Friday, 26 December 2014

"Hallelujah," A Christmas Carol

Everyone seems to love the melody of Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah." I have taken the liberty of creating my own lyrics, in honour of our Saviours birth. This is me and some of Christ the King, Edmonton's musicians at our Christmas Eve service. I hope you will forgive the quality of the recording. We hope to make a better one at some point. See what you think.

If you would rather watch it on Youtube itself, click Here...
Here are the lyrics:

I heard there was a baby boy, was born this day to bring us joy
Salvation and the Holy Spirit to you
In Bethlehem this baby lay In a manger filled with hay
While angels sang a glorious

Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

The shepherds came and saw that night, you, Jesus, of the world, the light
The Saviour of all who give their hearts to You
They left their fields, they came and saw the One who would fulfil the law
You, only worthy of our Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And wise men travelled from afar, with gold and frankincense and myrrh
Presented gifts and bowed in worship to You
And so to this day all who love the God who came down from above
Can join together in the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And so Jesus, all praise to you. All glory, power and honour too
For salvation that can only come through You
We thank you for your humble birth that brought new hope to all the earth
We sing out, all together, “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

So on this day we celebrate, and You will come again some day
To earth to raise up all your children to You
And every knee will bow before our Saviour and our risen Lord
And every tongue will sing out “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

Music: Leonard Cohen, ©1984 Sony/ATV Songs LLC
Original words: John Kivell ©2014

Take Care

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Pass the Torch? No, Just Let it Die.

I made a call today on an Anglican church. There were 2 or 3 seniors preparing for a bazaar. We talked a bit about Alpha. Nice people. One of them had done Alpha a few years ago with video's by, "Who was that guy?"

"Nicky Gumbel?" I suggested.

"Yes  that was him."

I gave him some information and my card and he walked over to place it in the Rector's mail slot. I looked into the sanctuary. It was very nice, with seating for probably about 200 or more.

"How many do you get on a normal Sunday," I asked

"Oh, a good Sunday would be about 50," he replied, "Mostly seniors. Young families seem to be so busy these days." I commiserated with him about the fact that there seem to be so many distractions on Sundays - sports and activities for the kids; so many distractions that people seem to place in priority to going to church.

"Oh, it's OK," he said, "As long as they're good people."

I don't know if he knew his church was dying, but I just said, "Thanks. Call me if I can help."

"Good people" can kill any church. Oh well, I guess the land is worth something.

Take Care

Monday, 3 November 2014

Go Figure

I have tried, for the past year or so, to avoid being overly critical, on this blog of certain, what I would refer to as 'liberal' denominations. But some things I just plain must say. I will say this as a mere statement of fact and will leave the editorial interpretation to the reader.

My new home church is now about a year and a half old. We are a group that left a mainline denomination to affiliate with ANiC, the Anglican Network in Canada. Our first facility was a local community hall but now ewe meet in a Christian High School. We are fairly stable (flat, if you are more on the pessimistic side), but growing slowly, seeing new people dribbling in, and not many leaving.

The other day I met and spoke with the pastor of another church that reminded me very much of our own situation. They split off from a local church about five years ago. They met in 6 locations in the first three years. Finally they moved in to their own permanent facility and have grown to between 300 and 400 members in the last two years.

So... a couple of things. We recently hired a part-time youth pastor and just this week were informed that our Pastoral Selection committee have found a new full-time pastor who will be joining us a couple of months into the new year.

We are also in the search for a new facility, one of our own, where we can be more settled and able to offer various ministry activities any and every day or evening of the week. We have found three potentials, and here, finally, is the point of this post. Of the three, one is that of an evangelical denomination who needs a larger facility, and has just turned the sod on a new, larger, church building.

The other two are buildings of a mainline Protestant denomination that has departed from what I would call, to quote the book of Jude, "the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints." Both are closing their doors.

So, I look at the reasons these three buildings are available and say again,

"Go figure."

Take Care

Thursday, 30 October 2014


According to my Blogger stats, most of my pageviews have to do with teachings on the end times; specifically on the pre-tribulation rapture of the church and my criticism of David Jeremiah's teaching on the subject.

The largest audience, next to the United States, is from China and the Ukraine. These are both countries where there are great difficulties at the moment. In China, there is rather intense persecution of Christians. (And may I reiterate my position, still firmly held, that China's destiny is to become a great Christian nation, and the sooner it becomes Christian, the sooner it will become truly great and the greater it will be.) In the Ukraine there is great suffering because of the current civil war there.

Much of my study and writing on the subject of end-times prophecy was when I was in the middle of a severe clinical depression. I have seen the same interest among others who would just like something to end their suffering. I believe many Christians suffering persecution or severe difficulties would be happy to see the Lord return and make all things right - not just in these countries, but anywhere they are, suffering severe physical, emotional or financial struggles. As I have said, at the worst of my own depression, at the bottom of the pit, in the darkest moments, I would have welcomed it. I would have welcomed death, although I never once thought of suicide.

So my heart goes out to these readers. My prayers are with them, as well as those suffering the severe persecution going on in the Middle East.

And for their sake I pray, in any way he chooses, "Amen, come Lord Jesus."

Take Care

Friday, 17 October 2014

Of Bureaucrats, Overregulation and Sheep (Updated)

We seem to be becoming a nation of bureaucrats and sheep. Let me try to explain what I mean. In the category of bureaucrats I include elected officials. In that of sheep, I include many of us ordinary citizens.

Bureaucrats pass laws. Sometimes, I am convinced, just to have them. It may be just in attempts to justify their existence, but I believe it is more the case that they have come into power because they are the type of people who want to enforce their will on others. And the populace as a whole often doesn't seem to question these laws. Let me give just a couple of examples, although examples seem to be everywhere one looks.

The first is secular. In my province we have photo radar. For those who may not know what I'm talking about, this involves a vehicle sitting beside a road, taking photographs of the licence plates of speeders. The speeder then will have a speeding ticket show up in the mail some time later. Officials will insist that this has everything to do with safety. I think it has almost nothing to do with safety and everything to do with income.

