Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ferry embarrassment

So yesterday after the funeral I decided to take the ferry across the river to get to work. This isn't my usual route, but it was the quickest way to one of the group homes from my church and it's free. It's a little ferry that holds about 25 or so cars and will soon be replaced by a bridge. As luck would have it I missed getting on the ferry by just a couple of spots so I would have to wait to the next one. When the next one came I was on first and took the coveted lead car spot. All cars behind me. When we got to the other side (Like a 5 minute trip) I went to start my car and leave and nothing. No response. The first time my car has ever done that. It was horribly embarrassing and the guy kept signaling me to go. Finally after what seemed an eternity of holding everyone up they came out with a battery charger and started me up. 

Not a very exciting story for some. Just an embarrassing moment for me. 

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rest in peace dear friend.

So tomorrow I have the joy of marrying two of my dearest friends. Today I am celebrating another who is now with Jesus. Funny how life kind of brings things in pairs. 

My friend Dave P., passed away this last week. He made it to a ripe old age so I rejoice in that. However, I grieve with his family who will miss him dearly. A few weeks ago, he made it to church which surprised me do to his state. He had just been in serious condition at the hospital. While he was there we took time to honor him. It was an easy thing to do. He was very honorable. The salt of the earth and pure gold. That isn't hyperbole. I read somewhere that great men are all around, but truly outstanding men are not as frequent. He was an outstanding, Godly man. 

Our church has seen it's share of difficulties. Three big shifts/splits/episodes over the last 30 years. Many people have come and gone. Many people have gotten really emotional and so forth. My friend and his wife had been here from the beginning and stayed faithful and godly through it all. Never bringing attention to themselves, never causing a scene. Just faithful and praying. Doing their part. Even though their friends, pastors and family would leave, they never did. The amazement of that fact can't be under stated. 

They were always there: teaching Sunday school to future pastors and missionaries, serving in the some-times thankless role of deacon, cutting the huge lawn week after week, and leading the missions ministry for years and years (Plus a lot more). The only time I saw him fired up is when there were proposals to cut funding or trim giving to missions.

I really can't explain or put into words what a quality example of Christ-likeness  he was. A wonderful man. That may be telling. When words can't be used to describe someone, it reveals the splendor and mystery of God using the life of such a quiet, humble, dignified man to speak louder than what is common in the over-produced, attention mongering and self-worshipping world we live in. 

I want to grow up to be like my friend Dave.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bitter-sweet

If you bump a glass of sweet water, sweet water will spill,
if you bump a glass of bitter water, bitter water will spill.

- Amy Carmichael

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday morning joy.


This picture makes me happy. I don't know how to describe it to folks who don't have kids but sometimes you love them so much for no real reason. Noah came to work with me last Friday when the baby sitter called in sick at the last second. He really thought he was helping me do my job when in reality it was a bit tougher :)

As is his custom, he likes to crawl up on my lap and demand that I stop what I'm doing on my computer and go on youtube to watch Marvin the Martian videos. I'm still not sure how that tradition started btw... A few hours later he drew this picture. As I was tidying up my office I came across it and my heart just filled up with happiness and pride. I started thinking about him and how much I love him. Not for what he can do, just for who he is. Weird and generic sounding but true.

Monday morning blues.

Man. Sakes. Alive.

Not sure why, but I woke up this morning embarrassed and feeling kind of weak. I sat there recounting my message/sermon/spiel from yesterday word of word, phrase by phrase and I was practically paralyzed in bed. I wanted to pull the covers over my face and hide. Not sure why. Nobody said anything to me. No negative feedback. But all these peoples faces from the crowd, the congregation staring at me. Wierd. Not sure why it happens like that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Update. Recap. Whatever.

So I just got done playing Risk for the first time ever. And won.
1-0. I am retiring. Undefeated.

Also preached sermon 2 of sermons 1 and 2. I was unbelievably nervous this week for some reason. Got up there and spilled my guts again. I think it was received well.

Phew. Now I just have to do a wedding this weekend and then I can retire from this gig as well.

