Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Masters Commission

I've had a fun time these last 2 days doing what I love to do. The Masters Commission is a hands- on discipleship and ministry training program that runs alongside our Pacific Life Bible College. At least a couple of our Canadian Foursquare churches offer this intense practical program. Students usually board with church families, take intensive courses, while at the same time doing a whole variety of practical ministries in the church. It's a very worthwhile 1 to 3 years, much like Jesus put his own 12 disciples through.

My assignment has been to teach the entire Old Testament in 3 days. I couldn't imagine a better or more fun thing to do, but what made it even more enjoyable for me was this particular group of enthusiastic young adults. The students were from Canada, Guatamela, USA and as far away as Brazil. What a delight I've had getting to know them. I will try to finish the rest of the OT next Thursday.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Kristy moves up another year

It's amazing to me how fast time flies by--it accelerates as we zip through each decade. Our second daughter Kristy turns 34 this week. Wasn't it just last week that we brought her home from the hospital. Kelly was only 15 months old at the time and she had no intentions of sleeping through the night. What were we going to do with two of them? I said to Susan at the time "If you take care of Kristy at night, I'll handle Kelly." What a mistake that was! Kristy slept through the night almost immediately, while Kelly demanded my attention for months to come!

Kristy was a delight to raise; a little challenging from about 11 to 15, but a breeze after that! She completed Grade 10 piano as a young girl, taught up to 52 students music, while attending university full time; paid all of her own way, and graduated by 22 with a teaching degree. She married her childhood sweetheart, Jeremy, that year and they've been happily maturing since then.

Now 12 years and 3 children later, Kristy not only is a mom, teaches at school and is the President of our 60 student Wee College, but she also serves as Lay pastor of our Kids Church, Nursery to Primary ministry. Wow, I'm tired thinking about it! And besides all that she is one of the two best daughters in the world!

Yesterday after church our family celebrated both, her and their 3rd child, Jordan's birthdays. Because Jordy is one of my helpers in any building projects I undertake, Susan and I bought him a tool box and many real tools (at 3 he's ready to graduate from his plastic tools--but I am a little worried about this hammer and their glass coffee table!) "Kristy and Jordan, my prayer is that both of you will continue to walk and work in the sunshine of God's love and in the protection of his strength!" Happy birthday.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

We're going to Israel

One of my life-long dreams has been to go to Israel. I've been teaching the Bible stories for over 40 years, have been describing the sights, smells, sounds and feel of the land over and over, but Susan and I have never been there.

This last year Jack Hayford announced that our International Foursquare Convention would be held in Israel, so I suggested to my beautiful wife that we try to go. And that was when the fighting started--in Israel that is. All summer the missles sailed back and forth between enemies. It was in October, when the battle subsided, that Pastor Jack reaffirmed that the Convention was still on, with a money back guarantee if we can't go because of imminent danger.

The dates of the actual Convention are July 22 to 25, 2007. But there is a choice of 5 tour options in the package. If you are interested in joining us on a tour (ours will go from July 19 to July 29) please call the church for info and registration forms. Juliet Martinson has offered to help with the dispensing of any information. Her number is 604 461 2670. All who want to join Susan and I on our tour are welcome to, or you can make your own plans. Whatever way, we are going to have a memorable walk down some of the same trails as Jesus walked 2000 years ago.


It's not often that we see genuine miracles face to face. Or maybe we just don't recognize them when we do, but this week I witnessed at least 3!

On Tuesday night I was invited by Alpha Canada to do some videoing for an Alpha commercial they are putting together for churches in Canada. A generous donor had given a significant amount of money to do some necessary promotion, so a film crew were hired from Toronto to travel across the country taping testimonies of what Alpha has meant to them. We had gathered 3 young men, at the church, and then there was me.

When I finished my interview, I sat and listened to the 3 guys tell their stories. Wow! What an inspiration to hear! Fatty is an Indian by family and raised in the Sikh culture and religion, but had strayed into the grip of alcoholism and drugs. His boss attends our church and because I was teaching on the 12 steps, asked him to come to church with him and his family. Fatty came, was deeply affected by the services and quickly enrolled in the Alpha program which was just beginning. He told how welcome he'd felt, how he quickly responded to the Gospel, received the Holy Spirit's fulness and has seen miracle change in his life. He's been freed from addictions, his marriage has been renewed and he has an obvious joy that he cannot keep to himself! He now attends an Indian fellowship in Abbotsford.

Cam is only 17. No one in his family has ever attended church or talked about God, but when his friend Jordan invited him to Alpha to sit at a Youth table, he said "yes". A year later with a huge grin on his face, Cam told how he received Jesus, has invited his friends to church, teaches Kids Church, and co-leads a youth Alpha table. I've marked this kid for Bible School; he's a rising Pastor!

