Monday, December 31, 2007

Amazing Grace

As I climbed into bed last night and began my last prayer of the day, my past came to mind. The literally countless acts of rebellion against my Creator were remembered like an endless trainload of crushed vehicles or scrap metal. Stealing, fighting, cheating, using people and being used by people. Alcohol and street drug abuse, sex with I don’t even know how many women. I was absolutely untrustworthy. I was treacherous. I was unable to love anyone except myself. What a wretch! What a pitiful excuse for a human being. And none of it showed. At least not to anyone in the crowd to which I belonged. Money, clothes, cars, the best seats in the best clubs, and everything else that a hedonistic young man could want was mine. Just below the surface however lay a deep, dark pool of evil. Arrogance and pride oozed from every pore. Why I never wound up in prison is still a mystery to me. Why no one every died because of my behaviours is still a mystery. I used to say, ‘I never reached the bottom, but from where I stood, I could clearly see it, smell it and touch it.’

My memory brought back an image of thousands and thousands and thousands of sins. Yet this was not a depressing memory. Nor was it a memory that was akin to a bad dream. You see, this was a litany of sins for which I’ve been forgiven. As I pondered the amazing Grace and Mercy of my Lord and Saviour, my head bowed and my eyes lowered in humble submission to the one who died to set me free from my absolute slavery to a sinful life. It became clearer to me than at any previous time in the past when I'd read in the Bible how those who came into a clear awareness of God’s glory fell on their faces before Him. The more that I or anyone catches a glimpse of our sinfulness, the more that the Love of God stands out in contrast. Our forgiveness is like a stream leading back to the clear, cold glacier source, or a beam of light leading the seeker back to the Son.

I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it is to have a healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus the Christ. For only in a loving relationship does a person have the freedom to change. It was once again a good reminder that while -
I’m not who I should be
And I’m not who I’m going to be
Thanks to God alone
I’m not who I used to be.

If I needed only one miracle to prove to me the reality of Jesus as God, I’m it. I still have light-years of change to go before I become a decent human being. Yet, the distance that God has brought me is mind-boggling. I truly am a new creation. So what makes this a miracle? I mean, lots of people improve themselves. Lot’s of people go on self-improvement programs and amaze everyone around them who had basically written them off. Well, that’s just it. “I” didn’t do this. I didn’t set out to change or to become a better person. All I did was accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and the rest, as they say, is history. Jesus did the changing. Jesus did the strengthening. Jesus did the moulding and the shaping and the growing. All glory be to God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.
Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007

I’m standing at the counter making some toast when I hear an inquisitive, “Dad?”

Turning, I’m greeted by Wyatt (7) with his index finger shoved two-knuckles deep up his nose. As with any experienced parent, there is not even a flicker of “You are a really weird kid!” on my face. “Whussup my young friend?”

“Dad, what’s that thing up there that keeps my finger from going all the way up my nose?” I think, but don’t say - It’s probably your brain, you little freak.

No sooner am I back to my toast than I hear from Walker (5), “Guess what I can do Dad?”

I turn to see Walker holding a brim full glass of orange juice to his lips with one hand, and the other hand is on the down stroke of bouncing a basket ball. Guess what Walker can’t do? I must not say what I’m thinking. I must not say what I’m thinking. I must . . .

So begins another day.

Much has happened since last year.

Our oldest son David and his girlfriend Gina had a brutal breakup of their relationship last fall. One year later they’ve set a wedding date of March 1st/08. God has been good to David by bringing Gina into his life. She’s a fine, fine person.

I was putting Freedom (2) down for a nap one day. As I was pulling the bedroom door closed, I heard her say to herself, “Gampa loves me, Gamma loves me, God loves me, Jesus loves me, eddybuddy loves me.” What a great way to see life!

Wendy has decided that it’s time to take better care of her body. For every two kilograms that she’s lost, I’ve gained one. The measurement of my waist is surpassing that of my in-seam at a staggering pace. She looks great and I feel guilty.

