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Showing posts from 2015

Someone Doesn't Get It

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Someone doesn’t get it.

Someone doesn’t see the link between the Premier of this province celebrating her victory in getting beer sold in grocery stores by buying a six-pack in front of the cameras, with encouraging drunk drivers, domestic violence and under-aged drinking.

Someone doesn’t see the connection between allowing physician assisted suicide for terminally ill twelve-year-olds with the probability of an even higher rate of teenage suicides brought on by depression and hopelessness. One pain is as real as the other.

Someone doesn’t see that legalizing marijuana for “medical” purposes is not the message delivered in the advertising by its proponents, advertising that doesn’t depict dying, pain-ridden people in hospital beds, but perfectly healthy young adults smiling through the euphoric haze of their addictions.

They just don’t get it.

How can you facilitate the purchase of alcohol as though it were an acceptable part of our daily menu and then pretend to be concerned about it…

Lift Him Higher

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A friend posted an interesting statement on FACEBOOK which I re-posted. Here it is:

When ministry becomes performance, then the sanctuary becomes a theatre, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment, and man’s applause and approval becomes the measure of success. But when ministry is for the glory of God, his presence moves into the sanctuary. Even the unsaved visitor will fall down on his face, worship God, and confess that God is among us.” (drrichardlmoore).

I re-posted the statement because I believe it to be true, but it was the last bit that connected with what I read this morning in my time of meditation. I’ve been doing advent readings leading up to Christmas and today’s passage was from John 12. These two verses particularly stood out: “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (vss. 31, 32).

Jesus is once more announcing His death to His…

Watch Your Mouth

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Several weeks ago I was asked if I would be willing to do a workshop at an upcoming Ladies’ Retreat. At the time, I had nothing really in mind that would make a useful contribution. I knew that the main speaker’s theme was going to be on holiness so my mind began to drift in that direction. What aspect of holiness would make a good workshop?

With more than just a little prompt from the Holy Spirit, I landed on the theme of language—what comes out of our mouths that probably shouldn’t. It’s a theme that has niggled at the back of my mind since I began to hear language that made me shudder from people I didn’t expect to hear it from, and on occasions that I never imagined remotely appropriate for its use.

My research on the subject has revealed some startling things—including things about some the words and phrases I often use. There is a red flag—I am not the language police and I don’t want to come across as one who is playing that role. What I want to highlight is our need to avoid …

Yoked

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"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?" —2 Corinthians 6:14-16a, NIV

One of recurring themes of the Old Testament was Israel's interaction with the nations around her. She was to be a witness of God's grace in a pagan world. At the same time God was very specific that there were to be no intimate relationships established with her unbelieving neighbours particularly in the areas of intermarriage and worship (i.e. Ezra 9:10-15).

These instructions are picked up again in the New Testament. In these verses from 2 Corinthians we discover Paul asking some pointed questions about the relationships being built between the Corinthian believers and the society around them.

But how do we reach unbeliever…

Follow Those Footprints

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I was distracted. That’s a poor excuse. Somewhere in the delivering of the study last night I mentioned that I found it more difficult to multi-task with the passing years. I guess I proved my point—at least to myself. My mouth was trying to say one thing while my mind was struggling with something else. The result was, what felt like at least, a very disjointed Bible study.

When I was making some sense, we were talking about walking with the Lord. The study launched from the two Scriptures in Genesis 5 and 6 that describe Enoch and Noah, Enoch’s great-grandson, as men who “walked with God.”

In my devotions this morning I was reading Hebrews 12, a passage rich in material that felt like a follow-up to last night’s study. The first two verses, familiar as they are, were particularly encouraging and challenging.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with persev…

Growing Up

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The old saying, “practice makes perfect” rings true when you read the author’s words in Hebrews 5:14. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Both the latter part of Hebrews 5 and the beginning of Hebrews 6 have to do with moving on from the fundamentals of the faith to spiritual maturity.

The author’s concern is with the apparent slowness of his audience to catch on, describing them as children who need milk instead of meat, “…for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child” (5:13). The challenge is to “…leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” (6:1) marked by an ability to wrestle with good and evil and choose the good.

It is in the application of truth that we discover just how much of what we have come to believe is actually rooted in our hearts and not just recorded in our minds. Discernment, the ability to di…

Comparing Ants to Elephants

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The trouble with Hebrews—though “trouble” is perhaps not the right word—is that each chapter is so rich in material that it is difficult to choose what to focus on, and impossible in a blog post to cover it all! To extract just a little piece seems tantamount to desecration. So I urge you to become a student of the Word yourself and read the rest of the chapter so that you can feel the richness of the teaching. The tendency today is for people to look for a word FROM God rather than learn from what He has already given—the Word OF God. There is no further revelation other than what the Scriptures give us. Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations.

