Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Clear Message - Meyer

I was sitting in church today, singing songs that were written 200 or even 400+ years ago, mouthing words like, “hark, thine, oxen, ass, whither, leadeth” and wondering how much our choice of songs has hindered the spread of the Gospel in our century.
If we continue week after week in our churches to sing songs that were written centuries ago, how does this influence our word choice when we talk about God?

As we are all well aware, Jesus did not speak in King James English. He spoke in the common language of the ordinary people of his day… ordinary everyday people like shepherds and fishermen.

Why do we as followers of Jesus, hold so tightly to words and phrases and songs that create misunderstanding, confusion and lack of comprehension of the simple Gospel truth that Jesus taught?

Martin Luther would no doubt be horrified that we are still singing the songs that he wrote for the common people of his day! If he were alive today, he might very well nail another Ninety-Five Theses on the walls of our “sanctuaries” in protest. His incredible stride forward to translate the Bible from Latin into modern German (modern for his day) seems a waste as we continue to read and study the Bible in a translation that is 500 years old.

John Wesley, a great hero of the faith, astounded the audiences of his day when he wrote songs for the common people in their everyday language. Now, we sing them over and over again even though they are no longer in the everyday language of the people in our century. They can only be appreciated by people who have: (a) studied Shakespeare extensively or (b) been “raised in the church.”

And it’s not as if we don’t have enough great musicians in our century! We have them in huge abundance and their music is more readily available to us than music has ever been to any other generation in human history.

At this time of the year, may I encourage you to have a listen to some of the wonderful Christmas music that is out there written in today’s languages by today’s musicians. And then let’s sing them together in our churches across the land. Let the Good News of Christmas be heard in the plain, simple language that it was first spoken!

Dorene Meyer

Author of Deep Waters, The Little Ones and Jasmine
Now in book stores across Canada
Distributed by Word Alive Press
Available online and as ebook on Amazon (key in title of book and publisher: Word Alive Press).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Gift of the Word and Words Ruth Smith Meyer

It’s fascinating how a small happening, a thought, the sight of something can start a chain of events or train of thought that leads to far greater significance than the original incident. This is true, especially if we allow ourselves to act on the impulses that pop up in our minds and hearts.
Just recently, at a time I needed a frank second opinion, I thought of a woman with whom I had a friendship several years ago. She was quite a bit older than me and at first acquaintance she had a rather gruff demeanor. Once I got to know her, I soon discovered she had a heart of gold. What I liked most was that she was honest and straight-forward with her opinions and extremely kind. Just thinking of her made me wish I could sit down and have a good long, heart-to-heart talk with her. I knew she would have told me how she sees it whether it was what I wanted to hear or not. There’s a certain comfort in that. Unfortunately, she died some years ago.
This past week as I sat behind a table of my books at a craft sale, I spied her only daughter surveying the variety of crafts. When she came closer, loneliness for her mother washed over me again. By that time she was close enough, and without giving it a second thought, I called her name. Her face lit up in recognition and she came close.
“Barb, I just wanted to tell you how much I still miss your mother. I often wish I could sit down and have a good chat with her. She meant so much to me.”
Barb’s big brown eyes softened. “Why thank you so much for telling me that! I miss her too, but sometimes I get to wondering if I’m the only one who does. Thanks for giving me that gift.”
The rest of the afternoon, between talking to customers, my mind raced on. My heart was filled with gladness that I acted on the impulse to tell Barb about what I was feeling. I like to think that she may remember my words in the coming weeks and feel warmth in the knowing. But my thoughts didn’t stop there.
At this time of year, most of us are also pondering about gifts. Some gifts lists are larger than others, some budgets are carefully set out and adhered to, some are overspent so that payment almost until next Christmas. Some are tired of the rat race of making sure they give a gift to everyone who will give them one. However there are those who love choosing meaningful gifts for their loved ones and who also delight in giving to those who can’t return the favor, finding ways to give that won’t make the recipient feel beholden to the giver.
Many of you reading this are authors or at least people who find words are life and joy. We know that words can bring comfort, enlightenment, inspiration, growth and much more.
What if we used our word-power as gifts this year? Start with your family. Use some nice stationery and write each of them a note telling them the unique, individual reasons you love them and what you wish for them. (Not material things, but strengths, growth, love, understanding—the things that make life worthwhile.)
Move on to other relatives, your friends and co-workers, people with whom you serve on committees, people at church, your boss. If you are the boss, think what it would mean to your employees to know what strengths, what characteristics of theirs are important to you and to your business and how much you appreciate them.
When I told my son about the ideas that were flitting around in my head since my talk with Barb, he just illustrated from his life what I wanted to say. In his business they had a large project this past year. It took a lot of hard work, commitment and cooperation from both his organization and the supply company to get everything up and running. Ninety people were involved in seeing it to completion. He has just finished hand-written notes of appreciation to each of those which he will deliver in person. The words in those notes, coming straight from his heart, are sure to make a difference in 90 lives. Yours and mine will too—changing our world one encouraging word at a time.
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The Word becoming flesh, giving life and light, changing the world! As writers who are Christian, we also hold that Word in our hearts and it’s ours to give along with our words of recognition and affirmation.
“We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1 John 1:4

