Saturday, June 30, 2007
Today is a very signifigant day in my life and in my circle of influence. Several streams are converging:
1. This is the day I officially take the reigns as President of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada. Along with the transition I've been receiving a lot of vision for the future of our denomination.
2. As a bonus Susan and I have the privilege of flying today after church from Vancouver to Halifax. I will make it a point to bless every province as we fly over the 6 hours across our nation.
3. Signifigantly it is Canada Day. God has been planning to do a strong work in Canada since before Jacque Cartier landed on the East Coast in 1534. Today in my sermon I'll explain why we're approaching the birthpangs of God's good plans.
4. This Sunday I'm continuing to speak on the subject of Vision. Over this week and next I'll be giving a prophetic message for our church and our nation. That will be available to hear on the Audio program at barrybuzza.com.
5. This Sunday I'm ordaining 2 new pastors in Northside. Pastor Sam Ong will serve our Chinese members and Chang Hun Suk will serve our Korean members. This week kicks off our new 7 year plan of being a truly International church
6. This week also marks the beginning of a 3 month Tri-City prayer plan. Along with many other churches our goal is to walk the Tri-Cities block by block until we've covered every home Business and school in prayer.
7. Its also the beginning of summer, the end of school and the start of Northside's 5th - 7 year season of ministry.
I'm excited about this moment in time and as ready as possible to move forward in the light of God's grace
It seems to me that at least once a week I sit down with someone in our church to encourage them in their ministry, and I leave the meeting having gained more inspiration than I gave.
That's what happened yesterday when I met with Elisabeth Holmes. She has developed a program to help single moms grow in a wide variety of skills. Stepping Stones of Victory has been a wonderful vehicle to disciple and encourage dozens of women.
In addition to this amazing ministry Elisabeth serves in our Higher Ground Ministries in a growing number of areas, works at least 3 other jobs and is finishing her Bible College courses to earn her degree. (She also is a single mom herself and is getting married this year--Wow! I'm tired thinking about it. )
But the reason I left our meeting so uplifted was because of Elisabeth's newest project. Every morning she gets up at the crack of dawn and writes an encouraging devotion which she then emails to her 50+ participants. When she showed me some of her writings I got greedy and asked if I could share them with those on my blog.
Here's an example from today. If you'd like to receive Elisabeth's daily devotional she said she would happily add to her list I can think of dozens of friends I want to receive it. Just send Elisabeth your email address. Hers is email@example.com
Today’s Stepping Stone of Victory
Turning our stumbling blocks of adversity
into stepping stones of victory!
By: Elisabeth Holmes
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Around 44-49 AD under the evil and infamous Roman emperor Nero, the Jewish Christians were living in a very dark period of their new faith suffering unthinkable persecution that was driving a wedge of fear and oppression in their faith and amongst each other. Validating their suffering (v 5:13) James unites the believers through encouragement and invites them to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other so that they may be healed and strengthened in their faith.
When I read the history of what these Christians suffered it makes me sick, I cannot even imagine what it would be like to live under these conditions. Do you ever do that and complain about your circumstances to someone else and then in God’s wisdom He sends someone along that has it a million times worse? I say God’s wisdom because I know He wants us to take our eyes off of ourselves and pray for them yet the enemy presents the option of being sucked further under as well. Yup, many times I’ve taken the low road of despair. Every time I fall into that trap, I ask myself “Why do you have to complain?” Complaining is a sin (Phil 2:14). Am I going up for prayer after church or seeking and elder to confess that I’m complaining? Nope. Instead I find someone else that will suck me further into my sin and I enlarge my pity party!! Funny isn’t it, I never feel better when I continue to complain about my circumstances. Can you relate?
…….our stumbling block
Our faith weakens when we focus on the problem instead of the solution and the enemy will send in reinforcements to drag you further down in your sickness.
……stepping stone of victory
There is power in confession of your sin. The enemy wants us to think that we are so weak and that our sin is the worst! Guess what? We are weak but it is through confession of our sin that we are released from the bondage that has ensued around our hearts binding up our faith of unbelief. I did that 2 weeks ago and confessed my lack of joy in my circumstance and the prayer of my beloved friend Yvonne opened up a blessing upon me and my family that encourages me to not complain but to have faith in our Lord who invites me to trust Him, ALWAYS! Do you trust Him enough to confess your sin to someone righteous in your circle of influence? I invite you to try. What do you have to lose?
