Skip to content

I was astounded, appalled and saddened by the events that took place after the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Let me clarify that my title in no way suggests that one team was good and the other evil, but rather that there were two battles that night—one on the ice and the other in the streets. People overturned cars and set them on fire, including two police cars. They smashed store windows and looted the shops. There was violent behaviour that included stabbings, beatings and throwing things (including fists and insults) at police officers and others. Media personnel were asked to get off the streets for their own safety. The police read the Riot Act to the crowd, but it was ignored. Even clouds of pepper spray and tear gas only moved them slightly. It was a scene of chaos and anarchy.

I want to emphasize that this activity in no way represents the majority of the people who live in the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, and even on that night, there were people who put themselves in danger to do the right thing. Shop owners and private citizens did what they could to protect property. Others tried to break up fights or urged people to move along. Some were beaten for their efforts. The next day, many more volunteered to help clean up the mess that was left behind.

In Titus 3:1-2, Paul urges Titus to remind the people of Crete to be subject to authority, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, not to slander, but to be peaceable, gentle and courteous to all. Don’t you think that the world would be a nicer place to live if everyone followed that advice? Unfortunately, there is a difference between the people Titus was leading and the people who were causing so much destruction in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Cretans had become followers of Jesus and wanted to do the right thing. Paul through Titus was teaching them how to leave their old ways behind, which they were able to do through the grace of Christ. (Titus 3:4-6)

The people who started the riot in Vancouver, many of them high school students, had absolutely no respect for authority, and had no desire to do the right thing. Evidence shows that the riot was planned—it would take place whether the home team won or lost—and that most of the troublemakers did not even go to the game. Statements on social media accounts and the fact that they brought Molotov cocktails with them show pre-meditation. What then can we do to prevent this kind of behaviour? First, we must realize that but for the grace of God, we might be in the same sorry state as the vandals. Second, we should pray, for the people of Vancouver, for the perpetrators of the crimes, and that justice would be done. Third, we need to be light in the world. The more of us who stand up against evil, the harder it will be for the evil to overpower us. Joyce Meyer has said, “When the light is turned on, the darkness has to go. … Godliness has to be chosen, but ungodliness will just run rampant if people are not actively making right choices. … Do not wait for somebody else to be the first one to make a right choice. Don’t you dare say, ‘Well, why should I be the only one?’ Why shouldn’t you be the one that leads a revolution of righteousness? Why shouldn’t you be the one to stand up and start doing what’s right and making right choices? You might be surprised what a leader you are.”

A few days ago a friend posted on Facebook that she heard a song with the line, “What if our blessings come through raindrops?” She was driving to work in the rain at the time. At that point I had never heard it, but later in the day another friend on Facebook posted a link to that very song. It is called Blessings by Laura Story. I was so moved by the song that I had to write about it.

The song questions, as the songwriter has, what blessings really are. We have the idea that blessings are good health, comfort, prosperity. Certainly blessings are not suffering, or trials or sleepless nights. Or are they? Is there more to God’s plan for our lives than we can understand? I’m sure of it. God allowed Job to be tested by Satan to prove Job’s faithfulness. Job didn’t understand why all those hard things were happening in his life, but he maintained his hope in God, and Job passed the test. (Job 13:15) At the end of it Job learned that God is God, and it was not Job's place to question Him. (Job 42:1-6) God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and beyond our understanding. (Job 36:26, Job 37:5, Psalm 147:5)

Laura Story says, “The album that I did, I guess about three or four years ago, had happened right after my husband went through surgery for a brain tumour, and so a lot of the ideas that I was writing about then were just very fresh, about how we worship in the midst of trials. And so, fast-forward a few years later, a lot of things have changed; a lot of things have gotten better with his health. A lot of things have not. And trying to figure out, you know, we pray for God to bless us; what does it look like when I spend four or so years praying for healing for my husband that never comes? You know, I feel like that we’ve kind of gotten to a place of having to make a choice. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances that we don’t understand, or are we going to choose to judge our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

One of the lines from this song says, “We doubt Your goodness; we doubt Your love, as if every promise from Your Word is not enough.” God has given us His Word to instruct us and to encourage us. He has told us how much He loves us, (John 3:16) and that He wants only the best for us. (Matthew 7:11, Jeremiah 29:11) Let’s take a step of faith and believe Him. Trust in His promises.

Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song.

You can visit Laura Story's official website here.

I’m a small town girl who was recently in New York City for the first time. From the moment I entered the subway station, people started asking me for money. In the time it took me to walk down the steps, four different people had asked me for amounts ranging from four dollars to five cents. Even combined it didn’t total very much, but it was a bit overwhelming to be stopped every few seconds. God loves a cheerful giver—that’s what it says in II Corinthians 9:7—but I wasn’t giving too cheerfully by that point.

In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus watched people putting their donations into the offering boxes. He was not watching because he needed their donations, for after all He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else in all creation. (Psalm 50:9-12) What He was watching for was the attitude with which the donations were being given. He was concerned with the condition of people’s hearts. He knew that it was not the amount they gave, but the amount they withheld that was the measure of their generosity. The wealthy gave a large portion, but it was not a large proportion of what they had. The widow, a member of the poorest and most vulnerable segment of society, gave all she owned. The wealthy depended on their wealth to provide for them, but the widow depended on God. She trusted God to meet her needs. It was not her money that she gave to God, but her heart, her whole being.

When God tells us that he want us to give cheerfully, He means that what is important is the condition of our hearts, our motivation for giving. He doesn’t want us to give because people keep asking, or because we feel pressured by public opinion, or to get a tax rebate. He wants us to give because we love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and because we love Him and trust Him to provide for our every need.

Today's post is written by Rusty Wright.
Laugh a Little: It's Good For Your Health

Had a good laugh recently? Need one?

Stressful days can invite comic relief. Doctors realize that laughter can enhance physical and mental health. Now it seems even looking forward to laughter can be good for you.

WebMD reports that Lee Berk, MD, a University of California Irvine medical professor, and his associates have for years investigated how moods affect immune systems and illness. They've found laughter has a role in fighting viruses, bacteria, cancer and heart disease.

Stress can hamper your immune system; a good chuckle can help. Berk found earlier that watching a one-hour humorous video reduced stress hormone secretion and helped the immune system counter viruses and bacteria.

But there's more: Berk now says the mere anticipation of laughing can help. He studied ten men, measured their stress signs, and told them that in about three days they would see a humorous video. In each man, spirits lifted before viewing the video.

Two days before the viewing, depression was down 51 percent, confusion 36 percent, anger 19 percent, fatigue 15 percent and tension 9 percent. Right after the viewing, depression and anger were both down 98 percent, fatigue 87 percent, confusion 75 percent and tension 61 percent.

Berk feels anticipating humor brightens life and affects health. He calls this influence the "biology of hope." Berk says, "Positive anticipation of humor starts the ball rolling in a sense, in which moods begin to change in ways that help the body fight illness. We believe this shows that even anticipation can be used to help patients recover from a wide range of disorders."

Moral: Planning humor can benefit your health. Watch a funny movie, spend time with humorous people. Tell your boss, professor, clergy or club chairperson to liven up their speeches a bit if they want healthy employees, students, or members. Put laugh-breaks on your calendar, since anticipation is part of the therapy.

A Jewish proverb observes, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." [Proverbs 17:22] Paul, a first-Century follower of Jesus, emphasized hope: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope. . ." [Romans 15:13] Those biblical writers have some good advice now and then, practical stuff for everyday life.

So, laugh more. You'll like it. And say, have you heard the one about. . .?
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

In my last two posts I’ve talked about the fact that there is trouble in this world, and it is a good thing to wait on the Lord. That is because God is reliable and trustworthy. In the King James Version, Isaiah 40:8 says that the word of our God shall stand forever. He assures us that He will keep His promises, no matter what circumstances we may face and whether or not we always understand how or know when.

The Word of God will last and be reliable forever, even though all else is unreliable and passes away. The metaphor that is used here is that the grass dries up and the flowers wither. In Isaiah 40:6-7 we can see that the grass and flowers are referring to humanity and people’s promises. It is sometimes tempting, when we hear someone give a message that we agree with, or that we long for, to start following, even worshipping, that person. It happens often with celebrities, and it happens with evangelists. It happened with Harold Camping. (May 23, 2011) When Camping said that the world was going to end, people gave up everything they had—some even took their own lives—because they believed the man, rather than trusting the Word of God. Joyce Meyer puts it simply, “Follow God, not people.”

