Unlike 2016, I would like to begin this year with not only the day the Lord has made but that this will be the year that the Lord has made.
I attended a church service last Sunday where the preacher suggested that 2016 was just about the worst year he could remember: Aleppo, the Missing Women’s Task Force, scandals in politics north and south of the border, the surge of refugees in Europe, and for many, particularly in industry and natural resources, a very insecure economic present and future. We often define ourselves by what we are not rather than what we are. That can be true of individuals, organizations, or the whole year as I have just illustrated. I would like us to remind each other that this was the year that 4 young men from 1 of our churches this very day are ministering in revival and renewal services in Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. In doing so risking their lives so that people would know Christ. This was the year when a minister’s kid from East Germany, Angela Merkel (who knows full well growing up under Communism what it is to be persecuted, marginalized, and discarded), welcomed 1 million refugees to her country… not a recompense, not an atonement, just mercy and justice. This was a year when 11 young people at New Life in Duncan became Christians. This was a year when ISIS went to behead the young Coptic Christians on the shores of the Mediterranean. When they came to behead the young Muslim man with them he was asked to convert to a different form of Islam. He said, “I want to die for the God these other men have died for.” This was a year when the world saw such atrocities that have provoked us to call out “No!”. Even more for those of us who are Christians to call out “No!” in the name of our Lord Jesus and to say “Yes” in this Christmas season not only to a life in Him but a new world because of Him. I’m done with the prophets of doom yet I hear the pain of the world as the whole Creation groans. I’m done with the pathologies that we teach our children and one another at times that cause us to have conversations with God that doom us.
Rather, I’m drawn over and over again in this Christmas season and the beginning of this new year to the Lord who would say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” I am humbled and remade by a God who would say “ For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I stand amongst you… No, indeed, I do not stand alone. We stand together in the midst of the verse which began this newsletter. This is not only the day that the Lord has made… May it be the Lord in me and in each of us, a life that the Lord has made… Indeed, may this be the year that the Lord makes and remakes us all and the world He has made, died for, and loves yet again.
Quote of the Week: Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything; That is how the light gets in.” – quoted by Anna Robbins at our Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference, and quoted by Lee Best who is the envelope secretary at Kitsilano Christian Community. I couldn’t think of a better commentary on the world askew as it is nor a more wonderful perspective on our view of money.
Notes from the Family: Please pray for those who came to Christmas services seeking the person of Christ and relationship with Him, that they may have found Him and that the seed that is sown falls on good ground.
Finally, a note from Doug Johnson telling the full story that I relayed in a previous newsletter:
“Let me tell you the exact incident. I was seated between Phil and your dad watching me on video give my brief message. Half way through the message Roy got up, went to the portable door and rattled the door knob and called over to Phil—“Phil let me know when it’s over.” At the conclusion I was asked 2 things: #1 Doug how many times did you put your finger up to your eyelid? I said 8 times—your Dad looked at me and said 21 times. He looked at Phil and said, “he can’t count.” We all laughed. The clincher came when your dad asked me “Doug what didn’t you like about your presentation? I thought for a minute and I said, “I haven’t listened to myself on tape or video, and what troubled me was how strong my accent was.” To which your dad replied, “Doug at this time in your preaching career it’s the only thing you have going for you—In the America that accent is worth $10,000 a year more, in Canada $ 5,000 a year or more”… Your dad and Phil were the most encouraging gift to me when I was preparing for the ministry. They were always there for me and never once did they give me any cause to be discouraged.”