Morning has broken

Sunday, February 29, 2004

In our back yard




For Dads

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden (1913-1980)




So, this morning at 9:15 we are ready to start the worship practice at church and I get called to the phone. It's one of my daughters asking if I can end practice and come pick her up and take her to Walmart so she can get some sandals for church. Seriously.

What do you do with that?!?



just loaves and fish

This weekend Laura was gone to the ladies/girls/women's retreat. Along with her went a good chunk of the other ladies from church, including the pianist, the organist and the recorder player, over half the worship team.

I'm not too proud to say I was a little afraid, ... ok, alot afraid.

I had Matt on Bass or Electric, whatever we needed, Steve on the Acoustic guitar, who's been playin about a year, and Chris on the drums. They really stepped up and they owned the day. Steve played with a look of terror on his face, Chris hit most of his runs and fill-ins beautifully, and Matt carried the crew.

We worshiped, and He came. He took our meager offerings and fed people with them.

Sometimes its good to be weak and unable, and to know it.




Friday, February 27, 2004

I've not been on this side of the computer for about a week now, and the general reason is business/absolute tiredness. And I haven't wanted to come on here and complain, or melt down...

It began last week at the CBC Board meetings. It was alot of hard hard work at these meetings, dealing with thousands of dollars and financing etc. Not esp. my greatest strength, and that means I need to focus and concentrate all the more, so that I know exactly what I'm supporting and setting direction for.

I got back late/early Sunday morning and went into the service where the cameras were rolling (See here).

It was a great day, Godwise, His presence really filled the place and he was speaking to us. It was good.

Then I crashed for the afternoon, and was in bed asleep by 11pm.

The week has included a major activity each day, and night, to the point that Micah's giving up asking me each night if I have a meeting or can we hang out a bit.

Anyway, a good, but overfull week, you know?

And tonight Lauralea is off to the Ladies retreat, so I'm Dad, really!! I'll be getting ready for Sunday, tomorrow, and with the ladies gone, we may have a guitar as the worship team!!


To tired to sleep kinda tired, and I'm starting to ramble. 

PS. We also got word tonight that an extended family member has got Cancer, in the lungs. Crap.




Urgent prayer request?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I recieved this email tonight. Just breaks my heart.

Tonight, in our warm safe homes, let's remember those poor blighters in British Columbia.


-----Original Message-----

Here is a photo of the damage from the terrible coastal storm that passed through Victoria last week.  Most people stayed home and most schools were cancelled.  It really makes you cherish what you have, and reminds us not to take life for granted.

Following picture is quite graphic and may not be suitable for younger viewers



Thanks Phil, I'm on it!


The Passion of the Christ

Bob Smietana over at is reviewing the Gibson film, The Passion. He writes:

There´s a heart-wrenching scene about two-thirds of the way through Mel Gibson´s "The Passion of the Christ." Mary (played by Maia Morgenstern) has been trying to get close to her son since he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane.

Now she´s waiting on the way to Calvary, hoping to see her son. Suddenly, she turns her head, unable to bear his suffering. John beckons her, but she can´t bear to look.

Then there´s a crash - Jesus (played by James Cavazel) has fallen. The cross is too heavy, and Jesus too beaten down to carry it.

The film flashes back to when Jesus was 4 or 5 years old, and falls down while playing. The young boy Jesus cries out. Mary picks him up and comforts him. "I´m here," she says, "I´m here."

Suddenly, we cut back to Mary in Jerusalem. She rushes to Jesus´ side. "I´m here, I´m here," she says, touching his face as the Roman soldier haul Jesus up and take him away.

The Passion is filled with scenes of remarkable emotion like that.


...That´s why all the talk about the Passion being "the most important outreach event in 2000 years" as it´s been called misses the point. This is a film meant as worship, not as outreach. As devotion, not evangelism.

Good line.
Whenever it does get to Prince Albert, I think Lauralea and I will go see it.



Lord Have Mercy

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Jesus I've forgotten the Words that You have spoken.
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim.
With a doubting heart I follow the paths of earthly wisdom.
Forgive me for my unbelief; renew the fire again
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

I have built an altar where I worship things of man.
I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from You.
Now I am returning to your mercies ever flowing.
Pardon my transgressions; help me love You again.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

I have longed to know You and Your tender mercies
Like a river of forgiveness, ever-flowing without end.
I bow my heart before You in the goodness of your presence;
Your grace forever shining, like a beacon in the night.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

Words and music by Steve Merkel


Still alive

Yeah, I'm still here!

