Nouwen on hidden greatness


"There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.


Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love."


I confess that as a pastor and as a man I am often caught in between a hunger to be known and admired, and a deep desire to be unknown, simple, humble.


Influence, if gathered the wrong ways, only leads to brokeness and loss. Brokenness and loss, if lived out humbly, can lead to influence.

Well, she's been a week to remember, I mean forget.

A dead work computer saw me at the office a couple nights rebuilding windows till 2 and 3 am. The ladies from church are having their getaway weekend, so most of the worship team is gone. This also means that L is gone. I miss her already. And I suppose the gravy for the week was talking about pee and such... 


Anyway, you find out who you're friends are when you talk about peeing standing up. My conclusion is that men who sit down on a toilet are smarter, simply because they've done more reading in life.


:-)


It all makes tonight's evening prayers a bit more fitting. Tonight, let me invite you to pray these words with me. Let me also remind you to not give bitterness room in your heart, and keep working at the discipline of forgiveness. Let's pray.


O Lord, You will keep us safe
and protect us forever.


I am placing my soul and my body
in Thy safe keeping this night, O God,
in Thy safe keeping, O Jesus Christ,
in Thy safe keeping, O Spirit of perfect truth.
The Three who would defend my cause
be keeping me this night from harm.


I call on You, O God,
for You will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer.


Show the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.


Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.


Lighten my darkness, Lord.
Let the light of Your presence
dispel the shadows of night.


Christ with me sleeping,
Christ with me waking,
Christ with me watching,
each day and each night.


Save us, Lord, while we are awake,
guard us while we are asleep;
that, awake, we may watch with Christ,
and, asleep, may rest in His peace.


God with me protecting,
the Lord with me directing,
the Spirit with me strengthening
for ever and for evermore.


The peace of all peace
be mine this night
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

"Just the Facts ma'am" Sargent Friday


The doorbell rang. A man in business clothing stood under the porch light. Shaggy recognized him as McNamara, an executive at the company Shaggy worked at. Two men behind McNamara stood in the shadows. They wore trench coats.
      "Hello," said McNamara. "We're from First Community Church of the People. May we come in?"
      Shaggy's neck knotted. His knees went limp. His hands shook. The Visitation Team! How'd they know he was here? How could he escape?


Read the rest, here.

How big are His hands?

About six weeks ago a friend poked his head into my office and checked if I wanted to go for a quick breakfast. I needed a break and he was buying, so you know what the answer was.


We had a good time, talking about this and that, interweaving it with our stories and bits of toast and coffee and God. I don't push the God thing alot because well, I'm not sure how much God is a part of his life.


Anyway, that kinda started a rhythm for us. Now each week, same time and place, we meet to talk and enjoy the sunrise. I've been thinking how much I enjoy the time we have together, it's good, you know? 


Tonight I received word, he has cancer, and it might be bad.


So, I'm praying and watching God for him. Looking back on the delightful early mornings we've shared together, amazed at God's perfect timing.


And again, I know that God loves him, and me, and that He holds eternity in his hands. My friends, mine, and yours.

"If I grow up, I wanna be a Plumber..."

I once was in a neighbouring church for a meeting, and as I left I saw a handout the church board had prepared for the church. They were in the process of searching for a pastor, in fact, they had been searching for a long time. As I read it, I learned why. They were looking for a pastor with the qualifications of Jesus Christ, (and even if they got him, I doubt he would have lasted very long!!)


Toni directs us to a list of qualifications which is done in fun. Still, through the fun, there is a glimmer of truth to it. He quotes CMF CoffeeShop:



A recent survey compiled all the qualities that people expect from the perfect pastor:


~ Preaches exactly 12 minutes.


~ Frequently condemns sin but never upsets anyone.


~ Works from 8 a.m. until midnight and is also a janitor.


~ Makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $80 a week to the poor.


~ 28 years of age and has been preaching for 30 years.


~ Wonderfully gentle and good-looking.


~ A burning desire to work with teenagers, but is always with the senior citizens.


~ Makes 15 daily calls to church families, visits shut-ins and the hospitalized, evangelizes the unchurched, and is always in the office when needed.


I'd add to it;


"Spends 6 hours on his knees in prayer, every day"


"Would never use the words "Sit Down" and "Toilet" in the same sentence!"


"Has 5 kids, but has never had sex."


 


So, in a lame attempt to get our heads out of the toilet, (Although I don't think that discussion's over yet!)  what would you add to a list of things a pastor should and shouldn't do??


Go ahead, have fun with it. You know you want to.

A community service announcement for those about to reproduce themselves.