There has always been a, "grace spread" with these tickets. In other words, you won't get a ticket unless you exceed, say, 10 km over the posted limit. In Edmonton, this grace spread was recently reduced from 15kmh over down to under 10. Arbitrarily. No one was told, but all of a sudden people started complaining about now getting tickets where they never did before. Now, I could issue the challenge to show me one accident that could have been prevented by a difference of 5 km an hour, but that's not my main point. The letters to the editor were suddenly filled with argument from both sides, but I was amazed at how many took the position, "If you don't want a ticket, don't speed." Sheep. Not that I am trying to condone speeding, but I guess my point is that a prevailing attitude now seems to be not to examine a particular law or rule, but to accept it blindly and say that anyone who disobeys deserves their punishment. I just use the volume of opinions in favour of this photo radar business as an example.

None question whether the new practice was fair. No one questioned whether the speed limits were reasonable (there are cases where I think they are not). No one questioned whether hiding on the overpass of a 3-lane expressway, as if 2 kmh over or under the grace limit would cause or prevent an accident. Just, "There's a law. We must obey it."

My other example touches more on matters of faith. Freedom of conscience, religion and speech. A most recent example of what I mean was the story out of Houston where city council passed a motion requiring certain pastors to submit to them their sermons (now revised to speeches) addressing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity for approval. Bureaucrats in action. "Let's make a law just because we think there should be one." Overregulation.

And sheep. The sad thing, to my mind, is that there are a great many people who might think this a quite a reasonable law. The pendulum has swung so far over toward the spirit of which this law represents, that a lot of people think that anyone who differs with them should not have the right even to express a contrary opinion. The funny thing, to my mind, is that a decade ago, many of these same people probably held the same opinion they now so condemn. "Yes, I thought a certain way then, but what I think now is right, and you don't have the right to still think the same way I thought then."

Another example is the arrest, documented here, of a couple of protesters at the University of Regina. They were protesting homosexuality (which I think is pointless) and abortions (which I think is not.) What I found interesting were the comments of students near the end of the video clip. One said, "We believe in diversity - they don't." So they should be arrested? Apparently her belief in diversity applies only to those who agree with her. Another said protests were okay as long as they didn't "infringe on anyone's quality of life," whatever subjective interpretation can be applied to that nebulous phrase.

And these sheep will one be the bureaucrats. Just my interesting speculation.

Take Care

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Want Freedom From Religion?

“I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.” Richard Dawkins. (Ruth Gledhill, Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, The Times (UK), 2 April 2010)

The, "Freedom from Religion" people, and others who consider it their mission to remove Christianity from the Western public square would be wise to pause and consider: If Christianity is expunged from our society it will not be replaced by nothing. The vacuum will quite likely be filled by something much more sinister, less tolerant and not so willing to be ignored.

The key to the true face of any religion is not how it behaves when it is in the minority, but what it does when it has power. Having just said that in a general sense, compare the rights of Muslims in Christian-majority countries with the rights of other religions in Muslim-majority nations.

I think I can safely rest my case. I see no reason to believe it would be any different here should that situation ever come to be. #ISIS

This is not Islamophobia; it's just my perception of reality.

Take Care

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Some Things Are True...

I often think of Nicholas Cage's final line in this clip from the movie, 'City of Angels'. I wouldn't say it was a Christian movie, in fact, far from it, but I think this quote fits very well with the Christian faith. It is one that all atheists would be wise to consider. I think I will probably post it on my Alpha blog as well.

Take Care

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Is It Alright For a Christian to Lie?

I was making calls on Alpha churches this morning. At one church was a fellow working on his car in the parking lot. I asked if he was part of this church. He said he used to go there, but he was not the pastor. (I knew that, because I know the pastor.) He said he now has a calling to visit various churches and seek out false teaching. Well... OK...

I told him I was with Alpha. He said he had seen the Alpha course and there were areas of it with which he was uncomfortable. I asked him what one area of concern might be and he said he couldn't think of any right off the bat.  Finally he said he thought that Nicky Gumbel lumped all churches together, including the Catholic church. This fellow was unfortunately one of those who consider the Catholic Church to be evil. All I said to this was that in my travels I had met many wonderful Spirit-filled Catholics in wonderful Spirit-filled parishes. (I am, after all, an Alpha leader and trained not to get into arguments.) He actually agreed magnanimously that there might be true Christians in the Catholic Church.

I don't know how the subject started, but the conversation turned to whether or not it was OK for a Christian to lie. I said I thought that it was sometimes alright for a Christian to do so. The actual commandment (the 9th) that most people take as a prohibition against lying is actually not a blanket prohibition. It says you shall not bear false witness (give false testimony) against your neighbour. In my opinion this is a fairly specific prohibition against exactly what it says, not a general prohibition of not telling the truth in any and every circumstance. He disagreed adamantly, of course.

I didn't have my Bible with me, and my phone (with a Bible app) was in my car, but I did mention that I thought God had told Moses to lie to Pharaoh, and that Rahab was commended for lying to protect the Israelite spies, but I didn't have specific references at hand.

I do now. In Exodus 3: 18, God tells Moses: and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.
When in fact there was no intention of taking a mere 3 day journey. We know that Rahab lied to the authorities about the whereabouts of the Israelite spies (Joshua 2) and was rewarded for it. In Hebrews 11:31 and in James 2:25 she was actually commended and "considered righteous" for it.

I think this gives good Scriptural evidence for my point. Anybody think differently?