Hebrews 2:8b, 9 (ESV) says: “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of…

The Hand at the Wheel

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Did you know that there are 100 kinds of crabgrass, or that there are somewhere between 2000 and 3000 different kinds of jellyfish? How about 12000 known kinds of ants or 3500 kinds of mosquitoes? It’s pretty common knowledge that every snowflake that falls is different in design from every other snowflake. When you are talking about the amount of snow that falls yearly in my part of the world, you are talking a LOT of snowflakes!

For most of us this is what trivia is made up of—lengthy lists of information that really doesn’t make a huge impact on our lives—except, of course, for those of us who are anticipating another winter of snow.

I googled all this “trivia” for a reason. One of the studies I lead is based in the book of Genesis and we spent our last session talking about the creative genius of God. As I was moving from one book to another in my own devotional time, I decided to read Hebrews and sure enough, the  first chapter is yet another reminder of that genius, this time f…

It's LOVE!

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John Piper, writing about the great preacher Jonathan Edwards, said this: “…our people need to hear God-entranced preaching. God himself needs to be the subject matter of our preaching, in his majesty and holiness and righteousness and faithfulness and sovereignty and grace. And by that I don’t mean we shouldn’t preach about the nitty-gritty practical things like parenthood, and divorce, and AIDS and gluttony and television and sex. We should indeed! What I mean is that every one of those things should be swept right up into the holy presence of God and laid bare to the roots of its Godwardness or godlessness. What our people need is not nice little moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world. They need to see that everything, absolutely everything—from garage sales and garbage recycling to death and demons—have to do with God in all his infinite greatness. Most of our people have no one, no one in the world to placard the majesty of God for them. Therefore m…

Is Anyone Listening?

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I recently had a conversation with a friend whose nephew is dying. As the family waits for what seems to be inevitable, they pray. My friend’s brother, father to the man who is so ill, is struggling with why God isn’t answering his prayers. I imagine that he is praying that his son will be healed—such a prayer would be natural. No father expects to bury his son. He’s been a believer for a long time. He understands that God always heals, but not always in the way that we would like Him to heal. But he still wants his son, alive and well—who can blame him?

That conversation came to mind when I read Psalm 94 this morning. Many of us have times when we wonder if God is even aware of our struggles, if He is listening to our prayers. The psalmist reminds us: “Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?” (Psalm 94:9, 10)

The psalmist is dealing with one of those questions: Is Go…

Almighty

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The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty
” Psalm 93:3, 4.

As I read Psalm 93 this morning, Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park, Alberta, came to mind. We were a long way from the sea when we visited the falls in June, but the roar of the water as it plunged over the falls into the gorge was awe-inspiring. It was yet another reminder of just how puny we human beings are. We can run, lift weights, bulk up, jump hurdles, wrestle steers, climb mountains, swim lakes, but we are still puny creatures when compared to the strength of water that cuts through sold rock, sweeping everything before it and drowning out any voice. There is no sound system as powerful as God’s!

There is a bench at the end of the walkway that you can see in the photo. On the back of the bench is a plaque ded…

Small Steps, Single Drops and Little Foxes

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But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me, so I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.”

So writes Asaph in Psalm 81 as he looks back at the history of God’s people and recounts how the Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt and set them above all other nations as His chosen. Asaph only mentions one command, one warning, given to Israel. The people were not to worship any other gods (vs 9). If they obeyed this command they would be protected and provided for (vss 10, 13-16). In fact, obeying this one would ensure that all the rest of God's instructions would be kept as well. Unhappily for Israel they chose not to obey the command. That disobedience cost them a great deal.

But the verse from the psalms is reminiscent of something Paul repeats several times in the beginning of his letter to the Roman church. He describes the wickedness of men who reject God in Romans 1. Three times he writes: “…God gave them over…” He let the…

All God's Children

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When I was in my early teens the grandmother of a good friend told me that it would have been better if I had never been born. She explained her opinion by saying that my birth had been too hard on my mother. Since I came so fast that I was almost born in a taxicab, I knew that the actual birth wasn't the issue. And I wasn't a bad kid. So I assume that raising a baby when you are past forty was what she was referring to.

