Saturday, February 17, 2018

How free is free? by SUSAN HARRIS

Lately, I’ve been seen a lot of usage of “free will” and it prompted me to consider how free is free. And I’ve concluded that what is deemed “free” is ultimately attached to a cost. 

The most classic use of free is with salvation.  But while salvation is offered freely to us, it cost Jesus His life. This is not free after all.

When in the name of free speech we demean and ridicule others, there is a cost - hurt and pain to the one whom the supposed free speech is directed. And on a larger scale, intolerance that goes against the grain of civil living.

When a child defies the rules set by parents for his guidance in the name of free will, even if he may not care of the impact on himself , there is a cost to his parents’ well being. These effects are greater when he is a child  rather than when he  is an adult, so to dismiss the behavior in the name of name free is frivolous at best.

Free will comes with responsibility and accountability, be it for what we did with Christ’s death or how we live with each other. And if there is a  cost to another, is it really free?

Susan Harris is a speaker, author, and former teacher.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

True love is cleaning the toilet without being asked

Yes, you read that title correctly. Yes, I just finished cleaning the toilet before sitting down to write this post. And yes, you can breathe easy. I washed my hands before beginning to peck away at the keyboard.

It's St. Valentine's Day and love is in the air.
Our Wedding Day, December 19, 1976

But what is this thing called love? Have we grasped its full significance? Have we grasped the implications of what true love means? Even for the mature, I dare say the answer is no. True love is willing to suffer some unpleasantness.

When I slipped an engagement ring onto the finger of the love-of-my-life, did I fully comprehend what I was getting into? Sometimes I think it is better that we don't know. A little blissful ignorance can carry us a long way. 😉

Real love means change—personal change. That's the toughest kind of change. We can change our physical location, our wardrobe, our demeanor, but can we change ourselves? That requires real effort. That's a work of the Holy Spirit active within us. I know I need a healthy measure of that kind of change every day. That's a bit of that toilet-cleaning change. Change on the inside.

By a grand fluke of the lunar calendar, today is not only Valentine's Day. It's also Ash Wednesday—the start of Lent. Lent is an annual reminder of the passionate life-giving love of Jesus.

The Son of God left heaven, so he could clean the toilet bowl this world finds itself in. He gives us beauty for ashes in that grand exchange that is love—true love. He suffered so we could be set free from sin. When we repent, we become participants in the great romance of heaven and earth. Heaven came to earth in the person of Jesus, so we could one day be with him forever.

With a freshly cleaned toilet bowl, I'm feeling romantic already. Love is in the air.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to head off for a lunch date with my wife—the love-of-my-life.

David Kitz is the award-winning author of 
a Passion of Christ novel 
that is an ideal read for the Lent/Easter season.    

