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“I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself.”  

What pain to go through. I have said this in the past. What torture to put ones self through.

I wonder though, if you say this, do you really understand that God forgives you? What it took for God to forgive you? Consider that our sin is an affront to the holy Creator and king of the universe, and that in our sin we are deserving of eternal damnation, and that the eternal wrath of God should be ours to bear for all eternity, yet, God forgives us.

He not not only forgives you but he paid the price for your sin so that you could be forgiven! You see we cannot buy forgiveness.  We don’t have enough money. But also consider that he not only forgives you but he loves you as well.  And that is the precise reason he forgives you! He loves us more than we ever can hope to imagine.  Just consider the outrageous cost of your forgiveness.  Payment was written in blood.  And this was no mere goat’s blood, this was the perfectly holy, sinless son of God, who suffered, died and rose again so that you could be forgiven.

Are you better than Jesus? Are you a more capable judge than the almighty?

I think not.

God forgives you, so it really doesn’t matter if you forgive yourself. I know that goes against the “wisdom” of this age, but the bible never once says you must forgive yourself.  What it does say is that there is now no more condemnation for those who believe.

Oh but perhaps therein lies our problem!

For me it was serious doubt, that caused me to say I could not forgive myself.

Really, I could not believe that God would forgive me. So I wallowed in self pity as I placed myself in the penalty box, hoping that I could get back into God’s good graces that way. Is that what you are doing? Are you doubting God’s love toward you?  Maybe you think that your sin is just too bad to really be forgiven.  Maybe you are stuck in a pattern of persistent sin, and you want out, you just can’t find the way out, and you think that God does not love you.  Perhaps the sun just is not rising on your dark night, and you are in the valley of despair surrounded by insurmountable mountains, and your faith just seems…

so small.

Do not despair of his love and forgiveness to you. It is not the size of your faith that saves you, it is the object of your faith saves you. So cry out to Jesus.

God promises to forgive those who repent and turn to Jesus.  If you are repentant, then God forgives you. No matter how distant his light may seem.  No matter how much you despise yourself. No matter how dark your night is.  No matter what.

If you are trying to forgive yourself…stop.  What you are really seeking is reconciliation with God.  That is what will fix the pain you feel.  And the only one who can give it to you is God, and he freely gives it.

If you say that you cannot forgive yourself, turn to Jesus. Leave all of your guilt and shame at the foot of the cross.  Hopefully, there, at the foot of the cross, in the blood of Christ, you will let go of the idea that you must forgive yourself, and then turn to the boundless grace of God.

Ultimately, You are right. You can’t forgive yourself.  But God can…and has.

First World Problems: ESV or NIV?

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

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This is the epitome of a first world problem.

NIV or ESV.

I get that we all want the “best” version.  We all want to be faithful in glorifying God, and in choosing a version that will be easy for our kids to understand. But I have to say. I watch with utter amusement (not sure I should be amused about it) as people get heated over defending their favorite versions.

There are smouldering straw men everywhere…

I wonder how much money has been spent on Bible translations for the English language?  Millions?  Billions? I don’t know, but how many scholars sit on each committee and how many hours are poured into each version?  I am not saying there is anything wrong with new versions, but what is our motive in creating them?  Red flags go up, when a company stops making a particular edition of their version and updates their version with significant changes and then refuses to make the previous edition available…I don’t see honouring of God, I smell capitalism at it’s finest.  I have 3…yes THREE…of their previous edition study bibles, all in fantastic condition. if I highlight every word and write in every margin, those three books should last me a lifetime…

But I have to switch now.

To put things in perspective, there are over 7,000 living languages spoken in the world today. And of these, only 518 have a complete Bible in their language.

That’s it.

There are 518 languages with a full translation of the Bible out of approximately 7000. We have 500 english versions to choose from…or 3 if you are a canreffer. :) I get that we have to choose a version for corporate worship.  So let’s pick one. Instead of bickering over what translation to use at home, why don’t we all pick up one and read it? It is staggering to think that there are currently over 500 translations in the english language. About half of which are faithful.  The issue then comes due to “readability.”

Sigh.

