God Provides Oases – Part 1

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Have you been in that place where you say to God, “Enough Lord!  I don’t think I can take any more of this?”  You feel like the hard-road journey you are on is never going to end.  It can take many forms: financial pressures, bad relationships, chronic health issues, or any number of other stressors that seem to be an endless painful journey.

Now normally I do not like to pass on silly sayings, but it is kind of cute when someone says, “Do you know what are the most encouraging words in Scripture?  They are, ‘And it came to pass.’  That means that bad times will not stay with us; they come, and then they will pass on by.'”  I wish it were that easy to say that if we just wait a short while, everything will get better.  In fact, things may stay bad, or even get worse, for a much longer period of time.

But don’t let this get you super discouraged or depressed, for even during the worst periods of our lives there will be moments of great joy and periods of relief from the things that press down on us.  Our author that we are following, Mark Atteberry, who wrote “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“, has some wise words to say, and then gives us some very good points to talk about in Chapter 8.

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Consider this quote on page 99:

Maybe you’re just getting started on your hard road and you’re deeply discouraged.  Perhaps your first steps have been agonizingly difficult and you feel you’re not going to be able to endure.  Well, cheer up!  Every desert has some oases, and sooner or later you’re going to come to one.  It’s true!  Even on the hardest roads, there are wonderful pleasures to be found.

Atteberry goes on in the rest of this chapter to explain that there are at least four excellent sources from which we can draw upon and be refreshed.  I will reflect on two of these sources in this article, and then two weeks from now I will reflect on the other two sources of encouragement and spiritual refreshment.

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1.  “Refreshing Seasons”.  It is very normal for most people to talk about the weather.  Even if the person is a complete stranger, it is not unusual to make casual comments like “Looks like it’s going to rain again,” or to say, “Man, it sure is cold today!  I just about froze my fingers off walking out there today!”  And if after a long period of such bad weather we finally get a good change, like the sun shining  in the midst of a clear blue sky, or a warm wind coming to break the cold spell, then we feel such a sense of relief.  Even if it is only for one day, that good weather is enough to help us go forward and to continue enduring the bad weather.

I think it was kind of like that when our older boy, Eric, went through his cancer journey.  That first year of the aggressive drugs he took to battle against the leukemia seemed to stretch on forever for us.  Week after week he endured his chemotherapy, and there were a few times when we were very worried for him, and with good reason.  We did make it to the end of the aggressive year, and continued on with other regular but milder drugs for another 18 months.

It certainly was a difficult road for every one in the family.  But God was good, and He provided some wonderful refreshing moments throughout the 30 months of treatment.  Eric was chosen as a cancer “spokes’ kid” for one year and had a blast meeting famous athletes, radio announcers and got a special private dress rehearsal concert with his favorite Christian rock band.  These islands of pleasurable and memorable experiences made the hard-road journey more bearable for all of us.  Thank you God.

2.  “Refreshing Servants”.  There is a little spot in northern Ontario (Canada) that may not be on every road map, but one spot that Jill and I will never forget.  It’s called Agawa Bay.  I mentioned in another article about how sick I was in Ontario in 1989, and this prompted us to leave Toronto in January to pull a U-haul 3,300 kilometers across Canada while Jill was 6 months pregnant and I was lying on a mattress in the back of our station wagon.  (Read that story here.)

When we got to Agawa Bay, after fighting our way through a Canadian blizzard and snow squall conditions, we stopped to get a bite to eat and to gas up as there would be no more restaurant or gas station for at least 150 more miles.  We went to start the car, and the battery was dead.  But even if we could go, the Mounted Police just put up a barricade to stop traffic from entering deeper into the forest wilderness of northern Ontario.

So what were we to do in this little place that had only a restaurant, a gas station and garage, and a couple of houses for staff to sleep in.  And a dead car.  We needed a miracle, and He sent us a refreshing “servant-hearted man”.  The car mechanic on duty heard about our dead car, and that the road was closed.  So he helped us push the car into the garage and hoisted it up and started working on it.

He figured that with the roads closed and nowhere to go, he might at well make himself useful.  So through half the night he fixed our battery engine problem and also found that our timing belt at the back of the engine was actually half chewed through and worn down.  If we had continued past Agawa Gay, there would have been a good chance we would have broken down literally in the middle of nowhere.