Take Care    

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Rapture

I'm amazed that by far the most page views on this blog have to do with the Rapture that I posted years ago. So in order to fill this space, and perhaps give these readers something more to see, I will post a few more posts on the subject. These are from a book I wrote a number of years ago when I actually took an active interest in the subject. Lately, you will know that my attention has been on Alpha and reaching out to others with the good news of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But to let you in on what I once studied, and to share my thoughts from that time, here, and possibly a few posts following, are some more thoughts on the Rapture of the Church.For the Christian believer what is known as the Rapture is the most climactic event in all of end time prophecy:  what is known as the "Rapture".
The word 'Rapture' does not occur in the Bible, but the concept certainly does.  The term itself is taken from the Greek word meaning 'caught up'.  The doctrine of the Rapture is this: there will come a time during these end-time events when the church, every living Christian believer, will be caught up into the air to be with Jesus along with the resurrection of every saved person who has ever lived.  It will occur before the wrath and judgment of God is poured out upon a wicked and rebellious world. 
There are those who don't believe in a literal Rapture, or even in a literal Millennial Kingdom, but to do so one must disregard the clear teachings of Scripture.  There are also those who hold to a post-millennial Rapture, that is, that the church will not be raptured until the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, but this too, I believe, is unscriptural.
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that there will be a pre- millennial Rapture, that it will occur before God sends His righteous wrath upon the unbelieving world, before Christ returns in judgment and before he sets up his 1000 year kingdom here on earth.  But that's not the end of the discussion.  Even among premillennialists, there are a number of views as to the exact timing of the event.  These include:
Posttribulationism; the Rapture will occur when Christ returns at the end of the seventieth week to judge the world. According to this view, when Christ reaches the air above the earth at his second coming, the church will be raptured up to meet him and then return immediately with him to earth.  It assumes that the church will go through the entire final seventieth week.  I think it can also be proven false by analyzing scripture.
Pretribulationism; the Rapture will occur sometime before the last seven year period of history begins, that is, before the Antichrist signs the covenant signaling the beginning of the seventieth week.  Some even feel that it will occur even before the Antichrist begins to consolidate his power by overthrowing three of the ten rulers in the final world empire.
     Let me give you a couple of verses that holders of this position use to back up this view.  1 Thessalonians 1:10.
" wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from  the dead -- Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."
1 Thessalonians 5: 9.
"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
One more, Revelation 3: 10, from the letter to the Church in Philadelphia.
"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I  will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Each of these verses seem to indicate that the church will not suffer the wrath of God that is to be poured out on the world as part of Christ's second coming, and I must say that I think that is a correct interpretation.  God’s wrath was already poured out, on our behalf, on Christ, on the cross. However, I'm going to tip my hand here and say that, although the 'Pre-trib' position is probably the currently most popular one, I don't think it's correct.  I'm afraid it may be wishful thinking. It was not considered in the early church and in fact did not appear as a theory until the early 1800's.
Midtribulationism; that the church will be raptured exactly at the mid-point of Daniel's seventieth week, when the Antichrist sets himself up in the Temple, declaring himself to be God.  This is the event which signals the beginning of the time of 'Great Tribulation'.  This and the next position rely on the interpretation that the time of God's wrath does not begin at the beginning of the seventieth week, but only at the mid-point or sometime after.
The Pre-wrath position; this falls somewhere between the mid- and post-tribulation positions.  It teaches that the Rapture takes place sometime after the mid-point of the seventieth week, but before the wrath of God begins.  It holds that the church will go through a period of tribulation and persecution by the Antichrist following the mid-point of the seventieth week, but that this period of great tribulation will be cut short "...for the sake of the elect...", as Jesus tells us in Matthew 24: 22, and we will be raptured just before the day of the Lord judgment is poured out upon the unbelieving world.  This was the opinion of many of the early Church Fathers and this, in the author's opinion, is the correct position. I'm sure many people will disagree with me, so we will spend some time trying to discern just what the Bible actually teaches.
Let me first say that our God is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe.  He is accountable to no one.  Whatever He has ordained, that is what will take place, and if what you or I happen to believe turns out to be different from what actually happens, well, we know who was right and who was wrong.  This issue of the timing of the Rapture can tend to be a highly emotional one, with firmly and passionately held views, and so I would urge that it not become a point of violent argument.  We do not need to divide over this issue, and true, born again Christian believers who hold to any one position are just as saved as those who believe another.  In fact, the Rapture will happen when it will happen.  It's just that some of us may be more surprised than others when it happens.

It is crucially important, though, that we not allow ourselves to be mistaken or deceived on this.  If it is to be a pre-trib Rapture, that is what it will be.  We will all be pleasantly surprised, including myself.  However, if (and this is very important) --if it is not, then all those who have been assured and have accepted that the church will not enter the seventieth week may not be prepared if and when they do. Indeed, if we blindly accept popular teaching that we will not be here when the Antichrist is revealed, many may not even believe that it is the Antichrist when he does come. They may say, "No, this couldn't be him, because I've always been told that we would be raptured before he came."  This, as you can well imagine, would be a deadly mistake.  We could be in the seventieth week and many people might not even be aware of it. As you know, there are certain events which will occur within that seven years which Christians, if we are here, have to be ready for.  This is one of the main reasons I'm doing this analysis; to try to prepare those who will listen for what may happen.  It is essential that the Body of Christ be prepared when (or if) these things do come to pass.  Even those who teach the pre-trib position, I feel, do the church a disservice if they insist that theirs is the only possible position.  They should at least acknowledge the possibility that there are other options and they could be wrong.

More to come.

Take Care

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Been Flippant.

I was at a function the other day where we closed with singing a few hymns. There were about 20 or 30 of us gathered outside in a beautiful back yard. Someone asked,
"What will we sing first?"
The host replied,
"It's Your Choice."
I said,
"I don't know that one. Is it an Arminian hymn?"
Got some weird looks. I hope God has a sense of humour and doesn't mind His children having a little fun.

If not, I'm in big trouble.

