Thomas Merton, on the date of his birth


"Then we discover what the spiritual life really is. It is not a matter of doing one good thing rather than another, of praying in one way rather than in another. It is not a matter of any special psychological effect in our own soul. It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions must be directed. That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and in death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live as though without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves; that all our plans and spiritual ambitions are useless unless they come from Him and that, in the end, the only thing that matters is His glory."


via.

State of the Union

Well, the State of the Union address is on and President Bush is taking the podium.

It causes me to remember that for the last number of years because of pastoral meetings, I have been in Chicago for this yearly address.

I was in Chicago for a two week class at North Park the year Mr. Bush laid the groundwork for his invasion of Iraq. It was interesting to me the next morning as I woke up listening to talk radio, then later on when I got on the El train, the talk was all abuzz about how we needed to get into Iraq.

Even downtown that was the buzz. We couldn't waste time, let's get over there. President Bush laid the case, now we have a responsibility to move.

I remember being amazed by such a noticeable shift in the spirit of the day. The previous few days had seen no strong clear sense of it. Now, after a speech and a nights rest, America seemed ready to go to war.

As an observer freshly landed on American soil, I found the shift to be quite dramatic. No subtlety at all. ?We? were going to war. The more time I spent in the city the more I heard that line. We must go, because to stay would be morally wrong.

Of course the years have produced a different reality, and a strained support of President Bush. But that was an education for me. How a speech from a motivated leader, had the power to shift the mood, the talk, the spirit of a city, and probably a nation.

And I realized all the more just how much we need to be praying for our countries, and our countries leaders, whatever their stripe.

September 1, 2028

Today the mail brought a notice from the organization that handles our covenant pension plan. In it they report on how the past year has progressed, and what the current value of my pension is.

They also include a date in the report. The date is the day of my formal retirement. In my case, the magic day is September 1, 2028.

Now, setting aside the whole concept of whether or not I even subscribe to the idea of retirement from a spiritual calling, the presentation of the date caused me to pause.

That date is about 23 years away, and while that might seem a great deal to you, it seems to be shrinking in size to me.

This year, 2006, marks the twentieth year we have been doing this work. 20 years of preaching and praying, of caring and calling. 20 years of working on the weekends and late night phone calls that never ever bode well. Twenty years.

And after 20 years it still feels temporary. Like I'll only be doing this gig for a while, then we'll get onto the things I was really made for.

It's hard to believe we've been at this for twenty years. It's harder still to think that we only have 23 years left at it.

I don't know if I'll be doing this for another 23 years. Hey, I don't know if I'll even be alive after 23 years. But I do know that it has shaped me into the person I am.

Sometimes I don't like that person. He's jaded and a bit too cut and dried. He's tired and impatient, and doesn't always have anything left for home, except grumpiness. He can also get to thinking he's the answer to many of life's problems for many people. But he isn't. He tells people the Good News, but he also has to tell them the bad news, usually in the middle of the night, at their door.

And sometimes I like that person. He gets to hang out with people and amazing books. He has to look after his relationship with God, because if he doesn't, he will lead people down garden paths. He's able to be available and just by listening to another soul, they feel freer, encouraged. He gets the inside view on so many miracles God does day by day. And he gets tapped on the shoulder occasionally by God, who tells him to be praying for someone. Then later on in the week he gets to tell the individual that God has had him praying for them, and how is it going.

There are days I wish and pray I could stop doing this. Then there are days I am so glad I get the chance to do this.

That's just how it is I guess.

But I do wonder what the next 23 years will look like.
My prayer is that I can continue to become a person I like and respect.
Kind of more like Jesus as I age.

That's a prayer I'm trust God with.

Nite.

Nouwen on Healing Our Memories

"Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we forgive a person, the memory of the wound might stay with us for a long time, even throughout our lives. Sometimes we carry the memory in our bodies as a visible sign. But forgiveness changes the way we remember. It converts the curse into a blessing. When we forgive our parents for their divorce, our children for their lack of attention, our friends for their unfaithfulness in crisis, our doctors for their ill advice, we no longer have to experience ourselves as the victims of events we had no control over.

Forgiveness allows us to claim our own power and not let these events destroy us; it enables them to become events that deepen the wisdom of our hearts. Forgiveness indeed heals memories."





