Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stupid doctor

I don't know how he could do it, but Dr. Devlin evaluated my condition today.  It took him all of 27 minutes, and for three or four of those minutes he left the room to let me put on a hospital gown.

He made me lift my arms and push against him, even though I told him it hurt.  I am in agony this evening, because of a few minutes of exercise.  I am tight and sore... my shoulders feel like they are in a vise with a knife piercing them.

Wine helps.  I had a couple of glasses of wine.  I hope I can sleep tonight.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I miss my kids.

Three of the youngest and the oldest of the youngers are away.  And I miss 'em.

I did the chores myself.  Roped Rick in to help me.  (He did great - even chased down a couple of wayward chickens for me.)

My neck hurts.  My shoulders hurt.

And it's my brother's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Lorne!

Now off to bed.  The morning will bring a trip to TO, and I'll be picking up the kids.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Prayer for the Afflicted

Tim Challies blogged about this prayer, drawn from the Canadian and American Reformed Church web site. I am taking the liberty to change the first person plural to singular, as he suggested.  It makes it much more personal.
Merciful God and Father, You give eternal hope and salvation to the living and eternal life to the dying. You alone have life and death in Your hands, and Christ alone has the keys of death and of the grave. All things are in Your power so that neither health nor sickness, good nor evil, life nor death can happen to me without Your will. I also know that by Your power and direction all things must serve my salvation. Gracious Father, I implore You to grant me the grace of Your Holy Spirit, that He may teach me truly to know my misery and to bear patiently with Your chastisements. If You, O Lord, kept a record of my sins these chastisements should have been ten thousand times more severe. I believe that they are not evidence of Your wrath but of Your fatherly love towards me, that I might not be condemned with the world.

Lord, strengthen my faith by Your Holy Spirit, so that I become more and more united with Christ my Head, since it is Your good pleasure to unite me to Him in both suffering and glory. Enable me to bear what is brought upon me by Your fatherly wisdom. I submit myself entirely to Your will, whether You leave me on earth or whether You take me home unto Yourself. I trust that with body and soul, both in life and in death, I belong to Christ, whose resurrection is the guarantee of my blessed resurrection.

Grant that I may experience the comfort of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. May His innocent blood wash away the dirt of my sins and may His righteousness cover my unrighteousness in Your sight. Arm me with faith and hope, so that I may overcome the assaults of Satan and not be put to shame by any fear of death. When my eyes grow dim, let Your eyes be open toward me. When You take away from me the ability to speak will You then hear the sighing of my heart. When my hands have lost their strength, continue to support and carry me on Your everlasting arms.

Father, I commit my spirit into Your hands. Deal with me according to Your promise. Never forsake me, but always be with me, even in the hour of death.

Hear and answer me for the sake of Christ, my dear Saviour. Amen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pictures of the Living Room

This is the wall where we put the piano.  Notice the nasty baseboards that need to be sanded and varathaned?  We will do that when we sand and varathane the floor.

This is looking in from the kitchen.  The piano is on the right.  I want to recover the footstool in front of my chair.  The couch cushion is missing because it is wet, from the rain that leaked in past the tarp that was supposed to be protecting it.

You can see that we painted the wall that has doors to the front porch and the kitchen in a chocolate brown colour.  You can also see the trim work that needs to be done around the doors.  Baseboards, etc., have to be added.

Here are the two wall plaques I bought for the living room.  I like them!

I have a living room!

I know that comes as no surprise, because most people have a living room.  But for months and months and months I have not had a living room, because we were in the middle of redecorating it very, very slowly.

The wallpaper had to be scraped off.

The holes and blemishes had to be filled with mud.

Some of the walls had to be torn down and replaced, because there were issues with mould.

Prime paint had to be applied.

Then the paint had to be chosen, and rolled onto the walls.  Which Linda and others did.

Today, we cleaned up the mess, swept and vacuumed the drywall dust, and scrubbed the floor.  Daniel and Patrick moved the piano, then carried in the couch and the two chairs.  Daniel hung my pictures.  I scrubbed the furniture.  Tiana dusted and wiped down the piano.

And now, ta da, we have a living room.

