Sunday, October 31, 2010

In the Shadow









Emblazened 'cross our darkness
The depths of deep despair
The rugged cross of Calvary
Gives hope when gathered there.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand
And sense His gracious succour
Upheld by His strong hand.

Valley of Vision


This prayer is taken from The Valley of Vision, an excellent compilation of Puritan prayers.

This is my prayer today:

"Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pastor Appreciation

Pastor Appreciation Month gets more coverage (and consequently pastors get more encouragement) south of the border but...our shepherds need to know they are appreciated.  Here's another poem from the pen of my friend Greg.

Now let's act on what we've read.  Your local Christian bookstore (Emmaus Family Books in Peterborough) has some excellent cards.  Drop in and pay Jim Rose a visit. Live in the Cobourg area?  Drop by and pay Paul Wilkinson a visit at the Searchlight Bookstore. No need to visit Hallmark even though I love their products.  

As I write this I'm thinking...we should have a "Local Christian Bookstore" Appreciation Month.  Better still...we should value, honour, support and encourage our pastors, Christian leaders and Christian bookstore personnel all year round. But I degress...

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." - John 13:17 (NIV)

The Gift That Keeps on Giving


Practical suggestions for Pastor Appreciation Month

by Greg Asimakoupoulos - October 22, 2010 

 











To be a pastor's often hard
and while it's nice to get a card
(expressing thanks for what we do)
would you consider these...?

Find ways to serve our church's needs
or volunteer as one who leads
or give beyond a simple tithe
so all the bills are paid.

Quit shopping for another church.
You're needed here. No need to search
in hopes of finding "Willow Creek."
We are a family!

Pray daily for our kids and wife.
Like you, we deal with stress and strife
as well as envy, debt and doubt
that cloud our faith with fear.

Be quick to offer words of praise
for ones who serve you on Sundays;
the greeters, teachers, those who "ush"
and those who "baby watch."

Be slow to gripe and criticize
the things some do you think unwise.
Give grace to those who fail "your test"
and take stock of your pride.

In all these ways your love's expressed.
But, honestly, I must confess
we pastors love to get a note
within a Hallmark card.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brad Johnson...A Life Well Lived

Tonight Carol and I went to the Funeral Home to pay our respects to the Johnson family.  

The line-up at Comstock's was a testimony to the fact that Brad Johnson had lived a good life, left a lasting legacy and had many friends who loved him and cherished his friendship.  

I count it a privilege to have known Brad, a godly man who quietly lived out his faith in ways that impacted many lives.  His life spoke volumes.  We pray that the God of all comfort will give His peace to Brad's wife Lynda and the entire Johnson family.

I had the pleasure of playing Church League Slo-Pitch with Brad and his brothers Barry and Bryan.  Here's a picture of the first team we played on together, the Edmison Eskimos.  In the back row from right to left...Brad, Bryan and Barry.  Guess who that funny looking guy in the middle of the front row is. Thanks for the memories, Brad!

Bradley Kenneth Johnson

JOHNSON, Bradley Kenneth "Brad" - Quaker Oats employee (37 years). Member of Calvary Pentecostal Church. Member of Federation of Anglers & Hunters. – With his family at his side, Brad went home to be with his Lord, on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 in his 60th year. Beloved husband of Lynda (nee Jay) for 35 years. Dear father of Jennifer Capsey (husband Terry), Sarah Scheepers (husband Dean) and Rebecca James (husband Regan). Loving Poppa of Ayden, Ava, Calvin, Mary, Abigail, Mackenzie & Emily. Dear son of Kenneth & Ruth Johnson. Beloved brother of Barry (wife Cathy), Robert (wife Martha), Bryan (wife Diana) and Elizabeth Moscrop (husband Bob). Brad is loved and will be remembered by Mary and the Jay family and many other friends and neighbours. Visiting will be held at the COMSTOCK FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION CENTRE, 356 Rubidge Street, on Thursday, October 21, from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. A funeral service will be held at CALVARY PENTECOSTAL CHURCH, 1421 Lansdowne Street W., on Friday, October 22, at 11 am. Reverend Frank Patrick officiating. In lieu of flowers, in memory of Brad, donations can be made to the Ronald McDonald House - Hamilton. Online condolences may be made at www.comstockfuneralhome.com.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Core Values...Our Ethos

 While surfing the web I came across the following core values on the web site of ChristChurch Belfast.  It bears repeating.  This is what I believe as well.  Putting these core values into practice is another story but by God's grace, enabling and empowering it can be done.