(Namely Marc and Daniel, well, their wives to be more exact...)


"Inspired by the historic Manneke Pis statue in his hometown of Brussels, a little boy practices and perfects the art of standing up. Like everything in life, standing up takes practice. No one is perfect (or perfectly dry) the first time. But after a lot of practice ? and a lot of patience ? comes?success! Standing up is easy. It´s fun too. Especially when you get to stand up next to dad, just like a big boy!


"Never stand in front of a boy in training. Standing Up will make your home safer, with a smile for you and your son."  -- Jeffrey Schwimmer, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego"


O H       B R O T H E R.


Glad to see that Jeffrey's Ph.D. didn't go to waste.


 


Here's a bit of magic I used to help the MEN around here. I made it a policy, if it's a toilet, you sit. If it's a urinal or the great outdoors, stand away baby!


No probs.


And the women around here don't know how good they have it. They REALLY don't.

The Notebook

So, Lauralea went with some ladies to view this film and upon returning home, I made the mistake of asking what it was about. Within 15 seconds she was explaining it to me through tears.


Now, I really appreciate this soft spot in her heart, but sheesh. Why do people subject themselves to this kind of emotional pain?


I just start to envision some of the faces of loss that I've seen in the past month, and I get weepy, from real life. I can't figure out why I would sit through the retelling of a story I'm watching someone live out, in full 3D color.  


Why.

BloggermeetUP 2 ...this time it's personal...

Had a great time tonight, meeting some like minded individuals. Bloggers to be exact.


Now, the impression may be that in any bunch of Bloggers you will find pocket protectors, white tape holding our glasses together, and hair that stands straight up. Not this bunch baby. (Well, mostly!!)


Becky again was the host, and she does it so well. I think it's part of that Southern charm/hospitality thing she's got goin on.


Lauralea and I had a great time. Here's the evidence.







Yeah, a great time.

Doin anything tomorrow?

Hey, you blog? Then tomorrow in Saskatoon, at 6pm at the Fox and Hound.


Be there.


If you choose not to attend, I know some people...



 

Last chance for Allen Sapp

If you live in the greater Prince Albert area and you have an interest in art, tomorrow is your last chance to see some of Allen Sapp's rarely displayed works.


"Paul and Verena Moser and the Red Door Gallery are pleased to announce an exhibition of renowned Cree Artist, Allen Sapp.


The display will be open February 7 till February 19 at the Red Door Gallery and will include 18 of his works.


On February 19 Mr. Sapp will be available in the gallery to sign copies of his book, "The Song Within My Heart."


It really is a great exhibition of his world renowned work. And tomorrow will be a good opportunity to meet him, face to face.


So get down to the Bison Cafe tomorrow.

She made us look good.

Now, I know Blogging can be a fairly lonely, geeky pursuit, but the CFQC News in Saskatoon ran a good blogging story today. And guess who represented the Blogging community, yep, Ms. Becky Bennetch.


Let me just say, she makes us look good.


Not nerdy, or needy, but smart and insightful and (Becky, forgive me!) not hard to look at. 


:-)


Actually, Jordon Cooper's been doing this a long time too. Wonder why he wasn't invited to the ...hmm, where's that pic I have of Jordon...


Joking aside, it is a bit late for a news organization to pick up on the "Phenomenon of Blogging." But Becky did well on our behalf. And, she's American.


Yes, I know, your opinion of the US just rose a few notches.


Thanks Georgia, you did good.


Now, some more farmer vision screen caps for your enjoyment.



 


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Suppose, just suppose

...that you were helping two old friends get talking with each other again. And suppose one of the friends had a very big, very bad legal secret in his history that his friend knew about. And suppose the friend who knew about it was so angry that he would threaten to tell you about it. I suppose that would make you responsible to contact the authorities then wouldn't it?


It would also mean that chances are that two large neckless men would visit you in the evening and shorten you to the tune of the distance from your knees to the ground.


I suppose that's where I'm living today.


sigh


 


UPDATE: Thanks for your concerns. The "problem" has been set aside, for now. God is good.

randall friesen.com 5.0

This version I've been thinking on and on for some time. I believe it's my third attempt at it.


I wanted color. I got color.


I wanted my photo's on it. Now Flickr makes it real easy to do that. And it will keep updating the pic's at the right as I upload new ones.


I brought back the blogroll. To much effort to click and click. Should also help bring down my hits.


I wanted a picture of me, smiling. There are not alot of these around, so it's considered gold. Brad took this picture after the transfer of ordination service in Minneapolis last summer.