My Story, His Story - Rose McCormick Brandon

In 2001 tech stock values plummeted. Soon afterward terrorists struck the twin towers in New York City. These two events devastated the financial sector. The previous year my husband’s investment business had become successful enough for me to leave my position in a small church office. But before I could ponder what to do with my free time, consequences from these incidents threatened our income and I decided to re-enter the workforce.

I checked an on-line job board and found a government-funded organization that needed a part-time administrative assistant. Able to type a minimum of 75 words per minute the ad read. In my resume I felt tempted to state - not only can I type more than 75 wpm, I can do it while talking, eating, feeding babies and answering the phone. After tests and interviews I was hired.

That’s how I met Anne.

During our second week working together, Anne confided that her son, away at university, had contracted an illness that doctors were unable to diagnose. Through tears she said, “He’s so sick he can’t attend classes and he’s afraid he won’t graduate. I worry about him day and night.”

“Would you like my friends and me to pray for him? We have a Bible study at our house this week.”

“Your friends don’t know me or my son. Do you think they would mind praying for him?”

I assured Anne that we often prayed for people we didn’t know. Our small group prayed for Anne’s son and soon after his health improved. He graduated university and went to teacher’s college. His recovery amazed Anne and she felt no qualms about sharing her miracle with our co-workers. Once, as I entered a meeting room, I heard Anne announce to staff that my prayers had healed her son. Several co-workers seated at the table said how happy they were for Anne and that they too believed in prayer.

One morning Anne came to my desk and said, “I want you to know that God brought you into my life.” World events in far away places had caused my path to intersect with Anne’s. Behind our disappointments and the seemingly random happenings in our lives God is writing His story. That He chooses to write His divine story within my ordinary life amazes me.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fight Card: Jane Harris Zsovan vs. It Couldn’t Happen Here - O'Leary

When social Darwinism hit Alberta, some of the episodes could have come from a sci-fi novel about human breeding programs. That’s what we learn from member Jane Harris Zsovan’s new book, Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s nasty little secret. The nasty little secret is out, it seems, and the firewall has been breached.

(Photo captions: Jane Harris Zsovan, left; Denyse O'Leary, right)

Eugenics (killing or sterilizing people to improve the human breeding stock) is not new. It happened in the United States too, and was much worse in Africa. But many are surprised to know it happened in Canada.

Lethbridge-based Harris-Zsovan pored over a mountain of yellowed newspaper clippings at the nearby Galt Museum’s archives, among other things, to ferret out the details of the story.

One is struck by two things: the intensity of Alberta’s sterilization program, and the fact that prominent evangelicals were involved. That could be one reason why the story is not often told ...

I was heartened by Harris Zsovan’s book, because it is a primary contribution to public awareness of the huge breach of our traditional ethics that eugenic sterilization entailed. And it pulls no punches. Most books on current social history coming out of the Christian community are jeremiads, scholarly reflections, defenses of Christ or Christians, etc. Good and useful, to be sure, but working with others’ facts. Without gathering our own facts, we are at the mercy of those who withhold some critical ones. That certainly happened in this case.

The duty roster put me down for blogging today and, alas, I’m only part way through Firewall. But, given that I have already learned that “Bible So-and-So’s” removed the need for consent for sterilization, the book sure won’t get less interesting.

This for now: In my view, as a community, we tend to either avoid issues or adopt someone else’s voice when talking about them. For example, too many Christian projects for the relief of poverty morph into socialism - the comforting arms of Big Government replaces the comforting arms of a Christian community. But that problem is related to the problem I opened with - a problem that Harris Zsovan ably avoids - we don’t do enough of our own research, so we can’t grow our own vision.

The Alberta Christian support for forced sterilization is a case in point: Why on earth did anyone think that social Darwinism was a reasonable fit with Christianity? It can’t be, and the original social Darwinists were hostile to Christianity for precisely that reason. But, of course, some social Darwinists ingratiated themselves with Christians to gain influence for their policies.

Generally, Christians depended on social Darwinists to do the primary research about the lives of the poor, and then reacted to their carefully staged* horror stories out of sentiment and zeal rather than information and reflection.