This is what the site offers:

Our Ethos can be summarised by the following core values:
  • Each Individual is of immense value to God
  • The primary agent for change in an individual's life is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God.
  • Authentic, loving relationships are at the heart of true fellowship.
  • Our acceptance with God and with one another is based on the grace of God, not on how well we perform.
  • True holiness lies in our attitude of heart to God rather than in the observance of rules and regulations.
  • Total devotion to Christ and to His cause in this world is the normal way of life for every believer.
  • God has uniquely designed and equipped each member of the church to serve one another.
  • Everything we do should be done as unto the Lord, in faith, to the best of the abilities he has given us.
  • The church must be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure.
  • The church needs godly leadership by those with leadership gifts and accountability for all in leadership.

Significance & Purpose


Click on the image to enlarge it.  Where can we find significance and purpose?  Read and see!

Monday, October 18, 2010

NHLPA Chips In To Help Komets

The following article appeared in today's Peterborough Examiner. Our thanks to Dale Clifford for an excellent story. Thanks so much for showing up at the rink for the Kawartha Komets' special occasion!

Here's Dale's story:

The NHLPA Goals and Dreams fund program came through for a local hockey club Saturday.

With retired NHL player and NHLPA member Steve Larmer of Peterborough on hand, the Kawartha Komets Hockey Club received a donation of 16 brand new sets of hockey equipment. It included 14 sets of out equipment and two sets of goalie equipment.  Some of
it replaced some of the equipment from this original donation announced last fall which was stolen earlier this year.

Two of the founders and cocoordinators, the husband and wife team of David and Carol Fisher, said the donation will help kids, teens and young adults with special needs and challenges realize their dream of playing hockey.

The Fishers' nephew, Mike Fisher of the Ottawa Senators, was named honorary captain of the team.

The presentation was made before the Komets began their second season with a practice at the Evinrude Centre Saturday morning.

"It's great to see how this touches peoples lives," said Larmer. "It's a special kind of program where the NHLPA is glad to help."

The Komets feature between 25-30 players ages six to 20. A not-for-profit organization, the program was launched in 2009 to give girls and boys, teens and adults with special needs an opportunity to play the game they love, said Fisher.

"This (the donation) meant a lot to me and them (the players)," he said. "The joy of getting the new equipment was a thrill for them. It was thrill for Steve, too, to come here and be with the kids."

Affiliated with Special Hockey International, the Komets practice or play a game once a week during the hockey season against such teams as the Durham Dragons, the Don Mills Diamonds, the Grandravine Tornadoes and the Newmarket Nighthawks.

They have a coaching staff of about seven.

"Every player is given an equal amount of ice time regardless of their skill level, stated Fisher. "Our coaching staff is familiar with the challenges these young people face and give our players a fun-filled, positive, life-changing experience as they build character, skill levels and team spirit that will last a lifetime."

The Komets are also affiliated with the Peterborough Community Church Hockey League (PCCHL) and have received support from them as well as the Peterborough Lions Club, the Kawartha Rotary Club, the Scott's Plains Kiwanis Club and the Peterborough Players Hockey Alumni (PPHA).

"It (Goals and Dreams) was formed in 1999 and since then has donated $17 million (and full sets of equipment) to about (economically challenged) 15, 000 children in 22 countries," said Larmer.

"It has meant a lot the NHLPA has been able to help children around the world."

The Fishers' sons, Matthew, 15, and Nathan, 14, are members of the Komets.

"It's pretty cool," said Matthew, about receiving the equipment and having Larmer there.

Jim Glynn, one of about seven coaches/volunteers with the team, said it was special day.

"It's fantastic how the NHLPA came through for the kids," he said.

"I can't say enough about Steve being here and they doing this."


Good Sports

Quite a few years ago (I can't even remember when...maybe back in the mid 90's) I spent a week to 10 days in Slovakia with an organization known as Good Sports.  I flew into Vienna, Austria and was driven to Bratislava, Slovakia where Good Sports is based.  We taught baseball skills to young kids who had never held a bat or a glove in their hand before. Of course we shared God's love with them each day (through an interpreter).  What a rewarding experience!

Over 30 years ago while serving as the Baseball Chapel leader for the Toronto Blue Jays I met Tom Johnson, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.  Tom was a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, and we bonded as friends and brothers in the Lord...way back then.

Guess who is heading up Good Sports now?  You're correct!  It's Tom Johnson and his wife Debbie.  How exciting to see what the Lord is doing in the lives of these young people in Slovakia

I've included the latest news from Tom & Debbie Johnson here with this posting on Pilgrim Scribblings.

Tom writes: 


Hello Dear Friends:

What a September this has been!

