Tag Archives: trouble

Outlasting the Blues

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, and Ontario enters its second full lockdown, with new government directives that leave many questions unanswered, all of us are getting a little battle-weary. Couple this with the political turmoil south of the border and you have more than enough discouragement to fatigue even the most stalwart soul.

When we are in the midst of a battle, one important key to victory is perspective. If we can see the enemy and the battleground, we can fight much more effectively. This morning as I was waking up, a dream fragment told me my God was trying to get my attention. With three simple words He gave me that precious gift of renewed perspective. The words came from a 1979 Arlo Guthrie album title – one I used to love but had not listened to for years.

Outlasting the Blues.

I had been asking the Lord to help me understand why we seem so powerless against this pandemic. Didn’t he bestow upon His apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, including the power to heal diseases?

He patiently reminded me that the gifts of the Holy Spirit don’t guarantee that we will have no more troubles in this age. To the contrary, Jesus made it clear to His apostles that in this world they would have trouble.  In the midst of troubled times, times of great need, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is a great blessing and source of comfort. But the gifts He gives are signs of the Age to Come – a deposit on our inheritance. They are given to empower us, to give us hope and resources with which we can help others.  They are not given to exempt us from trouble.

We who live in North America have been so used to relative peace and prosperity that we have developed an entire theology to tell us that what God really wants for us is a comfortable life here and now.  I like my comforts as much as the next person, but I know my Bible and my God well enough to know there’s something wrong with that theology. And I know it even better now than I did before COVID.

We are in a time when God is shaking many things. We are experiencing birth pangs. There will be more birth pangs. I have never given birth, but I did accompany my wife through the birth of all four of our children, and  all her labours were long ones. Even the shortest was about ten hours long. I can tell you two things about that experience. First, it was hard and long and painful and messy, and she wanted it to be over long before it was.  Second, after each child was born she had absolutely no regrets about the experience. It had all been worth the struggle.

The Bible tells us that God’s plan is to make all things new. He is preparing a glorious bride for his Son, and looking for those who will persevere in prayer and faith, hold on to hope, and seek to grow in love as they wait for God to finish his work.

I don’t want to just escape into distractions while I wait for the pandemic to be over. That would be a waste of a good test. Tests are given for a reason. I want to be one of the ones who don’t quit, who keep their eyes on the prize and share in the glories of the new heaven and earth in the age to come.

By the grace of God I am determined to outlast the blues. How about you?


Stay steady and win the prize

Last night Marion and I watched a movie about Philippe Petit, who famously walked a tightrope between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center in 1974.

I was struck by his courage but also the extensiveness of his preparation for this feat. You don’t accomplish a feat like this without both attributes. Further, I noticed that he was completely convinced he could do this. He had faith – not in God but in his own ability. The pressure of maintaining this faith almost drove him mad because he was relying on himself and not on God. Still, he persevered and accomplished what he called his “coup”.

Petit said that he did this not only for the sake of the feat itself but also for the glory that would be his as a result.

To walk a tightrope you do need preparation, training, courage and faith. You also need incredibly good balance.

This morning I awoke from a dream about the Bride of Christ. The nations of the earth are being shaken in the time we are in, and the Bride of Christ is being shaken.

Although Jesus is called our Bridegroom in Scripture, and we are called his bride, the wedding is still to come. We are Jesus’ betrothed, but only those who stay steady through the shaking will get the prize.

The shakings are part of our preparation for glory. Many of us waver at times. We might even stumble and lose our balance momentarily. If we steady ourselves and get up again, we will make it. If we lose our grip and forget our hope in these moments, we will fall to our destruction.

As I was waking up from this dream the Lord also told me to get up and eat something sweet. I asked him, if I am being given this message about shaking, shouldn’t I be fasting and praying? He said no, get up and eat something sweet. So I did. As I did this I realized that God was saying that in the midst of shakings He sustains His people with the sweetness of His presence. We don’t have to maintain our balance and our courage by sheer force of will, as Philippe Petit did in his classic tightrope walk. We do need to fix our will on the prize, but we can abide in the sweet presence of the Lord. He steadies us so that we can finish our walk.

If you are going through difficult times know that you are not alone. The Holy One has his eye on you. Philippe Petit also had a team of people who believed in him and were cheering him on. We have a team as well. We need the Body of Christ to cheer us on to success. Even more than that – especially in those moments when we feel completely alone – we need to remind ourselves that the eyes of the Lord are on those who have put their hope in Him.

Yesterday evening was the beginning of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles. This feast celebrates the abiding presence of the Lord with Israel as they were crossing the wilderness, when they lived in temporary shelters. For believers in Jesus it also signifies the beautiful, sweet reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit who refreshes us, renews us and empowers us to finish our race with joy. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a deposit or first installment on our  inheritance. Those who persevere in faith are destined to inherit an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken.

If your life sometimes feels like a tightrope walk between two towers, fix your eyes on Jesus and let Him steady you. You will get to the other side. Eternal glory awaits you.


Nuggets of Hope 1 – God’s child

What does it mean to be God’s child? How do we become His children? How can His children live with hope?

Good morning. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is ramping up in Canada, this series of short reflections is my attempt to help you see God’s promises with unveiled eyes, and believe with unveiled hearts, as you turn to Him.

