Daily reading. Bright Lights in a Dark City

Phil 2:12-18
Bright Lights in a Dark City


There is a small elderly lady in our Church who has a citywide reputation. Auntie Florence is meek and gentle, caring and loving. She never complains and she's always involved and active, helping the less fortunate.  Her example shines in this city. The community notices her and holds her up as a good example of what a Christian should be like.


Both she and Paul challenge me to live in a way that makes a difference. The light of God that shines in them shines in me too. Its God's light. When that light is held up against the darkness of the day, people see it and notice. And in seeing they have another chance to choose life, with God in it.


Today as you go out into your regular activities, consider how you shine, that the world might see your example, and be drawn to Christ.


Father, today grant us eyes to see ourselves as the world does. Renew your Glory within us, that we might live brightly. Amen.

Witchcraft, I'm sure of it

Ok, I've been 'tagged' by Christy.


The rules:


1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same.


My 23rd blog is dated Saturday, September 28, 2002.


The sentence closest to the 5th sentence is this:


"Here we go."


 


Now what? Is it suppose to tell me some deep secret about my love life or something?

Well, the week ends with a bit more hope than it began

Been praying lots these days and, surprise surprise, there seems reason to hope.


The friend we've been praying for, whose been in a drug induced coma for two weeks, seems to be improving. We get daily updates, and it seems that as soon as you get two steps ahead you back off on the praying, things take a step back. So you up the prayer dosage, and things start to improve again. (Learn your lesson once Friesen!)


And, some of the other major things we continue to pray about seem to be offering us reason to hope.


So, it's better tonight than it was seven days ago, that's for sure.


Tonight we as a church are embarking on a weekend discussion on Stewardship. We are bringing in a friend to help us talk this challenge through, so tonight and tomorrow we'll be busy, growing!


Monday I'm off to Calgary for meetings for a few days. I think that will be good as Lauralea gets to go with me. I believe we are staying in the mountains. (Hopefully the house sitters will mow the lawn hint hint!)


Then, today I received a commission to photograph a new contemporary apartment here in town, which will be ready for occasional rentals. It will be on the web later on too. That's kind of a cool fun thing. 


So, all in all, I'd say it's good.


Thanks for your prayers now and then. They do make the difference, really.

Daily reading. A Basic Approach To Life

Philippians 2:1-11
A Basic Approach To Life


In a warped human way we are respected for what we do. Compare a doctor versus a gas station attendant -- somehow we know who is to receive more of our respect.


Into this human hierarchy comes Jesus, who gives up everything and makes himself nothing. Taking on the form of a servant, he did not demand his rights but gave them up. Even when he was being taken to the cross he could have demanded justice or killed all the authorities there,
but he did not. Instead he went through an agonizing death.


What's amazing is that he asks us to do the same.


We want our way and our rights honored. Jesus says have the attitude of a servant.


Christ's ministry happened on this earth when he gave up his rights and position. Christ's ministry still happens on this earth when we give up our rights and positions to serve others.


Father, we have so much that it's sometimes hard to give it up. Grant us strength to become servants, that we might be like you. Amen.

How Not to Wake me up in the Morning

"THE TOILET IS OVERFLOWING ALL OVER THE PLACE."

Daily reading. True Greatness

Matthew 20:20-28
True Greatness


When I was in college there was one staff member who made a huge impact on the students. She lived her faith in front of everybody, and taught us from God's word. She would pray for us and hug us and let us watch hockey on her color TV. She was the cook.


She also cared for her elderly mother, and her husband who was in the final stages of Alzheimer's. Hers was not an easy life, but I think I learned more about life, love, and ministry from her than my classes.


So many of Christ's ideas are the opposite of human wisdom. Do you want to be great? Become a servant. Do you want to touch lives? You don't need a lengthy education to do it.


If you want to make an impact on the community around you, become it's servant. Act as Christ did. He, "Did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


God, we receive this word this day. Help us to become truly great people. Amen.

Autumn in Prince Albert

Autumn in Prince Albert 2

Just uploaded some pics of Autumn happening here in P.A.


Beautiful days indeed.


 


 

Well, I am about to attempt something I have not tried in many many years

I'm going for a physical.


Yes, at the tender age of 42 I'm going in for a check up. My first in, I dunno, to many years.


Starting to get a bit of mileage on the ole chassis and I should get things checked out, just to be sure.


Bit of cancer in the lineage, and a few heart things back there too, so because the heartburn has been steadily increasing, she whom I love has made me an appointment.


I'm usually pleased with my general health. Lot's of guys I've known have had a difficult go at it, even by age 40.


Let's just keep all the fingers and bits crossed shall we? 


UPDATE:


Well, he seems a nice enough man, and he is painstaking in his efforts.


We worked through a complete family history and my personal medical history, which didn't take a lot of time. Then he talked about his philosophy of Doctoring, which I agreed with. Good, both on the same page.


Then he started to list off the tests he would like to do, before we meet again. He wanted blood, but as I hadn't conveniently fasted for the previous 12 hours, that would be next to impossible. So tonight I'll work on the fasting.


Well then the nurse, or receptionist or technician, whatever, wanted me to make a donation into a jar. Hmm. I distinctly remember going to the bathroom before I went to the Doctors office, so I wouldn't have to excuse myself. (See, it has been a long time since I've been to the Doctors!!).


