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THE END!

We do not know the day nor the hour, but we do know the end of things as we know them is coming.   The follower of Jesus and of Scripture knows this, and takes it seriously.  Jesus’ saving work anticipates a day of reward and judgment.  Christ’s followers believe in a real heaven and a real hell.  To tamper with the statements and descriptions in the Bible about both places is foolish and misguided.   Our place is not to presume we can arbitrarily evaluate God’s judgments, but to accept them.  His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways past finding out – for now.

All over the world strange and devastating things are happening, and seem to be accelerating.  The nightly news reporting and picturing devastating fires, earthquakes, draught or famine must not be carelessly assigned to climate change alone.  Scientists do not have the last word.  The senseless violence across the globe may indicate something much deeper than social unrest, mental disorder, religious extremism or racial tension.

It may well be that sin and the devil, in rebellion against God, His authority and purpose, are raising their fists and taking cosmic action.  It is just as likely that our Sovereign God is allowing the timing and consequences of that rebellion to run amuck with devastating and unsettling impact.  Before the end comes and divine judgment has done its work, horrendous circumstances will prevail.   There will be immense loss of life, social disorder, political upheaval, rampant evil, spiritual persecution, and physical and material destruction.

It is stunning how in the life time of most of us, moral values that were held to be true by common consensus, have been cast aside, even denounced.  Blatant immorality is now celebrated and propagated.  Sodom and Gomorrah have been sanitized and dignified politically, legally and publicly.   A divine response will come sooner rather than later.

Are we seeing the beginning of the end?  Is God’s patience, so gracious and enduring, running out?  Is time shutting down when mankind can repent and receive forgiveness by taking God’s loving offer of salvation and acceptance?   Is heaven’s open door about to close?  Reading the signs of the times, who dares to disregard God’s salvation and eternal life?  God has given us time.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Surely it is time to seek the Lord while He may be found.  It is time to discern between right and wrong.  It is time to lay aside every weight of sin that hinders us and grieves God.  It is time to be holy, separate and focused.  It is time to put on the whole armour of God, and having done all to stand and keep standing.  It is time to warn the wicked of his erring ways.  It is time to lift high the name of Jesus and to raise high the standards of righteousness.

It is time to search the Scriptures to see if all this is true.   We must prepare ourselves and our families for the brief but rocky road ahead.  If you think I overstate the case then read Genesis 6, Psalm 1 and 2, Jeremiah, Daniel, Matthew 24, I and 2 Thessalonians, I and 2 Peter, Jude and the Revelation.  Discern the times in which we live.  The wise will not procrastinate nor find excuses.  All of us, but especially spiritual leaders, must re-examine our behaviour, our roles and our messages.  There is no “if” about the end of time – just a “when”.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

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FORGET NOT

There has been, and still is, a concerted effort to persuade older people to forget, or at least to lay down, memories of the past.  The mantra seems to be, “You had your day, so let us have ours!”   A new generation often feels it is time to let go of the past.  They want to move on, to try new things and to create their own reality.  Some of us have lived through almost unimaginable change over the last seven or eight decades.  The ability and need to change with the times has become a necessity, and sometimes a virtue.  But, by no means is it always good.  Roots are vital.

The speed at which some of those changes has come can be mind-boggling.  To name but one example: the telephone!  Some of us started with a community telephone with multiple families sharing a line.   Calls were distinguished by the number of rings.  Anyone in the neighborhood could listen in.  In the 1930’s out West it was called “rubbering.”  Today we have fits if some government agency dares to do that.

Many of the changes have been good and helpful – but certainly not all of it.  Unacceptable as it might be, there are important things that must not be forgotten.  Included among them are the spiritual, social and moral standards that once marked most communities in education, laws, families, businesses, neighbourly relationships and public behaviour.  Most churches once clearly and repeatedly explained biblical values.   They were accepted by the majority, including government representatives.  To deny or reject those values was usually terminal for those in public office.

