The Bison Cafe

Well, here it is, the last night of January. The cold seems to have lifted, but then it began to snow, and snow, and snow. Some 24 hours later, it looks like it may be nearly done. Still, some roads are closed, but it is winter in Saskatchewan, I guess.



Today I spent some time with someone from church at a new coffee place downtown, The Bison Cafe. It's been open about a week and my oh my oh my, sweet!


It's a Swiss/German couple who put it together, and really spent some money on it. Nice tables and chairs. Woodgrain walls and tile floor. And the back will house a very fine looking Gallery.


But I sat there today realizing the many things I missed from the big city. Now, we do love being here, and this city and church is really, usually a great place to be. But sometimes I miss things and this morning was one of those times.


I miss going to professional sports games. I miss little out of the way bistros. I miss seeing people of different colour at the grocery store. I miss Classical or Jazz music on the radio, or sports radio. I miss going to the symphony or the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I miss the cheap theatre where you could see a movie Tuesday afternoon for a buck fifty. Those kinda things, you know?


Well I think The Bison Cafe is God's reminder that he loves me.


The room was warm and inviting with big windows to see outside, while sitting on very comfortable chairs. The coffee was strong and tasteful, not bitter. The music playing was Pavarotti, and then Duke Ellington, mixed in with Enya and some Vivaldi. That alone was enough to convince me.


But then the owner, a 50 something German gentleman with a greying beard brought over what he called his version of a Sloppy Joe, and would we mind trying it out!


It was a square flat bun with Bison meat and sauce in it and a few pickled hot peppers with melted Camembert cheese oozing out the side. It had been pressed in a sandwich press.


Sigh. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


I sat there and it really felt like I had stepped through the back of a wardrobe, into another place, another world. Like a small bistro someplace in europe. And I enjoyed it, probably more than I should have!!


But I hope they do well, I hope God blesses them and their hard work.


I'll be back, and maybe next time I'll pull out my grade Ten German skills. "Vie getz frau ________ Trinken Sie einen Kaffee"

My turn. - Pastoring Women

Alright, between kleenex etc. here is my story about shepherding (pastorally caring for) women.

I remember the day I realized that I could be involved in an illicit affair with a woman I worked with or cared for, professionally. It was the day in college that we discovered that my Theology professor, my quiet, geekish, all about God, Theology professor had been suspended for having an "Affair" with his office assistant.

The one who warned us weekly to keep ourselves safe from innuendo and dangerous situations, was himself caught up in such a mess. It was devastating. That day I knew, like I have never known before or since, that if he could do it, I could do it too.

Probably one of the most profound things I took away from college.

So I have been taught all the stuff, and it's ranged from, "Don't meet women at all, ever, anyplace" to "Whatever your wife is comfortable with." -Whatever that's supposed to mean.
I pastor a church where a previous pastor had an affair with a church member. It's also a church where most of the people who attend, and are involved in the leadership structures, are women.

I came to the realization early on, that if I was going to be of any help to these people, I was going to have to build relationships with women. Thus I have. And I have found it to be a wonderful experience. The relationship I seek to build with them is not just a relationship of some authority figure in their lives, but also a friendship in which we can discover life together. We look to see where God is at work in their/our lives, and we thank Him together.

A part of me resents that my professionalism is questioned because of other's failures. I know I have it in me to fail, by virtue of the fact that I am Adam. But does that then limit me to a lifetime of friendships with guys only? Or, does that mean that so much of my time is spent making arrangements to cover my backside? For now, I've decided no.

There is a measure of risk in all that I do. Anybody at anytime could stand up and point a finger at me and shout "Sexual abuse." And it would be up to me to prove it differently. That's happened to guys I know and am aware of, even the ultra careful ones. So I do try to be reasonably careful.

If a certain woman makes either Lauralea or I uncomfortable, or we just don't know them, I will take great pains not to give them a chance to blow up my life's calling.

I talk to Lauralea about it, regularly. I ask what she's seeing. She usually has it right on.

I work hard to build a reputation as a brother in Christ, or a father in Christ, rather than an aloof professional, disengaged from their lives.

Lauralea and I do stuff with them and their families, so she's not at work or at home out of the picture someplace. We do cultivate friendships.

My good relationship with her is my best covering.
When we first came here it was interesting to watch how different people would test me. Some women actually were testing me, to see what I was made of. I'm not sure they even realized this themselves, but Lauralea saw it coming a long way off. And she was right. They were checking to see how or if I would respond to their sexuality.

And others didn't even begin to trust me for five years. And after those five years, we got more accomplished in an hour than we would have the whole first year, one hour a week.
Caring for the men and women around me has been a huge blessing. Not because I get power from it, but because I see them grow, and change. And I usually find that when I need it most, they pour life back into me as well. My life would be so different without it, without them.

