Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love our enemies

We are commanded to love our enemies. 

Is this love?
  • Can we truly say that we love our enemies if we kill them? If our heart's desire is that "iron man" or "Rambo" would go in and wipe those people off the face of the earth can we say we love them?
  • Do we pray that God would kill them? If in our prayers we ask that God would smite them, send down lightening and zap them all, can say that we love them?
  • If we wish they would burn in hell, is that love?
Love may look like:
  • Praying that God would rescue and bless them. 
  • Wishing, hoping, longing, that at the end of time when when we stand before Jesus entering heaven these enemies would stand beside us as our brothers and sisters. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Greg Boyd has written an excellent post on what does it mean to love our enemies in the midst of the ISIS crisis.

I appreciate how Boyd points out that practicality is not the first or most important factor in this conversation. Being faithful followers of Jesus is of greatest importance. We cannot simply abandon our beliefs because we do not find them practical in a certain situation.
The concern that our beliefs are not practical and therefore not applicable in certain situations says a lot about the greatness of the god we worship. The focus and drive on practicality is usually driven from a belief that god is not able to do anything and if we were really trust him then we are doomed. Sure trust God in life, as long as it makes perfect sense to us. In fact I find in interesting that sometimes we believe we can do more to bring peace and justice to this world with a gun instead of on our knees.
Also I love the way Boyd gives us practical ways of responding at the end of his article. We are to love and pray for the soldiers of ISIS. Praying for the soldiers of ISIS is the greatest and most important things we can do in this crisis.

There are a few things I do not see eye to eye with Boyd on this issue.
First, when Boyd talks about the role of the government he says that as Christians we should allow the government to use the sword to punish evil doers but as Christians we should not use the sword. If use of the sword is wrong, then it is wrong for anyone and everyone. I have a problem with being willing to live in safety and freedom because someone else is willing to do the dirty work. Boyd gives the impression that Christians should not be involved in politics. I disagree. We need to be immensely careful not to unite church and state. But I do not believe that this means a withdrawal from public service.
Second, Boyd leaves absolutely no room for violence. Now I am very close to agreeing with him. However at this point I believe that violence can be used to restrain evil. Violence cannot be used to bring peace. This has been clearly demonstrated throughout history. But police using violence to restrain a killer is the restraining of evil. Certainly there is a very careful line to walk in all of this. And as humans we are so quick to use violence to solve our problems. But I am not fully convinced that the bible calls us to no violence at all.
Third, Boyd never addresses how do we love the victims of ISIS. Life would be way more simple if we only had to love one side or the other. We are called to love everyone. Is the most loving response in this situation really to have our governments do nothing?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Convert or Kill?

How are Christians supposed to respond to ISIS (terrorist group in Iraq)?

Phil Robertson stated that we should either convert them or kill them.

Phil has the guts and honesty to state what many Christians feel. Most Christians would love to see those in ISIS discover the love and power of Jesus. However many probably believe that this is impossible and our only response is then to kill them.

Phil has received a lot of criticism for his statement. Some of the criticism is undeserved. Many have said that Phil is exactly like ISIS. I do not agree. Phil is speaking directly about ISIS, a terrorist group that is killing innocents including children. He is saying that something drastic needs to happen about this situation. Either ISIS needs to change or the world needs to take a radical and harsh approach with them. He is not saying that Christians should go into the streets and grab innocents and force them to convert, and if they refuse then to kill them. He is speaking of how to respond to radical terrorists, not how to respond to innocent people who have different beliefs.

That being said I still have a few objections to Phil's message.

First, we do not need to live in such polar extremes. Are our only options really "covert them or kill them"? Giving only two options shows a lack of imagination. There are always more than two choices.

Two, where is love? Phil speaks as a Christian and quotes the bible but never mentions how killing members of ISIS can be an act of love. Jesus has commanded us to love our enemies. We may not like it and struggle with how to do that but Jesus is our master so we need to listen to him. Loving our enemies is not an option. We cannot just ignore this command because we cannot imagine how this works.
However we are also to love ISIS's victims. Many who have objected to Phil sound like we should do nothing. It sounds like it does not matter that innocents are being killed. They are not our children or friends or from our country so why should we care. We are to care because Jesus tells us to love everyone (enemies and victims). Sure life would be easier if we could just love on side or the other but that is not how it works.