It's all, as they say, "water under the bridge." But I guess the recent discussion about post-birth abortions ("infanticide" to most of us) was what got me thinking about that long ago incident with my friend's grandmother. The "logic" to post-birth abortions is that if a baby is deemed to present a hardship to the family, its death is therefore justifiable. I'm sure glad my mother and father didn't consider me a hardship, and therefore disposable, because I came late in their lives!

Sadly, recent news about th…

O, My Heart!

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Few of us would know what it feels like to be pursued by someone intent upon wiping us off the face of the earth. David knew the feeling. Early, in the days before he became king over Israel, Saul chased him around the countryside with a vigor and determination that would have been more appropriate if applied to his dedication to the Lord. Saul came close to meeting his goal on several occasions, only to be thwarted by God. David was protected from Saul’s fierce anger.

But most of us know what it means to be pursued by other enemies besides the physical ones. Sometimes those enemies even live inside us. The popular saying, “Follow your heart” is the subject of Jeremiah’s words: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (17:9). We can’t even trust our own hearts to not lead us into trouble. Doing what “feels good” isn’t necessarily what IS good. David would write, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me” (Psalm 51:1…

The Crosswalks of Uncertainty

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A friend was driving me home yesterday after we had gone out for lunch. As we waited for the light to change, an SUV, ignoring the red light, raced through the intersection, just missing a child who was crossing the street. The driver did not even slow down. The incident reminded me of the times I have come close to being struck at the same intersection by drivers watching oncoming traffic but not paying any attention to the pedestrians using the crosswalk.

With yesterday’s incident fresh in my mind, this verse from Psalm 54 was especially meaningful this morning: “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (54:4).

I have a neighbour who often responds to my greeting: “How are you?” by saying, “Well, I got out of bed this morning.” And most of us have heard the old chestnut: “I checked the obituaries in the paper this morning and my name wasn’t there so I guess I’m okay.” As we age we seem to spend more and more time looking over our shoulders wondering when death i…

An Attitude of Gratitude

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There were several things that stood out as I read Psalm 50 this morning. But three verses in particular reminded me of a weakness in my life that needs constant nourishing.

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (50:14, 15).

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (50:23).

We naturally focus on the promises. Deliverance in the midst of trouble and salvation are good things which we can anticipate receiving from God. His deliverance of us brings Him glory. How He provides for us is a jumping-off point in our witness to others. When people hear from us what God has done in our lives He is glorified.

But there are two other items mentioned that glorify God: 1. lives that are lived to honour Him and, 2. thankful hearts. The first is covered by the phrases “perform your v…

Taking Pleasure

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It’s a verse that most of us know by heart. We’ve repeated it over and over, claiming its promise for everything imaginable.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). To delight is to take pleasure in, or to be pleased with; in this case to take pleasure in the Lord or to be pleased with the Lord.

I can think of a lot of things that would qualify as “the desires of my heart.” And I am sure that over the years I have claimed all kinds of things based on this verse. But this morning, after I had read through the chapter several times and stopped to think about some of the other verses, I returned to verse 4 again. In fact, I returned to it several times. I made this note beside the verse:

The relationship between the believer and the Lord is what ultimately leads to the desires of the heart being fulfilled. And what desire is better than an intimate relationship with the Lord?

The eternal circle. Finding my pleasure in an intimate relati…

The Four Corners

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North, south, east and west—the four “corners” of the world. Those of generations long since past believed that the earth was flat. If you traveled far enough in any direction you were bound to fall off the edge. We know better now. The corners are curves and they intersect somewhere, creating a never-ending connection, a circle of life and history.

Psalm 36 reminded me of God’s never-ending circle and the wonderful fact that He has all the “corners” covered.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD” (vss 5, 6).

Love

Faithfulness

Righteousness

Judgment


It’s all there—the complete package, all inclusive.

Other parts of the psalm describe these elements, as essential to our spiritual well-being as the classical elements are to our physical well-being, a needful as earth, fire, water, and air.

How precious is your steadfast lo…

God Keep Our Land

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Just a couple of days ago Canada, my home country, celebrated its 148th birthday. Tomorrow our neighbours to the south will celebrate their Independence Day. So I thought it was interesting that my reading this morning should take me to Psalm 33:12, which says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.” Of course the psalmist was referring to Israel as God’s covenant people, but both Canada and the US were founded on Christian principles and continue to EXPECT divine favour as privileged first-world nations.

How quickly we forget the fate of an Israel that abandoned her God.

Over forty years ago, Francis Schaeffer wrote a little book called Death in the City. Even back then he preached the message that his beloved Europe was under the judgment of God for having abandoned Him. He gave the lectures upon which the book was based while on tour in the US. and applied the statements he made about Europe to North America.

