Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Here's a Perfect Example . . .

After posting my response to oGcjm, my wife showed me a copy of an email she received from Mikeys Funnies that I thought was a great example of the type of person God uses. People like you and me, flaws and all:

Use ME?!?!

The next time you feel like God can't use you, just remember...

~ Noah was a drunk
~ Abraham was too old
~ Isaac was a daydreamer
~ Jacob was a liar
~ Leah was ugly
~ Joseph was abused
~ Moses had a stuttering problem
~ Gideon was afraid
~ Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
~ Rahab was a prostitute
~ Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
~ David was an adulterer and a murderer
~ Elijah was suicidal
~ Isaiah preached naked
~ Jonah ran from God
~ Naomi was a widow
~ Job went bankrupt
~ John the Baptist ate bugs
~ Peter denied Christ
~ The disciples fell asleep while praying
~ Martha worried about everything
~ The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once)
~ Zaccheus was too small
~ Paul was too religious
~ Timothy had an ulcer
~ Lazarus was dead!

Each one of them fulfilled their purpose. And so can you!

Barry

Response to oGcjm

Thanks for your question:

My question is why does no one have any answers for me? No one can tell us why we are here right? We need to figure it out ourselves. But some of us are not equipped to find the answers. Life becomes one long drawn out exercise in futility. Why doesn’t God just tell us what he wants from us? He apparently has our lives mapped out. So why won’t He share it with us”?

I get asked this all the time and I’m happy to give you a brief answer. First of all, it’s not a complicated as most people think since our main purpose is to Let Our Light Shine and glorify God. To glorify simply means to reflect Him – just like the moon – which has no intense light, reflects the sun to the dark side of earth. We are to get to know God and apply God’s daily power and wisdom to reflect him to our circle of influence. Consider the people you touch every day. You express the hand of God and the words of God to them. That’s the only reason we are here. Now, I know your question is about you personally, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but first you need to understand that in the big picture, God does not care where you decide to work or live or what hobbies you have. What God does care about, is how you represent Him to others in your work, neighbourhood, etc. I spoke about this in church Sunday morning and I’d be happy to mail you a tape of my sermon.

Keeping the foregoing in mind, we should all be seeking to discover our motivational gift(s). When we were conceived, our creator not only gave to us the gift of life, but He also implanted in our souls a unique personal gift. That gift is special because it lies at the very heart of our identity. It is what motivates us to think and act the way we do. It has influenced our temperament, personality, choice of vocation and hobbies, and it has even predetermined what will fulfill us. (As parents, it is important that we recognize these gifts early in our children and train them to use them.) My book Life Purpose explains these gifts and teaches you how to, not only discover your gifts (as well as talents and skills), but use them too.

For example, maybe your motivational gift is that of teaching. At work or at home, you would use this gift to teach others, whether it’s how to do something easier at work, or helping the fatherless kid next door by teaching him to build a bird house, etc. Once you discover your gifts you can use them for your main purpose – drawing people to Christ.

Many people ask me why God doesn’t just give us a road map or a booklet telling us where to go and what to do every day. The reason is, that if He did that, we would not be dependent on Him. We are to listen and hear His voice, allowing Him to direct our paths. Some people don’t know how to read road maps and would end up in Spuzzum instead of Sumas anyway. Or they would put the ink cartridges in backwards and wreck their printers – even with instructions. Even Jesus did not make any decisions or comments without first hearing from the Father (consider John 5:19 & 30) . The bottom line of the Christian life is that we “live by faith”. If we knew what every day was about, we’d not have to have any faith. Faith keeps us dependent on God.

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about the kids in my Life Purpose class doing the jigsaw puzzle. God gives us one piece at a time. Discovering God’s purpose is a life long project. We may never find out until we get to heaven what the bigger picture was.

There is one thing that can keep us from our purpose in life, and that is sin. We can’t draw others to the Lord if we are rooted in anger, fear, insecurities, shyness etc. These keep us from the right path. They keep us from hearing God’s voice. We have to deal with sin in our life like weeds in a garden, before we can be fruitful.

