C.S. Lewis on sharing the Good News

Philip Yancey in the latest Christianity Today, points out that C.S. Lewis said Christians must make a distinction between communicating the good news of Jesus to those who hear for the first time, and those who have embraced and then rejected the good news.

"A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcee, said Lewis.  One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism."




via.



Here's a Pastoral image for you

As I sit at my desk this early hour of the day, snow is gently falling in the darkness outside my window. I'm here eating Kelloggs All-Bran Strawberry Bites out of a casserole bowl with some nearly past due milk and cream I found on the premises. A caring friend thought I should try these little fruiti bran packets of goodness, and they've been at my office for a week now.


And you know what, they actually taste pretty good, if I do say so myself. And I do, because there is nobody else here to hear me.

Henri Nouwen on Waiting

I know some of you have been waiting on God lately. Good job on that. However our culture doesn't always know what it means to wait.
This quote by Henri Nouwen was waiting in my mailbox this morning. I hope it helps a bit.


"Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes."





randallfriesen.com. Now in gangsta rap

So I got an email this am from Clinton and Curtis, basically telling me that they translate randallfriesen.com into gangsta rap and read it that way.


My thoughts are twofold.


What? randallfriesen.com isn't funny enough on it's own to make people laugh openly?


Then secondly, hey, we could start A Whole New Creative Christian Outreach Ministry to Gangsta Rappers! AWNCCOMGR for short!


Anyway, the translator is here. http://www.gizoogle.com/


And, randallfriesen.com translated is here. But be warned, I seem to swear a lot as a gangsta rapper. I guess it's just one of the prices one pays to reach those of a different culture. You know, like how Hudson Taylor used to grow a pony tail...


Thanks for the ministry opportunity guys.

Election Call

The minority government of Paul Martin and the Liberals fell last night here in Canada. This morning we awaken to an election call.


Now, I usually enjoy a good close election. The possibility of change is always exciting. But this time I'm not into it at all.


Now the House of Commons takes it's dog and pony show out across Canada in the longest election ever held in Canada, nearly two months worth of candidating.


If I have to put up with two months of name calling and public criticism I'm gonna freak out. I may stop watching the news for a month or two. Well at least the Canadian news. I may switch over to watch the BBC. At least they call each other names, with style.


"God keep this land."

Closed for the Day

Just tired is all.

All done

Except for the travel.


We'll be leaving in 8 minutes. Should get home in time for the Family Advent Service, then the Grey Cup Party tonight.


Gonna be a long day.


 


P.S. Thanks for the note last night Toni!

Meetinged out

Well, I believe it's around 9 pm now, and I just got in from my day.


It started at 9am and, as I said, it just ended. We broke for a quick lunch and we took an hour break for supper, but pretty much been into stuff all day.


I took the girls for SnowJoes after supper, before the next meeting, mostly so I would have something cold to drink through the evening session.


And it feels beautiful out there right now, so I might go for a walk yet, wind down a bit.


The meetings are stressful, but there's a deep sense that God is in the room. We want to do our very best, as stewards of what's been entrusted to us, so we work hard, and leave the rest.


And now, I am very tired. Tomorrow starts at 7:15 am.


Night.

It's 17C in Srathmore!!!

Well, we have arrived in Strathmore, balmy Strathmore at 17C.


It looks like the meetings will have a few meetings added to them, to connect with people. But those are the meetings I love most, connecting heart to heart. Like two kids going after one chocolate bar, we discover and unwrap truth just as excitedly...


It being the American thanksgiving today, and there being a lot of Americans at this campus, they had a Thanksgiving supper here, complete with all the trimmings. It was AWESOME, just how I like it.


Johanna, (who initially was excited to see me and ran up to greet me with giggles like she hasn't since she was 4,) half tried to get me to sit at another table from her and Hillary for supper. The nerve.


I inflicted myself upon them and behaved myself lots.


It's good to spend time with them again. They are both turning into awesome ladies.


Now, I think I'm off to my room. I have 15 pages of reports to read before tomorrow. So if you think of me tomorrow, send up a prayer.


And thanks.