Three, why do we believe it is impossible for them to become followers of Jesus? Do we not serve a God who works miracles? It is impossible that a man was raised from the dead, yet this is foundational to our faith. Something being impossible is no reason to not believe that it is possible for God.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Today's music is boring

The music industry is in a bit of trouble these days. I am certain there are lots of reasons why this is true. One reason is that music today is boring. Over the past couple of weeks, from a few different sources, I have been hearing the contemporary music is predictable and boring.

Here is a humorous take on country music (this same problem exists in many of the different genres).

Here are two different ways that people are responding.

Amp Radio (90.3 in Calgary) has decided to cut the songs they play in half. Amp Radio's Paul Kaye told CTV, "We've got so much more choice, we've got less time (and) our attention spans are shorter. We are observing people with their ipods, playing their favourite songs and skipping them before the end because they get bored."
Apparently listening to your favourite song in its entirety is boring.

On the other hand, the daily beast, calls for the music industry to improve the quality of music. It says that music should look to TV for guidance. As for the shorter attention spans the daily beast argues that TV is not dumbing down things for this. In fact the exact opposite is taking place, TV is increasing the complexity. They quote Malcolm Gladwell who says "Thirty years ago you could go and get a sandwich in the middle of a Kojak episode, come back and still follow it. Today, if you get a glass of water in the middle of Homeland you have to pause and go back." 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Difficult issues

It is extremely hard to discuss difficult issues.
Often I am wrong. However I usually believe that I am right. But how can I ever know if what I believe to be right is really wrong if I do not have conversations with people who disagree with me.

These conversations are hard because...
Either we attack. The goal suddenly is not to learn but to convince the other person that they are an idiot and I am right. For some strange reason these conversations never seem to go well.
Or we become overly sensitive. Fear of offending someone or coming across as an arrogant pig causes me to be politically sensitive. I hold back on truly expressing myself. Practically this means I often simply avoid any conversation where there may be conflict.

I desire and want real conversations about difficult issues.

Issues like: abortion, homosexuality, Israel/Palestine, women in ministry, violence, appropriate media...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

His needs, Her needs - Book Review

His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, Willard F. Harley, Jr.

A love bank. This is the main image that Harley uses through out his book on marriage. Each person has a love bank. Deposits and withdrawals can be made into these bank accounts. So I can add to my spouse's love bank and I can make withdrawals from it. The more I add to my spouse's love bank the more they will feel in love with me. The way to add to your spouse's love bank is to meet their needs.
Harley says that men and women have different needs.

Men need: sexual fulfilment, recreational companionship (he wants to have fun with her), an attractive spouse, domestic support (he wants to rest at home), respect.

Women need: affection (non-sexual), conversation, honesty and openness, financial support (she wants to live comfortably - she may work but hopes she will not have to), family commitment (she wants him to be a good father).

The strength of this book is to highlight that we need to be pouring into our spouse's life or our marriages will fail. Love will dry up if we are not making deposits into our spouses love bank. Interestingly enough Harley believes that to have an affair proof marriage we cannot simply meet one of the needs of our spouse but that we need to meet all of them. He says that when he counsels couple where there is an affair often the person committing the affair loves their spouse and the other person (sometimes they cannot choose between the two). This is because those two people are meeting different needs the person has.
Another positive of the book is that it is not very politically correct. It is not politically correct to say that a guy wants a good looking wife and that a woman wants a man to provide for her financially. And we may wish this was different, but if this is reality we might as well face it. Harley see no point it pretending something is not important to you when in fact it is really important.

However this leads to the two large weaknesses of the book. Harley is too ridged in his division of the different needs between male and female. These lists may ring true for many couples but there is a lot different people out there. His book places men and women into boxes. This is a problem. Reinforcing stereotypes for the different sexes can create problems if one spouse doesn't fit the box they are expected to fit.
This book's biggest weakness is that he leaves little room for people to change. He says these are needs. In fact some of these things are actually wants. That is a very big difference. And sometimes what you want is not what you need or should even have. A guy who wants a good looking wife may actually need to change. He may be so caught up with our cultural's definition of sexual beauty that he cannot see the wonderful women he is married to. A woman who marries for money may need to change. Harley says that a woman needs a man to provide for her as well as her father did or better. What about greed and materialism? Perhaps the woman needs to change and learn contentment.

If you read this book with discernment and take some of the things he says with a grain of salt, this book can help your marriage. Especially the picture of the love bank.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Patrick Friesen has written an article for The EMMC Recorder called "the ordination of a servant" (page 11). In this short article Patrick tells about some his struggles regarding ordination and how he has overcome them. I have serious problems with ordination. So I read this article with some interest. 

