Thursday, October 17, 2019

Becoming Gold by SUSAN HARRIS

Gold is shiny and coveted, the most widely beloved of precious metals. It is in the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow, and on the rings on our fingers. 
The Scripture tells is in 1 Peter 1:7, " These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold." (NLT)

Gold is chemically nonreactive, almost inert, and doesn’t want to bond with other elements. We too have elements in life that do not bond with what God calls us to be. The irritations. We can’t stand the sight of the co-worker in the cubicle in the corner. We’ve prayed and it seems we hit  a concrete wall and we lose faith. 

But I've come to understand that we can't pray away everything. Because we’ve got to become yellow, golden. For if you are not shiny you won’t be able to go to the places God wants to take you to.
In the times of suffering and discouragement our quality is tested, and we prove to God what metal we are made of. And if we will commit to being refined, to be malleable and flexible, willing to forego anger and surrender, then we’d be coming closer to the character of God. In so doing we will show that we can be trusted. 

But many times we prefer to get offended, to give a person a “piece of your mind”, complaining and impatient. And that’s when the spiritual refining machinery gets stuck with acid fumes.  That when the filtration units and  reverse osmosis systems grinds to a stop.

Can I encourage you that the next time someone takes your place in the line, when hurdles come, be intentional that you will respond differently. Speak kindly to your child. Show respect to your spouse. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

You might be saying “Susan, you don’t know my spouse! You don’t know those members who live here. They squeeze the toothpaste from the top!”

And you are right. I don’t know them, and we have His and Hers bathrooms so there’s no toothpaste wars at our house. But we have one pantry and peanut butter has retained dirt and clogged my golden process. For years I fumed silently at the empty peanut butter jars on the shelf. Who puts back an empty jar on the shelf? 

Last Christmas I gave my husband a jar of peanut butter, and I gave myself a jar as well. (Do you give yourself gifts?) I labelled the jars with our names, happy that I will now have peanut butter whenever I wanted. No more empty jars. No more frustrations. I’m going to be shiny bright!

Well, imagine the surprise on my husband’s face when he realized that I had resented not getting my share of peanut butter for seven years! He had no idea that I even liked peanut butter. 

Suddenly the shiny was gone and I was face to face with my clod from the earth.  All I had needed to do was to take 5 seconds and say “Hey, can you leave me some peanut butter?” But like the Israelites, I took years to get to the Promise Land. 

God changed me in realizing that only HE knows my thoughts, my husband does not know my thoughts. And now I have my own carton of milk, my own cauliflower, my own helicopter...

 Are there things that you let upset you time and time again? Do you keep the same conversations over and over in your head? Consider this – could it be that you are the one needing to be changed instead of the other person? 

Isaiah 48:10 “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” 

The furnace of suffering…this is way more than peanut butter or who goes first at the 4-way stop. This is years and years of sickness for me. This is level 10 pain that sent me unconsciousness three times. 

God would not even let you be as silver. It’s gold, and nothing else. 1 Corinthians 3:12, 13 tells us “Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw….”  
Some of us are at straw level. We wake up angry at the pattern on the bedspread. My husband burns straw and stubble in the fields and it goes up in smoke in an instant. There’s no value in staying at straw level.

Some of us have wood refinement level – it’s sturdier, will take longer to burn. Some are other jewels and silver. The emerald in my ring was manufactured in a lab in Ottawa. Diamond can also be created in a lab. But God is not after emerald. He is after gold. You see friend, gold cannot be manufactured in a lab like diamond or emerald can be. No, true gold is not counterfeited. 

Here’s a key truth: If we are praying and doing the right things and God is not removing the blockages,  that may well mean that we must need them. 

God will put us in situations that force us to confront the ugly things in our lives, the things that need refining. It will not be easy but it is imperative that we face our shortcomings, admit them, and reject them. That’s the gold getting brighter. You’re moving from 10K to 14K towards 24K. You’re starting to shine through. He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it and perfect you (Philippians 1:6). 

I pray in the name of Jesus that the joy in your spirit will strengthen your body for this hour, and the next, and the next.  I pray God’s will for you in this time of testing, that you will be refined, and come through victorious.
The refining process is never easy. But in the conquering name of Jesus you are becoming gold. God is at work for the ultimate purpose of shaping you into the character of Christ, and  you will influence His kingdom in ways you cannot imagine. May you enjoy the blessings that come to those who love Him as you Become Gold. 

