Sunday, December 30, 2007

So, What's the Fuss?

For the believing Christian who understands the real meaning of Christmas, the unspoken question often leveled at us when we make much of our Savior is..."what's the fuss?" So today I wrote a few lines:

A baby born...
So what's the fuss?
Emmanuel
He's God with us.

Born to die
At Calvary
The Lamb of God
He died for me.

An empty tomb
A risen Christ
For all my sin
He paid the price.

And one day soon
Oh what a fuss!
He'll split the clouds
And come for us.

And that, my friend, is what the fuss is all about. God came to us in human form. He, the incarnate God, moved into our neighborhood and became one of us...only to end up on a cross...for us. Why? Because He loved us!

That is what the fuss is all about.
~ David

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Our friend Mrs. Mac over at What Ever Happened To penned the following, The Ghosts of Christmas Past, and posted it just before Christmas. Good stuff! Have you ever wondered:

Whatever happened to:

- neighborhood church bells
- a reverence for religious and national holidays
- special occasion dresses
- waiting until December 25 for a present
- a much anticipated long distance phone call ... for just a few minutes due to cost
- 99.9 % of stores and businesses closing for Christmas, Sunday, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.
- saying "Merry Christmas" ... instead of "Happy (generic) Holidays
- Christmas savings programs through your bank so you didn't owe on credit cards for six months past Christmas
- moderation
- being content with whatever present you received ... instead of handing out a wish list
- driving to grandma's house for a family gathering
- meaningful Christmas music
- nothing remotely Christmasie until after Thanksgiving ...
- the real reason for celebrating Christmas ...
- whole intact families

It makes you wonder doesn't it!

Maybe next year...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Respectable Sins...A Review

The following review of an excellent book which I'm presently reading is taken in its entirety from the following web site entitled The Shepherd's Scrapbook: http://www.spurgeon.wordpress.com

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

The title of Jerry Bridge’s new book – Respectable Sins — pops with sarcasm. While confronting many obvious and blatant sins in culture – abortion, corporate corruption, homosexuality, bullying and physical abuse – the Church frequently misses the sins running rampant within its walls.

“The motivation for this book stems from a growing conviction that those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more ‘refined’ or subtle sins” (p. 9).

Later in Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress: 2007). Bridges makes this shocking statement: “In our human values of civil laws, we draw a huge distinction between an otherwise ‘law-abiding citizen’ who gets an occasional traffic ticket and a person who lives a ‘lawless’ life in contempt and utter disregard for all laws. But the Bible does not seem to make that distinction. Rather, it simply says sin – that is, all sin without distinction – is lawlessness” (p. 20).

Bridges begins the book with an excellent chapter on defining sainthood in light of the messed-up Corinthians being considered “saints” (see 2 Cor. 1:1). We are called to live as the “saints” we have been declared in Christ. The second chapter — “The Disappearance of Sin” — paints a strong argument that the Church is having a hard time defining and seeing her own sins. The third chapter – “The Malignancy of Sin” – sets out to reveal that sin is not merely what we do but who we are. Our sinful actions spring from our sinful heart. Sin is a “principle or moral force in our heart, our inner being” (p. 24). Bridges then gets into the Gospel as our hope. We can face and overcome sin because of the Cross and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. Bridges has dressed the reader for warfare.

The “Respectable Sins”


So what sins are “respectable sins”? Bridges’ chapters include the following topics:

- general ungodliness defined as a sinful attitude towards God
- anxieties and frustrations
- discontentment
- unthankfulness
- pridefulness revealed specifically in self-righteousness, even in a pursuit of theological accuracy, in prideful motives behind our achievements and revealed in a spirit of independence
- selfishness with our interests, time, money and inconsiderableness
- lack of self-control in eating, drinking and temperament, finances, entertainment and shopping - impatience and irritability
- anger, even anger towards God, and the underlying roots of anger in resentment, bitterness, enmity, hostility and holding grudges
- judgmentalism and a critical spirit over differing convictions and doctrinal disagreements
- envy, jealousy, competitiveness and being controlling
- the sins of the tongue like gossip, slander, lying, harsh words, sarcasm, insults and ridicule
- worldliness shown financially, by our idolatry and in “vicarious immorality,” that is, the enjoyment of watching or reading the sinfulness of others.

And Bridges says his list was whittled down for print!

