Friday, September 29, 2006

The Former Archbishop of Canterbury Stands Up For the Pope.

The following article by Mark D. Tooley (director of the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy) appeared in the British Weekly Standard yesterday and is well worth the read. I am pleasantly surprised by the position taken here by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey towards Islam last week. It deserves a wider hearing.

SOMETIMES there are pleasant surprises from the much-maligned Church of England. Last week, its former Archbishop of Canterbury defended Pope Benedict's remarks about violence in Islamic history.

Archbishops of Canterbury have not always distinguished themselves politically. Archbishop Laud infamously helped Charles I persecute the Puritans in the 1600s, igniting a revolution, and losing his own head. In more modern times, Archbishop Lang supported British appeasement policies towards Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Archbishop Runcie often criticized Western resolve against the Soviet Union during the Cold War's final years in the 1980s.

But Archbishop Carey, who led the Church of England from 1991 to 2002, has remained politically temperate. He is so far one of the few major mainline Christian leaders who has dared to defend the Pope's recently articulated concerns about Islamic violence, concerns that in turn ignited violence by some angry Muslims.

"Islam had its darker moments too," Carey said, in a lecture at a Seventh Day Adventist college in Berkshire, England, on September 18. "It is undeniably the case that its expansion was largely due to military conquest, reaching at times, the heart of Europe."

Muslims were "quick to take offense" at the Pope's words while relying on "hearsay," Carey observed. "The incident is a sad reminder that political correctness rules these days," he said. "We find ourselves forbidden to ask awkward questions and to speak directly, without people concluding that we are attacking another faith."

Carey asked bluntly: 'Why is Islam associated with violence?' Noting the murder of a Catholic nun in Somalia in reaction to the Pope's remarks, Carey urged: "The Muslim world must address this matter with great urgency." He also differentiated between Islamic and Christian understandings of martyrdom.

"I find it difficult to understand the argument that a person can be a blessed martyr if, in the cause of his conflict, he knowingly kills innocent people," Carey said, pointing out that Christianity has no martyrology that honors people who kill innocent people. Instead, Christian martyrs honor their God not by killing but by suffering. "A terrorist by definition cannot be a martyr," Carey insisted. "The Pope's argument is that all action has to be squared with the character of a loving God."

Speaking historically, Carey noted that medieval Spain similarly had seen its conquest by Muslims as "as an alien invasion by fierce peoples intent on imposing their will on Christian lands." Other Islamic conquests reached into Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, and Austria, he remembered.

The Christian crusades were a "shameful" time for the Church, Carey remarked, but they were "an attempt to regain former 'Christian' lands and to open up a route for pilgrims" denied access to Christian holy sites by Muslim conquerors. Christians and Jews living under Islamic conquest had to "accept the position as 'protected' (Dhimmi) citizens and pay a corresponding tax," Carey cautiously recalled. With equal caution, he also pointed out the current lack of religious liberty under Islamic regimes.

"I find it very strange that Muslims, who plead and argue so strongly for their rights when minorities, are unaware of the plight of Christians in Muslim lands," Carey mused. "The fact that Muslims may build their mosques and schools in the West, make converts and advertise their faith is, sadly, not reciprocated in Muslim lands."

Carey described the perils of Muslims who convert to another faith. Although the Koran disavows compulsion in religion, the archbishop archly observed that "all existing schools of Islamic law prescribe the death penalty for apostasy." Without the freedom to choose, clearly there is religious "compulsion," he concluded. Carey spoke of a young Malaysian woman, Lina Joy, who is in hiding while she struggles for her legal rights as a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. He also mentioned Saudi Arabia:

"Saudi Arabia, as we know, presents the greatest difficulties for Christians in that no other religion than Islam is allowed public expression in that country," Carey said. "As a result Christianity is driven underground." He complained that Western nations, prioritizing commercial interests over human rights, have too often been silent about Saudi Arabia's treatment of Christians and women.

