Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Great Christmas Day

Following our Christmas Eve service, we went back to our house and shared a nice evening of appetizers (three cheers for the oriental party pack) and opening presents with/from my in-laws.  Ruby started us off by unwrapping a Barbie wardrobe thing.  Then Charlie opened a toolbox that came with a ton of little boy tools (by the end of the night our coffee table looked like a beaver had been snacking on it).  Angela opened up her gift to unveil an iPad.  She was pretty overwhelmed and very grateful.  By the time it came to me I was actually getting excited.  I unwrapped my gift and discovered three pairs of socks... ahhh the life of a Dad.

Ruby was up until midnight playing with her Barbie when she finally fell asleep.  I then awoke to her banging around in her room with her toys at 3:00am.  I couldn't fall back to sleep so I laid awake until 5:00am and headed down to the Church building.  I prepared the continental breakfast for the service then returned home at 7:00am to wake up the kids and open more gifts.  Charlie was up and ready for it.  Ruby needed some convincing to get out of bed.  We opened gifts from my parents.  Ruby got a princess wardrobe.  Midway through Ruby's gift opening she shouted, "I KNEW I was on the nice list!"  It's funny how kids pick things up and wonder about such things.  Charlie got a kids' tool bench.  Angela got cash.  I got more socks...

Our Church service attendance was small, but our audience remained the same :)  We enjoyed cinnamon buns, oranges, candy canes, yogurt, apple cider, hot chocolate, coffee, and tea.  Tony did a great job leading us in worship.  We prayed for Angela, Christy's mom, Diane's mom, Lavonne W., and the Vanson's (they leave to serve for three months in an orphanage in Mexico on Wednesday).  I rambled on about the secrets of being a great gift giver (from John 3:16-17).  Tony & Alison were rock stars this weekend.  For both services they were there early to set-up and stayed late to clean-up.  Their love in this way was a huge blessing to our family.

Sunday afternoon, we headed into Richmond to be with Angela's family for Christmas.  It was a really fun time.  Our brother-in-law was like Martha Stewart (in a manly way).  He pumped out great appetizers followed a huge turkey and ham dinner with tons of sides.  We opened gifts, played with toys, and took a ton video and photos.

Tomorrow, we head over to the Island for a few days with my parents.  Angela was feeling much better today (less tired).  Her hair will start falling out tomorrow... so that will be interesting.  Her immune system will be at an all time low this week as well so we'll be washing our hands like crazy and sneezing into our elbows.

I hope you have a great week.  Did you know that you can enjoy the gift of Jesus year 'round?!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prayer Focus

Church Family 
  • Friend of Eugene D.who is fighting cancer
  • Friend of Angela N. who has undiagnosed pain
  • Angela N. - Stage 4 GI Cancer
  • Cancer in one of our Church member's family.
  • A Church member's mom who had a bad fall.

Foursquare Family
  • Kikino Aboriginal Foursquare Church (Kikino, AB)
  • Barry Buzza (President of Foursquare Canada)
  • Doug Friesen (Unit Supervisor) 

Other Churches 
  • Mission Christ the King (Mission, BC)

Our Community & World
  • Your neighbours
  • Mayor Ted Adlem & Council
  • Premier Clark & MLA's
  • Prime Minister Harper, Senate, & MP's
  • Syria, Philippines, North Korea

Monday, December 19, 2011

Foolish Expectations

Even though I never really know what a week will hold, I naively begin each week thinking the opposite.  I'm embarrassed at how arrogant and ignorant I can be when it comes to thinking that I know the future and that I control the future.  It amazes me how much security I draw from things that aren't guaranteed.  I rely on my day planner, my "smart" phone, normal weather, good health, money in the bank, friends, family, and my own strength and understanding.

Yet there are very few things that are guaranteed.  In fact, the only things that are guaranteed are those established by God.  Because God is just, sin will always result in chaos/destruction/death.  Because God is good, He will always extend his forgiveness and righteousness to those that simply follow Him in faith.  Because God is truth, His word and His way will always be the reality.  Because God is victorious, He will always bring healing. Because God is faithful, He will return and render the completion of all these things.  Of these things we can be certain.  Upon these things we can base our day and our week.

I write these things as Angela receives her first chemo treatment.  We are experiencing a sobering moment of the reality of sin and the grace of God.  For the first time in a long time, I don't have any clue what this week will look like and for the first time in a long time, I'm okay with it.  Our situation forces us to simply roll with the punches and do nothing except turn to God and open our hearts more fully to His voice and His touch.

