Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pray With Thanksgiving In Your Heart

Have you ever wondered about verses like:
1st Thessalonians 5:18 - Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I used to think that giving thanks in all circumstances and praying with thanksgiving meant that we were to conjure up an attitude of thankfulness, in our lives generally, and when praying specifically. I theoretically knew that God was good and so, in a spirit of propriety, I was to give thanks for that goodness. I suppose that might be part of what it means. However, what those verses really mean only became apparent to me as I got to know my Lord in a deeply personal way.

My journey as a Christian began almost as a relationship with a concept. At the time I thought that I believed in Jesus but in hindsight, and in comparison to now, I’m not so sure.

Eventually, through reading His Word and experiencing the reality of God more and more, my relationship become one of me and God, the real God, Creator God.
Of course, anyone who spends time with God, who responds to God's invitation for forgiveness, comes to see and experience His goodness and His faithfulness. So our relationship became one whereby I understood Him as my Father, my Heavenly Father, my loving Father. He was no longer just this omnipotent being. He was also someone who was closer than anyone else I knew. He was protecting, watchful, caring, observing, minding, enjoying and participating in my growth just as I enjoy watching my own children grow.

Finally, where I am today, I know Creator God as Daddy. I know that He loves me deeply. I can see that He fulfills my deepest longings and desires. He has healed my soul, and I know beyond any doubt that He not only hears my prayers but He answers my prayers because, knowing Him as well as I do, I am able to pray in His will. I want what He wants. What He despises I despise. What He enjoys I enjoy. What He longs for in my life and in the lives of others is what I long for as well.

That is where true thankfulness comes in. When I ask Him to lead my children into a deeper relationship with Jesus, I can respond verbally with thanksgiving right at that very moment because I know that He will do that. That is something that God will carry out to completion. When I ask God to bring Wendy and I closer together, I can say thank you right after the request because I know that He has done it, He is doing it and He will continue to do it. Praying with thanksgiving becomes a natural part of one’s prayer-life when one gets to know how God comforts, encourages, counsels and protects His children. God is in reality, warm, loving, compassionate; He’s slow to anger and abounding in love and grace and mercy. God’s children, those of us who belong to the family of God, those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour will never experience any hint of God’s wrath which is going to be poured out against those who hate Him.

Praise be to the Creator of all that is seen and unseen!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What's Jesus Done For Me?

In my profile I state that we have seven adopted children. What I don’t say is that we have a daughter who is 30-years-old and a son who is 27-years-old. The next ones in line are two 6-year-olds, two 5-year-olds and one 3-year-old. Before we adopted the little ones, we were free. I was able to retire at age 51 with enough money for us to do what we wanted, go where we wanted, buy what we wanted - all within reason mind you, but still, we were free.

Years earlier in our marriage we had been foster parents. We got out of it for a bit and after retiring we thought, ‘eh, why not.’ It was time to give something back again. After all, fostering isn’t a forever commitment. So there we were, one cold February day. Just one day after we’d returned from a Mexican holiday, Social Services called to say they had a 2-month-old boy for us. "This will only be for a few weeks," they said, "a couple months at most." A year later we added his little sister who was 2-days-old. Again, we were told that they would only be with us for a little while as DSS worked at “rehabilitating” the parents so that these two kids, and 6 other siblings could be returned to the family.

Four years later the children were permanently apprehended and they became eligible for adoption. Guess what? Kids who are 4 and 3 years old don’t have many people eager to take them into their homes. At any age, adoption is a long, long commitment. And I don’t mean just the kid’s age.

You might be thinking, 'What heartless people! Didn't they love the kids?' Of course we'd grown to love them, but love is not impractical. My wife and I were now in our mid fifties. What child deserves parents who are in a nursing home by the time they graduate from high-school (a bit of an exaggeration but not by much)? And yet, we were the only parents these kids had ever known. They loved us. They trusted us. Besides, the only other parents who were willing to adopt were also in their fifties. If your going to live with old parents, surely it’s better to be with ones that you already know. So we applied.

To say that I was so torn between what I knew that I should do and what I wanted to do would be an understatement. Rather than going on and on, I’ll get right to the point of this blog. I was sitting out in the backyard, grumbling away to myself. I am so very selfish. I knew that this would be a commitment that would carry on literally until the day I died. So I prayed, “Father, my attitude stinks. How can I possibly do a good job of this when I want just the opposite? The children deserve so much better than what I’ll be able to give.”

In the blink of an eye, my attitude was changed. In an instant, I was taken from hating something to looking forward to it happening. In a jolt that actually jerked my head backward, Jesus changed me from a self-obsessed, narcissistic, self-centred fool, into someone who was and is able to love these children more than I love myself. While it's at times an overwhelming task, I love spending my retirement raising and nurturing these chidlren. Naturally our friends who are our age are off doing what I thought would give us the most fun in retirement. Now, I can see that we are the one who have been blessed beyond imagination.

