Friday, December 23, 2011

The meaning of Christmas

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.
Merry Christmas!?
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

Men's Breakfast

On Saturday Jacob and Arlene Friesen shared at a men's breakfast.  They did a great job.  The theme was guy/girl relationships.  They encouraged us to work at answering some questions about the important women in our lives (wife, daughters...).
These questions were taken from Intimate Allies:

  1. 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?
  2. In what way is your spouse special?  How is she like no one else in your life?
  3. 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?"
  4. What are your spouse's potential, giftedness, burdens and passions?  Make a list for each of the four areas.
  5. What is most beautiful and wonderful about your spouse?
  6. What about your spouse makes you thankful?
  7. How is your spouse like Christ?
  8. 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

Connecting with God?

When is the last time that someone asked you how you connect to God?

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.

  1. "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)
  2. Why don't we ask this question more often?
  3. 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
On November 6 a drama is being performed, Catacombs.  This drama calls us to think about the reality of persecution.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The King Jesus Gospel

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
Scot McKnight
Zondervan, 2011

Main points:
  1. The Gospel is: “declaring the Story of Israel as resolved in the Story of Jesus.” (page 79)
  2. The church has lost the gospel having focused primarily on the plan of salvation.
    1. The plan of salvation asks, “how we can get saved?”
    2. The gospel tells a story into which the plan of salvation fits

Scot does an excellent job of showing how the entire New Testament uses this definition of “gospel” (Paul, Peter, the writers of the gospels and even Jesus).  Based on this Scot calls us back to preaching the gospel not simply salvation.  He believes that our focus on salvation has led us to create a culture where the most important thing is to have made a one time decision to believe in Jesus and have our sins forgiven.  This is not wrong in and of itself, it just isn’t big enough.  We need to create a gospel culture, a culture where the most important thing is Jesus resolving the story of Israel by being declared lord and messiah through his death and resurrection.  We are called to line ourselves up with this story, to become part of this story. 

Scot suggests a few ways that we create a gospel culture.  First, “we have to become People of the Story” (page 153).  We need to know/learn the entire story told in the bible.  Second, “we need to immerse ourselves even more into the Story of Jesus” (page 153).  Third, “we need to see how the apostle’s writings take the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus into the next generation and into a different culture, and how this generation led all the way to our generation” (page 155).  Fourth, “we need to counter the stories that bracket our story and that reframe our story” (page 157).  Here Scot talks about how we need to counter the powerful stories of our world like individualism, consumerism…
Fifth, “we need to embrace this story so that we are saved and can be transformed by the gospel story” (page 158).  

Friday, October 14, 2011


This is a question my church received the other day.  Here is answer that the church has written but what do you think?

“What does the Bible say about Halloween and Christians celebrating it?  Including but not limited to, trick or treating, costume parties and the like.”

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.

Avoid Halloween
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

Happy Thanksgiving

With it being Thanksgiving I am going to give a list of things that I am thankful for (in no particular order):

  • 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
  • Bikes
  • Books that make me think, smile
  • Movies 
  • And so much more

Friday, August 05, 2011

Interesting - the demise of guys?

I have often heard about the link between porn and guys not functioning well with the opposite sex. But what do you think about his stating that excessive video gaming is just as destructive?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why give up your Sunday morning? [4]

In these posts I have been examining the question, “Why should I give up my Sunday morning to attend church?”
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.
For myself I find that I need to constantly and regularly re-commit myself to God and his Kingdom. I have to regularly declare to allegiance to God, otherwise I begin to drift and fall under the rule of the world instead of God.

For these reasons I need to publicly worship weekly.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why give up your Sunday morning? [3]

I have been exploring the question:
“Why should I give up my Sunday morning to attend church?”

Worship is one answer.

It is a different experience worshiping with others as opposed to worshiping alone, as we saw in a previous post.

Continuing to explore worship:
Worship is about more than just me and Jesus.

We live in a very individualistic society. The ultimate goal is individual autonomy. “In modernity individuals insist on the right, individually and at any time, to do whatever they want or to do the same things as others are doing.” (Hiebert 168) So we talk about self-fulfillment, self-help…
Now I am not about rant about how this is a terrible thing (there are positive and negative aspects of this). All I ask is that we realize that this focus of our society shapes our theology.
One way it shapes our theology is that we believe that the goal of church is to help me personally, individually worship God. We come to the Sunday morning expecting to get some assistance in living out our own individual Christian life. We are there to worship God as an individual not as a community. So worship leaders invite us to close our eyes and imagine that we are alone with Jesus. Some don’t want to greet and shake people’s hands at the start of the service. Not because they are rude or anti-social, it is just that they have come as an individual to worship God.
This is not all wrong, please hear me say that.

