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Showing posts from November, 2009

Running Hard to Keep Up

There are times when God doesn't seem to be moving very quickly. There are other times when it seems we have to run very fast to keep up with Him.

I have my "hurry up, please" list and my "slow down, please" list. Some day soon I'll give you all the details of the items that are currently on both of those lists. Right now, this "work in progress" is not quite ready to be revealed.

Is there a verse of Scripture that covers both of these variables?

Hang on, I'm looking!

Aha, here there are in Psalm 37.

The key word in verse 3 is "trust" followed by "delight" in verse 4 and "commit" in verse 5. All these actions are directed to God. Any success we anticipate in the business of crawling or running with God is found in our attitude toward Him. Trusting Him, delighting in Him and committing ourselves to Him daily, are essential to that process.

Then comes what is specific to crawling with God. "Be still before the Lo…

Perfect Gifts

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” —James 1:16-18

James began his letter writing aboout trials. He encouraged us to rejoice in whatever trials God sends us because they ultimately are meant for our spiritual growth. We are encouraged to persevere so that we get the most value out of those trials. We are to ask for wisdom in dealing with them. We are to trust without wavering.

A little later, James deals with temptations. From Satan’s standpoint what God uses as fertilizer to promote growth can also be a gopher hole to cause us to fall and break a leg. James reminds us that it’s our choice to give in, the desire to sin comes from within, not from influences without.

We know that the paragraphing and the numbers assigned to the Scriptures a…

Youth Renewed In Praise

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It's Word-Filled Wednesday once again. This week we are hosted by Susan at Forever His. Check it out.

In celebration of American Thanksgiving I am going to share this delightful picture of my third cousin, Morgan. (Even though I am a Canadian, it's good to be thankful all the time so I'm going to join hands with my American friends here.)



"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins ad heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfied your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." —Psalm 103:1-5

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving my friends.

Without a Doubt

Tucked in between James' teaching on trials are two verses that we hold close to our hearts.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" —James 1:5, 6 NIV.

Obviously verses like these apply to everything in life, but I find it interesting that they appear in this particular spot like sliced beef between two slices of whole grain bread. Since nothing in Scripture is irrelevant, the placing of these two verses must have a special meaning in the context.

What do I do in the face of this trial? That's the kind of question that demands that we go to God and ask for His wisdom. We are never more vulnerable to making wrong decisions or reacting badly as when we are undergoing trials. During these times we need to lean heavily on God so that we make no mistakes in our hand…

Keep On Keeping On With a Smile

The office staff at mission headquarters in Guelph meets every Tuesday for devotions and prayer. During my few months there we were working our way through the book of James. I remember clearly the discussion on these verses:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" —James 1:2-4.

In a world of "instant" perseverance has gone the way of the dodo bird. We seldom ask God for perseverance to remain firm in in our faith in the face of a trial. We ask for relief as quickly and painlessly as possible. From what James says "quick and painless" is not the road to spiritual maturity.

Well, we say, at least give us an explanation of the reasons behind this trial and what the gains for us are going to be in the end. More often than not the heavens are silent on those subj…

Contentment in Crisis

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" —Hebrews 13:5.

In the present economic crisis, thinking about money is the stuff of everyday living. It's a good thing the Scriptures don't tell us not to think about money; we'd be hard pressed to manage an instruction like that. This particular verse from Hebrews reminds us not to love money for money's sake. In other passages, like that of Matthew 6, we are told not to be anxious about the supply of our most basic needs. Instead, we are to put God first and watch Him take care of all of our necessities.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us to not be anxious, AND to be content.

But it's the last statement that struck me this morning as I read it. Not being greedy and being content with what we have is based on something other than the "power of positive thinking". "…God has said,…

Storage

I'm recycling paper. In this case that phrase means I am going through the files in my good, old-fashioned four drawer metal filing cabinet—an antique in this technological age. Most of the files in the cabinet are ministry-related, but there are a good number that have housed the many recipes I've cut out of magazines over the years. The weight of the paper alone represents a lot of dead trees. I bought some software which should help me to warehouse all the recipes that I want to keep. IF I get this project done, I will have stored that weight of paper and all that information inside one little laptop. Isn't that amazing?

It will be even more amazing if the hard drive doesn't crash and if I don't lose all that I have so carefully saved. I guess that's why someone invented jump drives, or whatever the current name is for those little sticks that act as external memory "just in case."

I had the privilege to visit my last remaining aunt recently. She jus…

WORD-FILLED WEDNESDAY — Some

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Today is Word-Filled Wednesday once more, hosted by Christy at Critty Joy so stop by and check things out.

There are reasons why I'm thinking today about those many people who have heard the Gospel over the years that our team has been here in Caracas, Venezuela. There have been more than a few times when the work has been discouraging. But as I remember, I thank God for those who came to faith and who are walking confidently with the Lord.