Such thinking, and certainly its practise, is now considered laughable, archaic and a form of bondage.   The freedoms we all treasure were intended to uphold and support morality, goodness and righteousness.  We had clear boundaries because we believed in right and wrong, truth and error.  Today those boundaries are challenged leaving the door open to almost anything.  What was once behind doors, and even criminal, is celebrated with waving flags, parades and official approval and participation.  Laws protect it, schools sponsor it, and we all pay for its added medical and psychological consequences.

Thank God for a Premier in Ontario who has the courage to question and call to account an education system that is prepared to open the flood gates to sexual deviation, and its acceptance for generations to come.  He deserves and needs vast public support on that issue.  A brief opportunity to do something about this requires immediate response.  It is a call to action for all who value decency, fear God and hold to His commandments.  Let him know of your support.  Call your MPP.  Opposition is on the move already, loud and clear.

The Church has been delinquent in boldly rebuking sexual deviation.   The purveyors of licentiousness have owned public and political opinion, almost without challenge.  We cower within our four walls, leaving the public space to the proponents of unleashed hedonism.  Because the pulpit voices say little or nothing, the congregants do nothing.  Is it because so many sermons are borrowed rather than birthed, they leave untouched and unchallenged the critical, moral issues of the day?  Thus the politicians are emboldened to support immorality.   With no sense of censorship from the church the media and society dismiss us as irrelevant, puritanical, out of touch and unconcerned.  God must weep and a lackadaisical culture wallows in the muck.

Politics, power, popularity and public acceptance should not be the vital issues for us.  The fear and approval of God is, and must be!   Obedience to His commands, nurturing loving relationships, noble values, national and personal blessing are essential to quality living.  Some of us remember a much larger measure of that than we now experience in Canada.  Remind those who follow us what we, and much of our nation, once experienced.

We must not forget the judgments of God on erring people throughout history.  Nor the blessing the comes from honouring God and His Word.   God graciously sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins, to give us purpose, hope and blessing.   Do not forget it!

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

 

 

AMBUSHED – II

The Proverbial statement, “They ambush their own lives,” is a sad description of the self-hurt most of us have experienced at one time or another.  Wrong choices, bad behaviour and foolish rebellion result in wounds, dysfunction, crippling limitations, grief and the judgment of hurtful consequences – sometimes life-long and beyond.

The list of things that ambush one’s life can be found in the Ten Commandments.  Most of the disruption to family life, social chaos and corruption can be traced back to our disregard or violation of the divine will and order.  Because our government, educational system and courts of law have often chosen to reject God’s counsel for a noble society, our country is increasingly losing its way and stumbling in darkness.  The individual or family who rejects God’s way misses the pathway to a happy home and a safe envioronment.  The evidence of this is most everywhere one cares to look.  Our stubborn refusal to admit to our national rebellion against God and His ways, and thus to correct it, condemns us to devastating hurt!  We are literally ambushing our own lives!

Is there a solution?  What can we, who care, do about this before it is too late?

  • Proclaim faithfully the saving grace of our Lord Jesus.  Respond to the convicting, convincing work of the Holy Spirt who bears witness to all who will believe that they are children of God.  He guides into all truth those who listen.
  • Demonstrate and teach the fear of God, the value of obedience to absolute truth, and the beauty of holiness.   Sin must be named and forsaken.  Guilt must be understood rather than be disregarded or shoved under a rug.  The way of cleansing, purchased by the blood of Christ Jesus on the cross, must be applied.
  • Search the Scriptures daily to advance your knowledge of God.  Draw upon the sufficiency of Christ.   Find and own the promises of God which cleanse and shape thoughts and behaviour.   These actions build discernment and wisdom.
  • Learn to recognize the deceitfulness of the devil, the lust of the flesh, the nature of idolatry and the lure of the world and its ways.  Distrust yourself, but trust God.  He satisfies the hungry soul.
  • Put on the whole armour of God.  Practise using both the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.  Expect to be attacked, and prepare for it.
  • Rejoice that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
  • Worship God in spirit and in truth.  Praise Him with a whole heart.  Pray to Him without ceasing, rejoicing in the Lord always.

