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).