Tag: reason

Count Your Blessings

Sometimes when we go through experiences, we wonder if God is trying to tell us something. I have just had that experience.

For last Sunday, I chose the songs we would sing. Since I knew what the text would be (Acts 27), I chose songs that fit that sermon topic. This particular hymn came to mind:

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God has done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      *Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
      [*And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.]
  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  4. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

That was Sunday. Monday I sat down with my two VP’s and we talked about the events of last week and what we needed to be aware of for this week. Mr. Long, who had just come back from the Grade 11 canoe trip to the Missinipe area, relayed an incident from that trip. When one student got turned around, rather than giving in to panic, the student stopped to thank God for His many blessings. The student was then able to get turned around correctly and reached camp safely. How? By focusing on the blessings (and Blessings-Giver).

The third incident took place this morning as I was talking with a teacher in my office. She commented on the picture behind my desk. I explained to her that this is what the forest behind my house in Campbell River looked like.20180921_091834

This would have been a 5 minute walk away. Her comment, like that of so many others, was, ‘How could you leave that to come here?’ I told her that God called us from there to here and that we were simply obedient to His call. However, after the conversation I reflected on where we had lived (and now live) and was reminded of the many blessings I have here.

Over the last two weeks I have had three reminders of counting my blessings. I wonder if God is trying to tell me to count my blessings. In that case, I had better start….

Sometimes we take our eyes off of what God is doing in us and through us and we focus on the negative. God always calls us to count our blessings (as He is the giver of every blessing) and to focus on Him. In these weeks as the weather turns grey and the temperature drops (snow this morning!), remember to count your blessings (and echo Paul as he said ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ Eph. 1:3).



Ireland just recently held a referendum on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment (Right to Life). The pro-abortion side won (66% in favour of repeal). During the subsequent days, I came across two widely different perspectives. The first comment was on Facebook and said, ‘I’m sorry. Let me get this straight. A guy walks into a classroom and shoots 20 children causing a nation to believe it’s time to re-examine gun laws? In 2012, in the US alone, 1.2 MILLION unborn children were hacked apart and discarded like trash but that’s OK? I think it’s time for our nation to re-examine its morals.’  The second comment came on my Twitter feed and said, ‘Huge congrats to #Ireland for overturning their archaic and dangerous abortion law. They will repeal their Eighth Amendment in the name of a more humane law. See U.S.A., it can be done! #GunReformNow.

What is really interesting to me is that both quotes equate abortion laws with gun laws. They just come at it from differing perspectives. The first comment is about how abortion kills far more people than guns, and yet we only care about restricting access to guns. The second comment is about how abortion is more humane than gun deaths. I guess the second person has never really thought through what an abortion actually involves.

If you read any article on either abortion or gun laws, you will see people holding very strongly-worded opinions. Each side almost vilifies the other. Rather than appealing to reason, the object seems to be to call the ‘other side’ more derogatory names than they do ‘our side’ (whatever that means). As Christians, we are not to participate in such conversations. God has called us to support and encourage those who are weaker (1 Thess. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all), and this includes unborn children. According to Isaiah, we also need to ‘Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow’ (1:17).

So, how should we engage in this debate? First, pray. Then pray some more. Then let your actions speak before your words. Realize that social media is (usually) not the forum to hold a civil, nuanced conversation. Don’t just talk, but act (James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves). We need to be an example (lead by doing) rather than just telling others what to do (lead by telling).

Some good books on this topic are:

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality by Nancy R. Pearcey

A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for the Family by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet


The Boy Crisis

I just finished reading The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell and John Gray. It is a thick book, which, in this case, means that Farrell and Gray have been very thorough in their documentation. For this week’s blog, I’d like to copy the opening few paragraphs from his concluding chapter and make some comments about them [my comments will be in these square brackets].

“It was December 7, 1941. For years, we had been in denial of the crisis that was Hitler and the Axis powers. With Pearl Harbor, our denial ended.

Transforming denial into a response meant sixteen million of our sons being willing to sacrifice their lives. Yet our sons stepped up. And our daughters and parents joined them.

