November 30, 2011

Know the Truth About Carrying the Cross

Christ would have all who profess and call themselves Christians reminded that they must carry the cross. They must lay their account to be despised, afflicted and tried, like their Master. He would have no person enlisted on false pretenses. He would have it distinctly understood that there is a battle to be fought, and a race to be run - a work to be done, and many hard things to be endured - if we propose to follow Him. Salvation He is ready to bestow, without money and without price. Grace by the way, and glory in the end, shall be given to every sinner who comes to Him. But He would not have us ignorant that we shall have deadly enemies - the world, the flesh, and the devil - and that many will hate us, slander us, and persecute us, if we become His disciples. He does not wish to discourage us, but He does wish us to know the truth.

- J.C. Ryle

November 26, 2011

To Florida and Back

We spent one day travelling to Florida by car, thirteen days in Florida, and one day travelling home from Florida by car. We were away from home and on vacation with our best friends for a total of 15 days. Ryk drove both ways in one stretch, saving us motel costs. Instead, our wives elected to spend the money on new outfits.
There is an old Dutch saying that a guest and a fish both stay fresh for three days, after that, the fish begins to smell. I must say that after 15 days with our friends, we are still best friends. We are so much alike in the way we think and live, that there is no room for irritations or differences. The Christian friendship and family history that we share is a wonderful gift that we value very highly for over 35 years now.
In the above picture we were enjoying a haddock fish dinner at Alfie’s Restaurant, overlooking the seashore.  

Thank-you Ryk and Anke for driving, holding open doors for me, lifting up and down the wheel chair ramp, and helping me stand up from my chair on numerous occasions.  We spent a lot of time reading, talking, drinking coffee, shopping, puzzling and even quiet times together. It was a peaceful, restful  vacation.

November 25, 2011

The Benefit of Storms

Your trials may be many and great. Your cross may be very heavy. But the business of your soul is all conducted according to an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. All things are working together for your good. Your sorrows are only purifying your soul for glory; your bereavements are only fashioning you as a polished stone for the temple above, made without hands. From whatever quarter the storms blow, they only drive you nearer to heaven! Whatever weather you may go through it is only ripening you for the garner of God. Your best things are quite safe.

- J.C. Ryle

November 24, 2011

Fernando Ortega at a Revive Our Hearts Conference

The first weekend in November I (Joni) was privileged to attend a Revive our Hearts conference in Indianapolis.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her team at ROH lead a ministry to women, encouraging the pursuit of Biblical Womanhood.  Fernando Ortega was the worship leader for the weekend and led us in praising our King - it was incredible!  I met Fernando before the concert and told him a little bit about my Dad's story - I gave him a bracelet which he wore for the concert.  It was very emotional for me to see his hands up on the jumbo screen in the conference centre, wearing the "Grace is Sufficient" bracelet and playing - the first song he sat down and played was Amazing Grace!  The conference photographer (Katie Bollinger) graciously agreed to take a few close ups for me and sent them to me today. 

If you want to hear some of Fernando's music - check out the following link, or search him on Youtube - Hymns and Meditations is one of my favourite albums of all time.

November 21, 2011

Fleas and Deep Fried Ice Cream

We visited the flea market in Daytona Beach (three complete miles of corrugated metal covered booths). One could not help wonder why they call it a “flea” market. Some of the vendors were missing a few teeth here and there, and looked a bit scruffy, but I never encountered any fleas. It is rated to be among the top 5 flea markets in America. There were endless stalls eager to sell sunglasses, perfume, jewellery, luggage, shoes, cell phone covers, you name it. All the colours, sounds and smells you can imagine. Samples of kettle corn, oranges and grapefruit were handed out to entice you to buy. After a while, you started seeing the same things over and over, at different prices. The only thing that really caught my eye were these giant smoked turkey legs. I saw a guy eating one, cave-man style, but I did not indulge. Lena purchased little gifts for the grandchildren, so we did not leave empty handed.
Afterwards, we went out for a dinner of fresh haddock in a restaurant overlooking the ocean. Nothing like eating fresh fish close to where it is caught. For desert we indulged deep fried ice cream (see picture below). Don’t worry, Lena shared it with the four of us.