Feels like this week is going on forever

Well, things just keep on rolling along here.


Tomorrow is a new town and a new agenda. I'll be in Strathmore Alberta for a few days, widening my bottom and meeting with people.


For those of you new to this space, I am on the Covenant Bible College Board and it means every few months we get together to listen for God's heartbeat and try to make decisions in that direction.


This year it's different because that's where Johanna is at school for the year. Tomorrow Hillary is going with me, to check up on Johanna and to check out the school. That makes this trip very different than any I've taken for a long time.


Our meetings start Friday morning and go solid till Saturday night. Maybe Saturday night we'll head into Calgary for some pasta and donuts. That should help things.


Sunday I need to be back by the time our Family Advent service starts at church. It will be tight, but I suppose its do-able. Just does not make for an enjoyable drive home.


So hey, I'll be on the road all day Friday. Feel free to send a msg to my cell phone and let me know you're alive out there.


And take care. You are a blessing.


 


P.S. I love you Too.



Just a short note

Looong day. Good day. Awesome funeral. The Spirit was in the house. I'm soooooo tired. Goodnight.


 

changing addresses

Well, I think I'm about toast for this day. I spent the day getting ready for a big funeral we'll be having here tomorrow.


Early in the day I got a call from a church friend, and a guy I had been to see at the hospital yesterday passed away last evening. That funeral will be here at Gateway on Friday.


To many people going home. To many people changing addresses.


While I am deeply grateful that these two men are in better places, I will miss them.


Another generation being peeled away, taken home. And very soon it will be my turn to go. I hope when it's my turn, that I can say with Paul:



"As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me?the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return."


Amen. Lord, when all is said and done, let me be able to say I have remained faithful.

Yeah

what she said.

20th Anniversary Redux

As the regular reader of randallfriesen.com may remember, our 20th wedding anniversary last August was a bit of a stressful time.


She got me a great present, and I've been racking my brain since then about what I could get her.


To make matters worse I said I was getting her something really cool. This only served to build it up in her mind into extraordinary proportions. I kept delaying it, mostly because I was trying to come up with a "really cool" gift idea. You can see where this was going, -nowhere good for me.


I settled on doing an early winter picnic, classic food and location, she would love it.


Well, I've been planning this "Picnic" for a month now, and one thing after another fell apart. Food, location, logistics, it was all crapping out on me. So last week I began to talk to God about it all, asking for a bit of input.


Finally, without a location, plan, or anything resembling a good gift, I told her to get ready for a hot date Saturday night. It wasn't faith, it was giving in to fate. I would throw myself at her mercy, kind of thing.


Because of recent financial cutbacks in our family budget, there was no money to do anything more than head out to some cheap food place tonight, but bless her heart, she was willing.


Then, somewhere between telling her we should go out tonight, and tonight, we found a envelope in the mailbox.


A friend had placed a gift of a hundred dollars in it, "for our Anniversary".


Wow.


The plan became to use a bit of it for a cheap supper, and the rest of it into our regular budget.


Then, today as I was making plans to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary at KFC, I took a holy shot to the back of the head.


The money was an answer to prayer, designated for use on our anniversary.


I turned around. In Christianese it's called repenting. I called Amy's, the nicest restaurant in Prince Albert, and made reservations for tonight. I called Lauralea and told her to get cleaned up and where we were going. She giggled.


So, we went out tonight and enjoyed an evening like we haven't done in a very very long time. In fact, I can't remember the last time...


We took over two hours and ate some absolutely amazing food. We talked and laughed and dreamed again. And it was all so very good.


As we prepared to leave, the bill added up to a good chunk of the $100. We included a healthy tip and the total was $100.56


I threw in my 56 cents, and with a full heart, left the restaurant with Lauralea.


So tonight I'm grateful to Lauralea, for 20 years. To my friend for 100 dollars. And to my God, for providing for all my needs - and so many of my wants.

Scary. In a good way of course.

Becky's dad.



Micah's Dad



I always thought Mr. Bennetch was a fine looking man.

Guess what we did this morning?


 


 


 


 


 


 



 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Tonight, I am thankful.