Well, congratulations to Jane for a long step in the right direction for all of us.

carefully staged* horror stories?: In the famous American Buck v. Bell case, the early teen girl who was sterilized was labelled an imbecile by a famous Supreme Court judge. But the evidence is mixed, at best. Let’s just say that the social Darwinists needed an imbecile, or someone to stand in for one, to get the court judgment that later resulted in 60 000 such sterilizations.

Here’s an excerpt from Firewall. Order here.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain, and the author of By Design or by Chance?.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carrying the Jewelry - Eleanor Shepherd

Sometimes I wonder why God made me different. After all, how many people do you know that get excited about something they read in the dry parts of the book of Exodus? I had already read the exciting chapters that recount the plagues and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Now, I was reading the part with all the instructions for the priests and the minute directions about what they were to do and how. This included precise details for the making of the clothes they were to wear when they entered God’s presence.

As I read, my heart leapt with joy when I read some words in Chapter 28. Verses 11 and 12 said, “Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD.

I could see the picture it in my mind. There was Aaron with measured tread stepping through the curtain into the most sacred place. As he entered into God’s holy presence, he carried on his shoulders these beautiful gemstones, set in gold filigree. They must have been huge because on them were engraved names, six on each stone. There were Reuben, Simeon, Levi…Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali. They were all there and these were not short names. Each of the sons of Israel was included. What excited me was that for me, this was a picture of intercession.

Every morning when I enter God’s holy presence with the names of all those whose concerns I want to bring to Him, it is like I am bringing Him something exquisitely beautiful. I imagine those names being written on precious stones because each of these individuals is infinitely valuable to the Lord. What a privilege is mine to quietly carry them like I am wearing extremely expensive jewelry as I step into the Lord’s presence!

As I read further in the chapter, I discovered a couple of other things in this picture. Aaron was not carrying these precious stones in his hands. Rather he was wearing them on his shoulders. That left his hands empty to receive whatever Jehovah chose to place in them.

When I come into God’s presence to pray, He does not need me to come with the answers that I think are appropriate for my prayers. He will place in my empty hands, anything that He might have me do to help to bring about the answers to those prayers. It is a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy when we pray. Often we will have a nudge to call this person, or e-mail that one or do something that we would never dream of doing. The Spirit places in our empty hands what He can use to answer our prayers.

Not only were these precious engraved stones sewn into the beautiful robe that Aaron wore as He entered into the special place of God’s holy presence. The same chapter says that he also was to carry in what must have been some kind of pockets in the attire he was to wear. It says in verse 30 of Exodus 28 that into the breastpiece of judgment he was to put two other stones called the Urim and Thummim. These stones were somehow used to determine the response of God to questions of judgment. They were indications of his yes or no.

What this says to me is that we are not to make judgments about those for whom we pray. We bring them into His holy presence where He will make the judgments. We have nothing to say about it. He alone determines what is appropriate for them and we must leave Him to do that. What He wants from us is to bring them to Him, so that any judgments that must be made will be made in His loving presence. He alone will determine the yes and the no for them. It is never up to us.

The final encouragement I found in this picture of intercession is that the idea comes so early in the story of humanity’s relationship with the Eternal. I always thought real intercession began with Jesus, although clearly there are other pictures of such prayer in the Old Testament. This is far back in our history, many years before Jesus appeared on earth. Already God is introducing us to intercession. He knows that we will need to bring one another into His presence. He is aware of the frailness of our faith even at its best, and He knows the way we need the prayerful support of one another to walk in His ways and to trust Him. What an awesome God!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lady Autumn

Several weeks ago I was musing on the terms fall and autumn and decided to write about them for my column that week. And now, before we leave this season and the month of November behind, I’ll share a modified version of it with you.

During my decades in this great country of Canada I became accustomed to the use of the word fall in relation to the period from September through November. But why should I have become accustomed to this term, considering I lived many years in the northern temperate clime of the UK? Does that country not also have deciduous trees that drop their leaves?
In answer to that latter question – yes it does. During my boyhood in the UK I had enjoyable experiences of fall weather and of gathering, pressing, and scrap-booking colourful fallen leaves. Now to the question about my becoming accustomed to the term, fall. Although I knew that term was in use, autumn was the expression I heard most often in the parts of England and Scotland where I lived.
Autumn was probably my mom’s favourite season, and I think it’s mine. I recall her sweet voice sounding that word with delight in her very English accent – “autumn.” In England our family walked about two miles (approximately 3 kilometres) to church (we didn’t have a car). We’d go to the end of our avenue, turn left, pass several stores, cross the road, and head down through the old village, past the parish church and graveyard, to our church.
En route, by the wayside, I’ve swished through fallen leaves, marvelled at nature’s hooked wonders – brown teasle heads – towering over green-beige grasses, and admired gold and purple wild flowers complementing each other. I’ve caught a whiff of burning brushwood and enjoyed visions of arriving home to fireside warmth and hot chocolate after our return walk in the frosty air.

