Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Update


It's been a busy December, but I need to give an update on life as this is more effective than answering a thousand questions!

Last Tuesday, Angela and I went to a specialist at the Vancouver Cancer Clinic to go over the latest CT scan. It looks like there is nothing new to report since the surgery. There are still small tumors on her intestine that could stay like that for a while or grow larger and spread. We are going to wait until the New Year to decide when to go back on chemo.

Angela continues to heal from the surgery, it's a slow process, but each week she gets a bit stronger. She finds on days where she over does it, her incision begins to hurt again on the days following.

Thank you to all our prayer supporters out there! You are a blessing to us. While we still have moments in the each week and day where it is difficult, the vast majority is filled with peace and joy. Our kids are at such a fun stage of life that it's hard not to smile and laugh.

Angela, Ruby, and Angela's mom went to see the Nutcracker yesterday. They had lunch at Old Clayburn store and bought some candy for Charlie and me! Charlie and I did some man stuff (got the cast iron harp out of the piano I'm converting into a desk) while they were out.



Friday was a ton of fun as our Church built a float for Mission's Candlelight Parade! So many generous volunteers came out to help build, operate, and clean-up. It all came together quite well and turned out to be a fantastic evening. We faced monsoon-like rain, sleet, and hail, but we didn't give up! Much thanks to everyone for their help!

Today was a fun morning with Parkside Church! Our gathering felt a little more festive and filled with even more cheer. I'm always encouraged and inspired by everyone in our Church family... so many gracious folks!

On a sad note, I found out this morning that the Moses' are moving to Prince George in a couple weeks for work. Casey and Charmaine have been such a great part of our Church family. They have always been an encouragement to me and others. Our loss is Prince George's gain.

I have one busy week left as the College enters its last week of the fall semester, then it's time for marking and Christmas rest! Until next time, have a great week and Christmas!!
 
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caring Enough to Confront

I just re-read Caring Enough to Confront by David Augsburger in preparation for a discussion group on this book with some of our ministry leaders. There are very few books that I would recommend everyone read and this is one. Because no one is an island unto them self, this book is helpful for everyone.

Its success is found in the practical way the author rolls out Biblical relational truth and health. While there are lots of folks teaching general principles, very few are able to understand the principle so well that they can break it down in such helpful ways. He literally gives the reader the words to say and the reason for each word.

The basic premise of the book is that confronting those we love doesn’t have to be difficult or destructive. Augsburger teaches that healthy confrontation is critical to the health and growth of all relationships. When done correctly, the net result is that both parties love each other more and are better for the exchange.

I underlined about one-third of the book, but here are a few of my favourite short excerpts [there’s way more stuff that you will find more helpful than the following quotes… these are more for my own filing]:

“Avoiding honest statements of real feelings and viewpoints is often considered kindness, thoughtfulness or generosity. More often it is the most cruel thing I can do to others. It is benevolent lying. Selective honesty is not honesty at all. I find myself using it (1) to avoid real relationships with others … (2) to avoid clear confrontation with others; (3) to manipulate situations or facts to protect myself or others.” (p.31)

“In speaking truthfully, I welcome you to the sacred room of my soul.” (p.32)

“Closed questions have one obvious response. Often they are a strategy for directing, dominating, or controlling the other.  … [Examples] ‘Don’t you feel that…?’ ‘Wouldn’t you rather…?’" (p.34-35)

“’… to demand by angry words or pouting that others recognize the preciousness of the self I am … Such demands fail because in making my demand I reject and ignore the very persons I want to love me’” (p.48 – quoting Frank Kimper)

“When unchallenged, human beings often become self-centered, individualistic, self-absorbed. When unchallenged, human groups tend to drift, wander or stagnate. When unchallenged, relationships tend to repent, become routine, become stale or stuck. Life without challenge and confrontation is directionless, aimless, passive; or selfish, self-serving, empty.” (p. 61)

“A context of caring can be created when a person is truly for another; genuinely concerned about another, authentically related to another.” (p.62)

I underlined Chapter 7 from beginning to end. Everyone needs to read it.

“Which is it? ‘Insanity is inherited – you get it from your children’ or ‘True parents delight as their kids surpass them’?”
(p.139)

“’When I kill my enemy, do I destroy my way to God – do I, in fact, kill God?’" (p.164)
 
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Heaven / Daniel A. Brown

In preparation for this Sunday’s message I read, What the Bible Reveals About Heaven by Daniel A. Brown. Overall I found it to be an accurate and balanced summary. Weaknesses of the book included wordiness, disjointed development of the topic, and no pictures (c’mon… it’s given a visual description in the Bible).

He does a good job of clearly explaining spirit, soul, and flesh (all of which are a critical part to understanding eternity). He also explains what happens to people when they die and how Christ’s death and resurrection changes this and what Christ’s return will look like.  He also answers popular questions and addresses popular myths.

Below are some excerpts I highlighted:

“Heaven is not made of the same stuff of this world. None of our natural senses can perceive it. Lots of people have their own images of what it will be like – in the same way I pictured Disneyland and the big with gate. But Heaven cannot be imagined from our end of things.” (p.11)

“Heaven is wonderful … wonderful means miraculous and other-worldly – something that causes us to feel awe. It describes things for which we have no earthly context, no way with which to understand them within the physical laws that govern our world.” (p.13)

“Heaven is not just about what God has in store for us after this life; it is about what God has been arranging for us from before the time when the foundations of earth were set.” (p.15)

“The same proclamation God made through a star in the first heaven, and by an angel from the second heaven, He declared through Himself out of the third heaven.” (p.66)

“The soul has the power of will, reason, and emotion, and it reveals its life in the choices we make, the thoughts we think, the desires we have, and the virtues/vices we possess.”  …  “…spirit is best understood as what ‘moves’ the soul.” (pp.68-69)

“My body exists in the earthly realm of the cosmos, but it cannot function in that realm without my soul animating it. In the same way, my soul exists in the spiritual real of the second heaven, but it cannot function in that realm without my spirit quickening it.” (p.71)

“Every one of us has asked ourselves the cosmic question ‘Why do weeds seem to grow so easily, when plants have to struggle to survive?’ The answer is the curse of Adam.” (p.136)

“Not a single confusing, taxing or troubling circumstance will exist in the new heavens and earth. Everything there will be for our sakes – like in the Garden of Eden – to bless us and to do us good forever.” (p.144)

“Our uniqueness will not be lost in Heaven, but accentuated. We will not get lost in the crowd in Heaven.” (p.162)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ordering Your Private World

Just re-read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. It's a classic and needs to be read every few years as it serves to push me back to biblical priorities.

It's a book that speaks most specifically to those in leadership capacities, but can translate to any life/context. Here are some excerpts I found insightful and inspiring:

“Now, there is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness … that reflects a chaotic way of life – a way doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day.” (p.1)

“Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent.” (pp.5-6)

“’Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.’ (Prov. 4:23)” (p.23)

“How did we get to a day when stress and fatigue are almost a badge of success?” (p.30)

“What I had to learn was that my drivenness needed to be consecrated on a daily basis.”
(p.40)

“If my private world is in order, it will be because, having faced up to what drives me, I listen quietly for the call of Christ.”
(p.46)

“An audience with Jesus over a period of time exposes all the roots and expression of drivenness.” (p.54)

“When driven people lose things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance has changed.” (p.62)

“[John the Baptist’s] parents were marked with an extraordinary depth of integrity, godliness, and perseverance.” (p.68).

