Category Archives: Country Inspiration

Why Do We Talk About The Weather?

We’ve really got something to talk about now. Can you believe it? Today, Tuesday, we are supposed to get snow, ice pellets, freezing rain, and ordinary rain! A few days ago the temperature was above freezing now its plunged well below zero centigrade.

Weather is one of the first things people talk about after asking how we are. Why? Well, it’s one of the few things we all share in common. If it rains, it usually rains all over town. If the thermometer goes down to minus twenty, we all feel the chill. Weather affects all of us—even in our climate-controlled homes. Comments about the weather enable us to meet others on common ground.

And since we all share weather, stories about torrents of rain in Vancouver, tornadoes in the Mid-west, or minus 40 degrees in Whitehorse arouse empathy. After all it could have been us whose roof blew off or whose car slid into the ditch. We feel compassion for those who suffer the ill effects of extreme weather.

Why talk about weather? It’s a safe topic. A discussion of religion or politics might raise our blood pressure. But who’s going to disagree when we comment on the seesaw nature of our winter weather. Of course, if we get into global warming, the discussion may heat up. If we start with today’s weather, we can ease into more serious matters later.

Why weather? We can usually complain about it without being thought of as a negative person. Of course, there are always those perennially cheerful people who would have found a silver lining in the forty days rain in Noah’s time. No, really, don’t we all need a little harmless outlet for our frustrations? The weather just is. It doesn’t have a voice. It can’t fight back or complain to our therapist. Now, if we start moaning about bunions, aching backs, creaking knees, acid reflux or any of the myriad ailments most of us struggle with, we’ll be branded with a scarlet ‘H’. He or she is a hypochondriac. Horrors! Save me from wearing the scarlet letter.

Charles Warner, not Mark Twain, said, “Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” Well, isn’t that good? Weather is substantially beyond the reach of human manipulation.

Now that is controversial. We are told that global warming has been caused by human irresponsibility which in turn has unleashed extreme weather. I agree that we ought to stop deforestation and commit our industries to ecological responsibility. But on a micro-level, where we live, there is very little we can do but plant trees and buy more environmentally friendly cars.

A little grumbling about the weather probably doesn’t hurt us as long as we maintain an overview like that of John Ruskin. “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of weather.” And above all, let’s remember, God sends the rain and snow. (See Psalm 147:12,16,17; Matthew 5:45.)

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright ––

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The Truth; it’s all relative–or is it?

Back in 1955, when I was an freshman at the University of Toronto, I enjoyed talking with fellow students about how all truth was relative. I was an agnostic who, with others, confidently affirmed that one could be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Sikh, or a Muslim. It made no difference. There were many paths to heaven or whatever.

That view of truth now prevails very widely throughout the western world. People believe that truth is whatever is true to you. There are as many truths as there are people. In last week’s issue of our local community paper, a columnist asserted that the meaning of life is YOU. Whatever you choose. Such a view sounds so appealing.

In a recent article on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, the questions was asked, should Facebook be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people?

But in my second year at the U of T, I was confronted by the claim that truth was not relative but fixed and absolute. Gil Dunkin, an engineer on the design of a supersonic jet called the Avro Arrow, gave me examples. Truth is not relative in mathematics. Two plus two never equal five but four. Gravity exists and so buildings cannot be designed to ignore gravity. Neither can random principles be applied to aircraft design. And what about the law of contradiction; that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true?

He pointed out that if consistent principles apply in all areas of the physical world, why would truths about life and ethics be relative? Can we just pick and choose what we want to believe about the purpose of life, where we came from, where we go after death, what is right and wrong, good and bad? Why would all these areas of life be flexible and relative, when gravity and math and the trajectories of the moon and stars are not?

My friend pointed me to the claims Jesus made in John’s gospel. When Jesus was brought to Pilate, John 18,19 tells us that Pilate was troubled. Pilate asked him where he was from and whether or not he was a king. Yes, Jesus replied, My kingdom is not of this world…for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. (18:36,37) Pilate scornfully replied. What is truth?

Ah, that is the question! What is truth? It’s no minor question. It is a question that has profound relevance to who we are, whether or not there is a God, what our destiny may be, what is good or bad, and much much more. Wise men realize the importance of truth. Winston Churchill said, The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. Zacherof, inventor of the Russian atom bomb said, The greatest power in all the world is not the atom bomb but truth.

It is crucial that we embrace the truth that is above and beyond all subsidiary truths, such as that of mathematics. Jesus made the astounding claim in John 14:6: I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When we consider truth claims, it is important that the source be reliable. Someone has said; if you want to know what water is, you don’t ask a fish. If you want to know what truth and life is all about you don’t ask a time-bound; space-bound human. NOT Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed; you ask Jesus. Why? Because as he explained to Pilate, He came from beyond this world, from outside of time and space. He came from the Father to tell us the truth about what life and death is all about.