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So what is the point of these two stories?  Namely this:  life is full of difficulties that can seem endless and may go from bad to worse.  But if we have the eyes to see it and discern it, we will often notice how God actually was there with us through the difficulties and in one way or another, He provided a short season or a person with a servant heart to bless us and to give us refreshment so that we can carry on down our hard-road journey.

Holy Spirit Enabled Missionary

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God And My Muscle Disease – Part 2

In the last article, I wrote out some of the history of this family inherited genetic disease called MELAS 3243, which falls under the general heading of being a Mitochondrial Myopathy.  In simple terms, this means that the mitochondria (the energy production part within all of our cells) do not function properly for me.  My muscles produce limited amounts of energy each day, so I constantly battle with fatigue which can happen quite fast, depending on the level of activity I am engaged in.  Along with this, I battle constant pain which increases with activity and when I fatigue.

This can be quite challenging at times and can greatly affect me at the most inconvenient times.  I recall the time when we went as a family to the church’s Christmas Eve service.  I had been moderately active during the day (getting presents wrapped), and there was certainly more excitement in the air as our family of five engaged in our annual fun time of cooking sugar cookies and decorated them with different food-colored icing .  I had my nap, then we drove slowly through neighborhoods to see the Christmas light decorations and ended up at our church for the 11 p.m. service.

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The service was beautiful with some Christmas carol singing, a short message, and then a time of silent reflection on the birth of Christ.  Now a strange-funny kind of thing about my disease.  It doesn’t just affect my muscles, but an emotional moment (whether bad or good) can also drain my energy.  So when it was time to leave, a family member had to push me uphill to get out of the auditorium.  I started to go slowly across the foyer on my arm crutches thinking I could make it to the car outside.

But then a friend stopped me to say hello and wish me a Merry Christmas.  Well, what little energy I had left was used up in that short 5-minute visit.  Suddenly my friend asked me, “Do you need to sit down?”  She saw me going white and starting to wobble.  I nodded yes and she ran and got a chair behind me just as I collapsed into the chair.  Thankfully I have never yet actually fallen, but there have been some close calls as I can deplete my energy so quickly, sometimes within as short as 15 minutes.

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Now consider what I have just written, and then consider what God has been able to do through me in these past three years.  During these three years that I have now lived with this disease, God allowed me the privilege to travel five times over to Papua New Guinea to be able to continue doing Bible translation checking.  And each trip we’ve taken, we extend it a little longer, to see how my body will do.  I went from four or five-week trips to a seven week trip, and this past Feb/March it was a nine week trip.

Admittedly, it is very hard on me to travel half way around the world.  But God has set up a great routine for me.  I fly to Los Angeles and take a day room at a Sheraton hotel to sleep 4-5 hours before going back to the airport to catch the midnight flight to Brisbane, Australia.  In Brisbane, I taxi to a family run motel and the couple know me so well, they take me straight to the handicapped room.  They have a small kitchen behind the office and when I wake up later, they cook a home-made meal for me.  Then in Port Moresby, PNG, I stay in a mission guesthouse who also have great staff who take care of my every need.  And throughout every airport, I get fantastic wheelchair assistance.  Thank you God!!!

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Now three exciting things have happened recently.  This last January I helped lead a week-long orientation class for our mission on a college campus in California.  Going from -40 C (also 40 below zero in F.) to a balmy +10 C (+50 F.) prompted me to ask my US mission colleague if he thought there might be any work for me to do if I was to say, come down to the Dallas office area during the cooler Fall and early Winter time.  One week later, I got a call telling me that at least two departments were fighting over me and asking how soon I could come to Dallas.  (I have my ticket and will be leaving Aug. 9 until Christmas to help with training and mentoring new missionary recruits for our mission.)

Secondly, at the end of this last trip to PNG, I told the Directors that the trip was very successful as I was able to finish checking 5 New Testament books for 3 different language groups.  So now we are lining up at least three, maybe four projects for me to check during the Jan-April period.  This will allow me to get completely out of Canada’s winter months, which is wonderful, considering that the colder it is, the more pain I am in, but the more hot and humid it is, the less pain and muscle cramping I experience.

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But then a third ministry option was offered to me as well.  We have a team of nationals in a Southeast Asia country, plus a veteran missionary who lives in the States for most of the year, all of whom are very computer savvy, and are able to send all their files and notes electronically to me so that I can check them while living remotely anywhere in North America.  I was told that when we finish checking and then publish the NT in this common speech (Plain Text) trade language, we will have the potential to impact the lives of over 200 million people with a text that they can read and understand in their hearts.