The full message of September's condensed blog "Programmed for Purpose" can be found on YouTube at

Susan Harris is the host of ETERNITY on Access7 cable television in eastern SK. This blog is an excerpt from her message entitled "Becoming Gold".  Find snippets, excepts and  episodes on her YouTube channel at

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Favourite Season?

Courtesy: Google Free
Winter's past Spring has sprung. 
What’s your favourite season of the year? For some Canadians the preference will be for the great awakening of spring, as nature emerges from winter slumber, greening up vegetation all around, drawing people out into frequenting garden centres and labouring in their gardens.

Among sun-lovers are those who can hardly wait for spring air to warm up and summer to breeze in. Many eagerly take the tarps off their boats and check out their rods, reels and tackle boxes, for it’s summertime and the fishin’ is easy (phrase from  Gershwin) , or whatever is their summer pursuit.

Gettin' Ready
 Forget spring and summer – what about winter? Is that your favourite? Energetic, avid winter sports types, with time and money to spare, might eagerly prepare to hit the slopes, waxing their skis and dusting off their roof-rack totes.

Each season comes with certain aspects that I appreciate. However: 

There’s an indefinable something about fall / autumn that captures my heart. 
The season has carved out a special place in my soul. 

Once the greening from chlorophyll is over till the next spring, those autumn leaves reveal the glories of their previously concealed colours. They fall, drifting gently by our windows, to lay a carpet of visual warmth and cheer. 
Nature's Carpet of 'Visual Warmth'
Autumn weather more fully exerts itself as we move further into the season, and we often feel cool-edged breezes and strong winds. Purply dark clouds cavort across energetic, animated skies which, at times, pour out their grapes of wrath, the rain and wind stripping stubborn leaves from branches, overwhelming eavestroughs, while plugged-up downspouts can prove a bane. 
On the other hand, times are when we open our window
Autumn Glory -  although slowly dying!
blinds or drapes to reveal fresh mornings, with frost-tipped lawns and white-tinged roofs, opening into beautiful, sunny days. These seem to say, Enjoy, but prepare, because winter’s on its way! 
Although autumn is for many of us a busy time in community and family activities, it is also a time for introspection; a time to prepare for life’s wintertime; a season for thoughtfully appreciating the simple pleasures and treasures of life. 
Autumn reminds me of my impermanence as a material entity – as a conscious, walking, talking, collection of biologically-coordinated atoms and molecules. In other words I too, like a leaf, will fall and, like the year, my days are numbered – hardly a comforting thought! 
Nevertheless I am comforted, for our Creator God and Father in Heaven has a divine plan – life beyond this life in fellowship with Him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in [that is, trusts in and relies upon] him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16 NRSV)
Words of Benediction: May our hearts be wide open this very day to receive the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God our Father, and the fellowship and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Peter is a retired pastor  well, sort of retired – as he is currently engaged as an associate volunteer pastor. He lives in Southwestern Ontario with his wife, May, and writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column and occasional magazine articles. Peter is author of two books: "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press) and "Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart" (Angel Hope Publishing). He and May are also engaged in leading nursing home / residential chapel services, pulpit supply and music. ~+~

Friday, October 11, 2019

Being Thankful

In a Bible study years ago, we discussed being thankful, and I’m reminded of that session often. There are days when it’s easy to give thanks, times with so much good in our lives, that it could come quite naturally. Though when we’re having fun it may slip by us to say the words. Thinking of the abundance of good food, the sunshine on a day such as today as I write this post, and friends and family around me.

In the study I mentioned, we were reminded to give thanks, even when it’s not easy, as Paul the apostle did when he talked about the thorn in his flesh. What was that about? “In all things, give thanks.” But I wasn’t thinking of Paul. I was thinking of myself and what was around me.

I struggled with that statement. I mean, how does one say thanks for turmoil within the home, or for health challenges. Or for the death of a good friend that made me sadder still. I knew friends were praying for me and it surely felt like I was climbing a mountain. Insurmountable stuff. At least that’s the way it felt.

In time, I could look back—if not at the moment—and know there were people around me holding me up, and as in the Footprints poem, that God had been there all the time carrying me. And so I could say “Thank you, God” for that.

