Monday, May 28, 2007

Our New Wheels

After searching for a replacement Suburban for a couple of months, I decided to do some gas cost calculations. Even using the 'burb somewhat sparingly, the fuel is a killer. We thought we'd go to the local Honda dealer and see if we'd all fit in an Odyssey. We did.

This is a 2002. It's a local van, owned by an older bachelor who had it serviced very faithfully at the Edson dealer. It has a little higher kms, but it is in excellent shape (highway kms, no doubt).

For those that care about such things, the 2002 has a 240 hp v-6, a 5 speed automatic, and this one is an EX with leather. The little girls love the power sliding doors. I hope this van lasts for a good long time.

Everybody's happy, but I'm sure Garry is disgusted.

On the much more significant news front, Clint and Christel have a new baby! Go to their blog and check out the pictures of baby Hunter.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

First 10 Meme

This looked like fun, so I thought I would play along. As usual, I'm rather late, but who cares? You can visit Rebecca's site for a description of what this is (and find links to other people's lists). These are the first 10 things that came up on my iPod when I shuffled the songs:

1. Glory Be To God On High - Sovereign Grace Music, Savior
This is a Christmas Album, but I left a few songs on my Nano because I like 'em. I really dig this whole album, but some of the songs are more seasonal than others.

2. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go - Indelible Grace
I have Indelible Grace 1, 2 and 3. I'm going to get 4 some day. These hymns are great.

3. I Come Running - Valley of Vision
This is not my favorite song on this CD, but the CD is fantastic.

4. Child Training - Bruce Waltke Proverbs Messages # 12
These messages are really old. This was when Dr. Waltke was just getting started in Proverbs, which is saying something. They are very helpful for my Proverbs series, though. It is interesting comparing these to his Commentaries, which are quite recent.

5. How Can I Keep From Singing - Chris Tomlin
When we first got a Chris Tomlin CD, I put this on my iTunes. I've since decided I don't like him much. I may be doing some housekeeping soon.

6. Love Them Like Jesus - Casting Crowns
I received a gift certificate for Christmas (thanks, Ian and Sarah) and I bought this Casting Crowns CD. It was a pleasant surprise - I like it!

7. Wisdom's Inheritance - Bruce Walke # 6
See # 4 above.

8. Whate're My God Ordains is Right - Indelible Grace
A profound song. I've thought since I first heard it that it would be a good one for our congregation to learn. We haven't done it yet. Some people wouldn't get it, but it would be good to have in the mental database for times of crisis.

9. O Come and Mourn - Indelible Grace, For all the Saints
Our family thinks that this song is too bouncy for the subject matter. Having said that, it is a great song on a great series of albums.

10. John Neufeld at the Refocus 2007 Conference
John Neufeld is the pastor of Willingdon Church in Burnaby, B.C. A few of us went to this conference in April and were very glad we did. After his breakout session, I went up to John and said that I was amazed to hear a Canadian, big church pastor talk like that! I was quite impressed. May his tribe increase.

Earth, Rejoice, Our Lord is King!

I came across verses four and five of this hymn in a 1 John commentary by I.Howard Marshall. I hadn't seen this hymn before and have never heard it (the metre is 7777) but the words are worth posting. "Hell is nigh by God is nigher." That line alone would have encouraged me to post this for my Sunday hymn this week!

Earth, rejoice, our Lord is King!
Sons of men, his praises sing;
Sing ye in triumphant strains,
Jesus the Messiah reigns!

Power is all to Jesus given,
Lord of hell, and earth, and heaven,
Every knee to him shall bow;
Satan, hear, and tremble now!

Angels and archangels join,
All triumphantly combine,
All in Jesu's praise agree,
Carrying on his victory.

Though the sons of night blaspheme,
More there are with us than them;
God with us, we cannot fear;
Fear, ye fiends, for Christ is here!

Lo! to faith's enlightened sight,
All the mountain flames with light,
Hell is nigh, but God is nigher,
Circling us with hosts of fire.

Christ the Saviour is come down,
Points us to the victor's crown,
Bids us take our seats above,
More than conquerors in his love.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Not What My Hands Have Done

It's been a long time since I've posted a Sunday hymn. In fact, it's been a while since I've blogged at all. It's not that I don't have anything to say, but my church gets to hear it first - for good or ill!

I have been thinking about the love of God in light of our 1 John study on Wednesday evenings. The last lines of this hymn have been going through my mind, so I thought I'd post this hymn this week. Finding joy and satisfaction in God is not an invention of John Piper's, though I'm thankful for his emphasis on this biblical truth.

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

7 Random Things

Apparently there's a "100 random things about me" meme out there somewhere. The only one I've seen is the 7 things version. That's okay, 100 is about 93 too many.

