December 30, 2013

End of Year update

At the end of the year, and at the beginning of the new, it is fitting to look back and to look ahead. There have been good times, and there have been difficult times, but as our beloved Heidelberg Catechism says we are to be thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity. God is teaching us and testing us during both of these times. How did we do? Did we grow in faith, in trust, in love and in grace? God has His purposes for all of the events of our lives.

I never expected to see 2014, and people I expected to be here still, are now gone. The apostle Paul desired to depart and to be with Christ, but God thought it would be better for His Church for Paul to remain, and Paul was submissive to whatever God had in store for him. It is my sincere desire to be an imitator of Paul, even though I long for my suffering to be over and to be with Jesus.

My wife and I estimate that I have now lost 65 - 70 Lbs since the onset of ALS. My clothes are very loose and baggy. I still eat pureed foods, but it is slow going and much less.

Please pray for us, that God would grant a rich outpouring of His Spirit in our hearts that we would experience submission, comfort, peace and joy knowing that He is walking with us and will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).


December 19, 2013

Gift Exchange or Great Exchange

Traditionally we exchange gifts with family and friends this time of the year. I would like to think that this tradition has its roots in the biblical story of the wise men (magi) presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus at His birth. Perhaps it is the remnant of the pagan feast to Saturn which the Church replaced with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Anyway, it is a tradition which the business world has certainly capitalized on. So much so, that many are tempted to over spend and go into debt for. The season meant for brotherly love, has been turned into brotherly shove.

The Bible gives a different version of the gift exchange, one which the Puritans called the 'great exchange '. His perfect righteousness in exchange for my load of filthy sin. (Romans 3:24, 25) Oh how we should praise and thank Him for this matchless gift.

May all of my readers experience this wonderful exchange this Christmas. Then we will be truly happy.


December 14, 2013

God's Sovereignty

I was convicted when I read the following verse for my devotions: Jesus said
to His disciples "it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which
the Father hath put in his own power. " (Acts 1:7b) God is sovereign, and I
can leave my future with Him; whatever that future may bring. My times are
in His hands.
 Pastor Bilkes read this poem on his last visit with me and I thought it
expressed beautifully, exactly how I feel. It was written by a German
teacher, poet and hymn writer,  Samuel Rodigast, in order to encourage a
very sick friend. I'm sure it did encourage his friend as it has done for me
centuries later.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path:
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my physician sends me.
My God is true; each morn anew
I’ll trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He is my friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.
Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all.
Samuel Rodigast ( 1649-1708)
Translated from German by Catherine Winkworth in 1863

December 8, 2013

Why am I still here?

The Westminster catechism asks the question 'What is the chief end of man? The answer is 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' As long as God gives me breath, I am to be thankful and praise the Lord with all that I have and all that I am. God is so good to me, He hears and answers my prayers, He is my Provider, Sustainer, my hope and expectation. It is because of what Jesus did for me that I am able to pray and approach His holy throne and be heard.

Well, how am I to glorify Him? With my limited abilities I am still able to read the Bible, pray, and write short blog posts. Due to progressive muscle weakness, simple tasks are getting more difficult. I hope to continue to honour Him to the end. Pray for me that I will remain faithful to Him to the end.


December 3, 2013

Black Friday or Good Friday

The shopping frenzy, known as Black Friday, is over in USA and Canada. It is the official kick start to the Christmas shopping season. Line-ups early in the morning, even camp outs and stampedes are common. What a sad commentary this thirst for deals and greed brings out the worst in our civilized society. We are afraid to miss out on a good deal, and business takes advantage of our natural instincts. Then comes Cyber Monday (on line shopping deals), followed by Boxing Day, post Christmas sales.

Hardly a word is ever spoken about Good Friday anymore, there seems to be no money in it. Yet the best deal is to be had "without money and without price " (Isaiah 55). The unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9), is to be had for free, with empty hands. That gift is Christ Jesus Himself and He gives eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16). 

What better 'deal' can there ever be!