No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Duncan Perry

 

Are you a Fan or a Follower?

A friend of mine told me of a book he was reading. The title of it is, Are You a Fan or a Follower?

I haven’t read this book, but I understand from my friend, that it has to do with our relationship with Jesus. According to what I have understood, the writer of the book sees a great difference between a fan and a follower. In his view, a fan is one who has some interest in a thing but no real commitment to it. This is in contrast to a follower, who is more dedicated to that particular thing. Let me illustrate by looking at the sport of hockey.

If you were to ask me if I am a fan of a particular hockey team, I would tell you that I am a Montreal Canadiens fan. Ask either of my sons or my daughter, and they will tell you they are Toronto fans. So far, we all seem to be on the same level, just two different teams. 

But let me be honest. I know maybe two players on the Canadiens team. I have no idea what their standing is or if they have any hope of making the playoffs.

Now my sons can tell you anything you want to know about the Leafs. They are probably as knowledgeable about the Leafs as anyone on Hockey Night in Canada. My daughter is more of a fan like me, but my sons, they’re followers. They are sold out Leafs fans.

No matter who wins the Cup, no matter how bad the Leafs play, they support the Leafs. We can rightfully say they are followers, and it’s quite easy to see the difference between their view of hockey and mine.

Now, may I bring that reasoning over into the spiritual realm and consider what I believe the author of the book “Are you a Fan or a Follower” is trying to get across? Many people profess to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today, and where they are in their relationship to Him is no doubt between them and Jesus.

But, Jesus makes an important statement about this in Matt. 7:16. There He talks about knowing a tree by its fruit. For example, He says, “You do not gather grapes from thornbushes”. He goes on to say that, “A good tree will only bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit.” He then uses this illustration to show us the truth about people who profess to follow Him and those who truly follow Him. In verse 21 of this chapter Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

I’m not here to judge. That is not the intent of this column. But, may I ask you, “Would you dare to consider your own life? Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus Christ?”

A fan may be one who believes Jesus Christ is a good person and may even like what Jesus taught. A follower is one who acknowledges that Jesus is God and commits to being obedient to what He taught, and who endeavors to imitate in his or her life, by the help of the Holy Spirit, the life that Jesus lived.

Jesus says, “If you are not willing to take up your cross daily and follow me, you are not worthy of me.”

I pray when all is said and done, and your life is evaluated by God, that He will judge you fit for His kingdom.

He then uses this illustration to show  

Rev. Duncan Perry,

Morrisburg Pentecostal Tabernacle

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No Picture
Opinion

Township budget choices, sure glad it’s not me

 

It’s budget time in South Dundas and the process – at a government level rather than a personal level – is quite eye-opening. Until Monday, when South Dundas started budget deliberations, I’d never been to a municipal budget meeting. 

For those of us who try to live by a budget in our personal lives, it is very similar, yet also very different. In very basic terms, it comes down to calculating expected revenue minus expected (necessary) expenses and determining what should or could be done with the leftover… if there is any. 

In case you haven’t guessed already, I’m not a financial genius and numbers aren’t really my thing. (I prefer words.) I do, however, understand the basic concepts of financial planning and budgeting. From what I could see on Monday, our township council, with the daunting task of planning our financial future, is committed to doing what they think is fair and what they think is best for South Dundas.

In personal finances and budgeting, most people only have to consider themselves and their own family when making choices. Municipally, the township council must take into consideration department requests, public requests, residential tax increases and the financial future of the township itself.

I have one car to budget for… the township has to consider vehicles for the roads department, the fire department, the recreation department, and so on. Nothing is simple. How much will a new vehicle cost? Is it necessary? Is one department more needy than another? 

These are just some of the questions council is faced with when making spending decisions at budget time. If they say ‘yes’ too much in one area, how much will they have to cut in another area in order to keep residential tax increases at an ‘acceptable’ percentage?

In an effort to push the township forward, how much can council comfortably spend if it means going in debt?  Will it be worth it?

Budget time, more than any other time, I think, shows just how much courage it takes to be a political representative. One bad choice and council will be ‘taking heat’ for months, possibly years to come. (For council members who may be reading this… no pressure!) 

All that’s really left for me to say on the subject is this: I’m really glad it’s not me! (In the ‘hot seat.’) -S.C.

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Sue McCullough

 

Lent–What's it all about?

Lent – taken from the German or Dutch word Lenz; known as the season between winter and summer; a time of 40 days before Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter.

The Christian Church called the season before Easter lent. It would have been awfully confusing to tell people that the church season of Lent was in lent. 

So to ease the confusion somewhat the term “spring” was introduced many centuries ago. It literally referred to the springing up of plants and other life as the temperatures warmed up.