Autumn. See it. Smell it. Taste it . . . Pies – pumpkin, apple and cinnamon, and fieldberry. Hmm. Ah, yes, Lady Autumn is an inspirer of poets and songwriters with her distinctive features of colourful scenes, aromas, and moderating climate. Autumn. Hear it. After many decades, the Mercer / Kosma song, “Autumn Leaves,” remains a favourite, and evokes a yearning for a departed or distant love.

Lady Autumn leads some of us towards reflection and wistfulness – a yearning sense that one is close to entering the final portion of the year; that whatever dreams we cherished when the year began but which have not as yet been fulfilled, may remain that way, unless . . . unless . . .
Hope remains. This wistful yearning is not limited, however, to the duration of a mere season of one year, but is also culturally applied to our senior years – our “Golden Years,” the “Autumn-tide of Life.”

It is a time for realising that however lovely life may happen to be amidst the familiar scenes of our present existence, our springtime is now far behind us. We’ve enjoyed the summer time of growth and expended much time and energy – many of us raising children and preparing them for their future. Even now, we may still have some green, but we’re beginning to fade at the edges. Our spirits may be quite bright, and we feel that we’re “not done yet.” Our personalities begin to show some interesting colours – alias, quirks – that might embarrass our families!

We’re preparing to vacate the tree, and may be given a few years – perhaps decades, yet our time here is limited. To change the metaphor: like a marathon runner, we’re rounding the last bend for the final stretch of the road. Let us run it well.
Here’s a thought inspired by these wistful musings today: The one who walks with God runs a great race.
Lady Autumn encourages me to walk with God through the Golden Years.

© Peter A. Black – Original edition published in The Watford Guide-Advocate – November 4, 2010.
Peter is a freelance writer living in Southwestern Ontario.

He is the author of "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press), and writes a weekly column in The Watford-Guide Advocate.

~Mildly educational
~Inspirationally oriented
~Character reinforcing

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Older Novelists - Linda Hall

Did you know that the average age for a NY Times bestselling author is 50? At age 85, Agatha Christie had a best selling mystery, and recently deceased Belva Plain didn’t top the list until she was 59. It takes a bit of ‘living’ in the raw cauldron of life to sit down at the computer and compose a novel.

It could be similar to this analogy: When I was in my twenties I knew everything there was to know about God. I knew what God would do in all circumstances and in every situation. My world view - like the world perspective of many young people - was black and white. As I have grown, my world includes many more shades of gray. God has become more of a mystery. Choices are not so black and white. I continually teeter on that knife edge of faith and doubt. And, that ‘knife edge’ is where I set my novels. I’ve lived some. 'Been there, done that. I’ve been in that cauldron.

“Grey listing” has been in the news recently - job discrimination against older people.We are told it occurs in the movies, the music industry and news anchor people, unless you're a man. (Lloyd Robertson comes to mind.)

But is this same bias there in fiction where novelists are not so 'out there'?

When author Randy Ingermanson of was asked about this he responded by saying: “In the world of novel writing, there may possibly be an age bias, but it’s really the least of your worries. Your main worry with fiction writing is “craft bias.” Agents and editors are massively biased against poor craft. They are massively biased in favor of excellent craft.”

And, Ron Benrey in the excellent website/community, writes: "We think a better response is to make gray listing 'unprofitable.' This means that authors of a certain age must write better manuscripts than their younger colleagues. Simply put, late-blooming novelists need to produce novels that scream to be published — novels that make the ages of their author irrelevant."

I don't know about you, but I find that advice gratifying.

If you wish to pursue this, here are a few links you might enjoy reading, or do a Google search on the subject.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Christmas Family Dinner - MANN

I've been thinking about the ‘Family Christmas Dinner' and wondering whose family I am wanting to sit at my table. And possibly even more importantly, whose family am I disregarding when I say the Family Dinner? Am I assuming that everybody who is connected in any way is my family? That’s right, and it is reality when we announce “‘how the family is growing with each baby and in-law”. But, whose family? Mine? . . . Ours? Either mine or my spouse’s parents? Where does the family begin? Always with the living? You might be asking, “Why on earth would I be questioning the age old tradition of the Christmas Family Dinner?”

After reading some blogs about the use of the word 'family' at Christmas time, I'm wondering if I call this, The MANN Family Christmas Dinner, or if I use the term 'having the family all home for Christmas'. By using this familiar term, am I missing the point that each one of my children has his or her own family? And, am I assuming that 'my family' can be their family with sons/daughters-in-laws/grandchildren & spouses/friends, or anybody who wants to come without definition? Am I trying to forget that there is a network of families within 'my' family that I'm not giving equal recognition with the use of the ownership 'my' word?

