Monday, December 20, 2010

14 Christmas Hampers

Thank you to everyone who gave towards this year's Christmas Hamper project.  We raised $1900 plus hundreds more in food donations.  We were able to deliver 14 hampers and had extra to give to the Christmas Bureau.  Special thanks to Dave P. and his family for organizing all of the logistics!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joy

December 12-18, 2010
Advent: Week 3

KNOW | Study
Read Luke 2:8-11; John 15 & 16; Hebrews 12:1-2.  Take time to read these portions of Scripture.  Observe each time you see the word joy/rejoice and reflect on the cause and effect of joy in the life of a Christ follower.

GROW | Discussion Option #1
What makes good news, good?  What is it about a news story that makes it good or bad?  What good news have you had in your life?  What emotions did it evoke?  Did your good news ever overshadow the bad things in your life?

GROW | Discussion Option #2
How can a Christian rejoice in all sufferings endured for the sake of the cross even when it seems unnatural (in a worldly sense) to do so? 
Read Romans 5:2-5 and Hebrews 12:2  to get greater perspective on this question. 

SOW | Application
Rediscover the Good News of Jesus.  Take time this week to come before Jesus and invite Him into your life.  Repent of the damage you have done in your life and caused in others.  Ask for His forgiveness and He will forgive you.  Ask Him to baptize you in His Spirit.  Begin to sing personal songs of praise to Him rejoicing not only in the good work He has done in your life (i.e. forgiveness), but also in expectation of His return and our eternity with Him.  Ask Him to lead you and follow where He guides.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Couple Win $11.2M Lottery, Then Give It All Away


I thought this was a pretty cool story...

By Mara Gay (http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/couple-win-11-2m-lottery-then-give-it-all-away/19702898?test=latestnews)

So when the Canadian couple hit it big in the lottery this year, they decided to give it away -- all of it. Since their July win, the elderly couple has donated nearly every cent of their $11.2 million winnings to charity. Call it the Larges' largess.

"What you've never had, you never miss," Violet Large, 78, told The Chronicle Herald in Canada. She and her 74-year-old husband, who live in Nova Scotia, said they first made sure their family was taken care of. But then, she said, they decided the money was "a big headache."

So in a matter of just four months, they gave away the rest of their millions to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and local churches, according to The Chronicle Herald. They also donated money to the hospitals where Violet Large was fighting cancer this year.
  [READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE]...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas 2010

Sunday, December 12
Advent: Week 3 (Joy)
 Join us at 10:00am for our Sunday gathering!  Our kid's will be signing a number of Christmas songs.  Pastor Clint will be reflecting on the unique nature of Christian Joy.

Saturday, December 18
Benefit Concert
Join us at 7:00pm for an evening of music (Willy & the Wannabees, Karin Olsen, Tony O'Hara, and Isaac & Catherine Dagneau will be performing).  Please bring non-perishable items.  All proceeds will go towards our Christmas Hampers and Mission Christmas Bureau (City Hamper program).

Sunday, December 19
Advent: Week 4 (Peace)
Join us at 10:00am for music and a message by Catherine Dagneau on peace!

Friday, December 24
Christmas Eve Service
Join us at 6:30pm-7:15pm for a time of Christmas carols, Scripture reading, and reflection on the birth of Jesus.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Love

December 5-11, 2010
Advent: Week 2

KNOW | Personal Study
Read 1 John.  Take time to read this awesome letter.  1 John reveals much of the truth of who God is and what God means to those that know Him.  Read through it a few times this week and make notes as you go.  Don't be afraid to stop on a phrase and ponder its meaning and application! 

GROW | Discussion Option #1
Compare and contrast the differences between the world's definition of love and Christian love.  When someone says, "I love McDonald's cheeseburgers" and then in the next sentence says, "I love you so much", how does that change your understanding of love?

GROW | Discussion Option #2
What is the Church known for in the world's eye?  Does this view match what the God's purpose is for the Church?  What does your spouse know you for?  What do your kid's know you for?  What does your neighbour know you for?  What do your co-workers and boss know you for?

SOW | Application
Love someone this week in the same way you have experienced Christ's love.
  I suggest you start in your home.  Take what and who you have in Christ and pour that same kind of love out on them.  Exert patience, kindness, forgiveness (the mercy and grace kind), self-sacrifice, and generosity.  If a week is too much of an onerous task, try it for just one day.  Pick a day and love that person as much as Christ has loved you.  See how it goes!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hope

Advent: Week 1
November 28 - December 4, 2010


Personal Study
Read Romans 5:1-5; Hebrews 6:13-19; Ephesians 2:12; Luke 2:8-11; 1 Tim. 6:17.  Take time to read and reflect on these passages.  Meditate on these words (focus, repeat, ponder, reflect, and apply).

Discussion - Option #1
If there was no God how would that change the way you see your life?  If God wasn't good and loving, how would that change the way you see your life?  What big questions of life does God answer?

Discussion - Option #2
How is Christian hope different from the world's definition of hope?  What is it about Jesus' birth that defines those differences?  What about His death and resurrection?  What about His return?

Application
As we use the Advent calendar to help us to see and follow Jesus, where is He leading you this season?  Take time to reflect on your calendar over the next four weeks and determine what things are for Jesus and what aren't.  Do the things that fall on the Jesus side (and do them well) and leave behind those things that He isn't calling you to be/do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sexuality and Christian Hope


This past Sunday, Pastor Barry McGaffin (guest speaker from Kingsway Foursquare Church), mentioned in one his points that hope is the reason we save sex for marriage.  What did he mean by that?

One of my favourite preachers, Dr. Timothy Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City), spoke a great message on this on April 18, 2004 from 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; 7:27-31.  Listen to the message on their church's website: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/sexuality-and-christian-hope.

P.S.  We'll be talking more about hope this Sunday as we light the "Hope" candle for Advent.

Advent Challenge


Over the next four weeks, we will begin walking through the season of Advent.  Advent means  "coming or arrival" and in the Christian context this is the time in the calendar where we remember Jesus' first arrival as a baby and then prepare for His second arrival (His return)!  The Church designed Advent to help prepare people for the arrival of Christ by focusing on Him and what He means to Creation.  Our perspective is that the season of Advent is needed more than ever as our culture pushes further away from the influence of Christ and marches on to greater self-indulgence.  During this season, our Church will focus on Jesus by reflecting in who He is and what He means.  We will do this by emphasizing the Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace we have in Christ.  As we spend time preparing our hearts for His arrival/return He will change the way we see ourselves and others.  Our response to His presence will change the way we look at presents.  Our hope is that this Christmas we will spend less and give more... and we have some really great ways to join together in doing this:

Christmas Hampers
We are collecting none perishable food items to be distributed to families in the community (in cooperation with the food bank and Christmas Bureau).  Hampers will be packed with food and gift cards!. All to be delivered on December 16, 2010.  Questions? Contact Dave Parsons at 604-814-3538.

StreetHope Christmas Dinner
StreetHope is running two sittings of Christmas Day dinner (2:00pm and 4:00pm).  If you are able, would you consider cooking Christmas dinner with about 8 extra people in mind?  Prepare the dinner and then bring it down to StationX (North Railway) before one of the sittings.  All extras will be given out as leftovers or delivered to the disabled.  StreetHope is also in need of volunteers for this event as table hosts, kitchen help, and cleaners.  If you are interested, we would appreciate as much advanced notice as possible to help with the planning.  For more information contact Becky Brisson (604-820-0922).

Start a new Christmas tradition...
Eliminate traditions that are wasteful (from a time, financial, and spiritual perspective) and begin new ones that emphasize your love for God... His love will pour out of you in generosity, time, and energy given to others.  Here are practical ways this could look... spend less time at the mall and more time shoveling your neighbour's driveway... buy a smaller tree and give the remaining money to someone else... buy less presents for your family and buy some for others... spend less time decorating and more time being together...

Have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gifts or Presence?

