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Showing posts from February, 2014

Bad Maps and Thick Fog

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In the early part of my sabbatical, I read a biography of Captain James Cook. He is famous for sailing the southern seas and mapping many of the islands of the south Pacific. He was also the first to map in excellent detail the coastline of Newfoundland in Canada.
As Captain Cook ventured far south, even as far as the waters of the Antarctic, he faced incredible challenges that on more than one occasion almost brought him and his crew to ruin. They were going into areas not previously mapped. Even in areas that had been mapped, he soon discovered that previous cartographers had at times been dreadfully imprecise or altogether inaccurate. On other occasions, good map or bad, they would find themselves in dense fog which hindered their view of shores, reefs, and fellow ships. It's dreadfully hard to advance safely when you don't have a clear view of where you are heading.
One of the great blessings of the Christian life is that God has given us a clear view of where we are headin…

Vicarious Victory

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With the closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, many of us return to our regularly scheduled life with a sense of appreciation for the kind of hard work, sacrifice, and determination that was exemplified by the 2873 athletes at the games. Whether or not they won medals, most of them deserve respect for embodying some of the more noble human attributes that seem persistently absent in the dominating news stories of our every day world. It was pleasant to listen to the behind the scene biographies of many of the athletes. It helps to recognize that all of the athletes are certainly more multi-dimensional than the particular event in which they were participating.
It is also a great deal of fun to experience vicariously the roller coaster of emotions that go with victory and defeat. While some may criticize this identification with others and tell us that we need "to get a life", we sometimes forget that it is God Himself who has determined the borders of our ha…

Teaching Your Dog to Cross the Street

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I once had a friend who asked me an important pastoral question: "How do I keep my dog from darting across the street?" My reply was simple: Teach it how to cross the street. That thought hadn't entered his mind. Teach it how to cross the street? He was so determined to solve the problem of his darting doggy that his mind automatically went to how do I restrain him rather than how do I reform him.
Now, I am not the dog whisperer. My brother is. I am sure that my friend asked me because he had seen one of my family members walking our yellow lab, Abi. Abi was delightfully obedient. Truth be told, she might not have been that way if my younger brother who really is the dog expert hadn't got us off on the right track. He taught us how to train our dog to look and to wait for directional cues.
The thought of reformation versus restraint is an important concept not just in dealing with canines. It is important in the development of Christians. For many people, their view…

Drinking Game Goes Viral

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As of the time of this writing, there are five known deaths from an online drinking game that has now gone viral. The game called Neknominate involves videoing yourself drinking a large amount of alcohol and then nominating someone else to outdo you. You can read the sad sick details here if you so desire: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/18/world/europe/neknominate-drinking-game/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Pressuring others to drink is nothing new. It seems that every year, we hear in the news of four or five valuable young men or women whose lives were snuffed out because they thought it fun to pressure each other at a high school graduation party or prom to "get hammered." In many cases, not much pressure was required. They just did thought it would be fun.

The New Testament gives us some direct instructions regarding getting drunk. Christians are people who come from the same backgrounds and the same world as those who are engaging in these behaviours. Many know the temptatio…

I Love My Family

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Family Day

The family of God really exists because of the absolute dedication of the Triune God to its flourishing.

 No one doubts the significance of family. Many of the most successful television shows have been about the perils and triumphs of family units. We readily identify.
In Canada, today, February 17th 2014,is Family Day. It is a national holiday celebrating the gift of family. I am deeply thankful for my family. I love my wife and daughters and son-in-law very much. I don't have words for the joy that they have brought me. I have my birth family who are very special to me. Mom, Dad, Ruth and Wayne and their families are forever etched on my heart. I have many fond memories of family gatherings with both the Pulleys and the Dibbleys, my parents' families.
Then, I have been gifted with a loving supportive extended family through the Wilkins/Schmidt families and the Moberg/Van Eerden families. I can't imagine negotiating the pleasures and the pains of this life with a…

How To Start A Bad Day Over

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"It was the most fun I've had in my career," Daly said, fighting back tears of profound disappointment, "until that fourth run."  
      Those are the words of John Daly, an Olympic athlete competing in the men's Skeleton event at the Sochi Russia games. Happiness turned to tears in just a few short minutes when Daly took his final run in his attempt for an Olympic medal. If you witnessed his race, you will know that things went wrong right from the start. The blades of Daly's sled jumped out of the tracks as he was just beginning his race and his hopes were dashed before he had hardly started.