I have to admit I still like to have ‘my’ family around the table and draw the circle wide to include their families and anybody else who might want to come. That's nice, but is there another way of acknowledging that my kid's families may be different than what I'm really meaning. I gaze around the table with great pride, but with some caution, as I think 'my' family and everybody else’s is somehow a tribute to me? Something rings untrue about that.

Granted, our adult children may not know what it’s like to be 70 plus years old and want their family around their knees. But, the echo of this holds a hint that I may want to turn time back which doesn’t work well. All generations strive to find a balance in this for all ages. After all, we all claim a piece of ‘the family’, and so it should. Adult kids want to celebrate 'their' family; I know that to be true from sitting around their tables. And, I'm coming to realize, even though they like to get together with their siblings, in a busy world they probably want to do that in their own time. Is this the reason why the Christmas Breakaway 'Empty Nest' travel opportunities are huge?

We’re going to have ‘the family’ for Christmas very early in the season this year for whomever can come and then maybe we’ll do a fly-around without the sleigh and reindeers on Christmas Day and be a part of ‘the family’. . . at their house.

Donna Mann
Aggie's Storms (2007)
Aggie's Dream launched fall of 2010
Meadowlane MP3 Kid's Farm Stories

Monday, November 15, 2010

Say No to the Status Quo -HIRD

By Rev Ed Hird

Our family worked for the Woodwards Department Store for many years. My mother met my father through a Woodwards dance put on for the Air Force servicemen. My sister worked for Woodwards. For one month, I worked for Woodwards at age 17 in Women’s Shoes. I had no idea how complicated it was to find all those hundreds of shoes hidden on massive shelves in the back of the store.

For many years, Woodwards in Oakridge was our favorite walking destination. My mother and grandmother loved Woodwards’ famous $1.49 Day sales to which massive crowds would always flock. Woodwards to me was an unshakable permanent institution that had always been there, and would always be there. It was as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup. Woodwards had been there for one hundred years since Charles Woodwards founded it in 1892. Then suddenly one day it was gone. It had been swallowed by its conforming to the status quo.

In Seth Godin’s bestselling book Tribes, he comments that the organizations that need innovation the most are the ones that do the most to stop it from happening. It is very easy to get stuck, to embrace the status quo, and hunker down. Godin says that this will result in our implosion. Organizations with a future must be willing to be risk-takers, to embrace creativity and innovation.

Godin says that it is not fear of failure that cripples leaders. It is the fear of criticism. No one likes to be publicly criticized. 21st-century leaders need to be willing to get out of the boat and pay the price of going first. In my thirty years as an Anglican clergy, I have sometimes wondered whether I acted too early. At other times, I have been concerned that I was not moving fast enough. Leaders have to be very sensitive to the still small voice. Timing is everything in leadership. We don’t want to rush ahead of God, nor do we want to lag behind.

Godin says that “the largest enemy of change and leadership isn’t a ‘no’. It’s a ‘not yet’. ‘Not yet’ is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. ‘Not yet’ gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while longer. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late….There’s a small price for being too early, but a huge penalty for being too late.” There have been times in my life when the boat almost left and I was not on it. There was a time in North Vancouver when I had to make a tough decision that I personally hoped would just go away. I was stuck in the ‘not yets’. One of my friends sensed this and challenged me to not be a ‘maybe Ed’. When the time came eight and a half years ago, God gave me the courage to push through my ‘not yets’ and my ‘maybes’. The rest is history.

Seth Godin teaches that every tribe needs leaders. Managers make widgets and create bureaucracies and factories. Leaders have followers and make change. The secret of leadership according to Godin is simple: “Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.” One of my most palpable fears as a teenager is that I would end up stuck in a job that I would hate and have no way out of. In my thirty years as a clergyperson, I have often felt overwhelmed and inadequate for the task, but I have never regretted devoting my life to serving others as an Anglican priest.

As the leader of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, I have seen many changes and challenges over the past 23 years. One of the reasons I am still at St. Simon’s NV is because of the climate of innovation built into its DNA. Our lay leaders are passionate, committed, and sold out to Jesus Christ. I admire deeply their willingness to risk all in order to be faithful to their mission and calling. Seth Godin says that ‘The safer you are with your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is.” Leadership is a choice: a choice to risk all to be faithful to the vision of a better future. The very nature of leadership, says Godin, is that you’re not doing what’s been done before.

We live in a culture that worships size, buildings and money. Many of the Woodwards of yesterday have become the dinosaurs of today. No organization is immune, no matter what its numbers, facilities or financial resources. If we refuse to innovate, we choose to die. Remarkable visions and genuine insights, says Godin, are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. The forces for mediocrity will align to stop you. Never give up.

