Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Cold

I have a Christmas Cold.  No, I’m not cold because it is cold outside, I have a cold.  A terrible cold.  My throat is sore and my nose is running.  I imagine I am not very fun to be around right now.  But I’ll get through it.  Lots of hot tea, lots of juice, some chicken soup.  I’ve had them all during the last few days.  I’ll be fine by Christmas Day, but right now I don’t feel very joyous.

I usually am joyous at this time of year.  Christmas is a time of joy for Christians.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus our Saviour.  We pause and remember His birth, His life and His sacrificial death on the cross to make atonement for our sins.  The actual word for what Jesus did for us is “propitiation” but that doesn’t seem to show up in many modern translations of the Bible.  But it is a great word.  Look it up in a dictionary and see for yourself.

Our family celebrates Christmas.  The real Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  We buy presents for each other, we put up a Christmas tree, we have family dinners, we go to Christmas parties, but we make sure the true meaning of Christmas doesn’t get lost in all the activity.  It’s Jesus’ birthday.

Merry Christmas.  Let Jesus be the star who shines in your life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Like It Rainy

We all have our personal likes and dislikes.  That goes for food or hobbies or weather.  During the winter, the ski season, I like nothing better than to have wonderful, cold, wet, rainy weather here where we live.  I love nice, cold rain because I know that means lots of wonderful snow an hour and a half away where we ski.  My friends want nice, sunny winter weather but I want cold rain.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the sun, but I want nice deep powder snow for skiing which means I need cool rainy weather where we live. 

Life is full of choices, options, decisions.  We often have to choose between having one thing or another.  We have only so much money so we can’t have everything we want.  We have to prioritize our desires.  Some of my friends want to eat out at restaurants a lot.  That’s fine, but it means they won’t have money to spend on other things.  Some like to buy lots of music.  Again, that’s fine, as long as they realize there are other things they won’t be able to do because their money is taken by music.  We have friends who save now so they can buy something big latter.  Other friends spend very little, choosing instead to save everything for their retirement.  Some people tell me they won’t consider Jesus, won’t consider asking Him to be their Saviour, because it will change the way they live and they’re happy as they are.  These friends are making a decision for the present which will drastically affect their future, their eternal future, but they are free to make that decision.

Life is full of decisions, but some decisions have eternal consequences.  We need to make our life decisions carefully.  They need to be good decisions for both now and eternity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking Care of the Earth

I believe that Sovereign God created the earth and all that lives on it.  He made it all and all of it is His.  We who live on the earth therefore have a special responsibility to care for what God has created.  We must treat the earth carefully, we must look after it, we must be caretakers of this planet.  Unfortunately the earth isn’t being cared for very well and often some of those who seem to be most against careful environmental practices are Christians, the people who follow God, follow the Bible and seek to obey all that is written in it’s pages.

So what are we supposed to do?  Do we need to become militant environmentalists?  Do we need to protest against global warming?  What should I do?  I think the very least I should be doing as a Christian is to make sure that I don’t pollute the earth.  I need to be as good an environmental steward as I can, even if it costs a bit more to live that way.  If all of humanity truly cared for the earth we would not be talking about global warming.  It wouldn’t be an issue because we would be living in such a way as to minimize our effect upon the earth. 

I believe the Bible.  I believe God made the earth and since it is His creation I need to care for it.  I need to glorify God by my life and one way I do that is to honour Him and His creation.  One way I honour God is by not polluting or harming what He has made.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life Gets Busy!

Life gets busy! Between work and play, family and friends, there are not many spare minutes left in a day. But no complaints. I would much rather be busy and happy than bored with nothing to do.  We all dream of a leisurely life with nothing to do, but most people really don’t thrive doing nothing.  Somehow, we are designed to be busy.

Designed to be busy?  What about retirement, rest and relaxation?  I find it interesting that most people can lie on a beach for a while, or read books for a couple of weeks, but soon tire of it and want to do more.  They want to be busier.  Most of my retired friends are either serving as volunteers or are back in the job market working part time.  My friends are not working because they need the money, but because they need something to fill a few of their spare hours.  We are designed to be busy.