Tonight I'm thankful that at 11:30 in the evening, the temperature is actually up to a balmy 0 C. It feels like spring out there!!


 


Tonight I'm thankful that there are other pastors out there, working hard to do what they have been called to do. Earlier today Lauralea and I were in Saskatoon, meeting with eight other pastor types and their significant others. They belong to our tribe, and every so often we get together and share our stories and just love on each other a bit. It's hugely comforting to know that there are others out there who do know exactly what you go through, to do what you do.


 


Tonight I'm thankful for the people I care for, as pastor. They have been in the process of evaluating me and my work here. Because of their work, I see areas for growth and development as an individual and a pastor. I do make many mistakes doing this pastoring gig, and they are gracious with me. Tonight we spent a lot of time talking through these things, sharpening one another. As we talked we were able to dream a bit and The Spirit was in the house. It was good, and hey, it's always nice to be the center of attention for a while. To share what's on your heart, and to have people listen, intently, to your heartbeat. I'm grateful for them.


 


Tonight I'm thankful that when we are done here on earth, it's not over, the best is yet to come. After my meeting at the church, I went over to the care home where a friend, who has been an Alzheimer's patient for a long time, is now walking through his final hours of this life. Caught somewhere between this life and the next, we waited and watched with him and his wife and daughter. Soon he will be seeing things he always dreamt of seeing. He will hear things he longed to hear, and touch and taste like a young man again. I wish him only the best on this journey. The destination will be glorious and a part of me envies him.


 


Tonight I'm thankful for Lauralea who stays home with our kids so I can go and do what I need to do. As I arrived home a few moments ago I saw Micah's finished homework on the table and I know much effort has ensued on her part. She has willingly and ungrudgingly stayed behind so. many. times... she is the unsung hero of this place. I truly expect her to get a very good seat in heaven.


 


Tonight I shall be thankful for for a hot shower which will warm this tired body up beautifully. And I shall be deeply grateful for my comfortable bed, knowing again that there are so so many people around the world tonight sleeping in places that are not comfortable, and not home.


 


Tonight, I am thankful.

'regularly metric verse' ??


Songs of Innocence, Introduction
You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take
many forms, including heroic couplets, blank
verse, and other iambic pentameters, for
example. It has not been used much since the
nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer
rhyme without meter, or even poetry with
neither rhyme nor meter. You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the
joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the
rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as
a series of little poems. The result (or is it
the cause?) is that you are pensive and often
melancholy. You enjoy the company of other
people, but they find you unexcitable and
depressing. Your problem is that regularly
metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


 


Maybe that's why i get Marc.

Winter Storm Warning out


 


Hey, people are dying out there on the highways.


Why not stay home tonight, maybe even tomorrow.  If you've got a tough boss call in for a mental health day, or a sick day.


It won't be lying. I'm on call this week at the hospital as chaplain and if there's an accident I'll get called and come and see you and I'll be sick.


You don't want your family having to deal with a sick chaplain.


Really.


Be careful out there ok?

The Snowfall Is So Silent

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.


Miguel de Unamuno

Faith isn't dead. It's only on vacation in Pakistan.

There is a small mission magazine I receive every few months. Today as I was reading it, one of the items was so cool. I need to remember it.



PAKISTAN


Nasir's death was another one of those tragedies that people have to deal with. At seventeen years of age he had been diagnosed with bowl cancer. He was a Brahvi boy from a very rich family living in the town of Mastung, an hour's drive from the capital of Baluchistan, Quetta. The doctor he consulted in Quetta admitted him to the hospital and operated on him. However, Nasir didn't recover as hoped, but deteriorated rapidly. Five days later, surrounded by relatives, Nasir died. The doctors confirmed his death. It was Monday afternoon, 2nd May, 2005.


The hospital staff started to prepare his body for burial. The cannulas and IV lines were removed. They tied his two big toes together, strapped his jaw up to close his mouth tightly, and stuffed cotton wool into his nostrils. The ambulance was called to take the body home for the funeral.