While we’ve met some really nice people since moving here, getting a baby-sitter ($30.00/hr. for five kids) has limited our seeing people socially. This is an area that Wendy wants to change as soon as possible. On the other hand, Wendy has a really good friend in town (they’ve known each other since high-school) and they meet regularly. Wendy also gets together with a group of women once a month, and volunteers at the school in each of the kid’s classes. Her life is pretty much the same as it was on our first go-round with kids. The creative side of Wendy is moving us toward renovating / expanding the kitchen. Maybe next year. Wendy works harder and puts in more time, energy and prayer at being a good mother than anyone I know. She takes the kids to all types of lessons, does crafts with them, makes excellent meals and reads books with them throughout the day. So far it’s been appreciated by six of our seven children.

Speaking of Erin, she completed four months of a six month sentence at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre for fraud. The last two months were spent at a half-way house in Saskatoon. She is living and working about 15 mins. from our place so we see her a fair bit. Sometimes Wendy and I just look at each other and blink in stunned silence as we contemplate a daughter who seems to be living in a parallel universe. Her rationale for her approach to life is as fascinating to her as it is foreign and baffling to us. She's home for Christmas and it's going good.

I was out for a hike with Walker one day. We passed a group of people and a little bit later Walker said, “Dad. I think people smile at me because they know that I’m cute.” He’s all that for sure.

I’m doing some pro bono counselling. Not a lot but just enough to keep my mind occupied. My Remicade is still doing wonders for my arthritis. It would have to rank in the top five things that have added to the quality of my life. It would come right after,
1. Jesus
2. Wendy
3. Remicade
and just before
4. My computer
5. My snow blower.

For those of you who are not in the loop re: Christianity, I should explain that the drop in quality from Jesus to the snow blower is precipitous in nature. Still, I’d highly recommend the 12 Horse, 34 inch “Yard Man” if you need one.

At the end of one of Chelsey’s prayers one night she said, “And please help me to not be afraid of chickens.” You just never know what’s going on in a kid’s head.

So, after another year, Wyatt is in grade two and doing well. Riley is in grade one and struggling mightily. Chelsey and Walker are loving kindergarten and Freedom is enjoying some alone time with us a couple days a week.

The kids have been going steady at piano, swimming, ballet, soccer, kid’s club, basketball, skating etc. They seem healthy and happy. I never realised before that a child in a larger family always has someone to play with. It’s kinda cool to watch.

With the help of my wonderful sisters and their husbands (who are pretty wonderful as well), Wendy and I were able to go to Hawaii for a couple weeks in March. Catherine and Gordon, along with Carol and Wayne stayed at our place while we were gone. The kids loved them. In fact, when Wyatt is angry at me, he sometimes says, “You should go on another holiday.” We were also able to go to Fairmont in July and short trips to lakes that are close by in the summer. Overall, life is good. Overall, life is hard and overwhelmingly difficult. Overall life is an adventure.

It’s bed-time. I wander into the boy’s room to see how they’re doing and find Riley (7) just sitting on the bed. “Whatcha doing bud?” He looks at me and says with perfect innocence, “I’m just thinking about who I might marry.” So ends another day.

We hope this finds you and yours experiencing the grace of God the Father and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Have a great 2008!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holy Days

True Story.
A mission group (I forget the name) was celebrating 100 years presence in the Congo. Christian natives from far and wide had walked days to come to this celebration. Some of the oldest men and women of the various tribes had been asked to speak. One elderly man, related a story that brought amazement and horror to the guests and leaders present.

This man stated that there was one reason and one reason only for the massive shift from tribal gods to Jesus, “It was because we watched how you died. When you first came, we believed that white people were evil spirits, who had come to harm us. And so, slowly, methodically, we poisoned your babies, your children and you. Year after year, decade after decade, we watched as you cared for your orphans, your sick, your dying. We watched as you provided the same love and attention to the weak and the dying as you did to all of Creation. This was something totally foreign to us and our way of life. We came to see that those who believe most strongly in Heaven, are those who do the most for the weak in this world. We came to believe that you were not evil, but that you possessed a goodness that was not present even in us. This goodness came to you, and eventually to us in the person of Jesus.”

This is exactly what Jesus came into the world to do.
Jesus came to bring peace on earth to all those who are pleasing to God.

Jesus brought us peace through experiencing our violence.

Jesus brought us life through allowing us to kill Him.

Jesus brought forgiveness of our sins by taking our sins upon Himself.

