Tag Archives: health

Nuggets of Hope 25 – Jesus in your boat

The boat pictured here is a replica of an ancient fishing vessel whose remains were discovered by a couple of amateur archaeologists in the Galilee region in 1986.  It’s thought to be much like the type of boat that Jesus and his disciples would have used.  It’s a sizable craft, capable of being either sailed or rowed.

Among Jesus’ disciples were several seasoned fisherman, familiar with the Galilee waters. Still, on more than one occasion the gospel narratives relate that they ran into trouble with high winds and waves. One evening, after a busy day spent helping Jesus meet the needs of a crowd of over 5000 people, they set off to cross the lake in a boat much like this one, while Jesus went off for some solitary prayer in the hills surrounding the lake.

This wasn’t just a pleasure jaunt for the guys in the boat. The boss had told them to meet him on the other side of the lake, and they were doing their best to follow his instructions. But they were having a rough go. The wind was against them and they weren’t making much headway.

Quite possibly they were having conversations something like this.

Can this trip really be God’s will? Maybe we didn’t hear him right. Jesus can’t want us to be having all this trouble, can he? I thought he cared about us. Maybe we shouldn’t even be doing this. I think this whole adventure was a bad idea. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the next thing they knew, they had another problem – a really big one. The high winds and waves were a problem, but at least they were a familiar problem. They knew what to do about winds and waves. But then things got really scary.  They thought they saw a ghost.

We’ve all had moments like those. We’re already beyond exhausted – at the end of our rope – but at least we have a plan and we know what we are dealing with. Then things just go to a whole other level and we have no idea what to do next.

What a relief to hear Jesus’ voice. “It is I. Do not be afraid.” The gospel of John records that when they heard his voice, they realized who it was, and let him into the boat; and immediately (as it seemed to them) they reached the other side.

The journey through life can feel like a tough assignment sometimes. As if our pre-COVID life weren’t challenging enough, the pandemic confronts us with questions to which nobody really knows the answers. Are we going to make it to the other side? What will “the other side” even look like? Where are we headed? Will life ever be normal again?

Here’s a different question. Do you have Jesus in your boat?

If you do, all the other questions might still be there, but suddenly everything looks different. Jesus is master of the situation. He knows the way through. Breathe deeply. You are going to be OK. You don’t have to be afraid.

The Apostle John, looking back on this event many years later, summarizes their feelings this way: Then they were glad to take him into the boat. 

What about you? Is Jesus in your boat?




Let’s talk about mental health

The stimulus for this post is the Bell Let’s Talk campaign which is intended to encourage people to talk about mental health.

When I was a young pastor I battled depression, although I wouldn’t have had the words to describe what I was dealing with. Looking back, I am convinced that the battle was mostly spiritual in nature. I wanted to fix everything that was wrong with the world, but I couldn’t even fix myself. I was oppressed with negative thoughts (condemnation, self-hatred, perfectionism) which I believe came ultimately from lies sown by the one Jesus called the father of lies and Christians often refer to as the enemy of our souls.

Freedom from this oppression did not come overnight, but the turning point came when I recognized that the battle was essentially spiritual, that Jesus had conquered darkness, and that he had given me the keys to share in his victory. I did not come to this realization on my own, but through the help of precious friends, teachers and mentors for whose help I am very thankful to this day.

Since then I have gone through many difficult events and circumstances, many of which were the direct result of my desire to follow God’s call on my life. But through the help and support of my friends and mentors, these challenging circumstances helped shape me into a healthier, more positive and more resilient man. Though the path has been long, I have come to a point where my life is mostly ruled by the peace of God, even when times are hard. Not that I never struggle, but now I know what to do about it.

There are physical, relational and spiritual components to my self-therapy. I walk or bicycle, I talk and pray with friends and especially my beloved wife, I find ways to serve God through serving others, I spend time with my children and grandchildren, I dialogue with God, I read the Bible and remind myself of God’s promises, I pray for others who are suffering, I play my guitar and worship. All these practices keep me mostly stable, anchored and productive. But I remember what it was like to battle depression, and I don’t want this post to sound as though I think I have it all together. For me, the truth is somewhat different. As the apostle wrote years ago, in Him (Jesus) all things hold together. This is the truth that anchors my life and keeps me healthy.


Healed of Stage Four Bone Cancer

I don’t often post testimonies in my blog but this is too good not to share.

All glory to Jesus.

Stage 4 Bone Cancer – Gone !


Making the most of the rest of your life

I was talking with some friends at work today about our plans for the future. The conversation turned to retirement and how we want to use the years that remain to us. We all agreed that since life is short and none of us knows when we are going to die, it’s important to stay active, to have goals and interests, to make the most of the years we have left.

Like my friends, I want to stay healthy, to use my talents and abilities to the full, to enjoy life, to bless my children and grandchildren.  But because I look at life through the lens of eternity, I see all of these as secondary goals. I do want to make the most of the rest of my life, but my horizon is eternal – and that makes all the difference in the world.

For me, having an eternal horizon means at least three things.

