Friday, November 25, 2011

On the Road of Life

I just returned from a short trip to a cold place that shall not be named.
This road trip began like countless ones we embarked on before. The sun was shining and the roads were clear and dry.

Although I was driving through one of the most scenic places on earth, I was actually looking forward to the end of this 1200 km journey. We had packed well for the trip; we had everything we needed for any emergency. We packed in 24 bottles of water, snacks and food to keep me going for 24 hours, an emergency kit, and a shovel in case we needed to dig ourselves out.
Upon arrival at our destination, we went up to the front desk and were greeted by the hotel manager who instinctively knew our names. I had a bad feel about the situation. It’s never a good thing when the manager comes out to personally greet you. True to my gut feeling, we were told they had oversold and rebooked us at a different hotel. My old nature, wearied by the 12 hour drive, wanted to react but we gave him grace to make amends, which he did. They paid for our hotel room that night and cut other fees and taxes so we ended up saving a bit of money.

“Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.” Anonymous

I’ve learned that if things don’t turn out the way you’ve planned it, God always turn things around to suit His superior plan.

As we slept that night, a storm blew in and dumped a foot of snow in the minus 23 degree weather.
The next morning we had to get up earlier than we planned on and managed to get to my daughter’s convocation with five minutes to spare.
The rest of the time there was uneventful but I was ever conscious of His presence and favour.

Our return trip started with great promise of a smooth ride home, at least for the first three hours. Half an hour into the next leg of the journey, I hit the perfect storm; below zero conditions, blowing winds and snow made for total white-out conditions. Within half an hour, my rear windscreen was covered with 6 inches of snow rendering my wiper immobile. As I ploughed through a foot of snow on the highway, I attempted to stay on the road by following the wheels tracks of the car that was 20 feet ahead (I hope) and almost invisible to me. Every time an oncoming semi-truck would pass us, we would be blind for up to 3- 5 seconds. The worst scenario was when we would pass on a narrow bridge, with inches on either side.

It took us three hours to cover a short stretch of the highway, but I was so thankful and relieved when we finally made it out of the storm and into the next town.
The next 3 hours was smooth driving through compact snow conditions, but we had to face another storm in the last segment of our journey home.
It was so bad that that highway was closed a few hours after we arrived home! It was still close two days after! Phew!

By the time I got out of the last mountain pass, I had to make one last pit stop at the gas station. I had to get out of my car to stretch and celebrate, get out of my sweat-soaked jacket, and thank God for seeing us through this hazardous segment in our journey of life.

A day after the journey home, I read in the papers about two guys who lost their lives in this same storm system because they crossed the center median and crashed head on into a semi-truck. That could have been us!

“The Road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams Jr.
Thanks to my faithful congregation that were praying for us during this trip!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Psalm 45 - A Good Theme

My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

I’ve never really heard it put this way before; “heart overflowing with a good theme.” If someone could decipher the contents of your heart, what kind of book would it be? It your heart was a musical symphony, what genre of music would it play. Would it be a recurring theme of low notes; a novel full of tragedies, or would it be an upbeat version of “What a wonderful world?” Whatever you “say to yourself” in your heart will express itself cogently to others through your countenance or callous words

The reality of life is this; whatever is in your heart inevitably and eventually works its way to your lips. God, please give me a heart that is refreshed, renewed and full of your sunshine; let it always have a good theme. Amen!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Psalm 42 - Make like a Deer

This year I discovered a quaint little seaside town in Washington State called Ocean Shores. As the name connotes, it is a seaside holiday town with a unique feature; deer that wander freely through the homes and the town.
It’s been sometime since I last spotted a deer in the wild and so this was a treat for me as I was there for the surf and sand. Actually we were there at the invitation of my precious grand-daughter.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “where is your God?”

Life can be pretty draining, especially when you are in my line of work. To ensure that I don’t burn out, I have to “make like a deer” at times. There are many things that drain me so I have to consciously seek out activities that “fill me up.”
Before I get any super spiritual advice on how God is all you need; I must say that while it is vitally important for us to maintain an intimate and current relationship with the Lord, it is essential that we take time out to refresh our soul. I find that nature appeals to my senses more than even music or other activities.

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
There is a season for everything in life. While corporate celebration is exhilarating and passionate; it can also be tiring, hence the need to steal away to be quiet in His presence.
High praise is powerful but quiet contemplation allows God to penetrate the soul into the depths of our heart.
Both are needed if we are to have a balanced walk and a healthy soul!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


What is six inches long and can cut down a man six feet tall ?
If you answered “the tongue,” you probably are suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder because of some verbal lashing from someone in the near past.
I said, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.”
I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; and my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue: “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapour. Selah

We know it is Christian thing to be kind with our words however, we also need to be wise when to speak, and with whom we speak to.
Just as our careless tongue could “slay” another, we could also become a victim if we simply open our hearts up to the wrong people.
Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish.
I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it. Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, you make his beauty melt away like a moth; surely every man is vapour. Selah
Be very careful what we say when bad things happen; hold back any quick judgement or attempt to place blame. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because God has a good plan that we are unaware of.

