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Cleansed with Blood

I realise that Christmas is only a week away and blood isn't the usual Christmas topic but this morning in my prayer room I was struck with an insight.  One part of my prayer time is with a goblet of grape juice ("wine"), which represents, which is, the blood of Christ.  But what does it mean?  What am I doing when I drink that cup?

Blood has always been the spiritual cleanser.  God accepted Abel's gift of a slain lamb on the altar but did not accept Cain's gift of fresh produce.  That gift or more precisely God's acceptance of it cost Abel his life!  The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all made blood sacrifices or offerings to God.  In the days of Moses, that requirement was codified with more specific instructions.  Blood sprinkled on people and their clothes was an act of cleansing, purifying, a sign of the covenant that made them a different and separate people from those around them.  Today, if we get even a drop of blood on our clothes we wash it …

Symbols of Mikael's Life--II Bicycle+

Bicycle and Helmet: Mikael's most common mode of transportation was his bicycle--in all seasons.  Those who knew him remember the shorts he would sport even in winter.  He'd had a variety of encounters with motorised vehicles but they never stopped him.  He figured the most likely way he'd die would be in such a collision and said that if that was the case, he wanted his bike painted white and locked to a pole closest to the accident site.  Mikael was never afraid of death.  He would rather have had an early demise while living life to the fullest than hold back his passion for living.  


On the first day of his cycle-across-Canada trip, he was struck by a vehicle on the highway that sent him into the ditch and damaged his bike.  Did that stop him?  No!  After some long discussions with us, his parents, he set out on the road again.  The trip was brutal, with rain many of the days and steep inclines he had to walk up instead of riding.  It was after four flat tires in a two-…

Symbols of Mikael's Life--I Kayak+

Oak tree: In the months leading up to his death, Mikael had gone back to university, choosing two courses: Evil in Religion and Death in Religion.  Not the best choice for someone who has been suicidal but he was nearly 25 and could make his own decisions despite my concerns.    I`m not sure if it was an assignment or something he did on his own, but he wrote out a description of what he`d like his funeral to look like.


One instruction was that he didn`t want a lot of flowers.  Instead he wanted trees.  Lots of them.  That wasn`t too practical but to give a nod to that desire we decided to get one tree that we would later plant in his honour.  I chose oak because of my own partiality to it but also because it is a strong, firm tree.


The family to whom Mikael had sent his only two farewells to, went and bought the tree for us and in a small ceremony we planted it in a nearby park (with permission), placing some of his ashes in the hole.  The tree is now chemically part Mikael!


Kayak: On…

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.


A Special Gift on a Special Day

I have more to write about Mikael but first I want to share something amazing that happened yesterday, the first anniversary of his death.
In the last few days, many have written to me (and Tom) letting me (us) know they are thinking of us, praying for us, giving encouragement, etc.  One of these revealed that she too has loss she is struggling with and shared a passage from the Bible that has helped her.  She added this: “God has wanted to be the "ONE" for me. … My struggle is how do I feel his arms around me. How can I curl on the sofa with him. Where is the physical presence of a warm, comforting presence.”
I immediately thought of the first time I experienced God’s arms around me.  I wrote about it in my book, Searching for Love,” and suggested she read it; but then God told me her need was more immediate so I dug out the digital manuscript to copy and paste and send her that portion.  You can find a copy of that here.
Yesterday she wrote back to me.  I could hardly believe…

In God's Arms

Below are a few paragraphs from my book, Searching for Love, that describe the first time I ever felt God's arms around me.  I am currently writing something that will refer to this.

Another friend I was visiting had taken an incredible spiritual journey and I was looking forward to spending time with her. I thought we would spend our two days together talking and we did lots of that, but she had a very busy schedule and invited me to join in her activities. I agreed, wondering what else God had in store for me. One event was her centring prayer class. She had tried to explain it to me and was, I think, a bit nervous that I might misunderstand or not “get” it. However I had already been introduced to the concept by a friend back home and was intrigued so I was eager to join her class. In fact, the night before, I got so sick with altitude sickness that I became convinced God wanted me at that class and that the enemy was doing all he could to keep me away. The idea of centring pray…

Honouring Mikael Through the Arts

Two days after Mikael died, I received the following e-mail from the arts director at church:
"If we (I) can honour your son ANY way thru the arts, please let me know!"

The e-mail was an answer to prayer.  I wrote:

Thank you!  YES!  We need someone artistic to do something and I didn't know who to ask.  Your name came to mind but you don't know me!  So God obviously told you of our need.
We are cremating Mikael so there won't be a coffin but Mikael loved to kayak and what we decided with Nathan is that we are going to put Mikael's ashes in the kayak.  Nathan thought about leaning the kayak against the large cross at the front and somehow securing the kayak so it's safe.  My boys are going to take the kayak to the florist (just so they can see it) so they can make a large arrangement to sit in the kayak sitting area.  That's sort of the idea BUT...
the kayak leaning against the cross isn't necessary (but nice and we have to tell the florist in the morn…

Act of Love Provokes Tears

Wednesday, November 10, is the first anniversary of our son Mikael's passing.  There's a post or series of posts (haven't decided which yet) I want to write and tonight, in searching for the photos to match, I came across one (actually several together) that wrenched my stomach and provoked the tears that have seldom flowed since he died: My pastor holding the thin cardboard box containing Mikael's ashes and placing them as we wanted for the funeral.