Here some of the struggles that Patrick sees: 
Anabaptists have a strong view of the priesthood of all believers. He asks, "how can a church group who believes so strongly that everyone is a minister, single out one person to serve in that role? And if ordination is about the recognition of particular giftedness, why not have an ordination for other roles within the body of Christ?"
Another issue is that ordination is often "seen as placing the pastor on a pedestal". 
Further Patrick notes that historically ordination was "the process which appointed individuals, predominately male [always for EMMC], giving them the right and responsibility for leading the ordinances [communion, baptism, marriage and funerals]." Now Patrick says that within the church "virtually anyone" can lead these things. 

Patrick's solution to all of this? How did he overcome all of these objections? He redefines ordination:
ordination is best understood not as raising someone up to a "higher" role within the church, but rather it is a process of identifying, examining and commissioning a servant.

2 issues I have with this.
1) Patrick fails to address most of the problems that he raised. The only one that this actually addresses is that ordination places a pastor on a pedestal. In fact defining ordination as a call to serve simply makes the others issues more obvious. Everyone is called to serve. Why would we single out one person [male] as the servant?
2) Redefining words requires intentionality and time. One of the real issues with ordination is not what do the pastors and college professors believe but what does the average church goer believe. Redefining ordination will be a lot of work (something that will not just happen). This is especially true since many denominations will not have the same view of ordination as EMMC. Let me provide an example of how difficult this is. In 2007 EMMC worked through ordination. At the annual convention it was agreed that ordination was no longer viewed as a lifetime call on a person. Once a person would no longer be a pastor it is be likely that their ordination would be dropped. This was 7 years ago. Patrick writes that ordination "is a ceremony of identifying a lifetime demotion into servant-hood". Lifetime? But for 7 years we have been working at defining ordination as not lifetime. Guess this has not worked that well. (Now I should note that I am not sure what conference Patrick is actually in. However Patrick teaches at an EMMC bible school, this article is written for the EMMC, and the event that stimulates this article is the ordination of an EMMC pastor). 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leading of the Holy Spirit?

Francis Chan in his book Forgotten God challenges the way people often refer to God's leading.
Did God lead you to where you are? A lot of people in my church and in my travels tell me, "I believe that God has called me to Simi Valley." Or Wichita. Or New York. Or Greenville. Or wherever. That very well may be the case. But it could also be a cop-out because you like where you live. You have a good job. The school district is safe and has high ratings. Your family loves close by (or perhaps far away, depending on your relationship with them). It makes sense that you are "called" to be there, right?" (page 90-91)
A little later Chan says:
It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But it's absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out you life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random and arbitrary. If you are still alive on this planet, it's because He has something for you to do. He placed us on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born (Eph. 2:1-10). Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in Him? If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are." (page 92)
This is convicting. I am honestly convinced that God has lead me to live where I do. But I also have a constant battle to not just live for my comfort. It is so easy to just live for myself, to focus and obsess about what I want. Every day I am faced with the choice, be lead by the Spirit or by my desires.

Lord Jesus have mercy on me for I usually choose my desires.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Google's stance against porn

Porn is a major issue in our society.
There many men addicted to porn. The Demise of Guys explores some of the issues that porn causes (here is a previous blog regarding the book. And here is a video of the author talking about this issue).

Google has decided that it will no longer profit from porn. You can still find porn on the internet. Google is saying that it will no longer make money from this industry.

One more reason to love google.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Health and Wealth

Health and wealth gospel - this is a theology that believes that if a person has enough "faith" they will be healthy and wealthy. They will experience no sickness. If a person gets sick that is because they do not have enough faith.

I believe this is terrible theology. A theology that is not faithful to who God has revealed himself to be, to the bible, or to reality. It is really simply the American Dream packaged in Christian language.
I am not upset that people believe this. No one has perfect theology.

But what really gets me upset is when people walk into a hospital and tell the sick people that they are there because they have a lack of "faith". If they would just have a bit more "faith" then they would be totally healthy.
I have friends who have lost their children to sickness. People have actually told them that their child would not have died if they had more faith. So now not only are they dealing with unbelievable grief and pain but they get some guilt.
People struggling with mental illness are told they will be totally healthy if they have more faith. At times these people are dealing with thoughts of self-hate and loathing. They believe they are worthless and useless. And now they are told God is punishing because they do not have enough of the magic stuff called faith.
I know people who have died of cancer. They were told before they died that if they had more faith then they would get better. So in the last days of their life, instead of preparing to meet to their loving saviour, they are invited to feel inadequate. And to live in fear. After all if you do not have enough faith for God to heal you physically do you really have enough faith to be saved spiritually, to go to heaven?

