Archive for March, 2013

The First Easter

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I awoke this morning.  My mind was focused on two visions.

This is Easter Sunday.  The first Easter morning, 2,000 years ago, saw resurrection.  No longer was Jesus dead, he was alive.  Forever.  I will go to a meeting with others who celebrate this reality.  I will find joy in the fact of resurrection.  With Christ’s resurrection comes the outflow of resurrection.  In a coming time, there will be a whole host of those who are alive and clothed in a new body, because of the resurrection of Jesus.

The second vision is the reality that I am in the first Easter since my wife died.  I lament her loss.  Last year we sat together celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.  I now live with a new reality.  Jill is no longer here.  But one day we will be back together, in new bodies, alive!!

Two visions.  Heightened reality.  Death is conquered!

Good Friday?

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Over the decades I have celebrated Good Friday.  The services where I have joined other Christians have ranged from somber to joyous.  Today I will lead a combined churches’ communion time in our service.

Here is a part of the text that will lead into that service:

Today’s communion is the most unusual communion service that can be imagined.

The original communion service, held on what we call Maundy Thursday, took place on the night that Jesus was betrayed.

BEFORE he was betrayed. There was still the lingering possibility in the mind of the disciples that Christ would take on His kingship. Jesus could still become the earthly king of the Jews.

Add a few hours and now Jesus is dead. The hopes of the kingdom are dashed. There is no hope on Good Friday – at least from the perspective of those around the cross. The memories of last night’s meal, of the covenant that should have signaled a new kingdom now lies in ruin.

If you were to take the meal right now, at the foot of the cross – to retake the meal – as we do today, what would it be like? All of the surrounding indications are that this meal is a just a fanciful ritual – not much else.  Jesus is dead!

A pastor friend of mine often lamented our happy Good Friday services. He felt we skipped over our sins, and the burden of the cross way too easily – jumping to the resurrection way too quickly. Without the resurrection, we will and we should struggle. He lamented and wept, quite literally, when he walked through Good Friday. How deep is our sin that put Jesus on the cross? How humbled are we that we cannot be our own rescuer? How loving is our God who does not spare His own Son?

Lets hold the bread and retain the cup for a moment. For just a second or so, consider yourself at the foot of the cross.

Can Good Friday truly be a good Friday? All you have left is a promise. We are told our life will come from Christ’s broken body. Our sins will be forgiven through Christ’s shed blood. Jesus came for you! Jesus died for you! That is the promise that you cling to right now when everything looks black.

Maybe you are looking around you today and life is difficult. You are shriveled and struggling with the accusations of the evil one, with the burden of your own infirmities, with a spiritual life that needs revitalized.

Christ can change you! Will you believe?

That’s what this table asks of you. Come believing in Christ’s power and authority. Come believing that His death was for you!

. . . On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. [I Cor. 11:23-26, NLT]

Pleasant surprise

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

When you work on behalf of someone else, the joy is in the serving.  At least, I find enjoyment in that opportunity.

I suppose one of the greatest thrills then is when you can provide a benefit to a person – and they respond with an unexpected gift.

Some days this winter I have shovelled snow for my neighbours.  This is an early morning enjoyment of mine.  Besides, it keeps me healthy and in shape.

The other day one of the recipients of my enjoyment came by.  Just to say how much they appreciated this – and could they give a gift to me for my upcoming wedding. 

Totally unexpected!  Gladly welcomed. 

So, although we are not asking for wedding gifts (we contemplated a gift registry – for about a minute – and then decided a garage sale on our part was what we needed!), we have our first gift! 

And we are thankful. 

With such a great group of people surrounding me, I just want to say what a great block I live on!!

Freedom 55

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Yes, the Bible actually mentions Freedom 55!  And you thought it was only a marketing gimmick (and we now see parodies on it – Freedom 95, etc.)

Go to the last chapter of II Kings (25) and the last part (27-30).  Funny things you find as you do daily readings through the Bible.

Let’s start counting.  Back in 24:8 we are told that Jehoiachin was 18 years old.  He was dethroned quickly and led into captivity.  Now in 25:27 we are told he is in his 37th year of captivity. 

18 + 37 = 55!!

At 55 Jehoiachin is released from prison – given his FREEDOM.

At this point he is given a retirement allowance.  He got new clothes, he ate at the king’s table and he was given a place of status.

Interesting that  this is how II Kings ends.  So I skipped over to the book of Matthew and in the first chapter saw that Jehoiachin was in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  From Freedom to Freedom.  There may be a lesson in this??

The best laid plans

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

This weekend had great plans.  A trip to teach a class, extended time with my fiance and future plans outlined.

As it happened, snow happened.  The class was canceled, the time with my fiance was drastically shortened and the future plans were outlined – only in a sketchy manner.

I have often stated that God is in charge.  I don’t doubt that.  I just wonder what the plan is. 

Maybe because it’s not my plan!

And so, for the hours past, and the hours coming – God, this is you planet, this is your country, this is your province, this is your town, this is your house, this is me!  As I plan and work for this day, may I put you first place and trust you to do your thing!!