Very very true.

Four Things

Alright. My turn I guess. Dixie tagged me on Four things.


Four jobs I´ve had:

1. Pizza maker for an Italian Family.
2. In charge of paint, electrical, and plumbing for Canadian Tire Store #142.
3. Handyman for the Ladies Dorm. (College)
4. Heavy Construction laborer.


Four movies I can watch over and over:

1. So I Married an Axe Murderer.
2. Love Actually.
3. Under the Tuscan Sun.
4. Payback

Four places I´ve lived:

1. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
2. Aylmer, South Ontario.
3. Sexsmith, Northern Alberta.
4. Saskatoon Sask.

Four TV shows I love:

1. Myth Busters.
2. Boston Legal.
3. WKRP in Cincinnati.
4. Father Ted.

Four places I´ve visited:

1. Nashville, TN
2. London England.
3. Vancouver, BC.
4. Chicago Ill.

Four of my favorite dishes:

1. Turkey
2. Pizza
3. Sweet Potatoes
4. Raspberry Pie

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Randallfriesen.com (Call me vain)
2. Gmail
3. BBC News
4. Friesenworld.com

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Some mid-sized city in China.
2. At The Paragraph in New York City.
3. Toni's Place.
4. Paris, France.

Four bloggers I am tagging

Since this meme has been around for awhile and has already been done by others, lets say the next four of you who want a go at the Four, leave your name and site in the comments section, and go for it!
You're tagged.

Online TV

 Well, today is the first Sunday in a long time in which there will be no Football on tv. I'm ok with that. It's getting me ready for the season of no football. Anyway, next Sunday is the Superbowl, and with Seattle in it, it's gonna be sweet.

Speaking of TV. I've been watching Dutch, German, and French television lately, occasionally.

My observation?

It's like ours except, well except it's more graphic.

I watched the end of a home makeover show in the Netherlands last Sunday. Then right after that was a show on having a baby. Kind of like the Discovery Channel here in Canada.

I was watching a few moments of it, in Dutch of course, when all of a sudden the camera, which was focused on the birthing mom's face, swung around to the other end of things. I was all, whoa, whoa, whoa there camera guy. I was suddenly all uncomfortable with all this baby being born stuff!

It is interesting to catch the view from a different cultural perspective. (Uh, not the birthing thing, but the view of local culture thing).

The glasses we see life through can sometimes get old and jaded. Watch local television from another country or culture, and the perspective changes.

Warning: As I said, some of it can be graphic. (As in nudity and night time karaoke) So just beware.

Change. Takes Time.

Change. Slow style.

So, how do you change a church? How do you change a people, a human heart?

There are some days I'd like to subscribe to the ?Bring in a strong salesman, and give him dictatorial powers, and things will change,? way of change.

But I know that that will mostly change the outward appearance of the church. It won't touch the inside stuff. You know, the heart stuff. The reasons choices are made.

No, if you want to see that stuff changed, you gotta go at it long term, and often low key.

Next weekend it will be eight years since I started working at the church I'm at today. And today, for me personally and us as a church, was a sweet day.

Today we had our annual meeting. There was a major vote on the table that we've been working on for a long long time. The last time we voted on this same thing, it went down to defeat. But today was different.

I noticed today, that the tension was gone. The tension at the meetings that's usually there, was gone.
Some people even had some very difficult things to bring up, areas in which we as leadership had failed. We had to own it and apologize. And we did. But there was none of that historic tension or nervousness that I've seen so often in the past.

Today there was a clear and united desire expressed to move forward, into the unknown. Trust was there where there used to be none. Hope was there too, because trust showed up.

And the vote? Passed almost unanimously.

Nouwen on being wounded

"We are all wounded people. Who wounds us? Often those whom we love and those who love us. When we feel rejected, abandoned, abused, manipulated, or violated, it is mostly by people very close to us: our parents, our friends, our spouses, our lovers, our children, our neighbors, our teachers, our pastors. Those who love us wound us too. That's the tragedy of our lives. This is what makes forgiveness from the heart so difficult. It is precisely our hearts that are wounded. We cry out, "You, who I expected to be there for me, you have abandoned me. How can I ever forgive you for that?"

Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. The God who lives within us will give us the grace to go beyond our wounded selves and say, "In the Name of God you are forgiven." Let's pray for that grace."






This reminder was in my email inbox this morning. It's often a first response to think about the ways in which I have been hurt by others. The truth is that even as a pastor, or maybe especially as a pastor, I have hurt others by things said or unsaid. Done or undone.

This is one of those things that does occasionally keep me up at night.

The solution is still valid. Whether one is hurt deliberately or by mistake, forgiveness is the key. And as Nouwen reminds us, forgiveness sets us free, much more than it sets the other person free. That's just how it works.

What's that you say? He seems a little STIFF?

Now, I know I'm not one to throw stones here, in fact it's taken me a long time to learn how to show some affection in public. Truth is I still don't do it enough, but I am working on it, trust me.


But Steven Harper (Our Prime Minister elect for those of you lost in the wilds of the world) has got absolutely nothing on me.


I mean, I realize that he's four years older that I am, and that makes me feel inadequate enough given he's running a country and I can't seem to figure out how to keep my shoe laces tied.


But, Lord have mercy, I have been able to eclipse him in the whole express affection in public thing.


Next to him I feel like, well, quite the passionate lover.


He walks his kids to school and, as an indication of his affection, he shakes their hands.


Sigh.


So here's to our new leader. Making men feel adequate in their huglessness from sea to shining sea.


via.

Soon...

This place has definitely taken a turn, how much for the worse is yet to be understood by myself.


I normally love coming here and using this space to dump smart remarks, or ideas that I'm thinking about. Usually it's an encouragement for me to write this stuff, and I get blessed by the fact that it sometimes will jazz some of you as well.


As you have patiently been aware, there hasn't been much here of any deep quality for a while. (Well, except maybe for that BIG AD! thing) And that has been a symptom of deeper stuff.


I've really just been quiet a lot, because I really don't want this to be a whine dept. Randallfriesen.com isn't my therapist, and shouldn't be treated as such by me. So I've just been quiet.


I do want to thank you for your notes and checking on me and my health. It has been strange lately, from the symptoms last week to a really bad flu this week, to a sense of weariness that soaks right down to my bones.


Lauralea and I were talking last night while we couldn't sleep. Backing up the days since we felt rested, and really good. Back to the new year, then to Christmas. Back to the December rush and the November busyness. And we couldn't remember when...


Since Christmas I've been working really hard on being a good pastor. :)  Getting things accomplished, checking up on people, getting the end of the year stuff done. You know, pastor stuff.


Things around the church are going fairly well. We're starting to see some answers to some really stressful prayers we were praying for people over the Christmas season. We have our annual meeting on Saturday where the church has a vote on it's leadership structure. It has a opportunity to take a big step forward into the future with this decision. I'm fairly encouraged by things around here.


But, with this level of busyness, I have dropped a ball or two, pastorally speaking. And my failures makes me feel like, ...whatever, because I've worked so hard at it all.


Thus I end up back at this space.


Randallfriesen.com has offered me a place to hone my writing skills, something I've wanted to do for a long time now. It's given me opportunities to connect with and care for people in ways I had never expected possible. Yes, it's made me a better pastor, but more importantly it's made me a better man. The challenges it provides me, the processes I work through to write something. The discussions I have with you, most of whom are way smarter than I am, really shape me.


And I value that.


So, thanks for checking up on me, and for thinkin about me. I don't know where this ends up going, but it is my desire to get back here.


Soon.

Nouwen on Receiving Forgiveness

"There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving. Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it. Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, "Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us. Only you can set me free." That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others. Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it."

Henri Nouwen

How to tick people off

-Specify that your drive-through order is "TO-GO."
-If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
-Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
-Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
-Ask people what gender they are.


more here...



Intestinal fortitude

Well, Lauralea was off this morning, early, to go do her civic duty (read: make some extra cash) by being a polling clerk for todays election.


And I was to continue my recuperation, and generally have a day off.


At least that was the plan, till I heard teenagers throwing up in the night.


So, today I've run errands and tried to help care for these two high school students, who were determined to get to their finals today. The eldest one I finally got back to bed, but the boy would hear none of it, dryheaving as he went out the door. (I'm not sure who they get the "come hell or high water" gene from, could be either of us...)


