Friday, August 30, 2013

Meditation – what is it?

So far I have discussed some of the fears that I have had regarding meditation.  I have also discussed quieting my mind.
Meditation is more than simply quieting my mind.  It is a filling of it.

Now to be honest I am struggling in learning how to meditate.  But here are a couple of ways that I have tried to meditate – there may be better ways to do this – I am open to suggestions.

First, meditation is linked with prayer and memorization.  I memorize a passage and then discuss what it means with Jesus.  I am not reading other books or internet sites.  Sitting and praying.  Trying to talk with Jesus.  Exploring and pondering what this means when it comes to the different parts of my life: my marriage or parenting or pastoring or friendships…

Second, is to just ponder one reality of God.  Letting it sink into my being.  For example meditating on his love.  Just sitting attempting to take in the fact that I am the beloved of God.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meditation – empty your mind?

Is meditation about emptying your mind?
Biblical meditation is more about filling your mind with one thing.

However meditation does involve quieting our minds.  There are some who would object to this claiming that this is just different words for emptying your mind.  But I know that my mind is often chattering. Thinking of the book I am reading, recalling the movie I watched last night, imagining the one I am waiting to come out, reviewing what I need to do today, replaying the conversation that didn’t go so well with my wife, worrying about my kids… and on and on it goes.  Chattering almost non-stop.
Sometimes I just need to quiet my mind so that I can listen better to Jesus.  Quiet my mind so that I can actually focus on what I am reading in the Bible.  Quiet my mind so I can meditate.

A couple of things that I have done that help quiet my mind.
Focus on my breathing for a couple of minutes.
Repeat a phrase.  One I use “Abba, I belong to you”.
When thoughts come in acknowledge my thoughts and then put them aside (sometimes even write them on note pad so I don’t have to worry about forgetting).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Meditation – an invitation for the devil

The way I responded to meditation most of my life.  What was I afraid of?

Empty your mind.  I was taught that this was the essence of meditation.
Empty your mind was to invite the devil in.  If I empty my mind a demon was lurking ready to pounce and take control.


I don’t see any biblical evidence for that.
This whole idea assumes that a Christian can “accidentally” be possessed by a demon.  And it would be “accidental”.  Meditating, even emptying your mind, is not actually violating any commandment.  There is no biblical command saying to not empty your mind.  Also it is not actually saying “Devil please take possession of me.”
So why was I taught this?
Not 100% sure.  Most likely two things were at play.  There was nervousness that meditation could lead us to base our faith on whatever we imagine instead of the bible.  Secondly a nervousness that if we started to meditate, since our church had no resources to teach us, we would go to eastern religions for guidance, ending up mixing our beliefs with theirs.

For the record I do not think that the essence of biblical meditation is emptying your mind.  I will talk about that in another post.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meditation – why are we afraid?

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2

I grew up being afraid of meditation.
There was always this sense of forbidding when it came to meditation. It was taboo.
Certainly everyone would say they believed in meditation.  After all it is in the bible.  But it was hardly mentioned.  When it was, it was in a hushed whispered way.  Not too loudly or clearly.  And move on to another topic quickly.  I learned to study the bible, memorize it, read it but never meditate on it.
Even today the word “meditate” sets off alarm bells for many people.  To say or encourage people to “meditate” is seen as liberal or emergent or New Age.
But there it sits in the bible.

