Posts

Showing posts from May, 2010

Afterward

Image
(Today's entry in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

Music of the Storm

"Nevertheless afterward" (Heb. 12:11).

There is a legend that tells of a German baron who, at his castle on the Rhine, stretched wires from tower to tower, that the winds might convert them into an Aeolian harp. And the soft breezes played about the castle, but no music was born. But one night there arose a great tempest, and hill and castle were smitten by the fury of the mighty winds. The baron went to the threshold to look out upon the terror of the storm, and the Aeolian harp was filling the air with strains that rang out even above the clamor of the tempest. It needed the tempest to bring out the music!

And have we not known men whose lives have not given out any entrancing music in the day of a calm prosperity, but who, when the tempest drove against them have astonished their fellows by the power and strength of their music?
"Rain, rain
Beating against the pane!
How endlessly it pours

Prodigal Scots Lass

Image
In an anthology of sorts on prodigals, Ruth Bell Graham presented a portion from "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush" (1894) by Ian Maclaren. It told of old widower Lachlan Campbell, and his daughter Flora who opted to leave the ways and life of the small town of Drumtochty for the excitement and questionable prospects of London.

The father considered his daughter lost to him and reported his decision to elders of the Kirk. This hard line drawn in the sand was mentioned to Marget Howe (the main female character in the book). In a personal visit to the miserable Lachlan she attempted to explain how his deceased wife might have handled the problem of the errant daughter. She suggested a letter to London which she would draft and mail in the stead of the missing mother.

Following is the account of Flora's return (some of the most sensitive writing I have ever enjoyed):

"Ye've hed a lang journey, Miss Cammil, and ye maun be nearly dune
wi' tire; juist ye sit still till th…

Ian McCormack Views Heaven

Image
The shiftless young man was on an island hopping tour of tropical waters, working at odd jobs, surfing, diving, fishing, sailing, doing drugs, taking in the fun spots.

Ian was a native of New Zealand and very comfortable in the water. He was visiting the island of Mauritius off the east coast of Africa (1980). Some new-found friends invited him for night snorkling and fishing.

Unfortunately in his delightful wanderings underwater by flashlight, he was stung by a venomous box jellyfish, and then another and another...five in total. It is reported that one sting has the potential to kill. His mates gradually understood the cause of his falling behind and dragged him to the boat and headed to land.

The tale of his transport to medical care includes clumsiness, abandonment, misunderstanding and refusal to act on the part of several individuals who thought "that he was strung out on booze or drugs, or something. Why, look at the track marks in his arms!" (toxic stings)

Eventually at…

Stillness

Image
(Taken from Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman)

May 25
The Power of Silence

"Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

Is there any note of music in all the chorus as mighty as the emphatic pause? Is there any word in all the Psalter more eloquent than that one word, Selah (Pause)? Is there anything more thrilling and awful than the hush that comes before the bursting of the tempest and the strange quiet that seems to fall upon all nature before some preternatural phenomenon or convulsion? Is there anything that can touch our hearts as the power of stillness?

There is for the heart that will cease from itself, "the peace of God that passeth all understanding," a "quietness and confidence" which is the source of all strength, a sweet peace "which nothing can offend," a deep rest which the world can neither give nor take away. There is in the deepest center of the soul a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter…

Redemption's Spring

Image
Lion follows prey
And life is choked away.
Jackals skulk around
For morsels on the ground.
Vultures leave the skies,
And then the dust and flies.
All is tooth and claw.
Has Paradise this flaw?

Storm clouds hover low.
Their darkening shadows grow.
Thunder roars its ire,
Along with flash and fire.
Summer skies are rent.
The tempest’s rage is spent.
Countryside defaced.
Has Paradise this waste?

Battle dust has cleared,
And men lie slashed and speared.
Flags dropped in the mire.
Encampments scorched with fire.
Fields once green are red.
Where youth has burst and bled.
Women hope and wait.
Has Paradise this hate?

The whole Creation groans
And Waster’s work bemoans;
Travailing much in prayer.
Did Heaven really err?
Or is the Man to blame
For sickness, death and pain?
Has Adam done his worst?
Has Paradise his curse?

