Sunday, July 30, 2006

Madeline's new ears

Today was a big day for our beautiful granddaughter Madeline. She's wanted to have her ears pierced and get new earrings for a while now. But only Nana was allowed to take her. So after church today, Maddie came for lunch and then went with Nana to have the big operation.

While I was catching up on my blogs, the girls were doing their thing. They just arrived home and Madeline was very excited to show off her new jewelled ears. Here's a picture just for her. Madeline is 6 and starts grade one in September, but she's standing beside me reading much faster than I can type!

Trouble in the Philippines

There's a big piece of my heart that lives among my brothers and sisters in the Philippine Islands. That's why when I receive a message like I did on Friday I feel pain. Rev Val Chavez and his wife Sally are dear personal friends of mine. Pastor Val is the President of the 1600- strong Foursquare Church in the Philippines. He emailed me a couple of times late last week to tell me of the difficult plight that some of our church family are in.

July is typhoon month on the Islands. They are annually whipped by powerful hurricanes (they call them typhoons) and experience severe flooding and loss. This year has been exceptionally difficult for them. Three typhoons have blasted the Luzon District, where 20 houses have been severely damaged and 7 were entirely washed away. The families are presently staying in the church, but there, they do not have the money to help. They desparately need food and supplies just to survive. They are forecasting another typhoon to hit today.

At the same time Mount Mayon has also erupted in the Bicol District and our church members are being evacuated there also. Like I said to the church this morning, I don't know why we are so blessed and protected here in Canada, but we really do have a lot to be thankful for. We gave an offering that we'll forward to Pastor Val tomorrow, but if anyone can help please let us know Thanks so much!

Amy and Darren's Wedding

I kicked myself when I arrived at Amy Wiehardt and Darren Brandner's wedding on Saturday and realized that I'd forgotten my camera. We were up on the top of Burke Mountain at the Port Coquitlam Gun Club. What a gorgeous setting for a wedding. The rains held back and the soft cloud cover was perfect for pictures (for those who had cameras) Because Darren is a proud member of our RCMP, he was dressed in his red serge and wide brimmed hat. Beside Amy's stunning white dress, they were a very attractive couple.

Darren also had a member of the RCMP and a member of the Vancouver Police in his wedding party. A full Honour Guard ushered the wedding Party in. I felt very well protected. After the service out on the front lawn, the party stood at the edge of the mountain. That was where I kicked myself, because not only the wedding party looked stunning, but also the view through the giant cedar trees for several miles to Burnaby was breathtaking. May God continue to shine his light on the path he's prepared for Darren and Amy.

Life Purpose

Today in church I used Zaccheus as an example of someone who had lost his way in life. He had this amazing way of making money, was very successful, but was also unfulfilled. Why?

Jesus came along and offered him life, forgiveness and fulfillment. He told him he was on the look-out for people who had lost their way. When he said that, he hit Zach right between the eyes. He'd described his situation exactly. Zaccheus's mom had named him with a name that means "pure and just". Through the pursuits of his lif, Zaccheus had wandered off the path. Money had got a hold of him and had led him astray. His decision to give to the poor, and to make restitution was the right way for him to get back on track. That was what Jesus called "Salvation" for him.

I mentioned to the church that I would be teaching a special class on Thursday evenings at our Coquitlam Campus, starting mid September, an 8 week class on how to find your Life Purpose.
I'll also be videoing and making CD's of the class. After I'm finished, I'll make the DVD's or CD's along with my Life Purpose book and Workbook available for small group study. My prayer is that as all of discover and move into our destined purpose, we will enjoy the fulfilment that Zaccheus found.

Gardening with God

While Susan and I were doing a bit of weeding, cleaning and pruning in the garden on Saturday, I noticed something I thought was signifigant. We planted nasturtiums among the roses in our back yard a couple of months back and they came in beautifully. The leaves and blossoms are big robust and colorful. But as I was cutting them back I noticed that they were covered in thousands of little black bugs. I was so taken back by the infestation that I ripped them all out of our garden.

The thought that occured to me was that different insects seem to be attracted to different flowers. With our roses it's aphids, and the slugs love to decimate our marigolds. Where they come from and how they know where to go, confounds me, but it also reminded me of us humans.

The author of I and II Kings wrote, referring to the weaknesses of the kings of Israel, that we each need to know the "plagues of our own heart". What he was talking about was that we each have natural inclinations toward evil. Some of us are inclined toward anger, fear, anxiety, sexual perversion, perfectonism (that was a test to see if it bothered you that I spelled perfectionism wrong), laziness, chemical or alcohol addictions etc. They may be wired into us at birth, maybe we caught them through a family line or we may have exposed ourselves to one and it latched onto our souls (kind of like being exposed to a bad virus that attacks our body)

What we need to know is what our areas of weaknesses are so that we can protect ourselves.
I think because the same Creator made the plants as the animals and humans, there are some glaring similarities that we can learn from, so even though our nasturtiums didn't work out in the long run, I do appreciate what they have taught me.

