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Second chances.  Mulligans.  Do-overs.  Don’t we all appreciate another opportunity to get things right?  When Adam bit into that apple, and sin entered the world, we were sentenced to live in a world outside of God’s favour. (Genesis 3:17-19)  Thankfully through Christ we have a second chance. (John 3:16)

II Corinthians 5:16-17 tells us that when we accept Christ we become a new creation.  That doesn’t mean that we suddenly become perfect; it means that we have a new position as children of God.  We still have to work on all the old issues in our lives, but God is a god of second chances.  He forgives us for the things that we haven’t got right yet, and He is working on us, helping us to become more like Christ.

Verse 17 is a general view of what verse 16 tells us more specifically.  Just as we have become a new creation, when we are in Christ we no longer see people according to their human qualities—race, gender, nationality, etc.  Now we see them as we are, a person for whom Christ gave His life.  God gives us the grace to see that person with spiritual eyes.

Before Paul met Christ (and his name was still Saul), he judged Christ on what he had heard about Him.  He saw Christ as a contradiction of all the religious laws that he followed so strictly.  Then Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus, (Acts 9:1-22) and his views changed.  He began to see Christ, and subsequently humans, whether Jews or Gentiles, differently.

The world judges you based on your past.  God judges you based on your future.  The world judges you based on what you have done.  God judges you based on what you can, and what He knows you will, become.  Let’s do our best to see others through God’s eyes.

Do you believe in miracles?  Do you think that Christ still performs miracles today?  In Matthew 8-9, we read the accounts of several of Christ’s miracles.  Matthew 9:23-26 tells us of the raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter.

When Jesus arrived at the ruler’s house, there were already mourners wailing and lamenting.  It was customary to hire mourners for this purpose to help express the grief of the family.  The fact that they were already there meant that they had no doubt that the girl was dead.  When Jesus said that she was only sleeping, they mocked Him.  These people knew Christ, knew His character and had already witnessed other miracles He had done.  Surely, if He said that the child was asleep, they should consider it a possibility.  Yet, they were so certain of her death, they thought His statement was ridiculous.  Christ, however, had a different perspective on the matter.  He knew that He was going to wake the girl up.

Before performing this miracle, Christ sent all the mourners and onlookers away.  Only her parents, and a few disciples remained with Him to witness her resurrection.  This meant that believing that the girl was raised from death would become a matter of faith for everyone who did not witness it, and perhaps even for those who did.  Had she really been just sleeping?

I don’t know about you, but I like to have things explained and know the details of how things work.  In this case, like many others, Christ didn’t allow the details to all be known.  He left some things a mystery, and that is still often the case today.  Either we can’t understand the explanation, or there is some possible explanation other than a miracle from God.  Those who choose not to believe in God can find another way to rationalize what has happened, but those who do believe must often exercise their faith to do so.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), we know that He can still perform miracles.  He is able to meet every need, but He cares more about your salvation than your comfort.  He wants you to rely on Him.  (Matthew 11:28)  Seek Him first, and He will take care of the rest.  (Matthew 6:33)

I have come to realize that a major theme in James 1 is humility. James 1:12 tells us that we will be rewarded if we endure the testing that we face. What must we do to endure testing? We need to let go of our pride and our feelings of entitlement. How do you react when you face trials? I have to admit that I usually try to avoid them. I think it is quite common for people to pity themselves and want to escape the unpleasant circumstances that they are in. But the Bible tells us that we face testing to humble us, to strengthen us and to bring good to us. (Deuteronomy 8:16, James 1:2-4) A wise pastor once suggested that instead of lamenting our trials that we ask God what He wants us to learn from them. Candy Hemphill Christmas, founder of The Bridge Ministry has said that she has learned something about God—“that if you ask Him a question, He will answer. Now, you’re going to have to get ready for the answer, but He will answer. It might not be what you want to hear, but He will answer.” Are we willing to submit to God’s answer, to His plan? That takes humility.

I think it is natural for people to think that trials are a punishment from God. Job’s friends did, and so did Job’s wife. Job, on the other hand, asked why we should expect good things from God and not accept the bad. (Job 2:7-10). When God answered Job, (Job 40:1-14) He reminded him that there is a God, and Job isn’t Him. Neither are we. We need to trust God and His love for us. We need to trust what He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, that His plan for our future is a good one. The trials that we face along the way are stepping stones to that good future. God is more interested in our character than He is in our accomplishments or wealth, and He can bring good from everything that happens to us. (Romans 8:28)

I wonder what would happen if we thanked God for our trials and looked for the lessons in them rather than complaining about our lot in life. Let’s try to focus on making the best of the present instead of wishing for something better in the future. Let’s see how we can help other people instead of throwing ourselves a pity party. Let’s trust God to bring good out of every circumstance in our lives.