       Did you have ever have days like that? It seems that your day is going to be disappointing before you are out the door in the morning. You say something sharp to a family member. You are filled with worry. You grumble or complain. You have an argument in the car on the way to school, work, or church. This is not going to be a good day!

       We always need t…

Love - The Hermeneutic of Life

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"Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

The sign that we are beginning to understand what life is about is when our lives begin to be rooted and grounded in love. Hermeneutics is a field of study in which we try to understand and apply the rules of interpretation. It is one of the core classes you would take if you were to attend a Christian seminary or bible college before you were let loose writing papers and making sermons announcing to the world what Jesus, the apostles and the prophets are really saying in the Bible.

A "Good" Thing to Do Everyday

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One of my favourite things to read on a daily basis is a classic devotional by the famous19th century British pastor, Charles Spurgeon. It is entitled Morning and Evening. It is a collection of devotional writings which you are supposed to read, obviously, if you so desire, in the morning and at night.

It reminds me of a decision that I made some time ago after reading Psalm 92. Psalm 92 begins "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp , to the melody of the lyre."After meditating on this passage of Scripture, I committed myself to do the very two things that the psalmist says that it is good to do. I resolved to begin the day my declaring the steadfast love of the Lord. I decided to end the day by declaring the faithfulness of my God.

Never Fall

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What is the key to never failing in life? Your character. What is the key to developing your character? Knowing Christ.

That simple principle obviously doesn't originate with me. It comes from someone who knew a thing or two about failure and then starting over. Simon Peter, one of Jesus' most intimate partners in ministry wrote at the end of his life these words: "... if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:7). A few verses later, he continues "if you practice these qualities, you will never fall."

Downton Abbey

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Everyone has secrets. I will tell you mine: My wife watches Downton Abbey. There, it's out. I feel better now.
Well. Okay. Sometimes, I do too.

Supply and Demand

Almost everyone understands the notion of supply and demand in the economic realm. If the supply of a product outweighs the demand for it, prices drop. If demand for a product outweighs supply, prices rise. So, strawberries cost less in a year when everyone is getting a bumper crop. When the crop fails due to drought or a freak frost, they cost more because there are fewer berries to go around.

Very few people, however, understand the principle of supply and demand in the realm of Christian living. This is one of the most basic truths of our Christian faith. Yet, consistently, we get it all backwards.

Meet Sarah John, M.B. - Medal of Bravery

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I will tell you why I want you to know Sarah John. I think that if anyone had a reasonable excuse for curling up in a ball, shutting out the world, and feeling sorry for herself, it would be Sarah.

Who really is blessed?

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Today, MariAnne and I had the privilege of listening to the powerful stories of several people who have suffered great injustice and pain because of their Christian faith. Below is a picture of Wei Han Shi. Mr. Shi was a publisher in Beijing and printed and distributed over a million Bibles. As a result, he spent over 3 years in prison between 2007 to 2010. He spoke with much joy about how global interest in their lives sustained both him and his wife and children. His eldest daughter translated for him and their laughter together confirmed their deep thankfulness to God for rescuing them and using their suffering as a family ultimately for their good.

Without a doubt, we were looking forward to hearing Gracia Burnham. Gracia Burnham and her late husband Martin were held captive for over a year from 2001 to 2002 in the Philippines by Abu Sayef rebels who were connected with Al Qaeda. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ek2mjhdTOA      In Thunder Bay, we prayed throughout their long ordeal f…

It's Cold Out There!

To say that this has been a cold winter for most people would be an understatement. For the past few months, there have been more snow days, record temperatures, flight cancellations, and general winter chaos then most of us have seen in some time. Even as my wife, MariAnne,  and I are in the south on sabbatical, the folk here have been talking about what a cold winter it has been. Cold, of course, is relative. We had a humorous event last week when it dropped below freezing for a few days. Deciding that it was a good day for a mocha, we drove over to Starbucks. The highways and parking lots were bare. No snow was in sight. Yet, the coffee shop was closed up tight. The stores and and restaurants were locked with lights out. All you saw were bewildered Canadian and Minnesotan snowbirds driving around trying to figure out if we had missed a memo.
   I thought since this would be a winter when it might seem like a good time to escape the cold that I might point out a few conference resour…