The ministry is so unique, each situation and heart is different. So I use the wisdom I have, on loan from God, to judge each person the best I can. Sometimes I care for them in a group, sometimes I care for them one on one. Sometimes I counsel in my office, sometimes I counsel with them at the door as they are getting ready to leave. Sometimes Lauralea is there, sometimes she isn't there, in body.

I do have personal and professional policies in place which I refuse to cross, but so far I haven't had to struggle with any of those lines yet.

And other than that, I seek to treat individuals as individuals. Unique. Blessed. Equals.

g'nite.

Cold Update


Here's a pic of our back yard this morning, at -44 C. The Ice fog is so bad, you can't see the car in front of you. (Well if you're on the road!!)


In further updates, a small mining town here in Saskatchewan yesterday earned the distinction of being the coldest place on the earth, at -53 C. Colder than Mars.


And, for the kids out there, if you take a cup of boiling water outside and toss it into the air, it will instantly vaporize into a cloud.


I had to get up to drive kids around. But now I return you to my irregularly scheduled flu.


 

and don't eat the chicken...

Alright already, I'm sick, I've got the flu.


and I can't sleep.


and I'm hot, no, cold, no, hot, no, cold.


 


Crap. I wanted to do a post on how to drive a totally frozen up van when the tires are square and the steering wheel won't turn, and the doors won't close and you snap the rubber power cord pluggin it in, in half...


 

Heat

... I just found out where it all went.


here, and here.


 

It ain't over yet


-47C ?? before windchill??


 

The Weather

...is freakin freakin cold.



Like -52 C.  That means exposed skin will freeze 10 minutes ago.


The buses are not running, but the schools are open! Go figure that one out.


And Lauralea wants Micah to get a ride too. We live across the street from his school.


That's how cold it is today.


 

Some get it, some just don't

Found this over at Jordon's:



Fallout is not limited to the clergy... The faithful.. wonder when they are going to experience the changed life they've been promised and expected to experience at church. In North America, these people have been led to believe that their Christian life is all about the church, so this failure of the church not only creates doubt about the church, it also leads them to all kinds of doubt about God and their
relationship with Him."

"Many congregations and leaders.. adopt a refuge mentality. This is the perspective that withdraws from the culture, builds the walls thicker and higher, hunkers down to wait for the storm to blow over. Those with a refuge mentality view the world outside the church as the enemy [and] live within the bubble of Christian subculture.. Refuge churches evidence enormous self-preoccupation. They deceive themselves into believing they are a potent force.

"The point is.. all the effort to fix the church misses the point. You can build the perfect church--and they still won't come. People are not looking for a great church... The age in which institutional religion holds appeal is passing away. "Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world--people outside the church think church is for church people, not for them."

Reggie McNeal, The Present Future via
Bob Carlton


Thanks Coop

Great weekend

Well, it's Sunday night and I'm very tired, gonna go to bed soon, but I just wanted to say it's been a good weekend.


Jeff Anderson was a great help. He has a way of observing things and hearing God and then speaks out. He was right on with some of his images for us. I'm pondering them and we'll talk more about them as I think them through.


Worship was sweet today too. I'm trying to take more time to focus on Him, and just to wait for him before I lead worship. I've always prayed and waited, but right now I'm taking more time to do it, and it's becoming a blessing to me. Then to the church.


Sometimes in this place, I speak of being tired and frustrated and lost. Tonight I thought I should say, I am tired and hopeful and found.


Blessings.


 

The day is over

Well, we had a great day, Jeff was a great facilitator in getting us to talk and think about change.


Then came the afternoon annual meeting.


It was great, and I'm here to tell you that a new record was set, (If you keep tabs on such things) of 2.5 hours for our annual meeting!!! Two and a half hours! Unbelievable!


Just a few short years ago, the meeting started early in the morning and lasted till after supper.


This is indeed a hopeful sign for me, things are improving, we are gaining the reputation of being a healthy church. For those of you who know her history, that's a wonderful thing.


Thank you Father.


 

Annual Meeting day

For whatever reason, I'm feeling very,  useless as a pastor these days. 


And today is our church Annual Meeting, so I've been reviewing the past year of ministry and work. Lots and lots of work and effort has gone into the year, and I do see change/growth happening, but it often seems to happen at a snails pace.


Then, in my insecurities I start to compare myself to other pastors I know and ... well that's not good or healthy.


But Jeff Anderson is here leading us through some growth things, and it's cool to see an old friend again. That's encouraging.


So, as you think of us, send up a note or two. Thanks


 

Pastor?