She quite sternly insisted that I produce something, anything should be enough. Talk about pressure. But hey, what do you know, I can pee under pressure. That's a good thing to know, just in case.


I was most apprehensive about the prostrate exam. (I don't want anything there that wasn't meant to be there, know what I mean?) But the doctor put me at ease quite nicely. He said they would test it digitally. I think it's probably some kind of ultrasound thing.


So tomorrow I go for blood work, next week I get the digital exam, and then he'll tell me to loose some weight, eat better, and exercise more. And I'll see him again in another 20 years.


easy peasy.

Me this morning upon leaving my house at 6 am

Hmm, I wonder what's that white stuff on ...my ...windshield ...


Oh crap.


I remember now. Ice. I need to scrape it off.


I don't know where my gloves are.


I don't know where my scraper is.


I may have to use my debit card to scrape it off.


(Rummage beneath the drivers seat...)


Ah, yeaaaah, my gloves ...and my window scraper!!!


Now I remember, this is the part of Autumn I hate.


The. Coming. Cold.

Daily reading. The View From Here

Philippians 1:27-30
The View From Here


When I used to make pizzas for a living, I was always discouraged. All I would see was the lousy job I had. Then God changed my perspective. I saw that I was learning patience and faithfulness. I was learning to work with some very difficult people, and hey, I was making some awesome pizzas.


Sometimes we get that way in life. We see the daily grind and it isn't fair or hopeful. We don't stop to check our perspective.  Paul reminds us that this world is not our home. Our citizenship is held by another world -heaven.


We are citizens and representatives of heaven, so we should act like  it! But we should also remember that we are going to that place. Yes there are hardships here. Injustice will happen to you and hardships will happen too. But they are not forever, they are temporary.


Remember that. Look up and see where you are headed.


Father, thank you for preparing a place for us. Please prepare us for your place. Amen.

"Would you believe..." he's dead?

82 year old Don Adams died late Sunday night of a lung infection.


A couple of weeks ago it was Bob Denver, otherwise known as Gilligan, and now it's Maxwell Smart. All these stars of my childhood are passing. Suppose that means we are all getting older.


I still occasionally watch both shows with the boys. They think they are great.


Makes me feel like a kid again.


via. Brad.



Daily reading. Blessed Assurance

Philippians 1:21-26
Blessed Assurance


In the movie Wit, Emma Thompson's character movingly portrays what it's like to face the ravages of terminal cancer. The Doctors carry on the fight against death without the perspective of faith. Death is the enemy to be fought at every turn, and they fight hard, although sometimes the patient is their victim.


Paul's attitude towards death is different. He understands that death is a defeated foe. It's still the enemy, but it's a defeated enemy. Jesus Christ conquered death and said, "I hold the keys to death and Hades."  Death had no power over him.  Nor will it have power over those who are in Christ.


For those of us who believe on the Lord Jesus, who have received his forgiveness for their sins, death will one day be powerless too. So we can say with Paul, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


Father, thank you for the peace that has been provided through Christ's death and resurrection. Thank you that we can face any trial, even death, with calm assurance. Amen.

Goodnight My Angel

The house is finally quiet and there's a quality to the stillness that rejuvenates my soul. After a long weekend following a very long week, I need this silence. The pain I saw on a number of fronts these past seven days was enough to make me want to give up on the human race.

Tonight I was thinking about the babies who grow up to be adults who do unbelievable things. I was thinking of the babies who have had to live through those unbelievable things too.

They all start out as babies who need love and care in their lives. Some of them don't get it. Some of them break. And some of them seem ok and grow older, then they break.

In the midst of all this "thinking," this song starts playing on the computer.


Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies go on and on...
They never die
That's how you
And I
Will be

Billy Joel



Sometimes life is just unfair to the children.

Daily reading. God's Extravagant Love is Humbling

Exodus 17:1-7
God's Extravagant Love is Humbling


When I was out of work and money was tight, things were getting really difficult, Lauralea was pregnant and our food was gone. One morning I was all out of faith. We had prayed, and where was God.


Then the doorbell rang. An elderly gentleman from church was there to take me grocery shopping. I went with him, carefully selecting a few basic items. Returning to the checkout he looked at my cart and shook his head saying; "That's not enough." And we went around again, with him filling my cart. Ice Cream and chocolate sauce, pickles, soups, vegetables and fruit. I was overwhelmed by his generosity, and humbled by God's provision through him.


How quickly we forget the extravagance of God's love for us. In spite of our complaining and worrying, he loves us enough to hear our cry for mercy. And when he applies his great provision to our tiny need, we are silenced.


Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. Show us again your great provision, and thank you for all you've given us. Amen.

Daily reading. The Beginnings of Humility

This week the publication The Covenant Home Altar will be running a collection of devotionals I wrote for them. I'm including them here, just incase nothing else profound happens.


If you've read the magazine and are checking this place out as a result, hey make yourself at home. Take your shoes off and stay awhile. (I suppose that shoe thing is for Canadian and Japanese readers only. I don't think a lot of other cultures encourage shoe removal when you enter their homes.)





Psalm 25
The Beginnings of Humility


When I was in London I visited Westminster Cathedral. As I entered into the great space, my eyes were drawn upwards into the stone and stained glass. It inspired me with awe. As I looked
down, I saw that I was standing at the foot of David Livingston's grave.