This Sunday we begin Advent!  Advent is season in which we prepare/wait/remember/celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As we enter this season how will we prepare/wait/remember/celebrate?  Will we do what our neighbours do or will we be intentional about allowing the life and love of Jesus to be experienced in the way He is calling us?

Watch this video from the Advent Conspiracy (thanks Tyler O. for sending this to me):

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Study

Explore More: Spiritual Disciplines
November 14-20, 2010; Week 5

KNOW | Personal Study
2 Timothy 3:14-17; 4:3-5; Romans 12:2; Psalm 119:9-11; Ephesians 3:10-11.  Take time to read and reflect on these passages.  Make observations about these words of inspiration and instruction.  Meditate on these words (focus, repeat, ponder, reflect, and apply).

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
If your neighbour asked, "why do you read the Bible?", what would you say?  Would your answer line up with the way that you live your life and would your neighbour agree?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
 What excuses have you made when it comes to studying God's Word?  It's important to be honest with yourself, but not beat yourself up over past failures.  Get back on the horse and try again, and again, and again!  Also, be purposeful in combating your excuses.

SOW | Application
Start a devotional plan (or continue with your current one) and set aside a good chunk of time (i.e. 45-60 minutes) to not just read a passage, but to study it.  Pick out key words and phrases and ask yourself, why did he say this or why did he choose that specific word?  Use resources like concordance, lexicons, dictionaries, etc. to help.  If you don't have printed versions of these, go to www.biblestudytools.com.  You can also ask others questions about it.  Finally, don't forget to interpret the application and then obey it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Submission

Explore More: Spiritual Disciplines
 November 7-13, 2010; Week 4

KNOW | Personal Study
Mark 8:34-36; Eph 5:21-6:9; & 1 Peter 2:13-14, 21–23 .
  Take time to read and reflect on these passages.  Make observations about these experiences and words of instruction.  Meditate on these words (focus, repeat, ponder, reflect, and apply).

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
In what areas of your life do you feel you need to control?  Where do you get annoyed, frustrated, bitter, impatient, or angry?
  What is it about that situation that causes you to experience those feelings?  How does submitting to God in that area change your perspective?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
Is there a situation in your life where you wonder if God requires you submit because doing so goes against God's word and seems destructive?
  Take time to talk to God and with others in your life that have walked for a long time with Jesus.  God will guide and direct your steps.

SOW | Application
Take a relationship or situation that you are currently involved in where you know God is calling you to submit (trust Him).  Prayer for the person/people involved, ask God to give you guidance and strength.  Allow the love of Christ as demonstrated in His submission towards you to provide you with an example and the inspiration to follow Him into your world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Letter to MFC - November 2010

Letter to the Members of
MISSION FOURSQUARE CHURCH 

November 1, 2010

Dear Church Family,

Exactly one year ago I was installed as the Pastor of our Church family.  I was humbled and excited and I find that I am even more so one year later.  I have to admit that I was very nervous at the thought of leading our Church family.  However, my nerves were quickly consumed by God’s goodness and power.  His presence gave me hope, courage, and direction.  In addition to God’s faithfulness, I was overwhelmed by the way in which you extended (and continue to extend) patience and humility towards me.

Thank you for letting me follow Jesus in the leading of His Church.  We have had an incredible year filled with growth, miracles, provision, and hope…

  • Highlights from the last twelve months… fundraised for kid’s and youth camp; sent Francesca T. on a missions trip to Turkey; started a continental breakfast program; began pre-service prayer; integrated some personal testimonies into services; said “see you soon” to Big Bee, Gracie, and Kaethe Toews; fundraised for Haiti; taught on prayer; challenged us to grow-up; organized a sock hop; hosted CMA’s conference; had a family hockey night; participated in a work bee; had a Spring bazaar; competed in a road rally; walked through Ephesians; planted some apple trees; started a weekly “to do” list; had some fun summer Sundays like a chili cook-off, water fight, and talent show; raised money for a local missionary (Calvin Williams); sent Nicole Raible to Thailand; dedicated three babies ; sent some youth and young adults to Skatin reserve; sent Isaac to Mexico; prayed for Bernie & Lynda in Mexico; replaced our roof; experienced a gross sewage back-up; baptized 10 youth; launched five more small groups; and a whole lot more that I forgot to mention… can I hear a, “praise the Lord!”?
  • Family building… the events listed above served as great environments for our Church family to grow closer to one another and allow others to see the goodness of God!  My observation is that we have become more like a family and less like a religious organization.
  • The next twelve months… I’m already excited for what’s in store for our Church family.  You’ll hear more on January 9th at our Vision Sunday, but know that we will continue to follow Jesus as the unique body He has called together here at MFC.
  • Increasing our hospitality…  over the next couple months our Church will be making plans to increase our hospitality from an organizational and relational level.  We want to people to be drawn to the grace and generosity of our God through the way in which we welcome them.
  • Church finances… while we aren’t the place where I hoped we’d be twelve months in, we are headed in the right direction.  Council was able to trim our expenses so that we look to break even this year and then work towards getting ahead in the year to come.  An extra bit of good news is that in addition to breaking even we were able to replace our roof ($36,000 expense).
  • Working in the background… on weeks that I’m not scheduled to preach, I am able to work on other needed projects.  I’ve been working on a facility maintenance program (so that we can avoid things like a sewage back-up), facility rental system, ministry planning and scheduling, discipleship/leadership program, personnel program, outreach planning, and a few other fun things.
  • Church flooring… our carpet in the foyer, offices, and auditorium is need of replacing.  The good news is the expensive part (about $20,000 worth of carpet) has been donated to us.  However, to dispose of the old carpet and install the new stuff will cost about $3,000.  Council has also decided that replacing the foyer carpet with new carpet would not be very functional.  Instead Council would like to install vinyl flooring (looks like hardwood) as it is more practical.  This foyer flooring will cost $3,000 to purchase.  This means that we’ll need an extra $6,000 to replace the auditorium, office, and foyer flooring.  Council will only move forward on this flooring plan if we finish the 2010 year at least $6,000 over our expenses.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  I hope you will take all of this to heart by thanking God for His goodness and then asking Him how you can be a part of extending His love and life through our church family!

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”  Eph. 1:15-19a NIV.

Love,

Clint.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why Your Church Doesn't Feel Like A Family

Watch this video... however, it still doesn't give us an excuse to ignore our call to be generous, hospitable people :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clear & Present Danger

Explore More: Spiritual Disciplines 
October 24-30, 2010; Week 2

KNOW | Study
Read 2 Peter 1:5-8; Isaiah 6:1-8; and Luke 10:38-42.  Take time to read and reflect on these passages.  Make observations about these experiences and words of instruction.  Meditate on these words (focus, repeat, ponder, reflect, and apply).

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Who do you tend to be like, Martha or Mary?  What distracts you in life from spending time with Jesus?  Why do they distract you (what lies are you buying into)?  What about Monk's or Nun's?  Do they have the right balance?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
When Scripture reveals that God is now dwelling within those who are born again, how does that make you feel after reading a passage like Isaiah 6?  How does your response to the presence of God compare to seraphs or Isaiah?

SOW | Apply
Take time to meditate.  Create within your schedule (ideally on a daily basis) a time and a place that will allow for you to spend time with God.  Take time to not just study God's Word and talk to Him, but to be still and open to His presence.  Create a longer period of time than you normally would in a typical week/day and just be present with Him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christians & Halloween


Halloween is next Sunday... are you excited or do you hope it goes by quickly without much attention?  I have noticed that Halloween is a polarizing topic in the Evangelical community.  Some participate in its modern traditions while others refrain from anything associated with it.  The issue is typically summarized with our response to the question, "do we allow our kids to trick-or-treat?"

I'm not going to try and convince you one way or the other.  Each situation and every family has internal dynamics that will require unique discernment.  My plea to you isn't to adamantly decide one way or the other, but to seek God's wisdom and direction for you and your family (in this and at every point in life).

