Saturday, December 26, 2009


It is only in giving yourself to others that you truly live (John 12:25).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

M2MS 12/16/09

You cannot find what you are looking for in this world, because you were made for something more (Matthew 6:33).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

M2MS 12/10/09

There is no neutral! Every moment of your existence you are either advancing into more or retreating into less (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Monday, December 07, 2009

M2MS 12/07/09

Be careful what you look at! Your eyes are the gateway to your inner self (Matthew 6:22). Once something is in there it's very difficult to get it out.

Friday, December 04, 2009

M2MS 12/04/09

We are at war and the enemy is ruthless and relentless. Always be vigilant! (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

M2MS 12/01/09

Good techniques can never replace godly character. (1 Timothy 1:5)

Friday, November 27, 2009

M2MS 11/27/09

When you have sinned, don't allow yourself the luxury of self-pity, run to Jesus for forgiveness! (1 John 1:9)
Disordered Loves

In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) defined sin as disordered loves. He was the first to suggest the concept that we all operate from a deficit orientation. This is the idea that we have a hole in our souls and it can only be filled by God. All sin is an attempt to fill the void by loving good, created things, when it can only be filled by the only ultimate thing: the love of God. This is the essence of idolatry: making good things into ultimate things.

When we do this disordered loves have three negative results in our lives: They starve us; they emotionally enslave us; and they divide us.

Augustine suggested that the solution is found in true beauty. There is nothing more beautiful than Christ. As this truth is grasped in our souls we begin to reorder our love toward Christ. Our disordered desires become transformed by the grace of God so that we focus our devotion on Him alone. This is a lifetime process: a journey characterized by repentance and faith. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless, Lord, till they rest in thee." May my life continually be reoriented to the one who alone is true beauty and satisfaction.

You might want to check out David K. Naugle's book, Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Perfect Union

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23).

"Oh, to be bound up in the bundle of life with the living God and with Christ, who has life in Himself! Oh, let this be the whole strength of the aim of our souls, and let us be so moved and affected with it, so as not to lack a part and share in and with this good company! They were sufficient company to Themselves when They inhabited eternity and They are sufficient to make us so, by taking us up into Their intimate converse. . . . Oh, what sweetness will there be one day in heaven in the fullness of converse and manifestation of these three persons. It will be, if not all, yet the great discourse that will be had and heard in heaven with our poor souls by the three persons, bringing all the delights they have had in you from eternity down into your hearts, and revealing them to you all eternity."

Oh LORD, may I have a taste of this glorious union - never to crave for the dry morsels of this barren world again.

M2MS 11/25/09

The more proud you get the more you become out of touch with reality. Humility will liberate you from self-deception. (Proverbs 11:2)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

M2MS 11/24/09

Keep the main thing the main thing: "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things. " (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
M2MS 11/18/09

All of life is repentance: the constant process of forsaking wrong and embracing right. (2 Corinthians 7:8-9)
M2MS 11/15/09

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. (C.S.L.)
M2MS 11/14/09

Sin is deceptive: it not only makes us sick, but also senseless.
M2MS 11/13/09

"I shall not want." (Psalm 23:1) The secret of contentment in a consumer world is being thankful to the Good Shepherd for EVERYTHING.
M2MS (Memos to My Sons)

A humble attempt to encourage my sons as followers of Jesus. I will try to keep my messages to 25 words. l2l, dad.

started 11/12/09

Friday, November 13, 2009

Change Is Essential

In Herman Melville's Bartleby, The Scrivener, he tells the story of a Wall Street Lawyer who hires a young man named Bartleby as a scrivener. The Lawyer soon discovers that Bartleby is not willing to do anything in the office except his proficient task of copying documents. In time he continues to respond to every request with his signature, "I would prefer not to." One weekend the lawyer discovers that Bartleby was taken up residence in his offices. Eventually the young scrivener is refusing to do his copying tasks. Frustrated, the lawyer tries to convince Bartleby to resume his work or be fired. He responds with, "I would prefer not to at this time." Yet the influential boss is unable to make Bartleby leave. Embarrassed by the comments of business associates who are baffled by the lawyer's inability to deal with the idle employee, the lawyer decides to move his offices to another location. Bartleby remains unmoved at the old office suite until he is finally removed forcefully by the authorities and placed in jail. The lawyer visits him and attempts to extend kindness by providing for his meals. However, even this act is rebuffed by the popular response, "I would prefer not to." Tragically, when the lawyer returns again, he discovers that the young man has starved to death because of his preference.