In that same hospital two young Christian men worked as orderlies. During the course of work, one of these had become friendly with Nasir and his relatives. When he saw Nasir dead he went and told the other Christian orderly to come and pray. However, Shoquat didn't want to pray as Nasir was already dead. Still the friend pressured Shoquat. So the two friends went to Nasir's room. There lay the boy, destroyed by sickness, surrounded by fifteen grief-stricken relatives.


Because of the friend's insistence, Shoquat took courage and picked up the dead boys hand. As he prayed he began to sense the power of God. Trembling, he prayed in Jesus' name that the boy would come back to life. The corpse started to move and opened his eyes. Wild cries of disbelief and tears of joy began to flow from the seventeen witnesses. They set Nasir's face and nose free and watched as he sat up, very much alive and healed. Shoquat was swamped with kisses and hugs. For some twenty-five minutes Nasir had been dead, with no breathing or a pulse. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Lord Jesus had done an amazing work - for a Brahvi youth. He was discharged from the hospital at 11 p.m. that night, completely well.


The doctors were baffled and embarrassed. That same day Shoquat was questioned by the hospital superintendent. The administration concluded that it was impossible. The were unwilling to admit that the Christians' Jesus had done a great miracle. When Shoquat and his friend arrived for work the following day they were handed their pay and told they were fired. The only reason given was that other men were being employed in their place.


There was great rejoicing - late into the night as the church celebrated the great work that the Lord Jesus had done. And there was great rejoicing in Nasir's home.


(Names have been changed)


 


"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

- Jesus

Only 45 days left till Christmas...

She says.


So, I'm sitting here at my screen, listening to the Eagles singing "Please Come Home for Christmas," and my beverage of choice sits before me, eggnog with coke in it. And I realize it's probably a good thing Sharon K. isn't here because she loves Christmas parties.


It dawns on me tonight that it is, in fact, November 11. To date we've had no real snow, and I'm still using my summer/autumn jacket.


My first Autumn here we had a major blizzard and TONS of snow by October 14th. I think it was our second year here that November 11 at our Foul Supper, there was lot's of snow on the ground and the temperature was in the -27's, C.


Sheesh, we've got nothing to complain about yet.


So, as Frank Sinatra croons on about "Christmas Dreaming" I'll bid you and yours a Christmassy good night.

Have I ever mentioned that I love pizza?

I mean I even made it professionally, for an "Italian Family" for a few years, and I still loved it. I was free to make my own pizza for supper break, and I made it every day.


I've had a growing conviction that I need to try more pizza in my life. So today, after some 18 years, I picked up the flour bag again, and went at it.


Actually, the inspiration came about 1:30 am this morning, when I couldn't sleep. I got up and checked out the food network, and a favourite program was on, David Rocco's Dolce Vita. He had a great recipe for pizza crust, it looked awesome. So when I woke up early this morning, pizza was on my mind.


Much to my surprise, I offered to make it.


And with Lauralea's expertise at my side, I managed to muddle through just nicely.


And it was good pizza.


Mamma Mia, so many pizzas, so little time.

Seasons change

I'm sitting here at my desk and in front of me is a ministry questionnaire. You know, one of those tests you write to help clarify how God has worked through you in the past, kind of thing.


I was having a chat with Darryl the other week and he recommended it to me. It's taken from "The Passionate Church" (Breen & Kallestad).


You will know, if you've read this space for more than two months, that I have a total love/hate thing going on with being a pastor.


Yes, it does grant me a measure of fulfillment, but I regularly feel inadequate doing it. And I struggle being a part of a system that sometimes can so hugely miss the point.


People affirm my ministry and churches call to ask if I'm open to moving, so obviously there is something in there that God is able to use, in spite of myself.


And this test sitting before me. It yells at me that I AM A PASTOR, NOW DEAL WITH IT. Well, mostly pastor, with a bit of prophet, teacher and apostle thrown in to round me out. Evangelist pulled up a distant fifth.


Nothing new there. I've done it before and it is what it is. And I am what I am. A pastor.


And I am ok with that, in terms of caring for people, listening to their stories, praying with them. Encouraging them, challenging them, watching out for them. Celebrating with them and weeping with them.


