Friday, October 10, 2008

Bad Religion or Good Faith!




Sometimes religion is bad,
when traditions become more important than people,
and widows, orphans and elderly folk are ignored,
when prayer replaces justice,
and evangelism becomes more important than worship,
when otherwise godly people expect politicians to solve all their problems,

and winning becomes more important than playing by the rules,
when money is thought more valuable than food,
and we decide to fight others for faith and freedom,
when we get used to the presence of sin in our lives,
and others are blamed for our faults,
when you and I give up and leave it all to God.

Something tells me the Holy One doesn't like bad religion.

So... in good faith, let us
Pray,
Vote, if and when we can,
Don't Stop Praying!
and...
Work out our Salvation with fear and trembling...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Personal Politics

I'm reflecting on today's sermon and thinking about the personal and political implications of my faith.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says, 'Come to Me, ALL who are weary and burdened, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am gentle and humble, and you'll find refreshment for your soul'

How do we receive this gift that he offers?
Amid war and rumors of war, illness, financial crisis, persecution, discrimination and death, amid the perils of normality, where and how does one find true peace?

The preacher, a man from Bangladesh, talked about the Way.
There was a lot more, but this was the essence of his message, a loud echo of the words of Jesus:
Love by Example by Prayer and by Witnessing

Are you tired, in despair, hurt or angry? Love anyway. Set the example anyway. Pray anyway. Witness anyway. Whatever the cost may be, Jesus will make it worth your while.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ridicule or Encouragement?

It seems to have become acceptable, even fashionable, in Canada, to passively indulge in observing insults to the Christian faith. This is happening even while false charges are made in India resulting in the deaths of innocents, while churches are torn down in China, while women are raped in Darfur, while, in several countries, girls are disfigured with acid for wanting freedom to make decisions for themselves, and while in many parts of the world becoming Christian is punishable by death. Religious belief is mocked, despised and denigrated.

Do the sounds and images of 'Religulous', coming soon to your children's eyes and ears, reflect or mock your values? Are the American values, right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which seem to have been accepted without question by many Canadians, truly inalienable? Liberty in Christ does not permit us to allow slander as a norm. It's true that sometimes we must turn the other cheek, but there are other times we must stand up for our beliefs.

We don't easily give authority to people not from our neighbourhood.
Wasn't Jesus 'from away'?... Didn't He say, 'Fear God, not men'. Let's not be so quick to allow outsiders to mock our faith. But, we say in the name of tolerance, "It's OK, as long as they don't try to take over!" Wait a minute! Hasn't it already happened? Deep down we have to admit we are the unofficial 51st State; the only thing we lack is the right to vote in their elections.

What of the various Human Rights Commissions to which we might appeal? Haven't they already said that freedom of speech is not a Canadian value? Perhaps our government will restore civil order by abolishing these HRCs before it's too late. It would be a foolish waste of time, money and talent for anyone to lodge any further complaints with these unelected tribunals.

Remember there will, One Day, be a Divine Rights Commission to investigate and remedy Human Responsibility Omissions!

Someone has said that knowledge without justice is nothing but wiliness. Likewise, religion removed from God is nothing but politics.

Scripture calls a God-fearing society to maintain justice, to act with mercy, to walk in humility and to practice loving-kindness. This command, for both communities and their individual constituents, is not optional. Disobedience brings consequences.

Once upon a time the Americans did something right. They acted to protect Bald and Golden eagles by making it illegal to kill them or molest their nests.

Now, it's self-evident that eagles will not thrive enclosed by wire mesh. That's not protection. Yet, we have an even more pernicious delusion. We've become more like eagles led astray and hood-winked into believing in a false captivity, not even knowing that they once enjoyed the freedom of soaring in the open skies.

Are you free to live out your faith? Are you free to speak in your own church? Are you free to ask for prayer? Are you free to sing before others in praise of what God is doing in your life? Are you free to tell others what Jesus means to you? Are you free to simply serve Him? This is much more than mere religion.

For God's sake, let's laugh at ourselves and not take everything so seriously, but vicious mockery, masquerading as humour, cannot be ignored. It's true: Religulousity is ridiculous. Stand up. Don't see the movie. If you do go, stand up anyway. Tell me how it challenged you.