So, I made it through supper. Dried mashed potatoes and chicken bits and apple juice. What can I say, I wanted something easy on their stomachs!


And Lauralea isn't due home till after 11 tonight sometime. She has to get her ballots to the main hall asap, and I have to pick her up to get her there. So, if you see some polls are not reporting out of Prince Albert, it's probably because something else went wrong on the van!


Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programing.


ending on a prayer, "God keep this Land..."

Did you ever...

Well, still down for the count. Micah was throwing up all night, and Hillary stayed home from work today with a major headache. Thomas is gone with the youth, so Lauralea is playing nursemaid. Bless her heart.


But, have you ever gone out into your backyard and thought, hmm, if I start digging a hole, where will I end up?


Now, thanks to the internet, you can have that question answered.


http://www.digtootherside.cjb.net/

Just as an aside

That is, this is an aside.

I'm gonna have to start a Subject category just for health.

Yesterday I felt a disease creeping up my back, and by last night, it was going full bore.


Some kind of cold/flu thing. I mostly hung around the house all day, but I did head out for an appointment I had at 4 pm.


By the time I got there, I knew I was pushing too hard.


The room was spinning, and I really wanted to throwup. But I had the victory.


And now, I'll drag my sorry butt to bed, and hope I'm good to go for Sunday.


Can't remember the last time I missed a service due to health.


Anyway, nite all.

No I said the BIG AD

Here's a great commercial I saw on the tube a while ago and loved!


Check it out. It's a big ad.

The Election is looming. pt. 2

So I took the quiz, you know, to help me decide.


It didn't really help, as much as it did surprise me!



Your Results:















1. Jack Layton Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada   (100%)  Click here for info
2. Stephen Harper Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada   (76%)  Click here for info
3. Paul Martin Leader of Liberal Party of Canada, Prime Minister of Canada   (58%)  Click here for info
4. Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Bloc Quebecois   (29%)  Click here for info


 


So, I'm an NDPer???


The chest pains are coming back...

The Election is looming

So, there is an election next week in Canada and I still don't know who to vote for.
But this I do know, where my citizenship lies.


 


"Certainly the Old Testament shows God dealing with national entities: the prophets called down judgement on Israel and Judah as well as Philistia, Assyria, and Babylon. But the New Testament seems to introduce a major shift: God in now working not primarily through nations, but through an invisible kingdom that transcends nations. Jesus stressed ?the kingdom of heaven? as the central focus of God´s activity on earth, a kingdom that permeated society so as to gradually affect the whole, like salt sprinkled on meat.


As I now reflect on Jesus´ stories of the kingdom, I sense that much uneasiness among Christians today stems from a confusion of the two kingdoms, visible and invisible. Each time and election rolls around, Christians debate whether this or that candidate is ?God´s man? for the White House. Projecting myself back into Jesus´ time, I have difficulty imagining him pondering whether Tiberius, Octavius, or Julius Caesar - not to mention Nero or Caligula- was ?God´s man? for the empire. What took place in Rome was on another plane entirely from the kingdom of God.


The apostle Paul cared deeply about individual churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome, but I find no indication that he gave any thought to a ?Christianized? Roman Empire. The Book of Revelation continues the pattern: that book records specific messages to seven churches but dismisses the political entity of Rom as ?Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.?


Some historians argue that the church loses sight of its original mission as it moves closer to the seat of power. Witness the era of Constantine, and the Dark Ages, and Europe just before the Reformation. We may be seeing history repeat itself. The church has faced the constant temptation of becoming the ?morals police? of society.


In 1991, as communism fell in Poland, 70 percent of Poles approved of the Catholic Church as a moral and spiritual force. Now only 40 percent approve, mainly because of it´s ?interference? in politics. Modern Poland does not practice church-state separation: a new media law says radio and TV broadcasts must ?respect the Christian system of values,? and the state funds the teaching of Catholicism in Polish public schools. Yet the new coziness between church and government has resulted in a loss of respect for the church.


