Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Gospel Connections

A variety of things today kept pushing me to think about Gospel connections. The Good News of the person and work of Jesus Christ has implications for every area of life - it really is "of first importance."

I am preparing a Bible Study on the beginning of 1 Timothy. The Apostle Paul did not insist upon sound doctrine because he was an academic perfectionist. Because he was called and sent by God to bring Good News to the Gentiles, he was compelled to stay on message. It was God's love that compelled him. He knew by revelation and by experience (in that order) that the Gospel is the power of God in the lives of everyone who believes.

Whether it's facing suffering and loss, everyday parenting, overcoming sin and temptation, or being a witness at work, getting the Gospel right and keeping it central must be the first priority for every Christian.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Two Years Today

Today is September 27. It was two years ago today that Emily went for her last walk on this old earth. Oh, for that day when the New Heavens and Earth are revealed, when we see the Saviour face-to-face and He makes all things new!

We're doing quite well, by God's grace. We trust Him, and we are greatly comforted for Emily's sake and ours by our sure hope in Christ. The Gospel changes everything.

We stayed home today. Juanita and the girls did school day things, I did a couple of projects, and we had some friends over for supper. We didn't feel the need to get out of town like we did a year ago.

These reminders, these anniversaries still hurt. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. However, we are experiencing the joy of the Lord and we are pressing on. I think all of us are a more serious about life and about what we believe. That's been evident in our church family as well. We do see God at work in people's lives - our own included - and for that we are deeply thankful (if I visit with you in person sometime, I'll tell you some stories).

Thank you, friends and family, for your prayers. Though our grief isn't as acute as it was, we are still conscious of our need to be carried by God through the prayers of His people. We feel like we've had a disproportionate amount of prayer from all over the place. We are humbled and deeply grateful. God is good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Preaching on Suffering

Had a rich time of study this morning in Hebrews 12:3-11. God knows what He is doing in our lives.

We can trust Him completely.

I'm planning to take two weeks on this passage. There's just too much here for one sermon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Matt Chandler on Suffering

Just found this video this morning. Though Matt's situation is very different than ours, I am so thankful for his faithful theology of suffering. This is God's grace in action.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Further Thoughts on Sentencing

It is difficult to put yesterday’s sentencing of Emily’s killer into perspective. I thought that after sleeping on it, words might come more easily. It is not to be. It is hard to sum up yesterday, let alone the almost two years that preceded yesterday’s closure. I know that there are many people looking for a personal reaction on this blog, so I will share a few thoughts.

First, in the big picture, yesterday’s sentence changes very little. God is still good, He is sovereign over all things. Emily is still not with us, though we have a sure hope that we will see her again. We still miss her terribly. As a family, we are doing well, carrying on and loving one another. We have grown in our love for God and one another, and we have a great, ever-widening circle of friends and a wonderful church family.

Yesterday was significant, though. We anticipated the sentence that was delivered. Some hear “18 years” and react negatively to such a short sentence. For the record, the sentence for second degree murder is a mandatory life-sentence with a minimum ten-year parole ineligibility. In this case, the ineligibility has been extended to 18 years due to particulars in this situation. We have been assured by the Crown prosecutor and by the closing comments of the Judge that all the facts relating to this brutal attack and the unrelated sexual interference charge will be on record for that time of evaluation 18 years down the road (or, specifically, 18 years from December, 2008).

We have said from the beginning that our hope is not in the Canadian Legal system. Justice is God’s, and, by His grace, we have been able to leave that to Him. We are thankful to God for the way this process has worked. We have been treated very well. We have been impressed with the professionalism, wisdom and care demonstrated by everyone in the system.

Our legal system is not perfect. It’s another human institution populated by fallible sinners, like every human institution, including, of course, the church. If you struggle with cynicism and a complaining attitude to Canadian institutions, consider the alternatives around the world and throughout history. We have it very, very good in Canada. My observations are anecdotal and the circumstances of this crime are extraordinary, but I am humbled and satisfied with how things have unfolded in this very difficult case.

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lawrie Smith was concise, serious and most professional as befits her position. Her closing words after sentencing were a surprise to us. She took the time to give profound credit to the RCMP for their exceptional work. She said directly that without their work, we would not be here today. She also took the time to address us and the other victim’s mother and encourage and commend us. She offered her prayers and spoke of the evidence of God’s grace in our lives. That was very much appreciated.

One of the things I most appreciated about the Justice’s closing comments is that they effectively turned everyone’s attention from the perpetrator to the victim’s families. That was classy and well done.

I hesitate to mention other names because there are so many people to thank, and miss. From the many RCMP officers; EMT members; Victim Services people; the Crown Prosecutors we dealt with; and others, let me say publicly that we are thankful, and impressed with the good work that these people do. There are much easier jobs out there, and I am deeply grateful for these people that serve all of us.

We are also thankful that we do not have to endure a trial and subsequent appeals. This stage is over. Now we are praying that we will have many more opportunities to share the Gospel with people that need to be reconciled to God. I am weak, but He is strong. May He be glorified in our lives.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sentencing Day

Juanita and I spent the day in Hinton, the nearest Provincial Court Bench to us (about an hour away from Edson). Today was the day that Emily's killer was sentenced. Mr. Kleman plead guilty to second degree murder in April and today he was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 18 years. This was what we were expecting, and we are thankful for the resolution of the legal proceedings.

We are also thankful for the incredible work of the RCMP and the professional and kind way that we were treated by people in the system. It is humbling to see how people have been affected by Emily's death.

There are several stories hitting the news. That is all part of it. There are some more details out there, too, so if you don't want to read or see those, you might want to avoid the coverage.

There is much more that could be said, but I just wanted to give a brief update at this time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Home Again

After 10,577 kms, we are back from our holiday. We left Josh at Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College - his need to get there and our desire to see him off was the genesis of this trip.

Along the way, we connected with family, old friends and made several new friends. It was a good trip and we are thankful.

I will post a little about our experiences in the days to come, but one of the things that stood out to us as we drove up behind our garage this evening was the fact that nothing went wrong with the van and we didn't have any troubles at all. Compared to travel historically, or in many places in the world today, that is amazing.

We're looking forward to worshiping with our church family tomorrow morning, and to getting a good sleep tonight.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Big Holiday 2010

Our family is in Quebec City today. After we arrived yesterday afternoon, we went down to the Old City to check things out. I was going to post a picture, but our hotel wireless is not cooperating.

We are a long way from home, but the trip is going well and we are thankful.