How the Hero Overcame the Villain

I am writing the story of my life: my memoirs of the sixteen years in which God, the protagonist Hero, was preparing me to serve Him while Satan, the antagonist Villain opposed Him in every way. Here is one such incident:

 Satan Meant it for Evil, but God Meant it for Good.

For four months, I worked with a crew doing seismic oil exploration in the Three Hills area. The crew was a typical, hard-drinking, wild-living bunch of roughnecks. They knew I was a Christian and was earning money to attend Bible school that fall. But they wanted no “religious talk” from me.

Just before the September long weekend, the crew chief, Stan, and his girlfriend were driving up to Edmonton. He was giving a ride to Jimmy, another guy in the crew.

“Can I ride with you as far as Red Deer?” I said. “No problem,” Stan said, “but make sure you are ready for us to pick you up at your house on Sunday. I’ll phone you to let you know what time we’ll come by.”

That Sunday afternoon Stan called, “We’ll pick you up at your house tonight at nine o’clock. Be ready.”

“Stan, I will still be at church at that time. Please pick me up there. It is only one block off your route, right near the highway. It’s much closer than my house.”
“Well, okay,” he said, but I sensed resentment in his voice.

When the car arrived, I saw that Jimmy was driving and Stan, the crew chief, was in the backseat, cuddling with his girlfriend. As I got in the front seat, Stan scolded me. “I hate you changing plans on me. And especially for making me pick you up at a church!”

I didn’t say anything, and after fussing at me some more, he turned his attention back to his girl. He had often made it plain he didn’t think much of “church people.” But something was about to interfere with this pattern of thought.

A half hour later, as we were driving down the two-lane highway at sixty miles an hour, the car ahead of us abruptly slowed down. Jimmy slammed on the brakes, and to our horror we swerved hard to the left, sliding sideways into oncoming traffic. The right front brakes on Stan’s car were defective, something Stan hadn’t warned Jimmy about. The last thing I saw through my side window before the crash was a pair of headlights only yards away.

Next thing I knew, there was glass everywhere; my left wrist was broken, and my head hurt from smashing out the side window. People ran up and helped us out of the wreck, then held us up as we stumbled to a nearby house where I sat on a couch, dazed and in pain.

A policeman came in, and after talking to the driver, asked, “Who was the front seat passenger?” I raised my good right hand. “You are a lucky guy. The door post on the hinge side, absorbed much of the impact. If the car had hit the middle of the door, you would not have survived.”
Hmm, I thought, another narrow escape, someone out there sure wants me dead, but it’s good to know Someone Else wants me alive.

Since Stan’s car was a total wreck, he worried aloud about how we were going to get to Three Hills still fifty miles away.
“I’ll phone my Dad.” I said, “He’ll be in bed, but he’ll come, pick us up and take us to Three Hills.” I phoned, and Dad came.

Arriving in Three Hills after an hour’s drive, Dad refused the money Stan wanted to give him, saying, “Jack and I are Christians, and when we help someone in trouble, it’s as if we are helping Jesus.”

With that Dad turned the car and drove home, completing a 140-mile-long demonstration of Christian love.

Jesus and the Sign of Jonah: Easter Thoughts

One day when a group of scoffers called out for Jesus to perform some sign for them, he called them a wicked and adulterous bunch and told them the only sign they would get would be the sign of the prophet Jonah.
“Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so I, the Son of Man, will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mat. 12:39-40)

Here are some more similarities as well as some contrasts:

  1. Both Jesus and Jonah died, were buried, out of sight, away from God, after their death and before their resurrection. Jesus’ body in a grave, in the heart of the earth. Jonah’s body in a fish’s belly, in the heart of the sea.
  2. Both traveled down. Jesus from heaven to earth, to a grave, into the realm of the dead. Jonah down to Joppa, down into a ship, down into the hold, into the sea, to the bottom of the sea.
  3. The deaths of both provoked natural phenomena. At Jesus’ death the sun darkened and there was an earthquake. At Jonah’s death the storm stopped instantly and there was a great calm.
  4. The deaths of both provoked exclamations about the natural phenomena from bystanders. At Jesus death the centurion said, This was the Son of God. The sailors who threw Jonah overboard said, This was a prophet.
  5. Both were resurrected after three days. Jesus came out of the grave on Easter Sunday. Jonah was vomited onto the shore by the whale and was given new life.
  6. Both clearly knew the will of God. Jesus obeyed, only spoke and acted in accordance to God’s will. He went to Jerusalem to certain death. Jonah disobeyed, ran into the opposite direction and out of God’s will.
  7. Both were prophets and spoke God’s message. Jesus was eager to speak, throughout his life and to his disciples after his death and resurrection. Jonah was reluctant and only spoke God’s message after his resurrection.
  8. Both prayed. Jesus prayed throughout his life, for his followers and for the nation, in full submission to God. Jonah only prayed after his resurrection, for his own comfort and was angry at God.
  9. Both were executed. Jesus’ executioners didn’t understand what God was doing. They eagerly killed him without delay. Jonah’s executioners saw God at work. They killed Jonah reluctantly putting it off as long as possible, asking God’s forgiveness.
  10. Both were obedient. Jesus all his life long, even unto death. Jonah only after his resurrection.
  11. In both cases sleepers were awakened and scolded for not praying. Jesus’ companions slept and he awakened and scolded them for not watching in prayer with him. Jonah himself slept and the sailors awakened and scolded him for not praying for salvation.
  12. Both offered themselves to die in order to save others. Jesus was lifted up on a cross to die slowly and in agony and public shame over many hours. Jonah was drowned, a quick easy and private death.
  13. Both were resurrected. Jesus sent his disciples to preach to the world at enmity with God but loved by Him. Jonah was sent to preach to Nineveh, the enemy of God’s people, but loved by God.
  14. Both preached a message of warning. Jesus gladly preached out of love, did not want anyone to perish but all to repent. Jonah preached reluctantly, not wanting them to repent, but to perish.
  15. Both died and after three days were returned to life. Jonah was resurrected with the same body he had before, one that would die again of old age. Jesus was resurrected with a new, ever-living body.

