Sabbath-day Rest

Resting on the Sabbath day is not a topic often spoken about in church. Yet it is clear in Scripture – the fourth commandment given to Moses is: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11).

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There are many ways that keeping the Sabbath can become legalistic. First off, when is it recognized? Seventh-day Adventists cling to Saturday, like the Jews, as their Sabbath. For the most part, the Protestant and Catholic churches hold to Sunday as their “day of rest.”

Having written about how technology has tectonically affected us, I am well aware that this puts greater burden on the need to rest from our worldly pursuits. Although technology, generally-speaking, makes our lives “easier,” I find that it can also make us lazier, allowing us to wander astray, leaving faith-matters aside and neglecting the call of Christ on our lives.

Which is why I am intrigued by the idea of disconnecting from technology, like the Internet, in order to maximize the benefit that Sabbath rest offers us. There are no hard-and-fast rules here. Monks and nuns in the Middle Ages, after all, carried on scholarship in a time when the vast majority of people were not privy to such knowledge.

You see the Sabbath day is part of a cycle. Life itself is cyclical. A woman’s monthly period. The seasons. Planting and harvesting, or reaping and sowing. The triune God has instituted laws that govern the natural environment. In Exodus, the Israelites were commanded to let the land lie fallow every seven years so that it is allowed to rest. Further, the Jubilee year, which occurred cyclically on the 49th year, was a special time when debts were cancelled and slaves would be allowed to go free.

The necessary element to keep front of mind here is that Sabbath is for our benefit. The intention is to recall God’s faithfulness, our dependence on Him for provision, to anchor ourselves in His Word, being rejuvenated to face another week, with all of its attendant stresses, worries, anxieties and uncertainties.

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Addictions

I think all of us have them, like it or not. I mean to say that we have proclivities, and we battle with our flesh to follow Christ. But as Christians, we are not under the rule of sin. “For sin have no dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14, KJV)

I love that – Christ followers are not under the compulsions that can control. Whatever your drug of choice: food, entertainment, self-adulation, porn; Jesus has set you free from it! If only you would come to Him, confess your sin, take on his light yoke and follow His ways.

Confession takes on two forms: one another and to God. James 5:16 reminds us of the former aspect, while Matthew 6:12 and Luke 11:4 (the Lord’s prayer) directs us to ask our Heavenly Father to forgive us our sins. The precondition, of course, is that we forgive others ourselves. That takes courage, but with the Holy Spirit’s nudge, we are certainly able to accomplish this feat.

The Refugee Crisis

The biggest wave of refugees since the Second World War. Syria, as a state, has been shattered. Thousands upon thousands of families have fled and Damascus is in ruins (Isa. 17:1). The prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes.

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What started under 10 years ago has become a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. In the same way that Canada opened up its shores to the Vietnamese “boat people” in the 1970’s, we have generously welcomed Syrians here through our sponsorship program.

This Christmas, I was able to listen to compelling stories from both sides of my family about how churches are welcoming “the foreigner” into our land, those who have been hit hardest by this humanitarian catastrophe. Canada, open-hearted land that it is, has struck in my estimation a good balance between security-consciousness and the full-on welcoming of Syrians as carried out by European nations, most notably Germany.

$30,000 is a lot of money to raise in order to sponsor a family. Yet, the cost of living in our country, especially large metropolises like Toronto, Vancouver & Montreal is quite high. Once the family in question has settled in, jobs need to be found and bills need to be paid. Thankfully, many of these refugees are Christian and can integrate into the sponsoring church community. Nevertheless, culture plays a role and some refugees are Muslim.

Canada, a land of peace and refuge… so thankful to live here!

New Year’s Resolutions

We’re not even at Christmas yet, but I’m thinking New Year’s resolutions.

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Well, that might have something to do with the fact that I celebrated Christmas a little early this year with family and friends at my book launch on December 8th. Now I get to enjoy Christmas again as I travel with my wife to Toronto and we visit extended family!

When it comes to resolutions, though, people have plenty to say. The media is always abuzz about the idea. I’m sure books have been written on the topic. Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day, companies big and small love to play to the material aspect of setting goals for the new year. Gym memberships skyrocket as people try and shed those pounds they gained during the holidays. But as a sinner who knows that I’m a sinner, I’m under no pretense that all of my hang-up will suddenly disappear on January 1, 2018. This in between is where the saint lives—not arrived at heaven, still on the earthly journey. Martin Luther would be a good person to read up on if you want to immerse yourself in this study.

Now I’m not stating that I’m against setting goals. To the contrary: I try to set goals and vigorously work towards achieving them. What I am saying is that it is helpful for me personally to view New Year’s resolutions under a different filter or lens. For the Christian, accepting Jesus into one’s life does not mean instant, dramatic transformation. For some, yes, in a heartbeat their lives change in dramatic ways after they utter the sinner’s prayer. But I would say for the vast majority of us, it’s a constant, daily, moment-by-moment process (or struggle) where we learn to surrender our will to His, seeking His guidance in all matters, and experiencing joy, peace, love and hope along the way. We confess our sins to our Lord and to one another, renouncing sin and doing our best to walk in holiness, not by our strength but by His alone, knowing that it is Him who “is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him” (Phil. 2:13, CEV).

Putting off Entitlement

I refer to my earlier post of June 30th of this year. We live in a society of “entitlement.” It’s no wonder our friends to the south of us use this very term to describe government programs that at times feel like a drag on the overall economy. Being a participant in life rather than a spectator means that you don’t have to always assert your “rights” and get want you want. Now. Let’s face it, life isn’t fair. It rarely turns out exactly the way we want it to.

In this Christmas season, gratitude should give way to generosity. The good Lord taught us that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

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This selflessness is grounded in the fact that Jesus condescended to earth to live in our place. To feel what it was like to be human, and most importantly to give his life, shedding his precious blood as an atoning sacrifice for all who believe on his name!

How Our Faith Feels Sometimes

During the summertime, I try and take my bike to work. In the winter, I’m relegated to taking the bus. I will often wait at my stop several minutes for my bus. I admit, I can be an impatient person.

What’s interesting, though, is that while I’m waiting, typically two, or maybe even three, buses pass by on the other side. Now I can can go to the other side and take the bus a few short stops to a central bus station, and then transfer to take one of the many that buses that go straight downtown. But, if I’m patient enough to wait a few minutes at my bus stop, I can take a bus directly downtown without needing to transfer. In all honesty, the time difference between taking the two buses is minimal, but it can take longer when the weather’s bad to transfer to the central station.

What does this have to do with faith? Plenty. There are many “shortcuts” in life that appear, on the surface, to be a quick fix to a problem or bind we’re in. Common pleasures, outright sinful behaviour and easy outs can seem to assuage our pain for a time. But that’s just it. Fast cash, sleeping around, not being diligent… all of these things hurt us in the long run. The Bible calls the pleasures of sin temporary, and rightly so (Heb. 11:25). “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7, NIV).

My book launch

On Friday evening, I was honoured and privileged, along with my wife Leslie, to host my very first book launch! “The Factory Challenge” and “Energized” are available in paperback from Amazon by clicking the link below, Smashwords or Kindle Direct Publishing for the e-book version.

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I am thankful for the 17 in attendance, and I couldn’t have pulled off the event without the support of my wonderful family and friends!

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In 2018, I hope to release two non-fiction works: a treatise about preparing for the times in which we live, and a devotional meant to encourage unmarried couples without children.