Take Care

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hands That Shed Innocent Blood

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blooda heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
 The puzzling thought just came to me: just what is Hamas trying to accomplish? They have been firing rockets into Israel for some time now. What has it accomplished but first the bombing and shelling, and now the current ground invasion of Gaza by Israel? There have been ceasefires, but inevitably, immediately after, and sometimes even during, Hamas continues to resume firing these rockets. Very little has been accomplished by them. Israel's Iron Dome defence system shoots down most of them. So what is their point? All their actions do is to bring further misery upon their own people. It is like prodding a lion with a stick - thinking what? That the lion won't strike back? No: they know better than that now. But they keep prodding.

They loudly decry the damage and casualties they say are the result of Israel's actions, but they must know that Israel's actions are merely a response to their own. I have heard Palestinian sympathizers liken the situation to responding to firecrackers with missiles. It's a little more serious than that. These, "firecrackers" can kill people, and the only reason they have not killed more is because of Israel's missile defence system. But Hamas has held the solution to this conflict in their hands all along - just stop throwing firecrackers.

Israel has agreed to a number of ceasefires for humanitarian reasons. Hamas has also ceased their fire for times. But Hamas inevitably begins re-launching these rockets. To what end? They know they have little effect. They also know that their actions bring overwhelming retaliation, but they keep doing it. What can they possibly be thinking, other than they actually want this retaliation. I say again, they know that their own actions are ineffective, but they keep inviting this retaliation on their own people? Do they not care? Apparently not.

In short, Hamas keeps engaging in actions that they know bring misery upon their own people.
Whether or not Israel is justified in their response is beside the point. Hamas just keeps inviting it.
It's like someone spitting in another person's face. Spitting does no real physical damage, but sooner or later, the one being spat upon is going to say, "Enough" and retaliate to stop it. But Hamas just keeps spitting, inviting this retaliation. They seem to be inviting this destruction on purpose. It seems pretty stupid to me.

But perhaps they want this  destruction of their own people and property for the sake of world opinion - so that the world will condemn Israel for their retaliation. If that is the case, they seem willing to sacrifice the lives of their own people to this end. They are shedding the innocent blood of their own people for mere propaganda purposes. What could be more evil than that?

There seem to be only two possibilities; they are either stupid or evil.

Or both.

Take Care,

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Amazing Testimonies of Iranian Christians

Nicky Gumbel interviews 2 brave young women.

Again I say, Amazing! Nothing I can add. Please watch it all.

Take Care

h/t Anglican Samizdat, thanks David.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Devotion for This Morning

(Cross posted from here)

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1) 

This verse has special meaning to me because it helped me through a very difficult time of my life. I think of it now, not only for anyone who may be going through a difficult time, but for our brothers and sisters, Christians in the Middle East (Mosul, where apparently Christians and any sign of their existence are being eradicated from the city) and Nigeria, for instance, who may also be going through struggles we cannot even imagine. 

Yesterday’s lectionary reading was from Romans 8, about the sufferings of this present time not being worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, and the creation itself groaning to be set free from its bondage to corruption when Christ returns to set everything right. I can imagine these Christians in Mosul pleading, “Amen, come Lord Jesus.” 

Have mercy on me is the cry of desperation. It was the cry to Jesus of the tax collector, of a Canaanite woman, a blind beggar. Of David, the Psalmist. People don’t generally cry, “Have mercy on me” when things are going well; as Matt Redman says in in Blessed be Your Name, “when the sun’s shining down on me, when the world’s all that it should be…”  No, people plead for mercy when they are in the deepest of trouble; when things are at their most hopeless. And here David pleads it twice.

But it is a reassuring verse. “For in you I take refuge…” How reassuring to know God – to know that there is a place of refuge. How hopeless would it be if we didn’t know there was this place of refuge? How hopeless it must be for those who don’t know Him.

We may sometimes have the opportunity to tell some troubled soul about this place of refuge. 2 Cor 1:3-4 tells us that the God of all comfort comforts us so that we may be able to comfort others with the comfort we have received

Where is this place of refuge? It is in the shadow of His wings. We can be confident it is an absolutely safe and firm place of refuge. What could be safer than under the wings of the Almighty, the King and creator of the universe.

The Bible speaks in a number of places about a bird sheltering her young beneath her wings – an owl in Isaiah 34:15.

In Matthew 23 Jesus laments, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. 

Jesus longs to gather us under his wings, to care for us, to protect us; even those who, to this point, have rejected him. He longs for them to come to him in this way. Here is where Alpha comes in: People are free to choose or reject this offer, it is available to all, and we need to offer it to all. It’s not up to us whether they accept or reject. But if they refuse this offer, their destiny is on their own heads. Jesus assumes no responsibility for their fate. He says, “Your house is left to you desolate.” 

The final phrase in the verse from the Psalm gives hope – “Until the disaster has passed” Not if, but when. – It will pass. We have firm assurance that if we take refuge in the Lord our God, the disaster will pass. Not that we can take this in a flippant or facile way. We can’t necessarily be presumptuous. For some it may not pass in the way we wish or expect. 

As Jesus says, rather paradoxically, in Luke 21: "...they will put some of you to death… But not a hair of your head will perish." 

If we have put our faith in Christ, we are safe. The disaster will pass. As my friend and Alpha RD for Ontario put it this morning, The disaster will pass if we put  our faith in the One who will not pass away. 
Isaiah 43:2 - “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
 Again, we may take these verses for ourselves or we may have the opportunity to be a comfort to others at some point. Not so much by quoting various Scripture verses, but by inviting them to come and meet this God who can provide them the ultimate refuge.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Prostitution and Bill C-36

I'm afraid I'm not all that familiar with the current Bill C-36, the bill to overhaul Canada's prostitution laws. Nor am I familiar with any current laws governing the practice, other than to know that no set of laws or regulations is going to please everybody. Whatever the law, in the end, some people are not going to like it.