In those moments, surrounded by the graves of men and women who had done great things with their lives, standing amidst the history and beauty of the place, I was humbled. My place in this world seemed so small.


This is where we begin our week exploring humility. Psalm 25 sets us in the right place to be awestruck, the greatness of God and His provision for us, and his care for those who will seek Him.


Let us begin this week with the awe-inspiring realization that we are mere mortals, in the presence of an amazing God. May we adopt a posture of humility, receiving what God has to teach us this week.


Father, thank you for your greatness, especially your great love. Teach us your ways this week. Amen.

Definition of sad

The three eldest children are away for the weekend, and Lauralea and I are to tired to get anything going.


How lame is that.

Sigh

. . .

Like I say to anybody who wants to be a pastor; do anything else rather than being a pastor, but if God calls you, then do it well.

Seventeen

I had lunch with daughter number two today, (That's a chronological statement, not a quality one), and it was her choice to go to the Saigon River Restaurant. I always take the kids out for lunch on their birthday and the place is up to them. So today Hillary and I went out together.


Tomorrow is her birthday, but tomorrow she won't be here. Seems she's off to the big city of Edmonton (Yes, the self same city the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat on Sunday!) for a weekend of shopping. I think once she's done this trip we will have to refer to her as the traveler. She works hard, saves her money, gives a lot away to feed hungry kids, and with the rest she travels.


In spring it was with a group down to Southern California for a week. This Christmas she had everything arranged for a trip to London for five days. Till finally Lauralea and I said, "A seventeen year old girl, alone in London?  No." That finally delayed her trip for a while. Well, that and the fact that no hotel would take her reservations, being under the age of 18.


Anyway, today we had lunch. And I sat back in amazement.


These girls of ours have really blossomed into beautiful, confident ladies, in spite of me. I am so proud of them.


Hillary is planning to head off to university next year to take pharmacy.  Well, after she gets to London that is. So this year may be one of her last around here.


Whatever she does and wherever she goes she'll do alright. That's just who she is.

Night of prayer

Tonight I skipped out on our small group meeting. I felt I had some work to complete before my head hit the pillow.


The needs of Monday have been foremost in my thoughts. We've been praying since we heard them. And, unlike other requests we occasionally receive, these needs are not fading.


Today I called the person of the first request. The phone rang and rang. There was no human voice at the answer, only a tone. I wondered, were they ok? Had they found reason to hope? The tone unnerved me. I uttered a quick silent prayer. 



The person of the second prayer arrived at my office, broken. Weeping.


I sat with them as they wept. An hour of anguish poured out of their heart. I hugged them and prayed for them and wept with them. The cry of the lost is a wail. It is a deep moan that bursts out of the pit of a broken heart. 



Monday´s third request was of a friend who had given birth last week to her second son. Her life giving blood had not stopped flowing. They finally placed her in a drug induced coma to wait for a hopeful response from her body. It responded by stopping her heart twice this weekend. They were able to bring her back. Twice.  Today we received word that if her body didn't start responding within 24 hours, chances would be slim for her.   


Tonight these People were in my mind. So I headed off to pray.


I´ve been praying lately on the rise of a hill overlooking the city. I walk and pray and tonight I ended up back on top of the hill. I noticed a patch has been worn in the grass where I´ve been praying. The sun was setting and the sky had a few cloudy patches in the distance.


I prayed and listened, and prayed some more. God was there and I talked boldly, releasing the burden. One theme of my prayer blending into another into another and so on, until I saw that the night had become quite dark except for the stars that were sparkling in the black sky.


I´m not one of those persons who really puts a lot of stock in random chance. I think I´ve had too many cool coincidences to place my trust in flukes. But I don´t place my whole trust in pictures and symbols and coincidences either. They are part of an interaction between humankind and Godkind, which effects things here on earth. Prayer and symbols and coincidences give testimony to this.


I don´t claim to understand it all, nor do I always catch all the meaning in the symbols and pictures. But I do seek to be faithful, understanding that there are many mysteries out there that I will never comprehend.


He tells me to pray, so I pray, and leave it to him.


Anyway, I realized that nearly two hours had elapsed, and I felt finished so I headed down the hill giving thanks. He always does provide. Always. May not always look like what we thought it would look like, but his provision is sure.
  
It was cold out so I thought I´d stop and get some tea to warm up a bit. I only had $1.55 on me but thought I´d see how much it cost. I ordered the tea and she rang it up.


?That will be a dollar fifty five,? she said.
?Thanks? I said with a smile, more for heaven than for her.

Getting knocked around a bit?

The other night as we were driving home from the football game, I realized it was a classic Saskatchewan Autumn night.

A huge moon was rising out of the low clouds and the air was moist and full of dust. But the thing that reminded me most were the combines working the fields, trying to get the crop off in time.

Micah asked what those lights were in the fields in the night and I told him. When harvest hit's around here, it's all hands on deck and you and your family and friends work 24 hours a day running the combines and trucks so you can get the harvest off.

