December 31, 2012

The Journey Continues

The Lord has given us a wonderful time together as a family this past Christmas holiday. We could celebrate with our children and 11 grandchildren on several occasions. But best of all, we could hear again the wonderful story of a Saviour Who came to take our place as the God - man. He offers us forgiveness for our sins of the past, present, and the future in a new life with Him. Hallelujah! Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Peace on earth, good will toward men. Thank you Jesus.

Our entire family on Christmas Day 2012

Lucas smiling up at his Opa

It is a tradition in our church on New Years Eve to read the list of names of those members who have passed away in the last year. I fully expected my name to be on the list for 2012, but not my mother-in-law. The Lord had different plans, and His way is perfect. We all need to use the time and talents given to us to bring honour and glory to His holy name. That is our challenge for the year 2013.

My wife and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Blessed New Year 2013.  

Jack and Lena

December 28, 2012

New Years Day Challenge - J.C. Ryle

Walk more closely with God, get nearer to Christ and seek to exchange hope for assurance. Seek to feel the witness of the Spirit more closely and distinctly every year. Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets you. Press towards the mark more earnestly. Fight a better fight, and war a better warfare every year you live. Pray more, read more, mortify self more, love the brethren more. Oh that you may endeavor so to grow in grace every year, that your last things may be far more than your first, and the end of your Christian course far better than the beginning!

~ J.C. Ryle

December 20, 2012

Celebration of our Saviour's Incarnation

At this special time of year, families and friends will gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Immanuel - 'God with us'. What amazing news - God sent His 'only begotten Son' to become man, and to die for sinners so that we could be saved. Who would come up with such a marvellous plan, but God Himself. 

Lena and I extend our sincere wishes for a blessed Christmas to all the followers of our blog, and to the team of people that help us in many ways every day - PSW's who spend an hour every morning, getting me out of bed, washed and dressed, seven days a week; the PSW's who watch over me 7 hours every night; the volunteers who do range of motion physio on me daily; the ladies from our church who bring us home cooked meals and baked goods for so many months already; to the many from our church and school community who pray for us so faithfully. Thank you! Your love and care for us is truly amazing, and it humbles us. You are laying up treasures in heaven. To God be the glory.

December 15, 2012

We Lepers - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

In the 1800's a Belgian priest arrived in a Hawaiian village that had been quarantined as a leper colony. He lived with the lepers, learned their language, organized schools, bandaged their wounds, and ate with them.
The village was transformed. Yet for years the priest was different from his people in one important way. They had leprosy, and he didn’t. Then one day he stood and began a sermon with two words: “We lepers . . .”

He had contracted leprosy, and from that moment on, people in the village saw him in a new light. He had become one of them. He would not only share their life but also die as they would die.

On Christmas we celebrate the day God came to our village in the person of Christ. He became one of us.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for humbling Yourself, for taking on our sin-diseased condition, and for dying our death.
With Seeking Him, I’m Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

December 10, 2012

My Mother-in-Law Passed Away

Last night, when I went to bed, I asked my wife to wake me up if she got a phone call or text telling us that her mother had died. We were expecting it to happen in the next 24 hours or so. Lena was a little hesitant, not wanting to wake me if I had just finally fallen asleep, but she agreed.

Thirty minutes later, Lena quietly came into the bedroom to tell me that her mother had just died. I was still awake, and was praying for her mother at the time. We hugged, and I soon fell asleep.

The next morning, the PSW (personal support worker) who watches over me through the night, told Lena that after she left, he noticed that I had fallen asleep with a big smile on my face. He was surprised that I could be so happy after just hearing that my mother-in-law had just died.

Lena asked me to tell her why I was smiling. I told her that just before she walked in to tell me the news, that I was praying / dreaming that I saw two angels carrying her mother up Jacob's ladder, and that mom said that she was not afraid of the height, being so far above the ground. At the top of the ladder, there was a golden road leading to the gates of heaven, and mom walked that road with great joy. It ended there, because Lena had just entered the room at that moment.

I don't believe in extra biblical revelation, but this prayer/dream was a comfort to me, and I thought that I would share it with you. 


December 7, 2012

Servants Where You Least Expect Them - J.C.Ryle

There may be true servants of God in places where we should not expect to find them. The Lord Jesus has many ‘hidden ones’ like these wise men. Their history on earth may be as little known as that of Melchizedek, Jethro and Job. But their names are in the book of life, and they will be found with Christ in the day of His appearing. It is well to remember this. We must not look round the earth and say hastily, ‘all is barren.’

The grace of God is not tied to places and families. The Holy Spirit can lead souls to Christ without the help of many outward means. Men may be born in dark places of the earth, like these wise men, and yet like them be made ‘wise unto salvation.’ There are some traveling to heaven at this moment, of whom the church and the world know nothing. They flourish in secret places like the lily among thorns, and ‘waste their sweetness on the desert air.’ But Christ loves them, and they love Christ. ~ J.C. Ryle

December 3, 2012

Tribute To My Mother-In-Law

People often tell jokes about the 'dreaded' mother-in-law who interferes, doles out plenty of unwanted advice, and generally makes your life miserable. I don't know what your experience has been, but mine has proven to be quite the opposite. My mother-in-law and I have always had a great relationship from day one, and I cannot think of one incident in the last 37 years where we had a conflict. She has a wonderful sense of humour, is quite witty, has a perceptive judge of character, and has many wise Dutch sayings suited for the situation at hand. I have learned numerous valuable life lessons from her humble, godly example. She is a good illustration of a 'rare jewel of Christian contentment'. The service of the Lord was always her number one priority. 

Last week this dear woman suffered a massive stroke, and is now lying unresponsive, but still breathing, in a hospital. She often told me that even though I was dying of ALS, she could die before me, since she was 87 years old. She may be right. 

Her last words to me last week were "I love you ". She was not raised to say this, in fact, she said she never heard her parents ever say 'I love you' to her. She never doubted that she was loved, it was just never verbalized, but was demonstrated by actions. That was a different generation, and difficult for us to imagine. Perhaps it is being over used today, especially by the music and movie industry, causing a loss of some of its meaning and sincerity. 

