Showing posts from May, 2012


I am happy to announce the opening of a new blog. This comes after more than three years and 1200 articles/posts with Moments Mid-Stream.

The new forum has been formatted with Wordpress. It is intended for the same purposes of inspiration, courage and comfort through Christ.

To the Other Side

Still have the maritime thing on my mind.

Jesus got into the boat with some disciples and said, "Let us go over to the other side". He proceeded to go to sleep abaft. A fearsome storm arose on Galilee. The disciples in a panic reduced sail and bailed for all they were worth. But conditions worsened.

Finally they alerted their Lord, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" He awoke and calmed the maelstrom with His word. "Peace be still." (Mark 4: 36-41). His next words convicted them "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"

Faith in what? His word of course. His abiding care. "Let us go over". I like what Kathryn Kuhlman said in a book about this episode. 'Their faith was asleep in the boat with them. Totally confident. Totally immersed in the human condition and in the immediate peril. Totally aware of the wiles of the devil.' He hadn't given them a creed or a twelve-point program. He had given them Hims…

'Round the Horn

(Here is a wonderful ballad of commotion and courage at sea just now written by my son Jordan Blair)

She rides upon the rolling tide
Her mastheads gently sway
With seagulls her companions
In the fading light of day

And down below, in dim-lit bunks
Their courage now reborn
The men recount the terror
Of their voyage `round the Horn

How calm seas turned to chaos
And the day became like night
How each man's battle-hardened face
Had turned a ghostly white

How sails had torn like tissue
When the wind began to blow
And desperate prayers were offered up
From poor souls trapped below

But though their darkest hour had come
So far from friendly shore
The Captain's words were filled with hope
From those gone on before

"It's just a little wind my boys,
We've got a sturdy mast
 We'll round the other side
Before the devil knows we've passed!"

"It's just a little rain my lads
We'll barrel through its path
And God knows all you scurvy dogs
Could use a b…

Frightening Prospect

  Does any of the following sound familiar?

Micah 7:

7 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit. 2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are …

Tissot Comes Alive

So little time,
So much to paint
Of lasting worth.
The years mis-spent.
The social rave.
The treats of earth.
Those cities gay
Where I would play
With earl and wench.
My shame today.
Take them away.
Their swirl, their stench!

For I have found
Much richer ground
From which to paint.
The Life of Christ
Pearl of Great Price
For every saint.
Let canvas fly!
Be quick to dry!
Scenes of the King.
Of those He blessed
The poor, distressed.
Let my brush sing.

Beside the Clay

Does it help
If I just simply sit a while
Here beside
You as you reel in recent pain?

Naught to say
No thoughts to re-invent your smile.
Hurts too much.
Will you hold up 'neath all this strain?

Sun will rise
But it will surely take a while.
God is love.
You, clay upon His wheel again.

Consider our new Ebook:

The Man from Glengarry

This is a classic of Canadian literature written by a prairie Presbyterian minister using the pen name Ralph Connor.

It traces the growth of a young Christian man in the Townships at the eastern end of Ontario and near the Ottawa River. The protagonist goes to work in a lumber operation and rises in the organization as he acquires quite honourably the favour of the owners.

It has been a long time since I read the book. The part that sticks in my memory has to do with the forest logging and the treacherous river ride of the cut logs in a huge mass contained within a boomed perimeter.

A French Canadian is heralded as the master at riding the logs with sturdy boots and gaffed pole. A severe workplace accident is described in detail as the man becomes isolated on a section which comes into furious rough water. Eventually he loses his balance and falls between the wooden monsters and is crushed and drowned.

We then come to the logging camp funeral where the superintendent is called upon t…

Good Business in a Boat

Harry and Brad were off on their Victoria Day excursion. Harry's sixteen foot aluminum Springbok and the favourite lake a hundred miles away. Battered old boxes of lures. A choice of three rigs for each of them and a cooler full of refreshments and ham sandwiches.