The first thing it means is that my life will not end when I die, so I don’t need to fear death. Yes, death is real, but humans are spiritual beings, not just physical ones. The hunger to understand what lies beyond death is part of what separates people from animals. My dog Cookie doesn’t seem at all concerned about the meaning of life, but people are different from dogs. In the ancient words of King Solomon, considered the wisest man on earth in his day, God has planted eternity in our hearts. We were originally intended for eternal life, which is why most people are not content with 70 or 80 years followed by the prospect of nothingness.  The wonderfully good news is that Jesus, the Messiah, has conquered death and made a way for those who have placed their hope in Him to have eternal life.

Having an eternal horizon means something else as well.  It means that I am accountable to God, who sees all actions and knows all motives, for how I use the time I have left.  It’s very common nowadays to say that a good life is whatever makes you happy.  God’s word says something different.  Ultimately, it is not all about me. In fact, the sooner we learn that, the better, because that’s where all the misery started.  The Deceiver tricked our first parents into thinking that if we could be independent we’d be better off, but they soon learned that a life in which they were in control brought only misery and disappointment. It has been the same way ever since. When we live for ourselves, the pleasures – though real – are temporary, and they bear bitter fruit. Having an eternal horizon means recognizing that lasting joy can only come about when we surrender to our Maker and discover life as it was meant to be lived, with Him at the center.  If this is a new idea to you, I can tell you that it is much better than doing life on your own. I’ve tried it both ways, and I can’t imagine going back to life without God.

Finally, having an eternal horizon means that I don’t have to be in a hurry. I can face the prospect of death knowing that I am at peace with God and that I have all the time He gives me – no more and no less. Since I am looking forward to an eternal kingdom, I can enjoy the time I have left without worrying about how long it will be.  It’s not up to me anyway.  A classic story about St. Francis of Assisi illustrates this beautifully. Francis was out hoeing his garden when someone asked him what he would do if he knew he was going to die by sunset of that very day. His famous answer was that he would finish hoeing his garden. Francis could respond this way because his whole life had been lived as an offering to his maker, so he had no need to fear death.

Do I want to make the most of the rest of my life? Of course – doesn’t everyone? But when you understand life from God’s perspective, suddenly the stakes are higher, the timeframe is very different, and the rewards are infinitely better.


What’s in your cup?

Picture yourself in a crowded room, holding a cup full of hot coffee.  You are having a conversation with someone you have just met.  You want this person to like you, so you are doing your best to come across as the pleasant, competent, wise, compassionate and knowledgeable person that you really are – or want to be.  Just then someone in the crowd bumps against your elbow, the hot coffee sloshes out of the cup all over the person you were trying to impress, and you are thoroughly embarrassed.  So much for your image!

Now apply that picture to your emotional state.   You are calm, cheerful and positive as long as everything is going your way.  But what happens when you get bumped by events you can’t control, circumstances that mess with your plans, or people who don’t treat you as you think you deserve?   That’s when what’s in your cup comes spilling out, and you find out what you are really full of.  That’s when you find out whether the image you project matches the reality of what is actually in your heart.    As Jesus put it, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Come on, you say, that’s not fair.  I can’t be responsible for how I react to annoying people, unfair decisions, shoddy service, and the many other aggravations that life puts in my path.  Do you expect me just to put up with all that stuff?

Let me ask a different question.  If Christ lives in you, can’t you do better than just react to others?  No doubt there are genuine wrongs and injustices in life, and there is a place for addressing them.  But as long as we are bound up on the inside with anger, judgments, guilt, fear, pride and other baggage, our most constructive contribution may be to clean up our own junk first. As Jesus said, How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

The Christian life is intended to be a process of life-long growth in which the character of Jesus shines through more and more in our lives as the image of God is restored in us.   Ironically, one of the keys to this process is not to get too preoccupied with our own growth.  We’ll get farther if we fix our eyes on Jesus than if our gaze is always fixed on ourselves and our own perceived failures.   Still, learning to understand ourselves is valuable, especially when understanding leads to specific and focussed repentance.  Each of us comes into God’s Kingdom as damaged goods, and we can co-operate better with the Holy Spirit’s work if we allow Him to shine his light on the areas of greatest damage for the purpose of restoration.

I have found that if I am honestly and humbly seeking self-understanding for the purpose of growing in grace, the Holy Spirit is more than willing to give me insight. A good question to ask Him is not just “What’s in my  cup” but “How did it get there?”. Although we may be very adept at condemning ourselves, frequently we don’t have a very good understanding of why we are the way we are.  When we consider that deception is one of the Enemy’s favourite strategies it shouldn’t be too surprising that he would do his best to blind us to the root causes of destructive patterns of thought and behaviour.

This is a big topic, and a blog post is not the place to lay out a complete methodology for the restoration and healing of the wounded and polluted soul.  But as one who has needed – and received – much grace in this area, let me encourage you not to believe the lie that you cannot change.   Why should you be any different than anyone else? All the power is on our side – the blood of Jesus, the liberating truth of the Word of God, the instruction of the Holy Spirit, the power of repentance and forgiveness, and the help of friends in Christ.   All the enemy has going for him is deception.  True, he is a master at it, but the Father of lights is greater than the father of lies.