So what am I saying at the end of these two articles that started with my disease and end with looking at all the ministry work God is placing in front of me to do.  Well, let me summarize it all in two sentences.  In the last two years, I was operating as a part-time disabled Missionary.  But now, by the grace of God, I am going forward by faith to operate as a full-time Holy Spirit enabled Missionary.

Thank you Jesus!  It is only through Your grace that all of this has been made possible.       To You belongs all the glory.


God And My Muscle Disease – Part 1

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After hinting at or mentioning my muscle disease in quite a few of my articles, I think I should finally sit down and explain in more detail what exactly this disease is, how it affects me, and where I think God is in the midst of all this.  As you read this story, please do not think that I know all that can be known medically about this disease.  Also, please do not think that I “have it all figured out” or that I am some kind of super-Christian who has overcome this and “walks in victory” every day.

The story starts back in the 70’s when my sister Lorna showed signs of weakness and fatigue as she went through puberty.  I still remember how as a teenager that she could not throw very far, nor run very fast, nor lift heavy items.  She got worse in her 20’s and found that she could not accomplish daily tasks like grocery shopping and doing the laundry.  After a string of illnesses, Lorna went down to Jamaica to join her husband who was trying to find work there.  She did well in the warmer climate, but reacted to aloe juices that she prepared herself.  She ended up in hospital with lung congestion which led to pneumonia, and her weakened heart finally gave out and she died at age 33.

Back to the 70’s, a neurologist tried very hard to find out what was wrong with Lorna.  My recollection was that they thought she had some kind of muscular dystrophy.  They decided to do a muscle biopsy on some of the family members which ended up including my sister and me, my mother and my grandmother.  With their limited genetic knowledge back then, they saw something a bit odd in my grandmother’s cells, something more in my mother’s cells, and a lot more in my sister’s cells.  My biopsy showed I had a little bit of something else odd, but they decided then that this was just a female to female inherited disease.

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Now jump ahead 30 years to March of 2008.  I had just returned back from Papua New Guinea after doing some Bible translation consultant checking work.  I had literally been running through airports in February and worked many 14 hour days with the men.  But in March, I began to ache in various places all over my lower body, and somewhat in upper limbs.  After just being home for six weeks, these aches and pains increased to where I was unable to walk across my living room floor.  Definitely time to see the doctor.

Well, one test led to many more tests, and they ran through all kinds of possible diagnoses from osteoarthritis to fibromyalgia to arthritic rheumatism.  Finally a neurologist (who happened to be the same neurologist my sister had seen 30 years previously) suggested that I might have the same disease that my sister had and wanted me to see a genetic specialist.  I did that, and he had similar thoughts on this and ordered for me to have a muscle biopsy.

The results of the biopsy came back in November of 2008.  My geneticist said that the results showed with 100% certainty that I had a mutation on one of the genes within the DNA of my mitochondria.  The umbrella name which my disease comes under is called Mitochondrial Myopathy.  Put in simple terms, mitochondria is the energy production part of your cell and is in all the cells of your body, but mine now do not work properly and so I cannot produce a normal amount of energy for my body like others.

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The technical name for the disease is MELAS 3243.  The letters are an abbreviation from “Mitochondrial Myopathy (muscle weakness), Encephalopathy (brain and central nervous system disease), Lactic Acidosis (buildup of a cell waste product), and Stroke-like Episodes (partial paralysis, partial vision loss, or other neurological abnormalities)”.  (Taken from Mitochondrial Disease Foundation website.)

Now not to panic anyone, although I may be susceptible to all of the above disease manifestation symptoms, it does not mean that I will actually experience them all.  In fact, I am probably mostly dealing with the fatigue and pain that comes from the lactic acid build up in my muscles.  (Imagine a marathon runner whose muscles are all cramped up and it looks like he is going to collapse due to exhaustion just before the finish line.  That is very similar to what I experience every day.)

So this disease has placed some severe limitations on my life.  On a very good day, I may be able to walk as far as 12 to 15 city blocks.  But due to pain, or fatigue, or both, on most days I can only walk about 2-3 blocks and I can only do this much if I am using my 4-wheel walker and go at a very slow pace.  And at home, I have to sit most of the day in a recliner chair to keep my legs up in a comfortable position.

