Lofty Hearts


When I read the following verses from Ezekiel the other day I couldn’t help but think of a certain U.S. Presidential candidate.:
(3) “(Behold, you are wiser than Daniel!
There is no secret that can be
hidden from you!
(4) With your wisdom and your understanding
You have gained riches for yourself,
And gathered gold and silver into
your treasuries;
(5) By your great wisdom in trade you
have increased your riches,
And your heart is lifted up because
of your riches),”

Of course, the prophet Ezekiel is speaking somewhat sarcastically here in addressing the king of Tyre, especially in verse 3 when he says the king is wiser than Daniel and that no secret could be hidden from him. This is actually how the king of Tyre thought of himself because the latter part of verse 5 says, “And your heart is lifted up because of your riches.”

The king Tyre had some lofty thoughts concerning his own self-importance. In fact, verse 6 says he thought of himself as a god. Therein lies the scary part. A world leader who thinks he’s a god. Not a good scenario for a number of reasons. It’s doubtful if either of the two U.S. Presidential candidates consider themselves to be gods, at least not in the literal sense. Such notions are normally reserved for dictators in countries like say……….I don’t want to mention names here but North Korea comes to mind. Men with such extreme god complexes think nothing of steamrolling Christians and hanging them upside down on crosses while burning them alive.

Anyway, at least one of the candidates for U.S. president has managed to increase his riches through “wisdom in trade.” Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The problem is when the “heart is lifted up because of your riches.” When a man’s heart is lofty he tends to think he can do things that most people wouldn’t dream of doing, such as grab and grope women with or without their permission.

But again I’m not prepared to say that increasing riches through wisdom in trade is bad in and of itself. Many people have done it. Mind you, I’m certainly not one of them. My heart may have been “lifted up” from time to time for other reasons but not because of my great wisdom in trade. Probably not because of my great wisdom in anything. Come to think of it I cannot presently think of any good reason for my heart to be lifted up. Nevertheless, I have the sneaky suspicion that it has been and that it might possibly be slightly elevated even now.

Humility is such a tricky thing. When you think you have it then you don’t really have it. I read that somewhere. Can’t remember where. Just somewhere.

In any case, when a nation has a leader who thinks he’s a god then that nation is headed for troubling times. At least that’s the way it was in Tyre. God had a promise for its king:
(7) ….”I will bring strangers against you,
The most terrible of nations;
And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom,
And defile your splendor.”
(8) They shall throw you down into the
And you shall die the death of the
In the midst of the seas.”

As far as I understand it, The “Pit” in question was that bottomless one talked about regularly in the book of Revelation . It’s where satan is currently headed and where he’ll be held for 1,000 years while Christ is ruling the earth from Jerusalem. But before the Pit, God promised to bring terrible nations against Tyre. We’re talking large scale military invasion here.

It may seem unfair for an entire nation to suffer because of the pride of its leader but that’s often how it is. Thousands and even millions of people can be affected by the decisions of one man, either for good or for bad. That’s the power of leadership. It’s why we need good leaders in high places.

Leading the nation of America is a high calling best reserved for one with a lowly heart. It’s doubtful if such can be found amongst the two present candidates. Perhaps it’s never been truly found amongst any candidate in any generation. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election I find a recurring thought in my head that says: “We need to pray like never before.”

Strangers from terrible nations have already come against America to an extent. Could it get worse? Yes it can. Will it? I don’t know. But for what it’s worth, I’m praying about it. Perhaps we all should pray because if times get troubling for America it will likely have a ripple affect on the rest of us.

The Pecking Problem


Given the subject matter at hand, I’m probably not qualified to write this blog.

It should be written by a happy, peaceful person. Not that I’m completely miserable or altogether void of inner calm and tranquility. I probably have a million reasons to be happy. I just find it hard to think of them. Positive thoughts often elude me. Negative ones come naturally to me. I don’t have to chase after them. They just show up like an unwanted guest at a dinner party.

They’re the ultimate party crashers. Mental bullies. Emotional terrorists. Creeping, crawling insects of the mind. Who let them in? How can I get them out?

My family and I were recently stalked by a Crow. I don’t know what its problem was. He kept showing up on our front lawn pecking at the front steps. Sometimes he pecked at the windows. Maybe he was suffering from an identify crisis and thought he was a woodpecker. Or maybe my eyesight is worse than I thought and he really was a woodpecker and not a crow at all.

