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Sunday, November 29, 2015

5 Fascinating Facts About James Reimer: Toronto/San Jose Goalie


James Reimer was born in Arborg, Manitoba, March 15th, 1988 and was raised in the small community of Morweena nearby. Morweena is a Mennonite community that is home to roughly 150 people and was part of the Rural Municipality of Bifrost ( Now the Municipilaty of Bifrost-Riverton) . In Norse mythology Bifrost was the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard (Earth) to Asgard (Home of the gods). 

James begin his minor hockey career relatively late by NHL standards at the age of 12 but had been stopping pucks in the net since his brother Mark wanted someone to shoot on. James laced up the pads on his parents’ (Harold and Marlene’s) backyard rink and thus begin an amazing, if not unconventional, road to the NHL. 

Road To the NHL

James was playing with a church team in a Steinbach, MB tournament when he was noticed by his now agent, Ray Petkau. After playing AAA Midget league, Reimer was selected by the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels in the fifth round where the influence of scout Carter Sears was a large part of his success – supporting him even when coach Brent Sutter wanted to release him. Reimer made the Rebels’ roster in his third attempt and was later drafted 99th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by no less than the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

James had not even attended the draft because of his high school graduation and because he hadn’t wanted to get his “hopes too high” on being drafted. Nevertheless, he was and his agent Ray Petkau called him with the good news.  Reimer attended two training camps with the Leafs in 2006 and 2007 but ultimately ended up back in Red Deer. In 2008 Reimer signed a 3 year entry level deal with the Maple leafs and was soon assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. He was however, sent down a notch again to the ECHL’s Reading Royals and later the South Carolina Sting Rays. It was a rough time for James but his perseverance was strong. He eventually won the ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player award with the championship Sting Rays in 2009. 


Finally on December 20, 2010 James entered an NHL crease for the first time, relieving Jonas Gustavsson in the third period of a game against the Atlanta Thrashers. His first official NHL start would be against the Ottawa Senators on January 1st, 2011 – a game he won with 32 saves. 

As any hockey fan will tell you there is a lot of pressure playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in what is the largest hockey market on earth. He was a fan favourite in his rookie season and was dubbed “Optimus Reim” by one fan (referencing the Transformers hero) and it stuck. However, Reimer has been through many ups and downs with the fabled Leafs organization. When you are doing well in Toronto things are great and when you aren’t they’re terrible. But Reimer has gained a reputation for calmness in the goal whatever may be happening. 

He was part of a tandem goaltending unit for the Maple Leafs along with Jonathan Bernier until being traded to the San Jose Sharks in February of 2016. Reimer said of his move to San Jose: " Getting this opportunity to come to a team like San Jose that is poised to do some damage, it's exciting. It's an opportunity where you have to try to make the most of it." Reimer has also played for Canada at the World Championships in both 2011 and 2014. 


James met his wife, B.C. native April Dalman, while she was attending  Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan. She went with a friend to watch James play in Moosejaw during his Red Deer Rebels stint, met him after the game and things unfolded from there. Until that night she had never been to a hockey game in her life. They married in June of 2010.

April admits its not always easy be married to a NHL goaltender – especially in the GTA. “There does come something with that role of being (James’) wife,” she admitted. “You do have to carry yourself positively and you have to be careful what you say and what you do and realize who you’re talking to. Whatever I do will reflect on …James ..” ( Having said that she has not been shy with her support of James on her Twitter account and has sometimes had to endure some rather horrible heckling on the social media site. 

Although the hope of both James and April is to win a Stanley Cup they’re ultimate priority is higher than that. As April has put it: “It’s more than just James and it’s more than just me and it’s more than just hockey,” …“Yes, hockey’s a big part of our life, but it’s not our first goal in life. Faith come first – then family – then hockey.” 


