So This is Christmas

The opening words to John Lennon’s “So This is Christmas” go something like this “So this is Christmas/And what have you done/Another year over/And a new one begun.” The song goes on to describe the hope for peace on earth. But this old world seems so far from having any hope for “peace on earth.” With what is going on in the world, things seem to be so desperate and out of control. In times such as this, is there any hope at all?

Christmas tells us a different story. It tells us of the birth of a Child, One born into desperate poverty and yet was a King. He is the One Who came to bring peace on earth. Yet if this is so, why are things so messed up? It is because of sin in the world for we are fallen creatures. It is because of our disobedience that we are so far from God.

But Christ came to set things right through His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection from the dead. He now reigns as our Intercessor before the Father in heaven. We can now look forward to the day when there will be true peace on earth through the reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We can look to that day with confident hope and expectation.

 

 

 

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Our Helper in Times of Need

Why is it that the things we feel are necessary in life can also be a pain in the neck? Like most people, I own a car, and the trouble with cars is they age and when they age, things start to go wrong with them. If one does what I sometimes tend to do, I ignore it as long as possible. The problem with doing that is ignoring a problem only leads to more problems.

Today, at my wife’s insistence, we (my wife) took the car in for servicing because the car was making unhealthy sounds. This is servicing that needed to be done, and as a result of my delaying repairs, we are looking at some major repairs, and a hefty bill to boot.

The same is true in life.  An issue will come up in our lives that should be dealt with, but we ignore it and the longer we ignore the problem, the bigger it becomes. This will often lead us to a mash up in which we are inexorably stuck. What would have been easily dealt with has now become an almost impossible mess.

But here’s the thing. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the problem could have been dealt with by turning everything over to Him. Jesus is our Advocate, our Helper and our Friend. Through the Holy Spirit He stands ready, willing and able to help us in our time of need.

We don’t have to face our trials alone. All we need to do is trust in the Lord and believe that loves us. He showed us His love by taking on our sin and dying in our place so that we would be cleansed and made new creatures in Christ.

We are coming into the Advent season, the time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Saviour. But it is important for us to remember that the cradle of Bethlehem lies in the shadow of the Cross. Without Good Friday and Easter Christmas means nothing. The celebration of Christmas is fulfilled in joy of Easter morning.

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Where Does The Time Go?

Where does the time go? I can’t believe that it has almost been a month since I have entered anything on my blog. While I have been faithfully writing my newspaper column, the blog seems to been shoved to the side. During all this time I was thinking that it has only been a few days so I will get to it tomorrow. But you know something? Tomorrow becomes the next day, which becomes the day after that, and on it goes until a month or more has gone by and here’s me still thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow. But we all know that tomorrow never comes, don’t we? It’s always a day away, and tomorrow becomes today, and on it goes.

Yet the Scriptures tell us to look to the day when Christ will return. But does that mean that we are to spend our time peeking down the hall to see if He’s coming?  No, what we are supposed to be doing is working in the harvest field, “bringing in the sheaves”, so to speak.   We are to be doing Kingdom work for the Master through being His witnesses in the world today.

Yet I often find myself to be complacent. I put off doing things, such as writing in my blog, and other  such things thinking that there is always tomorrow. But we know that tomorrow becomes the next day and on it goes.

So what is one to do? Seek God’s help. Go to Scripture. Pray. Ask God to give you a sense of urgency about the work that needs to be done. Seek a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in your life. Then always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you. Then rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is Lord of all, is the Master  and Creator of time,  and that you are in His care. Glory be to God Almighty, Who was, is, and is to come.

 

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Touch the Top of the World

Several years ago I wrote a column about a man whose name is Erik Weihenmayer. He is a mountaineer and is only one of some 150 people who have scaled the Seven Summits – the highest mountain peaks on all seven continents. Not only is Erik a mountaineer, he is also a teacher, athlete, author and motivational speaker. While in high school he joined the freestyle wrestling team and was inducted into the Connecticut National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also  inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. All of this is pretty impressive on its own, but what makes it even more so is Erik is blind, completely blind. In fact, complications eventually  required the removal of his eyes.

Erik, who grew up in Connecticut, began to lose his sight at the age of 13. He was diagnosed with a disease called retinoschisis, but he refused to accept the idea that blindness would take away from him any opportunities that life had to offer him.

I first learned about Erik in a book that I read titled Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Travel Farther Than the Eye Can See. Erik is a very accomplished individual; his latest adventure was kayaking  with another blind man the Colorado  River through the Grand Canyon in September of 2014. This was a journey of 277 miles.

In 2005, Erik co-founded No Barriers, an organisation purposed to help the disadvantaged and those with special challenges live active and purposeful lives. Its motto is What’s In You Is Stronger Than What’s In Your Way! I think that that’s a pretty good motto to live by.

