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Showing posts from April, 2015

Leaves

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Only the title would come to mind this morning. When I googled it, at least two songs appeared, one by Lucy J. Akerman, written in 1858 and the other by William J. Henry, written around 1911. Lucy Akerman’s song was a favourite at the early Moody and Sankey evangelistic meetings and is included in the old hymnbook some are familiar with, Sacred Songs and Solos.

Nothing but leaves! The Spirit grieves
O’er years of wasted life;
O’er sins indulged while conscience slept,
O’er vows and promises unkept,
And reap, from years of strife—
Nothing but leaves!
Nothing but leaves!

Nothing but leaves! No gathered sheaves
Of life’s fair rip’ning grain:
We sow our seeds; lo! tares and weeds,
Words, idle words, for earnest deeds—
Then reap, with toil and pain,
Nothing but leaves!
Nothing but leaves!

Nothing but leaves! Sad mem’ry weaves
No veil to hide the past;
And as we trace our weary way,
And count each lost and misspent day,
We sadly find at last—
Nothing but leaves!
Nothing but leaves!

Ah, who shall thus the Master…

Got a Hole In Your Soul?

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It came up in a discussion about parables. Jesus often used parables in His teaching and His disciples asked him why He used stories to teach spiritual truth when His audience often didn’t get the point of the illustration. Many times Jesus would have to explain to His disciples, in private, the meaning of the parable. It’s a question that others have asked since those years when the Lord walked and talked among the people of Israel. Many commentators express the opinion that the use of a story to illustrate a truth was meant to accomplish several things, one of which was to weed out those who were serious seekers of truth from those who were merely curious. In other words, if you really want to know what the story is all about, you’ll make an effort to find out!

In Luke 19:1-10 we meet a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were generally considered to be pretty near to the scum of the earth in ancient Palestine. They worked for the much hated Roman establishment an…

A Heaven to Gain and a Hell to Shun

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In his book Unchristian, researcher David Kinnaman writes: “…even among people who believe they are personally being saved by faith in Jesus, they think of salvation’s a multiple-choice test, with many reasonable possibilities: while they believe their own spiritual destiny is secure through faith in Christ, they also believe that other could be saved through being a good person or because of God’s benevolence.” (page 50). Kinnaman was referring to what the majority of the Buster (born between 1965 and 1983) and Mosaic (born between 1984 and 2002) generations believe.

The truth of his statement is constantly reinforced in conversations I have had with people who have lost friends or relatives who, to anyone’s knowledge, were not believers. They speak of their loved ones in heaven, in a better place, with the angels (or one of the angels), and other similar expressions. Even evangelical ministers have, in recent years, declared that hell doesn’t exist and that everyone will be saved. I…

It's A Process

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“It’s a process.”

We use the “process” card to explain our struggles to overcome habits, or roadblocks, that hamper progress in our journey of faith.  But why do I sometimes get the feeling that a statement like that is simply an excuse? It may be a process, but if I look closely enough (heaven forbid) I might not be so surprised to learn that it isn’t even one I’ve started.

The reality is that the journey IS a process, but it pays to take a closer, more honest look at ourselves and determine whether or not we are actually engaged in that process.

I took note of one author’s definition of “hypocrisy” that other day. We often say that hypocrisy is saying one thing but doing something else. This particular author went a bit further by stating that hypocrisy is saying one thing but believing something else. I chewed on that for a while and came to the conclusion that it is easy to play the “process” card. I can quote Paul and say, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do …

Not Home Yet

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This becomes almost a follow-up to Monday’s post in which I expressed my hope that a long-time servant of the Lord would be well-treated when she retires from her overseas assignment.

In Luke 17 we get a glimpse of how a servant should feel about the whole matter of recompense for that service. It is one thing to be rewarded for faithfulness and another thing to expect to be rewarded for faithfulness.

Jesus told the following parable to His disciples:

Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you, also when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10).

I remember quoting these…

What God Values

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One of the missionaries our church supports is retiring after more than 40 years of service in Africa.

I suspect that there is nothing “sweet” for her about an experience that many might call “bitter-sweet.” She has invested her life into a people and a country that has become more home to her than the country into which she was born.

The last time she was back in Canada on Home Assignment we talked about this eventuality. I could relate because I had done what she is now doing. But for me it was easier. I had had longer periods here in Canada even while serving overseas. That provided me with the chance to adjust to being “here” rather than “there.” She has had little opportunity in her 40 years to do that. Basically she is returning to a “foreign” country.

And it is “foreign.” It is not the same place, these are not the same people, this is not the same church, she left behind 40 years ago.

I sent her an email this morning that I hope will be an encouragement to her in these days of p…

The Carpenter's Cloth

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I  just spent part of this afternoon reading A Carpenter's Cloth by Sigmund Brouwer. It chronicles the last week of Jesus' life before His death and resurrection. The following is Brouwer's last entry. Last Thursday friends and I were talking about why the linen in Jesus' tomb was folded. Brouwer has an explanation that I love! Here it is.

During Jesus' timethere was one way a carpenter let the contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.

Imaginea hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final—and welcome—drink of cool water from a leather bag.

Then, standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before the journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.

Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in …

The Strong Arms of Jesus

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There is a kind of “love/hate” relationship between us and the future. We want to know and yet we fear to know. If there are happy things out there beyond today, that’s all good. If the future is not so happy, well, perhaps by knowing now we can somehow be better prepared when our future becomes our present. On the other hand, part of us is reluctant to add to tomorrow’s burdens to those of today, though we often do it anyway.

The Lord knew. The future was no surprise to Him. And while the burden of knowing didn’t cause Him anxiety, it did cause Him pain. In Luke 13:34, 35 we find recorded these words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who would kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

We know what Jesus was re…