1. I was born and raised Mennonite - Northwest Conference, to be precise. My parents left the church in about 1977, but went back to a NWC church in Vernon, B.C. for my dad's last few years. My grandpa Ezra Stauffer was a noted Bible teacher, apparently. He even has some articles in "The Mennonite Encyclopedia."
2. I was totally freaked out by "A Thief in the Night" when I saw it at church (Hillcrest Mennonite, in Grande Prairie, Alberta). So, does childhood trauma explain my current bent towards Amillennialism? Inquiring minds undoubtedly have better things to do with their time.
3. I'm wearing a funky shirt that came from Sri Lanka. My older kids think it's weird, but I don't care. I like it. It was a gift from Niluka, just today. Thanks, Niluka!
4. I bought an 8 gal., 2.5 h.p. air compressor with a bunch of tools (a Canadian Tire bundle) at our Christian school auction yesterday. I paid $110. They were offering it in a recent C.Tire flyer for $250. Should I feel guilty about this?
5. I used to be able to do weird tricks with my super-flexible hands (the only part of me that was ever particularly flexible). Now that I'm older, my hands just do normal things; they just hurt when I try to do weird things, so I don't.
6. I used to love bombing down logging roads (?!) on my mountain bike when we lived in Barriere, B.C. The rides up were lung busters, but the trip down was worth it. I came down like a maniac. I'm amazed I didn't kill myself.
7. I still get bike fever every spring, to some degree. No, not for mountain bikes (I still have one of those), but the kind with irresponsible horsepower. I've owned a 1973 Honda CB350 (the 350/4); a 1981 Suzuki 55o and a 1982 Suzuki 750E. I sold the last one in about 1991.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hide the Children!

Controversies abound:

Disclaimer: I am not making any kind of editorial statement by putting these together, but are the planets particularly out of alignment right now or something?

Disclaimer 2: I make no claim to be the next Justin Taylor (or Tim Challies), so if I have missed some controversy that is dear to you, please accept my apologies.

Transient Glory

I was watching TV the other night with the family and a hockey commercial came on featuring this picture:

I said something to the effect of, "Ah man! That's just wrong! That should have been Chris Pronger! Uhhh.... maybe ... Ryan Smith!"

I was just bugging Josh, but it reminded me that human glory is really hollow. No star players are permanent and neither Carolina or Edmonton made the post season this year.

Just so you don't think I'm more spiritual than I am, I must finish this by saying, "There's always next year!"

Too bad about Vancouver. Go Ottawa!

If not, Go Buffalo! They're almost a Canadian team.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Holy Dissatisfaction - Part II

I have thought for a long time that people – including myself – are too easily satisfied. A growing sense of how satisfying God should be in my life only amplifies that conviction.

A few weeks ago I preached on Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” In light of what satisfies me all too often, that verse haunted me the week I was preparing that sermon. What and who do I love? Where does my mind wander in my unguarded moments? Why do I get up in the morning? Where do I find the motivation for my work?

I have heard people say that they have no regrets in their lives. Oh really? They don’t regret the way their life has been lived so far? How can people say that? What were they aiming for? I regret that I haven’t been a better Christian, husband, father and pastor. I don’t lie awake at night regretting my life. I don’t want to waste time fretting about what’s past, but ongoing shortcomings and sins remind me to be dissatisfied with my present condition. Again, I strive to be content, but not satisfied with my current life before God.

Dissatisfaction in the Christian life can take a nasty turn; that’s why I’m shooting for a holy dissatisfaction. Unnecessary regret and guilt over that which Christ has forgiven is not only pointless, but destructive. Dissatisfaction with the performance of others (which is often a projection of frustration with our own performance) can lead to a critical spirit and even bitterness.

I remember with, yes, regret, my critical spirit at many times in my life. Looking back, I can see that even though I was probably right in many of my criticisms, I had the wrong spirit. I wanted to be seen as being right as an end in itself. Studying without prayer and the cultivation of satisfaction in the grace of God in the glory of Christ leads to pride. This is what the Apostle Paul meant by “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

A holy dissatisfaction does tend project itself to others, but if it is from God, then it is a longing for others to value the right things, namely God Himself. Wanting company in the enjoyment of the good, beautiful and the true is a good thing. It is like the longing I had to share the beauty of Vancouver with my wife a couple of weeks ago (sorry to rub it in, Juanita).

When I’m singing a song in church that is wishy-washy – at best – I tend to find myself thinking, “There are so many wonderful songs we could be singing” rather than, “What a stupid song” (unless it’s really bad!). I hope this is a sign of maturity.

When I write about these things, I feel like a little kid because I’m such a short way down this road of finding satisfaction in God rather than created things. It’s a little embarrassing.

I started thinking about this dissatisfaction because of some John Piper messages I heard at the Refocus Conference a couple weeks ago. Listening to John Piper preach makes me feel small – at least until I listen for a while. At some point along the way, John Piper starts to look small and Jesus looks really, really big. The size of people and created things becomes dim and virtually irrelevant in the light of His glory. A holy dissatisfaction brings God-focused perspective to life.

I’m going to wrap up with a classic C.S. Lewis quote that I am beginning to understand more as the years go by:

"Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."