Sunday, April 27, 2008



A number of years ago my wife and I flew to Bermuda to relax at a former estate, located on six acres of landscaped gardens overlooking Ely's Harbour, that had been converted to a family-style resort by a Christian trust. Morning devotions are held in a lounge and grace is said before meals which are announced by an ancient ship's bell and served family style. Willowbank is simply a serene and restful alternative to the glitzy resorts, with wonderful views and marvelous beaches nonetheless.

After each morning’s devotional service, I snorkeled at either of the two private beaches and learned much about the beautiful underworld of fish, coral, and other aquatic habitats. To watch octopus hide from you or watch the beds of lobster retreat into their holes of safety was interesting to me. To view the angel fish, sergeant majors, parrot fish make their presence known in their territories was beyond anything I had seen before, because I was raised in the interior of the states and never spent any time in the ocean. Because of this I was very interested in all the new fish or water life I spent the evenings researching all I could on them.

On the second day of underwater diving I began to notice what looked like large ant hills in the sandy areas where there was no grass or growth. I asked my diving friend what it was and he was not sure. So I talked to one of the locals who worked at this famed place.

To my surprise, these were dwellings for a type of glow worm or fire worm that only appears for 3 nights after a full moon from June to September. We happen to be there at the right time of the year.

That very night was the night for the happening so some other guests joined us at an elevated pier to watch this unique event. These worms have an amazing life with an even more amazing bio-rhythmic accuracy. On the third night after the full moon, at exactly 56 minutes after sunset, the show begins. The female worm, looking like a one-inch glow stick, lights up green using a bio-luminescent process and comes to the surface. There she swims in a circle leaving behind a clouded ring of glowing eggs. Seeing this, the male, looking like a one-inch flashing glow stick missile, zooms up from the bottom of the ocean spreads around a bit of glowing substance to fertilize the eggs. Then they both die. The whole show lasted for ten minutes and would’t happen again for a lunar month.

They both give up life to produce life for their offspring.

Jesus Christ, the light of the world, came that we might have life. What a life He gives.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.--John 1:4

Sunday, April 20, 2008



Innsbruck, Austria is a gorgeous city nestled in a valley between two beautiful mountains in the Alps. While visiting for a few days in the city we noticed a large ski jump that had been built for the Olympics, and wanted to visit the area for a closer look.
After arriving we viewed the amphitheater type seating where people were able to see the ski jumps with great visibility. What a sight I thought as we kept moving in the empty facility. Then I requested if I could go to the top and get a view of what the jumper sees. Permission was given, and to heighten my fear for these skiers come the realization that the first thing the person saw was a church surrounded by a large cemetery. It appeared even before the area he was to land became visible.
Why in the world would anyone want to do this anyway? Hundreds of feet in the air, and as he descends he gains tremendous speed as he sails into the air helpless before landing into a small area he couldn't even see until near the end of the jump. And then he had only a little time in which to stop before going into the crowd. Why? I thought. Then the cemetery reappeared. I meditated a moment. Why do men flee through life going down hill all of his life, heading aimlessly to the grave? He started at the top, but because of sin goes down, down, until the cemetery. He needs to stop before the end and give thanks to God and be reconciled to the position Christ desires.
Matthew 18:14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one ……… perish.” God's will is that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16).

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I missed my kiss in New Brunswick

For many years my hobby was taking photos of covered bridges and traveling many states and countries to find one. I have preached in New Brunswick many times and usually when I am there stay with some friends in Hartland, a small town in New Brunswick that has a population of about 900. My first time in Hartland I did not realize the 1,282 foot Hartland Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the world. It was originally constructed by the Hartland Bridge Company, which was formed by citizens on both sides of the St. John River.

The original completion date was to be May 14, 1901, but as the day approached, an emergency forced the first person to cross the bridge twelve hours early. At about 9:00 pm on Monday the 13th of May, Dr. Estey responded to an urgent call to attend to a patient on the west side of the river. Dr. Estey approached the bridge and revealed to the workers, his circumstances. Workers then placed planks so he could drive across the bridge. However, it was on July 4, 1901 the bridge was officially opened with the following tolls charged: three cents for pedestrians, six cents for a single horse and wagon, twelve cents for a double team. A strip of twenty tickets could be purchased for fifty cents.

The bid for $27,945.00 was unanimously accepted by the board of directors from Albert Brewer, of Woodstock. In 1898, the Hon. H.R. Emmerson told the Board of trade delegation that a permanent bridge would cost between $70,000.00 and $80,000.00. The bridge would be eight steel spans. Since the bridge was built out of cedar spruce and hard pine and local businessmen were used, the costs came in at a much lower amount.

It was in 1922 that the bridge was covered and in the early years snow had to be hauled and placed on the floor so the sleds could easily travel on it in the winter.

The Olympic torch was carried through the bridge as part of celebrations of the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary.

Besides being the longest covered bridge in the world, it is a wishing bridge. When you enter the bridge, you make a wish, close your eyes, cross your fingers and hold your breath. Make certain you are not the driver! If you can do this for the entire length of the bridge, your wish is very likely to come true.