Regardless of where you side on this discussion, I find both sides are more often than not, guilty of even deeper issues.  Those that let their kids' trick-or-treat often look at those that don't as prudes or disconnected from the Great Commission.  Those that don't let their kid's trick-or-treat often look at those that do as pagans.  My hope is that if we've learned anything from Christ that we would approach all people with grace.  We must never flex our freedom by belittling others... we must lay down our freedoms for the sake of one another.  We must never flex our righteousness by looking down at others... we must consider others are better than ourselves (which includes exerting patience/long-suffering).

At this point of our family's life we have decided to let our kid's dress-up, carve pumpkins, and go trick-or-treating.   Here's what we do and why:

  • Halloween and our present culture.  I find that the majority of my neighbours and friends don't even know the origin of Halloween.  They participate in the activities because they find it fun as well as a great way to connect with family and neighbours.  The pagan, demonic, and Catholic origins become more and more disconnected from current culture and so when I participate in Halloween my neighbours don't automatically assume that I'm a Satanist or pagan... they simply interpret my involvement as someone who wants to give their kid candy and is open to meeting them.
  • We decorate our house (see photo above).  We don't decorate with evil/demonic decor as we choose not to celebrate evil/demonic.  We decorate our house with pumpkins and leaves to communicate that our house/family is open and neighbours are always welcome.  Seasonal decor in our culture communicates care, warmth, and openness.
  • We keep our lights on.  We do this so that our neighbours know they can come over and get candy!  This communicates that we want to meet them and see what they are doing.  We've only lived in our current neighbourhood for three years (two Halloweens) and we found Halloween to be the best time of year to meet and connect with our neighbours.
  • We give out generous amounts of candy.  We do this because it is an easy way to show love to our neighbours.  I also do this because it keeps me on the good side with neighbourhood kids and teens.  That way, when they are roaming the neighbourhood with their friends at 3:00am in the middle of summer with a dozen eggs or a can of spray paint, they say to their friends "No way, man, that's Old Man Nelson's... he's cool, he gives us lots of candy...  don't egg his house, let's get that house over there!"
  • We go trick-or-treating.  We do this because our kid's have fun dressing up and we get to meet our neighbours.  The costume building time can also be a fun and educational activity for kids.
With all that being said, our family's involvement with Halloween is up for evaluation every year.  Our response next year may be very different depending on the ever changing dynamics of our family's development as well as the ebb and flow of culture.

I also find it interesting that Christians openly participate in many Christmas traditions (like having a Christmas Tree) that have pagan/idol origins simply because culture has forgotten its origins and/or turned their use for God's glory.  [Just I thought I'd throw that one out just to play with your mind :)].

If you have time, I highly recommend the article below as I think it will help you and your family decide how to respond to every aspect of life.



In the world, but not of it
By Denis Haack
From: http://www.cpyu.org/Page.aspx?id=326872

Sometimes a simple idea can prove difficult to define—or at least difficult to define in a way everyone will agree. An example is the seemingly simple truth that God’s people are to live in the world but not be of the world. Even Christians who share a common theological heritage can differ sharply over what it should look like in practice.

Sometimes we differ so sharply that we question the faith of those with whom we differ. We could all list examples. Watching R-rated films. Reading Harry Potter. Private, public or home-school education. Liking rap music. Voting for the wrong party. Never missing an episode of Desperate Housewives. Driving an SUV. Using the f-word. Reading Rolling Stone. Specific issues tend to shift over time and across generations, of course, but it usually isn’t hard to find a hot button to push to awaken a sleepy Sunday school class.

In the world but not of it goes back to something Jesus said. In the hours before his crucifixion, he prayed for all who would believe in him. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world,” John records him saying, “but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (17:15-16). A simple prayer yet within a century of his resurrection Christians were disagreeing over how to apply it to their lives.

This is not a theoretical issue for me. Already a Christian for quite some time, I came to a new understanding of my faith—and its relationship to life—in college through the teaching of Francis Schaeffer. Though it felt like coming home, members of my family saw it as going astray. The theological tradition in which I was raised takes holiness seriously, instilling in me a longing to please God. That tradition, however, sees an active engagement with culture as part of what Jesus included when he prayed we would not be of the world. So, when I mentioned that I love good films, a relative told me I was “dabbling in Sodom,” and said he could have only “limited fellowship” with me.

How we understand Jesus’ prayer has a profound impact on our lives. Loving the world and loving God are mutually exclusive. “Do not love the world or anything in the world,” he writes. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). And Paul warns us to refuse being pressed into its mold so as to be shaped by it (Romans 12:2).

Since the stakes are so high, it would be wise to think the matter through carefully. And to do that we need to go to the Scriptures.

Life since the Fall
Beginning with the story of the Fall, the Bible reveals that we must be aware of three sources of danger or temptation: the flesh, the devil and the world.

Sometimes the word translated flesh (sárx) in the New Testament is used to refer to the physical body. John 1:14, for example, refers to Christ’s incarnation as the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Paul uses sárx to mean the bodies of human beings, animals, birds and fish (1 Corinthians 15:39). When the context places sárx in contrast with God’s will or spirit, however it refers to our fallen natures. Paul says, for example, that “the sinful nature (sárx) desires what is contrary to the Spirit” and then goes on to contrast the “acts of the sinful nature” to the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:17; 19-22). Thus, in this sense the flesh is that in us which is drawn to and easily tempted to sin—a personal inner array of weakness and evil desires.

The devil, in contrast, represents an outer source of personal corruption. “Be self-controlled and alert,” Peter says. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). The devil is “our accuser” (Revelation 12:10), speaking foul of us to our Father. Sometimes we can hear echoes of his accusations when doubt or a sense of abandonment suddenly weighs us down, sapping our assurance. The attack seems to come from outside us, striking like a dart. By grace we have armor so that we are able to make a “stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

Then there is the world. The world (kósmon) sometimes refers to the earth or to all of humanity, as when John says Christ came into the world he created (1:10), a world that God loves (3:16). Kósmon is also used in a distinctly negative way, referring to the systems, values, and ways of life which are woven into human society which are both contrary to and in active opposition to God, his word, and kingdom. This is the world we must not love, since “everything in it,” John tells us, “comes not from the Father” (1 John 2:15-17).

This is the wider biblical context for understanding what it means to live in the world but not be of it. Now we need to reflect biblically on what it means so we can apply it practically to daily life. We will consider two unfortunate reactions, one subtle myth and eight practical questions.

Two unfortunate reactions
Dick Keyes points out in Chameleon Christianity that Christians can be tempted to react to a fallen world in two unfortunate—and unbiblical—ways.

The first reaction is to withdraw, to pull back from the world into a subculture where life seems safer and purer. Daily life is busy, and involvement in Christian activities keeps us in a closed circle where the corrupt world is not allowed.

The second reaction is to accommodate, to simply go with the flow of the culture. To quietly blend in, convinced they aren’t worldly so much as simply refraining from concentrating on aspects of faith that turn non-Christians off to the gospel.

There are problems with both reactions. One is that they are not generated by obedience to Scripture. “Sociologists tell us,” Keyes notes, “that dissonant groups within a larger society react to reduce the potential for friction in two predictable ways. One is to compromise their distinctive beliefs and way of life and so reduce their conflict with society. The other is to keep their dissonance and tribalize, retreating within their own group and thus losing contact with society.”1 Both are motivated by fear or defensiveness.

Both reactions are inadequate for Christian faithfulness. There is no reason to withdraw if the gospel is the power of God; there is no reason to accommodate for the same reason (Romans 1:16). “Like rocks dropped into a pond,” Keyes says, “Christians are dropped into society. What kind of waves do they make? Jesus calls us to make waves that are positive and transforming while we simultaneously keep our distinctively Christian identity.”2 To withdraw is a practical refusal to be in the world, and to accommodate is a practical refusal to not be of the world.