I got an email from a rural pastor yesterday. He wrote:

"I am looking forward to some tractor time. There is something very powerful about being out in the fields, watching the grain come out of the combines. Something spiritual. You know how it is as a pastor always trying to come up with a parallel or illustration. I was thinking about the wheat in the stalk, safe, protected in it´s sheath. But the only way the fruit, the real value of the harvest, can be collected is for the stalk to be cut down and the bejeebers knocked out of it in the combine. Only then does it let go of the kernel. The wheat kernels are collected and all the rest is discarded out the back in a cloud of dust and scattered.
Like our lives, everything seems safe, everything seems to be the way we want it to be. Then this big machine comes and knocks us down and around until we don´t know what is going on, but out of the midst of the storm the real value of our character and faith is revealed, collected - harvested. The stuff that we had thought was our safety and our strength has been chopped up and scattered.
Anyway, lots of time to think when you´re on the tractor!!"

A great picture, during a classic prairie harvest time.

Today is about prayer

Early this morning the email brings in two urgent requests for prayer. Initially my spirit is overwhelmed by the size of the problems, the depth of the pain. I unconsciously shift mode into a kind of constant open communication with heaven. I have some chores to do, but I am calling heaven all along.


A moment clears and I realize this communication is opened, God is saying something into my heart. I call out the situations he already knows well enough about. I know this yet I call them out anyway. I have a burden, a responsibility. Not from those needing prayer, but from God. It's his spirit that gives the burden to pray, and it's his spirit who prays. And when the burden is released, prayer is accomplished.


Halfway through the day, another need comes in by telephone. I add it to the other two.


Then just before supper, another email. This one much greater than the others, a friend's life is in the balance. Today. I add it to the other three and the house becomes a bit somber. The focus turns to heaven, and everybody knows that. Lauralea joins in.


We eat supper and clean up and go about our tasks with this generous pipeline open from our home to Gods. There is a sense of urgency, yet not any sense of hopelessness. It's a quiet, just beneath the surface, kind of thing.


And so it will go on, till the burden is lifted.


I think I'm going out for a walk, to pray.

What. A. Game.

Roughriders football



Roughriders win on the last play of the gamefootball


What an amazing day and a great football game. Riders 37, Eskimos 36, time for one more play in the game, an easy kick by the Esks and they will win it.


Except Omarr Morgan has something yet to say about it. He was able to block the field goal attempt, time runs out, and we see the unbelievable happening before our eyes. The Riders hold on to win it, the stands go wild, and we are all screaming like little kids.


A very very good day.


Oh yeah, about Steve...


Steve's a little intense.

Obviously, God likes green and white and eleven year old boys

It was late in July when an announcement was made in church that the men of Gateway would undertake a trip to Regina to see the Green and White Roughriders play a game. We thought that since the ladies of our church were able to take time to "get away," on retreat, we men would see if there was enough interest for us to get away for a day too.


Micah was sitting right beside me on that day and he was the first one to ask me if he could go too. I said of course he could, as he had the man bits necessary to be declared a male.


Following the service Thomas too indicated a desire to come along for the party.


And so it was that I put in a request for three tickets for the three of us to attend. It was all good.


Then, two weeks before the blessed event I was informed that all the tickets had been dispersed, and due to a major mixup, I now had access to only two tickets. Sigh.


So I went home and prayed and waited and prayed and waited and grew very frustrated with the process that had brought us to this difficult decision. I finally decided that since more youth guys were going, I would let Thomas attend. Micah would stay home.


In some disappointment I explained the situation as best I could to the guys, and to his credit Micah bore it well.


That was last Friday.


On Sunday someone came up to me in church and mentioned that their work had some extra tickets that they were not using, would I be able to use them?


(Que the chin drop)


Thus it is that tomorrow the three of us will be attending a Saskatchewan Roughriders football game. Not only that, but it seems Micah's ticket has won him access for us into a pregame BBQ, and he will be involved in a Jello eating contest no less.


My but the heavens do open.


Go Green Go.

Paragraph


A couple of days ago Jordon had a link to this site. Paragraph.


Since then I find myself returning to the website, just to stare in wonder that such a place exists.


I think I've fallen in love.


Really. I'm in serious smit here.

Bono writes of his dad:

"The spiritual journey was interesting to him. Because he wasn't a believer; he didn't believe in God towards the end. He was a Catholic, but he lost his faith along the way... I think the Church wore him down, all the scandals, and all that stuff. I would give him a Bible, or I would offer up, if he was interested, any kind of insights I might have had to some of the Gospels, or the way they were written, or the context of a particular passage. But finally he didn't buy into it. Yet he seemed to think this was the most important thing I had to offer. In fact, it was what he liked best about U2: our faith.


Occasionally, he would ask about my belief in God: "There's one thing I envy of you.  I don't envy anything else," he said to me one time... "You do seem to have a relationship with God." And I said: "Didn't you ever have one?" He said: "No." And I said: "But you have been a Catholic for most of your life." - "Yeah, lots of people are Catholic. It was a one-way conversation... You seem to hear something back from the silence!" I said: "That's true, I do." And he said: "How do you feel it?" I said: "I hear it in some sort of instinctive way, I feel a response to a prayer, or I feel led in a direction. Or if I'm studying the Scriptures, they become alive in an odd way, and they make sense to the moment I'm in, they're no longer a historical document." He was mind-blown by this."

Accountability?

Down the block there is a pastor who recently has made some choices that are very painful for his family, his church and this community. He has been separated from his wife and family, resigned his church, and moved in with a woman who used to attend his church, and her five kids.