Chris Marshall writes this about pastoring:



"I spent 10 years climbing the ladder in evangelical ministry, being groomed to be the next super "up front" leader and what I learned is that it had more to do with being an American success story than anything to do with Christ following. I would go as far to say that until I learned to love 2 or 3 and be content in my giftedness, I really never understood what pastoring was. I believe the pastor who will thrive in the future will be one that turns in their pulpit for a guest bedroom, their preaching for true hospitality, their "up front" role for a towel and basin. Hospitality, which fosters powerful organic relationships underground will be the bridges that the Holy Spirit will use to bring healing to our communities. (by the way, women generally kick arse in this area). So men, learn how to clean a toilet and make a bed. Learn how to cut the vegetables and clean the dishes. Learn how to listen in conversation to people's stories as they share lives over a meal and be ready to respond with warmth and empathy with nobody to notice what your doing. The future leader will not be an expositor but a diakanos (table servant). If this is not enough for you, then let me end with this question: Who told you to be successful?"


I think i like that. I like that just fine.


 

splaining Tim's to Brad...

Brad comments:


So... tell me again about this thing that you Canadians have with Tim Horton. I went to his restaurant for breakfast (along with the rest of Calgary) and I'm still trying to figure out why everyone was there. Maybe it's patriotic to support the Canadian enterprise or maybe people are just so desperate to participate in Canadian hockey mythology...

P.S. Cute kid.

Well Brad, I'm not sure. The food isn't great and the coffee is real strong, which I like, but most complain about.


I think it had to do with the early 80's when people discovered they could buy cheap hot coffee and take it in their cars with them. This was a wonderful innovation, the two greatest things in the world, cars and coffee.


It was all the more wonderful up here in Canada where 7 months of the year are cold, so we saw this as a gift from the gods. Taking hot coffee into frozen cars.


Then, we needed something sweet because the coffee was so strong, and too hot to drink. Whereas the Americans drank their hot coffee, which burned their mouths and caused them fits of litigation, we less litigious Canadians thought, "Let's not stick our tongues into this hot stuff, let's stick sweet, icing coated, deep fried circles of dough into the coffee and then into our mouths."


That started the donut rolling.


Then there's the fact that Tim Horton was a Hockey Player which plays to the Canadian stereotypical sympathies. So there's a connection to the sports crowd there. You pick up a large double double on the way to the rink cause you've got to stand there for three hours in the howling wind watching the kid play minor minor league hockey, and you know your only friend is gonna be found in that tall brown paper cup.


And the fact that Tim Hortons raises lots of money to build camps for disabled kids. This brings in the people who have a soft spot for children, ... and campers.


Once a year Tim's runs a contest where you buy a coffee and roll up the rim to see if you've won cash, cars, houses, bikes etc.  This brings in the whole gambling contingent by the bus full. I've even watched as people opposed to gambling take their whole families out for an evening "coffee". And as their hands begin to shake and their eyes get wide, they roll up the rim to win ..... a cookie. Downer. 


"Over here, another round of coffee's please!! And make sure they're in the paper cups!"      


But, alas, this coffee even makes Canadians out of otherlanders. My friend Janet frequents this place often. She mixes her drinks.  I think she gets half coffee and half English Toffee, but that's ok she's only half Canadian, the other half is British. Anyway, she knows that Canadians are serious about their Tim's coffee and she's on her way to becoming a true Canadian. People already know better than to get between Janet and her coffee... stuff can happen, if you know what I mean.


 


So, there you go. That's my suspicion of what runs through the veins of your avarage Canadian. Tim Horton's coffee.


and thanks, the kid takes after me.


 

Morning Coffee


Mornings always find Micah grumpy till his first cup of Tim Horton's coffee.


(Am I doing a good job parenting this kid or what!?!)


 

Have a Laugh

I just "Borrowed" this joke from Rae over at Rae's corner:



A kindergarten teacher once told her class that she'd like for the children to bring in for show and tell something that reminds them of their religion....


Little Isaac stood up and told the class "My name is Isaac, I'm Jewish, and this is a Star of David".


Little Johnny stood up and told the class "My name is Johnny, I'm Catholic, and this is a crucifix".


Not to be outdone, Little Billy stood up and told the class "My name is Billy, I'm a Baptist, and this is a casserole".


 


And I suppose that if they were Lutheran they would bring, what, a Jello Salad??


