Monday, November 23, 2009

1st Sunday of Advent

It is hard to believe that Advent is almost here. Advent is the time that we wait with expectation for celebration of the birth of Christ (Christmas). However in our culture Christmas is no longer really about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Buying presents is more important than Jesus. And this is true of Christians (this is most likely not a surprise to anyone).
So this year the theme in my church is "Advent Conspiracy". It is a calling for people to take actions to make Christmas about celebrating Christ not simply about buying stuff.
On this first Sunday of Advent we are going to talk about how God gives of himself.

Check out the Advent Conspiracy site and let me know what you think.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night I met Wayne at Denny's. As we talked he let me know that he sleeps on streets. He told me that he wants a home. He wants to live in a place where he can go to bathroom and have shower and do laundry.
After praying for him I wandered back to my hotel and had a nice warm shower. Wayne wandered down the street and I assumed found a place to sleep outside.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Church Planting congress

This afternoon Wagdi Iskander shared his story. It was amazing. I don't even know how to summarize what he said. He talked about his experience of converting from Islam to Christianity. At one point he was slated to be executed for becoming a Christian.
However the one thing that pierced me was right at the end. Wagdi talked about the need to reach Muslims with the gospel of God. He mentioned the church in Canada by and large is not engaged or passionate about it. And earlier Wagdi said that he was talking to another pastor about this and that pastor said the church in Canada will not be engaged until their is martyr - until someone dies. Wagdi then looked at us and told us that he told his family he was willing to be that martyr. He is willing to die so that the church in Canada who become passionate about reaching his people.
And he meant it.
Now I hope I am willing to die for Jesus. But this is not what Wagdi said. He is willing to die for the church, he is willing to die so that we discover the passion of God.

Church Planting congress

Yesterday afternoon Stuart Murray and Juliet Kilpin shared about "What God is doing in my neighborhood? And how am I to discern that?"
One of the things that they said was "God's church does not have a mission. God's mission has a church." In other words don't think that we bring God into the neighborhood. He is already there we need to join him in what he is doing. This sounds a lot like Experiencing God.
How do we know what God is doing? They said we should look for shalom seekers. Shalom is God's peace - this includes things like freedom from violence but also includes things like justice and security.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Church Planting congress

Just finished day 2 of the church planting congress here in Calgary. My head is very full of information. It has been great - wish my whole church was here with us.
Allow me to share a couple of highlights from the morning sessions:

Glenn Smith
Said a lot of the same things as Mike Frost from the night before. One thing he did talk about was the need to take place seriously. He said that God always works in a certain place with a certain people. Glenn gave a few principles of how the church should work with neighborhood.
  1. We need to have a commitment to interpret the triune God to the neighborhood. We may be the only bible that they will ever read.
  2. We bear witness to Jesus and all his teaching in word and deed.
  3. Christian education for the whole church seriously
  4. We need to bring our hearts and heads together.
Mike Frost - So far this has been the best session I have been in
Mike asked how we know when someone belongs to our church? He then said that most likely feel that they belong to church if they attend the Sunday morning service. In Mike's church they define belonging by practices. They have five practices and to belong to the church you have to do them. They are
Bless 3 people every week
Eat with 3 people every week
Listen to the Holy Spirit at least once during the week
Learn about Jesus once every week
Sent - journal about how God has sent you this week.
What would it look like if our churches were defined around practices instead of Sunday morning services?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Church Planting congress

Church Planting Congress - session #1 - Mike Frost

Here are some highlights from the first session at Church Planting Congress.
  • The church does not define it's mission - we are defined by God's mission
  • God is always on a mission - he extends himself beyond himself
  • We are called to extend ourselves beyond ourselves
  • Our Goal is to alert people to the reign of God in Christ - we do this by announcing it and demonstrating it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