Jesus is real. Jesus is alive. Jesus is in the business of saving souls and changing lives. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rambling Thoughts

I find it interesting how we all go around and around trying to not just figure out the meaning of our existence. We go beyond that and try to prove that the conclusion that we have reached so far is the correct conclusion. Non religious people point to all the different religions and say that they can’t all be right. Religious people point to the non religious and say they can’t be right Both sides talk about how much blood the other side has shed. And nothing gets resolved.

Most people in both the religious and non religious groups espouse their vision of the “truth.” There is even a group of people who hold to the truth that there is no truth. Sooner or later each group uses the Jain parable of the blind men and the elephant to describe those of other beliefs.

From this parable, two facts become glaringly clear. Everyone is blind. At the very least, none of us see clearly enough to have enough evidence to be able say with perfect accuracy, “This is exactly what we’re dealing with.” The other fact is that we need someone who can see the whole elephant. Christians say that person is Jesus. Atheists and the irreligious tell us that role belongs solely to them.

This is the human dilemma. For those interested in the spiritual aspect, a further dilemma is that we can’t find God on our own. He must reveal himself to us. Christians believe that God has done exactly this, and that He’s done it in three main areas. First is Creation, Second is the Bible, and Third of course is in the person of Jesus the Christ.

At the core of this revelation is that all of us, from the worst individuals to the most righteous individuals, are deeply flawed. The evidence that this is accurate is played out for us daily on the news, in our place of work, in our personal relationships and even in the deception we use when interacting with ourselves. As the saying goes, “The reason we can’t communicate effectively with others is because our own lives are so full of contradictions, we can’t even communicate with ourselves.” We need help!

Again, the religious person believes that help must come from something or someone that is stronger than ourselves. Declared atheists (those who submit that God does not exist), and functional atheists (those who live as though God doesn't exist) believe that there isn’t any help beyond ourselves. The behaviours of both groups prove beyond any doubt that we as a species are in deep, deep trouble and fighting against each other probably isn’t going to move us toward solving the problem.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In Other News

While enjoying the satisfaction of a decisive first game victory in the World Series of Baseball, Terry Francona, coach of the Boston Red Sox had a short but stern meeting with his players after the game. The meeting was called after it was revealed that not only his infield but also his outfield players took with them to their defensive positions, items not usually identified as being related to playing the game of baseball. Among the items confiscated were 2 pocket novels, 3 toe nail clippers, 1 Fleet Enema, 1 container of eye liner ?, and 1 palm-size Xbox football game, that Ortiz claims to have gotten in his box of Frosted Flakes that very morning.

Claiming extreme boredom when playing behind Josh Beckett, the players begged Francona to let them bring something to do when playing defence while Josh was on the mound. Refusing to bow to pressure, Francona instead said that from now on, whenever Beckett was pitching, he would personally check the player’s pockets before going to the dugout. Francona then told Dustin Pedroia to leave his pet turtle in Francona’s desk until after the series was over.

Peace On Earth

Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men . . .

I know that Christmas is a way off. But I was thinking this morning of God's promise, a promise of significant importance - Peace on earth.

I sometimes hear a complaint that goes like this. ‘Ya, some promise - “Peace on earth,” like that’s ever going to happen.”

The mistake of course is, God didn't just say Peace on earth to all people. Anti theists love to take just parts of a verse and then rage against the corrupted meaning.

The verse in question is from Luke 2:14 It says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests." An easier phrase to understand would be, “Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”

That, my friend is a promise that God keeps in abundance. Each morning I am able to awaken in the knowledge that God approves of me. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I have the freedom to have wonderful, deep and abiding peace. I have the freedom to have peace in the thick of adversity, peace in the midst of conflict, peace in the face of opposition, peace beneath the weight of every burden. I have the freedom to lie down and sleep in peace knowing that the Creator of the Universe provides for my safety.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I’m on your side

I’ve spoken a lot about how I was run to ground by Jesus’ persistent and unfailing Love. This was a Love that I’d tried to ignore. It was a Love that I’d tried to believe that I didn’t need. It was a Love that irritated me to no end. Fortunately for me God’s Spirit never quits. Slowly, forcefully I came to see not only that I needed forgiveness for my very nature, my sinful and rebellious self, I came to see that Jesus was not my enemy. He was my friend. He was on my side.