The new enemy is not Hitler. It is dad deprivation. [Dad deprivation has been linked to all sorts of issues, including ADHD and school shootings. According to Farrell and Gray, all of the school shooters in the US since Columbine have suffered from dad deprivation.] It is not the Axis powers. It is a ‘purpose void.’ It is not a need for your son to sacrifice his life but to find a purpose for his life. [This lack of purpose is a significant issue for boys in terms of education, vocation, and marriage. We should have a better track record because we are a part of the church, but it has not worked out like that. According to the Shorter Westminster Catechism, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever’. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry defined our purpose in this fashion: ‘According to the Bible, our purpose, the reason we are here, is for God’s glory.  In other words, our purpose is to praise God, worship him, to proclaim his greatness, and to accomplish his will.  This is what glorifies him.  Therefore, in this we find that God has given us a reason for our existence, a meaning for our existence.  We were created by him, according to his desire, and our lives are to be lived for him so that we might accomplish what he has for us to do.  When we trust the one who has made us, who works all things after the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11), then we are able to live a life of purpose.  How the particulars of that purpose are expressed is up to the individual’. It seems to me that we have lost sight of this purpose: we are not effectively communicating this to the next generation (I don’t think we have communicated this well to our generation).]

How do we get our sons to step up to a crisis for which there is no Pearl Harbor? A crisis that is more internal than external?

Whether our sons step up depends on how they are brought up. In the past, boys learned ‘I exist, therefore I serve.’ Today, many boys learn ‘I exist, therefore I deserve.’ [These two statements accurately describe the shift in culture; this is not merely generational but symptomatic of society in general.]

Being needed to serve creates a sense of purpose. Being served creates a sense of entitlement. Most parents know this intellectually, but our own need to be needed seduces us into serving our sons rather than teaching him to serve. [This is true. Leonard Sax, in his book The Collapse of Parenting, explains this phenomenon by reporting that parents desire to be buddies with their children rather than authority figures. Because parents have abdicated their role, their children, sons in particular, take the easiest road which, in this case, means being served. They see this example in the media (music videos and the like). As a result, the sense of entitlement grows and creates a greater downward pressure to be served.] Which contributes to our sons’ purpose void.Once our sons value serving over being served, they are more likely to step up when we both alert them to a crisis – such as the crisis of dad deprivation and the mission to be a great dad, and therefore an inspiration to others to be the same. [This is actually our responsibility to our sons, biblically speaking.]

Boys who become a failure to launch are most frequently devoid of the two Ps: purpose and postponed gratification. Boys devoid of the two Ps are often also devoid of the equal checks and balances of the other two Ps: two parents. When your son is dad enriched, he not only avoids the crisis of being dad deprived but is inspired with the mission to become a great dad.

Becoming a great dad is not a mission for every son. [Matthew 19:12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”] Your mission is to guide your son to discover his mission. [Not quite true. As parents, it is our mission to guide our sons to find their mission, but that includes helping him understand the role of the Holy Spirit in this process (according to Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them).] No piece of cake, because there’s no precedent. Our fathers did not learn to discover their mission; they learned to fulfill a mission someone else discovered. The ‘discoverer’ was the need to survive. His mission was provider-protector. [In one sense, fathers did not ‘discover’ their mission; they were given their mission by God. We are called to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. This provision also includes the idea of protection. Robert Lewis, Raising a Modern-Day Knight, Michael Gurian, The Purpose of Boys, The Wonder of Boys, Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift, The Collapse of Parenting, Steve Farrar, King Me, Point Man, Standing Tall, Eric Ludy, God’s Gift to Women, and David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church, The Map all deal with the topic of the purpose of men. There are many other books and authors on this topic, and we ought to look into this more in schools, in our homes, and in our churches.]