Just kidding.

Sunday morning. Feeling fine.

Silly me. Will I ever learn?

I couldn't find the "word" until I started to focus on THE WORD.

It's here. Early on Sunday morning.

It's going to be ok.

Took me 20 minutes to put all the info together and type out my notes after I finally got it.

It's a wonder what a couple hours of sleep will do for you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday night. Struggling.

So I'm preaching again tomorrow and struggling for "the word". I have lots of stuff I can talk about, a bunch of notes, but I haven't found the "word" yet. Sometimes it doesn't come till I'm about to come up front. Sometimes it comes a week before and I have to keep it stoked all week. Who knows. Maybe I'll just call in sick. Maybe I'll suggest "prayer and testimony" time.

It's times like these I remember that I'm glad I don't have to struggle like this all week every week anymore. Then I kind of feel like a wuss for thinking that way. Oh well, after tomorrow it's back to the low-down for awhile. What was I thinking of telling Paul that I would take both weeks...?

Paul: Jason, I was wondering if you'ld take the pulpit for one of the two Sundays while I"m gone...

Me: Sure Paul, mind if I take them both...?

Paul: Uh... sure...that would be great!

Me: No problem-o...

Me: (Two weeks later...) @^%&#%#!!!!

Oh well. I had this funny thought of just preaching out of the most random book in the bible, like Nahum or Obadiah. Just to keep folks on their toes. Then I did some research on Nahum and found it interesting. Just haven't got the "word" yet...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My latest painting

I just finished this tonight. I'm not sure its perfect for our living room or not but that's where it is right now.

The Todd-shaped hole

Over the past 30 days I've been in Lakeland and various other prophetic watering holes doing my best at a documentary on the whole outpouring move. It's been an honor to talk to people associated with the movement, especially the ones that were healed, saved or renewed by the ministry of ignited and fresh fire.

And what a time to do this in, right when the controversy breaks.

I'm not into divulging secrets or stirring up controversy, really. What I have seen here and there is how the church is pulling together in this mess, and how people are pressing in and not giving up, the church wants to see people saved and healed in spite of what has happened with Todd.

Revival, outpouring, renewal, whatever you want to call it, is going to continue. We charismatics would be lost without a good meetin', ya hear. There will be other outpourings, other revivals and lots of good kingdom stuff to occur very soon.

I was interviewing a really cool worship leader the other night, and she said something that really surprised me:

"I miss Todd. Todd should be back here."

This was different from the dozen or so interviews I've conducted since the reports. I've heard one too many times that "this is not about Todd, it's about God" and yeah that is true, but still.. I mean, how many healing evangelists are out there that appeal to such a wide variety of people?

I looked back at all the early youtube films that were so exciting: raw, real, powerful and most of all hopeful: the Gift of Healing had returned, and the guy leading us into it was just as raw and powerful as the Gift itself. It wasn't religious, it wasn't controlled, and there was a high entertainment value that went along with the miracles, signs, wonders.

And I'm not saying that Todd should be back when there are unresolved issues in his life to the extent that has been revealed, but when one very prominent and radical leader is taken out, it stings.

Yes we need to pray for Todd, yes hopefully he will be back, restored and well once again. But in the meantime the Todd-shaped hole needs to be filled with believers who can stir up the pot just as much. I think we need to be the ones taking the torch on and generating tangible healing radicalness, causing the world to see God is real.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

The sovereignty of God and a 5 year old.

Tonight Noah and I went to the US OF A where cheese and breakfast cereal are way cheaper. Gas was even $3.59 a gallon. A bit better than the 5 something we pay here in Canada. On the way home out of nowhere he mentioned he is not thankful for things that don't make him happy.

Me: Well, God wants us to be thankful for everything... He still has control in hard times and can make them good.

Noah: So he's a controlling God?

Me: uh... I guess... Kind of...

Noah: and it's like my car I got for Christmas... God has a remote control...a controller, you know?

Me: uh...
Me (thinking): Only if your a hard-core Calvinist...