True enough, I’d unawares declared myself to be God’s enemy but He’d have none of it. His willingness, no more than that, His desire to forgive my sins shows His Love to be genuine. By forgiving us, God placed Himself on the same side as we who had done wrong to Him. Jesus became our advocate. Unlike the love and forgiveness that we sometimes encounter in the world, a love and a forgiveness that is incomplete at best, a love that always contains a large measure of self-interest, we can trust the Love of Someone who is willing to be tortured to death in our place.

Why does God do this? Why does He forgive those who kill Him and betray Him and desert Him. Why did God take the most lowly position possible and wash the feet of the “friend” who was about to betray Him. He did it because He can do no other. God is Love. God is on our side. He has done and will do everything possible to bring us safely home. The only thing that can stop His efforts to bring us home is our refusal come home. The only thing that can prevent God from carrying out His plan of salvation in our life is our prideful declaration that we don’t need or want His salvation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Isn’t this just like an environmentalist?

Well, they’re at it again. Environmentalists are rolling out the wacky excuses for inexcusable behaviours again. Apparently a bunch of alcoholic elephants in India died yesterday. News reports state that the elephants were drunk - AGAIN - and while goofing around they pulled up a power pole and electrocuted themselves.

And what do the environmentalists say about it? You guessed it. It wasn’t that the elephants were partying until all hours of the night. Noooooo. It wasn’t that these gangsta elephants thumb their noses at community standards. Noooo. It’s because the elephants are losing their environment to human settlements. The poor babies. Ya right!

If that was the case then all the elephants would be in town getting drunk on Saturday night. But they aren’t are they? The good elephants, the ones with jobs and the ones from good families are back home eating grass and knocking over trees and taking care of their kids. Isn’t it time we quit making excuses for those elephants who refuse to pull their weight? Isn’t it time we say, “Enough already." If these elephants won’t take responsibility for their actions, if these elephants won’t get their fat ass into rehab then, well, then, let’em be electrocuted. Good riddance I say.

I am NOT easy to figure out!

It always cracks me up when I hear people say something like, “The reason that satan can trick us so easily, or the reason that it seems like satan can read our minds is because he’s had thousands and thousands of years to study human beings.” Puleeze. Isn’t that so like human nature to believe that, ‘Nobody gets one over on this boy. No sireee. I’m a clever dude. I’m no fool.’

Well, not unless you consider that comment to be evidence of foolish thinking. Ask yourself this. Just how many thousands of years do you imagine that it took before satan was able to trick Adam and Eve? What was that? Oh. Well, how many days then? Hummm? How many hours? Right. All it takes to fool humans into disobeying God is one thought and one thought only. And that thought is, ‘I can’t trust God to meet this need or longing so I have to meet it myself.’

Bingo. Done. Case closed. That’s all it takes. One thought. One sideways glance at our options and we’re gone. The pride, arrogance and self-love that was the cause of satan’s fall are exactly the same tools that he used to cause our fall from grace and it didn’t take him more than a second to figure us out. Corrupted self-love is what caused sin to enter Adam and Eve and it’s what has tripped up every person ever since. It’s our pride that causes us to think that satan has to stake us out, watch us carefully, study us and watch for his chance to strike. Well, forget it. You know from your own life that he can use the same tactic over and over and over for all our years on earth, and without a close relationship with Jesus, we NEVER catch on. Sad, but true

Monday, October 22, 2007


By Jonathan Edwards

“Although most human beings give the appearance at times of being confused seekers for truth with a naive respect for God, the reality is that unless they are moved by the Spirit they have a natural distaste for God, an uncontrollable desire to break His laws and a constant tendency to sit in judgment on Him when they notice Him at all. Since His purposes cross theirs at every juncture, they really hate Him more than any finite object, and this is clearly displayed in their treatment of His Son. They are largely unconscious of this enmity. It is usually repressed through their unbelief, their creation of agreeable false portraits of God, their sense of His distance from us, their fear of punishment or their lack of awareness of the magnitude of their guilt.”

This is how most people live. This is how most people want to live. People in effect say to God, “Leave me alone and I’ll leave You alone.” This, they call contentment.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

So What's In It For Me?

Before we become Christians the very thought of loving God or committing our lives to God seems like a idea that should be cause for our committal to a mental institution. How on earth could God (one who we are still a long way from thinking of in terms of being a loving God) do anything positive in my life? Why would I chose a way of life that is sure to drain my life of fun and shackle me to the walls of boredom?

Well, I know that before we get to know God in a personal way, His ‘rules’ do seem constraining. Before we’ve taken the time to consider the possibility of His nature being one of Love, all we can focus on is the side of His personality that deals with Justice. Before we are freed from the power of sin, we simply can’t see that the do’s and don’ts of following Jesus actually bring freedom (see my 2006 post ‘Freedom - Glorious Freedom).