But the goal of Sunday morning is not simply to equip us to live out our own individual Christianity, in other words to be able to worship alone. Worship is about more than just me and Jesus.

God desires for a community to worship him. Yes, he wants individuals to worship him. But the overarching thrust of the Bible is the formation of a community that worships him.

In the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to come together a few times a year and worship as community. Notice the command is not just stay at home and worship (though that was also important) it is to worship as a community. In the New Testament almost all of Paul’s writings (those are the books from Romans to Philemon) one of the major thrusts is Jews and Gentiles worshipping together. This is vital to Paul. It is not that they worship alone but that they worship together.

True worship draws a community together. If our worship does not draw and form a community of faith we need to ask are we really worshipping the God of the Bible?
Sunday morning accomplishes God’s will by simply worshipping as a community.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why give up your Sunday morning?

Why should we give our Sunday morning’s to attend church?


Worship is part of our gathering every single Sunday morning. So obviously this is an answer. But do we really need to worship with others?

Before we answer that we need to define worship. I won’t spend a long time on defining worship right now. But a functional definition is “being in active awe of God.”

Can we worship alone if this is the definition? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Of course we can. And we should. Most of our problems would probably cease to exist (including church problems) if we spent more time personally in worship. Allow me to suggest a couple of books to help in this journey: Practicing the Presence, Letters of a modern mystic, Present Perfect

So do we need to worship with others then? Yes.


It is a different experience
Worshiping alone and worshipping with others affects us differently.

We know that when we do something as a group it does something different to us then when we do it alone. For example I really enjoy U2’s music. But there is a difference between listening to a CD and attending their concert. I love listening to their CDs. I also love standing with 50,000 people watching U2 live. The concert is better (personal opinion). I say this even though when I saw them I was cold, tired, hungry, had stood in line for an entire day, was squished, paid too much money, had drunk people near me acting like drunk people and the music quality wasn’t even as good as my CDs. But it was an experience. An experience that I will never get by myself. Or consider sports. Why is it so much fun to be at a sporting event? Or if you watch it on TV it is better with some friends? Even people who are not into sports get into sports if they are with others.

It is the same with worship. Yes, worship alone but it is radically different worshiping with others.

It is amazing:
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.
These are a few of the experiences that I can never have alone. Experiences that I need, often.
Do we really need to worship with others just because it gives us a different experience? Yes. That is if you want to experience to fullness of God, and the full wonder of worshipping him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Launch 2012

Launch 2012

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 Canada and USA). The second is the story of the church in the rest of the world (including countries that are actively killing Christians).

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 Manitoba that have gathered together to pray, learn, and discern where God is leading us. We believe that God wants to reach the world. We believe that God is able to. And we want to be part of God’s mission.

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 10:02. When it goes off pray that God will send out workers.
    • Prayer meetings - We will meet in local areas to pray together

Meet 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 Winnipeg this November
  • 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

Why give up your Sunday morning?

This question has caused some good conversation. Some people have told me that it was actually difficult to answer (which they found a bit worrisome). But there were several reasons give to me on why we should come to church. Here are some of them:

  • 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.
Doing stuff together
  • 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

Why give up your Sunday morning?

Why should someone give up their Sunday morning in order to come to church?

I would guess that least 95% of churches in the world today ask people to gather together weekly to sing and hear a sermon.
I know that not all of them meet on a Sunday morning. The day or time is not what I am really concerned about, just the reasons why we should come together weekly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The church's purpose

My church's purpose statement is:
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.
The foundational statements:
  1. We exist to glorify God
  2. We glorify God by extending the kingdom of Jesus Christ
The underlining assumption is that this is done by church, a community, not simply as individuals.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What are we getting wrong?

Interesting video. My favorite line is when Dallas defines the gospel as being about "getting into heaven before we die."

