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Showing posts from July, 2008

Soul Tracker by Bill Myers

The first of a trilogy, Soul Tracker examines life after death. Can we visit death through virtual reality? Could we come back to tell about it if we did? What would we find? Where would we go? Is it possible to speak to the dead? David Kauffman’s daughter has died and he wants to know, needs to know where she has gone. His search uncovers some frightening information that sends him hiding to save his life.

What particularly endeared this story to me was the Nepalese/street kids connection. My church has been planting a number of churches in Nepal and maintains close connections with those churches and their people. One church in Kathmandu (maybe more) has specifically reached out to street kids, providing them with love, a home and a solid Christian foundation.

Back here in Winnipeg, in addition to the Nepali connection, my church is situated in the middle of one of the saddest parts of the city—where prostitutes, gangs, drug addicts, sniffers, drunks and violence are common. I’m new t…

Summer Reading

In preparing for surgery mid-June and not knowing how incapacitated I’d be afterwards or for how long, I gathered a pile of novels, mostly Christian, to read when my mind couldn’t handle more thought-provoking non-fiction. My intention was to write a short review after reading each one but I succeeded with the first two only. I was enjoying them so much I would pick up another as soon as one was finished. When I finally sat down to write, too much time had passed for me to remember the details of what had grabbed me in each book.

I’m still hoping to write about them but I also know my procrastination and memory so for now I’m simply going to list them for now with perhaps a few comments:

By Ted Dekker:
Black
Red
White
Thr3e
Obsessed
Showdown
Blink

Dekker writes in a number of styles—Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thrillers. Showdown, for instance is very reminiscent of Stephen King; Blink is a high-speed thriller that gives interesting insights into the Middle East with some sci-fi thrown in and

Captain of my Soul?

“The Spirit of God is everywhere, would that men would yield to Him! The reason we do not yield is that in the deep recesses of our hearts we prefer the captaincy of our own lives, we prefer to go our own way and refuse to let God govern.” – Oswald Chambers*

It’s much easier and safer to go my own way. At least that’s the way it seems. Yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting God govern carries a lot of risk and there are times that I want the comfort and familiarity of what I know—even when my head and God’s Spirit tell me that the risk of obeying God is far safer than the safety of what I’ve always done.

Why do I so stubbornly resist when I know from experience how much better are God’s ways than mine? I’m so easily deceived—willingly deceived because, though I know that God is infinitely trustworthy, I am afraid to trust him. I have built walls to protect myself from hurt. Is it truly safe to let God dismantle them? Can I lower them, stone by stone as God’s Spirit prompts me despite m…

Freedom from Depression

Seven years ago I bought and started to read and answer the questions of The Freedom from Depression Workbook by Les Carter and Frank Minirth. I started and restarted it several times since then and today I finally finished. The last chapter, "Keys to Lasting Change," asks several questions. I'd like to share them and my answers.


What is my purpose as I encounter people each day?
I want to display God’s love for them—for them to know that they matter to God.

What does it mean to be yielded to God?
It means listening to God at all times and obeying what he tells me. I often forget to listen as I get wrapped up in what I’m doing.

Where does a personal commitment to Jesus Christ fit into emotional management?
My commitment to Jesus means that I take my emotions and feelings to him and discuss them with him to hear how He wants me to handle them.

How does knowing that God has a plan for my heavenly destination affect my daily decisions?
I know he’s in control. I know that his hand i…

Intercessory Introspection

What an unexpected title Oswald Chambers gives to an examination of Psalm 139! What does he mean?
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. (v.1)

“Every man is too big for himself, thank God for everyone who realises it and, like the Psalmist, hands himself over to be searched out by God....”*

“...when by the reception of the Holy Spirit I begin to realise that God knows all the
deepest possibilities there are in me, knows all the eccentricities of my being, I find that the mystery of myself is solved by this besetting God....”

“The Psalmist implies...‘I cannot search to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at; my God, search me out and explore me, and let me know that Thou hast....’”

“When we say—‘even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.’ There is no foreboding anxiety, because ‘His love in times past’ enables us to rest confidentially in Him....”