Yet, in the last few years, we learned to say it to each other before leaving after a visit. They were the only words she could understand from me, since my speech is quite garbled, even at the best of times. She also wrote it in the birthday cards to her great-grandchildren, enclosing a $5 bill with it.

We love you mom VanderMeyden.

November 28, 2012

Grandson Baptized

Last Sunday, November 25th, our 11th grandchild received the sign and seal of holy baptism. The water is a sign of Christ's blood that is able to wash us from our sin. The seal is God's one sided covenant promise that He is willing to be our personal God and Saviour. What a blessing to witness this event together with family members and the congregation of God's people, who also promise to do their best to teach and raise Lucas George in the fear of the Lord.

Baptism is a pleading ground for parents, grandparents, and the whole congregation to bring before the Lord in prayer to fulfil His covenant promise to Lucas George personally. It is not an automatic resting ground that we may presume upon, but a reason for prayer. What a wonderful blessing and privilege we have been given.

I was not able to attend the service in person, but with modern technology, I was able to witness and participate in the event from the second row seat through skype. It was the next best thing to actually being there. Thank you Willem for that special gift of making that possible.

Baptism is a blessing that I receive much personal comfort from. Before I was even conscious of it, God gave me His promise of salvation, I was set aside in a Christian family, given a Christian upbringing and a Christian education at home, church and school. These are wonderful privileges, but also great responsibilities. I will have to give an account for what I have done with these gifts. Thankfully I can say that God used these gifts in my life to draw me to Himself. I pray that will be true for all of my 11 grandchildren.

For the Beric family, Lucas and his siblings represent the second generation of souls who have been incorporated into the covenant. God promises to bless to the 3rd and 4th generation of those who love and serve Him. A brand has been plucked from the fire, and a new limb has been added to the family of God. Prayers need to multiply for this new limb.


November 20, 2012


"Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray." (James 5:13)

This verse is from the meditation on 'Suffering' in the book titled "The Everlasting Word", by Frans Bakker, published by Reformation Heritage Books. Often, we try everything else first, and then turn to prayer as a last resort. But the text 'commands' the afflicted to pray before doing anything else. This means trusting in God's providence and sovereignty instead of jumping to our own solutions or relying only on the help of man. This is a lesson that is hard for us to learn, because it goes against our pride and the natural tendencies of our heart. Affliction is meant for our profit (Psalm 119), and to drive us out to God.

I must admit that it has not always been my habit, when confronted with a difficulty, to go to God in prayer as a first resort. But now that I am in the middle of a prolonged affliction, I am more likely to cry out to God for help. Perhaps that is one of His reasons for my sickness, to bring me closer to Him.

As for the progress of the ALS, I have lost the ability to chew my food, drink with a straw, and move my hands. I still eat, but the consistency has to be like mashed potatoes or pudding that I can swallow without chewing. Lena uses a little hand grinder to mince the meat and vegetables, and then she mixes it with gravy or mayo or ranch dressing (slider) so that I can get it down.

I am also having difficulty drinking liquids. It takes me a whole day to drink a glass of juice using a straw. So to keep me hydrated, Lena gives me 1 liter of water every day through the G tube in my stomach.

Last week I had to have my computer modified because I can no longer use my thumb to click the switch that functions as my mouse button. I now use the reflective tape on my glasses to direct the cursor on the screen. If the cursor rests on a letter or a word for 1.2 seconds, then it is selected, and appears in my document. Needless to say, it is a tedious process, but I am thankful for the technology.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46) I pray that I may continue to be submissive and content while under affliction, and that I might not sin against such a good doing and merciful God. I am comforted knowing that my Saviour is in heaven, seated at my Fathers right hand, never slumbering or sleeping, preparing a place for me (John 14), and sending His angels and His people to care for me. He prays for me, and He hears my prayers.

The Word is full of comforting promises, and I plead with Jesus to remember me, and to not forsake me. He keeps His promises.


November 5, 2012

The Power of the Cross on Your Death-bed - J.C. Ryle

Are you a dying believer? Have you gone to that bed from which something within tells you you will never come down alive? Are you drawing near to that solemn hour when soul and body must part for a season, and you must launch into a world unknown? Oh, look steadily at the cross of Christ, and you shall be kept in peace! Fix the eyes of your mind firmly on Jesus crucified, and He shall deliver you from all your fears. Though you walk through dark places, He will be with you. He will never leave you, and never forsake you. Sit under the shadow of the cross to the very last, and its fruits shall be sweet to your taste. There is but one thing needful on a death-bed, and that is to feel one’s arms around the cross. ~ J.C. Ryle

October 29, 2012

Progress Report

As you know, ALS is an incurable disease with no known successful treatments. Some people experience periods where the disease plateaus for periods of time, but I have only known a steady decline. We are approaching a date two years ago when I started feeling tired, and we decided to sell our home where we lived for 27 years, 22 of them with my parents in the in-law suite. It was time to downsize to a smaller property, with less maintenance, and no stairs. It was a stressful time for us, and for my parents. I didn't know that I had ALS at the time, but God knew, and He directed us to a very suitable bungalow with all the living space on one level.

I am beginning to have problems with eating and drinking, with the risk of choking and aspirating. I like eating and tasting food, especially meat, so that is going to be another big loss for me.

I am still able to bear weight on my legs when my care givers stand me up. But my legs are beginning to buckle under in the morning and after taking my evening medications. That will be another loss.

I use my thumb to click a button which works as a mouse for my computer. By the end of the day, my thumb is fatigued, and I can hardly use it. The day is approaching when we need to use another way of clicking, called the hover method, which is much slower.

The good news is that I was privileged to hold our 11th grandchild today, Lucas George. 
I cried when my daughter told me she was expecting, because I didn't expect to live long enough to see him. Today I cried again, that God has been so good to allow me to hold Lucas in my arms.

Another name to add to my prayer list. Another covenant child privileged to have a Christian upbringing and a Christian education.