Sigh.


We have supported this guy and his family in their ministry. We have prayed for him and them, and their church, and challenged him whenever he gave us room to challenge him.


It seems he withdrew, isolating himself from the pastoral community. Now we have a broken wife and her kids, another home broken where this man has moved into, a church that is devastated, and a city that says, "See, his words were all talk."


There are other churches where the leaders are isolating themselves. They seem to be building walls between them and their people, or creating reasons to separate themselves from their fellow pastors.


I don't like it at all, it's dangerous as hell and it leads to nothing helpful. If you're wounded or hurting enough to need to separate yourself from the people, you need to quit your "ministry" and get some healing. If your fellow pastors are observing shifting priorities in your visible life, you need to submit to some authority in your life someplace because it's all going to end very badly.


Many people are going to get very very hurt, maybe even doubt God. And they won't just be your kids. They'll be your best friend, whose wife you may end up with. They'll be the people sitting in the pews week after week trusting that you have been communicating God's will and heart to them, when you haven't been hearing him yourself. They'll be the city people who normally wouldn't enter a church but have somehow been effected by your ministry, who now wonder if God's even real.


Like the guys I had coffee with today, who couldn't believe it at all. I told them as I went on my way that if they ever see me making similar moves they should take me out back and help me see sense again.


Gateway Covenant Church, the place I've come to love and call home, knows exactly what that pain is like. They've experienced it first hand. In fact, they have known a lot of pain over the years.


But this Autumn I've been reflecting on how well we are, really. How far we've come. How much healthier we are than we used to be.


Mistrust, which used to be the theme here, has shrunk to almost nothing. Trust is finding a new home here with us. Fear and danger used to lurk around every corner. Now that is being replaced by confidence and safety. Hope for the future is replacing a sense of loss and failure.


It's taken a long time to walk this road back to health, and I should make clear that it began long before I arrived. But it is a hard trek to dislodge bitterness and unforgiveness. Still.


But I am pleased to report how Gateway is moving towards God and making choices for health and life that are enabling her to be a blessing to those who are broken.


May God grant us safety and health. And may he continue to give us those who will lovingly hold us accountable.

Some days were just made for Tea

The sky was really low and overcast this morning. It produced a cool rain that made me wear my jacket the whole time, no matter how silly I looked at my desk.


So, I figured I'd go have some tea for lunch, warm up a bit.


I had some Numi tea, "Sweet Meadows" it was called. "Breath embraces the sunshine. I drink the moment." Yeah, whatever.


Except that I was so laid back I missed my ministerial meeting.

The Soul

O Brother Jesus
who wept at the death of a friend
and overturned tables in anger at wrong
let me not be frightened by the depths of passion.
Rather let me learn the love and anger
and wild expanses of soul within me
that are true expressions of your grace and wisdom.
And assure me again that in becoming more like you
I come close to my true self
made in the images of outpouring Love
born of the free eternal Wind.

J. Philip Newell

I've always thought of the soul in terms of dungeons and basement rooms. Full of cobwebs and damp, uninhabitable rooms. A space where, with God's help, you carve out room to live and grow.

This morning during prayer I had a picture of the soul more like a huge open expanse.

A place of hills and valleys, streams and forests. A place where God moves into, if we let him. And his presence in the space begins to turn it green and makes it come alive, producing all kinds of fruit.

He might be over in this area creating a shady green valley with a brook running through it. Or he might be over there creating a building structure in which we will house memories of close intimate times.

He may be at work rooting out some nasty weeds or some underbrush that has taken over an area that He wants to turn into a lovely park.

But he's at work, conforming me to the image of his son. Making my spirit look more and more like his, which it was always meant to look like anyway.

It's a most beautiful place. And it's hopeful and alive and full of life because He is there.

And the most amazing part?  He's decided to make his home there, in me.

Wow.

Calling Doctor Bob...

I'll never forget as a young pastor, that little old French-Canadian lady in our church. Mme. Proulx. Her doctor had discovered cancer in her body, and she humbly asked if we would pray for her healing. She wanted what James spoke about in the bible.
"When you get sick, call the elders of the church to pray for you, and you will be made well," kind of thing. Well, we prayed, and she died.
That really was the final trigger that shot me off in the direction of asking God if we should simply erase a good chunk of the New Testament because it didn't seem to apply at all.
Since that time, God has been teaching me to pray for sick people. Sometimes I don't see a physical answer to my specific prayer. But more and more over the years, people would get well when we prayed.
A back problem goes away. A foot is healed. Someone's legs feel 20 years younger. A migraine melts away. An unborn child shifts in its mothers womb to the correct position. Bones knit together, scars melt away, and yes, even cancer disappears. It still surprises me when it works. But sometimes it works, . . .and sometimes it doesn't.
And I know, isn't death and being in Christ's presence a complete healing? Well yes it is, but that wasn't what we were asking for. I was asking for healing of the problem, not a promotion. And there are those I pray for who don't know Him yet. I don't want them to die if they are not ready to go.
Anyway, my percentage of healed individuals is enough to keep me out of the Faith Healer category. But it is something I really enjoy doing. I am always humbled by walking through the process with people.
If you ask for prayer for healing from me at least, you're gonna get the full deal. Not a momentary passing thought, but the time necessary to really wait on God. To listen for his leading. To watch for his direction. To wait on him, because he will eventually be the one who heals, or not.
And we won't stop praying after one session. We will keep gathering together to pray again and again until He heals the individual, or he says my grace is enough for you to live in this brokenness.
I've been thinking these thoughts for a couple of reasons.
Right now we are praying with an individual through a rough cancer patch. For now she seems to be doing really well.
And secondly, this summer I spoke with a friend who is working in an Asian country. She has a friend there who is a believer in Christ. This friends unbelieving grandmother became ill and was put in a hospital room with 2 other ladies. Late one night one of those ladies took a turn for the worse and died. A few of her Christian children came to visit her and were overwhelmed by her death. So, they began to pray. I understand they prayed for some hours, through the night, in the room with her. My friends grandmother watched this unfold and began to pray too. Suddenly, this ladies life returned to her. She coughed and breathed, and came alive again.
Tonight I'm thinking...
How much don't we have, because we don't ask?
How much don't we see, because we don't have need?
How much do we endure, because we don't have patience to wait on God?
Asking for prayer is one of the most humbling things a human can do. Yet it is filled with so much grace and possibility.
So, let me encourage you, one of the things believers in Christ do is to pray for those who are sick. If you are struggling with illness, call the spiritual leaders together to pray for you.
and watch what God does.