Lots of suntan lotion and goofy old "good luck" ball caps seasoned by many outings. The boat launch was seamless and the familiar trip to the reeds bringing again the fresh air and exhileration of release.

These were two close neighbours and elders for years at the church down the street. Many battles of stress and strain in the fellowship fought together through prayer and discussion...and won. They knew their Bibles. They knew their Jesus. They knew the meaning of godliness with contentment.

Before long a strange conversation began. Brad was changing to live bait and uttered, "One Hundred Four". His buddy responded, "Um hum, One Twenty-One".

"Let's not forget Eight."


He Gives Sleep

I have noticed the arrival of a new industry -sleep therapy clinics. People are just too hurried, committed, over-extended.

The job requires one to be on call constantly. With the ubiquitous cell phone, one is never out of touch or alone with his thoughts. Perhaps there is a second job. A strapping huge mortgage on that dream home which cannot be enjoyed because of schedule. Perhaps the Boss is playing two qualifiers for the same promotion with "the midnight oil test". Perhaps a parent strives to add quality time with a child through the busy little league sports network. Perhaps socially mobile friends require high maintenance. Even holiday time exerts a subtle pressure to keep up with the experiences of others.

No rest. No sleep. No contemplative time. No shoes off relaxation. Uppers, power drinks and other stimulants to keep up the pace. The frustration and the ennui of being driven by inexorable forces. The anger and the self-pity.

Jesus once said:

25 And there shall be …

He Just Wants a Straight Answer

The prophet Isaiah had been in a place of favour in the court of the King. This was a situation that he did not wish to change. But the King died and Isaiah's sense of security and purpose was turned topsy-turvy.

In that same year he was given a vision of the Lord. Certainly this man of God was going to be required to sense the Lord's presence just as powerfully as the presence of other mortals, if not moreso. The Lord was high and lifted up and His train filled the temple. He was accompanied by the seraphims, strange celestial beings. He caused an awesome smoke to fill the place.

The prophet's first words were words of self-abasement. 'Woe is me. I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips!' The moment was so awesome that he probably suspected that he was going to die. (How clear a contrast there is here with the churches these days who so glibly state that 'God's presence was so rich this morning'. The…


Chris had secured the blowhorn from the army surplus. He had thought long and hard about location. Not speaker's corner in the Downtown. Not the university campus. How about the boulevard in front of the busiest Canadian Tire he could think of? Not on their private property; rather by the road allowance. And Saturday morning in the thick of home renovation and gardening trips. Yeah, that would do just fine.

The sandwich board message on legs read "Jesus sent me here". Nine o'clock he would start and for no more than two hours unless there was a development of discussion with interested inqurers. He had prayed about tracts. Nope, no tracts. Too impersonal. Too masked by religiosity. Too compromised by other street corner messengers who had no real burden of a message; simply a restlessness to be "doing something for the Lord".

Friday night he had taken about a half-hour in prayer: "Lord I am doing this as an offering. Not because you need my input in p…

Four Things

FOUR things a man must learn to do If he would make his record true: To think without confusion clearly; To love his fellow man sincerely; To act from honest motives purely; To trust in God and Heaven securely.
(Henry Van Dyke) A life that is vibrant, purposeful, honest, philanthropic, ordered , visionary and reverent. Oh, that we could say that our lives are filled with such noble and productive balance! But the doldrums days do happen. We are human. We must pace ourselves. We must flee the distracting push and panic of the advertised standard. It is after all not the experience of the majority. We must look to Jesus. Draw upon His Spirit. Keep short accounts over known sin. Realize that with Him tomorrow is another day of grand opportunity. He knows the stuff of which we are made.