Lectures and listening

So I've been blogging a little "stream of conscience" lately. Kind of a tricky proposition. Kind of dangerous. Maybe not responsible. My old blog was called "thinking out loud" with purpose. I really am just thinking out loud most of the time, working through different thoughts and feelings. I assume the only folks reading this are Steve, Dave, Roy and maybe my wife. Oh yeah and Phil. So your safe right?!?!

So know that I'm not a total nut job and that I really never come to many firm conclusions on much in spite of what my tone in a post on here might suggest. I have a few disorders, and one of them is that I have to get stuff off my chest. It can make for a some boring one-sided conversations/lectures for a few of my friends. But they are generally gracious in listening which I appreciate. I've almost got this theology thing nailed down. A few more months and I'll write a book about it.

So thanks for grace...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cole eating guacamole.

Just being the life if the party and showing folks how to blog from my phone.

Well. I preached.

People didn't shake their fists at me in anger so that's good. Then again, maybe not...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In response... "How the mighty have fallen"

In response to Jason's post - this is a little longer than a just a comment.

I remember participating in similar issues and contoversy (doctrinal) regarding Benny Hinn. Hinn is very likable, God has done some miraculous stuff in and around his ministry - and it is true, the guy has preached some VERY wacky stuff. So what can you do?

Paul in I Cor. talks about how some believers said, "I follow Paul..." others said, "I follow Apollos" - to which Paul said, "I follow Christ!"

As for Bentley? I personally don't know what to do with the guy. I have chosen to remain on the sidelines throughout this whole thing. I have been neutral.

I am the same way with Benny Hinn- neutral. I used to vehemently argue against his doctrine. Then, I went to a crusade (I was literally forced to go by my former Pastor - and boss). He (Hinn) spent a few minutes teaching some pretty basic innocous stuff. Then he led worship. It was an AWESOME time of worship. Then people started popping up shouting and dancing all around the room - made their way up front and starting giving testimonies of what God had just done. My mind changed instantly about his ministry. He was no longer trying to be a revolutionary Bible teacher digging for "hidden" truths. He was just up there leading worship and hearing from the Lord. Awesome! Do I "follow" the guy? NO. But I am now much less critical.
As for Todd Bentley, I am grieved. I am grieved in the same way I am with anybody who "falls" or whose mistakes, miss-steps or sin are revealed in the public eye (heck, even John Edwards for that matter). I still haven't read that much about any of the details - though it doesn't matter much. The fact is, we can all fall prey to the same kinds of things, especially in ministry. It is too easy to get our lives out of balance in the name of ministry.

King David was able to say of his former enemy -"Oh, how the mighty have fallen!" He could have rejoiced that he had been vindicated through Saul's death - and now he was out of danger and able to ascend the throne of Israel. Instead, he mourned the loss of someone "great" - WOW! I hope the story is still being written with Todd Bentley. I will admit, I was personally a bit turned off (as I usually am) by all the hype and hoopla. But I chose to remain neutral. I pray that he submits to authority, that he is teachable, humble - that his wife and kids are o.k. and that he is restored. We'll have to wait and see. I do believe we should be grieved. How the mighty have fallen!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Up late.

I'm up kind of late. It has been a lazy-ish couple of days as I am in de-compression mode after the big deal thingy I had at work. My body is demanding I slow down a bit.

And I've been kind of rocked by the whole Bentley thing.

I don't know what it is, but at some point I've taken it on as my mandate to stick up for the guy. I'm not really sure why... Maybe it's the local boy made good thing as he is from our town. Not that he is a favorite son. There have been a spat or two around here over the years due to his ministry and such. I once wrote a post about him (fairly positive) that received tons of traffic (fairly negative) on the old blog. That kind of provoked me to stick up for him even when I wasn't sure why. I've been to a few of his conferences, and really could have taken or left it (meant as harmless as possible). The funny thing is God always spoke deeply to my heart through another speaker or I met someone while there. Most fondly was my friend Peter Moyo from Zimbabwe.