Isaiah 40:10-11 indicate that the Word of God will bring deliverance, and that He cares for us. That love and salvation was made human in the person of Jesus. (John 1:1-5) Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross made it possible for us to have eternal salvation and to have an eternal connection with God who cares so deeply for us that He gave up His own Son to redeem us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word. (Matthew 5:17) Because of Him we can be adopted into God’s family, and we can trust His promises both now and forevermore.

I’m not very good at waiting. It is said that in Canada there are two seasons—winter and construction. We are currently in the construction season, and I would rather drive around the construction than wait for the flag person to allow me to go down the one open lane of torn up highway. It may take longer to go around, but at least I would feel like I was doing something. Recent events in my life, however, have been teaching me how to wait, a lesson that Jeremiah also learned.

The first two and a half chapters of Lamentations recount the difficulties that Jeremiah faced—much worse than anything I’ve ever faced I might add. In my post of March 25, 2011 I talked about Jeremiah’s change of focus. In Lamentations 3:21-24, Jeremiah stopped focusing on his own trials and started to focus on God’s mercy and faithfulness.

In Lamentations 3:25-26, Jeremiah concludes that the Lord is good, and that it is good to wait patiently for the Lord’s deliverance. Other than that obvious point, I think there are two more worth noticing. First, Jeremiah says that the Lord is good to those who trust in Him and those who seek Him. We need to believe that God is good; that’s the trusting part, but no one says that we can’t earnestly pray for that deliverance while we wait. In fact, we are encouraged to pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6, Luke 18:1-8 April 11, 2011)

The second point is that Jeremiah has moved from depression to hope, and is now at the point of encouraging others to trust and wait patiently. God comforts and sustains us through our afflictions, so that we might be a comfort and encouragement to others. (II Corinthians 1:3-4) Our hardships generally come from our own mistakes or simply because we live in a world that is imperfect, where there is a constant battle between good and evil. (June 3, 2011) God doesn’t allow us to face trials beyond what we can bear, (I Corinthians 10:13) but when we do face trials, He brings good from them, (Romans 8:28) and through them gives us the ability to bring hope to others. Trust God, pray and wait patiently. The Lord is good.

Over the years I have heard of many cases where people purposely entered the lions’ cages at zoos. I’m sure they all had reasons that they thought made sense at the time, but some were mauled and others died because they challenged such powerful creatures. Although, zoo keepers have managed to safely care for the animals, unexpected visitors do not escape unharmed.

In I Peter 5:8, Satan is described as a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. The verse begins with a warning to be sober and alert—self-disciplined, wise and vigilant. You can be sure that if you are not prepared to face the devil, he will get the better of you. His goal is to make you doubt your faith and to disregard or disobey God. Satan is a liar and the father of lies, (John 8:44) but he disguises himself as whatever will suit his purposes, including an angel of light. (II Corinthians 11:14) His purpose is to deceive you, as he has done since the very beginning of the world. (Genesis 3:13)

Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble and suffering, and that we would be in a constant battle with the evil one. But He also told us to have courage, because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33) This world may be a battleground between God and Satan, but we know that God will win. We have to be careful not to let Satan deceive us. How can we do that? Through spending time with God. By reading our Bibles, studying the Word and thinking about how it applies to our lives. By praying in an open and honest way and taking time to listen to God for His answers. By relying on Him to give us His strength. He has promised us that His grace is sufficient for us, that His power is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9), and that we are able to do all things through the strength that He provides for us. (Philippians 4:13)

I Peter 5:9-11 tells us to resist the devil and trust in God. Don’t let Satan deceive you into believing that you are alone in your trials or that God has abandoned you. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8) He will give us the strength we need for every situation and will restore us in His time. Warren Wiersbe has said that “God doesn’t always change the circumstances, but He can change us to meet the circumstances. That’s what it means to live by faith.”

I find myself apologizing a lot, not always for something I have done, but often for what I am not able to do. I feel bad when I am a burden to others because of my injuries. I always want to do the right thing, and pull my own weight, but I am just not physically capable. This is similar to the frustration that Paul felt in Romans 7:19-25. He wanted to do the right thing too, but he found that he often did the very thing that he didn’t want to do, because his sinful nature was battling against him.