(any others?)

sOer muoufff

Spent a couple of hours in the dentist chair this morning getting her hands wet and wrinkly. I'm now the proud owner of a Crown. (Not to be confused with my heavenly crown, which I suspect I'll just throw at His feet... this crown is meant to stay in my mouth. Which makes me think, will we get a new set of teeth when we get the new body, or just stick with the old. The Book seems to say we will recognize one another over there, so what if you are recognizable for your terrible whacked out teeth...  I wonder, and wander... it may be the meds)


Now I forget what I was going to say.


I'm sure it will return.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled Blogging.

Doing my part, one big mac at a time

Brad mentioned this link:



"The Salvation Army is the beneficiary of a bequest of $1.5 billion from the estate of the late Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc."


That is a lot of Big Mac's. But I'm glad I did my part in supporting the Salvation Army. Every little bit helps eh?


No greater love has anyone than they lay down their life for another.

Evening prayers

Pray with me...


Psalm 142 (143)
A prayer in time of trouble
Lord, I trust you: do not hide your face from me. Alleluia.
Lord, listen to my prayer:
 in your faithfulness turn your ear to my pleading;
 in your justice, hear me.
Do not judge your servant:
 nothing that lives can justify itself before you.


The enemy has hounded my spirit,
 he has crushed my life to the ground,
 he has shut me in darkness, like the dead of long ago.
So my spirit trembles within me,
 my heart turns to stone.
I remind myself of the days of old,
 I reflect on all your works,
 I meditate once more on the work of your hands.
I stretch out my arms to you,
 I stretch out my soul, like a land without water.


Come quickly and hear me, O Lord,
 for my spirit is weakening.
Do not hide your face from me,
 do not let me be like the dead,
 who go down to the underworld.
Show me your mercy at daybreak,
 because of my trust in you.
Tell me the way I should follow,
 for I lift up my soul towards you.
Rescue me from my enemies:
 Lord, I flee to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
 for you are my God.


Your good spirit will lead me to the land of justice;
 for your name´s sake, Lord, you will give me life.
In your righteousness you will lead my soul
 away from all tribulation.


___________________


Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, Lord, God of faithfulness.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
___________________


Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake,
and guard us as we sleep,
so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace. Alleluia.


Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness;
the glory of your people Israel.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.


Of your kindness, Lord, dispel the darkness of this night,
so that we your servants may go to sleep in peace
and wake to the light of the new day, rejoicing in your name.
Through Christ our Lord,
Amen.


 


 

Worship people

Each week these 6,7, or 8 people make a commitment to come to practice and usually work hard for an hour or so. Then they go home and work on the music during the week, and finally they show up Sunday mornings at 9am to practice one more time. That is so that they can play well at 11 am. So they can lead people into God´s presence.


And they are an amazing bunch. They are a gifted, talented bunch of musicians, who are often overlooked because they make this look easy. They ride in the background, unnoticed, except for when they make a mistake! They give us roads we use to meet with God. They play the melodies that our hearts ride on to say to God, "We love you, we praise you, we thank you."


Often I have stood upon the stage leading the people in worship and thought to myself, There´s no way we could be at this place with God if it wasn´t for those people playing and praying over there. No way.


My own heart would have long since dried up and blown away if it wasn´t for them being there. They allow us to blend our worship. They can play the old hymns, with all the notes, and the latest song with just a few chords. And their playing allows me to look to God in worship, not to be worrying will they make this song. And when I screw up, they keep right on going, without missing a beat.


You guys deserve a lot of credit. Here´s to you regulars, in no particular order;


Birdie Anderson on Organ


Janet Loseth on the Digital Piano


Matt Kent on the Electric Guitar, Bass, and Acoustic Guitar


Linea Lanoie on the Recorder


Steve R on Acoustic Guitar


Christian Kongaui on Drums


Great Date

We went to see Lord of the Rings tonight.


Wow.


Wow wow wow wow.


How do I get up in front of a crowd tomorrow and preach?


How do I tell an amazing story, with only words??


Wow.


 

C:\

Well, six hours later. Windows has been reinstalled but I'm having trouble with some Drivers. The Modem comes and goes, so I'm not too sure it isn't doing the same things.


The monitor drivers finally took hold. And that's as far as I got.


I was getting pretty discouraged, so Thomas and I went to the Future Shop a bit. Nothing affordable there.


But, tonight Laura and I are off on a date.


One bright spot on a technologically dreary day.


 

This is the last chance

Alright. I'm going to the office to reformat C:


Wish me luck.

Christianity a la Merton


"Christianity is life and wisdom in Christ. It is a return to the Father in Christ. It is a return to the infinite abyss of pure reality in which our own reality is grounded, and in which we exist. It is a return to the source of all meaning and truth. It is a return to the inmost springs of life and joy. It is a rediscovery of paradise within our own spirit by self-forgetfulness. And, because of our oneness with Christ, it is the recognition of ourselves as sons of the Father. It is the recognition of ourselves as other Christs. It is the awareness of strength and love imparted to us by the miraculous presence of the Nameless and Hidden One Whom we call the Holy Spirit."