Our spirits are born again when we receive Jesus Christ into our lives; the redemption of our bodies will take place when He returns.   In between those two events, we have a lifetime to allow Him to work out the restoration of our souls. Let’s commit ourselves to pressing forward to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us – the fulness of life which He said was our inheritance. And lest anyone think that all this attention on healing of the soul sounds a bit selfish, consider that the more healed you are, the better equipped you are to help others find healing.  The more free you are, the better equipped you are to help others get free.

What’s in your cup?  I want to be clean on the inside, not only on the outside, so that fresh, life-giving water bubbles up from the core of my being.  How about you?


Why I’m not afraid of swine flu

Swine flu has been in the news lately.  It comes up in lots of conversations.  In spite of all the media attention, most people I talk to say they aren’t worried about swine flu.

Here are the three main reasons why people say they aren’t worried.

  • most of the deaths have taken place in Mexico, not in countries like Canada where we have good access to medical care
  • the swine flu doesn’t really seem any worse than most other kinds of flu
  • if we take proper precautions we’ll be OK

It’s true enough that those who have a robust immune system can probably resist swine flu.  Taking proper sanitary precautions can certainly help.  And in a country like Canada where we have good medical care, even if we do get swine flu we will probably survive.   But still, unexpected things happen.  A few years ago my accountant died of the flu.  He was in his early 40s and apparently in good health.

My point is very simple.  Although most people don’t like to think about it, the truth is that none of us can avoid death forever.  At some point I will die and so will you, whether the cause is swine flu or something else.

I’m not against taking precautions.  I believe in taking care of my health, but I’m not going to worry about the latest scare.  And the reason I’m not going to worry has nothing to do with Canada’s health system or my immune system.  When it comes right down to it, my trust is somewhere else.  I’ve placed control of my life in God’s hands.  My life belongs to Jesus Christ who died for me.  Whether I live or die I belong to the Lord, and I am confident that I can trust him.

Some may say “How foolish.  Who would trust a God that you’ve never seen?”.  My reply to you is simple.  In the end, none of the other things in which you’ve placed your trust will be able to save you.  In the end, health care won’t save you, your good management skills won’t save you, living in Canada won’t save you.  In the end, you will face Jesus anyway.  At that point, you’ll wish you had placed your trust in Him while you had the choice.

I want to live my life on earth to the full while I have the chance.  I want the best for my wife, my children and grandchildren.  But in the end, what’s best is not mine to determine.   In the end, my Creator and Redeemer holds the keys of life and death and I would rather place my trust in him than in myself.  I have his word that if I place my hope in him, I have a share in his eternal kingdom where sickness, death and suffering have no power.  And that’s why I’m not afraid of the swine flu.


Affecting genetics through prayer?

A recent National Post article reports on groundbreaking research at McGill University.   The research seems to show that physical and emotional abuse in childhood can alter the genetic code of a child.  The same team has previously done other research supporting the idea that life experience can affect and alter the genes that we inherit from our parents.

While this underscores the depth of the devastation that can be caused by abuse, it also gives us concrete evidence in support of a biblical belief system.  If genes are affected by life experience, we have a clue as to how a very important spiritual principle operates on  human biology.  We see patterns of sin becoming part of a family’s inheritance – the sins of the fathers literally being visited upon the children in their genetic code.

Although this is significant, I’m far more intrigued by the positive implications of this research.  If there is an interplay between our life experience and our genes, it ought to work on both the positive and the negative side of the ledger. The insights provided by this study help us to envisage a mechanism whereby the grace of God can affect our concrete life experience.   We don’t need scientific proof that the prayer of faith is powerfully effective – generations of praying believers have known it to be so – but I find it exciting when science provides supporting evidence of how the realm of emotions and relationships affects the systems that govern our physical health.   If negative experiences can affect our genetic makeup, setting us up for misery and suffering, why can’t an atmosphere of faith, hope and love affect our genetic makeup as well, setting us up for vibrant wellbeing?

Of course, faith doesn’t depend on scientific proofs – but in a scientifically-oriented age, this research supports the faith perspective that our genetic code is not our predetermined fate; it is just what we start life with.  The article cited above mentions other research by the same team supporting the idea that positive experiences can also affect our genetic code.  Believers in Jesus know that His redeeming power affects every area of life, and that we are children of destiny, not fate.  As we respond in faith to the call of God, it is possible that even our genetic code – once thought by science to be a sort of predetermined fate – can be transformed.   This may offer new insight into how prayers of generational healing and blessing might operate on a physical level.

History records that during the Healing Rooms ministry of John G. Lake, the US Government declared the city of Spokane, Washington to be the healthiest city in the nation.   The Acts of the Apostles similarly report that during an early period of vibrant faith, when more and more people in Jerusalem were turning to the Lord, crowds gathered in the city as people from all the surrounding towns brought their sick, and all of them were healed.

Can it be so where you and I live?  I see no reason why not.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?