Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Why I Don't Despair

Sometimes things are tough, and sometimes I know that I'm not the Christian I should be. Sometimes (often), I fail, and fall down, and sin. That's when I take comfort in the knowledge that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that I belong to Him forever. The good news of the Gospel is not just for the moment of salvation, but for the whole life of the Christian and all of sanctification.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

About Following Christ

The song says, "I have decided to follow Jesus". "Decided": past tense. Like it was one decision and that's taken care of and now I'm happily following Jesus all the time.

It's not like that. Following Jesus is a series of decisions that we make every day, sometimes the same decisions over and over. Will I watch this television show, or will I read (or even watch, or listen to) something edifying? Will I waste time (sometimes just because I'm feeling lazy), or will I use my time wisely? Will I keep putting myself first, or will I reach out to others who may need me? There are so many decisions every day, and all too often I know I make the wrong choice. I choose to follow the world or my own desires, and not to follow Christ.

Today my heart is heavy. I have a friend in the hospital because of an intentional overdose. I don't know her very well because I didn't take the time to get to know her. She lives close to me, and she suggested a couple times that we get together for coffee. I was always too busy with too many things and too many other people, and always agreed that we need to do that "when things slowed down". You know how it is: things never slow down. I never made the right decision.

Today I am thankful that my friend is on the mend, and that she's waking up, and responding to people. I am praying for her recovery and healing, and I am praying for myself. I am seeking God's forgiveness for the choices I made concerning her (and rejoicing in God's faithfulness and His promises of forgiveness), and praying for the chance to make the right choice and be in her life.

Every day we need to make the choice to follow Christ. Today I remembered that my choice to follow or not follow affect not only my own life, but also the lives of those around me. It's a great responsibility, and only through the power of the Holy Spirit can I keep choosing to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

New Year, New Attempts

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I still think the "new year" starts in September, when school goes back, and January 1st is just a nice holiday! Which is probably why this year, I started making some changes to my schedule and stuff in November and December, rather than waiting until January.

Once again, I'm trying to spend less time on the computer and more time on useful pursuits. To that end, I've set up a reading schedule with a book for each evening and I haven't been turning on the computer after work on weekdays. I read at least one chapter, and maybe more. I was doing a chapter a week for a couple books to slow down my reading (so I'm reading to learn rather than to finish the book). I'm not going to continue that slowly, but I am trying to read more nonfiction this year and to learn more. I've also started studying Greek again. I'm still near the beginning, but I'm slowly reviewing and learning again.

I also spent time cleaning things out. I've cleaned out the bedroom closet and the laundry room. Things aren't perfectly organized, and I'm not naturally tidy, so I can't say how long it will last, but at least it feels under control again. I still want to go through the kitchen cupboards and such, as well as the bathroom cabinet. I like feeling organized and tidy, even though I'm not that good at staying that way!

We'll see how things go this year.

Friday, 8 January 2016

60 Years Ago

On Sunday, January 8, 1956, Ed McCulley, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian landed their small plane on a beach in the jungles of Ecuador. They were waiting to make contact with some of the Auca people. They had flown over the villages several times, lowering gifts and calling out friendly phrases. Now they had found a spot to set up camp and were waiting for the coming Aucas. 

Back at the base, their families were waiting by the radio to hear from them. The call never came. The next day, someone flew over the camp and spotted the plane, stripped of fabric; two days later, they spotted the first body. Eventually, it was confirmed: all the missionaries were dead. 

This sounds like it should have meant the end of the mission labours. On the contrary, it only intensified things. More people applied to take the place of the pilot and hundreds volunteered for missionary service. Within three years, two of the women who had waited (Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot) had moved to live with the tribe and taught them the gospel. Some of the murderers believed in Christ. 

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." -Jim Elliot

Friday, 1 January 2016

Non-Fiction Favourites

Today, here are the best non-fiction books that I read in 2015.

1. Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore. This is the biography of Adoniram Judson, and it is a great book. It makes Adoniram into a real person: he isn't always perfect, he dealt with a lot of health issues, and he spent his life working for the gospel.

2. John MacArthur, A Tale of Two Sons. It's a look at the story of the prodigal son, looking at the historical context and the role of the older brother as well as the younger brother and the father.

3. Carolyn McCulley with Nora Shank, The Measure of Success. What does it mean to be a godly woman in the workforce and in the home? Here women are pointed towards Scripture to make wise choices without all being shoved into the same box of what makes a "godly woman".

4. Tony Reinke, Lit. Yes, I read a book about reading books and why to read more books. I wanted to see how he argued in favor of Christians reading fiction. I already agreed with him, but I really liked the way he said it.

5. William Varner, The Chariot of Israel. If you want to learn about Elijah, his live, ministry, and time, this is the book for you. Plus, it has maps!

6. Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw. I just like Malcolm Gladwell's writing. He gives me new ideas to think about and new ways to look at the way the world works.

7. Molly Caldwell Crosby, The Great Pearl Heist and Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries. Both books look at an event in history, which is interesting enough, but also the background that lead up to this event, what else was happening in the world, and all sorts of interesting historical information.

8. Michael J. Fox, Lucky Man. Who doesn't like Michael J. Fox? I enjoyed the backstage glimpse into his life and career.

9. Bill Bryson, the mother tongue: english and how it got that way. I like Bill Bryson's writing style, I like the English language, so I naturally liked the combination of the two!

10. Martin Dugard, Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone. This was an excellent book. It told the stories of both men's lives before and after they met up in Africa. It also brought the dangers and wildness and beauty of Africa to life.

11. D.A. Carson, Praying With Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. This was good, both Scriptural and practical. It didn't just tell us to pray, but why to pray and how to pray.

12. Randall Monroe, What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. This is just fun. It answers very important questions such as: Could you build a jet pack using downward-facing machine guns?

13. Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness. Brauns cuts through a lot of nonsense about forgiveness by looking closely at what Scripture says about how God forgives and from there to how we are called to forgive.

There were other good books this year, but those are the best of what I read. I would recommend that you read all of them!

I'm off to start this year's reading (I already have a list of what I want to read; is anyone surprised?).