Thanks Mr. Creech



 

Wonder where the wonder went

Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel:



"Before his death, rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel said to his friend, "Sam, never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me."


I asked for wonder and he gave it to me.


A Philistine will stand before a Claud Monet painting and pick his nose; a person filled with wonder will stand there fighting back the tears.


By and large, our world has lost its sense of wonder. We have grown up. We no longer catch our breath at the sight of a rainbow or the scent of a rose, as we once did. We have grown bigger and everything else smaller, less impressive. We get blase and worldly wise and sophisticated. We no longer run our fingers through water, no longer shout at the starts or make faces at the moon. Water is H2O, the starts have been classified, and the moon is not made of green cheese. Thanks to satellite TV and jet planes, we can visit places available in the past only to a Columbus, a Balboa, and other daring explorers."


 





CPU Dependent

I find it somewhat surprising how dependent we´ve become with computers.


Today at work I had a miserable day, because the small, slow 150mhz computer I coax along, and have for a long time, started just shutting down. Or closing a program in the middle of things, or not letting me connect with the internet. It´s kinda like an old buddy is leaving...


No, it´s not a virus or ad garbage, I checked. But the whole thing is grinding to a clunky halt, right there in the middle of my reports and worship half planned for this Sunday, not to mention a sermon... I was having a right fit in my office....


This is week two of these problems, and I suspect they might be hardware related. The old beast has taken all I could give er. Now what??


Now what indeed.


I end up running home to work on this or that. To find a story I´ve been looking for, to type my annual report, to print something off, etc.


Then I get here, and Lauralea´s been working on XSF JOY stuff for 4 days, fighting, typing, printing, (Which is another story, but we´ll see her again soon, I hope.) And she has the nerve to try to run one WordPerfect Document with all the data in it, pictures and words. This means she has a document roughly the size of Godzilla. Then everything slows down and crashes and she ask´s "Why did it do that?"



Why, indeed.


Then, I fight for computer time with the kids and their msn and net research stuff. More of their school work is net connected. I haven´t seen them crack an encyclopedia in a long time, and this seems to go with the direction of education these days.


I realized that we are becoming dependent on these things like the previous generations were dependant on cars. I used to be out in the yard with my dad in the middle of winter, working on and coaxing the car to keep on running another day. Now, my son and I huddle around an open CPU, trying this or that with the hardware, then the software, to keep it moving another day.


 


Interesting how times change, yet remain the same.

Scrabble

This is as close to Scrabble as I like to get.





Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble? Score is: 25.
What is your score? Get it here.


Reel Spirituality

In a recent interview, Rob Johnston, who wrote "Reel Spirituality" says:



The advent of video - and more recently DVD - has changed the way movies function in our society. Rather than being simply one form of possible entertainment on a weekend night, movies have become the primary storytelling medium for our culture. Even if you miss a film the first time around, a recommendation from a friend is sufficient enough reason for you to drive to the nearest Blockbuster to rent a movie. Where novels functioned to explore the depth of life's meaning 30 or 40 years ago, now our best sellers tend more to be "pulp fiction."  ....


For persons over 40, watching a movie is one possible way of using your discretionary time. For persons under 40, however, it's often like eating, sleeping, using your computer - it's simply part of life, an expectation of what happens. ...


If you asked someone how many sermons you can remember in the last two months, and then how many movies they remember in the last two months, most persons under 40 will do a much better job recounting the movies they've seen, the plots they covered and what was significant. Movie going is, in this way, putting significant pressure on church communicators on how they tell the greatest story ever told. It is being demanded that we return to a more narrative form of preaching. We might have used a story as an illustration or a throwaway 30 or 40 years ago. If we're not using narrative as a significant portion today, many are simply tuning us out. ...


The Passion will be a significant religious experience for all who see it. I saw it several months ago. Mel Gibson is a faithful conservative Catholic who has created an homage to his Lord. ...


The movie also is unique because it doesn't put the language of Jesus into modern English, encouraging us unconsciously to recast Jesus in our image. We're instead forced to experience him cross-culturally. It's a different time and a different place and a different voice. We're invited into Jesus' world, rather than recrafting Jesus into our own. I found this to be compelling. It was at times even breathtaking. I think the movie will be too much for some. The cruelty and inhumanity has a terrible "beauty," but it's still terrible. Surely, there has never been a Jesus movie with such craft and care. ...


 


You can check out the rest, here.