Are you really going to quote the Amos 4:6 toothpaste verse, or the one about two women grinding, as an example of why not to read the ESV?  If I read a chapter a day, it will take me 1189 days or about 3.3 years to get through the entire Bible with my family. That means, if I am faithful to this reading plan, that I just came up with as I type, I will read that verse once, every three years and four months. Hopefully I am explaining things as I go, so the next time it comes up, they will be ready for it! Personally I think those verses would make for a fantastic family discussion.

Anyway, I digress.

Oh you want to know my preference?  Glad you asked.  Let me get in on this first world problem. :)

I grew up on the KJV and the NASB. In my late teens I switched to NIV84 and used that for about 15 years. I have used the ESV for about 3 years for private devotions, because I want a word for word translation when engaged in private study. But I want a thought for thought translation with the family and the NIV84 is faithful and fits that bill.  Yes the ESV is choppy.  But I won’t be using the NIV11. I have been trying the ESV for family devotions, and am considering going back to the NIV84 until the kids get older… since I have 3 NIV study Bibles…

No I don’t care if the kids have to memorize scripture in one version and we read as a family in another.  Why?  Have you heard me recite Psalm 103 with my “King James New American International English Standard Version” mongrel mix up?  Trust me they will be fine.

As I read this post back, I don’t see way to coherently bind it all together, or segue into what I really want to say… so essentially what i want to say is, please send some money to Wycliffe Bible translators to help get some translations going in other languages – or you can help support my Brother in law who is serving with Wycliffe in SE Asia with his family…click below! :)

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That is all.


#Firstworldproblems

Are You Broken? Good.

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

To my broken, hurting, addicted, struggling, at the end of the rope, brothers and sisters.

God did not send his son to die for you because you were good enough.

God did not send his son to die for you because you were strong enough.

Jesus did not suffer the wrath of God and die in your place because you were all right and going to heaven on your own merit.  No. When you were at your weakest, at the appointed time, God rescued you.  When you could not overcome that addiction.  That alcohol.  That lust.  That adultery.  That anger.  That idolatry.  That pride.  When you were dead in your sin, Christ died for you.

This is the staggeringly beautiful good news of the gospel of Jesus.

Are you Broken?

Good.

Now stand up.  Get up!  And stop complaining that you are too weak, or not good enough, or too far gone. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  God has forgiven you and you have the power that raised Christ from the dead living in you!  Yeah you are weak, so am I, so is your pastor, so was Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and John Calvin.  So now there is nothing you can complain about!  We are all weak.

BUT …as the old kids song says…he is strong.  Rely on him.  Stop looking at yourself and your weakness and look to him.

Got your focus on Christ?

Good.

Now wage war on your sinful addictions and struggles and weakness in the strength he provides.  Don’t look back. Don’t look at yourself.  Don’t waver.  Focus on him.  It is all about him.  Not about you.

This is part two. Read part one Here.

Did you know that this dirt not only damages the person it is about? It also damages the person hearing the gossip because it often causes them to judge the other person unfairly. There is now some dirt on the hearer, who often will also pick up a shovel and start flinging the dirt… Everyone gets hurt, and no one escapes. How often do we hear some juicy gossip and believe it, even though it is unverified? Recently, a rumor spread about someone I know.  He had no idea it was even out there, until a brother in Christ went to him and asked him about it.  Since the rumor was untrue, he laughed about it and thanked his brother for going to him and not spreading it. His brother did not pick up a shovel, he went with a med kit ready to stop a potential bleed. The next time you hear a rumor, go to the person being rumored about. And never spread something about another person whether it is true or not.

Our words should be carefully chosen, and designed to build up, not to destroy:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ~ Ephesians 4:29-31

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~ Colossians

As Paul says in Titus 3:2 we must “slander no one”, and be always be ready  to speak a good word about our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we all know at least one person in the Church who makes it their business to know everything about everyone;  they are the ones who have a well worn shovel and calloused hands. What are we to do about these people? So often we just laugh it off, “That is just the way she is,” we say and we leave it at that.  We don’t want to step on toes or intrude in other peoples business…

But.

She is destroying with that shovel.