Holidays are over

I took the month of July off for a vacation and to write the second book in my Kingdom of God Trilogy (except for Sundays , a couple of weddings and a few meetings) and now it's done. Because I was busy doing some building and gardening around the house (got to keep my darling wife happy--a happy wife is the secret to being a happy husband) for the first week, then we zipped down to California, my time was quickly running out. By last week-end I was feeling the pressure of writing this book called Walking with the King, so I poured on the gas.

I was able to write a couple of chapters a day Monday through Friday, and I'm nearing the finish line. I find that I enjoy writing as I begin a new project, then the process bogs down a bit half way through, and finally as I come to the end, I perk up again. This book was especially fun because I spent a week shadowing Jesus down the dusty trails of Palestine. I walked with him as he taught and modelled for his disciples how to live in God's Kingdom. I especially loved listening in on his conversations with guys like Nicodemus and Barabbas, and women like the SyroPhonecian and his friend Mary.

I'm doing the final edit on Dancing with the King also. Trying to get it ready for printing in the next couple of weeks. My plan is to send a few hundred to the Philippines for arrival before I get there in November. Then both books , plus a third, Sitting with the King, will be ready for my sermon series through 2007.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mark & Tracy's Wedding Pictures

Gardening with God

I love to read the creation story in Genesis. "Then God said, 'Let the ground sprout vegetation--every sort of seed bearing plant, and trees that will grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.' And that is what happened. The land produced vegetation, all kinds of seed bearing plants and trees with seed-bearing fruit. And God saw that it was good."

Every day as I walk outside and observe the giant Evergreens, the verdulent deciduous trees and bushes, the green grass and rainbow colors of flowers in our neighbourhood, I can't help but agree, this is good, very good. Last evening Susan and I were picking off dead heads and I marvelled at the thousands of new seeds that were alive in the seemingly dead flowers. In the couple of weeks we've been away, the plants and trees in our yard have continued to proliferate. I filled 3 large bags with the trimmings alone.

Here are a couple of pictures I snapped while away of beautiful flowers that God designed and created in a moment of time. The pink and white display were at a mall in California and the firey colored flowers are in Disneyland. Thank-you Lord!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mark and Tracy's Wedding

I've known the Cowie family for well over 20 years and have watched the boys grow up (and up--each one of the 3 sons gained 3 or 4 inches on the one before) Although Mark has been working at Whistler and before that was living and working in Phoenix, he would often come home and to our church to be with his parents, Bob and Liz.

Mark had known Tracy 14 years ago when they were young adults, but before he could work up the courage to ask her out, she'd moved up to Northern BC. But as they said at their wedding, God's timing is always better than ours, so when they reconnected this past winter they were ready.

The wedding was wonderful, as they always are. One of my greatest joys is when I see the beautiful and radiant bride enter the sanctuary doors and walk down the aisle with her dad. Tracy was so happy and looked gorgeous. Because of their height difference of almost 2 feet, after taking communion and prayer, when I said "You may kiss your bride." Tracy had a surprise for Mark. She had me pull out a ready white stool for her to stand on for the kiss. We all got a big laugh as she climbed up to be almost as tall as her new husband.

Congratulations Mark and Tracy. God has huge and happy plans for your life together. I am a very proud pastor--proud of your maturity and grace. I pray for God's blessings of peace and wisdom for both of you.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Use what you've got

On our way home from California, we stopped for a visit with Susan's sister and husband, Nancy and Bob, who pastor in Seattle. Bob has been a great inspiration to me as well as a mentor in pastoring. Yesterday he told me about an incident that happened a couple of days ago, at the beginning of the heat wave we are having now.

The basement of their church, which he just came to as senior pastor a couple of months ago, was very hot. While one of their guys was looking for something downstairs, he discovered a huge fan system. Apparently the fan had been installed when the church had been built, but for the last ten years, nobody has known that it existed. Whoever had been using it back a decade ago had left and had neglected to pass the torch. He did not tell the new caretakers all that they needed to know.