One subtle myth
A common myth found among evangelicals confuses the issue. It’s unbiblical, but is often expressed in ways that make it sound spiritual. The myth is that life is divided between the spiritual and the material, and what is spiritual is more valuable and eternally significant. In this view, things like Bible reading, prayer, and evangelism are spiritual; things like cooking, carpentry, and selling cell phones are material. Why read fiction when you could be reading the Bible? It may be a good book, but there is something better. The problem is usually solved by spiritualizing the less spiritual things: witness while you are working as a carpenter, compose music that is sacred not secular—something like that.

As Ranald Macaulay and Jerram Barrs demonstrate in Being Human: The Nature of Spiritual Experience, this myth actually comes from pagan Greek beliefs. The truth is, as Francis Schaeffer said, if you set aside what the Bible identifies as sinful, for the Christian all of life is not only spiritual, it is equally spiritual.

Human culture began not at the Fall, but in Creation. God called all things into existence in a riot of beauty and creativity and called it very good (Genesis 1:31). Human beings are made in the image of the Creator, and thus are creative. When God brought Adam and Eve together, the result was poetry (Genesis 2:23), which God was pleased to include in his written word. Our first parents cultivated God’s good earth (which is related to the notion of culture), tenderly caring for it and adding their creativity to the world he had made (Genesis 2:15).

Reading Scripture is important, but when the carpenter sets aside his Bible to build a wall, this too is done to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). As Hans Rookmaaker used to say about art, work well done needs no justification. There is no sacred/secular dichotomy for the Christian. Jesus Christ is not just Lord of the new creation (Colossians 1:18-20), he is Lord of all of creation (Colossians 1:15-17).

There is great freedom in this. If we are called to vocational ministry, we can be thankful. But if our calling is to something else, it is not a lesser calling. We need not spiritualize our work somehow to escape being of the world. Every legitimate vocation can be pursued to God’s glory, and can be offered in gratitude and worship. Our desire to be faithful at living in the world but not of it will not be helped if we make an unbiblical value distinction between the spiritual and the physical.

Eight practical probing questions
Finally, I want to provide a series of practical yet probing questions which will help us reflect on being in the world but not of it. It may seem easier to make a list of forbidden worldly activities, but lists always metastasize into legalism. Better to have questions that will turn us back to Scripture and a walk of faith.


1. Does the wonder of grace shape all I am and do?

If we fail to understand our sinfulness we will fail to live humbly before God and our neighbors. If we fail to understand grace we will fail to have a quiet confidence in the gospel of Christ. There is no reason for defensiveness or fear as we live in the world, because Christ has told us he has overcome it (John 16:33). And there is no reason to act aggressively superior, as if we have everything together, because we are called to humility (1 Peter 5:5).

It is God’s grace that makes faithfulness possible in a fallen world. Grace to be forgiven and to forgive, grace demonstrated when it isn’t deserved, grace which gives the gift of listening to people living sadly fragmented lives, grace to enter the lives of lost people who doubt any real hope is possible, grace to find creative ways to lean against the sorry effects of the Fall.

Only grace is sufficient to get us past our timidity, fear and defensiveness so that our lives can exhibit something of God’s love, power and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7.) Only if we believe what the Bible says about grace will we be willing to take the necessary risk of fleshing out the gospel in a world which will try to destroy us.


2. Am I living with integrity given the weaknesses of my flesh?

Taking sin and temptation seriously is freeing because we were made for holiness. “Just as he who called you is holy,” Peter writes, “so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15). This is not an impossible standard, but an invitation to life at its richest.

Jeremiah reminds us of our tendency to self-deception when he says our hearts “are deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9). Christian community is a grace allowing us to be in relationship with fellow believers who love us enough to listen, walk alongside us, and call us to account. Being in the world can slide into being of the world when we allow ourselves, intentionally or not, to walk into situations where our flesh uses the world as an excuse to sin.

So, if certain films prove difficult for you, see other films. This involves far more than a dependence on the world’s ratings. Some PG-13 movies have scenes far more seductive than some films rated R. Because my wife and I know our weaknesses, there are catalogues we won’t keep in our home because they make us discontented with what we have.


3. Am I growing ever more discerning in our increasingly pluralistic world?

Our neighbors, co-workers, and friends do not necessarily share our deepest convictions. As beliefs and values proliferate we’ll need to develop skill in being biblically discerning, since faithfulness is more thoughtful than merely reacting according to how we feel at the moment.

Sometimes, for example, we find ourselves in situations where Christians would disagree. Such as when an unmarried friend asks us to help them move in with their lover. Or when a Muslim neighbor asks us to drive them to the mosque for prayers. Such situations are uncomfortable because there is no specific text which specifically addresses them. Still, God’s word must be the light for our path in all of life, not just the ones for which we can find specific texts (Psalm 119:105). It’s easy to simply react in such situations, but far better to grow in wise discernment, creatively applying the truth of the Christian world view to all of life and culture.


4. Am I nourishing my mind, heart, conscience, and imagination in God’s word?

If we are to be discerning and grow to maturity, we need to be not only familiar with the Bible but steeped in it. As the Scriptures are our delight they keep us from being swept away by the ideas, lifestyles and attitudes of a fallen world (Psalm 1:1-2). As God’s word written reveals the living Word, it provides “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The only way to be sensitive to the subtly ugly lies and unhealthy temptations of the world is to reflect deeply on their opposite, all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Sometimes this text is misunderstood to mean we can only think about such things and thus need to withdraw from the world. That would mean we cannot have thoughtful relationships with sinners, since Paul’s description of them runs directly counter to this list (Romans 3:9-18). Paul is not counseling withdrawal but preparation for active engagement. The seductiveness of a fallen world fades when we are passionately in love with holiness and overwhelmed by grace.


5. Am I honestly probing my involvement in the systems, institutions and values of the world?

All the world’s systems and institutions are tainted by falleness, or as John puts it, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Like the proverbial fish in water, we get used to them—after all, they’re simply there—and so fail to notice how they affect us.

Learning to ask hard questions can reveal our blind spots. For example, how am I subtly shaped by the values of consumerism? Do I ever buy stuff mainly to feel better after a stressful day—is it ever wise to turn stewardship into a form of therapy? How does the insistent flood of advertising make me feel discontented with what I have? Even if I claim to reject them, how do standards of attractiveness affect the way I respond to people? To what extent does the biblical concern for caring for the earth shape my political involvement? When people sit in my living room do they see a decor shaped by thoughtlessness, or the latest fashion, or a creative attempt to make people feel safe and welcome?

Asking hard and probing questions is disquieting, especially since it is unlikely any of us have achieved a level of holiness unspotted by the world.


6. Am I being intentionally redemptive in my vocation?

Regardless of our calling, we have the opportunity to grow over our lifetime in leaning against the effects of the Fall in our vocation. We can examine the unspoken assumptions and values in light of Scripture.

I met a nurse who worked in the department where a friend was a physician. When I mentioned his name she brightened. He is an excellent doctor, she said, but he is more than that. He even takes time to meet the lab technicians and knows them by name—most physicians never notice them. In Beyond Paradise, a friend issues a challenge to Christians in engineering, arguing that for too long technology has been measured only in terms of its effectiveness. Technology sets up ripples in social, aesthetic, and spiritual aspects of life, he argues, and Christians can take the lead to help bring this field more in conformity with biblical notions of shalom.


7. Am I winsomely engaging our postmodern world with the gospel?

Withdrawn Christians rarely know any non-Christians as good friends. Accommodating Christians rarely have anything distinctive to say. The New Testament allows us neither option.

When Paul visited Athens he was among people who did not share his Christian faith. Luke’s report in Acts 17 shows how Paul intentionally found ways to understand what the Athenians believed from within their world view. He used their authorities to begin talking about things that matter most. He used a shrine (17:23) and a truth about God from a pagan poet (who was referring to Zeus) to winsomely engage the Athenians with the gospel.

