Friday, December 23, 2011
This is a short article I wrote for the Altona Echo's Christmas edition:
The meaning of Christmas
I know, I know Christmas is all about good things and happy times. You know food, family, parties, children’s programs…
But sometimes (often?) it feels broken. Instead of being a time of celebrating that all is good in life, it is a time when one may realize that life stinks. Family relationships are shattered, debt is piling up, and it is kind of lonely.
But this is what Christmas is actually all about. Christmas is about pain, brokenness and loneliness. We forget that there would be no Christmas if things weren’t messed up. Christmas is a celebration, a remembrance, that God entered into this world as Jesus. And Jesus came into our world not because we are so good and happy but because we are bruised and beat up. Jesus is here to rescue and save those who are wounded and lost.
The good news of Christmas is that God has not abandoned us in brokenness. He is with us. He enters into the mess of our lives. Christmas is God’s response to our brokenness.
The story of Jesus, according to Matthew, begins with the announcement of the birth of Jesus saying that he will be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It then ends with Jesus declaring “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is understood in the light of the promise of God to be with us.
Christmas is a time for us to remember that God is with us, not that life is great but He is present. And this is what allows us to say “merry Christmas!”
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
These questions were taken from Intimate Allies:
- In what ways has your relationship with your spouse changed you (for the better)? How has your spouse influenced you to reflect God's glory more clearly?
- In what way is your spouse special? How is she like no one else in your life?
- Spend 15 minutes thinking about these questions: "What do I know and what don't I know about my spouse? What intrigues me about my spouse?"
- What are your spouse's potential, giftedness, burdens and passions? Make a list for each of the four areas.
- What is most beautiful and wonderful about your spouse?
- What about your spouse makes you thankful?
- How is your spouse like Christ?
- How can you draw out her uniqueness, to live out God's glory in a way that no one else can?
Friday, November 25, 2011
The other day I was in a meeting with pastors and church leaders and we were talking about renewal. The leader of the discussion stated the obvious that renewal starts (and ends) with connecting with God. He then asked each person to share how often they intentionally connect with God and what they do? Seriously, we went around the circle and shared. This is the first time I have ever been at meeting where this took place.
Now I should note that the leader did not do this in a judgmental sort of way but just invited people to honestly share.
A few things jumped in my head.
- "Boy I am glad my time with God is going fairly well right now." (Interesting how my initial response is worrying about looking weak and broken before others)
- Why don't we ask this question more often?
- The leader actually assumes that we are connecting with God.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Not something I truly understand or ever want to actually understand.
Something that many do understand.
There are many reasons why people are persecuted. One of them being religion. As followers of Jesus we are called to remember those who suffer simply because they are Christians.
"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." - Hebrews 13:3
Monday, October 31, 2011
- The Gospel is: “declaring the Story of Israel as resolved in the Story of Jesus.” (page 79)
- The church has lost the gospel having focused primarily on the plan of salvation.
- The plan of salvation asks, “how we can get saved?”
- The gospel tells a story into which the plan of salvation fits
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Bible never mentions Halloween. Therefore it does not specifically tell us how Christians should relate to this day. This has resulted in Christians coming to different conclusions as they seek to take the Bible seriously. There are two streams of thought regarding this issue: 1) Avoid Halloween. 2) Engage in Halloween with discernment.
Some Christians have nothing to with Halloween because they are convinced that this day is a celebration of evil. It appears that the origins of Halloween began with the Celtic celebration of Samhain. This was a pagan festival in which, among other things, focused on warding off evil spirits and ghosts. Even today there seems to be a certain fascination with darkness and evil that is part of Halloween. The Bible does teach that we should not participate in evil.
Engagement in Halloween with discernment
Many Christians believe that we can engage in Halloween with discernment. Halloween may have begun as a pagan festival but today, some 1500 years later, it is radically different. While there is a fascination with evil, many of the things done on Halloween are not evil in and of themselves. There is nothing wrong with dressing up, or giving out (getting) candy, throwing parities… Christians who hold this view believe that we can redeem even parts of Halloween and bring God’s light into this dark time. There is a level of discernment that needs to take place. The Bible does teach us not to fear evil but overcome it with good.
We believe that this is a family decision, not something that the church decides. Each family may choose differently. Some may avoid Halloween completely, others may just hand out candy, while others may attend Halloween alternatives (South Park MB hosts one – Winkler Bible Camp used, not sure about this year), and still others may have parties and allow their kids to trick or treat.
Friday, October 07, 2011
- The Holy Spirit's ongoing presence and guidance
- Cindy's amazing grace and love
- Ariel's passion and creativity
- Joelle's love and compassion for others (including animals)
- Seraya's ability to be herself and quick smile
- Those four women create so much joy in my life
- Family who put up with me
- Friends who share and encourage me
- Place to live
- Great food to eat
- Jesus' love for me
- Amazing place to work
- People who challenge me to grow and think about my life, faith
- Beautiful weather
- Books that make me think, smile
- And so much more
Friday, August 05, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
So far I have just been discussing worship – a different experience and more than just about me
Worship is pledging allegiance to God.
