Category Archives: Truthspeakers

Truthful lips and a truthful heart

Recently I witnessed an interaction that I found quite disturbing.

An adult caregiver was speaking to a young child. The caregiver had said something that was incorrect, and was acknowledging this to the child. But instead of simply saying “Sorry, honey, I was wrong”, the adult said “I lied”.

This is one of the sayings that has crept into contemporary speech from television. “I lied” is a truthful statement if you have actually intentionally deceived another person. But if you have simply made a mistake, saying you lied is actually confusing the issue. Mistakes are simply part of being human. Lies are something else entirely. When we lie to someone, we have intentionally deceived them.  Telling a child that you lied to them when you only made a mistake is deeply confusing because young children innately want to be able to trust the adults in their lives.

Most people of my generation were taught by parents, school and church that it was important to tell the truth. This basic moral principle comes from the Ten Commandments, and although it is far less widely understood or accepted in contemporary society than it once was, it is still a foundation stone of our culture. Cheating on exams, lying in court, being unfaithful to a spouse – these are all still widely understood to be wrong. But God’s word tells us that it’s not just the outward action that matters. In fact, what matters even more than the outward action is the intent of the heart. So, you can unintentionally mislead someone (like the adult caregiver in my example above) and you haven’t lied. You simply made a mistake, which you may deeply regret, but your intent was not to harm. Lies are something else entirely. They are expressions of a deceptive intent, and they are incompatible with the character of God who cannot lie.

When I was growing up, I remember distinctly a day when my mother spoke to me about my father. I was probably about ten or eleven years old at the time. This incident stood out to me. What she told me – with considerable emotion – was that my father was a man who would always tell the truth. His word could be relied upon. Deception was simply not part of his character.

I don’t remember what prompted her to make this assertion, but I do remember that her words made a deep impression on me. It was clear to me that she was completely confident that my Dad would never lie to her, that he was a man of integrity who could always be relied upon to speak and act truthfully.

I am very grateful for this example. Although my parents weren’t especially devout, this core principle of Biblical values was imprinted in my heart and mind by the way they lived.  I learned early on that being a truthful person is of great importance.

Despite this example, I can’t claim that I have never lied. I remember several occasions when fear of consequences prompted me to say something untruthful. But I knew immediately that my untruthfulness was wrong, I was deeply ashamed of it, and once I learned to take my sins to Jesus for cleansing, I knew what to do about it.

When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then later confessed his sin after being confronted by the prophet Nathan, he uttered these memorable words, expressing his awareness of the character that is pleasing to a holy God:

You delight in truth in the inward being

He then went on to plead with the Lord for cleansing.

Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Like David, if we say we love God, one of the things that we need to fervently ask Him to impart to us is a truthful heart. This was the essence of David’s prayer in Psalm 51. He was asking God to change his heart and make him into a man of truth. He knew the character of God and he knew that his own heart had been exposed as unclean. He desired cleanness in his innermost being. David knew that truthful speech and truthful behaviour arise from a truthful heart. He knew that only God could transform his heart and make him into a man of truth.

What about you? What about me?


Why euthanasia is a bad idea

(Original Title : Truthspeakers : Alex Schadenberg on euthanasia of “difficult patients” in the UK)

When my mother was gradually losing her memory, and sometimes wanting to die, my Dad knew he could not end her life for her.  I’m glad he had that depth of conviction, but I’m also glad that the laws of our land do not permit euthanasia or assisted suicide.  I hope that does not change, despite the recent ruling by Justice Lynn Smith.

In a recent blog post ( Killing patients who are difficult to manage is becoming common in the UK ), Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition describes what happens in a society where euthanasia comes to be seen as normal.  I don’t normally reblog, in fact I have only done so on one other occasion, but this post was too significant to ignore. Please take the time to click on the link and read it.




Why not tell all?

This is a bit of a different post.  It contains the text of a letter that I will be sending to Minister of Heritage James Moore, with a copy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  The letter speaks for itself.  

Minister Moore,

I am deeply disturbed at the reports I have heard concerning the explicit sexual content of the exhibition “Sex: A Tell All Exhibition” that is scheduled to open May 17 in the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Journalist Patrick Meagher was among those invited to attend a preview of this exhibition.  He reports that it includes graphic presentations of masturbation, nudity and condom use. As well, the exhibition features videos of a woman who says she approves of multiple partners, and a young woman who shares sexual favours among friends. In a video discussion on sexual orientation, not one of the twelve people interviewed is heterosexual.  Yet another station reportedly answers questions on what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. The option of adoption or keeping the child is not mentioned. The advice is to have an abortion as soon as possible. Such reports leave me with the impression that the entire exhibition is ideologically-motivated, with an agenda to undermine all notions of responsible behaviour and to portray all forms of sexual expression as morally acceptable.

