Sunday, November 22, 2009

For the Love of Nations

In 2008, a man named Matt Harding set out to visit 42 countries simply to film himself dancing on the spot, often with the local people, in each country. I don't know why Matt did this, except perhaps for the sheer fun of it. He sure seems to be having fun on the video he created! And because it's so fun to watch, it's been viewed over 25 million times on You Tube.

I'm one of the viewers who only recently discovered this video. And I have to admit, I smiled widely throughout the entire four and a half minutes of it -- and have continued to smile during subsequent viewings. It's such a celebration of life and of the world and of the peoples of the world. I don't even mind admitting that I also got a bit choked up as I viewed it on one occasion. It was when Matt was in one of the African communities with joyful children dancing all around him. I've traveled to a few African countries, and lived in Sudan for a year, and know a little about the challenges and the pain that the people of such impoverished places have been through. And to see the smiles and hear the laughter of those children as they danced with Matt is wonderful!

So I have dubbed this posting "For the Love of Nations" rather than using the title Matt gave to his video. Because that's what this video fills me with -- a love for the many beautiful peoples of this planet. God's heart is full of love for every tribe and people group of the earth, and He wants us to have that same love for the nations. You'll see many of those nations whom God's heart yearns for in the video below (as well as a multitude of people in the second video that follows). Enjoy!

Revelation 7:9 says, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands." That verse describes the thrilling culmination of God's plans to include people of every culture in His family. God says in Psalm 67:3-4, "Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!" This speaks of a joy that far exceeds what we see in Matt's video.

The truly amazing video that follows offers an exciting sampling of the joyful scenes described in Revelation and Psalms when that heavenly throng of every nation is cheering and praising Jesus in heaven! Take a peek!

© 2009 by Ken Peters

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shopping for that special someone

There's only 5 weeks till Christmas and I've yet to spend the consumer average of $831 on Christmas presents! Talk about pressure. And with no snow on the ground, how does anyone expect me to even think of such things? I'm told that traffic at the malls in Winnipeg increases dramatically once it snows, as if all we are is a bunch of Pavlov's dogs that don't have the sense to simply look at a calendar and make plans. Or is it that we simply must have snow for Christmas shopping in the same way we expect there to be unshelled peanuts sold at a wrestling match or something is seriously wrong?

So in an effort to promote some good old fashioned consumerism this Christmas season, I've found ten inspiring ads that may give you some fresh ideas for the loved ones on your list (they can be clicked on to read the small print).

And I'm thinking, that guy should be the president of the most powerful nation on earth.

Why does it look like that Santa was found in a back lane somewhere? Well, if I know someone with a scratchy throat, I now know what to get.

what I'm hoping for in my stocking. Sammy sure seems like he was hoping for some.

This is for those who can't afford to buy someone a Mac notebook.

Enough with that clean, digital iPod sound in which you can't even hear the scratchy friction of a piece of wire scraping across a sheet of vinyl! What's wrong with kids these days? At prices like that, go retro!

Wow. Like, what are they really trying to encourage here? I may be reading too much into this, but is there a hint of malice in that ad?

Now why does the look in that kid's eyes not go too well with the gun that's in his hands?

That lady does indeed look happy. Way too happy.

Aside from gift #10 below, this is the best gift any man could get his wife. I mean, talk about functionality! It's sure to be needed and she'll be sure to use it! I'm thinking I'm ready to pop over to Walmart any moment now.

And this is an obvious choice for that special someone in your life. The small print says, "This year, there is no gift like Borg's magnificent bath scale... the 'Flight'." Yeah, you can bet I'll be flying. Right out the door if I give this to my wife. Did women in the '50s actually want these kinds of gifts at Christmas? Was it actually okay to give a gift that said, "Hey, maybe you need to shed a few pounds!"?

Well, there you have it. Ten great gift ideas. Happy consuming!