This story is a graphic reminder that change is essential to life. Life cannot be lived simply by personal preferences. There are truths in this world that are unchangeable and if we do not submit and respond to these with our own change we will die. The greatest truth is that we must accept and obey the will of God. This is the essence of repentance. It is the humble recognition of personal wrong and the desire and will to change by accepting God's way. This is the only path to life. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret . . . See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done." (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). Although the act of repentance may be painful and humbling it is still the only way to life and joy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Knowing the Love of Christ that Surpasses Knowledge

"I pray that you . . . know this love that surpasses knowledge." (Ephesians 3:19). John Bunyan observes that there is great benefit in knowing that Christ's love is beyond our understanding. Satan will come to us in times of moral failure with his accusations. These are designed to drive us away from Christ.

"Says Satan, do you not know that you have horribly sinned? Yes, says the soul, I do. Says Satan, do you not know that you are one of the vilest in all the pack of professing believers? Yes, says the soul, I do. Says Satan, does not your conscience tell you that you are, and have been, more base than any person can imagine you to be? Yes, says the soul, my conscience tells me this. Well then, says Satan, now I will appeal to you. Are you not a graceless wretch? Yes. Do you have a heart that is sorry for this wickedness? No, not as I should. Then, says Satan, is not your heart convinced that God will disregard you? Yes, says the sinner. Why then, despair and go dispose of yourself, says the devil. And now we are at the end of the thing designed and driven at by Satan. But what shall I now do? asks the sinner. I answer, remember the words of Ephesians 3:19, Christ loves with a love that surpasses knowledge. And answer Satan saying, though I cannot think that Christ loves me, though I cannot think that God will save me, yet Satan, I will not yield to your accusations. For God can do more than I think He can."

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How High is the Love of Christ?

There are high and mighty people and powers in this world that attack the faith of God's people in this world and threaten peace and justice. God is above all authorities on this planet (Ecclesiates 5:8). There are the powers of darkness that rally themselves against all those who are loved by Christ. "By these we are tempted, sifted, opposed, threatened, undermined . . . we should most certainly be so, were it not for the Rock that is higher than they." (Psalm 61:2). "These are they that our King has taken captive, and has ridden in triumph over their necks." (Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15)

"There are heights also that build up themselves in us . . . we are so inclinable to swerve from right doctrine into destructive opinions. It is from these that we are so easily persuaded to call into question our former experience of the goodness of God towards us and from these that our minds are so often clouded and darkened that we cannot see afar."

"The answer is ready. Get Christ, and go to heaven. . . . in God there is a power that is able to subdue all things to Himself." I have found in the journey that whatever I focus on, I will eventually find. It is therefore essential that I intentionally set my mind and heart on the Lord and His values and purposes for me and this world (Colossians 3:1-3).

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling with personal reflections.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How Deep is Christ's Love?

"Christians have sometimes their sinking fits, and are as if they are always descending. . . Now guilt is a heavy load and burden. The devil and sin, and the curse of the law and death, are gotten upon the shoulders of this poor man, and are treading him down, that he may sink into and be swallowed up of his miry place." (Both Job [Job 30:19] and David [Psalm 69:2,14] share their personal experience of being stuck deep in the mud.)

I have known these deep feelings of shame and regret. They overwhelm me with hopeless thoughts of despair, to the point that life is wasted. David groans, "Deep calls to deep" (Psalm 42:7). What is that? In the previous verse he reveals, "My soul is downcast within me" (Psalm 42:6). "Down? That is deep in the jaws of distrust and fear. And, LORD, my soul in this depth of sorrow calls for help to your depth of mercy; for though I am sinking and going down, yet not so low but that your mercy is yet underneath me: by your compassion open those everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27), and catch him that has no help or resolve in himself. . . . They are said to be everlasting arms that are underneath; that is arms that are long and strong, and that can reach to the bottom and also beyond all the misery and distress that Christians are subject to in this life."