Link for a bad day

Many days and many times I am my own worst critic, and many days I long for an honest evaluation of my work here on earth. Usually after a day like that I'm lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut.


I'll keep this link around for the bad days.


Just because.

um, welcome,

Some of the logs of randallfriesen.com have shown a marked increase in the curiosity of the regular readers. You guys have been reading a lot of my past, which is ok, just different than normal.


I know that some of this is due to new visitors looking at my site because a prominent blog linked to a post I made on The Simpsons mentioning "Shiftless Mennonites."


This morning I discovered where a few others of you are coming from. Our copy of the Covenant Companion came in the mail today. In it was a short blurb, by Heidi Griepp, on families that blog. It mentioned this space and Lauralea's blog, and Johanna's Blog. It also mentioned my sister's site, Robyn's Nest.


So, if you have dropped by from one of these sources, or from the local paper in which you saw this space shamelessly promoted at the end of my piece, well, welcome!


Snoop around, put your feet up, make yourself at home. Once and a while something profound might show up, in spite of myself, but you can never tell.


And if this gets real boring, just click on one of those links at the side. Hopefully something more profitable will show up.


In the mean time, welcome.


Now I think I need to email Johanna to warn her not to use any bad words...

Don Juan, and a lazy monday afternoon.

Over a year ago Lauralea and I were in Minneapolis for some meetings and it was on my priority list to eat at a Papa John's pizza place -don't ask. Well we did, and they gave away a free movie with each pizza purchased. We got a movie called Don Juan DeMarco.


To say we're busy is a bit of an understatement, because today Lauralea and I got around to watching this movie.


What a cool film. Great even.


It's a great date movie, and if you want to enjoy it all the more, watch it with your spouse, and no one else around. It will motivate you deeply; not to have sex, but to make love, which is a different thing entirely. 


(I do have a copy here that you can borrow, if you live in Prince Albert!)


 

"Let Katrina have a purifying effect"

 

By Randall Friesen
GATEWAY COVENANT CHURCH
Prince Albert Daily Herald

 

We watched helplessly as the events of the past week unfolded before our eyes. Watching as wind and water changed lives, and changed a nation.

 

The images trickled in after the storm grew and slowly we began to realize that this was much worse than first expected. Each day of the week brought greater death and blackness to the news.  We watched as a nation staggered beneath a blow, perhaps greater than it's ever experienced before. We saw her stumble blindly through the pain of grief and loss.

 

When loss happen personally there is a process of grieving that we go through. It is a time of pain and coming to terms with the grim realities of life and death. So too it happens for a nation.

 

Denial. "This cannot be happening. It's not that bad, really."  But our eyes tell us something different. They conflict with our assumptions on the normal rhythms of everyday life. We deny, we accept, we deny, we accept, moving all over the map.

 

Anger. "Where are the leaders? Why aren't they doing something?" We shout at the TV. We shake in rage as we see the pain before our eyes, helpless to save the dying. Another body floats past. We yell at the kids to be quiet. The rage infects our words and homes and conversations.

 

Bargaining. Maybe we haven't talked to God in a long while, maybe we haven't gone to church either, but we're going go this Sunday. Maybe it's to receive comfort, maybe it's because of this raw anger that has
come to live in our household. Whatever the reason, we go. And in going, a part of us hopes that God might bless this land again. That he might arrive and smile on us again, so that our lives and rhythms can return to normal, as quickly as possible.

 

Depression. A numbness sets in and anger plays just beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity. A deep level of sadness descends like a black cloud as we trudge through our days, waiting for hope that is not coming.

 

And finally, acceptance. We begin to accept that this is the new reality. Anger and sadness begin to taper off, just a bit. In spite of our best efforts and desires, we can't change things back to what they were before the tragedy, we can only move forward. And so we do.

 

Some days we will find ourselves back in the depression or the anger, but that's to be expected. It is wise to remember that grief is a process we walk through. There will be good and bad times. That's just how it is.

