Tag Archive: thoughts


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Lions’ Park Okotoks after the Sheep River peaked.

Southern Alberta is under water! 100 000 Calgarians displaced, High River is completely evacuated, and Canmore is being washed off the mountain! At work we are participating in a one year program with Alberta Health Services called In Roads which looks at addiction. This week we looked at resiliency which seems timely as Alberta has become, as in all disasters, a case study of this. The way people pull together is amazing and fascinating to watch. Two people who can’t stand each other now stand side by side to protect and save others. In this dark and broken world there are glimpses of light.

Prayer

In times like this people tend to post prayers for the disaster to stop or that prayer is a useless waste of time. Prayer is more than a petition for what we want, and it is more than something meaningless. Yes, we must pray for the miracle that the brokenness will cease, for the darkness to end, and that people will remain safe. Know that God can do those things and on the day of his return it will be once and for all, but also following Christ’s example we are to pray for strength and courage to get through. Pray that despite the horror of the situation the Father’s will may shine through.

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Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Matthew 6:9-10
 
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St. Peter’s Anglican Church Okotoks

Reality Check

The more we try to control our environment the more we fight to keep it under control. The Tower of Babel comes to mind and the reality that no matter what we build we are not the creator of all things. We are mere caretakers of this world and are not able to set the rules. We build walls yet are unable to stop the forces at work in our world. We are utterly dependent on God. I am reminded of the dependency on His provision that I felt living overseas. No matter where is the world we are, what we have, or how strong we are our efforts are not enough. The Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in High River yet the flow of the river can not be stopped or controlled.

Next Steps

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:15-19 ESV

For those not affected by the flood we must rise to lend a hand. In this time of human suffering we must unite together and support our fellow man, despite race, culture, or creed. We must not forget that once the flood waters recede and return to their former paths that there is still work to be done. Lives have been changed on every level, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We must support one another because that is the way God has designed us, together with His strength and work we can triumph over the darkness. We must show love!

As the sun sets on this day my prayer is that tomorrow may bring a new found peace, a new found joy, and a new understanding. May our lives be transformed by the creator of the universe, the redeemer of man.

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The Sheep River at sunset

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
Psalms 69:1-3, 14-16, 29-36 ESV

A good friend reminded me this weekend that if we focus on what we don’t want we will always end up there. If I focus on not being like my dad I will end up being like him or if I focus on the ditch while driving I will end up in the ditch. People do not set goals to not do or be something, they set goals in the direction they want to go.

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“…every organization eventually becomes a direct reflection of its leadership, whether for good or for bad.”
Larry Osborne, Sticky Church, Pg. 123

Knowing what we don’t want is great however one must focus on what is to be achieved. What is the purpose of Christianity and why do we believe what we do?

Family and God

My last few entries have all started the same, I want to write but find little time. Writing usually is a time to decompress my thoughts however I have been doing that with the camera recently (pictures are linked to my instagram page). This weekend in Alberta is a long one for Family Day holiday, good times. It all started Friday after work window shopping on Kijiji, never a good idea but always fun, found an awesome deal on a lens I have wanted since I bought my new camera, picked it up Saturday and headed to the park with the girls.

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Something I have wrestled with and have yet to clearly define is the role of family in my spiritual walk. Yes they are important, and yes God gave them to me but scripture puts a different spin on things. There seems to be a tension between earthy family and the Lord. That can be seen throughout scripture, Adam & Eve, Job and wife, Jacob & Esau,  Peter, even with Jesus.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 
Matthew 12:48-50

Photo 2013-02-17 03.33.36 PMIs Christ denying his earthy family? We also see in Matthew 8 that Peter was married as he has a mother-in-law. You exam Peter’s life as recorded in scripture and it does not appear like he spent a lot of time with his family. Paul also has strong words about marriage and family. The idea of family is typically used to show how we are brought into the family of God, adopted into his family.