"Although the depths of calamity into which the godly may fall may be as deep as hell, yet this is the comfort, the mercy of God for them lies deeper. And this is that which made Paul unafraid of this depth, 'For I am convinced that . . . neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 8:38-39). Mercy lies deeper for the godly to help them, than can all other depths to destroy them. This is at which he stands and wonders, saying, 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' (Romans 11:33). God is able to find a way to save His people, notwithstanding all the deep contrivances that the enemy has and may invent to make us fall short of reaching home."

I would do well, as did David, to use these truths as spiritual medicine when I find my soul sinking deep into the pit of despair, and preach to myself: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5). And secondly, pray for His help: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O LORD, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy." (Psalm 130:1-2). He alone must be my hope in this life.

Excerpts from John Bunyan's All Loves Excelling along with personal reflections.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Long is the Love of Christ?

“Sometimes a man of God is, as he apprehends, so far off from God, that He can neither help him nor hear him. . . . He thinks himself beyond the reach of His mercy. In answer to this conceit, the LORD asks, ‘Is My arm too short to ransom you?’ (Isaiah 50:2).”

David had times when he supposed that for and by sin he was driven from God’s love: ‘O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.’ (Psalm 38:21). Yet, the great shepherd king came to know the infinite presence of his God: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ (Psalm 139:9-10).

“O the length of the saving arm of God! . . . do not even attempt to compare arms with God . . . I mean, do not conclude that, because you cannot reach God with your short stump, therefore He cannot reach you with His long arm. Look again! Do you have an arm like God, an arm like His for length and strength? It is good for you, when you cannot perceive that God is within the reach of your arm, then to believe that you are within the reach of His; for it is long, and no one knows how long.”

Excerpts from John Bunyan’s All Loves Excelling.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How Wide is God's Love?

John Bunyan's work, The Saint's Knowledge of Christ's Love (All Loves Excelling), is an exposition of Ephesians 3:18-19. This is a prayer of the apostle Paul that we may know the unknowable love of Christ. That which is incomprehensible (Christ's love) may be understood to some degree as God reveals it to us. He mentions four dimensions of Christ's love: width, length, depth, and height.

How wide is God's love for me? "God is all over, everywhere, spreading his wings, stretching out his goodness to the uttermost bounds, for the good of those who are his people." God's love spreads out wide enough to cover the great expanse of my sin. "Blessed is he whose sin is covered, whose spreading sin is covered by the mercy of God through Christ."

For online works by John Bunyan check out these links:; Christian Classics Ethereal Library;

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord!

With the journey of faith sadness is mingled with joy. All grief and sorrow over sin misses the whole point of God's grace: that we might be joined in union to Christ for God's glory. Thomas Watson reminds me to find daily joy in the Lover of my soul.

"Let me tell you, it is a sin not to rejoice. You disparage your Husband, Christ. When a wife is always sighing and weeping, what will others say? 'This woman has a bad husband.' Is this the fruit of Christ's love to you, to reflect dishonour upon Him? A melancholy spouse saddens Christ's heart. I do not deny that Christians should grieve for sins of daily occurrence, but to be always weeping (as if they mourned without hope) is dishonouring to the marriage relationship. 'Rejoice in the Lord always' (Philippians 4:4). Rejoicing brings credit to your husband. Christ loves a cheerful bride, and indeed the very purpose of God's making us sad is to make us rejoice. We sow in tears, so that we may reap in joy. The excessive sadness and contrition of the godly will make others afraid to embrace Christ. They will begin to question whether there is that satisfactory joy in religion which is claimed. Oh, you saints of God, do not forget consolation, let others see that you do not repent of your choice in pursuing Christ. It is joy that puts liveliness and activity into a Christian: 'The joy of the LORD is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10). The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy."