The church is wolves!

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

This morning I was riding my exercise bike and reading an ordination paper (and also a college assignment paper) by my associate pastor, Ryan Lee.

I was blown away.  I should be getting used to it.  Last week his sermon on Luke 11 mined some thoughts that I have not heard explained anywhere else. 

This article is on the church.  Ryan uses the Greek of the original Biblical text, he searches the early church and relates to our current Canadian situation.  Then he comes to the end of his paper.  He tells us the church is not a group of lapdogs but a gathering of wolves!  Here I will quote some of his thoughts – hopefully you will catch where he is going!

The origins of the assembly of Christ in Canada could not be described by anything resembling a lapdog. The explorers, pioneers, and settlers of our wild Nation, boldly relied on God and his calling.

Not lapdogs, but wolves.  Majestic animals that work together in a pack, an assembly even, they work together in perfect unison to accomplish their goal to maintain their survival. Wolves cry out, with an eerily beautiful call, to the great light in the darkness, joined by the song of brothers and sisters, chilling the very blood of their enemies.

The assembly of Christ in Canada needs to be wolves once again. Crying out with the Gospel [of] Jesus, the great light in the darkness, a cry which gathers the voices of all the brothers and sisters of His assembly. It is that chorus of howls which will shake the very gates of Hell to dust in our Nation.

The start of the day

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

So, off to Calgary I did not go!

The roads are not the greatest and so we decided last night (three of us pastors) that the class on rural church ministry could wait for another time (April 5th looks good).  So, the morning light dawned and here I sit.

Not without humor launching a good thinking time!  Here is a version of the Lord’s prayer that has some truth to it!!  Picked it up from Patrick Laughlin, a youth from a few years back.

our father, who art a craftsman,
prefectionist be thy name
thy power tools hum,
thy walls be plumb,
upstairs
as they are in the basement,
give us this day a utility shed
and forgive us our borrowed tools
as we forgive those who borrow tools from us
and lead us not into renovation,
but deliver us from moving,
for thine is the hammer,
and the Skilsaw,
and the Duct tape,
Forever and ever,
Amen

The map shows red

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

For those in the equatorial areas of the world, this has no meaning at all!

But for those of us used to snow and road conditions, this is not good!

Roads west and south of town are closed.  The drifting and snow of the last day or so has caught up to us (actually it was with us yesterday).  We have cancelled a morning prayer time because those travelling in from out of town . . . And last night our children’s program was cancelled as well.

Not that we couldn’t have braved the roads.  I was able to make it to the church last night.

But you don’t know how the next few hours will fare, and travelling when the sun is not up is treacherous.

Having said all this, I did learn one new thing.  The pelting of hurricane speed wind blowing snow is good for the skin.  Much like a sandblaster that cleans the excess off a wall, I’m sure my old dead skin was blasted from my face.  I felt my face shortly after being outside and it was smooth (OK, I do have a few whiskers, but the overall effect was amazing!).

So, in the midst of some of the worst winter for some time, I find joy in the weather!  May your day be joyful as well!

The Promise of Spring

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

5:02 this morning.

That’s when Spring arrived.  I look out the window and see a few feet of snow on the ground.  I hear wind beginning to howl and a forecast of snow in the next few days.  The temperature remains on the freezing side.

And Spring is here.  Not just on the way.  Spring is here.

For all our thoughts of Spring  being robins and green grass, worms arising and lawns being mowed – this is on the way!

I wrote in my journal that my life is much like this.  I have gone through a period of winter, where tough and exhilarating have stood side by side.  Often the morning has been dark, but the day has carried glimpses of brilliance. 

Today, I determined to consider Spring arising.  I am  not only looking underneath the circumstances, I am expecting the circumstances to reveal a new day.  Where the seeds that have been dormant over the winter season begin to germinate into new growth.

Hope Springs!

Property assessment

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

A revaluation of property assessment has just taken place.  For the sake of transparency, I am thankful that I can check on how the houses on my block are assessed for tax purposes.  

I realized soon into examining assessed values of other houses that there are various ways in which prices are determined.  Mine is valued on a comparison basis. 

I am thankful that someone thinks my house, in comparison to others, is a good value.  I’m not sure selling the house at this point would get the assessed value.  But I would hope to attain that price.

Which is to say, for small town Saskatchewan, prices are fairly high.  I understand that prices just an hour down the road,  in a smaller town, are much cheaper.

But this is Saskatchewan.  Assessed prices may be what they are, but the question is whether you can find a house that is available for sale.  We live in a booming economy.  Housing is at a premium.  Which may also mean that demand may even create higher prices.

Now, all this meandering is to say that I’m very glad for the purchase made a few years ago.  I have a nice house in which I live, with room for others as well!  And to be quite honest – I also live in one of the best neighbourhoods in town!  I like my neighbours!  Which is an intangible in valuing a house.  Perhaps my house is worth more just because of my good neighbours! 

I just wonder how an assessor takes that into account!!