This is not just some idle chatter, this is deadly serious.  In fact, her soul is at stake.  In fact, she is a sinner who has an arterial bleed that needs to be plugged.  She needs surgery.  But she cannot see it for all the dirt she is flinging, with her eyes focused others rather than on her own perilous condition or better yet…on Jesus Christ.  It is our duty, as our Lord told us in Matthew 18, to admonish her, not only for the sake of her victim, but for her own sake, and your sake and the churches sake!

2The Bible clearly teaches that a Christian cannot live in sin. The Christian can fall into sin, but he will not stay there, nor can sin be a life pattern. So if her life pattern is one of using a shovel, if she has calloused hands from flinging the dirt of hatred, slander, venom, gossip, and rumor onto other believers. We have every reason to be concerned for that person’s salvation. But never talk about her! Let me be clear on that!  Don’t gossip about a gossiper, the same tactic must taken with her, as her victim.  We are to go beside her, and help plug that bleed. We should do everything we can to correct it, for her sake, and the sake of all those around her.  If we just ignore her gossip, we are only helping to spread the dirt, whether we grab a shovel or not.  Because…

She will continue to fling the dirt.

She will continue to bleed.

And she will die, as she tears down those around her.

What a sad state to be in.

If the love of God is in our hearts and the power that raised Christ from the dead is living in us, His love is going to shine through us and we will display that fruit.

In 1 John 5 we read that, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” If I love God I will love Jesus Christ, and I will love His children – other believers.

I won’t bury them alive with gossip and slander.

If I am a child of God, I am going to see other believers as my own brothers and sisters. It doesn’t mean we don’t discipline when sin is present. What it does mean is we don’t lie, gossip, backbite, slander and we don’t maliciously defame character. If I do these things, if shoveling dirt on others the pattern of my life, if I am known around the barracks as a “shoveler,” then I would do well to pause and consider my actions, my motives and my heart. Why? Because the one who loves God love the ones God loves.

If we see fellow believers as God’s beloved covenant children, If we see them as the people for whom the Savior bore the unbridled wrath of God and died, if we see them as those who are the eternal beloved and cherished bride of Jesus Christ, if we see them as our brothers and sisters, as fellow Christians to be protected and forgiven and nurtured and cared for, that is going to control how we talk about them.

We control slander not simply by keeping the shovel in the shed (keeping our mouths shut), we control slander by keeping our thoughts and focus on the right thing. Remember that God in mercy looked upon you with favour and we do well to have the same grace for others. We do well to ask ourselves, “What do I think about others?” “Do I see them as the covenant children of God?” If I do, if I love God and my brother, I will never say anything about him that is not true, that tears down, that kills and destroys. I will not maliciously lie, slander, gossip and fling dirt.

In James the question is asked “who can tame the tongue?” That is not a rhetorical question, because the answer is very clear… Jesus can. There is grace for the shoveler if he repents. There is great hope for all of us through the blood of Jesus.

May our speech to others and about others be “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Photo Credit: http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/httpwwwadamcohncom,mining/Interesting

It happens, on occasion, that hurting Christians, who I don’t know at all, tell me their deepest darkest secrets and stories of struggles and doubts. I guess that there is something about being able to remain anonymous or only be known to one other person, and pour out your heart about your struggles and sins. I guess that is a good thing, and I don’t mind. But what frustrates me is almost every time I mention going to the Church with their problems, a pastor or an elder, or mature Christian friend, the response is basically,

“I can’t…cuz gossip and slander.”
or
“I can’t cuz people will know …”

The one place the hurting sinner should be able to turn to is the Church. But most people are too afraid, and sadly, most of them are justified in their fears. And that should shame us all. Someone once said that the church is the only army that shoots its wounded.

And it appears to be true.

Buried_aliveJust look around. Instead of running to the side of our wounded brother or sister, we gossip about them. Instead of putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleed, we grab a shovel and start burying them with dirt while they look up at us, helpless, reaching out with a bloodstained hand and begging for mercy… That shovel is your tongue and the dirt is gossip, slander, discord, lies, secret whisperings on the wind that destroy instead of building up. The next time you hear some dirt being flung around, rather than picking up a shovel, go to the side of your wounded brother (that whom the gossip is about) and put some pressure on the wound: ask them about it, see their side of it, pray with them about it. Grab their arm and help them to their feet, or sling them over your shoulder and carry them to the medic. We should be doing everything we can to help our wounded brothers and sisters, not bury them.