Of course, there is trim work and finishing to be done around doors and windows.  There is more painting of trim to be done.  And some time soon, I'd like to sand the floor and apply varathane.  That will depend on $$$$.  So, until we can do that, we'll enjoy the living room as it is.

I'd post pictures, but my batteries need charging.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All Good.

No sign of any cancer in my dear husband.

What a mercy!

I didn't realize how uptight I was about it until Rick told me the good news.  The weight that lifted off my shoulders was palpable.

He has to go back for a re-check in three months, poor guy.  But so far, so good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Desire Mercy, and Not Sacrifice

In Matthew 9, Jesus tells the critical Pharisees to go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."  Jesus is quoting from Hosea 6:6 which reads, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."  

God wants our hearts.   He wants us to know Him and love Him, to understand His covenant, and to walk humbly with Him day by day, loving Him and His poor despised people.  The ceremonies, sacrifices and rituals were designed to teach the people that they needed atonement (without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins) and that God was Holy and demanded perfection, and that they needed a Great High Priest and a perfect Lamb. 

Jesus is that Great High Priest.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Recognizing Who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on the cross should bring  us to our knees in awe and make our lips sing forth His praises in thanksgiving for all He has done.  The proper response to His great mercy is that we walk humbly before Him.

Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road.

I am just as critical and rotten as the Pharisees who condemned Jesus for eating with sinners and tax collectors.

Why, you ask...

I have a husband who is a smoker.  He has bladder cancer.  I want him to quit smoking.  I desperately want him to quit.  I hate everything about his smoking.  He's been told by the doctor that it is imperative for him to stop sucking on those cigarettes, and that there is a direct correlation between his smoking and his bladder cancer.

I have told my husband that if he doesn't quit, I am not going to accompany him on his trips to the doctor.  I am not going with him to get the scope he has to go through on Tuesday.  If there are signs of more cancer, I am not going to go with him as he drives to the hospital and makes that dreaded trek to the cancer ward to have more horrid treatments.

I figured that I was loving him by doing "tough love" - not enabling him to continue his filthy habit that has done so much damage to our family over the past 36 years.

Today, God reminded me that he desires mercy, not sacrifice.  He wants His children to be like Him - to steadfastly love sinners, the poor despised people on whom He has set His affection.

God loves Rick.

He has called me to love Rick.

So, I don't need to condemn him, to not eat with him, to avoid him as the Pharisees avoided the tax collectors and sinners.

I need to love him.

I guess I'll be going with him to the hospital on Tuesday.  Sigh.  

Merciful Saviour

I read Matthew 9 this morning.  Normally, I read at least five chapters, but I found myself lost in the truths of chapter 9.  There are glimpses of Jesus' authority, power and compassion that overwhelms me with His beauty.  In this chapter, He...

  • heals a paralytic (what a glorious day for him - sins forgiven; restored to health)
  • calls Matthew to be His disciple (what a wonderful thing to be called by Jesus)
  • eats with tax collectors and sinners (what grace!)
  • speaks with John's disciples (what joy - that the bridegroom has come!)
  • heals a woman with an issue of blood (what relief! after 12 years of pain)
  • restores a girl to life (astounding gratefulness!)
  • heals two blind men (the gift of faith - as you believe, so it will be done)
  • heals a demon-oppressed mute man (set free from demons to praise God)
  • teaches; proclaims the gospel 
  • heals, has compassion on the crowds
  • instructs his disciples to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest
Jesus, you are my Saviour - the merciful and compassionate one.  You know that I was paralyzed in sin and corruption, and you raised me up to new life.  You know my thoughts (Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?") and you judge them, yet you have compassion on me and heal me.  You called me to be your disciple.  You eat with me, you walk by my side, you know my heart, and you love me.  You teach me to rejoice in this new life.  You open my blind eyes to see your truths.  You give me words of life to proclaim to others.  You open my mouth to speak your praises.  Lord, I pray that you use me to speak to the crowds.  I pray earnestly that you will send labourers into your harvest, to bring in the bountiful harvest of souls you are saving for your glory!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lessons learned from Oliver Cromwell

I am reading again "To honour God", a little book subtitled "The spirituality of Oliver Cromwell", edited and introduced by Michael A.G. Haykin.  If you are interested in reading more about Cromwell, start by doing a search for Cromwell on Michael's blog.