The archbishop urged greater dialogue, respect and tolerance among Christians and Muslims. But he also warned that, "We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times." Carey's lecture on the "cross and the crescent" was diplomatic but startlingly realistic for a senior Western cleric. Perhaps his example will embolden other church leaders to engage Islam more rigorously.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Islam is a Religion of Peace...And We Are Prepared to Fight to Prove It.

In retaliation to Pope Benedict XVI's September 12th speech which many Muslims regarded as an affront to Islam, Palestinian Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza attacked a number of churches in the days that followed.

On September 16th, militant Muslims used firebombs and guns to carry out their damage on seven churches in the two territories.

An Anglican church in the West Bank town of Nablus was bombarded on the 16th by at least five firebombs, and Greek Orthodox churches also sustained damage from the scorching projectiles on their windows and walls.

Roman and Greek Catholic churches in Nablus were covered with lighter fluid by four masked Muslims during the September 16 rampage before they ignited the buildings and covered them with gunfire.

A Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City which had already sustained damage from an ignited bomb on September 15th, was riddled with bullets the next day from armed Palestinian Muslims.

Continuing their barrage in the West Bank on September 17th, angered Muslims set ablaze another two Christian worship centers, including the only Orthodox church in the city of Tulkarm.

In the Pope's speech, he quoted a statement from Manuel II Palaeologus, a Byzantine emperor from the 14th Century, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this statement on violence was protested by Muslims around the world with acts and threats of further violence? Surely better proof that Palaeologus' statement was errant would have been peaceful and lawful protests rather than attacks on churches and death threats on the Pope. As it is, the response only makes it look like the Emperor wasn't all that far off of the mark.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What a Conference!

Yesterday's annual persecuted church prayer conference here in Mississauga was probably the best one we have ever had. I say that each year, of course, but I truly think that it was true this year. The building was packed out as Christians from across southern Ontario came to hear speakers from around the world talk of the suffering faith and courage of our brothers and sisters in China, Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

We started off the day hearing from Brother Wood, a Chinese evangelist and teacher who works extensively with the underground church in mainland China. What an honour it was to hear how VOMC's support of Christian prisoners and their families through our Legal Defense Fund is such a source of encouragement as they realize that they are not alone in their suffering.
Afterwards, we heard from two Eritrean Christians who had only recently left their homeland after being imprisoned and brutally tortured. One of them demonstrated a particularly brutal form of torture that he had been subjected to for four days called "the helicopter" in which his hands and arms were tied behind his back and he was lifted up in the air from behind. As I untied him from the ropes that he had allowed himself to be tied up with, I struggled not to weep as I thought of the suffering that he had had to endure.

In the afternoon, Brother Joshua showed a PowerPoint presentation of his work in Ethiopia and shared the stories of several churches and individuals that have been brutally persecuted. As I thought of how we had started this work six years ago, I was moved to gratitude that God had opened the door to allow us to minister to these dear saints who have been forgotten by much of the world and neglected even by organizations and missionaries who serve in Ethiopia.

Our conference concluded with a moving challenge from Tom Zurowski of Global Response Network, our partner in southern Sudan who challenged us to hear the cries of those who were martyred during the brutal civil war not to forget their children who are still alive. VOMC partners with GRN in rebuilding the Nugent School in southern Sudan, providing Christian education for children in a region where illiteracy runs at 90% of the population (you can watch a video report on this school on How can the Church grow and be healthy, if its future leaders cannot read and teach the Word of God?

Following each presentation, we spent time in prayer for the believers in these countries and for those who are ministering there on behalf of VOMC. Many of those who attended told me how meaningful these times were. Two years ago, we realized that our conferences needed to be more than just an opportunity to hear testimonies and meet persecuted believers and frontline workers; they needed to be times of ministry and prayer. For our speakers, I know that it meant so much to know that Canadian Christians were standing behind them in prayer. If you attended the conference, please feel free to post your comments.

Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to attend one of our conferences when they are in your area. Our next one is in Calgary on November 4 and in Edmonton on March 24. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can Anyone Slow Down My Life? It’s Passing Too Quickly!

By Greg Musselman

We are often reminded about how quickly life passes. Milestones such as birthdays or anniversaries and even the deaths of friends and loved ones can be times to reflect.

