Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When God Speaks

Acts 18:9-17

God is true to His word and faithful to His people. In a vision, He instructed Paul to continue preaching in Corinth, and assured him that no one would harm him there. No doubt Paul clung to this promise when the Jews rose up against him and brought him before the ruler of the city.

Before Paul could even open his mouth to offer his defence, the judge threw out the case, and by the end of the matter Paul’s chief accuser was beaten instead. What a comfort to know that the Almighty God cares for His children, watches over them, and assures them with His unchanging Word. If we have a word from God, we can rest assured that He will see it through!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Today’s thought is inspired by comments my pastor made in a sermon this weekend.

Job 2:3 (NKJV) Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

God’s testimony of Job was that, although He was moved to trouble him without cause, Job continued to maintain his integrity. Job, remember, had just lost everything in the beginning of a trial that would test his very faith in God. But Job responded to the onset of his trial by worshipping God. What was intended to drive him away from God instead brought him closer to him.

We will experience trials in our life, although few people will experience the same degree of suffering, but whether receiving good at the hand of God or evil, let us persist in our worship response to him. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

What better blessing could be had than a testimony from God Himself that we maintained our integrity before Him. If God, who sees all and knows all, can say of us that we maintained our integrity in the face of all adversity, then all will be well in the end. More than anything else in the world, I want this testimony with God. When my journey through this life is completed, I want to hear His sweet words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . enter in to the joy of the Lord.”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Holy Ghost and the Grace of God

Acts 15:6-11

In consideration of Paul’s rebuke to Peter for his double standard concerning Gentile fellowship, one might think him an unlikely candidate to defend the liberties of the Gentile believers. Yet, when the question of circumcision was raised to the Jerusalem council, it was Peter who stood up to remind the elders of the first Gentile conversion experience.

In recounting the events of Cornelius’ household conversion (Acts 10 and 11), Peter notes that they would hear the word of God by his mouth and believe. In acknowledging their faith, God gave them the Holy Ghost the same way he gave it to the apostles. The common experience of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost bound the Jewish and Gentile believers together. And Peter wraps up his argument by saying that we (Jews) believe that we will be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, even as they (Gentiles).

All people, Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our example of such salvation is the Gentile believers who received the same experience as the Jews did on the day of Pentecost, which is stated in this passage as God’s gift of His Spirit. When we receive grace, we receive the gift of God’s spirit, which is the power of God unto salvation. If you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, look to receive his grace in the outpouring of His Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:39).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Catching Up

Okay, so I've neglected my blog for awhile; I know. In fact, I suspected it would happen when I started it, which is why I declared that I would make no commitments as to my posting frequency. However, 5 months may be pushing the slackness just a little bit.

Fortunately, I haven't forsaken my reading goal like I've forsaken my blogging. In fact, In fact, I've finished the following books in the past five months:

1. Miller's Church History - Andrew Miller. This book is just what it's title suggests, a history of church movements from the Acts 2 church to his present day. It covered a lot of details, particularly concerning the vagaries of the Catholic Church. A marathon read that took me several months to complete, it rang in 1,080 pages of mostly dry but informative reading.

2. Man in the Shadows - Efraim Halevy. Halevy was a former head of Mossad, and his insights into the development of the present Middle East crisis are worth pondering. Instrumental as he was in covert diplomacy and intelligence, he has a view of that regions problems that is unique and interesting.

3. The Greater Cause - Steve Pixler. The message of this book is that marriage is the greater cause as compared to anything that would oppose or destroy marriage. It looks at the hot-button verses in Matthew 19 concerning the legality of divorce 'for any cause' and turns the whole question on its head with the proposition that something greater is embedded in the marriage covenant. This is a short, simple, and powerful defense of marriage.

4. Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank Gilbreth. This book is an American classic, hilarious, at times poignant, and well worth the read. It is a collection of true tales from a family of - you guessed it - twelve children, along with their adventurous and idiosyncratic father.

5. 1967 - Tom Segev. I've always wanted to read more about this important year in Middle East history, and this book was a reasonable starting point. A lot of time is spent setting the background to the Six Day War; the background was a little dry at times, but once the tale turns to the six days of conflict, it picks up pace very quickly. By no means a carte blanche defense of Israel, it is a more or less balanced look at the conflict and its precedent and consequent events.