Quaecumque sunt vera; if what is written is true, think on these things. Let's turn away from idols. Let's return to the Lord and let Him renew our strength and we shall rise as eagles and finally see the big picture. That's a promise.


photo from http://www.fredericksburgchristian.com/

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Story: God does exist and He heals disease

Lord have mercy on us!
Help us to wake to the Power of Prayer


Memories from childhood can have a life-long impact. When I was born, my parents were living in Loughborough, a small city in the English Midlands. The cold winters meant being given hot water bottles by our feet just to get to sleep. Back then most people didn’t have central heating. Our toes would be chilled to the point of pain in the mornings. My Dad used to get up and fetch the coal from the cellar to start the fire in the dining room. Many mornings he had to take a blowtorch to the outside loo to melt the layer of ice that had formed in the bowl. My mother told me the stories of Jesus. Even then, I heard the call to seek Him. I had a brother and sister, but I was the oldest, the one to set the example. There were toys and jigsaw puzzles to play with. We had radio, but no TV, not even a fridge. I was allowed to play records on an old manually cranked phonograph. We would walk to visit my Nana who lived near a large park which had a marvellous carillon which could be heard from quite a distance.



We visited my great grandparents almost every Sunday for tea. I used to play with a wooden alphabet set. Each block had an animal picture to go with its letter, A for antelope, and so on. I distinctly recall the moment I realized that letters could be put together to made words. Amazing! Before I started school I was reading simple nursery rhymes.

When I was seven and a half, my parents decided to bring us to Canada. In grade five, in Quebec, I memorized the 23rd Psalm for a poetry recital. When I stood up to speak, my teacher told me, ‘Sit down! That’s not poetry, that’s Scripture!’ In grade six, I got hold of a Gideons Centennial Edition of the New Testament. The book of Revelation and the Gospels caught my attention. I also read the Hardy Boys, Jules Verne, Von Daniken, Velikovsky, science, modern sci-fi, historical romance, … One day while recovering from chicken pox I was given a book all about ghosts, mind reading, astral travel and other strange ideas. One night I experienced a very real personal attack. I felt physically grabbed by someone or something not of this world.

Throughout high school I was very shy and always managed to avoid speaking in class. At university, I took honours Physics and Engineering. Friends kept giving me copies of the Bible, some containing strange books with titles like Bel and the Dragon, and the Wisdom of Sirach. I was challenged to seriously consider the story and claims of Jesus, and began to attend Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, where, for the first time, I clearly heard the message of the cross: the good news that Jesus had died for me. I discovered that I needed to make a personal response to his sacrifice. I helped to distribute copies of the New Testament in the Student Union building.

In the middle of my senior year, just after Christmas, I experienced a turmoil that required hospitalization. I asked God in prayer to reveal Himself to me if he really was there. Shortly afterward, I experienced His loving presence in a powerful way. I was pretty excited, 'high on Jesus', and began talking to my friends at length, in the middle of the night! I asked my landlady if I could examine an old ceremonial sword, which hung in her living room. I took it up to my room and, later that night, baptized it in the bathtub. For me this was a powerful symbol of spiritual warfare. Fortunately a friend came by. If he hadn’t been there, I might have done something even sillier.

(Edmund Yu was a troubled medical student who, a few years ago, was killed by police on a TTC bus in Toronto, and all because they thought the little hammer he was carrying might have been a gun!)

My friends contacted the local Anglican priest and my mother and brother, who together got me to see a local doctor, someone I already knew and trusted. He prescribed tranquilizers. But I was so hyper I was admitted to the local hospital for eight days. My Christian friends were all praying for me privately and in their churches. After spending two months at home with my family, I marked in my New Testament, March 9, 1978, as the date I chose to receive the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. Three days later I was admitted to the Nova Scotia Psychiatric Hospital, where I languished for two months, pacing the hallways with increasing frustration. The rest of that year was a write-off. I had neither motivation nor energy to do anything. I struggled just to get up each morning.

The following year I took two summer courses in Religious Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. In October I heard Billy Graham preach on the story of the Good Samaritan at the Halifax Metro Centre and I went forward as a public act of faith. I began to work with handicapped adults and later that year began shift work as a residential counselor caring for these folk. I also held a second job, 35 miles away, as a research assistant in St. F. X. University’s Spectroscopy lab.

In December, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Science, the two courses in the Christian faith having fulfilled my course requirements. During the next few years I spent five more months in hospital. I was often hyper, going from singing God’s praise in the halls to making an unruly nuisance of myself. One day I was placed, almost naked, in a locked ‘quiet room’. I felt like a caged lion. Someone had etched onto the wooden door the words, ‘Hello world!’ It seemed everyone was going crazy!