As long as we walk this earth we will face things that ambush faith, hope, love, holiness, body, soul, spirit and our very lives.  So be it!  But our protection and victory are assured in Christ Jesus who has promised never to leave nor forsake us.  Having done all, stand – and keep standing for victory in Christ Jesus is sure and His coming is near.

A fellow pilgrim – Arnold Reimer

AMBUSHED

A downside of being a news junkie is the gloomy reports of tragedy and violence one hears nightly.  Accidents, shootings bombings, floods, hurricanes, sickness, death, deceit, fires, political strife and corruption – the list is almost endless!  Worst of all are the stories of man’s inhumanity to man – the acts of violence due to anger, revenge, lust, greed, drunkenness, rebellion – the whole gamut of consequences brought about by bad choices.  Too often a damaging environment in home, school, society, even religion or its absence, have shaped and twisted thinking and personality.

Whoever rejects the concept of sin, or the depravity afflicting humanity, is either blind or detached from reality.  The biblical explanation is, “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Truly, the “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  Our nation’s increasing rejection of God’s authority over what is, and is not, sin is determining the decline and bleakness of our future.  The high cost of rejecting God and His commandments cannot be avoided.  We reap what we sow.

Who of us has not experienced, or observed, how easy it is to ambush one’s own life?   A wrong choice or decision, carelessly made, can reek havoc to one’s future, marriage, finances, relationships, reputation, health, career or whatever.   How grievous it is to see youth making choices about behaviour, morality, appearance, companions, habits, work ethics and attitudes that can only result in limitations and hurt, if not disaster.

For years our family devotions included reading a chapter from the Proverbs.  The first chapter contains a vital motive to pay attention to the whole book.  It warns the reader of those who “ambush their own lives,” by rejecting wisdom, knowledge and the fear of God.  They do not accept counsel and spurn reproof.  “They eat the fruit of their own way.”

Oh, that young and old alike would seek the forgiveness of God that leads to salvation; and the wisdom of God that leads to wise choices, good decisions and true blessing.  Another proverb admonishes: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  From my youth, I have held on to that promise.  I can report with conviction that deviation from it hurts, but obedience benefits.  God is faithful to His Word and Ways.

Thank God, most ambushes to which we victimize ourselves, though often hurtful, are not fatal.  That allows us time, the wisdom of understanding, the grace of repentance, the kindness of forgiveness and the blessing of renewal.  “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart, for the night comes when no one can work.”   “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  What a wonderful, healing promise – a way to avoid an ambush!

A fellow pilgrim – Arnold Reimer

# 200!

Two hundred; that’s the number of blogs I have written over the past six years.  Those who have followed them deserve a medal, at least!!  It would be fun, and helpful, to get a comment from you.

I started this avalanche of words to provide an outlet for, and a record of, my thoughts on aging, attitudes and society.  Wanting to finish well, I felt I needed to keep my mind alert, my principles for life and godliness active, and a motivation to follow, think about and to evaluate the political, social and spiritual state of both the church and the world.

Journalling has never been my thing.  I do admire those who discipline themselves to keep track of daily thoughts, prayers and actions.  But I do not trust mine enough to bother.  On the other hand, sixty-one years of sermons, mostly hand written word for word, are a measure of truths considered, life lived, lessons learned and growth recorded.  Wisely, or other wise, I have cleaned out and discarded the file cabinet with its letters, accolades, etc. about personal things, good and bad.  Most were probably best forgotten.  If they really mattered, then God has them on file!  He will have the last word anyway, and I am content with that.

Before I write another blog I shall have finished my 85th year.  I am afraid my boyhood dreams of knowing and serving God, “at any cost and by any road,” leave a lot to be desired.  God has not failed, and I rest almost comfortably upon His mercy, truth, forgiveness, renewing, provisions and promises.  But I do regret enough to anxiously anticipate the day “I shall be like Him for having seen Him as He is.”  Blessed hope!  The redeeming work of Christ Jesus and His absolute sufficiency is enough for now.