“If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made a daily determination to see time as God’s gift and worthy of careful investment.” (p.73)

“… Jesus clearly understood His mission. He had an overarching task to perform, and He measured His use of time against that sense of mission.” (p.82)

“To be in front at the first turn is meaningless without the endurance to finish strongly.” (p.105)

“If we are ever to develop a spiritual life that gives contentment, it will be because we approach spiritual living as a discipline, much as the athlete trains his body for competition.” (p.140)

“Moses brought with him uncompromised standards of heaven; Aaron caved in to the whims of men. It was all in the listening.”
(p.154)

“’Blessed be to God for the day of rest and religious occupation wherein earthly things assume their true size. Ambition is stunted.’ [quoting from Wilberforce’s journal]” (p.191)

“Sabbath rest penetrates to the deepest levels of fatigue in the inner, private world. This fatigue is rarely touched by any of the modern amusements.” (p.194)

“… the rest God instituted was meant first and foremost to cause us to interpret our work, to press meaning into it, to make sure we know to whom it is properly dedicated.” (p.195)
  
  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November Update

It's been over a month since my last post so I figured an update is needed. Thank you to all those who continue to pray for us! The last four weeks have been filled with transitioning back to "normal". With each week Angela is growing in strength and capacity. I've been transitioning out of superdad mode and Angela is transitioning back to supermom mode. We're about 75% there.

Ruby is in soccer twice a week and is learning to enjoy it. Charlie's skating has wrapped up and we were excited to see some progress in his skating. Angela was able to get out to the last couple skating lessons and came to her first soccer practice today!

We had another consultation with a GI cancer specialist in Vancouver this week. Nothing new to report. Angela goes in for some blood work and another CT scan in a week. Angela found the meeting encouraging as she was frustrated at the speed of her recovery from surgery, but was assured that her timeline is normal.

Need to thank all those who have been helping us so much over the past month. A bunch of ladies from our Church have been helping us with cleaning, meals, and laundry. We've enjoyed two of Calvin's meals as well! Pastor Dave helped hold down the fort at the Church for October and did a fantastic job. Many friends and family have helped with loving on our kids too!

Our Church family continues to increase in health and fruit. It's encouraging to see more ministry taking place through small groups, Hope Central, our youth ministry and new preteen ministry! There also seems to be an increase in organic ministry (folks simply loving on those in that cross their path). God has been so good to us!

I hope this post finds you and yours enjoying the hope we have in Christ. Have a great weekend.
 
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Settling In

Angela got home on Thursday night and we are still settling in. The kids love having their mom back, but are having to adjust to a Dad who is adjusting. Angela's pain is livable and she is working on getting her digestive system up to speed. Every morning I get to give her a shot, which I enjoy a little too much.

Angela spends most of her day resting, eating small amounts, and watching the kids play. I am trying to figure out Angela's schedule... between getting Ruby ready for school, Charlie's hockey, picking Ruby up, Ruby's soccer, meals, and everything else, it's a steep curve, but I'm up for the challenge. So far my meals have been limited to toast, grilled cheese, and beans and wieners, but I'm tackling a turkey dinner today! Hoping to milk the leftovers for a long time.

Angela's recovery will be about another three weeks and then she'll be able to do most things except lift objects over five pounds. Charlie and I went to Willow View Farms yesterday with some of his friends and we picked up some pumpkins for the hallowed front door decoration. Apparently my decorating isn't sufficient so Angela has invited her mom to come over and do it up right.

We haven't made any decisions about future treatment options. We'll wait until she's recovered and then prayerfully consider our options. Many thanks to all those who have prayed and fasted for us. God's peace and strength have been evident. Your kind words have lifted our spirits.

Again, both of our moms have been rock stars. Angela's mom was with us in Calgary for most of the time and brought Angela home on Westjet. My mom watched our kids for two weeks and to top it off our dishwasher broke so it was back to the old days of washing dishes by hand! Charlie only lost one tooth under her care due to a bike crash, so she's feeling pretty bad, but we think he just looks cuter. He enjoys sticking his tongue through the gap and I like the look when he puts on his hockey helmet and grins.

Angela was really excited to get out of the hospital. All the private rooms were booked with quarantined patients so Angela was in a room with three old men who either had colon cancer or prostate cancer... yeah for sharing a bathroom!? Because the surgeon did less than expected she only needed to be in the hospital for a week. The first couple days were pretty rough, but each day got better. One of her highlights was watching me paint her toenails. That was a first for me, but after six toes I started to get the hang of it.

We'll have a low key Thanksgiving weekend and then begin to get back into the swing of things on Tuesday. Even in the midst of everything, as I was washing dishes by hand this afternoon, I couldn't help but think how blessed we are. God has given us a home, two amazing little munchkins, a loving family and Church family, and hearts that know and love Him.
 
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Wait" by Frank Partnoy

Sorry for all the short book reviews, but sitting in a hospital room for 14 hours a day gives lots of time for reading. Last week, Ang and I stopped by Chapters and I am dangerous in there… I could walkout with thirty books in less than five minutes. The danger in my excitement is that I sometimes pick-up books that are a waste of time. This book was one of them.

The book is called, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy. Its attractive cover and glitzy byline sold me. The nature of the book falls into the same category as Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin books… quirky observations of human behavior and cultural/corporate success.

The basic premise of the book is set out to combat the time-oriented cultural value of our tireless pursuit of efficiency. Our culture looks down on procrastination, but Partnoy argues that in certain contexts procrastination is a great thing. He uses elite athletes, fighter pilot techniques, and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War approach to defend his observation. His premise is that more successful decisions are reached when one delays a decision to the last possible moment. This delay allows one to observe, adjust, and then act/decide. Successful people are able to determine how long acting on the decision will take and then subtract that time from the deadline, allowing them the beginning/remaining time to observe and adjust. This process of delaying a decision can be done in milliseconds or years (depending on the context/deadline).

In another part he discusses the importance of latency or slack in complex systems. From a Biblical perspective this sounds like “Sabbath”. He then responds to Gladwell’s observation of “thin slicing” and noting the danger of basing our perspective of others solely on first impressions. When it comes to public speaking he addresses the use of delay in powerful speeches and comedy. He also reflects other nuances of waiting as it relates to stock investments, relational success, and other areas of application.

Overall the book is a waste of time and could have been a tenth of the length. The majority of the book is an overuse of storytelling and social experiments… fluff. Even the physical size of the book is awkward as it’s a touch too big.

I find it funny how so many of these kinds of books back up God’s truth and wisdom as revealed in Scripture, but because the world doesn’t see the Bible as Truth, it finds the need to spend millions of dollars and hours on social research only to discover what God has already told us.

"since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:19-21 (NIV)

Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Lord's Supper" / Gordon T. Smith

Just finished reading The Lord’s Supper: Five Views edited by Gordon T. Smith.  It features five views of what our Church calls “communion”. The five views represented are Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, and Pentecostal. The format of the book allows a spokesperson of each viewpoint to write an essay and then have the other four writers give a short critique.

I found this book helpful for clearing up misconceptions about the various views. There is in each view a passion on a certain aspect of the Lord’s Supper that I can appreciate. However, the passion is, in many of the views, the very thing that causes division over what was ordered by God to be a unifying experience.

As with most disagreements there is usually some truth in each side. People generally aren’t that stupid and the angle for their view often has merit. That being said, it breaks my heart to see Christians denying fellow brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity to share in the Lord’s Supper.

Coming from a Pentecostal perspective, I believe the bread and the “wine” are symbols that when shared through obedience and faith becomes a meaningful experience by which the presence of the Spirit points to the past, present, and future work of Christ. This pointing to Christ isn't just an intellectual exercise, but an experiential one where Christ's presence by His Spirit, impacts us not only on a personal level, but also on a corporate level. In this process our being (both personal [mind, soul, and strength] and corporate [unified body of Christ]) is nourished in Christ. In doing this we experience Christ’s reality and power. In doing this we remember and proclaim His death. In doing this we are humbled before Christ and one another.