Excerpt from "The Godly Man's Picture" by Thomas Watson.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Smoking Flax He Will not Quench

The smoking flax is a picture of God's grace mingled with our own corruption. With a little bit of God's grace there may be much personal corruption. There are, in the best saints, interweavings of sin and grace: dark side with the light; much pride mixed with humility; much earthliness with heavenliness. No, in many of the regenerate there is more corruption than grace. Nevertheless, He will not snuff out His gracious work in our lives. That little spark in the smoking flax is a ray and beam of God's own glory. And He will fan that spark into a flame until it prevails over the corruption and reveals His glory.

There are two enemies of God's grace: the malice of Satan and the world of corruption in our hearts. The devil, with the wind of temptation, tries to blow out the spark of grace in our hearts. The heart swarms with sin. Grace conflicting with sin and temptation is like a ship tossed and beaten by the waves, yet it weathers the storm and at last gets to the desired haven. How? By the mighty working of the Spirit of God. He is at work in the believer every day! He is the ballast in the hull of the ship and the Captain who navigates the storm. Our ship will surely arrive at His desire destination.

The flame of God will not be quenched, but we must blow it up with the breath of our effort. What I have written is to encourage faith, not to indulge sloth. Do not think God will do our work for us while we sit still. Love God! Seek Him with all the grace that is in you! (Psalm 31:23). How God's people should long for heaven, when it will be their constant work to breath out love and sound out praise.

Reflections from The Godly Man's Picture, chapter 11, "Comfort to the Godly" by Thomas Watson.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Old and the New

Trucking2 & Family 08, 2009 004
Originally uploaded by paul&denisedegraaf

This is the new truck we were given upon returning to our Opperating Centre. The first black Schneider National truck in Canada. Maybe the moose will not see us coming next time.

The Old and the New

Moose accident
Originally uploaded by paul&denisedegraaf

We never know what challenges each day holds in store for us. We are constantly faced with a series of incredible opportunities brilliantly disguised as impoosible situations. Here's what's happened to us the the past four days summarized in two photos. This is the old. Denise has a new handle: DWM (Dances With Moose).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On Being a Thankful Person

Finding it difficult to be thankful these days. Been reflecting on Thomas Watson's exhortation in The Godly Man's Picture.

First, if you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God's praise. He who studies his sins wonders that he is anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill (1 Timothy 1:13). A proud man will never be thankful. Pride stops the current of gratitude.

Second, strive for sound evidences of God's love to you. God's love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness (Revelation 1:5-6). The deepest springs yield the sweetest water. Hearts deeply aware of God's love yield the sweetest praises.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Enduring Loss and Difficulty

How can we endure loss and pain in our lives? Keep your eye on the end of the story. This is illustrated vividly in the film, Strnager Than Fiction, where actor Will Ferrell portrays a tax auditor who lives a very predictable life. Every minute is controlled by his watch. Until one day he hears a voice narrating the thoughts and actions of his life. He eventually discovers that his life is being written by a neurotic, self-absorbed, chain-smoking novel author; he is not truly in control of his life. Furthermore, this author is famous for writing tragedies. Harold is beside himself with frustration and grief. To add tension to the story, Harold's life begins to get better: he falls in love and lives out his dream of playing the guitar. Harold doesn't find any peace until the author gives him a transcript of the story and he is reads the whole narrative, right to the end. There he discovers that his life, yes, even his death has great significance. Only then is he able to accept his destiny, as painful as it may seem, and live out the story of his life with peace and joy.

In this life we will experience all kinds of trouble, pain and loss. But there is a hope that is beyond our ability to control the events and outcomes of our lives. God has written the last chapter of the story. It is a good practice for me to read this chapter regularly. I need to be reminded that my life is not my own, that my destiny is not in the hands of feeble human beings or a neurotic, self absorbed deity. The eternal Father holds my life in his loving hands and has sealed my destiny by the sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ. Now that's stranger than fiction.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Fear of God

In his work, The Great Gain of Godliness, Thomas Watson defines the fear of God as “the reverencing and adoring of God’s holiness, and the setting of ourselves always under His sacred inspection.” Then he adds, “The infinite distance between God and us causes this fear.”

He answers the question, “How may we know whether we have the fear of God implanted in our hearts?”