I've recently had times of reflection. It's been thirty years since I graduated from high school; it's been almost thirty years since I did my first radio broadcast in Weyburn, Saskatchewan; it's been twenty-five years since I came to work as a sportscaster in Edmonton. My parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary (way to go Mom and Dad!); my middle daughter started high school; and my youngest is now in junior high. Life just keeps moving on, and it seems to go faster as you get older.

Where have the years gone? This question really struck me when I attended the thirty-year reunion for my high school in Coquitlam, BC this past Saturday. During the weekend, talk of retirement came up with two of my closest and longest friends. Retirement! I'm too young to be even thinking about such things. Both of my friends said that they want to spend their final years by the ocean or maybe by a lake.

While there is nothing wrong with talking about retirement, it's just not something that I've spent a lot of time thinking about. But when I do think about it, I consider what Pastor and author John Piper said at a Winnipeg mission's conference to challenge his listeners: "Do you really want to spend your final years on a sail boat and collecting shells?"

John was trying to say that there are more exciting and important things that we should be doing with our older years than leisure activities--such as working for God's Kingdom.

As we get older, all of us need to slow down. It's just the way it is--our bodies need more rest. But as followers of Christ, we can keep making an impact until our last breath. It's really the only reason we remain in this world. Just think what you can do with all of your time!

It's a nice thought: a beautiful house on the ocean and just taking it easy, but to be honest, that doesn't get me all that excited. I'm more excited about new ways I am able to serve God. And what really gets me excited is that, after this life is over, I'll get to spend eternity with the God of the universe.

Can you imagine what that will be like? Here's what Jesus said: "In my Father's house there are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).

By the way, Jesus told us a few verses later how to get to the Father's House. He said," I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"(John 14:6).

In order to have the assurance in heaven I have, you must "Confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord: and believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."(Romans 10:9,10) If you have, you have so much to look forward to... and work for.

I don't dwell on retirement. We were all given just one life to live and as long as I have breath, I want to use it as effectively as possible. The Bible provides the language for all of us who take time to reflect: "As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field, the wind blows over it and it is gone" (Psalm 103:15,16).

While driving up to our annual The Voice of the Martyrs conference in Edmonton last March, my good friend and colleague Glenn Penner said to me that he hoped we would grow old together at VOMC. I like the thought of that.

Before I'm gone, I've lots to do, and so do you! So keep up the good work.

(Greg Musselman is an Associate Communications Officer for The Voice of the Martyrs).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Last Thing The Devil Wants

Lately I've found it difficult to actually put together a complete weblog entry. I have plenty of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head (and on my computer), but I can't seem to sit down and put them together cohesively. I think this inability stems from my officially starting up the school year last week. Getting fully immersed into readings as well working on my own writings has briefly stunted my weblog abilities. But I'm sure they'll return soon, as I get used to the work/school routine.

Anyway, I thought I could at least share a Christianity Today article with you, which I read last week. I find it very insightful, articulate and relevant to the issues surrounding the Persecuted Church.

Stephen Carter's article, "Despair Not: There is something worse than misery and death," discusses the importance of Christians refusing to give themselves over to pessimism and misery in the face of suffering---even death, which can seem to be the most evil of human sufferings.

Carter makes perceptive use of C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters. I find the article's final paragraph especially powerful:

"C. S. Lewis's marvelous imagination...should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan's benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants."

Such words reminds us that, no matter how "tragic" death is, it is not actually the most severe threat to the Christian faith. Although the death of a believer can be a cause of grief and sorrow on earth, it is ultimately a reason for fellow Christians a reason to rejoice, when viewed in context of God's eternal kingdom. Christian martyrs testify to the hope that is found by having an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, the devil does not rejoice in the death of a believer, he despairs over one more life given over to the Lord's final victory. Our God even uses death for his glory. It is a hard truth---one that can be difficult to bear in the face of loss---but it is also a comforting truth.