I don't have time to reflect on all the views presented, but I did think it important to note that Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine actually change physical properties to become Christ's actual flesh and blood. They prefer to describe it like this, "Externally, the bread and wine retain their appearance even after consecration. Yet at the same time the whole Christ is sacramentally present in them--the whole Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity." (p.17). Because the whole Christ is present in the Lord's Supper (as far as Catholics believe), Catholics see the Lord's Supper as the source and summit of the Christian life, because the Lord's Supper re-presents the very Christ. It's easy to see why Catholics get criticized by other streams of the Christian faith as this view makes the Lord's Supper look like another appearance/need for Jesus to again do the work He did on the cross, instead of pointing to His once-and-for-all work on Calvary. It's often interpreted as idolatry (the elements are looked upon as divine). Catholics will argue that this is not what they believe, but it is easy to see how the optics and language of their practice make it look otherwise. My summary is not sufficient so if you want a greater look, buy the book.

This is a good book for those in, or interested in, pastoral ministry. It’s a quick and fun read.

   

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"The Conflict" by Elisabeth Badinter

I one day hope to be adequately prepared to present a sermon series on gender and identity. In preparation for that time I am studying Scripture in addition to reading Christian and secular books on the topic. I'd like to be as in touch with our world's views of these issues as I am Scripture's so that I can clearly and competently connect the two. It is my observation that most Christians (myself included) are not adequately prepared when discussing these issues due to ignorance of Scripture and ignorance of other worldviews. This book "review" is the beginning of many on this topic. [If you're here simply for updates on Angela, I apologize as this blog serves many functions and this post disrupts the flow of her updates.]

I just finished reading, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women by Elisabeth Badinter.  Badinter is a philosophy teacher at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and has authored a number of best sellers relating to feminism. Her voice is an influential one and her teaching/writing pushes a feminist agenda.

The main thrust of this book is the belief that “reverence for all things natural glorifies an old concept of the maternal instinct and applauds masochism [pleasure in being abused or dominated] and sacrifice, constituting a supreme threat to women’s emancipation and sexual equality.” (p. 167)

She argues that in the 1970’s women fought and earned new-found freedoms/rights in society.  These rights were born through cultural changes/acceptance (singleness as a viable option, women in leadership, etc.), scientific discoveries (birth control, better formula for babies, epidurals, etc.), and philosophical/political changes (legalization of abortion). She observes that since this era the feminist agenda has gone backwards as culture has emphasized a more natural agenda (due to breastfeeding advocates; child development philosophies, etc.) on top of other factors. Some of these other factors would include government family policies that hinder women staying in the workforce; a slowing economy (leaving less-skilled women unemployed); and children of 70’s moms who felt neglected by their career/rights-driven mom and now want to do things differently than her.

She also spends a lot of time developing the idea that returning to an old maternal instinct of mothering results in a lot of pressure on mothers in addition to a mom’s other desires (seeking fulfillment in other avenues of life… career, art, etc.).

She also observes that “the individualism and hedonism [the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life] that are hallmarks of our culture have become the primary motivations for having children, but also sometimes the reason not to. For a majority of women it remains difficult to reconcile increasingly burdensome maternal responsibilities with personal fulfillment.” (p. 2)  “In a civilization that puts self first, motherhood is a challenge, even a contradiction.” (p. 13)

Badinter’s bigger picture/agenda is summarized well in the opening to chapter four, “The irony of this history is that it was precisely at the point that Western women finally rid themselves of patriarchy [control by men of a disproportionately large share of power] that they acquired a new master at home. Women had achieved financial independence as well as control over whether they had children or not: they had no reason, it seemed, to continue to confront men’s power. Yet, thirty years later, there is no denying that male denomination exists.” (p. 96)

Overall the book’s thought process is a bit fragmented and negligent in discussing the merits of other worldviews related to this topic. Its tone leans more to being a rant rather than an objective analysis of sexual equality in modern motherhood.

I don’t have time at the moment to respond in depth from a Christian worldview to her observations, so I will simply file her thoughts away for processing later in the aforementioned sermon series. The purpose of me placing this on my blog is more for my own filing than for public consumption… that being said the issues she raises are prevalent, so if it gets you thinking and searching the Scriptures for God’s perspective on these issues then great!

 
 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Surgery Recap


Well, we didn’t get the news we were hoping for yesterday, but there was good mixed in with the bad. The surgery ended up being much shorter (4 hours) than expected (6-9 hours) due to the high number of small tumors (less than 1 cm) on her small intestine. The surgeon felt that to cut out the entire intestine affected would be of great risk to Angela’s life. He discovered one section that was only a week or two from becoming completely blocked by tumors (which would have required an emergency surgery anyways). They removed that portion of her small intestine and that is the part (along with the long incision) that will require some recovery time. She’ll be able to return home in a week, which we are excited for as we miss our kids very much, and then will finish recovery at home.

Her prognosis is months to a year without chemo and months to years with chemo. We’ve talked with many experienced doctors and even a naturopath doctor that specializes in cancer about alternative options, clinical trials, and the too-good-to-be-true claims on the Internet, and have resolved that there isn’t much earthly hope for Angela.

Through out all of this, and especially on days where earthly news is so difficult to hear, we are even more grateful that every day in Christ is a good day. No matter what happens to us, the Good News always outweighs the bad.

We are also very grateful for loving family and friends. We have received many little notes of encouragement and support. We have been blessed with a place to stay within walking distance of the Hospital and a lovely couple who are such gracious, faith-filled hosts.

I’ll close this post with a couple excerpts from some of our support team:

Catherine Dagneau wrote this yesterday:
“The night before last, as Eugene and I were walking and praying, one of us said, "Poor Angela" and immediately I got the sense that this was not the correct perspective. I had previously shared with Clint and Angela that I felt convinced that this painful journey that they had been called to walk was going to be very powerful in the growth of the Kingdom and for our church. So that evening, I felt the Spirit saying, "We don't say, 'Poor Paul' when we read about the hardships he endured: the violent attacks, the shipwrecks, the imprisonments. We say 'Brave, heroic, obedient Paul' as he forged ahead for the sake of the Gospel." So I now say, "Brave, heroic Angela" who is called to walk such a dangerous, frightening path. Then this morning, I was feeling so small and powerless after the news of the returning cancer, which seems to have a mind of its own, and like a storm, cannot be tamed by the hands of man. How humbled we are in the face of a hurricane! All pride drops off. Our best ideas and efforts are of no effect. All of a sudden we see ourselves as we are and we see God as He is- our only Hope. We cry out. We grab a hold of him and wrap ourselves around his legs and we cling to him for our safety. He is Almighty. He has the power to still the storm. But sometimes He allows the storm to continue.

After all this thought, I picked up my Bible to continue my reading of Acts and today's passage was Acts 27 (Paul’s shipwreck). Brave, heroic Paul as he obeyed his calling! Imagine the emotional roller coaster he was on! The Spirit told him they should not sail- it was too dangerous- but despite Paul's warnings, the powers that be decided to set out. I'm sure Paul must've thought, "This is it then. We will die." But his mission was not yet complete. Though the storm destroyed the ship, it did not destroy the Gospel mission Paul was on. In fact, it became part of the evidence… evidence which glorifies God to this day!

How brave and heroic Clint and Angela are in this storm! So humbled and powerless; so dependent on their God to see them through. Take courage in this: God had forewarned Clint last fall that hard times were coming, just as He warned Paul of the storm. As shocked as we all have been with each turn of events, God is not.

Church, now more than ever we need to be earnest and diligent in prayer for them, just as the early church supported Paul with their prayers. And Clint and Angela will be strengthened to endure this trial and Parkside Church will grow in faith and love and God will be glorified in unimaginable ways. Let us be faithful!