Are you in need of a breakthrough? Consider Isaiah 58 (The Message):

I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
   firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a …

Don't Call It Waste

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

Only Through Death "Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains a single grain, but if it dies away in the ground, the grain is freed to spring up in a plant bearing many grains" (John 12:24).
Go to the old burying ground of Northampton, Mass., and look upon the early grave of David Brainerd, beside that of the fair Jerusha Edwards, whom he loved but did not live to wed.
What hopes, what expectations for Christ's cause went down to the grave with the wasted form of that young missionary of whose work nothing now remained but the dear memory, and a few score of swarthy Indian converts! But that majestic old Puritan saint, Jonathan Edwards, who had hoped to call him his son, gathered up the memorials of his life in a little book, and the little book took wings and flew beyond the sea, and alighted on the table of a Cambridge student, Henry Martyn.
Poor Martyn! Why should he throw himsel…

Dancing Before the Lord's Pleasure

My thought went early this morning to a scene in the classic movie The Bible. Portions of the Book of Genesis are portrayed vividly. In particular I remember John Huston with that big smile, taking the part of Noah and welcoming the animals into the Ark. I remember also a cranky George C. Scott as Abraham in his time of testing with the commanded mountain-top sacrifice of son Isaac.

It surprised me that Scott would roar as he scaled the height with his son and the firewood and the flame. But how much more real it seemed than a bland obeisance. Much of the religious art fails to get this. The son is a young man. Everything his Father orders he obeys. He climbs upon the makeshift stone altar. He allows the bindings. He remembers the Father's words of a short time before, "The boy and I will be back after a while".

Such faith! In old age, Abraham and Sarah had received the son of their hopes. God had declared that through Isaac would come a nation of special promise, and i…

Getting Honest Once Again

Larry Stockstill a pastor in Baton Rouge makes many helpful observations and recommendations in his book The Remnant (2008). In numerous ways he is urging a sincere return to honesty, purity, transparency, zealous prayer and basic Bible exposition. He expresses a weariness and a regret with many of the hip and convenient measures of technology and technique in our churches.

He laments a powerlessness, double-mindedness and filthiness in many pulpits which will result in the same in many congregations. The first section of the book is short and it encourages an honest return to employment of the power of the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11) in the general Body, starting first in and for the leadership:

Apostle - Mentoring for the Unfathered Church
Prophet - Standards for the Uncorrected Church
Evangelist - Multiplication for the Unfruitful Church
Pastor - Healing for the Unhealed Church
Teacher - The Scriptures for the Untaught Church

I will give one illustration. Larry was associa…

Of Fathers and Forgiveness

In a chat with a friend earlier today the topic got around to the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. We were agreed that the dark cloud in the story was not the returning wastrel but rather the self-righteous elder brother, who confirmed that he had always operated out of painful duty to honour his father (not out of love or thankfulness).

I would suggest that the story infers another dark image; the farm neighbour down the road who earlier saw the boy hiking in rags and filth and a hang-dog countenance, and got "on the telephone" to forewarn the Father:

"Chester, it's Lloyd. How ya doin'? Say, Chester I want you to know that that no-good boy of yours Flip is about five minutes from your front door. He looks awful. He must have really blown whatever opportunities he thought that he might have had. Has nothing to show for it. Probably frittered away a lot of your hard earned cash in the process. I wouldn't blame you man if you refused him into your house. Thankless yo…

Sparrows and Swallows

Psalm 84:

3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

I have always taken delight in the images of this Psalm. The House of God is not a place for greatness and pomp; rather for the simple and contented. Little creatures doing what they were made to do, and happily so. The sparrow communes in playful chatter and hops around in search of the food at hand. The swallow seems a more isolated creature with breathtaking flight patterns plucking the insects a hazardous two inches from the water's surface at tremendous speed. She also plasters a miraculous nest on perpendicular walls and corners with no apparent under-support.

The Temple is safe for their kind and safe for their youngsters. There is almost a child-like air to everything; and indeed the messages of the place are intended for th…

Emmaus by Tissot

This is where it began. Two hopefuls with Jesus in their midst. What an unstoppable movement. How much like the parable of the leaven in the dough. It grows and it grows. Elbows touch. Gazes fix one upon another. Questions get asked, "Have you heard about Him; about His unsurpassed kindness to the hurting; about His mastery over the vain and insensitive; about His captivating stories from the everyday; about His horrible and totally foreseen death; about His inconceivable resurrection?"