Lent in the Christian tradition is that time when we are charged to reflect on our lives and a take stock of who we are. It is a time for preparation for Easter, a time of rededication of the faithful and a time to teach those who are new to Christianity about the faith and to prepare them for baptism. 

This is the time in the church year when I am reminded – and not all that gently – to recommit myself to a lifestyle that is essential to me being a faithful Christian. The liturgy that we Anglicans follow on Ash Wednesday spells it out very plainly. 

We are invited to “observe a holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.” 

Some of the items in this list aren’t all that onerous… especially praying and reading the word of God. 

It’s the self-examination, penitence, and fasting with which most of us struggle.  The question that arises is how can I possibly do all of this?

If we are intentional about observing Lent we will find ourselves being more fully engaging with the path that Jesus walked as he spent 40 days in the wilderness. That time in the wilderness gave him the chance to do all of the things that we are called to do in Lent.

It was the time Jesus needed to prepare for his ministry with the people and ultimately to prepare for his death and resurrection. It is our time to prepare for our own ministries – whatever they might be – and to enter fully into the joy of the resurrection. 

So, my friends, are you up for the challenge??

Blessings, Sue+

P.S. To all of you out there who get to celebrate on the actual date of your birth, Happy Birthday!

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Janet Evans

 

Count Our Blessings

“Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians”

Having had some major surgery on January 26, I try to remind myself of these words  when I feel a little frustrated.

Being housebound has, however, granted me the opportunity to reflect upon how God walks with us on life’s journey.

These weeks have also reminded me of my many blessings.

I give thanks for:

•my friends and parishioners who have sent over casseroles, soup, cookies etc.

•those who have had flowers delivered to my door

•Betty and Bill who have taken me to my doctor’s appointments in Ottawa

•chocolates and prayers

•my husband who is now doing all of the dog walking and most other household chores

•cards and phone calls saying – “just checking in”

It is good to give thanks for those people who touch our days–who are our “angels” here on earth.

Sometimes, life is sad and gray, and we neglect to praise God for His grace. We fail to respect the day. Yet God loves us and will guide us as we greet each new dawn.

This week, I urge everyone to count their blessings. Share of God’s love with another person. Forgive one who has wronged you. Confess your wrongdoings and be reconciled with your neighbour.

And have hope–that in life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are never alone.

Praise be to the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Amen.

Rev. Janet Evans

Iroquois United Church

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No Picture
Opinion

Is That All There Is?

 

Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam, Canada’s own furry heroes, are now the reigning champs of weather prediction!

Ontario’s Willie and Nova Scotia’s Sam both predicted an early spring when they climbed out of their dens on February 2 to examine the weather. Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, who claimed that there would be six more weeks of winter, has definitely been left ‘out in the cold’ in 2012.

Go Canadian Hogs!

Frankly, Old Man Winter has been seriously missing in action in North America this year. Could it be that he packed the camper in early November and headed down south to Florida? Or perhaps he’s flown to Europe (currently coping with one of the coldest winters on record) and taken up residence in an ice palace? The fact is, this winter we’ve experienced no blinding snow falls. No devastating ice storms. No endless sub arctic temperatures. 

It’s been positively boring.

The only thing that some people have to look forward to in this last month of winter may be actually celebrating a birthday for real on February 29!

Climatologists and learned scientists may try to explain our balmy winter weather by pointing to El Nino and the movements of the Gulf Stream and to stable arctic air currents. But we know the real truth. Willie and Sam rule. Groundhog power to the nth degree. Who needs science? 

However, should it turn out that Winter still has some nasty tricks up his sleeve, well, does anyone have a recipe for groundhog stew..?                  

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

Feast of Friendship and Love

What a delight to write a column for Valentine’s Day.  What do I know about the day?  

Well, perhaps like many of you there was the yearly ritual in grade school of making a mailbox out of a shoebox and putting it on the side of your desk.  Then buying or making valentine cards for each person in class, trying to find the right person for the right card, a matching process of sorts.  Treats like cupcakes, heart candies and strawberry punch were shared, and it was reason for a mid-winter party.

Adults like to give and receive Valentine’s Day cards and gifts, too.  I know two people who have sent back and forth the same valentine card over their 30 years of marriage.  They just joke that they are too frugal to buy a new card.  

In fact, the card’s greeting is so meaningful to each person that neither has found another card that offers better sentiments.

Card companies sell more cards for Valentine’s Day than for Christmas.  Internet blogs and social networks go crazy on this day as do the florists.  It is said that men purchase valentines more than any other kind of card.