"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" 3 John 4.

Stop Whining

The conversation had an ironic twist. My friend was harshly critical of those who think they have troubles when their little frustrations in life are nothing compared to the major challenges that others face. She, on the other hand, considered herself in the latter group. Then she proceeded to tell me all her problems—all of which are of her own making and could be easily remedied if she chose to do so.

Of course, when any of us point at finger, there are always other fingers that point directly back to us. I know it's of small consolation to tell someone that things "could be worse" so I'll refrain from saying that to anyone but myself. Like everyone else, I sometimes give my challenges more weight than they actually deserve.

Everyone struggles. Whether those challenges are major battles or minor skirmishes is often a matter of perspective. But there is one struggle that often isn't included in our repertoire of daily battles.

"In your struggle against sin, y…

I Wonder Where Daniel Was?

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Today is Monday Manna, hosted by our very own wonderful Joanne at An Open Book. Stop by to read some of the comments on these wonderful verses from Daniel 3:16-18.

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up'."

Faith is proved not necessarily when we ask for a miracle, not even when we ask for a miracle and don't receive what we expected, but when we submit ourselves to the brutal actions of others without the expectation of a miracle but with complete trust and commitment to God.

That's a long sentence, but I think it aptly describes what happened in this wonderful story from the Old Testament. These three men, facing a …

The Final Consummation

Hebrews is the most amazing book. Take these two verses for example:

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sin of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" —Hebrews 9: 27, 28.

HUGE theology in two verses.

Man's state: Destined to die.

The question of sin and its consequences: Judgment

The introduction of the Saviour: Christ

The remedy for our sins and their consequences: The sacrifice of the perfect for the imperfect.

The efficacy and finality of that sacrifice: It will not be repeated.

The second coming and its purpose: The final piece to our salvation.

Our posture: Waiting for Him—not for judgment but for completion.

The Gospel in a nutshell. One of the wonderful things about Scripture is the ability it gives us to find an explanation of the Gospel throughout its pages. From Genesis to Revelation we find illustration afte…

On Second Thought

The verses assigned for today were "no brainers."

"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" —Hebrews 9:22.

All believers know that these verses combine an Old Testament ritual with a New Testament truth: To satisfy God's requirements, blood must be shed and Jesus Christ replaced once and for all, the need for the continual sacrifice of lambs when He took our place on the cross and died there, atoning for our sins. His blood made it possible for those who believe to receive forgiveness.

Then something else came to mind.

The Apostle Peter wrote: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

In the context, Peter is referring to suffering for the cause of Christ. But I got hooked on the idea of shedding blood as paving the way for forgiveness.

Most of us believe that when someone h…

Remembering

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In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Today is Remembrance Day. May we never forget the sacrifice that others made to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today. May we never forget the sacrifice of Christ that resulted in our freedom from the consequences of our sin.

Too Much Testosterone

Obedient as I am, I arrived exactly three hours before flight time yesterday. It took me five minutes to check-in, another five to go through security. So what was I to do with the other two hours and fifty minutes?

I shopped a little, had coffee, then sat down in the lounge to wait. High above me was a television screen. Yesterday, November 9th, marked the anniversary of the day that the Berlin Wall was torn down. The interviewer was speaking to a man who had been there on the day the wall was demolished. He had escaped from East Germany and later became a border guard at the famous wall. He remarked that it always bothered him that across the barbed wire and the no-man's land, a cousin or some other family member might be facing him with a rifle in his hand. Would family or friend one day be called to exchange shots, perhaps kill?

When I arrived in Caracas, all the news was about the dispute between Venezuela and Colombia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is constantly speaking ab…

You Don't Understand…

Over the years I've had the opportunity to talk to singles about their emotional needs. In my counseling I take Hebrews 2:18 quite literally. The writer states: "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." It's hard for us to imagine that the Son of God felt the same emotional needs as every single who has, and will live on the planet—and I mean ALL of the emotional, physical, mental, spiritual needs that we experience.

To truly be able to identify with us Jesus had to experience every need and face every temptation presented to Him to meet those needs inappropriately.

I confess that it boggles the mind to travel down that road in my imagination and to try to picture Jesus looking at a woman and being tempted. It almost feels like blasphemy. But in order for Him to know how we feel, the temptations we face, and to be able to help us face them as He did, He had to have encountered them personally.

And He never sinn…

Room With a View

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My birthday present to myself—a room with a view.

I listened to the thunder of the waters as they poured over the falls from the Canadian side of our mutual border. And as I looked at the beauty and power of a natural phenomena that no "accident" can explain, I could only praise the One of whom the Scriptures speak in Psalm 103:22: "Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul."

May God's Spirit flood our Dominion of Canada as these majestic waters flood the gorge below.