But I do have some thoughts on the matter, based on my experiences with those in the trade. I realize that sounds questionable, so I will clarify before I go any further. I ran Alpha in a Provincial jail for about three years, a number of years ago. It was a co-ed institution, so there were women there as well as men. Most of the women there were in for prostitution or drug offences or both. In fact, the two often went hand-in-hand. That is, they would sell their bodies to pay for the drugs they needed to mask the pain of having to sell their bodies.

So let me first take issue with those who would try to glamourize prostitution. These always seems to be some feminist insisting it is a woman's right to be involved in the trade. Bullshit! Not that it isn't a woman's right, but that I believe by far the majority of women involved in street prostitution are not there exercising their right to do so. They are there for a variety of reasons, many of them not of their own choosing.

The question I would ask such a person, or even anyone selling their bodies for sex is this,
"Would you like your daughter to follow in your footsteps? Is this the life you would wish for your daughter?"
I sense the answer would an overwhelming, "No!" There may be some women, at some level, who may enjoy what they do, but most of these girls are not there because they want to be, but because, for one reason or another, they have no other choice. I have sat and spoken with a number of these girls, both in a prison chapel and over coffee in seedy restaurants in inner-city Edmonton, and have heard the wishes hopes and dreams they have for their future. Most would break your heart. At least many did mine. Almost to a woman, they wished to break free of the enslavement of their occupation. One very poignant example was a strikingly pretty young native girl in the jail. She said her ambition when she got out was to get a job in advertising and work in an office building. Trying to keep an interested, or at least neutral expression on my face, my heart just sank within me. Because I knew she didn't stand a chance, the way things then were. She had a practically impossible dream, given her background education and circumstances.

These women who wish to escape the trade need so much support. They need a new community and circle of friends. They need intensive new training and education. They need people to truly love them and walk beside them into a new place in their lives. They need patience, both on their own part and that of those working to help them.

I would love to see more help for them, and I think it would better our society to find ways to provide it. I tried in my own way all those years ago, but I was in way over my head. It's going to take a whole community. Alpha has a program for prison inmates as well as a program of Caring for Ex-Offenders that I would love to see supported and expanded. For more information, and perhaps as a first step in seeing if you can help, please go here. Or check out this facebook page for another fine outreach. These are people who are actually doing something; not just talking or complaining.

There is so much more to say, and I have so many more opinions on various aspects of this issue, but that will be it for now.

Take Care

Thursday, 10 July 2014

From Self-Help to Self-Absorption to Entitlement

Perhaps this is where it all started.

I had some very eye-opening conversations with Michael Harvey recently about the difficulty of inviting people to church, or, of particular interest to me, to Alpha.

The common reason one finds for the seeming inability to invite is fear. Fear in several areas; fear of rejection; fear of imposing our views on others; fear of losing a friend, fear of not having the right words, etc.

As hesitant as people have become to invite, I think we have also seen a corresponding hesitancy to accept invitations.
Why is this? I have some thoughts. I think people today are far more self-centered than in previous generations. We often want to be able to indulge every desire without accountability. I believe the current focus on matters of broadening sexual morality and various sexual rights is a symptom or a result of this new attitude; not a cause of it. Within my own memory, I look back to the self esteem teachings of the 1970's when my own children were young. It began to become the attitude that children should never face disappointment or "failure." Competitiveness and reward for excellence fell out of favour, because, hey, we didn't want less talented children in various areas to feel left out or disadvantaged or, well, less talented.

So, along with this sense of entitlement comes an aversion to accountability. People have become so self entitled, and right and wrong so subjective, that we don't want anybody pointing out what we know they will tell us is wrong. It's an insult that anyone would have the nerve to think that anything we do is wrong. And the Christian faith and church is seen by many as THE paradigm of legalism, rules and enforced accountability.

So we have an image problem. Some churches have tried to solve the problem by softening, relaxing their standards, both in theology and behaviour. It hasn't worked.

We have progressed from an attitude of independence, to self reliance, to self indulgence, to selfishness. The standard commercial buzzphrase in recent generations has become, "You deserve it. You're worth it." But perhaps it began decades earlier, with Dale Carnegie. Perhaps in fact it began, come to think of it, in the garden with the lie, "You can be like gods."

Perhaps it has always been thus, but in recent years it now seems more pervasive than ever.
What can we in the church do about it? How can we draw people with ears to hear into a conversation about the Christian faith without first scaring them away? I wonder if this would work.

Take Care

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Presbyterians OK with Killing Born Babies?

(Please read this whole post before coming to any conclusions on the title)
I have not been posting all that much lately on this blog. Much of my time and thoughts have been with my other blog. Frankly, my thoughts on all things controversial have been put into perspective thanks to one of my regular readers and commenters.
I have been convicted more and more lately that my attention should be focused more on the proclamation of the good news of the Christian faith, and less on societal and/or political matters that, in the end, are or secondary importance at best. In other words, the world is the world, and however disastrous the direction I see it heading, the Kingdom of God is of infinitely more importance.
I still see the news, what's happening in the world and the nation, and I am still upset, and shake my head at where I see it heading, but this blog was originally about the Christian faith and it's reasonableness.
Having said that, I believe the decay of things around us is symptomatic of what happens when certain principles, those I see as exemplified by Jesus Christ, are abandoned. These are true love for all, true tolerance, true acceptance, but at the same time, the exposing of hypocrisy and the drawing attention to sin.

So, as much as I see the intolerance and hypocrisy and injustice involved in this story, I will not comment on it, other than to say I enjoy watching Ezra Levant, even if in this story he does seem to exhibit a bit of whatever the descriptive adjective based on the noun, "rant" is.