God is the great King over all creation. He is sovereign, Lord of lords and King of kings. And we are invited to give him our allegiance.
When we worship God we are re-committing, re-surrendering our lives to him. We are entering the throne room of God and declaring that we are his.
The funny thing about pledging allegiance to a king or nation is that it is not something that you do privately. I have several friends who have recently become Canadian citizens. They go through a public ceremony in order to become a citizen. It is not something that is done behind closed doors with no one watching. In fact all of them are very excited and proud to become citizens of Canada. They invite their friends to this ceremony. They want to it to be as public as possible.
Now I know that becoming a citizen is a one time event and we are talking about a weekly experience. But we need to understand that pledging allegiance is public not private. Within our western world Christianity has become something that is suppose to be private. Something that we are suppose to do in our homes and not really bring into the public areas. But the very nature of worship demands that it have a public aspect to it. Please note I am not denying that we need to worship in private. It is just that an aspect of worship is pledging allegiance to God and that has public dimensions.
Another aspect of pledging allegiance to God is that we are also saying that we will not live for the things of this world. We commit ourselves to be under the rule of God, not under the rule of the world. We dedicate ourselves to pursuing God and his Kingdom, not the goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations of this world. I do not have the time/space to even begin to unpack how this might look in action. Let me just say the direction of our lives will (should) be different than those who don’t follow Jesus. The problem is that we are bombarded, enticed, invited to surrender ourselves to the world and its agenda daily.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
To be near someone who is the midst of a battle with caner, who knows they may lose this battle, and worship with them. Their worship strengthens me. And possibly my worship strengthens them.Or to be in a crowd that raises their voice in unison to the glory of God.Or to kneel as a community in awe of God.Or to pray with and for others.Or taking communion with people I do know and people I do not know. But we are together as one family because of Jesus.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Two reports. Reports that conflict. Two different stories about the same thing. The church.
One tells a tragic story. The church is in decline. People seem to walking away from the church in greater and greater numbers. Churches are closing their doors because there is no one left.
The other story is fantastic, almost unbelievably so. The church is rapidly exploding. Thousands, no tens of thousands of people are coming to Christ. Churches are multiplying at an amazing rate. In fact there some who would suggest that the church has never grown so quickly.
Both of these reports are true. The first is the story of the western church (including
We live the first story. Oh, some of churches may be growing, though many are actually declining. But we are not seeing thousands of people coming to Jesus, not even hundreds. The majority of church growth comes not from converts but from other churches. In fact many of us know too many who walked away from the church. Most of us are not part of a church that has successfully planted another church in the last 10 years.
Why does God not move in our churches the way he is moving around the world?
There is a group in southern
The other night we gathered in a back yard for the first time. There were about 30 people there from the different churches in the region. We ate together (because after all we are Mennonites). Had an action plan presented. And prayed together in the rain.
This is our tentative plan:
- We need God. Prayer is absolutely important
- 10:2b virus - This comes from Luke 10:2. Jesus calls his disciples to pray that the God would send workers into the harvest field. So we will commit to doing that. A simple way to do this is to set our cell phone's alarm for . When it goes off pray that God will send out workers.
- Prayer meetings - We will meet in local areas to pray together
- A group will meet monthly to pray, learn and discern
- Right now it seems that this group will meet for about one year
- There will be no meetings in summer - so the next one will be in September
- During the summer we will read the Gospels and Acts
- At September's meeting we will discuss what we have learned
- At some point during the year we will be reading Organic Church and Missional Handbook.
- Attend "The Church Planting Congress" which is happening in
this November Winnipeg
- Additional resources: There is No Time, this is put out by Advant and explains their model of "short-cycle church planting" and an issue of Mission Frontiers magazine which is dedicated to church planting
- The group is called “launch 2012”. The reason is we are praying and hoping to launch a church plant in 2012.
There are a couple of ways you can become part of this:
1) If you are in the area join us – by attending, praying for this group…
2) Start something like this in your area, church
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
- We need others. The Christian life cannot be lived alone. Once we are out of relationship with other believers it seems to inevitable that we will begin to lose our passion
- Sunday morning is a scheduled time when we come together as a community. This allows us a place to connect, pray for each other...
- We are able to worship alone - in fact we should be worshiping alone. However there is something special, unique about worshiping God in a community of faith.
- This is a time when learn. We should be learning on our own but sometimes we just need to learn with others.
- Our weeks sometimes fill up and our time with God gets pushed aside - Sunday morning is a time to refocus, recharge.
- Sunday morning creates a place where we can pool our resources together to do something together
- Sunday morning is a time when we can hear about what God is doing in the world through us (also it is a time to just hear what God is doing in the world.)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Overriding Purpose Of The Altona EMM Church Is To Glorify God By Extending The Kingdom Of Jesus Christ Through Discipleship, Evangelism, Worship And Fellowship.There are two foundational concepts in this statement and one underlining assumption.