My cousin, Tanya, sent us some encouraging words and Scripture:
Don't be discouraged.
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you."

Don't quit.
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable (about the persistent widow) to show them that they should always pray and not give up."

Surrender to God.
"Do not LET your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

Be thankful.
"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

This is not over.  We have so much more than "earthly hope".

   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surgery Tomorrow

After some tests and orientation on Monday then some medicine today we are ready for Angela's surgery. It's happening tomorrow (Thursday, September 27) at 7:30am. The surgery will most likely be 6-9 hours long. Thank you to all the folks who are praying for Angela. 

We spent the last 36 hours visiting family in Vegreville, AB (home of the world's largest Psynka Egg). It was a nice brain break from the medical world. On the way back to Calgary we stopped at the world's slowest Tim Horton's (Vegreville) and Starbucks (Springs Rd in Airdrie) then I broke my diet and had pulled pork poutine in the CrossIron Mills Mall (as far as malls go, that one is pretty sweet).  Angela has to fast today in preparation for her surgery so I've taken on her daily calories.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Do Hard Things

Just finished reading "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris. I had heard many good things about this book and borrowed it from a colleague. While I didn't find any of the concepts revolutionary, the uniqueness of this book is that it is written by teenagers for teenagers. The authors challenge teens to arm themselves with wisdom and live differently than the norm.

I recommend every parent and teenager read this book. The perfect combination may be a parent and grade seven student going through it together.  It's good for parents because it will challenge their view of the adolescent period and change their goals for their son/daughter.  It's good for teens because it will ask life changing questions.

Here are some quotes from the book:
"By choosing to use our teen years for strict training, we can choose to set direction, develop character, and build momentum for an amazing future." (p.50)
"Without a doubt, pushing yourself to do more than is asked, expected, or required is nearly always a lonely choice." (p.89)
"Habits like working hard, maintaining a positive attitude, living with self-discipline and integrity, and serving others brings benefits to our lives now and pay enormous dividends in the future -- if we do them faithfully." (pp.127-138)
It's written by Christians and is Biblically based. The authors use lots of illustrations and stories to make the concepts easy to understand and fun to read.

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Do-Hard-Things-Rebellion-Expectations/dp/1601421125

Calgary Bound

Things have continued at a fast pace, but there has been a peace through it all. Angela and I are gearing up for her surgery in Calgary next Thursday. We head out this Sunday afternoon.

We had a potluck dinner with our Church Elders last night. It was really nice to take a break and enjoy a meal for once. Dave shared something that was on his heart... to start asking others the question, "What can I do for you?" It's one of those questions that we like to ask, but at the same time hope others don't take us up on it. This really resonated with me not only personally, but for us as a Church. Over the next few years we will need to begin asking this question a whole lot more... I think this is what many Churches (including ours at times) have stopped asking others. Our Church needs to be known more for what we do for others than what we do for ourselves. Our Elders also prayed for Angela, our family, and our Church in earthly and heavenly languages. It was an encouraging time.

I'm looking forward to being with our Church family this Sunday. We've missed the last two gatherings and we'll be missing the next few as well. Some people find "going" to Church every week an obligation, but it is the highlight of my week. I love singing songs of praise, sharing in the Word, and knowing the testimony and beauty of God's purposes for all who gather.

I will be away for most of October so Pastor Dave will be our interim pastor for the month. He and our Elders will be available to bring pastoral care and leadership to our Church.  They already provide the majority of care to our Church family, so I don't think it will feel any different.

In other news, I have been eating healthy for five weeks (except a Triple O burger last Friday and our Elders dinner last night). I have lost 23 pounds and have appreciated an increase in health (no heartburn and more energy) and greater maturity in learning better self-discipline. In the months to come I will continue to eat healthy and add more exercise.

Last weekend, Angela and I went up to Rockridge Canyon for PLBC's annual Fall Retreat (see above photo). It was a great weekend filled with praise, ministry, rest, and relationship building. We also had three Parksiders serve on our volunteer work crew: Dave, Raelyne, and Faith. They scrubbed pots, prepped meals, and cleaned up. Isaac was the Retreat's "Minister of Fun" leading great group activities to foster fun and community. All of our Parksiders served smashingly well... great attitudes, great work ethic, and great skill.

I will keep you updated through this blog while we are away in Calgary so you can be aware and know how to pray. We appreciate your prayers so much... it's the most practical thing you can do for us.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Surgery, Scans, and September

Well, we have Angela's surgery date: Thursday, September 27th. It's sooner than expected due to a cancellation that bumped us up. We'll be going up on the Monday or Tuesday before for some pre-surgery meetings and tests. Our local oncologist also ordered a bone scan for today in preparation and as a precaution.

Combining scans and preparing for surgery with the busyness of September and things are anything but slow. At PLBC we've moved in a record number of residents and welcomed our largest freshman class. This weekend is our annual college retreat.  It's busy and exciting at the College right now.

Last weekend we zipped over to Courtenay to celebrate with Northgate Foursquare Church (my home church) on their 75th Anniversary. I was humbled to share some thoughts on Psalm 23. I was moved by the humble beginnings, sacrifice, and faith of the planting pastors of this Church. Their church planting budget was $60 and the first offering totaled 27 cents. One by one people came to know Christ and 75 years later we look back and see a huge history filled with 'wondrous things'.

I just listened to Pastor Dave's sermon from Sunday and found it very encouraging. I've also been enjoying reading through Acts again and hope you are too! I've been finding re-reading Acts very encouraging and it almost makes me want to go through it again as there is so much in there that we skimmed over (we'll leave for another time).

Now that school's back in session, Isaac and I are driving in together most days and I enjoy his company and our chats. Ruby's enjoying kindergarten and Charlie's getting used to his best friend gone for most of the day.

Have a great week/weekend and thank you for your prayers!
  


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer is Over


Is anyone else glad that summer is over? I love the fall. I like perfect temperature days, crisp evenings, and routine. However, looking into the future, not much about this fall will be routine for us. Ruby starts kindergarten and soccer. Charlie starts "hockey" lessons. Angela's surgery in Calgary will happen most likely on October 12th. And I'm on a not-so-fun diet! All new things for us.

The summer has flown by and as always I make the mistake of setting too many goals. I was supposed to have a bathroom reno done, trim painted, and a number of work projects all wrapped up. Oh well... next summer.

I really enjoyed Isaac's message today. He challenged us by Paul's example in Acts 27 to be people who take our experience and openness to the Spirit's leading so that we might bring hope into real life situations. We also began our Acts Challenge today (www.parksidechurch.ca/acts) and hope that many of our Church family respond.

It was great having Tony back from holidays and leading us in worship. A friend of his ripped it up on bass and the drummer was particularly handsome today (you're welcome, Vince).

I read Acts 1 today and was struck by the humorous picture painted in verses 9-11. So often we spend our time calling out to God, looking to Him, wondering what He's going to do next, but God simply wants us to be obedient with what He's asked us to do right now. Let the rest happen as God determines. I think this might add to some theological truth in the expression, "so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good."  However, there is also an aspect to that expression that makes it entirely incorrect.

After our service today, we raced home and ate ants-on-a-log then drove into Surrey for some errands for the College. Costco was packed with lazy shoppers. I could write a book about the way in which people become totally detached from their surroundings when they get behind a grocery cart. I bought one of those big sirloins to cut into steaks for a student leadership dinner at the College tomorrow... I can taste it now.

This week will be crazy at the College. It's our Orientation Week which means it's simply one big event after the other. Lots of logistics and a lot of fun. On Saturday we're heading over to the Island for a short trip. My home Church, Northgate Foursquare Church in Courtenay, is having its 75th Anniversary on Sunday and I'm looking forward to being a part of the celebration. I have so many good memories from my 18 years spent growing up in that Church family. Much of who I am today and the love I have for Christ and His Church was founded and shaped in this Church family.