1. 1. The fear of God will make a man fear sin (Genesis 39:9; Romans 14:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

2. 2. He who fears God lives by the truth rather than example (Isaiah 8:20). Example is, for the most part, corrupt. A God-fearer directs the rudder of his life according to the compass of the Word.

3. 3. He who fears God keeps His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13) A gracious soul crosses his own will to fulfill God’s. A holy heart knows that there is nothing lost by obedience.

4. 4. He who fears God is consistent in every area of life. He who reverences God is, simper idem, alike good in all places.

5. 5. He who fears God is good in the position where God has set him (Genesis 42:18). A good man makes his family palaestra pietatis, a training ground of piety (Psalm 102:1).

6. 6. He who fears God dares not neglect family or private prayer (Psalm 109:4).

7. 7. He who fears God will not oppress his neighbor (Leviticus 25:17). How can he be holy who is not just?

8. 8. He who fears God is given to works of mercy (James 1:27). Grace may have a trembling hand, but it does not have a withered hand; it stretches itself out to relieve the needy.

9. 9. He who fears God would rather displease man than God (Exodus 1:17; Daniel 3:18).

10. 10. He who fears God will fear these six things: Satan’s snares (2 Corinthians 2:11); his own heart (Jeremiah 17:9) (this section is full of wise insights about the danger of self-flattery and pride); death; judgment (Psalm 96:13; James 5:9); Hell (Matthew 13:6); Heaven (Hebrews 4:1).

How shall we gain this fear? First, let us always set God before us; study His immensity (Genesis17:1). The reason people do not fear God is because they entertain slight thoughts of Him (Psalm 50:21). Second, let us pray for this fear of God, which is the root of all holiness, and the mother of all wisdom (Psalm 86:11). The Lord has promised to put this fear in our heart (Jeremiah 32:40). Let us pray over this promise: while some pray for riches, and others for children, let us pray for a heart to fear God.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Godly Man is a Patient Man

The older I get the more I feel my lack of godliness. Driving truck has brought many opportunities to expose my lack of patience. Waiting is 50% of the job: slow drivers, traffic jams, bad weather, waiting to be loaded and waiting to be unloaded. I long to be like my saviour, Jesus, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross . . ." (Hebrews 12:2). I long for the patience of my Master, who endured all things.

Been reading Thomas Watson"s The Godly Man's Picture. He delineates a scriptural image of the qualities of a follower of Jesus Christ. Section 16 states, A Godly Man is a Patient Man. "Patience is a star that shines in a dark night." This is true in the trucking world; there are but few lights shining this beautiful christlike virtue in our dark world characterized by frustration, anger and rage. He continues, "If a godly man does not obtain his desire immediately, he will wait till the mercy is ripe. . . Deliverance may delay beyond our time, but it will not delay beyond God's time. Why should we not wait patiently for God? We are servants; it becomes servants to be in a waiting posture. We wait for everything else; we wait for the seed till it grows. Why cannot we wait for God?"

He answers the question, "How shall I get my heart into a patient mood? . . . Get faith; all our impatience proceeds from unblief. Faith is the breeder of patience. When a storm of passion begins to arise, faith says to the heart, as Christ did to the sea, 'Peace, be still,' and there is at once a calm. . . . Faith says to the heart, 'Are you troubled, O my soul? (Psalm 42:5). Are you afflicted? Is it not your Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you and making you fit for glory. He smites that He might save. What is your trial? Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may fall, even the 'peaceable fruit of righteousness.' (Hebrews 12:11).

"Pray to God for patience. Patience is a flower of God's planting. Pray that it may grow in your heart, and send forth its sweet perfume. Prayer composes the heart and puts it in tune, when impatience has broken the strings and put everything into confusion. Oh, go to God! Prayer delights God's ear; it melts His heart; it opens His hand. God cannot deny a praying soul. Seek Him persistently and either He will remove the problem or, which is better, He will remove your impatience."

Patience is believing that the sovereign Lord of the universe holds my times in His hands. There is nothing beyond His control. Everything that comes into my life is ordained by the One who put the stars into their place and knows the end from the beginning of my life. He is the One who is both great and good. Although I may not, or ever will, understand the events of my life, I can be certain they are intentionally planned for something better than I may be experiencing right now. My heavenly Father knows best.