So, if you find a problem on the page or difficulty in reading it, le'me know. I'll tell you where you can get some glasses.

Send a note

During a particularly difficult afternoon last weekend, while we were deep in deliberation at the Board meetings I was at, somebody needed to take a washroom break. As they left the room we saw a note taped to the door.


We opened it up and read:



Dear folks on the CBC Board of Directors,
I realize that this weekend is probably full of stress. Nasty words like budget, cost, funds, and future, are being tossed around in a tiny room for hours and hours. But I would like to take this opportunity , while I have your attention, to thank you for all that you are doing. Because of many meetings like this one, I am here. If it were not for your hard work, and hearts bent toward service there would not be CBC for me to attend. God is using your hard work to affect people like me, both now, and in the future. He is creating a holy people for Himself... and you have an important role to play. Your dedication to God's work is affecting me right now. Conversations are stretching how I look at myself, how I think others look at me, how God looks at me, how God uses me, and I'm changing because of it. Everyday someone challenges me. It may be something in a class, a conversation with someone, or a moment of quite reflection with God, but it never fails, something challenges me to grow more and more every day.


So, when the numbers are flying, and exhaustion is setting in, know that I am praying for you. That I am thanking God for you. I don't know most of you, and most of you don't know me, and we probably won't know one another until we get to heaven, but thank you. I am growing and witnessing God at work in so many ways because of your hard work.


I have learn't so much about myself. I have discovered I am compassionate, people loving, quiet, and loud loving, person. ...I'm also spontaneous, and ya ... that's what you get I guess.


But ya, thank you. And be encouraged. I will be praying for you, and know that God will continue to provide for the good work he started in you. ...And despite the business aspect of the weekend, I hope that you will also be refreshed through the company of one another and the presence of God.


An Anonymous CBC student.


After we blew our noses (well, all except for the bean counters :-)), we got back to work, a little more hopeful, a little more confident, and a lot more at peace.


Amazing what a little encouragement note could do.

Welcome to A New Reader

Apparently someone has begun to read this space and learned how to leave comments. To bad he has the whole week off.


I think it's time for a little chat on blogging etiquette.

Happy Love Day

When I was driving around Calgary the radio station I was listening to, Jack FM I believe, was planning a St. Valentines Day Massacre for today - no love songs, all day long. Nothing but "Love Stinks" and "You Jerk" songs to help pass the day. The Fan Sports Radio was warning the male listeners that the weekend would be followed by Valentines Day, "Otherwise known to us as, Monday."


So today was the day of love.


The kids got into it. Micah had made cards for everyone and blew up a balloon for Lauralea and I, drawing our faces on them and putting them on our dinner plates. Hillary had gone to some considerable effort to make some cool cards, of which mine was the coolest. Lauralea, who knows me best, got me some pink Candy Corns and some Rolaids.


And I? I took a long nap, simply because I was exhausted.


I dunno, it really didn't trigger in my brain the size of a day some of these people around here were creating it to be, so I kinda missed it.


And now, well maybe we'll just call er a day and start again tomorrow.

Sunny and Warm Sunday morning

Looks like a beautiful Southern Alberta morning out there.


I'm going to get some toast, then off to church at Hope Community Church, then I'm heading home.


A long weekend of hard work done well.


Gotta go thank somebody.

Long day, praying still

Well, day one completed. We will regroup in an hour to go at it some more. I believe this is the first time at these meetings we've gone into the evenings. I don't mind it so much, just that the thinking gets a bit weird and the ideas slow to a crawl... then they get goofy!


Our committee had a most profitable day, connecting with staff and faculty. Listening to their stories, hearing their heartbeat for the kids, for the school, for God.


D'you remember the picture of Moses standing in front of the Red Sea, with water in front of him and the Egyptians behind, bearing down on him?  That was the feeling settling upon us today.


At this call to Faith, God sets him up at the edge of his own demise, and Moses has to decide what he's gonna do, who's he gonna believe. And he places his trust in God.


God does this a thousand times a day, to each of us. Inviting us to faith, to trust in him and his power.


We have no recourse but to repent and believe, in him and his ability. And this is Grace.


We have that sense around the table too. God is doing what he is doing, and this thing probably won't look like it does now, nor possibly even what we want it to look like. But it will be his thing, and we will fall down and worship him for being the Amazing God of the miraculous and merciful.


It will inspire awe of Him. And that's alright by me.


It's good to be in prayer these days and nights. Pray with me tonight...


 


O Lord, You will keep us safe
and protect us forever.


