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Showing posts from November, 2011

Hey, Mountain View California!

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I notice often in the viewer analytics of this blog the location of Mountain View. I wonder who is visiting frequently from there? An individual, several friends, a church?

Throughout I have been determined just to throw the thoughts out there in the hope of clarifying, comforting or encouraging someone's approach to Christ and to indomitable hope.

I am reminded of Peter the Apostle saying that he wished to put his correspondents 'into remembrance'. So much of what I have written is not original thinking. But it has been sifted and weighed in light of my experiences and struggles.

If the friend/s in Mountain View would care to drop me a short email, I would be happy to learn how this blog has been received or proved a blessing or challenge. The same holds true for any other reader. Any communication would be kept in confidence. Perhaps a small dialogue developed. Happy reading, searching, praying and discovering to all!

Are You Being Shorn?

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Judges 16 tells the sad story of the decline of the mighty Samson. His confession to the woman of the source of his God-given strength led to his stripping, humbling, imprisonment and death. ‘He wist not that the Lord had departed from him.’

How is it that we might be stripped of our gracious enabling?

1. We might pamper a favourite sin or lust.
2. We might be weighed down with the handicap of self-pity.
3. We turn to the counsel of men who have not the Spirit.
4. We become afraid of the reproach of men.
5. We lose the steadfast position after a lengthy period of walking in unglamorous circumstances.
6. Are you fatigued, stressed without rest?
7. Are you standing in your own strength without the prayer and under-girding of friends?
8. Are you stuck in the memory of past victories and not looking for “fresh oil”?
9. Do you feel that you are under-appreciated?
10. Do you believe that your situation is so extraordinary, no one could help you?
11. Do you engage in foolish jesting?
12. Are you unwillin…

Open the Trenches

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

"Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hands" (2 Kings 3:16-18).

To human thinking it was simply impossible, but nothing is hard for God.

Without a sound or sign, from sources invisible and apparently impossible, the floods came stealing in all night long; and when the morning dawned, those ditches were flooded with the crystal waters, and reflecting the rays of the morning sun from the red hills of Edom.

Our unbelief is always wanting some outward sign. The religion of many is largely sensational, and they are not satisfied of its genuineness without manifestations, etc.; but the greatest triumph of faith is to be still and know that He is God.

The great victory of faith is to stand before some imp…

The Pre-Eminent Day

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Genesis 1:

5b And the evening and the morning were the first day.


In such fashion creation began.

But the perfect day is the Gospel of the life of our Saviour.

It begins with night. A young couple, expectant with child, hurry into the busy town. No room in the Inn. This should be a joyous time but there are complications. The awkwardness of the unprecedented pregnancy. The weariness of the journey by donkey to comply with the census edict. The virtuous and devout young mother made to feel invisible and an offscouring in a strange town. The strained young husband thinking about the awesome demands of fatherhood shortly to come upon him. The absence of any mid-wife to help in the ordeal fast approaching. The toss-of-the-coin decision to accept the foul-smelling manger with the docile beasts. And the Greatest Life comes. And the shepherds are awe-struck. And the starlit heavens resound with angel joy.

It is perfected with morning. Another Mary. This one perhaps, not so virtuous in preceding y…

The Ending Week Minus the Tinsel

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This morning's early walk in the neighbourhood seemed unusually balmy. One neighbour's front yard is grassless and dedicated tastefully to perennials, driftwood, shrubbery and a few figures. I noted some blossoms still on the wild purple asters.

But then behind, quite incongruously, some Christmas candy canes and other commercial ornamentation. The guy next door to her had an eight foot tall plywood Santa. And all of this several weeks before the Holy Week. (Dare I mention its name? Christmas.)

The fuss all around and in the malls suggests the following. If you love the Holiday Season:
You will love decorating.
You will love shopping.
You will love partying.
You will love the parade with the red-suited Fat Man.
You will love updating your friendship letter accompanying the cards.
You will love the early purchasing and wrapping and baking.
You will love the "Black Friday" frenzy. (late November)
You will love LCBO and liquid hospitality.
You will love the melancholy tunes of Mat…

John Wesley White...Still Swinging

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I had the privilege of meeting this evangelist-scholar in 1985. A crusade was being conducted in Chatham. John was the key-note speaker. Before the program began I saw him seated quietly backstage and obviously praying. As one of the helpers in the event I had some information to pass on to John. He looked up from his meditations and gave me the warmest smile; already knew my name. He was to go on and render a captivating message and call.