October 26, 2012

Leave This World A Better Place- J.C. Ryle

I charge you never to neglect the duty of brotherly love, and practical, active, sympathetic kindness towards every one around you, whether high or low, or rich or poor. Try daily to do some good upon earth, and to leave the world a better world than it was when you were born. If you are really a child of God, strive to be like your Father and your great elder Brother in heaven. For Christ's sake, do not be content to have religion for yourself alone. Love, charity, kindness, and sympathy are the truest proofs that we are real members of Christ, genuine children of God, and rightful heirs of the kingdom of heaven. ~ J.C. Ryle

October 22, 2012

The Emperor Moth

About five years ago Lena and I were checking out a used book store near our trailer up north, when we came across this old copy of a devotional that we found to be quite a gem. It is a collation of devotions and tracts written by Spurgeon, Ryle, and many other authors not as well known. The theme of most of the devotions is how to deal with suffering and disappointments. Chas. E. Cowan was a missionary sent to Japan and Korea, but due to failing health he was compelled to return home where for six years "a battle was waged between life and death". This unexpected providence of God was difficult for them to process. They collected tracts, meditations and poems that were encouraging to them and shared them with others who were suffering. Here is one of them that was helpful to me.

Streams in the Desert
by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowan
Twenty - Second Edition, 1943

January 9
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all - and it never is without great labour and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit a little easier, and lo! Immediately, and with perfect ease, out crawled my moth dragging a large swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvellous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one's eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colours which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the
loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.




I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father's love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation. - Tract

October 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

Last week we were privileged to celebrate Thanksgiving Day together as a family. Looking back at pictures from Thanksgiving 2011 I remember the strong feeling we had that this would probably be our last celebration together as a complete family. It was an emotional time for us as we
listed the things we were thankful for, and as we all thought about a future without Dad in it.

Here is a picture from last year, as we sat out on the patio watching Gerrit deep fry the turkey.

One year later we gathered again at Sarah and Goran's house, around a table loaded with food, friends and family. And Dad. What a blessing!

Last year Dad came with his walker, this year he was in his wheelchair. Last year he could still talk, this year his computer did the talking for him. Last year he could still eat well, this year he still could eat - its just a lot longer, slower process. Food has to be cut very small, he has to chew for a
long time, and as his friend Ryk said, "He is getting used to eating cold food" because it takes so long to finish a plate. Dad could be fed exclusively through his G tube if he chooses, but he has so few pleasures left - and Mom's pies are worth the effort it takes Dad to eat!

My Mom was able to produce 4 spectacular homemade pies, as well as bringing the turkey and ham! God has given her an extra measure of strength to be able to get through these hard times. It never ceases to amaze me how she is able to carry on, day after day, and long night after long night.  I know my Mom would agree that it's truly a testament, not to the power of the human spirit, but to the power of the Spirit of God in us, giving us the grace and energy to continue.

My parents have been so supported and loved by their friends, their family and their church community. We were privileged to share our Thanksgiving celebration this year with Ryk, Anke and Dirk Naves as well. Ryk and Anke have been faithful friends of my parents for decades. I can't remember a time in my life when they weren't there! Dirk is like a brother to us.  Through the years these friends of our family have walked life's highs and lows together with us. This Thanksgiving as our two families joined together, I think we all really appreciated just how much we value each other. Seeing Ryk feeding my Dad was a visual symbol to me of what a true friend really is.

Dad was able to open the meal with a prayer which he laboriously typed out on the computer the day before our dinner. We all bowed our heads and then the computerized voice we have come to know as "Dad" began. I have included the prayer here:

We praise Thee our God and Creator for Thy majesty, 
mercy and grace. You have given us Your Son as a sacrifice for our sin and to reconcile us to a holy God. Send us Your Holy Spirit to apply the words and works of Christ Jesus to our hearts and be our Comforter.

We confess our sin against Thy holy law and that we don't obey, serve and live for You as we should. Give us a heart that is renewed by Your power and made willing to submit to Your way and providence in our lives. Give us the desire to use our time, our talents and resources to extend Your kingdom here on earth.

We thank Thee for this day and for the abundance of delicious food prepared by loving hands. Bless and strengthen us with it. We thankyou for your Word and for your Son Who gave His life as a ransom for our sins.

Please forgive us our sins and keep us from sin. Bless our dear children and grandchildren. Bless and protect our marriages. Bless our work so that we can meet our obligations to church, home and school. Bless all 
Christian education at home, church and school.

Bless our consistories, our pastors and give us our own Pastor and teacher soon.

Give us patience and a submissive heart to Thy way in our lives. Remember Sarah and baby Beric in the days and weeks ahead, and make all things well. Remember our brother Dirk and make Your way forward clear to him. Remember us all, and do not forsake us O Lord we 
pray, for Jesus sake, Amen.

The weather was cold and windy and so we didn't spend a lot of time outside this year, or do our traditional family hike after dinner as Dad wouldn't be able to participate. Instead we set up the projector on the wall in the living room and looked through old family photos.  This has become a truly precious pastime - the kids love it! We go through old fishing pictures, trips to the cottage, birthday celebrations, baby pictures and laugh at funny outdated haircuts and clothing styles (love the ruffled shirt and huge bow tie on your wedding day Dad!!)  

Dad had two girls perched on his knees in the wheelchair for the show :)

We ended with one of the most precious parts of our celebration. We went around the room and said what we were particularly thankful for that year. Dad shared that he was thankful for:
I am thankful for my family and friends. You all do so much to help and care for me. I love you all very much.  I pray for you all by name, for your marriages, your businesses, for your church and pastor every day. My hope and desire is that you would all be faithful in your love and service to the Lord.
Everyone had something to share. There are so many things to be thankful for - its hard to pick just one! This year what I was most thankful for is God's Sovereignty. I have been so comforted with knowing that our God is all powerful. That he controls everything from the rain and the stars and the sunset and the seasons, to the smallest detail of our everyday lives. ALS is not out of his control.  Our heavenly Father is in complete control of this situation too - and we can know, as believers, that he is working even this horrible disease for our good! Dad and Mom and I have been reading a book by Joni Erickson Tada on Sunday nights, about Suffering and Gods Sovereignty. There is a pendulum of ideas about suffering and God. Some people think God sits on the side, sad about these bad things that happen to us and it seems that He wishes they didn't happen to us. Our God is so much stronger than that! Other people believe in faith healing, as though if we just prayed hard enough or believed hard enough we would be cured. That puts such a terrible burden on people that God never intended. I am so thankful that we can just rest, knowing He is in control of everything. He is able to heal, and will if He
thinks it's for our best, and if He doesn't heal, then even though it may be hard to know why, that too is for our best!