Anyhow, to make a long post shorter, here is some of what’s in it for anyone who allows Jesus to become Lord, Savior and Master of h/his life.

. Confidence - Once I got to know Jesus, once I realized that I really could trust Him in every single circumstance, once I became convinced that He really is alive, insecurity pretty much became a thing of the past. There is a line in the Bible that reminds followers of Jesus, that we don’t need to “fear what they [nonbelievers] fear.” And that is true. For those ‘things’ don’t hold the same consequences for believers as for others. Another line talks about “a thousand may fall at your left hand, ten thousand fall at your right,” and Jesus just walks me right down the middle without a hair on my head being mussed up. That doesn’t mean that nothing difficult happens in my life. It means that my emotional stability is maintained, my spiritual status remains quo.

. Incomprehensible Love - I’m not sure how to describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced God’s love. It’s a presence, a filling up, a warmth, a security, a comfort, a knowledge of ok-ness, a certainty of acceptance, a peace, a Love that is totally other, a love that nothing and no one in this world can replicate.

. Joy - The love that comes from being part of God’s family has created in me a joy that changes my outlook upon every aspect of life. This isn’t a joy that is dependent on circumstance. In fact, it’s a joy that seems suited for the very circumstances that in pre Christian days would have made the experience of joy impossible. Most people spend so much time trying to squirm out of their troubles that they miss any type of learning that is made possible by fully experiencing the trouble. With Jesus in one’s being, troubles seem to take on a whole new dimension. While becoming a Christian doesn’t remove troubles from one’s life, the presence of Jesus virtually removes the negative emotional impact of the troubles. That doesn’t mean that Christians don’t grieve. It means, as the Bible says, “that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.” It means that while life can hurt us, it can no longer destroy us. And the knowledge of that, my friend, produces in a person a deep and abiding joy.

. Peace - Some have said that religion is the opiate of the people. It makes people so dull of mind and so insensible to tragedy that they mindlessly put up with whatever tragedy befalls them. Well, people who say things like that, do so out of complete and utter ignorance. I know the effects of opiates intimately and the calmness that Christians experience can in no way be compared with the dullness of mind that opiates and narcotics cause. Opiates cause people to not care. Jesus causes people to care intensely. Opiates bring anger and irritation. Jesus brings peace. Opiates bring a longing for death. Jesus brings a longing for life.

Similar to joy and confidence and God’s amazing Love is the peace that comes from knowing that the Creator of the Universe is kind and gentle and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in Love. I sometimes require of my children a duty or task that they may not like. I know, while they may not know, that I’m doing it in order to train them for ‘real life.’ When my children are old enough, they will finally realize that there was purpose to what I was asking of them. So too with those of us who have come to know God well enough to trust Him, to trust His wisdom and grace. I experience peace because I have come to trust that there isn’t anything that this life can throw at me that God can and does turn into amazing personal growth, strength and faith. This growth is not something that I need to strive for. It is given to me as a gift. I receive it effortlessly almost as an out-of-body experience. There is no grasping and working for personal change. Instead, I observe from a distance God granting me inner change. This change is simply a natural part of my growing relationship with my kind and gentle heavenly Father.

So what’s in it for me? Everything that I always wanted in life is mine through a healed and forgiven relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am truly a lucky man.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Something that God won’t do is forgive someone who rejects His forgiveness. But O what an amazing thing it is to see how instantly God forgives those who want it. In describing what God is like, Jesus told the story of a son who grabbed his inheritance and squandered it on dubious living. Destitute and alone, this son came back home to the only real love that he’d ever known. Upon seeing his dad, the son said, “Father, I have sinned!” That’s all the son had to say and the Father, who had been longing, watching and waiting for His child to come home, welcomed His boy with open arms. All was forgiven. That is how it is with God.

Now some might say that if God really loved us, then He’d forgive us regardless of whether we reject Him or not. This type of thinking simply fails to follow the logical steps of reality. Logic dictates this simple fact. If we don’t come home, them we can’t be at home. If we don’t pick up the glass of water, then we can't drink from that glass of water. If we don’t pull our hand out of the fire then we can’t stop the fire from burning our hand. If we refuse to receive God’s offer of forgiveness then we can’t receive God’s offer of forgiveness. It’s not difficult for those willing to use their intellect.

Reality is, God forgives those who want His forgiveness.

Another example is what happened to some of the people who killed Jesus. A man named Peter, one of Jesus’ followers was talking to a large crowd of people who were still practically soaked in Jesus’ blood. Yet Peter declared to them, what he had learned from Jesus Himself, “Everyone of you who calls on the name of Jesus for forgiveness will be forgiven.” Three thousand people became Christians that day.