6. The Case for Christ - Lee Stroebel. Having heard about this book for years, and having it highly recommended by my father-in-law, whose reading I would love to emulate, I finally picked it up, and I'm glad I did. Strobel clearly is presenting the case for the historical authenticity of Christ's life, death, and resurrection, and he does so in fine form. He presnts skeptic arguments that I hadn't heard of along with prominent ones that I have, casts them to experts on New Testament history, and records their responses; the result is a great defense of the Christian faith. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone, whether you are a believer or not.

More than all of these, I'm also on target to complete my Bible Reading this year. I set a reading schedule that would get me through the Bible in 39 weeks, but it'll probably take me 3-4 weeks longer because of a couple of larger reading assignments; however, that contingency was built into my plan so i could have plenty of breathing room.

For all of you reader(s) out there, I'll try to stay more current and provide more fodder for the blogosphere if I can.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Heathen's Rage

The Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) has undertaken the monumental task of re-opening the abortion debate in Canada, and pro-abortionists are riled. CCBR has taken a drastic approach to the issue, showing graphic displays of aborted fetuses and massacred children and adults side by side to illustrate the similarities. The images used and claims made have certainly captured attention, and the abortion question seems to be headed back into Canada’s public square because of CCBR’s Genocide Awareness Project.

The project makes use of their graphic displays to compare abortion to the (almost) universally acknowledged butchery of our world, such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, and suggest that abortion is culturally accepted infanticide. The project, and its use of displays, is admittedly controversial, and CCBR makes no apologies for their controversial approach to the issue. Their website simply lists a series of changed-heart testimonials as their reason for tackling the abortion issue this way.

Essentially, the question revolves around the humanness of a fetus. If a fetus is not essentially human, then there is no issue; if a fetus is essentially human, than society must confront the disturbing comparisons and seek to remedy the wrong we’ve perpetrated for several years now. The question is as valid as it is inherently controversial.

Yet, while the question is controversial, and CCBR highlights the controversial aspect in their awareness projects, the manner in which they engage the debate is almost startling in its civility and intellectualism. The advice they provide on their website concerning dialogue and debate includes points such as “Make more statements that end in question marks than end in periods” and “Find common ground”. While the displays are stark and disturbing, the purpose, it seems, is to engage rational discussion and debate that is free from rhetoric and antagonism.

On university campuses across the nation, pro-abortion groups are loudly decrying CCBR’s message with inflammatory rhetoric and mob rage. Unfortunately, none seem willing to engage the debate from a reasoned perspective. A pro-abortion position is purported to be so easily defensible as to be plainly obvious, so it’s really strange that a few pro-life students with graphic signs and a dissenting viewpoint could intimidate campus pro-abortionists. Are they threatened by the message? Because if they’re not, why else would they slink away from an invitation to rational debate, and take refuge in chants, personal insults, and anarchist overthrow?

You might think that’s grossly overstating the pro-abortionist reaction to CCBR’s message. I invite you to watch the first five minutes of Jose Ruba’s attempted CCBR presentation at St. Mary’s University in Halifax.

Notice that he was disrupted before he had even finished his preliminary remarks and gotten into his presentation. Notice also how he was heckled down every time he tried to speak. And notice how his invitation for them to ask their questions at the conclusion of his presentation was totally ignored in favour of mindless rhetoric. This was only the first five of more than thirty minutes of this exchange.

What’s more disturbing? Mr. Ruba and his group were asked to leave the campus. Those who were seeking respectful, open dialogue, were removed from the institute of higher learning in favour of a group of lawless hooligans that had not one rational thing to say.

This is not an isolated incident. About two weeks ago, the University of Calgary charged a campus-approved pro-life group with trespassing when they erected their display on campus. This followed a protracted dispute between the university and the student group on account of the display, which the university deemed offensive to some students. Just today, the U of C Student Union joined with a handful of university clubs across the country to revoke the pro-life group's campus status, making them ineligible to use meeting rooms, university equipment, and available funding to support their cause.

Apparently, open thought is no longer accepted in our institutes of higher learning. This speaks ill of the future of education, progress, and civility. If people are not free to express their views, especially on campuses designed for the advancement of ideas, then knowledge will suffer, and it would not be hard to conceive another dark age. The dark ages were marked by the suppression of free thought and the suzerainty of closed-minded elites over ill-informed masses. Then, as now, it was a religion. Then, it was Catholicism; now it’s humanism. But the end is the same.