I loved listening to Carl. Neither I nor the others who were listening, could hold back the tears as he described his journey from atheism to evangelism. His wife, who had just finished Alpha herself and had become a believer, challenged Carl, "How can you say you're an Atheist when you don't even know what Christians believe?" With that Carl came to Alpha and a few weeks into it, became a deeply committed Christian. I had the privilege of baptising him a few weeks later. A week after his baptism Carl was serving as an usher and I remarked how great it was to see him serving. With that, he joked that in a few weeks he'd be after my job! I loved it.

Thank God for Alpha and our dozens of enthusiastic leaders and workers!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Life Plan

I get several people, often young, who come to me for counsel concerning the direction of their lives. Usually it's not that there are a lot of problems in their day to day journeys, but more that they don't have direction for the future. When we don't know where we are going, we don't usually make any progress in life. We tend to look back after several years and find ourselves in the same place we were 10 years earlier. When that is the case, we don't feel the fulfillment or the happiness that God intended us to feel.

As a result of many such counselling sessions over the past years, I decided that I would write and publish a workbook called Life Plan. While I was away in Asia last month I did most of the writing, and now this week , with the help of Linda and Jessica I 'm ready to publish the material. I've included in this blog a write-up from the back page and a picture of the cover.

Jordy's Birthday

Jordan is the youngest of our six grandchildren. After Alex and Jacob were born within a week of each other 8 years ago, the kids kept coming. Madeline followed on the first boys heels and then Maxwell came along in the same year. Victoria was born next. She will turn 5 in 2007 and will begin kindergarten in September. When Jordan was born 3 years ago, our daughters told us that he would be the last of the pack.

Because Jordy was a January baby, he won't be able to start school for 2 1/2 years. This is the last of a lot of regular babysitting for Susan, so she's desparately hoping the great grandchildren will come along soon! Because Jordy is the last of the lot and was born some time after Victoria, I think he and I have had more personal time together. He is a helper by nature and loves to bring out his plastic tool kit, donne his goggles, put on his hard hat and work beside me. We've finished several signifigant projects together, and still have a couple of good years before he gets bogged down by 17 years of schooling.

On Sunday Kristy invited several of his church friends over for a Diego Birthday Party. What a delight to see their many friends, adults and kids, socializing together! For a while the group was a bit overwhelming to Jordan and he retreated to the back room to watch Dora and Diego. After a while he came and joined the party, blew out the candles and opened his presents. That party will have to be the last for a while. Our next family birthday doesn't come until next week when his mom crosses another year marker!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Saying Goodbye

It’s okay—He’s ready to go, but still the process of saying goodbye is sad and difficult.

My dad has been a wonderful role-model for the six children he fathered, plus the two whom he inherited when our mom died and he remarried forty years ago. He’s been one of those men who has few regrets when it comes to family—he successfully passed the baton to us adult kids, our 18 children and 27 grandchildren.

A couple of days ago, Susan and I went to visit dad in the hospital. The doctors have given him 1-2 months to live, but we were surprised how good he looked and how chipper his attitude was. Susan took mom out for coffee while my brother and I talked with dad, knowing it could be our last visit on earth. I asked my dad some pretty pointed questions. (I am often surprised how few people address the real issues of life and death head0on with loved ones who are dying).

I asked him how he felt about dying, and although he was, of course, sad to leave mom and his family, he said he was ready to go. My dad has, for as long as I can remember had a strong relationship with God, so he has always known that he will end up in heaven.

We talked about the other four issues that everyone should face before we die—“Thank You”, “I’m sorry”, “I forgive you” and “I love you”. It was surprising to both me and my brother what memories dad had where he felt he’d failed or disappointed us. He talked about little incidents that had happened 40 or more years ago, when he thought that he’d let us down, or said something inappropriate. Most of them we didn’t even remember, but it was good for dad to clean out the closet of his memories.

He talked about how much he loved our mom, who gave birth to us and poured her life in to us six kids. Mom died when she was only 42, so she didn’t get the privilege of watching us all move into adulthood. He was wondering if she’d be 42 in heaven and he’d be 89—and if she would know him. Then he questioned me about eventually meeting both of his wives in heaven. We laughed together and decided that God would figure it all out.

For me, the most emotional part of our visit was not listening to dad’s memories, but our telling him how much we loved and honored him as a father. As Rob and I recounted the many attributes and successes of our dad, thanked him for clearly showing us how to be men, to walk on the right path, and be loving husbands and fathers, I could hardly hold back my emotions.

After our hugs and goodbyes to dad, we prayed with him and left. It was good. We’re so thankful for the gift of this window of time to say what had to be said.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ode to Papa

In light of my fast approaching birthday, here is a sobering thought.

How old is Grandpa?
Stay with this--the answer is at the end. It will blow you away.