Hold on, brave earth today.
For scriptures do portray
Your ravaged globe restored,
By our returning Lord;
Who comes with saints revealed,
Their bodies whole and healed,
To give Redemption’s Spring,
And Paradise, her K…

Uncaring Chaos

Image
"Looters were hitting pharmacies and liquor and jewelry stores first, then working their way down the buffet table. A rogue group of NOPD cops had actually set up a thieves headquarters on the tenth floor of a downtown hotel, storing their loot in the rooms, terrorizing the management, and threatening to shoot a reporter who tried to question them. New Orleans cops also drove off with automobiles from the Cadillac agency. Gangbangers had converged on the Garden District and were having a Visigoth holiday, burning homes built before the Civil War, carrying away whatever wasn't bolted down...

A half block from a state medical clinic I counted the bodies of nine black people, all of them floating face down, like free-falling parachutists suspended on a cushion of air high above the earth.

We heard stories of gunfire from rooftops and windows. Emergency personnel in rescue boats became afraid of the very people they were supposed to save. Some people air lifted out by the Coast Gua…

Common Law

Image
I had heard the rumour. I had seen the ring on the left hand. I approached the check-out till at the store and inquired and congratulated Ella (fictitious name).

She was a pretty, tall, slim, gentle-natured young woman. I had had several pleasant conversations with her. Always a smile. First name basis.

I suspected that she had been living with the boyfriend for some time. They seemed to be happy. He had been married and divorced. They appeared to be in no hurry for the ceremony. Young people today will say that they must get many things in order before the wedding - cash, reception hall, availability of wedding party, vacation arrangements, time off from work.

Many others have simply bailed out on the marriage prospect. They will come out with frightening excuses. ("Marriage was a curse and a shackle for my parents...It is what is in the heart that matters, not a pledge given in some strange church..We want to be free and will stay in this thing as long as it suits us... Who needs …

Valiantly Keeping On

Image
The Quitter

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you…

Bluejeans, Tattoos and Jesus

Image
I have a real debt of gratitude to evangelist R.W. Schambach of Tyler, Texas. Often on a Friday night my family would hop into the car and head out of Chatham to enjoy the fresh air and to get better radio reception from Detroit for the "Voice of Power" daily broadcast.

Brother Schambach always found the right balance in his messages. Acknowledging trials as real but pressing through on the promises for victory. He was Everyman's preacher, and his auditorium or tent meetings drew an amazing cross-section of people. The common denominator was need. Praise was electric. Prayer lines were long and fruitful.

I remember one "big blue tent" meeting at the Detroit fairgrounds. Half way through the message our baby Jordan became cranky, and I left the girls to give him some fresh air in his stroller around the periphery. Seated toward the back were four biker-looking individuals, seemingly out of place. Denim. Chains. Beards (All except the girl).Tattoos. Folded muscular…

Must Be Said

Image
The old man settled back into his bed at the nursing home. Lunch had been passable. He wasn't interested in any of the afternoon programs. Pretty hard when the sight was almost gone. His lower back hurt. Feet were swollen.

He let go with one long sigh. His son was late. That was usually the case. But he enjoyed seeing him. Hearing a little bit about how life went on for one almost thirty years his junior. It would get him to remembering the good times shared. The meals. The afternoons at the lake. The ball games. The quiet evening chats by the fireplace in the old home.

There was something that he shared with his boy which even his wife, God bless her, could not provide. She held another room in the facility and was probably busy at bingo or watching a movie with her new-found friends. He was happy that she had found some breathing space.

He felt himself drifting off...but then a few uncommon sounds and a jostling of his foot. "Well, I see you made it." His fifties-somethin…

The Gentle Humourist

Image
He was able to laugh
At the little things.
At the irony of our lot.
At the play on words,
At the twig to pride,
At the frequent trials he got.

He was able to laugh,
And a tonic proved
To his friends when faced with pain.
How his joke or song
Could relieve the wrong.
Helping them to hope again.

He was able to laugh,
As the years progressed
And the things of youth slipped by.
When the trips and chores
And the Great Outdoors
Were but memories, and a sigh.