Criticizing hope, says Godin, is easy. Fearful bureaucrats can always say that they’ve done it before and it didn’t work. But cynicism is a dead-end strategy. Without hope, there is no future to work for. Godin observes that without passion and commitment, nothing happens. So often no one in an organization really cares; no one deeply believes in the bigger vision. No one is willing to sacrifice so that breakthroughs can happen. Real leaders are willing to pay the price. Real leaders are willing to risk all for the greater good. Real leaders care. I challenge each of us reading this article to come up to the plate and choose to be a real leader. Say no to the status quo.

Reverend Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-an article for the December 2010 Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

How are you today? I imagine you are tired after yesterday. Remembrance Day was different for you this year wasn't it? I must admit not having to make that long trek to London, was a little easier on me, too.

I know you usually like that time at the London cenotaph standing - remembering and reminiscing with your Royal Marine buddies and with the thousands of onlookers, and hundreds of parade participants filling the downtown area to capacity.

But like you said, most of 'the boys' won't be there this year, neither would Malcolm, your good friend. Not to mention the two hour trip to London was likely not a good idea after your six hour ordeal in emergency last Sunday.

So, I think you made the right decision, Dad. And we are all so thankful that you didn't just decide to stay home. When you said you would go to the school and speak with the boys and girls you made a lot of people happy. The children adored you and wasn't it funny how the questions escalated from kindergarten to grade one and then with the grade three and four classes?

I know you were particularly touched by that picture. The one that the young boy (who knew he would be absent) drew for you. You pointed out the busyness of the page and then the most touching part of the picture was that solitary flower that had the word LOVE written on it with large letters.
I appreciated the tear you shed when you told me "that's why we did it."
You and "your boys" did it for love. You fought and went into battle because of how much you loved and cared about others and your country. You found out pretty quickly that the glamour of war was not to be. But you persisted. You listened and obeyed. And you stood up and fought for what you believed in. You loved Mom. You loved your new life with her. You loved the thought that one day you would be a father.

I also wanted to thank you for holding my hand as we remained silent during the two minutes of silence - remembering together. My remembering must have been so different than yours. I know you rarely talk about what happened when you served overseas. I understand. Your private thoughts are between you and God. He hears our groanings and attends to our souls. I hope you felt His presence. I know I sure did.
In my moments of silence I did my best to keep my thoughts captive and to think about all the brave men and women who died in the line of duty, serving their country in so many ways. But most of all I gave thanks for you, Dad. I thought of Mom and remembered how much I miss her. Do you remember when I squeezed your hand during the silence? That was when I was thinking how proud I was of you. I gave thanks to God that you, my 84 year old Daddy, are still alive and that you once again, gave of yourself as you visited and shared with those wonderful, students yesterday morning.

Lest we forget, Dad. We will remember them. We WILL remember them. I love you Dad. Glynis xxx P.S. I hope you like the the few photographs I sent along?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day 2010 - den Boer

Dead Soldiers.

Our Freedom.


and be grateful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A pile of remembering stones sits at the edge of my town, in the form of a boulder-encrusted cenotaph. It rises clean from the earth and points skywards, like God himself planted it. On its front the builders placed a polished granite plaque, engraved with names of men and women from the area who have served in Canada’s armed forces.

My three small grandbeans and I passed the marker while out Add Imagewalking one day. The sun reflected on the plaque, and while the children chased each other around its sloped sides, I stood running my index finger down the names, looking for one I knew.

The children noticed. “What does it say, Nana? Read the words!”

“The words are the names of soldiers who lived around here,” I said, and began reading. I stopped abruptly when I came to the word “KILLED” after one of the names.

“Why did you say “killed”, Nana?” One of the Beans piped up.

“That means this soldier died during the war, honey. He never came home.”

“Why didn’t he?”

More questions followed, each, like the cenotaph itself, rising higher, and narrowing to a pinnacle.

That didn’t come until days later, from the eldest. “Nana, does God love war?”

Yikes. Who said kids are simple? “No,” I told him emphatically, “God doesn’t love war.” At five, I thought, that’s all you need to know.

For now.

Christians have disagreed for centuries about war. Pacifists and those who believe in something called the Just War theory—that sometimes war is a necessary evil—each have their own reasons for their positions.

I’ve struggled with the issue myself—detesting my own tendency to box God in. But I’ve landed—barely, reluctantly, sadly—in the Just War camp. It seems more consistent with the big picture of Biblical truth.

One day when they’re older, I plan to discuss this again with my grandchildren. We’ll look together at Bible verses like Ecclesiastes 3:8, that says there’s a time for war and a time for peace. At Old Testament passages that reveal God instructing his people in the necessary techniques of battle against the enemy.