Do you ever feel like God doesn’t answer your prayers? I do. Particularly lately, I feel like He is ignoring my requests for pain relief. Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us that He is able to do so much more than we could ask or imagine. So, if that’s the case, why doesn’t He heal me? Perhaps because He is doing something beyond my imagination. Perhaps He has a better plan in mind. I can’t conceive what that might be, but isn’t that what this verse is all about?

In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul makes some pretty bold requests—essentially that we would have the power and knowledge of Christ within us, and in fact have Christ Himself within us. Yet, Paul believed not only that God was able to accomplish this, but that He was (and since it is in the present tense, still is) able far beyond Paul’s (or our) expectations. Even though Paul seems to be asking a lot, he is in fact not asking too much. We cannot ask too much of God, because whatever we think to ask is well within His power. That does not mean that we will always get things just the way we ask for them. God has purposes beyond what we could imagine as well, and we know that His purposes for us are good. (Romans 8:28, Matthew 7:11) God wants to give us good gifts, but He also wants us to be humble, and to bring Him the glory. He wants our requests to be made according to His will. (John 15:7, John 14:13-14)

The beginning of Ephesians 3:20 talks about the power that is working within us. If we allow Christ to work through us, and in us, we will be much more effective. God’s desire is to make us more like Jesus, and in order to accomplish this, we need to do things His way. I know that it isn’t easy to give up control, but if we give it to God, life can be so much better than we imagine. God’s grace and mercy and love and power will never run out. They are infinite, not limited by our finite minds. His goodness to us will not change; we just need to be willing to accept it, and to allow Him to have the praise and the glory. God sees the end from the beginning and we can trust that He has our best interests at heart.

Today marks seven months since Al Chretien walked away from his van, stranded in northeastern Nevada, to search for help. Summer has come and gone, and he has still not been found. Friends and family have not given up hope, and are requesting your help to do whatever is possible before winter sets in again. Please read the following letter from Hannah Hyland, and do what you can. If you are close to the area, please consider volunteering. If you live too far away to make that possible, please consider speaking to media outlets in your area. And pray. We can all pray.
Dear Friends,

Thank you to the thousands of people around the world who prayed for Al and Rita Chretien this past spring as they were lost in the Nevada wilderness on their drive from Canada to a conference in Las Vegas. We are thrilled and grateful for God’s mercy for Rita’s rescue after 49 days alone in the desert.

But NOW we are re-opening the search for Al, her husband, who has never been found. Al never returned to Rita and their stuck vehicle after going to find help. Rita and their children and grandchildren have not given up hope to find their beloved husband, father and Grampa. Neither have their other family members and many friends.

Read about the story here.

Watch the story here on Lorna Dueck’s TV Show “Context”.

So Thankful for Rita's return. Now urgent to Re-Launch Search for Al!

NOW IN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER -- BEFORE NASTY WEATHER SETS IN, we are asking that a concentrated effort be made to search again for Al Chretien.

What can you do?

1. Contact your local media and encourage them to spread the word about Rita’s rescue and the renewed search for Al.

2. Please Facebook and Twitter the story, and encourage your friends to pass it on.

3. Spread the word to a large network of family, church and community members throughout Canada and the U.S.

4. Contact the Governors of Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah and request their help to re-open a search for Al at this crucial window of opportunity.

5. Praise the Nevada Sheriff and Search Parties for their tireless hours looking for them in the spring… and encourage them to continue the search for Al at

*6. Pray that the Elko County Sheriff will request that available, trained Rescue Dog Teams be sent to search, especially this weekend, Oct.22 and 23.

7. Spread the word that ALL cabins/sheltered areas where Al could have taken refuge be searched.

8. Pray that the many Outfitters and Hunters currently in the area could be contacted and asked to watch for signs of Al's clothing/back pack and hard contents (e.g. GPS, cell phone, charger, Letterman knife, flashlight) that have never been found.

9. Pray for the making and effectiveness of waterproof signs to be posted in the area where Al and Rita were last together. Thanks to a friend who has offered to pick them up in a near-by town of Boise and deliver them to the area.

10. Help distribute SEARCH-ALERT notices.

11. If Al is still alive somewhere, please pray that God will be very close and comfort him until we can find him.

Rita and her family have not given up hope and they are so grateful that we care. Please join with us to hope, pray, spread the word, and help in other practical ways. Please pass this on.......

With prayers and gratitude,
Hannah Hyland,

Rita’s friend and neighbour in Penticton, B.C.

For ideas or more info, contact

On September 29, 2012, Albert Chretien's body was found by elk hunters, 11 kilometres from where the van had been stranded. He had been going in the right direction to find help, but the terrain was steep and wooded, and the snow was up to ten feet deep at the time. His body was found intact with identification still in his pocket.