So, oGcjm, no matter where you work or live, ultimately our purpose is to direct others to the Lord using our motivational gifts. Whether serving in the military or a Wal-Mart greeter, we all have an important purpose to fulfill.

See? That’s not so complicated, is it? Let me know if you have more questions.

Barry

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Congratulations!

Every once in a while, there is some good news in the papers or on TV. I clipped this out of our local newspaper:


Congratulations Gren and Iris. May you have many more years together.

Barry

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Good Grief!

Last week I met with a young woman who resides in a recovery house. She’s been off drugs for about 4 months. It's interesting that she has an identical twin sister who is doing great. They look exactly alike but behave very differently.

This woman, whom I will call Sheila, came to see me because she was having trouble dealing with a promise she had made to her dying mom who had been physically and mentally ill. Her mom had suffered from, among other physical things which debilitated her, anorexia all of her life and she kind of passed the mantel of anorexia onto both the girls. So Sheila has had to deal with anorexia and bulimia for as long as she can remember.

Now there is a number of problems that Sheila is going through but the main one is that her mom actually went into the hospital because of a stroke and then she starved herself to death. She wouldn’t eat for three weeks, then she stopped drinking and eventually she just died. So in a way she committed suicide. But before her mom died, Sheila, who was clean, promised her she would never go back on drugs again.

So the problem is twofold. One is that her mother committed suicide and Sheila wanted to know if her mom was in heaven and the other is that she had made this promise to stay clean and then three years later, due to another circumstance, she fell back on drugs.


I talked to Sheila about forgiveness and explained to her about God’s forgiveness. I talked to her – her mom was a Christian – about the verse from Romans 8 that says we are never separated from the love of God and also the verse from II Timothy that states when we are faithless, he remains faithful.


I gave Sheila my book on mourning, also. Grief is a serious problem for people who have tragedy in their life and I told her that grief is an inner tearing of the soul that we experience in a time of great loss. When loss unsettles our life journey and grief rips through us, God’s intention is that joy will come in our mourning! I explained to her how to come through that.

We prayed together for courage and Sheila forgive her mom for leaving her in such a cruel way. I told her it was a decision she had made, to forgive, and not an emotional thing and that the emotions would eventually follow. It was a very positive meeting and I enjoyed talking with Sheila.

I hope she stays clean and continues to grow in the Lord as she works through her grief. As I said in one of my previous posts, I find ex-addicts to have a lot of tenderness and creativity and Sheila is an example of this.

If your life is currently shrouded in grief, just remember, God’s promise is that joy will come in the morning!

Barry


Friday, August 26, 2005

What's on your Mind?

I've been writing this blog for a few weeks now and I wish I had time to share more about some of the people I meet, the problems they're encountering and the highs and lows of pastoring a large church but I worry it would be boring. So, I started thinking about this and it occurred to me that maybe some of you have questions you'd like me to answer or topics of interest.

Maybe you want to know about healing or deliverance but you're not comfortable asking someone you know. Perhaps you're wondering about premarital sex, how to know if you're in love or battling depression. Life is full of complications and the answers are not always as easy a reading a road map . . . not that we men do that very often!

I've written several books about our life's journey and purpose and I'm happy to talk about my experiences and the insights I believe God has given me. In fact, often when I am counselling someone I give them a copy of my book if I think it will help them find the answers they need.

So, what's on your mind? Fire away!

Well, never one to stand around with my hands in my pockets (a no-no in our family), I'm off to lend a helping hand to a friend.

Barry


Thursday, August 25, 2005

True Wealth

I'm doing a lot of running around these days, attending licensing comittee meetings, fund raising (I'm the campaign chairman for a very worthy cause which I'll talk about next week) and getting ready for my trip to Europe. There are so many things I have to do to prepare for our vacation that I almost need a rest before I go.

Even if I wasn't leaving the country, I'd be busy. Our church is gearing up for the new year -- which is September for us, just like schools/universities here in Canada. It's exciting to see all the programs that are starting soon and it's daunting to see the list of volunteers we need. But it's worth it. After all, true wealth comes from the investments we make in the lives of others.