I told my wife one day that I wished to buy a pellet gun. It was the only fun solution I could think of to take care of our pecking problem. She didn’t think it was a good idea. She probably had doubts concerning my aim and feared for our neighbours safety. Not to mention our own safety.

But aren’t negative thoughts like the pecking of that Crow? Are they not troubling, tormenting and relentless? They never quit. If you leave them alone they’ll continue to peck away at your sanity. At the very least, negative thoughts will rip the joy right out of your heart.

The other day I was playing floor hockey in the basement with our son. The game went into double overtime and exhaustion began seeping into my aging bones. I suggested to the boy that it might be time to rap up the game as the possibility of cardiac arrest was looming over me.

He said, “Dad, relax. You need to get some joy in your life.”

I thought, “Where did that come from? Should I now take counsel from the lips of an eight-year old? Who did he think he was, telling me I needed to get some joy in my life?”

Trouble is, he was right. Of course, he wasn’t aware of my internal pecking problem. You see, I want to lighten up, I really do. But the constant peck, peck, peck, just wears you down after awhile. Maybe it’s not supposed to happen overnight. Some battles are fought over a period of weeks, or months or years. Perhaps for some of us, the battle of the mind is a lifetime struggle. We think a lot. We’re always thinking about something. But can we afford to just think about anything. Do we have no right to choose our own thoughts?

Yes, we do have the right but if we don’t exercise it we’ll be forced to live our lives joyless. Life for us will be like eating food when you have the flu and can’t really taste what you’re eating. No doubt, as long as the food enters your system it will still serve its intended purpose. But it’s much more fun when you can enjoy the taste.

Serving God, being a parent, and working are a few of many things you can do while miserable, but they’re much more fun when you can enjoy the taste.

6 Reasons Why People Should Drink


Despite all evidence to the contrary some people continue to insist that there’s something wrong with the consumption of alcohol. For that reason I decided it was high time to show forth some of the benefits of drinking. I managed to come up with six reasons why people should drink but I’m sure there are many others.

1. It’s an easy way of escape from the harsh realities of life.
Prayer is hard work. Bible study requires effort. Going to church often means climbing out of bed when you’d rather not leave the comfort of the sheets. Tipping a bottle or glass to your lips is not difficult. It’s virtually mindless. You barely have to think about what you’re doing. Just pour it, tip it and swallow it. It’s as easy as eating fruit from a tree. (See Genesis 3)

2. It’s expensive
At first glance this may seem to be a reason not to drink but consider the fact that “nothing good is free.” and “you get what you pay for.” The hefty price tag is surely proof of the inherent value of alcohol. If it were cheap we would have every reason to question its benefits. Cigarettes are not cheap either and who can deny the health benefits of repeatedly filling your lungs with smoke and chemicals? What doctor worth his or her salt has ever advised against smoking and drinking?

3. It’s culturally acceptable.
We all know God would never expect us to refrain from something when everybody else is doing it. When did God ever say that we should not be conformed to the patterns and standards of this world? (Romans 12:3 notwithstanding) Didn’t Jesus say that we should never deny ourselves anything that we really want? (see Luke 9:23) It’s pretty obvious that’s what Jesus meant, especially when you take His words completely out of context and twist them so that they are barely recognizable.

4. It’s safe.
The way some people rant and rave against drinking you’d almost think alcohol was a contributing factor to thousands of deaths every year. We need to remember that people who drink and drive are probably bad drivers anyway. They probably would have crashed the car and killed innocent people even if they were sober. Though it has the potential to cause disease, the fact is, you may get sick even if you don’t drink. Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to destroy a liver.

5. There are millions of alcoholics in the world.
Can millions of people be wrong? If alcohol were so bad why would so many people choose to keep drinking even if it means losing their own family? Why would so many people be addicted to it? Obviously, the sober amongst are missing out on something here?

6. It’s extremely powerful.
It carries the power to cause sorrow, grief and regret. It destroys lives and rips families apart. It makes some men rich and others poor. It’s consumed by old and young, rich and poor, slave and free. It’s the most widely used and abused drug on the planet. Who can deny its universal grip on mankind? It’s almost like……a god.