But this I cannot let go by without comment. At first glance, and going strictly by the headline of the story (and of this post)
Presbyterians OK with Killing Born Babies (no question mark).
one might get the impression (as I initially did) that a major Christian denomination refuses to condemn the killing, not of unborn babies, but the actual murder of those babies when the attempt to kill them in utero has failed. The headline of the linked article would lead us to believe that the PCUSA doesn't care about these babies, but I found that to be somewhat misleading. From the comments section of the defeated motion:
"We affirm that the lives of viable unborn babies—those well-developed enough to survive outside the womb if delivered—ought to be preserved and cared for and not aborted. In cases where problems of life or health of the mother arise in a pregnancy, the church supports efforts to protect the life and health of both the mother and the baby. When late-term pregnancies must be terminated, we urge decisions intended to deliver the baby alive."
"Regardless of one’s support or opposition to legal abortion, the case of Dr. Gosnell is abhorrent to all."
So it seems to me that they do indeed take a stand on the issue, but the motion, like some government bills, tried to tie all sorts of other pro-life wish items (and let me here declare myself, if I have not already indicated my position elsewhere on this blog, to be solidly pro-life) to it. It's what they call an omnibus bill, and governments will try to pass agenda items they want by tying their own items to a bill that the opposition will otherwise support. I find it a bit sneaky.

But back to what I think is the misleading the headline of the piece. Any of us, conservative or liberal, I believe, do our causes great disservice when we are as disingenuous as this.

Take Care

Thursday, 19 June 2014

News From the Bible Society of Egypt

Another update from Here..., sent by a friend who keeps me updated.
How encouraging it is to hear from Christians in the Middle East who are relatively secure and passionate about sharing their faith. Still, we in North America can say nothing about feeling, "persecuted" compared to these brothers and sisters.

I thank God that the military in Egypt overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government there, despite the fact that it had been, "elected." Otherwise we could very well have had another Libya, or Iraq, or Syria, or Iran, or, soon to come, Afghanistan - very dangerous for anyone, let alone Christians, to live.

Keep praying for them.

Take Care

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

#YesAllWomen - Creating Awareness™?

From here...

Read the whole thing, but here are a couple of things I see worthy of special note.

First, this graph, illustrating the relative danger of violence against women by, "Intimate partners" according to household composition.

Note that the safest situation, by far, for a woman is within a traditional marriage. Note also that by far the most dangerous situation is to be a single mother, probably either with a boyfriend or live-in partner. Of course, this cannot be discussed.

The second item I find of note is the map at the top of the story, a time-lapse image showing the geography of #YesAllWomen tweets. The vast majority of tweets come from the most privileged areas of the world, where women probably have the most rights, yet where I would say the sense of societal entitlement (not just women) is also the greatest.

There are solutions to a great many of the world's problems, but, as the saying goes, "There are none so blind as those who will not see."  The two most straightforward, and I believe most effective can be found here...

Take Care

h/t my friend @CatholicJosh

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Adolescent-ification of Our Culture

Here is an interesting post from Mark Steyne, most of whose posts I find interesting.

It struck me, as I pondered his points regarding this picture, that our entire culture is undergoing a process of "adolescent-ification". What do I mean by this? I think an entire book could be written on this concept, and perhaps I will write it some day. I will call it, "What's Wrong With Everything," and it will be a compilation of all my curmudgeonly thoughts and opinions.

It seems to me that this picture typifies an adolescent attitude - that holding such a sign, or tweeting such a tweet, or protesting that somebody should Do Something™ will somehow have an effect. That just because we draw attention to what someone should do, that we can somehow shame or pressure them into actually doing it. I think it is the basis for online bullying. And immature people think that because we can bully a young girl into suicide, we can bully Boko Haram into letting these girls go. In other words, holding up a sign to Create Awarenessreplaces having to actually do something about a problem. This is at a high school level, intellectually, and that is not to insult high school students; it's just a fact of reality. Bill Cosby had it right years ago when he opined that children's brains were not yet fully developed.

A variation on this theme of online action, which is really almost complete inaction, is that people will attack those they see as online bullies with completely venomous attacks themselves. They think it is acceptable to give bullies their own medicine, but by that they become just what they disapprove of. But they don't think it through. They don't see themselves as bullies.
I believe the adolescent-ification I'm talking about today is also seen in the intolerance of the so-called tolerant. No one is so intolerant as those who self-righteously see themselves as tolerant. Adolescent thinking sees only itself; selfishly sees only its own opinion and doesn't extend the same tolerance it demands to allow others their own differing opinions. It doesn't see the logical inconsistency of its own position.

Just my thoughts, and perhaps not as well expressed as they could be, but I reserve the right to edit.

Take Care

PS: I also should apologize for getting off the, "Faith" theme of this blog, but I see much of what's happening in today's society as ramifications of our abandoning of our Christian faith and heritage, and its accompanying servant attitudes.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism

From here

Hardly definitive, but an interesting take on why atheism may be, at least in part, a result of psychological and not strictly intellectual factors.
The bulk of the book is spent examining the biographies of many of the most influential atheists (and a few deists), including Nietzsche, Hume, Sartre, Schopenhauer, Freud, H. G. Wells, and Richard Dawkins. This group is contrasted with a representative “control group” of prominent theists such as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Wilberforce, Chesterton, Bonhoeffer, and Newman. Vitz makes a strong argument, for in nearly every case, the atheists had abusive, weak, distant, absent or otherwise defective fathers, while the theists had positive relationships with their fathers, or, in some cases, with caring father-figures.
Again, it is difficult to draw a one-to-one correlation, but an interesting concept nonetheless.

Take Care

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Make Up Your Mind, Mr. Dawkins

A couple of quotes from Richard Dawkins:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion    

So?... What's your problem, Mr. Dawkins, because you also said...

The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (emphasis mine)
If you believe there is no evil, then what is the point of your first rant quoted above? If there is no evil, then your description of God is completely meaningless and irrelevant. All the adjectives you used in your description of Him are, at best, completely neutral, or, in your own wording, indifferent.


Take Care

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Intolerance of Tolerance

A quote from, "Truth Matters",
Copyright © 2014 by Andreas KĂ–stenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw
A recent Harvard graduate, quoted in D. A. Carson’s book The Intolerance of Tolerance, made this point in a speech delivered at commencement: “They tell us it’s heresy to suggest the superiority of some value, fantasy to believe in moral argument, slavery to submit to a judgment sounder than our own. The freedom of our day is freedom to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true.
I thought it was an interesting way of putting it. The emphasis is mine

Take Care

Monday, 28 April 2014

Destroy a Church in Four Easy Steps?