This is spiritual abuse.
These people are hurting and in deep pain. They a vulnerable and desperate. And now they get wounded by Christians.

Oh, I know some people are going to say they are just preaching the bible. Trying to offer hope. They will cherry pick a couple of verses and say they are being biblical. Taking the bible seriously.
If you want I can debate those verses with you.
However let me ask a question. Before you walk in and heap guilt, shame, and fear on to vulnerable and sick people, have you truly researched the verses you are going to share? Do you know the context in which these verses are written? If Jesus spoke those words (did Jesus even say them?) what is the whole conversation about? What is that chapter of the bible about? What are the surrounding chapters about? The book in which that verse is found what is its main theme? Have you read scholars who disagree with you (where and why are they wrong)? What does the word faith actually mean? Are there biblical scholars who agree with that definition?
This is a lot of work. Of course if you are not willing to do this hard work, why would you think it is acceptable to march in and dish out guilt, shame and fear to the vulnerable?

You want to believe the health and wealth gospel - fine but keep it to yourself.
Enough is enough. I am tired of seeing people being spiritually abused.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit

Last week I attended a retreat lead by Rob Des Cotes from Imago Dei Community.

The Fruit of the Spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These are gifts. 
I do not naturally have these things in myself. What I find rooted in myself is anger, fear, worry, selfishness, resentment, greed.

The fruit of the Spirit is a gift from God. It comes from being connected to him. From spending time with him. 
When my soul is not experiencing the fruit of the Spirit it means that I need to get back to Jesus. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

We instead of I

Last week I attended a retreat lead by Rob Des Cotes from Imago Dei Community.

Jesus' identity was plural. He came to world not as "I alone", but rather as "we" - the Father and him.

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me
John 14: 9-11
Jesus prays that we will have a similar identity

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are oneI in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.
John 17:20-23

Instead of facing the world saying, "I will do this" or "I will take this on" or "I will deal with this". We invited to say "we".
It is not "I" who faces the world, but rather the Father and me. "I" do not need to deal with or fix or face that. "We" - the Father and me - will approach the world.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weeping for the city

Jesus weeps as he enters the city of Jerusalem for the last time (Luke 19:41-44).
He is not weeping for himself. Though it is evident that he knows that he moving to the end of his life. He weeps for the city. The city that is about to turn on him and crucify him.
He weeps because Jerusalem is headed for destruction. Because the city failed to "recognize the time of God's coming".

How does one weep for a city today?

I want to be like Jesus. This means learning to weep for the city where I live.
Weeping implies great compassion. This is my first prayer. "Holy Spirit stir up compassion for my town."
Destruction was coming on Jerusalem, which why Jesus wept. Is destruction coming on my city? I cannot see anything like what happened to Jerusalem (being invade by an army) happening to Altona. But people's lives and families are being destroyed. Destroyed through addictions, abuse, selfishness... Am I weeping because of those things?
Jerusalem failed to recognize the movement of God. Is my town failing to see what God is doing (or wants to do)? Can I see how the Spirit is being stifled? Am I weeping because people are blind to God's Spirit?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fear of the Holy Spirit

Francis Chan, in Forgotten God, asks what fears we have regarding the Holy Spirit.
Personally I can think of a few (irrational?) fears:

Turing off your brain. At times trusting the Spirit comes across as not thinking. Too much critical thinking and logic can be seen as stifling the Spirit.

No discernment. Everything and anything can be written off as a leading for the Spirit. Since it is the leading of the Spirit it cannot be questioned. 98% of the time when people have told me God lead them to do something they are not asking for conversation and discernment. The voice of God has been used to kill discernment. A side note, it is strange how often God changes his mind. And that change of mind often involves the opposite gender.

These fears have caused me to limit my openness to the Spirit. But these are the easy fears to admit to. Chan raises two other fears that I would like to deny having (though that would be a lie):

What if God doesn't come through?
What happens if I ask for God to fill me or to lead me and nothing happens? It is easier and safer to hold back, to not expect God to show up in my life. 

Do I even want this?
Do I really and truly want God's Spirit to lead me and guide me? Am I prepared to live that kind of life? Am I prepared to go anywhere and do anything for Jesus? Really, go anywhere and do anything.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Promises of God

From Mike Giesbrecht - sermon based on 1 Peter 2:3-4, June 22, 2014.