Just been trying to catch up from the weekend, and need to get ahead of the week to come.

Patience is still a virtue!!



Saturday, February 21, 2004

It's nearly 1:30 am and I'm home, safe and sound.

Well, safe anyway.



Off to Calgary

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Well I'm off.

Pray for my head, that it won't explode.

Pray for my seat, that it won't go numb from sitting.

Pray for my driving, 7 hours alone, in winter/spring on the Prairies, at night.




Let's welcome a new sponsor

Tuesday, February 17, 2004



This week's blogging is brought to you by...


The guys down at sure are a creative bunch!







Rebecca St. James - Don't Worry -

Monday, February 16, 2004
Just sitting here reading, and this great song comes on...

On the corner of Fifth and Broadway

I was walking to the grocery store on Third

I saw a man up on a box

He seemed a little unorthodox

He was preaching up a storm

I passed on by and he said

Don't worry about your life

Cause if you hold it too close you'll lose it

Don't worry about your life

So won't you let go

Before it's gone

A little further on I saw a beggar on the street

He asked for change and then gives me his life story

Says he was a millionaire, made some bad decisions there

Now a dollar fifty would feed him for a week

And he said

Don't worry about your life

Cause if you hold it too close you'll lose it

Don't worry about your life

So won't you let go

Before it's gone

Then I see the birds

I watch them fly

They've got everything they need

They show me why I can be free

Knowing You will care for me

Finally at the grocery store

My mind is filled with many thoughts

As I bump into a girl I knew from high school

She said 'What's different about you girl?'

And I smiled and said this is what I know is true

And I pass it right along to you

Don't worry about your life

Cause if you hold it too close you'll lose it

Don't worry about your life

So won't you let go

Before it's gone


Friends, supper, and hangin out

We went to Saskatoon today, trying to catch up with my folks. We haven't visited with them since christmas time, so we went in for lunch.

I stopped in at the big book store and picked up a copy of my favourite mag which they had been holding for me, Classic FM. I love the reading and it comes with a great CD.

Then we got back to P.A. in time to get Johanna to work at Zellers for a 4pm shift, and we headed to some friends for supper.

It was a nice laid back evening. I was planning to be out of there by 8pm, but, well we just got home and it's after 10pm. Thanks guys for a good evening.

One reason we were late was cause the kids are out of school this week. Winter break it's called, and it's going to be a great time to clean rooms and catch up on homework!!

Gonna be a weird week for me too. I've got to get everything ready for Sunday before Wednesday night. Thursday I'm heading to CBC (Covenant Bible College) just outside of Calgary, for some board meetings. The meetings are Friday and Saturday, then I drive back Saturday night, about 7 or 8 hours. I'm really reeeeeally hoping the weather will be nice for me, so I can get back in decent time.

Next Sunday, Radio Canada ( The French "Canadian Broadcasting Corp".) wants to come into our service to take some video for a story they are doing on cross cultural adoptions. We have a family who were missionaries in the Congo, and they have adopted kids, so the story is about them. Thankfully it's not about us (The Church) but you do want to put you're best foot forward when company comes...

So, it may be a crazy week round here, but it started off nicely tonight with friends, food, and relationship.



Random Audio

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Since I received my Ipaq some time ago, I have taken to recording various audio clips that are interesting to me. Call it a personality quirk or some such thing, but I gather little bits of life, in audio form.

This has resulted in a small collection of audio, that takes me back in time whenever I listen to it. Clips of my kids in their school and church productions, of my daughters singing and playing at the Music Festival, clips of life in our house as I would turn it on and walk away.

But I also have clips of places and times that rush me right back to those places.

So I opened the vault and here are a couple of those clips. The one's that take me back to a place and time.

These were all recorded in Chicago a couple of years ago, Feb. 02 I believe.

These two were recorded in the El (Subway) on the Blue Line, downtown. Some of the coolest sounds and music can be made in the weirdest places.