Your dad had two options: be the provider-protector or be a loser. Which didn’t allow for questions like, ‘What creates the glint in my eye?’ He learned to be a human doing first, and a human being second. Or not at all. Which often led him to withdraw from loving himself, and ultimately from the family he loved [This process has been around for a long time, but accelerated after WW II. This also speaks to our identity in Christ and our understanding of what God has actually called us to. Somehow we need to bridge the idea of being a provider-protector AND being able to do that which ‘creates a glint in my eye.’ With the messages that society is sending to our youth, most of our youth seem frozen in terms of what their purpose is and what they want to achieve/accomplish as they move into adulthood. Dads are sometimes required to provide in ways that take them out of the home for longer than they want. One issue around this, as Farrell and Gray explain, has to do with expectations. There is a much higher expectation of a fathers involvement with his family today at the same time that there are increased obligations on a father to fulfill his work obligations. Most jobs now require a father to be on-call almost 24/7 and to bring work home.] To him feeling that his life insurance policy is more valuable than his life [This reminds me of It’s a Wonderful Life].

Your mission to help your son discover his mission begins with helping him discover himself as a human being first, and then helping him find a way of being a human doing – of making a living – that supports him as a human being” (pp. 388-389).


Farrell, W. and Gray, J. (2018). The Boy Crisis: Why our boys are struggling and what we can do about it. Dallas, TX: Benbella Books.

Appearance or Reality Part 2

As I mentioned earlier, one issue I am wrestling with is whether we should spend more time focusing on the appearance or the reality of the situation. Let me continue with a specific example.

Over this last week I was looking at the math results for SCS based on the CAT/IV results and our own math screeners. In many ways I can say that we are doing quite well…. But ‘quite well’ implies a comparison (or two). And that is where the focus on appearances or reality becomes important.

Every three years, countries that are part of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) participate in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) exam. Students who are 15 years old are assessed on their knowledge in English, Math, and Science. These results are then released and countries are ranked (it is possible to get an in-country ranking to see how each region [province/state] does within the country). I looked at Canada’s results for 2015 (the most recent exam).

In Math, Canada placed 10th out of 137 countries. The various provinces were broken out in terms of how well they performed in comparison to the Canadian average. Canada, as a country, scored 516 (the top country, Singapore, scored 564). British Columbia, my previous place of employment, scored 522. With the exception of Quebec, whose results are not trustworthy for this year due to possible non-response bias, all the other provinces scored less than the Canadian average. As I looked down the chart, I searched for Saskatchewan, my new place of employment. My eyes scanned further and further down (past Portugal, Italy, Spain) until I finally came to Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan scored lowest of all Canadian provinces at 484. To quote the PISA summary, “Only Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan observed a change in the mathematics performance of its students since 2012. Saskatchewan experienced a significant decline in the mathematics performance of its students and consequently went from performing above the OECD average in 2012 [506] to performing below the OECD average in 2015 [484] (the OECD average for 2015 was 490)” (https://www.cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/365/PISA2015-CdnReport-EN.pdf).

When I look at this information and compare it to our local results, I am left with several thoughts. When we just look at SCS’s results, the appearance is that we are doing reasonably well in math in comparison to other schools in Saskatchewan. However, the reality is that Saskatchewan achieved the lowest result of all provinces in Canada. So, where does that leave us? Would we (should we) be open to discussing this? If we are, we would have to ask ourselves some very difficult questions. In my mind, there are four places we can look: teachers, students, curriculum, teaching strategies. I would discard the first two options as non-issues; I think our students are just as smart as those anywhere else and I think our teachers are just as well trained as anywhere else. That leaves what we teach and how we teach it. Even just looking at those two topics leads to an uncomfortable discussion. And yet….

Do we focus on the appearance or on the reality? Should our decision (which aspect to focus on) depend on which aspect makes us look better? I would much rather focus on the reality and deal with the unpleasant/uncomfortable topics so that we can truly do what is best for our students. If we can help our students learn math more effectively by changing the materials we use, then let’s do so. If we can help our students by changing the instructional strategies, then let’s do so. As long as it helps the students.

An Educator’s Interpretation of 1 Cor. 13

I was working through some old files and found this gem. It’s too good to not share.

“If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect  penmanship, but have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language, I have not been educated.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade you with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God’s wisdom, I have not been educated.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of all books – the Bible – and have no knowledge of its personal importance, I have not been educated.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to hide God’s Word in my heart, I have not been educated.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein’s theory of relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe, I have not been educated.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker’s purpose for all creation, I have not been educated.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not been informed of the hand of God in the history of our country, I have not been educated.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves men to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and  worship him, I have not been educated.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball, and do 100 push-ups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God’s will, I have not been educated.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of da Vinci, and even paint a portrait that earns an A+, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God, I have not been educated.