I find that the fine motor ability in both my hands and legs have decreased considerably in the last week. It is becoming a challenge to eat, and I use a straw to drink everything, even coffee. Walking with a walker is very shaky and tippy. Although sitting in an electric wheelchair gives me a lot more freedom and independence, it does hurt your butt after 10-12 hours of sitting in one place some days. Letting go of material things has not been that difficult for me, but losing my physical ability has not been as easy. It is who you are as a person. Breathing is becoming difficult when lying in bed, and sleeping at night is quite interrupted. If I lay still and keep calm, trying not to panic, and think about other things, it is doable. It helps me to think about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, and knowing that He can be “touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). He was thirsty, tired, wept, groaned in His spirit, spent hours awake at night in prayer just as we can do. But in addition to this, He was mocked, buffeted, spit upon, suffered shame and was rejected by man and God. These are things I do not have to endure. What a high priest we have in heaven, Who intercedes on our behalf. He never slumbers and never sleeps (Psalm 121:3,4) but keeps watch over His people.

November 19, 2011

Good Reading Material

When you go on vacation, the danger is that you can easily fall into the temptation of eating too much, sleeping too much, spending too much money and wasting too much time. However, when it comes to the reading of good literature, the phrase “too much” need not apply. Reading good Christian literature can bless your soul, focus your mind, and encourage your spirit. Since I am limited in what I am able to do physically due to my illness, I had to resort to spending most of my time reading and catching a bit of sun. Three good books I read this week and would like to recommend to you are:
Coming Home to God, by O. Palmer Robertson
Evangelical Press, 2003, 76 pages.
This book is a simple summary of the gospel as illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son. It follows the chain of guilt, grace and gratitude in the life of a sinner who comes to see his sin, repents, is forgiven and saved. This book can easily be read through on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and can be used as a wonderful evangelistic tool to hand out to someone with little Bible knowledge.
John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, by Iain H. Murray
Banner of Truth Books, 2011, 240 pages.
This interesting biography of the extremely popular evangelical preacher, John MacArthur, by Iain Murray is a delightfully surprising read. Iain Murray has written wonderful biographies on great preachers of the past in the Puritan tradition: Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards. MacArthur is still alive, and preaching three times per week at Grace Community Church in California (6,000 members) and is heard on daily Grace To You radio broadcasts in more than 35 countries. Murray shows how MacArthur has developed from being a preacher of the fundamentalist stripe into a respected Bible expositor who unashamedly highlights the reformed doctrines of grace. This book is an easy read in the classic well documented style of Iain Murray. The book honestly points out two areas of MacArthur with which conservative Calvinists differ: music used in worship, and dispensational tendencies. Highly recommended!
The Sympathy of Christ, by Octavius Winslow, D.D.
Sprinkle Publications, reprinted in 1994, 426 pages.
This meaty work by Octavius Winslow, unpacks from scripture the sanctified emotions of Jesus Christ, as the compassionate high priest for His people. Chapters such as:The Sigh of Christ, The Tears of Christ, The Love of Christ, The Sensitiveness of Christ, The Shame of Christ, The Joy of Christ, The Temptation of Christ, and others, give much incentive and encouragement to bring all our trials and tribulations to the feet of Christ. It is true balm for a wounded soul. This book is not an easy read for the beginner, but once you get used to his style of writing, you will mine comforting nuggets of gold in exchange for your efforts.

November 17, 2011

The Charity of Clarity

This is a post from HeadHeartHand (posted from link:

* * * * * * * * *

No one likes to be confused. If a doctor or a mechanic or a teacher bamboozle and befuddle us, we get annoyed, frustrated, and even angry. We demand clarity: “Look, can you please explain that again, this time in plain English.” No one likes to be confused – with one exception – and that’s in the most important matter of all – our eternal destiny. Let a salesman confuse us about a car and we get angry. But let a preacher confuse us about salvation and we’re quite happy. When a lawyer clearly explains two possible options, we compliment him. When a preacher clearly explains the only two options – heaven or hell – we criticize him. Why is clarity in every area of life to be commended, but clarity in the greatest issues of life and death to be condemned as “uncharitable”?

Well we could never accuse Jesus of a lack of clarity or charity. Rather,  it was His charity that produced His clarity. In fact, wherever there is charity in a heart, there will be clarity in the mouth! A compassion for souls will produce clear sermons, clear pastoral counsel, and clear parental instruction. How can we say that charity produces clarity?

