Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recovery Update

This heart inflammation is a strange thing. I don't really feel sick -- thanks to my pills -- so I have a hard time not feeling guilty for doing so little. I've been feeling a little better every day, except for today. Yesterday, I thought, "Silly Dr. Two weeks recovery? No way!" I overdid it a little, so today I'm thinking, "That Dr. knew what he was talking about." I'm okay, just really tired and weak.

I wish I could say that I've been catching up on my reading and other profound things, but that's not the case. I have been reading, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. This is a humbling experience, but I am very thankful for a good prognosis. I hope this will give me more empathy with people that have chronic and / or serious illnesses.

I don't usually do such self-centered posts, but I thought there might be a few people out there who'd appreciate an update.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday at Home

It is strange to be at home today while my family is at church. I’m not feeling very sick, but I am tired and weak enough to know that it would be overwhelming to go to service. So, here I sit.

It is a humbling experience to be sick – it’s hard on my pride. As I was reading and praying this morning, I thought that in the Big Picture, me at my best and me at my weakest is not really much different. In fact, the strongest, most powerful man in the world is only a hairbreadth away from the weakest child on the streets of Calcutta. We human beings are weak – morning mists, the flower of grass.

I’m reading through the Servant Songs in Isaiah. Some verses from today’s reading stood out and led to this blog post:

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another – Isaiah 48:10-11

We are glory hogs – I am a glory hog. That profanes God’s name, even if we are “doing good” and externally worshipping God. Adversities of various kinds are God’s merciful tools to bring His people perspective. The Refiner’s fire not only serves to purge out impurities in relation to morality, but imbalances in perspective. God is God and I am not. God is indispensable, I am not. God has a sovereign plan for His universe. I don’t own a universe, and my plans don’t always go my way.

God is much bigger than I think. The reason I called God’s refining fire merciful is that God gets bigger in my understanding with each setback, loss or failure. This leads to greater contentment and joy. Why? Because I know that God loves me. How do I know that? Because God Himself stepped down from inapproachable light and took on weak human flesh in order to live for me, die for me and rise from the dead to defeat sin and death for me. To what end? That I might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever!

Without the Gospel – particularly the cross – there is no way that I could have any comfort in reflecting upon God’s vastness and greatness. It is only as God Himself steps down and comes to me in human flesh that the great chasm between us is bridged.

This is the unique message of Christianity. In the Christian story, God’s greatness is fully expressed in its incomprehensible weight of glory. On the other hand, man’s weakness and corruption is expressed with bitter honesty as we confess our hopeless condition. The Good News is that Jesus Christ steps in as the Mediator – fully God and fully man – to reconcile the world to God.

I can be content staying home from church today. God is looking after things just fine without me.

500 Posts

I just noticed that my last post was post # 500. Not exactly Challies, but not bad!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Well, that was quite the adventure.

In the middle of the night on Sunday night - the wee hours of Monday morning - Juanita took me into the hospital in Edson with heart attack symptoms. By noon on Monday, I was in cardiac care unit in Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital. Until Monday night, they were treating me for a mild heart attack, though my pain was getting worse on Monday afternoon and evening.

After an angiogram on Monday night, I received the good news that there was no blockage and no damage to my heart. I'm very glad they rushed that test! I have a virus in my pericardium and the inflammation caused the symptoms. They put me on good ol' ibuprofen and I feel much better. I have to wait for the virus to run its course, but I can anticipate a full recovery. I'm quite tired and a little sore still, but very thankful.

We have been reminded once again of God's goodness, particularly expressed in the kindness of His people. We are humbled by the expressions of concern, the visits and the practical help. If you were a part of that praying, caring, helping crew, thank you!

I was very impressed with the quick and excellent medical care I received. There are legitimate stories out there of problems with our system, but my experience couldn't have been better.

So, I'm home again as of about 25 minutes ago. It was wonderful to tuck the girls in (and say "hello" to Josh) and it is great to be home again.

The Dr. was quite adamant that I take it really easy for a while, so I should stop writing and go to bed.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Book Recommendations

I have read a few books recently that are particularly useful. My sphere of reference for doing these recommendations is our church book table. These three titles are excellent books for the average Christian reader - particularly ones that don't read many books. I read lots of books that I wouldn't bother to put out for our church family to buy (by suggested donation), but I would love to see these three that I'm highlighting go out the door in quantity. They are readable, reliable and cover very practical and often overlooked subjects. I'll leave it to others to do reviews, but I will make some brief comments with these recommendations.

Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day, Edited by Kevin DeYoung (Crossway, 2011)

Let me get my prime reservation regarding this book out of the way right off the top: What's up with the title? Beyond that, this is a very helpful book. Eighteen authors have contributed chapters on what to believe and how to live in light of the Gospel. The applied theology in this book is such a important resource for the "Young, Restless and Reformed" movement. It is all too easy to grasp onto "cool theology" and then live like the world. If you follow the link above, you can see inside the book and read the table of contents. This is a remarkably comprehensive book given its moderate length. The chapters are very well written and profound in content. I hope they sell millions of these books, in spite of the odd title.

When I was in seminary about 15 years ago, my history professor made me read The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul. Maybe I was overwhelmed with my studies, maybe something was lost in the translation, but I found reading that book a nasty chore. Since that time, however, I have reflected on Ellul's arguments and observations many times to my profit. My history professor was right; this is a significant book. By all means read Ellul's book, if you have the stamina, but a better idea for most people would be to read Tim Challies' new book.

This is a book about the digital revolution and how it is changing our lives, even if we are not conscious of it happening (as most of us are not). It is as if the author lifts us up above our immersion in all this technology and lets us look at it from a high place - seeing the forest instead of all the pretty, shiny trees, so to speak. This perspective is given to the reader in terms of historical development, theology and the very personal effects brought about by the digital revolution. Challies' goal is to help the reader objectively analyse what is going on in their own lives with theological discernment. The Next Story will give you tools to develop wisdom in our times and help you to honestly assess your digital consumption.

As an added bonus, for the month of May you can download an audio book copy of The Next Story for free at If you do read or listen to the book, it may seem ironic to you this book is even available in an audio format. But I can't talk - I read it on a Kindle.

These Last Days: A Christian View of History, Edited by Richard D. Phillips and Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer (P&R Publishing, 2011).

I have never read such a satisfying book on eschatology. This is a collection of transcribed messages from the 2010 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Contributors include Sinclair Ferguson, D.A. Carson, Alistair Begg, Michael Horton and six others (click through to the Amazon page to see the full list of contributors and more book details).

If you have been frustrated with end times teaching because it is so complicated and speculative, you will find this book a breath of fresh air. It is simple, direct, biblical and worship inspiring. Because the chapters were messages, the book flows well and is an easy read. It would make an excellent introduction to eschatology from a biblical theology perspective - that is, seeing the Bible as a continuous story - The Story - from Genesis to Revelation with Christ at the center of it all.


So, there we have three books for "the regular Christian" (if there is such a category of people). All three are profound, practical and rooted in solid theology. I believe I will be recommending them for years to come, even though they were all published in 2011.