There are in still many activities that I can do such as drive a car, help with the dishes, go to a restaurant or a movie theater.  But in most of these activities that are outside of the house, I have to use some kind of equipment to help me (walker, arm-clasp crutches or a telescoping walking pole).  I have in fact been labeled as “disabled” by my doctor and by the government which has provided a small disability pension.

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And where has God been in all of this you ask?  He has in fact been much more gracious to me than you might first imagine.  Three things come quickly to mind for me.  First, this disease which normally shows up in your teen years, did not show up in me until I was 47.  God gave me an extra 30 years of good health.  And we were not living overseas when this first started (I could have been crippled in Africa).  And in spite of the huge physical challenges I face each day, God has still allowed me to serve overseas on short mission trips to continue doing translation consultant work.

I want to say a lot more about how God is still working in and through my life, but I am going to leave that for the next article.  This is part one of the story.  Join me in a couple of days to read the rest of the story.

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Remember the Good Moments

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Who Am I?  Part 15

Two weeks ago I made brief comments about how God provided for our needs, even if the situation was less than ideal.  One thing is for sure, God did take us out of a bad situation and He did provide a new setting where we could be a family and be active in ministry.  (You can read about the last chapter of my life story by clicking here.)

Unfortunately, it did not last a long time.  From the time I was interviewed until the time I left for Prince Edward Island driving another U-Haul truck was just less than two years.  On the one hand, I could say that it was a good thing, as moving to PEI ultimately led me to discover and join Pioneer Bible Translators.  On the other hand, I can look back with regret and consider this church experience as the next one of my great failures.

And yet, even as I say that, I know that neither statement is completely true nor completely false.  As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.  I do know that at the one year mark there was a Board meeting to decide if they would keep me on as the minister for another year.  The vote was “yes”, but it was not a majority vote.  Nine months later, I decided that this was not the place for me to stay.  So what really happened?

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The history of the church is a bit fuzzy now for me after all these years.  I can tell you that this church was built in the mid 1800s and was the first church of our movement to be built this far west in Canada (Manitoba was considered “Pioneer Country” at that time).  The stone work and the wood crafting was phenomenal, and it had an overarching balcony over the main sanctuary that allowed for a capacity of over 250 people.  It was considered a grand church in its day.

There had been some great preachers there over the years, but as is the case for most small towns, the number of attending members continued to decline over time.  By the time I came for my interview, the church had an average attendance of 25 people.  It was rather sad to see such a grand hall be so empty looking, not just during the week, but even on a Sunday morning.

When I was interviewed by the Search Committee, I expressed my desire to come and be a Preacher / Church Growth Evangelist.  It was very evident that the members of the committee were quite excited about this prospect.  They recommended me to the church at large, I preached on Sunday, and then flew back to Alberta to await their decision.  It came back within a few days – they voted unanimously to hire me.

And so in December of 1990, we arrived and stayed in one member’s house while they did the finishing touches to remodel the suite that took up most of the church balcony.  One month later, our second son Glen was born and we moved soon after that into the suite.  There is no doubt in my mind that Glen’s birth and then living as a foursome in the small but quaint balcony suite were the most positive aspects of life for us at that time.

It didn’t take long though to see that the energies I was attempting to pour into revitalizing the church were meeting some opposition within the small group.  Of the few families that were left, there was one “clan” still there who had some powerful people, at least in terms of their opinions.  I came to realize the truth of a saying that one of our Bible College teachers used to say, “The young are out to change the world; the old are out to change the young.”

Interestingly enough, it was the middle-aged clan members who showed resistance to trying new ideas and welcoming new people as I worked at growing the church.  In fact, the hand full of old singles ladies and I got along very well.  I recall with great fondness how I would hold my mid-week Bible studies, working our way from Genesis to Revelation, and it was the same 4 or 5 old ladies who would come out and catch my vision and passion for teaching God’s Word.

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I believe it was when I moved the piano to the side and introduced some choruses while playing my guitar that was the beginning of the end for me there.  The “power players” resigned from helping with worship, and the older people were not able to lead or assist.  And so I was left alone in that ministry.  Jill saw the end coming, and hung on with me for a number of months more.  It ended up that she moved with the kids first to PEI while I stayed to end my 2-year commitment to them.