 

WARNING: Long Verbiage Ahead View At Your Own Risk

Well, I am glad to report that we seem to have cleared Christmas, and the New Year.


From BS on the walls to our open house. From our Church Skiing Christmas party to our week of holidays we spent at home because the van had no brakes.


It seems that we have made it, clear into the year 2004. And God seems to be as good in this year, as he was last.



It feels a little strange right now, because usually at this time of the year I'm booking flights and getting guys to share a Hotel room with - wait, that sounded bad...


Usually at the Beginning of February, I'm off to Chicago where our group of churches has it's "Midwinter." A time for pastors to gather and swap stories and take some good classes and hear some very good speakers.


I'd like to say it's like a Shiners convention except of course without the funny hats and small mopeds, but I can't. I've never been to a Shiners convention, so I can't compare!


This year I'm not going, so that I can attend the denominational Annual Meeting in June. It's much too costly to do both, and this year my transfer to the Evangelical Covenant Church will be formalized. So I need to be there in June.


So I'm sitting here, and it feels like I should be doing something about Midwinter, but I don't have to.



It is really a huge blessing that the church enables me to attend this event.


I get to meet pastors. The guys with many of the same struggles as I have, from all over North America.


We meet one another and share our stories. We will eat a meal together and next year I look for them and hear updates of their lives. I think about them and pray for them throughout the year, and it's a huge blessing.


I met a black pastor who had been a child in the deep South through the 50's and 60's. The stories he tells me suddenly become real in new ways, because I know someone who's lived it.


Or the guy who's planting a church on the wrong side of the tracks down in California. His wife doesn't want to be there, it's dangerous for them, and their small children. And he struggles with his calling and his family.


Anyway, a lot of connections are made. And it's good.


And the speakers. Leighton Ford, Rod Johnston, Philip Yancey, Oz Guinness, Marva Dawn, Tom Bandy.


This year it's Robert Webber, Brian McLaren, Klyne Snodgrass, Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Lloyd Ogilvie,


I'm droolin just thinking about it.


Then there's the little extras that happen as you are there.


One year a pastor from Wisconsin and I headed downtown to find some live Jazz, a personal weakness of mine. We came across a great little club that I try to get to every year since then. Two years ago I was there alone on the night off and who walks in and sits next to me but Nancy Sinatra. No kidding.


Then there's the time I somehow got invited over to the Covenant's Treasurer's house, and he does some work for Willow Creek, so he takes a few of us over and gives us the full tour for an afternoon. Later on, his neighbour, Miss. Illinois drops in to borrow a couple eggs. Yeah. No kidding.


Or a ride to the top of the tallest building, or some Chicago Pizza, or an hour spent at Moody Bible's bookstore where I bump into Henry Blackaby and tell him where I'm from and it's like old home week. (He helped start a church here in Prince Albert.)


Or when I met a waitress I knew from Prince Albert, there in the airport in Minneapolis waiting for our plane. Her boyfriend had just proposed, and she need to talk, and God came and met with us there in gate 5C. Tears poured out and God was all over the place, and it was a holy moment in time.


Dozens of small gifts, that God gives to us daily, he has blessed me with during this time each year.



Well, enough blabbing. I'm writing this from the local coffee shop. Lauralea was out tonight with a couple of ladies and the kids are home watching Malcom in the Middle, So off I went to drink coffee and read and write a bit.


Blessings.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

Worship was good this morning. (I judge it by the percieved presence of God in the place!)


It was snowing this morning, so after lunch Lauralea went to bed and I got Micah and hit the streets and got some Pictures of Prince Albert.


Here is Central Street.



Take it easy.

Church

Found this link over at Jordoncooper.com



On weekdays, Laurel Pennock goes to Q Cafe, her favorite non-profit coffeehouse, where the sofas are comfy, the music is likely to be indie rock and the java is shade-grown, fair-trade and, of course, organic.
Sunday, the 24-year-old file clerk goes to the same place, but this time for the bread and wine and a large wooden cross. That's when the cafe morphs into Quest church, an evangelical congregation that attracts lots of young people who like to hang out in cafes.
"It's nice having your favorite hangout place be your church on Sunday," she said, near the barista bar after a recent sermon.


I like it!!


 

Made it

Another close call averted by prayer and the grace of God.

 

I suspect most people are unaware of some of the very close calls that happen behind the scene in a congregational churches life. Usually not physical life and death stuff (well, except for the pastor I know who got a death threat note!) But it could be classified as spiritual life and death directional issues, that a church works through in any given year.

 

God is good and traffics in grace and mercy, but his people sometimes make bad choices. If they get carried away by their own deceptions, and pain, they can cause ALOT of damage.