One evening a a grandson was talking to his grandpa about current events. The grandson asked his grandpa what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The Grandpa replied, well, let me think a minute, I was born before:

polio shots
frozen foods
contact lenses
The pill

There were no:
credit cards
laser beams
ball point pens

Man had not invented:
air conditioners
clothes dryers (the clothes were hung outside in the fresh air)
man hadn't yet walked on the moon.

Your Grandma and I got married first...and then lived together.
Every family had a Father and a Mother
Until I was 25, I called every man older than me "Sir"
And after I turned 25, I still called poilicmen and every man with a title "Sir".
We were before gay-rights, computer dating, dual careers, daycare centers and group therapy.
Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.
We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.
Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.
We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.
Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.
Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.
Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends--not purchasing condominiums.
We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.
We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios. I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey!
If you saw anything with 'made in Japan' on it, it was junk.
The term 'making out' refereed to how you did on your school exam.
Pizza Hut, McDonald's and instant coffee were unheard of.
We had 5 & 10 cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.
Ice Cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.
If you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.
You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600.00, but who could afford one?
Too bad, because gas was just 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:
'grass was mowed'
'coke' was a cold drink
'pot' was something your mother cook in
'rock' music was your grandmother's lullaby
'Aids' were helpers in the principal's office
'chip' meant a piece of wood
'hardware' was found in a hardware store
'software' wasn't even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a woman needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us "old and confused" and say there is a generation gap...and how old do you think I am?

This man would be only 59 years old!!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada

Tim and Laurene Peterson have served as President and First Lady of our Denomination over these past 15 years. We, at Northside, have been privileged to serve as their church family during the years that they have given oversight and care to the churches from Vancouver Island to the Atlantic.

I've had several occasions to travel with Tim to various regions to meet prospective pastors, and to provide care and teaching. I can truthfully say that I have never met a man so much like Nathanael, whom Jesus thoughtfully described as being "a man without guile". Tim is a picture of grace and love. Both Tim and Laurene have worked far beyond the call of duty in administration, Shepherding pastors and communication. We have a very large country, and to help facilitate the oversight, they have done superb job of creating specialized teams of capable men and women to share the load with them.

This year, 2007, Tim and Laurene are retiring from the Presidency. For some time, a transition team has been working at the process of choosing the next leader who will receive the torch from Tim and carry it into the next decade. There are many factors to consider in such a transfer of authority to make it flow smoothly , so it is expedient that we who serve under our leadership pray for wisdom for our National Board . In our Fourquare system, all churches had the privilege of nominating candidates, but the final choice, under God's direction, comes from a leadership board of 8 men and women from across Canada. God bless them, and give them wisdom and clarity in their final discussions and decision. And God bless Tim and Laurene as they are promoted to a new phase of ministry, wherever it may lead them!

Madeline turns Seven

Our millenium Grandbaby turned 7 on Saturday! Jeremy's and Kristy's 2nd child, Madeline, is now thriving in grade 1 (in the same class as her cousin Max) , is already starting to lose her baby teeth, and is showing signs of being a very mature young princess. Madeline was partied out this week-end with girlfriends from both school and church, in addition to our weekly family get-together, but she handled it with grace and thankfulness.

From the time Madeline was a baby, she has demonstrated a motivational gift of encouragement. It's very unusual for a child to be so generous and thoughtful of others. Of course she, like all of us has her flashes of selfishness, but Madeline is always very conscious of how others in the room are doing. Some of that comes from the modelling of her mom, but a lot of who she is has been a God initiated gift.

As both her pastor and her papa, I pray that" God will protect Madeline from harm and negative influences in this pivotal year of her life, and will shepherd her down the right path that He has uniquely prepared for her. Help her parents and teachers be wise in the discipling of their precious gift."

Every year Susan buys Madeline and Victoria a china doll with her age on it. This picture is of her opening doll #7. They sit on her dresser as a reminder of how much she has grown and of the plans that God has for her full maturity.

Northside Church 2007

It's hard to believe that another year has passed. The time seems to accelerate as we get older. I have a pretty strong feeling that this year is going to be a good one for our church family. As I've often stated, I plan my life in 7 year phases and do the same for our church. In May, we move into our 5th 7 year stretch. Over the first 7 years, we focussed on community ( developing a strong core of loving members), then in 1986 we turned an important corner and focussed on corporation (that phase included developing an administration system, strengthening our staff and building our 2 campuses).

In 1993, we turned our focus sharply outside of ourselves and concentrated on what we called cause. In the millenial year, 2000, we felt that we were at a place of health and maturity, so we widened our focus to include 7 priorities: Alpha, Youth, Children, Prayer, Small groups, Missions (which includes our community and overseas) and worship. Giving became, and will continue to be, a strong emphasis. On a personal note, I began writing books in this phase and published 12 of them.

In May of this year, we will be backing up a bit from our emphasis in overseas missions and looking carefully at how we can impact our own nation. I'll write more later, but this phase will include broadening our influence by web, radio, television and publishing, in Canada.