God sends us a masterpiece of art and love everyday.  We awake and there is hope and possibility for the day.  God’s love for creation and humanity is not defined by colouring in the lines of a card.  

Rather God’s love particularly colours outside the lines so that each of us is unique and loved before, beyond and forever.  We are one-of-a-kind works of God’s love.  

And when we claim God’s goodness and love in our lives, we can share that love and wholeness with others. It is the love that extends from self to other; it is self-giving love that generates integrity and love knowing that the other is also created in God’s image, unique and loved.  It is the living out of the Great Commandment, “to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and one’s neighbour as one’s self.”

Valentine’s Day is that day when we practice self-forgetfulness, which is at the heart of making love–being totally engaged in what you are doing for another person.  

Those who make love daily by self-forgetfulness find ecstasy in celebrating the love they have been making day by day.  Go for it!  May the peace and blessings of the One who is Wholly Love guide and keep you.  

Rev. Arlyce Schiebout

Lakeshore United Church

Morrisburg

 

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives by Rev. Clarence Witten

 

For the Love of Hockey

Tuesday night is a highlight of my week. It’s the night that a bunch of us guys get together at the arena to play some pretty decent hockey – the good old fashioned kind, not part of any league, not played with refs, just two teams going at it. Why?

Why do these guys go to out late in the evening (likely waking up groggy the next morning) to play Canada’s favourite sport week after week? (And there are 10s of 1000s doing the same thing all across this great land of ours.) 

Why? Dreams of glory are long past. If you play too intensely some guy might mutter that there are no scouts in the house. Neither are there any fans in the stands. And of course nobody gets paid a plug nickel.

In fact, after we lose, some guy might say, “No big deal. We’re all getting paid the same.” So why do these guys go out? Sure, it’s to get out and spend time with the guys. And it’s to get a bit of a workout. Some of us older guys (there’s a few of those, no offense) may be trying to offset aging, as if that’ll ever happen.

So why do guys all through the week and in arenas everywhere keep playing? 

I’d venture to say that for the most part it’s for the love of the game. Pure and simple.

When you think about it, that’s why we do lots of things. Out of love. Why do we crawl out of bed and head off to work everyday? Maybe it’s because we love our jobs. And likely needing the money has a lot to do with it. 

But I suggest that for many of us, it’s out of love for our families. Right? Why do we make meals and do laundry for our families? Why do we run ourselves ragged driving our kids here and there? I figure it’s because of love, love, love.

Love for someone or something is a great motivator. Because of love, we buy flowers. Because of love, we help out a buddy. Because of love, we work for the Food Bank. 

When you love, you don’t need a pat on the back for what you do. You don’t need people to notice.

If you get this it’s easy to “get” God. Everything he’s ever done, he did out of love. Think about it. 

Why did he make such a gorgeous world? Out of love for us. Why did he send his son into this world? Out of love for us. Why did his son Jesus suffer and die for the sins of this world. Out of love for us. People really do amazing and even surprising things motivated by love.

Of course the same is true of those who have personally discovered the love God has for them. Overwhelmed by God’s love, they love God in return. That love motivates them to do things for God, things like serving others, caring for the poor, or fighting for justice. They even do things like going to church or living clean lives.

Love. It makes the world go round. It’s why we do much of what we do. Whether it’s staying up late for a game of hockey or waking up early to head off to work. 

The preacher inside me would say, may all that love we see around us (and all it motivates us to do), help us see that love still higher and deeper than all our love put together, God’s. Just as we are, with all our failures, he loves us and offers us forgiveness in his son. In his love he waits for us to respond. To admit our need and receive his love.

 

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No Picture
Opinion

You didn’t ask, but

 

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.” – Bertrand Russell

I’ve found myself faced with a blank page and too many thoughts to count. And, so, I’ve decided to share some opinions and beliefs, which I should confess up front, may be rather unpopular. In any case, whatever I choose to say will come down to my own experience and thoughts on the subject. So, here it goes…

I believe that money is not the barometer for success. Although I do agree it has its uses. Happiness, contentment, love, self-respect… these are the things that predict true success. When all else is lost, what do you have left? Your thoughts, beliefs, and the choices you’ve made. 

I believe that life isn’t supposed to be fair or easy. It’s supposed to be a challenge, which by definition is probably going to be stressful at times and more than a wee bit difficult. Several years ago, I kept hearing “it is what it is” and it drove me crazy! Until… I finally understood that it’s true! Life happens. Things happen. Our role in life is to take things as they come; meet the challenges head on, do our best, and move forward. (I finally stopped saying, “but it’s not fair; it’s not right” and accepted things as they were, moving ever forward from there.)