Although there seems to be less media coverage about it this time, Harold Camping is again predicting the end of the world. His last prediction was that the world would end on May 21, 2011. Now he predicts that it will end on October 21, 2011--today. What I said then still applies, so I am sharing it with you again.

Have you heard? Harold Camping has predicted that tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is judgement day, and that at 6:00 p.m. God will destroy the world. Aside from the fact that there is no Biblical support for the fact that the world will be destroyed at the moment of Jesus’ second coming, let’s focus on whether or not it will happen at all rather than how. The Bible tells us that only the Heavenly Father, not Jesus, not the angels, no one but the Heavenly Father, knows the appointed time. (Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42, Matthew 24:50, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7)

Further, 1 Thessalonians 5:1 tells us that we don’t need to know. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 5:1-11), he recognizes what they already know and then goes on to tell them, and us, what we need to focus on instead. He states that he doesn’t need to write about the ‘when’, because they are already aware of the fact that it will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. Paul says that it will come upon them when everyone is talking about peace and security, so the mere fact that Camping is predicting it, makes it very unlikely that it will happen tomorrow.

Paul instructs us to act as children of the light—to encourage each other, build each other up, and to act as though Jesus might return at any moment, because of course He might. We need to protect our hearts by putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and protect our minds by putting on the helmet of hope. Our hope for salvation is not a matter of wishful thinking, but a matter of confident expectation if we have accepted the gift of Christ’s sacrifice for us and have made Him Lord of our lives.

I think what bothers me more than anything about Camping’s prediction is that he says, “There is hope for anyone who humbly cries, who begs, and beseeches God that maybe they, too, might become saved.” This is close to the truth, but it has some flaws, and that is just what Satan does. He’s a master of deception. II Corinthians 11:14-15 tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Whether Camping is intentionally misleading people, or whether he is just deceived himself is not for me to judge, but the truth is that the gift of salvation is available to anyone who asks. (John 1:12, John 3:17-18, John 20:31, Acts 2:21, Acts 10:43) Camping quotes Romans 6:23, but only the first part, that the wages of sin is death. He neglects the second part that assures us that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ died so that we could live forever. If we have accepted that, we have no need to fear.

In my last post, I discussed Paul’s teaching that we are justified by faith and faith alone. James 2:14-26 is often seen as a contradiction of Paul, but what James said was not directed at Paul, and for that matter what Paul said had not been directed at James. Paul was speaking to a group of people who felt that they could earn their righteousness by obeying the law to the letter, and often to the point of neglecting mercy and compassion. James was speaking to his brothers and sisters—those who already claimed to have a faith in God but were not showing it in their actions.

James is not saying that we need to have both faith and works in order to earn salvation. If that were the case, we would be claiming that Christ is not our only saviour, but that we are saviours for ourselves. This is not supported in the rest of scripture at all, and it is not what James is teaching either. Faith in Christ is all we need for salvation, but true faith is more than just saying so; it is more than just intellectual agreement. That is an essential first step, but it is not the last step. True faith naturally results in obedience to Christ, and in the character of Christ being displayed through us. Good works are the only way that other people will be able to see our faith.

If we were to go to court to claim our innocence in some matter, we would be judged on our actions; that is how the jury would decide if what we said is true. The same principle applies to our faith. Our actions are the evidence that shows the world that our faith is real. Good works are the fruit of the tree that has faith as its root. You are known by the fruit that you bear. (Matthew 12:33)

It is a case of what motivates us. Are we doing what we believe is right, as Paul’s audience was, because we are trying to earn gold stars, or are we doing what we believe God wants us to do because we love Him and want to serve Him? Ephesians 2:8-10 ties it all together for us. We are saved by faith, but we were designed to do good works.

In Romans 5:1-11 Paul discusses the benefits of being justified by faith. Years ago, I memorized Romans 5:1-2 in the New International Version: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

First of all, we are justified by faith. I once heard someone define the term justified as “just [as] if I’d” never sinned. Through faith, and only by faith, we are worthy to share in the benefits that Paul describes here. They are gifts given through the grace of God to those who believe. The NET Bible translates “justified” as “declared righteous”. We don’t start out righteous, but we don’t have to clean ourselves up before we can be accepted by God. All we have to do is have faith, believe. (Romans 4:3-5)

The term peace here does not simply mean a contented feeling, but a state of peace. It is not the peace of God, but peace with God. We are not on opposing sides. We can join God’s team, and the only way to get on the team is if we are justified by faith. And this is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus acts as a mediator for us to reconcile us to God. As soon as we make the decision, we are at peace with God. So, our faith plus Jesus gets us access to God’s grace. We no longer have to worry about God’s wrath because He is surrounding us with His grace, His undeserved favour. It was grace that allowed us to be justified by faith in the first place.