Yes, I know I have used the word “designed” a couple of times.  I believe God designed us and one of the things He put in the design was the need to keep ourselves occupied.  That may be a full time job, or it may be a hobby like painting or sewing or carpentry or cooking, but we need to do something.  We seem to need to keep our minds occupied.  Most of the healthiest older people I know have found a good balance between “doing” and relaxing.  Their days pass quickly because they are serving or in some other way involved with people.  Some of the unhappiest people I know are those who are house bound, ill, or for some reason can’t leave their homes.  So if you are busy, be thankful.  It keeps you occupied and it probably keeps you happier than you would be if you had nothing to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Symphony of Praise

We had a great summer vacation, camping and hiking in the Cascade, Teton and  Rocky Mountains.  It was wonderful to be in the mountains, to be surrounded by trees and lakes and towering peaks rather than concrete and glass.  We loved climbing up mountains and walking through beautiful valleys.  We were amazed as we watched moose, deer and other animals.  We had a wonderful, peaceful time.

Our vacation was fantastic, surrounded by all the beauty of nature.  We loved it, but others might have considered it a horrible vacation.  Not everyone loves wilderness vacations.  Not everyone wants to flee the city at vacation time.  Everyone is different.  Sandra and I love getting away from the busyness of the city and fleeing to camp in the quiet of nature.  Others want only to get to a big city and enjoy all there is to find in a major urban centre.  We are all different.  We all have different likes and dislikes.  That's the way God created us.  He made all types of people, all with different interests, and He uses us in different ways.  That’s our incredible creator at work.

Aren’t you glad that not everyone likes exactly the same things?  In a church, some people like to work with children or youth.  Some like to paint and clean.  Others like to sing or teach.  A few even like doing the administrative work or mowing the grass.  Our amazing Lord created us to work together as a team, each doing what they like and are best at doing.  Each doing what they were created to do. The church is like an amazing symphony orchestra, the Lord is the conductor.  When we all play our part we lift heavenward to Jesus a beautiful symphony of praise.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Real Rodeo

I was at a Stampede last night.  No, not the Calgary Stampede, but at the High Country Stampede Rodeo at Fraser, Colorado, a small town high in the Rocky Mountains.  There was bull riding and cow roping and bareback bronco riding and barrel racing and mutton busting and calf scrambling.  Yea, mutton busting and calf scrambling, but we’ll get to those latter.

The Saturday night, Fraser, Colorado Rodeo is a truly local, small town rodeo.  It is fantastic.  The participants are not famous rodeo stars from around the continent, but folks from local ranches.  They’re not rodeo pros, they’re ranchers, men and women who ride horses for a living and play at the rodeo on weekends.  I loved it because to me it was real.  It was real in the sense that it was real life, regular folks entering competitions and having fun.  There were teens and moms and dads all out there putting on a great show for everyone and having a lot of fun.  Big, rodeos like the Calgary Stampede are great, but they are different from a local rodeo.  I loved this rodeo because it was just ordinary ranchers having fun and competing with one another.  The rodeo was well done, professionally done, but not by a bunch of high paid professionals.

Mutton busting?  Kids between three and six years old riding a sheep, just like the adults who ride bulls.  Except the kids wrapped their arms around the sheep’s neck and held on for dear life.  Yes, don’t worry, they wore a helmet!  Calf Scrambling?  All the six to twelve year olds in the audience, city slickers and ranch kids, let loose to chase 4 calves which each had a ribbon tied to their tail.  What a site, what a messy, gooey bunch of kids as they ran, fell and tumbled through the dirt and ???? trying to grab a ribbon.  This was a family rodeo, pure fun, pure joy to watch.  Families out together having a good time.  It made me realize again how precious our families are and how we need to spend time together and have fun together.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let’s Make a Difference

We’ve been away from home for a long time.  We were visiting churches, visiting the people who support us in prayer and support us financially.  We were sharing about what God is doing through the churches and Christians in Cuba. It was a very tiring time but also a delightful time as we re-connected with friends we had not seen for years and made new ones. 

As we travelled we saw parts of North America which were submerged under floodwaters, peoples lives shattered by disaster.  It was almost surreal to drive along a freeway and have flooded fields, flooded homes and flooded businesses on either side of us.  We were a part of it, but only superficially, as we sped along in our car.  We listened on the radio and heard army officers and elected officials giving evacuation and sand bagging instructions, reassuring people that everything possible was being done.  It was heart warming and encouraging to hear that entire communities were coming together to help one another, to help those whose homes were under water.  People were filling sand bags, raising dikes, making a difference.  When we work together, cohesively, we can make a difference.  God made us and gave us what we call the “human spirit.”  The human spirit is a wonderful thing which enables us to rise above terrible circumstances and do great things.  But there is still the reality of thousands of people whose lives have been forever changed as their homes succumbed to rising flood waters.