The hunger for this richness is out there. In a recent book (The Surge) Larry Stockstill tells of an experience of John Osteen in Mexico. He was flagged down by a stranger on the highway. "Tell me," the man said, "does anyone in this car know anything about the Gospel? I have been sent out here by my village. For some reason we have all sensed that now is the time. My people have stayed home from their fields today, awaiting my mission. Won't you please come?"

Osteen …

Passing the Food

I had a delightful talk this morning with a seasoned brother in Christ; one who has been pastor, church planter, denominational head and missionary. His current thrust is in missions and it will not be long before he arrives again in Africa. He was excited about the message in a very recent book by Larry Stockstill entitled The Surge (2012).

He looks at the major responsibility of the Church in terms of reproduction, the bringing of light into darkness.

He reminded me of the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Mark's Gospel describes how He had His disciples sit the people down in orderly groups of fifty or so. Then they distributed from the loaves and fishes to the first row of each plot; then the second, and so on. In this fashion it was assured that all were fed and that no one received too much or too little. Compare this to a group continuing to mill around, where it would be easy for the gluttons to come forward several times or for the shy ones to hold back.

My frie…

I, Yes, I Matter

I matter, I matter
Yes I matter.
In this sordid mess
That never should have come.
I matter
And I grumble
At misfortune.
And I question God,
Allowing in this mix
A dreadful sum.

I wonder, I wonder
Yes I wonder,
Could the One Who moved
The sea now let me drown?
I wonder
As I ponder
All our history.
And I know that He
Has purpose in this pain
Ere help comes down.

I conquer, I conquer
Yes I conquer.
As I push aside
Sad self who blocks the way.
I conquer
In surrender
To a Father Who
Employs the night-time
And its settling dews
Before the Day.

See our new ebook The Hard Doubts

Sandy Peden, Prophet of the Covenant

As, one by one, his companions were killed or captured, Alexander Peden (1626-86) alone seemed to bear a charmed life. He is the Prophet of the Covenant, and, in some respects, its most romantic figure. Ejected in 1663 from his Galloway parish, outlawed for his complicity in the Pentland Rising, imprisoned on the Bass Rock (1673-7), banished to Virginia, and conveyed on the outward voyage to London, where he was for some unknown reason liberated, he spent his remain- ing years in Ireland or Scotland, "going," as he says, " from the one bloody land to the other bloody land." Dogged by spies, and hunted by dragoons, he yet died in his bed. A man of great personal strength and activity, his escapes were so hairbreadth as to seem miraculous.

Peden himself would have been at no loss for an explanation. So long as God had work for him, no harm could befall him. Dogs snuffed at the entrance of the cave in which he was hiding, and still he was not discovered. Soldiers st…

Guest Speaker

"Thank you Pastor for the opportunity to speak to these people.

Ladies and gentlemen. I am not a Lutheran. I am not a Pentecostal. I am not a Methodist. I am a beggar. One who has simply asked for the privilege of being incorporated into Christ's worldwide mystical Body. I had a sorry season for sin. This world and my puny efforts lost their delight. I opened with hunger to the life-giving Words of the Gospel. I allowed them to have their impregnating effect. I knew that the Holy Spirit was behind it all; that I would be changed forever; that many would not understand. I am still messed up, but the more I relinquish, the more I become like Christ, although I hardly know it.

Does this little community in this little building really GET the process? Really want the membership? Really adore the Crucified One?"