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Missional Manifesto

Just read the missional manifesto. It is excellent - well worth reading the whole thing (it isn't that long so click on the link and read it). It defines some things at the beginning and then lists a series of affirmations. And this is how it ends:

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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a member of a royal priesthood”

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9

Ask Jesus:
  • What is a “royal priest”?
  • What is the role of a “royal priest”?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am sent by Jesus”

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21

Ask Jesus:
  • Where are you sending me?
  • What is my mission?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am gifted by God”

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Ask Jesus:
  • How have you gifted me?
  • Why did you gift me the way you have?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am the beloved of God”

“We give thanks to God always for all of you...knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have everything I need for life and godliness”

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
2 Peter 1:3

Ask Jesus:
  • What do I believe that I am lacking?
  • What is godliness?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a reconciled to God”

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
Romans 5:10

Ask Jesus:
  • What does it mean to be reconciled to you?
  • How should this affect my life?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a fellow heir with Jesus”

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Romans 8:17

Ask Jesus:
  • What does it mean to be an heir?
  • What is our inheritance?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Ephesians 3:12

Ask Jesus:
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What are you calling me to do?
  • How will you strengthen me?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I may approach God with freedom and confidence”

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Ephesians 3:12

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am God's workmanship”

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

Ask Jesus:
  • What do you want to say to me today?
  • In what ways have you made me unique?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm”

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”
Ephesians 2:6

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am God’s co-worker”

“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain ”
2 Corinthians 6:1

Ask Jesus:
  • How do you want me to work with you today?
  • How will you help me if I cannot do what you call me to do?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a minister of reconciliation for God”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. ”
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Ask Jesus:
  • How have I experienced reconciliation in my life?
  • Where do you want me to be your minister?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am God's temple”

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
2 Corinthians 3:16

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a personal witness of Christ’s”

“ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

Ask Jesus:
  • What does it mean to be a witness?
  • Why have you chosen me to be your witness?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit”

“ You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

Ask Jesus:
  • Why have you chosen me?
  • How have you used me to bear fruit?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life”

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am the salt and light of the earth”

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:13-14

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me”

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”
1 John 5:18

Ask Jesus:
  • Show me your power and glory.
Jesus told me that if I want to see his glory and power today I would need to keep my eyes open. Specifically I need to pay attention to the people around me. For he will show his glory and power in and through people.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind”

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a citizen of heaven”

“But our citizenship is in heaven.”
Philippians 3:20

Citizens have rights and responsibilities.

Ask Jesus:
  • What rights do I have as a citizen of heaven?
  • What responsibilities do I have as a citizen of heaven?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am hidden with Christ in God”

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am established, anointed and sealed by God”

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

In the Old Testament to be anointed meant to set apart. The priests and kings were anointed. Now in Jesus we are anointed, set apart.

Ask Jesus:
  • How have you anointed me?
  • In what ways should this anointing affect my life?
  • Why would you anointed me?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I cannot be separated from the love of God”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:31-34

Sometimes we are afraid that if people really knew us they would not like us or love us. The good news is that God knows you fully (including all the bad) and still loves and likes you.

Ask Jesus:
  • Why do you love me so much?
  • What do I fear will separate me from your love?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am free from any charge against me”

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Romans 8:31-34

Ask Jesus:
  • What charges do I believe are brought against me?
  • How am I free from any charge against me?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am free forever from condemnation”

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:1-2

God convicts us of sin but does not condemn us.
The difference is that conviction is action based - “I did this – specific thing – wrong”.
Condemnation is character based – “I am useless.”

Ask Jesus:
  • 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?
As we have been walking through this freedom material for Lent I have started to realize that a lot of my life is shaped by a negative self-image. I thought I was freer than I am. For example today Jesus pointed out that I accept a lot of condemnation in my life. I often say to myself that "I am useless, worthless and can't do anything." The reason that I am convinced about this is that I believe a lie. I know that when I do something I am not the best at it. Now that isn't the lie, it is true. In fact sometimes what I do is terrible. The lie is that because I am not the best or what I do is not that great there must be something wrong with me. There are so many problems with that line of thinking. But the one thing that I realize is that I need to get my worth from Jesus not from the things that I do - not just intellectually but also emotionally.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I can find grace and mercy in time of need”

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

Grace is a free undeserved gift.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am complete in Christ”

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”
Colossians 2:9-10

We find fullness and completeness is Jesus.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins”

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:13-14

Forgiveness is not something that we earn it is a gift from God.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have access to God through the Holy Spirit”

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:18

You can come to the creator of the world just as you are, with all your hopes, dreams and fears.

Ask Jesus:
  • Jesus what do you want to say to me today?
  • Jesus what am I afraid of?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for me?
Jesus revealed to me that I am scared that my best is not really that good. I am scared that I am simply average and there is nothing that special about me. This fear plays it's self out in two ways.
One I am afraid of doing my best. In fact Jesus showed me that I will purposefully sabotage my own work so that I have an excuse why it isn't my best.
Two I protect my image. I create a mask and hesitate to allow people to see the real me. I shy away from exposing my weaknesses for fear that people will just see me as an average person.