Friday, February 09, 2018

Thirty Years Later in Deep Cove - HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I will never forget when Wilf Fawcett almost thirty years ago asked me to write a spiritual column for the brand new Deep Cove Crier. As the new Rector of St. Simon’s North Vancouver, I had been living in the Seymour/Deep Cove community for less than a year.  He told me about Bruce Coney the dynamic founder and publisher of the Deep Cove Crier. Wilf, as founder of Fawcett Insurance, had been asked by Bruce to write an insurance column.  When I first met Bruce for coffee, he mentioned that his mom, while visiting from South Africa, had attended St. Simon’s and enjoyed it. 
I had no idea when I agreed to this request that I would still be writing for the Deep Cove Crier almost thirty years later.  Life is full of surprises.  In an age when many things are discarded and forgotten, the Deep Cove Crier with its new editor Maria Spitale-Leisk has shown remarkable resilience. 
Thirty years ago, there was a lot happening in our family.  We had recently moved to Deep Cove from serving in Abbotsford.  Born in Vancouver, I had never imagined living on the North Shore.  At the grand old age of 33, my wife Janice and I had experienced the birth of our third son.  You may be old enough to remember the hit show My Three Sons with Fred McMurray which ran for 380 episodes.
Our congregation St. Simon’s North Vancouver recently celebrated its 72nd anniversary, having been birthed in the Deep Cove Fire Hall, along with a few other congregations who also initially worshipped there.  Our oldest and longest member, Ashley Carr, age 96, returned to Deep Cove from World War II with his British war bride Rita.  It is not a co-incidence that St. Simon’s started in 1945 with the beginning of the baby boom.  Everyone wanted to get married and start a family, having had to wait four years while their men were away in Europe. Rita was part of the Sweet Adelines singers for many years.  She was one of the sweetest Deep Cove residents that I have had the privilege of meeting.  Rita and Ashley were always so good-tempered and kind to others.  Even in the worst of times, they always left me feeling better after visiting them. When Rita died, I wrote a Deep Cove Love Story article about her and Ashley in the Deep Cove Crier.
Four years later in 1949, the St. Simon’s youth group built the blue church building on 1384 Deep Cove Road. The blue colour was more recent, painted by the late Eric Johnson, a longshore man foreman, who did many generous renovations to our building, including redoing the roof and making the building wheelchair accessible.  From the very beginning, St. Simon’s has had a very active ACW women’s group which has given tens of thousands of dollars to missions locally and overseas. St. Simon’s has a deep passion to serve others, and gives partial support to a number of missionaries.  One missionary that we have supported for 24 years is Elsie Quick, the Executive Director of Partners in Hope, which works with people coming off drugs and getting out of prison.
In 1964, with the booming growth of Deep Cove babies, we ran out of room at 1384 Deep Cove, and purchased two and a half acres for $12,000, near the Seymour Golf & Country Club.  Sadly, our financial campaign fell short by $20,000, and the district was not willing to put in sewage to the new site. So, in 1972, we sold the property for $17,000, and used the money to add a full basement to the blue building. Up to that point, our ladies had to stamp hard on the stairs so that the rats would leave.
St. Simon’s was almost closed several times during these disappointing situations. In 1979, Fr. Bill Ferris came to St. Simon’s on a half-time basis. During his attempting to fix St. Simon’s, he had a heart attack and was put on an exercise routine at Ron Andrews Rec Centre. It was there in the sauna that Bill+ was touched by the Holy Spirit, changing his life forever. Maureen Harrison, who ran the Dollarton Hair Dressing Salon, had also recently been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The reason why St. Simon’s still exists with all the challenges it has faced can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit.  Maureen, our spiritual grandmother, now prays for us in Evergreen Extended Care.
Wilf Fawcett was raised Anglican, but hadn’t attended in years. One day in 1980, while driving on Deep Cove Road, God told Wilf to stop the car and begin to attend St. Simon’s and help them with their finances. In 1981, Bill Ferris was able to go full-time with St. Simon’s. The congregation grew so much that they again ran out of room, and unsuccessfully tried to rebuild on their site in 1985. I came in 1987 to a discouraged church family. My vision was to build on the wonderful renewal foundations laid by Bill Ferris+. We adopted the motto “Praising, Serving, Sharing Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit”. St. Simon’s began to grow, adding a traditional 9am Prayer Book service to our contemporary 10:30am service.  We led twenty-five Renewal Missions, bringing top speakers from around the world to Deep Cove. In 2004, we ran out of room again, and moved our 10:30am service to Maplewood School, followed six months later by our 9am service. In our 13 years of being there, we have seen major changes to the local Maplewood community.
I thank God for Ashley & Rita Carr, Wilf & Marg Fawcett, Bill & Judy Ferris+, Maureen Harrison, and so many other great Deep Cove people that we have been privileged to know and serve in the past 30+ years.
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
Anglican Mission
-an article for the Feb 2018 Deep Cove Crier 30th Anniversary Edition  
-author of Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

You don't have time to write? - Denyse O'Leary

Many of us are stressed finding the time to write but it often comes down to treating it like a part-time job or volunteer commitment and sticking to a routine, just as one would in those cases.

Here are some tips from Kristin Kieffer:  11 Tips for Creating a Writing Routine (that will leave you feeling free!)

"Letting go is hard, but writing is vulnerability and vulnerability is change. It's time to give up your figurative fuzzy, pink blankie (or literal - no judgment here!) and begin building an efficient + productive writing routine. Here are a few things you need to give up to make it happen:"


Saturday, February 03, 2018

A Time to Gather Stones by Rose McCormick Brandon

We will use these (twelve) stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:6,7

The Israelites were nearing the Promised Land, nearing fulfilment of the promise given to Abraham centuries before. God stopped the flow of the Jordan River for them to pass over into the land. He instructed Joshua to gather twelve stones, one to represent each tribe, and create a monument that would stand as a reminder to future generations that God Himself made a way for His people to claim their inheritance.

Stone monuments dot the landscape of our country, including some on Parliament Hill engraved with scripture. Over the east window of the Peace Tower: He shall have dominion also from sea to sea (Psalm 72:8). The south window: Give the King thy judgement, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King's son (Psalm 72:1). The west window: Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Other scriptures appear in the Memorial Chamber and on the bell. 
Gravestones fill our cemeteries. Some with telling words, like Fanny Crosby’s which bears the words of one of her famous hymns: Blessed assurance, Jesus is Mine. O what a foretaste of glory divine. 