Over time I've gone about my own business and such and Todd has grown in some renown I suppose. The folks that stuck around our church after the "troubles of 06-7" tended to be the lot that appreciate Todd and Freshfire. We still have a bunch that either came from the church they planted, Global Harvest or attended his ministry school. They are honestly fantastic, wonderful people. One had a word for me a few weeks ago that was right on the money and very affirming. That's the part that gets me. I have a tough, real tough time with some of the stuff Todd teaches, the hype, certain experiences and so forth. Some of it makes me cringe in fact. But I know a lot of people that are very connected to those guys and they are golden, salt of the earth. People that I love and trust deeply. Therein lies the rub. And I've chosen to concentrate more on what I know through them than what I don't understand in the way of the theological stuff. God is good, and if these good people who know him and love him a lot more that I can stand up for him, then I just believe the best and pray the rest as Francis always said.

And then this whole mess that has come up in the last few days. The first thing my fleshly heart thought was "oh great, I've been sticking up for the guy and now I have egg on my face". Awesome heh? My heart=selfish. But then I thought, "oh man... it is going to hit the fan", and sure enough it is.

I think that's why I've kind of found myself defending the guy. I can't stand the other team. Almost why I'll vote for any team playing against the San Fransisco Giants, I don't like them. I've never really stood up for Todd's doctrine as much as I've stood up against these blind, ignorant, vicious attacks on people. Man, some of the stuff that is out there is sickening. I don't understand what they think they are going to accomplish. Are they going to succeed in keeping people from believing God might want to heal people, save people, deliver people...?

I mean it's always been there I guess... but if people want to travel and listen to a guy, and they are coming away blessed and transformed, encouraged, hopeful, pumped-up, inspired to minister, and have a greater heart for lost people then whats the deal? These same people leaving church and going to the park just to find people to pray for, going onto the streets feeling empowered to bless and encourage and looking to bring the kingdom. Moving to Africa to start orphanages. Good stuff. Yet, there are these critics who have this sloppy, lazy caricature of these same people as mindless zombies who just open up their wallets and heads and dump the contents in the offering basket.

Do I have concerns around some issues? Sure. Some who were not healed when they might have thought they were, some who are immature and put too much hope and stock in a man other than Jesus, some who aren't connected with a local body. Their are certainly many things within the Charismatic realm that need an overhaul. I'm praying it'll happen. That God may use this latest news to propel some of that. But I believe that God is able and interested in keeping people and protecting them. Just like the baby believers Paul left behind every time he was kicked out of a town, just like the believers who were flirting with bad doctrine and bad character that he would write his letters to, God kept and protected them. He also challenged and rebuked them too. But a loving father chastises those he loves.

I'll be praying for these guys. I have a way that I hope it will go. It might not. But I'll pray none the less. I wish my first response would have been grief and a challenge to pray for the kids and the family... the important stuff.

Bentley?

Well, I thought somebody would have to post on Bentley since the blogsphere is buzzing like a rock in a hornets nest. Not much to say but I did read an interesting article over at Charisma Magazine. You can check it out here.

Most of all in this craziness remember to pray for the marriage of Todd and his wife and hopefully their reconciliation.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

my brain in over drive.

Since my little rant yesterday that was kind of stream of conscience, I've been thinking about it.

One clarification. I'm speaking to myself here BTW... (And to anyone reading that I might be confusing) (I should just write in a stinking journal!)

I don't care what my community thinks about a lot of things that I used to think were important but no longer do. And things that I can't control. The end-all/be-all isn't whether or not my church goes out of business tomorrow. It's just a building and a bunch of statements, and some traditions. I do care about the people within it, how we love one another. How people can know and see God from that. I do care. 99.99999999% of people have it wrong anyway. Why do we get so worked up about that? What they think? I don't understand.

When God opens up doors for real, meaningful relationship that His Spirit is working in, then all our fleshly wrong stuff starts to get worked through... That is what we should care about... Those kind of relationships, and everything else will work itself out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We care a lot!