The enemy seeks to cloud our minds and steal our peace. I could have ended up another suicide statistic! When Jesus says, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I’ll restore you,’ He really means it! He’s ready to give His peace if we really want it and faithfully seek after Him.
I spent a year and a half living in a depressingly decrepit Rehab Centre where I learned to operate an offset printing press. My healing has come slowly and is entirely due to the love of our Lord Jesus, my wife and the rest of my family, my doctors, as well as the support and prayers of many Christian friends, known and unknown. I’ve known the torment of dreams that turn to nightmares that gradually turn to waking reality. There’s an ecstasy in believing that Christ will surely come today and severe depression in enduring another day without seeing his face.

In the worst circumstance, there’s really no need to remain isolated and depressed. An Anglican minister and his wife helped me, through the ministry of the Order of St. Luke, to experience a measure of healing.

Demons are real. Mental illness is real. Connections between these two concepts are difficult to establish. Surely we can admit that most mental illness probably has little or no demonic component. Can we not also admit that some conditions are unexplainable unless we accept the existence of ungodly wicked spiritual forces?

Joy Vassal’s book, Demons are Real, gives vivid testimony of the negative spiritual impact of belief in voodoo and wizardry.
Ron Armstrong, who was an Anglican missionary to parts of Latin America, talked about the power of prayer to bring healing to communities bewitched by so-called medicine men and witches. Many people have become followers of Jesus after finding that prayer in His name was the only effective way to receive help for their various afflictions. The occult practices of witch doctors usually only succeeded in temporary alleviation followed by worse problems later. Jesus gives freedom from entrapment to the lies that these people offer.

Too often in so-called advanced societies we believe a different lie, that formally trained medical practitioners, with their drugs and surgeries, can heal our diseases and we are released from the need to pray. Reliance on God becomes an option and only for those who already believe in Him. For me that early memory of hearing about Jesus was critical. Just as we were told as children to look for police if we were threatened or lost, so we were also told to look to the church for help with spiritual struggles.

O that our churches would respond to all illnesses with both prayer and medicine, referring both parishioners and enquirers to other qualified professionals if church members are not yet properly trained and qualified. Doctors and ministers must learn how to work together. This is a life and death issue. God is able. Amen!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rooted in Love


Holding fast despite the torrent

Let us echo Paul's prayer 'that out of his glorious riches, Christ Jesus would strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that He would dwell in our hearts through faith, and that,
being rooted and established in love,
we may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this LOVE that surpasses knowledge...'

Paul also says that God has chosen to be holy the people he loves, and we must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

We're to make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends us. Remember, the Lord has forgiven us, so we must forgive others.
Above all, we must clothe ourselves with love,
which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill our lives as we teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.

Let us sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Let us be, as much as possible, ambassadors for the Lord Jesus.

And midst the storms of life, whatever happens to the visible church, whatever storms assail us, as long as we cling to Him, we shall have abundant life.
Glory to God!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Truth? Lived, Suppressed, Proclaimed...

'False prophets shall arise among Christians'
These words, from William Dell, are still relevant today.

Dell preached during and immediately after the English Civil War almost 350 years ago. He was among those 2000 Puritan and other non-conformist clergy who were ejected from the Church of England in 1662 when the Act of Uniformity was proclaimed.

Hear what he had to say,
(adapted from
http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/thetrialofspirits.html )

'... We declare unto you from the Word of the Lord, concerning false prophets, who will make a lot of mischief: They shall not come from among the Jews, or Turks, Moslems or Hindus or atheists; they shall arise out of such as are called Christians.

Amongst Christians some are openly profane and evil, others seem to be religious and godly. The false prophets shall be found among the better sort; and therefore, as Christ Himself said, ‘they shall come in sheep’s clothing’, as though they were of Christ's own flock. St. Paul says, "they have a form of Godliness", that is, they shall be painted over gloriously, with all appearances of Truth, righteousness, honesty, goodness and all the names of godliness.

Amongst those that seem to be the better sort of Christians, some give themselves to the ministry of the Word, and some do not. False prophets shall be found among those Christians, who take upon themselves to be preachers, as Paul testifies having called together the elders and teachers of the church of Ephesus, he says to them, "Out of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them". (See Acts, chapter 20)

Among ministers, some are shallow, vain, carnal, and formal persons; others have great worth and reputation, and seem to be precious members of Christ, and even pillars in the Church, so that the common people think that their goodness justifies all their religious statements and claims. Here’s where you’ll find the false prophets, among those who appear to have gifts and charisms of the spirit, and who seem outwardly to be especially godly, religious, wise, holy, sober and devout.