Each of us must build a memorial. Something that testifies to future generations that Jesus Christ revealed Himself to us, that we experienced the miracle of salvation and were transformed by it. It need not be made of stone. One man left a letter to his grandchildren expressing his desire that each of them would love the Lord Jesus. Today, his great-great-grandchildren have copies of his letter. Meaningful words scribed with love near the end of his life when he was about to cross over into the Promised Land.

The time to gather stones is now. Stones of deeds done in the name of Christ. Stones of loving God and forgiving people, of being filled with the Spirit, reading and obeying His Word, prayer, encouraging others, living in peace, forgetting the past and moving forward, spreading the gospel, honouring Christ daily and finally, dying with His Name on our lips.

Think about the faith legacy you will leave. Will it be of stone? Wood? Words? Whatever it is make it meaningful.

Prayer: Father, guide me on this issue of leaving a faith legacy. Let it be something that will testify to future generations that I followed You.
* * *

Rose McCormick Brandon is author of One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children. Her articles and devotionals are published in many Christian magazines and in collections of inspiring stories like Chicken Soup for the Soul. She writes two blogs: Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

Golden Apples in Silver Settings

A nice card
My wife handed me the card, holding it open to reveal the inscription on the inside. The exterior was rather plain and less attractive than I’d hoped; however the wording was well suited for the occasion. “We can keep that one in mind,” I suggested, “but let’s see if we can find another one with an equally good message, but with a more attractive appearance.”

And so, we continued looking. Our search was for a variety of greeting cards that day. No, none of them were Valentines, but were for birthday, get well, thinking of you, and bereavement sympathy.
Not our choice of card!
For our taste some cards’ decorations were gaudy, cheapened by over-much gilding and ornamentation, while others we considered were too sombre and dark. In some instances we refused cards with ideal visual presentation and tasteful fonts simply because the wording was too flowery or syrupy. We finally left with a selection that we hoped would suit the persons and situations we had in mind.

The challenge was getting both the message (the language art) and the means of presenting it (the graphic art) ‘right.’
I love this word picture from the biblical book of Proverbs; it relates to the benefit of crafting a message and the means of presenting it well: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11). This has often prompted me to imagine various ornaments, such as a delicate necklace, featuring apples of burnished gold, set amongst entwining stems and leaves of silver, to grace a lady’s neck.
Silver picture-frame depiction

We’ve become accustomed to trash talk at many levels of society, from the world of sports to parliamentary debate and just about everything in between. Smart phones and social media provide a platform for spewing out negative attitudes, nastiness, anger and hate. However, the medium also provides opportunity for crafting messages expressing truth, kindness and love.
Raise Your Gaze Thought: A word or message “aptly spoken” or written can be beautiful art when it comes from the heart.


A version of the above piece is to be published in Southwestern Ontario's Standard Guide Advocate Feb. 8, 2018 

Peter A. Black is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – and lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond -- a children's / family book. ~~+~~

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Special Post for The Word Guild Awards



Due to overwhelming contact on the need for an additional category; the Co-Coordinators have decided to revive and old category.  The 2018 Word Awards will now include a:


  • Gift books
  • Poetry books
  • Books that include both fiction and non-fiction; for either the Christian or General Market
  • Singularly or Co-authored
The 2018 Deadline for this category will be extended to February 15, 2018 along with the other awards being submitted on that date.  

All other category submissions for The Word Awards must be submitted TOMORROW, February 1st, 2018 


Word Awards (English & French)
Closes TOMORROW, Thursday February 1st at midnight PST.

Student Awards

In The Beginning

{Castle Quay} Best New Manuscript Award

*NEW* Word Awards SPECIALTY BOOK Category Submissions

Closes Thursday, February 15th at midnight PST.


***5  books for each Submission and 2 more for each additional category being judged in must be shipped by February 2, 2018 (SPECIALTY BOOKS on February 16, 2018) to either address:

Eric Spath
Box 377
St. George, ON
N0E 1N0

  • Canadian authors may submit co-authored books as long as 50% of the book is written by Canadian authors. 
  • If a book is co-authored that does not meet the 50% total Canadian percentage, the Canadian author may submit their contribution in the short piece section.


and save on awards entry fees!



We're thankful for all who have signed up to be Judges already.  The Word Awards gains its strength from members and professionals like YOU! We are currently looking for judges for all categories of the Word Awards. To review the characteristics of a good WA judge visit our website. If you find a category that suits you feel free to fill out the Judge Form. Thank you for supporting The Word Awards. 

Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support. With your assistance we were able to present The 2017 Word Awards and support Christian writers across Canada:

To connect with our sponsorship coordinator please email us at: or call: 1-800-969-9010 for more information.

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