Friday, February 29, 2008
You'll have to help us celebrate! Thanks for your visits and comments!
God is good!
Stephen Weber included this photo and scripture on his Daily Encouragement site today.
Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, these words help give us a picture of God's great love and mercy.
I thank God that He didn't repay us according to our iniquities.
~ the Pilgrim
Rhymes & Reasons
by Greg Asimakoupoulos
Published February 21, 2008
A collection of Greg's finest and most memorable poems from the Rhymes & Reasons archive, conveniently categorized for the first time. Greg's poetic commentary on the news of the day is typically poignant and clever.
"My friend Greg Asimakoupoulos communicates timeless truths through timely rhymes. His little poems pay big dividends — in wit, insight and inspiration."
—Michael Medved, Nationally Syndicated Talk Radio Host
"Rarely does a game go by without my pastor and friend Greg Asimakoupoulos penning a poem that captures what occurred on the field in a fun and creative way. It always brings a smile to my face when I read his weekly Rhymes and Reasons."
—Mike Holmgren, Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks"Greg is able to use his special gifts to share truth, compassion, faith, humor and God's love. When life's trials were at a peak for our family, his poetic and sensitive words brought comfort."
—Peggy Beamer, Mother of September 11th patriot Todd Beamer
"Greg Asimakoupoulos is truly gifted. I don’t know of anyone who can reveal an insight related to a current event or moral value with more creativity and wisdom than Greg. He’s amazing. He’s clever. He’s quick. And on top of all his creativity he’s thoroughly grounded. Read Rhymes and Reasons and prepare to be inspired."
—Les Parrott, Ph.D., Author of Love Talk
Renaud, drafted by the Calgary Flames, collapsed and died at his home. The cause of death is still being investigated.
Before last night's game each Windsor Spitfire player came onto the ice wearing a replica of Renaud's #18 jersey with the captain's "C" emblazoned on the front.
It was an emotional prelude to the Spitfire's first game since this tragic death.
This morning Ben Davey, one of the Breakfast Club co-hosts on Life 100.3, commented on last night's tribute. He suggested that Renaud's parents must have looked on with mixed emotions as Mickey's teammates came onto the ice decked out like him. In effect the Renauds had 20 plus sons out there.
Similarly, Davey commented, God must look down on His children and see many reflections of His Son Jesus Christ. How are we reflecting the One whom we claim to serve? Are we decked out like Him or would it be difficult for others to recognize our allegiance?
We mourn the loss of a talented hockey player and pray for his family as they grieve this terrible loss. Last night's tribute was one hockey team's effective method of honouring one of their own.
Here are some profound thoughts from her:
"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy."
~ Elisabeth Elliot
"I went, late one summer, for a prolonged period of rest to a hill-resort where accommodation was difficult to obtain, and while there it was necessary for me to sleep in one house and take my meals in another, the latter being the home of a mechanic and his wife. For the first two weeks of my visit, apart from asking a blessing at each meal, I said nothing to my hosts about the Gospel; and then one day my opportunity came to tell them about the Lord Jesus. They were ready to listen and to come to Him in simple faith for the forgiveness of their sins. They were born again, and a new light and joy came into their lives, for theirs was a real conversion. I took care to make clear to them what had happened, and then, as the weather turned colder, the time came for me to leave them and return to Shanghai.
During the cold winter months the man was in the habit of drinking wine with his meals, and he was apt to do so to excess. After my departure, with the return of the cold weather, the wine appeared on the table again, and that day, as he had become accustomed to do, the husband bowed his head to return thanks for the meal—but no words would come. After one or two vain attempts he turned to his wife. ‘What is wrong?’ he asked. ‘Why cannot we pray today? Fetch the Bible and see what it has to say about wine drinking.’ I had left a copy of the Scriptures with them, but though the wife could read she was ignorant of the Word, and she turned the pages in vain seeking for light on the subject. They did not know how to consult God’s Book and it was impossible to consult God’s messenger, for I was many miles away and it might be months before they could see me. ‘Just drink your wine’, said his wife. ‘We’ll refer the matter to brother Nee at the first opportunity.’ But still the man found he just could not return thanks to the Lord for that wine. ‘Take it away!’ he said at length; and when she had done so, together they asked a blessing on their meal.
When eventually the man was able to visit Shanghai he told me the story. Using an expression familiar in Chinese: ‘Brother Nee’, he said, ‘Resident Boss wouldn’t let me have that drink!’ ‘Very good, brother’, I said. ‘You always listen to Resident Boss!’"
