Being a Pastor

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
After a nasty sleepless night, and a stomach that is swirling, up before dawn for early guys prayer, I'm heading to Red Deer to provide some pastoral care.

Then back for a staff meeting.
Then maybe a nap.
Then three board meetings.

Today I am weak and vulnerable.
Just the perfect condition for God to have lots of room to work.

O Lord open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.



Deep but good thoughts for me for a Friday.

Friday, March 01, 2019
The vote this week by the United Methodists showed clear lines of division between the African, Filipino, and Russian parts of the church and the more western, Americanised church. Those are generally poorer areas of the world that have experienced great humilities in life.

I was wondering this morning if its our wealth and sense of entitlement that causes us to come at scripture differently in many things. That the poorer places of the world come at scriptures differently than those of us who have much and suffered little.

Then I came across this talk by Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, Dean of Gbarnga School of Theology, United Methodist University in Liberia, from last Saturday.
Unfortunately, some United Methodists in the U.S. have the very faulty assumption that all Africans are concerned about is U.S. financial support. Well, I am sure, being sinners like all of you, some Africans are fixated on money.
But with all due respect, a fixation on money seems more of an American problem than an African one. We get by on far less than most Americans do; we know how to do it. I’m not so sure you do. So if anyone is so na├»ve or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us.
We are seriously joyful in following Jesus Christ and God’s holy word to us in the Bible. And in truth, we think many people in the U.S. and in parts of Europe could learn a great deal from us. The UM churches, pastors and lay people who partner with us acknowledge as much.
He continues;
Friends, not too long ago my country was ravaged by a terrible civil war. And then we faced the outbreak of the Ebola virus. We are keenly familiar with hardship and sorrow, but Jesus has led us through every trial. So nothing that happens over the next few days will deter us from following Him, and Him alone.

This is something to ponder. How has my approach to money shaped my thinking and formed how I read the scriptures.

I need to sit with this a while. There is something there for me to learn.


If You Are as Tired of it All as I Am

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
This morning my tired eyes fell upon the exact right reading for my weary spirit.

With two different prominent interviews happening today, one in Canada and one in America, and British politicians voting again today on the swirling flush that is Brexit.

With the vote yesterday the United Methodists aren't united at all.  (Seems either you "Don't follow scripture" or you "Don't love people.")

Seems that the world is a much sadder place this week and it looks as though the church is following right along, step by step in its behaviour.

My internal struggle the past two weeks has been with the injustices, and with the quickness to judgement evidenced out there. I am told more and more by the world and the broader church, just how I should behave and act, what I should believe and renounce, how I need to choose right now who my friends should and shouldn't be, and on and on.

So I've just about had it with people who have world views from other parts of the world and who expect me to have the same world view as they do. I've nearly heard enough from people who say these people are right and those people are wrong and on which side are you?

And yes, had enough of contextless opinions some share at me thinking that in their volume they will convince me of the rightness of their thinking or worse yet, their feeling on a matter.

Deep sigh.

So this morning I went where I need to go, and I came across the right medicine for my broken spirit.

Psalm 12
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by an eight-stringed instrument.

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
    The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other,
    speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
    and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
    Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”
The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
    and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
    as they have longed for me to do.”
The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
    even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land.


God's got this. It doesn't surprise him, doesn't catch him unaware.
He knows about it all.

This is my prayer
This is His answer.

So today I will follow His promises and not the news reports.
I will pray and study and go to meet with people who are needing a bit of encouragement themselves.

And I will remember pastor Pauls challenge:

"...one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."        Philippians 4:8


Good morning.




When Hope Fails

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
When Hope Fails

I was talking with someone who has decided not to hope any more. “Why?” I asked. “Because when the hope is unfulfilled, it hurts too much, so it’s better not to hope.”

There’s something wrong with that. But I understand it.

Proverbs 13:12
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
“but when dreams come true, there is life and joy”

I want to talk about hope a bit today. And I want to start in the Psalms.