It’s time to stop living in denial. What’s next? Is somebody going to develop a 12 step program to help people overcome their “drinking problem?” Are Christians going to start living dry as part of their commitment to Christ? It would be funny were it not so silly.

Swimming Upstream


At the close of an important speech to Congress on January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared his vision for the kind of world he wanted to see after the war was over. He envisioned four basic freedoms to be enjoyed by all people: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These definitely seem to be legitimate freedoms, who would not want them?

But there’s another kind of freedom that seems to capture the heart’s cry of many in our world today. Ravi Zacharias, in his book Can Man Live Without God, said, “Through technology the whole world has now become the media’s parish, talk-show hosts the prophets, actors and musicians the priests, and any script will do for the Scriptures as long as moral constraints are removed.”

That last phrase is the key, “any script will do for the Scriptures as long as moral constraints are removed.” To be sure, Christianity is not just another form of moralism. Christianity is first and foremost a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. However, Christianity has always taught, or at least it should have, the inherent danger in casting off moral restraint.

When the moral restraints are removed anything goes and society will find itself on a rapid descent into the abyss of chaos and confusion. The concept of one man and one woman entering into a binding, lifelong commitment to each other through marriage, is seen as one option among many. And not necessarily the best option. For some, marriage becomes an outdated and boring option in a sea of others which are more exciting, more contemporary, more in keeping with the times.

The early church were very careful not to place unnecessary burdens on Gentiles who had converted to the new “Jewish sect” which would later become known as Christianity. Certain Pharisees began to teach that these new Gentiles believers should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be true Christians. A church conference ensued and a decision was made. A letter was written explaining the church’s decision, the last part of which states (in Acts 15:28-29):
(28) For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us (the council of apostles and elders), to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
(29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, and from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

The council’s decree included some concessions to Jewish believers (“from blood, and from things strangled) but the kicker is that last “burden” where it says “from sexual immorality.” The early church decreed that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should abstain from sexual immorality (a bit of a catch all term and basically means any kind of sexual activity outside the bonds of matrimony).

It is incumbent upon Christians to swim against the tide of moral depravity evident in the world around us. Sometimes the current is strong and there are many obstacles in the water. Sometimes we just get tired of swimming upstream. It would be so much easier to “float with the flow.” It may be helpful to remember that in the river of life there is a waterfall and once we fall over it there’s no coming back. There’s no rescue from the bottom of the falls. We must be rescued while we’re still in the river.

The way of rescue hasn’t changed. It’s still as easy as calling upon the name of Jesus Christ and asking Him to save you. If you come to Him and ask Him to be your Lord and Saviour then He’ll help you swim against the tide until you safely reach heaven’s shores.

Abuse of Liberty


As a Christian I take comfort in the fact that I’m called to freedom. As a Canadian I’m thankful that I live in a free country. Freedom is a wonderful thing that we dare not take for granted. But according to Galatians 5:13 freedom can be abused. In that verse Paul tells the Galatians, and us, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

It seems to me that we North Americans are in great danger of doing what Paul expressly told us not to do. We are using our freedom as a chance to indulge our sinful nature. It’s happening all around us. Freedom can lead in one of two directions summarized by two four letter words.

We can either use freedom to love, or we can use our freedom to indulge our lust. Take an honest look at our society today. Which four letter word are we really focussing on. Is our society dominated by love? Or is it dominated by lust? Love is all about giving. Lust is all about taking. Sometimes the line of demarcation between the two becomes blurred, especially when it comes to romantic entanglements.

Whatever happened to the concept of saving sex for marriage? Most people no longer see the necessity of making a life-long commitment before “making love”. Instead, they just wait until their partner is sufficiently intoxicated and then its game on. Or they just wait until they can be alone somewhere, in the back seat of a car, or their parents basement or whatever the case may be. And the girls are just as bad as the boys, perhaps worse.

And who says you have to be entangled with a member of the opposite sex? We’re free aren’t we? We can be entangled with anybody. Men entangled with men. Women entangled with women. Who cares right? I’m a free moral agent in the universe. I can make my own choice to live however I want. True, but what about Paul’s warning here in Galatians? Are we truly walking in love? Or are we really just abusing our freedom and hence each other in the process? The fact is, when we abuse our freedom we really just end up abusing ourselves.

But the cry of this generation is summed up in three words, “don’t judge me.” It’s understandable. People who are not living right hate being judged. Who can blame them? But like it or not God is going to judge us all. Nobody should be overly concerned about my judgement, but they should certainly be concerned about the judgement of God.