At various points in US history (the 1850's, the time of Prohibition, and most recently during the Moral majority movement of the 1980s), the Christian church has marked and ascendancy into politics. Now, it appears, the church and politics may be heading in different directions. The more I understand Jesus´ message of the kingdom of God, the less alarmed I feel over that trend. Our real challenge, the focus of our energy, should not be to christianize the United States (always a losing battle) but rather to strive to be Christ´s church in an increasingly hostile world. As Karl Barth said, ?[The church] exists . . . to set up in the world a new sign which is radically dissimilar to [the world´s] own manner and which contradicts it in a way which is full of promise.?


Finding God in Unexpected Places
Philip Yancey

The stuff does pile up, doesn't it?

Coldest day of 06 and as I race out the door this morning to get to an appointment, the tire on the van is flat. After changing coats, then changing the tire, I had to change pants because they got messed up in the halfhour endeavor. By then the meeting was missed.


So I headed off to my next appointment. On the way I drop off the tire to be fixed, which they couldn't do...


na, forget it, you don't need a rundown on my whole day.


To summarize. Cold. Flat tire. Missed and late to meetings. Childrearing stresses. $100 new tire. Run home to type and print documents on only computer. Change tire, to new one. Child stress...


(...hang on, the phone just rang and a lovely Sasktel operator wants to check to see if I am happy...)


Like I was saying, till tonight. Shortness of breath, heaviness on chest, chest pain.


(..now she's taking ten minutes to tell me how I could be happier...)


...shortness of breath, heaviness on chest, chest pain. It makes me nervous, and I'm never sure what to do with that kind of stuff. The Doctor said I was doing well during my physical, so I'm not worried. really.


(-now she's trying to sell me digital tv, with parental control...)


I am on call at the hospital this week, so if I had a health emergency, they would probably call me on the cell, and I would be there to pray with and for myself !!


Yeah, stressful kind of a day I guess. Think I'll go have a hot bath, say another prayer, and call er a day.


Oh, and in the cool news front, My brother Jeff just called from Saskatoon. Looks like he's been promoted to manager of a shoe store, and has to move to Yorkton.


Yes, Yorkton. I'll miss him not being so close, but I celebrate his progress.


And Yorkton ain't sooo bad, is is?


Do they at least have highspeed?

If you're waiting for an email....

Due to limited resources, (mainly, only a computer at home these days, not at the office) I'm only getting to check the email 2 times a day. Morning and evening.


They say patience is a virtue. Let's remember that for now eh?

Hmm, maybe it's time to go back to school





You scored as Sociology. You should be a Sociology major!




























































Sociology





92%

Anthropology





83%

Psychology





83%

Philosophy





67%

Dance





67%

Journalism





67%

Mathematics





58%

Engineering





58%

Linguistics





58%

English





58%

Theater





50%

Art





42%

Biology





17%

Chemistry





17%

What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com
via.

So, good night, and pleasant dreams...

Well, so ends a bit of a long week.


The summary of my annual report was simply that many people are at a place in their lives that God has room to do a deep healing work. There is a sense of safety here, and maybe because we've been here eight years, there's a sense of trust, in me.


Therefore, this year was a year of deep pain and growth. Personally and in families.


It's very encouraging to me, but it is difficult work. The summary of my year helped me to better understand my present state of being. You carry on week by week, not noticing some of the deep deep emotional paths you walk with people. Then you write them down on paper, and it surprises you.


It's good to see though. It helps.


So now it's on to 2006 and all that it holds.


And tonight I'm having a bath. You'll be interested to know that someone around here cleaned out the bathtub, and I have first go at it. Woo Hoo.


So, good night, and pleasant dreams...

Things you probably didn't know. ...or want to know.

When Albert Einstein died, his final words died with him. The nurse at his side didn't understand German.


Ancient drinkers warded off the devil by clinking their cups


Ralph and Carolyn Cummins had 5 children between 1952 and 1966, all were born on the 20 February.


The national flag of Italy was designed by Napoleon Bonaparte.


Paul Revere was a dentist.


George Washington grew marijuana in his garden.


Fourteen million people were killed in World War I, twenty million died in a flu epidemic in the years that followed.


It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on their testicles when taking an oath. The modern term 'testimony' is derived from this tradition.


via.



Annual Report 05

Well, it's time for bed.


I was at a meeting tonight, then we went out to celebrate the completion of a good year, then I went back to church and pecked away at the old computer beast in the outer office for a few hours.