I hope you have a great week as you bring the hope you have in Christ into the real life situations you will face.
 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

Well, I'm nine days in to my diet and I've lost 15 lbs. It's actually been pretty easy so far. I had a couple weak moments and ate a handful of chips (my eternal weakness). Angela made a soup yesterday (Potato & Leek) and it was AMAZING (said in Oprah-like fashion). I'm learning how much food I really need... I'm eating about 1/3 the volume of what I used to and about 1/10 of the calories. Restaurants are the hardest, but most have healthy options. I don't have much of a strategy other than just to eat only what I need and only healthy food. Before you praise me (Mom), realize that it's only been 9 days out of the last 3,650.

We still haven't found out Angela's surgery date... hopefully we'll get a call early this week. Angela and the kids had a great time on the Island. Lots of ice cream and swimming.

I had fun as we gathered this morning. Isaac and team did an over-the-top job of leading us in worship. I fumbled through the sermon and I hope the message of the text came out somewhat coherent! In case you came out confused, know this... even when the world thinks you're an idiot for believing in Jesus, know that they too are just one experience with Christ away from becoming a fellow "idiot" and they just might experience Christ through your witness.

It was good to hear from Lynn B. on how the Skatin trip went. Members from the Beisel, Lambert, and Moses families served for a week on this reserve. They helped renovate a house, taught life skills, and made friends with some great people. This opportunity has been a four year initiative of The Crosscurrent Church and Youth For Christ in Mission. We are happy that folks from our Church family have been able to serve alongside.

You may have also noticed a bunch of tired looking adults and campers this Sunday too. They just got back from an amazing week at kids camp. I look forward to hearing more about their experience in the weeks to come. Our youth are at youth camp this week. A number of our youth served at kids camp and are now going to youth camp! Pray for them this week.

I'm really excited for the launch of our "Acts Challenge" next Sunday (www.parksidechurch.ca/acts). We'll be spending 29 days (September 2-30) reading Acts, praying, and fasting. The purpose isn't to just do a religious activity, but to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through this process that we and those we love might be transformed.

I hope you have a great week as we take Christ from the corner to the centre of our life, in our homes, neighbourhoods, and workplaces!
 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dealing With Loss & Diets


Maybe it was the clouds this morning, but I woke up a bit on the groggy side of life. That quickly changed when I arrived at the church building and the rhythms of Sunday morning began. I think my favourite part about our Sunday gatherings is the hour before. I love watching the music team set-up, teachers race to the copier, the breakfast team make coffee, and folks roll in. It feels intimate, like family, and yet it also feels much bigger than just us.

Chad and the team did an outstanding job leading us in worship today. I loved seeing Nathaniel play bass... I'm still waiting for his uncle to breakout the trombone. Isaac helped organize the chili cook-off after the service and it was a lot of fun. Sadly, the judges were off their game, but other than that, it was fun. I didn't mind losing to Ethel, but losing to a vegetarian chili really hurt.

Thanks to those who served so graciously at the chili cook-off too... from those that made chilis to those that helped set-up and clean-up. Thank you!

Perhaps the highlight of my weekend was hearing a lady from our Church tell me about someone on her MY5 list that gave their heart to Jesus this week. He used to sell drugs, but God got a hold of his life through the prayers of loving people and he is now getting baptized at a church in Langley this week! How cool is that!

Following the cook-off, Angela and the kids headed off to my parents for a week. It's a busy week for me at the College so this helps them forget about my long work hours.

On Friday I started a diet. I am cutting out most carbs and cutting way back on sugar. A part of me would rather die than eat healthy food, but... to live is Christ, to die is gain.  Last night I had spaghetti squash with some tomato sauce and a giant bowl of salad. It was horrible. What I wouldn't give for a piece of garlic bread right now. To make things worse, Angela is gone this week and I would normally live off of fast food while she's away, but that won't work.

I chatted with Aaron at the cook-off as he's been a diet and exercise machine the last couple years. He's set a great example and one day I may be as buff as he.

We had some new neighbours move in across the street. I'm looking forward to meeting them once they've had a couple days to settle in. Sad to see our old neighbours move away... while Angela was going through chemo we would randomly find chocolate bars in our mailbox and we found out after that they were from them! They also kept their yard in perfect shape... which is my love language :)

I'm going to try and tackle my piano re-purposing this week too. Wish me luck!  Isaac will be finishing up painting the lobby at the church building. If anyone wants to help him you can email him (isaac@parksidechurch.ca).

Our Foursquare Kids Camp is this week (Monday-Saturday). Please pray for the campers and leaders. We have a great kids camp program and its all because of dedicated, generous, and servant-hearted leaders. They deserve a medal.

Have a great Monday and remember that no matter what storms come your way, Jesus is standing by you, calling you to take courage, and reminding you of the glory that will come from your suffering for Him.
  





Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Mashup

August is almost half over! Summer is going by too quickly. Starting next week things ramp up for me at Pacific Life Bible College as we get ready for another year of equipping leaders for service to the local Church. It looks like we'll have the largest freshman class in our history so there will be lots of enthusiasm and lots of work!

On Saturday we headed over to my Aunt & Uncle's in Coquitlam for a Nelson family reunion. It was a great day filled with eating good food, swimming, and connecting with wonderful people. Angela and I consider ourselves super blessed because of the families we have. They are a family who have supported us so much with kind words, prayer, and fasting.  During the first leg of our journey with Angela's cancer I don't think there was a day that went by where one of our relatives wasn't praying and fasting for us. Many signed up for their 'day of the week' and are starting back up again for this next leg. Due to schedules and proximity we don't get to see each all that much, but when we do it is so much fun.

I don't know about you, but I really enjoyed our gathering on Sunday. Tony always does such a great job in leading our Church family in worship through song. Our kids had a blast in nursery and Sunday School. The Vanson's rocked the continental breakfast and I enjoyed interviewing Calvin W. I love hearing people's stories.

On Monday some friends and I surprised Angela with a small birthday party at the Hersey's. It was a fun evening filled with more good food, more swimming, and some karaoke! Mark and Katy are such gracious hosts and we were blessed to celebrate Angela's 30th birthday with such nice and loving people.

On Tuesday, Angela had a nice birthday lunch with her parents and then I "cooked" dinner... we had Prawn Garden (best Chinese in Mission), McDonald's, and slurpees. The kids thought they had died and gone to Heaven... so did I...

Wednesday night was filled with more nice people and good food. We spent the entire dinner laughing at our parents and their struggles with technology (sorry, Mom and Dad). When our friend's mom got her first laptop, she opened it up and then proceeded to speak slowly and loudly, "Email Linda".  When the computer didn't do anything, she repeated herself. This went on for a while until her kids broke it to her that it didn't recognize voice commands. We reminisced about watching our parents painfully figure out how to use a debit card... hoping they could find the chequing account button before the system timed out. I could go on, but it's a bit painful.

In my spare hours I'm working on taking apart an upright piano and converting it to be my home office desk. The monitors will go in the upper cabinet part and the keyboard will go in between the keys. It's proving to be more difficult than anticipated. Getting the cast-iron harp part of the piano out is a pain.

Today we have the annual Foursquare Invitational golf tournament at Redwoods in Langley. There's nothing like golfing for work! Angela's going away with a couple friends till Sunday morning so I'm on kid duty. We are going to weed on Saturday. Ruby is not excited. Charlie can't wait to use all the shovels.

I hope you have a great weekend filled with God's grace and power!





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Round Two

We just got back from a trip to Seattle with Angela's parents. We had a great time at Woodland Zoo and Pike Place Market. We paid homage to Claim Jumper's and ravaged the breakfast bar at the Holiday Inn. Charlie got his arm stuck in the automated door at Cabela's. Ruby fell face first into a deceiving window at the penguin exhibit. It was a memory-filled trip.