There is a Scripture that tells us: … for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4, English Standard Version.) This Scripture tells us Who it is that we can rely on, depend and trust. What’s in us, or maybe I should say Who is in us, is the Holy Spirit Who guides in the way we ought to go.

If we surrender to the Lord and His purpose for our lives, then we will be able to ‘Touch the Top of the World’ and know that God loves us more than we would ever dare dream.

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The Faithfulness of God

Last month I observed my birthday and I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m now in my 65th year. Yes, I have just turned 64. Another year and it will be “cash for life.” I can’t believe that the time has gone by so quickly.I remember when I was a child; it seemed to take forever to grow older, but now the older I get, the more quick;y the time has passed. Time has just whirled on by.

Take for example summertime. Do you remember that as a child summer seemed to last forever? Now it seems as though you blink your eye, and it’s over. It certainly is true that time stops for no one. We may find this discouraging, and wish that there was some way to slow things down, even just a little bit.

This, however, is something we cannot do, so the only option available to us is to find some way to live our lives that keeps us from falling apart.  From my experience the only way to do this is to put our trust in God.

I use a daily devotional entitled “Seeking God’s Face — Praying with the Bible Through the Year” (Baker Books). It is set up so you pray as you read Scripture. The prayer for August 19, ’15, is as follows: “Faithful God, this life is filled with more than enough trouble and tears to dominate my vision and distract me from seeing You. When captured by anxiety, I turn defensive and hostile, of no use to You or others. Take the blinders of fear away and turn my eyes to heaven to see You and be confident of Your goodness, so that once again I can serve You here on earth.” (Page 609, adapted from the Heidelberg Catechism, 52)

Time stops for no one and life is filled with worry, anxiety and sorrow. The only way to handle life’s troubles is to give everything over to God. Jesus has told us: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33, English Standard Version)

We may look at the world and see nothing but rot, greed and corruption, but God has a different viewpoint. In Christ we see One who is the Victor over the world. He has conquered sin, and even more importantly, He has conquered death.

Jesus was a man of sorrows. Isaiah 53:3 tells us: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (ESV) It may seem a bit odd, but Jesus came to be rejected, so that we could find acceptance by the Father. He took our place, He bore our sins; He was rejected by His Father, all so we may be received into the Kingdom of Heaven when we believe in Jesus as Saviour, Lord and God.

What does all this have to do with getting older? Just this — God has a plan for my life and part of that plan is preparing me for that day when I will see Him face to face. Trails and tribulations are part of that plan — these things are tools that the Lord uses to shape me, mould me and create in me a clean heart; one that is ready to serve the Master.

I may getting older, but there is one thing that will never grow old — that is my love for my Lord and Saviour. Praise be to the Lord God Almighty!

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My How Time Goes By

Do you remember that as a child summer seemed to last forever? It was like the final minutes of school before it was let out for the summer. It seemed to take forever for the clock on the wall to reach 3:15 p.m.. Summer seemed to go on and on and on. I remember as a child waking up, having breakfast, then out the door and on my bike, sometimes not coming home until dark. My parents never worried about where I was, and someone’s mother always made sure that we were  fed. Summer seemed to be one glorious day after another.

Then I got older and the older I got the quicker time seemed to go by, and now I find myself at almost 64 and wondering where time has gone. I also find myself reflecting on my life’s journey, and I see that although there has been valleys, trials, sorrows and tribulations, there has also been hills. God has given me a wonderful wife (Joy). That means that I wake up with Joy in the morning! He has also given me two beautiful daughters who see their mission in life to keep me humble. Honestly, they love their old man and they take good care of me.

God truly is gracious, for even in times of trial, He gives and gives and gives again. I have found that it is especially in times of trial that shows me His grace. There is always some way in which He makes Himself known. It may be through a phone call, a letter (remember those?), a prayer or something as simple as a hug. I have found that God makes Himself known in the simplest of things. This is something for which I am truly grateful.

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Limited Vision

I had a medical incident last week, a stroke in my left eye. It has left me with limited vision in my left eye. It feels as though there is a splotchy screen in front of my eye, One thing I am thankful for is our Canadian medical system. At ten a.m.  I saw a optometrist and he diagnosed a stroke in my left eye, he sent me directly to the E.R. at our local hospital, and by 3:30 that afternoon I was seeing an opthamologist who confirmed the optometrist’s diagnosis. I now have a follow-up appointment with another ophthalmologist in a couple of weeks. One thing I am thankful for it that  the clot that caused it took a detour at my eye, otherwise I would have probably had a stroke. One thing is for sure — I am thankful for all of the medical expertise of all the doctor’s that I saw last Friday. And also for the follow-up that I am receiving.

Despite, or maybe because of, this happening, I can see God’s blessings at work. Although it is now difficult for me to see clearly, I can still see the Lord and His divine hand at work in my life. Right now  you may be going through a difficult time. I would urge you to consider your relationship with the Lord and to surrender yourself to His loving care. The difficulty may not go away, but you will have Someone who will walk with you through your time of trial.

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