Consider Jesus first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. He packed a lot into that first sermon, so much that we are still unpacking it 2000 years later. But as he concluded it, he returns to the basics: there are only two gates, two roads, two types of traveler and two destinations. It’s as if he says, “Whatever else you take away from my sermon, take this: “There are only two options.”

A Third Way?
From the Garden of Eden onwards humanity has been on a desperate search for a third option, a third way to be saved. We realize there is a wrong way, and we don’t want to be on it – I mean who wants to be with Hitler, and BinLaden, and Kim Jong-il? But we don’t like the only other way – bit too narrow, bit too demanding, bit too unpopular. So let’s make up a third way.

And many preachers cooperate with this desired confusion. By neglect, by design, by fear, or by whatever, they leave people in sufficient fog to give them some hope that there may well be a third option. And such preachers are often admired and praised: “So compassionate! So kind! So warm!”

Jesus hurricanes this deadly mist away: “Two gates, two roads, two travelers, two destinations, two trees, two fruits, two foundations, two houses…two, two, two. Never, ever three.” There is no third option for “nice” people. There is no third option for “covenant children.” There is no third option for “church attenders.” We are either dead or alive, dead in sin or born again, asleep or awake, darkness or light, against Christ or for Christ, a Pharisee or a Publican, a child of the devil or child of the living God. There is no “in-between” category, there is no “miscellaneous,” there is no “and all the rest of us.” There is no third gate, no third road, no third kind of traveler, and no third destination.

And it’s not love to suggest there might be. Not in sermons, not at funerals, not in counseling, not in books, not anywhere. The more we clarify these matters, the more the hearts of lost sinners will be exposed, the more they will see the broad gate they have entered, the broad road they are on, and the deadly destination they are heading to. And the more angry they will get – at least initially. Because, for some weird reason, confusion is comfortable and usually preferred in spiritual matters. “Keep your clarity. Give me the fog!” But clarity also, eventually, provokes passionate prayer, earnest seeking, and fervent calling on the name of the Lord for ourselves and for our loved ones.

In these foggy and confusing days, may God  give all of us far more of this compassionate Christ-like clarity in our hearts and minds, and in our words and in our walk.

November 15, 2011

Gone South!

So here we are in beautiful warm Florida thanks to the kind generosity of a dear Christian couple who offered us their condo. We could not turn down such a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time together. We asked our close friends, Ryk and Anke, to accompany us and they willingly dropped everything to join us. It was just too daunting and stressful for me to attempt it alone. The plan was to do the trip in two days. Jack was doing the count down, while Ryk drove, "3 hours done, 15 hours to go!", "9 hours done, we're half way" then it became, "you know, we've done 12 hours, if we just drove 6 more, we'd be there at 3 in the morning." Not too subtle is he! Well, we all said, "it's up to Ryk, he's the driver" and a coffee and a dozen candies later and we arrived here at  3:30 in the morning. The weather is beautiful and seemed even more beautiful when we heard from our daughter that it was snowing back home:)  Jack tolerated the trip very well, sitting in the passenger seat, keeping Ryk awake. The condo is gorgeous and the surroundings very tranquil. It should not be too difficult to relax here:)

Saturday, after a delicious breakfast, we decided to drive to old St.Augustine and do the tourist thing. We saved ten dollars on parking because handicapped people don't have to pay for parking. Didn't know that but we'll take it:)

There was a full moon Friday night so we thought that it would be great to go to the ocean and get some pictures of the moon rising up over the horizon. We drove the 5 minutes to the ocean and Ryk set up the camera and we waited.Jack tried taking the electric wheelchair down the ramp to the beach but got stuck in the sand and had to settle for watching with us from the top of the ramp. We waited and waited, but I guess what's true of the watched pot is also true of the shy moon, because it would not come out for us. It was still a beautiful balmy evening and we enjoyed listening to the waves. We watched and waited with the old fisherman who was on the shore with his two lines in the water, trying to catch some whiting. We finally got tired of waiting and returned to the condo for a nice cup of dulce de leche coffee and some caramel, macadamia ice cream. It wasn't long and the moon finally did come out.