And as they who opposed Christ at his first coming in the flesh, seem more wise, and holy, and eminent in the Church than the rest, as the Scribes and Pharisees, who sat in Moses' chair, and had the outward letter of the Word in all exactness, and the outward form of religion in all strictness; so they who most oppose Christ in His coming in His Spirit, contradict His Word, and resist His servants and witnesses of His Truth, do appear more wise, holy, learned, and godly, than the rest of the teachers in the Church.

Again, people of such appearance and worth and holiness as these, nuzzle up to the greatest and highest persons in the kingdoms and nations, and manage to obtain, not only their countenance and favour, but also prestige and authority for themselves.
By these two means, their seeming holiness, and then their interest with worldly powers, they enlarge their credit and reputation with the world, and get multitudes of people and nations entrapped.

For the Anti-Christ could not deceive the world with a company of foolish, weak, ignorant, profane, contemptible persons.
He always uses the greatest, the wisest, most self-righteous, and most eminent in the visible church for his purpose, and by these he seduces and subjects to himself, even the whole world.'

*************************************************

Some false teachers are easy to spot but Dell rightly echoes Scripture in saying that in all these regards it will (often) be a hard matter to discern the false teacher. It's easy to say Jesus is Lord. It's another matter entirely to actually allow Him to be in whole-hearted control of our lives.

The institutional churches are entangled in their historical alliances with various nation states. They still attempt to sideline those who will not conform to their mediocrity, and by their collusion with worldly interests and vain use of worldly wisdom, the Enemy seeks to use the decaying institutions of Christendom to distract many from the true and rightful Lordship of Jesus.

But God will not be mocked. Judgement is at hand!

Consider Paul's words to Timothy:

'There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Have nothing to do with them.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. ... These men oppose the truth and are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
But they will not get very far because ... their folly will be clear to everyone.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.'

Scripture records that Israel began to trust in other nations rather than in God alone. In a similar idolatry, we in our worldly churches have given other corporate interests inordinate freedom to distract us from our single three-fold priority:

WORSHIP!
DISCIPLESHIP!
EVANGELISM!

May God forgive us and restore to us the joy of our Salvation!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The qualities of a good teacher

Everyone has had, or should have had, at least one good teacher. Did you ever wonder why some are better than others? What makes some stand out?

Why and how can teachers with similar backgrounds and qualifications be so different?
Its so important to show interest in people; having a sparkle in the eye really counts, and even on bad days, simply letting the joy of teaching spill out with a smile.
Alternatively, allowing the drain of daily life without seeking replenishment, experiencing discouragement in early career and giving up inside, forgetting or neglecting to quit, or perhaps just never being suited to the task to begin with: these things become obvious to the student.

The most curious truth is that the ones who did well, the ones we remember, probably would not have thought themselves special. They just did their best.

Remember discipline.
Detention! The punishment imagined in having to stay in school after hours.
And, in bygone days, wayward students, and sometimes the innocent, being hit by the strap or the cane.
But there were a few who could control a whole group of otherwise unruly kids, or at least most of them, just by the look in their eye. Amazingly some were respected such that even when they had to leave the classroom for a few minutes, a sense of mischievous peacefullness prevailed.

In the Holy Book, James says that faith without works is dead. He even said that one is justified by works and not by faith alone. This truth is illustrated in all good teachers.

All the intellectual and spiritual faith of every teacher in the world will not produce well-educated citizens without hard work, and a few well-chosen words of correction, instruction or encouragement! This offsets all the negatives that the not-so-good teachers inflict on their inmates.

Scripture says that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. That's the key. The law is a harsh taskmaster. Its purpose is not primarily to teach, but rather to restrain the unruly. What makes a great teacher? The ability to impart enthsiasm is just as essential as wisdom in the use of rules and regulations. Knowledge of their subject matter must be matched with awareness of the interests of the student.

In the early seventies, Canada was swept by a wave of liberal socialists who sought to destroy or belittle anything they could not control. Good teachers refused to allow political manipulation to quench their spirit. Their faith infused their life-work. They seemed to instinctively know that they were justified in their faith. Salvation both for themselves and their charges is the Lord's work. They trusted that their work would eventually pay off.

It is often only in looking back that we recognize their contribution to our lives as we allow ourselves to be fully taken up by our own callings.