If I graduate with a perfect 4.0 and am accepted at the best university with a full scholarship, but have not been guided into a career of God’s choosing for me, I have not been educated.

If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right, but have not been told of the sinfulness of man and his hopelessness without Christ, I have not been educated.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him, Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me, Then, I have been educated!”

By Carolyn Caines, Supervisor
Columbia Heights Christian Academy * Longview, Washington

A Christmas Story

‘Twas the Weekend Before Christmas and all through the town

Every creature was stirring, every face wore a frown.

Especially for those who traveled the streets

Vying for parking stalls, head-on they’d meet

And tempers and horns and music was blaring

And mothers were frantic with babies awailing.

OK, so my muse ran out. But that is just a glimpse of how it looked that last Friday before Christmas. It had snowed a few days earlier but now the snow was mostly slush. I had just a few more Christmas presents to purchase but I had probably picked the worst time to go Christmas shopping. It was sleeting, in the middle of rush hour for those heading home, but the middle of mayhem for those struggling to find a parking spot in the mall parking lots. The parking lots at the mall still had the piles of snow the snowplows had created. I knew better than to find a spot close to the entrances so I cruised the back few rows, looking for an opening. Every time I thought I found one, a car beat me to it. After what seemed like hours, in reality only 20 minutes (20 MINUTES!) I finally found a spot; of course, it was just about as far away from an entrance as could be. Oh well, at least I had a spot.

I opened my door and promptly stepped into a deep puddle that swamped my shoe. Oh great; ice water in my shoe. What a wonderful feeling. With water sloshing around in my shoe, I opened the back door to pull out my baby and the baby bag. I realized little Susie needed changing so reached in to the diaper bag to pull out a diaper and found…nothing. Great, I had forgotten to replenish the supplies. One more item to be added to the list. After tucking Susie into her stroller and balancing the diaper bag on the hood of the stroller, I trudged off to the entrance. As the cars passed me in their search for a parking spot, the slush sprayed until my lower legs were soaked. ‘Does it get any better than this?’ I wondered. As I approached the door, the tinny Christmas music became harder to ignore and I became irritated when I found myself humming along.

At least it was warm inside. I wondered what the squelching sound was until I remembered the water in my shoe. My first order of business was now buying diapers so that I could change Susie…. With that task completed, I would be able to start shopping for the items I initially came here for. I wanted this to be a quick in-and-out experience. Dinner still had to be made. Unfortunately, everyone else felt the same way I did. The lineups were long and the cashiers slow. Tempers were fraying, I admit mine was, as price checks slowed lines down even more. The cashiers frozen smiles were fraying too as they tried to maintain a friendly demeanor during this rush.

After finally making it through the first lineup (four more stores to go-ugh) I wished for a stroller that could work on the escalator rather than always having to wait for the elevator to take me from floor to floor. Mall elevators are not fast at the best of times, and during the Christmas rush they felt even slower than usual. The second lineup was even slower than the first. Susie started fussing a bit but I was ready for that and gave her crackers as a distraction. At least the third store had fast cashiers and I found my smile returning. Almost done. I checked my watch and my relieved mood dissipated. My planned one hour shopping trip was now approaching the end of the second hour and I still had one more store to go. The stroller was only able to carry the diaper bag and the other three bags were now bouncing against my legs as I tried to maneuver around the lineups and displays.

I made it into the last store but had trouble finding what I was looking for. Susie had finished the crackers and was fussing for something to drink. I found her sippy cup and handed it to her. I hoped that would tide her over for a while. Now, try to find an customer service representative to help me out. Nobody was around. Typical. I looked for a store directory and realized I needed to get to the third floor. It took three waits to get on the elevator. I made it to the third floor and still couldn’t find a customer service representative. After walking up and down the aisles for the umpteenth time I finally found what I was looking for. That is to say, I found the shelf that had held what I was looking for. The shelf was empty. Now what? I spotted a harried looking customer service representative rushing down one aisle. I began my demolition-derby style sprint to catch up with her to find out if they had more stock and just hadn’t resupplied the shelf. After dodging other shoppers and displays, I caught up with her. She was talking to another customer. The conversation didn’t sound all that friendly. I waited for their interaction to end so that I could ask my question.

