Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas Day Service

This year’s Christmas fell on a Sunday. It was the first time in many years, so we had to decide whether to have three, two or one service on Sunday morning. Many churches settled for one or more Christmas Eve services and cancelled Sunday a.m. altogether. I really feel that Sunday morning church should be a given in every family, so we planned a Christmas Eve service at each campus, plus a Christmas morning service at each campus.

I wasn’t surprised by the packed out Christmas Eve services but I was very surprised by the almost full house at both campuses on Sunday morning. We enjoyed four awesome, memorable, less than an hour long celebrations. People seem to love traditional services with carols, Christmas story and some great musicians. A highlight for me at our 6:00 p.m. service took place during my presentation of the Christmas symbols. I was happily teaching on the meaning behind Christmas trees, holly, candy canes and the like. My grandchildren, Madeline and Max, were helping me by passing me the symbol I was talking about.

Everything was going according to plan. There was a fireplace, comfy chair, candles, Christmas tree and a baby Jesus in the manger as a setting. Suddenly, little Jordan (2) quietly left his daddy’s side and came up on the platform to join his sister. He had his bottle in hand. Without hesitation Jordan went over to baby Jesus in the straw covered manger and started feeding him with his bottle. It was a Kodak moment—his generosity in sharing his bottle with Jesus was better than anything I could have done.

One of the most memorable Christmas gifts I received, since I wrote about the other ones last week, was this set of lady bugs a friend from our church had made. A friend of Irene’s and Ernie’s had painted two larger rocks to represent papa and nana (our names were written on the belly side) and six little rocks that each represent our six grandchildren. The family of lady bugs sits in my office—our grandkids loved seeing the cute little lady bugs that bore their own names. Thanks a million to Gill McCullloch for creating them and to Irene and Ernie for giving them to me.

Thanks for visiting.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Q & A

I get asked a lot of hard questions and I wanted to answer one or two on this blog.

Q. If God were real, why would He let so many bad things happen to people, eg., torture/murder, the boy that was dragged/killed?

This is a great question; one which has been asked since the beginning of time by almost everyone, including Bible characters like Job, Habakkuk, David and James. I have written articles on the subject before and I’ll include them in my answer, but I think the simplest way to understand why God would allow so many bad things to happen is to see Him as a parent.

Why would parents ever let bad things happen to their kids? If we really loved them wouldn’t we keep them locked up safe in the house, or at least follow them around everywhere fixing their problems? Of course, any child who has been brought up by an overprotective parent knows that overprotection leads to immaturity and rebellion. God really has made us to be free and make choices for ourselves—that applies to the bad people as well as the good people. We live in a world that gives evidence of the choices we as humans have made.

Q. If God instilled in us the ability to make choices (for example, not believing in Him), then even if we don’t believe in Him, why doesn’t He still send us to heaven because He is supposed to love us unconditionally?

If I offer you a present (say a new dress) for Christmas and you choose not to take it, should I make you take it, and wear it? After all, if I loved you enough and the dress would look good on you, shouldn’t I force you to wear it even if you didn’t want to? I don’t think so.

Free will is free will. We have the right not to believe in God, but there are always consequences to our choices. If I, for example, do not believe in the government’s power to make laws, I could speed down the wrong side of the freeway at 100 KPH and kill someone. Run a red light or ignore any other caution or warning signs. When apprehended by a police officer I could just say, “Oh I don’t believe in the government or their laws, so they don’t apply to me!” What do you think he would say?

God created the universe to run by certain rules. I have the right to believe in the rule maker and the validity of His rules or not, but consequences will always follow the choices I make.

God made the world to function with Him at the centre, like the axle of a wheel. I can say, “No, I want to be at the centre of my own wheel!” God, because He loves us and values our choices, will say, “Okay, you can be at the centre of your own life, but you must understand that it won’t go the way I want and know is best for you. There will be consequences to your choice.”

A parent who does not allow his or her child to bear the consequences of his own decisions, does not love his child. True love disciplines a child by teaching that both obedience and disobedience have appropriate consequences. Unconditional love, like the father had for the prodigal son, never stops loving. A parent who loves unconditionally will continue to love his child whether he is on skid row, in prison or in a coffin. I can’t imagine how grieved Father God must be when we freely choose to rebel against Him, go our own way and forfeit the good gifts of love, forgiveness and acceptance He wants us to enjoy.

With God at the centre of our lives, every day is like Christmas as He showers us with blessings and rewards us for being obedient.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Another Funny

An elderly man in Phoenix calls his son in New York and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing, 45 years of misery is enough.”

“Pop, what are you talking about?” the son asks.

“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the old man says. “We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.”

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like heck they’re getting divorced,” she shouts. “I’ll take care of this.”

She calls Phoenix immediately and screams at her father, “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing till I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing.”

The old man hangs up the phone and turns to his wife. “Okay, he says, “They’re coming for Christmas and paying their own fares. Now what do we do next year?”

* * * * *

I hope you're spending the holidays with the people who mean the most to you -- and that you didn't have to trick them into visiting!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

On the Second Day of Christmas

I've already mentioned one of my most prized gifts this year (the envelope of hand-drawn pictures) and I'd like to talk about another one:

You may recall a few posts ago when I talked about the ten most influential people in my life. Number nine was Walter Mussen.

As I was preparing my sermon that week, I had written Walter's name on a piece of paper and then left for a Tri-Cities pastor’s lunch. I love the pastors in this special group and always enjoy our time together.

That day, I happened to be sitting beside Doug Fortune's father-in-law Ed (Doug pastors Grace Christian Fellowship in Port Coquitlam) who asked me who I was and what church I pastored and I said Northside Foursquare. Ed told me he had gone to our Foursquare Bible College in Los Angeles and had later pioneered the Richmond Foursquare Church. His father had also been a Foursquare pastor.

It just so happens that Ed, who is about 70 years old, is married to the sister of my step-brother’s wife, Karen. Interesting connection there. While we were having an enjoyable conversation, I asked Ed if he knew Walter Mussen. He said of course, and told me that Walter had been a friend and that he knew him very well.

As Ed and I talked, the guy sitting on the other side of me, Kris Baker (who pastors the Coquitlam Christian Centre), joined in and asked if we were talking about Walter Mussen.

When I responded affirmatively, Kris said, “Oh, I have Walter’s library.” He told us that Walter had gone to Abbotsford Pentecostal after returning from his missionary work in his later years and because he had no children, he left his Bibles and books to this young man who was the youth pastor at the church. The Bible in the collection was actually belong to Walter's father which dates back to the mid-1800s.

Kris asked if I would like to have that Bible and without hesitation I said, "I would love to have it." So I walked out of there, after just writing his name down before going to the lunch, telling both of them how Walter had influenced by my life and now I get his bible that is well over a 100 years old.

It was a wonderful gift! Thank you Kris.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Prophetic Words

On Friday night, Susan and I invited three couples to join us at our home for dinner. We had a wonderful time of friendship and laughter, but for me it was very significant.

On my way to the church that morning God spoke to me in a very real way. (When I say God spoke, I’m not referring to audible words, but more like when Nehemiah wrote “He put it into my mind.”) My thoughts were off somewhere else, when suddenly I heard the Spirit whisper, “you know that the dinner you and Susan will be having tonight is a fulfillment of a prophecy that you heard 25 years ago.”

I hadn’t thought about that evening in 1980 for many years, but it all came back to me in a second. We’d been invited to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s Banquet out in Langley, BC, by some friends. After dinner, the speaker, Dick Mills, called out my name and asked me to stand up. There I was, a very shy young pastor with a small church, sitting at the back of the large banquet hall.

He began to tell me and Susan, in front of the crowd, what God was about to do. I’m telling this story to encourage those who’ve received prophetic messages in the past, and also to underline the fact that God clearly sees our future. He alone is able to guide us into the days ahead.

Although Dick spoke to me for several minutes and said many very surprising things (he didn’t know me) that only God would have known, there was one which the Holy Spirit reminded me of yesterday. He said that my ministry would expand beyond where I expected it to and that I would have an influence on some very powerful and successful people. When I heard theose prophetic words in 1980, although the day of their fulfillment seemed years away, I sensed they were true. When something of great significance happened to Susan and I a couple of months after that occasion, exactly as we had been told it would, I knew that we’d experienced a divine encounter.

I told our friends my little story last night of how God had not only seen my future, but theirs also and all of us saw again how awesome our God is. We had a very happy Christmas celebration together.

Just a note about prophetic words. Sometimes we hear something either from the Holy Spirit or from someone with a gift of prophecy. My recommendation is that we do two or three things:

Don’t believe everything you hear, no matter who it comes from. Ask God to reveal whether it is accurate or not. When you feel it’s time, talk to someone you trust, and ask if they would comment on the prophetic word.

Don’t let a prophetic word direct your life. Use it as an encouragement of confirmation, but ask God to speak to you about the matter directly. We serve a speaking God and He will talk to you as well as another person.

I put prophetic words in a “seed file.” Let them sit for a while and see if they take root. For example the prophecy from Dick Mills sat in my file for 25 years. Little roots began to grow shortly after I heard it, but I’ve only begun to see the fruit of it over the past 10 or 20 years.

It's an awesome experience as some of you may know. If you don't think you've ever heard God speaking to you, I encourage you to take the time to hear His voice.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Dealing with Grief

At this time of year, most of us are keenly aware of how the holidays can be anything but the wonderful memory-making experience we desire. Especially for those experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one, either through death or a divorce/separation. Sometimes we don't realize that we not only grieve the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of a job, a promotion, or our dreams.

Last week, among my various appointments, there were three, who although they differed in many ways, were all struggling with grief.

My first appointment was with a man who has separated from his wife. We talked about what caused the break up and how he might be able to reunite with his family. I spoke to him about forgiveness and working that through. That’s a very difficult process for him. The flesh, the anger, and the compound hurt on both sides. Pressing us in the right direction is the Holy Spirit, who wants us to enjoy a successful and fulfilling marriage.

A twenty-something woman came to me because she is depressed and suffering from loneliness. She's alone and wishes she was somebody else. This emotionally vulnerable Christmas season does not help her situation. I spent some time talking with her and trying to encourage her. Essentially, she is grieving over the loss of who she wanted to be and feels like she isn't.

I met with a very intelligent, wonderful woman who has just lost her job and she is going through the mourning and grief associated with such a loss. She has already read my book Good Mourning. It wasn’t her fault that she lost her job. They offered her a transfer and she couldn’t do it. She would have had to move her whole family and that wasn't possible. Even though it was her decision, she is still grieving.
One of the most difficult appointments I had was with a pastor who has left his church through difficult circumstances. For him, the grief is extremely difficult because he feels like he has just lost his whole family. He didn’t do anything wrong, and is heartbroken. I tried to help him but ultimately, it is something he will need to work through on his own.

Grief is an inner tearing of the soul that we experience in a time of great loss. The process of grief recovery and good mourning is necessary, and more often than not a solitary experience, to help us walk through a season of grief toward healing.

Through the season of death and loss, the dark lonely nights seem to last forever, but ultimately morning always follows the night. A morning sunrise breaks through bleakness and spreads rays of hope over the desperate hours of grief and sadness. God’s promise is that joy will come in the morning!

Joy is the deep settled satisfaction with life that flows out of a restored soul. When loss unsettles our life journey and grief rips through our soul, God’s intention is that joy will come in our mourning.

So whether your struggles are as a result of some great loss in your life, a goal not achieved, or simply the overwhelming holiday season, I encourage you to be anchored to our transcendent God. Then your faith will see what is invisible to human sight. It will help you look past the grey clouds and help connect your hand to the outstretched hand of your loving Father.

If you would like to order my book, Good Mourning, or would like to meet with me, please call the church at 604-942-7711 or 604-484-8907.

May your joy be full,


Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Message This Morning

Today, at all three church services, I will be sharing my Christmas message. As I read the familiar story about Jesus’ birth and the wise men who came from Persia, I thought about the three different reactions of people in Jerusalem at the time.

  1. The reaction of King Herod, the great builder and ruler who suffered from insecurity, fear hatred and hostility. He was so afraid of another ruler taking his place that he plotted to kill the little baby.
  2. The scribes and Pharisees were different. Even though the scriptures that foretold the birth of the Messiah were being clearly fulfilled, they were so engrossed in their rituals and religious discussions, they missed the significance of God coming as a baby in Bethlehem.
  3. The magi from Persia traveled a thousand miles to see the new baby. When they saw him, the important and educated men fell at His feet in worship.

Which reaction describes the way you feel about Jesus?


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Top Ten Influential People

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to share a portion of my sermon from December 4. I was speaking from the book of Hebrews as I am going through the Red Thread Series. There is a verse in Hebrews 13:7-8 that says:

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

So I talked about honouring and remembering those that had gone before us. That caused me to start thinking about all the people in history who have influenced my life. My top ten are:

  1. The first is Jesus, of course, because He is the creator and Col 1:16-18 says He literally holds all things together. Jesus is the one who influenced me more than any other person and He has influenced the world more than any other person.
  2. Abraham. He set the pace for followers of God. He is the father of our faith, he’s called “father” by Muslims. He’s the father of the Jews as well as the father of Christians, so he got my #2 vote.
  3. I just watched a movie this week about Queen Esther telling the story how she literally saved the Jewish race from annihilation in 465 BC. If it weren’t for her we wouldn’t have Jesus and we wouldn’t have any Jews in our world today. We wouldn’t have any Christians either. So Esther is #3 on my list.
  4. The Apostle Paul who took Christianity to the West (Europe) from Asia and opened the doors up to the gospel for my ancestors is #4.
  5. Emperor Constantine. In about 312 AD Constantine Christianized Rome. He saw a vision of a cross when he was fighting a war for emperorship. In the vision the words came “in this sign you will conquer.” He went as a Christian and did conquer. He is the guy that introduced Christmas. He took the pagan holidays and changed them. Winter Solstice became Christmas. He is the one that took the worship of the god of Ishtar and changed it to Easter, a celebration of Christ's resurrection. He built churches and introduced the reading of the Bible. He had Bibles printed by hand, and sent them to 50 influencial churches. He’s also the one who introduced Sunday worship and consequently he's had a huge influence on the world.
  6. Johann Gutenberg was a businessman, not a preacher or priest. First printed the Bible on his printing press in 1466 and made the Bible accessible to average people.
  7. Martin Luther in 1517. He stood against the established Roman church and brought reformation. He brought salvation by faith, the priesthood of the believer and established the Scriptures as the foundation to all of life. So very important in our Protestant history.
  8. Aimee Semple McPherson. She brought the Foursquare Gospel to Canada in 1928. She was an evangelist who introduced salvation, baptism of the Holy Spirit, and healing. Aimee was always interdenominational and international in who she spoke to. She was the founder of the Foursquare Gospel Church all across Canada. She established LIFE Bible College and one of the first graduates is the ninth person on my list.
  9. Walter Mussen graduated from LIFE (1930). He was my family’s pastor right from the time I was born. My mom was saved in 1933 under his ministry and my father in 1943. They were married in 1943 and my whole family grew up under his ministry. He is the one who gave me a love for the Word of God and for missions. His father was a missionary in China and Walter became a missionary in Japan later in his life (1964).
  10. My dad and mom. My parents nourished all of their six children to know God, to put Jesus first, to give generously, to work hard and to faithfully serve the church. So they became my top 10 people. So they were #10 of the men and women who have most influenced my life.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

It wasn't easy to narrow down this list because a lot of people have influenced me over the years. If you have a few minutes, why not think of your own top ten. Think also about whose list you might be on. Hopefully you have had a good influence on your children, grandchildren and others who lives you have touched.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Friends Forever

Last Saturday, as I was preparing my sermon (which I'll post part of a little later), our granddaughter Victoria played beside me with her little dolls. They're not just ordinary dolls. They're princess dolls -- Belle, Snow White and Cinderella -- for our little princess.

In fact, the Saturday before (December 3) was Victoria's 3rd birthday party. She is our second youngest grandchild. There were about 10 kids at there, all sitting around the table at this beautiful Princess Party. When I saw them, I thought, "Wow, it is only a few years away before they will all be a part of our youth group."

Now, I realize these kids are currently only 2-5 years old, so I'm thinking a little ahead, but it so wonderful to know they will grow up together all their lives, they will be best friends forever and it was just a wonderful picture of these very tight friends. The moms and dads have known each other before the kids were even born so that was a really neat thing.

As I watched them, I thought of that song by Michael W. Smith entitled Friends:

"Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never, cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands I know
That a lifetime's not too long... to live as friends

And speaking of kids, after church the next day, Blossom's (my very good friend who passed away this past summer) husband Gerry came up to me and said he had a gift for me. Then handed me an envelope. When I opened it up, a whole bunch of pictures fell out. They were ten years old and from when Blossom had taught a pre-school class at our church.

The kids had drawn pictures showing how I had influenced their lives. Amazingly, those little artists are now 14-15 years old and still attend church. I was so touched by the pictures. This one is by Genaya Grasby entitled "Pastor Barry Looking at Me." I would have to say it was one of the greatest gifts I've received this year. Check out the Tri-Cities News (December 18 column) in the paper or next week on our church webpage to learn more about the gifts that meant the most to me in 2005.

Next post, I hope to talk a little about my sermon on Sunday. I want to share with you the 10 people who have influenced my life. Hope you'll drop by.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

FNS Press Release #220


As a denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel actively seeks to honor the memory of its founder, Aimee Semple McPherson. The Foursquare Church strives to fulfill the mission of Sister McPherson by preaching the Gospel around the world. Further, the Foursquare Church promulgates openly the facts of Sister McPherson's extraordinary life and ministry. However, though open to factual biographical representations of its founder, the Foursquare Church does not support many of the productions that are billed as historical or biographical fiction and that seek to sensationalize various aspects of her life.

The new Richard Rossi release, Aimee Semple McPherson, seems to emphasize and focus on the more controversial areas of Sister McPherson's life, to the extent that the remarkable and miraculous are overshadowed. Additionally, the film includes many of the same inaccuracies and innuendoes that have predominated writings about Sister McPherson's life both preceding and following her death. Because of those things and because the title can lead people to think that the work is truly biographical, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is NOT endorsing the movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you would like to know more about the founder the Foursquare Gospel, please contact our church to order CD of a sermon I preached on this subject.

Thanks, also, to those who took the time to watch It's A New Day this week and for your feedback.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Life is like a Daffodil

Upon my return from the Philippines, I promised Susan that I would spend the day with her, fixing up things around the house. All the deciduous trees had lost their leaves and since I had been away for three weeks, there were a lot. So we blew and raked all of them. Then we planted our daffodils and tulips for the winter.

I have a friend who has a Ph.D. and teaches at a university and so I asked her why we planted daffodils and tulips in the fall. Why couldn't we just plant them in the spring? She said they have to go through 9 weeks of freezing cold, black weather because that cold, darkness and wet stimulates their growth. If they didn’t go through that winter time, then they would just be little weak flowers in the spring. So, the long stretch through that bleak season made them better.

I found that to be a wonderful lesson for me because it fits so well with Psalm 23 where David says we go into the valley of the shadow of death and that’s where we receive anointing and that’s where we receive the comfort that God wants to give us.

So I was happy to plant them in the garden to begin this process in the valley of the shadow of death that would lead them to a new springtime. As I did that, I prayed for people I know and all who read this blog that as you go through the valley and that there would be an Easter time, a time resurrection, when beautiful new life would burst forth as a testimony to God’s grace.

Now, around the daffodils and the tulips, there is a brown papery shell and very often I used to scrape that off and throw it away. When I asked my friend about it, she said, not to do this because that shell actually nourishes the plants. It is a starch that turns into sugar and gives the boost that the plants need for nourishment.

Again I could see how this fit into our lives. Sometimes the rough edges in our life that we don’t like are what really gives us the nourishment and boost to succeed. So I kept that shell on them, and I kind of rejoiced as I put the flowers in the garden knowing that they would be well nourished for a long, cold winter sleep so that they will be beautiful in the spring time. I’ll give you a full report in March when the flowers come up out of the ground.

After we did the daffodils and tulips, we put up our Christmas lights. We have a 3 storey house and the top rung of lights had become disconnected. I had put a staple right through the wire last year so the lights didn’t work. I didn’t want to go up the ladder and fix them as I don’t like heights like that. It was beautiful day and Susan encouraged me, so up I went. She stood at the bottom of the ladder and promised she would catch me if I fell (talk about faith). I rewired the broken string and got all of our lights working. Once that was done, we put more lights around the plants and the trees so it looks really nice.

As darkness settled, Susan and I sat backed and enjoyed the fruits of our labour. Later, as I worked on my sermon, I used the day's experience to share with the church. It's not easy going through the valley, but God is with you, comforting you. And I pray that soon your cup will overflow and goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Something Fun

Right now it is snowing in the greater Vancouver area of Beautiful British Columbia. This is unusual for us but with global warming, depletion of the ozone layers, and other possible causes, I guess the unusual is to be expected.

Personally, I don't mind snow. It is light and fluffy here and turns our little hill above the city into a majestic wonderland, especially with the glimmering holiday lights.

So, in celebration, I'm posting an online link to make your own snowflakes. If you live in a country that never gets snow, here is your chance to create some. Grab a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and your favourite cookies and start a snowflake making party.

This is mine. It is number 9365334 and looks better on the site. To make your own snowflake, go to:

You can visit the gallery first, or start designing. It's easy. Place the scissors over the edge of the paper until the red dot in the centre turns green, then start cutting. Preview your cuts to see how it looks.

If the snow is falling where you live, why not go out and have some fun with your family and friends. God wants us to not only work hard but to have one day of rest each week. And today is that day!


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Psst! I've got a Secret

It is church budget time. And I want to share with you where I hope to be leading the church over the next coming year. But it's a secret. Don't tell anyone or they might worry our God isn't big enough!

Every year we have to raise our budget. This year we have to up it by about 10%. It is always a faith step and although we have always brought in enough to cover our budget – thank God for that – we still step out in faith each time. This year will really stretch our trust in God for two or three reasons.

One is that we desire to give away about 50% of all that comes in to support our outreach ministries (three areas). Right now we giving away about 40%. Learning to give is difficult because throughout all our lives, in and out of school, we’ve learned that if we have $100 and we give away $10 we have $90 left. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He also says that if we give, it will be given unto us. I believe that and I preach sermons on that, but I have trouble integrating that into my life sometimes. I naturally tend toward the human side that says, if I give it away than I don’t have it any more. So we have this dichotomy between the kingdom world and our physical world.

This year has really been a year of working through this for me. I have always given. I have always tithed but I am learning to stretch myself beyond what I personally feel comfortable with. It is a difficult transition in my own life and we are also going through that in the church. That is part of the reason I wrote the book, The Secret to Happiness. It is my own personal journey into believing that what Jesus said (it is more blessed to give than to receive) really is true.

I met a lady in Davao whose father was a lawyer and her mom was a teacher. With four children to raise, her mom quit working. Even so, they were fairly well off until her dad left the family and went to Manila. He didn’t support them in any way so they became very poor. For several years they lived in extreme poverty.

When she was 16 she moved to live with her dad in Manila and all of a sudden she was brought into prosperity. Suddenly she had modern and stylish clothes, a car and friends that wanted things from her since her tuition was paid for and she had the funds to go to the mall and do things. She lived successfully. But she found, in her own personal life, that when she was successful she had pulled away from God. Success had moved her away from dependence on Him. It was around that time that she became an evangelical Christian becoming born again.