Even if you’ve never heard Hebrews 13:4 you’re still going to be judged by it, just as I will be judged by it. The verse goes like this: “Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Fornication refers to all types of sex outside marriage. The Greek root of this word is “pornea” from which we get the word “pornography.” Need I say more. Of course, adultery refers to any type of illicit sexual activity involving married people. To make matters worse, there’s also such a thing as mental/emotional adultery which Jesus talked about in the sermon on the mount. (see Matthew 5:28)

These are not my words, I dare not take credit for them. They are God’s words, written for all people. We dare not ignore them. Like it or not God is going to judge our abuse of freedom.

People today want instant gratification but instant gratification is not what they really need. What people really need is genuine love. Deep down people crave this true love. Love is the only thing that really satisfies the soul. Love is why God sent His Son Jesus down from heaven to die on the cross for the sins of the world. God’s love brings forgiveness and cleansing and healing to our souls and bodies. We need God’s love. Without it we will grasp after anything or anybody to fill the void in our hearts and lives. Without it we’ll just go on using our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.

And when we do make the choice to live for God we find that God meets our needs and even our desires. As Psalm 37:4 says:
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Jesus died for our freedom. The question is how will we respond to what He has done for us?

There’s a story that has been told from Civil War days before America’s slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, “You’re free.”
With amazement she responded, “You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?”
“Yes,” he said.
“And to say whatever I want to say?”
“Yes, anything.”
“And to be whatever I want to be?”
“And even go wherever I want to go?”
“Yes,” he answered with a smile. “You’re free to go wherever you’d like.”
She looked at him intently and replied, “Then I will go with you.”

Shooting for success in Parenting


The other day I shot my eight-year-old son in the face. Twice.
The first bullet struck him on the forehead. The second struck him on the cheek. Thankfully, he was wearing his goggles. Even more thankfully, I was firing from a Nerf Gun. Before you judge me I would ask you to consider the fact that playing Nerf Gun wars with an eight-year-old can be exceedingly fun.

Furthermore, I didn’t mean to shoot him in the face, I was aiming for his upper body area, preferably the chest. You might rightly question the wisdom of playing any form of a gun game with a child. I’ve been told the same thing about wrestling with him. Or playing full body contact hockey in the basement. My experience is that boys sometimes like to play rough. And they like to have fun. Should we discourage this? Or play with them, teaching them the difference between play time and real life situations.

Should we teach our boys to be wimpy? Should we raise them as if they were girls? Not that girls are wimpy, that’s not what I mean at all. Rather I mean that girls, generally speaking, are different than boys in the things they enjoy. If I had a girl I probably wouldn’t wrestle with her (at least not too much), or check her up against the boards during a basement hockey contest. I’d probably play dolls with her and have make-believe tea parties.

My philosophy of parenting is that boys should be raised as boys and girls as girls. If my boy wanted to play with dolls, quite frankly I would discourage it. For his own sake. And mine. His mother’s. His grandparents. And for society’s. Believe me, I don’t pretend to have this parenting thing all figured out and I’m open to change my philosophy in the face of new information and experience. Currently though, I’m sticking with the line of thinking that says boys are from Mars and girls are from Jupiter.

It could also be argued that not all boys are the same. Just as there are various species within a family of animals so there are various temperaments, personalties, etc. within the species of boys. If I had another boy, he might not enjoy hockey or Nerf Guns, or any other type of highly competitive activity or sport. He might prefer a quiet game of checkers to a rough and tumble game of basement hockey. I suspect that parenting, like many areas of life, requires an element of “going with the flow.” My wife and I have sincerely tried to refrain from pushing our boy into any particular sport or activity. We merely suggest possibilities and allow him to try different things in order to find out what he’s good at and what he enjoys doing so that we can encourage him along those lines.

And we try to teach him that there are more important things in life than winning. We tell him that he’s not going to win every game, or finish first in every contest. He doesn’t have to the best, the fastest, or the smartest. Life is not a competition. He simply needs to try his best and have fun. Such is not a bad philosophy of life even for us adults.

I also try to teach him that the most important thing of all is having faith in Jesus Christ and love for people of all walks of life. He has a long way to go to reach perfection in this. But then again, so do I.