Thursday, November 27, 2008

Radio Interview Link

As I have mentioned, CBC Radio 1 has interviewed us and featured a story on Emily's death on the Edmonton AM program this week. CBC has posted a story and an audio link (on the right side of the page under "Related Items).

We are grateful for the sensitive way the media has treated our family and this story is no exception. Thanks to Adrienne Lamb for a job well done.

I would have liked to have heard a little more about our hope in Christ on the radio, but I guess that's what this blog is for. We're not in any hurry to grant any more media interviews, but we do want to exalt our Saviour when we get the opportunity.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family Update

It has been a while since I've written, so I'll just do some point-form personal updates.
  • We were in Calgary on Friday and Saturday. Josh was in an Alberta-wide quiz meet at Calgary Christian School. He did well, and his team finished second overall in a nailbiter of a final. The final between the three best teams went to overtime (between 2 teams) and Josh's team of 4 only lost by 10 points (teams are awarded 20 points for a correct answer).

    Josh and Ocean (a rookie quizzer from our church who did great at her first meet) were adopted by Southgate Alliance in Edmonton and we are thankful for their thoughtfulness.

    Juanita and I were able to announce a scholarship in Emily's memory at that meet.

    It was nice to touch base with some friends on that trip. Special thanks to the S. family for putting us up for the night and to D. and G. for supper on Friday night.

  • Josh and I went to an Oilers game on Thursday night. They lost to Detroit, but they made it interesting. They came back from a 3-0 deficit and lost 4-3. Josh and I had a great opportunity to talk, particularly on the way home. A big thank you to my niece and nephew for making that possible. Josh and I logged about 1400 kms on Thursday to Saturday, but it was worth it (Edson is 200km from Edmonton and 500km from Calgary).

  • We did an interview with a radio interviewer from CBC Radio 1 for a series that is running on Monday to Wednesday mornings this week. I just caught the tail end of the interview this morning at 6:45. It takes a few steps to find the live feed. A 6 minute clip of us talking is supposed to be aired on Wednesday morning at 7:15. The series will eventually be available on the web archives. We're supposed to be getting a CD of the series. The interviewer was Adrienne Lamb. We were impressed with her thoughtfulness and professionalism. She warned us that we will get new media requests after this airs. We've been pretty good at setting boundaries for ourselves, but this is all new. We appreciate your continued prayers for us that we will be a good witness to our Saviour.

  • We are seeing some new people at church. We're thankful and mindful of our responsibility to represent Christ well and to pray for one another and our community.

  • My brother and his wife are supposed to be joining us for supper along with my mom who lives in Edson. We're looking forward to that. Since Emily's death, we are enjoying more significant relationships with our families - particularly my side, seeing as I haven't been very good at staying in touch.

  • So, how are we doing? Pretty well, considering. Speaking for myself, I feel a general sense of tirednesss and sadness comes and goes. God is good, however, and I am plugging along.

  • I can't express how thankful I am for my wife. Maybe Juanita prefers that I don't express much here, but let me just say that next to Christ, God's greatest grace to me is her.

That's all for now. I'll try to be more regular with this blog this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Sunday Psalm

We used this Psalm for our Call to Worship this morning. It struck me as a particularly rich way to begin the service and it was well read (thanks, Daniel).

Psalm 85 (ESV)

LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Evening for Emily

Juanita and I just came back from a community fundraiser at our local Legion branch. It was overwhelming to see all those people there - bands, local people and media. They had a silent auction as well. We left early (they'll be rocking into the wee hours), but we were thankful for an opportunity to say thanks to the community through that gathered group.

I can't begin to thank everyone here, and I know that it is not expected by the people that set up this event. I will extend a blanket thank you to these folks. I also want to thank the main organizer, Axel Axmann, for his courtesy and hard work (he can extend thanks to his team!).

The funds raised tonight will go to a music camp called Strings and Keys (this links to an old site - it's all I could find, but it describes it well). Besides the ticket sales and the silent auction, we were surprised to hear about some generous gifts from companies and individuals. This scholarship will be a good legacy for Emily.

If you are on Facebook, you might want to check out the Evening for Emily page. This evening is another reminder of how Emily's death has affected not only our family, but our community (and far beyond, from what we have heard).

