Encouragement From The Word

O, happy day?!

Do you have any irrational fears?  That’s typically what a “phobia” is:  an irrational fear, or a superstition.  Remember, “Walk on a crack, break your mother’s fridayback”?  Or how about “bad luck” for 7 years if you break a mirror.  All silliness…right?

Today is Friday the 13th.  Motorcycle enthusiasts in Ontario love this day, because they typically take the day off and ride their hogs to the otherwise idyllic town of Port Dover, Ontario, for a rally.  But some people have irrational fears about the number thirteen, especially when it lands on a Friday.

Any of these superstitions and phobias may haunt us as children, but hopefully, we grow out of them.  And as followers of Jesus, we don’t believe in “bad luck” anyway; we don’t even believe in “good luck”, because, as Christian writer Wayne Oates put it in his book title, luck is a “secular faith”.

In some ways, saying “good luck” to someone, if we stop to think about it, is about the same as saying, “May the force be with you.”  It may be intended as well-wishing, but in the end it is quite impersonal.

One of my university professors, a good Dutch Calvinist, never wished us good luck when giving us an examination; rather, he said, “I wish you the best of success.”  In other words, he wanted us to do well, but he knew that there was no impersonal force, or luck, that was going to help us at this stage; if we hadn’t studied, we were up the creek.  But he wanted us to succeed.

As followers of Jesus, we don’t need impersonal forces to aid us; we have the God of the universe!  Who needs “luck” or “the force” when we have the Lord of heaven and earth?!

I hope that Friday the 13th is for you, as it is for me, another day to praise the Lord and live for him – not a day to put off otherwise healthy and excellent activity.  Enjoy the day!

I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps” (Psalm 121.1-4, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

An anniversary marked, a journey continued

The week had been very warm – not unlike what we’re experiencing today.  And the inside of the worship space of the church had just been painted, so there was that peculiar smell of oil-based paint in the air.  But, by God’s grace, a cold front had come in, and brought cooler weather on May 31, 1994 – nineteen years ago today.  The windows could be opened and the space could be aired out.

It was a good thing, too, that the air had cooled down, for there would be close to two hundred people file into the pews of Knox Church, Tara, that evening.  It would be a warm place, irrespective of the weather.

A young man had been educated, and examined by the Presbytery.  And that night, he would have many hands laid on him as a symbol of his ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacraments.  It was a big step on what would become a lifelong journey.

Little did he know the entire scope of what would be involved in all of those responses of, “I do,” and, “I will, God being my helper.”  The journey would not be without its bumps and struggles, but it would likewise not be without its joys and blessings.

Someone once said that any journey begins with the first step.  How often are we afraid to take that first step, because we don’t know what the future holds?  In one sense, that’s where faith comes in:  faith in the process as it unfolds, and, of course, faith in God to guide and encourage us on the journey, whatever it may be.

Trusting God is not only about our eternal salvation; it’s also a daily decision in the matters of the here-and-now, as well as future planning.  Each day we make decisions which can, and should, involve both spiritual discernment and trust in the God we worship.  We are invited to trust God to do what the Psalmist proclaimed:  “The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever” (Psalm 121.7-8, NLT).

Nineteen years ago today, a young man took a big step on the journey of life and ministry.  And he still trusts the Lord to watch over his coming and going.  Here’s a picture of that young man and his young bride.  He had more hair back then!ordination night

May you have such confidence in the Lord, to trust him to keep watch over everything you do, every step you take on the journey of life.