Why are we afraid?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Update 8 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hello all. First off I want to thank you all for praying for us and for Oliver. In my last update I mentioned that Oliver (a 16 year old student in my class) had been involved in a motorcycle accident. The last update that I got from my interpreter was on Wednesday. Oliver had been taken off life support and was breathing on his own now. He had opened his eyes but had not been able to talk yet. The doctors are quite optimistic and think that he should recover quite well from his injuries. As far as his passenger though, he was taken off life support but had to be put back on as he was not breathing very well on his own. Please continue to hold these boys in your prayers.
I also want to thank you for praying for Jacolyn. She is doing much better and seems to back to her normal self. She has been feeling good and has not had the pain in her ear like she had for a while. Please pray that she will continue to stay healthy while we are here.
As we draw closer to the end of our mission here Jennifer is dealing with a lot of emotions. She is excited about going home in just over two weeks to see her friends at home but also sad that we are leaving her friends here. Please pray that she will not get to overwhelmed with the changes that we will be facing in the next two weeks.
Cheryl is doing quite well. She is the glue that is holding a lot of things together here. She is the one that is mostly effected by the emotions of the rest of the family and has been dealing with that very well. Patients is not one of my strongest points and she has the ability to be that emotional support that all of us need here now. I thank God that she is able to be that support and backing that we need. Please pray that God will give her continued health and strength to be the support that we so much need her to be.
We had another interesting, challenging and fulfilling week in the DR. On Monday in my afternoon class we got onto the topic of how husbands are to treat their wives. Here in the DR the women are not treated very well sometimes. Actually most of the time the women are not treated with a whole lot of respect at all. In my class we got onto this discussion again not intentionally but through a discussion about how one of my students called his wife to ask her to bring a coffee to the class for me. This guys' wife has been bringing me a cup of coffee nearly every afternoon. The coffee she brings is extremely strong and contains what seems to be about 2 tablespoons of sugar in approximately 3/4 cup of coffee. I never put sugar in my coffee but I just smile, say thank you and drink it anyway. Anyway when he used another students phone to call her he was very polite and treated her quite nicely so the other guys started joking with him that he should have been more stern with her and insisted that she bring the coffee immediately. When she brought the coffee the guys proceeded to tell her about their conversation. At this point I asked my class "who is the queen of your house?". To which they responded "well our wives of coarse.". I then asked "If she is the queen then who is the king in your house?". Their response "well we are.". To which I replied " If you are the king of your house and we are to model our lives after Christ, The King of Kings then we are to serve our wives and not rule over them sternly. If you want your wife to be a queen in your house you need to treat her as such.". There was silence in the room. This is a concept that isn't taught here and likely something these men have never heard before.
On Wednesday we I was teaching about electronics and Ohm's law when somehow the conversation got onto how much we had to pay for electricity. Here in the DR there is a very high percentage of homes that are hooked up to the electrical grid without a meter. This of coarse is done by the home owner by climbing the pole and hooking it up themselves. Not only is it dangerous it is also not legal. There was a lot of grumbling and complaining about how much it costs to have electricity. They asked how much we had to pay for electricity in Canada. I told them how much the average electric bill was. Then they asked if we have electric power there 24 hrs a day 7 days a week? I told them we did. They started to complain about the fact that they only had electricity 1/2 days at best. I stopped them and asked how many of the people in my class actually paid for ALL the power that they used. to which I got no response. I then explained to them that instead of complaining about not having power all day they should by thankful for the power that they are getting and that the power company does not cut the wires down to their houses. I told them that in reality they are stealing for the electric company (the government here). I also explained to them that stealing is stealing no matter if it is from the government, your neighbour or the church. They asked what we would call such a person in Canada. I told them they would be called a criminal or a thief. I guess I will see on Monday how many people come back to my class as they are not used to foreigners talking to them so bluntly.
This may not have anything to do with small engine repair but it does have a lot to do with integrity and that is something that is much needed here. God seems to be opening doors for all types of conversation and teaching that I am not expecting and have not specifically prepared for.
Wednesday was my last day of teaching for this week as the pastor couple that we are working with here decided to treat us for a three day mini holiday as a thank you for coming to work here with them. They took us to a couple of beaches along the south shore to the tip of the Samana Peninsula. It is only about 200 km from where we are living but with the roads here it takes about 4-5 hrs to drive. We got to see a lot of beautiful scenery and had a good time of relaxation and fellowship. We thank God for this time to refresh and regroup.
Thank you again for all your support and please keep us in your prayers. Please pray that all of us would be able to speak boldly when we need to be bold, tenderly when compassion is needed and the wisdom to know what to say.

Thank you and God Bless
  Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer

Friday, August 16, 2013

Awe of God

“Your wickedness will punish you;
Your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the LORD your God
and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty
Jeremiah 2:19

What does it mean to “have no awe of” God?