God is Omniscient and Omnipotent; Men are weak and easily confused.  Oliver Cromwell certainly was a controversial figure, but there was a spiritual side to him that can be emulated.  Great men can be guilty of terrible things - just look at David, a man after God's own heart, who committed adultery and murder.  Oliver Cromwell had an overwhelming conviction that God is Sovereign in all human affairs.  He understood, too, that this world is full of pain and sorrow, and that sometimes the way is not clear.  As Christians we sometimes flounder when we are confronted with confusion about what lies ahead.

Yet read what Cromwell wrote about this very thing.  After it was suggested to him that he restore the monarchy and become King Oliver I, he struggled for some time with apparent indecision, because he wasn't sure what God exactly wanted him to do.  He wrote,

"Who can love to walk in the dark?  But Providence doth often so dispose." - p.23

Dr. Haykin comments,

"This statement is a clear assertion of God's sovereign involvement in every event of an individual's life and the history of a people.  But it is also a recognition that those who confess this providential sovereignty are not always able to discern the exact path it is taking." - p.24
God Ordains Trials for our good; He will end the trial when He has accomplished His purposes.  Cromwell understood that sometimes the Lord prolongs our time in the Blackness of a wilderness, yet he trusted that God would bring him to His tabernacle.

"My soul is with the congregation of the firstborn, my body rests in hope, and if here I may honour my God either by doing or by suffering, I shall be most glad.. . He giveth me to see light in his light. . . blessed be his name for shining upon so dark a heart as mine!"- p.47,48
My reading of Jeremiah this morning confirms the truth that God will end the trial in His good time.

 Jeremiah 31:  As I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord.

Love God; Love His People.  After recovering from a dangerous sickness, Cromwell acknowledged his trust in his Heavenly Father who saw fit to raise him up.  He learned anew that it is a blessed thing to die daily, putting no confidence in the flesh.

"I find this only good, to love the Lord and his poor despised people, to do for them, and to be ready to suffer with them: . . . and he that is found worthy of this hath obtained great favour from the Lord. . ." p. 59

These lessons from Oliver Cromwell encourage me.  I have pressing issues in my life that confuse me.  The way is not clear.  The trial seems unending.  Yet I am reminded that even when I am confused, God is not.  He is settled, perfectly sure of the path He has planned for me, and perfectly in control of the timing of the events of my life.  I can trust in His Sovereignty and His Omniscience.  I need only love Him and His poor despised people, to do for them what I can, and to be ready to suffer with them if the Lord so ordains.  He is my God who caused me to know Him - and I have obtained great favour from the Lord.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In Times of Trouble

Copied from my daughter's blog (too good to not have it here...) - Thanks, Heather.

God’s trusting child may say in times of trouble:

FIRST: He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place:
 in that will I rest.
NEXT: He will keep me here in His love, 
and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.
THEN: He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, 
and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
LAST: In His good time He can bring me out again—
how and when He knows.

Say: I am here—
(1) By God’s appointment.
(2) In His keeping.
(3) Under His training.
(4) For His time.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917)

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you; 
and you shall glorify me.
Psalm 50:15 (ESV)

“Little daily worries are heaven-sent messengers to help you on the way home. 
What would you think of a sailor complaining of the wind that bears him homeward? 
A day spent among these worries is a day in God’s school. 
One might say that the way to make the best of them is to make the least of them.”
Andrew Bonar (1810-1892)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Do I Know of Holy?

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all, No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
So, what do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life its name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

The only thing I know for sure is that God is Holy.  I am not.  But this God, this Holy, Holy, Holy God, this sacred and beautiful, Wonderful and Furious God saved me by His grace.  He sent His only begotten Son to bear the wounds that would heal my shame.  He speaks to me when I am not even trying to listen, and is the Holy Intruder into my life.  I am lost and undone without Him.  

With Him, there is hope.  

He called us to a holy calling, and He set us apart as holy.  He chose to live in us, making our bodies a temple of the Holy Spirit.  He has asked us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.  