A few years ago, Ray Boltz had a popular song entitled "
Thank You." It was about the difference giving people made in the life of a young man. Everyone of us can probably look back on our lives and remember the one person who helped define us, encouraged us or showed us the right way on this path of life. They pointed the way to the ultimate Life Changer. And that's our purpose.


These are just a few of the lives I'm investing in and they are worth every minute I spend with them. Who are you investing in this week?

Barry

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Family Legacy

A few Sundays ago an elderly couple, about 80 years old, attended the church and approached me after the service. They hadn't come to hear me, but rather they wanted to see me and tell me about something that had taken place many years ago.

I had never met this couple, Klaus and Edith, but I was eager to hear what they had to say since it was about my dad.

Klaus told me that he and his wife were immigrants from Germany about 45 years ago. They had come through the prairies to BC and had nothing. Klaus met my dad, who owned a lumber yard, when he was looking for work. He asked my dad if he needed any sort of accounting help and my dad told him no. Back then there wasn't a lot of places for German immigrants and so my dad had a soft spot for him and told Klaus to just come and help out.

So he did that. He worked for my dad and my Aunty May, who was head of all the accounting for the company for a few months until my dad found him a job at Crown Zellerbach. Klaus was so thankful that my dad had taken him in, even when he didn’t need anybody and given him a chance, but that was not all my dad did for him.

When Klaus and Edith wanted to move to Port Coquitlam for his new job, they had no place to go. So, my dad offered to help him. He had just built several houses in the area, as a side venture, and he suggested Klaus buy one of them. Klaus said he had no money, so my dad lent him the down payment. My uncle mortgaged the house for them and got them into their new home for absolutely no money. Klaus and his wife still live there to this day.

Dad did not know these people and when I asked him about it, he didn't really remember helping them. But that is the kind of man he is. He's 87 years old now and hearing Klaus and Edith tell me their story, I started thinking about all the things my dad did for me.

Perhaps the greatest things he did was instill in me a good work ethic and a faith in God. My dad was a very new Christian when he married my mom and he was a righteous man. I can still hear some of things he often said. Things I eventually found myself saying to my girls:
  • Always leave a room (or a desk top) cleaner when you leave it than when you entered it (that often means picking up just one out-of-place article).
  • If you are going to do a job, do it well.
  • Always take something up the stairs when you go (books to your room, toilet paper to the bathroom, clean clothes from the laundry).
  • Always bring something down when you come down the stairs (dirty laundry, cup or glass by your bed etc.).
  • Don’t buy something you can’t pay for now.
  • Appreciate everything God created (from bugs to leaves to mountain ranges).
  • If you can’t think of something positive or encouraging to say, don’t speak.
  • Treat women like they are princesses and your wife like a queen.
  • Take second place. Always open the door for the person behind you to go first.
  • Using foul language is a sign of ignorance.
  • Always say “thank-you” and “please” with sincerity.
As a father, I hope I did as good a job as my dad raising our daughters and as a Papa of six wonderful grandchildren (that's them in their Sunday Easter outfits) it's become even more important to me to ensure I am setting a good example for them to emulate and passing on the same legacy of faith that my dad did.

You know, talking about my dad has inspired me. I think I'll write more about him for one of my upcoming columns. Watch for it -- if you're interested.

Barry

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pastors Aren't Perfect

It's Sunday. My busiest day. I speak at 3 services and it's like a 12 hour day for me because I feel so drained afterward. It's not that I don't like my job -- I love it. But I'm not one of these people energized by being with others. Add to that the unusual heat -- did you notice it didn't rain yesterday for the PNE opening? -- and I'm even more drained.

I prepare all week for my message and by the time I get to the last service, I've got it honed pretty good. A friend of mine likes to tease me that I'm the Jay Leno of church. If a joke bombs at the 9:00 service, I quickly adjust for the 10:00 session. I work really hard at getting my sermon notes and the Power Point presentation just right but last week I made a mistake.

I had written down Hebrews 13:15 on my sermon notes and I meant to write down Hebrews 12:15. It was talking about having a root of bitterness. I was using this passage to eplain how ongoing bitterness, anger and unforgiveness can give the devil a foothold in our lives. But Hebrews 13:15 was a totally different message:

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name."