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Psalm 36 – Silver Lining

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with plenty of watersheds, literally, a “land of many waters.” Oceans, mountains, rivers and clouds provide the right mix to create a perfect system for rain and lush vegetation. In that sense, we are a blessed people although we sometimes complain about the over abundance of this watery treasure. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights.
In recent years, studies have highlighted the alarming depletion of the ozone layer covering the earth. Now more than ever, we have become aware of the protection of this unseen umbrella that protects us from the Ultra Violet rays of the sun.
Oh that humanity would similarly realize the need to come under the invisible but impregnable shelter that our God provides for our vulnerable soul!

For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.
Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again.
Drink deep and drink daily from the Fountain of life!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Psalm 37 – The High Road

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Of late our local newspaper headlines have been filled with the criminal actions of gangsters who terrorist entire cities with their random gunfights, and the anaemic justice system that seems powerless to punish the guilty. In various major cities, riots have broken out with thousands who loot, rampage and beat up innocent citizens resulting in deaths, destruction and massive property damage. In many cases, these hoodlums and lawless ones will get off without punishment.
It almost seems like the legal systems in our land was written to protect the rights of the guilty at the expense of the innocent. Often when I read about this, it gets me all riled up and mad. Complaining about injustice and unfairness in life only serves to foul ones spirit and does not change anything.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

It is true that Edmund Burke once said that; “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Some have suggested vigilante justice as a corrective response to this evil tide that threatens our society.
We can actually do something positive by taking the high road, which is to do good, instead of succumb to the same angry attitude of out-of-control rioters.
The Bible reminds us that we are “light” and “salt”, not fuel for the anger that burns in many hearts. It does no one any good for everyone to be walking around in frustration and anger.
The Psalmist actually points out that these evildoers shall reap what they now sow; “for they shall soon be cut down like grass, and wither as the green herb.”

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Divine distraction is what the Psalmist prescribed for a perturbed heart.
There can only be one outcome when one stands in the presence of God – you go away transformed, infected with his Glory, affected by his love.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PSALM 34 - God is Good

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Looking back at the last fifty-some years, I can’t help but be thankful for all that God has been to me. Through good and bad times, He’s always been there! One of the consistent patterns is that blessings always seem to follow trials. I don’t know if it’s because we always ask Him for some pampering after each punishing test, or it’s just God’s way of showing us the light at the end of the tunnel so we have something good to hope for. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.
I took a trip back to my birthplace again this year; visited some haunts as well as spying out some places we’ve never been. It’s strange how tourists seem to see more of a place than those who are born and live there!

While new places inspire me and broaden my horizons, old places bring back memories of God’s goodness and grace. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Some of them look good to eat but others seem non edible and even repulsive. Yet one taste test and you are hooked for life!
I’ve tasted God’s goodness and I’m never the same again; no turning back; I’m following Him all the days of my life.

Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.

We came to Canada as poor missionaries, but yet my children got to see things and visit places that their richer cousins only dream of. God blessed them with private school education and both girls graduated from a top university with no student loans. I now live in a nice home, in the most beautiful city in the world. Both cars are totally paid off, no credit card debt, God has been good!
By any measurement of success, we’ve made it. Not through my own merits or wisdom, but by the providence of God.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Psalm 34 - Maestro Me

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the LORD with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.

What makes humans so distinct a species is our ability to enjoy a wide variety of experiences in life. Our ability to create coupled with our unique craving for our senses to be gratified makes life pleasurable and gratifying. Most of us appreciate music in one genre or another. We marvel at the master pianist who can let their fingers glide up and down the 66 keys at will; we stand in awe at the violinist whose touch can make create the right vibrato on a string.
More than the awe and marvel at man’s musical abilities, is the mind-blowing knowledge that the God who created it all takes pleasure in my off- beat, sometimes off tune rendering of worship!

For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Psalm 31 – Our Rock

In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defence to save me.
In this troubled world and these uncertain times, fortunes disappear over-night, riots break out in major cities, families fall apart and uncertainty is the order of the day.
Without a rock and strong foundation; no one can endure the strong winds of adversity that are threatening your earthly foundations.

It is in times like this that one is forced to look beyond this flimsy facade of material possessions and technological wizardry to find some sure footing and hope for tomorrow.
Those who have attempted to look within themselves for inner strength have realized the bankruptcy of the soul and the need to perhaps look upward for a more lasting resource – the One who spoke in being the foundations of this world.

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me. Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
What is the one thing you hold onto when everything around you falls apart?
Is there one person in your life that you can run to when you need a shoulder to cry on?
I’m thankful to have found Christ in an early age and I’m grateful for my family and friends that I can depend on.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; -I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies’ sake. Do not let me be ashamed, O LORD, for I have called upon You; let the wicked be ashamed; let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!
You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city! For I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You.
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.