I suppose it's some of the other stuff that a church in the 2000's expects to see from it's pastors. Stuff that builds up around churches and pastoral ministries that really doesn't fit me.


Why am I on this hobby horse now?


God has been sifting me a bit, and I'm trying to be teachable.


I'm honestly good with being a pastor(Gifting) but I'm not sure I'm good with being a pastor(2005 version), and I'm trying to hear if he wants me to be a pastor(gifting) or a pastor(2005 version).  Get it?


:)


I knew you would. You're a smart bunch.
 
(For those of you who don't get it, just smile and nod your heads.)


God is sharpening my work, shifting it, adjusting it. And I'm asking him what he desires of me, how he wishes to use me. How my gifts can best be used.


So yeah, that's what my autumn has been about. And that's why I have this test lying on my desk in front of me. And that's why many of my posts have been a bit introspective of late.


It's a season for me and seasons change.
I'll be glad when this one is done changing.

Wanted: Dead or Alive


If you have seen these unique metal and plastic chairs, given to us as a gift, around the city of Prince Albert, please respond with caution.


They were removed from a pergola sometime during the day today.


They are not lightweight and in fact are quite awkward to move.


If spotted, please call.


I have an Italian Family connection which will be called on to assist.


(Not that there's anything inherently wrong with being a member of an Italian family, I'm just saying...)

Isaac (Ike) Dyck June 4, 1938 - November 6, 2005

Well, again God has been faithful to step up and provide most of what was needed to get to Winnipeg for tomorrow. But in review of our current condition (weariness) and appointments already committed to here, we felt like it might be wiser and safer to remain in Prince Albert for now.


Ike was a kind man who I deeply respected. His patience and gentleness was something to behold. I recall many hours spent praying with and for his family. They were always first on his list and his desire that they might do well was always there.




ISAAC (IKE) DYCK June 4, 1938 - November 6, 2005


It is with great sadness that the family announces the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather on Sunday, November 6, 2005. His Heavenly Father called him home and we know he is there now waiting for us to join him.


Ike will be lovingly remembered by his devoted wife, Mary, of 46 years; son Sheldon (Cathy); daughter Val Wilson (Ken); daughter Angela Francis (Dean) and his greatly treasured grandchildren, Eric, Brendan, Alissa, Andrew and Simone. He also leaves to mourn his brothers and sisters, John (Rose), Diedrich (Susan), Helen (Harry), Susan (Pete), Margaret (Ben) and Betty (Gilbert), and their families, as well as his numerous sister and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and many, many friends.


Ike loved traveling and the great outdoors. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping with family and friends. Most of his recent weekday afternoons were spent playing billiards with his buddies in the building. He was very active in the church, serving as Council Chairman and on numerous boards and committees. He loved serving the Lord by leading Bible studies and participating in a sing-along group for 25 years.


He was always willing to lend a hand to his children, friends and neighbours and was a Jack-of-all-Trades!! Ike worked at Centra Gas as an Instrument Technician for 37 years until his retirement in 1999 and will be missed by many friends and co-workers there.


Relatives and friends are invited to a viewing and sharing time on Wednesday, November 9, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Birchwood Funeral Chapel, 150 Penfeld Dr., Steinbach, MB. Additional viewing time will be scheduled for one hour prior to the funeral service.


Funeral service to be held on Thursday, November 10 at 1:00 p.m. at the Morrow Gospel Church, 755 Ste. Anne's Rd., Winnipeg, MB. Interment will follow at the Mennonite Memorial Gardens at the corner of Navin and Symington Roads. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Mennonite Central Committee at 134 Plaza Dr., Winnipeg, MB R3T 5K9.



Still trying

to work out a way to get to Winnipeg for Thursday's funeral.


call out once or twice for me eh?

presuming there is a tomorrow...

Sunday's Common Lectionary reading was from 1 Thessalonians where Paul wants to comfort the church by telling them their future. You remember the bit about Jesus coming out of the sky and the graves of those who have died trusting Christ open up and their spirits return to their new bodies, then to Christ to be with him forever.


Hmm, sounds like a movie...