I noticed the error right away at the first service so at the 10:00 service I pointed out my mistake. When I finished preaching, a man from the front row ran up to me and said, "You know your mistake that you made? That was not a mistake. I believe it was a word from the Lord for me. I needed to hear that. Thank you."

The man's words encouraged me and I realized that even when we do something wrong God can turn it around and bring something good out of it. And that’s exactly what Joseph said to his brothers at the end of Genesis. He basically told them that their actions were meant for evil but God meant it for good to bring about this present day.

And that’s what God does. Even though I didn’t make that mistake for any sort of evil purpose, God still turned it around and found good in it.


I might not be perfect, but I kow Who is. And although I will be diligent and work hard this morning to teach God's Word, I'm delighted to know that even if I don't do it perfectly, He will still use my work for His glory. As the guys from God Rock would say, "Cool, eh?"

Happy Sunday!

Barry

Saturday, August 20, 2005

God Rock

On Saturday nights our church has a service called God Rock. Last week I had the opportunity to speak as the pastor who leads it, Gord, was away on vacation. I do this about every 3 months, anyway, even though it’s hard for me because the service and the congregation are so different. Most of those attending are former alcoholics, drug addicts, and prostitutes. They have a rocky and rough background while my background is kind of squeaky clean, so I find it difficult. Yet, I love it. They seem to like me, too.

The first thing you notice during the service is their music. It absolutely awesome. It seems to me that drug addicts and alcoholics are often very sensitive and creative people and so they are artsy and musically inclined. Some of the best musicians I've met are ex drug addicts/alcoholics who perform each Saturday night. They could play at any venue they are so phenomenal. They practice for one hour and then perform. It is rock and roll unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Finding common ground with this group of people was easy as I shared with them a story about a piece of valuable art.

Back in 1990, a Jesuit home for monks in Ireland was being remodelled. They had removed some pictures off the walls because they were repainting. These old, dusty, dirty cracked paintings were lying around and it just so happened that an Italian art conservator, Sergio Benedetti, saw one of the pictures and he thought he recognized something that an average person would not have noticed. The painting looked a lot like it had been done by an artist from the 16 century – Michaelangelo da Caravaggio. And he thought to himself, could it be?

It had a different title on it and a slight difference in the shades of colours plus it was all cracked and varnished. It had turned yellow, was dusty and the frame was broken but he thought he saw something in this old picture. He asked if he could take it to show it around a bit. Some of his friends and experts thought it was a reproduction but Sergio was certain it was very real. So he spent hours (3 years actually) meticulously cleaning the painting, taking off all the old cracked varnish and removing the dust to get underneath. When he did, he discovered it truly was a redone picture by Michaelangelo da Caravaggio back in the 16th century. This painting had been in the parlour, with the monks eating in front of it every day since the 1920s, and no one knew it was a long lost masterpiece with a value of $40 million.

I told the congregation that we were like that. God has painted this awesome picture, with His hand print but we've become cracked, yellowed, tarnished and peeling. Someone has painted over us and we do not look like the original at all. But as we begin to work off the dust and the varnish, and gunky stuff like that, there is an original painting that God has made. His plans for us have not changed, even though we've been down a very hard road. Our value has not been lost, just hidden from the world.

As I spoke, I noticed they were very engaging and talked back to me. They didn't say amen, they said cool or sweet or whatever and sometimes they clapped after a point. There is an openness that reminds me a lot of the people that Jesus dealt with. He would talk to the blind, the beggar, the prostitute and he just seemed to gravitate to that kind of person because they had a vulnerability about them. They’d been to the bottom and they were very open about their failures. Maybe that's the reason I really love to speak at this service.

Afterwards, they are very responsive. Always a few accept Jesus at the end of the service because they know they have hit bottom. They are currently in the recovery houses, and most have spent time in prison, so they relate to Jesus’ type of teaching.

God Rock is unlike most church services in that the atmosphere is relaxed and casual. You don't have to worry if you have nice clothes or an education. It's all about your soul and your life purpose. You don't have to be a drug addict or alcoholic to attend, either, but if you struggle with addictions, you'll find lots of support and understanding.