My prayer today is, "O, Lord, bring your healing touch now.  Move in power.  Teach me your way and your will.  Thank you for all that you have done, all that you are doing, and all that you have yet to do."

If you could join with us in this prayer, we would appreciate your time and your heart in this matter.  Thanks again to all those praying, helping, and loving us.  We are overwhelmed (in a good way) with the gift that you are to us. 

Have a great day and a great week responding to the real certainties of life.

I have found the following Scriptures sobering and encouraging today...

Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"

Proverbs 22:19 (NIV) "So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you."
Job 31:2-40 (NIV) "2 For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? 3 Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? 4 Does he not see my ways and count my every step? 5 "If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit-- 6 let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless-- 7 if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, 8 then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted. 9 "If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, 10 then may my wife grind another man's grain, and may other men sleep with her. 11 For that would have been shameful, a sin to be judged. 12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest. 13 "If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, 14 what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? 15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? 16 "If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, 17 if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless-- 18 but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow-- 19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment, 20 and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep, 21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, 22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. 23 For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things. 24 "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,' 25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, 26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, 27 so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, 28 then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. 29 "If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him-- 30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life-- 31 if the men of my household have never said, 'Who has not had his fill of Job's meat?'-- 32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler-- 33 if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart 34 because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside-- 35 ("Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense--let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. 36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. 37 I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him.)-- 38 "if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, 39 if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, 40 then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley." The words of Job are ended."

Psalm 9:10 (NIV) "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Romans 5:8-11 (NIV) "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video from Kid's Mini Christmas Concert

To protect our kids you'll need a password to play this.  Passwords are only given to members of our Church family.  To request the password, please email

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Overjoyed by Friends, Family, and The Body

I'm not good at receiving help.  I sometimes refuse help because of pride.  Other times, it's because I like to be in control. Then there are times where I feel like I don't deserve it and there are others that need the help more.  Finally, there are a few times where people want to help and it's something that I really enjoy and so I want it for myself.

God has been using the last few weeks to grow me in receiving help.  In some situations, I have to swallow my pride and simply say 'thank you'.  Other times, I have to learn to simply trust others.  In other situations, I explain that the offer for help isn't needed at this time, but the offer means so much.

I am also learning that if I don't accept offers for help, I rob them of the joy and blessing it is to give.  I'm learning these lessons in new ways.

We have been so blessed by our friends, family, and the body of Christ (the Church).  Here's just a glimpse of what we've experienced to date:
  • Literally hundreds of offers of help in all shapes and sizes.
  • Non-stop meals every day with enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • A freezer that went from being one-third full to overflowing.
  • A constant stream of people letting us know they are thinking of us and praying for us.
  • An extended family that is praying and fasting for Angela on a regular basis.
  • Professional weekly house cleaning given by friends.
  • Amazing love and help for our kids from our families and close friends.
  • .... plus, so much more.
In fact, even as I wrote this we were interrupted by a door bell.  Standing at the door was Chris K. with Angela's favourite dinner... chicken souvlaki from Elleni's.  I think our kids have forgotten that food can be made in the kitchen.  It just "magically" appears each day at our door.

On Friday night, a friend stopped by to let me know that their Church (of a different denomination and town) had heard about our situation and wanted to help our Church in a physical way during this time.  He gave me an envelope and inside was a cheque for $10,000 to bless our Church.  This gift proved to be the last hurdle of a two year process of getting our Church out of debt and operating in the black.

We feel incredibly blessed and look forward to getting back in a position where we can take what we've experienced and be a blessing to others.

Today was a lot of fun.  Our kids sang in the Church service for a mini-Christmas performance, then we had a bake sale, and lots of good connections with others.  Angela's parents came over for lunch and we feasted on all our leftovers.  Ruby and I installed our token string of Christmas lights on the house.  We are tired this evening from everything and will be resting.  I'm sad to miss the Christmas concert tonight.

I hope you have a great week, following Jesus and allowing the joy that comes from the Good News to change the way we live.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Joy

I'm preaching this Sunday on joy.  It's the third week of advent and we are lighting the "joy candle".  A week ago I wasn't going to preach as I didn't feel up for it, but over the last couple days, my heart has grown with anticipation to share the joy I have been experiencing in the midst of a horrible situation.

I've realized that the tears I have shed haven't been out of despair or pity, but out of a deep gratefulness for the hope I have in Christ.  To know that nothing this world throws at me has the power to change my destination feels like being in a bunker while bombs are going off outside.  To know that God has and is experiencing my pain allows me to embrace Him in the same way I embrace my wife.  To know that God is just gives me peace by realizing that healing will come, whether it be on this side of life or the other.  To know that God knew about this situation before either of us were born brings an ability to trust Him and His ways.

