My Novel!

Here is the planned cover of my upcoming novel. Hope you like it!

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Novel Contest!

I’m excited to announce that the manuscript for my mystery novel “Scars” has been selected by Word Alive Press as the winner of their fiction novel contest. It should be published within the next 6-12 months.

http://wordalivepress.ca/contest_winner

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The Garden Tomb

My wife and I recently returned from a tour of Israel. The whole trip was amazing. We were overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds and the sheer spiritual magnitude of the trip. It was hosted by Michael W. Smith and included, among others, worship times lead by him at the southern steps of the Temple Mount, the Mount of Beatitudes, and the Sea of Galilee.

While we were there we also encountered two versions of where Jesus Christ may have been crucified and buried. Our guide presented both to us, touring us through both locations and carefully avoiding any declaration of which one he believed to be correct. Rather he asked us to prayerfully consider both and see which we felt to be true in our spirits.

The more prominent and well known was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This site was chosen after Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, had a dream that it was there that Christ had died. When excavating the site, three ancient wooden crosses were found. Given that the Romans likely crucified thousands after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, this should not actually be that surprising.

While the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is on a hill, (Jerusalem is build on a hundred hills), there is no large rocky prominence. There is a large boulder inside the church and this is traditionally believed to be where the Crucifixion took place. It is said that when Christ died his blood ran down and split the rock, revealing Adam’s skull at its base. Hence the Place of the Skull or Golgotha. The Church was a beautiful old building but one whose history has been marred by infighting, violence and even death amongst the different denominations vying for influence and supremacy.

The other site was the Garden Tomb. This is located by a large rocky outcrop which clearly resembles a human skull. This appearance was even more definite in the past, prior to an earthquake which damaged the hill and broke off its “nose”. Photographs of the locale give easy credence to it being the Place of the Skull.

Within a short distance of the hill, archeological digs have revealed evidence of an ancient garden and vineyard, including a wine press, dating from the time of Christ. Mere meters away from the wine press is a tomb carved into the rock. While the round stone used to bar the entrance is gone, the track in which is was laid is clearly visible. A tomb such of this would have belonged to a wealthy family or individual—such as Joseph of Arimathea.

Ultimately however, it really does not matter where Christ was crucified; where he was buried. What matters is that he willingly went to the cross and paid the price—the price for our salvation. He died and was buried. But three days later he rose again. Death was defeated and a new covenant was made, sealed by his blood. A way for us to have our sins forgiven, to become adopted children of God, and to have eternal life.

That’s what does matter.

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Driving in New Zealand

Driving around New Zealand was quite the experience. It was exciting, enjoyable, and scenic. It was also a bit nerve wracking, difficult, and strange. First off, they drive on the wrong side of the road. (Obviously, the side we drive on is the correct side. After all, it is the right side!) Since the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, it’s not really too difficult to figure out what side to drive on; just steer close to the middle of the road. Of course, it is possible to experience some difficulty in turning, especially turning right, and going into the correct lane, (not that this bothered me too much, just a dozen times or so.)

The Kiwi’s do not believe in building straight roads. Now, this is often made necessary by the plethora of hills, mountains, canyons and lakes, but even when none of these are around they still add curves. Guard rails and shoulders are also considered unnecessary luxuries, especially in the mountains. But the most interesting thing to encounter while driving in New Zealand is the bridges.

I can imagine a conversation that took place a decade or three ago between the Minister of Highways, the Minister of Finance, and the rest of the Cabinet. The Highways Minister approached his colleague to say, “I have the final estimates for our road building plans. We have determined that we need to build another ten thousand bridges.”

The Finance Minister was aghast. “We can’t do that. We can only afford to build five thousand bridges.”

“Well, what do you propose? We can’t have people driving into ravines or rivers.”

The Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke up. “That might be bad for tourism.”

“Mind your own business,” the Finance Minister replied before turning back to the Minister of Highways. “You’ll just have to think of something else.”

“Hmmm, well, what if we build ten thousand half bridges?”

“What?  Build them half way across a canyon? That’s hardly a solution.”

“No, no. We’ll make them only one lane wide. That way they won’t cost as much.”

“Won’t people notice?”

“Not until it’s too late. And besides, they’ll just be happy to have any sort of a bridge.”

The Foreign Minister couldn’t help himself. “But what about the tourists? Won’t they be frightened by a one lane bridge?”

The Minister of Finance just smirked. “No, we’ll just tell them it’s a new form of bungee jumping!”

“Works for me.”

 

The reality is we need bridges. Without them, whether one lane or four lane, we would be stuck on the wrong side; the wrong side of a river, the wrong side of a ravine, the wrong side of life. There is a chasm greater than anything you’ve ever seen. It’s greater than the Grand Canyon, deeper than the Mariana Trench, wider than the Pacific. It is the gap between us and God. It is the sin that separates us from God and from his gift of eternal life. Nothing we can do can bridge that gap. On our own, we can never cross the chasm.