© 2009 by Ken Peters

Monday, November 16, 2009

Passion to Run

I'm a big NFL fan. I love the passion and excitement of the game. Since I grew up near Detroit, one would think I'd be a Lions fan. But long ago, when I was about 10-12 years old, I chose to be a Vikings fan. Those were the days of a defensive line called the Purple People Eaters and of offensive stars like Fran Tarkenton, Sammy White and Chuck Foreman. The Vikings were exciting to watch, and to this day, I still like to watch them when I can.

In fact, this season feels as exciting to me as those early days when I first discovered the Vikings. Brett Favre is probably the best quarterback the Vikings have had since the days of Fran Tarkenton, and with the Williams-Wall and Jared Allen on defense and stars like Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson lighting up the offense, I'm eager to see if the Vikings can finally win a championship among a league of many other great teams.

But one player in particular has really gotten my attention these last couple years. Adrian Peterson is more than just an amazing running back. As I've seen him play and heard him interviewed, he has struck me as a man who mixes passion and humility remarkably well. And when I read a recent article about him at, I found myself challenged by what motivated him to work so hard as a record-setting running back. I even wondered how much my own motivation in running the spiritual race set before me should resemble what motivates Adrian Peterson.

Check out this excerpt of the article I read: "...'I'm big in faith,' said Peterson, who grew up in Cedar Branch Baptist Church in Palestine, Texas, and attends Bible study at teammates' homes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. His faith is the strength in his life and the power in his game.

"...Peterson knows that strength and tenderness [are] required.

"'I was 7, but I remember it like yesterday,' Peterson said of the death of his eight-year-old brother, Brian, who was riding his bike when he was killed by a drunk driver. 'There was an incline in front of our apartment where we would ride our bikes up and down. I was playing football with the guys near it when Brian was hit. I ran to him and held his head in my arms. His head was swollen. I spoke to him but he couldn't speak. I ran to get help. There was nothing we could do. My mom cried for a full year, day and night. I would just hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right. Brian was faster than me, a better athlete than me. That motivated me to work hard for him.

"'I run for both of us.'"

When I first read that last line, I paused. "Wow," I thought. This man runs with such passion for someone who meant so much to him. As a man who seems to know Jesus, his experience of seeing a beloved brother die gives Adrian Peterson the motivation to use the gifts God has given him to achieve something on his brother's behalf.

That made me wonder if the death of Someone even more beloved than any brother -- the death of Jesus Christ -- provides me with that same kind of passion and motivation: the passion and motivation to "work hard for him." Jesus died for a wonderful reason -- so that we could be forgiven for our sin and know abundant life with Him for eternity! And then He sent His followers out as workers instructed to tell others about Him.

So when I consider why Jesus died and what that was meant to achieve, does that motivate me to work passionately for Him? It should! Even more so than Adrian Peterson is motivated by his own brother's death (as special as that motivation may be). And I'm so grateful that Jesus not only died, but that God also raised Him from the dead! Because that means that as Someone who is faster and stronger than me, Jesus is with me to help me to work hard for Him and to run fast for Him. He not only inspires me to passionately run the race He sets before me, but He also gives me the strength to run.

And I do believe He also does that for Adrian Peterson! Go Vikings!

© 2009 by Ken Peters

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fond memories of a man I never met, on this Day of Remembrance

My son Nicholas is fondly named after a man I never met. I've long wished I had known him. Ever since I found a book of his poems on my Dad's bookshelf when I was a teen, I'd wished that my great-uncle Nick had survived the war and that I could have had many long talks with him.

He was my father's father's youngest brother. My father's uncle. My great-uncle. A pastor who had known him before my Uncle Nick went off to war said that Nick Peters had one of the most cheerful spirits he had ever had the privilege of meeting. He said that "he was an inspiration too, for he had inherited an idealism and a mystical quality of mind from his Mennonite ancestors that kept him pressing upward, always searching for the meaning of things, always trying to understand."

Born two months premature in Russia in 1915, great care had to be taken to help him simply survive his first year of life. One of his brothers said that the war years of 1918-1921 made a deep impression upon his young mind and ended up giving him a rather serious view of life from an early age. In 1925, when he was 10 years old, he and his family (including my grandfather) fled Russia, traveling by boxcar and steamship, and moved to Grande Pointe, Manitoba, Canada. Once he had grown up, he traveled to many parts of Canada, working in gold mines in B.C., coal mines in Alberta and selling Electrolux in Sudbury, Ontario.