For me, this discussion about the role of death in the Christian life brought to mind the well-known and eloquent words of another great literary figure, John Donne. So I'll just leave off with them:

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
- "Death be not Proud" (Holy Sonnets: X)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Imprisonment Now & Then

This week we learned that there are 1,918 religious prisoners being held in detention in Eritrea; 95% of them are Christians. None of them have ever been charged or brought to trial. They simply languish in prison, are tortured, subject to forced labour. This type of treatment is hard for us in the West to understand. We are not used to prisons being used in this fashion.
It is worthwhile for us to pause for a second and understand what imprisonment meant in the ancient world and how it differs from what we understand it and how, in many ways, imprisonment in much of the world still has its roots in ancient times.

The first thing to remember is that imprisonment as a legal punishment is foreign to Ancient Near Eastern conceptions (see A.H. Konkel, ‘sr in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Vol.3. Vangemeren, Willem. ed. (Zondervan, 1997): 502). It is not found in the Old Testament until the time of Ezra and even there is was at the authorization of a foreign king. Imprisonment as not part of the form of retribution or compensation for an offence. However, it was an important part of the penal system. Prisoners of war and political prisoners were held in a type of compound so that they could be employed for forced labour (cf. Samson or Zedekiah under Nebuchadnezzar). Houses of servitude often included debtors and their families who would be temporarily reduced to slavery. Political enemies might be held in prison rather than killed in order to avoid popular uprisings (cf. John the Baptist). However, treatment of such prisoners was so harsh that they could have been considered amoung those doomed to die (Ps. 79:11; 120:20). This was a convenient way of disposing of ones enemies without incurring bloodguilt (Gen. 37:22-24).

The prison, in other words, was a holding place pending the outcome of their case. It could be indefinite and there was no guarantee of a speedy resolution; it was completely as the digression of whoever was in charge of the case.

Prison as a means of dealing with criminal behaviour is rather modern, western phenomenon and so we need to be careful not to read our understanding back into the text, nor into cases of persecution in other parts of the world.

The Romans tended to have three grades of prisons; "prison" (carcer), the less severe "military custody" (custodia militaris) and comparatively mild "free custody" (custodia libera).
Carcer could be most nasty and was typically reserved for the worst of criminals or those whom the authorities wanted to see die in custody. Amoung their tortures, such prisoners would work in stone quarries as slave labour. Custodia militaris was less severe, depending largely on the guards. It is likely that this is the primary method that Paul was imprisoned under, although he shares so little of the actual details of how he was treated in prison, it is hard to say for sure. Such prisoners were chained and guarded, unlike the third form of imprisonment which amounted to house arrest.

Such prisoners were dependent on friends to bring more than just was necessary to sustain life. Imprisonment really constituted a test as to who was really your friend. Seneca, the famous Roman philosopher, spoke of friends who would desert at the "first rattle of the chain."

Escape was difficult, as Roman guards forfeited their lives if the prisoners escaped. Hence, Roman prisons were places of despair; Paul would have little or no idea when or if his case would be heard. Is it any wonder that we are called in Scripture to remember those in chains?

Thank You

I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me in recent weeks, as my health took a bit of a turn for the worst. I am thankful to report that I am gradually gaining my strength to the point that I have been able to come to the office this week. I am still weak and I find it hard to concentrate for concerted periods of time, but to the glory of God, I have been able to get some work done. My blogging, of course, has suffered some. I would ask for your prayers as I am scheduled for another session of chemotherapy next Monday morning.

I did receive some very exciting news this week, for which we are really praising the Lord. My younger brother, Jim, who serves VOMC as our webmaster and helps write and research the Persecution and Prayer Alert received a call from Princess Margaret Hospital this week, informing him that he is a match for me when it comes time for me to look at a stem cell transplant. This is a real miracle and I am deeply humbled, especially as I remember what a rotten big brother I was when we were kids. Rejoice with us and pray for us to have God's wisdom as to when to look at this procedure. I have been told that I have pretty much exhausted the chemotherapy route for treating the chronic lymphocytic leukemia which I was diagnosed with. It would appear that a stem cell transplant is the next best option and my best chance for a cure (apart from a special touch from the Lord).

