Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Doughnut That Lasted 47 Years

Recently Neal, a man in his upper sixties, was visiting with a fellow who’s about five years his junior. The younger man has not had an easy path in life. Neal, a committed Jesus Follower, had met with this man on a couple of occasions. This man, I’m not sure of his name but for now I’ll call him John, was sharing with Neal what was for him a significant incident in from early in life that still affected him all these years later.

John was born into a very poor family that lived on the edge of a small village in Sothern Manitoba. He did not do well in school; in fact he told Neal that he was the only student in the fourth grade with a driver’s licence. John, having come from a very rough home, was a consistent disruption in the class and was constantly getting into mischief. He was certainly no stranger to the principal’s office or to the strap, but the discipline didn’t change his behavior.

The teacher for the grade four to eight class was a young man just out of university. He was only about five years older than John. This particular occaission, rather than send John to the principal’s office for the routine strapping, the young teacher instead told John to meet him at his car after school.

Not sure of what to expect, John arrived at the car and was invited to get in. They travelled to the next town, which was a little bigger, and stopped at the coffee shop. The teacher took John inside and bought him a coffee and a doughnut. John told Neal that it was the first doughnut he’d ever had. He couldn’t remember what they talked about, but the simple, caring act of buying a doughnut for a troubled kid had an impact that affected him to this day.

When Neal found out that the teacher’s name was Henry Banman, he began to grin. You see, Neal and Henry have been lifelong friends. As it turns out Henry, who now lives in Alberta, was going to be visiting soon, and Neal immediately began to plan a surprise blessing for his old friend.

When I heard that story I immediately recalled Jesus’ words in Matt 25:40. “Whatever you did for someone overlooked or ignored, you did to me.” What will you do this week that will resonate not just in this lifetime, but for eternity?

By the way, I heard this story from my Father-in-law, Henry Banman. He still buys people doughnuts, and meals, and occasionally even a vehicle.


Fried Chicken & The Sovereignty of God

What does the sovereignty of God mean to you in the everyday? It seems to me that for many of us it is little different from living under the sovereignty of our governments. We obey the laws and pay our taxes, but really, the focus of our day to day lives is not fixed on our submission to its authority. So how do we live intimately with God’s sovereignty? It all comes down to our desires. What do I desire most? I think I can explain it with fried chicken.

Imagine I had a desire for fried chicken, the kind my mom used to make. There is nothing wrong with that desire, but what happens if I come home and Wendy has instead made chicken stir-fry? My desire has been frustrated. How do I respond to a frustrated desire? In some cases a frustrated desire may make me try harder to fulfill it.  If that’s not possible I may get grouchy and complain, or I could get sullen and morose, I could maybe just shrug it off and pretend it doesn’t matter. I may even try to be noble and make a conscious decision to put Wendy’s desires for stir-fry ahead of my own desire for fried chicken. None of those responses, at least in and of themselves, involves living intimately under God’s sovereignty over my life.

When I am intimately aware of God’s sovereignty in my life my frustrated desires point me to my greatest desire, Jesus Christ. I have been using the first phrase of Psalm 62 to help me with this. “My soul finds rest in God alone.”  In God alone.  Not in God and fried chicken, but in God alone.

My soul finds rest in God alone.  Understand I am stretching the meaning of “rest” to include fulfillment, contentment, protection, strength, hope etc, etc.  So I ask myself, is that true of me when I don’t get my fried chicken or whatever desire was? My soul finds rest in God alone.  Imagine how that might change not just my response to frustrated desires, but could change my whole frame of mind for the day; my whole purpose for the day.

But hold on. What if Wendy had made me fried chicken? What if my desire was fulfilled? Where then is the intimacy of the sovereignty of God? Oh sure we may be grateful to God and that’s a good place to start, but can I honestly confess that my soul finds “rest” in God alone? I enjoy the fulfilment of my desire, but does that fulfiilment point me toward a greater desire?  That is where truly acknowledging God’s sovereignty in my life is proved.

My soul finds rest in God alone.  Aaron Keys has a song based on Psalm 62 that has helped me remember and focus and meditate on that truth by putting music to the words.  You can listen to it here:  I have found myself repeating that little phrase a number of times during most days of late. And as I reflect I am made sharply aware that I haven’t repeated it often enough. My soul finds rest in God alone, whether I get fried chicken or not.

Life would be great if only. . .

What would it take to make your life work? I mean what would have to change so that your life would be satisfying and fulfilling; so that you could be content? I’m not even talking about pie in the sky type of stuff like winning the lottery or something outrageous like that. Maybe it’s something simple like for your kids to start getting along, or even nobler, if they would begin to follow Jesus. Maybe it’s your own walk with God; if you could just stop sinning. Maybe it’s a career goal or a new career altogether. It could even be your health or if you could just lose those pounds and get rid of that gut then . . .
These things are what the Bible calls idolatry. Not in and of themselves, but when we depend on them or the acquiring of them for our satisfaction in life they become to us idols. Every one of us struggles with idolatry. Let me give you a personal example.
I have been working on a course in counseling, not the psychoanalytical sort of counseling, but counseling that is based on relationship. I’m really sold on this approach and my goal has been to become certified to teach it. A number of months ago I heard about a new ministry that aims to equip young men and women to be spiritual leaders. I was very impressed with what they wanted to do but here’s the really cool part: the training center is in Mexico on the Gulf coast! I began thinking that this counselling training would fit very well with what they are doing. Now, this is nothing but a dream and even at that some years down the road, but you never know.
Sounds pretty good right? Nothing idolatrous about that. But last week I was sharing this with someone and he made the suggestion that maybe we should begin a training center like that up here in cold Alberta. (Ok, he didn’t say cold) Immediately my stomach dropped and my heart said “Noooo!” In that moment I knew that I had allowed that dream to begin to become an idol.
So how do you not let good things become idols? The first step is to identify your idols and admit they are there. If you are a Jesus Follower your deepest desire is to find your ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. It’s there because he put it there. Confess your idolatry and he will help you restore your desires to their rightful priority.