The bottom line is that no amount of darkness can consume the light we have in Christ.  The hope we have in Him out shines every trial.  In fact, the trials we face help us realize this to a greater degree.  I can honestly say that my hope in Christ is greater in and through this than it was before and for that reason I feel blessed and experience true joy.

It's similar to how I feel about our Church and family.  I loved them deeply before, but now I realize to an even greater degree how awesome they are, and I love them even more.  This makes me smile.

Thank you to everyone who is praying and fasting for us.  Your love and involvement means a lot.  Your faith is inspiring.

I've asked Carmen D. to sing this song at Church this Sunday as it has been an encouragement to me and goes nicely with our focus this Sunday (see "video" below):

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One Life To Live

On Wednesday, Angela and I received word from the specialists that she has gastric cancer and that there is no proven or man-made cure.  Without chemo treatment they gave us a timeline of three months to two years... with chemo, double the time.

We were/are in shock.  It's a difficult thing to wrap your head around.  It all seems so surreal.  There are moments where we cry and yet many more of laughter and great delight in God.  I was standing in a Tim Horton's line on Thursday and just started crying.  Then, as quickly as it came, I was back to "normal" and ready to order a double-double.  I suspect there will be many moments like that.  I know it is the same for Angela.

We're still hoping and praying for a miracle.  However, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Ro. 8:28).  So if God has other ways to work in and through this we are at peace with His wisdom and plan.

We're taking the next few days to get more of a grasp on the situation so that we know how to proceed in this next season of life.  We are praying for wisdom and discernment.  We've talked about holidays as well as spending time loving others.  Angela has a huge heart for people that don't yet know the life and love of Christ.  Jesus means the world to both of us and we are more heart broken over the thought of people missing out on the delight and hope we have in Him than we are in our current trial.

It is the reality that the majority of our city doesn't yet know Christ that drives us in our life.  It's why we live in Mission.  It's why we give up our weekends and evenings to either love the searching or disciple those that have found Him.  It's why we live with less and take jobs that earn less money.  We only get one crack at life and even still there's no guarantee that we'll live to be a 100.  Add to this the reality that Jesus could come back at anytime and it makes every day and every life an amazing opportunity to enjoy living in the life and love of Christ.

It's the reason our Church family put a stellar float in our city's annual Candlelight Parade!  Everything we do should be a living sacrifice of worship to our Creator and Savior.  We had many gracious, gifted, and generous people offer their lives as an offering of worship with the float.  Josh P. saved my butt by building the risers, installing them, then helping with the trees, construction, and tear down.  Greg P. cut and delivered all the trees.  Katy H. and Monica M. did a phenomenal job with prepping the decorations and outfits, then decorating the float.  They went through 25 cans of flocking, 5,000 staples (my guess), 20 bales of batting, and a few hundred feet of Christmas lights.  Cindy W. and Alison O. helped out with the decoration on the day of the parade. Willy and the Wannabees, accompanied by Karin O., did a great job serving through music.  Then Gabby, Taylor, Chris, Katy, and I got to walk alongside the float and hand out candy.  Carmen H. watched kids.  Mark H. secured the trailer and truck.  A friend of mine from Surrey, Mark Hunt, came out and set-up our lighting and hazer... he did an amazing job (see his company's website at Then the Lambert boys helped with clean-up.  It was a busy, but very fun and rewarding couple days.

The float was so much more than just fun.  We did it for a number of other reasons: 1) to be engaged and present in our city (about 10,000 come out for the parade); 2) to bless our city with a beautiful float for their enjoyment; 3) help communicate that our Church cares about our city; 4) let our city know that we care about them and are here for them; and 5) let our city know about our new name.  If you'd like to see more photos, check out our photo album at

On Saturday, we headed out to McDonald's with some friends and family then hopped on over to the Eco Dairy in Abbotsford.  Charlie loves looking at the cows.  We tasted some delicious yogurt and then I bought a $5 quart of milk.  It was good, but not worth $5.  Saturday afternoon, Josh and I finished the float tear down.

I enjoyed our gathering today.  It was our first official gathering as Parkside Church.  I love being a part of our Church family and getting together each Sunday is a highlight of my week.  If you want to check out our new Church website (parts of it are still under construction), go to

I hope you have a great week, living in the love we have in Christ.