God Rock starts at 7:30 every Saturday night. Why not drop by and hear some phenomenal music and testimonies. You'll be blessed. I know I was.

Barry





Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Walking Wounded

Divorce. It can happen to the best of families. And it does.

It's like a motor vehicle accident. Nobody wants to have a car wreck. You could be perfectly innocent, driving down the road when somebody on their cell phone or drunk or whatever bumps into you. Through no fault of your own, you're injured and your car is totalled.

That’s how divorce happens. Sometimes a person is 90% innocent, behaving themselves and somebody else collides with them in their marriage and divorce happens. It is a devastating thing for everybody. But it’s a reality of life. We need to be very careful that we don’t reject these walking wounded individuals.

Now, I'm not saying I agree with divorce or that it is a good thing. I’ve seen too many kids suffer from divorce. It’s almost like post traumatic stress that kids suffer, sometimes many years later. It is very hurtful. Jesus did say he doesn’t want our marraiges to fall apart because divorce hurts us. God says he hates divorce. But the fact is that God himself got a divorce. In Isaiah God said, "I had to divorce my bride (which is Israel) because she was faithless. She committed adultery over and over again." So ultimately God had to divorce Israel and even though he hates divorce, it happens.

Amiee Semple McPherson (founder of the Foursquare Church) was a wonderful role model of this. She was twice divorced. It is not God’s plan for our lives. There is a better way and the better way is to maintain a healthy marriage but sometimes events are beyond our control.


When we come upon an accident, we stop to help. We don't just help the innocent guy, we help the guilty party too, even if he is drunk. We still try to comfort him and get him to a hospital.

Sometimes the church is not even this kind. We tend to disregard or reject people that have been divorced; that are bleeding and hurting and really need help but we brush them aside. So I try to be open and full of grace towards divorced people because they have been bruised enough already. I believe our church adapts this philosophy as well.

Thankfully, I’ve also seen God redeem marriages. I’ve seen Him redeem people from divorces that have gone into new marriages with their second marriage being extremely healthy. The statistics are not good, though. Sixty-five percent of the people in second marriages will get divorced -- this tops first marriages by about 20%. Nevertheless we have a lot of remarried people in our church who are very happy together. They’ve repented of their sin, they’ve taken counselling and they've been healed.


You know, God doesn’t want us to be miserable all of our lives, or alone. Marriage is a part of life and love is part of life so he allows remarriages in certain cases. I have seen many people remarry and be very happy.

Just last week I performed a wedding for a couple that used to come to our church -- when they were married to other people. Not only had the bride been unfaithful to her now ex-husband, he had also been having an affair. Eventually, their marriage broke up. Since then, the bride and groom have worked their relationship out with God and have been staying celibate until the wedding. When the bride asked me to marry them, I agreed. I had no problem with their relationship.

Sometimes, though, I am asked to marry a couple whose relationship I don't feel entirely positive about. I still get involved because I would rather they get married by me and spend 5-6 weeks in counselling than go to the Justice of the Peace and get married anyway. Or worse than that, live together. The counselling I provide helps set a good foundation which every marriage needs. We don't need any more relationship wrecks on the road of life.

Despite the statistics, I have great hope for this couple. I believe they will be successful in this second marriage and I pray their children will find healing.

I hope your marraige is on a firm foundation. If it isn't, why not check out Focus on the Family? Or you can contact our church. If you're the victim of a divorce, won't you consider visiting us on Sunday?

Barry

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Bouncing Baby . . . Book?

This week my eighth book, The Red Thread III, arrived. It’s always exciting for me when a new book comes out. It’s like having a baby, I guess, except that it doesn’t hurt as much. It has been such a hurdle to finish all three books and it’s wonderful to give birth to this last one in the series.

For those of you who don’t know, this series is designed to take a person through the Bible in one year. Our church has been reading several chapters in the book and their Bibles each week and then I’ve been speaking on what we’ve read. For many people, this will be the first time they have read their Bible entirely.

We shipped 1,200 of these books to the Philippines for the two conferences in Davao and Ilo Ilo I will be doing in November. It takes a long time for stuff to get there, so I hope we’ve sent the books in time.