This tradition is as old as the bridge. Sometimes it is varied by simply saying that you will have good luck if you can hold your breath until you have crossed the entire length of the bridge. A legend has already developed during these years that it is a kissing bridge. This is said to have come about during the years when this covered structure was used mainly by horses and wagons. It is said that young men trained their horses to stop about half way across the bridge. The horse would wait until the couple shared a couple of kisses and then it would continue to the other side of the bridge.

Today, you can see many couples going to the bridge to share a kiss and receive the special feeling of their love with the spirit of the grand old bridge. We are certain that the bridge’s spirit will look favorable on these couples.

A good example of this was in September 1993, when Charmaine Laffoley and David Hunt of Toronto became the first couple to be married on the bridge.

My wife and I have been across it a number of times, but before I learned of the kissing tradition. Next time!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Corrie Ten Boom Heroine of Yesterday

My wife and I were late to an evening service at a Christian Booksellers convention at the Dallas convention center in the early 70’s. Still breathing hard from our near run made haste to find a seat. Hardly rested, we began to hear the awe’s from nearly everyone around us as they peered backwards to the descending aisle to where we were sitting.

We sat in wonderment as a tall redheaded Dutch lady escorted a small stooped bespectacled lady with pig-tailed tied gray hair loosely rolled on each side near the top of her head. The two quietly and slowly sat directly beside me. It was obvious those around us knew who she was, but I was not to learn until after the meeting concluded when I discovered she was Corrie Ten Boom. Now I was in awe for I had read her book The Hiding Place that accounted the story of her family’s experiences in the midst of war and torture. What a story she had to tell.

Corrie was able to rescue many Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazi SS during the Holocaust. The Ten Boom family were devoted Christians who dedicated their lives in service to their fellow man. Their home was always an "open house" for anyone in need. Through the decades the Ten Booms were very active in social work in Haarlem, and their faith inspired them to serve the religious community and society at large.

During the Second World War, the Ten Boom home became a refuge, a hiding place, for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. This non-violent resistance against the Nazi-oppressors was the Ten Booms' way of living out their Christian faith. This faith led them to hide Jews, students who refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and members of the Dutch underground resistance movement.

Through these activities, the Ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.

On February 28, 1944, this family was betrayed and the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) raided their home. The Gestapo set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came to the house. By evening about 30 people had been taken into custody! Casper, Corrie and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day, and were also taken to prison.

Although the Gestapo systematically searched the house, they could not find what they sought most. They suspected Jews were in the house, but the Jews were safely hidden behind a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom. In this "hiding place" were two Jewish men, two Jewish women and two members of the Dutch underground.

Casper (84 years old) died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison. When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, "It would be an honor to give my life for God's ancient people." Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last was the infamous Ravensbruck Concentration Camp located near Berlin, Germany. Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus' love with their fellow prisoners. Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived. She later found out that an order had been given at the end of that very week to kill all women her age and older. An error in prison paperwork was the catalyst God used to release her. Corrie’s nephew, Christiaan (24), had been sent to Bergen Belsen for his work in the underground, and never returned. Corrie’s brother, Willem (60) contracted spinal tuberculosis and died shortly after the war.

Four Ten Booms gave their lives for this family’s commitment, but Corrie came home from the death camp. She realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsy had learned in Ravensbruck: "There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still" and "God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies." At age 53, Corrie began a world-wide ministry which took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that "Jesus is Victor."
"Only to those who have been in prison does freedom have such great meaning. When you are dying—when you stand at the gate of eternity—you see things from a different perspective than when you think you may live for a long time. I stood at the gate for many months, living in Barracks 28 in the shadow of the crematorium.”
Corrie had vowed if God allowed her to live, she would tell as many people as possible about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. She also promised to go wherever He led. She miraculously obtained a small New Testament from a prison worker and smuggled it past guards.
"Before long we were holding clandestine Bible study groups for an ever growing group of believers, and Barracks 28 became known throughout the camp as 'the crazy place, where they hope.'" Corrie describes a typical evening in which they would use their secret Bible to hold worship services: "At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call. . . (These) were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting night might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Easter Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed."

"At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb"

No one is exempt from the fiery trials of life. All of us face times of adversity and suffering. For Corrie, the concentration camp was the fieriest place of all, becoming her classroom where she lived and learned the faithfulness of God. It was there she learned to hide her life under the shadow of His wings while He trained her for a much higher calling.

As I look back at that night, I am still amazed at how Miss Ten Boom’s faith was so real far beyond mine. This is confirmed as she wrote of her new freedom. "'Follow me,' a young girl in an officer's uniform said to me. I walked slowly through the gate, never looking back. Behind me I heard the hinges squeak as the gate swung shut. I was free, and flooding through my mind were the words of Jesus to the church at Philadelphia: 'Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it . . . '" (Revelation 3:8)

For the next four decades following her release from prison, Corrie traveled extensively, speaking in more than sixty countries, captivating audiences with her inspiring faith and love for God. She is the author of nine books, one of which is The Hiding Place, a personal account of her arrest and time spent in prison.

Corrie received many tributes. Corrie was knighted by the Queen of Holland. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved. (I visited this place in 1979 and had to leave halfway though the visit due to the atrocities shown therein). Corrie’s tree still stands there today.

I have many famous people over my life’s spa, but my recollection of Corrie Ten Boom overshadows most due to her faithfulness to God.

She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. It is interesting that Corrie's passing occurred on her birthday. In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!