My son and his wife and two pre-school daughters will be visiting Ottawa in a few weeks’ time. My wife and I were talking earlier today about possible activities for the girls while they are in our beautiful capital city. Prior to reading reports of the exhibition on sexuality, we had considered suggesting that our son and his wife take their girls to visit the Museum of Science and Technology. We remembered taking our children there when they were young.  They were enthralled by the trains, the baby chicks, the display of how telephones developed, and the crazy kitchen. It was a fascinating, stimulating yet safe environment for a young child. Apparently this is no longer the case. No parent in his or her right mind would bring a child to this exhibition if it resembles even remotely the descriptions I have read thus far. I am deeply disturbed at the thought that such a sleazy, pornographic exhibition would be permitted in any public place in Canada, even more disturbed that it would be intended for children and youth, and outraged at the thought that public funds would be used to pay for it.

Minister Moore, I believe that you are a man who cares for the public good. My sincere hope is that you were simply unaware of this exhibition. If the reports of this exhibition’s content are accurate, I plead with you to take immediate action to stop this exhibition from taking place.  If they are inaccurate, I plead with you to set the record straight, so that no-one will think that the Government of Canada would support an event that reflects so poorly on the cultural values of this nation.

A concerned citizen, father and grandfather

Peter Hartgerink
Ottawa, Canada


Last night I had the strangest dream

I rarely remember my dreams.  When I do, it is usually because they are significant.

This morning I awoke with what seemed like an odd dream fresh in my mind.  In the dream I had travelled on St Patrick’s Day to the border town of Prescott, ON or Ogdensburg, NY (I’m really not sure which – I had the impression that I was in both places at once.  It’s strange what happens in dreams). It seems I was there with a group of friends but I don’t recall any of them. We all went into a large building to get ready for some special activity which seemed very important at the time – I was quite caught up in the excitement and anticipation of it. I remember thinking that I had a lot of money to spend and I felt quite rich. I had several US twenty dollar bills as well as several Canadian twenties and tens in my wallet. I went to what seemed like a ticket counter in this large building and spent quite a lot of my US cash to buy tickets.  When I was about to spend my last US twenty, the ticket guy said to me “You might want to keep that in case you want to go down the street and get pizza later”. When I woke up I realized that the tickets I had bought were all for gambling. I was in a bar where there was going to be a large St Patrick’s Day party.  They were getting the green beer ready.  I had apparently been planning to go along with this group of unknown friends for an evening of drinking and gambling.

Then I woke up. I thought to myself, “Why would I be so excited about something like that?  I think gambling is stupid, it has no appeal at all for me, and while I like the occasional beer, I hate the idea of celebrating St Patricks Day – or any special day – by setting out purposely to get drunk.  Why would I dream about something like that?”

I asked the Lord for understanding because I knew the dream was probably significant. As I prayed, I sensed that if I began journalling,   the meaning would become clear. I started writing and as I wrote, the Holy Spirit began to reveal the meaning of the dream. The interpretation of the dream was fairly detailed and specific but here is the core of it.

This culture is sick and getting sicker. It has traded in almost everything of real value (the money in my dream) for trivialities that are worth nothing at all (the tickets entitling me to gamble : at this point I realized the significance of having kept one twenty for something of actual value – pizza, i.e. real food).  It has believed liars and no longer wants to listen to the truth. It celebrates the feast day of a great, noble, heroic and godly man by getting drunk and gambling away its inheritance in his name. It is no longer worthy of being preserved. It will endure for a while longer because I am giving its people time to wake up before I destroy them.

Not a very encouraging message, you say? That’s what I thought too. All around me I hear sincere, earnest friends in Christ speaking messages of relentless good cheer, and I get this bizarre dream with the sobering interpretation. A lot of my friends already think I’m a bit of a nutbar – what will they think if I proclaim a message this sombre? Yet I have been sitting on a sense of foreboding for several months now – as though things are going to happen in the next few years – big things, momentous things – that will shake our complacent, entertainment-driven, self-preoccupied culture to the core.

I knew it was not insignificant that the dream took place in a border town. I had the sense that the dream straddled both countries, and as I prayed the Spirit confirmed this perception.

I then asked if there was not some good left?

Yes, there is some good left. That is why I am allowing time for repentance. I still have a remnant in both countries of people who love me. But for the most part both these nations have forgotten what made them great, they have become accustomed to peace and plenty without recognizing the price of integrity and sacrifice that made them strong, and they think nothing can shake them from their secure position.