Hard to think of this man ever being silenced or set back in powers of expression.

Answers from Job's Quandary

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There is a book that I have seen, title escaping me. I believe that the author was the respected British Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan. It suggested that all of Job’s questions were to be answered in Jesus Christ.

Questions like the following:

 Why do good people suffer?
 Why do problems seem to pile on?
 Who can really know the pain that I am experiencing?
 Why is it that our friends’ censure hurts the most?
 Is there an antidote for all of my guilt?
 Why are people disgusted at the sight of pain?
 Can I hold on to reverent love of God whatever the extent of my pain?
 Is God to blame for suffering?
 Will there ever be a recompense for injustice?
 Will I rise from the grave?
 Am I to anticipate a blessed after-life?
 Are all mortals bound to disappoint a Holy God?
 Could I ever argue my case before Him?
 Is there an Advocate for me in this struggle anywhere?

As I was drawn toward the Gospel invitation in 1982 (and after extensive church involvement, I might add, but involvement in …

Your Part In It

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Perhaps you have a child who has strayed away from the faith. Or a spouse who insists belligerently that religion is only a crutch for the wounded. Or a neighbour who seems to be checking out your slant on an issue "because of the Christian thing". He is curious.

You have prayed and taken what seemed to be a God-ordained opportunity to explain your hope in Christ. You get only the lack lustre answer, "How nice that must be for you."

What do you do next? Can you come on too strong? Can you dampen the process by poor timing?

It is good that you have these concerns. Remember Ezekiel's words in the 33rd chapter:

8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered …

Valley of Tears Beatitude

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Again yesterday I received a blessing from Psalm 84:

5Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

6Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

7They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.


Apparently there is a community of faithful ones who have encountered the valley of Baca (tears) for whatever reason, and have come through victoriously, and have stored up in their heart empathy for the suffering ones, and resources and encouragement for these fellow pilgrims. They understand the ways of those who traverse that Vale. Their faith, example and counsel provide supernatural refreshment and "wells" long before God sends relief in the natural realm with the "rains". And these wells have gone deep.

Are there tears in your present or past? Have you come THROUGH that valley? Are you endued with a resource and audacity not acquired by the untried, by the…

Revelation

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The quivering age rings of doubt;
The fuzzy aura of social norm;
Of grandmother’s fables
On how good comes;
Of past hurts and yearnings
Wrenching head and heart
Periodically upward.
Now collect and condense into
A single point of certainty
And gladsome focus.
Christ has come.
Christ has served,
And brought the good report.
Blood and death have served their purpose.
His Father…Our Father.
Is love.
Entirely to be trusted.
And oh, how the good comes!


Hallelujah!

Lunch-Time Analysts

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Sometimes the conversation gets quite animated in our Lunch Room at the factory. Today as in a couple of other occasions the subject was the current sit-down "Occupy protests" in front of the various financial centres of the Western world.

Groups of disgruntled dissidents have placed themselves in a rather poorly articulated statement against big business, big markets and insensitive government. Their posters, soap boxes and music seem to say, "Where is the little guy's break on taxes, on a decent job, on a workable chance at good education or good health care and social aid? Why should the so-called democratic process do so little to hear the voice of the masses between elections? These systems are broken! Our elected representatives have forgotten us. The real king-pins are the multi-national corporations, and they are just plain wicked!"

Although one can sympathize with their pain and perplexity, it is likely that continued stale-mate on the lawns will result …

The Wicked Root

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

The Traitor’s Kiss

“Hail, master; and kissed him.”

Matthew 26:49
The very reading of the words makes us shudder. A kiss has always been the token of affection and the seal and pledge of fidelity. Judas’s going up to Christ and kissing Him was a solemn protestation of sincere friendship. Yet the kiss was not only false, but was the sign of betrayal. No words are strong enough to characterize this crime. We remember the fable of the poisonous reptile taken into the bosom of a kindly man to be warmed, rewarding the benefactor by striking its deadly fangs into his flesh. But even this does not illustrate the baseness of Judas’s act. It is no wonder that he is the execration of the world. A poet represents him as placed in the lowest circles of the lost, as the sole sharer with Satan himself of the very uttermost punishment, and shunned even there and even by the guiltiest.