This experience has made me realize that all of us need to make sure we are in touch with what is happening in our communities.  There are not always floods, but there are always needs, always places we can be helping and making a difference.  God calls us to be engaged with our communities, to help those who can not help themselves.  Don’t wait until there is a flood, we need to get involved with people now.  It’s what Jesus wants us to do.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who Can I Blame?

Who can I blame for my problems?  It seems that everywhere I turn people are blaming others for their problems.  They blame others for the things they themselves do and they blame others for the fact their life isn’t what they want it to be.  They blame others when they don’t get the job they want or when their life isn’t joyful and happy all the time.  Often it’s just the government they blame.  People seem to look for someone to blame no matter what happens!  Isn’t anyone willing to take responsibility for their own life and actions?  Is everything I do my parents fault for not raising me correctly?  Can’t we live without expecting the government to be our babysitter?  What is going on? 

It is so easy to blame others when things aren’t as we want them.  Who wants to think that perhaps they forgot to do something or did something wrong.  Who wants to believe that they are not perfect.  I for one.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I forget things.  When things go wrong in my life I am usually the one who is at the root of the problem.  Most of us are at the root of our own problems.  We just happen to live in a society which doesn’t believe in taking responsibility for ourselves so it is easier to blame others. 

I think one of the reasons people reject Jesus and the salvation He offers is that in order to become a Christian you have to admit culpability.  You have to admit you are to blame for your sinful actions and have to ask God to forgive you.  To become a Christian you need to admit you can’t make it to heaven on your own and need Jesus to forgive you and provide your way to heaven.  I don’t mind admitting I’m in need of Jesus’ help.  In fact, I am very thankful that He died and rose again to provide eternal life to all who ask Him into their lives.  I am thankful that Jesus is my Saviour.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Trouble With Trouble

Sometimes life is blissful, peaceful, wonderful, but sometimes life is not so easy.  In the developed world we have things pretty easy, but in most of the world life is really hard.  But no matter where we live, life is a mix of times of ease and times of difficulty.  Sometimes natural disasters strike.  Sometimes we find ourselves in crisis.  Sometimes we seem to go through trial after trial and life can be overwhelming.  Why doesn't Jesus take away all our problems?  Why don't Christians have a trouble free life?  Why do things have to be so hard?  I don’t like trouble.

I’ve come to understand that it is in those times of trouble and trial that we really, truly come to trust God.  When things seem darkest we have to go to our Lord Jesus to beg for help and He is always there to help.  When I go to Him and fully trust Him in difficult times I grow the most in my Christian life.  That’s right, it’s during difficult times, not during easy times, that we see most growth as Christians.  When things are easy we can depend on ourselves and our own strengths and abilities, but when things begin to fall apart around us, when trials come into our lives, that’s when most of us turn to God for help.  That’s when we learn to trust Him, when we grow and mature in our faith.  I don’t like trials in my life, but in the beginning of the first chapter of the book of James is says,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Maybe I should learn to depend on God all the time, not just in the tough times.  That would probably make life easier.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Truth in Advertising

Don’t you just hate false advertising?  You read the advertisement, look at the product and marvel at what it can do.  You buy it and then find it doesn’t perform as advertised.  It isn’t the cleaner you were led to believe.  It doesn’t make your car go 20 percent further on a tank of gas.  You don’t shed pounds as if they were drops of water falling from a tree.  False advertising.

This morning I was thinking of some of the false advertising done by Christians.  “Accept Jesus into your life and everything will go right.”  “Become a Christian and you won’t have any more problems.”  You’ve heard it.  And it isn’t true.  Christians have lots of problems.  Some are caused by the sinful world in which we live, some caused by our own actions, some caused just by the fact we are Christians in a non-Christian society.  Jesus told his disciples that they would suffer for their faith. He didn’t say problems would go away.  What Jesus did promise is that He would always be with us because we Christians have the Holy Spirit living within us.  We may have problems but we never have to face them alone.  No matter what happens in life we Christians have the Holy Spirit to walk beside us and see us through.  We are also told we can always have joy in our life no matter what is happening around us.  That’s a statement that is almost impossible to believe but it is true!  Eternal life is a promise as are many other wonderful things.  However, no problems?  That was not one of Jesus’ promises to us.

