The Day Peace Was Signed

It was 5:00 am in the cold November woods of northeast France where officials gathered in a rail car to sign the papers that ended WW1. Word immediately went out by telegram that all fighting would stop at 11:00 am. A final shot was fired from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at that exact moment, and peace finally reigned in Europe. The following year, after much negotiating, the more famous Treaty of Versailles was signed. The spot where the Nov.11th papers were signed has been preserved. The rail car was taken to Germany in WW2, but it was destroyed as the war came to a close. Pieces of it were kept, and a replacement placed back on that spot in the forest.

The war has often been called the bloodiest in history. About 23 million soldiers were killed and another 18 million were wounded. Canada lost 61,000 soldiers, and 172,000 came home wounded. These are mind-boggling figures. It’s no wonder that Armistice Day was proclaimed across the British Empire in 1919, originally observed on the first Monday of the Nov.11th week, combined with Thanksgiving in Canada. In 1928, the Canadian government declared Nov.11th at 11:00 am to be Remembrance Day, observed yearly. We remember all those who lost their lives, and what it took to bring peace.

God brought us peace at another cold, lonely spot in 33 ad. The sacrifice was so powerful, it never has to be offered again. “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). It was the day peace was arranged between God and man. It has the potential to save every human being alive, if they would only turn to Him in obedient faith. Pens and treaties can be powerful, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is decisive. No one knows the actual spot where the cross stood. Some claim pieces of it exist, but there is no proof. Unlike the monuments that help us remember war’s casualties, we have only the Word of God to tell us what He did to save us. In a way, it is more fitting and powerful.

And today, as every Sunday, we remember.

– Tim Johnson

And His Sleep Left Him

A woman complained on Facebook that her life seemed backwards; she got up in the morning tired and went to bed at night wide awake. Does that sound familiar? How many times have you been robbed of a good night’s sleep because you just can’t shut your mind down?

The Bible tells us that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a hard time getting some rest. He remained awake at night, and when he did manage to go to sleep his dreams disturbed him. He “had dreams and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.” (Daniel 2:1) He complained a few years later, “I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.” (Dan.4:4-5)

Lots of things can affect sleep: pain and medical conditions, personal tragedies, or even too much coffee. It seems Nebuchadnezzar’s problem was that he didn’t know God and all the worries of his kingdom weighed on him. He was proud and arrogant. People like that think everything depends on them. No wonder they can’t sleep!

But if you believe in God and His care, sleep is much more peaceful. Half the things we worry about never really happen, and the other half can simply be handed over to God and his wisdom. David – another busy king – said, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

Before you lie down at night take time to pray to God and tell Him, “Here, Lord, I hand all my worries over to you for the night.” Then tell your brain that it has no need to think about them. Oh, and make sure you thank God for accepting your worries.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Are you sleeping well?

– Tim Johnson

More Desirable Than Gold

CS Lewis, the famous British author and broadcaster of the 1950’s, once called Psalm 19 “the greatest poem in the Psalms and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” In it, David declares that nature reveals only partial answers about God, but His word reveals the rest. He said that God’s judgments in His word “are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold” (v10).

I did a little research about the desirability of gold. The largest owners of gold bullion in the world are governments. This is because gold has traditionally served as a source of security when there are upheavals in the world. In the 1960’s, Canada used to own about 1000 tonnes of the stuff, but has since sold off most of it. The Royal Canadian Mint has created quite an impressive business designing and manufacturing gold coins for the world’s governments. The United States has 8,133 tonnes, worth roughly $300 billion dollars. The top ten gold-owning nations in the world store about $804 billion! Apparently, that’s only about 15% of all the gold ever mined to date, which includes the ring on your finger.

David, being the greatest Old Testament Israelite king, must have owned quite a bit of gold. But he considered the word of God and its wisdom to be more desirable than owning large quantities of it. That’s a marvelous comparison that rings true in our materialistic country. It’s far better to learn God’s word than it is to have a pile of gold! The latter might be impressive, but the former will bless your life and give you great happiness and salvation. David, in verses 7-11, actually gives us eight blessings that the word of God can give us. Have a look, and marvel at what he says.

Oh yes, CS Lewis was right.

– Tim Johnson

What to do When Your House Falls Apart

“The inheritance to which we are born is one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.” (1 Pet.1:3, NEB)

As a homeowner, I’m always amazed at the endless work it takes to keep things in good shape. One house we had needed painting every few years due to the damp Maritime climate. Tired of scraping and painting, I tore all the clapboard off and installed new wood, painted the whole house, and hoped it would solve my problem. It didn’t. A contractor friend said there was too much humidity inside the house (4 kids and all those showers…), so I installed an air exchanger, and had the whole house covered in vinyl siding. That fixed it.

That same house also had a leaky basement. We had to dig a trench, 5 feet deep, all around the foundation to repair cracks, install drain tiles, and then fill it all in, rebuild front and back porches, repair the lawn, restore the driveway…Oh my!

Sometimes home ownership can be tedious indeed. One works on things inside and out. If you own a house, you know what I’m talking about.

The scripture above tells us we have a home waiting for us in heaven that will never need the kind of upkeep we do in this present world. “Nothing can destroy it,” Peter declares. It will never suffer from fire, floods, or simple aging. It will never “spoil” from damp weather, rotting materials, insects, or our endless wind. And it wont “wither” (fade away) from the hot sun, blasting weather, poor materials, and shifts in the ground. It will always be in perfect shape and carry no worries or expense.

It’s an inheritance God reserves for those who faithfully serve Him as Christians, even when life is hard. He has a spot for you awaiting your arrival in the next life – a reservation in heaven.

The next time you are knee-deep in dust, dirt and paint, remember that you won’t have to do any of that in heaven. “In this you greatly rejoice…” (v6).

– Tim Johnson

God’s Exhibit

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who has displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” (Ps.8:1)

In 1851 the first world’s fair opened in London, England, by Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. It was housed in a huge glass structure known as “The Crystal Palace.” European nations were invited to display their industry and technology, but England made sure they stole the show by cramming it with their own things. Almost a third of the population of England attended it. The following year, all its contents were transferred to a new site which eventually developed into the Victoria and Albert Museum. Expanded for over a century, it now covers over 12 acres of galleries displaying the glories of the Victorian age. Every country likes to have a place to show off its accomplishments.

The great God of the universe has likewise given us a marvelous display of his power and glory. It’s not housed in any great building on earth, but above us in the universe He created. Provided the sky is clear, you can see it every night by viewing the stars and galaxies that surround us. David, who wrote Psalm 8, was once a shepherd who worked in the pastures of Israel and often marveled at the night sky. With no lights to interfere, it must have been an amazing sight. This is how he knew God is real, for it is His exhibit for man to examine.

What do we learn from the stars? Some people look at the universe for scientific reasons alone, ignoring its maker. That’s like examining things in a museum and failing to notice the greatness of a nation. The stars teach us that God is powerful, organized, greater than all things, that man is so small, and, amazingly, that He looks after man. God intended the heavens to be a wonderful display of who He is.

I hope you get to go outside on a clear summer night and see God’s display.

– Tim Johnson