- We exist to glorify God
- We glorify God by extending the kingdom of Jesus Christ
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Because we believe these things, we are compelled to action. We urge God’s people to align around the lordship of Jesus, the missional nature of His church, and the reality of His kingdom. We invite the body of Christ everywhere to see people and the world through the lens of God’s kingdom, to live holy lives as Jesus’ disciples, and to intentionally represent Him together as the church. We affirm that Jesus was sent to fulfill God’s purposes in the world through His perfect life, substitutionary death, and physical resurrection so that redemption could be made available to us. With Christ as our focal point, His kingdom as our destiny, and His Spirit as our empowerment, we accept the privilege and joy of His mission.
Friday, April 22, 2011
- What is a “royal priest”?
- What is the role of a “royal priest”?
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
- How have you gifted me?
- Why did you gift me the way you have?
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
- What does it mean to be beloved by you?
- Is there some reason that I doubt that I am your beloved?
Monday, April 18, 2011
- What do I believe that I am lacking?
- What is godliness?
Saturday, April 16, 2011
- What does it mean to be reconciled to you?
- How should this affect my life?
Friday, April 15, 2011
- What does it mean to be an heir?
- What is our inheritance?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
- Is there anything that is limiting my freedom and confidence in coming to you?
- Is there anything you want me to deal with?
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
- What do you want to say to me today?
- In what ways have you made me unique?
Monday, April 11, 2011
- What does it mean to be seated with you in the heavenly realm?
- How should this change how I see myself?
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Friday, April 08, 2011
- How have I experienced reconciliation in my life?
- Where do you want me to be your minister?
Thursday, April 07, 2011
- What does it mean to be your temple?
- How have I experienced you dwelling in my life?
- How should this affect the way that I live?
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
- What does it mean to be a witness?
- Why have you chosen me to be your witness?
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
- Why have you chosen me?
- How have you used me to bear fruit?
Monday, April 04, 2011
- In what ways have you given me life?
- In what ways have you used me to show the world who you are?
Saturday, April 02, 2011
- In what ways I am salt and light in world?
- In what ways do you want me to be salt and light?
Friday, April 01, 2011
- Show me your power and glory.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
- What am I afraid of?
- How have I seen your power in my life?
- In what ways have I experienced your love?
- What does it mean to have a sound mind?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
- What rights do I have as a citizen of heaven?
- What responsibilities do I have as a citizen of heaven?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
- What does it mean to be hidden with you?
- How should this reality affect my life?
- What are you trying to tell me?
Saturday, March 26, 2011
- How have you anointed me?
- In what ways should this anointing affect my life?
- Why would you anointed me?
Friday, March 25, 2011
- Why do you love me so much?
- What do I fear will separate me from your love?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
- What charges do I believe are brought against me?
- How am I free from any charge against me?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
- When in my life have I believed that it was you speaking to me when it was really either the devil or myself?
- How do you view me?
- What condemnation lie am I holding on to in my life?
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
- Is there some area in my life where I need your grace?
- What is grace?
- Where in my life have I experienced your grace?
Monday, March 21, 2011
- Jesus where am I feeling incomplete?
- How do you want to fill my life?
- What does it mean to be complete and full in you?
Saturday, March 19, 2011
- Is there anything I am holding onto, refusing to believe that I am forgiven?
- Is there some reason I am not accepting your forgiveness?
- Thank you Jesus for forgiving me.
Friday, March 18, 2011
- Jesus what do you want to say to me today?
- Jesus what am I afraid of?
- What are your hopes and dreams for me?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
- Help me rest in the fact that God has chosen me.
- How should this reality shape me?
- What am I chosen for?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
- What does it mean to be a saint?
- Do you really declare me to be a saint?
- Jesus isn’t it arrogant for me to say that I am a saint?
Monday, March 14, 2011
- Why would you buy me?
- What are the implications that you have bought me?
- What can I do today to honour you with my body?
Saturday, March 12, 2011
- How have you been a friend to me in the past?
- How do you want to be my friend today?
- How have I been your friend?
- What does it mean to be friends?
Friday, March 11, 2011
- What does it mean that I have been united with you?
- How should this change the way that I live?
Thursday, March 10, 2011
- How can this fact that I am justified change the way I pray to you?
- Why do you justify me?
- What does it mean to be declared right in your sight?
- Is there something in my life that I don't have peace about with you?
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
- Jesus what does it mean to be God’s child?
- God what benefits do I get as a child?
- How does being your child affect my life? Work? Family? Friends?
- Whose child was I before I believed?
- Read Neil Anderson's "Who I am in Christ" list every day
- Work through a prayer guide every day
- Attend a bible study (either on Sunday morning or Tuesday evening)
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
- Jesus says that his acknowledging of us in heaven is based on us acknowledging him here on earth. That sure sounds like salvation by works?
- Jesus says he did not come to bring peace but a sword. And here I thought Jesus would always bring peace where ever he went, after all he is called the "prince of peace". Conflict may be from God?
- Jesus says he came to divide families. What not to unite them? Instead of "the family that prays together stays together", Jesus is saying "the family that prays to me will be split"?