It's amazing, but God, who is rich in mercy, has set apart weak and flawed human beings to be holy.  Like Him.  We reflect His image, in part.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit and used in His kingdom.  

That's what I know of holy.  

John 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship
1 Corinthians 6:19  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

God Sees Everything

Leviticus 6 reads, in part:

If anyone sins... by deceiving his neighbour, or if he has ... found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely... he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.

In Leviticus, God establishes the sacrifices He requires for the atonement of sin.  He includes sin offerings, guilt offerings and even an offering for someone who sins inadvertently.  God requires holiness in all of our interactions.

A few days ago, I was shopping at the local dollar store, and I noticed some plaques that would be perfect in my new kitchen (the kitchen I am dreaming about).  They were the right colours (yellow and off-white) and had some nice sayings on them:  "Believe and you will see His Glory", "Love bears all things", "Faith is hope realized",  "With God all things are possible".  They were embellished with flowers and leaves, and I really, really wanted them.

The lady behind the counter told me that they had just come in and wouldn't last long.  "Will you be getting more in?" I asked.  

She replied, "They came in the summer order, and that's it until fall."

I went back and looked at the plaques again.  I picked them up, turning them over, feeling the weight of them.  They were priced at $2.00; except the Faith one.  For some strange reason, it was priced at $2.99.  I thought it must have been a mistake, because the rest of them, exactly the same size and shape and distributing company, were only $2.00.

If I wanted all four of the plaques, I'd have to buy them immediately, I thought.  There were only two left of a couple of them.  I wanted the whole set.

So, I picked them up and took them to the counter.  The lady picked up the first one and checked the price, then rang in four at $2.00 a piece.  

This is where my sin nature reared its ugly head.  I KNEW one of them was $2.99, but I said NOTHING.  I intentionally did not point out the saleslady's error.  I was guilty before God.

It doesn't matter that it was only a dollar.  It doesn't matter that it was likely priced in error.  I should have pointed it out.  

I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell the truth, but I quickly dismissed the nagging guilt.  I paid my $8.00 plus tax, and left the store.  I haven't felt right since.

We Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who reveals the truth to us.  He leads us and guides us, helps us and prompts us to do right, and makes us aware of the sin that so easily entangles us.  I grieved the Holy Spirit for the sake of one measly dollar.

Today, in church, I felt completely convicted of my sin.  As we approached the Lord's Table, I was reminded that Jesus Christ gave His body and shed His blood to make atonement for my sin. I poured out my soul in confession to God, thanking Him for covering all of my sin, even this.  I realized again my need of a Saviour, because I cannot be righteous on my own.  

Tomorrow I will head to town and speak to the Dollar Store lady.  I will tell her the truth and offer to pay that 99 cents plus tax.  

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9
Tonight, I will sleep like a baby, knowing once again that I am a sinner, saved by the grace of God.  I will bask in His forgiveness, and thank Him for His grace.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Gift

The Gift

Grace is too heavy a gift to bear.It locks us to the straight and narrow
and forces integrity into the very marrow
of our being—and we haven’t got a prayer
of escaping from our own guilt.
Yesterday we wept at the mystery
of mercy that overwhelmed our soul
and we made revival our earnest goal.
Today we weep as we see how history
so easily repeats itself.

Grace is a gift with too much might.We despise how it creates an internal war
that we’re tired of fighting but can’t ignore.
We’ve been given the wisdom to know what is right
but lack the honor to want it.
The battle suspends between the fury of passion
and the endurance of virtue.
To embrace the one will only hurt you
but its insatiable power is hard to ration
when the battle has waged too long.
We want to refuse the gracious gift;we are weary of the tears.
Acceptance means humility each time our sin appears.
It hurts so much to cause the rift
that had cost so much to breach.
If only our heart and mind would meet
the struggle would dissolve;
Instead of being penitent, we could show resolve:
resistance would be our personal feat—
but we’d have no need for God.
Grace is too heavy a gift to bear
If we try to become deserving.
Insisting devotion must be unswerving
creates a transaction that’s much too fair
and tosses aside the gift.
The question before us will cause us to muse
on whether acceptance is worth the price
of abandoning perfection or yielding our vice.
But with nothing to prove and nothing to lose
we’ll soon discover the truth.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I like mudding. It's fun to cover up the flaws, to get the wall as even as possible. It's really something to see how a bit of sanding after the mud dries leaves a perfectly flat surface that is ready to be painted.