R.C. Sproul Jr. , who has lost his wife to cancer, and now his young daughter also, was able to reflect on this in a way that resonated with me. He said that he felt he had been groomed his whole life for such a time as this. From a young age, the knowledge and confidence of God's sovereignty was impressed on Him, and when things got really rough, he was able to turn to that solid foundation of knowing that His (our!) God is good - all the time, and controls all things, working them out for benefit. I feel so privileged to be
raised with the same sure confidence. That our God is good. All the time. That our God is able. All the time. And that our times are in His hand - not one of us, who believe on Him, will be snatched from His hand.

When Dad was first diagnosed and our family was still in quite a state of shock at the idea of Dad dying, Rev. Procee reminded me that God will KEEP us… and He has!

We have so much to be thankful for, but most of all, we have our God. When those around us say "Why?" and have no hope and no answers to life's hard questions, we do! I am so thankful for that!

October 13, 2012

He Shall Sustain You

A few weeks ago, I received a card in the mail with a little slip of paper tucked in it containing the following simple, but powerful truth about suffering in the life of Christians. It has been my experience that God has provided sustaining grace 'sufficient' for each day of my journey. I have had my share of fears and anxieties, but the Lord has been faithful to His promises, despite my doubts and unfaithfulness to Him.

Intimate Letters on Personal Problems J. R. Miller, 1914

'An old scripture promise reads, "Cast your burden upon the Lord - and He shall sustain you." (Psalm 55:22) Every burden you have, you may cast on the Lord; that is, you may lay it on Him in prayer and by faith. But notice that God does not promise to lift the burden away - all He promises is to sustain you, that is, to give you strength to do the work, to bear the burden, to meet the difficulty, to master the hindrance or the obstacle.'

October 10, 2012

Learning Humility

The following meditation was sent to me in a card several months ago. I can really identify with the feelings and frustrations of the author, so I decided to share it with you.

"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." (Psalm 25:9)

My friend Carole Danzig was a Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, the wife of a doctor and mother of four gifted children. Carole was also given the "thorn in the flesh" of Lou Gehrig's disease. She became a quadriplegic and endured the slow deterioration and loss of all her muscles. She typed the following words on a computer by clicking a sensor with her teeth...

"When I want something, frequently no one understands. When I know how to do something better, it doesn't matter. When I don't want to do something, I'm overruled. I cry and then I remember our Lord's words to Peter - that when he was old someone would lead him where he did not want to go.  When I enter a roomful of people - Sunday services, for example - I always send up an arrow prayer: 'Please, Lord, don't let me drool.' But the answer is always the same. I drool. Finally this morning I could not stand it anymore. 'Lord, people will think I have lost my mind as well as my body. They will pat me on the head and talk to me as if I'm two years old.'  'And Jesus answered, 'And how do they talk to a two year old? With love, with joy, with concern. Not so bad.' But I replied, 'They will talk to me in words of one or two syllables and short sentences.' Once again Jesus replied, 'You mean like "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  'O Lord, thank You for the reminder. My drooling is a help to make me humble.'  I praise You, Lord, for the marvelous grace that sustains brothers and sisters who suffer greatly. May we learn to see our own "handicaps" as opportunities to humble ourselves so that You might lift us up.

It was taken from a daily devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada, "Diamonds in the Dust" July 13.

October 9, 2012

Sickness is Meant.......

Sickness is meant…

1. To make us think—to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body—an immortal soul—a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery—and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.

2. To teach us that there is a world beyond the grave—and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.

3. To make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?

4. To make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.

5. To send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.

6. To make us pray. Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight.

7. To make us repent and break off our sins. If we will not hear the voice of mercies, God sometimes makes us “hear the rod.”

8. To draw us to Christ. Naturally we do not see the full value of that blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail, the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men’s eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, “Simply to Your cross I cling,” as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many—they have found Christ in the sick room.

9. To make us feeling and sympathizing towards others. By nature we are all far below our blessed Master’s example, who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize as those who have never had trouble themselves—and none are so able to feel as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.

Summary: Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise – a good and not an evil – a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.