Sunday morning we attended church at St.Andrew's Church in Sanford, the home church of R.C.Sproul. It was quite an experience to be called to worship by the carillon and walking into the beautiful new gothic style cathedral. The liturgy, the processionals, chancel choir and sinfonia are not what we are accustomed to but the preaching of the word was central to the worship service and it was good to hear that familiar voice, which we have heard so often before, on tapes, CDs and at conferences, preaching the word.

On the way home from church we stopped by a park to see a two thousand year old oak tree! It truly is magnificent to see and awe inspiring to think that this tree was alive during the time that Christ Jesus was walking on this earth! We tried to capture the grandeur of it but the picture does not do it justice but here it is anyway.

The nights are always the most difficult for Jack. It's such an effort to roll over and breathing is getting increasingly more difficult in most positions. Last night he agreed that from now on he'll have to use the bipap machine, something that he's been putting off for as long as possible because he finds it very claustrophobic and annoying. He only uses the walker in the house and now that we have our van, he uses the electric wheelchair when going out. His arms and neck muscles are getting weaker. Friday night he laid awake for hours as the stark reality of his increasing dependence on me was sinking in. He is such an active person, he can never sit still and always sees something that needs to be done, and now he has no choice but to sit still and wait. This is very difficult for him.

P.S. The blogs may not come as frequently; we're very busy relaxing after all :)

November 14, 2011

The Pastor's Son

Every Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at the church, the Pastor and his eleven year old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel Tracts.

This particular Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the Pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside, as well as pouring down rain. The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said, ''OK, dad, I’m ready. His Pastor dad asked, ''Ready for what?" ''Dad, it's time we gather our tracts together and go out." Dad responds, ''Son, it's very cold outside and it's pouring down rain." The boy gives his dad a surprised look, asking, ''But Dad, aren't people still going to Hell, even though it's raining?'' Dad answers, ''Son, I am not going out in this weather." Despondently, the boy asks! ''Dad, can I go? Please?" His father hesitated for a moment then said, ''Son, you can go. Here are the tracts, be careful son." "Thanks Dad!" And with that, he was off and out into the rain.

This eleven year old boy walked the streets of the town going door to door and handing everybody he met in the street a Gospel Tract.  After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking, bone-chilled wet and down to his very last tract, He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted. Then he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the door bell.. He rang the bell, but nobody answered. He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited but still no answer. Finally, this eleven year old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him.....

At last, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited! Something holding him there on the front porch. He rang again and this time the door slowly opened. Standing in the doorway was a very sad-looking elderly lady. She softly asked, ''What can I do for you, son?" With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, Ma'am, I'm sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that Jesus really does love you! and I came to give you my very last Gospel Tract which will tell you all about Jesus and His great love." With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave. She called to him as he departed. ''Thank you, son!  And God Bless You!'' 

Well, the following Sunday morning in church Pastor Dad was in the pulpit.   As the service began, he asked, ''Does anybody have a testimony or want to say anything?   Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet. As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face, ''No one in this church knows me. I’ve never been here before. You see, before last Sunday I was not Christian. My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. Last Sunday, being a particularly cold and rainy day, it was even more so in my head that I came to the end of the line where I no longer had any hope or will to live. So I took a rope and a chair and ascended the stairway into the attic of my home.... I fastened the rope securely to a rafter in the roof, then stood on the chair and fastened the other end of the rope around my neck. Standing on that chair, so lonely and broken-hearted I was about to leap off, when suddenly the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, "I'll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away." I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get louder and more insistent, and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly, I thought to myself again, ''Who on earth could this be? Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me." I loosened the rope from my neck and staggered for the front door, all the while the bell rang louder and louder. When I opened the door and looked I could hardly believe my eyes, for there on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life. His SMILE, oh, I could never describe it to you! The words that came from his mouth caused my head that had long been dead, to leap to life as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, Ma'am, I just came to tell you that Jesus really does love you.'' Then he gave me this Gospel Tract that I now hold in my hand.

As the boy disappeared back out into the cold and rain, I closed my door and read slowly every word of this Gospel Tract. Then I went up to my attic to get my rope and chair. I wouldn't be needing them any more. You see---I am now a Happy Child of the King. Since the address of your church was on the back of this Gospel Tract, I have come here to personally say Thank-you to the boy who came just in the nick of time and by so doing, spared my soul from an eternity in hell."