Friday, June 29, 2007
When you dream in colour, it’s a pigment of your imagination.
Reading whilst sunbathing makes you well-red.
When two egotists meet, it’s an I for an I.
A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.
What’s the definition of a will? (It’s a dead giveaway).
In democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.
When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
A lot of money is tainted. It taint yours and it taint mine.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
A plateau is a high form of flattery.
The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she’d dye.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
Enjoy the long weekend and celebrate Canada Day!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Randy was one of those atheists who attended our Alpha program with no intention of every becoming a Christian. I loved it when he told me the story of how amidst the protests every week and his arguments against the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he could not resist the pull of the Holy Spirit.
By the week of the retreat, Randy gave in and committed his life to Jesus. Jenn followed in his footsteps. While Randy attended Beta the next Semester, Jenn came to Alpha. Both of then are now glowing in their new found faith. Marrying them today was a privilege.
It was in about 1915 that young Aimee was invited to speak at a mission church there by a lady pastor. Seeing only a small congregation of elderly people, she was not satisfied. Aimee grabbed a chair from the mission and headed for the busiest corner of Main Street about a block away. Always willing to do the unusual, she climbed onto the chair, closed her eyes and lifted her arms to heaven. Aimee stood still for about twenty minutes—when she felt a curious crowd around her, she quickly jumped from her chair and ran to the mission house. The crowd followed her.
When she and her followers got inside, she shouted to the two men there, “Shut the door and don’t open it until I’m finished preaching!” They did and that began one of her very first and most memorable revivals. Added to that story, another one happened on the same week. The old town drunk, who was also the town cryer was deathly ill. Never having had much experience in praying for the sick, Aimee was not put off by the challenge. She prayed for his healing—body, soul and spirit that evening.
The next day the old man returned, completely healed and sober. Because everybody in Mount Forest new the man, his healing became the talk of the town. Many were saved and healed in Mount Forest during Aimee’s stay there, but even more than that, the revival was the beginning of Aimee Semple McPherson’s next thirty years of miracle ministry.
Churches were soon planted there, in Durham and Owen Sound (where my family has many roots). After snapping pictures there, Susan and I headed for Guelph to spend our night.
On Friday, we journeyed and flew back to Vancouver, where we landed fourteen hours later. It has been a very happy, tiring and memorable visit with our awesome Ontario pastors.
Mabel led us first off to Welland where we met Fred and Barb Plank at their home. From there we went to lunch and Fred filled us in on the long history of our Ontario Unit, which before 1983 had been part of the USA’s Eastern District. The Welland church’s history dates back to about 1928. It’s so fascinating to get to know the stories behind every pastor’s family. We learnt something from everyone we met.
After Welland, we got in our Volvo and headed north to Durham, Ontario. Louie and Gladys Foster have been friends since I taught them in Bible School in 1977. Both of them and their families are natives of Durham, so they know most everyone in that town. Although the Fosters already had children, when Louie felt God’s call to pastor, they left everything behind in Durham and moved to Vancouver to attend four years at LIFE Bible College. I highly admire this couple’s faithfulness and zeal.
Pastoring a rural church is very different from our suburban culture. After touring the mostly gravel streets between farms, we stopped at a small Mennonite café. Louie and Gladys greeted almost everybody there as friends. Almost all of our pastors hold down secular jobs as well as pastor, but while Louie and Gladys do both, they also run a very sizable farm in their spare time. I get tired just listening to their schedule.
Ron graciously drove us around the west side of Toronto for two and a half hours and explained to us many of the unique characteristics of the G.T.A. We made a quick stop at a strip mall where the Toronto church is planning on renting space this summer. Then we drove through dozens of ethnic communities. It was obviously true what Ron said about Toronto being the most multinational city in the world.
I was feeling a growing excitement as I realized how closely my own vision for a multi-national Foursquare Church paralleled Ron’s vision. He has relationships with dozens of ethnic pastors, and his missionary heart (Ron and Joan spent many years as missionaries in Brazil, and he still travels several weeks out of the year to care for and oversee pastors in various nations of the world) is open to starting scores of multi-national congregations in the G.T.A. Toronto is about 55% populated by immigrants.
Our dinner on Wednesday evening was a delight. Susan and I met some of the pastors who work alongside Ron and Joan. The table was diverse—Nigerian, Caribbean, Filipino, Brazilian and us out-numbered Caucasians.