Read part 2: Plugging the Bleed

Pro Life? I am Pro Jesus

Posted: November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
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“You anti-abortion, mysoginystic [sic] anti-abortion bigots all make me sick!”  Redundant…Oh, there was also some stuff about not caring about the teen unwed mom, Westboro baptists, blowing up abortion clinics and something about posting pics of aborted foetuses.  Anyway.  That was a comment I got on my last post.  Which I find funny since all I mentioned was tiny pink and blue flags, soldiers and a particular reporter’s writing style.  Anywho…

Recently ARPA and We Need a Law set up a solemn and beautiful display of ten thousand tiny blue and pink flags, (representing the 100,000 abortions that happen each year in Canada), on the museum grounds in Chilliwack, BC – my home town. There has been a lot of negative press due to the supposed disrespect to veterans and soldiers because this is where the cenotaph is located. Some calling We Need A Law director, Mike Schouten, a liar, describing the display as a “stunt,” and describing the organizations members as “anti-abortionists.” This term brings to mind all the negative connotations associated with the hateful, in-your-face, “Westoboro Baptist” personalities, to the crazed fundamentalist, religious nut job, abortion clinic bombers. And this is not by mistake or because of ignorance. The world hates us and our biblical worldview.  Jesus told us in Matthew,“you will be hated by all for my name’s sake…” and in John 15:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15: 18-19)

The crazy thing about all this negative press is that it was just some blue and pink flags.  That’s it.

There were no pictures of aborted babies.

There were no picket signs.

There were no angry fist shaking mobs or chants of, “Repent, sinner!”

There was no shaming of teenage mothers-to-be contemplating abortion.

But since the display itself was not offensive, they had to find something to get mad about.  So they got upset at the location.

I am not going to defend anything here but, can I just say something? We are pro-life, not anti-abortion. We do not kill doctors, shame teen moms, or bomb abortion clinics. I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me, being “Pro-life” does not mean simply being against abortion. Being Pro-life means, educating the public on what abortion is.  It means helping moms to be, (and dads),  seek education on parenting, adoption, counselling. It means loving them. It means, if a teen mom decides to keep the child, helping her find the support and education that she needs to raise the child. Being pro life means sharing the actual, real, gospel message of Jesus… because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Jesus declared in the Gospel of John that He was going to lay down His life for His sheep, and then take it back again. He spoke of His authority over life and death as being granted to Him by the Father.  He promised that “because I live, you also will live.”   In Jesus alone is found the answer to the abortion debate.  And that debate won’t be won using “Westboro” tactics. Jesus is “the life.”   It will be won using Jesus’ tactics – love and grace.  Love does not mean being easy on abortion, but showing the truth of the matter in love. As Ephesians 5:11 tells us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, rather expose them.”  Exposing it  does not equal being a mean spirited, angry, poopy-face, it means caring about the other person enough to help point them in the other direction. Grace does not mean looking the other way. Have grace for those hurting souls who have no clue what to do when their boyfriend got them pregnant, when they get raped, or after having an abortion. Be willing to forgive, to assist, to love and to offer a hug.

What is the difference between an anti-abortionist and a pro lifer?

Love and Grace.

The pro lifer loves the broken sinner, and has grace for her.  The anti-abortionist condemns her. The pro lifer shares the gospel of grace and repentance in love.  The anti-abortionist serves swift judgement with self righteous anger, without offering the gospel.

Grace and love = pro life.

Life = Jesus.

I guess I am pro Jesus.

And I am fine with being hated for that.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

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What follows is my response to the article in the Chilliwack times, Veterans speak out on anti-abortion protest at Chilliwack Cenotaph.  There is much more that could be said, so if you feel so inclined, please send a message to the editor  here.

Dear editor,

Regarding the article, “Veterans Speak Out on Anti-Abortion Protest at Chilliwack Cenotaph,” Nov. 4, 2014.