It’s was the same for one of the criminals who hung on a cross next to Jesus. He had done nothing in his life to try to make amends for the crimes that he had committed. Yet the moment that he asked for forgiveness, Jesus forgave him and said to him, “Today you will be in Paradise with Me.” Only an hour or so from death, this man was at the gates of hell. Hell was where he deserved to be. Yet, at the moment of repentance, God’s love swept aside his past and welcomed him safely home.

It is the same with you and me. No matter what we have done, No matter what we’re like, No matter how grievous our crimes, Jesus is willing to forgive us and begin a new relationship with us. Jesus himself paid the price of our sins, He bore the cost, He suffered the penalty, justice had been served at the cost of His life.

If Jesus was willing to die for you, so that you could be forgiven, don't you think it's a little silly to then think that He'd refuse your request for forgiveness? All we have to do is accept the forgiveness that Jesus is offering. It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Monday, October 15, 2007

True Story - "My sister only responds to love."

A mother, her nine-year-old daughter and her three-year-old daughter were in the grocery store. The mother went around the corner of the isle and left her girls to follow after. The mother was not all that concerned as the girls usually followed along shortly. This time however, the older girl began to look at something or other and the younger girl, who happened to have Down’s Syndrom started taking some jars of pickles off the shelf. An employee saw the girls and in a rather sharp tone told the younger girl to put the jars back. The little girl crumpled to the floor in a flood of tears. Her older sister, who saw and heard what happened, went over to her little sister and whispered something in her ear. The little girl immediately picked up the jars and returned them to where they belonged. Then, turning to the somewhat flustered employee, the nine-year-old said, “My sister only responds to love.”

This isn’t just a cool story. And it doesn’t just describe that little girl. It describes all of us, doesn’t it? We all respond to love. We all long to be loved. We all, every single one us crave love.

That is why those of us who have become Christians have responded to the call of Jesus. The Bible explains it this way, “We love Jesus because He first loved us.” It's as though one day, as we turned a corner of life, we ran smack into a wall of Love; a wall that we couldn’t walk around or climb over. We could either accept the wall of Jesus’ Love, or reject that Love and walk the other way. Whatever we chose we could no longer continue on in ignorance of something wonderful.

Yet who of us, when we recognise genuine love walk away from something like that? We might not trust it. We might not believe that it’s for us. We might not even think that we’d be better enjoying THAT particular love. But we all search for genuine love.

The fact is, Jesus loves you. He proved it by dying for you. He longs to heal you and to hold you and to bring you safely home. He hates the sin that is destroying your life. He hates it so much that some day He is going to eliminate sin from existence. Jesus says, “I take no joy in the death of the wicked.”

The wise choice of course is to walk away from sin and to walk toward Love. Not everyone makes that choice, but you can. “Now is the time of God’s favour. Now is the day of salvation.” Respond to Love and Love will respond to you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Banquet

Over Mexico City, in the dead of night, a C-130 Hercules drops leaflets into the night sky. As they flutter to the ground, they fall almost exclusively into the slums. A few thousand drift onto the balconies of the high-rise apartments and onto the University campus. Most however land in the door stoops where drug addicts doze and prostitutes linger.

“Free Food
Free clean clothes
Free showers and
A warm bed for everyone
Free shelter and Genuine love
beyond imagination
Come as you are.

The next night, at the address given on the pamphlet, men and women of all ages begin to drift across the lawn. All the lights are on in the mansion. A cool breeze greets the guests as they bend to gaze expectantly through the open doors. Attendants greet the guests and offer them cool wash cloths and a change of clothes. Before the guests, stand tables heaping full of the choicest foods.

As laughter begins to fill the evening, one of the guests approaches the Host with a question.

“Sir,” he asks, “Why is it that everyone here is poor? I don’t see one grin that isn’t toothless. I don’t see one head of hair that isn’t greasy. And if you don’t mind me saying so, it’s good that the doors and windows are open because the fact that we don’t have running water in our shacks is becoming quite obvious. Why in the world did you invite us and not those who live in the nice houses? Why didn’t you invite professors and government leaders? Why didn’t you invite those who are rich and beautiful and intelligent? Why do you want us?

The Host of this strange event smiles at the man and sighs. You know what my friend? Even if they were invited, those who see themselves as beautiful and intelligent and wealthy wouldn’t come to this event. In fact, a few of them got the invitation but not a single one showed up. You see, they don’t think they need what I have to offer. Their hands are full to overflowing with everything that they believe to be important in life. True, they don’t have love but they will believe till the end of their time on earth that love is something that can be purchased. Those kind of people have neither the time nor the inclination to accept my offer. So why bother with them? Besides, my friend, I prefer to be around those who are humble, and genuine. I prefer to be around those who appreciate my generosity, not those who see themselves as self-sufficient. That's why I always say, Blessed are the poor, and the desperate and those who hunger and search for righteousness. So go my brother, enjoy tonight and enjoy the rest of your life. Tomorrow I have work for you to do.”