Here is a clip of a guy singing "I'm going to make it with you" (842kbs) by Bread. Pretty cool sound.

And here is a guy singing the Beatles, "Yesterday." (667kbs) You've never heard it like this. 

Over here is a short clip from the Jazz club I like, "Andy's." (776kbs) This one was recorded the night some of Frank Sinatra's old band members were playing. Halfway through the evening, Nancy "These boots were made for walkin" Sinatra, came in and sat at the table next to mine.

To Cool.



She's got a new outfit

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Linea's sporting a new look, and I'm jealous. It's looking hot.

I gotta get me some colour around here too.

Now, where are my shades...



Another voice is heard in Bloggsville

Well, Bob Smietana has finally given in to the force, he's entered Blogdom, with a bang.

You can find his blog over at

Bob is the features editor for the award winning Covenant Companion magazine.

I met him at his office a year ago, while I was in Chicago.

Check him out, he's a good writer. Much better than me. Ahem, I mean much better than "I"



Brennan Manning quoting M. Basil Pennington on prayer

Let us suppose you give your three-year-old daughter a coloring book and box of crayons for her birthday. The following day, with the proud smile only a little one can muster, she presents her first pictures for inspection. She has colored the sun black, the grass purple, and the sky green. In the lower right-hand corner, woozy wonders of floating slabs and hovering rings: on the left, a panoply of colorful, carefree squiggles. You marvel at her bold strokes and intuit that her psyche is railing against it´s own cosmic puniness in the face of a big, ugly world. Later at the office, you share with your staff your daughters first artistic effort and you make veiled references to the early work of Van Gogh.

A little child cannot do a bad coloring; nor can a child of God do a bad prayer. "A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off her toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds his little one close to him, he cares little whether the child is looking around, her attention flitting from one thing to another, or just settling down to sleep. Essentially the child is choosing to be with her father, confident of the love, the care, the security that is hers in those arms. Our prayer is much like that. We settle down in our Father´s arms, in his loving hands. Our mind, our thoughts, our imagination may flit about here and there; we might even fall asleep; but essentially we are choosing for this time to remain intimately with our Father, giving ourselves to him, receiving his love and care, letting him enjoy us as he will. It is very simple prayer. It is very childlike prayer. It is prayer that opens us out to all the delights of the kingdom."



"Winter storm blows across Saskatchewan"

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Yeah. that was the heading here. And that was the weather in Prince Albert, Full blowing blizzard. A good day for a prairie funeral. This was the view from our living room, later on in the afternoon.

It went ok. Just the immediate family went to the graveside and stood out on that lone prairie hill. Man it was cold and blowing out there. We were given the opportunity to have the service in the little shelter nearby, but kindly rejected it, in favor of seeing him to his final resting place.

There we stood, backs to the wind, standing close together, trying to create some shelter for the stillness, the realization to settle in.

And we didn't linger long, but returned to the Legion for coffee and a light lunch and some memories.

A classic prairie funeral, for a prairie pioneer.



Cold Tuesday for a funeral

On Saturday, the 94 year old husband of one of our ladies passed away.

He couldn't hear or see, but his mind was clear, right up to the end. On Friday he said his good-bye's, and by late Friday night he was gone.

So, today I am helping the family say goodbye, and say thanks to God for him.

He never did attend church, at least while I've been here, but God knows all these things.

I had a good visit with him on Thursday, and he really seemed much improved. But I guess every life has a "Best By" date.

So, today in the howling wind and blowing snow and cold, I'll stand with them, and help them say Good Bye.




Sunday, February 08, 2004

When somebody starts a conversation with "I hate to complain, but..." you know it won't go anywhere but.



Havin fun

I've just been having alot of fun the past few days. In a few of my spare moments I've been working on Linea's page template, trying to take those creative ideas of hers and put code behind them so they work.

Creativity meets Code, that's where I like to live.

I'll let you know when it's ready.

Oh, and you MozillaFirebird users are a hard to please people you know that?



It's hard not to have a cow when...

It's hard not to have a cow when you are leading worship and your daughter is BGV'ing and working the overheads, but she has a number of "Senior Moments" where she isn't there, in her head at least, and she forgets to put up the next overhead.

For an anal guy it's just hard, you know??

P.S. Yes, we're still using overheads.