I am placing my soul and my body
in Thy safe keeping this night, O God,
in Thy safe keeping, O Jesus Christ,
in Thy safe keeping, O Spirit of perfect truth.
The Three who would defend my cause
be keeping me this night from harm.


I call on You, O God,
for You will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer.


Show the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.


Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.


Lighten my darkness, Lord.
Let the light of Your presence
dispel the shadows of night.


Christ with me sleeping,
Christ with me waking,
Christ with me watching,
each day and each night.


Save us, Lord, while we are awake,
guard us while we are asleep;
that, awake, we may watch with Christ,
and, asleep, may rest in His peace.


God with me protecting,
the Lord with me directing,
the Spirit with me strengthening
for ever and for evermore.


The peace of all peace
be mine this night
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Tomorrow bright and early,

 I'm off again. Calgary this time.


Gonna need the wisdom of Solomon, and the bum of an elephant. Lot's of decisions and four days of sitting.


Send up a prayer when God reminds you of me, k? We need it these days.


 


As for tonight, pray with me...


Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.


Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.


 


Canticle


In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.


The Lord is my light, my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?


In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.


One thing I ask of the Lord,
one thing I seek;
to dwell in the presence of my God,
to gaze on Your holy place.


In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.


I believe I shall see the goodness
of the Lord in the land of the living.
O wait for the Lord!
Have courage and wait,
wait for the Lord.


In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.



Blessing


See that ye be at peace among yourselves, my children,
and love one another.
Follow the example of good men of old
and God will comfort you and help you,
both in this world
and in the world which is to come.


+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Ah James, right to the point then?


"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."



Gmail anyone?

In celebration of Shrove Tuesday (Yes Marc, It has to do with Lent! Sheesh...) I have 50 Gmail addresses to hand out.


1 Gigabyte of pure email storage. Sweet.


Anyone still need one?

Shrove what?

So, who had pancakes for supper??

thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump,

Just trying to catch my breath this week, from last week and next week...


Well, that was a deep thought! Allow me.


Last week, connecting, learning, traveling to our Midwinter meetings in Chicago. The best part is the connecting. Hanging out with other people who do things like I do, swapping ideas, sharing our stories. It's those stories which usually challenge me more than ever to work at being a more excellent pastor. I always come away feeling more challenged about my faith, and faithfulness.


Then this weekend I'm headed to Calgary for board meetings. It will be work. Focused, hard work, which I'm glad to do if it's the good work, the right work, that needs to be done. And we will connect with staff and faculty, listening to their stories, sharing ours.  Again, listening....


And placed nicely between the two is this Wednesday of Ashes, reminding us that Lent has arrived, already. 40 days of reflection, fasting, and meditation. 40 days in which we make ourselves ready. 40 daily opportunities to listen for God's heartbeat, and adjust our heartbeat to his.


...listening...


I'm trying to listen to God these days about growing opportunities.


Small things to be sure, but small things have ways of growing into bigger things. I need to hear if these are roads I should travel down, or if they are best left alone for now.


Opportunities to grow my skills, which may make my work more fruitful. Opportunities to touch other people's lives, possibly.


I'm busy enough right now, you know? I want to do what I 'm called to do well, not half-hearted. I just need to hear God's heartbeat for me, then respond accordingly.


We do go through seasons don't we. Looks like a season of listening is upon us.

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 8


Actually, here are a few shots I took while in Chicago.


Cheers.

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 7

 


That God does love me very, very much, and is committed to me so much that he refuses to leave me this way.


 

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 6

I though I could preach with some fire in my belly, then I heard Rev. Eugene Rivers preach.


All I'm doing up there is twiddling my thumbs.


 


 


 

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 5

 


Apple. I don't know why they haven't taken over the computing world yet.


To walk into their store is like entering another planet, with amazing things you can play with.


 

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 4

 


You think you've had pizza before. Then you go to Chicago and realize you've never had pizza before in your life, ever.


 

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 3

 


Jazz is always good medicine, for whatever ails you.


 

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago 2.

When you fly in the emergency exit row, you become a part of the Flight Crew.


We had a little seminar on how to help people, and I got to go to the front of the line when boarding the plane.


Everyone seemed disinterested in sitting there. I usually had the whole row to myself, could cross my legs or stretch out.


Hey, the whole thing seemed suited for me. It's a natural. If we're going down, I wanna be at the door, and I'll be highly motivated to get that door open.

Some Thoughts on Midwinter in Chicago

I'm back.


Deeper, wider, smarter, dumber, better.


Haddon Robinson reminded me alot of Jesus,


nothing to look at but boy could he preach!!