He was able to laugh
At the final bell,
When the umpire shouted "Game!"
Sensing paths once trod
Had been mapped by God,
Who had always known his name.

Nothing Very Odd

Image
A lady red upon the hill
Her annual secret keeps;
A lady white within the field
In placid lily sleeps.

The tidy breezes with their brooms
Sweep vale, and hill, and tree!
Prithee, my pretty housewives!
Who may expected be?

The neighbours do not yet suspect!
The woods exchange a smile-
Orchard, and buttercup, and bird-
In such a little while.

And yet how still the landscape stands,
How nonchalant the wood,
As if the resurrection
Were nothing very odd!

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Power in Humility

Image
The Vicar of Christ, the man in the Seat of Peter, the Pope had made special allowances for an audience with Francis of Assisi. He was curious to examine this poor monk and to test his heart.

Walking some distance ahead of the retinue, the two passed by an endless succession of statues, fine art, ornaments, glass-works, frescoes and opulent construction.

The Pope turned to Francis at one point with a half-smile and said, "So, I guess that it can no longer be said of us that silver and gold have we none." (Acts 3: 1-10)

"No, Your Eminence," Francis replied,"neither can you say, in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk."

God has established the principle that humility comes before spiritual power or leadership. Consider the passage from Hebrews 5:

8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Consider also Isaiah 57:

15For thus saith …

Among the Lepers

Image
(Taken from "Catholic Encyclopedia" web site)

Father Damien

Missionary priest, born at Tremeloo, Belgium, 3 January 1840; died at Molokai, Hawaii, 15 April 1889.

His father, a small farmer, sent him to a college at Braine-le-Comte, to prepare for a commercial profession; but as a result of a mission given by the Redemptorists in 1858, Joseph decided to become a religious. He entered the novitiate of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary at Louvain, and took in religion the name of Damien. He was admitted to the religious profession, 7 Oct. 1860. Three years later, though still in minor orders, he was sent to the mission of the Hawaiian Islands, where he arrived, 19 March, 1864. Ordained priest at Honolulu 24 May of the same year, he was later given charge of various districts on the island of Hawaii, and, animated with a burning zeal, his robust constitution allowed him to give full play to the impulses of his heart. He was not only the missionary of the natives, bu…

Bones and Thoughts

Image
Bones and thoughts
Are briefly giv'n us.
Bones and thoughts
For this short span.
Bones to play
And render service.
Thoughts to delve
The scope of man.
Bones to sling
The trowel and mortar.
Bones to draw
The waters cool.
Bones to plant
The seed and harvest.
Bones to bully
And to rule.
Thoughts to better
Each month's tally.
Thoughts distilling
Beauties bright.
Thoughts to cheer
A struggling neighbour.
Thoughts to favour
Or to fight.

But the bones
Will stop their clatter.
And the thoughts
Will disconnect.
And beneath
Them both a whisper
Fiends and fools
Can scarce detect.
Softly vowing,
"There is more yet."
Which the Spirit
Yearns to give
To the hearers
Of that whisper.
"Children, come and
Trust and live."

Nourishing Alphabet Soup

Image
Atonement - Heb.9

Birth/New Birth - John 3; 1 Peter 1; 2 Cor.5

Communion - 1 Cor.11; John 6

Death - Heb.9; 2 Cor.5

Eternal Life - John 11; 1 Cor.15

Forgiving - Matt.6; Matt.18

Giving - 2 Cor.8; Luke 6

Heaven/Hell - Luke 16

Incarnation - Luke 1; Heb.2

Judgment - Habakkuk 3; Psalm 98

Kenosis - Phil.2

Love of God - 1 Cor.13

Messiah - Psalm 22; Isaiah 53

Neighbours - Luke 10

Opposition - John 16

Peace of God - Phil.4

Quiet - Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 40:29-31; 1 Pet.3:4

Repentance - Psalm 51; Luke 18

Sovereignty of God - Romans 9; Job 38-42

Trials - Psalm 34; 2 Tim.3:12, 13

Unction - 1 John 2; Acts 10:38

Victory - Romans 8

Waiting - Isaiah 40; Habakkuk 2

Xceeding Abundantly Above - Ephesians 3:20

Yielding - Mark 14; Matt.10

Zion - Psalm 48; Zeph.3; Rev.21

Brother from Egypt

Image
For about a year I enjoyed a friend at my workplace who had come from Egypt. His training was as an accountant but his credentials meant nothing to the Ontario Association. (This is a real problem in our receiving talented individuals from abroad.)