So, Am I finding creative windows of insight into the beliefs, values, fears and dreams of those I live and work with? Thoughtful movies can be these windows. Made by non-Christians, they provide a glimpse into the world as shaped by their world view. Good novels can do the same. Without for a moment giving up my own convictions as a Christian, such windows allow me to understand another person’s world from the inside.

And, Am I using points of contact to begin winsome conversations with non-Christians about the big issues of life? Paul spoke the truth but appealed to authorities the Athenians would listen to, rather than repeating the same presentation he made in Antioch when he addressed people who accepted the Bible (Acts 13:13-52). My wife and I have found, for example, that many of the postmodern generation who have contempt for Christianity are eager to talk about the music and films that touch them deeply. Good art probes into the big issues of life.

Popular culture is not the only window of insight and point of contact, though it is the primary one for the postmodern generation. The question, however, is not about popular art but about whether we are actively discovering and winsomely talking about the gospel in a way that our non-Christian friends can truly understand.


8. Where do I need to grant freedom to my fellow believers?

We don’t all have the same weaknesses. We pursue different vocations, though each is enmeshed in some way in the world. Unique callings require different windows of insight and points of contact. Therefore though we are all to be holy, faithfulness will not look identical for each believer. Your conscience may not allow you to watch a certain film with co-workers who are eagerly discussing it, but that doesn’t mean I am compromising either faith or holiness if I watch it with them. It is not diversity but sin which is forbidden.

In the world but not of it

Living out Jesus’ prayer in a fallen world is imperative, but it is not tidy. We dare not get swept in, and we dare not be aloof. We must be separate while being in the thick of things. And in contrast to lists of forbidden worldly things, and withdrawing or accommodating, this requires walking by faith together as the community of God’s redeemed.


Denis Haack is a visiting instructor at Covenant Seminary and director of Ransom Fellowship (www.ransomfellowship.org), which helps Christians develop skill in discernment. This article is reprinted with permission from the June/July 07 edition of byFaith, the magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America. All rights reserved.

1 Chameleon Christianity, p. 15.
2 Chameleon Christianity, p. 14.


The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding grants permission for this article to be copied in its entirety, provided the copies are distributed free of charge and the copies indicate the source as the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.

For more information on resources to help you understand today’s rapidly changing youth culture, contact the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.

©2007, The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Birth of a Legend


Explore More: Spiritual Disciplines
October 17-23, 2010; Week 1


KNOW | Personal Study
Read Acts 2:41-3:10 & Hebrews 11.  Take time to read and reflect on these passages.  Make observations about their daily life, character, and ultimately what they were known for.  Take time and allow God's Spirit to speak to you through these passages and give you direction.

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Who is/are your hero(es)?  Take time to think through your life and list who have been/are your heroes.  Next, ask yourself why they were/are your heroes?  What was it about their life or a decision they made that separated themselves from others?  Why did you want to become like them?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
What do you want to be known for?  If you want your life to have an impact past your physical death, what kind of an impact do you want to have?  How will that impact come about?

SOW | Application
Prioritize your life.  If you live your life with the "end' in perspective it will calibrate your priorities.  The next step is to then act on those priorities and structure your life, finances, relationships, and time around those priorities.  In this process it is important not to measure yourself against other people, but to simply follow Jesus in the calling He has given you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baby Dedication


Yesterday, Angela and I dedicated our son to the Lord before our Church family.  We were blessed to have Dave Parson's lead this time... thank you Dave!  I always love baby dedications because of the inherent reflection that comes with such an occasion.  Fathers, mothers, siblings, grandparents, and Church family take time to personalize their role in our community of faith.  I love knowing that our Church family is here to love and support my family.  Thank you to all of you who call Mission Foursquare Church, your family, and who commit to supporting and loving one another.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday's Water Baptism Was Awesome

Yesterday we had the honour of baptizing eight of our youth in water!  I was encouraged by the boldness of these youth to make this step of faith in Jesus.  However, the most exciting part was reading their facebook updates after the service where they (again) publicly proclaimed their excitement and love for Jesus.

We also had a special song by a grandmother of one of the boys being baptized and then heard Rob and Donna George testify to God's faithfulness, love, and power as they followed Jesus this past summer to biker rallies across North America (with the Christian Motorcyclists Association).

Friday, October 1, 2010

And the Restoration Begins

Well, this was another interesting week in the life of our Church... specifically the house where our Church family gathers!  We installed a new sewage pump and the restoration company began the clean-up and drying process.  The restoration process will take 4-6 weeks so that means our kid's wing, main kitchen, and two main bathrooms will be closed for most of this time.

Our Kid's classes will move to the Fireside Room, Upstairs Room, and Youth Centre.  With the main kitchen shut down we will postpone our continental breakfast until the Kitchen is restored.  We'll have coffee, hot water, and bottled water available during this shutdown.  The handicap washroom and youth centre washrooms will be open for use as well (no more porta-potties)!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Water Back-up

There are somethings that Bible College will never prepare you for... last night, one of those things happened.  I got a call last night at 10:00pm letting me know that our sewage pump was broken and that black water (the part of what you flush down the drain/toilet that doesn't have chunks) was coming up in any room that had a floor drain!

I popped down to survey the damage and found 15 or so volunteers from our Church already there, mopping and cleaning.  A couple of our men had their heads down the big poop hole inspecting the cause of the disaster.  We decided to shut down the affected rooms and begin the more formal fixing and clean-up on Monday.  We were able to find a portable toilet company that delivered on Sundays and they dropped of a couple cans just in time for today's service.

I want to put out a big thank you to the Watson's, Parson's, Charlton's, Dale R., Chad R., Zain K. and a few of our youth that helped out in such a huge way.  Your joy in serving in such horrible conditions is a huge blessing to our Church family.

From Friendly to Family

The quality of our relationship with Christ is demonstrated in the extent of our hospitality.  Are you a hospitable person?  Are we a hospitable Church?  Christians are by their new nature called to be hospitable.  We are to reach out to the alien, stranger, the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the vulnerable.  We are to welcome all those without community into our community.

To be hospitable, you must first experience hospitality. [KNOW]
Our nature defaults to self-love, but our new nature defaults to loving others first (1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”).  Christ’s very work and presence in our life compels us to love.

To be hospitable, you must be willing to accept the hospitality of others.  [GROW]
Until you open yourself up to love in its most extreme form (called grace) you will not be able to do the same.  Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:18b-19 “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge --that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." reveals what's at stake (the fullness of God).

To be hospitable you must be mature in Christ.  [SOW]
Our experience in Christ will result in a personal maturing.  A maturity that results in good personal planning and organization.  A maturity that results in personal discipline.  A maturity that see and treats others like they have been treated by Christ.  The fruit of our faith in Christ will be tasted in our hospitality.

When people walk into a Church service for the first time there are few common experiences:

Arranged in order of health (poorest to best health):

JUDGEMENTAL CHURCH
  • “You’re kind are not welcome here.”
  • This can be communicated either directly or indirectly.
  • Typical in legalistic Churches.
DISEASED CHURCH (VAMPIRE VIRUS)
  • “Welcome…{fresh blood}!"
  • This is communicated by pouncing and hounding guests.
  • Typical in dying Churches.
FRIENDLY CHURCH
  • “Hi, John. {I won’t remember your name, but} you are welcome here.”
  • This is communicated by a superficial interest.
  • Typical in disconnected/distracted Churches.
FAMILY CHURCH
  • “Want to join us for lunch?”
  • This is communicated by a genuine and sincere interest in others.
  • Typical in Christ-centered Churches.
My perception is that our Church is mostly in the friendly category.  We are warm to guests, but we make them do all the work if they want to become part of our family.

It needs to be the other way around.  When a baby is born into a family, the family initiates and adjusts to protect, feed, raise, and love that baby.  The family doesn’t wait for the baby to be self-sufficient and then offer the services and benefits of family.

Our Church needs to initiate relationships and give everything we have to offer without expecting anything in return.  That’s how Jesus deals with us.  We need to treat every stranger/alien and all the vulnerable (i.e. the guests that cross our path) the same way we would our own baby.