Of course for me everything is an illustration of life and that one was a set-up. When they turned the fan on a couple of days ago, the cool breezes blew and the basement was comfortable in minutes again. That simple illustration is a picture of what happens when one generatioon does not pass on truth to the next one. That's where we lose the faith of our fathers--somebody drops the baton! so the life lesson is to not only USE WHAT WE HAVE, BUT ALSO TO PASS THE KNOWLEDGE ON TO THE ONES WHO FOLLOW US!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I received this all-church bulletin from Pastor Jack Hayford, president of the International Foursquare Church regarding the current conflict in The Middle East. He wrote:

The present struggle in the Middle East involving active conflict between Hezbollah's Lebanon-based forces and Israel, with the immediate unpredictable future of that conflict, provokes deep concern to all thoughtful Foursquare pastors and church members.

First, it awakens us to our abiding call to be found faithful in lifting a canopy of intercession over that entire region. We know the ultimate weapons of warfare are "not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2 Corinthians 10:4, KJV), and accordingly, as part of the global body of Christ, let us commit ourselves to a stance of intercessory prayer that this outbreak be quelled.

Second, it is understandable that this strife might raise reasonable questions as to how these events might affect the Foursquare movement's plans to convene its 2007 International Convention in Jerusalem.

At this point there is no reason to reduce our expectation or alter our plans concerning our July 21-25, 2007, gathering in Israel. The history of the Middle East is filled with short-term conflicts by reason of Arabic nations or other Muslim armed forces making strikes on the people of Israel. There's every reason to believe that this may either be short term or involve a very limited field of continuing hostility.

However, in all cases as circumstances unfold in that region, we assure our church family that as our plans continue to move forward we will consistently seek the counsel of the U.S. State Department. That agency sustains a constant world-watch and provides counsel to U.S. citizens regarding the wisdom or viability of travel in various parts of the world. Our board of directors is being sensitized to this matter and joins me in seeking to assure maximum clarity and care to keep posted as the future unfolds in the Middle East.

Earlier this morning, two of our Foursquare pastors in Israel, Scott Winter and Chuck Kopp, confirmed their safety. Pastor Winter is in the town of Raanana, located approximately 50 miles south of Haifa, where much of the bombing has been in the last few days. Pastor Kopp is located 100 miles south of Haifa in Jerusalem.

Pastors and churches across America, as well as globally throughout the Foursquare movement, are urged to pray boldly and plan expectantly, refusing to be passive in prayer and agreeing together to exercise faith and hope as we heed Psalm 122:6 and "pray for the peace of Jerusalem

Monday, July 17, 2006

Susan, Kristy, Jordan and I travelled over an hour today to visiy a church in Vista. North Coast Church is an Ev Free Church that meets in 27 venues, mostly by video. The pastor records a service on Saturday evening and then copies and distributes the DVD to be played in the various campuses at different times.

We visite the main campus, which is simply a row of warehouse storefronts. One is called north Coast Live with the pastor speaking live. Then there are the various age groupings of children in other storefronts.

Each setting has a host pastor, a worship team (which might be Country Gospel, Rock, Traditional hymns or cafe style-unplugged). Then the pre-recorded video plays at a set time. These services are repeated on Sat evening, two on Sun a.m. and one on Sunday Evening.

We parked in the visitors lot and were picked up and delivered to the venue of our choice via golfcart. Coffee was available for free at several locations. I found the one camera video easy to listen to. Worshippers used their Bibles, listened attentively and laughed out loud when the pastor said something funny. About 7000 people worship in venues that run between 100 and 600 each.

There was nothing pretentious about the services I attended. We sat in plastic lawn chairs, the setting was very casual, but all in all very enjoyable. I was inspired and challenged by what we saw in action today. This has been a worthwhile learning experience.

What an awesome gift I received today. Isn't there a promise somewhere that says the desert places will blossom?

Today as I was walking from the beach to our car, having been praying for a friend who was going through a dry spell, God showed me his handywork once again. He'd promised Hosea while in the midst of great pain, that he would open a door in the valley of Achor (that's where Achan, whose name meant trouble,met his end). When all seems to be over and we are feeling like we're living in a barren desert, God comes through with a precious gift--like this beautiful flower. There it was in a dry sandy place. I doubt that it has seen any water in weeks, but see how vibrant it is!

Kristy is living with Susan and I (and Jordan) in our motel this week. It's good to have our 33 year old baby home again. She is a delight to spend time with--a lot of fun.

Kristy always has music playing. This morning, we we listening to a Gospel artist and I was concentrating on the lyrics. They seemed a little judgmental to me. The singer was lecturing the church for not being more loving and thoughtful. (Obviously written out of his own experiences--my perception tells me he's been hurt by the church)

In our discussion of the song, which has a catchy melody, I said to her that a problem comes when we pick the same songs to be sung in church as we enjoy on the radio. A church worship service has the 2 fold purpose of praising God, while at the same time encouraging and stimulating the congregation.