“[The Holy Spirit] brings me into oneness with God entirely whe…

I'm Glad I Went

Last Friday, I shared my fears of going to the church camp-out because of all the unknowns. I wrote that my fears had gone, but then things got worse. I don’t have the energy I should have and by the time all was ready to be put in the car, I had a meltdown. I was so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, all I could do was sit on the couch and cry. I wanted to go. I wanted to get to know people at church but was going a reasonable thing to do? There was still much to do: pack the car, drive to the camp-out location, unpack the car, set up the tent and arrange things inside it ready for sleep and the weekend. How could I do it all? I didn’t think I could. I was sure I couldn’t and so I sat, stymied in despair.

Thank God for awesome sons! Mons and Erik came and sat on each side of me. Erik held my hand while Mons cradled my head, stroked my hair and spoke words of understanding, comfort and encouragement. They helped Tom load the car and we left with me hoping I’d have my emoti…

Does the Conflict ever End?

My reading of Oswald Chambers today has led me to Romans 7 and 8. Chambers looks at three other passages but his teaching on Romans 7 is where I’ve become bogged down.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. ... So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. Romans 7:14, 15, 21-23 NIV
For me, the confusion of this passage is this: At what place in a believer’s life is this true? I’ve always understood it to describe the ongoing life of a committed believer. Who else delights in God’s law? But it seems that not everyone sees it that way and so I wonder what Paul was trying to say. One group I studied with believes this c…

Emotion

My July 17 post entitled "Enthusiasm" was born from my reading of Oswald Chambers’ “The Ethics of Enthusiasm” in “Biblical Ethics.” In that chapter, he talks more about emotion in general, rather than specifically about enthusiasm and I found what he said ringing clear to what I know inside me. Let me quote some of his salient statements and make some comments on one quote in particular. All quotes are taken from The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers pages 112-114.
...The tendency is in us all to say, “You must not trust in feelings”; perfectly true, but if your religion is without feeling, there is nothing in it. If you are living a life right with God, you will have feeling, most emphatically so, but you will never run the risk of basing your faith on feelings. ...the emotions become the beautiful ornament of the life, not the source of it....

Human nature, if it is healthy, demands excitement, and if it does not obtain its thrilling excitement in the right way, it will take…

What Will People Think?

My church is having a camp-out this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it as a chance to get to know people better than I can on Sunday mornings or even at prayer meetings but, as the weekend has approached, fears have arisen from the unknown: What time are people arriving? I don’t want get there before others but I don’t want to be late either. How will I know where to pitch the tent? How many people will be there? How are the meals being handled? The announcement says we’ll be pooling our food but what does that mean? Does it mean that I prepare meals for my husband and me and then we join the others to eat it? Does it mean I prepare meals for my husband and me and then put the two-person portions on a common table for all to try? Does it mean I prepare only one large dish to contribute to the common table? If I don’t get it right, I’ll be embarrassed. I’ll look like a fool and that scares me because then, what will people think?

That’s the basic problem, isn’t it? I’…

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm means, to use the phrase of a German mystic, “intoxicated with God”.... Oswald Chambers*Chambers has a chapter in “Biblical Ethics” called “The Ethics of Enthusiasm” based on Ephesians 5. Much of the chapter is more about emotions in general than enthusiasm specifically but his statement quoted above made me curious. What is the origin of the word “enthusiasm”? What I found is extremely interesting, especially in light of the spiritual road I’ve been on. For decades my spiritual life was punctuated by the rational--doctrine and knowledge more than anything else.

Then a dear friend was knocked down by the power of God when visiting the church known for “The Toronto Blessing.” She had gone, sceptical about what was happening there. She returned a changed person and because of the remarkable change in her, my life too began to change. I went to Vineyard conferences held in the city, attended Prairie Fire gatherings and saw things said to be from the Holy Spirit that I had never…

Insecurity, Not Good Enough, Loneliness

Loneliness. Is that what is behind my need for comfort? My reaching out to certain kinds of foods (ice cream and things with whipped cream)? My spending time in coffee shops and restaurants even though I’m there by myself? (Or, in the past, my reaching for illicit romance and sex?) When I’m at The Forks or at a restaurant or even walking in pedestrian-busy places, I am with people without having to interact. At camp last week I wanted to interact but the best I could do was sit in a somewhat public place with the hopes that others would approach me for conversation.