Jesus explicitly says in Matthew 25 that when we welcome the stranger and take care of the vulnerable, we are welcoming and taking care of Him.  Mtt. 25:40-46  "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

There are many common excuses that keep us from moving from Friendly to Family.  I want to list some of them today and work towards shattering them.

  • "There are too many people to welcome, so I might as well not start." 
  • "Being hospitable is too expensive." 
  • "They’re way younger than me / They’re way older than me."
  • "My life is busy enough and I don’t have time for more people."
  • "I like what I have (in my group of friends) and I don’t want to ruin that." 
  • "Every time I try it hasn’t worked, what will be different this time?" 
  • "I’m sure someone else will befriend them." 
  • "That’s the Pastor’s job."
We need to become a more hospitable people and that will only happen if we change the culture of hearts by allowing Jesus to change us to become more like Him.

Prayer
Father, we invite you this morning into every layer of our life.  We receive your love as given in Jesus and we freely accept your forgiveness in faith.  We first say thank you for your love and we then say help us to live in that love.  Help us to become more like you so that we can live and love how you do.  We want that joy and satisfaction.  Guide us in the way we are to go.  Reveal our darkness and expose the lies we believe.   Expand our hearts to love others to the degree that you love us.  Make way in our lives for a heart that burns with love for others.  Be with us as we leave this place, may the presence of Jesus be evident in our decisions and destinations.  We love you and we praise you!  Amen.


EXPLORE MORE:

Read Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25:31-46.  Both of these passages are clear, religious-busting words from God to His Church.  Take time to read and reflect on the implications God communicates in these passages.

How hospitable are you towards others?  What keeps you from being more hospitable?  In Sunday's message, Clint communicated some common excuses that get people out of being hospitable.  What keeps you from introducing yourself to others and welcoming them into your home/family?

Have you ever experienced extreme hospitality?  What was it about that experience that made you feel valuable, welcome, and free to be the yourself?  How about the opposite?  Have you ever been over to someone's house, but then didn't feel very welcome or felt like you were interrupting or imposing?

Invite someone new out or over this week.  It could be a neighbor, co-worker, or someone you met at Church.   Give someone a call and invite them over or invite them out to do something.  Initiate the activity, extend grace, and love them in the way Jesus has loved you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Explore More: Gifted to Serve

Notes from Dave Parson's sermon on Sunday, Sept. 19th.

Each of us have been gifted by God to serve the Body of Christ.  As we serve in the area that God has called us to, the Body (the Church Family) is built up in love.  We grow in maturity and the world sees the love of Jesus.

Ephesians 4:7-16 – Talks of the Gifts Jesus has given to his Body (the Church)

Romans 12:3-8 – Shows us to serve God with our gifts which He has given.

1 Corinthians 12:4-31 – Reveals the diversity of gifts given to the Body by the Holy Spirit

Yet through all this we are called to “pursue love” which is the greatest gift of all.  For it is the love of the Father and the Son at the Cross that made it possible for us to come to Him as His Children.
  • Let us ask God to Show us how he has gifted us.
  • Let us begin serving the Body.
  • Let us watch Him grow us in His love.
As a result the world will see Him in us and draw them to Himself.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bring Your Daughter to Work Day

Last night I decided to make today the unofficial bring your daughter to work day.  So at 6:30am Ruby and I headed out the door to work.  She did a great job of retrieving documents from the printer, reminding me to take breaks and eat cookies, as well as brightening up the office.  She made it until 1:00pm and then was ready to have Mommy pick her up.  Today has been a great day.

Isaac Dagneau Reflects on Mexico

I asked Isaac Dagneau to write report of his recent missions trip to Mexico and here it is:


Don't you love it when God suddenly changes you in a certain way?  When we accept Christ as our Savior he transforms us, initially changing the way we did live to a new way of living.  I accepted Christ into my heart truly in May 2001.  My mom was singing "Above All" on the stage on that year's Good Friday service.  Since then I've had my ups and downs, but for the most part I've kept pretty close to God.  It wasn't until these past two years that I've taken the wrong path.  The path of the flesh.  I only wanted to do what I thought would pleasure me, and I didn't want God to be any part of it.  I told myself that God was all in the mind, and that I could feel the same doing other things.  So I fell, hard.  I willingly let Satan mess around in my mind, and change the order of things.  This ultimately led to depression, not severe depression but I still felt empty.  Then, on a complete average summer day, God suddenly spoke to me.  This past summer, God said "the way you're going is not going to get you anywhere.  Follow Me, you know that I'm real."  That hit me hard, yet I simply said yes, and since then I've grown spiritually really fast.  God has been working with me like never before, and He gave me many opportunities to serve Him.  One of which was going on a mission's trip to Baja California, Mexico to an orphanage to serve.

Now that the introduction is finished, I will begin the story of the mission's trip.  I believe that the introduction is vital though, and it's needed for people to fully understand what happened.  I was first introduced to the orphanage when Bernie and Linda Vanson told their story of what happened when they were there.  That was earlier this year, and at that time I wasn't at a good state with God, so I didn't think anything of it.  When I finally did think about going, it was about two weeks before the trip, in the beginning of August.  It was after I recommitted my life, and I was telling my mom how I really wanted to do something for God in the time left in summer.  She, out of random thought, suggested that I go on this certain mission's trip with the Lutheran Church.  I jumped to my feet and said yes.  I quickly got in contact with the leader, and in a blink of an eye I was standing in Baja California, Mexico.  I knew no one on the trip, which was great because I was a new creation by Christ and I wanted to meet others with this new me.  The relationships I made on the trip are amazing, and I could see the change in my words and actions.  I noticed day by day that God was transforming me, and saw that He was making me strong in my faith. 

My idea what I was going to do there was completely the opposite of what I ended up doing.  I thought that I was going to be working in rough conditions.  For example working outside in the heat, building big things, and getting all sweaty and dirty.  Actually, I did get sweaty and dirty, however, I got that from working in the last place I thought I was going to be working at.  A small kitchen they call the Nuthouse.  It's quite a walk from the main orphanage, and in the Nuthouse many things go on.  First off, it's called the Nuthouse because they grow, harvest, and flavour macadamian nuts.  They also bake cookies, make cakes, decorate donuts, and all that good stuff.  So I was sent there to work, and I had a blast.  Three lovely ladies worked there, and we became great friends.  Their stories are wonderful, and touched me strongly.  Throughout the week I grew to really enjoy these new people, and the more I talked with them, the more I saw the change in me. 

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my highlight of the trip at church (Mission Foursquare). This is what I said: Before I went on the trip, and for the most of my life, Satan had control over my eyes.  I would judge and mock everything that came in sight of my old eyes.  My mind was so used to it that it was involuntary, like breathing.  This, as we all know, is sin.  It had to stop, and that's just what God did.  It's as though I was sleeping soundly, and God had come and pinched my nose.  I couldn't breath anymore, and my eyes suddenly burst open.  This is what He did with my judging eyes.  On one night, our group left the orphanage to visit a third world living camp to serve and play with the kids.  As we arrived in three vans, kids would run like spreading wild fire.  They were screaming, jumping on the vans and were so happy that we were there.  I looked out at them from the van window, they were dirty.  I got out of the van and picked up a child, they were God's children.  Do you see what happened?  God suddenly smashed Satan's longterm house in my eyesockets.  I saw everyone as God's children, and I was surely transformed.  It didn't matter if your shirt got dirty, or if you got saliva on your neck.  These kids needed love, and it was a true blessing to illustrate God's love to them through our actions.  That was my highlight of the trip, and I'm so happy that God is in control of my life again.  God bless!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kid's Raise $360 for Local Missionary


Our Church is blessed with the best youth pastor in the world!  Calvin Williams was custom crafted by God to work with our city's youth.  His heart for youth is as gentle as it is huge and his love for Christ overflows into everything He does.  He is a missionary to the youth of our city and he does a fantastic job.  He's also a great husband and dad!