 

So thanks for praying. I believe it carried the day. and I'm doing much better tonight than I was last night.

 


Still here

Ah, I made it safely through the day. Brad must have been praying, just so I don't become item #46 on his Ministerial adgenda.


Had a nice lunch with my second daughter. No hamburgers or pizza, she wanted to go for some thai food. (Must have done something right with that girl).


And we had a great concert at the church tonight. New Hope was in town and they did a real good job at worshiping God. We just got to go along with them! 


Now it's 2:39 am Saturday morning and I can't sleep. I can't sleep because I have to do some difficult pastor stuff tomorrow. And I don't know how to do it so that it won't cause a minor uprising. It's one of those things that we will have to face if we or as we continue to make choices not to change and not to give the keys of the church to the next generation.


But hey, I'm nearly ready for Sunday, and tonight was a great concert. Thanks for the recomendation Rob.

Your Attention Please

Over the lunch hour today, I shall briefly be at the Mall with my daughter.


If I should fail to be seen from or heard from for a few days, please call the local city Police service as undoubtedly that's where I shall be.


Thank you.

Nouwen on The greatest void


We ignore what we already know with a deep-seated intuitive knowledge - that no love or friendship, no intimate embrace or tender kiss, no community, commune or collective, no man or woman, will ever be able to satisfy our desire to be released from our lonely condition. This truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with our fantasies than face the truth of our existence. Thus we keep hoping that one day we will find the man who really understands our experiences, the woman who will bring peace to our restless life, the job where we can fulfil our potentials, the book which will explain everything, and the place where we can feel at home. Such false hope leads us to make exhausting demands and prepares us for bitterness and dangerous hostility when we start discovering that nobody, and nothing can live up to our absolutistic expectations.



I have a dream

I just woke up from a dream.


Micah and I were travelling to Germany for some reason, and we were arrested at the border and thrown in prison.


I don't remember being worried about it, and Micah handled it like a man. I got to see him in his part of the jail once and a while. We slept in dorm areas, but the food was great. We had roast turkey every night.


At least there wasn't a dog in my dream!!

Mars


Is it just me, or does Mars look alot like Kamloops?


 

Deeper

Could I take back that rousing speech i made the other day?  No?


That's OK, i really didn't want to anyway.


Why would i want to take it back, you ask? Because today it begins to cost something.


A very costly, but cool thing is happening around me these days. One of my children is considering going to Africa this summer.


Yeah, that's what I said, "Huh?"


To go to Africa and be with our God family there for a while. To learn from them, and live with them, and receive from them -from God. To help where they want and need help from us.


To her credit, she speaks a lot of the language, and she's been saving her cash at an amazingly motivated rate.


Now, we are asking God if this is His idea, or just ours.


And this asking is a part of what i talked of a few days ago. How can you be a believer, a disciple of Christ's, a follower of God, and not hear him? We need disciples who will practice the discipline of listening, of hearing his strong or still, small voice.


We need followers who have had to depend on Him for provision, for direction, for life.


We need more jesus people who are willing to go, at a great cost to themselves, just to listen to the songs of the lost, of the broken. And to come alongside and sing with them the song of Life. In words they understand.


And I'm not talking about dollar cost, although that will certainly be a part of it. But cost in terms of hours in prayer, in terms of hard work, in terms of cultural frustration ...


Then receiving the kinds of blessings that can only be received, through this kind of work.


So, as you think of us, call out our names to God. Call for clarity, call for provision, call for clear leading, call for the blessing.


And let's keep moving, deeper still into the heart of God, and who He is, letting the garbage fall away.


 

Our Daily Blog Today

Today's piece is a good reminder for me.



WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought.


True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man.


[From Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a' Kempis]



Christmas is over

Well, as this last week of my yearly holidays comes to a close, I echo the words of my frustrated wife last night as we were returning home at 10:15 pm with the repaired van with a temperature of -35 C, and I quote; "This holiday really sucked."


Yes indeedy, she was a beaut. (The holiday, not my wife...  uh, not that my wife wasn't a beauty... isn't a beauty, ... I give up, there's no way out of this hole)


But, for all we couldn't get done, we were able to watch some good movies. And games were played with the family, including me on one or two occasions. I've got a lovely Pink Lounge set up for my extras, and I've been able to do some thinking on church.


As a pastor, I confess to you a disinterest in building my local church, I'd rather be building His kingdom. I don't want people to join the church just so they can be on a board. I don't want people to give more money, just to support salaries.


I don't want people to go on missions, just to export a culture. I don't want people to dress up for church just because everybody else does. I don't want to run with the latest church fad just to draw people who are interested in the latest thing. I don't want to plan worship for people for whom it's just Blah blah blah blah blah.


