Sunday, October 29, 2006
Susan and I spent this week up at beautiful Canmore Alberta at our annual Foursquare Gospel Church pastors' conference. This year the theme was "Dreamworks and Teamwork". Every other year, we hold a National convention or a Pastors' Conference--this year was just for the Pastors.
Because we all stay in one hotel, meet in the conference rooms, and usually eat our meals together, the heart of our time is spent in building strong friendships with each other. I love spending time across a table of good food, listening and talking with friends from Vancouver Island, across to Nova Scotia and up to Whitehorse. Everyone has their own story to tell about life and ministry in the various cultures where they live.
The meetings were very interactive with awesome times of worship, strong teaching from different ones of our own pastors and discussion. Often we bring in a plenary speaker from the States, but this time was just us, and that was a healthy change. We also spent Thursday evening honoring (along with roasting) our President Tim and Laurene Peterson. ( I have not laughed so hard in a long time.). Tim and Laurene are retiring this coming year, so our Denomination is in a significant time of transition
On Wednesday several of us drove to both, Lake Louise and shopped a bit around Banff for the afternoon. What a gorgeous country we are privileged to live in. The Rockie Mountains are wonder-full picture of the grandeur and power of God. But of course, it's always good to get home again!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
When he did take Mary out on a special date to ask for her hand and give her the ring, she was overjoyed. But she was caught off guard when he said "Let's do it on Saturday!"
Their friends wanted to do something to make the day very memorable, so several of them planned a wonderful wedding in the few days they had! This is one of many things I love about the Church. On Saturday there were about 50 guests, a stunning wedding dress , beautiful music, gorgeous flowers and all the appropriate decorations. The wedding went off without a hitch and afterward the guests enjoyed a delicious meal all provided by their friends! What a fitting tribute from their loved ones! Thankyou church for your love and generosity! One of the leaders in putting the party together remarked on how much fun it was and how smoothly everything came together. They'd just spent a whole year planning their daughter's wedding this summer, and this one came together in a few days! Congratulations Robert and Mary!
When I told my kids story, The Secret of Happiness, to the church last Spring, I was so delighted when Jenny Kirby came up to me the following week to talk. I hardly knew Jenny, except she is the daughter of a pastor friend of ours. She showed me a couple of sketches that she'd been inspired to do right after hearing my little story. I was bowled over by her talent as well as her willingness to illustrate the story for print.
This week Jenny and I met again to think about our joint project. Hopefully we'll be able to publish this lesson on generosity by the end of the year. I'm continually amazed by the gifting, talent and good attitudes of people in our church. Jenny is only one of hundreds who are willing to generously give away what God has given to them! You'll want to check out her web page @ http://www.jennykirbyart.com Jenny is a seriously talented artist. Here's the cover of The Secret of Happiness.
This weekend Susan and I had the privilege of caring for Jeremy's and Kristy's kids. We share them over this week with their other grandparents while our kids are on a business trip in San Diego. So Sunday after church and our Newcomers lunch, we headed off to the Pumpkin Patch in Maple Ridge. For the total price of $10 we came home happy and ready for a peaceful nights sleep with 4 prizes, a daddy, a mommy and 3 little children pumpkins.
On Monday after Jacob and Madeline were home from school, we carved them up and roasted the pumpkin seeds. A good weekend was enjoyed by all. We had to pass the baton on Monday evening, because on Tuesday were leaving for Canmore for our Foursquare Pastors' Conference.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Actually I'm not sure if Jordan can sing or not, at least in front of people! We had Jeremy's and Kristy's kids for the week-end and Jordy was very excited and quite ready to "ding his dong" as he calls it, on Sunday morning 10 am service. I rushed from the 9 am service to see him and arrived just on time. Here's a picture of him "not singing" along with about 50 other preschoolers. What great entertainment as well as positive training for the children!
I'm especially cognisant right now, while I'm teaching my "Finding your Life Purpose" series, of the various gifts that have been wired into us, even before we are born. The wise king said, that "If we train up a child in the way that he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it." What he was referring to was our children's basic motivational gifts. These gifts will point toward our life purpose.