Conclusion

Bridges’ new work fills an important gap. There are excellent theoretical and architectural works to help church leaders conceive the mission of pastoral ministry and fellowship groups (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp is one great one). But Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress: 2007) may be the best yet in giving churches an easy-to-read book that has great potential in small group settings as believers help one another identify — and then mortify — the “respectable” sins of the heart. And only one who has proven himself faithful to the message of the Cross, like Bridges, is suited to lead us deep into the caves and caverns where sin lives in our hearts. A useful and excellent book worthy of consideration in the 2007 TSS Book of the Year contest.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Greetings

We pause on this Christmas morning to send warm, heartfelt greetings to all our fellow pilgrims. We pray that you will pause to reflect on all that Christ means to us and all that He has accomplished on our behalf. God bless you as you celebrate the birthday of our King.

We are trusting God for great things in the coming year. Our prayer is that you would walk with Him more closely and share His love with a world that has lost its bearings.

I've been reading an excellent new book by John Stott entitled The Living Church. He states that "we are trustees of God's revelation" meaning that the Father has entrusted His truth, the Good News, to us and it's our reponsibility, by the Spirit's enabling, to faithfully and biblically declare that revelation to our world.

Have a joy-filled Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

The pilgrim, David

Note: Thanks to Becky from Glad Books for this beautiful picture of sun on snow.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More Bittersweet

As the ongoing drama of selling our home unfolds we find ourselves riding a wild roller coaster of emotions.

We received an offer that we couldn't refuse almost two weeks ago. All the conditions have been met thus far. One condition was that the perspective buyer could arrange a home inspection. This was carried out yesterday. You can imagine how Carol was feeling as the inspector thoroughly went from top to bottom checking every imaginable thing. Tapping, banging, opening, closing. He did it all!

We waited nervously. The buyer was there with the inspector and when he was done she was so excited she blurted out, "I love this home so much. I wish we could move in today." We were relieved that the inspection went well but it brings us one step closer to moving on.

The problem is that we "love" our home a lot. But...it's just bricks and mortar and the things that mean most will be going with us wherever we end up.

Each time I look out the back window and see the picturesque winter wonderland that has been ours for 13 1/2 years my heart trembles and I choke up. This will be our last Christmas in this home. I won't be sitting in my Adirondack chair beside the creek anymore. No trails to wander through. But life moves on and God has great things in store for us. That's what we believe but at times it's hard to convince myself of that fact.

Last night I drove past the home of my friends Watson and Noemi Atkinson. Watson will never return to that home. After suffering a heart attack in the Philippines recently God called him to his eternal resting place...a much better home. Seeing their empty home (Noemi and their daughter Jenalyn are still in the Philippines) helped to place things in perspective.

We are pilgrims here and we better not put our roots down too deep. The things that matter most are NOT "things" but relationships and people and our faith in a sovereign, faithful God.

"Father, don't allow me to get too attached to earthly things that will quickly fade in significance but cause me to fix my eyes and attention on You and Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for every blessing that You lavish upon Your children. We have a heavenly home whose builder and maker is God and we are but pilgrims on a journey that leads to You. Thanks for walking with us each step of the way. We praise You for who You are and what You have done for us through Jesus Christ our wonderful Lord. AMEN!"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

That Night












What we celebrate:

Mary conceived
Joseph protected
Innkeeper accommodated
Straw cradled
Baby slept
Cattle lowed
Shepherds watched
Angel announced
Shepherds trembled
Angels sang
Shepherds visited
Mary pondered
Salvation birthed
Mankind delivered
Prophecy fulfilled
God smiled.


~ David W. Fisher
December 19/07

What Does It Take?

Last night the boys and I ate at Arby's. The paper placemat on the tray (pictured) told us what it takes to make "life good". ROAST BEET. CURLY FRIES. LIFE'S GOOD. Matthew & Nathan couldn't understand why I would fold up the greasy placemat and take it home. This is why. It got me thinking! What really constitutes a "good life".

Is it being physically fit by working out at one of the GOOD LIFE fitness centres?

Is it getting a "case of 24" for a "buck a bottle" as some commercials proclaim?

If you were to re-write the Arby's statement using only 4 words...two groups of 2, then adding "Life's Good", what would yours look like? For the Christian who seeks to obey God, walk in the Spirit and love others what would he/she say?

Here are a few of mine, keeping in mind that life isn't always "good" just because of the pleasant things we encounter:

"PERPLEXING PROBLEMS, GOD'S GRACE, LIFE'S GOOD!"

"STRUGGLING PILGRIMS, GOD'S FAITHFULNESS, LIFE'S GOOD!"

"PERFECT PEACE, EVERLASTING ARMS, LIFE'S GOOD!"

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." - Psalm 16:11 (KJV)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Scattered Thoughts

It's late! I'm tired! My mind is racing! I'm at work! Christmas music is playing in the background! But...I'm not ready for Christmas!

My friend will be buried in the Philippines on Tuesday. I'm not sure when the funeral is but they are 12 hours ahead of me so it's almost noon on Tuesday as I type this.

There are so many hurting people out there!

