27 May 2007

Baby Humfrey has ARRIVED!

Christel and I are pleased to announce the arrival of our son,
Bruce Hunter Graham Humfrey!

Hunter was born at 7:06 PM on Thursday, May 24 at High River Hospital.

He weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces.

Here are some other pictures of our little man:

Hunter and his amazing Mother!

Like father like son:

We give praise to God for his answers to the prayers of his people on our behalf!

Check back for more updates!

03 May 2007

Sudden Destruction from Which I cannot Escape?!

Why must the bible constantly compare childbirth to the worst imaginable pain and distress you can imagine? I don't find this particularly helpful when trying to prepare for what is ahead! Some of these heavy, and rather violent verses include:

For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor, anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,... (Jer. 4:31)

They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. (Is.13:8)

...the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night....sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thess. 5)

I have to wonder what childbirth would have been like before the fall?

A friend of mine who recently had a baby, told me that while she was in labor, she kept thinking "Why did we have to sin?" As in, "Why did we have to sin in Adam?" Her husband later told her that she was not just thinking it, but actually said it aloud. Needless to say, she was a bit embarrassed in hindsight because of how the doctors and nurses might have misinterpreted what she said.

I have recently been comforted by some beautiful words by John Calvin in his commentary on John. It's a little surprising. Not that his words haven't given me encouragement many times in the past, but I can't say that his commentary would be the first place I would look for encouragement in the realm of childbirth! John 16:20 -22 compares labor and the resulting birth of a little soul to spiritual realities.

You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

In a strange way I almost feel privileged to be able to go though something so unique. This very human experience somehow reflects the anguish and groaning of creation as we wait for the redemption of all things, for the return of our Lord. What a vivid lesson! How many experiences turn from anguish to sudden joy in a moment?

Calvin comments on the privilege that Christians enjoy even now in the Spirit:

Having been regenerated by the Spirit of Christ, we ought to feel in ourselves such a joy as would remove every feeling of our distresses. We ought, I say, to resemble women in labor, on whom the mere sight of the child born produces such an impression, that their pain gives them pain no longer. But as we have received nothing more than the first-fruits, and these in very small measure, we scarcely taste a few drops of that spiritual gladness, to soothe our grief and alleviate its bitterness. And yet that small portion clearly shows that they who contemplate Christ by faith are so far from being at any time overwhelmed by grief, that, amidst their heaviest sufferings, they rejoice with exceeding great joy.

What will it be like to see our Saviour face to face? If we know Christ's presence by the Spirit in only "a few drops of that spiritual gladness" now, what will it be like to enjoy him perfectly, free from the bonds of sin?

I pray that as I'm going through the trials of labour, I can keep my eyes fixed on the blessing to come. May it teach me how to sojourn through this beautiful, yet fallen world. May the darkness never overwhelm me, but may my eyes be fixed on the joy set before me as my Saviour exemplified at the cross (Heb. 12:2).

I love how Calvin puts it later in his commentary on John 16:

…believers are like women in labor, because, having been born again in Christ, they have not yet entered into the heavenly kingdom of God and a blessed life; and they are like pregnant women who are in childbirth, because, being still held captive in the prison of the flesh, they long for that blessed state which lies hidden under hope.

May the Lord teach me through this trial what it truly means to "long for that blessed state which lies hidden under hope," trusting in the sufficiency of my Lord to accomplish it.

14 March 2007

Two Months Since My Last Post...

Clint and I have been in a season of busyness, and I've had difficulty finding time to pursue certain enjoyments, such as blogging.

There are so many things that I am thankful for at the moment. God has shown himself to be good in providing for us and leading us in new directions.

Calvary Grace Church has been a source of encouragement to us as it continues to grow in health and number. We have had the privilege of developing and deepening relationships with people there and we have found great joy in developing friendships. I have also thoroughly enjoyed sitting under Clint's preaching each week (is a wife allowed to say that about her husband?). He is currently trying to preach through larger chunks of Scripture, and I find it really helpful in discerning broader themes and intents throughout. One of the most encouraging aspects of this fellowship, is seeing the sacrificial and giving spirit of many of the people there. Some are really going out of their way to help others, see the church move forward, and ultimately see God's name glorified.

God has also graciously provided us with a house to rent for the next year. We are thankful for our little 'trailer on the prairie', but the riddle of where to fit all of baby's stuff and still have room to walk around, was getting a little overwhelming. So we are moving into the town of High River in April, and Clint and my Dad are busy doing some renovations whenever they can find time.

We are also extremely thankful for this little life growing inside of me. As the date of his arrival is getting closer, our anticipation is growing. I am now about 32 weeks along, and incredibly excited to meet him.

19 February 2007

Calvary Grace Church: Thanksgivings

Last night at the meeting of Calvary Grace Church, 26 souls were crammed into a North East Calgary living room to worship God, be fed by Word and Spirit, bear each others burdens, pray for one another, and build each other up in fellowship around the things of God.

Thanks be to God for his grace to the undeserving!