In studying the character and the sin of Judas the following lessons…

Joint Heirs with Jesus

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Jointly with Him
The peace, the power.
The Heavenly access
This very hour.
The standing 'fore God
Relieved of shame.
The trespass forgot.
The key, His Name.
The demons now tremble.
The hungry find bread.
A kind word in season.
Brings cure for each dread.
A place in the family
By mercy reserved.
A seat at the Banquet;
By Him we'll be served!
And nothing of merit
No, nothing of self
From us is expected
To warrant such wealth.
The toil is all finished.
The costly task done.
The Grace account opened
By God's righteous Son!

Testament

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This is the Last Will and Testament of me Jesus Ben Joseph of no fixed address, formerly of the Town of Capernaum in the District of Galilee, Palestine.

I have no other will or testamentary instrument.

I hereby appoint the Holy Spirit to be Executor of this my Will. As He is eternal, and entirely in agreement with this plan, there is no substitutionary or alternative appointment hereby made. He is my Companion from the eternal past, enjoying my love and complete confidence.

I give, devise and bequeath all of my estate, both real and personal, and wheresover situate unto my said Executor/Trustee upon the following trusts:

There are no personal debts to be discharged.

My just testamentary, funeral and burial expenses will be discharged as prophesied by Isaiah through the gift of a wealthy individual in the City of Jerusalem.

To give all my personal effects, my clothing, as prophesied by the Psalmist to the soldiers attending upon my execution.

To entrust the care and responsibility of my belov…

Incredible Journey

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Call her "Joyce". I met her while visiting a chapel service at the Senior's Home. Well preserved. Beautiful skin. Firm, controlled posture and movements. Standing with others in conversation after the service, smiling and apparently enjoying the day.

At one point she piped up to me, "I know Dad and the kids are really going to enjoy what I tell them about all of this."

(Dad and the kids? Am I missing something here?)

Deb, the part-time chaplain, just looked at me and shook her head. Alzheimers. Lost in the loops of the past.

"Joyce" became interested in our little Monday night reading and discussion group. I would often find her seated at table in the dining room on her floor with friend "Pauline", smoothing down the corners of a magazine, or patting her upper legs with both hands in nervous habit. But the face remained poised and youthful. "Pauline" had taken up the practice of bossing her around, but clearly enjoyed the company. Not …

Translator Extraordinaire

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William Carey is considered by many to be the Father of Missions. A humble cobbler in England in the late 1700's caught in the grip of grace and compelled into hazardous missionary endeavour in India.

I will leave the research to you in this instance:

http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey1.html

"In his own words he cried, "My attention to missions was first awakened after I was at Moulton, by reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook." To many, Cook's Journal was a thrilling story of adventure, but to Carey it was a revelation of human need! He then began to read every book that had any bearing on the subject. (This, along with his language study — for at twenty-one years of age Carey had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Italian, and was turning to Dutch and French. One well called his shoemaker's cottage "Carey's College," for as he cobbled shoes along with his preaching he never sat at his bench without some kind of a book before him.)&qu…

And Still He Sang

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(Recently in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)

Songs in the Night


“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”

Matthew 26:30

This is the only record of our Lord’s singing when He was on the earth. It is worthy of special notice that it was just as He was starting out to Gethsemane that He sung a hymn with His disciples. It would not have seemed so strange to us if He had sung that night on the Transfiguration Mount, or the day He entered Jerusalem amid the people’s hosannas, or on some other occasion of great gladness and triumph; but that the only time we hear Him singing should be in the darkest night of His earthly life is very suggestive.

It tells us of the deep gladness that was in the heart of Christ under all His griefs and sorrows. He knew the agony into whose black shadows He was about to enter. He saw the cross, too, that stood just beyond Gethsemane. Yet He went out toward the darkness with songs of praise on His lips. There is a Scripture word which te…

Conversation Above

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A new experiment! An interactive web site of Christian challenge and comfort.

https://sites.google.com/site/conversationabove/

Why not take a look and tell your friends...Doug

(Scroll down on the left for button. And click.)

"Gewd Auld" Robbie

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(Taken from the Wikipedia article on Robbie Burns)

Love affairs

His casual love affairs did not endear him to the elders of the local kirk and created for him a reputation for dissoluteness amongst his neighbours. His first child, Elizabeth Paton Burns (1785–1817), was born to his mother's servant, Elizabeth Paton (1760-circa 1799), while he was embarking on a relationship with Jean Armour, who became pregnant with twins in March 1786. Burns signed a paper attesting his marriage to Jean, but her father "was in the greatest distress, and fainted away." To avoid disgrace, her parents sent her to live with her uncle in Paisley. Although Armour's father initially forbade it, they were eventually married in 1788. Armour bore him nine children, but only three survived infancy.