Living in Chilliwack, I have attended the Remembrance Day parade at the cenotaph each year since I moved to our fair city seven years ago. Since childhood, I have proudly worn a poppy in remembrance of the brave sacrifices that were made to secure our freedom as Canadians. I have the deepest gratitude and respect for those who have served, and currently do serve, in the Canadian military. We absolutely should respect and preserve the honour of the many soldiers who gave their lives to fight against those evil ideologies that sought to deny some groups of humans the right to life.

But, each year in Canada, the lives of 100,000 helpless human beings are snuffed out before they take their first breath. And there is no legislation against this. Sadly, Canada shares this status with only North Korea and China. While I agree that we must respect our soldiers, veterans, and those who have sacrificed their lives for us, what better place for a peaceful and solemn display that seeks to see an end to the current holocaust, than at the cenotaph? We should value the lives lost due to abortion as we value the lives sacrificed and remembered on Remembrance Day.

As for Mr. Henderson’s reporting of this event, it is my understanding that ARPA and We Need a Law chose to use the museum grounds because it was the only public area with enough grass in the busy downtown core to accommodate the number of flags for their display; the cenotaph simply happens to be on those grounds. Essentially stating that Schouten is a liar at the end of the article is far too strong for a mere misunderstanding out of city hall. I strongly suggest that Mr. Henderson simply post unbiased facts and avoid the sensationalism that this article is.

Respectfully,

Ryan Smith
Chilliwack BC

Image Credit: Brad Smith as appeared in the Chilliwack Times

Home Happy

The elders of our congregation have given us a list of questions that we should think about prior to our home visits this year. I really think it is a good idea to prepare for the home visits, and on the whole I really enjoyed this 8 page booklet. I like introspection, and this was a good exercise for me! I did, however, wonder at the very first question, “Would you be able to describe your home as a happy place?” What if we answer, “No?” Is that cause for concern? I must admit that I found it interesting that the first question deals with happiness. For my family, I can say that our home is a happy place about 80% of the time, except when the baby is crying in the middle of night, or during the “witching hours” between about 4pm and 7pm when the kids are hungry and tired.

And of course whenever the kids are in time out, or being unruly.

Oh and when my wife and I talk about finances.

Oh and whenever one of us is sick.

So I guess that my home is a happy place about 63% percent of the time. (Are you reading this Br. Ward Elder?) :)

The second question, which immediately follows the first is, “What sort of things in your home give evidence that it is truly Christian?” I have no problem with this question as it is a very good question to ponder.

But…

Given the order of the questions, it would seem to be logical that happiness appears to be the most important thing, and that it must be an evidence of a truly Christian home. But since my home is only a “happy” place 63% of the time, does that mean it is not truly Christian?

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So I wonder what is meant by the word “happy?” Will my home be necessarily happy if I am suffering from depression, and am thinking suicidal thoughts? Will my wife be happy in that situation? Will I be happy if my child has a disorder and throws tantrums, hits, and breaks things all day long? Will I be happy if I suffer migraines and am unable to work? Should your home be happy if your wife is killed in a car crash and your kids cry themselves to sleep every night? Was Paul happy while he sat in prison? Was Stephen happy as he was stoned to death? Was John happy as he sat isolated on the Island of Patmos? Was Luther happy as he burned to death?

Does my home necessarily need to be a happy place in order to be truly Christian?

What does it mean to be “happy?” The definition of “happy” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:

  • feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
  • showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
  • pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.

Would “feeling pleasure and enjoyment” be evidence of being truly Christian? If so, then Joel Osteen must be the most Christian of all the preachers out there. That guy smiles more than he speaks. I don’t know about you, but I certainly get pleasure and enjoyment from video games, hot tubs, Belgian ales, and date nights with my wife…those things make me happy. Mmmm…016565f11b1eb3655ae5353c03c5975f

I digress.

