Tuesday, October 30, 2007


­Society today tells you that there are many reasons why it cannot love you just the way you are. It tells you that if you don’t look more beautiful, if you don’t wear the popular clothes, if you are not more cool, then people will not accept you. This is what it takes to be accepted by the standards of our society.

As I studied English in high school, I learned about something called an if / then clause. It is a rule that if you use the word ‘if’ in a sentence, you must also use the word ‘then’ soon after it. It is there to indicate a cause/ effect relationship.

In Herbie’s story, we read of a couple ‘if/then’ clauses in his life. If you believed that you had sinned too much for God to ever be able to forgive you, then you would feel hopeless about life. This is how Herbie felt. If you had “led a rough life” and had become separated from your family and friends, then you would become lonely. Just as Herbie was.

Often, society is cruel in its consequences for our actions. Perhaps you too have been through circumstances that have dealt you nothing but hopelessness, loneliness, and pain.

However, God offers us a chance to experience his blessing and loving kindness if we will only come to Him. In 1st John 1:7-9, the author tells us about three if / then clauses that lead to life! He says:

1. If we claim to be without sin, [then] we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

2. If we confess our sins [then] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

3. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, [then] the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

What peace and joy came into Herbie’s life when he submitted to God’s truth and came to Jesus for cleansing and a new life? This hope is available to all, if they only come to God through the way he has opened, his Son Jesus Christ. Please consider this final if / then clause in Scripture. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son. [If we] believe in Him, [then] we shall not die, but have ever lasting life.” (John 3:16 my paraphrase) If you truly catch the meaning of this, you will find eternal life...Just as Herbie did!

To learn more about Herbie, read his testimony at: http://www.thestreetcorner.org/

Short Term Vision

After John Esau signed in at the hospital, the doctors told him “the stab wound was not [his] greatest problem.” They had seen a bigger problem than he had seen. That must have been difficult for him to understand. “What do you mean a greater problem? I just got stabbed and am in excruciating pain, there can’t be a greater problem than that!” But the doctors had long term vision and saw his greater need.

Some of us suffer from a problem called ‘short term memory’ and because I am one of those people, I understand how frustrating it can be. I forget people’s names, conversations I have had, or responsibilities I may have just been given. Another, greater, problem that we all experience could be called “short term vision.” Something might happen to us because we can only see the short term consequences of actions we may take.

For example, if you’ve just lost your job, short term vision would probably result in anxiety, discouragement and very few answers to a growing list of frantic questions. You may injure your writing hand and wonder “how you will ever be able to complete this assignment on time. Or your computer may crash for no known reason, and the immediate problems you will face may be endless! Problems like these seem so big when we have short term vision and it is the only thing we can see. What will you do?

You can do several things in response to these problems. You can exhaust yourself thinking about how you could find another job or alternate income. You could try to teach your other hand to continue writing the assignment. Or you could pay as much as is required so the computer is fixed correctly. These ideas may or may not work.

But Jesus offers a fourth solution that has a 100% guarantee for those who have chosen to try it. In the Bible, He beckons us to:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matt. 11:28

Jesus does not promise to be the man to fix all of our worldly problems, especially in the same way we want them to be fixed. But he will give us rest, the one thing we all seek but rarely find, if we simply ask Him for it.

To his horror, John Esau discovered there was a greater problem than his stab wound that needed to be fixed first. If you will let Him, Jesus wants to show you the greater wounds in your life that only He can heal, and are more important than the problems you can see like a lost job, a broken bone or a computer that shuts down. Jesus wants to give you long term vision, something that only he can give because only He has it.

Prayer for Long Term Vision

Lord Jesus, teach me to see what only you can see,

The eternal things that are currently invisible to me,

Give me long term vision so I( may trust you to make me free,

And take away my anxious thoughts and replace them with faith in thee!

To learn more about John Esau, read his testimony at: http://www.thestreetcorner.org/

Friday, October 26, 2007

I learn again

Sometimes when I am living inside my shell,
I believe I don’t need You more than anybody else,
But when I moved my eyes from You to me, I fell,
So, I learn again . . . I need You more than words can ever tell.

Sometimes I want the things I should not have,
Help me to love You more than the cookies on the shelf,
Lest I stuff myself with junk, accumulating desires and wealth,
I learn again . . . I need You more than I need myself.

To work for friends, grades, and a living is fine,
But what do we really gain in the daily grind?
Lord Jesus, help me to seek You most with my time,
Because, I’ve learned again . . . what I really need is Divine.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Silver Rule

Whether you call yourself a Christian or not, you have surely heard the words of Jesus at least once. Matthew 7:12; “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”, is one of the most quoted verses for children. And, whether in a memorable context or one we would rather forget, we remember it as adults. Teachers quote it, encouraging kids to treat each other fairly, husbands and wives bring it to mind, reminding each other to love the way they desire to be loved, or business partners treat each other well, so that the favor might be returned. We refer to this verse as “the Golden rule” and we have worked hard to keep it.

This past week, I was on my way to a teacher’s conference in Kelowna with colleagues of mine. Just before we were to reach the toll booth on the Coquihalla, the engine gave up, and we coasted to a stop on the side of the cold, dark, road. Stranded, realizing we would not make it to the conference, our driver began to do everything in her power to make things right, waving for cars to pull over and offer assistance, making cell phone calls for a tow truck and apologizing repeatedly that our destination would not be reached. Our only destination was back to Vancouver in the cab of the truck.

As I sat in the warm truck, a question began to form in my mind. As teachers, don’t we give kids grace when they make a mistake? When we do the same, whether we have control over the situation or not, shouldn’t we give ourselves the same grace? At my school, we work hard to teach the next generation to obey the golden rule. But we forget the silver lining in it. If we personalize it for ourselves, it asks us to “Do to yourself as you would do to others.” What would this look like?

Two verses in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians focus directly on our responsibilities towards each other and ourselves. My paraphrase of Ephesians 4:31-32 goes a little bit like this.

“Forgive your friends, enemies and yourself because in Christ, God has already forgiven you. All bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and all forms of malice are history. Therefore, be kind and compassionate to one another.” Isn’t it better this way?

The effect of being forgiven is amazing. Like removing a huge weight from around our shoulders, the feeling of forgiveness is certainly underrated. We all agree that we should do it more often, but forgiving ourselves is and always will be difficult in a society that demands perfection of its members. What makes it worse is that we demand perfection of ourselves. Therefore, Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll's (see Insight for Living) hypothesis that, “we are the last to forgive ourselves” makes sense.

But if we remember the silver rule we may find forgiving our friends, enemies and especially ourselves much easier.

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1st John 1:7-9