Having said all of that, is it not appalling the degree to which our society has sunk into a moral cesspool; often with government approval and/or individual misbehaviour?  When I entered ministry six decades ago abortion was horrifying – today it is glorified as an act of freedom.  Homosexuality was an abomination – today our Prime Minister raises its flag over Parliament and parades his children in its honour.   Drug addicts were hidden, other than the occasional drunk one saw on the street – today alcohol is sold in the grocery store.   Incredibly, marijuana is now sponsored by politicians greedily beating the criminals at their game.  Having killed babies by the million – today they work toward the reduction of the sickly and elderly by publicly sponsored euthanasia,  We have voted into office people who are either stupid, insane or wicked, and unleashed tragedy upon our children, youth and society.

And the church stands aside, disengaged, cautiously silent for the most part.  Are they concerned lest their freedoms be curtailed?   Do they tone down truth as much as possible lest they be disliked or challenged?   Proclaiming the positives they play down the negatives that require definition, rebuke, separation and distinction.   The church has been side-lined into insignificance and virtually kicked out of the court of public opinion.  We want God’s blessing without the cost of repentance.  God must find another voice.  Where, O where, are the prophets?

I can hardly believe all of this has happened in my lifetime!  Whatever have we done to ourselves?   “Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in it, have mercy upon us for the night is coming, when no man can work.”

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

THOUGHTS ON THE TRIBULATION

No biblical event is more anticipated and relevant for the follower of Christ Jesus than His coming again!   It is amply substantiated by Scripture.  Every eye will see Him; every tongue will confess Him to be Lord; and every knee will bow in acknowledgement of His authority.  With great power and glory He will make a new heaven and a new earth.  What a thrilling day that will be!

Equally clear in Scripture is a devastating period referred to as “a great tribulation”, which will immediately precede Jesus’ coming.  That will be a time of unimaginable judgment; the last gasp of the devil and his demons.  According to Scripture seven years before Christ comes, the Anti-Christ will take control of the nations.  For the first three and a half years he will appear to be the answer to all that is wrong.  During the last three and a half years he will prove to be a vile rebel against all that is godly, righteous and decent; an enemy of God and of the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Every vestige of sin’s evilness, that has so contaminated the heart of mankind will be loosed.   But wave after wave of awful judgments of God, listed in the Revelation and Ist and 2nd Peter,  will happen with devastating effects.  The prince of the power of the air and all who follow him will be crushed and banished as judgment falls and Christ returns with the armies of heaven and the saints of all the ages.  That will end seven years of special preparation for Jesus’ coming.  We shall see Him as He is and be like Him!  Glorious thought!

In spite of the absence of clear biblical affirmation many evangelicals dogmatically assert that before the tribulation begins, the Church will be removed (raptured) from earth.   They hope the saints will be spared the hateful turmoil of the Antichrist’s wrath and persecution, as well as the sight, pain and possible death of tribulation judgments on the ungodly.  They propose an earlier coming of Jesus to meet the saints in the air and another coming seven years later to set up the kingdom of God.  But no Scripture can be found specifying such a gap between the removal of the saints and the actual coming of Jesus.  Rather, before a startled world we shall meet Him in the air and return under His leadership to glorious victory.  Every eye will witness this.

Clearly, Jesus is coming again for the saints, and in  judgment.   When He does come He “will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”   We are to comfort each other with that thought!   Is that last phrase added because of the horror of what is being faced and the relief of His coming?

Jesus describes the events surrounding His coming: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and then all the tribes on earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky of the other.”  That does not sound like a pre-tribulation rapture.

Jesus’ description of the end of times in the book of Matthew (24-5) warns that, among other things, “deception” will be a force.  One of the deceptions will be confused people hopelessly looking for the real Jesus.  Could it be the saints are so convinced by repeated proclamations that they should be gone and Jesus should have come for them, that they will be confused, wondering if they misunderstood something?  If believers will be here during the tribulation, and the rule of the Antichrist, then surely we need to be warned and prepared.  Who is doing that these days and/or urging it?