We were building component parts for a Chinese power facility and needed many extra workers. Hany had been laid off from a job as a hotel book-keeper and desk person, and he needed something to fill a gap.

At our first encounter, he found me at a remote desk at lunch reading from F.B. Meyer and his exposition on the Epistle to the Hebrews. "Oh, you read him," he said. "He is one of my favourite teachers, only in Arabic." An Egyptian Christian!

That started a summer of rich discussions, sharing of experience and realization of brotherhood which had come about because of Christ. He was a computer buff and taught our children much, giving them their first computer. He accompanied me to an exporter's warehouse and worked wi…

Who Needs Lunch, Anyway?

Image
I remember an unfamiliar driver coming into our plant years ago with a large load of steel. It appeared that he had a busy day of deliveries ahead of him so I worked on with the off-loading task into the lunch break. Once completed, it was clear that each of us wanted to break the ice and chat.

He was a tall good-looking man in his early sixties and had taken on some occasional driving to help a friend broker who was over-worked. I had the feeling that previously there had been a career of much different nature. Somehow the conversation got around to church activities in the Toronto area. This man knew personally many of the personalities associated with the Hundred Huntley Street Ministry. I had enjoyed many of their broadcasts.

But then he dropped a bombshell. "That's part of another life, however. I am very much back-slidden now." The expression on his face was fixed as if to say, 'That's my lot. No two ways about it. It's over for me.'

Some comments sugg…

Stately

Image
He was, perhaps the most handsome man I had ever met. Closing in on sixty. Straight, direct brown eyes. Long braid. Aboriginal. He reminded me of a younger version of Chief Dan George of movie fame. The lines in his tanned face spoke of character; the eyes, of years of gentle assessment of his fellow men.

I was a young lawyer on duty counsel at Provincial Criminal Court giving people "off-the-hip" advice on their first court appearance. This gentleman was accompanied by his grand-daughter who had had an unfortunate encounter with the Wallaceburg police. He had arranged her bail. A Saturday night of drinking had led to public disturbance and abusive language to the attending constables.

I learned that the young woman had been roughly handled in custody, cuffed and made to fall down a flight of stairs en route to the lock-up. Now she just hung her head in embarrassment while grandfather told the story.

He paused and looked directly at me with incredulous, pained eyes as if to say…

He Who Has Eyes

Image
It was a hectic Friday afternoon and Ches barely had time to grab a bite before driving out of town for his appointment.

The Harvey's restaurant chosen had been a pleasant stop for family in the past and he had been drawn toward it en route. What to order on that hamburg so that it would not be too sloppy for eating on the run?

Ches took note of the chatty male attendant at the cash register and his pleasant approach to customers in line, and the rapport which he had apparently with cooking staff to the rear. Only one more customer ahead and Ches could grab and go.
Then suddenly the elderly man turned away from the counter, dark sunglasses, cane in the right hand, tray delicately balanced in the left.

Sploosh! The tall beverage on the tray slid, the fries headed for the floor and the burger to follow. Counter-man was non-plused. Marj, obviously a senior staffer, came to the fore, "Oh, it's Harry. He's a regular here. He usually gets help to his table. Honey, I'm sorry…

The Rich Man's Death

Image
I could have blessed the beggar
Found daily near my door
And never missed the outlay
With always plenty more.
And brought him to my wardrobe
And dressed him in last year’s.
And filled his aching belly
And washed away his tears.

But fashion held me captive
And closed the hand of grace
For fear of colleagues’ censure
For need to know my place.
A privilege come from family,
And shored up for one’s heirs,
Not soon to heed a pauper
Not soon to bless his prayers.