I’m working on a new book, The Secret of Happiness, which I hope to finish some time next week. So I’d better get back to working on it.

But I just had to take a few minutes and share my excitement.

Have a great weekend. Will God see you at church on Sunday?

Barry

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Life Purpose for Kids

I had a mom come see me today because she was concerned about her twelve year old son who was going down the wrong path. She’s a single parent and I feel really bad for her because her son is aggressive and extremely violent. And he’s ADHD. He watches all the TV shows and movies about murder. He even came home the other day with a gun and ammunition!

His mom had a number of incredible and scary events that she shared with me. Her twelve year old is just an example of the many children in our society. It used to be that kids started working at 13-15 and married young. These days there is this long teenage period where puberty has come earlier, whether due to hormones or whatever, causing this lengthy gap of teenage years from about the age of 10 until we get married in our late twenties.

Many kids today are hurting and struggling. They have tremendous bitterness from divorce, bullying, and other losses. I see it every day when I talk to kids who are going through terrible hurts they never resolved from when they were 8 or 9 years old.

Later this afternoon, I had my Life Purpose for Kids class and it was such an extreme contrast from that lady’s son. This is for kids ages 9-12 and we call them the Tweeners. It used to be that the church had lots of programs for young adults, then their focus turned toward teenagers and now it is this age group, the tweeners that is so important. If we don’t get to them at this age and talk about drugs, sex, life purpose, God, and those kinds of things, we’ll lose them. So, I offer this class geared precisely for their age group.

I started out by having them put a jigsaw puzzle together without the picture from the box. It was about 250 pieces. They had fun scrambling to get each piece in its rightful place. For a while it looked like maybe some pieces were missing, but it all worked out in the end. When it was finally completed, I explained to them that life is like that puzzle. God gives them the pieces of the puzzle every day and we have no picture to know what is happening.

Once the puzzle was finished, I talked about Psalm 139 and explained how God has a plan for their lives:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Last year when I did this course, I even took the kids to visit a graveyard to read some tombstones. We didn’t do that this year. Instead, I had the kids draw a tombstone and write what they would like to people to stay about them at the end of their life. Then, with that in mind, we talked about the pathway to achieve their goals.

Next, I read them a story I had written about my grandson and an apple tree. It’s called Joseph’s Excellent Bad Day. I think they really enjoyed it as they sat quietly and listened.

We had a test and then coffee break – actually a lemonade break. Our last exercise was for each of the kids make a book mark with their name and its meaning.

I had a good time with the kids and I think they had fun too. It’s clear to me that you’re never too early or too late to start finding your purpose in life. Have you found yours?

Barry

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mid-Week Already

Yesterday I had a full day of counselling which I really enjoyed. But before my first appointment, I had a phone call from a lady who had read our purpose statement for our church and had some questions.

On the front of our church bulletin each week is this statement:

“Our purpose is to co-operate with God in producing loving, mature, reproducing Christians.”

This woman and her family have only attended the church for a few weeks and they wanted to bring a friend, but he is a homosexual. When they saw our purpose statement and the phrase “reproducing Christians,” they interpreted it to mean that homosexuals couldn’t come to church because they can’t reproduce.

I quickly explained to the woman that the word reproducing here had nothing to do with our sexuality and everything to do with our Christianity. We reproduce who we are and in this case we reproduce Christians.

After I explained this to her, she asked about our stand on homosexuality. We had a long discussion which I don’t have room to share here, but basically I told her my belief is that homosexuality is a ‘bent’ that we may have from abuse, trauma or just a tendency to be that way. We have all kinds of bents in our lives. Some people are bent toward alcoholism, some toward anxiety, others pride, or adultery, etc. Just because we have these bents, does not mean we have to give into them, though.

Homosexuality is like any other sin. It’s wrong because that’s not the way God created us to be. God created us to walk on a healthy path called righteousness. The purpose of life is to get onto that path. Happiness and joy come from walking on that right path. Any homosexual that I’ve met – and I’ve met many through the church and outside the church, plus one of my best friends was gay – didn’t want to be a homosexual. Why would anyone want to go against society and be the persecuted one? People don’t choose that, they just feel that that is the way they are made.