Father, touch those who hurt with Your loving, outstretched hand! Minister love, mercy, grace and peace to them tonight! Enfold them in Your everlasting arms. May the mystery of the incarnation become real to them as they discover what Christmas is all about. Grant this, O God, for Jesus' sake! AMEN!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bittersweet Scribblings

Those of you who receive my Pilgrim Scribblings e-mail updates will already be aware that a dear friend of mine, Watson Atkinson, died in the Philippines several days ago following a severe heart attack. His dear wife Noemi and their special adopted child Jenalyn (from the Philippines) grieve the loss of a wonderful husband and father. Watson will be buried in the Philippines this coming week.

I struggle to come to grips with this seeming tragedy. Watson is "absent from the body and present with the Lord" but those who remain are left to grieve...although "they don't sorrow as others who have no hope."

It's hard to imagine Noemi and Jenalyn coming home to an empty house with all the reminders of Watson there. It will be difficult for me to get any sense of closure because I won't get to see Watson's body.

We joked about growing old two weeks ago while we were chatting at church. He spoke often in recent months about being ready to go "home" but we never thought it would be this soon. Even though Watson lived in the Peterborough area (Millbrook) his heart had been in the Philippines for years. He had a heart for World Missions and served on the Missions Committee at Auburn Bible Chapel.

Watson, I'll miss you, dear friend. Noemi and Jenalyn, you are in our prayers and you are safely gripped and embraced by God's everlasting arms.

Thanks for praying for Noemi and Jenalyn, my friends!

Friday, December 14, 2007

JESUS...What a Wonderful Name!


End of Construction

Taken from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Christmas newsletter:

"Years ago Ruth (Billy's wife who went to be with Jesus earlier this year) noticed a highway sign and told us she wanted that sign as her epitaph. If you visit her burial place today in Charlotte, you will find the words of the sign etched on her marker stone: 'End of construction. Thank you for your patience.' "

How fitting! We are continually being fashioned into His likeness. It's an ongoing work that won't be completed until we see His lovely face. In the meantime we ask that friends, family and associates be patient with us. We are a work in progress.

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Italics mine - David

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stones of Remembrance

Lest I forget that God is faithful, I have many reminders throughout my office. For this post I've assembled some of these "stones of remembrance" that serve to assure me that God will provide and that He knows my needs.

In the accompanying photo you can see the portrait of George Muller that graces my desk. The photo on the right of one of the orphanage buildings was taken when I visited Bristol, England earlier this year.

The rock on the left was taken from a crumbling stone wall in front of one of the buildings. The other piece on the left is from the foundation of one of the orphanage buildings. The college that presently occupies these buildings was doing some renovations and I took this piece as a reminder of God's faithfulness and provision.

The book in the center is written by Roger Steer, Muller's biographer. Roger and I met in Exeter in March and enjoyed a wonderful time of Christian fellowship.

So, when I wonder if God will provide for our present needs I just need to look around my office. Of course His word declares His faithfulness and I just need to trust His promises.

When You Don't Understand

Today I read the following quote by J. I. Packer and it's so good I need to share it.

Packer writes, "We should not abandon faith in anything that God has taught us merely because we cannot solve all the problems which it raises. Our own intellectual competence is not the test and measure of divine truth. It is not for us to stop believing because we lack understanding, or to postpone believing till we can get understanding, but to believe in order than we may understand. This is the core issue of authority - are we going to trust our own minds, or are we going to trust God's Word?" taken from Fundamentalism and the Word of God

Something to think about...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Financial Career

One of Canada's most recognized writers from a past generation was Stephen Leacock (1869-1944). Born in England, Leacock's family emigrated to Canada and settled on a farm near Sutton, Ontario. Many of his summers were spent in Orillia, Ontario, not too far from where I live.

The short piece of Leacock's work that I recall most vividly is his "My Financial Career." Check it out here. Banks and Leacock weren't good friends. Likely enemies. I can relate! My first job after graduating from my 2nd year in Grade 12 was with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. I persevered for two months then made a withdrawal. I removed myself from the bank and deposited myself in the family business for 7 years before buying the local Christian bookstore which I kept afloat with God's help for 15 years with frequent visits to the bank manager. How I despised those visits!

When you live on the edge, with no visible means of support, eking out a hand to mouth (God's hand to my mouth) existence, banks can be a life saver or a curse. You're always waiting for "the call" when the crusty clerk calls to say that your cheque was made of rubber. The bank statements arrive in the mail and you quickly shred them and line the bird cage with the pieces. You never read them. You hate bad news!

With modern technology we can stick a plastic card in a metal machine and get paper money for free or at least that's what my kids think. Insert the card, enter your PIN and the amount needed than pray fervently that NOT APPROVED doesn't flash on the screen. I've seen those dreaded words far too often., this morning for example, and this may have prompted me to write this post.