P.P.S. Yes, I am glad she wants to help like she does!

P.P.P.S. BGV = Back Ground Vocals



Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, February 07, 2004

 "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."



Psalm 36

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.

They have no fear of God to restrain them.

In their blind conceit,

they cannot see how wicked they really are.

Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.

They refuse to act wisely or do what is good.

They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.

Their course of action is never good.

They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;

your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your justice like the ocean depths.

You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!

All humanity finds shelter

in the shadow of your wings.

You feed them from the abundance of your own house,

letting them drink from your rivers of delight.

For you are the fountain of life,

the light by which we see.


Hangin in

Friday, February 06, 2004

Well, I really thought I was over the flu, but, maybe not.

Lauralea is sick with it, and Thomas has been home all week. I thought I was much better these days, then came last night.

From 4 am till dawn I was in the washroom... Lets just say that the tv comercial where the guy is sitting in a hot tub between two beautiful women and has to get out because he forgot his Imodium, ISN'T funny anymore.

Today has been some real good visits with some people, interspersed with aches and pains and bathroom breaks.

Presently the room is spinning, but just a bit.

Every person for themselves...


Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thursday, February 05, 2004

We had a great time last night at our small group meeting. It's all good these days!!

But this was the deep lesson for us, as we realized our ability to deceive even ourselves...

The letter of James counsels: Confess your sins to one another. This salutary practice aims to guide us in accepting ownership of our ragamuffin status, but as Dietrich Bonhoffer noted, "He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!"

At Sunday worship, as in every dimension of our existence, many of us pretend to believe we are sinners. Consequently, all we can do is pretend to believe we have been forgiven. As a result, our whole spiritual life is pseudo-repentance and pseudo-bliss.




Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Good quote over at Jordon's. (The quote meister)

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a buildling filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it. - Dee Hock



Wish i had the nerve

Luke Phillips reminds us what it is to be young, and Australian...

Four youths from Canberra, Australia pulled off a trick of breathtaking bravado in order to gain revenge on a mobile speed camera van operating in the area. Three of the group approached the van and distracted the operator's attention by asking a series of questions about how the equipment worked and how many cars the operator could catch in a day.

Meanwhile, the fourth musketeer sneaked to the front of the van and unscrewed its numberplate. After bidding the van operator good-bye, the friends returned home, fixed the number plate to their car and drove through the camera's radar at high speed - 17 times. As a result, the automated billing system issued 17 speeding tickets to itself.




Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Along with the whole having a computer available to me, in the living room, I do want to have my MSN on more than I have in the past.

You can reach me at Just change the AT into an @ sign.

Send me a Message, and if I'm here I'll talk back. 



Blogging from the living room

Well, here's an update on the whole office computer meltdown thing.

I began to do a rebuild on all the software for that old 150 I was using at the office. When someone from church heard of my plight and donated their old one to the church, for my office. It's a 300, twice my old speed, so I'm crusin now.

Meanwhile, my old 150 seems to be holding together, though it's very slow. So I brought it home to let the kids use to type their homework on, etc. I set it up in the living room because I didn't want them in the same room trying to do homework on two computers, at the same time.

Then late one night I had an idea to get a wireless router and see if I could get the net working on that old computer in the living room. I uesd the last of my christmas money to buy a WiFi, and voila! I'm sittin on the floor, in the living room, looking out at the blowing snow and ice fog. And some kid is on the computer downstairs working away. Not bad at all.

Thanks again granpa and granma for the christmas money.




All the family females are sitting around me in the living room talking Breast sizes.

This is not something a father should have to hear.

Fingers in ears, (join me, nice and loud) LA LA LA LA LA


Six Down

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Six years ago today we began our ministry here at GCC in Prince Albert. Six full years.

It's hard to believe we've come as far as we have in that time. And, looking back I am glad that God did make the calling to this place and people as clear as he did.

The church had gone through some most difficult circumstances in the previous years. The denominational Bible school which had been in Prince Albert for many many years, was moved to Alberta in the mid 1990's. This took out so many of the leaders and younger families, that it seemed to gut the middle cross section of families here.

This vacuum created tension and struggle; who would be the new leaders?

Add to this the recent past of a pastor who had been unfaithful to his marriage vows and his calling, and you have a group of people who are hurting and broken.