The irony in which pro-lifers may rejoice is that CCBR’s message is being advanced far more rapidly because of the controversy and persecution it has aroused than it ever would have through peaceful presentations in isolated lecture rooms. The media attention and universal fascination has generated far more publicity than a small non-profit organization could ever have hoped with the help of a few students scattered across Canada’s campuses.

Pro-abortionists, on the other hand, could learn a lesson from history if they cared to open their minds. Persecution is not a retardant; it is a stimulant. Rome tried to quell the rise of Christianity until, after three centuries of intense persecution, there were said to be more Christians than pagans in the realm. The Catholics tried to subdue national and doctrinal rebellions. After centuries of oppression, they were instead subdued into their more rightful place.

The larger issue is the rampage of the heathen against righteousness. Psalms 37:12 states, “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.” A more apt description would be difficult to find. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” Righteousness will prevail, and the more it is resisted, the brighter and purer it becomes. Hence, another irony: the enemies of the righteous might unwittingly be their best friends, for the ploughing of the wicked serves only to purify the righteous, that they may be evermore fruitful, and their testimony might evermore prevail.

Tertullian said it this way: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. Righteousness cannot be beaten. God still rules. He has mercifully granted us a space for reconciliation, but He still reigns over all, and in due season he will break the yoke of heathen vanity. But for those interested in Him, he grants grace enough to overcome any obstacle. So lovers of darkness seek to destroy the light of righteousness by more persecution, but more persecution only means more grace, and more grace produces more light, which only further enrages the lovers of darkness.

So why do the heathen rage?

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Reader, A President

I found this link posted on another blog; I liked it, and I think it’s fitting to re-post here. However you view GWB’s presidency, you’ve got to extend credit for his personal literacy program. If the American President, with all of the pressures and demands on his time, can still read dozens of books in a year, what excuse do we have for any lesser reading accomplishment?

And (although this is not, and will not be, a political blog), I challenge anyone hooked by the popular opinion of GWB as ignorant, unlearned, and dumb to compare their reading accomplishments to his. I bet you’d lose.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Redeeming Fiction

The Globe and Mail published an article last week in defense of reading fiction; apparently, fiction and literature is good for your social skills. A study, which became the subject for the article, intimated that those who read frequently demonstrated more advanced social and communication skills. The reason given: literature sets up dialogue and other social exchanges from which the reader learns and uses to incorporate into actual social settings.

Assuming your choice in fiction is substantial, the thesis of the Globe’s article and supporting study seems reasonable. If you’re unsure of what might qualify, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ certainly would be a worthy benchmark.

Jane Austen is a renowned 19th century writer whose most prominent works include ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (c.1813), a tale that sets Elizabeth Bennett, an intelligent, witty, young woman as the heroine and Fitzwilliam Darcy as the uncannily real, yet often misunderstood, male protagonist.

A romance? I suppose, given that two weddings take place in the last chapter and the opening line of the book reads: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Yet the romantic element plays only a supporting role to the greater plot of the story, the exposure of true character contrasted with the prejudicial opinions formed on first encounters. Indeed, were all romance novels written with such quality and underlying substance, I venture to suggest that they would not be altogether useless as reading material.

The sheer quality of writing is enough to render this work nothing short of a pleasurable diversion. Austen’s character development, dialogue, and descriptive narrations are a true joy to read, mentally stimulating, provocative (in a pure, thoughtful sense; another blessing in older writing is that it is utterly clean), and satisfying.

Although this was my first Austen novel, it certainly will not be my last. Indeed, fiction of this calibre has redemptive value in that its dialogue and narrative can be absorbed and assimilated into intellectual reality, its content can be discussed with pleasure among others who have read it, and its characters actually expose real character traits from which the reader can gain piercing insight into humanity. In fact, the richness of the characters in this book can actually help one identify character strengths and flaws in their own life, and use that knowledge to enhance their own personal development.

In short, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ boasts superior entertainment that also has potential to make the reader a better person for having read it. This, and other similar works, hold the redeeming qualities that most of today’s fiction lacks and desperately needs.