Thankful to God for good teachers,
Richard Alastair

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wake Up! Rise from the Dead


To the Anglican Church:
Don't let truth slip away.
Don't lose sight of Jesus.
If we let God arise, if we let His enemies be scattered, then
the Glory of the Lord will arise upon us;
...even though gross darkness will cover the land and the people.
Praise God for His glory!
His Holiness can burn away our sin, as we turn to Jesus and let ourselves be cleansed by His blood!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jesus, the only hope


Faith in the Lord Jesus is ultimately the only way to amicably resolve questions of both national and personal identity.
The problem is that individuals, countries and even churches often tend to ignore or even disobey His teachings.

The Light of Jesus trancends culture and creed. In His Name alone there is power to defeat forces of evil. The main reason we languish in sin and sickness stems from the failure of our churches to properly teach as He taught.

When one member of the local body is sick all suffer, likewise when one segment of the larger church errs, all are affected. We must not rely on priest, minister or pastor to do the work. When we restrict praise and prayer in our worship, our life-blood is cut off.

We're called to walk in the spirit and to speak the truth in love. Jesus is at the Father's hand, praying for our unity, spiritual boldness and compassionate mercy. From Him flow springs of living water. When Christ dwells in us, the Hope of Glory is realized.

Scripture urges, 'Call upon the LORD while He may be found.' Jesus still says, 'Come to me...'
When these two calls meet, supernatural power is released.

O that people, nations and churches would make the connection!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Canada's National Scandal


People are a bit like buildings. Sometimes they look sad and forlorn, sometimes comical and fresh. Looking from the outside doesn't say much about the inside. What strengths, surprises, costs and depravities remain hidden? Agents and friends can help to find self-identity; enemies, mis-directed friends and enviromental pests attack both foundation and structure.

In 2007 Canada finally established a Mental Health Commission to attempt to address the lack of attention given to those Canadians who suffer cracks in their foundations, that 10% of us who are likely to experience severe, debilitating distress at some point in our lives. The hope is that money will, at long last, be dedicated to research for treatment and cure for those things that afflict our minds and spirits. Canadians need to discuss realities which have been swept under the proverbial rug.

The most scandalous part of this story is that damaged people are shuffled from one government department to another as they attempt to find assistance. Specifically they are forced to travel back and forth between agencies providing 'social services' (really mainly money) and those providing health care, housing or shelter, food, clothing and sense of community.

The Ministry of Health is not set up to work together with Provincial or Municipal Social Services Ministries. There is no coordination between these agencies for people who do not fit neatly into the medical model for physical illness.
Would you accuse a person with diabetes or cancer of being responsible for his or her illness?
Would we send blind people to six different branches of the CNIB?
Why is it acceptible tell a mentally incapacitated person to 'just get a job'?

Why are our churches and other religious institutions largely silent on this issue? Thank God for the good work that is being done. Much, much more is needed.

Speak out! We, who have suffered schizophrenia, psychosis or depression need places to tell our stories. Well this is one such place. Please do so, here and elsewhere, before more of us, or our loved ones, suffer needlessly due to neglect, ignorance, or lack of awareness of the scattered but helpful resources that do exist.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quebec City - My Portal to Canada

To mark 400 years,
Je me souviens.


Why go to Canada?
Memories of cold winters in Loughborough, England, no central heating, and having hot water bottles by our feet just to get to sleep.
Toes chilled to the point of pain in the mornings.
Dad fetching coal to start the fire in the dining room, and taking a blowtorch to the outside loo to melt the layer of ice that had formed in the bowl.

Hearing my mother tell the stories of Jesus, and even then, seeking the face of God on my bedroom wall.
My younger brother and I waiting together for my sister to be born.
Being inside a dark church, hearing, "Shush, God is here."
Playing with tops and trains and wooden hammers and an alphabet set, each block an animal picture with its letter, A for antelope, B for Buffalo. Distinct recollection of the moment I realized that letters could be put together to made words. Amazement! Reading simple nursery rhymes, long before I started school. Remembering that we were to look for police if we were threatened or lost. Being the oldest, the one to set the example. Doing jigsaw puzzles while it rained outside. Listening to the wireless (radio), not having TV, or even a fridge.

Being allowed to play records on an old manually cranked phonograph. Walking to visit my Nana, hearing the bells of the marvellous carillon in the large park near her house.


