Thanksgiving Day

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This year, while in the midst of the COVID pandemic, one may ask, am I really supposed to rejoice and give thanks? We know that we don’t have to be thankful “for” COVID, but yes in the “midst” of the pandemic we are called to give thanks.

As I thought about our situation in these days, I thought back to stories from my mom and dad about living under German occupation in WWII. The German army walked through the Netherlands and took whatever they wanted from the people. My parents both lived with their families in the countryside of southern Holland. My dad, as a young man was forced to drive a truck with sandbags to help keep the dams of southern Holland shored up. My mom was forced to peel potatoes and onions for the German army.

The families of both my parents lived on a few raw vegetables they had hidden in the field. My mom’s family lived on raw turnips for several weeks. Both families were believing families and my parents spoke of thankfulness for safety, for enough food to stay alive and for life itself. Maybe COVID-19, although a bit scary, isn’t so bad after all?

The Bible calls us to be thankful for and content with everything we have. Our family, health, meals we can share with loved ones, and of course life itself – all are precious gifts from the Lord. But discontent, greed, or fear doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate and treasure the precious gifts of life. Turn fully to the Lord and know his provision and protection. And oh YES give thanks!

We don’t know what the future holds. We might have to go through difficult times of having only turnips or raw veggies – or worse. But as the children of God we are assured of his continuous love and care. The Lord himself is our helper in this uncertain, sometimes scary life.

Father in heaven, thank you for being our consistent helper and protector. Give us a heart of contentment and thanksgiving! Through Jesus, your Son, Amen.


Deuteronomy 23:1-14
For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.                                                                                                       Verse 14 (NIV)

We have all become familiar with the concepts and terminology of isolation and quarantine these days. Once 14 days are passed and there are no signs of COVID-19 a person is declared virus free and allowed to integrate with their group of people or within their “social bubble.”

Our text today makes it clear that not everyone was allowed into the presence of God – only those who were clean. Israelites who were unclean according to the law needed cleansing before they could join the worship of God’s people. Some conditions prevented people from worship for life – an almost unbearable burden, if not for the Day of Atonement. Others were not allowed to join in worship because they opposed God’s people. In these ways God taught the people to reflect his holiness in the community. Nothing could stain the purity or break the wholeness.

The reality is that we are all sinners and we are all stained, broken and flawed. So, we give thanks that Christ came to cleanse his people from their sin, to open the way for all who are broken in body, in spirit, and in heart to enter into the assembly of the faithful. That’s what Philip told a eunuch from Ethiopia, and he was baptised (Acts 8:26-40).

Confession of sin and belief in Christ break the quarantine that keeps us from God. How very blessed we are to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. Offer him your heart and life, that you may be given new life in him today.

Pray: “Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to cleanse my sins by your blood, and please live in my soul forever. In your name I pray. Amen.

God’s Protection

Isaiah 43:1-5
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Verse 2 (NIV)

The year 2020 will be one all of us remember as a year we would rather not have again, because of dealing with the COVID19 virus.

I am so content in knowing that God understands the struggles of his people. Through Isaiah, God assured Israel of his power and presence as they were oppressed in exile. God reminded them of his power in the past, and God pointed to his promised presence now and for the future. The Red Sea had not swept over them as they left Egypt (Exodus 14), and in Babylon a fiery furnace would not burn Daniel’s friends (Daniel 3). God promised, “You are mine,” and “I will be with you always.”

The comfort in this passage, that God never let’s go as we face all kinds of dangers and struggles, is for God’s people both as a group and even for us as individuals. Nothing can destroy the people whom God has called, so we need not be afraid.

This year also brought our family some additional issues to deal with: heart surgery early in the year for me; the adoption process for our youngest son has been a series of problems and confusion, but in the end will be accomplished; our foster son was in the CCU at Sick Children’s hospital with Kawasaki Disease; my younger brother had heart surgery and a few weeks later was in a very serious car accident that kept him in hospital for weeks. I am not sure I want any more difficult issues to handle this year. But God did not allow us to be swept away, or burned, or even to lose hope.

We are blessed to know that almighty God personally promises to be our shield of protection as we navigate the harsh struggles of living in a fallen and broken world.

Almighty God and Loving Father, help me to trust you when life feels overwhelming and I am pummeled with problems. Thank you that I am precious to you and that your love is eternal. Amen.

Dying To Live

Matthew 16:21-28
“Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Verse 25 (NIV)

Early in my days as a house builder I recall an accident that happened to my boss. A sheet of plywood was picked up by the wind, came flying directly toward us and we ducked. Unfortunately, my boss was six foot, four inches tall and he caught the edge of the sheet right on the head. It peeled his scalp back a good three inches. Two weeks later there was an infection that needed to be rooted out. In order to pull the skin back to clean the infection, they had to loosen the skin around the infected area and literally pull it all together. Believe it or not, they used two buttons so they would not tear the skin. The result: he got a free face lift and the wrinkles that were in his forehead were gone. Behold – A New Man.

The life of Christian discipleship aims to follow that pattern of removing toxic things from our lives every day. To surrender to Jesus is to “die to live,” giving over to him our sin, our wounds, and all our baggage so that he may refill us with new life through the Holy Spirit. It’s much more complex than an infection that was cleaned out, and the results are literally life changing.

The seeming paradox of finding our lives by losing them is a bit hard to grasp. This doesn’t come ­naturally to us. But when we take time to reflect on this call to change, we will see that dying to live is a journey of joy, gratitude, and grace.

I sometimes imagine what a Sunday service would look like if everyone prayed before coming to the church service, “Lord, please show me anew how to die for you.” I pictured communities in which the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and more – could grow in abundance as toxins were cleaned out. That’s the fruit of a community that is dying to live.

Jesus, thank you for inviting me into full life with you. Help me to see what you need to clean out as I live with you. Amen.

Safe at Home! 


Psalm 91. Verse 1 – Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 


At a meeting of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank I spoke with a well-seasoned aid worker who told me the following story:  I met a refugee and asked her a number of questions through an interpreter. One question was “What is your favorite text in the Bible?” Without any hesitation she said, “Psalm 91.” When I asked why, she shared that she had been moving every six to nine months for her physical safety, but in her spirit she was safe in the Lord. 

I will never forget that story of faith and trust. That being said, the tension we face in life is that even though we may “dwell in the shelter of the Most High” and “rest in the shadow of the Almighty,” we have to deal with troubles and daily struggles.  For some people they even have to face deadly diseases and terrorizing attacks. The psalmist understood that this world is filled with uncertainties—and yet there is a place of safety. We can go up against giants like Covid19 and have to flee for our lives from dangerous enemies, and still we can be in a safe place with the Almighty. 

The question each of us has to ask ourselves is this: “What is our dwelling place? What is our shelter or safety net?” If it is our money, family, home, or work, or even government safeguards, they will all crumble. The enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy. But the one place of safety in the universe from which no one can snatch us is “in the shelter of the Most High.” Our risen and ascended Lord has promised, “My sheep listen to my voice … and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and … no one will ever snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). In Christ we will always be at home, safe and secure.


Lord Jesus, we praise you for the security and peace we have in you, regardless of what we experience in life. Amen.