Update: Here's a link to a Global News story on the event.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In God Alone

I’ve been reflecting on Psalm 62 this week as I am preaching from it on Sunday. This Psalm is the “God Alone” Psalm – for God alone my soul waits in silence. It is easy to say that we are waiting for, trusting in and following God alone, but what does that mean?

I was reflecting on this at the gym this morning. I had Caedmon’s Call Overdressed playing on my iPod. A line from the song Expectations caught my attention. The superficial promises of a church came across in the song as … an expensive ad for something cheap. Are we as professing Christians trying to sell something cheap as if it were “the answer” for life? “Come, follow Jesus and you will have financial freedom, great health and happy relationships.” The gospel doesn’t promise any of that.

Psalm 62:9 says, Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. The word translated “breath” in this verse (ESV) is translated “vanity” or “meaningless” in the book of Ecclesiastes. There is no inherent righteousness in being poor and humble, humanly speaking. On the other hand, the richest, most powerful man is like dust in the scales compared to God. It is in the perspective of this truth that the psalmist confesses, “in God alone.”

The rich and the poor, the powerful and the insignificant, even the Christian and the non-Christian have something in common: We are all going to lose everything. Our lives are dust, a breath – vapor.

Years ago I did a sermon series on the book of Job. It struck me – with a chill – that Job 1-2 is simply life in fast-forward. I’ve known elderly folks who had outlived all their children, lost their health and most of their strength and influence. If you live long enough, you lose what you hold dear little-by-little. If you die young, you lose everything at once. Isn’t this the cheerful message of Ecclesiastes as well? Yes, Job was restored. But then he died. Solomon had everything as the richest, wisest, most powerful king of Israel, but he confessed that it was “meaningless.” He died too.

Psalm 62 is a confession of David, a confession that becomes an exhortation. Get your perspective fixed, O my soul. Get your perspective right, O people. Wait for God alone. If you trust Him now, then He will be what is left after everything else is gone.

The most important application of this Psalm is reconciliation with God. How can we find hope and confidence in waiting for God if we are sinners and He is holy? If all we have coming is a “fearful expectation of judgment,” then we are hopeless – loss in this life followed by greater loss in the life to come. Jesus said, … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). Nothing else matters if we are not right with God.

The most precious truth in this Psalm is found in a little word in verse 12 – chesed - translated “steadfast love” (ESV), “mercy” (KJV) or simply “love” (NIV). This is the faithful, pursuing, gracious, covenant love of God. It is God’s response to His promises to save a people for Himself. Chesed is fulfilled only in the redeeming work of Christ.

God promised to save, but no one believed God’s message. God promised to choose a people for Himself forever, but no one wanted Him. The only way He could resolve this ugly dilemma was to bring life and righteousness to a spiritually dead and sinful people. He Himself came to rescue us: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has reconciled to God a great mass of people throughout the ages. This eternal salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, though faith alone. Justice and mercy met and were reconciled in Jesus Christ so that we who were once enemies of God could be adopted as sons.

If we trust this Good News – that Christ died and rose again to bring us to God – then the confession “In God Alone” is precious and glorious. If we can see our lives from God’s perspective, then God alone is indeed our rock, our salvation and our fortress even if everything else is taken from us.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


When I set the table tonight for supper, that's the number of plates I put out. When we get into the van to go to church, our family uses five seat belts. If we go to a restaurant, we say, "Table for five, please." Our home email address begins with "stauf6."

These are just a few of the countless, constant reminders that we are five, not six. For all that we trust God - and we do - this is just wrong.

Having shared that complaint, let me say that I am so thankful for my wife, Juanita, and Josh, Petra and Anne. We have each other, a wonderful extended family and a better church family than we thought we had (and we thought it was great before).

Life is going pretty well. I am going to preach this coming Sunday for the first time, Lord willing. It is a communion service and I am going to preach from Psalm 62. People say, "You are so strong" (there were two more today). Psalm 62 underlines the fact that I am very weak and fragile, but it is some consolation that God's Word says I'm not alone. God alone is strong. That He would also be full of loving-kindness to me and invite me to find shelter in Him is astonishing, humbling and, well, life itself.

It is a great comfort to know that Emily trusted Christ alone for her salvation. When God is big and we are small, Jesus - the shelter and rock of our salvation - is a treasure and a delight. Forever.