Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Holy Experience

I have mentioned Ann Voskamp's blog entitled Holy Experience several times in the past and have a link to her site here on Pilgrim Scribblings.

There is only one reason why I don't stop by to visit with Ann every day. That is due to the fact that she is such an incredible writer that I feel my work could never come close to matching hers. I know it's a crazy reason to miss out on her incredible perspective on life but...

Please go and see what she so poignantly, transparently and honestly writes. What a woman! What a great God she serves! Check out her site! If you don't know her God...He is worth discovering and you can do that here at Holy Experience.


I've gone fishing in the archive pond again. As I battle this present bout with depression I often find solace in things I have written in the past while I looked up from the bottom of the pit. Here's one from 2 years ago:

Long-time friends of the Pilgrim might recall this post from the "dark ages". This dreaded guest, clothed in black, came knocking again this weekend and especially this morning, causing me to recall this post. Through the support of friends and the Spirit of God I was able to right my ship before it hit the rocks. THANKS.

Here's that post:

Lately another guest, or maybe I should call him a predator has been lingering around my "house". The dreaded "D" word...depression... has been lurking. Many of you, no doubt, have had to deal with this unwelcome visitor.

Back in January I penned a brief "post" entitled Dark Night of the Soul. In the midst of our darkness may we experience His deliverance, His delight, His divine presence.

Dark Night of the Soul

Hot Sweats
Cold Sweats

"The peace of God which passes all understanding shall GUARD and GARRISON your hearts, through Christ Jesus our Lord." - Philippians 4:7

Held By His Strong Hand

During another "dark night of the soul" recently, the Lord upheld me by His strong, powerful hand. Through it all I sensed His hand sustaining me and shielding me. I shudder to think what might happen to those of us who battle depression if God's almighty and everlasting arms weren't there to bear us up.

These words came to mind, I took pen in hand to capture them and I share them with you, my fellow pilgrims:


By faith I stand in Canaan's land
And trace the outline of His hand.

As fear and doubt encompass me
Jehovah-Jireh is my plea.

Into His hand my cares I thrust,
In Him alone I place my trust.

And when this present battle's done,
My faith renewed, the vict'ry won.

I'll praise Him for His outstretched hand
That pulled me from the sinking sand.

My faith still stands in no one less,
My sovereign God...His name I bless!

Thanks for your prayers today, dear pilgrim!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lift Up Your Eyes

On the weekend I sat by our pool gazing into the clear, starry sky and marvelled at God's incredible handiwork. How can anyone stare into space and think that this incredible masterpiece "just happened randomly"? There is an Intelligent Designer and He is eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What an awesome God we serve!

My friends over at The Blazing Center added this post to their site today and it fits right in with what I was feeling as I gazed heavenward on the weekend.

Please read on and then pause to thank God for who He is and for what He has done.

From The Blazing Center:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center estimates that there are 10 to the 21st power number of stars in space. That’s a 10 with 21 zeros following it. They can only estimate because the Hubble telescope can’t see all the stars that exist.

Depending on who you read, within the part of the universe we can observe, there are from 100 to 240 billion galaxies, each composed of billions of stars. In other words, we really have no idea how many stars there are. Astronomers can only guess.

Sometimes we can feel like God has forsaken us in this vast universe, or he has lost track of us. After all, how can God keep tabs on a single speck of dust amidst hundreds of billions of stars? Surely he’s got too much on his plate to be aware of our trifling troubles.

When Israel felt forsaken, God reminded them of his infinite power and care:

Lift up your eyes on high and see:who created these?He who brings out their host by number,calling them all by name,by the greatness of his might,and because he is strong in powernot one is missing.Why do you say, O Jacob,and speak, O Israel,“My way is hidden from the Lord,and my right is disregarded by my God”? (IS 40.26-27).

First God says he brings out every star by number, calls each by name, and never forgets what he called them. Next he says his infinite power guarantees that not one star in the whole universe ever goes missing. He never forgets nor loses track of the most far-flung star in the heavens.

Then God challenges his people, saying, “If I assign a specific number and name to each and every star and uphold each one by my might so that not a single one is ever lost, why do you say ‘My way is hidden from the Lord?’ If I don’t lose track of a single star, I won’t lose track of you. If my almighty power can uphold hundreds of billions of galaxies of untold numbers of stars, my power can certainly uphold you.”

Take heart, your way is not hidden from the Lord. He knows every detail in your life. He called you by name and he hasn’t forgotten you. You are more valuable to Jesus than all the stars in heaven, because he purchased you with his precious blood. He’s more concerned about a single one of his own children than all of the galaxies combined. I care infinitely more about the well-being of my children than all my possessions. How much more is God concerned for you.

God’s universe-sustaining might upholds you and he will preserve you to the end.

No one can snatch you out of his hand. He never takes his eyes off you, even when you are sleeping. He is continually and actively doing good to you moment by moment. He will certainly strengthen and help you and bring forth his glory in your life.

photo by Pipe F&FF

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blogging Buddies and Joseph Scriven

This afternoon my blogging buddy Paul Wilkinson and I had a serendipitous meeting in Memorial Park in beautiful Port Hope, Ontario.