There was a buzz of enthusiasm as we shared our visions for reaching Canadians of all colours and racial backgrounds, as well as the unique flavours of our own church cultures. I am very optimistic about the growth and health of the Ontario Unit of Foursquare Churches. We arrived after midnight at our hotel in Thorald, not far from Niagara Falls.
Our first visit was with Glenn and Lynn Bleakney, who pastor in Burlington and Cambridge. Glenn planted the church in Burlington and has just this year taken on the leadership of our Cambridge (largely Portuguese) Church. I was delighted with the large vision that he has for the greater Toronto Area (G.T.A.) as well as for Missions. Glenn and Lynn left immediately after our lunch for a couple weeks of missionary work in Trinidad.
On Monday evening, Susan and I got in our car and programmed our very wise GPS (we called her Mabel) to lead us to Oakville. We sat in a beautiful lakeside restaurant with the Unit Supervisor, Marion Raymond that evening.
Marion gave us a very positive overview of the Ontario Unit. She is a strong and loving leader, encourager and visionary for the Ontario pastors. After dinner, Mabel led us to our hotel in the area for a well needed rest. The jet-lag and time change had set in for Susan and me.
Tuesday was a beautiful June day. The sun was warm and the view was verdulent and peaceful as we drove west to London. We’d been upgraded at Hertz and given a beautiful new Volvo convertible to enjoy the weather.
We arrived just after noon at our friend’s, Gary and Bev Miller’s, comfortable old suburban home in the University district. Bev had served me and the church for over thirty years as secretary and Gary as jack-of-all-trades over the past several years. We were so happy to see them again.
That afternoon, we headed west to the beautiful city of Sarnia nestled on the shores of Lake Huron. David and Connie Hardman were our congenial hosts for dinner on Tuesday evening. We loved their stories of God’s blessing on them and their ministry. After dinner, David and Connie drove us for a city-tour and to see their 75 year old church building. The Sarnia Church’s history goes back to the early Pentecostal revival in Sister Aimee’s day.
After spending the night at Bev and Gary’s home and visiting with their kids and grandchildren we headed back to the G.T.A., only stopping for a quick side trip to Ingersol to see the historic birthplace of the founder of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada—Aimee Semple McPherson. It was my first visit to Ingersol, and I felt a warm kinship with Sister Aimee as we drove through her 1890 birthplace.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
There are a couple of observations I've made concerning dancing, as I'm thinking about it in the context of our Dancing with the King:
1. It's a lot of work! Wow, these girls and a couple of boys have worked at their craft diligently. It seems to come easier to some than to others.
2. Working in harmony with each other is a must. It's not a dance if there is no partnership.
3. Leadership is necessary. I can see the dance teacher off to the side behind the curtain leading the choreography. Some follow better than others!
4. It's fun! When the dancers, little or mature, dance well, they are awesome in their beauty and grace. And they obviously are enjoying themselves.
Only an hour and a half to go. Dinner's coming soon!
Because it's Father's Day, I'm teaching on the importance of planting seeds of vision, hope, and promise for those who follow us.
I love the story of John Chapman: the small, godly and somewhat eccentric man that is eulogized as Johnny Appleseed. Initially he made a living as a gardener selling small apple trees then as a man on a mission, John walked hundreds of miles with a large bag of appleseeds over his back.
At times he would carefully plant rows of seeds in a specified acre and at other times Johnny would plant acres at a time. The investment of those 50 years of his life didn't really pay dividends to him. Rather, the generation who followed after him benefitted from his lifetime of sacrifice.
Years later the seeds from Johnny Appleseed's work provided the fruit that kept Western pioneers alive during some very bleak winters.
The Bible pattern is that vision should be fulfilled over generations. We fathers are planting seeds today that our grabchildren will harvest after we are already in heaven. What do I see for their future? What kind of seeds am I planting?
It's always interesting to me when I get to meet the family of someone I only know in a church context. I love it especially when there is a video collage of pictures. Although I've known Dot for a few years, I only saw her as an older little grey haired saint (That's probably how people see me too! At least the older grey haired part!) , but seeing Dot's family portraits was enlightening. She won a most beautiful baby contest; she was an active athlete. She was a real clown who loved to entertain her friends; there were pictures of her piloting a speed boat; clad in leather jacket riding a Harley and above all Dot was a loving mom and grandmother. Her easy to love family are a testimony to her strength as a capable and loving single mom.