Jesus wants to set me free from this fear. You see I believe that lie that my worth comes from what I do. I need to believe that my worth comes from Jesus. Then as Tony Horton says I can "do my best and forget the rest."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child”

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
Ephesians 1:4-5

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am a saint”

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus”
Ephesians 1:1

We often view ourselves as sinners who could not possibly be a saint. But Jesus declares that you are saint.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I have been bought with a price and I belong to God”

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We are precious enough to be bought by God.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am Christ's friend”

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:15

Friend (
1. one attached to another by esteem
2. acquaintance
3. one that is not hostile
4. one that is of the same nation, party, or group
5. one that promotes something (as a charity)
6. a favored companion

Ask Jesus:
  • 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

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am united with the Lord (one spirit)”

“ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit”
1 Corinthians 6:17

Ask Jesus:
  • What does it mean that I have been united with you?
  • How should this change the way that I live?
Some days I just don't hear anything. So I guess there will be days when I don't have anything to really journal about.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am justified”
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Romans 5:1

We have a change in legal standing before God. Before we were condemned as unholy sinners but now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are declared righteous in God’s sight.

Ask Jesus:
  • 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?
As I prayed this morning I became aware of some of the garbage in my life and I confessed to Jesus "I am so wicked."
And Jesus respond "actually you are justified."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Re-Born Free - prayer guide

“I am God's child”

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”
John 1:12

Ask Jesus:
  • 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?
As I talked with Jesus about these questions I realized something. I don't want this to be simply an exercise for my theological brain. Very easy for me to go there and not do anything else. Emotions need to be a part of this. Encountering and living in relationship with Jesus is the point - even more than being free (though relationship will lead naturally to freedom).
So as I asked these questions of Jesus he reminded me of a point when he claimed me as his own. It was many years ago. I was at a retreat sitting in the back when I felt God's hand reach down and grab me and he said "you are mine." This experience has shaped my faith more than all my study and research. I belong to God. I am his child. Not because I did anything to deserve it (I was a mess). Not because I am going to do anything to deserve it. Yahweh simply claimed me as his child.


Today is the beginning of Lent (the 40 days before Easter, well actually 46 but Sundays don't count). This year our church has decided to focus on freedom for Lent. The theme is "Re-Born Free". I know the name is cheesy.

We are encouraging people to do a few different things:
  1. Read Neil Anderson's "Who I am in Christ" list every day
  2. Work through a prayer guide every day
  3. Attend a bible study (either on Sunday morning or Tuesday evening)
Jesus did come and live and die and came back to life so that we could be free. Let's live in that freedom.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Middle East

Interesting talk about what is happening in the Middle East:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunday's sermon

Sermon text: Matthew 10:32-39

This little passage raises some really interesting questions.
  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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"?
Now I want to run and solve these questions. But I have found that if I run and try and make everything fit together too quickly I just end up ignoring what Jesus is saying.
What is he saying?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday's sermon

Text for this Sunday's sermon: Matthew 10:1-15

I saw something in this text that I had not seen before. And it will take some more study before I am fully convinced that it is present. But it was intriguing enough that I thought I would share it here (most likely will not pick this up Sunday since I am fully convinced of it).

Leadership is to be primarily mission orientated.

This is the first time that the 12 are mentioned in the book of Matthew. Within this context they are summoned and called to engage in missions.
Yes, there are a lot of other things going on here - for example the number 12 being very significant due to the fact that there were 12 tribes of Israel. I am also aware that Mark and Luke do not place the calling of the 12 in this context. But here are some reasons I feel that this idea may have merit:

First, at the end of all the gospels Jesus specifically commissions the church to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This is the specific mission of the church. Since this is the mission of the church shouldn't the leadership be actively engaged in it.

Second, the 12 seemed to believe that missions was a vital part of what they were to do. Which is why after Jesus ascended to heaven the apostles end up personally travelling to most of the known world preaching the gospel.

Third, in the book of Acts when some widows in the church are being neglected the apostles insist that someone else be appointed to help. They refuse to get involved in this good work of caring for the people in the church. Instead they argue that they should pray and continue serving the word - which within that context carries a mission aspect to it.

I know this needs more study but it interesting because if this is true it changes many things. Often people feel that leadership in the church is primarily about caring for the people on the inside. In fact it has often been argued that we can't do missions until we take care of ourselves first. Now I am not advocating that we stop caring for each other - our greatest testimony to the world will be the love that we show one another.
But is it possible based on why and how the 12 were called that missions should become a great priority for leadership within the church today?