As Dr. G and I were talking about ice cream and restaurants I began to cry. I cried a lot. That’s when she suggested that loneliness was behind my draw to them. I thought of my dad. He too liked fine things and sought them even though he couldn’t afford them, even though it meant his family did without basic necessities. Did he have the same loneliness? The same need for comfort?

For me it represents freedom; th…

Holy Discontent

There are two or three blogs I have discovered lately that I want to read from beginning to end. One of these is My Journey Out by Kenny Warkentin. He began his blog when, in the spring of 2005, he left the homosexual lifestyle and his partner of eight years because of an encounter he had with God. In one of his posts he writes, "I was recently listening and watching the willowcreek leaders DVD's and one of the speakers asked...."what is your holy dicontent?" Meaning, what injustice can you not stand?"

This got me thinking. What is my holy discontent? What injustice can I not stand? So I've been spending some time thinking about this.

It concerns me greatly that we have so many people professing to be Christians but who are not walking with God. They believe that all they need is salvation--by answering some altar call or praying the sinner's prayer--not realizing that salvation is not only for the future but for now: salvation from slavery to sin;…

Blood: The Cleansing Agent

The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 NIVBlood, the life force of a person or a creature (the life of a creature is in the blood.... Leviticus 17:11 NIV), is a very important part of the Bible. Cain killed his brother Abel because God accepted Abel’s gift of blood (through the killing of a lamb) but not his gift of fruit and grain. Blood brushed onto the doorways of their homes saved the eldest sons of the Israelites when God’s angel came and killed the first born of man and beast. When the tabernacle (and later the temple) and priesthood were established, blood was sprinkled on all the furnishings, on all the priests and on their clothes.

Can you imagine coming to church and seeing splotches of blood all over the pastor as he gets up to preach? The blood wasn’t offensive as it would be to us. The blood was used to make things and people clean and pure, not dirty and contaminated as we wou…

Attacked but Determined to Stay

B.C. missionary attacked in Kenya

Retired, they left Canada to reach out to the poor in Kenya--planting and caring for gardens to feed the orphans and doing what Jesus would do. After only four months there, John was attacked when he stepped out of his home--beaten with clubs, severely cut with machetes and then left in the bushes for dead. The men (seven have been arrested) then went inside, spending the next 45 minutes beating, cutting and raping Eloise who had been having a bath. Once the attackers left, Eloise went looking for her husband, found him, dragged him into their 4 x 4, both bleeding profusely and drove to the mission compound, ramming two different gates to get to safety.
John had "...multiple fractures to the head, jaw and skull ... broken bones in his arms, knees and legs" and required three hours of surgery; both had deep cuts. Yet they say "We want to stay because we know that this is where we're supposed to be. God told us to come here, and we fee…

Foolishness Saves

“...God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21b NIVI want to be wise, not foolish. Wisdom is esteemed, foolishness is not, and God promotes wisdom in places like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes so how does foolishness save? This an example of the upsidedowness of God’s kingdom.

The Greeks were wrapped up in the importance of wisdom. It is from them that we have the great philosophers of Plato, Socrates and others. Particularly in Athens, the people were preoccupied with wisdom and the importance of insight. “Greeks specifically looked for insight into the workings of the world that would relieve humanity’s problems.”*

That sounds like our world today, doesn’t it? Our leaders in government, education and religion keep searching for the answers to problems such as AIDS, terrorism, the environment, poverty, crime, hunger and more. How can we eliminate such things? Surely we can find a way to a utopia that excludes these …

Heaps of Rubble

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews and...said, ‘What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? ... Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble...?’ So we rebuilt the wall...for the people worked with all their heart. Nehemiah 4:1, 2, 6 NIV
Nehemiah was cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Some of God’s people had returned to their homeland from a captivity begun by Nebuchadnezzer but a report reached Nehemiah that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were still broken and destroyed. This news upset Nehemiah so much that the king noticed his unhappiness, asked about it and then sent him to Judah as governor, instructing him to rebuild the wall. Once this task had begun, a group of local men protested loudly and caused all sorts of difficulties for God’s people. Nehemiah didn’t let their opposition stop him. Instead he continued the task.

Oswald Chambers uses this pas…

I've Been Away

My blog has been rather dead and quiet for the last two weeks. What a change from January and February when I was writing every day! This past week my husband and I were at a Christian family camp and returned today. There are so many things I want to write about. Hopefully I'll be able to carve out the time to do so.