Archive for June, 2012

My Earthly Fathers

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Cal Baker - small Al Cooper - small

Every once in a while (almost in a fairy tale type of way), there is a sermon I preach that is just a bit above my other sermons. 

Today I talked about my two earthly fathers, Calvin Baker and Al Cooper (my wife’s father).  Both greatly affected my life and their biblical principles of stewardship have initiated good in my life.

I listened to the sermon again after service (28 minutes long), and couldn’t turn it off.  I did notice that perhaps some of my historical facts could be wrong – maybe Dad was custom combining in the 1940’s and maybe Dad Cooper’s prayers weren’t quite as long as I might have suggested.  Nevertheless, this sermon is from my perspective, and I emphasize things about my fathers that others may not have seen. 

You might find a challenge in the sermon!  I’ve included my notes for the sermon as well, so  you can download them in WORD Doc format.  Check it out at

A friend’s story

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

I was not stunned.  Maybe I should have been.  Maybe I sensed this.

After decades of knowing my friend, I finally heard the story of his abuse as a child.  This was draining.  When he relives his life stories, he re-lives them.

I was privileged to be there.  With each slight pause or heightened inflection, I could tell this was not easy.

The part I loved?  As the story continues, over a few decades time my friend finally confronts his abuser.  The abuser admits his fault.  My friend forgives. 

In he midst of repentance and forgiveness there is new life.

How did my friend come to that point?  He talked to God.  Whether literally or in his mind – he talked.  God heard him talk of his abuse – how he was mistreated.  And then God talked to him about the abuse his Son, Jesus, also endured.  His Son forgave – could my friend forgive?

What a turning point.  My friend could not see any other alternative than to forgive.  And so he did!

I want that attitude to be in me as well.


Friday, June 15th, 2012

I was cleaning out and inventorying a food pantry today.

Tucked to the side were two orange juice boxes.  Both were dated best before 2009.  I imagine they had been there since that time.

In 2008 I had knee surgery.  Coming out of that I have been afflicted with GERD (which may have been catalyzed by the ibuprofen I took).  Various foods have been off limit since then, one of them being oranges.

My wife loved oranges.  But for my sake she did not buy a lot of them (maybe a few for herself, but not like we used to).  The juice boxes appear to have been tucked away in the era when we were experimenting with what foods I could have.

I’m thankful for restrictions that we place upon ourselves in order to live in harmony together.

Sometimes our desires are not necessary.  What we need is love for each other and then just suck it up!!

When guys potluck!

Friday, June 15th, 2012

So, four of us guys sat around the table Thursday night.  We had determined to potluck.

The room was not decorated.  Nor was the food put out in fantastic array.  The house was even a bit in disarray (at least according to my standards!).

As the microwave finished the warm up of food, we headed to the banquet.  Cal had prepared a salad and a cake.  John brought a salad as well.  I warmed up chili and put out some buns.  Al was the visitor for the night – he just showed up.

We talked.  Then cleared the table. 

Talked some more.  Then put out some cake (without ice cream – since we were too busy to go down and get some). 

Then talked some more.  Then the guests went home.

Not bad for a bunch of guys.

And the food was even good!!

The cry room

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I find music touches me where nothing else can. 

This morning I was in my car, listening to a song that talked about, “when it feels like you can’t go on, you deliver me.”

I am going on, and enjoying life.

But, every once in awhile, the heart touches the head with a bump!  You are not always sure where the overpowering emotion bubbles up from.  You feel surrounded and you know that this has something to do with your loss and your grieving process. 

And so, you cry.  Not on a rational level.  Not for any good reason.  You just cry.

Then Jesus just “de-live-rs” (gives you what you need to live).  He gives you a liveliness that is unexpected but so appreciated. 

You go on, not in your own strength, but in that of Jesus.

What a great way to live!

Moving on

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Another card arrived today.  This one from an aunt and uncle.

I have appreciated the great outpouring of around 500 people attending memorial services to date, and almost 200 cards.  Jill was well liked and known in the community and amongst friends she had known over her 58 years.

These are a good reminder to me of the heritage I have received.

In some ways, as I have mourned, I have been a bystander.  I serve as executor of the estate, I’m the arranger of services and I try to step back so that others can mourn the loss of Jill.

At first I told stories.  Many to illustrate how Jill had affected our children, our friends and our church.  I suppose the fact that I use “our” meant that my original thoughts were to comfort those around me. 

But, as one astute observer mentioned – “Don’t think we are callous when we move on to the next thing.  We loved Jill, but other things will arise.”  Even in writing these thoughts I realize that I must not just fixate on Jill’s death – other things will and are arising in my life as well.