Jesus brought us the love of God by wearing our hatred like a garment.

Jesus brought acceptance by God by opening the door to our rejection of Him.

Jesus brought us mercy and grace by accepting our condemnation.

Jesus, the Saviour of the world, came to us in the most lowly of earthly circumstances so that He could one day raise all believers to the highest of eternal rewards.

Happy Holy Days and Merry Christmas to all who love Jesus and worship God the Father.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holy Days

In just a few days, Christians around the world will pause to think about, rejoice in and share the good news of Peace and Salvation come to earth. The God of second, third and one thousand chances came not to shake His finger at the world, not to judge the world but to present to us His offer of rescue from the world. This God, who loved us so much as to give His all for us, came to earth to experience this life that we so often complain about. He came to experience the rejection, the hardship, the pain and death that is inevitable for all humans throughout history. This God, who loves us, came to show us that “our light and momentary troubles” are not worth considering compared to the glorious riches that await those who take Jesus at His word, accept His Lordship and live out the rest of this life according to His wishes. This is truly a magnificent and Holy time of year. A time to remember the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holy Days

“Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.”
Ephesians 5:1,2.

That is why Jesus came to earth. To give Himself totally for our sake, to demonstrate for us a love that is incomparable. At Christmas time, let us make a special effort to celebrate this love by reaching out to others who are being drawn by God to this wonderful love of Christ Jesus. Jesus came to earth to bring you safely home to be with Him forever; to wrap you in His warm loving arms; to protect you and keep you from harm.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holy Days

Jesus, is God’s glory who walked on earth (Hebrews 1:3). We are commanded to recognize His glory, honour His glory, declare His glory, reflect His glory and live for His glory. God deserves our worship, and we need it. For only in worshipping our Creator do we find our true selves. The greatest emotional achievement that any of us can attain is to develop a life of worship. For in worship do we find it possible to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him,” C.S. Lewis. In this Holy Day Christmas Season, we once again have the opportunity to develop a lifestyle of worship which in reality is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving God and freely giving ourselves to be used by Him for His glory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holy Days

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Any psychologist will tell you that the harder you grasp trying to please yourself, be it through money or power or relationships or mood altering chemicals or anything else, not only will you lose the fleeting pleasure of the thing but you will also lose the ability to please yourself. Go after something worthwhile on the other hand, and you will please yourself plus gain a new “wealth.”

That is why God promises that if we focus on Him and Him alone then, “all these things will be given to you as well.” The Christian life is one of change; change from ‘How much pleasure am I getting out of life? To ‘How much pleasure is God getting out of my life.’ At Christmas time Christians take time to meditate on their priorities. Are we remembering the cost to our Lord and Saviour as He came to earth to rescue the lost? Are we losing sight of the past and the destructive hold that it had on our lives? Are we keeping our eyes on the prize? Jesus IS the reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holy Days

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4.

At this time of year, Christians throughout the world pause to remember how Jesus came to earth to experience life at it’s darkest and most horrific. He did this in part so that He could relate to us in our times of sorrow. Something that atheists can’t seem to grasp is that there is purpose and meaning in our times of suffering. Rather than allowing us to isolate ourselves in our pleasures, trauma and suffering causes many to reach out to others who are experiencing the same type of difficulties. Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour tells us, ‘As I have done for you, you do for others. God’s extravagant love for us caused Him to show us His love in the darkest and messiest corners of our lives. Christmas is the time that we pause to remember this love, this sacrifice, this offer of salvation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holy Days

Joy To The World! In a few days, this familiar Christmas Carol will be heard round the world. Joy to the world. The Lord has come. More correctly, Joy to the world for those who come to know the Lord Jesus as Saviour. You see, happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can be learned out of a book. Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behaviour, what it is. Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a “master,” picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing and rhythm and “touch.”

For the Christian, circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that all Christians experience from the inside. For His is a life that not only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive Him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this “spilling out” quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within anyone person. Indeed, Christmas time is a reminder that God brings Joy To The World.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holy Days

Some kids were playing in their back yard. Without realising it, they left the gate open and their puppy got out. When they realised what they had done, they went to the front yard to look for him. Sure enough, there he was, across the street playing in the neighbour’s yard. Upon seeing the children, the puppy did what comes naturally. He began to run back to see he favourite friends. The kids yelled for him to stop, but it was too late. The pup ran out in front of a vehicle and was killed instantly.