Jesus came to show us the WAY into the kingdom, the way to be forgiven for our sins, the way to everlasting life, the way to live a fulfilling life.

Jesus came to teach us the TRUTH about life and death, the triune God, origins, the nature of man, how to live now, and so much more.

Jesus came to give us LIFE, fulfilling life, eternal life, the energy through the Spirit to live productively, joyfully, peacefully, and hopefully.

We all have a crucial challenge; to settle the Christ-question. When we do that, we will settle the Truth question and the purpose of life question. The answers are all found in the Bible. If you are not familiar with Jesus Christ or the Bible, I’d suggest you start reading in John’s Gospel. Do not let another day go by without settling what you will do with Jesus Christ. The TRUTH MATTERS; IT IS ABSOLUTE. IT IS NOT RELATIVE.

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright ––

Our restless, unhappy culture

The ocean is never still. Its tides rise and fall, its breakers crest and dissipate, and its waves roll on and on until they crash against a rocky shore or roll up on a sandy beach. Its waters collect and propel unto the world’s beaches all the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean world: broken shells, shattered boats, bottles, broken plastic spoons, splintered trees and cast-off Styrofoam. The more agitated the ocean becomes, the more it stirs up the whole mix of broken shells and mud that in calmer times settles to the ocean floor. After storms shorelines are littered with mud and debris.

How appropriate that the prophet used this image to describe the condition of men and women who jettison God and His moral standards in their struggle to find their personal nirvana. “‘The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. There is no peace,’ says my God. ‘for the wicked'”(Isaiah 57:20,21).

We cannot expect a tranquil mind if our lives are a graveyard of broken promises, shattered morals, and shady practices. Instead, nefarious schemes will occupy our minds. Thoughts of past dealings with others will provoke bitterness, anger and thoughts of revenge. Unless we have denied the voice of our consciences long enough to dull their injured cries, we will be fretful, restless, and unhappy.

God has given everyone a conscience imprinted with a set of moral principles. But the more we listen to the siren song of our culture’s ‘new morality,’ the more our innate sense of right and wrong will be blunted and distorted. Sadly, our culture has jettisoned belief in absolute truth. Truth has become what is true to me. But this does not jib with reality. Whatever we think, two plus two equal four, not five. Nor can we suspend the law of gravity and jump from a building. Nor can we deny spiritual the spiritual reality enshrined in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. If deny real truth, the result will be: restlessness. Inability to find peace of heart. Broken relationships. Emptiness. And tragically, the epidemic of suicide we read about in our papers.

Paul writes, “My conscience is clear” (1 Cor. 4:4). Can you and I say that? If not, the only remedy is to bow to Jesus Christ, confessing our moral failures, and asking him to forgive us our sins and bring peace of heart. Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”(John 14:27).

When we confess our moral failures to Jesus Christ, He will forgive us and soothe our troubled hearts. Then the Storm-Calmer will reside in our hearts to calm the storms that sweep through our lives.

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright ––

Broken Resolutions and Imperfect Goals

All that is left of Christmas are happy family and church memories…and the makings of a pot of soup. Oh, and too much chocolate! We’ll soon be taking down the Christmas decorations and storing them for next year. We’re beginning to mark up a new calendar. It’s time to look seriously at the New Year ahead. Resolutions anyone?

How does it go? I resolve to eat less, to exercise more, to be kinder, more generous, and to pray more. Resolutions are easy to make but easier to forget. Easier still to break. And yet we need to do something. Without laying out a path for the New Year, we may end up with a year of zeroes. Nothing important accomplished. No progress in our Christian life. Relationships stalled.

For this reason, at New Years, I make up a list of goals—not really too different from resolutions. In my mind at least, resolutions have a make or break quality while goals define a direction. Even if we don’t move very far in the goal’s direction, we will make progress.

For that reason, I write the current year’s list of goals on a three by five card which I keep in the front pocket of my diary. By checking it occasionally, I can gauge my progress.

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Goals give me a sense of direction, defining for me areas where I want to improve. So I set goals in the areas of, for example, reading, Bible study, prayer, exercise, writing, developing relationships, hospitality, ministry, etc.

Since my goals, although fairly general, are somewhat measurable, I can tell if I’m making progress. For example, my goal is to read one non-fiction book for every three or four books of fiction I read. Since I love entertaining stories, that’s a hard one, but I do keep a careful record of the books I read on Goodreads.

My objective to walk at least 30 minutes a day, four days a week has had to be curtailed due to arthritis. But I can still set a walking goal that is realistic.