There was not a dry eye in the church. And as shouts of praise and honour to THE KING resounded off the very rafters of the building, Pastor Dad descended from the pulpit to the front pew where his son was seated. He took his son in his arms and sobbed uncontrollably. Probably no church has had a more glorious moment, and probably this universe has never seen a Papa that was more filled with love & honour for his son...

Except for One. Our heavenly Father also allowed His Son to go out into a cold and dark world. He received His Son back with joy unspeakable, and as all of heaven shouted praises and honour to The King, the Father sat His beloved Son on a throne far above all principality and power and every name that is named. ''Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) 

November 11, 2011

Being Patient With A Young Christian - J.C. Ryle

Let us settle it in our minds, that grace must have a beginning in every believer's heart, and that we have no right to say a person has no grace, because it does not come to full ripeness at once. We do not expect a child to do the work of a full-grown man, though he may one day, if he lives long enough. We mast not expect a learner of Christianity to show the faith, and love, and knowledge of an old soldier of the cross. He may become by and bye a mighty champion of the truth. But at first we must give him time. There is great need of wisdom in dealing with young people about religion, and, generally speaking, with all young disciples.

Kindness, and patience, and gentleness, are of the first importance. We must not try to pour in the new wine too quickly, or it will run over. We must take them by the hand and lead them on gently. We must beware of frightening, or hurrying them, or pressing them on too fast. If they have only got hold of the main principles of the Gospel, let us not set them down as godless, because of a few lesser matters. We must bear with much weakness and infirmity, and not expect to find old heads on young shoulders, or ripe Christian experience in those who are only babes.

November 9, 2011

My Brother, Jack. (A Letter from Margaret)

My Brother, Jack

As I think about my brother dying I want to encourage families to be kind and loving to one another. You will not want to have regrets when one of your siblings goes through serious illness or even death. Live together with love and respect.

Jack, where should I start? I was 2.5 when you were born. My memories include so many examples of your care for others. I remember when you invited a neighbour boy to our home and asked mom to make him a good lunch like she made for us. You noticed when people needed help and found ways to do so. You loved the outdoors and were involved with cadets. You knew everything we needed to know about camping.

I can’t remember that mom or dad had to discipline you. You were always a good student and loved school. If I remember correctly you were the first in our congregation to get a degree. Mom and dad were so proud of you. So was I!

You knew so much about living things. You could explain things so well to others about the amazing design of plants and insects. You had the most amazing collection of insects expertly mounted and labeled. It is no wonder you became a great teacher.

It was a step down for you financially when you left your job with the seed company to start teaching at RCS. But I never heard any regrets from you. Your schedule is still full using your time wisely teaching others throughout the day. You never seemed to waste time and you are still as busy as possible teaching others about the works of the Lord.

It is hard for me to understand why you are suffering now, brother. But each time I read or hear of ways the Lord is providing for you from your community I see that your affliction is a blessing to others allowing them to serve you. What an encouragement it is to read of all the love and care flowing to you now.

You have been a consistent witness of faithfulness to the Lord. I know that even as a teenager you nightly read from your Bible. You began to read and share good books as a young man and even started a reformed book service ministry buying books for a bargain and selling them at cost for others to read. Even now you are being an evangelist from your home and on your blog. I have seen and heard of young people coming to speak with you about sin and salvation. You are just continuing what we have seen you do throughout your life. You are still such a stable and organized teacher.

As older siblings we were so blessed that you and Lena cared for our Mom and Dad for 20 years. We could always be confident that they were in good hands. You served them so faithfully. We know they appreciated you so much. It is hard for them now to see your body breaking down.

It has been hard for us to see you give your things away that you enjoyed so much knowing that you can’t use them any more – your fishing equipment, rods, lures, your entire collection. You are showing us how to let go of this world and everything in it.

Your love for friends and family has always been one of your endearing characteristics. The hardest thing for us is to see you with your grandchildren preparing them for when you will be gone. Your family loves you so much. You are blessed to have seen them come to faith in the Lord and embracing the same lifestyle you and Lena have lived – one that is trying to obey the golden rule to love God above all and others as self. It is so good to see your children and older grandchildren surrounding you with their concerns and love. The Lord has blessed your fathering, Jack. They will make sure their children will never forget you and will hold you up as an example to follow. There are not many people in the world, Jack, who are examples to follow. You are one and I am so thankful that you are my brother.

