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):

  • “You’re kind are not welcome here.”
  • This can be communicated either directly or indirectly.
  • Typical in legalistic Churches.
  • “Welcome…{fresh blood}!"
  • This is communicated by pouncing and hounding guests.
  • Typical in dying Churches.
  • “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.
  • “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.

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.


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:  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.