I'm glad to say that my Annual Report is completed.


Now, for Sunday.

Randallfriesen.com ver. 20,469,843. Otherwise known as The New Brown

So, I started to create a site for someone else, and I kind of started to like it myself...


Well, with inspirational kudos to the very pregnant Eka, the should be more famous Nazarin, and the now defunct Brooke-lyn, I started messing around with brown, normally a colour I would associate with poop. Well, poop and chocolate. How about let's just go with chocolate for now, shall we. And I was inspired.


So, given my fickle nature, I may stick with The New Brown, or I may move on to fuchsia, or paisley, or some other challenging colour.


But, I have introduced more content, some fun and some helpful. You may decide which is which.

My spin on things Postmodern and Emergent

By Randall Friesen
The Messenger - Spring 2006
The Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada
___________________________________

When asked if I would consider writing an article on postmodernism, I confess that my initial response was to turn out the lights and hide. This task is no small feat, mainly because postmodernism is still in it's developmental stages and as a result it's not completely easy to define. However, it's influence on society and the church continues to grow.

Merriam-Webster defines postmodern as; "Relating to, or being any of several movements (as in art, architecture, or literature) that are reactions against the philosophy and practices of modern movements and are typically marked by revival of traditional elements and techniques."

At the risk of greatly overgeneralizing the discussion, postmodernism is a reaction against a Modern, ordered view of the world and against fixed ideas about the form and meaning of movements like art, architecture, and literature. It's a response against the systems of mass production and mass media.

A good question I hear many people asking is what does this mean for me and my church? How does a "postmodern" mentality affect the Church? Or does it?

Again, at the risk of overgeneralizing, this shift toward postmodern thinking is one reason why, for example, many churches have difficulty getting younger generations to attend congregational meetings. It changes the way people feel about involvement in Church programs- and even about the way those programs are fundamentally viewed. It calls into question the whole idea of how we are the church.

Our desire as Christians is to see people find salvation in Christ, and to experience all the fullness of life that God has for us. While that's our desire as followers of Christ, we have been living in a world where good processes speed up production, resulting in profit. From Henry Ford, who created the first assembly line, right down through the years, companies have sought to increase production and profit. This is done by creating processes that construct their product in the most cost effective and quickest manner possible. Increased profit follows quick, cost effective production.

This Modernistic approach has had it's effect within the church as well.

To a "modern" thinking mind, growth equals success. In a Modern Era Church, spiritual growth and development, as reflected in growing membership lists, is a sign of spiritual success. We have established structures and programs that are designed to help us get on with the life changing processes of discipleship.  Committee meetings, congregation meetings, reports and discussion are the corporate means of monitoring and evaluating the spiritual success of our churches.

Today we are faced with  a group of people who simply refuse to support the systems and structures that their more modernist forefathers created to help make disciples. In post modern thinking, meetings get in the way of relationships, and relationships are the way of making disciples.

You can see what this means for churches who are dependant on financial and volunteer support for their ongoing growth progress. Many with a postmodern worldview are leaving institutionalized churches in favour of churches in which they are not pressured to perform or produce. For the most part, these new churches have come to be known as "emerging churches", and they tend to vary from group to group.

Fuller Seminary researchers Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger spent five years collecting data and interviewing 50 leaders of emerging churches. They have been able to identify some important patterns of post-modern Christians and have published their findings in the new, well received book, "Emerging Churches -Creating Christian Community In Postmodern Cultures."

Gibbs and Bolger have identified nine core practices of emerging churches:

They 1) identify with the life of Jesus 2) transform the secular realm and 3) live highly communal lives. Because of these: they 4) welcome the stranger 5) serve with generosity 6) participate as producers 7) create as created beings 8) lead as a body and 9) take part in spiritual activities.

There is a strong sense that believers are to be disciples of Jesus Christ and his ways. Scriptures clearly indicate what his priorities were for life. As those called after his name, we too are to follow in his life choices.
 
With the modern church there has been a sense that there are secular places and there are sacred places. The secular places are those in which it's perceived that God does not reign or is not welcomed. To counter this, the church created local houses of God, -Church buildings, which were seen as sacred places. The mentality followed that if the world wanted to meet with God, it needed to come into the sacred space: The local church. Postmodern's do not recognize a secular/sacred split.