Awe invokes thoughts of: respect and honor, surprise and wonder, power and majesty.

To lose our awe of God means that we no longer respect and honor him.  God simply becomes a thing that we tell people we believe in.  But we pay no attention to him, except for possibly Sunday mornings.  There is no craving for his advice and guidance.  He is part of our lives, but in an unimportant way.

To lose our awe of God means that we are no longer surprised by him.  We are never caught in a place of absolute wonder.  Everything about God becomes predictable.  We know exactly how he would respond in all situations.  All mystery of God is removed.

To lose our awe of God means that we have no sense of his power and majesty.  God is treated like a kindly old grandfather.  Someone who is sweet but powerless.  We pray to him not because he is awesome and mighty.  We pray because we should, and it will make God feel so good.  Who cares what he thinks about how we live, after all what can he actually do?  Everything in life is filtered through what can we do, not what can God do.

It is “evil and bitter” for us when we “have no awe of” God.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 13ish - Update from Travis

Travis Harms (a young adult from my church) is doing his internship in northern Manitoba this summer.  He is asking for people to pray for him.  Here is the week 13ish update:
This past two weeks I have worked at Steeprock Bay Bible Camp and they were an exhausting but a rewarding two weeks. The first week I was counseling a cabin of guys from Sapotaweyak and one of them rededicated his life to the Lord. I saw a growing interest in the Bible and spiritual things in another lad. They all shared some of the hardships of living on the reserve and my heart breaks for some of them. One guy had lost a brother to drowning a few years back and others had it rough as well. I thought to myself that there is no way that I can help these kids with what they are dealing with. I cannot relate because I do not go through the same things day in and day out. The only thing I can do is love them and show that I care and pray for them. Another friend from Cormorant that came to camp with questions about God and heard the gospel, yet he is still held back by something and feels that he needs to be clean before he can come to God. I chatted with him on the bus ride back to the Pas. I will visit him in Cormorant and hope that he comes to faith.

The next week was teen's camp and I was the speaker. I did not get to know the kids as well that week compared to counseling but I was glad for the opportunity. Teens camp is different because there are kids that have come to camp for years and years and years and more are Christians than the junior weeks. I had some good talks with a two different guys from Sap and I am glad to see the Lord work in both of their lives. I notice in a lot of the kids that they want to succeed in life, they want to be strong and proud and make a bright future for themselves. Even if that means leaving the reserve and their families to get out of the environment that can be negative for young people.

On Thursday last week was the 8th Annual Bike Ride for Suicide Awareness put on by Phillip and Georgina Constant. Their family has been affected by suicide and so they started a bike ride to raise awareness and to show people that they care. The ride was well attended, I came up from camp to take part for the day. We rode from the Saskatchewan border to the Pas, 25 miles. There were many people that wrote names of people on the back of their shirts to show who they had lost to suicide. At the end was a barbecue and the mayor of the Pas came out. It was a good time of riding together and meeting people I wouldn't normally meet. I had a good chat with the Junior Chief about his dreams for his people.

At the bike ride I also observed the cultural practice of elders first. I sort of noticed it but when William "Shorty" Lathlin announced the beginning of eating, he said, "elders first" and then I remembered how I'd seen that practice before but that is when it clicked. Another practice is nicknames, William Lathlin is "Shorty", the bus driver is "Turtles". Sometimes folks do not even know someone's real name, only their nickname. It happens in the Pas and in Cormorant.

Family Camp is this week, I'll head back to Cormorant soon as well and prayers would be appreciated for that as I visit folks there again. Kene and Millie Jackson are coming out this week too. Should be exciting!!