The conversation ended but that only meant that the customer service representative had to go to the back to check stock on what that customer wanted. I waited. And waited. Susie started fussing more and I had no more snacks. I had only planned to be away for an hour but the second hour was now well over. Finally, the employee came back and the customer ahead of me was finally satisfied. My turn. I could see the customer service representative take a deep breath before facing me. My sarcastic comment died before I could give voice to it as I realized how tired she must be after dealing with impatient customers all day long. I tried to muster the last shred of kindness as I asked for current stock of the last item I was looking for. It required another trip to the back for the customer service representative. Susie was really fussing now and wouldn’t accept my attempts at calming her down. Finally…the employee came back and had one left in stock. What a relief.

Now to endure the checkout lineup one more time. Susie started getting louder, letting me know how frustrated she was. People around me started giving me dirty looks as I tried to shush Susie (all to no avail). With only six more people ahead of me (6!) in the lineup, the paper ran out at the till. Now another delay while the paper was being replaced. It was getting more difficult to ignore the grumbling of my stomach and the pounding of my head as the noise of squalling children, Christmas music, impatient customers, and harried cashiers seemed to reverberate within my head. Finally, my turn. And then my cell rang. I waved the customer behind me ahead to take the call. It was my son calling, asking when dinner would be ready. I told him I was still shopping and would get something ready as soon as I got home. He didn’t like that answer but I hung up on him before he could really start to complain so that I could get through this lineup. Susie was now really demanding my attention so I tried to carry Susie while dumping all the bags into the stroller. Not only was she getting noisier, but she was also getting much more fidgety.

The cashier gave rang up my purchase, but now I had to balance Susie while getting my wallet open and my credit card out. Susie was crying now, the customers behind me were frustrated, the cashier was demanding my attention and I still had to remember my pin. Finally done. I tossed the bag onto the other bags already on the stroller and headed for the elevator. My cell rang again. I had to stop to fish out the phone while holding Susie, still crying, just to find that it was now my daughter on the phone asking for dinner. I snapped at her that I would get to it as soon as I could. I shut the phone off and continued to head to the elevator. I got in line…and waited…and waited. The fourth load finally brought me to the front of the line. I wrestled the stroller into the elevator and then had to make way until the elevator was full. Susie was crying and a cell phone went off, not mine fortunately, and the mom answered it. You could hear the frustrated voice on the other end demanding attention and the mom’s voice getting more and more frustrated. The tension and frustration level was already high and then the elevator stopped. We waited. Susie started shrieking. People gave me dirty looks. The same Christmas carols were stuck on repeat. The elevator lurched and froze again. Now my cell rang again but I could not reach it. I had to let it ring until the message service took over. One person told me to quieten my baby down. I gave him a dirty look. My frustration reached a boiling point.  I spoke out into the crowd over Susie’s wailing, ‘Whoever invented Christmas should be taken out and shot!’

‘Too late,’ a voice responded from the front, ’we’ve already crucified Him.’

A Light in the Darkness

These are the dark days of December. They are dark for a variety of reasons. For those suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), these shortest days of the year often lead to emotional darkness as depression sinks in its talons of despair. For others, they are mourning the death of a loved one (and that is a reality at SCS) or are dealing with the shock of a medical diagnosis or a worsening medical condition. As we look around society, we can also see the spiritual darkness spreading (read https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-canada-wont-fund-student-summer-jobs-unless-employers-demonstrate). What a trifecta: physical, emotional, and spiritual darkness.

When I think about the encroaching darkness, I am reminded of this quote from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

“Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” (Tolkien, Return of the King, p. 901)

From here, I like to move to Scripture. Isaiah reminds us that:

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined (9:2).

We have the light of God’s Word to comfort and encourage us. As we look at Christmas lights, either on houses or on trees (or elsewhere), let the light remind us of the light that we have through Jesus Christ. Let us continue to look ‘unto  Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Heb. 12:2). And the best way to do that is to continue to turn to Scripture to read and re-read the many promises that God has given us through His Son.