 

What can we do?

 

Well, if you are the praying sort why not set aside a few moments just to call out to God. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, we are all sinners" is a good place to start. Pray for life in that place of death. Pray for families to be reunited. Pray for the healing of the lives and homes and cities and states and nation. Pray for the leaders.

 

Give. Reach deeply with gratitude into your wallet and send some money. The local Salvation Army is taking donations which will go directly towards helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

 

Go. Consider going for a month or two with organizations such as the Mennonite Disaster Service who send in groups of people to help bring hope again, when all hope seems lost. But be prepared, it will change you.

 
The brokenness unfolding on our screens daily is enough of a tragedy. Let us not add to it by being unchanged by it all.

 

The name Katrina is from the German language, a variant of Katherine. It means Pure.

 

Rather than read anything more into it at this time, maybe it's enough for us to let this week have it's purifying effect on us. To be sober and grateful for all we have. To draw near to God, who promised to heal the land if we would turn away from our agenda, and turn towards his.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, we are all sinners.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Randall Friesen pastors Gateway Covenant Church. He writes regularly at randallfriesen.com

I've been waiting all summer for this!

And I thought that since it's September, my chance was gone.


Then, laying in bed awake, waiting for who knows what, I heard a distant rumble I blamed on the neighbours. Then it came again and again, and I was up and at the window in a flash.


And what to my wondering eyes would appear, but a light show, planned just for me.


Sweet. For a first time. I'll take it.


Enjoy. There's more.


 


Night Lightning 6


I LOVE the different colours of the light in this one!


 


(P.S. if you want to see the full size picture  (2448 x 1632) just sign up for a free flickr account and you can check out the different sizes.) 

Marriage: The best of times, the worst of times.

Doing marriage is hard work sometimes. Really hard.


This summer was hard on our marriage. Emotional exhaustion, miscommunication, household changes, and crossing the "married 20 years" marker all seem to have had their effect on us. We had a couple of doosies of fights last month. Like we haven't had in years.


Those fights feel like you are on a driverless train screaming through the night on tracks that will lead you to your destruction and there seems to be nothing you can do to direct it elsewhere. They make me sick in the pit of my stomach.


But, blindness or stubbornness, or just emotional immaturity seem to immobilize you, make you unknowing of the truth, or the way back to life. And you suffer in pain, causing more pain, wishing like everything that the train would stop. But it doesn't. At least not yet. 


And more and more as children we grow up without any sense of what an emotionally healthy mother or father should look like. We take those experiences into our adulthood, which make our relationships all the more difficult. How do we become healthy adults if we've not known any in our lives? 


This isn't one of those posts that has a nice easy answer at the end. Mainly because I don't think there is an easy answer that would fit all the situations.


But as for herself and I, we decided long ago to stick it out. So far that has never been in question, I think. We've talked with others about our occasional struggles, older more experienced others usually. And that has helped. Talking with professionals has been something we've tried too, to mixed reviews I admit, but it can be a good option, depending on the degree of difficulty.   


Then there is this quote by Max Lucado (I believe)


"Relationships don't thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful."


Amen amen amen. If these things called marriages are ever going to make it past 10 or 20 years, with any amount of health, we're going to have to learn to live out that statement.


To learn the rhythms of grace and mercy, and to learn to live there. ah, there's the rub.


 


Hang in there you all ok?

Goodbye. I hope you have a great life.

As soon as children leave their mom's womb they are on a journey away from their parents, and into their own lives. There are subtle reminders of this along the way. Wanting to put their socks on themselves. Wanting to eat what they like only. Wanting to stay up late. Etc.


Then there are bigger milestones. Learning to pee in a toilet. The first day of school. Getting your drivers license. A first date. Graduation.


Then, before you realize it, they turn 18, and say goodbye and head off to College, all in one day.


That day arrived here today. Johanna clicked over another year and headed off to school.


It's good. Just feels a bit strange is all. But it's good.


May God Bless her life with the sweetness of his presence, all her days.


Katrina

I've hesitated to comment on the great brokenness happening in America this week, mainly because I really don't know what to say.


I watched helplessly as the events of the week began to unfold last Sunday. Watching and praying as the storm moved north. Hoping, waiting, willing it to be weakened.


Then the images, and the slow realization dawning that this was much much worse than first expected. Each day of the week bringing greater death and blackness to the news.


We watch as a nation staggers beneath a blow, perhaps greater than it's ever experienced before. We watch as she stumbles blindly through the pain of grief and loss.


Denial. "This cannot be happening. It's not that bad, really."  But our eyes and ears tell us differently. They conflict with our assumptions on the normal rhythms of everyday life. We deny, we accept, we deny, we accept, moving all over the map.


Anger. "Where are the leaders? Why aren't they doing something?" We shout at the TV. We shake in rage as we see the pain before our eyes, helpless to save the dying. Another body floats past. We yell at the kids to be quiet. The rage infecting our words and homes and conversations.  


Bargaining. Maybe we haven't talked to God in a long while, maybe we haven't gone to church either, but we're gonna go this Sunday. Maybe it's to receive comfort, maybe it's because of this raw anger that has come to live in our household. Whatever the reason, we go. And in going, a part of us hopes that God might bless this land again. That he might arrive and smile on us again, so that our lives and rhythms can return to normal, as quickly as possible.