Your home has been open to us for years as we came to Dundas for church meetings. We have had such wonderful times of spiritual fellowship and family love. I am so blessed to have you as my brother. I want to keep you with us for a long, long time but I am beginning to know that God’s grace is sufficient for you and He knows what is best. He is your Father. You are His adopted son willing to serve Him and glorify Him even in this hard providence. His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

Jack, we thank God for your consistent life of giving God glory. You are doing that still. May God’s comforting presence carry you through to the end of your time with us.

I love you, Jack, but I know that God loves you more than I ever could. 

November 8, 2011

Dr. Turnbull Speaks at Rehoboth

Dr. John Turnbull, the neurologist/researcher from McMaster University hospital who is taking care of me, spoke to the Rehoboth high school students today. After being warmly welcomed by Jonathan of the Student Council, he explained to the students about ALS disease, and his research on finding a cure.

After a brief question and answer session, Nicole presented Dr. Turnbull with a cheque of $1025 raised by the volleyball tournament at RCS for ALS research.

Receiving one of the "Grace is sufficient" bracelets.

Dr. Turnbull challenged the students to go into the field of medicine to study the nervous system to find cures for various neurological diseases. He said 50% of the diseases known to humans are based in the brain and spinal cord. Since so much medical research has been done in cardiology and cancer, the average human life span has been increasing significantly. Now 80% of the people who are living to be 100 have Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases. That is the next vast field of research to be explored in the future.

Kendra, a grade 5 student at Rehoboth, wanted to do her part to raise funds for ALS research. She came up with the idea of a candy jar filled with candies. To register a guess of how many candies are in the jar costs you a loonie. The closest guess to the real number wins the jar. Thanks for the bright idea Kendra!

November 7, 2011

Speaking Engagements

I have had the wonderful privilege of being able to speak to a total of 270 students at four Christian high schools in the last month. It started with an address to 180 students in grades 7-12 at Rehoboth Christian School in Copetown, where I have been their Principal. Then I was invited to Jordan Christian School in Jordan Station to address 30 students in grades 9-12 during their religion period. The Society and Religion class of 25 students at Hamilton District Christian School heard about my talk, and invited me last week for an hour. Then I spoke to 45 students in grades 9-12 at Oxford Reformed Christian School in Springford. It is very energizing for me to have the privilege to be in these schools and experience the hustle and bustle of teenaged students talking, and laughing in the hallways between classes. They are so full of life and energy, but mixed in with that there is also hidden dose of stresses, troubles, sadness and loneliness. These high school students are on the border line of adulthood, and many are at critical junctions in their lives when important life-changing decisions are being made.  I received a very encouraging email response from HDCH that I would like to share with you.

Dear Mr. Westerink,
Thank you so much for taking the time to come to talk to our class and inspiring us to live everyday as if it was our last. We thoroughly enjoyed your company and the perspective you gave us on something that we don’t normally have to face or think about. A few things that inspired us were; your comment about keeping our “lists” short because we don’t know if when we or anyone else may be called home, the whittling of the stick and how God slowly took things that were dear to you away and you were okay with that and how trusting in God both you and your wife are about this whole situation. Your strength and acceptance of your situation was really inspiring to us and the fact that you weren’t afraid to show your passion and emotion was touching. We wish you and your family all the best. Stay strong and may God bless the things you are doing for people like us.
Jenn, Jodie, Christy, Nate, Lexi and Niesje (Neesha)

November 5, 2011

Wheelchair Accessible Van!

This week we purchased a previously owned wheel chair accessible van. It is a modified 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with a lowered floor and manually operated ramp. There are rails in the floor where the wheel chair can be securely strapped to. The van seats 5, with lots of space for the wheelchair and extra storage space for luggage and groceries. It is in “mint” condition. I was actually secretly hoping for a two seater sports car in British racing green or red, but we couldn’t seem to find one with a built-in wheelchair ramp. Oh well, so we settled for the van.

John Maas, from Grand River Auto in Lynden, imported the van for us from the USA. Working together with Dan Vandenburg, a deacon from our church, they took care of all the paperwork and delivered it right to our driveway, clean and shiny. John Maas is a lifetime friend of our family, going way back to elementary school days at Timothy Christian School in Toronto. Thank-you John and Dan for all of the time and self-denying effort you expended on our behalf. I know it came from the love of your heart.