Here's how
A short time ago I learned of a church building in our neighborhood that was for sale... ...we thought we should go and give it a look. This had once been a thriving congregation. Faithful Christians had given sacrificially to construct that building. They had consecrated it to the Lord and had worshipped there for many years. Yet now that building was deserted, decaying, and up for sale.
Friends and I talked about this yesterday - Why do some churches think that by accommodating to the culture they will attract new members? They must be convinced that by widening, but at the same time shallowing their standards, they will bring floods of new people to their doors. But it NEVER happens, and they keep doing it!

Well, you know what they say about the definition of insanity...

Take Care

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Is It True?

The most important thing to be asked about the Christian Faith is not,
  • "Is it helpful?"
  • "Will it make me happy?"
  • "Will it give me a better life?"
  • "Will I prosper financially?" or even
  • "Will it bring me peace"?
  • "Is it true?
Because if it is not true, nothing else matters for very long anyway. No matter how happy, rich, successful or famous one is in life, it will, at one time or other, be over and, for most of us, after perhaps a period of mourning by those close to us, the world will carry on as if we were never here.
But if it is true, it has enormous, even infinite significance, because eternity is at stake.
As C.S. Lewis said,
Christianity, if it is not true, is of no importance. If true, it is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
Take Care

Saturday, 19 April 2014

An Alpha Diary - New Blog

I have started a new blog, specifically devoted to my thoughts and duties as Alberta Regional Director with Alpha Canada.

Find it here

Take Care

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Answer to Warren's Last Question

Warren asked: "Would you apply your criticism to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada - and many Canadian Governments, both Liberal and Conservative, over many years?"

Hi Warren,
Yes, but perhaps even more so. It seems to me that the Great Society and the War on Poverty, whatever we see as the unintended consequences looking back, were sincere attempts to help the, ”targets,” if you like, of the programs. In other words, I believe those policies were put into place, however badly they may have turned out,  with the sincere belief they would be effective in accomplishing the idealistic goals of those who envisioned them. The cultural results as argued in West’s book, I don’t believe, were what was hoped to be accomplished.
Policies regarding our own Native Peoples, on the other hand had little if anything to do with our concern for their wellbeing. I don’t believe those who put into place those policies on residential schools, for instance, had any thought at all about the true welfare of the native children sent to them. Rather, they tried to take away their language, identity and culture.

This goes to my harping, on several occasions, about, “bandwagons.” It was about the same time as so-called, “progressives” were on the eugenics bandwagon, when Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and others thought the way to a better society was to eliminate the weak, the infirm and the, “less fit” races . We may look back on it now, raise our noses, and sniff that WE would never be a part of such things, but I’m afraid that many who think that self-righteous way now may very well have been right onboard, back in the day. Forced sterilization continued in Alberta until quite recent memory.
These programs were nothing to do with the care and welfare of those targeted, but everything to do with an elitist view of bettering society, a view and practise that we now see as entirely unacceptable. They may have sincerely thought that this was for the betterment of society, but it was completely selfish of them, in that they thought only of bettering their own society.

Are there issues today that I see in the same light? Yes. Being the right-wing conservative that I am I see the death of freedom of conscious and the call to spend billions on, “climate change” as current issues upon which people may someday look back and see our mistakes. Gay marriage? Not really. Some claim that gay marriage will lead to the disintegration of the family, but that horse left the barn ages ago with the acceptance of common-law relationships as equivalent to marriage.
Not sure this addresses the entire issue. I got your comment in a motel in Medicine Hat. I am writing this answer in a Super 8 in Lethbridge. As far as solutions to the problems resulting from our treatment of our Native Peoples, that's another matter, and I'm afraid my ideas would be totally politically uncorrect.
Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts. Hope we're still friends.

Take Care,

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

All The Best Intentions?

I couldn't help but be touched by excerpts from a new book by former Congressman and retired Lieutenant Army Colonel Allen West, an African American himself, “Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom.”
How misguided policies, however well intended, (if that is what they are, or were) can have serious and unforeseen consequences difficult to undo. Residential schools in our own history, "climate change" or shutting down freedom of speech and conscience in the name of tolerance in our own generation?

From here...

LBJ and the Great Society promoted the disintegration of the black community. 

“When I revisit my neighborhood in Atlanta, I see the blight facing most urban neighborhoods: Section 8 housing, food stamps, EBT card signs, and the breakdown of the family. Of all the consequences of the Great Society programs and the War on Poverty, intended or otherwise, the destruction of the black family has been the most disastrous. More than 70 percent of black children are born outside of marriage. That is an epidemic. And if you take into account the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statistics that close to three hundred thousand black babies are aborted annually, are we looking at racial genocide?  

The brilliant idea for this tragedy came from the progressive socialists of the Johnson administration who thought government should provide welfare payments to women who purposely had children out of wedlock and did not seek to get married or have a male living in the same home. 

In other words, the Johnson administration was promoting the disintegration of the moral fiber of the black community. Furthermore, the government would send our social workers to inspect the households and ensure there were no males residing in the home, because if there were, the benefits would be cut off. As long as women remained single, they could stay on these programs and receive free health care, housing, and babysitting services for life.

The most dangerous consequence of President Johnson’s misguided policy is the abdication of individual responsibility in the black community.” 

“When Booker T. Washington talked about education, self-reliance and entrepreneurship, he was describing economic independence. But the Great Society has left a legacy of economic dependence, a new form of slavery, and to me, a far more dangerous one, because it destroys the will and determination to excel. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, welfare is “a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” And that is what I see when I go back to the ol’ Fourth Ward and drive along Boulevard… 

The Great Society has turned out to be a big lie, and sadly, those in my community who bought into it are stuck on the twenty-first-century plantation.”