 


I do want people to meet Jesus. I do want people to give up their hurts and bitterness, for life and freedom. I do want people to experience God in ways they never knew existed.


I do want people to worship God in creative, reflective ways. I do want people to give their money to God, by way of the poor and the church. I do want people to give up their lives and go, INTO cultures and countries and live Jesus lives there, so that others may meet Him too.


I do want us to find new ways to DO church. To BE community. To TELL the Jesus story.


I want new understandings of membership.  I want new ways of seating the chairs or if there even are any. I want new ways of communicating the gospel of grace and mercy.


I want church to really be a group of people. Not a building on a corner, not a service Sunday morning at 11:00 or 10:45 am. Not a budget or a constitution.


I want our relationships guided by the Scripture, and the Spirit, not Roberts (Bless him) Rules of Order.


I want church to happen at Tim Hortons over a doubledouble with a maple glazed. At the plant in the lunch room. Around the table after a good meal.


 


I guess I want us to live like we really believe it.


Not like, "We'll see."


 


That's the place I'm going. That's the country I long for.


I surround myself with postcards of that place, and my greatest frustration comes from living in this place, while on the journey to That place.


But I'll tell you, that's where I'm going, and I'm going to take as many of you with me as I can.

Evangelism

Came across this great piece on evangelism. Written by Rachelle Chapman, pastor of PhTm. She's responding to a letter. You can check out the whole deal at Off-the-Map.org.



What if you had been "allowed" to sit at the health clinic, hand people a cup of joe, and just listen to their stories? What if your heart sort of welled up a bit at a given part in the tale, and you had been able to say, "Tell me more about that." Or, "Wow. That's really amazing. I'm going to be thinking/praying/hoping for you that things keep moving in that direction for you." Or, "I'm sorry that hurts so much. I feel really honored that you told me that bit of your story." I know from experience that this brings a much longer lasting conversational relationship then the statement, "If you were to die tonight would you know for sure you are going to heaven...."



The church I pastor only evangelizes this way. In fact, we don't even call it evangelism any more. We just call it.....um....living, I guess. I like to think of it as listening to stories, and looking for God-active spots to breathe on. As I enter into conversations with my friends, I inwardly tune my spirit into their wavelength. Why? Because listening is an act of love, and God is first and foremost about love.



When my heart responds to what they are saying, I think of that bit of their story as a little heap of embers. God is glowing there. How can I blow on those embers? I can almost guarantee that straight-up hardcore evangelism would be like a bucket of water on that God-active spot. How can I breathe enough love on that spot to let it grow? How can I extend, not "the gospel message," but the living breathing gospel itself?



How can I offer, not answers, but love, companionship, fidelity, camaraderie to this person and their story. I want to do whatever it takes to walk longer with them. Even if it means they don't hear the gospel basics. If they experience the gospel basics, through my friendship, that's enough for me.



There's NO formula for this kind of living. It's just faith, instinct, and prayer, I guess. And basically, just treating people like human beings rather than?targets.? Humans who are made and loved by God, and therefore would fare much better if they were conscious of his love and care but humans nevertheless. Not projects. Not numbers. Not targets. People.





I'm Happy...

I just came out of the Zellers store and the theft alarm went off, bringing down the SWAT team. I chose to rejoice at that moment. Mostly because of my wife, to whom I had just given the bag.

 

I left her holding it!

 

:-)

 

In terms of the van, it's still in the shop waiting for a part to arrive tomorrow. They've replaced the rear shoes and one cylinder. Tomorrow is the master cylinder, again.

 

I can't wait to get back to work. This holiday's killing me.


 




Our Daily Blog

Andrew Jones has got a great idea running this year, a Blog based daily devotional.


So each day he's running a short devotion based on Thomas a' Kempis work, The Imitation of Christ.


Check it out, it looks like it's going to be a great idea. Ourdailyblog.com

2004 Day One

Well, day one of 2004 has been a treat.

 

Last night, I was able to drive the kids where they needed to go and without auto incident or accidents, (Hints or allegations, for you Paul Simon fans...)

 

We were at our small group's party till around 1:30am this morning, so we got to sleep late. The kids were at a youth party all night, till some time this morning when Matt (Bless his heart) dropped off the kids at home.

 

Then they hit the sheets and I haven't seen them all day.

 

Micah headed out with some church friends, and it looks like he's away for the night too.

 

So, Laura and I got out my Christmas DVD, "The Apartment" with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine (1960) it's one of my favourite movies of all time. It was a great treat to see it again, and we watched it without interruption! Very cool.

 

Now we are starting to wake people up, so they can go to bed at a decent hour tonight.