So, again, than you for your prayers and God bless you all.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lord of All Wholeness

For the first Sunday in a while, I sang the hymn "Lord of all Hopefulness" in church on Sunday. Singing this song was a startling reminder of God‘s absoluteness. His holiness is not smeared by human imperfection or darkened by the "relativism" that shrouds post-modern culture. He's absolute hope, absolute truth, absolute joy, absolute comfort---he is absolute everything!

Oddly enough, there are times when I read the stories of persecuted believers and need to be reminded that God is, in fact, the Lord of all. This is not because the stories contain elements of suffering and evil---actually, it's quite the opposite. When I read these remarkable stories of believers who suffer for Christ with a seemingly infallible sense of joy, trust and peace, I can almost convince myself that these believers encapsulate the of our Christian hope. It is tempting to glorify them in an almost god-like way or believe that these stories, themselves, will single-handedly strengthen someone's hope in times of trial.

But even the most faithful of believers are only pieces of God's whole hope. Even they cannot communicate or even understand God in His entirety. Persecuted believers are vital pockets of light along an often dark path, but they are not the source of the "light" itself. Thus, they are not solely the providers of hope but they are first and foremost the recipients of it. They, like all Christians, have hope because it was first given to them and they are faithful to God because he was first faithful to them.

Hymns such as "Lord of our Hopefulness" remind us that God is not just part of the "goodness" in this sinful, pain-filled world from surrendering to despair; he's all of it. His wholeness is why we can safely entrust all things to Him instead of giving all over to our fellow men, even our most faithful of fellow believers.

If we proclaim the Lord as absolute, we receive a reward that is richer than the mere "feeling" of hope, such as optimism, happiness and pleasure. These emotions are mere manifestations---fragments of a much greater whole. I don't think that God wants us to settle for these fragments. He calls on us to strive for the "whole" or the "all." And even if this wholeness isn't attainable on earth, God invites us to rest in the knowledge that, in Him, all is complete. Our comfort, then, comes in receiving this supreme, unfathomable gift of hopefulness that is rooted in holiness.

I'll just leave off now with the words to "Lord of All Hopefulness," because I think it is a poetic, prayer-like hymn that articulates the yearning for fullness and hopefulness better than anything else I could write:

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy
whose trust, ever child-like,
no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking,
and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness,
Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled
at the plane and the lathe,
be there at our labours,
and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord,
at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness,
Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome,
your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing,
and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord
at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness,
Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment,
whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping,
and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord
at the end of the day.

Words: Jan Struther (pseudonym of Joyce Anstruther Graham Plaszek, 1901-1953)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

For those of us who work with persecuted Christians, sacrifice is a concept that we learn to highly value. We witness the tremendous suffering and hardships that our brothers and sisters endure (and even embrace) as they demonstrate courage and a readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of Christ. And we rightfully seek to imitate them.

Having written and researched extensively on the theology of suffering, persecution and discipleship, sacrifice is a word that has come up frequently in my study and for good reason. Sacrificial service for God is called for if His purposes are to be fulfilled in this world. This is a biblical concept worth emphasizing and adopting in this day and age when spirituality has degenerated to individualistic self-satisfaction for so many.

This morning, however, God showed me something about sacrifice that I am not sure that I would have received had I not been in hospital for the past eleven days with a dangerously low white blood count, a fevered mind and a discouraged soul.

My tenth morning at Credit Valley Hospital dawned early today with a song running through my mind that I had not heard in quite some time. Its main refrain is taken from a scriptural passage that I had read not long ago in my morning devotions but which had not impacted me at the time. The passage is 1 Samuel 15:22 and the song is the Keith Green classic "To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice."

My mind was clear, I didn't have a fever (the first time that I had happened in 11 days) and I was surrounded with the sense that the Lord was trying to get something through to me. He did not hesitate to speak. He showed me that I had fallen into the snare of sacrificing for things that He was not asking me to do (at least not at this time). As I prepare to take on the CEO responsibilities here at The Voice of the Martyrs in January, I know that my primary job right now needs to be that of helping equip the wonderful staff that God has given us as we move through this time of transition and growth. My busyness in the past few weeks preparing for classes and consultation meetings had so preoccupied me that other responsibilities had been neglected. I had put off equipping team leaders, preparing for upcoming vital meetings and spending time encouraging my colleagues and getting to know and develop two of our newest staff members.