“What work do you have sir? I’m willing to help you any way that I can, but I don’t have any skills.”

“As you notice my friend, even among your own people, not everyone had the courage to come tonight. They’re suspicious, unbelieving, scared. You and the other people here tonight need to go and tell them that this invitation is for them also. You need to tell them that it’s real, it’s free and that it’s good beyond imagination. Now go. Enjoy your meal. Enjoy a warm bath and a clean bed. I love you. I will always love you and take care of you. I am proud to consider you not just my friend. I consider you a new member of my very family.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

If Only I Could Forgive

I’ve worked with so many people who, having been hurt by another, seem determined to return the hurt, or at the very least, withhold their love from the person who hurt them. The mind set that causes this to happen is one in which the other person is seen as evil, lacking any good characteristics, beyond redemption.

The thing about a relationship with Jesus is that it begins with Him helping us see ourselves as we truly are. We are forced to acknowledge that our good intentions do not always translate into good behaviours. We are forced to admit that our motives are more often than not, corrupt. Jesus brings into clear focus that even our very best and most altruistic behaviours are tainted by a self-serving bias.

When we mature in our relationship with Jesus we cannot help but admit that others, even those who hurt us, are just like us, a mixture of good and bad. They have the same hopes and dreams and longings and desires. Just like us, they screw up from time to time.

Now, it’s true that some people don’t need Jesus to make this type of growth. They are sufficient in themselves. But those aren’t the kind of people that Jesus calls. Jesus seeks out those of us who need salvation. He came to save those of us who recognise that we are corrupt to the core. He works in those of us who are willing to see our need for healing. I digress.

When we see “our enemies” in this light, we are not only able to change our opinion of them from evil to “just like me,” we are able to allow mercy to enter the relationship. Compassion begins to build a bridge to forgiveness. Understanding causes us to release our death grip on the need for revenge.

We may never get to the place where the relationship is restored. In fact, restoration may be the wrong thing to do. As well, the other person may not allow restoration or even want it to happen. However, with understanding and forgiveness on our part, we are freed from bitterness, and obsession. We are able to let go of hate and the desire to destroy.

God is good!

Friday, October 12, 2007

If I Grow Up To Be Just Like My Dad . . .

When I think about my dad, the impression that I get is that of a boulder on the shore of an ocean - almost the size of a house - round, solid, secure in it’s position, unmoved by any storm.

When I think about my dad, the impression that I get is that of a huge ocean-going cargo ship, plowing inexorably through the stormy sea. I think of his huge shoulders shrugging off the waves of life. I remember once in grade 10 when I had silently vowed to myself that if he tried to keep me from going out I was going to slug him right in the face. All he said was, “See you in the morning.” Lucky for me.

When I think about my dad I remember him as strong yet gentle. What he lacked in intellectual ability he more than made up for in wisdom and insight. I think he had a learning disability. Nothing worked for him on paper but correct solutions to problems tumbled easily out of his head. He was humble and courageous. Dad wasn’t afraid to stand alone in his beliefs. This drove me crazy because it felt like I had to bear the scorn of the community with him. "If they hated Me, they will hate you also." I can still see his big hands. Once when I was about seven-years-old, and refusing to budge from a blatant lie, I remember wondering if a person’s teeth could be jarred loose from being walloped on the rear end.

Like Jesus, my dad craved a friendship with me but he never tried to force it. Like Jesus, dad didn’t want me to know about evil. On the other hand, again like Jesus, he didn’t foolishly try to stop me from exploring it.

My dad spent time with me. My dad talked with me. My dad loved me. I’ll never have to question or doubt that my dad loved me.

When I think about my dad, it’s like watching a ten-pin bowling ball moving in slow motion straight down the centre of the lane. No curve, no fancy spin and certainly no gutter. Just a good solid strike.

My dad died in October, 2003 at the age of 89. If I grow up to be just like my dad, I’ll be a good man, a good husband, a good dad. If I grow up to be just like my dad, I’ll be someone that makes the world a better place in which to live. I hope that I grow up to be just like my dad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jesus - My Friend, My Lord, My Savior

Before I retired, I was the director of an out-patient counselling centre. Many years ago, some of my staff went to a conference that had a Key Note motivational speaker type. Within minutes of returning to the office and with eagerness in their voices they asked me, “What part of your life has been the happiest?” That was an easy question to answer because the answer was then, and is today, “Right now.”

Out of all the people who worked in that office - Three Addictions counsellors, four Mental Health counsellors, one Child and Youth counsellor and two Psychiatrists, I was the only Christian. Because of that they had no understanding regarding neither the source of, nor the reason for my joy, peace, contentment etc.