I encourage young parents to be very aware of what gifts their children hint at even as young as 2 years old. Last week I was cleaning out the last of our summer annuals, while caring for Jordan, who will be 3 in January. I love to teach the children as I work along side of them, and so that's what I was doing with Jordy.
While busy with another project I was watching Jordan. He was still working with the flowers, and while he was doing what I had taught him, he was talking steadily. Listening more closely, I heard him repeating phrase by phrase what he had heard from his papa. Not only did he fully understand, but he was able to articulate it to anyone who happened to be listening. I perceived that my grandson is going to be a gifted teacher. And of course that makes me very proud. (in a godly sort of way.)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
When you get there click on AUDIO PROGRAMS, then click on DOWNLOAD MP3 and you can either download onto your MP3 player or simply play it through your computer speaker. The notes for each Sunday's message are always available to read or print from our northsidechurch.ca web page.
I'd love to hear your comments through this blogspot, or if you have any things you don't understand or questions that come to mind, just jot me a note here or on my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org. As another alternative, all our sermons are available from our church. Just call (604)942-7711 or email Linda Kennedy @ email@example.com. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Monday, October 16, 2006
In the Southwest USA mountainous deserts, lives a large tree-like flower called a Century Plant. It actually does not take a hundred years to grow, but it does grow very slowly. After the Century plant reaches a height of about 6 feet and a width of 12 feet, it stops growing for approximately 25 years. There it stays until one day 20 or 30 years later, inexplicably the plant starts to grow again.
As if beckoned by an inaudible voice, a trunk-like asparagus shaped stem shoots out of the waiting plant. From that stem, at a rate of about 6 or 7 inches a day, the Century plant shoots up to an amazing height of 30 to 40 feet over the following 2 months. Then it produces a beautiful yellow floral crown on top that lasts for 3 weeks. Amazing!
The Century plant is a good picture of the way we as Christians mature. Sometimes we think that we should just keep moving forward without interruption from the day we receive Jesus' gift of life on. But not so. There are often times when the Holy Spirit says to us "OK stop here for an undisclosed season, deepen your roots, and wait! I'll tell you when to go forward and it will likely come when you least expect it!" Isaiah said it well, "They that wait upon the Lord will rise up like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint." Maybe this is one of those times for you. God is teaching you one of the most difficult lessons in the Christian life-- to wait.
One of those differences is The Eastern view of life as being group (family, tribe, or neighbourhood) orientated compared to our Western value of individualisation and independance. It affects our marriages, our families, churches and communities. The Shopping Mall concept is a picture of a family going to the Mall. They arrive at 10 AM, discuss their plans at the door and then divide up. Mom goes to the Department store to fill her list of to dos, daughter heads to the GAP to look at jeans, son hits the Video arcade and dad looks for the electronics store ;;;;; (actually I usually head for the food fair to find a quiet spot to read and drink a coffee)
On Thursday evening I was at the Church and remembered my paper that I'd written. I was there to teach my life Purpose class with an alert group of young adults, Our Computer Team were strategizing how to improve communications in another spot, the Grief group were in the Prayer room working through their challenges; there was a group meeting in the sanctuary learning some concepts of prayer as well as practising what they were teaching, the 12 step recovery groups were meeting downstairs and the Marriage course was going on in the other campus. It seems like every evening there is a full parking lot as different needs are being met in different ways. I'm not sure that I like this individuality as much as the more Jewish concept of family, but we have to meet our society where we are. That's the approach that Jesus took.
This weekend was our daughter Kelly's 35 th birthday so her husband Tom asked us if we would look after their 3 kids while they went away for a short vacation to Seattle. Of course we complied. It's our privilege to spend more time with Alex, Maxwell and Princess Victoria.
Weekends are a fairly demanding time for me so most of the work of caring for the children falls on Susan's shoulders. She's the best Nana in the world. Here's some pictures from our album. Madeline came to visit and play Princess--we also got to watch Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella as a double
feature together on Sunday afternoon.
The boys busied themselves with soccer games, Video games, piano practice and bugging their Papa. We had a wonderful and exhausting weekend, remarking on the way home how glad we are that we had our children when we were youngsters!