. The kids had done something wrong, and the dog paid for it with his life.
. The kids made the mistake and the dog died.
. The kids were the ones who were careless and something they loved paid the price with its life.

At Christmas time, Christians remember that we are the reason that Jesus had to die. Jesus came to earth to pay the price for our sins. Our carelessness cost Jesus his life. Without Him doing that, we, all of us, every human on earth would be eternally lost. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, that God loved us so much, that He came to earth in the body of Jesus. He came into humble circumstance; no crib as an infant, no home as an adult. He died, alone on a cross. He did that for you and for me so that we could share in Heavenly riches with Him forever.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Holy Days

Jesus didn’t come into the world to shake His finger at us or to yell at us or crush us with criticism. Jesus didn’t come into the world to break our will to live. Jesus came into the world to forgive us and to offer to us a salvation that will take us into the eternal presence of our Creator.

Have you ever noticed that what gives your children the most pleasure is when they know that you are watching them? Well, we can know that as Christians, celebrating at Christmas the arrival of God on earth, God is watching us with pleasure and with a smile on His face as we honour and worship the One that He so freely gave.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Holy Days

While every other religion on earth has to do with mankind working their way toward god. Christianity is the story of God, in Jesus, coming to earth to develop a relationship with us. This Love came to earth to find us, to rescue us, to bring us home. Understanding God’s perfect love, reflected to us in the person of Jesus, drives out fear. It brings a peace and a joy that is beyond understanding. We trust God, not to help us find joy and peace but to give us joy and peace. When we give God the enjoyment of our worship and obedience, our own lives are filled to the brim with His joy, and His peace. In these Holy Days of the Christmas Season, we are reminded of the Angels proclamation of “Peace on earth to all those who are pleasing to God.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Faith and Victory

1st Peter 5:6,7 - “Humble yourselves under God’s might hand so that He will raise you up at just the right time. Throw all of your anxieties to Him because He cares about you.”

After John 3:16,18, I think these two verses from Peter’s letter are the most important verses in the Bible. At least for anyone wanting to live a victorious Christian life.

The hardest thing for people to do, for Christians to do is to trust God. It sounds stupid but it’s true. For most of us, we experience God working in our lives. We marvel at it. We share our story with others, and then we take back control of our lives until God demonstrates His love for us all over again at some point in the future. It’s like the story of the guy by the side of the road with a heavy suitcase, thumbing a ride. Someone picks him up. He climbs into the vehicle, buckles up and sits there holding the suitcase on his lap. After awhile the driver says, “Why don’t you put your suitcase on the floor?” The guy says, “No, I wouldn’t want to give your car a bigger load than it already has.”

Because we don’t trust God as we should, we hitch a ride with Him, but we keep carrying our worries, our anxieties, our problems. Mature Christianity, victorious Christian living happens when our focus is on what God has done not just in our lives but in the lives of others. When we look back on how our life has turned out, we can clearly see how lucky we were that things didn’t go our way. We can clearly see how if there hadn’t been road blocks to our strategy or our timing, things wouldn’t have gone nearly as well as they did when God took control.

God cares about us. As the Bible asks, “Will God, who didn’t even spare His own Son to give us what we need, withhold anything less than that, in order to meet our needs?" Of course not. He has not, does not and will not leave us or give up on us.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

If Adam and Eve were perfect . . .?

“Anyway, if humans can consider evil (and they must if they succumb to it), then were they ever really perfect?”

An atheist asked this question a few days ago and at first glance it seemed like a pretty good question. If I had just taken a few minutes to think about it, I would have seen that it was a question born, not out of cleverness, but out of ignorance.

You see, the assumption in the question is that “perfect” implies God-like qualities, such as omnipotence or at the very least, an immunity to sin. The question might imply that God intended to create a perfect world. The question might even imply that God intended to create Heaven on earth. All three assumptions are wrong. In reality, here is what we are told.