We don’t have to. Someone else paid the price. Someone else bridged the gap. We only have to believe and accept.

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity–the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

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A Tent in the Storm

tent-in-a-storm

One evening this past summer we were out at the lake when a fierce storm arose. Heavy rain, strong winds and hail. We were very glad to be in our cottage and were concerned about anyone who might be camping out. A tent is not a good place to be in a storm.

I experienced that once. I was travelling with some friends through Wisconsin and late one evening we pulled into a private campground. The sign on the office said park anywhere and so we did. We found a lovely patch down the hill beside a grove of trees. We did not know that 50 feet away was a small creek. We did not know that this small creek would become a river if it rained for three days in a row. We also did not know that it had already been raining for two days.

I pitched my little pup tent and settled in for the night. About midnight it started raining hard, and after a bit my tent began to leak. I gave up and hastily retreated to the car. One of the fellows was already in the back seat so I hopped in the front and propped my feet on the dash. We were soon joined by our other friend. Just before dawn my foot slipped of the dash and made a strange sound. Sploosh. Water was coming in the car. I quickly started it up and drove further up the hill.

We stood in awe and watched this sudden unexpected river flow past us. Where my pup tent was the water was at least four feet deep, and I had to wade out to save it as it started to drift away. We weren’t sure if we should laugh or cry. We could only shake our heads and be glad that it had at least stopped raining and that the sun was shining. Within 24 hours the river was gone and the little creek was back to what it had been before. We recovered a few more items caught in the branches of the trees, dried everything out and went on our way.

These days it seems that a lot of people are worried that a storm is coming. It may be a natural storm, or it could be political, economic or social one. Whatever it may be, many are worried about where they will be when it hits. Will they be safe or will the storm wash everything away? The funny thing is when the coming storm hits, it won’t matter what you are living in, how much wealth you have, or how prepared you think you are.

It will all depend upon relationship.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians: 1-10

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Renovation Wars

renovation-cartoon

A couple years ago, we were away on holidays and received a frantic phone call from our daughter. Saskatchewan had been having one of the wettest summers on record and that week Moose Jaw had about 6 inches of rain. The end result was an overwhelmed storm system and water and sewage backing up into basements, including ours.

Fortunately, we had insurance and were able to get the basement redone. Everything looked great—until the next summer when the rains came again. There wasn’t as much this time but the storm drains and sewers were still not up the task and once again many homes in our area got flooding. Once again we were faced with needing to repair a damaged basement.

Insurance would still cover us but we knew it would be the last time. Indeed, our insurer advised us that another claim would only be honored up to a small limit. We decided we needed to do some other changes first to try to prevent more flooding. A couple of interconnected sump pumps and a complete upgrade of drainage around the house, including sixty feet of pipe on each downspout to carry away rainwater, and we were ready to proceed.

By this time we had found an excellent contractor, our son Jared, who after finishing the sump pumps proceeded with the renovation of the basement. This is when I started to see one of the problems with renovations—they’re addicting. My wife got excited about what was happening in the basement and started getting more ideas. Out with the dated green carpet on the second floor and in with hardwood flooring. New light fixtures. A new bathroom mirror. Maybe redo the closet? I’m starting to think about taking her to shoe stores just to get her off the hard stuff.

I’ve been through some renovations myself. They were very hard and very easy at the same time. Very expensive and totally free. And completely worth it.

“A new heart I shall give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

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Enough already!

assault rifles

When will enough be enough?

We started the week with yet another news story of yet another mass shooting in the United States. It was the biggest yet with fifty people killed, including the gunman, and another fifty-three wounded. One man armed with a legally obtained assault rifle and pistol was able to walk into a crowded night club and murder a mass of innocent people. Is it ever going to stop?

I heard an interview in which someone said that they hoped things would change now, that this latest tragedy would cause people’s viewpoint to shift. I don’t have a lot of hope.

Things didn’t change after the Colorado theatre shooting. They didn’t change after Sandy Hook. They didn’t change after Columbine. Why should we think things might change now?

America seems to have a love affair with guns and violence. It was established with the concept that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately the pursuit of the latter two seems to require the right to bear arms and this has come into direct conflict with the first, the right to life. (It’s also quite a contrast to a Canadian’s promised rights to peace, order and good government!)

Lately, every attempt to reduce or curtail the gun culture in the States has resulted in howls of protests and angry accusations that the government in infringing on citizen’s rights. Now, I am not anti-gun. I grew up on a farm surrounded by hunters and I still love the taste of venison. I think that Canada’s now defunct long gun registry did nothing to improve public safety and only put an unfair burden on farmers, ranchers, and legitimate hunters. But I cannot fathom the need for automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons with fifty round clips. These are not for hunting. At least, not for hunting animals.

So, when will it be enough? When will things change?

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:3-4)

That’s when things will change. Then and only then. Until then . . . .

Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:5)

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