On the way home we stopped at Jeremy's and Kristy's home to help unload from top of their van Rooney's new doghouse. It looked so funny to have his house on the roof, I had to snap a picture.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
A young teen had just gotten his driver's permit and inquired of his father,
an evangelist, if they could discuss the use of the car.
His father took him into his study and said to the teen, "I'll make a deal
with you, son. You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your
Bible more, get your hair cut, and we'll talk about the car."
Well, the teen thought about it for a moment and decided he would settle for
the offer, and they agreed on it.
After about 6 weeks, the boy came back and again asked his father about
using the car.
Again, they went to the study, where his father said, "Son, I'm real proud
of you. You brought your grades up, and I've observed that you've been
studying your Bible more, and participating a lot more in the Bible study
class on Sunday morning. But, I'm real disappointed, since you haven't
gotten your hair cut."
The young man paused a moment, and then said, "You know, Dad, I've been
thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson
had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair, and
there's even a strong argument that Jesus had long hair."
His father replied, "You're right son. Did you also notice that they all
walked everywhere they went?"
But we all have to move aside for our children. So when her and Tom's son Maxwell was born on October 8, six years ago, he was added to the star list. Here are a couple of pictures from our family diary. The kids are at an age now where they all play together. Madeline and Victoria can usually be found dressing up as princesses and the boys are into making strange Lego creations. That we all got to eat and talk in relative peace.
After the festivities, presents and cleanup, Jordan and I went to work. He loves to help Papa do whatever is assigned as our project for the day. On this Thanksgiving, our job together was to replace the taps in Kristy's and Jeremy's kitchen sink.
After the good day we spent together, Susan and I drove Gramma home and headed to our house to sit and relax together before bed. Thankyou God for the gift of family!
On Sunday Susan and I had a rare privilege. We sat together at a friend's wedding. Terry Janzen has been my dear friend and associate pastor for about 20 years, and he officiated at the wedding of one of his former associate pastor's wedding, while we got to soak up the ambience of the very beautiful and historic St Peter's Anglican church downtown Vancouver, and enjoy the delightful ceremony.
Another reason the wedding was so meaningful to us is that Shane and his family were among the first adherents of Northside Church 27 years ago. For all those years we 've had the delight of watching Shane and his sisters grow from infancy into maturity. Shane's eldest sister, Caralee is married to our nephew David, and Tawny his 2nd sister, is married to Ryan whom we also have known forever. The group of them are among the scores of a new generation of strong leaders in our church. Becky also is the lovely daughter of friends and adherents of Northside for at least 20 years. That's why Sunday was such a proud and happy day for us.
The wedding was perfect. After a rainy morning, the sun shone brightly down on the handsome couple. Added to the bevy of gorgeous bridesmaids and dashing groomsmen, were 6 of Shane's and Becky's young nephews and neices. They ranged from under 2 to about 6 years old but behaved like little angels.
Shane and Becky you have a strong and healthy history. May God richly bless your happy future together.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
There are at least two benefits to the Autumn trimming I did today. One I was reminded of as I taught Pentateuch this week. We were looking at Noah's adventures through his flood season, and I commented on the covenant which God made with him. He said, among other things, that there would always be springtime and harvest, summer and winter. That's the way God designed life to be. We need the dark cold winters just as much as we need the bright and warm summer seasons. I'm quite looking forward to the rain and longer nighttime.
Then secondly, pruning is as good for our plants as discipline is for our kids. As much as it hurts us parents, we would not love our children if we did not discipline them. I loved my plants so much today that I shaved them with vigor.
Next Spring, Susan will lovingly look at me and say, "Wow Honey, you were so wise to cut our beautiful plants so ruthlessly!"
But meanwhile she'll be home from shopping in a few minutes and exclaim "What have you done? Our colorful garden is gone!"
When she says that I'll smile and say "Bald is beautiful." Then she'll laugh and it will all be ok.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I’ve been asked from time to time to comment on my interpretation of biblical Elders, and how we apply it in our own church life—so here’s a brief overview of my thoughts.
In Old Testament times older men (and women) of a community were known as elders. The governed the family-centered communities and made all major decisions.
