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The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

Canada is in mourning.  On Wednesday a lone gunman approached Corporal Nathan Cirillo, one of two honour guards at the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, and shot him point blank.  The gunman then highjacked a car, raced to Parliament Hill, burst into Centre Block and came within metres of our government, including the prime minister, doing business.  The sargeant-at-arms, whose role of protecting Parliament is chiefly ceremonial, shot and killed the gunman before he could do more harm.  He too is a hero.

My thoughts are muddled and unclear but I'm going to explore them here anyway.

One thing that comes to mind is that we've had a lot of soldiers die for our country and for the values we hold dear but few, if any, have received the press-coverage of Nathan Cirillo.  Crowds lined the Highway of Heroes as Cirillo's hearse travelled home to Hamilton.  Where were the crowds for the other fallen?  How much of our mourning is driven by media?

What Is Separating me from the Promise?

This is the question Andy Wood asked us each to consider this morning at the end of his sermon and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Imagine the Jordan River on the eve of the Israelites crossing it into the Promised Land.  The river was at flood stage, so it was moving quickly (even the Red River here in Winnipeg moves quickly during flood season) but this particular stretch of the river near Jericho is narrower than the rest so that as the rushing flood waters reached the point where the people were waiting--all two million of them--it became even more turbulent.  Anyone who's witnessed a flood knows that it doesn't just carry water; there is debris like fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and perhaps even animals unable to escape the river's grab.

Back in the days of Abraham, God had promised the land of Canaan to him and his descendants but during the days of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph, the whole family had moved out of the Promised Land to Egypt because of f…

Set Apart by Faith in Jesus

Hi friends!  It's been a while since I've posted here.  My apologies.  I'm hoping to do better.

This morning I was reading an article by Oswald Chambers called "Frontiers of the Worker's Life."  Oswald Chambers was a British pastor, preacher, teacher and scholar who died at a young age at the beginning of the 20th century.  I have his complete works in an enormous volume (1500 pages of tiny print) and aim to read one article (a page or less, usually) each day.  He never fails to challenge me. I have shared often in the past from what God has told me through Chambers and you can expect to hear much more in the future.

I think the "worker" in today's reading refers to all committed Christians who want to see others enter the Kingdom of Heaven, to know Jesus and not only believe in him but trust him.  A key passage from the Bible is where Paul is talking to King Agrippa in Acts 26:18 about how he turned from a persecutor of followers of "The W…

In My Prayer Room

Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.












You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.























You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.


















You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
song
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
and smoul…

A Martyr People

"All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God." Richard Foster

A martyr people, a people willing to die rather than abandon or turn against God.  But how can we be willing to die for Jesus, being tortured and suffering great pain unless we are willing to suffer small pain in order to be faithful and obedient?

I am faithless.  I can't consistently tolerate the "pain" of walking past attractive food without indulging; I protest getting up and am often drawn back to my bed rather than endure the discomfort of being tired even when I know getting up is important for my mental health and productivity and it's something God commands against, calling people like me "sluggards." How can I expect to be faithful to God in more important matters?

I like my comforts and dislike pain and yet it seems that growth happens only in the prese…

Dead Car and Snow Clearing

My son doesn't know about this yet, even though it's his car (technically, his girlfriend's), because he's sunning himself on a hot Cuban beach (with said girlfriend).  Here it is -32°C (-26°F) with a wind chill of -45 (-48).  It's cold, as it is across much of North America with a polar vortex bearing down, and cars left on the street do not fair well in this kind of weather.

Winnipeg is used to the cold, though this is the coldest winter on record so far in eighty years.  We've had close to -40 wind chills for much of December and though, as one news commentator stated last night, we take a perverse pride in our cold weather, even we are getting tired of the duration of  this extreme deep freeze.  This household in particular, since at the end of last week our hot water heating pipes froze, leaving us scrambling for help.

The yellow VW Bug was left on the front street by the warmth-seeking vacationers, which would be fine except that the day they left for Cub…

Frozen Pipes

This is Winterpeg, though the maps call the Canadian city "Winnipeg."  We've just finished the sixth coldest December on record with wind chills close to or below the -40 mark more days than not.  Yesterday we were colder than the North Pole and even Mars.  This is not weather for the faint-of-heart, such as the denizens of Hong Kong where a cold weather warning was issued the other day when the temperature fell to +17C (63F).

We live in a sturdy old house, built nearly 100 years ago and heated with a boiler.  That means we have water pipes through the entire house, circulating hot water through ancient and not-so-ancient radiators to keep us warm.  In the 30 years we've lived here, there has never been a problem but now there is.  Some of the pipes have frozen.  We've just had the entire house wrapped in insulation, upgrading from the woodchip insulation the house was built with and now we have problems?  Go figure.

You'd never know there was a problem with…

Struggles to Love Stem from Problems of Worship

So says Winston T. Smith, author of Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments.  This is a most extraordinary book on marriage, taking a direction I haven't seen before, with this as the crux: "...all struggles to love stem from problems of worship."

It's interesting because before I started reading the book, God was convicting me about my tendency to self-indulgence.  I've been slowly memorising the book of Matthew over the past many years and recently my memorising took me to this verse: "'Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.'" Matthew 23:25 NIV  When was the last time you heard a sermon on self-indulgence or heard it mentioned as a sin?  Jesus is not leaving any room for doubt on where he stands on the subject; he is scathing in his condemnation of what we in North America embrace, promote and glori…