Community is a high priority for postmodern believers. They challenge us to realize that we don't experience community just because we gather in the same room Sunday mornings. Community means so much more than that. Life, growth, discipleship and worship all happen within a group of people.

Because of this, they welcome the stranger. This is a radical and gentle hospitality that is inclusive. Who are the marginalised in today's society? Who are today's lepers? They should have a place at our table and are always welcomed, no matter the stigma they carry.  

Postmodern Christians also serve with generosity. There is a generosity with this group that comes from the sense that we all are in need of the grace and love of God and because we've experienced it, we can be generous with all we have too. Remember, the intent isn't to serve an institution or organization, but people. The motivation isn't to increase the size of the organization, but to behave as Jesus called us to behave. It's simple obedience.

This leads to the next point in that they see themselves participating as producers, not cogs in a wheel of the church. They do not see themselves as parts of a system or machine designed to produce new Christians, or stronger believers. That would be seen as a lack of integrity. They involve themselves in the lives of one another, and in worship as full, caring, participants.

Being creative comes as a result of being created in the image of God, who Himself was a creator. This means that creativity is an integral  part of who we are. Let us then create and be creative, not just for the purpose of function, but for beauty and communication too.

In terms of leadership, the top down, pyramid model of leadership may work well for the business world, but this is the church. Here we will work hard to find consensus, discerning direction together. From there we move in the direction the head of the church, Jesus Christ, leads us.

Finally, there is a merging of ancient and contemporary spiritualities. The church is a lot older than a hundred years, and has spiritual disciplines available that help us connect with God in meaningful ways.  Let's look back and share in the experiences handed down from early church Fathers and Mothers. There is much there that we can benefit from spiritually today.

The authors, Gibbs and Bolger, remind us that;  "Emerging churches destroy the Christendom idea that church is a place, a meeting or a time. Church is a way of life, a rhythm, a community, a movement"



This postmodern time is a unique time in the life of the Church. It provides us with an amazing opportunity, if we are willing to listen.

We have been praying for years that God would awaken peoples hearts spiritually. That he would renew us and revive us, and bring many, many  people to Himself.

He is doing this before our very eyes.

People are open to spiritual things like they've never been before. The hunger and thirst they experience is deep and true and we have this amazing opportunity to share with them the fountain of life, Jesus Christ.

If  we are willing to keep our ways and systems from getting in the way.

What could it be like for us as the Canadian Evangelical Covenant church to reach out in new ways for new hearts to know new life?

Are we willing to pay a cost to support new initiatives that will create new groups which may look a lot different than the church we grew up in?

We need to explore different ways of being the church. When and where do we meet? Should we own a building or even have a constitution? What structures could help us?

How do we encourage our children and give them room to explore this new horizon?

This isn't about adding candles, coffee, or couches to our services. It's about whole new ways of being the church, to one another.

We can view this season as a challenge to our way of life in the church, or indeed, we can view it as an opportunity to be renewed in our relationships; With God and with one another.
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If you would like to do more reading on the emerging church I would draw your attention to a Canadian discussion about it.  www.Resonate.ca is a site you may want to check out. It will direct you to many different postmodern and emerging church resources scattered throughout the internet. 

Nouwen on living daily

"Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, "How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?" There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let's rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away."




Henri Nouwen

Overheard at the gas station this morning...


Twenty Something One: So how much did you pay for your truck? (A half ton)


Twenty Something Two: Well they were asking $65,000 and they took 19,000 for my old truck.


Twenty Something One: Silence


Twenty Something Two: So, what are your monthly payments on your truck?


Twenty Something One: $500.


Twenty Something Two: Silence.


Me (in my head): Hmm, I still owe $50,000 on my home and the payments are over $500, but hey, I've got cable TV and 900 more square feet in my bad boy.

remember colour?

As a reminder to myself that there are colours other than white out there, over on my photoblog I'm running nine days of summer.


Drycold.



Upon my first day of work in 2006

First day back at work and it starts off with a bang of a morning.


First first is a service at the Hospital, which goes well and is a great encouragement to me. It's one of those things I never look forward to doing, but I'm always glad I did it. It always leaves me with a deep sense of all that I have and enjoy.