In between the beginning and the end though, I do remember the family moments we had there.  And there were some young couples that we really bonded to while there.  And certainly our “Old Ladies Bible Study” held precious moments, and I still use some of those materials today.  I haven’t mentioned about the outreach I had with a friend in town for a year to young people at a  Christian drop-in center.  Some of those young people gave their lives to Christ.  How precious is that?

And so I have a choice.  I can remember this 2-year experience as one of my great failures, where not only did the church not grow, but a few years later had to close its doors.  Or I can remember the special intimate times I had with family, and with dear old saints, and with brand new young Christians.  So you tell me, what really happened there?  I may not have built up the church building in that town, but I do believe I helped build the Kingdom of God in the hearts of those people who mattered most to me.  That is what I will remember most.

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Remembering The Works of God

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What Are You Remembering?

Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people—where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them… Isaiah 63:11

“Recalled” is a powerful word. Especially in this situation, the recollection of what God had done in the past led to a revival among the Lord’s people. It is so easy to forget the amazing works of God. That’s never more true than when we get caught up in our own desires and ways. Forging ahead in our self-centeredness and sin, we forget all God has done in the past. So it was with the nation of Judah in Isaiah’s day.

Now, however, God stepped in to punish their sin. Disaster ruled the day. The presence of God seemed far away. Sin didn’t seem so fun. Bit by bit, they began to remember that things used to be different. There was a time when God had led them through the godly leadership of Moses. There was a time when the Holy Spirit was present and made a real difference in their lives as individuals and as a nation.

Remembering past moves of God can be powerful. It can stir us to repentance and longing for a renewed sense of the presence of God. What are you remembering today?

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Father, thank You for the gift of memory, and for stories that have been passed down through the generations about the ways You have moved in the midst of Your people. Thank You for stories of revival from the Great Awakening in the United States and beyond. Lord, would You use those stories to stir within our hearts a desire for similar awakenings? Help us, Lord, to remind each other of Your work in days past, and of our great need today. May we recall those things that You would have us meditate on and pray over.

–adapted from HeartCry for Revival devotional 2011 by David Butts, author of Asleep in the Land of Nod (Thirty Days of Prayer Toward Awakening the Church)

The devotional thought above comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

Posted: 16 July 2011

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I must agree with my friend, David Butts.  It is so easy to get all wrapped up in the events and the affairs of our daily lives that we forget about God.  It seems to me that the older I am getting, the more complicated my life has become, and the more distant God seems to be from me at times.  But of course, the real truth is that God has not moved away from me, as much as I have moved away from God.

The second thing that I agree with is that it is good to remember.  In fact, as we get older, our lives get replayed more and more in our minds and in our conversations.  We often say, “Do you remember….”  Our lives are like a super long highway.  It stretches from a dim past (our infancy) to a distant future (when our life will reach an end) and it contains innumerable check points or posts that mark interesting and significant events.  The closer we are to the end of our road, the more memory signposts that have been erected.

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Many of these signposts mark events that we have accomplished or experienced by ourselves.  Such as the day we hit a home run in our neighborhood ball game, or when we graduated from high school, or we experienced our first kiss, or had an employer say they were proud of our work.  But there are also many signposts that have been planted in our lives by the very hand of God Himself.

My life was spared when I didn’t drown as an infant, or when I landed on a flat spot after falling off a mountain cliff, and when I was held up at knife point by a mugger.  And God spoke to me through a song at a Youth Conference and began melting my heart.  He smiled on me and filled me with His Spirit when I was baptized.  And he empowered me to fight off the demon within a prostitute who stood in my way, and used me to cast out an evil spirit from someone who was demon-possessed.

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As I remember these kinds of incredible experiences, I do realize that many of these events took place while I was much younger, in my teens up through age 30ish.  Now I am over 50, and I feel more tired and worn out some days, and it is not just because of my muscle disease.  Life simply seems to wear us all down.

And yet, I think we should try to resist this.  Has God changed?  No, of course not.  It is said of Jesus, who is just as much God as the Father is, that He does not change; He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8).  Therefore, we should expect that the God who impressed us with His holiness, amazed us with His acts of power, and infused us with such joy and His overwhelming love when we were young ought to still be able to do that in us today when we are much older.