-Travis Harms

Update 7 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hi again from Sosua, Dominican Republic.
This week again has been a somewhat difficult week. There have been quite a few raw emotions. With Jacolyn coming out of the hospital and recovering at home we were breathing a lot easier as things were starting to get back to normal. Then Monday we got news that Janelle Knutt was killed in a car accident. Janelle was a good friend of Jacolyn's. Janelle's parents Tony and Terry Knutt are good friends of ours and Tony has been Cheryl's boss for 5 years now. This news hit us all quite hard as Janelle was Jacolyn's age and it comes as a reminder of how fragile life really is. Please pray for the Knutt family as they deal with the loss of their daughter, sister, grand daughter.
On Tuesday we heard that Oliver (a 16 year old student in my class) had been in a motorcycle accident on Monday evening. He was passing an SUV and clipped the drivers side enough to bounce him into the oncoming traffic where he hit a big truck and he and his passenger ended up under the truck getting run over. Both boys were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Oliver had to have emergency surgery but started to regain consciousness the next day. Because of the nature of his injuries the doctors decided that putting him into an induced coma would be the best thing that they could do for him. On Friday we heard that he had opened his eyes but we do not know any more than that. Please pray for Oliver and his family as they are waiting for and praying for healing. Also we have not heard anything about the other boy that was his passenger. Please pray that he and his family will feel Gods presence in this time of trial.
On Wednesday we were informed that a 16 year old boy from Yakima Washington drowned during a church event near Yakima. We have quite a few friends that attend the church that he was a part of. In 2012 Cheryl and I went on a Medical/Dental mission with a group from this church. We ask that you please pray for his family and the church family as they deal with this tragedy.
On Wednesday evening we all attended church in Villa Paraiso again. It had been a couple of weeks since Jacolyn had been there and she was met with many smiles and hugs.
On a little different note I was back teaching this week and Cheryl and the girls were back to work in the village on Thursday. My classes are going very well. Due to some personal reasons my interpreter could not be with us for a couple of classes this week and I managed to have classes with out him there. It was not easy but it worked.
I also had the opportunity to share a part of my testimony with my class this week. It was not planned but some of the questions that were asked led us into a discussion about financial matters which led to the topic of saving and giving, which led to the topic of stewardship and ultimately to me giving part of my testimony. Funny how God can lead from teaching about fuel systems on gasoline engines to giving a personal testimony. We need to always be prepared.  1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. ..."(NIV).
Thank you for your support in prayer. God Bless and please continue to pray for us as we serve here in the Dominican Republic.

Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Monday, August 12, 2013

Return to God

If you, Israel, will return,
then return to me,”
Declares the LORD
Jeremiah 4:16

How many times in my life have I said “I am going to pray more”, “I am going to read my bible more”, “I am going to do…”?
How many times have these simply been words?  No actions.  None at all.

Stop just talking.  Stop saying “I will seek God, I will change my life, I will return to God.”

Just do it!

Friday, August 09, 2013

His loving eye

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8

It is in love that God disciplines us.

He is not exasperated, exhausted of our constant failure, reluctantly giving us “just one more chance”.

It is with his loving eye on us that he teaches and guides us.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Faith: loyalty

Loyalty is another translation for the Greek word pistis, often translated as faith.  (Citizenship: Paul on Peace and Politics, Gordon Zerbe).

To have faith in Jesus means that we are loyal to him.

Loyalty: willing to sacrifice, defend, obey, be there for, promote, and die for.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Update 6 - Chris and Cheryl

Chris and Cheryl (and their family) are serving in the Dominican Republic for the summer.