~ J.C. Ryle

October 2, 2012

Letter To Dad (From Willem) About The Bed

Dear Dad,
I love my bed. Not inordinately so. People who know me know that I can often be found out of my bed way too early in the morning for a bike ride or a run. I don’t spend too much time there. But I must confess, I love my bed. There’s nothing like after a long day slipping into soft cool sheets and letting your head hit the pillow. It’s a wonderful feeling.
I didn’t think I took my bed for granted. Joni and I decided to get a king-sized bed about eight and a half years ago. The set was lovely and has stood the test of time. (It helped that we slept on a queen sized blow up camping bed for a week or two until we got the new mattress.) When we talked to friends who had gone through misery to try to get a good night’s sleep we appreciated our bed even more. But I realized last night that I do indeed take my bed for granted.
Last night Gerrit and I took your bed away. We replaced that comfort in your life with a hospital bed that we know you hate. If the LORD is so kind as to let you stay in your own home until that point ... you’re going to die in this new bed. Now I hate that piece-of-junk bed as much as you do! Well ... maybe I’d hate it more if I had to sleep in it.
Oh ... it was necessary of course. It wasn’t effective to take care of you in your old bed and it was taking it’s toll on mom’s back and your other caregivers to have to bend over in uncomfortable positions to move you for one reason or the other. It wasn’t safe.
I thought I should write you to mark the passage of this event. It is a big deal! When I consider how much I appreciate every good night’s sleep I’ve had for the past eight plus years WITH my wife IN my own bed WHEN I can get up WHENEVER I want and sometimes NOT WANT to go to the bathroom or see what’s wrong with one of the kids or a fire call or even get kicked in the head by Ella! (Our youngest is very wiggly when she gets between us in bed )
When I think about those things I realize all over again how much this wretched disease has taken away from you again and I hate sin and the fall and I long for Jesus to come back tonight and make it ALL RIGHT!
I realized all over again that this disease strips away everything. Everything! Every human comfort. Every human pleasure. Every human dignity. It’s all being stripped away. We get to see what’s underneath.
It reminds me of when Eustace is turned back into a boy from a dragon in C.S. Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Aslan the Lion tells Eustace to take off his dragon skin and he does – he scratches it off – to find that he’s still a dragon underneath. After doing that a dozen or more times he realizes that he can’t “un-dragon” himself. Finally Aslan cuts deep into Eustace with his claws and the boy can finally clamber out of the foul dragon that he had become.
God’s cutting deep into your life too. Painfully deep. You know what’s underneath? I can see it now. It’s the Everlasting Arms.
As everything else is stripped away from you your Saviour holding you becomes more and more obvious.
I love that. You’re still teaching, Dad! It’s just a different classroom. You weren’t forced into retirement and you haven’t retired.
Thank you for letting the Saviour work out His Will in your life and for sharing it with us.
I love you so much,
  1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
    • Refrain:
      Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
      Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
  2. Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
  3. What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.

September 27, 2012


The weather has definitely taken a turn to cooler nights, with sunny days between the rainy cloudy ones. Good sleeping weather. It is beautiful to see the harvest being gathered in, a rich token of God's mercy to us. There is so much to be thankful for. We are debtors to God for His lovingkindnesses. 'O for a thousand tongues to sing our great Redeemers praise.'

We enjoy freedom to worship and we have ready access to the Bible, good books, inspirational sacred music, Christian magazines, and technology that facilitates the use of all these beneficial resources (internet, SermonAudio, church telephone, etc.) God is still gathering in His Church, it is still the day of grace. We are accountable to God for how we make use (or neglect) these blessings.

How great it is to belong to a church and godly family where so much love, support and encouragement is given from the Word of God. I don't know how people can face a terminal illness like ALS without God and the support of his people.

One of our family traditions on Thanksgiving Day is after our church service to have the traditional dinner together with the entire family. At the beginning of the meal I ask everyone to come up with one thing, and only one thing, we are thankful for. Then during dessert we go around the table and each person shares their heart conviction - from oldest to youngest. You will be surprised what you hear.

The fall season is so full of wonderful colour: Orange pumpkins and gourds, red apples and maple leaves, yellow corn and squash, green beans and brussel sprouts, purple cabbage and pickled beets, white mashed potatoes and cauliflower, brown gravy and golden brown turkey, etc. A bountiful rainbow of colours, smells, and flavours. God is so good to us, and patient with us, despite our sins and shortcomings.

Above all, we thank Him for His only begotten Son, Who died and rose again as our Saviour. Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family.

This week I traded in my power wheelchair for a manual one because my hands and arms have become too weak to operate the controls. This development further reduces my freedom and increases my dependence on Lena and others to push me around. I am still weight bearing when making transfers, but my knees are beginning to weaken and buckle at times. It is all part of the gradual but progressive loss of nerve control to my muscles. God is helping me to cope with these losses one day at a time, step by step. I am thankful that He gives me grace sufficient hour by hour, and day by day. (2 Cor. 12:9) He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me as the Good Shepherd. (Psalm 27:9)


September 19, 2012

Fruit Bearing Christianity - J.C. Ryle

The Christianity which is from above will always be known by its fruits. It will produce in the person who has it repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, spirituality, kindness, self-denial, unselfishness, forgiving spirit, moderation, truthfulness, hospitality, and patience. The degree in which these various graces appear may vary in different believers. The germ and seeds of them will be found in all who are the children of God. By their fruits they will be known. Is this your faith? If not, you should doubt whether it is authentic. ~ J.C. Ryle

September 15, 2012

September Update

I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks now, so I thought it was time to write a few things.  The Lord has provided so wonderfully for us through His people in the church and school community. Visits, phone calls, email, cards, meals, house cleaning, cutting the lawn, doing my physio, staying with me so that Lena could run errands, are examples of the help we have been given. Our children, and even our grandchildren, have been so supportive and helpful as well.

Our ALS journey has been particularly difficult for my elderly parents. My father is 91 years old and my mother is 85. They would love to trade places with me in a heartbeat. It is not easy for them to see me deteriorate.

I cannot go to church anymore, but I am thankful for the church telephone and Sermon Audio. I am still eating and drinking but difficulty breathing is becoming my biggest physical challenge. I have to say that my greatest emotional loss is the lack of ability to communicate with my wife, my family and visitors. I am slowly being imprisoned in my body, and left with my own thoughts and ideas.

The Lord has a lot of work to do in order to make me fit for His kingdom. God is teaching me to be patient as I wait for others to do things for me. I now realize how good I had it when I was healthy. I am slowly being stripped of all my physical abilities, privacy, pride, self - righteousness and left
to depend on God alone.

During one of his pastoral visits, Pastor Pronk encouraged me to follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads, even through the dark valleys and difficult places, because the end is good. I often think about that statement, and I
am trying to live that out hour by hour, but it is not always easy to do. I take comfort in the words of the apostle Paul: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)


August 30, 2012

Do You Have True Peace With God? J.C. Ryle

There is no peace with God except through Christ! Peace is His peculiar gift. Peace is that legacy which He alone had power to leave behind Him when He left the world. All other peace beside this, is a mockery and a delusion. When hunger can be relieved without food, and thirst quenched without drink, and weariness removed without rest—then, and not until then, will people find peace without Christ. Now, is this peace your own? Bought by Christ with His own blood, offered by Christ freely to all who are willing to receive it—is this peace your own? Oh, rest not—rest not until you can give a satisfactory answer to my question, have you true peace with God?   ~ J.C. Ryle

August 28, 2012

How are things going?

