Thursday, January 31, 2008

What is church?

In his book, The Ministry of the Missional Church, Craig Van Gelder says, "The church is created as a community into which individuals are incorporated, rather than being a community that is constructed by self-selecting individuals (as understood by modern, Western social contract theory in relation to volunteerism)."
Is this true? Thinking about the bible I do believe that Craig is right. But how does this work?
In my context people self-select what church they belong to (there are lots to choose from). This is mostly based on personal likes/dislikes. At times they will deselect themselves and pick a different church. Also in my context there are lots of questions about baptism and membership being held together. There is a push to say that a person should not have to become a member when baptized. So, how does what Craig say actually work?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Our Father Abraham

I just finished reading the book Our Father Abraham: Jewish roots of the Christian faith, by Marvin R. Wilson. I have posted a couple of times about this book - I wrote when something really stood out to me.
Marvin reasons that as church we should realize that we have deep, deep Jewish roots. We worship the Jewish God, follow a Jewish messiah, the bible was written by Jews and was written mainly to Jews. Marvin states that we need to grasp this heritage. I totally agree.
The beginning of the book does a good job of reasoning why we should engage in Hebrew beliefs. In the second half of the book Marvin explores some aspects of Jewish thought he thinks is important for the church to understand.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Gospel

In 2 Timothy 2:8 Paul gives a definition of the gospel that he preached. He says "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel".
My wife pointed out that this verse mentions nothing about the death of Jesus. Now it is implied - to be raised from the dead means that you have died - but it is not the focus. However, usually when we talk about the gospel we emphasize the death of Jesus (in fact I have heard people preach "the gospel" without ever mentioning the resurrection of Jesus). We say that Jesus died for our sins. Now this is true but here Paul does not make that the focus of the gospel. The focus is on the fact that Jesus is King (Christ is not Jesus' last name it is his title and means King) and he has been resurrected. My wife pointed out that with us focusing so much on Jesus' death we often get very focused upon our sin instead of upon Jesus.
How do you think sharing the gospel will change if we focus on the fact that Jesus is King and has been raised from the dead instead of solely focusing on him dieing for our sins?

Friday, January 25, 2008


I love the Doxology. My friend just informed me that what we normally sing is only the last verse of 10. He directed me to this website (
Here are all the verses.

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, Who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Training our children

An interesting understanding about training our children from the book Our Father Abraham,

"The Hebrew of Proverbs 22:6 is hanokh la-na'ar al-pi darko, literally "Train [start] a child according to his [the child's] way." There is a great difference between the training of a child according to the child's way (i.e., encouraging him to start on the road that is right for him), and training him according to a way chosen, prescribed, and imposed by the parents. The former is in keeping with the child's unique God-given bent, disposition, talents, and gifts. It it considerate of the uniqueness of the child; it does not treat all developing personalities the same. As Derek Kidner has correctly observed, since the training prescribed in the verse is "according to a child's way," this verse implies "respect for his individuality and vocation." In short, "the instruction of youth, the education of youth, ought to be conformed to the nature of youth." (page 293)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


In two week Lent begins. Lent is the 40 days before easter, traditionally this has been the time that the church has set aside to prepare for easter. Easter being the greatest and most important Christian holiday, since it remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus our king.
Historically the church has encouraged people to fast from something for Lent. The purpose for this is to 1) remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us (becoming human and dieing) by sacrificing something ourselves. 2) to give up something (often these things are good) to remind ourselves that we need God more than anything else.
So allow me to ask you what are you going to fast from? What are you going to give up for Lent?
It can be anything: jelly beans, TV, books, food, certain kinds of food, ext.
Or perhaps instead of giving up something you want to add something to your life that will help you focus on Jesus this Lent season.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Psalm 99

On February 3 I am going to be preaching on Psalm 99. I would love to hear what you think about this Psalm. It begins off,

Yahweh reigns,
let the nations tremble

The nations that think they reign should tremble because they don't. For the psalmist it would have been the nations like Egypt or Assyria or Babylon or even that nation of Israel.
What nations today think they reign?
Perhaps we can be more personal. What things think they reign (control) our lives?
What do you think it means that they should tremble?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King

Children and money

I came across an article that talked about how to teach children about money.
Important lessons to teach your children about money

We give our children an allowance. And right now we are trying to teach them about tithing and saving.
What have you done to teach you kids about money?