Remembering peacocks, budgies and poodles. Almost every Sunday having tea with my great-grandparents who lived in a big old house another short walk past Nana’s. The clip-clop of horse-drawn cart on cobblestones, the smells of the cattle yard and the weekly market, fair days. Being disappointed, yet excited when at seven and a half, my parents decided to bring us to Canada.

Leaving Liverpool on the Empress of Canada. Setting foot on Canadian soil, taking a whirlwind tour through the narrow streets of Old Quebec City, visiting a church decorated red and gold, getting back on the ship and on to Montreal, passing multi-coloured roof tiles on the homes which hugged the cliffs.

The cross on Mount Royal. Living in a duplex, shopping at vast supermarkets. Growing beans in a glass jar. Spelling bees. Memorizing the 23rd Psalm for a poetry recital in Grade five, and after reading only four or five words, being told by my teacher, ‘Sit down! That’s not poetry, that’s Scripture!’ In grade six, getting hold of a Gideons Centennial Edition of the New Testament, being intrigued by the book of Revelation and the Gospels. And EXPO '67; Canada, notre pays! Trips with school and family to visit the Plains of Abraham.



Being told to look to the church and God for help with spiritual struggles. Reading everything: Hardy Boys, Jules Verne, modern sci-fi, historical romance, … Recovering from chicken pox, being given a book all about ghosts, mind reading, astral travel and other strange ideas. One night I experienced a very real personal attack. I felt physically grabbed by someone or something not of this world. Childhood's End?

Throughout high school being shy and always managing to avoid speaking in class. Pulling up roots again, moving to Nova Scotia. At university, taking honors Physics and Engineering. New friends giving me copies of the Bible, strange books with titles like Bel and the Dragon, and the Wisdom of Sirach. Being challenged to seriously consider the story and claims of Jesus, attending Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, and for the first time, clearly hearing the message of the cross: the good news that Jesus had died for me; discovering that I needed to make a personal response to His sacrifice.

Asking God to reveal Himself to me if he really was there. Shortly afterward, feeling my heart being powerfully touched by His loving presence. Talking to my friends at length even in the middle of the night. Being prayed for. Experiencing a turmoil that required hospitalization. Spending two months at home with my family. Writing in my New Testament of my decision to receive the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. Three days later, being admitted to psychiatric hospital; my baptism of fire!

On to Toronto, passing by Quebec City, and Montreal, passing again to revisit the Maritimes, pondering lingering early memories of God and church. Being born again, a new childhood: excitement!

Someone's Coming! Are You Ready?

ARE OUR CHILDREN WELL TAUGHT, CARED FOR
BY LOST YOUTHS OF YESTERYEAR?
WEAKENED, HUMBLED SOULS, PARED DOWN BY TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF ADULTEDNESS,
STRUGGLING ONES, BURIED UNDER WINTRY TRADITIONS, SERVING WITH MOCKING TOLERANCE,
WHILE LITTLE ONES WANDER IN AVENUES OF DAILY BLOOMING DISASTER, SUFFERING AND WONDERING, WHY?
REMINDERS ARE GIVEN BY BOOKISH ONES
FROM CITY LANES AND COUNTRY HOMES,
LESSONS OF INJURIES AND MARTYRDOMS,
POINTING THE WAY AHEAD
TO THOSE WHO WOULD SEE.
COME, DAY OF GOD, COME!

STAR-GOWNED SINGERS, GROWN IN SIN,
MOURN IN A MAJOR KEY,
SURROUNDED BY STONE AND WOOD AND BRASS.
IMPRESSIVE EXPRESSIONS!
AND YET THE SWEETEST SOUNDING NOTE
BE JUNK...TO HIM WHO WANTS ONLY...LOVE...CALLED...STRONG!
THE PRAISE OF GOD A MINOR THING?
SPIRIT TRULY SHRIEKS WITHIN!
BUT, O WHAT JOY!
TO FIND TRADITION SPRING TO LIFE,
BUDDING INTO MARVELOUS FLOWER,
ACTIVATED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO SING AFRESH
AND SHOUT THE GREAT NEWS
OF THE WORLD-MORN TO COME!
AND SO THE ULTIMATE REWARD
OF DIVINE PATIENCE
SHALL INDEED REST IN THE MAJESTIC PRESENCE OF JESUS,
COME, LORD, COME!

A Peaceful Warning: Amidst the Perils, Love!


LOVE! WHY? It’s God’s command, here and now,
besides who will if you won't?
Take some down time; Look around.