Every New Years I modify my prayer list to fit new goals. Some aims are ill-defined early in the year, but become clarified as the year advances. A degree of flexibility is important. At this point, I’m not sure how far I’ll get with writing my memoir, Surprises of Grace, but I must have a goal or I’ll just vegetate.

As a Christian, my main goal is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. How do I measure that? Galatians 5:22,23 and other passages can give me help here. Of course, every day we need a balance between striving to please God with the help of His Spirit and resting in His grace. After all we are still sinners taking the cure. If we are saved, it’s not because of our righteousness but the perfect righteousness of Christ.  Pride in our goals will sully our walk. But having no goals doesn’t strike me as very wise. What do you think?

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright ––

DNA and the Beanstalk

One thing I miss in our current condo is having a garden. I even miss the fall clean-up. I remember trying to untangle the climbing bean stalks from the poles and trellis I had set up for their growth. The beans stalks grew round and round the poles and each other, then onto anything nearby including the tomatoes. The plants had kept us in fresh green beans almost until first frost. They grew so dramatically high that if I had been able to install a two or three story lattice work they would have climbed to the top. As it was, I had to use a step ladder to pick the topmost.

And all this growth from a few little bean seeds. How did those seeds know to climb when my bush beans didn’t? How did they know they weren’t soy beans? How could they climb so high? My climbing beans reminded me of the magic beans described in the story of Jack and the beanstalk. I can see why the imagination of the writer went wild.

The information packed into the DNA of those seeds is incredible. How does God do these kind of things? A bean stalk ten or twenty feet long. An apple tree from an apple seed. And what about a giant sequoia? Moving from plants we could ask the same questions about a whale or a butterfly. As Werner Gitt points out in his book, In the beginning was information, there is no known natural law or process or phenomenon through which matter can give rise to information. And without encoded information there can be no life.

I’ve been writing about a bean seed, but what about the information stored in human DNA? We are told that every kind of life and every organ of every living thing uses specific proteins. In our bodies there are about 50,000 different proteins. Wow! The result of billions of years of chemical accidents? A product of evolution? Sorry, I’m just not that credulous. I’d rather go with David and praise our Creator God because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14) Do we know that? Do we know Him?

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright –– )

 

Why Can’t We Just Get Along? #2

Polarizing opinions shout at us on every side. People keep lobbing verbal grenades through Facebook and Twitter at those on the other side of whatever issue is important to them. And many Christians have joined the fray.

But did not God instruct us; “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Rom. 15:7). “This is impractical,” you say. “How can I accept him, he’s a democrat” Or, “She’s a republican!” Or, they’re “Blind Liberals, Naïve NDP, Bigoted Conservatives” or whatever label you choose to apply.

While accepting others, in a Christian context, does not mean we jettison our deeply held convictions it does mean we exhibit civility. Certainly, we must respect others as men and women created in the image of God. Surely, we must exhibit patience, love and forbearance for one another. Assuredly, it means we deal with each other gently without rancor or accusation.

Indeed, receiving one another, assumes that we exhibit interest in one another instead of erecting unassailable barriers between us. In terms of listening to others, Christians ought to be the most gifted people on earth. Jordan Peterson points out in rule number nine in his best seller, 12 Rules for Life; Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t! Listening, of course, means asking people questions about themselves and their beliefs.

In the context of Romans 14 and 15, accepting one another meant accepting people from diverse races or social classes. Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, entrepreneurs like Lydia and fishermen like Peter were to get along. Christians are categorically commanded to denounce any kind of elitism or racism.

That’s not easy. Even those with the same language but from different locations, have contrasting practices. In our first year as missionaries in Pakistan we boarded with a British family who insisted that tea had to be made a certain way and eggs had to be eaten before you put jam on your toast. They were scandalized when we brought peanut butter to breakfast!

In the Roman church, to whom Paul wrote, there were great differences of opinion. Some demanded that believers eat only vegetables while others promoted freedom to eat anything. Some had strong opinions about how to keep the Sabbath.

In today’s context Christ commands vegans and omnivores, climate change deniers, those with contrasting tastes in music, those with opinions about bottled water and the use of microwaves to all get along. Liberals and conservatives are called to join hands beneath the cross.

This directive also means we embrace those with annoying habits. Those who squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, those who ask loud questions during a TV show or movie. Yes even those who drum their fingers incessantly and those who leave their grocery cart smack-dab in the middle of the aisle.

The exhortation also includes acceptance between those with diverse personalities. Consider the gregarious type for whom everything is wonderful; who’s always exclaiming, “this is so exciting, it’s all good.” Then there is the melancholic, quiet type of introvert who projects a more gloomy approach. Or the phlegmatic type with their ponderous but methodical approach to decisions. Even more challenging to many of us, is the strong, decisive, rather impatient choleric person who knows what to do, when to do it, and why we should get involved in their agenda.