Yeah, actually millions of dollars have been made off this passage in 1 Thessalonians, and I suspect Paul didn't see any of it.


Anyway, on Sunday it struck me anew. We come and go making our choices and decisions having really no idea when it will be all over for us. It seems to take a lot of nerve to do that. To presume upon tomorrow when it's not really ours to presume upon.


Oh yes I understand planning and moving ahead, but at some point you just have to recognize that tomorrow is inaccessible to you, and that today is all you've got. So make decisions today that will make tomorrow better, if it comes.


Anyway, a couple of hours after we got home from church the phone rang.


Seems a friend had gone to church, and returned home for lunch, where he had had a massive heart attack. Her voice on the phone said the words that kept on repeating through my head, "He's dead."


And I couldn't believe he was gone, just like that.


A gentle man who loved and cared for his wife who struggled long with illness. He was one of the ones who wanted to plant a church in the south end of Winnipeg, and he stepped out in faith and risk to do it. He was one of the ones who risked a lot on this young pastor guy and invited him and his family into their lives, with grace and warmth.


Sigh. He's done. His journey complete.


I've been thinking about getting there for the funeral, but auto's and meetings have so far kept me here.


But then again, he would probably be the guy who would understand.


 


Peace this day, to the memory of Ike Dyck.

Drycold.com

Strange but one of the joys of my life has become photography. Go figure.


I remember when I was but a lad, just beginning to aim the camera. You encouraged me in it, and it has been a bit of fun.


So I've been thinking things over for some time now, and I do believe it's time to let you know about a little project I've had going on the side for a bit more than a month. A photoblog.


I started it to encourage myself to continue to take pictures. And you know, a years worth of images is 365 pictures. That's a lot of pressure for an anal perfectionist to keep producing pics!


So it's forcing me to take pictures and to get better at it, which is a good thing.


So, for those of you so inclined you are welcomed to drop into drycold.com and take a look. Leave any and all evaluatory comments and I shall incorporate them into my skill set. (Big words for you all helping me learn.)


I now return you to your regularly scheduled programing. 

Just a guy who's a pastor

Tonight both Lauralea and I had to be at meetings. To bad they weren't together, we could have shared a cab.


My meeting was long and profitable. Lauralea's meeting was long, but I haven't heard the profitability factor yet. Apparently she just got in before I did.


Anyway, during the course of our work tonight we got to talking about the different kinds of churches I've pastored at. I was kind of surprised by what the last 20 years of my life looks like, doing this pastoring gig.


Started out as laypastor in a church of hundreds. Two official languages, one unofficial. Mostly a church of immigrants. Good, hardworking people. I worked at Canadian Tire during the days and the church at nights and weekends. What a start.


Then we took on a new churchplant in the south end of Winnipeg. When we got there the number added up to nearly 20. Oh man we worked hard there, getting it established.  I'll never forget the day we finally had a Sunday morning service and a hundred people were there. We worked a lot with broken people then. Many were just getting to know God at that time. We started a community foodbank and I believe we tried every kind of outreach known to mankind. It was there that I learned to pray.


Then we moved to Prince Albert, to this different conference of churches. The fifty year old church was hurting deeply and the average length of stay for their pastors had been 3 years each. When I showed up the only thing I knew for sure was that I heard God say just love them, so I tried to do that. Often I failed. Occasionally I got it right. She hasn't grown a lot in numbers, but what she lacks in numerical growth she has made up for in maturity and spiritual growth.


There it is. Three different places with three different stories. They've left me with a nice little body of experience. Wow, where did those 20 odd years go to?


As I drove home reflecting on this history of mine I came to some conclusions.


Boy, God likes me and has blessed my life so deeply. I honestly figure I have one blessed existence.


Boy, have we worked hard. From the days of driving to the church right after work still wearing my Canadian Tire uniform, to the multiplicity of attempts made to reach our community, to the experience of having people fight against healing. We. Have. Worked. Hard.


Boy, I haven't eaten enough pizza in my life. (That came while I was driving past Venice House pizza)


Boy, I'm tired. Suddenly I can't believe how tired I am. 20 years straight (24 years if you include my training years) packed into this 42 year old body. (At least my cholesterol is good!!)