We need to be thoroughly versed from Scripture in how God protected and provided for His people in many devastating times of persecution, judgments and danger.  Surely, it is for a reason we have the story of  the flood and the ark, the wilderness experience, many enemy attacks, serious stories, ancient and modern, of martyrdom throughout church history.  Think of the many promises and illustrations of God’s unique protection of His faithful people.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”

Think of the various prophets and faithful remnants, threatened by hostile kings, drouth, murderous, overwhelming forces;  but kept, protected, surviving, because God was with them against all odds.  The Scripture and history are full of examples.  Our God has not changed, nor has He withdrawn His word: “If they hated Me they will hate you.” or “All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

In much of the world in which we live, Christians suffer violence daily.  North America and much of Europe have escaped.   Who can deny that the church has been weakened, tarnished and incapacitated because of it?  In our environment, we hardly understand the need for the “full armour of God”, let alone how to wear it.  Yet, when Jesus comes He will be looking for a church “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”   A church that stands, and having done all still stands.   Tribulation and its fiery trial will drive the elect and faithful into the fullness of life in Christ Jesus.   It behooves us to be prepared – well prepared!   Perhaps the awfulness of the rule of the Antichrist and the devastation of the tribulation are just what is needed to prepare us for the upward call at His coming.

It behooves all of us to remember that the day and hour is in the Father’s hand.   So, while being alert to the signs of the times we must wait patiently and expectantly for His will and timing.  Even so come, Lord Jesus!

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

A LESSON ON LIFE

A friend recently reminded me of a statement her mother repeated: “Old age does not come alone.”  Thankfully, much of the baggage of aging is not heavy or debilitating; but some of it is.  The sister next in age to me just had a stroke that may lay her aside for months.    With her husband dependent upon her, the family is scrambling to make the adjustments necessary to care for them.  Such is life, even for those who hold strongly to faith and hope in Christ Jesus.

I am reminded of a personal experience that brought sudden change and troubling limitations to my wife and me.    Having just celebrated her birthday, pains in my chest sent me to a hospital in the middle of the night.  Less than a year into new responsibilities, I was in an ambulance repeating to myself a verse from the Proverbs: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  At 58 years of age, with major obligations ahead of me, life took a dramatic turn.

Rarely ill till that point, I faced months of uncertainty.  A new set of circumstances were forcing me to learn lessons of faith and disciplines of mind regarding emotions, joy, peace, independence, humility, and fear.  A lot of things came screeching to a halt, including much of my ministry, energy, some abilities and plans.  Limitations touched all kinds of things I loved to do with tireless energy and commitment.  Life for me had always been full of fun, work and challenge.

God was giving to me new choices to make.  I chose to reject the path of pity, depression and  bitterness.  Instead I acknowledged the sovereignty of God and the sufficiency of Christ.  I needed to apply the lessons of life He had taught to me and through me.   A divine promise, long a favourite, inspired me anew: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  What purpose and meaning that has given to me!

Over many years the Psalms have nurtured my soul.  I have tried to learn and to own the longings of the psalmist’s heart for God, His works and ways.  Each morning I read a Psalm based on the day of the month.  It anchors my soul and inspires my mind to trust God.  It teaches me to cast my cares on Him, to see problems through the lenses of His purpose and plan, to manage feelings by His grace and enabling, and to praise Him with a genuine heart.  It encourages, strengthens and directs me.  I am learning  to let the meditation of my heart be acceptable in His sight.  He is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Song, my Shield and buckler, my High Tower, my Refuge, my Strength and my River of delights.

I shall soon be 85 years old, a living example of a great Psalm, wonderfully revealing the great heart of God: “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.  He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honour him.  With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.”  “The righteous man (one redeemed by the blood of Jesus) . . . . will still yield fruit in old age;  they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright;  He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

I probably do not know what it means to be “full of sap and very green”, but there are those who think it describes me!  It does indicate I am alive and growing.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

CONCERN

The alert and discerning person has good reason, on many levels, to be concerned about the future of Canada and North America.  Many of us have lived long enough to remember the reports and experiences of the war-years, or the nuclear threats, the devastating economic depression, and the ongoing fears of another with its multiple side-effects of unemployment, financial loss and psychological despair.   Still lurking in the shadows, are unresolvable health issues like cancer, AIDs, Ebola, superbugs, etc.  Soon to be added to the list will be the psychological, physical, social and spiritual damage of legalized marijuana.   It is governmental greed at its worst!