It began with the insane killing of 7 people plus the gunman.  One of those killed was a 12 year-old boy, Jozef Slezak, whose family was targeted by an enraged neighbor. Jozef often attended GoodSports events, participating in Little League and this summer’s daily camp. He was Roma (Gypsy) and it will never be known what role that played in the killings, but a few days afterwards someone painted a “thank you” note to the killer on the apartment building along with a Nazi salute.

We participated in a candle-light vigil the night of the shooting and the following day gathered many of our kids and volunteers together for a time of processing and prayer.  Members of our group attended a funeral service 10 days after the killing. An old friend David Phillips, joined us and shared some meaningful thoughts about life as the group sat around glasses of Kofola following the service.

VACATION

We were able to get away for a break a week after the tragedy. We wrestled with the decision to go through with it; but were convinced it was the right thing to do. It was. We returned refreshed and energized, ready for a busy fall season.

WEEKEND RETREAT IN BOJNICE

The weekend of September 24-26 found forty three young people ages 13 and up back at the campsite in Bojnice. Lots of music, games, sports and campfire/bar-b-q were on the agenda. The weather cooperated until Sunday when our chapel time centered on the senseless killings in Devinska, where violence comes from and how we personally participate in it with our words, attitudes and actions. We took time to reflect on what Jesus’ teaching and life example offer as an answer for violence. We ended our retreat by holding hands and praying for each other.  The weekend was not without challenges as we dealt with rules violations and had to haul Roman off to the hospital at 3:30 am after he fell out of bed hitting his head on the concrete floor. Amnesia and vomiting meant a 24 hour stay in the hospital. He’s ok.

YOUTH CENTER

Is taking shape in a somewhat unexpected way....and it’s all good (so far). The new principal has given us a large classroom - next to a back entrance and adjacent to the gym. She has requested only that we pay for utilities. It is being renovated slightly at minimal expense and by paying for paint, are free to cover the walls however we like.  Additional gym time has been granted us (for rental fees) and we have been approved for two official after-school programs.

The fall/winter schedule will look like this:

Sunday:" Teenage Boys and Girls Discipleship Klub (10-12:00) " " Floorball (1-3:30)
Monday: " Tutoring/Games in Youth Center (1:30 - 5:00) " " Gym - official after-school baseball program (3:00 - 4:30)  " " Bible Klub for 10-12 year olds (5:00-6:30)
Tuesday: " Tutoring/Games in Youth Center(1:30 - 5:00) " " Gym - 4:00-5:30
Wednesday: "Tutoring/Games in Youth Center (1:30 - 5:00) " " Gym - official after-school T-ball program (1:30-3:00) " " Bible Klub for 6-9 year olds (4:00-5:30)
" " Gym - 4:30-6:00 " " Adult Bible Study/Discussion (7:00-9:00)
Thursday: " Tutoring/Games in Youth Center (1:30 - 5:00)
Friday and Saturday are off days - except for tournaments and special events.

The “cave,” underground space owned by the Catholic Church, is still in the negotiating stage. The church has opted to extend their renovation project to include all above ground buildings. This has put an indefinite hold on any work on the cave since that space is used for storage of construction materials. However, with the school classroom, we are in a better position to negotiate with the church. Our “need” for space is lessened and the cave would only be needed for special events - concerts, drama, movies, parties.

BASEBALL FIELD/PLAYGROUND RENOVATION PROJECT

Many of you are aware that the City of Bratislava Sports Commission awarded the Fighting Flies Baseball Club a grant of 100,000 Euros (135,000 USD) toward the renovation of the playground where GoodSports has a small baseball infield and backstop. One document is awaiting approval by the city of Devinska which will allow the project to go forward. Fall elections may be playing a part in the delay... just don’t know. We remain hopeful that construction will begin this fall and be completed in time for baseball season in the spring.  We aren’t looking to build another Target Field, just a place where kids can play.....sad to think people could be opposed to such a simple positive idea.

KINGDOM BUILDING

God is moving in lives and hearts of adult volunteers in addition to young people. Maja and Dasha have openly testified of their decision to follow Christ this summer. Both explained it as having their eyes opened to things they’ve heard about for years. They attend a new adult Bible study/discussion group each Wednesday at our apartment.  Twenty four year-old Tomas has been living with us for the past two months. He also attends the group, asks good questions, contributes to discussions and is on a journey toward a living faith in Christ. What’s also interesting about Tomas is his desire and availability to help in Devinska. He’s from the Bojnice area, going to school in Bratislava, and has been part of all scheduled (and some unscheduled) activities. The Devinska kids and volunteers have really connected with him. He also is a pitcher for the Fighting Flies Baseball Klub, giving him credibility when coaching baseball. Please pray for Tomas.