Ok, I know that this question is not placed there idly. I know that, because of whom this series of questions was written by; a man whom I respect very much in the faith. So I scratch my head and ponder. I know I could just pick up the phone, or fire off an email and ask what is meant by the question, “Would you consider your home a happy place?” and maybe I will. But first, I will finish this, since it is almost done. :)

My assumption is that the writer of the questions is speaking of happiness in the same vein as the Puritans did. That is, happiness = blessedness. Or perhaps the intent of this question is that happiness = joyfulness. Perhaps it is a question to just gauge where the home is at, like a barometer testing the storminess of the home. That gauge would then allow the elders to focus on what is causing the “unhappiness” in the home. If your home is truly unhappy then there is usually an underlying reason, and if the reason is spiritual then it should be addressed by the elders. But I posit that “joy” would be a better word than “happy” to describe a truly Christian home. “Would you describe your home as a joyful place?” Could this be just a matter of semantics? Perhaps, but I will continue.

Rembrandt-Paul-in-PrisonI mentioned Paul earlier. As he sat in Prison, chained and beaten, I am pretty sure that he was not happy, but he was full of joy. If we look at the book of Philippians, which Paul wrote while in prison, he uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” sixteen times. Paul is joyful but not because of his circumstances. He is joyful in spite of his circumstances. The definition of happiness we read earlier describes pleasure and enjoyment as coming out of our situation, but joy is from Jesus Christ and despite our situation. In Philippians 1:12-24, Paul tells us that because of his imprisonment, the whole Roman guard, and much of Rome, had been exposed to the gospel message. So he declares, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” And while sitting in prison, consumed with grace of Jesus Christ, Paul goes on to encourage the Philippians, and us as well, to have joy in all things, knowing that God strengthens us and supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

family-bible-timeThe Bible appears to teach that happiness is transient because it often depends on things like our situation in life, but true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. So I could say that I am happy because my kids are healthy, but I will rejoice even if they have cancer. I am happy because I have a house and a car and things, but I will rejoice even if they are taken from me. I am happy because of external and fleeting things, but I will rejoice because of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, and in Jesus alone, I find joy.

And yes, I am able to describe my home as a happy place…at least 63% of the time. I can also say that it is a joyful place approximately 89.8% of the time.

So, while we are asking…what about you? Would you be able to describe your home as a happy place?

brittany-maynard-1-600Brittany Maynard took her own life, assisted by doctors.   While her decision is sad, it is actually quite easy to understand.  If you have ever seen the pain one must suffer as cancer destroys their body, you will understand why she chose not to endure that kind of suffering.

I watched my dad die.

The suffering my father went through, especially in his final hours, was heart wrenching.  But he would never have chosen to die.  When the doctors offered him medication to ease the pain and help him sleep in his final hours, he asked, “That is not for euthanasia is it?”

After 2 years of suffering, he knew it would be over soon.

He knew he would die in mere hours, but he wanted to die on God’s terms.

Not on his own terms.

His eye was on Jesus, not on himself.

Robert M’Cheyne spoke of the contrast between the unbeliever and the believers in the midst of suffering in his book, the Believer’s Joy,

“When a man’s eye is closed on Christ and the eternal world, he cannot stand the shock of afflictions; but if his eyes clearly see Jesus, you may take away houses and lands, his dearest earthly possessions, his loved ones, still his chief treasure is untouched.”

You see, even though my dad could not bear that pain he was enduring, he knew that his suffering was not for nothing. His suffering was for Jesus. He knew it was not meaningless. He knew that his saviour suffered more than he was at that moment. One of my favorite texts is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

Do you see?

Our suffering is not meaningless, but has purpose!

God does not delight in our suffering, but weeps with us as he did in John 11. But he doesn’t only cry for us, He also gives us hope and assurance that our sufferings are not meaningless! Just as Jesus cried with Mary before he raised Lazarus, the Lord cries with us, knowing that he will redeem our suffering. Our suffering is not meaningless. It is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that we cannot comprehend.

But we live in a world that says any type of suffering is meaningless; that was the ideology to which Brittany Maynard clung. It is the reason she chose to end her life. It is an ideology of hedonism which seeks to reduce pain and suffering and acquire pleasure, at any cost. Just look around us. To dull physical and emotional pain, people turn to sex, alcohol, drugs, gluttony, and other sinful behaviors. If we don’t want the trouble of raising a child we can kill it through abortion.  If we have a terminal illness, and if we do not want to face the impending suffering, we can just end it “on our own terms.”  Soon, when our parents become a burden we’ll be able to end that as well.  As if human suffering is meaningless and human life has little more value than cattle.