I remember my first year here was mostly about shell shock. I remember many leadership meetings I had to attend to. It seemed that everybody was involved in leadership in some way or another. There wasn't trust in people, but more of a sense that "I have to be involved in the leadership so that the other group wouldn't get it's way" kind of thing.

I remember people yelling at the meetings, and I mean yelling. I recall people walking out on meetings out of anger and frustration. I recall this thick air of tension as people would rise to speak, or just start speaking out of turn. I remember Annual meetings that had to take all day.

I remember how small groups would form around certain issues, and they would begin to meet and plan and strategize ways that they could accomplish their agenda.

These are the things I feel free to share, because they are common knowledge to our church. I won't mention the hundreds of contacts a pastor has that are even more stressful than these public times.

I read through minutes and talked with previous pastors. I read the history, looking for clues. I became a student of these people and their history. What I saw didn't surprise me.

I saw that over the past 50 years, three Covenant churches had joined together, or been forced to join together out of necessity. I saw that only two pastors in those fifty years, in those three churches, had ever stayed longer than nine years. And that the average stay of the pastors had been three years.

It was like a child that had been hoisted around from foster home to foster home.

That's when God showed me that if I was to make any difference here, I would have to stay for a long time. He told me to love them. That was all. No big plan to grow a large numbers church. No great insight into solving all the problems, just to love them.  And He did say not to expect a lot of new people for a long time.

I was a bit miffed. That sounded too easy, too simple. (Laugh here!!)

So, I worked hard to love them. I tried to bless them, to encourage them. I didn't join sides but tried to walk and live in the middle of the DMZ, the no man's land. I tried to show them Jesus, and how to love him, thinking that if they could love him and grow closer to him, they would grow closer to each other, and experience the healing that comes from loving God.

I tried to encourage trust in people, more than systems and structures. I emphasized relationships over programs, having coffee with someone over sitting in a business meeting. And we have worked hard at loving them.

The results have been, good.

I would love to say it's all done a 180, that it's all better and the past is past. But if I could say that I'd probably be tempted to write a book and a video series on how to get your church whole, by Randall Friesen, and do seminars in warm climates. That's the kind of schmuck I am!!

But, I am enjoying the ride. I love walking with people through the rhythms of life and death. I love showing them Jesus. I love seeing them get whole, and healthy. I do really love them.

And before you even ponder for a second the thought; "What a good man", or "What a faithful pastor," let me assure you of my fickleness.

I am by nature a very impatient man, just ask my children. Any patience you experienced from me came to you direct from heaven. And I don't find it easy to express my love and affection, ask my wife! (Well maybe sometimes!!) Any love you felt from me came to you from God's own heart, just for you.

And my impatient heart dies a thousand deaths each week as I seek to challenge you to go deeper with Him, to not get hung up on the incidentals.

Not everyone has enjoyed my approach. Some wanted a powerful leader with a big stick to come in and clean house. The kicker is that those who like that approach are often the one's who would need to be the first to be "Cleaned up." :-)  Some didn't like me not choosing their side of things, and I understand that. But, the most painful of all, is that some choose to remain in their brokenness. By so doing, they reject healing, and life, and yes, even forgiveness.

So, some have left, some have considered me a failure, and some continue to try!  Even today, as we worshiped God and he was present in some amazing power, some challenged me that we are heading in the wrong direction, and that my leadership is quite ineffective.

I suspect they are right. If the plan of God for this church was to grow big and large with lots of people and programs and a budget that reaches the world, we have utterly failed.

But if the plan of God is life and health and peace and hope and plans for a future, then I think we are doing ok. If He desires truth in our hearts, and grace in our relationships, we are moving in the right directions.

And, apart from the shots across my bow, and occasionally through my skin, I really do love it here. There is a level of contentment in my often discontented heart, and I'll enjoy the fruit God gives me.

So, let me remind you to pray for those who pastorally care for you. Depending on the situation, they often grapple with issues that many know nothing of.

Oh, and do something nice for your pastor. Take them out for lunch, or buy him or her an Ipaq or the latest U2 DVD, so that she can crank it up, and forget a few of the days events.

And enjoy being blessed, that God loves you enough to put someone in your life who will love you, with skin on.


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