This Holy Week, as we think about these similarities and contrasts between Jesus and Jonah, may we realize that by his Spirit, the resurrected Jesus in living his life through us. We are more than followers of Jesus; we have within us the capacity to be replicas of Jesus.

Just as he lived his life loving people and doing good, so we too can live lives loving people and doing good to those around us.

The Time to Speak

A professor from a German university visited the Canela village briefly when Jo and I worked there as linguists, teachers and Bible translators. He studied the Canela belief system and, once, when we had coffee together, he mentioned the Canelas’ fear of ghosts and evil spirits. My response startled him.

“But there are no ghosts or spirits!” he said. I chuckled and said, “Remember, you are talking with a Bible translator, one who believes in God who is a Spirit.” He looked at me as if he had never seen me before.

“Jack,” he said, “You are the first educated person I have ever met who believes in God.” I was not surprised since I knew that secular humanism was the credo of many European countries, even back then, forty years ago.

Canada is rapidly catching up. People are capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God. This is the core of secular humanism, and it this religion is spreading rapidly throughout North America. Lawmakers operate within this framework and courts decide cases that result in anti-Christian actions.

A Recent Example
In the summer of 2018, Trinity Western University Law school was denied accreditation because the university requires students to adhere to biblical standards.
The LGBTQ lobby took TWU to court because students on applying had to sign a document stating that they would abstain from any sexual immorality. The court found in favour of the LGBTQ lobby stating that TWU standards do not match the court’s definition of diversity.
In other words, any view is acceptable, except the biblical Christian view.

Humanists Forget History
The history of higher education in the western world, however, shows that Christians were at the forefront of meeting human needs, be it hospitals, orphanages or schools. Many post-secondary educational institutions were founded by Christians to prepare clergy and teachers, even as far back as 1663, with the founding of Universite Laval in Quebec.

An Honest Atheist
It’s almost impossible to read a news report or view a newscast without some reference to human rights. Often the view is that secular humanists are upholding human rights whereas Christians deny people their rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Chris Berg is an outspoken atheist, and he is honest when he writes, “Virtually all the secular ideas that non-believers value have Christian origins. It was theologians and religiously minded philosophers that developed concepts of individual human rights. The same with progress, reason, and equality before the law. It is fantasy to suggest that these values emerged out of thin air once people started questioning God.”

God Made Human Beings in His Image
For thousands of years, Christians have believed and taught that people are not just higher animals; we are images of God Himself. The people we live with and among, the people we talk to and talk about, all are made in the image of God. Therefore, every human being has intrinsic value, and is worthy of respect.

God Wrote the Operating Manual
The Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments prohibit actions against people that would counter their God-given rights:

  • Murder: the right to life
  • Sexual immorality: the exclusive right to their own spouse
  • Lying: the right to truth, to trust and be trusted
    Overwork: the right to a day of rest from work
  • Stealing: the right to own property
  • There is even a command against merely wanting what other people have.
  • The rest of the Ten Commandments focus on the human right to relate to God and with God in the way that He wants people to relate.

The concepts Western cultures value came from God through His Word and His people, yet secular humanists deny God exists and disparage His people. They talk about freedom, but ignore the fact that our Canadian society is free because it was built on the values taught in the Bible.

By actively seeking to silence God’s voice and the voice of Christians, they are destroying the very foundation of freedom that made this country great. Christian voices are being silenced today in education, law, politics, and even sports.

What Can Christians Do?
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Ps.11:3 The Psalmist goes on to say that “God is on His heavenly throne. He examines the righteous.” What does God see? Silent Christians? Believers afraid to speak for fear of what might happen to them? Surely not! God has given every Christian a voice. Surely today is a time to speak! Our words, written or spoken, are read or heard by others, and when they contain biblical truth, they influence other people. Christians must speak up, defend the laws that uphold Christian values and speak against those laws that deny and destroy these principles.

Now is the Time
Someday Canadian Christians will no longer be allowed to speak, in our blogs, our books, our magazine articles, on social media, or even in our churches.

Countries that developed without the influence of Christians have already silenced believers.

God is looking at us today. May He see believers who write, teach, speak, preach, protest, and proclaim His truth to an antagonistic world.