This summer our Kid's collected their change and it totaled $359!  I'd like to thank all our kid's for giving so generously and thank Diane Kim for sparking the idea.  When you get moment you would you consider supporting the ministry Calvin is called to?  You can pick-up some information in the Church lobby or go to Calvin's website: http://www.hopefortheyouth.com/.  He'd really benefit from monthly prayer and financial support.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Explore More: Ephesians, Week 11

September 12-18, 2010; Week 11

KNOW | Personal Study
Read Isaiah 11:4-5; 59:15-17; 49:2; 52:7 and Ephesians 4-6.   Read these sections of Scripture.  Take time to be alone and talk with God and reflect on His Words to us.  Allow the seeds of Scripture to grow within your heart and life.

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Can a Christian be a soldier and a person of peace?  Paul uses interesting imagery in Ephesians 6:10-20 to describe our role in this season of God's Kingdom.  The image is that of a soldier.  Paul most likely got this imagery from Isaiah (see verses above) and his daily view in prison (of Roman guards).  In on sense, the use of a soldier seems contradictory to the Good News of Jesus (peace).  What are your thoughts?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
Do you have all your armor?  Paul lists the essential armor for every Christian in Eph. 6:10-20.  Are you living with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word, the Spirit, and praying at all times?  It seems silly for a soldier to go into combat with the right tools or weapons, but we often go into the daily battle without one or more of Paul's list.  What armor do you leave behind the most?

SOW | Application
Get in the battle.  The application for this week's scripture is simple.  Put on all the armor and join the battle.  Bring armor of God into your home, your workplace, and your neighbourhood.  This could be as simple as praying for those people, speaking a word of truth/encouragement, or loving someone sacrificially.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Sunday to Remember

I don't know about you, but I had a great time with everyone at our gathering Sunday.  (Prepare for the world's longest run-on sentence)... the Vanson's started the morning off by making some great coffee and serving our continental breakfast, the Gilbertson's arrived and finished their preparation of "Grand Forks Borsch", then we had pre-service prayer and that is always a great time, then we heard a little bit more of God's faithfulness at Kid's Camp and with Mr. Dagneau's mission's trip to Mexico, then we sang some more, then looked together to God's Word, then ate some borsch together, and then enjoyed some homegrown talent.  It was a full and fun Sunday morning.  I am very grateful to be a part of our Church family.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trading Sorrows & Cheryl Bear Were Awesome


Last night we hosted a UGM concert featuring two groups, Trading Sorrows (Mission's UGM Choir) and Cheryl Bear (First Nations performer and evangelist).  Both groups were fantastic.  Trading Sorrows sang with an energy and enthusiasm for Jesus like none other and Cheryl Bear was truly a gift of inspiration and encouragement.  I'm hoping to get both back for a Sunday service sometime this year.

Thank you to the volunteers who helped set-up, run, and clean-up!  Thank you to those who gave as well... we were able to bless Cheryl Bear and her family with a free-will offering that will help them get to their next destination.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Doukhobor Borsch & Talent Show

This Sunday is going to be one of our craziest yet!  Following a shortened service (that will include some reports from Kid's Camp) we'll have a family time of doukhobor borsch (there will be a more kid friendly soup too) and talent.

Doukhobor borsch is my most favourite soup and I have been drooling in anticipation for the last week.  On top of that we'll have people from our Church family performing during our lunch.  My band, Toy Boys, will be performing at it too.

The lunch will be by donation and proceeds will go towards a local ministry called "StreeHope".  StreetHope feeds meals to our community's poorest almost every day of the week!  Hope to see you out this Sunday.  It will be weird, but fun.

Cheryl Bear in Concert Tonight

Cheryl Bear is performing at our Church building tonight presented by the Mission UGM.  Cheryl Bear is a Canadian Foursquare Pastor/Missionary and a performing artist.  Together with her husband and three boys, they are traveling to all of the First Nations reserves in North America with the Good News of Jesus.  So far, they have been to over 300 reserves!  Tonight's concert will be free, but a free-will offering will be collected.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Grandma With Faith


My Grandma died on Sunday, August 15, 2010.  She was the ideal Grandma... full of patience, love, and faith.  Although we miss her, we are also excited that she is with her Savior and now knows no struggles.  At her memorial service I read a poem she wrote and I hope it inspires you in the same way it inspired me.

Lord, take possession of my every thought
A heart of contentment, sympathy and love
for Thee be wrought.

May I look up, not down,
forward, not back,
out, not in.
You choose work for each of us
with your insight from within,

Your finger beckons me on & up.
You plan each drop that fills my daily cup.
Events of my life are in your hands, I say.
Appoint them in thine own best way.

May grace be given that I may walk therein,
on the path of duty that is shown so plain.
Doing His will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine, but in your strength alone.

You hold my hand & fears grow still,
I behold your face & yield my will.
To perfect truth & boundless love
Help me abide in the vine of my Father above.

-Kathleen Nelson, 2000

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Explore More: Ephesians, Week 10

August 22-28, 2010; Week 10

KNOW | Personal Study
Read Ephesians 5:21-6:9; Philippians 2; John 13.   Read these three sections of Scripture this week.  Take time to be alone and talk with God and reflect on His Words to us.  Allow the seeds of Scripture to grow within your heart and life.

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Does a Christian have rights?  Our world espouses the foundational value of personal rights and freedoms.  From Canada's Charter of Rights to the US's Declaration of Independence the world is filled with rights and freedoms.  What about the Christian?  As Christians we are a new person with a new citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  What rights does a Christian have?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
Do you feel alive when you die?  Christians are called to die daily to our self.  If you tried doing this for just one day chances are you were burned out at the end of the day and were ready for a spa day to reward yourself for the previous day's work.  Do you think it's possible to feel more alive after a day of self-sacrifice?  If so, how or what makes this possible?  Is there room for rest with the lifestyle of a Christian?

SOW | Application
Pick a key relationship in your life and love them out of your reverence for Christ.  The only way we can love someone more and not feel bitter about it at the end of the day is if we love out of reverence for Christ.  Spend time building your relationship with Christ and then see the life, love, and power He gives you to live the life you've always dreamed of.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Chili Goodness" Takes First Place




We had 13 entries in our first ever Chili Cook-off and Janet Williams' "Chili Goodness" took first place.  The judges said it tasted great, contained the right ratio of ingredients, and had just the right amount of kick for all audiences.

My Chili, "Chili Con Carnage" came in second place.  I guess the judges couldn't take the heat :).  All in all it was a great event and I'm already looking forward to next year's competition.  A special thank you to all that entered, helped with set-up, and clean-up.  The Wielenga clan were rockstars!  Thank you for serving so graciously.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Golden Crock Pot


This Sunday we will battle for the Golden Crock Pot. This trophy will be given to the one whose cuisine skills and taste-bud artistry rises above all others. To taste a true Chili is a thing of beauty. The perfect medley of tomato, beef (or meat substitute), beans, and spices... dancing in rhythm and singing in perfect harmony on ones tongue is an experience second only to the divine. Come this Sunday and taste our family's finest Chili.  Only the taste of victory will be sweeter than the taste of our Chili.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Call to Anguish - David Wilkerson

I don't usually share religious/spiritual videos because they tend to be overemotional and disconnected from the current context and relationship with our local Church family, but this video puts words to things that I've been wrestling with deep within.  He's a much better communicator than me and so I thought I'd let his words communicate my heart.  The tone of this video isn't suited for all, but it's message is one us more "mature" Christians need to hear.  My hope and prayer is the the Holy Spirit uses this video and these words to fan into flame the work and ministry of the Spirit in our lives and in our Church.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Explore More: Ephesians, Week 9

KNOW | Personal Study
Read Ephesians 4:17-5:20.   It's been a few weeks, so get back into it.  Make time to read through it slowly and reflect on what is being said.  This passage includes a long list of "what and what not to do's".  Allow the standard of God's Word to line up with your life and pursue God in every area of life.