I have not been angry or disagreed with God's way in my life up to this point in my ALS journey. The road is long and difficult, and I have shed many tears, but God has been my helper and provider every day. Grace sufficient for the day, and I have hope in His grace for tomorrow.

Does that mean that I never have doubts or fears? No it does not. I have my daily struggles like everyone. I am sad about losing my physical abilities and the fact that I am becoming more house bound. The days are long, and the nights are longer yet. The greatest loss is the ability to communicate and the frustration of being misunderstood. In group settings I quickly feel isolated as others talk and I am unable to participate.

My other problems right now are the leg cramps that keep me awake for most of the night. I usually fall asleep at 5 am. The other problem is choking on phlegm deep in my throat and struggling to cough it up. I break out in a sweat every time it happens.

God has been taking care of us through the love of His people in the form of meals, cards, calls, pastoral visits, emails, grass cutting, volunteers doing physiotherapy and watching over me in the night. I see these all as gifts from God, moving in His people like a host of angels.

I am never alone because Jesus Christ, my elder brother, sees me, watches over me, and prays for me 24/7. He never slumbers and never sleeps. He hears my cries and groans, and understands all my needs perfectly. He is the God-man who has been through it Himself. I talk to Him all the time. He is the Great Shepherd, and I try to follow Him through green pastures, dark valleys and and up the steep narrow pathways, because the end of the journey is peace and safety with Him.


August 22, 2012

Rest on Nothing But Christ Crucified - J.C. Ryle

Look steadily at Jesus on the cross, if you want to feel inward peace. Look to anything of your own, and you will never feel comfortable. Your own life and doings, your own repentance, your own morality and regularity, your own church-going, your own Bible-reading and your prayers, what are they all but a huge mass of imperfection? Rest not upon them for a moment, in the matter of your justification. As evidences of your wishes, feelings, bias, tastes, habits, inclinations, they may be useful helps occasionally. As grounds of acceptance with God they are worthless rubbish. They cannot give you comfort; they cannot bear the weight of your sins; they cannot stand the searching eye of God. Rest on nothing but Christ crucified, and the atonement He made for you on Calvary. This, this alone is the way of peace.   ~ J.C. Ryle

August 20, 2012

36th Wedding Anniversary

Today Lena and I have been married for 36 years. It seems like yesterday that I got up early in the morning to get my hair cut and styled (big deal back then), picked up the tuxedos and wedding flowers. We washed and decorated the vehicles which would carry the wedding party, and packed our suitcases in the car for the honeymoon after the wedding. After one night in a fancy hotel, we headed up 'north' for a week in a cottage (a gift from the maid of honour's family). Ever since then we cottaged up north for a week or two every summer for 36 years. Yes, we went fishing on our honeymoon, and I hate to admit it, but Lena caught the biggest fish. 

The Lord has given us four wonderful children (Benjamin George died at 5 months), and 10 grandchildren, with the 11th on the way coming November. My son, sons-in-law, and grandsons have all been infected with the love for fishing bug. Sorry about that girls. 

I didn't expect to survive to our 36th year of marriage, but the Lord only knows the timetable. I love you Lane. Thanks for being my nurse and for denying yourself and for standing by me through the good and the bad times.


August 19, 2012

Summer is Flying By

The last few days the weather has been cooler, and I can't help thinking that 
summer is almost over, and that autumn will soon be here. So it goes with our 
life, whether we live 15, 50, or 90 years, it passes by so quickly. The Bible 
describes it like a passing shadow, a tale that is told, a flower that opens in the 
morning and fades by nightfall. But many of us don't really live like that is true, 
and we count on there being a tomorrow. 

The Word of God tells us to seek the Lord in our youth (Eccl.12), before the 
difficulties of old age sets in. Before seeing, hearing, walking and thinking are 
impaired. The same thing applies to our health. While we are healthy and while
our faculties are clear, that is the best time to seek the Lord and be saved. 
When you are sick, then a lot of your time is taken up with treatments, therapies, 
doctors appointments, etc. 

It is best if faith, scripture memorization, and spiritual songs are laid down in your 
heart before old age and sickness come your way. Then these things can be a 
blessing and a comfort to you when you need it most. 

It is almost too late to begin seeking the Lord when you are sick or suffering from 
dementia. J. C. Ryle said once somewhere that as long as there is life, there is 
hope for salvation. That is very true, but we must remember that there is only one 
example in the Bible of the thief on the cross who was saved in his last hour. We 
may never presume that we can postpone our salvation for such a long shot 
chance. Today is the day of salvation.

August 8, 2012

The One Road to Heaven: Jesus Christ J.C. Ryle

Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and world were formed, Jesus Christ was like the Father, very God. From the beginning He was foreordained to be the Savior of sinners. He was always the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, without whose blood there could be no remission. The same Jesus, to whom alone we may look for salvation, that same Jesus was the only hope of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and all the patriarchs; what we are privileged to see distinctly they doubtless saw indistinctly - but the Savior both we and they rest upon is one. It was Christ Jesus who was foretold in all the prophets, and foreshadowed and represented in all the law - the daily sacrifice of the lamb, the cities of refuge, the brazen serpent, all these were so many emblems to Israel of that Redeemer who was yet to come, and without whom no person could be saved. There never was but one road to heaven: Jesus Christ was the way, the truth and the life yesterday as well as today.     ~ J.C. Ryle

August 2, 2012

Former RCS Student Drowns

Last week Saturday, July 28th, 15 year old Kenton VanPelt drowned at his grandparents' cottage on Baxter Lake in Northern Ontario. Kenton was a vibrant young man, and an avid swimmer. Something went wrong after he dove off the boat house, an activity the family has been doing for many years.

Kenton had been a student at Rehoboth Christian School for four years ( grades 4 - 7), while I was principal there, and he and his parents are known by many in our community. He was a kind, gentle boy and was very polite to his teachers.