Today I say thank you more easily for home and family, for work that brings in income, for available health services we need, and a country at peace. I can encourage others for I have been through a few valleys, including the death of several close friends in the past couple of years, and both of my parents.

This month marks one year from Mom’s death, and though I miss her so much, I can say thanks for her life and what it meant to me, and all the things she did for me. For persistence when I was a small child and not developing as I should, for her continuing to seek answers. When she believed in me when I had trouble believing in myself, and later when she celebrated my publishing successes with me. Indeed, she was one of my best cheerleaders. Both my parents were that for me.

In a poem prompt last October in Poetic Bloomings, an online poetry group, members were asked to write about cornucopias, those baskets filled with good things and shown in art especially at Thanksgiving and harvest time. My poem took a different turn and came out this way:

Always Something Good*

It doesn’t matter the container
a straw basket, cornucopia
or a box for treasures

in spite of disappointments and sadness
there’s always something
a good night of sleep, a gift from a friend
a helping hand when needed

Slip on socks of thankfulness
even in the dark and stormy moments
when all hope seems lost
And so today, wherever you find yourself, I hope there is something for which you can give thanks, even in a most difficult situation. Or perhaps you have much to say thanks for right now. Let’s give thanks to God for those things he gives us, including the grace that came along with Jesus’ birth. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

 Carolyn R. Wilker is an author and editor from southwestern Ontario, Canada.

* Also from Travelling Light by Carolyn R. Wilker 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Remembering Dad - HIRD

By Rev Dr Ed Hird

Since my dad passed on June 25th 2019, many people have expressed their sincere condolences by email, snail mail, and in person. The sharing by so many at my dad’s funeral reception was deeply touching.

Dad was greatly loved and appreciated by many.  I thank God for my wonderful father, Ted Hird. As I was visiting my father near the end, I heard the words “This is the generation that defeated Hitler.” My dad and his compatriots became the Builder Generation that saved the world from totalitarian fascism, and then ushered in a new season of freedom and democracy.

It fills me with gratitude to have had a loving father that believed in me.  My dad was such an encourager. He listened deeply to people, no matter what their station in life. Many people, in their condolences, told me how much they appreciated my father’s sincere interest in their lives and work. Over the years, he often sent me e-mails and notes telling me how pleased he is with my work, my family and my life.  I want to be like my late father in his remarkable gift of encouragement.   It is so easy to be someone who sees what is wrong with other people. My dad looked for that which was working and built on it.

One of my dad’s greatest gifts to me was his almost sixty-seven year marriage to my late mom Lorna Hird. Dad illustrated the truth of Song of Songs when it said that love is stronger than death. Part of my passion for renewing marriage came from watching the deep lasting love of my mom and dad for each other. Dad the engineer and Mom the artist were very different personalities who were like iron sharpening iron. My dad liked things accomplished yesterday, and never wanted to be late for dinner. His most famous expressions were always food-related: “Call me anything, don’t call me late for dinner.”

When my dad became an electrical engineer in 1950, they were still using test-tubes for radio communication. Many years later, my dad was still growing and learning.  I too want to be the kind of father who never stops learning, never stops changing, never stops expanding my horizons.  Technology is always changing, but my dad was never left behind.  Even at age 95, my father was a passionate reader who consumed books in a way that kept his mind active and fresh.  My dad often ran out of books to read, and had to switch to another library. At age 95, Dad read the draft of our upcoming novel, and then apologized for taking two days to finish it.  I want to be a father that always keeps reading, and inspires my own children and grandchildren to read for the very pleasure of reading.

My father was a born leader.  He rose from very humble circumstances to become the President of Lenkurt Electric, at that time the largest secondary industry in BC.  I saw my father make wise decisions again and again in very difficult leadership situations.  I want to lead like my father did, with wisdom and patience. My father has raised up many younger leaders who have made a lasting difference in the world.  Like my father, I have a passion for raising up a new generation of healthy leaders, what I call the Timothys and Tituses.

Great leaders pass on the torch to others. Through my father, God passed on to me my gift and passion for writing.  Writing for me is like breathing. That is why I invested thirty years communicating as a Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News columnist. When my father wrote, he was sharp, crisp and clear.  I loved to receive from him new chapters every couple of months about his massive autobiography. My dad often told me about how he wished that when he was younger, he had asked his older aunts about family history. By the time he became curious about his own history, his aunts had passed on with their family stories unrecorded.