And so with one fell swoop, on August 16, all of the sacrifices went for nothing. I was hospitalized and both the classes and consultation meetings were cancelled. I felt lower than I had for years.

Until this morning, when God helped me to see that sacrifice that is not rooted and finds fruition in obedience to the voice of God is, as the prophet Samuel said to Saul, presumption and can fester into active rebelliousness. I had not fallen so far as rebellion, but I has been guilty of not listening to God as closely as I should have and presuming that the good things that I was busy with were the things that He wanted to me to do. At another time, they might have been (and they may very well be yet again in the near future). But as I examined my heart, I considered just how much I had prayed about these opportunities when they had first crossed my desk several months ago? Not enough, I had to confess. The reason? Simple. They are things that I am gifted in, things that our mission is all about, things that I delight in, things that God has used me in the past to glorify His name with. They were things that God might ordinarily want me to do. But obviously not this time and I hadn't taken the time to find that out until it was too late.

I still believe that God calls for sacrificial cross-bearers. But He calls for those who follow only Jesus and are not walking on their own, even well-intentioned, paths of discipleship.

The tricky part is that the points of diversion between the two paths are not always so easy to see. But I am committed to listening more to what God is saying BEFORE I commit myself to a specific task or accept an invitation. I have been guilty of not being so good at this in the past.

In the wee hours of this morning, as God ministered to me on my hospital bed, I confessed to Him my failure to listen to His voice in these matters. As I did so, in my mind, I saw a gate open and He told me that I was ready to go. What grace! What a Master I serve! I felt Him sweep away all of my responsibilities; in my mind I saw them rush away in a great, dark river and I knew that I was ready to begin again. By 3:00 this afternoon, I was on my way home from the hospital. Still weak and certainly not ready to take on the world again quite yet. But I am deeply moved by what God did in my life today and I wanted to share this with you.
To obey is better than sacrifice. This is where it begins; obedience, listening to God and acting accordingly. Nothing terribly profound, I know, but something that is so very easy for leaders, in particular, to forget. The "Saul" principles of equating sacrifice with obedience, of rushing ahead while neglecting God's voice is an ever-present risk for us.

Presuming to be doing God's will without really having listened to God's Word afresh can be well-intentioned and easy when one has had a record of success in the past. But it opens the door for disaster for the future.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blogging on a Rainy Day in the Hospital

The rain has been increasing all day as Tropical Storm Ernesto makes her dying gasps over southern Ontario this weekend. As I woke up this morning, fevered and with a headache on this, my eighth day as a guest of the Credit Valley Hospital, I watched the clouds roll in and my mood was not unlike the weather outside.

When my wife and I took me to Emergency last Saturday after watching my temperature rise over two hours (something that no cancer patient undergoing chemo can ignore), I was told that that I would likely be home within a couple of days. Eight days later, I am still being told that I will likely be able to return home in a couple of days. The truth is, I know that I am not ready to go home; the fever returns each night (as do the headaches) and in the morning I feel weak and dizzy. My blood pressure is low and my blood counts are still low (even after receiving two units of blood earlier in the week).

And so I wait, while the rain gently falls.

I confess to not being very happy at having to completely cancel my teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary last week and I have already cancelled some consultations meetings I was going to do on dependency in Montana next week. These were things that I had planned and prepared for, at a considerable sacrifice over the two weeks previously, in particular. But a low grade fever and dropping blood counts cut these plans and preparations off at the knees. As I look ahead to the fall, I have concerns. Nothing seems certain right now.

And so, as the remnants of Ernesto fall to the earth here in Mississauga this evening, I reflect on the future and acknowledge once again how I need to leave room for God to alter my plans. I retain my confidence that God is in charge of my life and nothing comes into it that does not first pass through His loving, sovereign hands. This past week did not take Him by surprise. And my future does not bring Him concern.

I can trust this God even in hospital rooms on rainy days in Mississauga.