The Pilgrim's note...
All too often we shrug off the "still small voice" of "Resident Boss" to our own detriment. When He speaks, listen...and obey.
"Christ's call is to save the lost, not the stiff-necked; He came not to call scoffers but sinners to repentance; not to build and furnish comfortable chapels, churches, and cathedrals at home in which to rock Christian professors to sleep by means of clever essays, stereotyped prayers, and artistic musical performances, but to capture men from the devil's clutches and the very jaws of hell. This can be accomplished only by a red-hot, unconventional, unfettered devotion, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Lord Jesus Christ."
- C.T. Studd (1860-1931), Missionary to China and Africa
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The home inspection took place today so I went to check it out. It met with my approval (Carol was relieved) and we're looking forward to making the transition in early June.
Here are a few pictures which I took this morning. We have a great view from the living room.
Thanks for your prayers during this stressful time!
~ the Pilgrim
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Being involved in a letter-writing ministry I thought of the thousands of letters I have written and wondered if any of them would be considered "famous". Hopefully some of them have "shaped" the world of the athletes to whom they were written.
Our ministry, EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES, has sought to "Encounter Professionals In Sports Through Letters of Encouragement" for over 30 years.
The apostle Paul's letters (epistles) to the early church certainly shaped and impacted the believers in the first century. They were so significant (breathed by the Holy Spirit) that they have been preserved until today. They continue to instruct us in the way we should live. I praise God that "holy men of God spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (1 Peter 1:21)
We can have such a positive impact on others when we write letters of encouragement. How often has a struggling pilgrim been uplifted and challenged to "carry on" by a timely word written by another pilgrim!
Why not drop a letter in the mail today. Encourage a fellow believer. It may not be a "famous letter" in the eyes of the world but in God's economy and in the eyes of the recipient it might be historically life-changing.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The photo reminded me of the words to a song I learned to play when I was taking piano lessons as a little boy.
I added the lyrics of the first verse to the picture...
"As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." - John 9:4 (NIV)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Here are some scattered scribblings concerning sports:
My interactions with Roger Clemens (pictured) over the years were always positive. I may be proven wrong but I believe him when he says he wasn't injected with HGH (human growth hormones). I'm praying for you, Roger!
The bloody incident in Buffalo involving Richard Zednik was scary. Thank You, Father, for sparing this hockey player. May his recovery be quick and complete.
The Senators' trade with the Hurricanes was a good one in my estimation - at least for this season. Cory Stillman is a native of Peterborough (like me) and will add some secondary scoring to the Sens' lineup.
My friend Mike Sweeney has signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics. It sure will seem strange not seeing him when the Kansas City Royals come to Toronto. I wish you God's best, Mike!
It's good to see Jordan Staal putting the puck in the net more often. I knew he would come around.
Remember the Patriots? They finally lost a game...the Big One.
If you listen closely you'll soon be able to hear the crack of the bat in Florida and Arizona.
It's exciting watching Zach Bogosian of the Peterborough Petes as he hones his skills awaiting the NHL draft in June. This could very well be his last season here. It's bittersweet to see a fine, young man in his teens go off to the NHL.
Does anyone not think Mike Fisher is the consumate pro?
I'm one of a handful of fans who like Andrew Raycroft! Give the guy a break!
Keep your eye on David Booth of the Florida Panthers. He's a keeper! A fine Christian too!
I might be biased but Bud Fisher is one of the finest young athletes (and men) you will ever meet. Check out the Quinnipiac Bobcats link on the Pilgrim Scribblings blog.
That's all for now, folks!
Monday, February 11, 2008
The great Church of England preacher/writer from a previous generation, J. C. Ryle, once said, “You may be very sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world."
Watch and pray!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
One of the stanzas of William Cowper's great hymn O For A Closer Walk With God came to mind this evening as I was lost in thought. Can you sense the angst in the hymnwriter's heart that caused him to pen these lyrics? I can and I share much if not all of his sentiments.
O For A Closer Walk With God
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Makes others' sins pale
He's forsaken My ways
And now worships Baal.
Get over to Kerith
And there by the creek
I'll send you your groceries
Each day, not each week.
Don't question the method
I use to send bread
These scavenger ravens
Will do what I've said.