I often wish that I had my father’s carpentry skills.  It is remarkable how many gifts that he built through love for various members of our family, including my book shelves and my wife’s dining room cabinet.  My dad was always willing to help whenever he could. My dad was so gifted at fixing things that I often felt inadequate in comparison.  Later in Dad’s life, I watched him closely and noticed that he didn’t always fix things on the first try. Sometimes, it was on the seventh or eighth try. He never gave up. Observing my dad’s perseverance inspired me to give myself more grace in mechanical things.

My father developed a strong faith over the years that has been a great encouragement to me.  The late Rev Ernie Eldridge, Rector of St. Matthias Anglican Church, in his own quiet way, had a huge impact on my dad’s spiritual development. Ernie wisely appointed my dad as the Property Chairman for St. Matthias, helping my dad feel like he belonged as he fixed things at the church.  Ernie persuaded my dad to become publicly confirmed at age 48. Looking back, I believe that my dad’s Anglican confirmation was a major spiritual breakthrough that resulted in my coming to personal faith in Christ a month later.

As a former agnostic, my father became very interested in understanding the bible for himself.  It is great that I was able to openly chat with my father about our common faith in Jesus Christ.  I will never forget when my Dad discussed with me about Rev. Ernie’s invitation for Dad to be a lay administrant serving communion. Dad deeply respected my mother’s spirituality, and sometimes didn’t feel like he was as spiritual as mom. After dad told me clearly that he had received Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour, I encouraged my dad to take this step.  This was another major breakthrough in my dad’s Christian journey.  My dad was simultaneously a very public and a very private person. Near the end of Dad’s life, we celebrated Communion together many times in his apartment. Taking the Alpha Course four times was a major step in my father’s spiritual pilgrimage.

Near the end, my father’s deafness became more severe. Fortunately Dad could still read messages that I wrote for him on his IPad. One of my final IPad messages to him was “I love you, Dad”, to which he whispered to me “I love you too, son.” I deeply miss my Dad, givethanks for his life well-lived, and look forward to his future embrace in heaven.

The Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News for Father’s Day.

Monday, October 07, 2019

In debating an atheist, a neurosurgeon tries philosophy… Denyse O'Leary

Michael Egnor

That’s novel. Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is a Thomas Aquinas. fan and Jerry Coyne is an atheist (professionally, a Darwinian evolutionary biologist):

In my ongoing debate about God’s existence with biologist Jerry Coyne, who writes at Why Evolution Is True, frequent reference is made to Aquinas’ Five Ways, particularly to his Prime Mover argument. It is the most popular formal argument for the existence of God, and it is often misunderstood and, when understood, often misrepresented. Atheists, in my experience, never get it right. If they did, they wouldn’t be atheists.
The first three of Aquinas’ Five Ways share a similar logical structure, and are called the cosmological arguments. More precisely, these arguments probably ought to be called the cosmogonical arguments, because they are proofs based on origins of things. I’ll stick with habit and call them cosmological, but keep in mind that what ties them together is that they are proofs of God’s existence based on the beginnings in nature.
In this post I’ll lay out the logical structure, and in coming posts I hope to apply the structure to three kinds of beginnings in nature: the beginning of change, the beginning of causes, and the beginning of existence itself.
The cosmological arguments have two cornerstones: the law of non-contradiction, and the metaphysics of potency and act. Both principles are Aristotelian, developed in fullest form by St. Thomas Aquinas.Michael Egnor, " Introducing Aquinas’ Five Ways" at Evolution News and Science Today

Jerry Coyne

Most people today may not have learned in school that the Scholastics, including Aquinas, restored the importance of classical Greek and Roman learning, incorporating the thinking processes into philosophy, including natural philosophy (later, science) and theology. So, although Aquinas was a theologian and, in the Catholic tradition, a saint, much that he talks about is not especially “religious.”

More by neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on how the mind differs from the brain:

Science points to an immaterial mind. If one did not start with a materialist bias, materialism would not be invoked as an explanation for a whole range of experiments in neuroscience. and 

Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie. To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories.

Further reading on the abstract nature of thought: A simple triangle can disprove materialism. Conventional descriptions of material processes do not help much when we are trying to account for abstract thought.


 Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind: the significance of Wilder Penfield, Roger Sperry Benjamin Libet, and Adrian Owen. The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple.
Republished from Uncommon Descent

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