In the first photo Nathan is talking with my sons Mons and Erik (older brothers to Mikael).  He bends to the ground to put the box of ashes inside one of four bicycle paniers Mikael sewed by hand for a cross-Canada biking trip he planned several years ago, ties up the panier, wraps it in Mikael's favourite blanket--the blanket I used to cover him as he was dying, thinking he was finally getting a good night's sleep--and places the package inside the kayak Mikael had used so much the summer he died.


Thank you, Nathan…

He Brought Joy to My Soul

Last week I sent the following prayer request to my church and some friends:

There are nine days before the anniversary of Mikael's death (November 10, the day before Remembrance Day) and Tom and I are having a very hard time, each in different ways.  Would you please pray for us?  For myself, I am needing more and more sleep as the date draws nearer.  I over-react to things, can't concentrate or think clearly and my memory is completely unreliable.  Too easily I snap at Tom.  Because we're grieving so differently, we're not being terribly good support for each other.  I can see why parents who lose a child often end up with broken marriages.

Please pray that this time of pain and tension will draw us closer to each other and to God.  Pray that we continue to have hope that we will get past this time.  Please pray in whatever way God seems to lead you.  We'd be most grateful.

God answers prayer in ways that sometimes boggle the mind.

Last week, around the same time,…

Is Russell Williams Forgiveable?

"The understandable hatred that was expressed yesterday and that has been palpable throughout the week, has me recognize that most will find it impossible to accept. But the fact is, I very deeply regret what I have done and the harm I know I have caused so many." --Russell Williams the day he was sentenced for two murders, two sexual assaults and 82 break-ins.
"Go join your friend, Paul Bernardo." --Anonymous man in the courtroom

"The depths of the depravity shown by Russell Williams have no equal." --Justice Robert Scott, presiding judge
"I can never, ever, ever forgive him for taking my daughter’s life and taking her away forever.." --Roxanne Lloyd, mother of murder victim Jessica Lloyd
"(He is) pure evil that took her from us." --Andy Lloyd, brother of Jessica Lloyd
"We cannot forgive the affront to all of us and to all that is decent. We long to lance it, like a boil on the world." --Mike Strobel, The Sault Star

“He cannot sta…

We're Not That Different

It took two days to read the eighty-eight charges against him. A courtroom, the nation and indeed the world watched in disgust, horror and jaw-dropping shock as the secret life of the former commander of Canada's largest air force base unfolded.  It seemed unbelievable that Russell Williams, golden boy of the RCAF and one-time pilot for Queen Elizabeth and Canadian Prime Ministers, honoured by all who knew him, could descend into the depravity revealled by his meticulous journalling and the hundreds of photographs he took during his crimes that detailed every step of his actions: 82 counts of break and entry stealing the lingerie of women and girls as young as 12 and staying in their empty bedrooms for as long as two hours, four counts of sexual assault and forceable confinement and the murders of two women.

He has been called "Canada's Bright Shining Lie," "Sexual Sadist," "Sicko," "Psychopath," and "Monster,"  an aberration …

QQC: Your Bloody Clothes

QQCQuirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 24:8
In God's kingdom, blood is an important commodity.  We can see this in the New Testament where the blood of Jesus is frequently referred to.  In fact, at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), of the four Levitical laws Gentiles were required to keep, two were about blood: "abstain from...the meat of strangled animals [if strangled, the animal's blood would stay in the meat] and from blood." (vs. 20)  
Blood is a spiritual cleansing agent.  Revelation 7:14 says that the survivors of the Great Tribulation will have their clothes "made white in the blood of the Lamb"; Hebrews 9:14  talks about how the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences and Hebrews 9:22 asserts that nearly everything needs to "be cleansed with blood" and that there is no forgiveness without blood.
This helps to explain why, after he had read the Book of the Covenant to God's people at the foot of Mt. Sinai and after the people responded …

QQC: They Will Be a Snare to You

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 23:31, 32
Israel was a nation God created for himself.  They were a holy people because they were different, set apart from all other people groups.  God wanted them to stay that way.  There were a number of things that made them different, separate, holy.  For one, they were not to worship the gods of other nations or even have the likenesses of other gods in the country.  They had an entire day out of seven in which they relaxed and did no work.  When they came to the tabernacle to worship, they turned their backs to the sun--a deity for many peoples--and faced God and his dwelling place.  They had rules about what they could and couldn't eat, what they could and couldn't wear, who they could and couldn't have sex with.  There were rules about cleanliness, health and relationships.
God wanted his people to stay separate, different, holy and so he warned them sternly, "Do not let them (the people they were to drive out of Canaan) l…

QQC--Don't Come Empty-handed!