So as not to tread in the vague mystery of cynicism and hyperbole too long and cast the wrong impression, I do care.

I do care about my community.

I do care about being a fragrant aroma to the world.

I do care about contextualizing my faith in a way that brings clarity to the gospel for someone and doesn't allow man-made traditions to be worshiped.

I do care about truth.

I do care that God's people have a reputation that honors and brings glory to His name.

I do care about reaching marginalized people with the saving freedom of the new covenant God has made with His creation.

I do care about God's beautiful order, and how that looks a lot different than most North Americans perception of order.

I do care about people not being abused in, or by the church or people pretending to be God's church.

I do care about being an ambassador of reconciliation for Christ.

I do care about breaking down facades in my life and heart.

I do care about blessing and not cursing.

I do care about cutting through the garbage of self-deception and hearing hard truth.

I do care about a lot of things.

I do care about faith, hope and love.

I do care about a lot.

I am a parodox.

I don't care!

I just read a quote from this blog that said something to the effect, "If your church closed down tomorrow would your community care...?"

Hmmm.

I don't really care what my community would think.

AGHAST!

How dare I say that... I am treading in sacrosanct territory here for some people.

Whatever.

I don't care what you think about our church sign, our church's mission statement, the color of our pews, the fact we have pews, that we're a small church, that some Sundays all we have is a guy leading with an acoustic guitar. That sometimes our projector isn't working. I don't care what you think about our church's logo, whether there are ugly people or beautiful people that go here, what you think about my pastor's message or his delivery. Whether you think we are unusual and "Charis-maniacs". I don't care what you think about our church.

I don't really kind-of care if the "World" (you know, non-Christians) think my building is cool, or our programs are relevant, Or that we don't really have programs... or if they think I'm an intellectual midget, or if the people in my church are unusual and make them feel uneasy. We are unusual. And weird.

The reality is we have a reputation out there that we can't control anyway. Sinners gossip to one another and spread half-truths and lies, and un-informed information. Or they spread the actual truth about us. It may not be flattering. But it's true. We're sinners too in the process of redemption and sanctification. If you want to keep me in that box that's your problem. God's sanctifying us that's all I care about.

I don't care if people know that I am reformed in some regards and free-will in others. I don't really care if you know that I am intrigued by Obama. That I shop at Wal-mart and eat bacon. I don't despise Joel Osteen. Or Todd Bentley. Or John Piper. Or hardly anyone else any more. Who cares?

I also like the New Living Translation.

I used to think all that stuff was so important. I worried so much about how others saw me and what they thought.

And you know what? Now that I don't care and invest all my emotional energy into it, I'm free. It's all going to burn someday. Only a few things will remain. Faith, Hope and Love. If I trust in that, and find my satisfaction in God, everything else will work itself out.

When I left pastoring I thought I failed in a lot of these regards. That we were doomed cause we didn't finish up the logo.

And you know what? People are still coming. Broken people who don't care as well. And they are great and wonderful and sent by God. He is re-building it and I'm sitting on the side-lines watching with wonder. It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sitting in bed.

That's right. I have finally reached the pinnacle of loser-dom by blogging from bed. I intended to bring my computer to bed to take notes for a sermon that I am preparing for this Sunday. But I have been checking out Dodger info instead. Oh well. My wife is out tonight doing some girl thing and would probably break something on purpose if she saw me right now!

Today my company finally finished that review that I had kind of mentioned. It's kind of weird, having prepared for it for a year and it being over with. Not that that is bad... I am quite pleased we don't have to deal with it for awhile, just weird that I'm not having to getting ready for something big so to speak.

In other news like I mentioned, I am preaching this weekend for the first time in over a year. I will actually preach this Sunday and the next one too while Paul is out of town. I honestly wasn't sure I ever would again but I got the invite and said "yes". It feels kind of natural and I'm not nervous yet. Who knows if I will be? To complete the "brief return to pastor-type" trifecta I will be marrying my friends in a couple of weeks. What do you know... maybe I was just on sabbatical and didn't realize it! I am preaching (at least I plan to) on paths to idolotry. The subject has fascinated me for years and I happen to be reading through 2 Chronicles right now so I thought I'd take a shot at it. Then week two I want to explore Idolotry vs. a culture of honor. We'll see though... Maybe I'll over prepare like always and have a 15 week series out of it.

