Wednesday, May 26, 2010

That Which I Pursue Will Ultimately Have Me

One of my favorite classic stories is Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Captain Ahab lost his leg to a whale and spends the rest of his life searching for the beast, consumed with vengeance. I've watched the 1956 movie version a few times and in it the final battle with the great white whale is the most gripping scene.

Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab makes a last-ditch effort to harpoon his obsession. The harpoon strikes the whale, but unbeknown to Ahab the rope is wrapped around his leg. As the whale lunges in response to the piercing of the harpoon, Ahab is dragged overboard into the deep. The violent thrashing of the whale increasingly entangle the pitiable sailor and the beast. The last image of Ahab is a helpless soul lashed by his own devices of his obsession, disappearing forever into the churning oblivion.

The imagery is hauntingly clear. A person will ultimately be consumed by that which he pursues. Proverbs 11:27 says, "He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it." To seek the Lord is to find eternal life; but to make anything else in this world my passion will only lead to my destruction.

God considers good deeds more attractive than good clothes (1 Timothy 2:9-10). What are you known for - good looks or good works? Clothing or character?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thank You Jesus

I was introduced to an inspiring blog this past weekend. It is entitled, Thank You Jesus. Written by an friend who through many trials has found much strength and hope in expressing gratitude to Jesus. As I read his reflections about the simple blessings of life received from God's gracious hands (The Bottom Line), I was reminded of the words of another follower of Jesus.

Helen Keller, who became blind & deaf at a very early age, wrote in her autobiography: "For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that he brought me knowledge of His works; deep thanks that He has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to - a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song." She claimed that so much had been given to her that she had no time to think about what had been denied her. O God, nurture this heavenly perspective in my heart!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Divine Transcendence of Forgiveness

A Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness, is a book about the hatred and violence that plagued the Apartheid years of South Africa. How would they deal with the past in a way that would break the cycles of violence and restore peace? the journey of healing a broken nation involved the intentional process of bringing victims and the perpetrators of violence together in a series of controlled hearings called The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. the hearings were intended to be opportunities for confrontation, confession and ultimately forgiveness and reconciliation. In most legal procedures the goal is justice, not reconciliation, and therefore the victims are excluded.

One of the perpetrators stands out as the man whom many in the country considered the most brutal of Apartheid's covert police operations. Eugene de Kock was the behind-the-scenes engineer of hundreds of murderous operations. His sinister reputation earned him the nickname "Prime Evil."

At the very first hearing he confessed to planning and executing the murder of three black policemen in a car bombing. The widows of two of the murdered policemen were present and testified how their lives had been affected by the lose of their husbands. As de Kock finished his testimony he apologized to the widows for the wrong he had done. With tears in his eyes and his body shaking, he said with a breaking voice, "I wish I could do more than say I'm sorry. I wish there was a way of bringing their bodies back alive. I wish I could say here are your husbands," stretching out his arms as if bearing an invisible body. His hands trembling; his mouth quivering.

After the meeting both women said that they felt that de Kock had communicated to them something he felt deeply and had genuinely acknowledged their pain. Pearl Faku said, "I was profoundly touched by him. I couldn't control my tears. I could hear him, but I was overwhelmed by emotion, I was just nodding, as a way of saying 'yes, I forgive you.' I hope that when he sees our tears, he knows that they are not only tears for our husbands, but tears for him as well. . . . I would like to hold him by the hand, and show him that there is a future, and that he can still change."

Whenever there was a response like this at a public hearing of the commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu would be compelled to call for silence "because we are standing on holy ground." there was something divinely transcendent about forgiveness. The example, motivation and ability to forgive comes from God.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why Should I Give When Our Culture Puts Great Importance on Getting.

1. It is a means of greater personal blessing. Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35).

2. It is a way of godliness; I imitate God. I am never more like God than when I give, for God gave his One and Only Son that I might have life (John 3:16).

3. I master my money and possessions by exercising control over them as I give them away; rather than being mastered by them (Matthew 6:24).

4. I give joy to others in this discontented culture.

5. God commands me to give and therefore he enables me to do it (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

6. My giving stimulates gratitude in a greedy culture.

7. My giving will bring glory to God (2 Corinthians 9:12-15).

When you forgive you set a prisoner free and then you discover that the prisoner was you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Cure for Bitterness

"I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for who Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others. There is no dislike, no personal tension, no estrangement that cannot be overcome by intercession as far as our side of it is concerned. . . . How does this happen? Intercession means no more than to bring our brother into the presence of God, to see him under the cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace. Then everything in him that repels us falls away; we see him in all his destitution and need. His need and his sin become so heavy and oppressive that we feel them as our own, and we can do nothing else but pray: Lord, do Thou, Thou alone, deal with him according to Thy severity and Thy goodness. To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in His mercy."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Sin-Eater

In his novel, Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brien introduces a very minor character aboard the ship, Sophie, who is rejected violently by his shipmates. In a transparent moment he reflects that he was a sin-eater back in his home town. Upon the revelation of this news the whole crew turns hostile on the unfortunate sailor. They ostracize him and physically harm him. He eventually ends up in the care of the ship surgeon, who is frustrated because the man has refused to eat or drink.

He discovers the significance of his previous role and the reason for the crews enmity for him. It was the common practice to call for an individual, usually a beggar, to come to the wake of a deceased person. A relative would place a piece of bread on the chest of the corpse which would be taken and eaten by the beggar, the act of which would remove the sin from the dead and place it upon himself. Hence the term, "sin-eater." The beggar received a small fee for his service and as he left the presence of the family and friends of the deceased, he would be spit upon as well as stones and abuse hurled at him. This ritual was believed to make atonement for the sins of the dead person and ensure safe passage into heaven.

This ritual is a picture of the perfect sin-eater Jesus Christ. Who, though Himself sinless, took on the sins of the whole world and the wrath of God. The prophet Isaiah paints a vivid portrait of the suffering sin-eater in chapter 53: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Peter quotes this Old Testament prophecy and applies it to Jesus Christ's crucifixion: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24). However, he makes the application that the Saviour's act is for our victory in this life over the sins that enslave us; liberating us to live a life of righteousness. Thanks be to God for giving us the ultimate Sin-eater!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Congrats to the Grad!

We are very proud of our son-in-law, Jonathan. This past weekend he graduated with his Masters degree from Briercrest Seminary. He has worked so hard these past three years and is growing into a godly man and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ. Our daughter, Amie, has been a great encouragement and she deserves congratulations as well. May God bless and lead as they enter another stage of their life of faith together. They are preparing to serve in a teaching ministry at a college in Kenya, Africa. To learn more about what God is doing in their lives, you can read their blog at