Each post will reflect on a thought from a collection of Scripture verses that I use as a daily devotional aid.

Today I want to explore the powerful words of John 1:12-13

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—
children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

If you have received Jesus as Lord and believed that He is God’s promised Messiah, the Saviour of the World, then God considers you His child.

The little guy in the photo is my grandson Josiah. I love him fiercely, just as I love all my children and grandchildren. I have a strong desire to protect them from harm and to see their lives blessed.

This is how God feels towards those who are His children by faith in Jesus. He fights for us. He wants us to live in hope. He is on our side, for us and not against us.

Being His child doesn’t mean you will never have trouble in this life. In fact, Jesus assured his disciples of exactly the opposite. In this world you will have trouble, he said.  But then he added, Take heart, for I have overcome the world.

We will have trouble because the wonderful, amazing world that God created is also a broken place, marred by sin and the curse that is on creation since our first parents turned away from God. We will also have trouble specifically because of our decision to follow Jesus. But we who belong to Him can also have hope, because Jesus rose from the dead and has put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, a foretaste of our heavenly inheritance, guaranteeing what is to come. And so we can be confident that our God is with us and we have an eternal future with Him in the Age to Come. He has given us the power to live in hope, and so we can also live in love that conquers fear.

If you already believe in Jesus, I want to encourage you today to take that hope that is in you because of him, dust it off and let it shine. If you don’t believe in Him yet, or not any more, I want to encourage you to turn to Him with your whole heart, ask Him to forgive you of your failures and your stubborn independence, and place your life in His hands. He is waiting for you. God bless you.



New Year’s Letter

What follows is a New Year’s letter to my children.  I decided to post it on my blog because I realized that the things I wanted to say to my children are really a message from the Father’s heart, things he wants everyone to hear. My prayer is that these words from my heart will be an encouragement to your faith. 

To my dear children, whom I love with all my heart.

As we enter a new year, there are three simple things that I want to say to you.

The first thing I want to tell you is how much the Father loves you.

As I get older, my faith is getting simpler and simpler. I have been wrong – or at least partly wrong – about some things that I was once sure of. That’s because I was sure of far too many things. But in his mercy, God has been at work in my life, shaking everything that can be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may remain. We can have opinions and preferences about many things, but there are only a few things that really matter. God Himself – His goodness and holiness and love and trustworthiness – is the most important foundation stone of all.

Despite my best intentions, my own capacity to show you a true father’s love has been imperfect, limited and inconsistent, but His love never fails those who trust Him. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, no matter what happens to you, to those you love, and to the world, the Father is completely trustworthy. He is consistently faithful, merciful, kind and good to those who put their hope in Him and in His Son Jesus.

Yes, the Father loves you. He made you for love, He knows your name, He knows everything about you – even the worst parts – and still He loved you enough that He gave His Son to redeem you.  He loves you enough to pursue you until you have yielded fully and freely to His embrace – until you have surrendered every corner of your life to His transforming power.

The second thing I want to tell you is that in this world you will have trouble. I’m not just talking about the personal troubles of illness, grief, poverty, and other misfortunes that can afflict us. In a world that has been marred by the evil one, these things are real enough, but they will not endure forever.

No, I’m talking about something bigger. For reasons that would take too long to list here, I have come to believe that the final great crisis of history is drawing near. The age-old battle between dark and light is becoming more intense and more prominent.

I won’t get into the game of predicting details or dates, because there is nothing to be gained by speculating on things that Jesus has told us we cannot know. It only leads to fear and disillusionment. But Jesus does instruct us to pay attention to the signs of the times. All over the world the message of the Kingdom of God is spreading. At the same time, all over the world the powers of darkness are increasing their attacks on the people of the light.

In the midst of such a time, I want to plead with you not to let the Enemy lull you to sleep with apathy or false security, or blind you with despair or cynicism. Stay awake! The troubles of life – both your personal troubles, and the upheavals of a world in crisis – are not just things you have to endure helplessly. They are signposts to point you to Jesus.  God is able to provide for His people no matter what is going on around you. He has given you strength to stand – and not only to stand but to triumph.

The third thing I want to tell you is that as troubles increase, so will opportunities also increase. Marion and I have been experiencing the drawing of the Holy Spirit in recent months.  God has been opening doors of faith to us as we have become more watchful, more expectant and more attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit. All around us there are people who are hungry to know the living God. All around us there are opportunities to serve, to do good, to bless others, to sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom that will come openly on the earth when Jesus returns.

Creation is groaning with the birth pangs of the age to come.  Our final redemption is drawing near. This age is coming to an end, and the Lord is returning. The Holy Spirit is awakening the people of God, calling us to fresh faith and love, so that those who belong to Jesus will be ready for Him when He returns, as a bride who has made herself beautiful for her wedding day.

So be encouraged, be full of faith, be watchful. Don’t build your lives, your hopes, your expectations on things that will crumble.  Build on the one foundation that will stand secure when everything else falls apart.  He is changing everything. He is making everything new. He is shaking all things so that He may restore all things. Those who put their hope in Him, and do not waver or lose hope in the midst of the shaking, will see His glory.

That, and nothing less, is what you are called to.  Marion and I are believing for every one of you to shine like the sun in the Kingdom of your Father.  We love you and Jesus loves you.