Multi channels visit the globe; NOISES BLARE!
Feel the sombre stare of SCREAMING PAGES pulled up through the web.
Burning sun and shooting stars yell and cry and warn...
Of bitter justice soon scrawled on walls and doorways!

At the guarded gate to paradise,
Mythic states jeer in defence of forged creeds.
Shadows of our past echo in prideful conflict
FORCING the children of men into a nightmare.

Green peasant's lands suffer afflicton,
as silvered rivers, damned for electric amenities,
flow wth pesticides, fungicides, wasted antibiotics.
Vigor is sterilized and rotten wealth is made.

A strange preacher leads his flock awry,
and authorities bring the fire and brimstone!
Is Love on holiday?

Kids bully and are bullied to take up arms
and little towns cry for lost minds.
Convicted killers are shut in dusk and doom,
like parched trees,
dying to be posters for deception and vengeance.

Terrible gauntlets fly;
A mighty fortress is cracked open
and the deathday dawns upon a city of liberty;
Cries of faith punch at apathy and sacrifices begin again.

Silent lamp posts hang down,
marking lonely days and nights.
Even the whole planet shudders,
leaving cities and nations swamped as by its tears.
Crystal cups of sorrow haunt the yearly festivals.

LOVE! Why? … It’s essential, required, demanded!
Seek the Face of THE HOLY ONE,
The healer of all wounds.
LOVE! AND MARCH FORTH TO ETERNITY!

LISTEN UP! Are you interested in mental health?

Is it OK to be mentally ill?
Going by the evidence most Canadians appear to believe it is.

The Globe and Mail, in its Breakdown series, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/breakdown did a fine job last week on highlighting the ongoing struggle many individuals and families face in dealing with the crushing realities of mental illness. In October, 1998, Scott Simmie wrote a similar, and award winning, series in the Toronto Star. His title 'Out of Mind' revealed the uncomfortable truth that the Canadian public has had little interest in compelling our leaders to act. In the intervening years, virtually nothing has changed on the front lines where most sufferers and helpers are fighting the battle for health and wellness.
We are still waiting for supportive housing, the crucial element in any plan to address this crisis.
The National Scandal of damaged people being shuffled from one government department to another, trying to find assistance, plays out like a tragic farce. Specifically, people are forced to travel back and forth between agencies providing 'social services' (money) and those providing health care, housing or shelter, food, clothing and sense of community, often while also dealing with more acceptable illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

The Ministry of Health is not set up to work together with Provincial or Municipal Social Services Ministries. There is little or no coordination between these agencies for people who do not fit neatly into the medical model for physical illness.
Do we accuse a person with diabetes or epilepsy of being responsible for his or her illness?
Would we send blind people to three different branches of the CNIB?
Why is it acceptable tell a mentally incapacitated person to 'just get a job'?



People are a bit like buildings. Sometimes they look sad and forlorn, sometimes comical and fresh. Looking from the outside doesn't say much about the inside. What strengths, surprises, costs and depravities remain hidden? Agents and friends can help to find self-identity; enemies, mis-directed friends and enviromental pests attack both foundation and structure.

Last year Canada finally established a Mental Health Commission to attempt to address the lack of attention given to those Canadians who suffer cracks in their foundations, that 10% of us who are likely to experience severe, debilitating mental and spiritual distress at some point in our lives. The hope is that money will, at long last, be dedicated to research for treatment and cure for those things that afflict our minds and spirits. But throwing money around in the ivory towers of academia will not be enough. Certainly research must be done. Counselling heelps. The heart of the matter will begin to be addressed when we can discuss together and pray about the harsh realities which have been swept under the proverbial rug.

Why are our religious institutions largely silent on this issue? When have you heard a message about the spiritual resources available to bring to bear on this topic? Are there ever connections between mental illness and evil spirits? Do chaplains and medical professionals coordinate their efforts to heal? What would Jesus have Us do?
Thank God for the good work that is being done.
Much, much more is needed.

We, who have suffered schizophrenia, psychosis or depression will not tolerate society's stigma. The taboo is broken. Praise the Name of JESUS!
Lend us your ears!
Invite us to speak at your places of worship, community centers, schools, anywhere interested people will gather. Let us tell how God heals and delivers. Let us work and pray that no more of us, or our loved ones, suffer needlessly due to neglect and ignorance. Let's make good use of the quality programs that already exist and build together the healthy communities that we all need.
Let's free up funding, and other resources, and empower all Canadians to help each other!