Eventually he volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He trained in Toronto in 1943 and was commissioned as Pilot Officer in May 1944. He left for England in July 1944. Eventually promoted to Flying Officer, and serving as a navigator aboard a reconnaissance plane, his plane was mistakenly shot down by a Lancaster sometime on the night of March 7, 1945, a mere 2 months before Germany surrendered on May 8.

On February 22, 1945, Nicholas wrote what would be his last letter home. The highlighted portion on the left says, "Have been here for about seven months now and expect to be back in four month's time but then you can't always tell."

A few months earlier, just before embarking upon his first flying mission, he had written to his brother Isaac: "There comes a time in the life of every airman who caters to the blue, when he is facing the results of his training. My time has come... I felt someone of the immediate family ought to know. I chose you. If I am reported 'Missing' you will understand that most of the 'missing' turn up again... It amuses me to think back on the way [we once] viewed the world. Many things have passed since then. Much has taken place; more than we, in our present state, could comprehend. We have toiled, struggled, and played, and Life as a whole has been good."

Uncle Nick was a poet, and what he wrote inspired me as a reflective teenager who was searching for meaning myself. I was 15, sitting on our basement floor book in hand on the day that I discovered the poetry of Nicholas Peters. It was also the day I discovered that the man who wrote such wonderful verse had been killed in service to this country long before I'd have had a chance to meet him. The following poem was written by Nicholas Peters on September 22, 1939, just three weeks after the onset of the war in which my Uncle Nick would die.

The Wars we Make

I gaze into the world with sorrowing eyes
And see the wide-abounding fruits of hate.
We fight, we say, for peace, and find
The wars we make
To be a spring of hate and source of future war.
Is there no peace for man?
No hope that this accursed flow
Of blood may cease?
Is this our destiny: to kill and maim
For peace?
Or is the 'peace' we strive to gain
A thin, unholy masquerade
Which, when our pride, our greed, our gain is touched too far,
Is shed, and stands uncovered, what we are?

Show me your light, O God
That I may fight for peace with peace
And not with war;
To prove my love with love,
And hate no more!

© 2009 by Ken Peters

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to keep praying amidst life's troubles (church bulletin cover)

I've found that prayer can become a struggle if certain heartfelt prayers go unanswered for too long. In fact, I can feel tempted to quit praying for such things when they don't resolve. That's when I need to re-read Psalm 34.

The guy who wrote it was no stranger to troubles or to fear. He expressed that he needed deliverance from his fears and to be saved from his troubles (vv. 4, 6) and wrote that "many are the afflictions of the righteous" (v.19). So how then was he able to say, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (v.1)? How does he do that amidst so many troubles and fears? I'd like to know because I'd like to be that way myself! Well, there seem to be two things that the psalmist mentioned repeatedly for emphasis -- the fear of the Lord (vv.6, 9 11) and the act of seeking or calling out to the Lord (vv.4, 5, 10, 15, 17).

The way I see it, fearing God means seeing God as bigger than my troubles. I certainly don't want to make the troubles I face into idols that I cower before, fearing those troubles more than I revere God. When we truly practice the fear of God, we see Him as greater than anything else we may face, and nothing else should cause us to quake. So when I'm upset about a crisis that arises, I need to do as the psalmist did, and look to Him. Only then can I know the peace this psalm describes: "They looked to Him and were radiant" (v.4).

And if we fear the Lord in this way, it means we're dependent on God, which is exactly what's expressed when, like the psalmist, we seek or call out to God. And calling out to a mighty God who is worthy of such reverence can only result in one thing...
  • "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me" (v.4)
  • "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard Him and saved him" (v.6)
  • "They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing" (v.10)
  • "The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them" (v.17)
This is because this God whom we fear "is good" (v.8) and "is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (v.18). What a comfort. And what an encouragement to pray even when troubles persist.

© 2009 by Ken Peters