We got back just in time for our family doctor to come over and give us an update on Angela's most recent stomach scope. The results are not what we hoped. They discovered some new cancer cells back in her stomach. The news is obviously deflating.

The silver lining in the matter is this makes our decision regarding an optional surgery in Calgary much clearer. The surgery promises odds as high as 35% that Angela will live a long life (with this type of cancer odds are usually about 1% with other options). The surgery will most likely take place one to three months from now in Calgary. It is quite invasive and risky in and of itself (lasting 5-10 hours). There is a very high possibility that Angela's stomach and other parts of her body may be removed (they won't know for sure until they have made the incision and look inside). Once they complete the operational part of the surgery they will wash out the inside of her abdomen region for an hour with hot chemo and then repeat the chemo for five straight days.

The recovery from surgery will be just as brutal. She will be in the Calgary hospital for three to four weeks recovering and adjusting to life without whatever organs/parts they remove.  After that we can transfer her home where she will be light duty for three months.  After the recovery from surgery there might be a bit more chemo, but they are not sure at this point.

This is obviously a huge undertaking for Angela, but we feel the reward and possibility of a much longer life warrant the risk of the surgery, pain of recovery, and discomfort of adjusting to a different body. It's not what any of us wanted or expected, but we will continue to lean on God and look to Him for strength, wisdom, and healing.

What about God? While we obviously hoped and believed that all of this was done and over, we cannot deny God's goodness in and through out our journey. We are grateful to Him for the last nine months and especially the last three. James 1:17 says "Every good and perfect gift is from above.."  We thank God for the good work He did and through her body... the last nine months have been filled with miracles. We are grateful to God that we have the option of this surgery. (This surgery is quite new and our surgeon is the nicest man who is also a pioneer in this surgical process [many doctors are studying under him to take this option to other parts of the world as many people are clamoring for it] and has performed over 300 of them.) We are grateful to God that no matter how long we live or what our quality of life we may have, because of Jesus the best is always yet to come. We are grateful to Him that we can pray in faith for Angela's complete healing.

We know that thousands of hours have been spent in prayer over Angela and would love for folks to continue to pray. As we begin what will hopefully be the last round we need strength, wisdom, peace, and healing.

It's like the last three months have been a chance to catch our breath and get ready for the next leg of the race.

Hebrews 12: 1b-13 NIV "...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

   

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blog Block


I've attempted to blog a few times over the past month, but have struggled. So much going on internally and externally that I've experienced a case of writer's block. I still have no idea what to write so I figured that I should simply start and see what comes out.

Over the last few weeks, I've discovered that this past season of Angela's stomach cancer took a lot out of me. In hindsight I think a combination of adrenaline and strength in God got me through. Now I feel tired.  It hit the night before we had our big celebration. The last couple weeks have consisted of sleeping a lot and not getting much more than the essentials accomplished. Call it a funk, burnout, or the result of going through a difficult season, I am being to recuperate.

Angela and the kids are doing remarkably well in spite of us being at another medical crossroad. On July 2 we drove to Calgary to see a specialist about Angela's case. He said that in his experience, even though we have this good news, the cancer will come back. He advised us to engage in a proactive surgery where he would cut out parts that had the cancer. It would be a pretty invasive surgery that might result in her losing her stomach.  The recovery required would include spending three weeks in the Calgary hospital and another 3-4 months at home on light duty. His surgery tactic is cutting edge and reports say that many surgeons are learning from him and a few others on how to offer this to their patients. Since this approach is new(er) there isn't much data, but in his 300+ cases they have seen exceptional results.

We have as long as we want to consider this option. In dialogue with our local oncologist, scope doctor, and family doctor we are beginning to weigh all the data. Angela goes in for another scope this Tuesday to collect more information.

We haven't made a decision as we are still considering all the options. We continue to seek God's wisdom and leading. Please remember us in prayer.

In other news, summer is in full swing. Ruby enjoyed a VBS at Northside Community Church this week, Angela picked three gallons of raspberries yesterday, and Charlie is having "fun" learning how to live life without a diaper.

Intern Isaac is working on lots of different projects and doing a great job. Yesterday he helped Peter install fence posts around our five apple trees to protect them from bears. He learns more in an hour with Peter than he does with me in a month.

Life with our Church has been awesome. I love our Church family so much. I haven't laughed so hard as at our "Moose the Dam Over" game. It makes me look forward to our disc golf tournament this Sunday and even more so to our water fight on the 29th.

Things are beginning to heat up over at Pacific Life Bible College as we've begun a dorm renovation and as we ramp up for another great year of seeing men and women further equipped for ministry. I love being a part of what this school is and does.

Well, hopefully the blog block has been broken. I hope you have a fantastic weekend.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Canadian Are You?

Last Sunday we played this video as a primer for the message.  It was inspired by the July 9, 2012 Maclean's edition.


Christians in Canada? from Parkside Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gamut of Emotions

The last few days we have experienced just about every emotion possible. We're in the middle of potty training, celebrated our seventh anniversary, saw prayers answered, celebrated the return of a prodigal son, participated in an all-night relay, and grieved with close friends.

---

Charlie is enjoying his big boy underpants, but likes to try out yoga positions while using his potty. I won't go into detail, but let's just say the carpet cleaner is earning its keep. One morning he peed 15 times in two hours!! Today, he left a nice little puddle in the dollar store.  Nothing like cleaning up your son's urine in the middle of a busy aisle.

---


Earlier in the week, Angela and I hit up the River Rock Casino for our anniversary. It has a nice hotel and sweet breakfast buffet. Since we'd never been in a casino before we did a walk through and found it thoroughly depressing. Nothing like seeing hundreds of people, most in isolation, throwing away their time and money. At the same time, what a great opportunity for ministry! I'd bet 90% of the people in there are dying to share their life and struggle with someone who is simply willing to listen and be a friend.

Since it was our anniversary we spent our time sharing in each others likes. I endured fabric and sewing shops. Angela endured the Regent College Bookstore. I finally got to try the Red Wagon (on Hastings).  Had the pulled-pork pancakes and it was delicious.

---

On top of that, Angela and I had two "silly" desires/prayers answered. While out on our anniversary, Angela wanted to buy an ice cream maker, but it wasn't in the budget. A couple days later a friend from Church said to Angela, "I have a brand new ice cream maker from our wedding that we've never opened and I'll never use it... you want it?" The next night I was eating homemade strawberry ice cream!

The other desire had to do with a trailer and a truck. A couple months ago I really wanted to buy a trailer to haul all my projects and junk around for the home and Church. I started looking around at stores and on Craigslist, but wasn't able to find any good deals that worked with the budget. I put that desire on the back burner and then figured it would be better to save for a truck that could fit the kids. Earlier this week I got a facebook message from a friend who wrote, "I have a truck that's been sitting unused for the last year, if you want it, I'll give it to you!" We looked at it yesterday and it will fit the kids and my needs perfectly.

I don't write these things from the perspective that God is a genie who grants us our every wish. I live life with the understanding that God 'gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too'.  I also live life with the understanding that 'whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above', I have to praise him for these two gifts... an ice cream maker and a truck.  There are more times than not that I've had desires go unmet or even thought that I was entitled to certain gifts, but never received. And so, I choose to live life in a place of trusting and praising God no matter what comes my way.

---

In a much more serious area, we experienced unmet desires as well. Our friends, Renee and Josh (they gave me permission to write this), lost their baby. Renee was 16 weeks along when she began to detect signs that something wasn't right. After having doctors try to intervene and spending much time in desperate prayer, the baby died. Through a series of conversations with God while all this was going on, God told Renee that her baby was a boy and that she was to name him Solomon. Solomon wasn't her first choice for a name and didn't think that the baby would be a boy, but she let it play out.