And for the most part, I think I am still in that same space.  I love to think back and remember what it was like stepping out in faith and going for the first times as a young missionary to different countries of the world.  I will soon be 51, and to be honest, I still get excited when I tell people that I am about to head out on another mission trip somewhere.  I’m getting older in body, but am still that small child who in faith has trusted God so many times to take care of me.  I now extend that to be me and my family.  And you know what?  I am sure that I won’t be disappointed.

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Strong And Secure For God

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Some Advice For My Son

I have two sons.  And I am very proud of both of them.  Against many odds, they are outstanding young men of God.  It breaks my heart when I hear stories of preachers’ kids and missionaries’ kids who turn their back on the Lord when they become an adult.  As a missionary family, we have taken our two sons, Eric and Glen, literally around the world a few times.  In the midst of constant change, two things have remained strong:  their love for each other in the family, and their love and commitment to God.

There are so many things I could share about my boys, and with their permission perhaps I will in the future.  But today I want to tell you what is in my heart to share with my younger son Glen.  He has been interested in the military for quite some time, and in the last two years he has very much wanted to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a soldier.  Three weeks ago he got an interview and passed the medical exam.  They say they will call him up as soon as there is a position for him.

Naturally, as his parents, we are worried and concerned about what might happen to him while he is a soldier.  He may get killed.  As Christians though, we know death only leads to a better eternal life.  So we worry more about him being severely injured or psychologically scarred from his time in the military.  You can be sure that we will be praying for him every day to be physically and mentally well.

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There is one other area that is a concern to me, and that is how he will do spiritually.  When I first asked him why he wanted to join the military, he said he believed that was God’s will for him.  “Good,” I said, “but tell me why else you would join.”  And he amazed me with his answers.  First of all, he told me that someone needs to help defend the defenseless peoples of the world.  Wow, I thought.  That sounds just like what a missionary would say.

Then he went on to talk about being patriotic to his country, and the appeal of the Army being a place of camaraderie and a lifestyle rather than a job.  “And what about the lifestyles of some of the people in the military?” I asked.  “Will you be able to handle their language and their behaviors which certainly do not speak of very high moral qualities?”  And his response to me was, “But who is going to tell them about God?”  Wow, I thought.  Good point.

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And so here I am, thinking about our little boy going off to the Army.  (Even though Glen in 6′ 3″ he is still our ‘little boy’.)  I’ve thought a lot about what I would want to say to him as a good “word of advice” to him before he leaves home.  And what came to me was a quote that comes out of “The Lord of the Rings“.  Worried about the “Ring of Power”, Gandalf comes back and asks Frodo, “Is it secret?  Is it safe?”

So I’ve decided that with regards to his faith in God, I will ask Glen in coming years this question, “Is it strong?  Is it secure?”  My prayer and my hope is that Glen’s faith in God will always be strong and secure.  (Oh, and by the way, biblically speaking, ‘Christian hope’ is not just wishful thinking but is defined as “expectation with certainty”.

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To provide an image of what I hope for Glen, I am thinking of three kinds of trees in Papua New Guinea.  The first one is the bamboo tree.  It grows very tall and in large groves that have hundreds of them.  They are very secure because of their interconnected root systems and sheer number of them in a grove.  But hit one of them with a blunt force and it can shatter to pieces.

The second one is a coconut tree.  It’s trunk is thick at the base and feels as tough as iron when you hit it.  It is very strong.  But they can grow by themselves, and though they spread their roots very widely, there is very shallow soil there and they don’t grow deeply.  A terrific gust of wind has often literally blown over a coconut tree.

But there is one more tree (which I’m afraid I don’t know the name of) which is thick, tall, strong, has highly interlaced root systems, and has one more amazing aspect to it.  It grows fin-like supports at the base of the tree which make it just about impossible to knock down.  And the tree is so tough, that we had to drill holes in it before using nails or we would bend the nails.

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So I am going to tell Glen not to blend in too much with the rest of the men (like a bamboo grove) and think that he can still be strong in his faith.  No, he needs to still be involved in a Christian environment and attend local churches and try to find a Bible study group.  Even just making sure he has one other Army buddy who is a Christian.  As they say, “glowing embers burn brightly when put together, but take one out, and it will fizzle out and die.”

And then on the other side, I don’t want Glen to try to stand up by himself (like a coconut tree) and think he will be secure in his faith.  No, he needs to dig in his spiritual roots deeply by praying regularly and reading the Bible as often as he can.  Glen’s true security is being found “in Christ”.  There will be times he will feel alone, but I will remind him that God is always there, and he will never be alone as long as he abides with God.