James Reimer’s Christian faith is evident wherever he goes. Not one to push anything down people’s throats, he still manages to gain the respect of his teammates and share his faith in his own personal way. James refers to becoming a Christian at the tender age of 7 but also having a later re-connection with God at the age of 14 at which point he said he was “born again”.  In regards to a picture of Jesus pulling a doubt-filled Peter out of the sea on his goalie mask, Reimer has said “It’s my story, in a modern way… When Peter lost focus on Jesus, things began to go badly for him, but when he focused on the Lord and was confident in his faith then he had the ability to do anything…” (Manitoba Hockey News) 

James also often references a passage from the book of Philippians: 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

"Things are going to happen and stuff. When you have something like Christ to lean on, it just adds a peace that surpasses all understanding” (The Canadian Press). 

Despite many injuries, an unconventional road to professional hockey and many “rejections”, James has succeeded in his goal of playing in the NHL and he unreservedly attributes his personal tenacity and good fortune to his faith in God. As Reimer seeks to store his treasures in Heaven above all else, perhaps – just maybe – he will  get a Stanley Cup to go along with it. 

Sources & Further Reading:

The Globe & Mail:

Briercrest News

Manitoba Hockey News:                                                                                                                                                                 

"And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 
Matthew 14:28-31

Friday, November 27, 2015

In the Fullness of Time: 4 Historic Facts about the Nativity of Jesus Christ

The Year

As for the year of Jesus Christ’s birth, it is estimated to be between 6-4 B.C. as Luke 1:5 refers to “The days of Herod” who died in 4 B.C. Ironically, 1 A.D. (Anno Domini or “In the Year of Our Lord” ) is not an accurate date as the calendar was slightly miscalculated by Dionysius Exiguus but has since become the world-wide accepted format. 

Dionysius Exiguus invented Anno Domini years to date Easter.

The Day

As for the day of His birth, some scholars say that it could not be December 25th because the Shepherds would not be out in the fields in the winter. They would suggest it was rather sometime in the spring. Others claim that it is indeed December 25th including Sextus Julius Africanus ( 2nd century A.D.), Hyppolytus (3rd century A.D.) and later, John Chrysostom. It was decided to celebrate Christmas on this date at least partially because the Roman Church wanted to have a replacement holiday for the pagan festival of Saturnalia. 

The simple fact is that no one really knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth and that, ultimately, it does not matter. Had God wanted the exact date to be known He would have recorded it in Scripture. As is usually God’s way, it is more important that we know the Why than the When, Where or How.

Cyrenius of Syria 

There has always been some debate among secular historians as to the accuracy of Luke when he says  

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2).” 

The difficulty lies in the fact that Cyrenius was not an actual governor until 6A.D., however it is highly likely that he was in a position of leadership ( which is all that the Greek word for governor implies) much earlier. 

Coin - Cyrenius (Quirinius) Governor of Syria when Jesus was born.

James, Faucet & Brown add two more widely acceptable reconciliations for this verse by Luke:  

1) A nuance of translation:  "This registration was previous to Cyrenius being governor of Syria"--as the word "first" is rendered in Jhn 1:15 15:18. In this case, of course, the difficulty vanishes.”

2) "But it is perhaps better to suppose, with others, that the registration may have been ordered with a view to the taxation, about the time of our Lord's birth, though the taxing itself--an obnoxious measure in Palestine--was not carried out till the time of Quirinus.” In other words, the enrollment for the taxation started earlier while the taxation itself was not executed until later on. 

Augustus Caesar and the Pax Romana

In the book of Galatians, chapter 4, Paul speaks of the timing of Jesus Christ’s entry into the world in broader terms …

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons…” Gal 4:4-5

David Guzik comments, “For those who were under bondage to the law, it may seem that Jesus' coming was late. Paul assures us that it was at just the right time.” We often wonder how long it will take for the Lord Jesus to return again – but like the Incarnation it will at just the right time as judged by the Father. 