Let us be rebuilders of the breach.
Mental illness should never be OK!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

O Canada! Watching for the Vision

Whatever projects we get up to, I'm sure our Heavenly Father has some great laughs, sometimes in derision, sometimes delight.

Whatever mischief we create or encounter, don't you think many tears from mingled sorrow and joy come easily from His eyes?

Consider Canada
Comment ça va avec lui? avec nous?

What keeps us together?
The Trans-Canada highway? Maybe.
The Federal government? Eh, say what?

But remember!
Our governors separated us into Upper and Lower Canada.
Then one day a true first-rate fellow took an act of political hubris to curb our inferiority and brought our constitution home from across the pond.
Now we can follow our dreams, if only we can agree on what they are.
Romance clashes with work ethic. In our national anthem we sing, en français,
'Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée des plus brillant exploits'...and yet...Quebec feels left out.
So do the Atlantic Provinces the Prairies and B.C.
We’ve no Grand Canyon, just a few noisy fire-crackers, dissidents who avoid responsibilities while promoting rights!
What about the privilege of duty?
What of Ontario?
The Place to Stand, Out in the cold with the North?
So what can keep us together? Simple convenience and compromise has so far.
But a little more is required:
Charity, friendship, common sense,
hope, the Word of life, hot apple cider
and sticky
maple syrup.

Mon Dieu!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Out of the Waiting Room to Write! Canada

After experiencing massive writer's block several years, Our Lord is, I believe finally helping me to begin to share some of my experiences and insights. Many ideas on paper or disk have till now remained as frustrated dreams. Early in June, I attended my first Word Guild Conference, in Guelph, Ontario, a real occasion! Along with over two hundred other believers, I enjoyed the privilege of being insired and educated by people who are actually practicing their chosen art, writers, speakers, singers, agents and publishers.

I had known about God Uses Ink and TWG for a long time and had allowed my chronic lack of both energy and funds to prevent me from going. This year I was prodded by a lady I met at work who told me she was already registered. She didn't give up on me, even offering to help pay for my fees. She didn't need to. Joy, Marcia, Albert and I decided to commute back and forth to Toronto each night. I volunteered to do most of the driving giving Albert, the Jeep's owner, a much needed break.

Friday night we stayed late so I could share at the night owl session, only the second time in ten years I found a forum to read my work aloud, outside my home, that is. For me it was a breakthrough. I shared two poems and asked to share a third before leaving at 11:30 for the city. The trip back was dramatic. We sang along to upbeat worship music as we drove through heavy rain, passing truck after truck, watching the lightning only a short distance ahead. The next morning we arrived back in Guelph about 10 o'clock and enjoyed another informative day.

The following week, after getting permission from our ED to use my office computer and e-mail, I was able to set up my blog in under ten minutes. Now for the hard part; continuity! Most writing gets done at home. My regular work is counselling and spending time with marginalized street folk and others with various addictions or other mental health issues. I'm able to teach Bible studies and assist in leading worship.

Other highlights from the conference: meeting new people, hearing the three plenary speakers, the educational and inspiring workshops and classes, and Deborah Klassen's worshipful singing. And of course Hot Apple Cider, a compilation of inspirational stories by Canadian writers.

I'm thankful that Jesus encouraged my friend Joy to drag me out of my shell. May God give His wisdom and grace in telling the stories He has given.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Canadian Sunrise


Sunrise, Son Rise!
O Jesus, the descending King,
Seek your own to lead and quicken!
Away with abuse, brutal and treacherous,
that attacks sound minds,
freezing their song in fear!
And yet a melting into humble power is done
by The Helping Spirit One,
and we become deeply thoughtful,
concerned ones,
really no longer divided by the evil one.
Let the educators awake in time
and wonder at His plan
to accomplish all on sounding trumpet;
Come Lord Jesus, Come.

Friday, June 20, 2008

On Spiritual vision


Are your eyes open to the Tree of Life?
Inside or outside?
Radiant light is reflected in those who decide to follow and obey The Holy One.
It's amazing to think someone could be raised from the dead, but it can happen today.
Why would anyone submit to Him and be His slave?
It's just plain foolishness if He's kept outside by stubborn bitterness or simple ignorance.
He describes Himself as the vine and says all who obey Him are the branches. When even two or three of His followers suffer, He's there with them. For whoever invites Him inside, especially those in severe poverty and pain, will enjoy wisdom, peace and great purpose.