Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Two Cents Worth on the World Vision Discussions In March 2014 

Because the kids I sponsor with World Vision are real kids, I am not planning to throw them under the bus even though I might like to get off the bus. I will complete the commitment I have made to them. At least the USA office has clarified their stand. It's helpful information to have when making future decisions. Giving a cup of water in the name of the Lord is a good thing. Giving a cup of water without taking the Lords name in vain is even better. If the organizations that continue to seek to do both, end up benefitting from a renewed awareness and commitment from Christians who feel so strongly about the recent issues being debated, that they start really getting behind those other groups with real $acrificial $upport, I don't imagine World Vision will be upset. From what I can see they are not trying to be the only organization seeking to provide solutions to poverty and other social ills. I doubt they will be seen picketing the other groups offices . Imagine if they ( WV) were put out of business by effective Christian compassion efforts rather than by withdrawn support? Now that would be a win!
I personally challenge every vociferous follower of Christ to compare their tax receipt for last years donations toward the problems of world hunger and homelessness to their annual bills for cable/satellite and cell phones alone and think long and hard about what Christian values really are in real time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I was listening to something that was a favorite song of mine when I was an 18 year old ( Listen HERE)
Made me nostalgic for the days before " Worship Band " became the new label for Christian Rock, and all the artists wore the same v neck t-shirts, had the same tattoos to prove how authentic they were, wore their wifes jeans and sold CD's full of "Jesus is My Boyfriend" worship songs.
Maybe I am just a crotchety old 51 year old but I used to love songs that really spoke about the struggle, still do.

The Struggle Written by Glen Kaiser

Sometimes you scare me by what you cause me to see, and I'm afraid of knowing who I am,
Although you've changed me, there's still a whole lot of old wineskin, and to open up would destroy the me I'm afraid to show,
But one part of me doesn't want to grow, but I'm tired of this lingering winter, 
Tired of ground so hard and cold,
Plough your way through - I'm asking you to, oh, Jesus,
Lord, you're my only hope.

Without you, I can't face myself,
Without you, I can't face myself,
Without you, I can't face myself,
Without you.

My pride wants me to hide inside myself, but I love you, Lord, and I don't want our love put on the shelf,
I'm tired of fighting to be what I am,
Jesus, make me what you want me to be,
Because of you, I desire reality,
A love for you is what I'm dying to receive,
Though I hate what I am, I understand that you've promised me,
You've promised me freedom in your truth, and I'll be ready to face myself when I've faced you.

Without you, I can't face myself,
Without you, I can't face myself,
And I'll be ready, ready to face myself when I face you.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Crash and The Aftermath

It's been many weeks since my last least that is what I feel like I should start with after such a long hiatus! 
So 34 days ago I was driving along on Ontario's famous toll highway ( the 407) which as we speak is being extended right through my home town. Currently however it comes to an end and re-blends with good old Hwy 7 just west of where I live. 
I had been driving back from a town West of the city,  with my wife and daughter and had started to have a sneaking suspicion that "the flu" ( influenza ) was closing fast upon me.  I usually get some kind of a mental "tell" that somewhere in the near future I will be having an appointment with a porcelain bowl.
I have a saying that here in Canada, "Christmas is the season that brings the best out of people; influenza is the season that brings the Christmas out of people!" 
So I had been trying to block the idea out of my mind ( if you don't think about it it won't happen) when 100 meters from the lighted intersection, that is the end of the 407, I suddenly felt violently ill ( this is different from a pacifist illness theoretically).
I knew I was in distress but to this point I had not mentioned a word about how I was feeling to either my wife or daughter. I decided now would be the time to enlighten them so I said three rapid fire statements ( while driving at 100 km an hour) " I don't feel well/ I need to pull over/I'm going to pass out".
Within a minute I found myself listening to Janine yelling at me while she stood outside of the car in the middle of an ice and snow covered field and cars were stopping on the shoulder of the road I had been driving on seconds earlier,  yelling questions like " are you OK?" 
"Did I pass out?" I asked , and then preceded to submit to  the flu ( on the snow) being careful not to get anything spewed in my car which I had yet to ascertain had bigger issues. 

I will skip the details of how fortunate I am that none of the three of us were harmed, how I did not even touch another vehicle let alone injure any innocent bystanders/drivers. It was an outcome for which I definitely believe involved divine intervention, I also know that really good people die in car crashes all the time.  While I believe that God did spare us I don't pretend to have an explanation why. 
I have been thinking about a different kind of lesson in the 35 days since. The lesson is about anger/ frustration/patience.
Here in Ontario they frown on things like passing out while behind the wheel. As a result , no matter what your excuse may be they simply and quickly revoke your privilege to drive. Then it is up to you to get cracking, get to your physician and undergo extensive testing to determine the cause of the incident and they likelihood of a recurrence of the same thing happening again. 
Once you have completed all of that, you submit your medical report and then you wait, for at least 6 weeks. 
At the same time 34 days later my car has not yet left the repair shop.
What I am surprised by is how non- frustrated I have been by 5 weeks going by just waiting, you see I am not a very good waiter.
I have been more frustrated, distracted, discouraged by forced delays of a much shorter less expensive type many times in my life, why have I lost so little sleep over this one? 
It's a number of things. Gratitude for one. Of course I can't avoid feeling anything other than fortunate. any of the other alternative scenarios once I lost consciousness that I can easily imagine are far worse. This is the "count your blessings" factor I suppose. 
There is something else I believe at work in my psyche...none of it is in my control.
I am not tempted to get angry at the auto shop for taking "so long" because I don't have a licence to drive anyway.
I don't have a licence because there is an MTO protocol that I have no valid reason for believing I haven't earned ...I am the one after all  that was careening down a public highway unconscious. The extensive testing the 6 weeks to get my report evaluated, there is nothing i can do to make that happen faster. 