This weekend the town is hosting a Memorial Celebration to commemorate the life of Joseph Scriven, best known for writing the lyrics to the popular hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Scriven's life was marked by tragedy. After leaving Ireland following the tragic death of his fiancee on the eve of their wedding, Scriven settled in Port Hope, about 20 miles south of my hometown of Peterborough.

A monument to Scriven has been moved several times and it now stands in Memorial Park, complete with a new plaque that was unveiled today. The Honourable David C. Onley, The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and his wife Ruth Ann were present and David presided over the unveiling.

David and Ruth Ann are long-time friends of mine and David represents the Queen of England (see photo) at a variety of functions here in Ontario. He also champions the cause of disabled people who require greater levels of accessibility than others. David himself gets around in a motorized scooter. Not only does he represent the Queen well but he also is a committed Christian who takes opportunities to share his faith. His wife Ruth Ann is an accomplished soloist and is often present with David at functions like today's.

It was exciting to see Joseph Scriven, a godly, Christian man, get recognized in such a public forum. The ceremony was very tastefully done and many other events are taking place today and tomorrow. You can check out the happenings here on this web site.

George Hamilton IV (pictured), renowned country singer from Nashville, heard about the celebrations taking place this weekend and asked if he could his own expense. George, along with the Salvation Army Band, led the attendees in a rousing rendition of What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Thank you, George, for your desire to add your classiness to this event.

My friend, Paul Wilkinson, has become a very prolific blogger over at Thinking Out Loud. Be sure to check out his frequent, thought-provoking posts here. We had a good visit during the celebration.

And...don't forget that we have a wonderful friend in Jesus, the One who gave His life for our salvation.

POST SCRIPT: Blogging buddy Paul Wilkinson has now added a post concerning Joseph Scriven to his Thinking Out Loud blog. Check it out here!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Will Explain Later

Vance Havner from North Carolina was a great preacher and an excellent writer. He has been quoted often by other writers due to his pithy, pertinent, provocative pronouncements. Recently I was reading The Red Sea Rules (again) by Robert J. Morgan and came across one of Havner's better-known quotes:

"God marks across some of our days, 'Will explain later'."

So true! The explanations often aren't forthcoming and we can wait for years without getting the reasons or the answers. C. S. Lewis once said that the most-heard word when we finally get "home" will be "OH!". The explanations (if we even need them) will resolve all our misgivings, doubts and misunderstandings. Personally I believe that the reasons won't have to be articulated by our omniscient God. My sense is that we will instantly understand when we stand before the King of Glory. We won't need to know anything or anyone but Him. We will spend the "ages to come" enjoying the riches of His grace with all our questions left behind.

But, back to Vance Havner . . . I got to preaching there didn't I!

He writes, following the homecall of his beloved wife,
"When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith - that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry "My God, why?" Instead, "alas" will become "Alleluia". All question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change to singing and pain will be lost in praise."

Wow! Vance Havner certainly gives us something to think about and look forward to!

So, dear friends, are we willing to wait for God to explain later? Looking back we'll see that "His appointed way" was truly the best plan.

Eternal God, give us Your strength to stand against the enemies of doubt, defeat and discouragement. Through You we will find grace to help in time of need. Thank You, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Kent Bottenfield Makes Sweet Music

Some of my best years were spent as the chapel leader for the Montreal Expos before they left town to become the Washington Nationals.

I have many fond memories of the years I spent ministering to those players. Many of them continue to be good friends and I stay in touch with as many of them as I can. Players like Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Darren Fletcher, Tom Foley, Tim Burke, Doug Flynn, Andy McGaffigan, Terry Francona and many others.

One of those players, Kent Bottenfield, went on to be a very accomplished singer after his major league baseball career was over.

Check out his song I Can't Wait To Go Home here. You will be blessed.

God bless you, Kent!

How Long?

The 13th Psalm has been especially meaningful to me over the past two months. The Psalmist David cries out to God and asks, "how long?" four (4) times.

Then he petitions God to respond.

Finally his tone takes an abrupt U turn and he praises God for His unfailing love, His salvation and His goodness.

May the final two verses of the Psalm be our testimony today even though our circumstances would cause us to ask "how long?".

"How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death
My enemy will say, "I have overcome him" and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD for he has been good to me."

Psalm 13 (NIV)

What a Rush!

Last Saturday the boys and I attended the Air Show at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

U. S. Navy's Blue Angels acrobatic team were the star of the show and it was thrilling to watch them do their magic over the waterfront by Ontario Place. The sound of six (6) F-18's flying in formation at low altitude gave me a "rush" that's hard to explain.

I've always loved airplanes and I've always enjoyed watching planes landing and taking off at airports.
I'm also a NASCAR fan and often the beginning of a race is announced with a fighter jet flying overhead just as the drivers are told to start their engines.

The Air Show was exceptional at the CNE and we were glad we made the effort to be there!