Moses would often call the elders together to keep them informed of news from God. Exodus 4:29&39 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. Or to give directions from God, Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of
2. Under the rule of the Israelite kings, elders still functioned, along with tribal heads, and patriarchal leaders, for spiritual leadership. I Kings 8:1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the city of David, which is Zion.
Each town had their own group of elders. I Samuel 16:4 So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?” Ezra 10:14 "Let our leaders represent the whole assembly and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us."
4. In Jesus’ time the elders were still respected as community leaders. They joined with the priests and scribes in opposition to Jesus’ ministry. Matthew 27:12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer.
5. After Jesus’ resurrection, in the churches elders were appointed from each congregation. Acts 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Paul the Apostle and his team seemed to do the appointing.
6. The Greek term presbuteros, from where we get the word presbytery, simply means an old man. It was also used of older women. Presbuterion was an assembly of older men. (Interestingly, the NAS Bible translators, who seem to have a bias against women elders, translated the feminine word as old women rather than women elders (I Timothy 5:2).) Church history tells us that anyone over forty years old was considered to be an elder, and was therefore given special recognition and respect.
7. The terms bishop (overseer – episcope) and elder were used interchangeably in the New Testament church. See Acts 20:17 with Acts 20:28, and also Titus 1:5 with Titus 1:7. A high bar was set for spiritual leaders in both I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 by the Apostle Paul. Their duties involved spiritual oversight of the congregation and teaching of the Word.
8. God used the word elders to describe the spiritual heads of heaven. Twenty-four elders sit around the throne of God. They seem to be leaders of worship. Revelation 5:8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Because the cultures of Moses’ and Jesus’ days were so different from our own, applying eldership in our North American culture is difficult. The picture of eldership in the New Testament is also vague. Perhaps the reason for the little explanation is two-fold:
- Everyone, Christian and pagan alike, understood the respected place of elders in community life and so explanation would have been redundant.
- Perhaps eldership was never intended by God to have a legalistic application. We should use elders within our own context and traditions as they can serve us best.
There are three main styles of government in churches today:
1. Most common is a democratic system. (The word democratic means rule of the people or mob-rule.) Because our Canadian and American governmental systems are designed as democracies, Christians have adapted political democracies to the Church. We call this a Congregational system of government.
They work like this: Any major issues must be agreed upon by a majority of members. To make governing easier, the congregation of members vote for men (usually men only qualify in Congregational churches) or women whom they feel qualify to represent them and their ideas.
The Board of Representatives carries the weight of rulership in the church. They (or a specially appointed search committee) hire a pastor, and the pastor-leaders work under the covering at the discretion of the Board.
The Board are elected for a term of office by the membership and are accountable to the membership.
2. Many churches operate by Eldership in leadership. These are called Presbyterian styled churches.
Although systems vary from church to church, typically the Elders, who are considered spiritual leaders, usually older men, are elected (or appointed) by the membership. Terms may be limited or perpetual. They operate somewhat like the Senate of our countries.
Often different elders will carry unique assignments e.g., finance, facilities, worship and music, youth, children, etc. The elders will make most decisions and are trusted by the congregation.
Other churches use an Episcopal model (Bishop-led) which runs top-down, rather than bottom-up. The Roman Catholic and Anglican churches use this system. Roman Catholics, for example fall under the leadership of the Pope, his Cardinals, Archbishops, bishops, priests, etc. Decisions are made at the top levels and the congregation does not have much say.
Note well that each of the four systems I’ve mentioned can work well or poorly. The reason is that each system is composed of flawed people. Each would consider their system a theocracy (God-ruled). God rules through the congregation, a Board, Eldership, or pastor. Each has positives and strengths but also has weaknesses.
Pastors are chosen by the Unit Supervisors. Church councils are chosen however the individual church decides, by election or by selection. The Council serves at the pleasure of the pastor as counselors to him or her. They serve in a limited term (4 – 6 years) and help make decisions on finance, facilities and business. They are not a ruling board, but should nevertheless be highly respected.
In our church (
Elders in our church are also submissive and supportive of the pastoral office. In our church I call anyone, over forty, who has a good reputation and is a maturing believer, an elder. We have perhaps two hundred elders whom I can call together to give counsel on future plans and vision. We may meet three or four times a year and they are the first to be informed about any major change. They do not vote, but all have freedom to express their thoughts and ideas. We would pray together for God’s mind on new direction.