Our philosophy is always to turn the lights on and not to focus on the darkness, whatever our area of sin is – and we are all sinners. When I walk into my office in the morning, I don’t grab handfuls of darkness and try to pull the darkness out, I just turn the lights on and the darkness goes away. So our focus will always be to preach the light – the gospel. We preach God’s release, salvation, acceptance and love.

So, I told this woman she was welcome to bring her homosexual friends to church and hopefully they will see something in the lives of Christians and in Christ that gives them hope and freedom. And that’s what we want and not just for homosexuals. They are no different than any one of us and whatever bent we struggle with.


I wish I had time to talk about some of my other appointments from yesterday but my books have arrived from the printer and I need to get them boxed up and shipped off to the Philippines so they arrive before I do.

Barry

Monday, August 08, 2005

I Never Get the Blues . . .

The Monday moring blues, that is. Because it's my day off and I've got plans. I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts before my wife and I head out for our day together.

Saturday was Blossom’s funeral. It was a very uplifting experience. As I mentioned, she planned everything and it went well. Some children sang, “Big House” which is about heaven. The chorus is:

Come and go with me to my father's house.
Come and go with me to my father's house.
It's a big, big house with lots and lots of room.
A big, big table with lots and lots of food.
A big, big yard where we can play football.
A big, big house, it's my father's house

At the graveside, we had a balloon release. Forty-eight of them. One for every year of Blossom’s life. It was really awesome.

One of the reasons I like funerals is because I get to talk about life – life in Jesus and eternity. A lot of people who attended Blossom’s funeral probably don’t go to church. Maybe they’ve never even heard about Jesus. But a funeral gets them thinking about their own mortality. People always seek me out afterward and want to meet with me at some point to ask questions. I get excited about that. There’s nothing I like to do more than to share the gospel. It’s what I live for.

I had many people tell me how positive, uplifting and encouraging Blossom’s funeral was and many of those attending hung around for 2 hours afterward. I didn’t get to stay long, though, because I had another funeral. I’ll probably talk about this later in the week. It was for the young man who committed suicide.

I’ve got a busy week planned, so drop by again soon.

Barry

Sunday, August 07, 2005

My Dance Card is Full

Phew! I've just looked over my upcoming schedule and I'm wondering where I will find the additional days I need to do everything. I don't think I'm the only one with this problem, but you're probably thinking a pastor should know better. (If so, you might want to reread my Intro post.)

Wednesday is my day to stay at home and write my sermon, study guide and newspaper article. Since my wife, Susan, and I will be in Europe for almost the entire month of September, I have to be well prepared and had a lot to do that day.

My daughter dropped off two of our grandchildren and this cramped my writing somewhat. My 1-1/2 year old grandson is my shadow. Wherever I go, even to the bathroom, he is right on my tail. Since, the days are passing quickly when the kids are still home, I spent time throwing the ball to him. I coloured and read to my granddaughter, as well.

Still, I managed to write 5 articles for the newspaper, 3 study guides plus my sermon. I consider it a very productive day.

In October, I will be heading out to a pastor's conference in Halifax where I am the plenary speaker. Susan and I are going together and while we are there we will travel to Moncton, Bathurst, and St. John's visiting pastors.

Before returning home, we will also stop in Winnipeg and be interviewed by It’s A New Day, a Canadian Christian television show with hosts Willard and Betty Thiessen and Bob and Audrey Meisner.

In November, I'm going Ilo Ilo in the Philippines then on to China to visit a friend. Then back to the Philippines to Davao. As much as I love the Philippines, I know I'll be glad to be back home. I always feel bad when I have to leave my church. I'm not really sure why. I know they are in good hands with Pastor Terry and I have no worries, but like most shepherds, I guess I just like to care for my flock.

It's only August and my calendar for January is already filling up. But, I can't let a full calendar cause me to panic. I'll just keep doing what I’m supposed to be doing and let God take care of the rest.

Hope you're doing the same.

blessings,
Barry

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My Week

As the pastor of a large church, my days and weeks are never the same. Sometimes they are emotionally hard and sometimes they are joyous and rewarding. Sometimes, a mixture of both.