I’ll take them over to the New Testament, to the words of Christ—the Prince of Peace. Words that demonstrate that though peace is his ultimate objective, Jesus underlined the importance of battling for the things that maintain it: opportunities for salvation, justice, and protection for innocent, helpless people, and those in danger because of evil forces—wherever in the world they are.

I’ll do my level best to explain wrong motives for war—protectionism, greed, patriotism, prejudice, and nationalistic causes—and their consequences. Sadly, most wars today spring from those.

This column is a significant departure from my usual. Blame the important pile of rocks at the edge of town, and my very curious grandbeans. Because it’s for them, I need to say this:

Remembering is of no value if we thoughtlessly walk away.


(Note: the above is this week's edition of my weekly newspaper column, Sunny Side Up--Listen in audio at Nov. 10)

Kathleen Gibson

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Remembering - Atchison

This week is one of Remembrance. Why do we celebrate Remembrance Day? It is intended that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service.

It is my hope that this year (besides calling it a day off) that most if not all Canadians take a moment to reflect. We should be grateful that we have freedom to participate in remembering the past conflicts and the brave men and women who came forth to protect Canada. At the same time, we should pray to God for peace, to bring our military personnel home from overseas so that they can be with family and friends again.

When we remember, it is also hard to forget. I look at the world and some of its history and think; perhaps it would be better if it was forgotten. But no, I believe God doesn’t want us to forget. In remembering, we heal, and we get better – better at forgiving, better at loving and better at peace.

It may be the same case with our personal histories. There are things in people’s past I am sure they would just as soon forget. Things we say to people, the way we hurt them. It is funny, but I am trying to do a life review and it seems that it is all the bad I remember the most. Why is it that we do remember the bad stuff better than the good stuff? By remembering the bad stuff we can heal, we can change and become better people.

That is why we never forget that Jesus died on the cross for our salvation, but at the same time, we celebrate the wonder of His birth. We celebrate our own birthdays, we acknowledge death through ceremony, somber that it may be, but at the same time we celebrate life.

If nothing else this week, we can choose to reflect and look at how far we have come in peace as a nation. Proud men and women laid down their lives for generations to come after them. Our soldiers today still fight for just causes and peace.

Let us remember them, Lest we forget…

Thursday, November 04, 2010

November writing - Nesdoly

It's November — the month that thousands of amateur novelists (and maybe some professionals too) are closeted away, madly typing their daily quota of words for the NaNoWriMo challenge. This write-a-50,000-word-novel-in-a month challenge began some years ago and has ballooned into a huge deal, with NaNoWriMo chapters all over the world.

I rose to the challenge last year. It was crazy and fun, and I did get 50,000+ words into book file (where it still languishes). Two of the buddies who cheered me on fared better. Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (not a novel) is due out from Zondervan in January 2011, and Sara Davison's project from last November, The Child-Snatchers, was shortlisted in the 2010 Word Alive contest, while another book, The Watchers, won the prize of publication.

This November I'm not doing NaNoWriMo. Even so, November will not be challenge-less for me. I've promised myself to write a poem a day (as one does in April — national poetry month). Robert Brewer of the Poetic Asides blog has issued a Poem-a-day Chapbook Challenge. He posts daily poetry prompts in November to help poets with this. There's even a published chapbook as a prize at the end, if you decide to see the challenge through and your collection gets picked.

I'm not planning to compete for that. I'm just wanting a little help with daily production. However pushing myself to write a poem every day means that I don't have the luxury of waiting for a special kind of inspiration to arrive before I write. Like the photographer who snaps a lot of pictures knows they won't all be great, I realize there will be a lot of duds among those thirty poems. Here's hoping when all the dust settles, maybe four or five will be a little bit good.

Anyone want to join me?


Beside the path that winds
through my waking and sleeping
grow   like wildflowers
scenes   insights   connections
Some days I am too rushed
or distracted to see
On others I am wiser
live with the perception
that gathers a bouquet
chooses one or two to press
between the covers
of a book

© 2004 by Violet Nesdoly


Personal blog promptings 

Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru

Daily Devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devo's

A poem portfolio 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hospitality Sweet - Arends