Not that I didn’t spend, and don’t continue to spend, “cry time.”  Two knit into one means that from my deepest being I cry out.  Some days I’m not sure why.  I just cry.  Other days aspects of Jill’s effect on my life are clear to me.

I do remember.  And I will remember .  And as life goes on, most of all I remember God is in control.

The cloud

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I feel like  I’m in the cloud of unknowing!

When I was driving back from my wife, Jill’s, death (a two hour drive from Saskatoon to Kindersley), I made the following remark to my son, Tim.

I’m a widower.  And I have no idea what that means

The words were true at the moment.  And continue to strike a chord in my life.  At first the chord was harmonious – I was active in scheduling memorial services, working on the estate and returning to pastoral duties.

Now the chord seems a bit more distant.  I still hear the call of Jill’s last sentence in her journal – “God is in control.”  Those words ring true, but some days distant.

What is clouding the music?   Reality.  For those who mourn, when the future overtakes the past, uncertainty begins to dominate the chord of life.

Which reminds me this morning.  Return to the major chord! 

God is in control, let all the earth keep silence!

Sitting together

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Yesterday I sat with another mourner.  This one is mourning in anticipation.  His wife has cancer and the prognosis gives a short time line.

We have much in common.  Our wives were/are the custodians of certain areas of expertise.  My wife was a cook.  His cares for the administration and accounting.  Each of us is being thrown into unfamiliar territory, and we trust that the sharks are not circling.

I suppose his biggest question is “why”. 

I’d like to say I had a brilliant answer.  All I could do was sit silent – for a moment.  Then I merely gave a simplistic answer.  “God knows.” 

I’ve been pondering that response.  Truth flows from that statement.  But not all the answers.  I wish I knew why a few more years were not granted to Jill.  I wish I could say that I understand a need to take Jill from this life at this time.  I wish I could answer my fellow traveler that I know the reason for his wife’s demise.

God knows.  I merely peek into the past and squint into the future. 

For me, I have a hope that others do not.  I am assured of Jill’s final/present state.  She is in a better situation, with Jesus.  In many ways that triumphs my questions of why.  She left a body of deterioration for a position of perfection – a much more excellent state.

But often the question of why revolves around those left behind.  Once again, I anticipate my own future where I will once again be with Jill and Jesus!  And in the present I daily turn to Jesus to give me marathon strength and radical gratitude for each day. 

God knows and someday I’ll understand.  For now, it’s enough that God knows.

A puppet in ministry?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

My first regional supervisor in ministry, Bob Gould, once asked me if I would become a puppet in my ministry.  OK, the actual question was much more circumspect (politically correct), but that was the intent.

He had encountered Jill and knew she was quite strong.  I did too!  That’s why I married her.  I needed someone who could stand up to me.  Someone I could listen to with respect.

30 some years later, I would have to say that the marriage and ministry wasn’t so much about puppetry as about dancing.

As partners, we sometimes stepped on each other’s toes – and even got out of sync at times.  But we never doubted that we would come back to each other’s arms.  We never doubted that life was good – no, best – when we were together and not apart. 

Early on in our marriage we had become busy – both of us seeming to be in different places at the same time.  And never together.  One night we had one of those discussions all marriages need.  Some would call it a brawl!  When we were finished, I scrawled in crayon on a scrap piece of paper something like this, “We will work TOGETHER.”

The paper was lost – initially a magnet held the document on our filing cabinet and in our many moves from house to house, the scrap slipped away. 

But the thought was never lost – nor was the dance ever sweeter!!

Prince Albert memorial – June 3, 2012

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

I felt very privileged to be asked to attend a memorial for Jill at the Prince Albert Alliance Church where we had served for 11 years.  Two ladies, Beth Gobeil and Connie Warkentin, instigated the service.  Others joined in!  Over 100 attended.

Food was provided, a worship band appeared, people gave tributes and the evening was filled with courage for those grieving!  And that was not just me.  The tributes included the way Jill had impacted people – even in ways I did not realize.

One repeated impact was a song Jill had introduced back in the late 1990’s – “When the night is falling”.  Written by Dennis Jernigan, the song refers to God singing over us. 

More than one expressed how that short introduction – only given once – had inspired new hope in their lives.  We often come to worship services to sing to God – but do we realize that God sings to us (Zeph. 3:17)?

Here is the last verse of that song (applicable to Jill!):

When this life is over and the race is done, I will hear you calling, “Come” and I will come while you sing over me!

I wonder what song Jill is hearing right now??