Nowhere does the Bible say that the world or the universe was created “perfect.” It says that it was good. It even says that it was very good, but perfect? No. In the same manner, the Bible does not say that Adam and Eve were created “perfect” in the sense that they were impervious to sin. The Bible says that Adam and Eve were without sin. They only knew good. They didn’t judge each other, nor did they judge themselves. They didn’t know about evil.

Adam and Eve were without sin, but they did possess the potential to sin. They possessed the ability to CHOOSE to obey God and remain in a state of knowing only good in their lives. AND they possessed the ability to CHOOSE to disobey God and to know the difference between good and evil.
. Obviously they were created with the ability to make choices between one behaviour and another.
. Obviously evil already existed because satan had already chosen to disobey God.

(Just a quick note on “evil.” Evil is not a thing. Evil is not an entity. Evil is NOT something that is created. Evil is a wrong choice or the damage done by a wrong choice. Evil comes from, originates from, or results from a free-will choice. Evil is what happens when we choose something that goes against the will of God.

Prior to the “Fall:”
. Sin was (at that point) present in the eternal dimension, in the form of fallen Angels.
. Sin was (at that point) powerless over the created world. The door had not yet been opened.
. Adam and Eve (at that point) knew nothing but goodness. They were naive to the reality and nature of evil. Evil was something that had taken place in another dimension, just beyond the reach of their present knowledge.

The next step was temptation, but even in temptation, they still hadn’t sinned. Even in the face of temptation they remained Holy, or without sin.

It’s sort of like this. Suppose that I’m a Bank Manager. I’ve had a good day. Through investments and deposits, lots of money has come in today. It’s closing time and just as I’ve locked the door, a man who, unbeknownst to me is an armed robber, shows up and taps on the glass door. I tell him through the glass that “We’re closed till Monday. My policy states that I’m not allowed to open the door at closing time. I’m not even allowed to touch the door after closing.”

He continues to earnestly plead with me and at first I’m able to ignore his pleading and cajoling. Just as I’m about to turn away, he reaches into his vest pocket and pulls out what appears to be a genuine cashiers check worth more money than we’ve taken in all day. He yells through the door that he wants to open an account at my bank but if I can’t open the door, he’ll just go down the block to the bank that’s open half an hour longer than me.

Up to this point I’ve resisted a temptation and remained immune to the consequences of choosing to go against policy. No longer. The thought of missing out on something, if I do what I’m supposed to do is too much for me. I open the door and, well, there we go.

In conclusion:

. Adam and Eve were not created perfect, nor were they intended to be perfect.
. They were created without sin - without knowing about sin or it’s consequences.
. They were placed into an environment that had not yet experienced the consequences of sin.
. They were tempted.
. The door was opened.
. Here we are.

God had no intention of designing this universe to be perfect. The purpose of the universe is not to be morally or physically perfect, but to provide a place where spiritual creatures can choose to love or reject God - to live with Him forever or to live without Him forever. The Bible tells us clearly that this universe is a temporary creation where beings with free-will are allowed to make choices about where they will spend eternity. Those who cling to the choice to be separated from God in this life will not be forced to live with God for eternity.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Love Jesus

Jesus had no servants,
yet they called Him Master.

Had no degree,
yet they called Him Teacher.

Had no medicines,
yet they called Him Healer.

Had no army,
yet kings feared Him.

He won no military battles,
yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime,
yet they crucified Him.

He was buried in a tomb,
yet He lives today.

I feel honored
to serve such a Leader
who loves us.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Matthew 13:44 - The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

John 15:11 - I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

We aim so incredibly low. A full, complete, and abundant life is available through Jesus, and instead we try to find ourselves in sex, and possessions, and parties. Most people are like the alcoholic who says, “If booze can’t keep me happy, how can NOT drinking make me happy?” We say, if money etc. can’t make life worth living, how can not looking to this stuff make me happy?

Materialists allow themselves only a tiny set of options. They declare, "This is all there is," and then complain, “Is this all there is?”

Jesus offers and delivers joy that seems to have a life of it’s own. It is not attached to anything. It is not bound by anything. It is not controlled by anything. It is not dependent on anything. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Sadly, most people’s eyes are focused on the sidewalk when if they’d only look up, they’d discover a panorama of staggering grandeur, waiting for their enjoyment.