Cultivating

On my first sabbatical (way back in 2007) I had sometime to reflect on what it is that I do as a pastor. It was a great period of remembering what was truly important and that also while I was busy “doing things” that God was “doing things” in me. We often lose sight of the inner work that needs to happen when we get preoccupied with what is happening on the outside. I came across the poem again this week in my files and decided to share it here. I’m under no illusion that it is great poetry, but I do know it puts into words what I was learning then and am still learning today.

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Love

Today is Valentine’s Day. This holiday has different meaning depending on who you ask. Some love it, others loathe it. This is a great day for me as it reminds me of the gift I have been given in my wife Angela. She has amplified and enriched my life in more ways than I could ever count. My relationship with her has proven to me over and over the idea that lies beneath what I am writing today. Love is a powerful, if not the most powerful, force in all of our lives, regardless of our feelings about this date on the calendar.

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Worship

When I use the word worship I mean something different than we often think of in church circles. I’m not talking about an emotional feeling generated by singing to God. As great as those moments are, worship is far more deep and profound than just that experience. It’s a conscious surrender of our lives to God, and it is a key to a growing relationship with God that shapes us in lasting and unexpected ways.

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Tension

Thanks to the generosity of the group of Churches that I work with (FEB Pacific) I was able to attend the Multiply Conference in Vancouver over the last 2 days.  (The bonus was that 2 of my daughters live in Vancouver so I got to hang out with them for a while last night.) It was a great conference, well done, with excellent speakers and materials. Lots of good solid input for me to think about, reflect upon, and hopefully help our church to apply.  The whole focus is on helping churches multiply disciples of Jesus. But these types of conferences always bring up a tension in me, a tension between “doing” and “being”. I’ll try to explain.

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Transitions

Basketball season is drawing to a close, which always puts me in a reflective mood. One of the key moments as the season winds down is our last home game. It is a time to recognize and honour our Grade 12 players, in the final opportunity they will have to play in front of our home town fans. I always come to this game with sadness, because it means that the relationship I have worked to build with these players over the last several years is transitioning. It’s also a time of joy and thankfulness …

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Top Reads of 2018 - Part 2

You came back. Thanks. Here’s the second instalment of the Top 10 Reads of 2018. The first 5 are here, just in case you missed it. These are books that I’ve read over the past year that have impacted me so much I feel the need to share them with you. So let’s jump right in.

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Top 10 Reads of 2018 - Part 1

At the end of every year I find it helpful to think back over the previous 365 days’ reading and try to remember what I want to take with me into the year ahead. So what were my favourites from the previous year? I’m glad you asked. In no particular order, here they are…

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Starting

Our starting points impact our end results. We often begin our interactions with God from a certain perspective or an understanding that limits our ability to comprehend what God might want to say to us.

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Fear

We typically define an enemy by identifying what it is that they are trying to take away from us and then unite against that enemy. It makes us feel as if we are doing something “Christian”, as if we are standing for the truth. The irony is that the Bible tells us over and over again, “Do not fear.” It was one of the first things that Jesus said to the disciples after the resurrection.

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Willing

I think I know what I want but I just don’t seem to know if God is willing to do it. Over the years he seems to do things in ways and for reasons that I don’t understand. My lack of clarity about who God actually is has direct implications to how I live day to day. So much of our lives and the way we think and react flows out of our perceptions and understandings of what God is like.  What is he “willing” to do?

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Gratitude

My wife and I love this time of year. All four of my daughters are home, after Christmas Eve my work slows down for a few days, and I get to spend time at home with the people that I enjoy the most. These days remind me to be thankful for all that I have been given in my life. It’s an important lesson to remember.

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Truth

I’ve been reading America, The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges. If you know his writing you will understand the impact of that sentence. Hedges is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize winner, and prolific author who never fails to stir my thinking. I often say that I can only read one book of his per year because they all leave me depressed. It’s not because they are bad or poorly written, quite the contrary. Hedges writes hard hitting content that digs deep into the day to day and exposes what is actually happening in the world around us.

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Pain

I have been on this spiritual journey for a while, and I have learned that often it is pain that is the catalyst to growth. I know myself well enough to know that usually it takes something that stings to get my attention.

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Hope

Last Sunday was the first week of Advent, a Sunday when churches all over the world and throughout history have celebrated the idea that Jesus’ birth brings hope to our broken world. I love that we start our journey through this season focusing on hope. Hope means that we are still waiting. Hope takes an honest look at the brokenness of the world around us.

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Slow

In our world today speed and efficiency is prized above almost everything else. Technology has allowed us to speed the pace of our lives and to accomplish more in a 24 hour day than would have ever been thought possible in the past. While we celebrate this is our culture, we are starting to feel the emotional and spiritual fatigue that comes from living at this pace.

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Consume

Years ago, when my kids were still small, we spent an afternoon at the Mall. As we left that day everyone (except for my wife) was grumpy, but especially me. The overstimulation of what was available to have and all that we had to say no to created something in me that wasn’t very pretty. I went home and wrote this little poem. I still find it to be true…

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Rejection

I’ve been around the church for my whole life and one thing I have always found to be true is that when people feel a sense of religious/spiritual rejection it is a very deep and painful wound, often one that lasts for years and years. It’s a wound which often leads people to hate and resist the very thing that they are being drawn to.

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Gift

I find the same is often true of me. I head into my day on mental autopilot, with my to do list and the expectations of people moving me forward much like the puppeteer manipulates his marionette. All of my actions simply become reactions to things that are already pushing and driving me in a given direction. I am beginning to realize that this type of life doesn’t leave any space to recognize the gifts of God…

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Exile

I’ve been reading through Ezra this week and this morning I read the riveting 2nd chapter. Let me give you a sample of what you will find there…

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