The drought you have forecast
Will dry up the land
There'll be no more water
Except by My hand.
Just wait here and trust Me
Be patient and true
In the fullness of time
You'll know what to do.
A Zarephath widow
And her only son
Will offer you lodging
But wait, I'm not done.
In the midst of the drought
There'll be flour and oil
Enough for each day
And it never will spoil.
And there you will see
My great power and might
So trust me today
Don't give up the fight.
Now just like Elijah
The prophet of old
My people can trust me
With faith strong and bold.
Your needs I'll provide
I'm sovereign and faithful
I'll walk by your side.
So lay aside doubting
Your burdens I'll bear
The Lord God Almighty
Has you in His care.
© David W. Fisher
February 7th, 2008
Note: This poem came to me this morning as I was preparing to preach on this passage from 1 Kings 16 & 17.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Monday, February 04, 2008
My answer, surprisingly enough, was Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I've always been challenged by his writing and lately I've been reading a biography by Christopher Catherwood which has given me fresh insight into a godly man.
How about you? Who would you pick? Let me know by leaving a comment. THANKS!
All I can say is "Hallelujah".
If my team, the Indianapolis Colts, couldn't be there with Peyton Manning at the controls, then Eli Manning and the Giants were my second choice.
What a game!
The Holy Spirit: The Need for Illumination
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." - 1 Corinthians 2:14
The doctrine of the inability of the human mind and the need for divine illumination is so fully developed in the New Testament that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray about the whole thing. Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the Liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Ghost. Everywhere among Conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind. If a man hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith he is thought to possess divine truth. But it does not follow. There is no truth apart from the Spirit. The most brilliant intellect may be imbecilic when confronted with the mysteries of God. For a man to understand revealed truth requires an act of God equal to the original act which inspired the text....
Conservative Christians in this day are stumbling over this truth. We need to re-examine the whole thing. We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We must declare again the mystery of wisdom from above. A re-preachment of this vital truth could result in a fresh breath from God upon a stale and suffocating orthodoxy. taken from The Pursuit of Man, 76-77,84.
"Lord, I do believe in the authority of the Scriptures, and thank You for that foundation of truth. But I need this reminder that even that inspired text is not alive until the Holy Spirit takes it and enlightens the recipients. May the Holy Spirit indeed take what I teach and imbed it in the hearts and minds of my hearers. Amen."
Saturday, February 02, 2008
During my 33 plus years of baseball ministry I have crossed paths with thousands of ballplayers and have become friends with hundreds of them. Corey Koskie is one of those men who I connected with. The last year and a half has been difficult for Koskie, a Christian who loves the Lord.
Here’s an update on Corey’s post-concussion battle:
Corey Koskie is coming to grips with the notion that his playing career might be history. The next chapter in his baseball life probably will consist of doling out sunscreen, hitting grounders to a bunch of elementary schoolers and revving up the minivan for a postgame trip to Dairy Queen.
In his transition from professional third baseman to Little League dad, Koskie has found that some emotional hurdles are more difficult to surmount than others. Each night, he leads his three young sons through their bedtime prayers. During one recent session, he asked the boys if they had any special requests.
"God, can you please heal my daddy's head?'' asked Bradley, the oldest at age 7. Prayer can be a powerful thing. But as Koskie has discovered, no amount of faith or introspection can rewrite the past or un-ring a bell.
It's been 18 months since Koskie took a seemingly innocuous tumble in pursuit of a Felipe Lopez pop fly in Milwaukee, and he hasn't played a game since. After an aborted comeback attempt in the Cactus League and a summer spent at home in Minnesota watching the Brewers from a distance, he became a free agent in October when Milwaukee management declined to exercise his $6.5 million option for 2008.
When Koskie isn't riding a stationary bike or taking a spin on the treadmill, he is sorting through the medical bills. Over the past year, Koskie has visited the Mayo Clinic and conferred with Drs. Michael Collins and Robert Cantu, two of the most renowned authorities on post-concussion syndrome.
Several months ago, he began working with Stephanie Smith, a professional trainer who specializes in PCS. Koskie has made considerable strides with Smith's help, and he recently felt a "flicker of hope'' after playing a spirited game of ice hockey with his boys and feeling few of the usual side effects.
Still, it's a long way from working up a sweat in the backyard to playing Major League Baseball again, and Koskie doesn't want to tease himself or a prospective suitor with unreasonable expectations. He has told his agents, Pat Rooney and Brian David, that he'll let them know when he's ready.