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 23:14, 15
God gave his people three festivals to celebrate each year: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Harvest and Feast of Ingathering.  Each festival was to be celebrated at the place where the tabernacle or temple was located.  For most of Isreal's history, that place was Jerusalem.  Each time, they were to bring an offering.  "No one is to appear before me empty-handed," God told them.  
I wonder why.  God certainly didn't need any of their gifts or offerings.  Later in the Bible he says that he desires mercy, not sacrifice, yet each time the people of God came to the place where he dwelt, they had to bring something with them.  Yes, some of what they brought was to help sustain the priests and Levites serving at the tabernacle/temple, but I think God had another purpose in mind as well.  Could it be that he was teaching his people to be a generous people?  To hold loosely in their hands the things God gave them and to remem…

QQC--Love Your Enemies

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 23:4, 5
Jesus' teaching on loving our enemies has often been considered revolutionary, compared to the Old Testament but consider the following verses!  
"If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.  If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it."
Our God is a God of love and he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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I Cannot Come

Dear friend,
It’s taken me a long time to respond to you because I haven’t known quite what to say.  Your change in position has unsettled and disturbed me.  I would love to believe like you—it’s very tempting—but I can’t.  How can I, after all God has done in my life?  To say that he honours homosexual union flies in the face of all I’ve lived for the past nine years.  It negates all the pain and struggle I have gone through.  Why did I engage in the battle if it wasn’t for God?  
He is the only reason I’ve made the decisions I have—to fight my same-sex desires, to persevere in my marriage, to relinquish all the love Pearl had to give me (I still miss her).  It was to follow God.  He made himself very clear time and time again.  He gave me insights about himself, about myself and about others.  How can I say it wasn’t God?  There is no other explanation.  But why would God have bothered if he honours and blesses same-sex unions?  Would he not, more likely, if that was the case, have bl…

QQC--Defence of Property

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 22:2-3
Here is a curious thing.  In the rules about protecting property, God allowed the property owner  to kill the thief--but only if it happened at night.  If it happened after sunrise he was guilty of bloodshed.  Why did daylight make a difference? 
It wasn't a carte blanche for a thief to steal during the day.  He had to make restitution, even if it meant becoming a slave because he had no other means.  Stealing certainly didn't pay.




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QQC--Lest Your Nakedness be Exposed

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 20:26
In today's modern society, we are bombarded with billboards, tv, videos and other media that often show more skin than they hide.  We hardly notice it anymore.  
As God was giving Moses instructions on the tabernacle he was to build and the furnishings in it he said, "...do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it."  God is the same today as he was then.  He didn't want anyone to see under the long robes the priests wore.  Why?  Why did he consider this so offensive?  Is it still?  Does this speak at all to our clothing (or lack thereof) today?  How?  What is wrong with "nakedness"?

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QQC--Honouring God and Blessings

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 20:24
"Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you."
God comes to us in places where he is honoured.  So, in places where he is not honoured, does he withhold himself and his blessings?  
God was referring to the location of the tabernacle and later temple.  There has been no temple for nearly 2,000 years.  What are the sorts of places where God's name might be honoured today?  Where might God's name not honoured?  If I am the temple of God* am I a place where God is honoured?  Will God come to me and bless me if I am not?  How do I honour God?  How do I dishonour him?  What about you?



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 * 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 6:16



QQC--A Perilous Business

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 19:10-22
After three months of travelling in the desert, God's people arrived at Mount Sinai, where they would stay an entire year as God gave Moses his laws of relationship with him, with each other, with strangers and even with animals; instructions on how to build a house of worship where his people could come to him and the actual construction of the tabernacle and all it needed to function.
Soon after their arrival to Mt. Sinai, God wanted to meet with his people but there were things they needed to do first: be consecrated by Moses, wash their clothes, abstain from sexual relations and be ready.  There was a line around the mountain they could not cross.  If even an animal crossed the line, it was to be killed in a way that did not involve crossing the line or touching the animal or person to be killed.  
On the big day, there was thunder and lightning.  A thick cloud covered the mountain and a loud trumpet blast sounded across the entire c…

QQC--If You Listen

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 15:22-26


The Children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea and celebrated their escape from Pharaoh's clutches but now, after three days of travelling in the desert with no water, they were thirsty.  Finally they found water, but it tasted horrid.  That's when the grumbling started.  "What are we to drink?" they asked.
Moses turned to God.  "What are they to drink?" he asked.  God showed him a piece of wood and told him to throw it into the bitter waters.  Amazingly, it now tasted great.
"There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them.  He said, 'If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.'"
"If you listen."  God had a condition to his promise.  "I won…