Any thoughts on idolatry? Quotes, revelation on it that you may have had and want to share? I picked up some good reference books from Dave's today. Brought back memories of lugging around tons of commentaries back in the day. I love that part. I just need to remember where to turn it off and rely on the word, and the Word.

Pray for me if you think about it. That I will deliver God's appropriate word for the congregation, whatever that may be in a spirit of humility and grace. Dealing with topics around sin, I don't want to manipulative and condemning, yet filled with the redeeming gospel.

I'm babbling. I just so excited to be done with this test at work I'm losing all sense of what I should be blogging.

And I'm blogging from bed. That is pretty exciting too..

Seriously though, I want your thoughts of the stuff I mentioned!

Death by Love.

One of the craziest sermons I've ever heard has been turned into a book. And a short movie.

Look out for the feature length.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What's going on...

Unfortunately, I am Here this week.


I was supposed to be here: At a cabin, overlooking Lake Barkley, KY.




Not Here.




Here.



Beth's folks both had medical issues this week. They were at separate hospitals for two nights. They are both fine now - and we're glad we stayed home for them. They're just not getting any younger, which is kind of hard. Sigh,
As for vacation - well, perhaps we'll get a break in a week or two.

blogging from the paradox.

Anyhow, I woke up kind of late this morning. Not really, but I did need to open the office today as our office manager is off. And I need to be here when they deliver the toner cartridge for our office copier which is OOC.

So I thought... "Hey, it's Friday, nothing is happening at the office, no one is around, I will be in my office behind my computer all day anyway... I will wear shorts and sneakers."

Then I got to the office and the first message was from someone reminding me of a very important meeting at 10 around an important employee issue that involves people from other "formal" type agencies. So, I guess I will be rocking the "business Reeeee-ally casual" look for it. Oh well!

Other than that going through Romans 14 today has convinced me that there is no spiritual ministry of criticism. I was convinced before, and now I'm really really convinced. I like this... (via "the message"):

"Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently."

Then

"None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit."

I guess what someone will resort to is "Well, they aren't my brother, they're a) heretic b) unbeliever c) false prophet d) of the Devil e) __________" Which leads to a bunch of other stuff... but I wont get into that now... That's another post.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fireworks

Every year they hold this 4 week long fireworks competition here in Vancouver. My wife and I are here with 400000 others for the grand finale. Except for all the people around us smoking pot it should be a good night. The real fun though awaits us as we try and leave and deal with the traffic with the 400000 others. All for Naomi's birthday.Tomorrow she turns 30.

Friday, August 01, 2008

10:28 on a Friday night.

And I'm at home. Getting ready for a long weekend that contains my wife Naomi's big 3-0 birthday. It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me that seem to be packed with so much. We're in this season at church of fasting and humbling ourselves. With that I've given up a few things. Those few things have become even fewer things over the last week though. Kind of depressed about that. It would have been nice to have maintained the drive till the end. Maybe I'll buck up and press in for the last 5 days. No condemnation though.

I've been getting a ton out of the word lately. It's nuts how there are times when revelation is just dripping off the pages, and others when it's all I can do to just keep from dozing off. I'm going through Romans via the extremely criticized New Living Translation but I love it. So readable and so good. We're also smack dab in the middle of 2 Chronicles. Just talked about King Asa. He was doing so well and just didn't finish well. Makes me think. God did amazing things in the first part of his reign, yet toward the end he started to trust in his gold and began to take things into his own hands. Even though he wiped Judah free of idolatry he was still prideful end the end. The worst idol of all.

I pray I never forget the good things the Lord has done for me. My miracles. The times when he crushes my enemies. When He restores me from my wicked sinfulness. I've had a few lost months to flesh and pain and I never want to go back there.

So much more to live for.