Our drift away from…

A Lifetime Full of Favour

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How many times have I quoted Psalm 30:5b to myself or to someone else? “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” writes the psalmist. Sometimes those nights seem excruciatingly long, to the point of never-ending. We like to say that mornings come early, but oftentimes they don’t come soon enough.

But this morning, my mind was engaged by the first part of the verse—the one I never quote!

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” The alternate reading for the last part of the phrase is “…and his favor is life” but I’m going to go with what the English Standard Version considers the best of the two options.

I was interested in what other passages of Scripture had to say about God’s “anger.” The results of my foray into other verses was, oddly enough, encouraging. Psalm 103:8-14 is a beautiful reminder that while sin brings consequences it also invites grace. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast …

Voice Over The Waters

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I stood on the landing outside of the sanctuary of my church yesterday. There was a lull in the traffic and no one for me to greet. I glanced at the space over the entrance and read the words from Psalm 29:2 written on a banner that has been hanging there since the 1960s.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

This morning my reading was from Psalm 29. I was reminded of the banner but I was also reminded of something else as I read the psalm. Last week I traveled with friends to Alberta, Canada. We spent a wonderful week exploring the beauties of the parks of Jasper and Banff. One of the places we stopped was Athabasca Falls. Psalm 29:3-5 reminded me of those mighty waters, their breathtaking power and beauty.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.”

The …

Bring On the Wave

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Last night I finished reading a novel by William Forstchen called, One Second After. While it is a novel, it was written to highlight what might happen if an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) wave hit, in this case, the continental United States. Apparently this is a real threat, according to Newt Gingrich, speaker of the house, who wrote the forward and navy captain, Bill Sanders, who wrote the afterword. The book describes what happened to a small town after the pulse weapon was activated, when nothing electronic would work. Neighbours became enemies in the fight for survival and strangers became friends to stand together for the common good. The true nature of man, however noble he may see himself when times are relatively good, appeared in odd bursts of intertwined sacrifice and selfishness.

Oddly enough the book triggered emotions in me that had nothing to do with EMP waves or any of the events and actions described in its pages. I cried buckets for lost causes, lost dreams, lost peo…

Majestic Earth

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O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)

It’s hard to tell this dull, foggy, rainy morning, but yes, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (8:3, 4)

Cats make themselves seem twice their size when faced with an enemy. There are fish that do the same thing. Apes beat their chests and roar. Be impressed, they say. Be warned, they imply.

And then we get to man who doesn’t need an enemy to puff him up—it just seems to happen naturally. We like being “larger than life,” to impress, to be that “big frog” in our little ponds.

The psalmist kind of puts us in our places here. In the light of God’s creation, we are pretty insignificant. In the light of the majesty of God Himself, we don’t even appear on the radar.

And yet, in awe, the psalmist proclaims that despite this, God is “mindful” of us and cares for us.…

Dropping the Burden

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I am coming to the end of reading through the Gospels. Though I have read through them countless times, it amazes me that there are always truths that jump off the pages of Scripture that say things they have never said before. That’s the beauty of the Word of God—always fresh and always relevant.

This morning I was reading the account of Jesus’ walk to the hill. The soldiers had beaten the Lord, mocked Him, made him a crown of thorns which they rammed onto His head. Then they gave Him the length of wood that they would use to crucify Him and herded Him through the streets toward Golgotha. Already weakened by the abuse He had suffered, He stumbled and fell.

No doubt the soldiers had a schedule to keep and despite the fun they might have been having by tormenting Jesus, they needed to get the job done. So they recruited someone to help Jesus carry the wood. His name was Simon. “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the c…

Real Kingdom Business

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He’d said it several times while He walked the dusty roads of Palestine. The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom, He told them. But somehow it’s really hard to wrap our minds around anything other than the “here-and-now.” It’s just so, well, immediate.

In John 18, Jesus is standing before Pilate. The Roman governor assumes (thinking in the immediate like everyone else) that he holds in his hands the power of life or death over this rustic Rabbi from the backwater town of Nazareth. How can this man be a threat to Rome? The Jewish authorities want Him killed. Their inability to pronounce a death sentence over Him had them grinding their teeth and tearing out their beards. So they twist the charges a little to make it seem like this Jesus is looking to overthrow the Romans and make Himself king.

Mind you, since the beginning of the Lord’s ministry there were lots of people who embraced Him because they thought that when He spoke of “kingdom,” overthrowing the Romans was exactly what…