21 January 2007

Prayers of the People

Recently we saw the prayers of God's people graciously answered on our behalf.

I posted some of my reflections on it under the heading:
How Do You Know People Are Praying For You?

10 January 2007

"Embracing the Pain"

Clint and I began our childbirth classes last Monday. We were very curious to see what the evening would hold, especially because we decided to take Bradley Method childbirth classes.

Dr Bradley was an American doctor who pushed to have husbands in the delivery room at a time when it was generally frowned upon. His method basically teaches that by understanding the mechanics of the body in labor, and by utilizing relaxation techniques and deep abdominal breathing through contractions, a woman can achieve an unmedicated, and positive birthing experience. The key to his method is the support and coaching of the husband.

As we were driving to the first class we were trying to imagine what kind of people would be attracted to this natural method of childbirth. A few stereotypes came to our minds, but most of the people were actually quite normal. There were a few odd couples. At least one couple were Reiki practicing new age experts who claimed be in touch with the universe.

The funniest part of the evening was when we were having a discussion about how we usually deal with pain. Many were trying to sound enlightened and sophisticated. Amongst responses such as "meditation" and "I embrace the pain", Clint threw out "drugs, lots of drugs."

05 January 2007

The Harvest to Come

The last few weeks have been pretty heavy.

Of course there is the normal busyness of Christmas with its relational and logistical intensity. For us however there has been a further development.

After visiting with family on Christmas day (he had been playing cards with Christel and some others) my Grandpa Humfrey had a severe stroke on Boxing Day morning.

The following days were filled with visits to Foothills hospital in Calgary, while taking a sort of crash course in medical ethics.

We were scheduled to meet at the hospital in my Grandpa's room on Saturday for a prayer service with his Anglican minister at around 1pm. When most of the family had arrived near 1pm, Grandpa had already passed a half hour before. Thankfully, some of his daughters were with him earlier. And we continued at Grandpa's bedside led by the Anglican minister. At the end, Christel and I sang two hymns Be Thou My Vision and Amazing Grace. A few shared reflections on my Grandpa.

The subsequent days were a whirlwind of grieving, planning and relational give-and-take. I was glad to be able to give the homily (sermon) even though the Anglican minister would be leading the service.

On Wednesday night before the Thursday funeral, there was a family viewing and prayer service led again by the Anglican minister. Christel and I had prepared another hymn Be Still My Soul , followed by Peace Like a River (It is Well). Again, we were struck with how touched many of our relatives were by the hymns we shared.

Thursday came and the funeral. God gave me liberty to speak as I referenced 1 Cor 15:20, 42-44 with the theme, How the Farmer taught the Soul to Prepare for the Harvest since my Grandpa was a farmer and the Scriptures are full of farming imagery.

In essence it was a reflection on Christ as the firstfruits of the resurrection, the image of harvest for resurrection, and also the necessity, practically and spiritually, of seeding time in order to have a harvest.
I was able to share how 5 or 6 years ago, my Grandpa had been terrified by dreams where he was being accused of being a murderer, yet he protested his innocence---he had not killed anyone! In terms of my sermon, his fear was that his harvest would be all chaff. I was able to share with him how all of us are not murderers in act, but certainly in heart since there is none righteous, not one. I then shared the gospel with him, and I believe, he believed in Christ alone with a sincere faith. He returned to health from that bed of sickness and we had him for a few more years. I did see a change in his life which gave me encouragement.

So with the prospect of us all having a chaff-filled harvest, I exhorted the packed Anglican church along with myself to be sure that the urgency of the seeding time does not pass. We all must sow faith in Christ, lest there be no hope of a good harvest in the resurrection.

The service went well and was remarked on by many. I was informed that my Grandpa's Lebanese Muslim neighbor had come to the funeral and it was the first time she had been in a church. She was brought by my Grandpa's other neighbors (the husband was a former Nazarene pastor) who were so thankful for my message. I was also approached by an elderly Sikh lady who inquired of me concerning the identity of the 'young man' in the tomb in Mark 16:1-8, a portion that I read. Such a specific question! She too, seemed sincerely interested in what I had spoke. Other folks--especially neighboring farmers who I know well---commented to me about my message, which I realized later was the first time any of them had heard me preach.

It was a trying time but God provided for us. And it may be that my Grandpa's life was used for the glory of Christ's kingdom even more at the end of his life than before. May it be so.

17 December 2006

First Pictures of Baby Humfrey

At 19 weeks, he's growing into such a big boy! The ultrasound technician asked us how big we thought he was. Clint said 3 inches. I said 5 inches. He laughed and told us that baby Humfrey is now about 11 inches long! I love this picture of his little feet! We also found out that his head is big for his age. No surprise there...Clint and I both have rather large heads. Although, I can't say that I'm excited to deliver that big head!

The most exciting part was when we found out baby Humfrey is a he. It took us at least a whole day to get over the shock of that one. I was so convinced it was a girl and had succeeded in convincing Clint it was a girl. We picked out a perfect girl name. My mother-in-law was also convinced and about to start sewing a pink and brown quilt for him. Ha! God is good! We are so excited about our little boy!