Here is my most recent Christianity Today column, exploring some things I've observed about the worship we do together and call "church".  How does it match up with your church experiences?
Hospitality Sweet
One of the forgotten keys to the dynamic worship of God.
On a recent family vacation, we stayed with two sets of friends. We spent the first night in a small prairie town, in the lovely but simple home of some fellow musicians who fed us hamburgers and offered us a hide-a-bed. The second night we spent visiting the gorgeous, new urban house of wealthier friends who fed us organic roast and outfitted the guest bed with 1,000-thread-count sheets. In both places, the hospitality was extraordinary. Both hosts thought of what we needed before we did—clean towels, snacks for the road. Although the resources were quite different, the spirit was wonderfully the same. We felt so at home both nights that we talked into the wee hours about things that mattered, including our jobs, our families, and our churches.
I've attended some 2,000 church services in my lifetime, both as a church member and as a guest musician at a wide variety of gatherings across North America. I've participated in many different approaches to "doing" church.
We've sung from hymnals, songbooks, and PowerPoint slides with slick video backgrounds. We've been accompanied by choirs, folk singers, and rock bands. We've heard preaching from ministers in robes, suits, and graphic tees. We've met in cathedrals, sanctuaries, gymnasiums, and living rooms. We've read formal liturgies and followed the unspoken liturgies of a particular church's service format. Almost always, we have taken an offering.
 We have called it all "church," and we've argued about the right way to do it in order to give God glory, reach seekers, and foster spiritual growth. Sometimes we've had trouble separating our aesthetic preferences from our theologies and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I have my own biases, and it's almost impossible to perceive any worship service outside of that lens. But lately I've been constructing a mental catalog of gatherings I've attended that were especially worshipful, challenging, or nourishing. I've been shocked by how widely they range in style, size, and polish. I can recall a wonderful communal awareness of God's presence in churches mega and miniscule, charismatic and conservative, contemporary and classical. (And I have found only empty ritual in a similar range of gatherings.)
Evidently, God will move wherever and whenever he pleases, regardless of our resources and plans. But when I look at my list of the most memorable gatherings, I see certain commonalities. Each of those services—whether led by a gifted team of professionals or by decidedly less proficient volunteers—was thoroughly Christocentric and profoundly reverent. No surprises there. The common characteristic that I least expected? Hospitality.
Robert Webber was the first person I heard speak about hospitality in the context of worship. He told a story about attending an unfamiliar church while traveling. About half of the church members constituted the choir, sitting up front in the loft. When it was time to sing, the choir director turned to the congregation and took the time to teach each parishioner his part, going over the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass lines until everyone knew what to do. Webber claimed that in the course of the opening song, guided by the choir at the front, he went from being a stranger to someone who belonged. He knew exactly how to enter into that community's worship, because he had been taught his part in it.
"In the church," Webber concluded, "singing is hospitality."
I've been in churches where the singing (not to mention the praying and preaching) is impressive and professional, but not hospitable. Those services have been more of a show than a family reunion, more a presentation than a meal together at a life-giving table. They have been effective to a point, but they haven't held a candle to hospitable churches that use every resource available (from the church's architecture to its care in establishing and teaching its liturgies in any style) to make each person included and sure of her part.
Hospitality matters because every time we worship together, we are drawn not only into our particular community, but also into the community of angels and saints who are always praising God. Even better, we are being reminded that we are included in the circle of fellowship between the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Son is the true worship leader who helps us express our thanks to the Father, the phenomenally hospitable God who invites us to make ourselves at home with him.
Church is powerful when it embodies this inclusion—much like our hospitable friends did on our recent family vacation. When church is like that, it becomes the home away from home where we offer each other a place to reunite, be fed, commune, wash, rest, and receive what we need for the road.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Stitch In Time – Lawrence

There is nothing like an imminent event to spur one on to finish jobs that have been waiting in the wings for some time.

We were expecting a guest to come and stay with us for a few days. The guest room doubles as a sewing room; it houses my sewing machine, on top of which there were a few sewing jobs, big and small, waiting to be done.

I have been heavily involved in writing projects but, as it happened, I was currently at a place in my assignments where they could be put aside for a while. My manuscript was completed and waiting for contributions from other authors—blurbs, endorsements and a foreword—before I could proceed.

My other writing assignments were also up to date so I could give my attention fully to my sewing projects. In actual fact, I love sewing, but there never seems to be enough time for me to fit it in to my busy day. Along with my Celtic Knot Work art, sewing shows another side of my creativity. But, as with writing, sewing needs its own time, place and reason and, now I had all three.

The main sewing job I wanted to get done was one of recycling. So, after completing some small mending tasks, I took out the two twin-size duvets that were no longer needed for people and considered how I would go about making them into small size pads that the local OSPCA could use to give some comfort to their animals.

Sewing allows one’s mind and imagination some freedom to roam in many areas. While one is sewing a straight seam one’s mind can think up new writing ideas, one’s soul can pray for people in need, and one’s heart can remember with gratitude and thanksgiving all those things, people and events for which one is, in fact, grateful and thankful.

Stitching up a seam helps me to let go of anxieties and worries and let God take over my life one stitch at a time. And, at the end of my recent sewing extravaganza, I had a clean and tidy room for our guest’s arrival as well as eight small pads on which some homeless animals could get a modicum of comfort.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Kids in Church - Reynolds

Here are some children’s memorable words to give you a chuckle.

3-year-old Reese: 'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name.’

One particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'

A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'

A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'

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