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Update on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

In light of the seemingly endless coverage, especially by CNN, who seem to think there is no other news, nothing else happening worth covering, in the entire world, I present this update from my brother in Ontario:

I'd like to you tell what a special morning I had.  It started as usual, up at 7:30, into my pajama bottoms and housecoat, toast with peanut butter and jam, coffee and while the wife is puttering around preparing herself for work, I sit on the loveseat and look over the beautiful property we are privileged to enjoy.  I kiss her on each cheek, then stand on the porch while she backs out of the driveway.  As her car turns the corner and disappears from view, I do as I have done every morning for the last two weeks and head to the bathroom, scouring it for any possible debris from the missing Malaysian Airliner.  I check the light receptacles, the ceiling vent/fan, the toilet tank, behind the garbage basket, the toilet paper roll, the sink counter top, drawers and cupboard.  Looked everywhere, found nothing.  The phone rang.  It was a guy from Zhangjawanzhen, China, a suburb of the capital, Beijing.  He said, " Foo yung chew pow yen yong kow yang dung", which roughly translated means, he was studying space satellite images of the south Indian Ocean searching for evidence of a downed jet airliner, then he Googled my address.  Next, he asked me to go back to the room I'd just left as he saw a body of water with what appeared to be a airplane door floating on the surface.  I politely excused myself, placed his call on hold, went back to the bathroom and drew back the shower curtain.  Lo-and-behold, sure enough my wife, thoughtful as always, had drawn a bath for me and a hairbrush had slipped off the ledge and was bobbing on top.  I returned to his call and told him what I had uncovered and he said he would call the Australian Prime Minister and take back what he'd earlier reported to him.  I thought, you know, what a wonderful world we live in, I feel so very safe knowing half a world away someone is keeping an eye on me.  Then he said," U 2 phat 4 sum grey guy, nee wooze wate."  This did not need translating.  I swore at him and slammed the phone down as hard as I could.  It's a small world after all.   
Some may see this as cruel, but I thought it extremely funny. Perhaps it's just my warped sense of humour. Forgive me if you disagree.

Take Care

Monday, 24 March 2014

Divine or Man-Made?

Whiskey Tango FoxtrotMarch 23, 2014

“Religion is founded on a notion that it has teachings or scriptures from a divine (supernatural) source, and this source is provides insights into ultimate truths which can not be discerned by mere mortals investigating nature.
Any religious institution which believes it needs to modernise its beliefs is admitting that its beliefs have never had such a divine source – they are man-made and, like all man-made things, need to be modernised periodically. Consequently, that institution no longer represents a spiritual belief system, but is simply a political organisation which pretends to be founded on spiritual beliefs.”
Indeed! Churches are supposed to be like prophets crying in the wilderness, calling on “polite society” to repent. Welby, Schori & their ilk have completely turned the tables. Rather than seeking to reform and amend our lives to God’s plan, they are working overtime to change God to fit their own little boxes." (emphasis mine, JK)

Says a lot, I think,

Take Care,

h/t MCJ

Thursday, 13 February 2014

So Much For The (Hopes of) New Atheism.

I post this without much comment, mainly because the story itself is its own comment.
According to a new survey by the National Science Foundation, nearly half of all Americans say astrology, the study of celestial bodies’ purported influence on human behavior and worldly events, is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.”
By contrast, 92 percent of the Chinese public think horoscopes are a bunch of baloney.
What’s more alarming, researchers show in the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study, is that American attitudes about science are moving in the wrong direction. Skepticism of astrology hit an all-time high in 2004, when 66 percent of Americans said astrology was total nonsense. But each year, fewer and fewer respondents have dismissed the connections between star alignment and personality as bunk.
Not surprisingly, those with less science education and less “factual knowledge” have become increasingly willing to accept astrology as legitimate science, with 65 percent of such individuals considering the pseudo-science credible in 2012, up from 48 percent in 2010.
Young people are also especially inclined to offer astrology scientific legitimacy, with a majority of Americans ages 18 to 24 considering the practice at least “sort of” scientific, and the 25-34 age group is not far behind them.
Some might feel optimistically, that as people become more 'enlightened' and turn away from what we might call traditional religious faith, society as a whole will become more rational; more scientific-thinking.

This seems to bear out the paraphrase of G. K. Chesterton that if people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing; they'll believe in anything.

Take Care

h/t the mcj

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Morrissey Compares Eating Meat To Pedophilia

From here...
This story is a couple of days old but it is so ridiculous I just have to say something. I'm afraid I'm not that familiar with the Smiths, but apparently it's former lead singer, showing an immense lack of critical thought, has said,
"I see no difference between eating animals and paedophilia. They are both rape, violence, murder,"
I don't know how he figures eating meat is rape, for instance, unless he has a different definition of rape, but it would be interesting to hear his explanation.

But my question is not only for him, but others like Pamela Anderson or Paul McCartney, who stand so adamantly against something like, say, our seal hunt.  And my question would be this, "Where do you draw the line?" At what point is it OK or not OK to take something's life? Is it cuteness? Have you ever set a mouse trap? Have you ever swatted a mosquito? I would like them to explain exactly what they see as the difference.

Have they, or this Morrissey guy ever eaten a slice of bread made with wheat from a field that was treated with insecticides? At what point to they compromise their stated or alleged principles? Where's their line, because they certainly have one. Otherwise they should be out protesting flyswatter manufacturers.

Just askin',

Take Care

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Freedom From Religion? Really?

I was reflecting on the various antics of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and it struck me that if they get their way, which can really be narrowed to, "freedom from Christianity," they will not have accomplished their stated aim, but will have replaced a relatively benign and benelovent religion with one they will find far more oppressive.

The way things are looking, if Christianity is replaced in Western Society, it will not be by atheism, but by Islam.

Just sayin'

Take Care