I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:26-35

So as I move forward I am truly thankful for the wife and children I have been given for they are true blessings from God, but I am torn by the fact that I seek to please them in the affairs of this world and the Lord’s affairs. Matthew 6:24 comes to mind with as I read Paul’s words “No one can serve two masters”. Have I worked this all out? Not at all, but my prayer is that I can lead my home in the ways of our Lord and that together we will be a reflection of God’s light.

What role does family play in your spiritual walk with the Lord?

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“The distance between the cradle and the cross is slight”
Reverend Terry Lee

 

Over the Advent season at church we have been looking at the words of Isaiah and reminded that even though we celebrate the birth and resurrection at different times in the year they are not that far a part. Together they are the fulfilled of God’s plan to rescue the lost. Over the last few months I have not really blogged, I left part way through a series I was putting together on the two kingdoms of the already and not yet. The last few months have been some of the most stressful I have ever experienced and through this time have had many
already but not yet moments. This series has reminded me that many parts of this world remain broken and that there is something more, something eternal that needs fixing.

nativity

Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7
 

 

Part of the sermon today Pastor Terry looked at how Christ fulfilled the promise of being the prince of peace when the world seems to be so broken. The world is broken, we see that all over the news, in our homes, at our jobs, but the peace Isaiah is looking at is something more, something eternal. The world is not our enemy, God is. Our relationship was broken when man bit into the forbidden fruit in the garden. The peace that Christ brings now is peace with God. Through Christ we are reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:19-22).

This Christmas don’t forget that the baby that came from God also went to the cross for our sins.

The already and the not yet, it is easy for Christians to expect everything to be perfect now, however that is never seen in scripture. “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.45). This Two Kingdoms series will examine three of the different areas within it: burdens, culture, and sin.

Part 1 – The Light Burden

“ Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Via the Gospel Project

Christ never promised to take away the burdens of this life or that as a follower you would never have to work. He did say that you would find rest in him and that the burdens will be made easy. The work you do in his name will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15.59). We look for ways to make this life easy and carefree however this was never what God planned for us. The great rescue plan does not end with health and wealth for those who believe. The burdens that drag us all down will be around us until that glorious day when Christ returns. The great rescue plan ends with the re-creation of this world, restoring it and us to paradise.

Christ our strength

The burden does not change however the source of our strength to endure does. Christians are diagnosed with cancer, bones break, jobs are lost, mortgages foreclose, and our feelings get hurt. A C&MA International Worker visiting my church once said “God is not a pill that makes all your problems go away but he will never leave you!” (The Great Omission). These burdens are not due to a lack of faith, but serve as a reminder that we are not home yet.  Our strength does not come from within or even from around us, but from above.  “The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed” (Ps. 28.8). Can you still worship God in times of burden?

Worship in our Burdens

With our strength coming from above rather than from within one is freed from being trapped by the burdens that engulf us all. That is something to marvel at and worship God for. As one of my pastors stated recently during a sermon “Followers of Christ follow Christ”. We must remember that God’s Word shows us how to worship him and what is acceptable in worship to him. We see a clear example of true worship and false worship with Cain and Able. One brings a pleasing offering to the Lord and the other only brings what he desires to give. We also see the good and the bad when the Israelites were at Mount Sinai after being rescued from Egypt. Richard Elliott Friedman in his Commentary on the Torah explains that Exodus 32:1 shows that “Less than forty days earlier they heard the divine voice itself say that God brought them out of Egypt, but, like the wine steward and Joseph’s Pharaoh, they still focus on the human rather than on the deity”. We can worship God despite burdens because our eyes are on Jesus the deity, not on ourselves, and it is his strength that gets us through. The Psalms are clear examples of this as well. When we are struck with sorrow, pain, and depression we lift our eyes to heaven and we are free. Where do you turn? Inward on you or outward to God?

 

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

 
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
 
~ 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman 2011

Where do you find your strength?

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman on Vimeo.