In keeping with that line of thought, I also believe that our parents are not responsible for who we turn out to be. While they set the foundation, we still remain the captains of our own fate through our own attitudes and choices. We alone choose who we become.

I believe that we as parents have one purpose: to do the best that we can with what we have to give and to always ensure that our children know that they are loved, valued and respected. Without a ‘rule’ book, I believe that parents have to trust their instincts and use empathy when dealing with the hard or sensitive issues that will inevitably arise… probably during those stormy adolescent years.

In a related belief… I strongly believe that a person’s character can best be shown through how they treat those they  have ‘power’ over, like children, pets, employees and so on. Kindness and compassion, I believe, are the keys to a good character.

-SC

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives with Rev. George Frey

 

They shall never hold their peace day or night.

You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, 

– Isaiah 62:6

How refreshing to hear a Christian speak appropriately and freely about their faith, not as a challenge or imposition but as the true expression of their beliefs and commitments.

We live in a world that encourages the silence of the believer, seeking to establish and maintain a barrier against the faithful words of the one who cares about people and has genuine faith in Jesus Christ; which is a combination that always results in telling people about the salvation that is in Christ.

Through tacit social pressures Christians are often intimidated by an unbelieving world; bullied into silence and disobedience, not speaking appropriately and freely as our Lord requires of us.  

We are all missionaries…Wherever we go, we either bring people nearer to Christ, or we repel them from Christ. – Eric Liddell Jesus desires and requires that we confess Him before people. (Matthew 10:32-38) We confirm Jesus when we acknowledge the reality of His person, the quality of the life He lived, and the eternal value of His accomplishments. (John 10:10)

We confess our Lord when we proclaim to sinners the salvation that may only be found in Him. We confess Jesus when we believe in His testimony of the quality of His teaching and the bible, and therefore govern our lives by them. (John 8:31-36; Matthew 22:29)

How do you feel when someone whom you have loved and made great sacrifices for does not acknowledge you before others? We do not cause Jesus to feel that way after the things He’s suffered for us? (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

As believers we are uniquely enabled witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Spirit and having new life in Him, (John 3:5-8; Acts 5:20; Romans 6:3-4) and filled with the Spirit to be witnesses for Him. (Acts 1:8 > 2:38-39)

Of course a faithful witness must live a qualified life, but also by definition a witness must speak. As freely as you speak about the accomplishments of family, friends or a favorite hero, even initiating the subject unrequested; so freely we must speak of Jesus’ accomplishments, their meaning, value and hope. Freely must we tell the truth of the salvation that may only be found in Him. Freely must we lift Him up each day that all people may be drawn to Him, and that those drawn may become genuine disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Let us who have put our trust in Jesus, persist always in “turning new acquaintances into lasting friends in Christ!”

Rev. George Frey

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No Picture
Opinion

Perspectives with Rev. Duncan Perry

 

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time we spend just waiting?

Someone has suggested that in a normal lifetime one can expect to use up two years of their lives waiting.

The Cat in the Hat in Dr. Seuss’ book says we’re always waiting for something.

We’ve just come through another Christmas season and for sure, you could see in people, especially children, the anticipation as they waited for that time when the gifts could be unwrapped and they could enjoy the long awaited presents.

What are you waiting for? For some it is graduation from school, or your driver’s license, or your first job or the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe you’re waiting for that first baby or the next baby. Most of us wait for something or someone.

Maybe you’ve gotten tired of waiting. A relationship that was dear to you has been broken and you long for it to be whole again. Or it could be an illness that has just gone on for too long and you’re losing hope.

I would like to give you a word of encouragement from God’s Word today. The first is found in Galatians 6:9, “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”

A second verse helps us to focus on who it is that we can trust our troubles to. It’s found in Isaiah 40:31. Listen to what we are told there. “But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we sit passively by and wait for good to come to us. We should do all we can to mend a broken relationship or to be healthy. But we can trust God to help because He cares for us. When we pray to Him, He hears us and He will be attentive to us.

Speaking of praying, this week around the world, churches are joining together in “The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”. That is something else that God cares about. He tells us in the Psalms when we gather together in unity, He commands His blessing on us.

By now, you’ve already missed two services that the churches here in South Dundas have joined together in. But today (Wednesday) from 11:30-12:30 you can meet with us at the Pentecostal Church on Lakeshore Drive. Then tomorrow, Thursday, we’ll be at the Anglican Church in Morrisburg and Friday at Community Christian Reformed Church in Dixon’s Corners. Each day the time is the same. The format includes a time of Prayer and Praise plus the sharing of a simple meal. All are welcome!

By the way, I hope it isn’t too late to wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Rev. Duncan Perry,

Morrisburg

Pentecostal Tabernacle

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