Last week, a friend passed away, the son of a member of our church committed suicide, our Associate Pastor’s father-in-law passed away and a wedding I officiated at did not go as planned.

My friend, Blossom, was writing a book with me which we tentatively had called Dying Well. She wasn’t well enough to write a great deal, but more importantly, she died well. I had the privilege of sitting at her bedside while she planned her own funeral – complete with a 48 balloon release. It may seem strange to you, but I like funerals.

Blossom's life was lived well, too. Yet, she told me that if she had to do it all over again, she’d do everything for God. I thought about that comment a lot last week and on Sunday shared it with my church as I spoke on death and dying well. Was it a co-incidence that I was speaking on that very subject the week Blossom died? I don’t think so. I write a weekly newspaper column and talked a little more about Blossom if you'd like to read it.

We have 3 services on Sunday mornings and due to the subject matter and the fact that it got progressively hotter at each service, I was feeling drained. Now, I’m always pretty tired by the time I finish the 11:00 service and ready to go home, but people like to talk about various things. When I did finally get home, I had just enough time to change my shirt, because it was soaking wet, and go back to the church because I had a wedding at 3:00 pm. By 2:15 when I got there, the church was already hellishly hot.

It started out with the bride being late. The groom had warned me that she was normally behind schedule but while waiting for her, the groom remembered that he had forgotten to pick up the boutonni√®res. I told him it doesn’t really matter if the guys had their boutonnieres or not as the girls had their flowers.

He said, “No, no, she will be really mad.” So he talked to the bride’s mom who works at Safeway. She ordered more boutonni√®res and they sent a guy to pick them up. So that was fine.

Meanwhile somebody had brought the CD that they had made with all the music to play at the wedding. Our sound guy could not get it play any songs at all. By now it is 3:10. The wedding was to start at 3:00. The bride has only just arrived, but because we couldn’t get the CD to play, there is no music.

Since it was so hot, the guests were milling around outside. I had gotten all the people inside at 3:00 and now they’d been sitting for ten minutes in the sweltering heat. Given that we couldn’t get any music, they were just sitting there in the quietness.

I started running around to different people asking if they have any kind of romantic or classical songs on a CD. We finally came up with a Nat King Cole CD and the bride was going to come down the aisle to Unforgettable. The groom was pacing, wondering how he was going to tell his bride about this, knowing she would be upset.

Meanwhile they phoned the guy who had gone to get the boutonnieres and asked if he’d got them yet. He said, “No, they are not here. I was at Safeway and they don’t know anything about it.” When asked which store he went to, he had gone to the wrong place.

I’m thinking it is now twenty after, and the people are getting antsy. I tell them not to worry about the boutonnieres, let’s get started. At this time, one of the bridesmaids, who has recently had a baby, tells me she has to nurse her child. The rest of the bridemaids stand around outside while inside the mother nurses her baby, which takes about 20 minutes.

Finally the guy comes back with the boutonnieres, the baby has finished nursing, we’ve got some music to play and now we are ready to go – even if we are 45 minutes late. Just before we start, the bride asks me if I have seen the photographer. I haven’t. The groom gets on the phone and calls the photographer who is lost. The groom is just screaming at him and even though we are in a back room I think everyone in the church can hear him. He is mad.

By this time, the bride’s mother and the mother of the groom have come down so it is time to start the wedding. So I anxiously say to the groom, “We gotta go, we gotta go.”

He just has to get himself straight. He is still red-faced mad. Finally he calms down. Everybody puts on their smiles, I tell the guests that the photographer and video guy have not arrived and ask that everybody snap pictures and take videos the best they can.

Just at the very end of the wedding, when we are signing the register, the video guy comes in, turns on the camera, and gets a picture of us. The wedding is finally over and the bride and groom leave to get in the limousine, but it hasn’t arrived.

By this time it is almost 5:00 pm and I have something else I need to do, so I have to leave. They say they are fine and off I go, leaving them waiting for the limo. I hope it showed up.

On Tuesday night, I met with an engaged couple and will be performing their wedding in October. I didn’t tell them about Sunday’s ceremony. Maybe there is a reason I like funerals.

Hope you have a great week.

Barry