Then I was off to coffee with Gene. He's from Yellowknife and in town visiting his mom. I got to know him through this space, and he's a cool guy. God has been gracious to him and his new wife these days, they are expecting in March. It was good to share stories and to see the God thread woven through our lives.


Anyway, if it's true that you become like those you hang around with, he's one I'd want to hang around with, at least if he lived closer.


Then I was off to an important lunch appointment with my eldest. Probably one of the only chances to talk we've had during this break of hers. She's been working a lot at her old stomping ground, Zellers.


It is cool to see people change over time. It's always more noticeable when they go away and change, much more so than if they live here and you see them every day. She has changed much this year, and I expect will continue to change a lot.



And so, it's good to be back at it.
Bring on 06.

Agathon on Prayer


The brethren also asked him, "Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?" He answered, "Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath."


Agathon



140 paintballs...

and one self proclaimed moron.


Here.



File under bizarre pastoral behaviour

Lauralea and I were having port at a neighbours house tonight and we were talking about good and bad pastors. They told us about a church they knew of which had gone through a bit of a difficult time so the church had brought in a pastor who was suppose to draw people together and do some foundation building.


Among the things he did for worship was to have his wife do a Belly dance.


His response when questioned about the appropriateness of this event?


Well the church is where people should be allowed to be sexy.

"Well you know my name is simon, and the things I draw come true..."

You think you've seen chalk drawings? Well you haven't seen chalk drawings at all, till you've seen these.



 

Holidays take work

Well, nearly a week of time off is drawing to a close. I wish i could say it was all good, but it wasn't. In fact some of it was just hard, family wise, childrenwise, growing up wise. I think it's better now, but you know these things can go off quickly.


And I'm already getting into work mode it seems.


A friend told me before Christmas that the holidays just seem to suspend the most obvious tensions people are working through within themselves. It's like its a distraction, which I agree with. I need to go back to work with many tensions in place in peoples lives, and I need to press them towards health and life.


Some of them don't want to be pushed or challenged, preferring to think that if they don't address their issues, their problems will melt away like the snow. But I know better, and really they do too.


Others of them want me to change whole sections of church and church life, thinking that that will solve their problems. But the truth is that it won't help them. They will need to look inside and begin the changes there. But in the mean time they will push and threaten and probably wander away, unwilling to look inside.


And due to age and illness, there will probably be some deaths this year. I don't even want to go there. Start burying your friends and you will see what I mean.


So, these things seem to be settling on me today, and as a result I'm a bit of a party pooper on the last days of break.


On a more positive note, global warming seems to have a bit of a silver lining. It's been in the -C single digits the past two weeks and looks like more of the same for the coming week.


WoooHooo, no -45C this holiday!

The Number One Hit on my birth day was...

Fingertips (Part 2) - Little Stevie Wonder (In America) 
Sweets For My Sweet - The Searchers (In the UK)


What was yours?



Starting 2006 with Worship

Well, we are in the middle of a week of holidays around here, but we didn't think we wanted to take a holiday from God and his people. So the kids headed off to our church, and Lauralea and I took the rare opportunity to walk up the street a block to Saint George's Anglican. It's pastored by David and Tracy Smith, fine Godly people seeking to be faithful to God.


The service is a humble affair, but the singing is loud considering the 40 or so people in attendance.


We become involved in Worship with the people. Prayer and reading the scripture's together. Singing the songs of Adoration. And the coolest part to me is the kneeling. Any group no matter how large or small, that's willing to kneel together and pray... well that just does it better than the best worship band or powerpoint show or even sermon, because its a statement of humility. It is a fine posture for worship.


We are invited to celebrate communion with them so we move forward, glad that we can participate in this most intimate moment in the life of the church.


The wafer is crunchy but melts quickly into my body. The cup offered me has real wine and it flows into my mouth and down my throat, warming me as it moves down.


I realize that it's the first thing I've eaten today, my first meal of the new year.


May it be a foretaste of a good year to come.


Anyway, we walked home and are now making lunch for the family. Simple.


I wish all Sundays were as simple and restful.


But for now we will continue to enjoy what we have.


May you and your's have a most blessed year; uncluttered with so many demands of life, and more space for worship of a God greater than yourself.


Blessings.