So she looked up the name Solomon and found the meaning of this time to be comforting. She discovered that the name, Solomon, comes from the root (shalem) meaning to be complete or sound. Upon further study she observed that a derivative of shalem is shalom, which means peace.

On Sunday evening, when she gave birth to him, she could not stop thinking how perfect and complete he was. She said, "My time in the hospital was not a time of sadness (I was sad, don't get me wrong), but a time of soaking in the peace that only the One who made us can offer."

We rarely understand, on this side of eternity, how and why God allows painful things to happen. I don't have an answer that will perfectly satisfy you. I don't know why in some situations God does the miraculous and in others, what appears to be, nothing. There are pieces that answer parts of our questions, but not enough to make a complete picture. At the end of the day, our response to God is still one that requires faith. Faith to see what our flesh can't.

Like a plant that is forced to grow deeper roots during times of drought, tough times cause our faith to grow deeper. We also know that, with God, there is always a Spring and Summer season ahead!

Can I ask you, as Church family, to pray for Josh & Renee? They don't need a theological lecture, passive-aggressive faith correction, or medical advice. They need your love and support.

---


On Friday night, Angela and I joined with ten others from our Church family and we participated in the "Relay for Life". It's a fundraising event for the Canadian Cancer Society. When I first signed up I assumed it was during the day and then later found out that it went through the night (7pm - 7am). I was dreading it to say the least. Angela's parents watched the kids and we spent the night walking and hanging out the good folks on our team. At one point, Angela and I stole away and slept in the car for a few hours. Never comfortable, but better than staying awake... I think. We woke up to rain, a pancake breakfast, and an MC that could not be stopped. In hindsight it was actually a lot of fun (because of the people) and a good event.

We spent Saturday in a groggy state and went to bed early. I was super proud of Tony O. for helping host the "Swap for Lina" at our Church building on Saturday. He served from 8:30am - 4:00pm and did an amazing job getting the building ready for Sunday.

---

I really enjoyed our gathering this morning. Tony and team lead us in beautiful praise. We played a funny video of our Parkside Kids answering the question, "why do you love your dad?" Our Elders ordained Dave Parsons. Isaac preached a challenging 17 minute sermon! His challenge to the Church was that going and making disciples should be a scary endeavour, but that God's got our back.

---

I hope you have a great week filled with prayer and love.  Get filled by God then go out and share His love.








Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Potpourri


Really enjoyed our gathering today.  Chad and the music team did a bang-up job of leading us in worship. Our time sharing in communion moved me. Our Sunday School teachers served so graciously... again. Then Rob & Donna George shared their story and involvement with the Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA). Every summer they give most of their weekends to traveling to wherever bikers gather and then spending their time in loving and sharing the Gospel. Following the service, CMA hosted a hot dog lunch and the 'dogs' were delicious.

I'm already looking forward to next Sunday! Folks from our Freedom Session series will be sharing about their experience. Eugene & Catherine have generously served as leaders of this worthy, but costly, investment. In fact, as I look at the speaking schedule, I see that the next three Sundays will be covered by Freedom Sessions, Isaac, and Dave. This means that I don't get to preach until July 1st. What I love about this is that: 1) it allows a different voice to share God's Word; 2) we become less leader-centered and more Jesus-centered; 3) it gives new speakers an opportunity to grow; and 4) it allows me to work on some other projects.

We've also set a date for our celebration night to praise Jesus for His good work in Angela's body. We will be gathering on Sunday, June 24th, 7:00pm at our Church building. We'll share some Scripture, sing songs, and end in prayer for outstanding prayer items. It will be a good night and everyone is invited.

On Saturday we did a bunch of miscellaneous stuff. Ang took the kids down to Heritage Park and Ruby fell in the creek (see photo above). It was only about knee deep, but due to her panicking, got much more wet. She kept screaming... "Aaaaahhh, duck poo's in the water!"

I had another successful experience towards getting rid of my two years of poor conversation skills. (For those that didn't hear the message from last Sunday, I proposed that most people have two years of poor conversations that just need to be worked out before we turn the corner and getter better at this part of life.) I engaged a stranger in conversation at the hardware store by sarcastically commenting on his nice purse. I thought he was holding a purse for his wife (who I presumed was the woman standing next to him), but it turns out it was his 'medicine bag'. I tried to back pedal, but it didn't go so well. Thinking I could cut my losses and hoping that I would never see these people again, a girl I know comes around the corner and says, "Oh! Hi, Clint. Have you met my parents? [pointing to the people I offended]. This is Clint, my Pastor at Parkside Church!"

In other news, we have a new cat in the neighbourhood that comes over to our yard way too often. I'm racking my brain to try and come up with a Christian way of getting rid of the cat... nothing yet.

I created Isaac's summer to-do list tonight. This is the second summer that he will be working for our Church as an intern. I'm changing up a few things this year to facilitate his maturing as a leader. Contrary to popular suggestion, he will not be doing more manual labour than last year. One big change is that he will no longer be given a work schedule.  Last year he had to check-in and check-out according to a weekly schedule. This year, he will be given a set of tasks and objectives, but no schedule. He will need to learn how to manage and track his time. This will teach him the critical life and leadership lessons of prioritizing, self-starting, and self-managing. We'll touch base each week to review and recalibrate. I have no doubt that he will do well.  He is a gift to me, our Church, and our world.

Newly licensed Dave Parsons solemnized (love using that word) his first wedding on Saturday! I heard it went very well. We will have a formal time of ordination in front our Church family during our morning gathering on Sunday, June 17th. Dave has a call of God on his life for Church leadership, has been faithful to develop that calling, and it is with great joy that we get to facilitate this formal step towards the next step of his calling. Dave is a gracious servant to our Church family. He serves us as an elder, council member, Sunday school teacher, preacher, after-service coffee server, and kid's camp councilor. All as a volunteer! Wow!!

I hope you have an amazing week filled with trust in God and awkward, but necessary, conversations!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Mashup

I hope you had a great week filled with God's grace and power! This week was real mashup of College, Church, and personal activities. Throughout the week I tuned in to the Foursquare US's Convention in Phoenix, AZ. It featured speakers like Wayne Cordeiro, Ted Olbrich, Ed Stetzer and many more. I was really encouraged by their example and their words.

On Wednesday, Angela and I met with her oncologist and stomach scope doctor (still not sure what he's supposed to be called). They both reiterated how rare her response was. The oncologist said this is what they call a 'complete response' and is rarely seen. The new path we are on is to go in for a CT and stomach scope every three months to monitor the body. They did not recommend having her stomach removed (we were told before this might be their recommendation). We left both appointments relieved and encouraged (see photo above).  No more chemo!  Our Church is planning a night of celebration and it looks to be on June 24th.

At the College, a volunteer demolition team from Northgate Foursquare completed their good work of tearing down the old facade of the dormitory building. A construction crew has now descended and has begun the new look.

Last night I picked up my old joiner from a friend who was storing it for me. I am also storing a few tools for another friend so I have a pretty sweet wood-shop now. On second thought, I don't think that this new reality is a good thing for the 'Honey Do List'.

I met with Calvin this morning for coffee and we had a good chat about the future of his role with YFC/Youth Unlimited here in town. I met with Isaac for lunch and we planned out his summer internship with our Church. He'll be doing everything from maintenance to preaching.  The rest of the day consisted of calling in the Bugman (pavement ants near the Church kitchen), emailing, planning, and scheduling.

Hope you have a great weekend!  If you're in town this Sunday, stop by our Church family at 10:00am and join us!