As we share our faith with people we need to be careful to not use false advertising.  Tell the truth.  And the truth is pretty incredible.  As a Christian I have the presence of God with me 24/7.  I never have to face anything alone.  His presence will allow me to have joy, true joy, no matter what is happening.  And at life’s end, I will pass into the presence of the living God with whom I will live forever.  Let’s hear it for Truth in Advertising.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jesus Has Dreams For Us

I’ve been away the last couple of weeks at a conference.  It was a very busy time, stressful, exciting but also with a tragedy which brought home the frailty of life.  One morning as we talked in a small group a friend, Jeremy, said to us, “Jesus has dreams for us.”  It was a bit unusual until I began to turn it over in my mind.  Then it became exciting.

Jesus has dreams for us.  I think that is absolutely correct.  He knows what we can be if we allow the Holy Spirit to truly lead us every day, to empower us and to help us be strong and keep us from falling into sin.  Jesus has dreams for us because God alone truly knows what we can become.  Jesus has dreams for us and they are incredible dreams of what we can be.  He always wants the very best for us. 

As parents we have dreams for what we would like to see our children become.  We do all we can to help them grow and mature and become good, balanced adults.  We tell them how they can know Jesus as their Saviour and grow in Him.  We may have dreams about what they will do in life, which university they might attend or in which sport they may excel.  We have dreams for our children because we love them and want the best for them.  Jesus loves us more than any parent can love their own child.  He gave His life for us.  He is the one who really knows what we can become, so truly we know, “Jesus has dreams for us.”  If we walk closely with our Saviour those dreams can become reality.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I sprained my ankle last week.  Before you ask, no, I was not skiing.  Or running or climbing a mountain or hiking.  I sprained my ankle when I slipped on a carpet in a school hallway.  It hurt.  By the time I got home it had swollen up like there was a golf ball on the side of my ankle.  I put ice on it for a couple of hours, took some anti-inflammatory pills and headed to bed.  The next morning it was very swollen.  The golf ball had spread out and my ankle had disappeared entirely.  I could hardly walk, I was in pain, and my other leg was getting sore from limping and hopping up and down our stairs on one leg.  Thankfully my ankle is now returning to it’s normal size although I have some nice blue, green and black shades on my foot.

The Bible uses the analogy that the Body of Christ, Christians, are like a human body.  Every part is needed for something and often the parts we don’t think much of are the more important parts.  I get that.  We need each other.  What I didn’t think too much about was the degree to which other parts of the body suffer when one part is hurt.  Yes, I feel badly when a fellow Christian has a problem and is “hurting” but I have never really thought through the ramifications of the whole thing.  I sprained my ankle so I couldn’t use my left foot.  My right leg took much more strain and got tired.  It hurt under the strain of hopping around on one foot.  The Church is like that.  When one Christian is hurting, others help, take over for the one who is not able to serve.  That puts an additional load on those who are helping, those who take on the responsibilities of the one who is hurting.  Everyone who is filling in for the hurting brother or sister is under increased stress, under an increased load.  They too are hurting, and not just because they feel badly for their friend.  They are hurting because of the additional load they are carrying. 

So what?  Well it is a great reminder that we really do need each other and that in a very real way we all hurt when one of those in our fellowship is hurting.  But we joyfully help out because we are family, one family in Jesus, bonded together by His love.  I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year

It’s a new year.  2011.  Some people think of it as turning a new page, a fresh clean page to begin writing something new with their life.  Others like to make resolutions about the things they absolutely are going to get done this year.  For some people it is a depressing weight, thinking of all that may or may not happen in the coming 365 days.  So many thoughts go through our minds as one year ends and another begins.  Remember the year 2000 and all the questions about what would happen?  Nothing happened, computers didn’t crash, the world didn’t end.  Remember, calendars are a man made thing, totally artificial numbers.  We picked the beginning date for the various calendars we use around the world, not God.  God has his own plans and he doesn’t really care about the particular number on our calendar year.

So what do I want for 2011?  I only have one really deep desire and that is to walk even closer with my Saviour Jesus.  I want to know him even more intimately.  I want to obey Him always.  I want to be totally His.  And I would like my family to follow Jesus in just the same way.  Okay, maybe that is two desires!

It is so easy to write those words, so much harder to carry through on them.  But that is my intent, my goal, my desire.  I want to be always and forever totally in Jesus’ hands.  And since He wants the same thing for me, I know I can count on His help every single hour of every day.  How about you?  What are your desires for 2011?  Do they include the Saviour?