It's a good practise for us who are leaders (Kristy leads our 200 preschoolers in Kids Church) to think carefully about the songs we chose for public worship. Some are much more fitting than others.


Today the girls have gone hunting--they discovered a Steinmart, Marshalls etc and are shooooooping for bargains. They won't stop until they bag at least a couple of hot ones..

Meanwhile I'm grandparenting. Grandparenting is something like parenting, but not quite the same. All families have different cultures. Not good or bad, just different. Like when kids should go to bed, what they should eat, how long they should hang on to their "blankey" or "soo soo" and even how to schedule their days. Our job, as grandparents is not to change their family culture, but to support it. Of course we should speak up lovingly when it comes to values, such as how to speak to a brother, being kind, sharing.

We should not carry the weight of discipling, but should be encouraging, and supportive. I love this privilege of being a papa. Its a lot easier and more fun even than being a daddy.

Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of the church is an enlightening experience First, we can learn a lot about hospitality from old Walt.

Everyone who works there has a smile on their face ( although we did hear a couple of workers who were overwhelmed by the heat and yelled at some enthusiastic kids). They have been trained well in greeting, order, submission to authority. You can easily see how every job is important, whether starring in a show or picking up garbage. It was good to see that the "family" is is still alive and well in America.

The other thing I observed was how Disneyland-type entertainment has affected the church. There's no way we can put on a show at church that rivals what people have come to expect. We have to see our church services for what they are. Our purpose is to encourage and stimulate, but also to keep everyone involved in the process. Disneyland tends to create a spectator mentality. We want to have participants. We can learn a lot of organizational principles from the entertainment industry. But we have to remember we are in a different business

Yesterday we spent the day at Disneyland in 101 degree temperatures. I think we might have picked the busiest day of the year! It was great fun watching the kids expressions on the different rides. The older boys liked all the fast rides (Max had to wear higher heeled shoes to be tall enough to be allowed on the rides). Victoria loved Small World the best and Jordy enjoyed the train ride. He was very afraid of the Pirates of the Carribean cruise

All in all it was a fun family day. Well worth the 59 dollars each. Today we'll rest up by hanging around the beach

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

We arrived last evening at Huntington Beach, just south of hectic LA. (Never seen so many cars in one place). Our daughter, Kelly and her husband Tom,have rented a place on the beach for a month. Our second daughter Kristy and baby Jordan will be down today by plane. Their other 2 kids went with Jeremy's mom and dad to Ontario

The beach here is gorgeous. In the day it is a balmy, sun-drenched 80 degees (about 95 inland) and in the evening it has a cool breeze. Under the full moon and clear stars the walk-way along the beach is very romantic. Tomorrow we see Mickey and Minnie. That will be fun.
There's something about God's variety in creation that brings great peace to me. As Susan and made the 1200 mile trek down I-5, we saw the strong evergreens of northern Washington, the remains of Mt Ste Helenes after the volcanoe blast of 1980, the rolling farm hills of southern Oregon (a few deer poked their little noses out along the way). The mountains and tourquoise lakes of Shasta in Northern California. And then lush farms of the central California area in contrast with the barren. Mountains of the Grapevine. I love the drive-- for about 24 hours Susan and I are locked side by side in our safe space. With no interuptions

Thank you Lord for the color, the magnifence and even the fragrance of your creation!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Day with the grandkids

Someone gave me a book a few years back that was titled "When I relax I feel Guilty". I'm not sure where the line should be between, what I would call a good work ethic and workahalism, should be drawn, but I did learn as a boy that if I'm not working, then I must be wasting time. We're instructed in the Bible to redeem the time; make good use of it; once a moment has passed, we cannot get it back again.

Then over the years, especially teaching the Pentateuch at PLBC, I've come to understand how important sabbaths are. In Moses' day, he taught his followers to take not only weekly sabbaths, but also yearly ones, and even to rest one year out of seven. Then there were the numerous holy Days spread throughout the Jewish year. The Jews really understood the value of rest, for body, soul and spirit.

So to find that balance between working productively and taking sabbaths (which literally means to stop; desist) is my constant battle. I'm on vacation now and my goal is to write a book, but there are numerous household tasks that are calling out to me every day. What do I do?

Yesterday I was having one of those inner battles when Susan told me she was going to take Kristy's kids to Old Fort Langley to look at how the early settlers of BC lived. She said this would be a good time for me to stay home and write. But I thought "I would love to go with the kids to Fort Langley!" and then I thought "Boy, this would be a great quiet time for me to get something done!" What should I do?