What a terrible tragedy Kenton's death is to the VanPelt and Neven families. What a shock this is to the entire school community, especially to Kenton's peers. God has His purpose with this event, and He makes no mistakes, ever.
It is a lesson for all of us, but especially for young people, that we always need to be prepared to meet our Creator and Judge. We all expect to become old, but here we see again that things don't always go our way.

Who would have expected that this 15 year old young man would have died before I did. I am not expected to live much longer but my dear students, you too could be called before God before I am. Will you be ready? Do not wait a moment longer, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation". 2 Cor.6:2

Kenton expressed a saving interest in Christ, and had publicly professed his faith several months prior. The question comes to us about where we stand in relation to God. Are we covered by the blood of Christ? Are we saved by faith in Him? May God use this tragedy to bring others to the Saviour, especially young people.

Lena and I, along with our children and their families wish to express our sincere condolences to Mike and Deani and their daughters and to all the VanPelt and Neven families affected by this loss. May God comfort you through His Word and Spirit.

July 31, 2012

My Help Meet

It has been about one and a half years now since we began to realize that something was wrong with my neurological system. The process of testing eliminated everything except ALS. Lena worked for a neurologist, so we were able to get a lot of testing done quickly by a team of experts who were Lena's colleagues. Since that day, both of our lives have changed drastically, step by step and day by day. 

When we married, almost 36 years ago, we promised to love each other in sickness and in health, through the good times or the bad, until death would part us. It is becoming quite rare today to see this promise being kept in the time we are now living. Sickness, tragedies and disappointments often strain a marriage to the breaking point, as we can witness all around us today. Commitment is a decision we make, and it requires self - denial, sacrifices and there are no escape clauses. 

Our journey together with ALS has not been easy for us, and not without struggles and bumps in the road. We are sinners at best, and we remain sinners to our last breath. That is where God's grace is needed to apologize, forgive each other, and then to carry on. It is so wonderful that we receive instruction in these things from the Word of God, and to be supported by family and fellow believers. 
Thank - you Lena, for standing by me day by day, hour by hour. Thank - you Lord Jesus, for providing such a wonderful help meet for me.


July 23, 2012

Jesus I Come

From Sarah Beric: A few weeks ago I received this email from a young woman in our church. I was touched that she took the time to type out the words, and to send off such a kind and thoughtful email. I have asked her permission to share part of the email with you here.

Jesus I Come:
Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness, into Thy health ;
Out of my want, and into Thy wealth ;
Out of my sin and into Thy self ; Jesus I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus I come, Jesus I come.
Into Thy glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of earth's sorrows, into Thy balm ;
Out of life's storm and into they calm ;
Out of distress to jubilant psalm , Jesus I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and death of the tomb, Jesus I come, Jesus I come.
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold ;
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold ;
Ever Thy glorious face to behold ! Jesus I come to Thee !

- W.T. Sleeper.

This song was just so comforting for us, knowing that some day, your dad wont have to suffer any more, and he will leave his sickness behind and enter into the health of our loving Jesus! All this pain is temporary! Some day he will be entering into the joy and light of Jesus' throne, and he wont have to worry about how he is going to get out of bed, or how he is going to eat that sandwich, or how he is going to take his next breath ! He will be resting in the Peace of Jesus' sheltering fold! Really though, this is something we can all look forward to! Leaving earth's sorrows and fear of death and getting out of the depths of ruin and just entering into Jesus Himself!

July 9, 2012

The Precious Promises of the Bible - J.C.Ryle

How precious are the promises which the Bible contains for the use of those who love God! There is hardly any possible emergency or condition for which it does not have a word of hope and encouragement. And it tells people that God loves to be put in remembrance of these promises, and that if He has said He will do something, His promise will certainly be fulfilled. How blessed are the hopes which the Bible holds out to the believer in Christ Jesus! Peace in the hour of death—rest and happiness on the other side of the grave—a glorious body in the morning of the resurrection—a full and triumphant acquittal in the day of judgment—an everlasting reward in the kingdom of Christ—a joyful meeting with the Lord’s people in the day of gathering together—these, these are the future prospects of every true Christian. They are all written in the book—in the book which is all true. - J.C. Ryle

July 7, 2012

Condition Update

I want to give you an update on how we are doing on our journey, especially for those of you who we don't see too often, and who live far away.

We are grateful for the cards, emails, calls and visits we receive on a regular basis. Your prayers and thoughts are a great encouragement to us. Our church has initiated a home cooked meals on wheels service for us for as long as we need it. We receive much love and care from our family, the
church and school community. We often wonder how people ever manage through trials without God and without fellow believers walking alongside.

My ability to speak is basically gone now. Even Lena is having trouble understanding my mumbling. I am also having more difficulty in breathing, especially on a full stomach, since I use stomach muscles to breathe. I use
a bipap machine at night now and sometimes during naps to help in breathing. It took me a while to get used to it, but I know that I need to use it now.

I can still eat almost everything by mouth, but I am very slow because chewing and swallowing is difficult for me. Lena has to feed me, because I can't use my hands anymore. I use a straw for all my drinking, yes even for coffee. The PEG tube is working well for me, and I use it every other day or
so, just to keep it open.

Transferring from lazyboy, to wheelchair, to commode, to the bed is getting very risky using my legs, so we are beginning to use a sling and hoyer lift. It is also getting hard on Lena's back to do all that heavy lifting, even though I lost 30 lbs. My hands are getting so weak that I am having trouble controlling my computer mouse and wheelchair joystick.

My biggest problem is that I have great difficulty sleeping and I am very restless through the night. I have a sleeping pill, but it is not helping that much. I might sleep a total of two hours per night for several months now. This is keeping Lena from getting her rest, so we have begun to schedule family members taking turns for the nights. Please pray that I may sleep at night.

Despite all my physical problems, I must confess that God has been faithful. I have His Word and the many comforting promises to lean on. I may trust His covenant faithfulness to never let me go. His providences are sufficient to my needs. His people are a daily encouragement to me. I pray for daily
submission to His way in my life, and that I might not dishonour His name in any way. Oh for a rich measure of the Holy Spirit to apply the words and works of Christ to my heart.