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Are you different?  Should Christians be different?  If your neighbours, co-workers, and banker or financial planner, were to discover that you were a Christian would they be surprised?  Paul makes it clear that Christians are to not only be different, but live differently from the world.  Do you do things differently then those around you?  Do you talk, relate, and listen differently?  Do you work differently?  Do you spend differently?  Is your family different?

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
How does real change occur?  How you take off the old self and put on the new self?  What does it take to live a life filled with goodness, righteousness, and holiness?

SOW | Application
Live by the Book.  After reading the above mentioned text it will definitely shed light on your life and expose the areas that filled with darkness.  Pick one thing and work hard at changing that aspect of your life.  Change isn't easy, especially when it's become a habit.  Talk to those who can help you change and move forward together.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chili Cook-off Coming this Sunday!

I love chili and I"m really looking forward to next Sunday (Aug. 15) when we will have our cook-off.  If you didn't get a chance to sign-up, it's okay... you can bring your chli on Sunday.  You'll need to do a few things: 1)  bring a list of all the ingredients used (for allergy reasons); 2) bring your chili in a crockpot with a ladle; and 3) be prepared to fill out a form that will include your chili's name and whether or not it is spicy.

Everyone in attendance will get sample bowls, a ballot, a dinner roll, and beverages.  At the end of the event we'll announce the winners and award prizes.  First place will take home the golden ladle.  Hope to see you there.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wake up, O sleeper!


Usually once or twice a week I wake up to this face beside my bed yellling, "WAAAAAAAAAKE UUUUUUP, DAAAAAAAAAAAAAADYYYYYYYYY!"  This is followed by persistent tapping on my face and pulling on my eyelids.

I tell her that I'm awake and that I'm just resting my eyes, but she doesn't believe it.  She's not content until I'm out of the bed and brushing my teeth.  It's at that point then she'll return to the kitchen and report to her mom that the job has been accomplished.

I've been reading Ephesians again this week and 5:14b jumped off the page: "'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"  Are you awake?  Are you really awake?  Every day we need the light of Christ to shine on us and wake us up!  We'll be talking more about this tomorrow at our Sunday gathering.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Water Balloon Volleyball Next Sunday

Join us next Sunday (August 1st) for a shortened service and a game of water ballon volleyball!  Bring a towel and clothes you don't mind getting wet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Youth Fundraising at Farmer's Market

Some guys from youth rented some space at Mission's Farmer's Market to raise funds for youth camp!  Way to go guys.  Thanks Calvin for organizing everything.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Water Fight Fun!

On Sunday we reflected on the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (where Jesus instructs His followers to be people who know and give only forgiveness) then we practiced forgiveness on the battle field (our front lawn).  I tested out my new Super Soaker.  It was a good time filled with lots of laughs.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Water Fight - Next Sunday!

We had a great gathering today, but I'm already looking forward to next Sunday!  We are going to have a water fight.  Bring your squirt guns, change of clothes, towel, goggles, and whatever else you need to wage water warfare.  Visit http://www.missionfoursquare.com/index.php/component/content/article/101-2010-summer-mfc.html to get more info!

Outreach Brainstorming

Sometimes its hard to flex the brain when it's so hot out, but I'm asking you, our Church, to come up with ideas for outreach.

The Church is the only organization that doesn't exist for itself.... yet when you follow the money, time, and talent, that's rarely the reality.  At Mission Foursquare Church we currently spend approximately 25% of our budget, time, and talent on reaching out (i.e. missions, youth centre, benevolence, subsidy to non-profit groups and other churches in the use of our facility).  The rest of our resources is currently spent on ourselves (facility, administration, and internal programs).  Our goal is to get our outreach giving to 50% of our resources (time, talent, and money).  We believe that a healthy Church grows and bears fruit.  For that to happen we need people who are healthy and growing.  If we ensure that we are healthy and growing then collectively we'll begin to see more fruit!

It's no coincidence that we are seeing the most fruit come from our youth ministry and small groups.  We have been purposeful in investing in these ministries and these ministries have been reaching out and people are coming to know Christ!  We've all been a part of that and we can celebrate together!

We want to see more fruit!  There are so many people in our community that do not know Jesus and we'd like to work together to change that.  So this summer I am asking our Church to come up with ideas to either improve what we do or create new ways of doing things.

There are some parameters to our ideas:
  • Our ideas need to meet a need that is related to the mission of the Church  (i.e. we will not focus on a developing a pill that cures baldness). We exist to help people come to know Christ, grow in Christ, and then sow (serve/give) Christ to the World.
  • If our idea already exists then we'll partner with whoever is already doing it (no need to reinvent the wheel) or franchise it (i.e. we will not create our own foodbank and compete against others, but if there is a need for one in our area then we'll add on to the current system).  We may do more sending of people and money to other organizations then the creating of our own programs.
  • Not all ideas will be implemented.  Timing and fit will have a lot to do with the implementation of our ideas.  A filter of God's guidance, ministry leader's experience, and timing will be applied to all ideas.
Here are some ideas that have come in so far that might help you think towards more and better ideas:
  • Rent booths at festivals at Heritage Park where we can have a fun game for kids and an invite to a fun family event.
  • Support the annual Soap Box derby with financial and volunteer support.  Volunteers could wear cool t-shirts.
  • Start a walking and/or hiking club.
  • Start a Celebrate Recovery group.
  • Rent retail space at the new development across the street and open up a coffee shop.  The shop could be a connection point to meet our neighbours.  Proceeds could go to world relief, social justice causes, or missions trips.
  • Hire a professional counsellor and offer free marriage counselling.
  • Start an alternative service on a different day like we used to for people that work on Sundays or hate traditional religious activities.
As you can see the ideas vary... and that's a good thing!  So start scratching your head, open your eyes and look for needs in our community.  Have fun dreaming!

Explore More: Ephesians, Week 8

KNOW | Personal Study
Read Ephesians.   It's been a few weeks, so get back into it.  As a reflection tool, use your own words to summarize who Jesus is and what He means to you.  Think of a time you were really hurt by someone and/or ticked off.  We treated God the exact same way and He responded to us with love, forgiveness, and grace!

GROW | Discussion - Option #1
Have you been called?  Every person has a calling by God.  He has prepared in advance for us to do good works.  These works bring life in other people, bring satisfaction to our very being, and glorify God.  There are a few aspects to God's calling: 1) the general calling to all creation to make Jesus Christ our treasure;  2) the calling to connect to a local Church family; and 3) the unique calling to do specific tasks (i.e. teach, serve, etc.).  It's natural to be consumed with the third part of this calling... people often chase after this without figuring out the first two parts which leads to frustration and barrenness.

GROW | Discussion - Option #2
 Find your life's purpose.  We suggest using a tool called "Life Purpose". It's a book and workbook that help you discover the third part of your calling.  You can pick one up from the office for $20.

SOW | Application
Step out.  If you've been sitting on the sidelines of the Church feeling more like a spectator than a player, then get involved.  Talk to Clint if you need help with this.  Or perhaps you are so enmeshed in 'religious culture' that you haven't stepped out into your neighbours world.  Apply your calling outside of our building's walls.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Learning How to Walk

Our son, Charlie, is almost 9 months old and he's starting to get active.  He does a turtle-like scoot across the floor and has just learned to pull himself up.  The grin on his face when he accomplishes a new task is priceless.

His smile puts a smile on my face and challenges me to keep learning new things.  I find that it's so easy to become content with where I am at in life.  Either because I'm lazy, ignorant, or tired of failing.  Watching my son try and try again inspires me to do the same.  To see the smile on his face and satisfaction that comes with experiencing something so rewarding encourages me to do likewise.

His example has implications on every level... growing in our personal life, skills, relationships, and our walk with God.  My challenge today is to not be content with crawling through life, but seek to feel the rush of wind as I win the race.