November 3, 2011

All Things Work for Good

All Things Work for Good – Max Lucado
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
We know…There are so many things we do not know. We do not know if the economy will dip or if our team will win. We do not know what our spouse is thinking or how our kids will turn out. We don’t even know “what we ought to pray” (Rom. 8:26). But according to Paul, we can be absolutely certain about four things. We know…
1. God works. He is busy behind the scenes, above the fray, within the fury. He hasn’t checked out or moved on. He is ceaseless and tireless. He never stops working.
2. God works for the good. Not for our comfort or pleasure or entertainment, but for our ultimate good. Since he is the ultimate good, would we expect anything less?
3. God works for the good of those who love him. Behold the benefit of loving God! Make his story your story, and your story takes on a happy ending. Guaranteed. Being the author of our salvation, he writes a salvation theme into our biography.
4. God works in all things. Panta, in Greek. Like “panoramic” or “panacea” or “pandemic.”All-inclusive. God works, not through a few things or through the good things, best things, or easy things. But in “all things” od works.
Puppet in the hands of fortune or fate? Not you. You are in the hands of a living, loving God. Random collection of disconnected short stories? Far from it. Your life is a crafted narrative written by a good God, who is working toward your supreme good.

Strong Faith Produces Strong Character – J.C. Ryle
Do you desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Would you bring forth much fruit? Would you be eminently holy and useful? Would you be bright, and shine as a light in your day? Would you, like Moses, make it clear as noonday that you have chosen God before the world? I dare be sure that every believer will reply, "Yes! yes! yes! these are the things we long for and desire."
Then take the advice I give you this day: go and cry to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the disciples did, "Lord, increase our faith." Faith is the root of a real Christian's character. Let your root be right, and your fruit will soon abound. Your spiritual prosperity will always be according to your faith. He that believeth shall not only be saved, but shall never thirst, shall overcome, shall be established, shall walk firmly on the waters of this world, and shall do great works.

November 2, 2011


This is a true story that happened in Japan.
In order to renovate the house, someone in Japan tore open the wall. Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck there because a nail from the outside was hammered right through one of its feet. He saw this, felt pity, and at the same time he was curious. When he checked the nail, turns out, it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built. What happened? How had the lizard survived in such a position for 10 years! In a dark wall partition for 10 years without moving, it is impossible and mind boggling.

He wondered how this lizard survived for 10 years without moving a single step--since its foot was nailed! So he stopped his work and observed the lizard, what it had been doing, and what and how it has been eating. Later, not knowing from where it came, there appeared another lizard, with food in its mouth. Ahh! He was stunned, and at the same time, touched deeply. Another lizard had been feeding the nailed one for the past 10 years...Such love, such beautiful, committed, self-denying love! Such love came from this tiny creature...Look what can love do? It can do wonders! Just think about it; one lizard had been feeding the other one untiringly for 10 long years, without giving up hope on its partner, without getting anything in return. If a small creature like a lizard can demonstrate a love like this... just imagine what we could do, and how we could show our love if we would just try.

November 1, 2011


Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the Scriptures.While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3). One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.

After he had fully described it to her, she asked, “Sir do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”“Oh yes ma’am,” replied the silversmith, “I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.” The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us.Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

Before she left, the lady asked one final question,“How do you know when the process is complete?”“That’s quite simple,” replied the silversmith.“When I see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.”


He shall sit as a refiner ... and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver” (Malachi 3:3).
“He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

He sat by a furnace of sevenfold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore;
And closer He bent with a searching gaze,
As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems of a price untold.

So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we fain would say to Him, “Nay”;
And He watched the dross, which we had not seen,
As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter, and yet more bright-
But our eyes were so dim with tears;
We saw but the fire - not the Master’s hand -
And so questioned with anxious fears.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above
That bent o’er the fire, though unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.

Can we think it pleases His heart
E’er to cause us a moment’s pain?
Ah no! But He sees through the present cross
All the bliss of eternal gain.

So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure;
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure.

~ Anonymous

Here is a link to a sermon fitting with this as well titled "When God Melts Us Down" by Jerry Bilkes.  Click HERE TO HEAR MESSAGE!