"If somebody out there wants to give me a shot, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it,'' Koskie said. "But I don't want to leave teams in limbo. I don't want to deal with that whole thing of, 'Hey, when are you gonna be ready?' This has to happen on its own timetable.''
While concussions are commonplace in football, hockey, boxing and other "collision'' sports, Koskie is part of a much smaller fraternity in baseball. It was like a bolt from the blue last year when catcher Mike Matheny, widely regarded as one of the game's toughest customers, announced his retirement because of concussion-related issues.
In St. Louis, Jim Edmonds endured bouts of dizziness and blurred vision after slamming his head against the warning track in pursuit of a fly ball in 2006. Edmonds worked through his problems and is ticketed to play center field for San Diego this season.
Koskie, in contrast, is stuck in a sort of netherworld between acceptance and denial. He's not so bereft of hope that he's ready to call it quits, but he's realistic enough to know what the future holds.
Koskie has been through the wringer since spring training of 2007. For a while, he was bothered by a persistent ache at the base of his neck. While that pain gradually subsided, he discovered everyday tasks could produce debilitating results. The simple acts of driving a car, watching television or checking e-mail on the computer left him dizzy and overcome by nausea. He also was plagued by chronic fatigue.
When the Brewers visited Minneapolis in June, Koskie made the short drive to the Metrodome to see his Milwaukee teammates. But the lights and the hubbub around the ballpark overloaded his system, and he had to go upstairs for some solitude and fresh air.
Along the way, Koskie has found solace in talking to fellow ballplayers in the same boat. He has discovered a helpful sounding board in Matheny, who now is feeling well enough that he is talking about going to spring training and helping out with the Cardinals and Giants.
Koskie also shared a "eureka'' moment with former Twins teammate and fellow Canada native Justin Morneau, who has suffered a concussion or two along the way.
"We were talking, and Justin asked me, 'Does it feel like everything is going by in slow motion -- like stuff has sped up and you're always a half-second behind everything?' I told him, 'Yeah, that's exactly how I feel!''' Koskie said.
Koskie is encouraged by his progress with Smith, a certified athletic trainer who worked at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and helps run the Twins Cities Northern Lights, a Junior A hockey team in Bloomington, Minn. Smith takes a "holistic'' approach to recovery that allows Koskie to work out at his home, where he can be free of distractions and avoid getting behind the wheel of a car, which tends to trigger his symptoms.
She also is flexible. If Koskie is able to do 10 minutes on the exercise bike or treadmill on a given day and elevate his heart rate beyond 150 beats per minute, that's fine. If he feels sluggish and needs to shut down, that's fine, too.
One of the biggest challenges for Koskie is pulling in the reins when he has been conditioned to try to work through obstacles.
"Athletes, by their very nature, are competitive,'' Smith said. "There's a serious drive in them to do the best they can at their sport. If somebody tells you that your biggest job right now is to rest, that's counterintuitive. The natural inclination is to work harder and do everything you can to get back out there. But there can be serious setbacks if you return to the sport too quickly.''
The struggles of Matheny and Koskie have raised awareness of concussions in MLB, and that's produced some welcome changes. This year, for the first time, baseball instituted a baseline concussion testing program for all 30 clubs in conjunction with player physical exams. Many clubs already used Web-based software to test players, but now it's mandatory across the board.
Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said concussions pose a challenge for clubs in several ways: 1) The team trainer might be too overtaxed to give the player in question the requisite attention. 2) The player with a concussion might feel a sense of "guilt'' because he is incapacitated, even though he looks fine. 3) There is no specific road map to recovery.
"There's not much the trainer can do,'' Melvin said. "It's not like a labrum tear or a ligament in your elbow, where there's an actual outline for what to do. You'll throw from 40 feet and extend it to 90, or go from a soft-toss program to long-tossing. From a concussion standpoint, there's nothing the trainers and doctors feel is a perfect cure.''
The athlete's best allies are patience and time, and Koskie has an abundance of each. While he waits for his story to play out, he's kicking around the idea of writing a book about his experiences. What will the ending be? Who knows?
"I just want to get my life back,'' Koskie said.
After 18 months with too many headaches and not enough answers, it's about time.
I enjoy Mrs. Graham's style and have tried to replicate it when writing my own short Pilgrim Scribblings.
Why not write the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada and request a copy.
You'll be refreshed!