Sunday, May 27, 2012

32 Years And I Still Love Church


I've been "going" to Church for 32 years and I still look forward to Sunday morning. We aren't a perfect Church. We have some things out of balance; some things are overly religious and others are underly religious.  Perhaps its because I don't "go" to Church, I am a part of the Church.  Church is my family and I am an active part of her success and failures.  There are highs and lows, but because of my love for Christ and His love for the Church, I am committed.  The act of committing to Church is very much like committing to marriage or to raising a family.  No doubt there are struggles, but because of the commitment we persevere and a bond is built.  The bond creates an environment for real love and delight unlike any other.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to find a Church close to your home that holds good doctrine (at the very least, on the essentials) and lay down roots.  Open your life and heart, serve and give, love and hope together.  There's not doubt that at some point you will get hurt (just as in marriage/family), but perhaps that's the only way you'll learn the power of Christ's forgiveness and the depth of His grace.  I don't say that to excuse people/behaviour that harm/abuse others.  I say that to give you a clear picture that it's not just in the receiving of grace that we grow in Christ, but that we usually grow more when we learn to extend it others.

-------------

I hope all is well in your world.  We've been enjoying the nice weather and not enjoying having to say goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law (they are moving to Vegreville, AB... home of the giant Pysanka Egg).  They had a garage sale the other day and Ruby set-up a lemonade and cookie stand.  She's started to raise funds so that she can send some Operation Christmas Child boxes to kids this Christmas. Her cookies and lemonade brought in $50.

Last night I made Angela watch "The Last Air Bender" with me.  It was pretty dumb, but I liked how the story was based on a Stoic philosophy (something I have been reading about the last two weeks).  Ang fell asleep half way through and I caught myself nodding off a time or two.

As mentioned in my sermon today we starting a new plan of memorizing Scripture at the Nelson house.  We are going to memorize one verse a month as a family.  Every dinner and at bedtime (and probably at a few other times through out the day) we will read and recite together.  We start tonight with Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”


-------------

I hope you have a great week filled with many opportunities to respond and engage the Good News of Jesus.  Thank you for being such an awesome Church family!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More Good News

We just got a call from our family doctor where she debriefed us on the PET/CT scan report from last week.  Good news... there is nothing in the report to cause us any concern whatsoever!

We now need to meet with the oncologist and the stomach scope doctor to get an updated monitoring plan.

Thank you everyone who prayed and fasted for Angela.  The doctors are hesitant to call this a miracle due to the rarity and newness of the whole situation, yet five doctors (two cancer surgeons and three oncologists) said that there was no possibility of the cancer retreating to this point and that death was but around the corner.


I believe this was the power and grace of God, found in the Good News of Jesus, on display through the faithful prayers and fasting of His Church.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers, fasts, love, and support.  Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy and grace through healing!

Please continue to pray for us and our doctors.  Our doctors need wisdom on how to proceed.  We will continue to pray for a cancer-free body.  We will pray that this news will be an encouragement to your faith.

"Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things..."

Psalm 103:1-5a NIV

Much love to all of you!

  
   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Do I Love God?

I was reading Psalm 103 (you should read it... it is beautiful) today and it lists the benefits of loving God...
  • He forgives our sins.
  • He heals our diseases.
  • He redeems our life from the pit.
  • He crowns us with steadfast love and mercy.
  • He satisfies us with good.
  • He works righteousness and justice.
  • He is merciful and gracious.
  • He is slow to anger.
  • He is abounding in love.
  • He shows us compassion.
When we remember the benefits of loving God we are renewed in Him. We desire to follow Him. We take great delight in being His.

Having Him as our God is the best.  Knowing Him changes us and how we see and live life.  Fear, despair, and their fruit, has no place in a life with Him. Those realities are replaced with love and hope.  Life with God is so much better than any alternative.

If you haven't surrendered your life to Jesus, please do.  Simply open your mouth and thank Him for his death and resurrection.  Invite Him to save you from the pit you are in and forgive your sin.  Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit.  Give everything you value in life (including your life) over to His care and leading.  It is by faith that we are saved, not good works.
 
   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Video


Due to technical difficulties (the remote to the projector is missing) we weren't able to show this video yesterday, so you can watch it online.  The printed version of our newsletter has the password.  If you'd like to request the password please email me (clint@parksidechurch.ca).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ship Happens & Other Things


One of the things I've discovered in life is Ship Happens. It's a parcel receiving place just a stone's throw south of the Sumas-Huntingdon border crossing.  It allows me to take advantage of US online shopping and avoid paying the crazy shipping and brokerage rates. Sometimes I even save the HST if I happen to catch a nice border guard. In the last two days I've saved $320 on $780 worth of purchases. Most of these purchases were for the College and Church so it saves us mucho dollars.

Our Church garage sale is tomorrow (Saturday) at 9:00am at the Safeway parking lot. Come down with your stuff to give away.  Come down with lots of cash to buy some cool stuff. Come down and help out (especially with the clean-up from 2:00 - 3:00pm). All proceeds go to summer camp bursaries.

I'm excited for our gathering this Sunday! It's Mother's Day and we'll be playing a cute little video with some of our kids where they share why they love their mom. We are continuing in Acts (I'm loving our journey through this part of Scripture). We are having a water baptism where six folks will make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus. We get to see one another and meet some new folks.  We get to worship Jesus... together!

It's been a crazy-fun week so far. The Moses' had a baby boy! Another boy in our Church accepted Christ as His Savior! Prayer requests are pouring in and we get to respond with faith!



I also took a load to the dump this week and came back with a vintage mailbox [see above photo]. Someone threw it out in the metal recycling bin and I am repurposing it. I'm guessing I could get $50 for it, but I will keep it and convert it to something cool in my home office.






Monday, May 7, 2012

Biopsy Results

Angela and I had a meeting with the oncologist today where we received the pathology report from last week's stomach scope. All the biopsies came back clear! There is no sign of cancer at 'ground zero' where there used be a giant ulcer/tumour thing.

Angela will have a PET scan done in Vancouver in a few weeks which will give the doctors another angle, but our oncologist was surprised at the change. After the PET scan, our oncologist will meet with the other specialists in BC to go over Angela's case and determine a new recommendation for monitoring or treatment.

This is another great step forward towards a miraculous healing! Thank you for your past, present, and future prayers! Thank you, Jesus, for this good report!!

Merry Monday


I hope you had a good weekend! At Parkside we had a work bee on Saturday morning and lots of loving folks came out to help out. Mark K. did some pressure washing for us and as you can see in the photo above, he did it well.

Our Sunday gathering was fun. Catherine D. and Peter E. delivered an awesome message of hope in the darkness. Following the service we had a delicious spaghetti lunch and raised a few hundred bucks for the Relay for Life team.

We spent Sunday afternoon at our neighbour's and enjoyed our second bonfire of the year. Sunday evening was low key.  Angela cut my hair and I am now debating going back to the professionals.  I was able to clean out the garage a little bit (one of my favourite activities) and am now ready to finish a few projects and start a few more.

Over the weekend, Foursquare Canada installed its new President, Steve Falkiner. I first met Steve when he and his family were missionaries in Sri Lanka. He is a gracious servant and I look forward to the coming season of ministry through the Foursquare Churches of Canada. I encourage you to add him and his wife (Andy) to your prayer lists and keep them in your prayers daily.

Dave P. gets back from the convention in Toronto (our Church was able to help send him) this week.  I hear that his application for becoming a licensed minister in the Foursquare Church has been accepted!  I'm excited for him as this is another confirmation of God's calling on his life.  Dave is a gift to us and we'll have a proper party sometime in the near future.

Have a great week as you live the Gospel in your workplace, home, school, and neighbourhood.  I hope to see you this Saturday at the Summer Camp Garage Sale at Safeway and definitely this Sunday. It will be Mother's Day and we are having a water baptism!