Depression. A numbness sets in and anger plays just beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity. A deep level of sadness descends like a black cloud as we trudge through our days, waiting for hope that is not coming. 


And finally, acceptance. We begin to accept that this is the new reality. Anger and sadness begins to taper off, just a bit. In spite of our best efforts and desires, we can't change things back to what they were before the tragedy, we can only move forward. And so we do.


Some days we will find ourselves back in the depression or the anger, but that's to be expected. It is wise to remember that grief is a process or a valley we walk through. There will be good and bad times. That's just how it is.


 


What can we do?


Well, if you are the praying sort why not set aside a few moments just to call out to God. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, we are all sinners" is a good place to start. Each time you pray it, emphasize a different aspect of the prayer. Let God lead you into other layers of prayer and intercession. Pray for life in that corner of death. Pray for families to be reunited. Pray for the healing of the lives and homes and cities and states and nation. Pray for the leaders. Pray.


Give. Reach deeply with gratitude into your wallet and send some money. There are enough national organizations collecting now so that you should be able to find someplace to direct your cash.


Go. Consider going for a month or two with organizations such as the Mennonite Disaster Service who send in groups of people to help bring hope again, when all hope seems lost. It will change you too. Be prepared for that.


 


The brokenness unfolding on our screens daily is enough of a tragedy. Let us not add to it by being unchanged by it all.


The name Katrina is from the German language, a variant of Katherine. It means Pure. Virginal.


Rather than read anything more into it at this time, maybe it's enough for us to let this week have it's purifying effect on us. To be sober and grateful for all we have. To draw near to God, who promised to heal the land if we would turn away from our agenda, and turn towards his.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, we are all sinners.

Carmen Gia Heaven

Carmen Gia Heaven


 

How to help New Orleans today

I got a call for help from one of the readers of this space the other night, asking for prayer for his mom and other family as New Orleans is their home. So we've been praying for them and others too. I would encourage you that if you are the praying kind, get at it.


Secondly, if you want to contribute some cash, the Conference our church belongs to here in Canada has decided to process its donations through the Mennonite Disaster Service.  With these guys you can be quite confident that the money you give will get through to needs on the ground.



"Anyone wanting to make a donation towards hurricane support, please make cheques payable to Mennonite Disaster Service as we will be directing funds through them.  Please send cheques directly to
 
Mennonite Disaster Services
306-2265 Pembina Hwy
Winnipeg, MB
R3T 5J3
 
For more information on how they distribute funds please contact them at 204-261-1274, Thank-you.


Isabelle Nelson
Administrative Assistant
Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada
PO Box 34035 RPO Fort Richmond
Winnipeg, MB
R3T 5T5"


So there you go. Two opportunities to make a real difference.

Resonate.ca turns One year old today

and as a way to celebrate the occasion, we thought we'd launch an online Journal.


Jordon's done a lot of dreaming and work on this project. And that under some very difficult circumstances. Way to go guy.


Check it out here.

Lawyers are people too.

Well, today I got to meet the guy who leaves some profound comments on Marc Vandersluys blog. His name is Andrew.

Andrew is from Summerland BC, where he does a Lawyering gig, but he's in town for a bit this week. We met over lunch today.

His claim to fame? Well he's done time in Dawson Creek, BC, and we all know what that means. (You don't? Then ask me when you see me, or ask Logan who has done time there himself this summer . . .  but I digress)

His other claim to fame? He's Marc's brother.

You know, if I had a brother who was a lawyer, I might be tempted to live life more on the edge knowing that my brother could probably help me keep out of jail.

 

Or maybe that's what Dixie is doing.

Lauralea is on a first name basis with the Salvation Army pickup men

Lauralea is a clearing out machine these days.

I'm not altogether sure what's going on in her head, but she's tackling all the dark spaces in our home like a woman on a mission from God.

First we cleared out our bedroom. Then we did the front closet. Then she went at our bedroom closet, and the basement laundry/storage/workshop/junk room.

Yesterday she went at the family room a bit. Today it was the kitchen shelf.

She seems to be lightening the load a bit, seeking to live lighter. Or like she offered, maybe she's getting ready to be done here, like on earth.

I hope not. I'm liking this version of Lauralea more and more.

Another one enters the kingdom ...of blogging

Well, welcome one Ron Baker to the Blogging fold.
Ron used to be on staff at the Alliance church here in Prince Albert. He was also a part of the small pastor's group I am a part of.


Now he's pastoring an Alliance church down in Kindersley. And, he's blogging.


He's a good storyteller and passionate about the Church.
Check him out.

On Call pastor

I got called into the hospital in the middle of the night so I hastily got dressed and drove down there. I was greeted by four women surrounding the bed of a 62 year old man whose body was racked with cancer.


They had asked for me to come and "Say a prayer."


I asked them about him. Who he was, what he loved and liked. Where he grew up and who he had become. They told stories and expressed their love for him through those questions. It was a good time.


I read two Psalms and asked if I could pray, which they were eager for me to do.


I was not sure of his relationship with God, so I prayed a simple prayer of thanksgiving and blessing. And as I prayed, his heaving chest became still and his spirit went on ahead to the things to follow.


It's always a holy moment, at least for me, when that transition happens. And I was glad I had the chance to share it with them.