But your suffering is not meaningless and your life does have value.

The Heidelberg Catechism states,

“I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood…”

This is from 1 Corinthians where Paul tells us,

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Do you want to know what the value of your body is? What is the value of the precious blood of Christ?  That was the payment for us. And since Christ owns us in body and soul, who are we to decide to end it?

But I get why Brittany Maynard did it.  Humanly speaking, anyway.  In a life of suffering, without the hope of salvation through the blood of Christ, it is easy to see why she chose to do it. But as believers, the Lord never tells us that we will not suffer. This is so important to remember as we make our journey through this life in a culture that seeks instant gratification and believes it is a divine right to avoid suffering and have a comfortable life. Knowing that suffering will certainly come, be it from cancer, persecution, joblessness, the death of a loved one, or something else altogether, encourages us to look for God’s purpose in our suffering. In God’s purpose and design, nothing that a Christian endures is wasted.  Opposed to the ideology of the world, and of Brittany Maynard, no suffering my dad endured in his last moments of life was meaningless.

Soli Deo Gloria.

I Moustache You A Question.

Posted: November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

november one

It is November.  The chill is in the air and  the garden plants are turning brown and dying.  The leaves are changing colours to glorious reds, yellows, browns, and oranges. The rakes are out, and my overly nitrogen rich compost pile is receiving a much needed infusion of carbon. But as the season changes and the greenery dies, something new is growing.

On the faces of countless men.

Movember is here.

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With their “Mo’s”, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives.  Or not.  I wonder how many guys actually raise money…I digress. This is worthy cause, but I have not decided if I will be participating this time around.  I am leaning to not participating…I have to present some semblance of professionalism in my job and the first week of a ‘Mo’ is not very appealing.  And my wife does not like it.

Honestly it has nothing to do with the grey…

Well.

Ok maybe it does.

I moustache ask you a question. What is wrong with aging?  We are blasted on all sides by marketing saying to try the newest “look 10-15-20 years younger remedy” or use this cream to “hide your wrinkles”, or try this hair dye to hide your gray, or try this hair replacement therapy, weight loss pills, use this magic electric belt to zap your abs and melt away fat!

And on it goes.  Some ladies shell out 80-100-150 or more per month on getting their hair dyed and cut in the latest fashion! Some men spend thousands upon thousands to hide the bald spot.  I am thinning on top as well and it is quite upsetting :)  If I am honest I would probably hop on the first anti-thinning-hair-replacement remedy that actually worked…if I could afford it.

But I moustache ask you a question. What does the Bible say about all this? 

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31)

I am thinning up top, I am bit more jiggly in the middle, and I have grey facial hair – but apparently these signs of aging are a crown. God tells us, so it must be so! Where we are tempted to hide the effects of aging, we should embrace them. Even though we might deplore them, we should celebrate them. Yes wrinkles and grey hair, slowing metabolism and all the effects of growing old are the result of the fall, but the Bible speaks of aging with dignity and grace. No matter how hard it is for me to admit that I have gray hairs…or losing my hair altogether.

So, do not be ashamed to display the signs of age. Greying hair is a “crown of Glory”, a mark of a life long-lived. I guess my thinning spot is a crown.  Don’t be ashamed of a receding hairline or wrinkles; don’t trouble yourself over a perceived loss of beauty. Accept the processes of aging with grace, and give thanks to God for the life He has granted you. I am not going to judge anyone who dyes their hair, but I am going to think twice about it as I grow older, no matter how tempting it is! And really, most dyed hair  is pretty clearly fake, I mean how many 60 year olds have jet black hair? Is vanity something we should be spending money on?

It is not easy to lose the trappings of youth. It is so much harder at 36 to lose those extra 10 pounds than it was even 5 years ago…but remember, the signs of age are the marks of dignity. Why should we buy into the world’s view of beauty, which views the aging process as ugly and unappealing? Such thinking is a lie–and a much-believed one at that. So I desire to live a righteous life, in his power, and receive my crown of glory as my hair turns silver (or disappears) graciously.

I moustache ask you just one more question…should I grow one?

This article has been reworked from an article I wrote in 2012 called Movember and Grey Hair