I decided to resist the urge to do something "productive" and give myself to my family. I know you're probably thinking, "Duh, that wasn't a difficult decision.", but for me, it caused me to pause and think through my values again. Here's a couple of pictures that will remind me of the wisdom of taking a sabbath.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Summer projects

I've decided to take the month of July off. I'll still preach on Sundays, but for the most part, I'm going to be staying home and working on projects. My main project is to write a sequel to "Dancing with the King" that I wrote while on vacation in Mexico in April. I have prepared an outline and hope to work on a chapter a day until its done. This second book will be entitled "Sitting with the King". It will flow out of the Gospel stories about Jesus talking with his disciples and explaining how the Kingdom of God works.

Yesterday I spent much of the day writing a children's book on the subject of "Dancing with the King". It's taken from a picturesque parable that Ezekiel told about the Kingdom of God. Hopefully my daughter Kristy will be able to use it this summer. She's the main teacher at Kids Camp in August and the theme is about the Kingdom of God.

After writing that story, I did a bit of physical work helping my neighbours expand their lawn space. I find both, physical work and helping my neighbours exhilerating--one benefits the body and the other benefits the soul. This morning, Susan and I are off to get my car fixed. A worn bushing is causing my car to lean to the right, so we're off to spend a few hundred dollars on something that nobody can even see, but will help us travel safely down the road of life. Wow, did you get the lesson in that metaphor?

Gardening with God

I'm not sure where weeds come from. My assumption is they came because of the fall of man. Romans tells us that all of nature is out of harmony with God, and will be until He restores all things. (I put volcanoes, earthquakes, droughts etc. in the same slot, maybe as part of the discipline of Adam. God's intent is that from our struggles with the weeds of life we will grow more dependant on Him and also wiser)

As careful as Susan and I are to keep an attractive garden, we wrestle with weeds regularly. I think of weeds as pictures of the dysfunctions in my life. For whatever reason, we continue to work against the adversity of stuff like anger, resentment, over-responsibility, fear etc. I've been at it for almost 60 years and still struggle every day to overcome stuff that I should have dealt with as a child. It's like the weeds in our garden, you'd think there would be a point where we could say "Ah, finally the soil in my flower garden is pure. There are no more weeds to deal with ever again!", but not so.

Then as bad as the daily little things that mess up the soil of our souls are, somtimes we discover, or somebody kindly points out, a glaring weed that has been growing for years and we hadn't even noticed it. My friend sent me this picture from her garden last week. She found this huge weed that had been proliferating in the shadow of her beautiful shrub. It reminded me of something as devious as pride that might be growing under the cover of generosity or of kindness. God reminds us that our hearts are very deceitful--we can be doing some thing quite virtuous, and at the same time be allowing a rogue motive to grow alongside the good that we are doing. The picture caused me to think and examine my own motives again.

Monday, July 03, 2006

O Canada

It's interesting to me to see the differences between the United States and Canada, especially in the ways that we celebrate holidays. For us up north, we almost pride ourselves in our reserved, peaceful, quiet Canada Day Festivities. Unless a visitor happened to see one of the few parties or fireworks displays downtown, he might not have even known that Saturday was our National Holiday. We have never been big on blowing our own horns. We are not fighters--we , I guess, must be lovers.

Americans are fighters. They fought to be free of English domination--we just continued on under British Sovereignty, embracing both the queen and also keeping the peace with the USA. Americans fought with the Indians, while we had the RCMP to keep peace,order and good government. They had some serious gunslingers and goldrush battles. We don't even like guns. Americans have had race riots, internal rebellions over the many wars they've fought, college campus riots. We have not . Rather we tend to smugly mock their enthusiastic expressions of their strong opinions.

In America, their motto is "liberty". That's a word that carries a meaning of fighting for what is good and right. Our motto is "freedom". It's much more passive. Of course we too want our rights, but we'll let our neighbours fight for us; we'll ride on their coattails. It's actually worked for us too. Canadians, around the world are respected as being peaceful, polite, yes even nice. Americans, for all their fighting for what is right, and their lavish generosity, are often seen as pushy, arrogant and interfering. I think we're really just as prideful as they are, but we're more subtle about it (and then were proud of our subtlety)

So when it comes to Independance Day (note that the name of their holiday infers fighting for liberty) there will be a lot of noise, Flag waving, bigger fireworks and marching bands--we meanwhile will sit quietly, watching them do their thing, maybe even feel a bit of emotion when they stand, hold their hand over their heart and sing with gusto "America, America, God shed his grace on thee..." .

I really do love being a Canadian. I too am quietly proud of our peaceloving, beautiful, quiet people, but sometimes I wish we had a "little" more of the raw emotion of our southern neighbours.