We can, however, both be assured and encouraged by Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, there are natural consequences for our mistakes, our weaknesses and our sins. And there are times of trial that we must face even though we did nothing to deserve them. But there are no situations in which God is punishing us. None, zero, zilch. I believe that God does teach us through the situations we face, and helps us grow to become more like Christ through them, but this is not punishment. All punishment for our sins was paid for by Jesus on the cross. We are now co-heirs with Christ to the kingdom of God. We are Christ’s brothers and sisters, children of God our Father. Just as God was pleased with Jesus in II Peter 1:17, He is pleased with us. He loves us more than we can fully understand.

That is not to say that God is pleased with the sins we keep committing. It does not mean that we don’t deserve condemnation, but it does mean that the price for our sin has been paid. If we accept Christ’s sacrifice, and we are in Christ Jesus, then His Spirit lives in us. If we yield ourselves to the Spirit, we will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23) and we will want to avoid sinning, just as Paul did. If we live according to the Spirit, we will have life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

Do you ever feel alone? Do you feel like you just can’t face another day without some help? Does it feel like everything is always going wrong? Jesus promised us a Helper and an Advocate, so that you wouldn’t have to face anything alone.

When Jesus was on earth, He taught His disciples and guided them, but as He prepared to ascend to heaven, He promised to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to take His place and to live with the disciples, and by extension us, forever. (John 14:16) Since Jesus and the Father are one, when Jesus asked the Father for something, it happened, but the promise was predicated on a condition.

In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Love here is not a sentiment or an emotion, but a commitment and dedication to Jesus that was demonstrated by obeying Him. Everything that is taught by Jesus in the gospels and throughout the New Testament is there for us to learn from and to follow so that we might be more like Christ. Even though every day brings trials that we must face and deal with, our responsibility is to continue to follow Christ. In Matthew 6:33, we are told that we need to pursue His kingdom and His righteousness above all else. If we do we what we are responsible for, He will take care of the rest. And we know that nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27, Mark 10:27)

I can’t promise you that things won’t keep going wrong. As a matter of fact, I can pretty much guarantee that they will, (John 16:33) but you don’t have to face them alone. If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and gift of eternal life, and if you strive to obey His commandments, the Holy Spirit will be right there beside you and within you to be your Helper and your Advocate.

Do you eat fast food? Microwaveable meals? Do you get impatient waiting in a traffic jam? Or waiting for a webpage to load? Do you look for the word “instant” on packaging or in advertising? We are so used to having everything at our fingertips and quickly accessible, that we have lost our ability to be patient. We have forgotten how to wait.

When Abram (later called Abraham) was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4), he left his home and most of his family to set out for a new land because the Lord had told him to. (Genesis 12:1) The Lord promised to make Abram into a great nation, (Genesis 12:2) but at that point Abram didn’t have any children, no one to carry on his family line. Nonetheless, the Lord told Abram that He would give this new land to Abram’s descendants, (Genesis 12:7) and Abram believed Him. That was the beginning of Abram’s journey of faith.

How long did it take for Abram to see the Lord’s promise fulfilled? Twenty-five years! (Genesis 21:5) Then when his son Isaac was a boy, the Lord tested Abraham by telling him to give up His son. (Genesis 22:1-14) Again Abraham believed God, and his son was spared. The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 6:11-15) tells us that we should imitate those, who like Abraham were examples of faith and hope. Abraham inherited the promise of many descendents because he persevered, (Hebrews 6:15) and believed God’s promise.

What are you hoping for today? Are you willing to wait for God’s timing? Matthew Henry said, “Abraham, in due time, obtained the promise. It was made good to him after he had patiently endured. [1.] There is always an interval, and sometimes a long one, between the promise and the performance. [2.] That interval is a trying time to believers, whether they have patience to endure to the end. [3.] Those who patiently endure shall assuredly obtain the blessedness promised, as sure as Abraham did.”

Sometimes God’s promises to us are not as clear as His promise to Abram. We don’t always know what the outcome of our trials will be. But we can count on the promises that God gives to all of His children—that He will never leave us nor forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6) that He wants only good things for us, (Matthew 7:11) and that He has a plan for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11) That plan will be worth waiting for. Don’t give up hope!