This all brings us to the hope of the glory of God. Hope, as it is used in the New Testament, is not defined as wishful thinking but as expectation. We expect to see the glory of God; we are looking forward to seeing the glory of God—to see God as He truly is. We know that we will see God clearly in eternity, but we can also see glimpses of God’s glory now if we keep our spiritual eyes open. (Titus 2:11-13, I Corinthians 13:12)

Sometimes we can get discouraged by all the things that we have to face in life, and maybe we sometimes think that God is punishing us. He’s not. It’s true that we may have to face the consequences of our unwise choices, but this is not punishment, because, if we are justified by faith, we are no longer under God’s wrath. If we dwell on the promises of these two verses, perhaps our hope will be renewed. What we are going through today is small in the light of eternity. Even still, God is on our side.


Sometimes we do things we regret. That was certainly the case for David before he wrote Psalm 86. In II Samuel 11 we read about David’s regrets…mistakes…sins—adultery, deception and conspiracy to murder. That’s a lot to feel bad about. So, when in Psalm 86:11 David prays that the Lord would teach him how to live, it is an earnest prayer. He wants to be wholeheartedly committed to God. The King James Version uses the term “unite my heart”. In the New International Version, David prays for an “undivided heart”. He realizes that if his heart isn’t entirely focused on God, he will go down the wrong path, but he also sees that he needs God’s help to do it. He knows that what is impossible for humans is possible for God. (Luke 18:27)

His vow, in Psalm 86:12, to praise God forevermore, is also sincere. His reason is shown in Psalm 86:13. David knows that what he has done is deserving of death, but God in His great mercy has forgiven him. God is deserving of our praise simply because He is God, but His love and mercy toward David provided so much more motivation. David vowed not only to praise God, but to do it with enthusiasm, and to do it forever.

It is likely that most of the people reading this have not sinned to the same degree that David did in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah. But even the most noble among us are dependent on God’s grace to save us. We cannot save ourselves. (Ephesians 2:4-9) God wants us all to be completely devoted to Him. He wants us to ask for His help to live the way we should. He is ready and willing to give it, along with His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. He has provided His Word so that we can learn more about His ways, but it takes commitment. We need to choose each day to put Him first, to praise Him and to give Him the glory.

Because of the challenging circumstances in my life right now which make it difficult for me to spend time at my computer, I am going to be sharing some of my earlier posts with you over the next little while. The first one, appropriately, looks at changing plans. I hope it will encourage you.


Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. For that matter, it might be more accurate to say that usually things don’t go according to plan. Our plans anyway. That was certainly the case for Joseph, whose story is told in Genesis 37-50. Let me give you the condensed version in case you are not familiar with the story.

Joseph was his father Jacob’s favourite son which made his brothers jealous. When he was a teenager Joseph had a dream that was interpreted to mean that one day his brothers would bow down to him. This didn’t endear him to his brothers, who then conspired to kill him. One brother opposed the killing, but was willing to leave him stranded in a well, with the intention of coming back to rescue him later. In the meantime the other brothers came up with a different plan—to sell him as a slave. Joseph was taken to Egypt where he worked for Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and made a pass at him. When Joseph refused her, she accused him of trying to rape her. Joseph was thrown into prison where some time later he interpreted the dreams of two other prisoners. Eventually one of them remembered him to Pharaoh--when Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted. The interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream led to Joseph being put in charge of storing food for the famine that was to come, which saved the lives of many people including Joseph’s brothers who in desperation came to Egypt in search of food. Joseph chose to forgive his brothers, but when their father died the brothers feared that Joseph would seek revenge. Joseph’s answer to them is Genesis 50:20: What you meant for evil, God meant for good.

God’s plans are not thwarted by the deeds of humans. Because our perspective is so limited, it is difficult for us to really understand how things can possibly work out for good when we are in the midst of terrible situations. I’m sure there must have been times when Joseph wondered why all these horrible things were happening to him, but he trusted God. That is significant in itself since Joseph didn’t have the benefit of written scripture to encourage him. Yet he must have had a good relationship with God, because scripture now tells us that the Lord was with Joseph, and Joseph continued to do the right things despite being physically harmed, sold into slavery and falsely accused and imprisoned.

Thankfully we get to see the end of Joseph’s story, and see that things worked out for the best. Joseph saved not only his own family members, but also many Egyptians and whatever foreigners came to Egypt in search of food. And because the Israelites were saved in Egypt, they went on to become a great nation. Through the Israelites, Jesus came into the world, and brought salvation for all. So Joseph saved more lives than he could have at that time imagined. Joseph surely knew the promise that God had made to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-16), and he trusted God to fulfill it.

You may be in a struggle right now that you can’t see the end of. You don’t know what will come of it, but God does. He already knows what the ending will be. I hope that you are able to look back at previous struggles and see how they worked out, and maybe that will give you some encouragement to keep going, and to keep doing what is right in God’s eyes. (Galatians 6:9) God has a good plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11) Trust Him to fulfill it.