Matthew Henry comments on this passage. Let there be a mutual embracing among Christians. Those that have received Christ by faith must receive all Christians by brotherly love; though poor in the world, though persecuted and despised, though it may be matter of reproach and danger to you to receive them, though in the less weighty matters of the law they are of different apprehensions [opinions], though there may have been occasion for private piques [annoyances], yet, laying aside these and the like considerations, receive you one another.

A CAUTION: This exhortation doesn’t mean we are to abandon our carefully reasoned opinions, but we must be open to their amendment. It does mean we should seek to understand each other’s personalities and modify our own annoying habits so we get along better.

This directive certainly does NOT mean we are to overlook heretical beliefs or immoral actions in professing believers. Paul deals with church discipline for immorality in 1 Corinthians 5. Acts 5 deals with church discipline for lying to the Holy Spirit. Acts 8 deals with trying to buy spiritual influence within the church. Other epistles deal fully with identifying and handling anti-biblical teaching; heresy.

A FURTHER NOTE: Paul instructs believers to follow Jesus directive, “Judge not that you be not judged.” He does that by clarifying the impression he had given in an earlier letter to the Corinthians. He had written, “not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (1 Cor. 9:12).

There is a place within the church community to withdraw from those who practice clear sin and propagate false doctrine.

But let’s be clear. God has not called us to judge non-Christians, just avoid their bad habits. There is only one Judge, and He is God.

WHY ACCEPTING ONE ANOTHER IS IMPORTANT: The passage we have been applying states that accepting one another is important to bring praise to God. How so?
When we obey God’s command to love one another, we glorify Him. When we accept one another, we recognize that although we are all sinners, we have a common heritage of mercy received beneath the cross. Acceptance exalts the grace of God.

In turn, offering one another loving acceptance creates a climate that promotes in all of us endurance, encouragement, and hope. We are not going to grow in Christ in a climate of alienation or recrimination. Many have left churches because of bickering over mundane issues or because they cannot accept differing opinions on non-theological issues.

But when brothers and sisters join hands at the foot of the cross it is a foretaste of heaven. This in turn presents a united witness to the world at large.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5,6

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright –– )

Must We Get Along?

Hall clan...A month or so ago I attended the anniversary of a couple whose wedding I conducted 25 years ago. They came from two different cultures. In a day when the world is splintered into us and them, conservatives and liberals, democrats and republicans, straight and gay, white and black, Asian and African; to gather at an event celebrating harmony is wonderful.

It’s encouraging to rejoice in the life of two who love each other and talk to each other rationally while all around us people are shouting and yelling and calling each other names. Certainly, in politics and international relations, civility seems to have disappeared. Civility and respect is even rare on our highways.

The apostle Paul, echoing the example of Jesus Christ, has some advice about our need to get along. He writes in Romans 15:7; Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

How did Christ accept us? In Romans 5:8 we read that God demonstrates his own love for DSCN2805 (2)us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we are all sinners we should be able to accept brothers and sisters who share our faith in Christ. Where? On the ground beneath the cross. The cross where Christ died for our sins is the only really common ground beyond the fact of our shared humanity. Clearly, Christ received us before we could get our act together.

A high degree of wealth, education or power generate pride and foster exclusive classes of people. By contrast, Paul clarifies the raw material from which God created the Church. “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things Kashmirof the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).

Dumb, ignoble, poor, foolish, weak, lowly, despised; this is the raw material God chose to use in creating his Church. Truly, God saved us through Christ without regard to our station in life. Do we see any class distinction here? Any preferred race? Any colour of hair or physique?

Can we relate to this truth about you and me? Or do we feel that God is very fortunate to have us in his Church? Among those called in the early church we have fishermen, hated tax collectors, doubters, prostitutes, demon-possessed men and women, and legalistic, self-righteous men like Paul who had to be humbled by making him blind.

We need to remember who and what we were when called. We were accepted on the basis of the cross, not because of anything in us.

An astounding passage in Philippians reminds us to pattern our behaviour towards others after the example of Christ who left the glories of heaven, set aside the independent exercise of his divine attributes, and came as a helpless baby. He grew up among us so He could identify with us. He was tempted in all points like we have been.

His example exhorts us: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [held onto] but made himself  nothing taking the very nature of a  servant, being made in human likeness…became obedient to death—ever death on a cross” (Phil. 2:3-8).

Shouldn’t we have the attitude of Christ when we consider those with a different political bias, race, degree of education, parental upbringing, or less financial success? All of us who are saved, are debtors not to the bank or the university but to grace. No wonder Paul writes; I am determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Ndscn1336-1ow, we must admit that some people have very annoying habits which make them hard to accept. And there are people who promote heretical ideas or a licentious lifestyle. Must we really accept everybody? Let me tackle that question in the next blog.

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright ––)