Associate Pastors, in our congregation, are chosen by the Lead Pastor or Executive Pastor. They are then hired by the Church Council, their salary is set by the Church Council and they can be dismissed only by the Church Council. Dismissal for any pastor could come because of immorality, heresy or inability to perform their duties.
In addition to the larger eldership of
The term Pastor is also unclear in our New Testaments. We use the term to describe the spiritual leaders of a congregation, but perhaps that is not accurate. Pastors (used interchangeably with elders and bishops) in the Bible seem to be caretakers of small home churches. They likely all had other jobs.
Pastors in Ephesians 4:11 are gifted caregivers, like shepherds are of sheep, of a group of people. Our home group leaders and counselors serve more as pastors than some of the men and women we call Pastors.
My point is that the Bible model of Church structure is unclear. It was a home-church structure in a family-centered society. We live in a much different world today, and must find a system that works for us. We should be very careful not to be judgmental of other systems.
Acts 17:24-28 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'
Ultimately, we would all agree that Church should be a Theocracy (God-ruled).
Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He is our Shepherd (pastor), the Guardian of our souls.
I Peter 2:25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (Jesus)
We, (pastors, bishops, elders, leaders) serve at his pleasure and bidding to do his will. Our call and our gifting from God will determine what his will is.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
The first book that I wrote as a series of letters to Kelly in 1999, was Life Journey. It is an easy to read commentary on Psalm 23 designed to help the reader get to know God and his plans for our lives.
Because Life Journey is largely about Father God, I felt it necessary to write another complimentary book about Jesus, the way to God the Father. That book, which I wrote while in Mexico a few years ago, is called Life Centre. Since it was first published, we've used it at Northside as a give away for anyone searching out a relationship with God. Over the years we've given away thousands of the little books. So ultimately, I had to get more printed. A friend of mine with connections in Asia suggested that I get it reprinted in China.
It has taken several months to pull off (the printing didn't take long, but the red tape between China and Canada has been a headache.) Finally last week Susan and I went through the very challenging work of getting the new books released from Canada customs and the docks. They are now safely in our possession. I've made the books available at a very inexpensive cost price to other churches to use as tools to introduce people to Jesus, so if any readers of this blog would like one, just email me and I'll send it to you for free. Blessings to you on your walk with God!
On Saturday, I officiated at the last outdoor wedding of 2006. Friday was a gorgeous warm day out in Chilliwack at Minter Gardens, where we practised walking the aisle of the canopied garden in preparation for the next day's wedding.
Saturday was not quite so beautiful. It rained in the morning and the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees, but by the time Susan and I drove the 100 or so kms to Chilliwack the sun was trying desparately to shine. The wedding was wonderful. I haven't seen so many well dressed guests at a wedding for a long time. It really was a formal and elegant affair, for my friends Carsten Love and Kacey Clarke. I got to know this very handsome couple through Carsten's brother, whom I married a couple of years ago. (Derrick and Anita became the proud parents of lovely little Tianna Faith Love a few days ago.) Carsten and Kacie started attending our church when we began counselling earlier this year.
Kacie was gorgeous in her wedding gown as she walked the several hundred feet long Garden path. They are a truly sweet and fun couple to know, and like their name, are very easy to love. The reception was held in the Crystal Dining hall at Minter Gardens. What a delightful evening we were privileged to share with the happy couple!
Susan and I are making it a tradition to take each of our 6 grandchildren out for a date on their birthdays. Next Sunday, Max, who is Tom and Kelly's 2nd child, is turning 6, so we were off to his favorite restaurant, which happens to be A&W this week, shopping at Toys R Us and for cinnamin buns at Ikea.
We had a fun time learning about the many boy toys available for 8 year olds. Max scurried between Lego Knights, Batman, Bionicles, Army trucks, Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. At Ikea, sitting on our high stools, we talked about the various pros and cons of each option while munching on their delicious cinnamon treats. Poor Max couldn't sleep on Friday night because he was so excited about the coming celebration.