 


And now, I'm tired and going to bed. Didn't sleep so well last night, don't ya know.


g'nite.

Many Realities

Well, we got a couple of hours sleep last night, finally.


This morning I was in contact with a family from the church. One of the family members was in the process of having a major dark breakdown last evening. A very terrifying and dangerous incident.


Reflecting on it this morning, I'm sure that was a part of last night. I was praying for safety and protection for the people, for the church.


But there is yet something more I need to pray through.


I'm not sure yet if it's training oneself or if it's a gift of sensitivity given to the individual, but this will happen occasionally to me. Usually it's not this urgent. Last night it was.


It's difficult to communicate, but there has been a subtle shift in the church I care for, I can sense it in my spirit more than I can give it words. And while that kind of language is loaded and somewhat mystical, it is what it is. Much of my prayer last night was asking God to bring the fuzzy picture into focus. What is the shift, where should I turn my attention, how should I be responding.


It's almost StarWars-esk; "There's a disturbance in the force..."


It's something you sense, not see. And it's not even about good or bad, it's just a subtle shifting that gives me clues where to put my effort and time.


So I remain in listening mode. Straining to hear, watching for leading. Waiting on the leader of the church to give direction.


Then I will seek to obey and follow.

I can't sleep

My spirit is troubled tonight.  I Don't know why yet.


Can't sleep so I'm up, praying.


Praying


Like a deep sense of foreboding. Like the calm before the storm.


I don't know what it is.


I ask and wait in the stillness. Images flood my mind.


I pray through the images, looking for the one. But my spirit doesn't find release.


I almost feel like vomiting, it's so unnerving.


I wish I could phone some of you, make sure you are ok.


But I can't, so I keep praying.


 


I can't remember the last time I felt like this. It throws me.


So I go back to what I know, back to the One I know.


And I call out to him as I run to him.


He eases my fear. I have been heard.


Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy on us.

This isn't rocket science boy

There are some schools of thought that say you should work on your professional weaknesses in order to strengthen them, to make you a better whatever. Then there is the school that says hey, just focus on your areas of strength and you will achieve a lot and enjoy it.


All I know is this, two weeks ago I was doing a lot of things. This and that meetings, administrative correspondence, planning worship, doing a sermon, visiting, mentoring, etc. etc. Stuff that had to get done.


It was a very long and tiring week. I dragged my butt into and out of Sunday and I barely made it.


Now last week I had to work on a sermon, and meet with some people. I didn't have to do some of the other things that are necessary, because others were doing them. The result was that I had time to pray and wait, listening for His leading. I was able to meet with people and those moments were very profitable. Those connections went deep quickly and I suspect that it was because I was ready for them.


Last night at a meeting I was doing a short study on leadership in the New Testament church. What I was reminded of again was how easy it is for leaders to start doing many important things. So much so that they slowly leave the things they should be doing.


You start doing many urgent things and you leave the important things. Prayer and the word. Prayer and the word. Prayer and the word.


It seems that when I spend time on those two things, then the other things that I do are so much deeper and truer. The visits are much more helpful. The solutions to the problems pop up easier. And my spirit is calmer, stilled if you will. Doing anything from that Christ centered stillness ends up being way better than running around trying to do it all.


This isn't rocket science boy.


May God save me from myself.

On why I still prefer to give cheap candies to Halloween kids.

Ding dong.


I open the door.


There before me stand two young teenage girls.


Extra makeup on their faces.


"What are you going as, hookers?" I want to ask.


But I don't.


The first girl holds open her candy bag, looking for a handout.


The second girl says "Huh what did you say? She's such a looser..."


I look at her hookerized face. She's talking on a CELLPHONE people!


She holds open her backpack and I, in amazement, toss in a Crispy Crunch, the most hated bar in the world.


New policy Implemented. If you have a cellphone you can talk on, you don't get candy. Period. (Or at the very worse, I'll give you one of those nasty chewy licorice flavored orange wax paper wrapped candy. So there.)

Nouwen on wealthy churches


"Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.


How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace."