Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas at our house

With 6 grandchildren running around, Christmas is a pretty exciting season. The celebrations usually begin by us all attending the 6 pm Christmas Eve service at Church, which helps remind us and the kids of our priority of honoring Jesus. Then we come back to Susan's and my home to eat and open their stockings. Here's a picture of the 6 children anxiously anticipating the word "go".

On Christmas morning we all headed to Tom and Kelly's home to eat breakfast of Cinderella waffles and lots of syrup. Jordy always has to have popcorn as his special dessert! After breakfast and a short devotion, we got to open presents. Alex and Madeline both gave us a Christmas recital of the carols they've recently mastered. Victoria received a Ballerina Barbie, so here she is dancing with her doll.

One of the most rewarding parts of our morning was Jacob's gifts that he'd bought for everyone. With his new paper route, he received his first cheque just before Christmas and and chose to spend everything on presents for his family. The picture of him giving his personally chosen gift to grandma shows that this was the highlight of his celebrations. In the afternoon we all kicked back and played with our new toys--Jordy and I got to assemble Kristy and Jeremy's new buffet. And of course Christmas evening was topped off with turkey dinner and home-made apple or pumpkin pie. Thankyou Lord for Jesus and for family! What a delightful day we all enjoyed!


I've been busy marking students' papers written for my Pentateuch class this fall, and just came across an excellent description that a young man wrote about the Menora, that was set in the Tabernacle. Of course we all know that the Lampstand represented Jesus, who is the light of the world, but it also is a picture of the Church that reflects His light to the world around us. When we begin to think about reflected light and how many times more effective it becomes by adding more mirrors around it, we can begin to understand how Jesus views each of us--as mirrors who reflect His light to our circle of influence.

I saw that idea illustrated in a conversation I had a couple of days ago. Richard and Theresa Lee had to leave our church about a year ago to return to Pakistan for their business. Theresa was visiting this Christmas and so we had a chance to catch up on what's happening. Although there are no Protestant churches where they live, they have become active in the Roman Catholic Church there. Theresa told me story after story about how they have been able to practise and even pass on principles they have learned in our church to those around them. They have even begun a Bible study, with the Priest's blessing, using the Red Thread Trilogy.
I was so encouraged to see once again that the light we reflect in our neighbourhood, can be reflected halfway around the world. God bless Richard and Theresa!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The secret of Success

People tend to think I'm busier at Christmas than normal (I guess because it's a Christian holiday) but in truth things slow down a bit. People are all busy doing their thing, so they don't give as much time to regular small groups, or to their problems. Please don't tell anybody my little secret.

Because of the extra time that I've got, I've taken off 3 or 4 days to write a book, called The Secret of Success. The book is based on our church philosophy of ministry, which is summarized in the 3 rhyming words Knowing, Growing and Sowing. Not only is this a formula to build a successful church, but also to build a successful life. As a matter of fact I strongly believe that knowing God, growing to maturity in Him and sowing the gifts we've been given, is the only pathway to true success!

I'm writing this book in partnership with my friend and associate pastor, Terry Janzen. It will hopefully be available by next September.

Winter and Susan's Birthday

Can you believe it? Winter arrives on December 21-- and so does another birthday for my darling Susan. She arrived, so I am told, on the morning of an 18 inch snowfall, Her dad had to shovel a block of their street before he could drive mom to the hospital. Thankfully they arrived on time and beautiful Susan Rosemary was born strong and healthy, about 4 years after her big sister Nancy Ann and about 5 years after her future husband.

To celebrate, our family went out to Montana's where the kids can make as much noise as they want. Susan didn't want me to publish the picture of the waiters singing to her with the big moose antlers on her head. Instead I chose this one of Susan, Kelly and Kristy , as well as the 6 kiddies cuddled up to their favorite Nana. On Thursday, we'll celebrate again with a few of our friends.

I'm so thankful to God for his generous gift he has graced me with. Susan has been the perfect match for me. I think I'd be a mite boring to live with, but her excitable and exuberant personality keeps our marriage and family a fun place to be. I love her with all my heart and am looking forward to the next 30+ years that we will (God willing ) have together. Marriage is one of the many best ideas that God ever came up with! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Sunday at Northside

December seems to throw a bit of a curve in our regular church schedule, but it's a good curve!
On the 2nd week we enjoyed our children's play and choir and on this last week we loved our church choir's presentation.

Wow! What a gift that music is to the church. I couldn't get over the quality of talent and the willingness to share it that our church has. Maureen Reid has been leading our choir as they have practised over the past few months--I suspect that there is as much fulfillment in the friendship of the group as there is in the presentation of their music. The choir sang for our Saturday evening service as well as 3 times on Sunday morning. They really had to hustle to make the hop back and forth between the 2 campuses. And it was worth it all. Thank you Lord, and thank you choir for your gracious gift.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Enjoy My Books and Pay Less This Month

Use this coupon at one of the Retail Stores listed on my website, or automatically purchase anyone of my books on my website throughout the month of December at 15% off.

Christmas lights

I love the decorations and lights that brighten our rainy community at Christmas. They are shining witnesses to the light of the world who shines through his church to the world around us. Today Jordan helped me put up lights around our home.

Christmas Generosity

I love people like Ed and Joanne Spence! What an honor it is to serve beside them. Ed was placed on the front page of the Tri-City News this week with a very glowing article giving tribute to the hundreds of homeless people he has fed over the last several years simply by saving bottles and trading their value for food. Thank God for unselfish and thoughtful Christians in our community who let their lights shine not only at Christmas but all year. We're so privileged to have Ed and Joanne and their daughter as part of our church family!

Christmas celebrations

It's been a fun Christmasy week-end for Susan and me. Besides the regular home and church things that we usually do, we had opportunity to celebrate a few special things. On Thursday evening, Susan and the girls went to our annual Women's Celebration, while I got to take my four grandsons out for dinner at Burger King. Then on Friday evening Dave and Carol and we went to the Singing Christmas Tree program at Broadway Church.

I've been so impressed by the consistent influence Broadway Church has had in our metropolis for the last 60 years or so. They have been like a spiritual anchor in a city that has tended to drift toward secularism. I applaud their consistent witness and their generosity in freely and elaborately opening their doors to a very diverse population. Blessings to our friends at Broadway, and thank-you for a very classy and moving presentation of the Gospel. Of course my niece Dianna Smith was the real star performer!

On Saturday, Susan and I were invited to our dear friend, Jim Douglas's 65th Birthday Party. It's hard to believe that we have friends that are so old! Jim and Sharon have been pillars in our church and also Kingsway Foursquare Church for their entire lives. How I value Strong Christlike families--you can easily see their faithfulness because it is modelled in the 2 generations that they've successfully passed the torch to. Both of them have also been teachers at Pacific Academy since its beginnings and so have positively influenced thousands of kids. Thank you Lord for godly pillars. May the Douglas tribe continue to be blessed for generations!

We had a great Christmas Celebration at our 4 services this week-end. The hundreds of children that we've been entrusted with put on a wonderful musical program. Afterwards we were invited to our Granddaughter's birthday party. Victoria turns 4 on Monday so Tom and Kelly invited a few of her friends and their parents for a Birthday lunch and skating party.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Leyte Mudslide

These pictures date back a few months to the big mudslide in Barnard, Leyte. An entire village of 5000+ were immediately wiped out by the slide, covered in 15 feet of mud and rocks.
Northside church immediately responded to help those on the outskirts of town who lived, but lost everything. We sent several thousand dollars, which was taken by the team (pictured here) to buy supplies, food and water. A new church was planted very near where the disaster occured.
When I was in Ormoc a week ago, I'd hoped to see the site of the slide, but found out that it was a five hour ride, so I did not have time. The church there did send many thanks to our church for our help in their time of crisis.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Diana and Chris's Wedding

On Saturday I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of two of our church adherents, Chris
and Diana Lorenzen. What a great couple! Chris has an Italian family and Diana is from Serbian background. I find the blending of the different cultures so interesting. Each has their own traditions, Christian history, language and foods. A sumptuous feast followed the nuptials, so all told this was a wedding day that will be remembered with great joy for many years to come. These are two of the loveliest families I've come to know this year--and there have been a record number of memorable relationships I will have forever.

Even more pictures!

Pictured here is one of the Fastcat Ferries that I rode on, Pastor Val Chavez and his wife, some of the pastors I was able to share a meal with and a Caribou. Caribou are the main " farm equipment" used in the Philippines for preparing the soil for planting as well as much of their farming. Finally, pictured here are two young bible school students from Life Bible College in Davao, with the 50th Anniversary cake pictured in the background.

More pictures from the Philippines

Pictured here is the long line of pastors in Davao that we provided lunch for. Also are some of the boxes of clothes that we had sent months in advance to give to the Pastors .
The three women at the front of the stage are the happy prize recipients of some of the Cadbury Chocolate that I brought down with me.

Pictures from my trip to Philippines

I have attached some of my pictures from my recent trip to the Philippines and Thailand. Included here is a picture of my good friends Don & Ru Schellenberg that I stayed with while in Thailand. Also pictured here are some of the Thailand dancers in their costumes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Auntie Mae

Today my family held a Memorial service for my dear 97 year old auntie. Auntie Mae was one of those very rare women who was like a mom to our family. After serving in the RCAF as a Colonel, Auntie Mae did not marry. She worked as an anchor in my dad's lumber business, running the office and keeping the books. Whenever dad and mom would want to get away for another honeymoon from us 6 kids, Auntie Mae would care for us.

When she was 52 she finally met Derrick who became the love of her life until he died in 1983. During those years Auntie moved away to Little Fort, north of Kamloops and the 2 were farmers together for all of their married life. Every summer as a teen ager I would go and live with them on their farm. I learned a lot about life from Auntie Mae and Uncle Derrick. I painted their old farm house (4 coats) , worked at harvesting, milking cows, castrating bulls--you know, regular farm stuff. A very memorable day was when I was 16 and Auntie's adopted daughter, who was only a few weeks old, got her head caught between the wooden bars of her crib, She was turning red and then white, but Auntie could not get her out. When she cried for help, I ran into the room and was able to dislodge Carlene from her prison. Auntie Mae always credited me with saving her daughter's life.

Auntie Mae was a woman of faith. She sang in the choir in 1928 when Aimee Semple McPherson came to town and then invited my mom to Sunday School at the brand new church at Hastings and Pender in Vancouver. Mom was only 10 years old at the time, and later met my dad (Auntie Mae's brother) , but it was that momentous occasion that ultimately changed the path of my family's life. I owe a great debt to my beloved Auntie and will miss her. She is doing well and has just been donned with her Crown of Righteousness!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Monday Nov. 27

I didn’t realize that this would be such a long trip from Davao to Ormac today. I started out at McDonalds for breakfast with one of the Bible School Students. (I have a very special memory of being at our International Foursquare Convention as a 19 year old Bible College freshman when a veteran missionary took me out to dinner. I remember feeling so honored that he’d asked me.)

After breakfast my host drove me to the airport, where I and the General Superintendent headed to Cebu, the ancient landing place of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the stronghold of Catholicism. We were met in Cebu by two pastors I know and we all went to lunch together. After lunch we set out by van to the dock, where we eventually boarded a Fast-Cat ferry. Susan had told me that another ferry just sank yesterday off a nearby island, but we safely made the three hour trip. We landed at the port and set out by car a fair distance to Ormac. We were both pretty tired (and a little seasick from the very rough ride). We arrive at about 8:00 p.m. for the first service, which had already begun. It’s amazing how invigorating worship can get one ready to teach. I feel bad for Delfin the General Superintendent; he has a meeting after our services, then leaves for an eight hour ferry ride to be at his next meeting by morning.

Leyte November 29

Well its all but over. In some ways, it seems like months I've been away. So much has happened, so many new friends, so much conversation. But in other ways this 18 day trip has flown by.

During these last few days in Ormac, sadly my telephone text and email have not worked. No satellite connection on Leyte. I was desperate to call Susan the first night I was here to tell her that I'd arrived safely by Ferry and motorcycle. My cell did not work, the hotel could not access Canada and the public phones closed at 5 pm. It was 11 pm after the service was over. (we hadn't arrived till after it had begun) finally I asked a couple of women walking by the hotel if I could pay to use their cell. They had no load but were willing if we could reload for them. The hotel clerk ran somewhere (it was after midnight and everything was closed) got the necessary load and I was able to call.

Ormac is a lovely little seaside town on the Island Leyte. 15 years ago it made the headlines when the river overflowed and 15 feet of water drowned the city. 11,000 people died that day. When the pastor built his church a few years ago they dug up a few human skulls under the parsonage

Then in 2006 a mud slide a few hours away in Bernard buried 1000's more alive. Our Church had given several thousand dollars to help the living so I brought back pictures to show what we did to help.

The pastors of Leyte are a very humble group of men and women. Gulliver the district Supervisor has no car or motorcycle. No typewriter or computer. No office and only a small parsonage (about 300 sq feet) for his family of 6. But as poor as they are they worship with great enthusiasm and listen intently to the many hours of teaching. My schedule was full from arrival on Monday until departure on Wed afternoon.

There's a typhoon on the Islands so the Fastcat Ferry is making tracks to get to Cebu before they send out the signal to cancel all sailings. I'll be in Cebu tonight and tomorrow I fly to Manila to connect to the flight home. Yippee!

Monday, November 27, 2006

50th Year Celebration

We set out early again this morning for a 90 minute jeepney ride from Davao to Panabo City. It was their 50th year Celebration and also Thanksgiving Sunday so they had slaughtered the fatted pig for the occasion. Knowing that pastors Hernani and Mila’s heart for the poor, I was very surprised with the quality of the celebration this morning. The wonderful music was high on the list of the best I have ever heard. I couldn’t hold back the tears as the dancers and actors retraced the 50 years of church history here on the island of Mindanao when Sister Thompson began the church in Davao in 1956. She almost immediately began reaching out to the natives in aboriginal tribes. On her first visit it was either eat the sacrificed monkey or be killed. Sister Thompson closed her eyes, stuck her fork into the monkey’s roasted brain and stuck it in her mouth. The natives cheered and she was accepted from that time.

After my time of preaching we ate some of the best food I have ever tasted, played some family games, enjoyed more music and native dances and presented awards to some of the heroes of Philippine Foursquare History. I had to leave by 3:00 p.m. to get back for dinner with some of the Bible School students. Then we all rushed to the final celebration service (with a 3 foot tall cake.) It was very sad for me to say good-bye for my now many friends here in Davao. Tomorrow the General Supervisor and I fly to Cebu then take a fastcat ferry to the Island of Leyte for my last conference.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

November 26

I met one pastor here who travels to remote villages and reads to the uneducated tribal pastors so they will have something to preach to their villages. The jeepney we came on was very old and barely running. They are now praying that God will provide a new vehicle.

Just united to the grateful pastors, most of these men and women pastor in the mountains, accessible only by motorcyle. The mountain passes are very steep, wind along the sides of cliffs and are only dirt or mud trails about three feet wide. (I was not permitted to go because gangs of communist terrorist are on the lookout for white visitors to rob or kidnap for ransom).

A jeepney in the Philippines

November 25

On Friday the 50th Anniversary wound down except for a big church celebration on Sunday evening, so I have turned my attention toward Panabo City Conference about an hour away. I am on the board of directors for the Strength in the Valley Foundation who minister to the poorest of the pastors from the indigenous tribes. These pastors will walk through trails and then ride on a motorcycle taxi for many hours to come hear the word, receive some rice and a few clothes for their children and church.

It has been a privilege for our church to help subsidize the work and the retreat center Mila and Hernani have been sacrificing to construct. I will bring back pictures of their progress. Speaking of the poor, it is very difficult to know who to help and who to not help.

Mila began the ministry several years ago when she and her husband were going through a very difficult valley. As pastors their income was about $10 a month. She remembers standing on a bridge with her hungry child. Her daughter was asking for a banana, but Mila could not afford even that. She was really tempted to jump off the bridge and end her very difficult life. God spoke to her and reminded her of the many blessings she did have, and that others were even poorer than her family. It was at that moment in the valley of the shadow of death, that Mila felt God calling her to care for the poorest of pastors.

Nov. 25, today was a full day at the Strength in the Valley Foundation. After teaching the seminar on Psalm 23, I got to be part of the joyful blessing process. Our church was able to provide food subsidy plus we had sent boxes of clothes that were given out.

Thursday Nov. 23

Today was another yesterday. I started before dawn (still no coffee at Dunkin Donuts-they promise for sure it will arrive by tomorrow). The seminars began at 7:30 this. morning and the enthusiasm was as strong today as Wednesday.
The delegates have worked so hard to raise enough money to come. Some pastors live on as little as 1000 pesos ($25.00) a month so even a bus ride and registration can equal a couple of months income. One pastor I spoke with rode his small motorbike over very difficult terrain to be here. He left home at 3 pm and finally arrived at 6 am. They are so hungry to learn the Word of God that they sit for 14 hours on very hard wooden pews and intently listen to every word that I am teaching.
Tonight there is a banquet to honor the churches and Bible School who have served over the past 50 years. There have been 2300 graduates over the past 50 years from the Halls of Life Foursquare Bible College and most of them are still Pastoring today.
Tomorrow the conference in Davao ends and I leave for Conference #2 in Panabo City

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday Nov. 22 in Philippines

This has been an exhausting but very profitable day. After arriving at church this morning my teaching sessions began and carried on through the day which ended about 10 pm. The weather is very hot (about 90 degrees) but thankfully there are no window panes in this 1000 seat sanctuary. Of course that allows birds to fly through the room; and a cat just ran across the stage.

The theme of the conference has been "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" so I've been teaching on remembering the past; Bible history, Philippino history,the history of the church and the last 50 years of Foursquare history in Mindanao. Then I'm covering our present purpose. A generous sponsor provided my new book "Dancing with the King" to each of the 550 delegates. Tomorrow we'll get into the promise that God has given is for our future. It's very exciting!

Tonight before the message the students of the Foursquare Christian School performed an amazing story dance depicting how tribal natives tried to kill the early Foursquare missionaries. And how God saved them because of a few shiny buttons Arthur Thompson just happened to have in his pocket!

Its late now and the servers at Dunkin Donuts will be waiting for me at 5 am. They promised to have coffee in from Manila by tomorrow. Wednesday was a good day here, so I believe it will also be in the West.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday November 21st.

Its Tuesday morning and I'm at the Manila Airport headed for Davao to begin the Pastors Conference. This is the 50th Anniversary of the Church in Davao so we'll have about 400 pastors and leaders in attendance.

I remember very well the 1960's when Evelyn Thompson and her husband Arthur moved from Manila to Davao. They had no money but they did have much faith. She began immediately preaching on street corners. Evelyn was very much like the founder of the Foursquare church Aimee Semple McPherson. Miracles began to happen and it wasn't long before they built the 1000 seat church where I'll be teaching. Hundreds of churches and Hundreds more church plants have grown out of her fruitful ministry. I am so privileged to stand behind the pulpit she used and teach the next generation of Pastors. Services will run from 8 am until 10 pm with some time off for meals only. I'm amazed how much stamina the pastors have for listening and learning. I usually lose my voice speaking as much as they want to listen.

Yesterday I had the full day to prepare. Although I had done my homework and early prep work in (I had to print and ship the 60 page notes by early Sept), there is much adjustment to the moment of need as I proceed.

Aimee Semple McPherson

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday Dec. 19th

November 19. I'm sitting in a Chow King eating my bowl of noodles very content with my world. Manila is very warm this evening, muggy after the rain today. There are a thousand smells in the air. All kinds of fried foods I don't even recognize, blended with thick diesel exhaust from the Jeepnies and urine from the vagrants sleeping on the sidewalks. Sounds of motorcycles, police whistles, hawkers selling their wares, Christmas carols from neighborhood Karaoke machines and a hundred loud voices competing to be heard.

My day has been tiring but fulfilling--the alarm woke me at 5 am to get myself ready for the taxi at 5:30. The driver and I tried to find Capital City Foursquare Church. After one stop for a donut and cup of bitter instant coffee, and a lost hour we arrived at the church still early for the 7 am service

The music was exhilarating and worshipful. My problem is holding back my volume in the enthusiastic praise to save my voice for a 75 minute sermon, which was expected. The service was over at 9 then to Starbucks Coffee in the lobby, to be fueled up for service #2. The 10 am service was also full with several hundred attentive worshipers. By 12 after greeting the members then lunch with my congenial hosts, Val and. Sally Chavez (president of the 1800 Foursquare Churches in the Philippines.) I taxied back to my hotel. I called Susan at about 3, which was 11 pm Saturday evening to her, and lay down for a nap.

Then I went for a long sightseeing walk and ended up here at Chow King. I'll go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow is the day I prepare for Day 1 in Davao when I am on from 8 am through the evening. It's going to be a very fulfilling week. Blessings to all

Friday, November 17, 2006


Yesterday was a transition day. My week of refreshing is over and it's time to start working.

After packing and visiting with my gracious hosts, we headed for the beautiful new Bangkok Airport at 11 am. Philippine Air took off for Manila at 2 pm and arrived at 6 pm. The weather in both places is about 30 degrees and clear. It was already dark when we landed in Manila.

The flight gave me enough time to read my new book, Dancing with the King. Odd as it sounds I had not read it from cover to cover as a story before - only to write and edit it. I certainly don't want to toot my own horn but the book was exciting to read. Just seeing the amazing plan of God for his church is amazing

I'll be using the book as part of my series in Davao next week. One of our church members generously purchased books for each of the 600 pastors and we shipped them ahead 3 months ago. The pastors here cannot afford to buy books with salaries of 30 to 200 dollars a month so they are so delighted with the gifts.

I booked into a hotel in Manila and settled in for a well needed rest. I'm feeling great physically and spiritually, but I do need to catch up on my sleep. Sunday is coming. Blessings to all who read these words

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Today was a full day at the Foursquare Conference. We started at 7 am and got home just after 11 pm. Pastor Jack did a great job of challenging and encouraging the leaders this morning. We had lunch and a break in the afternoon, later a delicious Asian banquet for dinner, real Thai entertainment and a wrap-up by Pastor Jack to top off the night.

I've had opportunity to connect with many Philippino friends from throughout the islands as well as long time friends in Foursquare leadership. If I wanted to travel or felt it was God's will I've had invitations from all over the map. We'll see what happens. On the way home after a 20 minute train ride, Don and Ru and I wandered through the buzzing night market where I was able to buy a few trinkets for the grandkids. Wednesday was a good day-for those of you in BC just beginning it, you have lots to look forward to. As for me though, I'm off to bed

Midnight in Bangkok

Its Midnight here in Bangkok. We've just ended another memorable day at the eastern nations Pastora and leaders Conference. 31 Nations are well represented. Its hard to describe how much my world has been widened over these past 3 days

I've sat down or had tea with dozens of world shakers. Not that they are wealthy or powerful in themselves, but they live daily in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This a.m. the meetings began at 7 and the first round ended at 12:30 for lunch. They resumed for the afternoon. At 5 pm the 600 plus delegates were treated to a colorful and flavorful Thai buffet dinner which was followed by a short presentation by each of the 31 nations- in full traditional costumes. wow! What a treat. Each group could do a song ,dance, skit or whatever they chose. I cried as well as laughed as the Sri Lankan team sang about rebuilding the ruins after the tsunami, where 73 of our church members died. A revival has followed the tragedy. Bangledesh rejoiced over the 40 churches they've planted. With 40 more already started. Myanmar has 60 churches and daily live under persecution in danger of jail. Vietnam also in colorful costume, although their churches are not sanctioned and are underground led us in riotous laughter. Probably most exciting is the work in Cambodia. The Foursquare church began only 8 years ago and there are now 2000 churches full of enthusiastic young believers. No wonder we love giving to Missions! Just as amazing are the 12,000 Foursquare churches in Muslim stronghold, Indonesia. To see these groups of 20 or 30 leaders (Cambodia has 101 there), very common people up front singing and laughing was one of the most exhilerating evenings I can remember

After the celebration I came home and we went shopping for family gifts at a wonderful night market. Even I enjoyed the shopping experience! Thursday has been a great day. Thank you Lord!