“And so son, I love you.  And I am ready for you to be God’s man in the Canadian Army.           Go get ’em soldier.”     Love Dad

Walk With God – Part 2

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Go At God’s Pace – Part 2

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how wonderful it must have been for some of the earliest mentioned people in Scripture to be able to walk with God.  I can just about imagine how awestruck and cautious these people would have been in the presence of the Almighty.  There would have been no need to rush around and be busy doing something, for the most important thing that mattered was to simply “be”, to be with God and experience His glory and majesty, and simply exist in a pure and loving relationship with God.

Oh, that would have been glorious to walk with God as Enoch did, or to talk face-to-face with God as Moses did, or to experience the dazzling glory of Christ as Peter, James and John did when Jesus was transfigured on top of the mountain.  But instead, for most of us, life seems to be a busy rat-race of existence which often seems to throw us curve balls that keep us in the valley of “hard-road” life.

It is at this point that our author, Mark Atteberry, shares some profound wisdom.  (We are going through a book study on “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.)  In an age where everything seems to be based on speed and being busy, Atteberry talks about the importance of slowing down and “walking” with God.

Our author gives us three good principles on slowing down, or as he entitled chapter seven, “Go At God’s Pace“.  This has got to be in my estimation one of the most difficult things for us as Christians to do.  Our society today is quite literally based on instant results.  Whether it is your boss demanding something to be done in a ridiculously short time (because your company, or at least your job, will be in jeopardy) or it is the fast-food-solution at the end of the day.  We have learned to live with the pressure of the “NOW”.

Instead of living like that, consider Atteberry’s first principle: Reflect on life’s lessons regarding the importance of slowing down.  We all know from our earliest school years up through into adulthood the consequences of going too fast on something and reaping bad results, even disastrous ones.  I can think of something as simple as a math test in elementary school where I rushed to beat the time of a friend of mine, but when the grades came back, I had made more mistakes than him.  I can also think of some missionary friends that thought they were ready for the field, but had not prepared themselves for life on the field.  Sad to say, they did not last very long on the mission field.

Another easy picture to bring this point home is that we all know that if we go over the speed limit we run the risk of getting a speeding ticket.  But is those four extra minutes saved really worth it?  I remember the time I was a school bus driver and at a red light I was revving my engine in fun to beat my friend in his bus.  By God’s grace I sensed in the last split second when the light went green that my friend hesitated and a huge panel truck went through the red light and could have killed me.  It’s not worth it.

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The second principle in this chapter is this: Slowing down will be easier if you remember what you have been called to do.  Atteberry quotes an excellent Scripture verse on page 90 from Micah 6:8, “This is what the Lord requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (He places the emphasis on the three italicized words.)

In this verse, it may not be too difficult to convince people in general to do the first two requirements.  Doing what is right and being kind to our neighbor, isn’t that a lot like “keeping the Ten Commandments”?  Well, yes, in part.  Following the Ten Commandments and being kind is certainly a good thing to do, and which many people do try to do, but that is not how to enter into and maintain a living relationship with God.

No, to truly have a relationship with God, we must place ourselves under His authority.  He is to be Lord of our lives.  So we should not try to run ahead of God.  At the same time, God loved us enough to let His Son die for us to provide forgiveness of our sins, and since Jesus calls us His brothers and God has adopted us to be our Father, then we are to walk with Him, beside Him.  We are not wretched slaves dragged behind God, but children who walk humbly beside Him, thankful for His love and mercy.

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The last principle in this chapter is: Slowing down will be easier if you reject the counsel of people who urge you to hurry up.  We need to be very careful when it comes to taking the advice of others or following their example.  One of our famous quotes as parents to our children when one of them did something foolish that a friend of theirs had suggested or done was to say, “And if he had jumped off a cliff, would you have done that too?”

Advice is something that is easy and cheap to give out.  But do we always take the time to weigh out the advice, or allow enough time to pass to let God get things done for us when the timing is right?  Atteberry offers us good counsel on this point, “Remember that the decision you make will probably not affect the people who are so freely offering you advice.  But it could profoundly affect you, possibly for years to come.”

And so dear friends, please take the time to slow down at least a small part of your life and humbly seek your God and allow Him the opportunity to show you the right way to come through whatever is your hard-road experience.  You will be amazed at the answers that God has in store for you.

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