Even most of my people are asleep. They see my blessings and get drunk on them, and do not realize that it is time to repent. Like Samson with Delilah, they have thought that they could have whatever they wanted with no consequences, and they have been lulled to sleep. They talk of my glory and my Kingdom as if there were no crisis coming. Yet on those who truly fear my name, I will pour out my grace and my power. To those who truly revere my holiness, I will reveal my glory, and they will indeed have entrance into my Kingdom.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not without hope. In fact I am full of hope. I know that Jesus is Lord and that he will reign as undisputed king across the whole earth. I believe in the Kingdom of God – not just an ethereal heavenly realm, but a real kingdom on a real restored earth. I know that God has a relentless, pursuing passion for the people he has made, that he loves to save all who will humble themselves and throw themselves on his mercy. I know that he gave his Son’s life for the world and that he loves to heal broken hearts and restore shattered lives. I know that even now in many places there are outpourings of the Holy Spirit accompanied by signs and wonders and miracles of various descriptions – what the book of Hebrews calls the powers of the age to come. But I also know that our culture has lost its moorings and is rotting at its core, and that debt-fuelled living has made us economically vulnerable despite our seeming prosperity. As well, I know that there is a dark power rising in the Middle East that wants to rule the entire world and is quite seriously bent on destroying Christianity, Judaism and Western civilization. This is no exaggeration. This monster has been biding its time and gathering its strength for a long time and we have for the most part closed our eyes and ears. Soon it will not be possible to do so any longer.

I have been reluctant to speak about such things because I know that the people of God need above all to be encouraged. But what kind of encouragement is it to speak a message of peace when warnings are what is needed?

Around the world – especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as parts of Asia – Christians are being threatened, persecuted and killed in increasing numbers. In several Western European countries, synagogues are being attacked, Jews feel themselves increasingly vulnerable, and cities have no-go zones where Sharia law rules and police are afraid to go. Yet in comfortable North America we are too politically correct to talk or pray about such things. Maybe it isn’t a positive enough message. But Jesus warned us that such things would happen before he returned. The gospel would be preached to all nations, accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders; and at the same time, persecutions would increase, Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies yet again, a great enemy of God’s people would arise, there would be a final time of conflict and then the Lord would return in power and glory to establish his throne openly on the earth.

I believe in the glory of God. I know the glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. I know that there is great potential for transformation of lives and communities even now, and I am committed to seeking the welfare of my city and nation. I know the government of Jesus will increase and fill the earth. But my Bible also tells me that this cannot happen without intense testing, purging and shaking. The testing is already underway and it will increase. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

I remember hearing the story of a man who had been a Pentecostal pastor in Germany in the 1930s. Hitler had brought peace, prosperity and order to Germany. As the saying goes, “He made the trains run on time”. Surely all must be well? And if we had reason to believe that maybe everything was not quite so rosy – well, best not to say too much about it.

The church that this man served was close to the railway tracks. On Sunday evenings during their prayer meeting they could hear the trains on their way to the death camps. Although they knew where the trains were going, and also knew or at least suspected what was happening at those camps, no-one talked about it. Instead, they sang louder during their prayer meeting to cover up the noise of the death trains that would later be seen as their nation’s shame.

David Carson, president of Intercessors for Canada, wrote a searching article a few months ago in which he compared the present times to 1938 in Canada. Everything seemed to be going on as normal. Life was quite pleasant for most people. The Depression was coming to an end. Neville Chamberlain came home to Great Britain from meeting with Adolf Hitler and declared, “I believe it is peace in our time.  Go home and sleep quietly in your beds.”  A little over a year later, the world was at war (a war about which I heard many stories from my parents, who at that time were a young engaged couple living in the occupied Netherlands). Among other horrors, six million Jews were killed in the gas chambers. Almost one million Canadians fought in that war – close to ten percent of the nation’s population at that time. And it was not even the final great conflict of history – just an advance warning. You can read David’s article here.

Am I making predictions of specific events? No.  That’s not the message the Lord gave me. He simply told me it is time for the church to wake up and begin recognizing the signs of the times.

A popular message? Probably not. A hopeless message? Certainly not. A necessary message? Yes, I believe so. One of the qualities of the end-times church – the glorious Bride for whom Jesus is eager to return – is that it is a church that prays prayers of prevailing faith. It is time to pray in a way that most of us have probably not prayed before. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? That’s a question each of us has to answer for ourselves.



Standing against the seduction of death

In this blog post I want to highlight the work of a man of integrity and conviction.  I also want to start a new series of posts that will highlight the views of other truthspeakers – people who speak truths that go against the grain of what is popularly believed in our society.

My mother died a little over three years ago, after suffering the gradual decline of Alzheimer’s disease over several years, followed by a debilitating stroke which eventually resulted in her being unable to communicate verbally.  She passed from this life about a year and a half after her stroke.