Psalm 33:13-22
13 The LORD looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don't count on your warhorse to give you victory-- for all its strength, it cannot save you.

God has a wonderful perspective of us and our little things. Nothing is hidden from his eternal, creating eyes.

He is able to see the whole human race, every heart, every mind, every one of our thousand secrets.

He’s able to see your motivations, that indeed you meant well even if it didn’t come out as you had hoped.

He created the hearts of men and women, to beat and beat and beat and give them life and breath. And Hopes and Dreams.

So, it says, “He understands”. Like no one else in creation.

He understands our desires. He understands our wishes. He understands our hopes. He understands our dreams.

He understands, and wants to remind us that sometimes our perspective isn’t great. Sometimes we can only see from here to the other side of the room. He see’s into eternity.

See, we often place our hope in the wrong things.

He reminds us...
A powerful army isn’t strong enough for a king. A good horse won’t give you victory, it can’t save you.

Strength won’t save us, neither will might.

The health system, blessed as we are to have it, won’t save us.
The government can’t save us.

We place our hopes in these powerless things.

We hope in due process. In the legal system.
We hope in our money, to provide a way out.
We hope in others to help us out.
We hope a relationship will work out.
We hope for a great job.
We hope in our children to make the right choices.
We hope for great presents.
We hope in our parents, to be perfect.
We hope that the pastor will have some answers.
We hope to roll up the rim and win!

Yet John 16:33 says "In me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world."

Take Heart!

What happens when our strength isn’t enough? When our armies fail and our warhorses are not enough? What happens when hope fails and is deferred?

Lets continue in Psalm 33

18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.

Remember the one who’s perspective is from eternity?
The one who see’s everyone, who knows your heart?

He says he will watch over those who respect Him.

Those of you who rely on his unfailing love.
He will rescue you from the anguish of death. He will keep you from eternal death, and provide you with eternal life.

And, he will keep you as you live through seasons of famine. Not just physical hunger, but emotional hunger, spiritual dryness.

He won’t always stop the famine from coming, but he is able to keep you alive through it!!!

He won’t always stop the illness, or the poverty, or the joblessness, or the dryness. But he can keep you alive through it.

He will walk with you through the hopelessness. Through the heartsickness of unanswered hope.

You see, often we place our hopes in the things that can’t save us. In the temporary things that we can’t change. In our power and might.

We may even place our hope in Christ to change the story, the situation, yet that may not be the very best for us.

When our hope is deferred...
When it feels like God has not heard us...

We have 2 choices.

1. Get bitter
-Get angry. At God and humanity. And yourself.
-Never hope again because it always fails you anyway.

Or

2. Trust in God. Refocus your hope.

Remember, the one who loves you, who knows you, who made you.
When hope fails, we need to raise it up a level.

PSALM 33
20 We depend on the LORD alone to save us.
Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we are trusting in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.

When our only hope is in man’s strength and ability, and that fails, it means we’ve been aiming to low. We need to lift our focus higher.

Only He can help us. Only He can protect us as life goes on all around us.

Because our hearts rejoice in him. They find life and meaning in knowing Him.

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a friend who had been ill for some time.
1970's heart attack. Heart disease for years.
Put on a heart transplant list, became too ill for that.

As he was dying, and his human hope was deferred a final time, he was able to rejoice and be glad. Because he knew the one who knew him. He trusted in God and his heart rejoiced.

For his family too. The funeral was a real, true celebration of hope. And Gods faithfulness through life and in death.

This is how it is possible for those who have experienced tremendous brokenness and hopelessness, to actually rejoice and be glad. Because they knew the maker of their hearts.

Where is your true hope? In the things of this earth? Or in the things of Heaven?

Have you had hope deferred, even by God? He who knows and created your human heart understands.

Lift up your eyes, your broken hearts.
Trust the one with the higher perspective. Trust in God.






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