12 December 2006

Shepherding a Child's Heart

I recently received an e-mail from an old friend who had heard about my pregnancy. She had some interesting questions for me such as what type of 'social conditioning' I was planning to expose my child to. There were obvious implications in the terminology she used, but even so I was glad to engage in a discussion with her.

I am beginning to feel the weight of the responsibility of motherhood that God has blessed me with. As much fun as it is to dream of the ways baby Humfrey will be like her mom or her dad (for some reason I think it's a girl), I know that it is essential that I begin to do some serious thinking on the biblical philosophy of parenting.

Obviously, I want to teach my child to love the Lord, but the 'how' can be a little less easy to discern. Each parent that you talk to has a different way or emphasis, and if you walk into the Christian bookstore there is a smorgasbord of methods to choose from--mostly comprised of little charts, anecdotes and accompanying dootles. It's enough to make one's head explode. Ton's of information, and none of it seems truly helpful.

One light I've found in the abyss of parenting resources is a little book by Ted Tripp called "Shepherding a Child's Heart." In it, he says, "A person's life is a reflection of his heart." He warns against the pitfall of merely correcting behavior without addressing the source of the problem, namely, the sinfulness of the heart. Jesus says in Mark 7:21-23, "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

Tripp notes that the parent is not the ultimate authority of the child, but that the parent is answerable to God for his/her actions. The point of parenting is not to produce a well behaved child (that doesn't embarrass you), but rather a child who fears the Lord. He emphasizes that when a child's heart is corrected to have a Godward orientation, right actions will follow.

He also addresses important issues such as shaping influences, communication, setting goals, authority issues, and the purpose of discipline (i.e. punishment vs. correction).

I have found this book very helpful as I begin to put together my meager thoughts on parenting. As much as a 'mini-me' sounds appealing to my idolatrous mind, I am becoming more and more convicted that shaping an individual who loves the Lord is much more important.

06 December 2006

Pastors' Fraternal in the Making

On Monday I had the joy of meeting with three other pastors from Alberta in the hopes of establishing a pastors' fraternal.

The men were all committed to Calvinistic soteriology and baptistic ecclesiology. Among them was my friend
Dan S. who travelled with me. I think we both came away with a heightened sense of expectation for what our Lord may do in Alberta in coming days. Next time around we hope to have many more pastors meeting with us, especially Terry and Todd who couldn't make it this time.

One exciting suggestion is that we hold an annual conference. My hope is that whatever we do, pastors are stirred with greater affection for Jesus Christ and singular diligence for the gospel.

27 November 2006

A Three-Church- Sunday Round-Up

Yesterday was a blessed day among God's people and though filled with activity, it was graciously restful.

In the morning Christel and I headed off in opposite directions as she helped with the music at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Blackie, and I went to Okotoks Ev. Free for my 3rd class on Markers in Church History. For my part, reflecting on Sarah Edwards' experience in the revival was heart-warming for me on such a cold day. And Jonathan's deep reflections are always evergreen.

We met up again in the afternoon and went to Dan and Marlene's for lunch and fellowship with new friends Joey & Kimberley and Brock & Jen. A surprising amount of discussion related to the Christian blogosphere, and the Reformed sector in particular. At times I felt a bit 'behind the times', but of course that is nothing new. We all remarked at the privilege of having access to so much good theology, yet how culpable we were for not 'improving' it as we ought.

As it got dark Christel and I left the Spud Estate and journeyed to Calgary and the home of Toronto transplants, Peter & Anna. After we sang some rich, yet simple hymns I preached from Isaiah 42 and leaned on God to supply my lack. Among those gathered we enjoyed rich discussions as we tried to build one another up in our knowledge of God and his Word.

On the drive home, we remarked at how busy our day had been, and yet how much God had helped us. Christel had prayed that morning, in a manner she derived from a comment of John Calvin's, that God would lend to us life and strength for the day. God certainly was not cheap in his provision, but was opulent in his supply.

In all of our travels God granted us safety and, surprisingly, rest.

23 November 2006

More Church Planting

Yesterday I visited with my brother-in-law, Chad and his wife Karmyn as they were in Western Canada on a brief fact-finding trip for a church plant in Vernon, BC.

Chad shared with me how the Southern Baptist Convention has multiple layers of administration which work efficiently together to help see churches planted. In particular, Chad observed the relative newness of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists, which he concluded would offer a great deal of freedom in his ministry. Since the SBC is not a monolith, Chad was very concerned to have doctrinal and methodological freedom to implement solid biblical exposition as well as biblical models of church planting. It appears that he has that freedom, and so he may well become a Southern Baptist!

A key in all of it is Chad's connections to churches in the US where he is currently attending Liberty Seminary (is this the 2nd or 3rd MA?). He also is booked to go to Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, DC for one of Mark Dever's Weekenders. It would be wonderful if Chad got sending support from a church like Capitol Hill!

May the Lord bless Chad and Karmyn as they continue to seek His gracious leading.

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