In many ways her passing was a relief.  Yet, although my mother was unable to speak for the last eighteen months of her life, and needed help for the simplest of bodily functions, I do not believe her final months were wasted time.  A couple of weeks after her stroke, Marion and I had the opportunity to pray with her and help her entrust herself to Jesus.  We asked her if she wanted us to ask Jesus to take her fears away, and she nodded perceptibly.  After we had prayed with her, she seemed to relax and her anxiety level diminished greatly.   Not long after this, her ability to speak vanished completely.  But because humans are made in the image of God, I knew that even though her body and mind were damaged, her spirit was still fully alive.   In this conviction I sang her songs and hymns whenever I visited her during the next eighteen months.  Others found other ways to show love to her.  These final months provided many opportunities for my mother’s loved ones to care for someone who had been a generous, openhearted benefactor to her children and grandchildren – as well as many others – over many years.

At one point, several months before her stroke, Dad told me that in her frustration and fear, Mom had told him she wanted to die.  His response to her was that it was not his place to make the decision to end her life.  Although in his latter years my father did not consider himself a Christian, I am grateful that his choices were significantly influenced by Biblical beliefs about life.

Had she been living in her native Netherlands, events might have played out quite differently.  In that nation, euthanasia has been legal since 2002, but has been practised with increasing acceptance since the early 1980s, and it is now not uncommon for victims of early-stage dementia to be euthanized.

Notably, wherever euthanasia has been legalized, it becomes more and more common for doctors to make the decision to euthanize the patient without anyone’s consent.   This is well documented.

The culture of death is seductive.  It sneaks up on us in seemingly innocent guises, clothed in what appears to be compassion.  Yet a society that legalizes euthanasia – even in the name of compassion – opens the door to much potential abuse.  As a believer in Jesus, I am convinced that every human life has eternal value, and therefore it is morally wrong for doctors to end the lives of their patients.   But one does not have to be a Christian to recognize the risks inherent in legalizing euthanasia.

Consider the recent Rasouli case that was judged by the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Mr. Rasouli, a mechanical engineer who had come to this country from Iran, had been diagnosed with a non-malignant tumour.  After surgery, he suffered brain damage due to bacterial meningitis, and is now in what doctors describe as a vegetative state.  His family believes he can still communicate with them, yet the doctors at Sunnybrook contended that further treatment was futile, and wanted to be allowed to withdraw further treatment and move him to palliative care.  Although this would not be euthanasia in its narrowest definition, it is a step down that path, as it implies that doctors have the right to decide unilaterally who continues to be worthy of treatment.  His wife – who had herself practised medicine in her native Iran – intervened to oppose such a move.  With the help of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), she won her case.

The Rasouli family are Muslims.  They believe that life is a gift from God.  They also believe that there is still hope for the recovery of their husband and father.  I do not share their Muslim faith, but I do share their conviction that life is God’s gift.  I am grateful that the EPC took the risk of intervening in this case.  I have the utmost respect for the EPC and its founder, Alex Schadenberg, who since 1999 has dedicated his considerable energies and talents to opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

After my mother’s stroke, the family made a collective decision that she should not be resuscitated if she stopped breathing.  This is not the same thing as euthanasia.  After her stroke, the hospital did everything possible to treat her, and she was not moved to palliative care until the family gave its consent.  Once she had been moved to a nursing home, she continued to receive the best care available while she lived.

Consider the implications of living in a society where doctors have the unilateral right to decide who may live and who may die.  In Nazi Germany, many who were not perfect specimens of Aryan supremacy (not only Jews, but the mentally and physically disabled) were put to death.  Others were made the subjects of horrific experiments.

You may think such things could never happen in Canada.  Although I disagree with that assertion, I will choose not to debate the point, but will turn to another, perhaps more believable scenario.  Consider the pressure of finances on our medical system.  One can easily imagine that under the pressure of finances, medical practitioners might feel compelled to decide that treatment is no longer justified, effectively pulling the plug on someone’s life.  However, neither medical nor financial perspectives provide an adequate basis for assessing the value of a human life.

We live in a society that has increasingly jettisoned its Christian roots and embraced humanistic and naturalistic assumptions.  As Paul states in Romans 1:21, this inevitably leads to a truncated perspective on life – a sort of “tunnel vision” which is really a form of blindness.  Although Alex Schadenberg does not use theological arguments in his battle to protect the rights and dignity of the dying, his viewpoint is thoroughly theistic.  He is a catalyst for opponents of euthanasia around the world, as well as others who defend a Biblical perspective on various social issues.   He has also been willing to pay the price of his convictions and has stayed the course for over twelve years.  He does not draw attention to the pressures of this work on himself and his family (financial or otherwise), but they must be considerable.  The EPC has not yet paid the full legal bill for its intervention in the Rasouli case, and now faces the real prospect of an appeal from a euthanasia lobby that is well-funded and quite popular among the media and the liberal intellectual elite of our society.  If this post motivates you to support the work of the EPC, I’m sure Alex would be glad to hear from you.