“A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
It is a great pity to be misunderstood by those around you. Some people suffer much simply because others do not take the time to get to know them. Hurtful things are gossiped about the poor individual who is not understood by others. The one being slandered finds it impossible at times to correct the wrong views of them and they withdraw into a shell of protection.
The Puritans are people who have been sadly misunderstood for many years. Highly inaccurate things have been said about them. For example one person said words to the effect that a Puritan is someone who is deathly afraid that someone somewhere might be enjoying themselves. Puritans were and are generally regarded as spoil sports.
Now you may hang on to this opinion as long as you do not study history or read the writings of Puritans. When you look at the evidence instead of accepting popular opinion uncritically, you discover a happy and joyful people totally unlike the criticisms levelled at them.
I happen to be one who has the writings of a dozen or more Puritans on my shelves along with several books written in the first half of the twentieth century about them. Several books written about 80 years ago describing these amazing people are so enlightening.
For example, Oliver Cromwell who was a great Puritan in England in the 1600’s was a fun loving man. When his daughters got married the wedding reception included a dance band and the music played until 4 am the next day. When the exhausted band members called it quits then the friends and families of the happy couple retired to the groom’s parents estate to continue the party for several more hours.
Continue reading 'The unusual Puritans'»
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…”
Philippians 3:10 (NIV)
I knew the man only slightly. I would see him from time to time walking the streets of the town in which I then lived. There was nothing remarkable about him with one very notable exception. He had a bulbous nose and it was always swollen, red and enflamed. It didn’t take long to figure out what the problem was.
The gentleman in question was a masochist. He derived pleasure from pain and that was the reason he was constantly cutting his nose. Now, over 40 years later, I still do not understand the mental torment that caused him to do this to himself. Certainly I was saddened by his preoccupation with pain, but I was unable to fathom his mind set.
Our verse today has a startling comment along with an exciting one. Paul tells us that his passion in life is to get to know more and more about the Lord Jesus. Now that in and of itself sounds fine. Jesus is indeed the most remarkable person in history and there is no end of things to discover about Him and His work.
Continue reading 'What is a masochist?'»
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
My wife is out of town on one of her regular overnight visits to our daughter and 18 month old son. Sometimes I go but this time I had to stay home. As I ate my supper alone I leafed through a booklet sent by a European humanitarian mission that I serve as a Canadian board member.
Various projects were written about, complete with fascinating photos of needy people being helped through the mission. One article said that if I sent $20.00 I could buy a new pair of shoes for a shoeless child to wear in the winter.
Today at the diabetic clinic I was told by the doctor that I needed new shoes worth over 10 times the cost of a pair for a child in Russia. He told me I needed orthotics as well and that would skyrocket the cost. I never doubted I would find a way to afford the medical supplies and stave off the progress of the diabetes.
Then I flipped the page and saw that I could buy a box of food to feed a family for a month and it would only cost me $30.00. Coming home from the clinic I stopped to buy a few groceries for my wife and myself and spent over $90.00 without thinking about the expense. I usually spend more than that for one week’s food for the two of us.
Continue reading 'What in the world is going on?'»
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
We live in a remarkable age where we are bombarded with ads about self fulfillment. Travel agencies tell us to fly now and pay later. People will say to us, “You owe it to yourself.” Or “You deserve a break today”. In western society we have the best of everything from doctors, dentists, medical insurance, homes, etc.
Yet, for all the blessings of living in western society we can observe some remarkably unusual trends. It seems that our riches in this part of the world do not satisfy our longings and needs. Apparently the USA with 5% of the world’s population consumes 80% of its cocaine.
What is wrong with this picture? Why are we not satisfied with what we have? How can those with the most creature comforts in the world still be seeking for more? When is enough, enough? Even the question indicates the insatiable appetite we have for more.
Is it that we really do not have enough in life or might it be we have not found the right thing yet? Maybe it is not greed for more things in life as much as the fact that what we have found so far in life does not bring the peace, contentment, and purpose we strive to obtain?
Continue reading 'Self fulfillment or self denial?'»
“…in all things God works for the good
of those who love him…”
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
It is fascinating how Christian people come to some of the conclusions they have about their faith. I love to listen to individuals explain what they believe and why. Some folk are long on what they believe but rather short on why they believe all that.
Take a very simple example. Ask a devout Christian why the church covers the bread at the communion table after the bread has been passed to each person. I am rather certain that no one will be able to come up with a better explanation than, “We always do it that way.” They may scratch their heads and start to question the practice but will likely not get an answer even from their minister.
In our Christian faith we are called on to think about what we believe and practice. Our verse today is a summary statement that can warm the heart of every weary Christian. We desire to know that our suffering is not for nothing. But why should we believe this precious truth? What reasons are there for trusting God when we cannot figure out what is happening to us?
Continue reading 'How do you know that?'»