With an understanding of the world at this special time in history we can see at least one of the reasons why Paul referred to it is the “fullness of the time” or when the time was just right. The Roman ruler, Octavian, had defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C. and had begun an empire-wide peace that had been unprecedented in the world. He became the first Emperor of Rome and took the title Augustus. He reigned until 14 A.D. 

Statue - Agustus of Prima Porta

As Boice (quoted by Guzik)  puts it:  "It was a time when the pax Romana (*Roman Peace) extended over most of the civilized earth and when travel and commerce were therefore possible in a way that had formerly been impossible. Great roads linked the empire of the Caesars, and its diverse regions were linked far more significantly by the all-pervasive language of the Greeks. Add the fact that the world was sunk in a moral abyss ... and that spiritual hunger was everywhere evident, and one has a perfect time for the coming of Christ and for the early expansion of the Christian gospel." 

As much as Augustus Caesar was viewed as a political saviour at the time, the world needed something more… a Saviour of the soul. And thus Jesus was born and lived and died, not in the pomp and ceremony of Augustus, but in a manger, as a carpenter and on a cross. 

Christmas is not about a day or a date. It is not about power, politics or materialism. It is about celebrating, along with the angels of Heaven, the birth of the soul Saviour, Jesus the Son of God. 

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Saturday, November 21, 2015

5 Fast Facts About the Term “Xmas” and Its Historic Christian Origins

For most of my life I, along with many others, was offended by the term “Xmas”. It seemed obvious that people were scratching out the name of Christ and that notion bothered me. It was just a few years ago when a fellow Christian told me about the historic Christian origins of this term. I had to say I was kind of blown away and also a little embarrassed that I was completely ignorant of this before. So here are 5 fast facts about the term “Xmas”…

Christian Origins

Far from being a secular attempt to get rid of the name of Christ, Xmas started out within the church as an abbreviation for Christmas. Some say the use of the X for Christ dates back to the earliest days of Christianity but what we know for sure is that it was used as early as 1021 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Whatever you may think about abbreviations, it soon became a well-known Christian symbol. As theologian R.C. Sproul says "There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect."


These two Greek letters are the first two letters of the Greek name of Christ “ Χριστός “ . This word is transliterated as Christos (pronounced “khrē-sto's”). In Greek it means “anointed” and refers to the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.  

As one can see by looking at these first two letters they look like an English X and P and so X or sometimes XP became a well-known Christian symbol. This symbol is called the labarum or Chi-Rho. The Chi-Rho symbol seems to be similar in its usage to the well-known “Christian Fish”. The fish symbol has been used since the early times of the church because the Greek acronym “Icthus” (Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour) happens to spell “fish”. 

Its Not Pronounced “Ex-mas”

Although the term Xmas appears to be pronounced “Ex-mas”, it should not be. In the early usages of the X symbol it was always understood that to say it aloud meant to say “Christ” - for X was not just a symbol for Christ but meant Christ itself just as “Mr.” means “Mister”.  The Oxford English Dictionary sites this type of usage as early as 1485. In fact, other terms have been used the same way including Xian and Xianity (Christian and Christianity). 

Today’s Use Of the Term

So now we know of the historical and symbolic significance of the term “Xmas” but does that mean that all people and businesses who use the term today are using it with this rich heritage in mind? Of course not. For the most part today people use this term for brevity, out of laziness or even as a direct way of “crossing out” the name of Christ. I still find that bothersome and in the last case offensive (Not that I’m into the “War on Christmas” ideology – Red Starbuck cups don’t bother me). 

So What Do We Do Now? 

Personally I still like to write out “Christmas” in full as not many people know of this history. However, knowing now both the Christian history of the term Xmas and its modern day careless usage  I would suggest that we, as Christians, do not berate someone for using Xmas in a non-Christian way but rather use it as an opportunity to tell them about its true origins and, in doing so, share the Gospel as well. Because the Gospel is what Christmas is all about! 

“…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:21


R.C. Sproul

Dennis Bratcher