Burns was in financial difficulties due to his want of success in farming, and to make enough money to support a family he took up a friend's offer of work in Jamaica, at a salary of £30 per annum. …

Echo From a Dead Poet

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Burns' Centenary

"I'll be more respected a hundred years
after I'm dead than I am at present."--R.B., 1796.


"MY fame is sure; when I am dead
A century," the Poet said,
"They'll heap the honours on my head
They grudge me noo";
To-day the hundred years have sped
That prove it true.

Whiles as the featherd ages flee,
Time sets the sand-glass on his knee,
An' ilka name baith great an' wee
Shak's thro' his seive;
Syne sadly wags his pow to see
The few that live.

An' still the quickest o' the lot
Is his wha made the lovely cot
A shrine, whaur ilka reverent Scot
Bareheadit' turns.
Our mither's psalms we may forgot,
But never Burns.

This nicht, auld Scotland, dry your tears,
An' let nae sough o' grief come near's;
We'll speak o' Rab 's gin he could hear's;
Life's but a fivver,
And he's been healed this hundred years
To live…

Jekyll and Hyde

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(Taken from the final chapter of the classic of Robert Louis Stevenson. Part of a letter read after the death of Jekyll, a tortured man of science and secret tendencies.)

"That part of me which I had the power of projecting, had lately been much exercised and nourished; it had seemed to me of late as though the body of Edward Hyde had grown in stature, as though (when I wore that form) I were conscious of a more generous tide of blood; and I began to spy a danger that, if this were much prolonged, the balance of my nature might be permanently overthrown, the power of voluntary change be forfeited, and the character of Edward Hyde become irrevocably mine.

The power of the drug had not been always equally displayed. Once, very early in my career, it had totally failed me; since then I had been obliged on more than one occasion to double, and once, with infinite risk of death, to treble the amount; and these rare uncertainties had cast hitherto the sole shadow on my contentment. Now,…

Give It Up

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The struggle to self-justify. The so very important agenda. The sleepless nights of fretting over impossible situations. The shoulder crushing burden of guilt for things done, said, not done. The vision of the well earned brass plaque. Give it up!

More Than Conquerors

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A wonderful image is offered in Romans 8:

33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.


To be more than a conqueror. To get more than a battle won. To get the assurance of ongoing victories. This is the heritage of those taken up in a covenant of love with Jesus. Trials come and we are tempted to fret. "Oh, it looks as if I am going to go through that knothole again. I don't think I can stand it one more time. Last time I got around to the point of…

But What About Context?

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A friend once wisely summarized the three basic rules of Bible interpretation as "context...context...context".

A significant example of this may be found in the frequent references made to a portion of Psalm 35. Prosperity preachers are quick to cite the following:

27Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

Mention the term "prosperity of his servant" and congregational ears perk up. But in context the message is one of overcoming the opposition of wicked adversaries. Hear the first verse:

1Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

Or again the 19th:

19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

Or even the 26th:

26Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: le…

Oswald's Core Message

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A Bondservant of Jesus

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . . —Galatians 2:20


These words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to this point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot push me through it. It means breaking the hard outer layer of my individual independence from God, and the liberating of myself and my nature into oneness with Him; not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus. Once I am at that point, there is no possibility of misunderstanding. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ or understand what He meant when He said, “. . . for My sake” (Matthew 5:11). That is what makes a strong saint.

Has that breaking of my independence come? All the rest is religious fraud. The one point to decide is…

A Look at Those Eyes

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I must admit that I have never really gotten into fantasy series of literature. The whole Lord of the Rings thing passed me by in university. I only viewed the three Peter Jackson films three years ago. The effort necessary to get into the imagined culture, tribes, society, alliances and geography was always a deterrent.

Six or seven years ago the rage was the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis brought to a larger fan base by the Disney film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I saw it and appreciated the allegories wrapped up in the majestic lion Aslan (Christ), the White Witch (demonic evil), the unity of all tribes and tongues giving allegiance to Aslan, the great Battle of good versus evil, the death and resurrection of the lion, His victorious visit to the place of the dead (frozen), His coming and going as if by magic.

The other day I picked up a used copy of The Magician's Nephew written in 1955 as a prequel and establishing in the journeys of Digory and Polly the creation of Nar…