With that the speaker descended from the podium as if to conclude. Members of the congregation looked at each other in surprise as if to say 'Is that it? This is…

Heaven Brought to Us

(A recent entry in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)

“The kingdom come.” Matthew 6:10
This is a very comprehensive prayer. It pleads for the extension of God‘s spiritual realm in this world — His power over men’s hearts and lives, the subjugation of earth’s kingdoms to His sway. It is a prayer that men may be better — that they may put away their sins and amend their lives; that they may take Christ as their king, and yield every thought and desire to Him. It is not a longing to be lifted away to heaven, but a craving that heaven may be brought to us, into our hearts and lives.

We are in danger of thinking too much of other people and the coming of God‘s kingdom into other hearts and lives as we offer his prayer. The little piece of world for which we are first responsible is that which lies within our own hearts and lives. While then we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we should look within ourselves to see if we have submitted to the reign of Christ.

Thy kingdom here?
    Lord, can it be?

Partners in Prevention 2012

Just attended the annual provincial conference on occupational health and safety. The kick-off speaker was John Furlong Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. He brought forward inspiring vignettes of developing and sustaining a team dedicated unswervingly to the vision of the event. That was to deliver in a timely and unprecedented way the best in amateur sport, the best of the beautiful British Columbia facilities and the heartfelt involvement of every Canadian in welcoming the world.

He spoke of his candidacy interview where vision was the thing rather than construction or logistics. He explained the grueling process of formulating the Olympic Torch Run throughout the nation and touching as many communities as possible; virtually 105 days of non-stop execution. He heard workers say "that Furlong is going to kill us". His grinning response was "you can sleep in March". The vision continued as every participant in every department took pos…

God Bless Turkey

I am seeing in the blog statistics a significant interest from Turkey. Welcome people from the land of Paul's toil, wandering and harvest! People with the last recorded words in scripture from our Lord (the seven churches). People who have safeguarded the remnants of the Ark on Ararat.

Let the warnings and the encouragement of the Seven Letters to the Churches hold special blessing for you. How sad that so many professing believers hold little time for studying the Revelation. The disinclination comes from the strangeness and threat of the visions afforded John the Beloved on Patmos.

I remember years ago attending a conference of a certain denomination and driving down with a number of our assembly leaders. Somehow the conversation turned to the Book of Revelation. The Pastor stated that he had little time for same. He considered that at time of writing 'John was somewhat of a burn-out, discouraged, in custody and desperate for some new development, having out-lived all the o…

God, a Stranger in the People?

(Following on with M'Cheyne's sermon)

1. In regard to the Word of God.There seems little thirst for hearing the Word of God among Christians now. As a delicate stomach makes a man eat sparingly, so most Christians seem sparing in their diet in our day. Many Christians seem to mingle pride with the hearing of the Word. They come rather as judges than as children. Few behave themselves as a weaned child. Most seem to prefer the seat of Moses to the seat of Mary at the feet of Christ. Many come to hear the word of a man that shall die, and not the Word of the living God. Oh, should not Christians be taught this prayer? "Oh the hope of Israel," etc.

2. In regard to prayer. There is much ploughing and much sowing, butvery little harrowing in of the seed by prayer. God and your conscience are witness how little you pray. You know you would be men of power if you were men of prayer, and yet ye will not pray. Unstable as water, you do not excel. Luther set apart his three bes…

God, a Stranger in the Land?

(Taken from a sermon by Robert M. M'Cheyne, 1813-1843)

It is to be feared there is much unfaithful preaching to the unconverted. Jeremiah complained of this in his day, "They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace." Is there no reason for the same complaint in our own day? The great part of our congregations are out of Christ, and lying night and day under the wrath of the Lord God Almighty; and yet it is to be feared that the most of the minister's anxiety and painstaking isnottaken up about them, that his Sermons arenotchiefly occupied with their case. All the words of men and angels cannot describe the dreadfulness of being Christless; and yet, it is to be feared, we do not speak to those who are so with anything like sufficient plainness, frequency, and urgency. Alas! How few ministers are like the angels at Sodom, mercifully bold to lay hands on lingering sinners. How few obey that word of Jude, &…