Each one of them related different times in the past that were happier for them than the present. For some it was being a teenager. For a couple others it was early in their marriages. For another it was during a year spent travelling the globe. At the time that I was living the different stages of life, I probably would have said each of those stages were fun for me as well. I mean, that's all that I knew. I didn't know life could be any better. I was coping the best way that I knew how. In hindsight however, and in comparison to the dramatic change in my life after becoming a Christian at age 30, anytime previous to my conversion seems a bust, a flop, a waste of time, an embarrassment, a dismal disappointment - in comparison to today.

What I answered then and what I answer now I can say with absolute honesty. Since I became a Christian 26 years ago, every year has been better than the year before and I don’t see any reason why this will ever end. As my relationship with Jesus deepens, He has increased my peace, my joy, my strength - every year more of Him is poured into my very being. And the weird thing is this. The more desperate my circumstances, the more difficult my days, the more pain I experience because of difficult relationships and challenges, the more that these things happen in my life, the more that I am immersed in and embraced by the goodness and the love of Jesus, who is the source and fount of peace and joy and contentment.

Most of my earthly friendships from highschool onward have either diminished, reached a plateau of eh, or peaked at a good solid friendship. But none of them come close to a relationship with Jesus. With Jesus, the depths of His wisdom, the breadth of His strength, the heights of his love and the overwhelming quantity and quality of His generosity stagger my comprehension. The fact that Jesus is willing to pour Himself into those who follow Him, the fact that He is able to grow a person, change a person, develop a person year after year surpasses anything that any earthly friend can trigger or encourage. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Could somebody help?

Could somebody help settle an argument with my wife? There’s this guy, Bill Maher who’s on Larry King once in awhile. He expounds on world and political events. Well here’s the thing. My wife says that Bill Maher talks about politics and such because he actually believes he possesses wisdom and insight; he actually believes that what he says is important. I say that Bill Maher tries to sound intelligent and relevant because it’s part of his comedy routine. It's like satire or sarcasm - very funny stuff. Who’s right? Is Larry King laughing with Bill Maher or at him? I pick the former. My wife picks the latter.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

So what's with Jesus anyway?

What was the point of God’s visit to earth in the person of Jesus?

God has given us more than enough evidence of His existence in His Creation, from the largest and most distant galaxy to the smallest cell. Why visit us in person?

God has demonstrated His power throughout historical and personal interventions. Why visit us in person?

God has shown His anger against sin, the very thing that makes our lives more difficult. Why visit us in person?

I believe the answer to those questions is this.
God came to earth in the person of Jesus, so that we could not fairly accuse Him of being a “hands-off” type of Deity. Jesus showed us that God is interested in the smallest details of our lives. Jesus showed us that God is willing to meet with us in the messiest, most shameful, most fearful, most disappointing areas of our lives. God accepts us as we are.

God came to us so that we could not accuse Him of allowing a life on earth that even He didn’t have the courage to face. God came to earth with the explicit and expressed purpose of allowing us to do our absolute worst to Him. He experienced all the pain that sin tainted human relationships have to offer. Jesus showed us that there is purpose to suffering; He showed us that there is meaning, context and purpose to life itself.

God came to us so that we could know Him in a personal way. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus interacted with people in a way that left no doubt that God is willing to become friends with us no matter what has taken place in our past. God knows that we are desperate for genuine love. It is that kind of love for which He created us. God came to earth to show that anyone who gets to know the character of Jesus in a personal way, falls in love with Him, and in return, that person becomes enveloped in perfect love.

God came to us so that He could demonstrate that no one is beyond forgiveness. Thieves, murderers, prostitutes, con men, hypocrites of the worst order, cowards, and doubters. God showed that no one is so bad, so lost, or so wounded that s/he can’t be forgiven.

God came to us to show us that nothing can separate us from His love; that He will go to any length to pursue a relationship with us, to bring us safely home.

From his own jail cell, Paul sent a letter to the persecuted Church in Rome. He encouraged them with this. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, - how will He not also, along with His Son, graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 31 - 39.

God came to earth to show us the way home. Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” God came to earth to forgive our sins and to free us from guilt. God came to earth to pay our punishment for crimes that WE have committed against Him. God came to earth to show us the way to safety, security, belonging and worth.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Christian's Great Defensive Line

Jesus said at one point that He will build His Church and that nothing, not even hell itself will be able to stand against it. I believe that’s true but my oh my, we Christians sure can block and frustrate His attempts. Atheists and sceptics try they hardest to eliminate Christianity. They waste years and years of their lives arguing against what they claim to be the equivalent of a spaghetti monster. Here’s a hint atheists! Save yourself a lot of energy and just let we Christians destroy Christianity ourselves. If I lived long enough I could probably do it all by myself.