She married a pastor and they began pastoring a church in the mountains where they literally do not have enough money to live. They have a couple of children and they chose to live in poverty as pastors because she felt that poverty gave her the dependence on God that He wanted from her. She would get up at 4:00 in the morning and go down to the wet market where she would buy 5 kilos of fish, come back to the little town they lived in, sell the fish and make a few pesos in order to get enough food for the day. Every day, was a step of faith.

Ever since then, this woman has not only lived on the edge of poverty, never having any money, but she and her husband spend their time helping the poor. She is the one who took me to the orphanage I mentioned in an earlier blog about the two boys being brought in from the streets after sniffing glue. Another boy there, had his face hacked up by his father. She’s dedicated herself to helping those orphans.

She’s also dedicated herself to helping the poorest of the poor pastors; the pastors who literally have nothing. And they are building a pastoral centre totally by faith because they have no money. They have now put up about 8 of the concrete pillars and are just living by faith, day by day.

I have learned a lot from this woman and her husband, as well as from other pastors in the Philippines who give everything away. Whatever they have, they give away. We just have so much in America so I am really trying to sort this thing through about money and learning to be a giver as God says. And so that is kind of where we are right now as a church.

As I go down that pathway, I want to lead the church down that pathway as well so that we become known as a giving church. I want to be like the church in Philippi that Paul wrote about in II Cor. 8 and 9 that gave out of their poverty and they begged for the privilege of participating in the kingdom. That is the kind of church I want to pastor. And I am moving the church in that direction.

We are also being stretched due to our commitment to Pacific Life Bible College (between $250,000 and $500,000 over the next 3 years), the addition to our Coquitlam campus (approximately $1 million), upgrades to both campuses ($100,000) and the radio broadcasts which we hope to start next year ($300,000). We also need to start preparing for our new building which will cost about $6 million. So for us to give away money to the bible college and missions is really stretching our faith and that is a good thing for us. So this upcoming year will be a very difficult year, but a year we will be drawing very close to God.

And just so you don't think Northside will be the only church stepping out in faith, let me tell you about a meeting I attended recently.

All the lower mainland Foursquare pastors met at the Kingsway Foursquare church to discuss two major topics, one of which was the bible college. As the campaign chairperson I shared the vision and the goals and we asked the pastors to set the pace for their churches. We are asking every church to participate for a couple of reasons. One is, we really want to grow in Foursquare and we see growth as part of our mandate under God. So, if we really want to grow then we have got to prepare leaders. And if we want to prepare leaders, then we’ve got to invest in our bible college. This is the first time we, together, have been on a unified mission. Normally, we are building churches and doing our separate ministries but this time we are all working together to build the Bible College to prepare for 5 years down the road when we produce new leaders. We have a whole new crop of great leaders in our Bible College.

Secondly, besides doing that, we really believe that this giving, sacrificially to the Bible College when none of us has extra money, is going to release a flow of God’s grace in our own churches. So I have offered to give every church enough of my Secret to Happiness books to give free to everyone in their church and that is one of my contributions towards the Bible College. We are going to teach giving, not only in our own local churches, but all the Foursquare churches across Canada and pray that it releases God’s grace in the future. Our people will become a giving church. Not just Northside, but all the Foursquare churches will be known as giving churches.

Isn't that an exciting vision?

It is hard for me to share the extreme joy I feel when I visit the Philippines and I am able to give to these people who have so little. I wish everyone could experience that. For now, you will just have to trust what the Bible says. Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

May you be blessed a dozen times, or more, this coming week.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Television Program

Wow. It is December already. And can you believe we have snow?

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? Is the tree up and trimmed with twinkling lights and special ornaments?

I love this time of year and the family traditions we share. Is there something special you and your family do to help celebrate the season? If so, I'd like to hear from you. Drop me a line.

So, as you know, I tapped three segments presenting my "Life Purpose" for It's A New Day several weeks ago. They will air Monday, December 5 to Wednesday 7, 2005.

I hope you will watch the show and let me know what you think.