Friday, January 18, 2008


"Their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night"
Psalm 1:2

Meditation involves being silent and thinking deeply. At least this is the way I have often viewed meditation. Silence is foundational to meditation. A person can meditate without thinking deeply - many say that meditation's goal is to empty the mind (I am not convinced that this is actually Christian meditation though).
However, I have been reading a book called Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Marvin Wilson says "Meditation is the outward verbalizing of one's thoughts before God, of the poring over his teachings and works." He states that the Hebrew word for meditation means to "murmur" or "mutter". Wow. This totally changes the way I view meditation. Instead of being totally silent, meditation is an invitation to mutter and murmur about the things of God. One part of meditation is talking to ourselves, reminding ourselves about God, his word, what he is doing...
Now I do believe silence is a good thing - to be still and listen to God. But meditation does not equal silence.

Online library

For those who love books. I just found an online library where you can download audio books and ebooks. It works just like a library - you can download the book and use it for 14 days (at which point it gets locked and you cannot access it any more).

Thursday, January 17, 2008


My friend Dan just emailed me plans for building my own coffin. Just to be clear it was not a death threat (at least I don't think it was). We have been having an on going conversation about death and funerals. We took a course together in fall about death.
Now I have to say before I go any further I have great deal of respect for funeral directors. The funeral director that we have in our town is great - he is kind, compassionate and is a blessing to the families that are grieving. So this is not an attack on him, rather these are thoughts about funerals in general.

Why do I need a fancy coffin? Why padded cushions? I don't plan to use the coffin until I am dead - so must likely I won't mind lying on plain old wood. If I get buried then the coffin is just going to be buried in the ground, where it (and my body) will decompose. Now I don't have exact numbers but I have heard that a basic coffin can cost hundreds of dollars. What are we paying for?

Tony Campolo wrote a book called 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch. One of his chapters is called "Are funerals a rip off?" Very thought provoking. I want to quote a small part. He is talking about his experience as a pastor.
"I worked hard to dissuade an economically pressed widow not to buy a foam rubber mattress for her dead husband, in spite of the undertaker's claim that the mattress would be providing a comfortable rest for the corpse for all eternity. I also balked when this same undertaker tried to sell the widow an expensive airtight vault for her husband's casket which was 'guaranteed to keep him dry.'"

With all of this in mind I decided perhaps I should build my own coffin. Actually I am not very handy (and not sure where I would put it - a toy box for the kids might look a little twisted) so I asked one of friends to make me a coffin if I die any time soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008

An Emergent Manifesto of Hope

I just finished reading An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. It is a fascinating collection of articles written by people who in some sense are regarded as part of the "emerging church". Some of the articles were good and some were so so. Over all I think this book gives a good picture of the emerging church and what its passions and hopes are.
One of things that stands out in reading this is book is how hopeful these people are. Doug in the conclusion states "We must see the world as hopeful even when it is hurtful." (page 306) Hope and love underline almost everything written in this book. One gets the sense from this book that the people in the emerging church are looking forward to what God is going to do in the world. I have to say, Amen! Lord open my eyes so that I may see (and be part of) the amazing things you are going to do.
Now the problem with this book is that the articles raise some interesting questions but they lack a certain of depth. This lack of depth seems to be the result of a lack of space. The articles are thought provoking and good but I often ended the chapter wanting more. I should mention that in the introduction Doug says that the articles "should be considered discussion starters." However I do wish there was more unity from the writers. Each writer seemed to have freedom to write on whatever they want which meant that each chapter would often move to an entirely new thought.
Over all I found book thought provoking and good.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It has been a long time

Wow it has been a long time since I have posted anything. I have just gotten back from holidays. My family and I spent three weeks visiting family through out BC. It was great. Some of my highlights were: connecting with our families, seeing our brand new niece (we were there three days after she was born), being rained on for a few days in a row, sledding. Here are a couple of pictures.

The kids showing my brother some love

My new niece.

Cindy's parents house.