You only have $5.00 left in your pocket and you need gas in the car. You know your credit card is maxed, your chequing account is taxed and you have to make a choice. Rather than suffer embarassment twice you choose to pay cash and go without milk. How come the outstanding balance owing on your card is always higher than you thought and the available balance in your bank account is always lower than you guessed?

It's not that the bank employees I've dealt with in recent years have been hard to deal with. On the contrary they have been exceptional. They had to be to deal with me! All twelve managers in the last eight years have been understanding women. Not a guy in the group. I wonder why. Of course it takes a month or two to explain what "living by faith" is all about. A foreign concept. You work but you might not get paid. Such uncertainty! When the tellers see me coming they know that I either have to do some juggling or another miracle has happened. Some unknown donor has taken pity and sent along a charitable gift.

Will there be financial institutions in heaven? I'm banking on the assurance that there won't be any such thing. I pray that there won't be. No need! The Giver of every good and perfect gift will be enthroned there. We will have all we need...in Him.

'Til then I guess I have to make my treks to the TD Canada Trust after waiting for the mailman's miracle deliveries either to make a deposit or arrange a loan to carry me 'til the next miracle.

Am I stressed? YES! Do I need to be? NO!

I've been writing this while waiting for the mailman to arrive. It's two o'clock. He should arrive soon. Maybe this is the day!

Excuse me while I check the mailbox.

AND PLEASE PRAY...

THANKS!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Share A Comment

Yesterday I received some encouragement while waiting for our church service to begin.

A member of our congregation who I had never engaged in a conversation before told me that she enjoyed reading my blog. I was excited to hear that but I asked why she had never left a comment after reading any of my posts.

We talked about the need for encouragement and I thanked her for letting me know that she reads my blog.

So, dear friends, share a comment...or two when something I've written has been a blessing.

And the friend's name who I challenged to "share a comment'? Sherra! Yes, that's her name...Sherra Fam!

I'll be waiting for your comments and be sure to encourage someone today.

"so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 (NIV)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lone Man On The Totem Pole

This post was inspired by a photo I found on Becky's site. See the link to Becky's Glad Books.

I've heard the expression "low man on the totem pole" as I'm sure you have. What about "lone man on the totem pole"?
Have you ever felt so alone that you're convinced that nobody else understands the way you feel or knows your heart? I'm sure you have. Just like the leaf in this picture...you feel that you're all alone, deserted, abandoned by God and everyone else.

That's how Elijah felt. He was determined that he was the only righteous man left in the country but God told him otherwise.

You're never alone even though it may seem that way. God has promised never to forsake His own and He keeps every promise.

TRUST HIM TODAY! HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Nudge In Tight

Last Friday was one of those times when the events of the day mirrored the weather or vice versa. One minute the sun was shining, the next it seemed like a blizzard was blowing the roof off. One minute I felt at peace and then my sense of well-being would be shattered. Being the end of the month there's always a bit of apprehension. Will we able to make the mortgage payment? Will God provide miraculously again like He's always done before? Back and forth I went...all day, riding an emotional roller coaster that seemed out of control.

In the midst of the turmoil God, by His Spirit, was giving comfort and encouragement. Without His whispers urging me to carry on I wouldn't have made it. I would have crashed and it wouldn't have been pretty.

Every time I would begin to despair God would whisper, "Nudge in tight, things WILL be alright!" I'd cozy up to Him, so to speak, get under "shadow of the Almighty, be carried along by His everlasting arms and I'd sense a calm release. This happened repeatedly throughout the day.

Friday night I was awake in the middle of the night...thinking too much, of course, and God whispered again. I finally got up, went down to my computer and typed out this dialogue between the Father and me.

First a poem:

The whisper of God came out of the heavens.
Caring, compassionate words filled with love,
The whisper of God, so intimate, personal
Meant just for me and they came from above.


Now the dialogue:

GOD: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright!”

DAVID: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright?” Nudge? Doesn’t that mean to push aside? Surely that’s not what You’re trying to say.

GOD: “Your mere human words can’t ever describe
And convey to you what I’m trying to say.
Nudge, nestle, cuddle?…you know what I mean
Just trust me and do what I tell you today.”

GOD: “Nudge in tight, things will be alright!”

DAVID: "Yes, Father! I’ll nudge in tight, Things WILL be alright!


Dear friend, are you battling something that looms so large that it threatens to defeat you? Nudge in tight to God. Allow Him to take your burdens and cares. He has never lost a battle yet...and never will.

Psalm 91 is such a comfort in times like these:

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

AMEN!

~ David W. Fisher

December 3rd, 2007