Saturday, November 21, 2015


The recent terrorist attacks in France have resulted in two polarizing positions regarding North America’s desire to welcome several thousand refugees from the war torn middle-east.

Many US governors have decided against receiving refugees due to the probability terrorists would infiltrate this migration into the United States and plan attacks similar to those in Paris.

A similar outcry reverberates through Canada’s media against the new government’s unrealistic attempt to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by this year’s end. In addition to the logistical challenges it faces, the foremost concern is lack of time to ensure adequate security checks.

Justin Trudeau’s promise shows the other extreme: the primary need of a humanitarian response to the suffering of those displaced by war that outweighs other concerns. Few would deny the need for some level of compassionate response.

So on which side of this balance should we err: enforcing thorough security checks that would slow down the process to a trickle, or letting large numbers in quickly that would present a potential danger to Canadians?

Here are some thoughts I have considered to think through and determine my own response. Perhaps they may be helpful to you.

First, no level of security will ensure zero attacks. Apart from those infiltrating into this country, we have enough youth ripe for radicalization within Canada. We are all aware of planned attacks thwarted by our own security, while others, unhappily, have caused death and grief.

Second, Ann and I had the privilege of mixing with a group of Muslims from Iran during our time living at the coast. They, like ourselves, and probably ninety percent or more of those desiring to enter Canada, all seek the same: a place of relative peace, security, and opportunity, in which to raise a family away from the dangers of war.

Third, I consider my personal ability to live in a free democratic society as an accident of geography. Born in England and able to travel freely, Ann and I immigrated to Canada in 1965. So I find it hard to deny others the same free life simply because they were born in a place of conflict.

Fourth, I have to ask myself what cost am I prepared to bear to allow others that same privilege? Yes, there is risk in letting in thousands of refugees. Some entering this country may also seek my destruction. That in turn begs the question: what price was paid to allow me to live in peace and security for eternity with God?

I might pay the ultimate cost, but the chances of that happening are far less than dying in my car. Certainly, security tests are necessary to provide sufficient protection for Canadian citizens. But should the fear of a remote chance of being a victim deter me from aiding those in need?

I cannot speak for others whose lives may be at risk; they must speak for themselves. But my faith cals me to follow my convictions and listen to the voice of Jesus:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tired of Being “Ordinary”?

It’s no news that we live in a culture of individualism. That in itself is hard on community, but it also gives rise to the personality cult. No longer are we satisfied with good leaders; they must be charismatic individuals that we adore and keep us entranced by their charm.

There’s nothing wrong with attractiveness unless it replaces honesty and integrity. It’s too easy to fall for some pleasant affability at the expense of genuine compassion that must undergird any appealing facade. Leadership without concern for others leads to the superficiality that plagues our current culture.

Just as damaging, it leads to an undervaluing of lesser mortals, namely, most of us, who are easily clumped into the “ordinary” peasantry, and whose influence is considered negligible, let alone worthy of leadership.

So, am I an “ordinary” mother or father? Do I hold down an “ordinary” job, or lead an “ordinary” life?
The answer is a resounding “NO.”

I’ve placed the word “ordinary” in quotes because that person, including you and me, does not exist. We are all extraordinary, (extra-ordinary, if that’s not an oxymoron), if only because God created each one of us unique.

We do not attain lasting influence by our outgoing character, striking looks, well informed intellect, achievements, or fame. It is by being compassionate, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, forgiving and just; expressing eternal values that reflect the image of God given to all of us.

I frequently note an older, seeming insignificant person, or worker holding down a menial task, and realize they have those simple qualities that make them the greatest in the kingdom of God. Their influence, however small, will last a lifetime and beyond, immeasurably longer than any alluring charm.

Recognizing this, I am constantly encouraged, and I pray you are too, by the fact that we can be heroes of the faith, simply by fulfilling whatever God has called us to, however trivial, mundane, or basic it may seem. Does this mean we can join with Abraham, Moses, Calvin, or Billy Graham in the Great Hall of Faith?

This answer is a ringing “YES,” for “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I’m sure that many of you reading my last blog will identify with an uncertain future through some adversity that has come your way. In fact, few of us reaching our later years will have avoided the problems of life that afflict us all.

In my daily reading recently, I came across the well-known Psalm 121. The first verse in the King James Version of the Bible has created a misleading notion: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,” suggesting that our help comes from the hills.

In King David’s time, the inhabitants of a besieged city would search the surrounding hills for a relieving army to break the siege against them. Elisha faced a similar problem in Dothan as marauding Arameans surrounded the city to take him prisoner. You can read the whole story in 2 Kings 6:8–23.

Elisha’s servant thought all was lost, until Elisha prayed: “’LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha,” 2 Kings 6:17. The Lord’s army was there to deliver them.

Today, in adversity, we are unlikely to look to the hills for help, but we have many other avenues that we might consider our source of relief. You know what they are in your particular circumstance. But the first verse of our Psalm reads differently in most later translations, turning the last phrase into a question. The NIV reads: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?

The next verse answers, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Clearly not from the hills! Nor, I assume from the many other places they or we might look. But does that mean other resources are unnecessary or illegitimate?

You may have heard the story of the man caught in a flood, who sat on his roof waiting for God to rescue him. A boat came, but he refused to board it, for, he said, “The Lord will deliver me.” A helicopter lowered a rope, but he brushed it aside, saying, “No, the Lord will deliver me.” The man eventually drowned, and on reaching heaven he asked God why He had not rescued him. God replied, “I sent you a boat and a helicopter . . .”

Let’s put human resources in their place. Medical, financial, and social support agencies, or others who console us, are God’s provision for us—in addition to any supernatural intervention by God. He is our total provider; He is “the Maker of heaven and earth,” the Creator of all things.

Let’s look again at Psalm 121, the source of our help; but this time reading the whole Psalm. The idea that no harm will come to us, does not necessarily dispense with the idea of adversity, but rather that during it, we continue safe in his care—for time and eternity.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Hello again friends:

Well, it’s been over a year since my last blog. Now two major changes are once again leading me to pick away at my keyboard and let out some steam.

Of course, the one major change is one that will affect us all, the Liberal majority voted in by Canadians yesterday. Both the liberal and NDP platforms were of concern to me, but even apart from that I’ve always been convinced that socialism—at least as its practiced in Canada—is a flawed concept.

While the desire to increase benefits for the disadvantaged is to be applauded, at the same time socialists attack business—especially big business—which is their source of income for their social programs. That is why we can expect growing deficits and debt in both Alberta and Canada over the next four years. Maggie Thatcher said it best: “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money!”

Having said all that, most governments elected in western countries rarely perform strictly according to their philosophy; there are too many restraints already in place. So I’m interested to see what Justin Trudeau does over the next few months. He needs my prayers as much as any other leader. I’m at peace with the fact that God is still in control of the world’s affairs, and there are much bigger problems beyond our borders.

So much for politics. The other change is a personal one.

Having had surgery over six years ago to remove a cancerous prostate, the cancer has re-emerged in my bones. I am having treatment that should put it to bed for a few more years yet, but there is no guarantee. I am just thankful for the years I’ve had—I’ll be eighty next year—and for the health I enjoy. I have never felt sick as a result of my cancer, and live life as normal as my age would suggest.

However, I plan to take up regular blogging again, not only to review whatever course this cancer might take, but also to express my opinion on life as it unfolds. Writing my ideas out always clarifies my thinking on issues, and if you find it helpful, I’m thankful for that bonus.

Look forward to meeting you here again.