The promises of God bring hope and sustain us in our life.
Without God's promises we have no future.

How many promises of God can you recall?

Mike confessed that when he began preparing he could only recall five.
A few he reminded us of: God is always with us, prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, God will provide for our needs.

At the end Mike challenged us to recall the promises of God, as we come across them in scripture to memorize them, and to cling to them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


What increases our passion for God?
Many different things. 
However some of things that we believe stir up passion only arouse guilt and shame (anyone interested in hearing a sermon on hell, fire and brimstone?).

Personally I find passion in praising and giving thanks in a community.

Last night at a prayer meeting it was good to lift up requests to God in a community, it was even good to visit. But what stirred my heart was when we gave thanks and praised God. 
In the circle, for around 10 minutes, there was non-stop praise. 
I felt my excitement build as I listened as people thank God for who he is and what he has done.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Losing sight of Jesus

I am reading through the book of Luke. This morning I read the story about the blind man in Jericho (Luke 18:35-43). The blind man wants to see again. I thought about this. Pondered it. Journalled about it.  Am I a blind man wanting to see once again? Once I saw. But have things now crept in to fog my vision? I want to see again.
I prayed. And than began my day.

Only later did I realize that I am blind.

I did not see Jesus. 

I saw the blind man. I thought about the blind man - journalled about him - but never once did I see Jesus.

I lost sight of Jesus, while reading the stories about him.

Is this because I relate to the blind man? And I do like to think about myself.
Is this how I normally read the gospels? Seeing the people that Jesus interacts with, relating to them but not seeing Jesus.
It is like I am the main character, seeing myself in the many different faces through out the gospels. Jesus is a co-star. Jesus is sort of like Yoda. Wise and cool. But the story is not really about him, its about me.

I am so blind.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Faith and Prayer

Jesus tells a parable about the need to pray (Luke 18:1-8).
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1
After the parable Jesus says,
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8
The question was not "will he find people praying on the earth?"
We begin with prayer and end with faith.

This lead me to ask some other questions:

  • Is a lack of prayer evidence of a lack of faith? Little prayer = little faith
  • If that is true - the question of "how much faith do I have?" is answered by the question "how much do I pray?"

Friday, June 13, 2014

What's next?

Often life drifts by. We simply react to the things that are happening around us. 

However if we want to continue to grow and move forward, not simply drift around, we need to move with purpose.

What is the next step in your spiritual journey?
Focus on prayer
Bible reading
Study with others
Dealing with issues

Thursday, June 12, 2014

World Cup Soccer

I love and hate it.

I love it. The passion and enthusiasm is contagious. The athletes are fantastic. I am not even into soccer. But watching the best players in the world with people who are passionate is a lot of fun.

I hate it. Tons of money has been spent to cater to the rich and wealthy while the poor have been neglected or even taken advantage of. Women will be used and abused through sex trafficking.

Can we object to the abuse while enjoying the sport?
Or is watching and enjoying the sport mean that we are now complicit to the abuse taking place?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sometimes it is easy to give thanks.
Wake up and everything in the world is wonderful.
The birds are singing.
The sun is shining.

Other times it is hard.
Everything in the world seems to be a little bit off.
The annoying birds woke you up early.
The sun is too hot and bright.

I am in a play called Pollyanna. It is about a girl, Pollyanna, who plays a thankful game. In every situation she tries to find something to give thanks for. This giving thanks changes an entire community.

If we taught ourselves to give thanks how would it change our lives?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit?

Sunday was Pentecost.
The day when we remember and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit?

Francis Chan (his book Forgotten God) argues that we have forgotten him.
Not that we deny him. But he is not a real part of our lives.
He states
"While no evangelical would deny His existence, I'm willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can." (page 15).

Monday, June 09, 2014

Messed up

It begins off so small.
Not worth mentioning.
"It is not that big of deal," we tell ourselves.

Then suddenly we find ourselves in a giant mess.
Marriage is failing.
Addicted to...(alcohol, drugs, porn).

Life is falling apart.
We may not even be able to say when exactly began.
But now we are in mess.

What are we hiding?
What small thing have we not dealt with?
My friend told me, "small problems become big problems. Guaranteed."

Friday, June 06, 2014

Calvinist or Anabaptist? - does it matter?

Terry Hiebert, at Revive! EMMC Leadership Retreat, noted that within the EMMC there are both Calvinists and Anabaptists. He titled a presentation he lead "why can't we get along?"
(Working definitions of Calvinists and Anabaptists)

Does it matter if we are Calvinists or Anabaptists?