Like I said, I am not a naturally patient person. How much of my frustrations , anger , moodiness, bad attitudes that I justify are because  I am addicted tot he illusion that I am in control of many more things in life than I would like to admit. 
I don't think of myself as a control freak yet the main reason in this case why I have not felt inclined to freak out is that I am aware that I am not in control. 
I used to have a fridge magnet for years ,  it quoted a Psalm ( 31)
"... I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;"

Maybe after years on my fridge, that verse is finally starting to stick. 

I like to hope so. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

I am going to weigh in here on the hysteria with Duck Dynasty ( Disclaimer I don't have cable I have never watched 30 seconds of the show).
Can I remind my Christian friends of a passage I will be preaching Sunday morning at Renaissance, that Joseph was told to name Mary's son "Jesus" because " He will save his people from their sins" . Don't forget that the "their" that is there, is for his people. Most people missed the boat on Jesus because they were expecting a Messiah that would save them from other peoples sins.
If some bearded guy pays a price for his faith it won't be the first time nor the last.
My favorite bearded guy paid the price 2000 years ago ( when no one had cable) for my sins. Of that I am sure. I'd rather focus on the fact that by his suspension (on a cross) all men and women can be made right.
The thing about all dynasties is they end, on the other hand as I will hear people sing (this Saturday night ) " and he shall reign for ever and ever".

Of course you are free to call me a quack. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Secret Sin / Unrecognized Virtue. 

I was preaching on Matthew 26 last Sunday and was struck by the irony of 26: 4 how Jesus' enemies
 " schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him." I can relate to that. I tend to think I am doing my sin secretly , that I can control it , that the deed itself isn't the worst thing but it being known to others is.
Judas thought he was so stealth too vs 14-16. If Dr Phil was here right now he might ask the famous " And how did that work out for ya?" those covert acts are without a doubt the most proclaimed acts of all time! 
Then sandwiched in the middle of all that is this very generic sort of anonymous woman. She pours out probably thousands of dollars of perfume on Jesus as an act of worship and is criticized by all 12 disciples and yet defended beautifully by Jesus and is given this promise in vs 13 " Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." 
I don't believe she was trying to draw the notice of others ( what notice she did get from all but one was not enjoyable anyway) yet it was recognized by the most significant person of all time. Think about this, you just read about her AGAIN in 2013! 
It struck me suddenly that when it comes to sin, one of my greatest fears is being found out.  This is sad when you think of how often I still do it because the God who sees all never misses one of them. You'd think I would find more motivation to shun evil from that fact. 
On the other hand when it comes to virtues, one of my biggest fears is not being seen ( being under-appreciated or being misunderstood). This is sad because my "Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward" (Matt 6 : 4,6,18) He never misses the good things I attempt for his glory. You would think I would find more than enough motivation to serve with all my strength, based on a fact like that. 

With a record like that ( sinning despite the fear of being found out and neglecting to do good despite a promise that he will see and reward that)   no wonder he calls me to return often to the Lords table to receive the bread and the cup. That is the very next passage to the story-line we have been thinking about.  He always knew I would be a high maintenance friend.  

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I hear dead people...praying

OK so that is a sad rip off  of an old movie quote but I recently took the advice of another Pastor I was introduced to and bought myself a copy of "The Valley Of Vision" so I have taken the challenge to use this highly recommended prayer resource to bring some training wheels to my own prayers...The Valley Of Vision is a collection of written prayers from the Puritans (  theological giants of the likes of Baxter /Owen/Spurgeon )
You can read about the idea HERE and I may be back telling you how it's going. I am setting my phone alarm for a three times a day office of prayer. if you are interested in joining me get a copy HERE the bonded leather version looks pretty slick and I hope it becomes a dear companion in the years to come!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Straw Man

Seems that what Mark Heard used to sing about has become a ministry model...

by Mark Heard.
He set up a man of straw with an authoritarian aura 
And everybody thinks he's some kind of warrior for the Lord 
Stepping on some toes that he does not know 
And calling down fire on what he don't understand

Straw men, straw men 
Set them up for a fall when you can 
Straw men, straw men
Everybody loves to knock down straw men

He sees the masses dancing so he sternly reprimands them
A reduction of their stance to some kind of earthly hell
He don't know how to be tender can't appreciate beauty or gender
It's this pious anhedonia that he loves so well

Straw men, straw men
Set them up for a fall when you can
Straw men, straw men
Everybody loves to knockdown straw men

If true communication were ever to bless this congregation
And everyone knew just what it's like to be somebody else
And no words were hasty and all thoughts were thought through
Might our anger not find a better target than ourselves?

Straw men, straw men
Set them up for a fall when you can
Straw men, straw men
Everybody loves to knock down straw men

From Ashes and Light