We'll miss you Dot, but you deserve the reward you are now enjoying!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Thanks to the team, led by Pastor Gord Demchuk, who did all the cooking and serving. Last week they fed our 10 am service and this week they cooked 1200 pieces of chicken to feed the 9 and 10 o'clock services. What a wonderful celebration!
Saturday, June 09, 2007
It seems like every week I have a conversation with another enlightened person who has heard from God. Of course some stories are very personal and others are just seed ideas, but this week, I had at least 4 such meetings. One, as an example, was an inspiring meeting with Marg Gilmour, our Prayer Coordinator. Even though Marg is nearing 80, she continues to be an inspiration to me and hundreds of others. Our meeting this week was about a plan to pray person by person for everyone in our Tri-Cities. We did this before in 2000 along with hundreds of our friends from several churches in our community and it became one of the most memorable years of ministry ever. Now Marg is taking the lead in our city-wide project again this year.
Marg has taken a map of our Tri-Cities and divided it into 77 sections. We're giving everyone of our 60+ churches an invitation to sign up for 1 to 10 sections. Then their members will walk and pray throughout their assigned streets. Every home, school and business will be prayed over! Thank-you Marg for your love for God and People! This is going to be another banner year in the church!
When Susan and I were in Edmonton last weekend one of our pastors told me a story about a member of his church. The man was a Viet Nam Vet who had been thoroughly washed out by his horrible experiences during the war. As a victim of PDS this dear man felt like he had no value and God could never use him. A few weeks ago, the Edmonton church was sending a mission team to Inuvik to minister to the First Nations people there. Not knowing how he could help, the vet brought a gift to the pastor.
He gave him a paper bag full of loonies and several boxes of dried cereal. My friend confided that he had no idea what either could be used for. There were no dollar stores in the remote area and milk would be very expensive and hard to get, but he thanked the vet for his gift and took it anyway.
After arriving, both gifts began to make sense. One of the first things the native leader told the team was that they for some reason had an overabundance of milk delivered that week. They didn't know what they were going to do with it. The next morning the team was delighted to be able to serve the whole town a delicious breakfast. After spending a lot of time outside, the team was very cold and felt grimey. They didn't have access to nice hotel rooms but there were some public showers available. Each shower took a looney to operate. The bag of loonies given to them was exactly what they needed!
When the team returned and told the vet what had happened he was thrilled to know both, that God loved him enough to speak to him and use him to bless the missions trip. God has called everyone of us to serve a very definite circle of influence. Even you and me!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Susan and I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to our neighbouring province—
I can’t imagine a more hospitable family than the Webbers. They hosted us and treated us like the king and queen of Foursquare kingdom. We loved visiting The Garden, their Foursquare church in
I generally judge a church by whether or not I would be part of it if I lived nearly. This one I (and Susan agreed) would happily join. After speaking at the morning service, we returned to the pastors’ home and began preparing for our Leader’s Seminar.
Soon a couple dozen of some of the most fun and gracious people anywhere gathered and we began. I had the privilege of teaching and leading discussion for the next 3 ½ hours. Then we ate again! By 10:30 the happy family of strong and enthusiastic leaders dissipated and we wound down for the night.
In the morning Garry and Merelyn dropped us off to get a car and we headed north to Leduc.
Over dinner we had a delightful meeting with the pastors of
Don and Lynda Knelson pastor in a native community about 2 ½ hours out of
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Saturday June 2
Susan and I are at the Abbotsford Airport on route to Calgary. Garry Webber, pastor of the Garden Foursquare Church will pick is up and host us for the weekend.
On Sunday after I speak at the morning service, I'll be leading an afternoon conference on one of my favorite subjects-church growth. Having studied and practised the subject for the past 30 years it's a privilege to be able to pass on what I've learned to others.
I love the name of the Calgary church-The Garden! So many principles I've picked up in my own garden are applicable to the church. If you want to have a healthy and abundant crop in the seasons ahead now is the time to plant and nurture the seeds. There are many natural principles that we probably all know. We simply have to discipline ourselves to do them. For example, every garden, whether flowers, fruits or vegetables needs 4 essential nutrients-nitrogen, potash, phosphoric acid and lime. If any one of them is lacking, the garden will languish. Its the same with the church. There are 8 essential nutrients necessary to a fruitful congregation. If all 8 are infused growth and health will be automatic. God has intended every living thing to be fruitful