Just yesterday they told me
He sighed his final breath.
But still I hear his calling
Despite the unsung death.
“The good Lord, this. The good Lord, that.”
Would season every phrase.
Perchance he’s gone up laughing
To meet Him face-to-face.

And I am left the poorer
For lack of showing love.
Alas, not mine the blessing
That he secures above.
Yes, his a peace unworldly
Not seen in all the rest.
The pain now comes intensely.
“My lot, my loss, MY CHEST!”

Rutherford to a Young Reader

Image
XXVIII. To PATRICK CARSEN (From Samuel Rutherford - Covenantors' Pastor)

DEAR AND LOVING FRIEND, -- I cannot but, upon the opportunity of a bearer, exhort you to resign the love of your youth to Christ; and in this day, while your sun is high and your youth serveth you, to seek the Lord and His face. For there is nothing out of heaven so necessary for you as Christ. And ye cannot be ignorant but your days will end, and the night of death shall call you from the pleasures of this life: and a doom given out in death standeth for ever -- as long as God liveth! Youth, ordinarily, is a post and ready servant for Satan, to run errands; for it is a nest for lust, cursing, drunkenness, blaspheming of God, lying, pride, and vanity. Oh, that there were such an heart in you as to fear the Lord, and to dedicate your soul and body to His service! When the time cometh that your poor soul look out at your prison house of clay, to be set at liberty; then a good conscience, and your Lord's favo…

Song of the Wire

Image
An overcast day
In the summer.
A pleasant relief
From the heat.
And rising quite
Early this morning,
I’ve taken a
Cool backyard seat.
The birds are
Surprisingly quiet.
Are they as slow-
Moving as I?
The leaves on the
Maple turn over,
Requesting a drink
From the sky.
And upwards behind
Me, I hear him,
In notes softly
Soothing and sad.
His double-tone tune
Of lamenting,
Today makes me
Mellow, but glad.
I wonder what hurt
He is hiding?
What loneliness
Looms in his soul?
What sickness at home
He is bearing?
What trial he finds
Hard to control?
His heart is the
Heart of a mourner.
And pain is a
Constant we share.
He asks, “May I
Help you by singing?
I know, and God knows,
And we care.”

Providence

Image
I thought that I knew
What you’re going through.
I thought that I knew…
I was wrong.

I once had a bout
Of similar vein,
Of similar pain.
But not yours.

I sensed that the world
Had turned on me,
A cruel destiny,
Without hope.

And even my prayers
Met brazen skies.
The tears, the cries.
Where was God?

But one day the blue
Returned above.
I felt His love,
And it passed.

I now see the test
Had made me grow;
Christ’s heart to know.
I was changed.

And this was to be
My providence,
Of little sense,
‘Til I learned

That God has a plan
Which must use loss,
To show the Cross
To each child.

So I will not dare
Say what to do,
‘Til His work’s through,
And you’ve won.

But I will be here,
A needed friend,
An ear to bend,
Like the Son.

I thought that I knew
What you’re going through.
I thought that I knew…
I was wrong.

Note: We have been reminded that Job's friends did their greatest service when simply sitting in the sufferer's corner and keeping their mouths shut.

"Providence" has been defined as follows:
(initial capital lette…

Numbers Dave

Image
Close to 100 people attended his funeral at First Baptist Church in Waterloo. He had had about ten months of really critical condition with cancer in the intestine. His foster parents Jim and Ruth Ann Reist thought that they were going to lose him the previous November and here it was September of the year following. He was only thirty-five.

My family had lived in his neighbourhood for eleven years and we had struck up an acquaintance with Dave Faulkner walking , on the bus, at the corner store, at the malls, at the Dairy Queen. He was quick to engage in conversation, monotone voice, slightly blunted affect, socially awkward, child-like in ways. But sincere, without guile, giving honest friendship, loyal to his Christian upbringing and Church family.

Occasionally I would hear of a part-time job, perhaps a girlfriend, numerous foster-care siblings, a Jewish mother and sisters somewhere in the U.S., numerous R.V. trips to warm, exotic places. Dave had an uncanny aptitude with arithmetic a…