Five young adults from the Bojnice area (and this summers camp) are regularly attending a Friday night worship and prayer service. One of them plays in the worship band and also plays drums for Kubo Mello’s “garage band.” Kubo has been attending the Friday night gatherings too, and enjoying it. He is on the same journey as Tomas.

Last month we wrote that a sizable house in Devinska would be a positive addition to the program. Tomas expressed a desire for a dormitory in Devinska so he could be closer to GoodSports activities. There are four people who have had similar interests. Such a place could provide reduced rent in exchange for volunteering as tutors, coaches, leaders with the GoodSports after-school program. In addition, we could offer scheduled spiritual exercises and work duties.

We’ve looked at three houses for rent - the affordable one was gone before we arrived, the other is not an option and the third is being sold (but willing to rent for double what we are paying now - with the understanding that if it sells, we move out). We ask your help as we proceed, prayer, ideas, concerns.....resources.

Two weekly Bible clubs are being offered in cooperation with Child Evangelism and the Javornik family. The Cesta Klub for teenage boys is being joined by one for girls. Meeting on a weekly basis, they are followed by floorball games on Sunday afternoons.

BOTTOM LINE

The month of September served as one of those “markers” which confirmed our decision to be here. Through Jozef’s death, new life in Christ, parenting teenagers who make bad choices, counseling people in transition, and even time away we experienced His presence in profound, wonder-filled ways. We are humbled and honored that you choose to partner with us in this part of His Kingdom. Thank you! Praise God!

Serving with joy,

Debbie and Tom

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Up From the Cave They Arose

My writer friend, Greg Asimakoupoulos, has penned some poignant prose regarding the miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners.

I thought this should be shared with my Pilgrim Scribblings readers.

Greg writes:

A Day of Resurrection
A month of men (plus two) sing Easter praise

Thirty-three men and one common prayer.
Freedom.

A month of men (plus two)
knew help was on the way,
but they were forced to wait
for what seemed like years
praying rosaries,
playing games,
staying fit,
staying strong
in the midst of the rubble of doubt
that surrounded them.

A month of men (plus two)
knew they had no choice
but to shoulder the wait
with much sweat
and little sleep
deep in the bowels of Mother Earth.

For two months and seven days
rescue workers tirelessly mined
for thirty-three miners
whose mettle is much more notable
than the copper and gold
hiding in the Chilean caves
that might well
have been their graves.

Two months and seven days
after the "mining expedition" began
an Easter-like lyric
punctuated South America's
transfer of power from winter to spring
(death giving way to life)...

"Up from the cave they arose!"

A month of men (plus two)
vertically ascended
one at a time
in resurrection glory,
freed from the greedy grasp
of the Grim Reaper
and released into the joyful embrace
of familiar arms.

The miners have risen!
They have risen indeed!
Thanks be to God!
Gracias, SeƱor
!

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
October 14, 2010 


Note:  For more of Greg's work click here.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...or is it Sad?

While looking through the archives I found the following Thanksgiving poem.  I had written it to be posted on the American Thanksgiving Day back in 2007 but much of it applies to us here in Canada. Here it is!
  
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 
Tonight I put a few lines together and called it...
An Atheist's Lament on Thanksgiving Day

How sad it must be to have so much and yet not believe in the God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Sad to say, the words of this poem could be true of many people during this Thanksgiving season.

Today I am thankful for friends and great food,
I don't have to work so I'm in a good mood;
Our family will be here and we'll watch the game
We'll be feasting on turkey, it's always the same.
And when it's all over, I've said my "goodbyes"
I'm sick to my stomach, I've got bloodshot eyes;
The bottles are empty and my mind is blank
But saddest of all...I've got no one to thank!
 
Note: For the believing Christian, Thanksgiving should be one of the most joyous days of the year. The Father has blessed us bountifully and we have so much to praise and thank Him for.
 

Friday, October 08, 2010

"REAL" Hockey!

One of the most exciting and rewarding things we've done in the last year and a half as a family has been the launching of the Kawartha Komets Special Needs Hockey Program.

Young people with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Tourette's, Down Syndrome and a variety of other exceptionalities are coming together as a team and they're lovin' it.

We are only a week away from beginning our 2nd season of great, thrilling hockey.

Kids who never had a chance to play the game they love are now living out their dream.

Parents are cheering from the sidelines as their children, teens or young adults get their 1st goal, their 1st shutout, their 1st victory or, sometimes, their 1st loss.
Check out the Kawartha Komets here on our web site.  Better still, catch a game at the Evinrude Centre and you'll be back for more.

The Kawartha Komets...making dreams come true!