I mudded my husband's new closet today. My shoulder hurts, my neck hurts, and I am stiff and sore all over. But the closet is nearly done. I can't wait to get it finished, because it will be beautiful and practical.

As I worked away this afternoon, I thought about the spiritual lessons I could learn from this job. It took a lot more mud than I anticipated, because there were a lot of flaws. God applies lots of mud to our flaws, too, and it takes a lot more work than we think it will at the beginning of the journey. God, the Master Mudder, patiently works away, applying mud (in the form of correction, using His Word, or preaching, or rebuke from a faithful friend) then sanding away the excess (He hedges us in behind and before; He orders our steps; He removes those things in our lives that are distracting us from the goal of being more and more like Christ). He doesn't give up until He is satisfied with the result - Sanctification, Christlikeness, Holiness, Purity.

When I finish the prep work and paint the closet, I will still know that there are holes and gaps and curves where the wall should be straight. I will know that the holes and gaps are simply covered over. But I will choose to see the beautiful walls and will choose to use the closet for the purpose for which it was designed.

God looks at His children and knows their frame. He sees their flaws. But He chooses to view them through the blood of Jesus Christ, which washes them white as snow. He chooses to remove their sins as far as the east is from the west, and He covers over their sins. He chooses to use us to accomplish His purposes! We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's About Love...

The book of James is one of my favourites. I have often used it to encourage myself to count the trials I endure as "joy", simply because God is using it to produce steadfastness in my life.

I'm not going to write about the entire book right now, but simply focus on one chapter.

[4:1] What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? [2] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. [3] You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. [4] You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [5] Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? [6] But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” [7] Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [9] Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
[11] Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. [12] There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:1-12 ESV)

I have always viewed the fourth chapter of James as a rebuke and an exhortation. What's causing all the fights among you children, I'd ask. Don't you know it's because of your passions that war within you? I'd tell the kids to examine themselves and realize they had the wrong focus. I'd use the chapter to rebuke them for fighting, and tell them to humble themselves and smarten up.

But I was missing the point.

It's all about LOVE.

Look at Verse 5:
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
Why are you fighting? You're not getting what you want, because you want to serve yourself. You desire something. You covet something else. You've got a friendship with the world instead of a deep, close personal relationship with God. You turn your back on the One who is everything, so you make yourself His enemy.

And yet, He yearns for you. He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us.

This is not a petty, human jealousy. God has graciously placed HIMSELF into His children. In the new covenant (oh glorious thought!) He promised to dwell with us; He promised that He would be our God, and we would be His people. He promised to take out our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh. He wants to be everything to us. He wants His children to yearn for Him the way He yearns for us.

ESV Notes: God created mankind with a “spirit,” and he deeply desires that our spirits worship him.

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The very next verse is "He gives more grace." He gives grace to His children, so we can love Him more than the "goodies" He bestows on us. If we love Him the way we ought to, we will not quarrel and fight, because we'll understand that every good and perfect gift is from our Father's gracious hand, and that He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. He wants us to rest in His love, and be content with what we have.

If we love Him the way we ought to, we'll resist the devil and all his worldly temptations, and flee to God. We'll cleanse ourselves and purify our hearts by weeping and mourning over our sin. We won't speak evil of our neighbour, but trust God to bless or exact vengeance if need be. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

When we love our God wholeheartedly (because He first loved us), we won't plan our lives without thought of what God would have us to do.

[13] Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— [14] yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. [15] Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” [16] As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. [17] So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17 ESV)

If we understand how great the love of God is towards us, we won't need to quarrel and fight.

He yearns jealously for the spirit HE has made to dwell in you. He loves you.

There's nothing else to do but to live for Him.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our youngest son goes by the nickname, "Critter". His favourite books when he was a little guy were the "Lil Critter" series. He used to love to search for the bug on every page.

He was born to me when I was 44, and I joked that I waited so long to have grandkids that I thought I'd have them myself.