The follower of Jesus, who holds God’s truth to be absolute, has more serious concerns.  The collapse of moral standards and the broad rejection, indifference or ignorance of the Ten Commandments by a majority of the public, is more than worrisome; it is frightening.  Thank God for those thoughtful, moral people who still nurture a sense of right and wrong, in spite of the trends.  But, think of the changes in public opinion in less than fifty years about such things as abortion, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, church attendance, gender, education (at all levels), drug and alcohol misuse, euthanasia, political and corporate corruption, violence, careless legal decisions, etc., etc.  Surely there is something sinister and evil about such an about face as has occurred.

Happily, the student of the Scriptures has a spiritual framework within which to understand and assess what is happening.   We know and believe that sin invaded the heart and mind of our first parents in Eden, infecting their prodigy and ours.  From that day to this, sin has snowballed with the ups and downs of human history.  While there have always been periods of light in the midst of general darkness, as time draws to its predicted end, darkness is prevailing.  We are living in a time of increasing wickedness with many doing what is right in their own eyes without reference to God, His purposes or ways.

God’s stark assessment of mankind’s behaviour during the days of Noah is increasingly descriptive of our day, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  His response to the sins of our age will not be less devastating than the massive destruction of Noah’s day.  All of us should be very concerned about what is happening.  But more than that, we have reason for anticipation.  As the darkness deepens, we hope in the return of Jesus to judge sin and the devil, to set up a new heaven and a new earth; to restore righteousness, holiness, purity and truth.  He will have the last word.  His promises will be fulfilled.  Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is clear evidence of the paganization of Canada, with serious indication of government support and much public approval.  Whatever happens between now and Jesus’ coming will be devastating.    Let it drive us to the Scriptures, to Jesus, to our knees, to His promises and to His provisions.  Learn what it means to put on the whole armour of God to stand in the evil day.  Receive the fullness and enabling of the Holy Spirit to guide us.  Proclaim the joyous message of saving grace of Christ our Saviour to all who will believe!

Yes, the concerns we hold are legitimate, but so is our blessed hope for Jesus’ return to set up His kingdom.  He will eliminate all evil and establish the rule of righteousness.  We have read the last chapter, and He wins.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

THE MAJESTY ON HIGH

Aiden Wilson Tozer, often called a twentieth century prophet, had an insightful, exalted view of God Almighty.  It marked his ministry.  He wrote a book entitled, “The Knowledge of the Holy”, a profound and instructive exposition of the Majesty on high.  It is my privilege to own a first edition, which I purchased in the early 1960’s.  I am reading it – again, stirred deeply by his words, insights, understanding and wholesome awe of the Lord our God.

Tozer’s theme has never been more needed than in this spiritually careless day in which we live.   The Twenty-First Century efforts of churches to be relevant has spawned an atmosphere of irreverence that should concern us.   It has been said, “The modern church tries so hard to be relevant, it has become irrelevant.”  No more damning evidence is needed than the cavalier manner in which politicians, the press and the public treat the Scriptures, the church, the sincere Christian and moral absolutes.

From pulpit, pen or presence the church rarely speaks with authority or clarity on the leading moral issues that have society spiraling into chaos.  We cherish acceptance, friendship and feelings more than truth, righteousness or purity.  Whatever light or salt we apply to our culture have been so diminished by our unwillingness to offend or our fear of rejection. that even the faithful hardly know where we stand, or why, let alone the bewildered public.  Few fear God or judgment, and certainly not the watered down, “Thus says the Lord!” of the few who might declare it.

Much of this is due to the Christian failure to teach clearly and convincingly a biblical view of God as the sovereign Lord, Creator and Sustainer of the universe.   The uniqueness of His attributes, and their uncompromising relationship and connection to each other, are essential tools for our understanding of God.  Too often His love, goodness and grace are allowed to trump His holiness, immutability and justice.   Our allegiance to science, psychology and technology fogs our view of His transcendence, omnipotence, creativity and omniscience.   Too many believe mercy and love must manage His truth, wisdom and judgment.  The attributes of God stand alone and complete in themselves.