As part of the peace church I have often struggled with Remembrance Day. It has often felt that by remembering the wars we were saying that war was ok, or even a good thing. But I don't believe that we need to oppose Remembrance Day in order to show that we oppose war. In fact I think we should remember. Allow me to share two reasons:
  1. Soldiers have given their lives. Whether or not we agree with the war that they fought in soldiers have given their lives for our country. They deserve our respect and honor. I can respect someone even if I disagree with them
  2. We remember that war is hell. Not only have our soldiers died, civilians have died, our enemies have died. War is a terrible thing that has claimed millions of lives. By remembering we can recommit ourselves to working for peace in this world. Too often avoiding Remembrance Day has not led to a greater push for peace but rather has just led me to just stick my head in the sand.
For these reasons today I am going to remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Matthew 4:12-17

A new song by David Crowder fits very well with this passage:

Light and Shadows

Life is full of light and shadow
O the joy and O the sorrow
O the sorrow

And yet will He bring
Dark to light
And yet will He bring
Day from night

When shadows fall on us
We will not fear
We will remember

When darkness falls on us
We will not fear
We will remember

When all seems lost
When we're thrown and we're tossed
We remember the cost
We rest in Him
Shadow of the cross

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Matthew 4:1-11

In my last post I talked about what I discovered about myself when I thought about fasting. At the end of the post I gave one reason I thought fasting would be a good thing. As I read the rest of the story about Jesus' temptation I discovered a few interesting things - possibly a few reasons why we should fast.

The first temptation. Jesus is tempted to live need centered instead of God centered. Satan tempts Jesus to fulfill his needs outside of God. Jesus responds by stating that what we truly need is God.
This temptation is clearly linked to fasting. After all the temptation is about food. Why fast? Because it is a reminder that we need God more than we need anything else (including food). It can also remind us that we are not to seek to fulfill our needs outside of God. A while later in the gospel Jesus tells us not worry about our basic needs. We are to seek God's kingdom.

Second temptation. Jesus is tempted to live a me centered life instead of a God centered life. Here Jesus is taken to the highest point of the temple and is invited to throw himself down because God will protect him. There are several things going on. One, is the temptation to test God instead of trusting him. This is really about being me centered. We demand that God jump through our hoops. We expect him obey us instead of obeying him. And the funny thing about testing God is that we will always need one more proof. Another thing that is going is that if Jesus would have jumped and been safe and landed in the temple then people would have known that he was something special. So this was also a temptation to be prideful. And pride is being self centered.
I wonder if fasting can also help us here. Fasting is about denying ourselves. Denying ourselves the basic necessities of life. We do something that physically declares that we are not the center of the world - God is. After all fasting is not simply about giving up food it is always linked to prayer.

The third temptation. Here Jesus is tempted to be result centered not God centered. Satan tells Jesus that he will give him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus has the opportunity to be the great king of the world right now - God's plan is for him to eventually become lord of all. However to get this quick result Jesus is invited to abandon God and God's way which leads to the cross.
Can fasting help us here? Well in my last post I mentioned that fasting seems to be impractical. But maybe that is something good. Can I obey God even when it seems impractical or do I always need to have a clear result?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Jesus fasts for forty days

Matthew 4:1-11

Fasting. In this text we see Jesus spending forty days fasting. Now I have to confess I have not personally spent a lot of my time fasting. My church has encouraged giving up something for Lent (the 40 days before Easter) and I have taken part of that. But fasting from food has not really been a part of spiritual life or journey. A few people in my congregation have said a couple things that have challenged me in this area.
So I began to ask why hasn't fasting been part of my life. The sense that I getting right now is that I think fasting is a waste of time. Why fast from food? God already hears my prayers, fasting isn't going improve that. Often fasting in the Old Testament was done to seek God's forgiveness. But because of Christ I am already forgiven.
One reason came to me why I should fast, fasting reminds me that I need God more than I need food. Do I really believe that?
There a some other reasons that I think fasting might actually be important. But I want to ask you: "Do you think fasting is something Christians should regularly do?"