June 30, 2012

The Satisfaction of Looking Unto Jesus - J.C. Ryle

Keep on looking unto Jesus. Faith shall soon be changed to sight, and hope to certainty. Looking to Jesus on earth by faith, you shall end with seeing Jesus eye to eye in heaven. Those eyes of yours shall look on the head that was crowned with thorns, the hands and feet that were pierced with nails, and the side that was pierced with a spear. You shall find that seeing is the blessed consequence of believing, and that looking at Jesus by faith, ends with seeing Jesus in glory, and living with Jesus for evermore. When you awake up after His likeness, you shall be satisfied. - J.C. Ryle

June 29, 2012

A New Wheelchair Ramp

In order to get into my backyard to enjoy the garden and patio, I have to negotiate a single step from the driveway to the sidewalk along the side of the house. My son Gerrit built a temporary ramp for me out of wood. The problem with it was that there was a risk of my wheelchair running over the 
edge of the walkway and tipping over.

After a few weeks of using the temporary ramp, and a few close calls too many, Gerrit showed up on one of the hottest days of the year to pour a concrete curb and ramp instead. Now I have the freedom to negotiate the terrain in a safe manner, to the relief of my wife Lena.

I thank God for a talented and loving son to do these things for me. My family members are all making great efforts to make my life as pleasant and comfortable as possible. It all helps to make my difficult journey more bearable.


June 27, 2012

Grade 12 Awards and Scholarships Evening

Last week I was invited by the Grade 12 graduating class of Rehoboth Christian School to attend the 2012 Awards and Scholarships night. I have been the Principal for 12 of the 13 years that these students have attended RCS. I was not able to be there for the dinner part of the evening, but I witnessed the awards and scholarships being handed out, and the charge being given to the 34 graduates by Pastor Schoeman. I was asked to present the Jack Westerink Scholarship which was to be awarded for the first time. It was an evening of mixed emotions for me, as you can imagine.

Below you can find the text of the presentation speech I delivered to the graduates and their parents. I used a DynaVox computer, which was mounted on my electric wheelchair. This computer has software that can change text to audible speech. Steve, the occupational therapist who specializes in computers and electronics, got the hardware all together for me the day before. Thank you Steve.

It is my privilege to be here this evening to present the Jack Westerink Scholarship.

First of all, congratulations to all of the grade 12 students for 
successfully completing your high school education at Rehoboth Christian School. You have been highly privileged and blessed to have been given such a precious gift, the gift of a Christian education.

When the concept of a scholarship was first proposed to me, I did not expect to actually experience the first presentation of it in person. It is very humbling, and also a great honor for me that this scholarship was established by generous donors, in my name.

The design of the scholarship is to support and encourage a student who will attend full time studies at an accredited Christian post secondary institution. The amount is $2,500 per year, for each year of the degree program.

The 2012 recipient is a person who has become very special to me over the last year, and is an all round, talented, sporty, hard working student. The first scholarship recipient is, Tracey Kranendonk.

June 22, 2012

Christ the Only Way - J.C. Ryle

Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us; only the righteousness of Christ’s can clothe us; Only the sacrifice of Christ can give us a title to heaven. Jews and Gentiles, educated and uneducated, rich and poor — everyone, no matter what their position or standing in life must either be saved by Jesus Christ or lost forever. And the Apostle emphatically adds, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  There is no other person commissioned, sealed, and appointed by God the Father to be the Savior of sinners, except Christ. The keys of life and death are only found in His hand, and all who want to be saved must go to Him. ~ J.C. Ryle

June 20, 2012

Father's Day Surprise!

Last weekend, our son Gerrit and his family spontaneously asked us to go with them to our family trailer. It didn't take more than 5 minutes for me to think about it and to respond with a yes. Within an hour, we were winging our way through Toronto traffic, and made the traditional stop at the McDonalds drive-thru on highway #115 before arriving safely at the trailer.

It is a wonderful change of scenery for me to hear the many birds, smell the campfire, and watch my son cut the grass, prune the trees, and water the cedars. My grandson had to wait for his father to finish work before going out on a fishing expedition together. I don't know how many times he asked when they could go, but he readily helped by picking up sticks and pinecones from the lawn, and tossing them into the fire. There is something about fires that all boys, young and old, find mesmerizing.

The next day, I went in my electric wheelchair to the dock to see them off for another fishing trip. "Are you coming with us, dad?" my son asked. I thought about it for about 10 seconds, and said "sure, why not". Gerrit and Lena lifted me out of my wheelchair onto my wobbly legs. I had to take a big step up onto a wobbly floating dock, and then, with each of them having one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock, they lifted my one leg into the front of the boat and then the other one and from there I had to walk across the bow into the seat of the bobbing boat. 

It was probably not the safest, most responsible thing I've ever done, but it sure was worth it! Benjamin, our 5 year old grandson, was watching the whole procedure and when I finally was seated in the boat, he spontaneously broke out into the biggest smile and gave us a big thumbs up.

In order to get out to the lake, you have to pass through a channel that they've cut out through the bullrushes. When you get to the end of the docks, you have to "floor it" so that you can plane out as you fly through the channel, as it is quite shallow at first. Now it is always my habit at that moment, when weaving through the channel, with the wind in my hair, smiling in anticipation and feeling full of joy and thankfulness, to throw both hands in the air and at the top of my voice, yell, "Yeeeehaaaaw!!"

Of course Benjamin is used to hearing me do this and has been "yeehawing" along with me for the last few years, but this trip, he realized that I was not able to do it so with Lena behind me holding up both my arms, Benjamin, while sitting on the bow threw up both his little arms high in the air and at the top of his voice showed us that he was more than happy to carry on this tradition from grandfather to son to grandson.

I spent the afternoon watching my son and grandson fish. What a happy Father's Day weekend it turned out to be for me. Fathers, it is so important that you not only feed and clothe and pray for your children, but that you also spend time with them. They need it and thrive on it.

Jack and Lena