In the infinity and perfectness of God each of His attributes can exist and function without limitation or compromise to the other.   He is God, and “beside Him there is no other.”   His attributes are absolute, independent of one another yet perfectly coordinated with each other.  No one of them contradicts the other, nor is inferior or superior in any way.   That is why the Apostle Paul realized he must teach “the whole counsel of God.”  It is a form of blasphemy to do less, for to do so is to “take the name of the Lord our God in vain.”  We dare not limit Him to fit our puny minds.

Unfortunately, the modern church, in its efforts to attract others, to be like everyone else, has rejected much that once helped us to visualize and sense sacredness.  Everything from architecture, to dress, to music, to ritual, to lighting, to movement, to vocabulary, to order has been downgraded to the point of banality.  Was some change needed for the sake of accommodation and renewal?   I think so, but it has gone too far and with it we have lost a sense of the otherness of God, appreciation for the sacred and perhaps the meaning of worship “in spirit and in truth”.

Perhaps a meditative read of Tozer’s book, and a fresh overview of Old Testament rituals balanced by New Testament revelation, would help us to balance and correct some things we have thoughtlessly laid aside or added.  Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

GOODNESS

The goodness of people in the face of tragedy is impressive.  For many weeks up to one hundred people have scoured the Grand Valley River banks in Ontario, searching for the body of a little boy swept from his mother’s arms when a flooded road washed their car into the river.  The surrounding community, its people, businesses, first responders and complete strangers, have reached out with compassion, provisions and money to do their best to help.  All of that is ongoing still.

This week a community in Saskatchewan has been emotionally bruised by the crushing tragedy of death and mayhem as their beloved hockey team, traveling by bus to a playoff game, was struck by another vehicle.  Sixteen young, enthusiastic sportsmen, along with their leaders, were killed and the others hospitalized.  Sunday night thousands of people gathered in the town’s arena to share their collective grief.  Tears flowed.  Shoulders sagged.  Love and kindness were expressed in lengthy hugs, hands tightly clasped, and faces etched by shock, disbelief and brokenness.  In a small prairie town everyone knows everyone.  No one could be untouched or indifferent to what happened..

Into the sudden darkness of calamity, the goodness of people shone like a light, a beacon of hope in the midst of despair.   Millions of dollars were given by caring people.   They needed a way to help with the very practical needs that would come, and responded with amazing generosity.  National and provincial leaders showed up.  Community leaders reached out with words of understanding; voice and countenance were strained by shock and sympathy.   Commitment to duty and the fearful responsibility of leadership were tearfully and sincerely expressed.  One rightly acknowledged, “There is no playbook for this.”   In spite of all the public concern, a prairie town will have to find its own way through this maze of darkness, danger and damage.

Watching the news reports, following the cameras as they panned the gathered community of grieving parents, relatives, friends and neighbours, one could only be impressed by the spontaneous outpouring of love and goodness so evident in the packed arena.  People held their neighbour, or just reached out to touched each other,  a Kleenex was given.  In an increasingly crass and self-centered society, it helped restore one’s sense of basic goodness that rises up when sorely needed.  Psalm 23 was read and emphasized.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. . . .  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God grant that such goodness continue in the difficult days ahead.  There are traffic charges to be laid.  There is money to be distributed.  There are long term health issues to be faced.  There are issues that will arise as things are reviewed, re-visited and re-hashed.  Wisdom will be needed.  Some rights will need to be laid down.  Innuendo will need to be corrected and put aside for the greater wellbeing of individuals and the town.

Someone will need to speak truth and many will have to listen.  Life is not always fair. Though love covers a multitude of sins, healing and forgiveness do not always come easily.  Words are not always said well.  In it all, “God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, do not fear.”

Goodness is a wonderful gift of God, but it is also vulnerable in human hands.

A fellow pilgrim,    Arnold Reimer