The level of unbelief, born out by how we live, coupled with our hypocritical claims of tremendous faith do more to block not-yet-believer’s attempts to hear God than anything anti-theists could muster. Our depending on money, relationships, power and position to find our worth make it impossible for those outside of Christ to recognise His wooing voice. Our inter-Church disagreements and judging outsiders from the pages of Leviticus while we live under the Old Covenant make God’s love impossible for the lost to experience.

Yes, Jesus will indeed win the game in the end, but it will be with very little thanks to His teammates, me included. What an amazing thing then that knowing all this, Jesus still chose us to be part of His family, to be His fellow labourers, to call us back home when we’re so prone to wander. What an amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

How does Jesus feel about my enemy?

Before Jesus comes into our lives, it is so easy to see a person who wrongs us as someone that, if not totally evil in motivation, s/he is at least mostly evil. Before Jesus comes into our lives, it’s easy to see someone who does us wrong as selfish and self-centred. It’s easy to see that person as dangerous. Until Jesus comes into a person’s life, compassion for those who do wrong to us is hard to come by. Until Jesus comes into a person’s life, withholding forgiveness and even retaliation is the primary urge, after being wronged.

When Jesus comes into a person’s life, He turns everything around. He does this by giving us a good and honest look at ourselves. If there’s selfishness and self-centred traits to be recognised in anyone, He shows us that we are the one’s who possess those traits. If there’s unforgiveness and bitterness to be repented of, it’s we that need to do the repenting. If anyone needs to quit lying and manipulating, Jesus shows us that we’re the one who are guilty of these things. Lust? It’s ours. Anger? Ours. Betrayal and broken promises? Those are ours as well.

The most important thing that Jesus shows us however, is that just like those who do wrong to us, we wrong others out of OUR weakness, OUR pain, OUR faulty walls of protection and OUR corrupted self-love. Just as we want to be judged by our intentions and not our behaviours, so too the other person. Just as we want to be given a second chance, so too the other person. Just as Jesus has forgiven us, so too must we forgive the person who hurts us.

Jesus is a God of love. He died for us to show us His love. He said, ‘I love your enemies. You must love them also.’ He said, ‘As I have forgiven you, even while you were my enemy, so you must forgive others who mistreat you.’

God is great and God is so very good.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


. What a wonderful thing it is to have Someone to thank when one is feeling grateful.
. What a wonderful thing it is to be loved.
. What a wonderful thing it is to be loved by Someone who knows all my faults, my weaknesses and my failures.
. What a wonderful thing it is to be loved and cared for by Jesus, who knows not just the sins of my past, but the sins of my future as well.
That Jesus is my friend is something that can only cause a sense of thankfulness.

. What a wonderful thing it is to be accepted as I am, but loved enough to not be left that way.
. What a wonderful thing it is to know that Jesus will not walk away or give up on me when I repeatedly disappoint Him.
. What a wonderful thing it is to know that Jesus is willing to lead me back to the right path even though I continually choose to go down the wrong path.
. What a wonderful thing it is to know that God died for me, despite my life of lies, insensitivity, pride, lust and anger.
. What a wonderful thing it is to know that God died for me precisely BECAUSE of those things.

I am so thankful to God for His creation, for my marriage, for my family, for my health, for all His material provisions, for joy and for a deep abiding sense of peace.

Thank you Lord God, my Saviour, Redeemer, Counsellor and Friend.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Breaking News!

I turned on the News this morning:

. A teenage boy had killed his parents with a pick-axe
. A domestic dispute turned violent and the husband had killed his wife with a knife
. A single mother of three had introduced her boyfriend to a little girl who then sodomized the girl and made a video of his rape.
. Tens of millions of boys and girls are involved in the sex slave trade worldwide
. Tens of thousands of boys and girls will starve to death
. A web site offers help in having an affair
. Two-dozen civilians were killed when a car-bomb went off in a crowed market
. An actress loses custody of her children because she’d rather continue doing drugs
. Another model dies because of starving herself to be thin
. A 56 year old man attempted to trade football tickets for sex with an 11-year-old
. Two 12-year-olds were caught having sex in a classroom during recess
. Learn how to get ahead by manipulating your boss with thank you cards

I couldn’t listen anymore. I flipped the channel. Someone was reading from Matthew chapter 5. Jesus is teaching a crowd about who He wants us to be.

Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the humble
Blessed are those who grieve over their sinfulness
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Blessed are the peacemakers

We don’t have a clue how to do that. We don’t have a clue. It makes me want to cry.

Matthew 9:36 - When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.