Hi again from the north shore of the Dominican Republic. This week has been very different from the rest of our time here this far. Our daughter Jacolyn kept having a fever and was feeling continually worse over the week end after our last update. On Sunday night her fever was going very high (104 F) and the only way we could keep it in control was to give her Tylenol every 4 hours and we had to force her to take a shower to cool her down at one point. Monday morning I (Chris) went to the village to teach my class. At 10:30 in the morning Cheryl called me and told me that Jacolyn was still having high fevers and was starting to feel really bad. At noon We took Jacolyn to the emergency room at the Hospital in Cabarete where they gave her a quick wipe down to cool her off and put her on IV to rehydrate her. After doing some blood tests and checking her over they diagnosed her with Dengue Fever which is a virus that is spread by mosquito bites. She also still had an ear infection.
Some of the symptoms that accompany Dengue are high fever, severe head aches, severe arthritis type pain in the joints and over all lack of energy. With Dengue there is also usually a drop in white blood cells and platelets in the blood. In severe cases if left untreated the white cell count drops low enough to get to the point where you start bleeding internally. While we were there they had another young child that had come in with dangerously low levels and we found out that they nearly lost him.
Cheryl and I spent our week this week trading off with staying with Jacolyn at the hospital. Cheryl took the day shift and I took the nights. Needless to say the classes that I was going to teach this week were cancelled.
On Tuesday morning the doctor came in and told me that Jacolyn's white cell and Platelet counts were still going down but they thought she was going to start to improve soon. Wednesday morning they took another blood test and found that her white blood cells were starting to go up a bit but her platelet levels were still dropping. Her fever was gone now but she was getting a rash and her hands and feet were starting to get itchy. The doctor told us that the rash and the itching were likely a good sign as this frequently happens close to the end stages of the virus. In the afternoon they took Jacolyn for a chest X-ray to check for fluid in her lungs because she had been on IV and in bed for a couple of days. They also did an ultra sound to check her liver as one of the things that can happen with Dengue Fever is that the patient can develop what is referred to as Reactive Hepatitis which is a liver condition that clears up after a couple of months. Jacolyn's lungs were clear but the ultra sound did indicate that her liver was some what compromised. They also told us though that Jacolyn would have to stay in the hospital until her Platelet level started to go back up again.
On  Thursday morning after doing another blood test the doctor told us that not only had her platelet level started to come back up again, it was back in the normal range. They told Jacolyn that she would be discharged from the hospital but she had to stay at the house to recuperate for the next week. She needs to go in every day for three days to get an antibiotic injection and on the fourth day she needs to go in for a follow up blood test and another ultra sound to check her liver. She was told that she needs to stay away from greasy or deep fried foods for two months now to give her liver a chance to recover properly.
We were also told that we needed to be extra careful now when Jacolyn goes up to the village. She needs to wear long pants and use bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away as another bout of Dengue right now could get very serious very quickly.

Thank you to all who prayed for us as we went through this very difficult week. God is good, Jacolyn is getting better and is out of the hospital. Please continue to pray for complete healing and for protection from any further illness or infection for Jacolyn and the rest of the family.

Thank you and God Bless

Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters  

Friday, August 02, 2013

Faith: trust

Faith in Jesus means that we trust him.

Trust is more than belief.  It is risky.  We trust with our lives.

But to trust we need to believe.

  • Believe that Jesus actually cares about me.  If he doesn’t why trust him?
  • Believe that Jesus knows what he is doing.  This is my life.  I am not going to trust someone who is nice but clueless.
  • Believe that Jesus can actually help me.  I need help.  

I will risk my life and trust Jesus if I truly believe.

Update on Jacolyn

Hello everyone, I just wanted to update you all on Jacolyn's condition. The doctor told us today that not only did her platelet level start to come up, it is actually back in the normal range. She is well enough that she got discharged from the hospital. She needs to go back in every day for the next three days for an antibiotic injection and on Monday she needs to go back to the hospital for a follow up blood test and another ultrasound to check her liver. She was told to stay at the house for the next week to continue to recover. Also she needs to stay away from greasy foods (like french fries or anything deep fried) for the next two months to give her liver a chance to recover fully. The problem with her liver is something that is common with Dengue Fever and is temporary. She just needs to be careful what she eats for a while.
Jacolyn also has to be very careful to wear long pants and use mosquito repellent all the time while we are in the villages as another case of Dengue now could get very serious very quickly.

Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray for healing and for protection against further illness or infection.

Please also pray for the elders in the church in Villa Paraiso as two of them are sick right now and Pastor Jim's wife Debora is also suffering from head aches as well. There are a lot of cases of Dengue here now and severe headaches and over all body and joint pain are symptoms.

Thank you and God Bless
Chris, Cheryl, Jacolyn and Jennifer Peters

Thursday, August 01, 2013

What kind of reader are you?

I am most strongly a "library lover", "re-reader", "comfort reader" and "cross-under".

Please include attribution to Laura E. Kelly with this graphic. (Click to view at original large size.)
What Species of Reader Are You?--Infographic
Visit for more about books, reading, and authors.