This evening I took Critter to soccer practice, and dropped him off so I could go and visit Sarah, his older sister. When I got to Sarah's house, there was nobody there but the dogs, and it was a good thing, because I was no sooner in the driveway than I got a text from Heather, who said Critter missed his practice. He got the time wrong.

I went back to pick him up, and when we got home, we had a few special moments together. I told him I loved him, and asked him what he thought would be the most important thing I could ever tell him.

"To love God?" he asked.

"YES!" I said. If there was any message I wanted to communicate to my kids, it was that they should love the Lord their God with all their hearts and all their souls and all their minds and all their strength.

"Do you know you're saved?" I asked him. "Are you sure you are born again?

"Yes," he replied. "I know for sure that I am a child of God!"

"How do you know?"

"About a year ago, I realized that I was a sinner, and that there was no hope for me without Christ. I prayed, and asked Him to save me. He did!"

There truly is no greater joy to a parent than to know that your children are following God. I asked Critter if it has made a difference in his understanding of the Word of God. He told me he understands the sermons better, and that he understands the Bible better. How wonderful is that?

My heart was filled with joy. I asked my youngest son, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A missionary," he replied. "I think I'll start with Afghanistan. They truly need the Lord there."

I have no words...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blessed; Truly blessed - Matthew 5

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those without the pride of life that lifts them up. Those who recognize that without God, they are nothing but needy wretches, helpless to do that which is pure and right and good and holy, are truly blessed.

Blessed are those who mourn. How sick I am of the mess I'm in. I try to do better, to make wise choices, to live my life in the light of eternity. Yet I find myself back in the same old mess from too much self-indulgence. I'm squeezed, crushed by the pressure, feeling discouraged at the state of my affairs. Yet God says that I am blessed when I mourn, for I shall be comforted.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

True repentance is a remorse for having lost God's approval, accompanied by a resolve to reverse one's conduct and live wholly for God, not for the world's approval. Living with your heart turned toward God is the only way to be blessed.

Jesus says we are blessed if we are persecuted "on My account"... because of our faith in Him and our living for Him. We need to be salt (a preservative, a seasoning, an influence) and light (a living, shining testimony) before the world.

The entire chapter of Matthew 5 builds towards a crescendo... You are blessed if you understand that you are poor and naked and blind and needy. You are blessed if your life is so changed by God that you are merciful and pure and a peacemaker. You are blessed if you live your life in such a way as to be noticed and persecuted by godless men. You'll be salt and light when you live this way.

Jesus goes on to say that this new way of living does not negate the high standards the Law lays out in the Old Testament. He didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, and you'd better pay attention, people. He says, if you don't live more righteously than the Pharisees, you'll never see the kingdom of heaven. (this is my paraphrase of Jesus' words.)

The OT said, don't you murder. I'm saying don't even be angry. The OT said, don't commit adultery. I'm saying, don't even think about lust. Even the thoughts of your heart condemn you.

Jesus went on to set higher standards about divorce (don't do it, except on the rare occasion of repeated adultery), about oaths (don't make an oath at all - let your yes be yes and your no be no), about retaliation (don't do it - be willing to sacrifice and give more and more, rather than retaliating against someone who has hurt you), about enemies (Love them!).

Jesus kept on preaching higher standard, and built his message to this:

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


I have to be perfect?

Impossible. I sin, and I mourn over it. I hide my light. I fail to be salty. I hold grudges against my enemies. My thoughts are wicked. I fight back when I'm hurt.

And you ask me to be perfect?

Sorry, can't do it. I've tried. If I have learned anything over the years, it's this: I cannot live the Christian life. I fail, miserably, daily, all the time.

God's standard is impossible. Jesus' message to the crowds was, You don't have to live according to the law, you have to live BETTER than that. You have to be perfect.

This is where the gospel comes in. This is why I am truly blessed.

1 Timothy 1:16
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

By the mercy of God, Jesus' perfect life is imputed to me. When God looks at me, He sees someone for whom Christ died.

Hebrews 10:14
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

So, blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who realize they are in need of a Saviour. Blessed are those who have the laws of God on their hearts. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.