Our theology shapes how we live, how we do ministry (run church).
Everyone has a working theology. You might not be able to explain it, but it does exist and shape you.

The Gospel Coalition (Calvinists) states "The Bible is without error, but also that its inerrant content must be properly interpreted."
Historically this means that "proper interpretation" rests with "properly" trained scholars. People come to listen to trained scholars explain what the bible means. Preaching is very important within this tradition. Training of scholars is also important.
Strengths: The bible is treated with great respect. It is also acknowledged that it can be a difficult book to understand. It is really old and was written in Greek and Hebrew. Education and scholars have an important role within the church. The bible is does not mean whatever you feel like you want it to mean.
Weaknesses: Can create a priestly system. For the average person to approach the scriptures (and by implication God) they need to have a scholar (priest) assist them. Another weakness is that a human's interpretation can get tied so closely to scripture that to challenge the interpretation is seen as a challenge to scripture itself. This results in toe the party line or be accused of heresy. 

Anabaptists on the other hand lean toward a communal discernment of scripture. People should read the scriptures together and wrestle with what it means and how applies to their lives within community.
Strengths: People are encouraged take ownership of reading and understanding scripture. This is not for the elite but for all followers of Jesus. Scripture reading is not simply about right interpretation but also about application to life. 
Weaknesses: The hard work of understanding scripture within its original context can be down played. Studying the bible can simply become a sharing of what we feel scripture says instead of diligent study.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Calvinist or Anabaptist? - A place to start

Terry Hiebert, at Revive! EMMC Leadership Retreat, noted that within the EMMC there are both Calvinists and Anabaptists. He titled a presentation he lead "why can't we get along?"

(For working definitions of Calvinism and Anabaptism)

A place to start:

Admission that we do not know everything. There are still things to learn.
We learn from those who disagree with us.
If someone agrees with me completely I have not learned anything. There is no place for growth or deeper understanding.

This is not a winner takes all competition. The goal is not to defeat your enemies at all costs.
There are no enemies.
We are brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Calvinist or Anabaptist? - Definitions

Terry Hiebert presented at Revive! EMMC Leadership retreat. Terry showed that in the EMMC there are Calvinists and Anabaptists. The title of his presentation was "why can't we get along?"

Working Definitions:

New Calvinist - The Gospel Coalition's "Foundation Documents" summarized:

  1. The Bible is without error, but also that its inerrant content must be properly interpreted.
  2. The absolute sovereignty of the triune, creator God has exhaustive foreknowledge, determines the smallest details of the universe, and saves his elect monergistically [monergistically means that God saves without any cooperation from the individual].
  3. In marriage and in the church, God has ordained that men and women play complementary (not equal) roles.
  4. The strong sense of mission comes out of a rich theology of God's kingdom as the exercise of God's sovereignty in the world for the eventual redemption of all creation.
  5. A well-developed ecclesiology commits New Calvinists to the renewal of faith in the gospel of Christ, reforming ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures, and proclaiming a gospel that "seeks the lordship of Christ over the whole of life."
  6. The "gospel-centered" faith is rich in piety holding up Christ as the one to whom we are united by faith and through whom we receive our justification and sanctification - he is not merely a moral example.
The Neo-Anabaptist - The Anabaptist Network
  1. Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer, and lord.
  2. Jesus is the focal point of God's revelation.
  3. Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era when church and state jointly presided over a society...seriously distorted the gospel, marginalised Jesus, and has left the churches ill-equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture.
  4. The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness.
  5. Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability and multi-voiced worship.
  6. Spirituality and economics are inter-connected.
  7. Peace is at the heart of the gospel.

At the end of the presentation Terry asked two questions:
  1. Does this matter?
  2. Are you more Calvinist or Anabaptist?

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Grief or Grace?

Justin Bradbury - presented at Revive! EMMC Leadership retreat. These ideas adapted from James Lawrence.

Two ways to do ministry:

Monday, June 02, 2014


Terry Hiebert - presented at Revive! EMMC Leadership retreat. He reference David Fitch as the source for this idea.

Both/and instead of choosing either/or.
Jesus commands us to love God and to love others.
This is not an either/or choice.
We are to do both/and.
We respond first/then.

First one thing and then the other.
This response is based on the situation.
So in Luke 10 -
The Good Samaritan - first love your neighbour (take care of the wounded man) and then love God (worship at the temple).
Mary and Martha - first love God (sit at Jesus' feet) and then love your neighbour (make supper).