to him at a basketball reunion last April. He was curious to catch up with me and Hilary, having heard also that we had had some sort of faith experience.

As a man of the world, he commented that he had found that people around this globe basically are after the same things. Friendship, respect, a family, a peaceful home, appreciative children, a meaningful job, enough …

Flip-Out Event

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The used car had been turned upside down and rested on its hood at the front of the dealership lot. The sign painted on its side read "Flip-Out Event". Obviously the new franchise owner wanted to seize the attention of passers-by with something that was way out of the ordinary. Winter months had been lean months, and now the lot was full of new models and the promise of unusually good deals. This had to work in a disappointing economy. The dealer wanted us to know that he would do back flips to get the business.

Resorting to the outrageous to make a point.

At this season we are reminded of an event that was outrageous and quite topsy-turvy. Righteousness was called foul. Compassion was called disorderly. Wisdom was called madness. Peace-making was called sedition. Humility was called threatening. Christ was called a criminal and a servant of Satan.

It is meant to grab us and upset us as we observe the strange grouping around Calvary. The bogus justice. The religion without God&…

Six Hours One Friday

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Well. I did it. Got a used copy of this book by Max Lucado (1989). First work of his which I have ever read. Well worth the reading!

The six hours of course are the hours at Calvary leading to the death of our Saviour. Strange hours filled with rude catcalls, mourning women, a repentant criminal, eerie darkness at noon and finally an earthquake and a roaring cry, seemingly of victory, from the man on the middle cross.

From this crystallized moment in history, Lucado wants us to realize three things. Life is not futile (he tells the story of the woman at the Samaritan well, John 4). Failures are not irreversible (he tells the story of the prodigal son, Luke 15). Death is not final (he tells the story of the raising from death of the twelve year-old daughter of rabbi Jairus, Luke 8). He concludes with the observations of the Roman centurion at the foot of the Cross, and his conclusion, "Truly this man was the Son of God", Mark 15).

It was interesting to see Lucado put a modern tw…

Laughing with Leacock

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Almost two weeks ago I was doing the usual with a Monday evening. Conducting a reading/discussion group with a small gathering of seniors. Some of the writing of Stephen Leacock (1869-1944), Canadian humourist, economist, political scientist, historian.

I remember my delight back in high school and early college wandering through his works, filled with gentle irony and gentle punches at the Canadian psyche. Nonsense Novels, Literary Lapses, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich, Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy.

Our family had visited the summer homestead on Lake Couchiching near Orillia and had enjoyed the memorabilia in the home and the beautiful woodland walk out onto a projection of land from the shoreline. This would have been a delightful change of pace from the bustle of McGill University where Leacock taught.

I had chosen for the seniors a famous portion from "Sunshine Sketches" chronicling the Canada Day marine disaster aboard the Mar…