Erwin McManus is a name I recognize as an influential speaker in the Evangelical church, however until this last week I have not really read or heard any of his work. It started with the sermon he gave at Centre Street Church (watch here) and then I watched his documentary Crave Calgary. After listening and watching I was left with a few questions and a little disappointed. I don’t want to assume that what I heard and saw was intentionally selling the Gospel short nor do I believe that McManus intended for it to be sold short. Too often today we take sound bits of people out of context and say they believe something that they don’t actually believe. I would love to sit down with a venti 1/2 sweet stirred white mocha, ask him to clear up some points and thank him for others.

Where is scripture? At some point you must cross over into Christian language. Scripture is the Word of God and as a believer or someone looking into why not go to the source instead of someone else’s paraphrase of scripture.  Present a scripture without the reference you would be amazed at how people agree with it even if they are resistant or hostile to anything God related.

The video does not seem to offer answers to the misconceptions and ideas that go against scripture. I will give it the assumption that the documentary has been designed to open the discussion however the website questions don’t go much deeper. In the book’s introduction he says “Jesus once said the kingdom of God is within us. Yet most of us even bother to explore the possibility that this might be true. It seems that what he is implying that it is that we have a better chance finding God in the universe within us than the one that surrounds us.” He was referencing Luke 17.21 which feels horribly out of context and the reference is not given. Matthew Henry describes “that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom,and not temporal and external”(1) . The Reformation Study Bible also points to this idea saying “the kingdom of God is within you. That is, the kingdom is present as an inner reality, something hidden in people’s hearts (cf. Rom. 14:17). Translating “in your midst” (text note) would point to the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus” (2). McManus’ line of thinking seems to open a door to thinking that I have the power with in me to overcome my issues. How would he defend from this?

~
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “ Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [Or within you].”
~
The documentary is also very me-centered instead of Christ-centered. The views shown are grounded in what the culture is seeking around us and even though it points towards God it falls short in delivering the Gospel truth that it is more about God’s glory than us. It leaves the Gospel on the ground and runs the risk of being idolatry as “it is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself” (3). This seems to undermine who God is and merely looks toward what he can offer me. This is the negative side of the seeker sensitive movement. Again I would like to ask about when do you go deeper than what God can offer? Is that even a good place to start since that encourages the consumer mentality we already have?

With the concerns explained I would move on to something I truly appreciate and think too often we get caught up in. The video can be viewed for  free online with the option to buy physical copies of the documentary (the books and study must be purchased as well). Gospel for Asia does the same thing but with all their material including books. That is something that I have come to have great respect for. If you claim to have insight about God it is because he revealed it to you and is for everyone not just for you to make money off of. I think this falls into the category of failing to love your brother (1 John 4.20) or as Paul says “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel…I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9.18 &23). Videos today tend to be primers or marketing tools for something else like a book or a study. However they also open doors to reach out to people who typically would not have the desire to engage in these types of conversations. I am thankful that there are people like McManus willing to push our typical ideas of church and culture to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Finally I would follow-up on the first question. He may not go as deep into the scripture as I feel is appropriate, but something that McManus does do is open dialogue about the idea that we need to learn to connect the language within the church with the language of the culture around us. He affirms the need for special language in his April 29, 2012 sermon at Centre Street Church but says we need to do a better job being able to bridge the language of everyday and with in the church. This is something so simple yet we fail so badly at it. Fields of science have their own terms, Religions have their own terms, kids have their own terms. When someone enters one of these new areas they need to learn all the special terms. Acronyms must be explained, concepts broken down into their simplest form. When we do this we become less accurate with their meaning however over time the knowledge to understand them more accurately grows. With that I would finish my white mocha, thank him for taking the time to have coffee with me, and go our separate ways.

In all reality if I had a chance to have this conversation I probably wouldn’t be able to ask any of these things and more likely would just sit and listen.

Footnotes

1) Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Lk 17:20). Peabody: Hendrickson.

2) Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version. Includes index. (Lk 17:21). Nashville: T. Nelson.

3) Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, page40

4) Picture of DA Carson quote from The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The meaning of life is more than 42 and more than random chance. After my post on time a friend pointed me to William Craig Lane who looked at the PBS show I mentioned in the post. I have since listened to a few of his Reasonable Faith podcasts and on my drive home today I listened to his thoughts on The New Philosophy of Cosmology. He has an amazing gift of dissecting complex ideas, making it easy to see the issues, misconceptions, and positives about different views.

Cosmology, a branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe (Merriam-Webster), Dr. Craig explains why probability denies the idea that we are just the lucky winners of existence. More than that he is really looking at a struggle going on about whether science can determine meaning and Stephen Hawking’s proclamation that philosophy is dead.

How does this apply to me?

For one, it shows that the debate between science and God is not as cut and dry as both sides like to claim. This kind of debate also shows that the secular community is also at odds about where exactly we came from. The Bible is not a scientific textbook, but the details of origin, structure, and time are in there and their place under God.

 
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1.1-5

I enjoy listening to this kind of thing as it really shows the inextinguishable glory of God and the complexity of all creation. Humanity is just a part of that complexity.

 

I can’t comprehend / You’re infinitely beautiful

After All (Holy) By David Crowder Band
 

Where Were You?

A few weeks ago I posted a video by Matt Chandler called David, Goliath, & the gospel where he looks at how we view the champion and who fulfills that role. Just the other day I was listening to Matt Maher’s CD. The song You Were On The Cross reminded me of that post especially where he says “And where were You when all that I’ve hoped for, where were you when all that I’ve dreamed, came crashing down in shambles around me?” He goes on to answer that question that Christ was on the cross. The song paints a dramatic picture of what happens to us when we place ourselves in the champions position. For we cannot go where he was going and Romans 3.23 tells us why “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. In John 8 Jesus draws the line in the sand and identifies his divinity. He shows what is different between us and him.

via the Blog Doing Life Together

When our dreams come crashing down where do we turn? Do we turn to blame God for we thought we were on the right path or do we fall on God to carry us through? This depends on how we view our role and God’s role in fulfilling the good work of the Gospel. If we see ourselves as David the great champion our shortcomings will lead to our destruction, but if we see our champion as Christ, alone on that rugged wooden cross, he will bring us out of our brokenness and into the light of His glory.

Where were You when sin stole my innocence?
Where were You when I was ashamed?
Hiding in a life, I wish, I never made
 
You were on the cross, my God, my God, all along, all along
You were on the cross, You died for us, all along, all along
You were on the cross, victorious, all along, all along
 
You were there in all of my suffering
And You were there in doubt and in fear
I’m waiting on the dawn to reappear

Are you trying to be David or can you let Christ be your champion?

Why

“… you are basically just on autopilot and everything just seems easy.”
“… you just feel stronger a lot of the time.”
“…it’s hard, it demands a lot out of me.”
“… it allows me to be who I want to be.”
“… because i have to i can’t live my life any other way.”
“… drives my life.”
“… you never really get to that place in normal life…”
 

We were made for a purpose and made for something more than just existing. Something pushes us past the place we never get to in “normal life”.

This is a post I wrote on September 3rd 2006 and is unedited from its original form. I recently watched A PBS Nova program called The Illusion of Time and it reminded me of this post. With all the Christmas Happenings I haven’t had a lot of time to spend thinking and writing but I think this fits what is currently occupying my thoughts. I highly suggest watching the PBS program.

Time

Time is a strange thing. Life is a race against time, is it not? We make lists of things we want to do, buy, see before we die. We say things like “at least he got to experience this”. What do we do with time? Here in China time just seems to be something that goes by and you jump on it when you need to. “When will you bring us water?” you ask. “Tonight around 7,” They reply. Yet it takes you three tries to get it delivered. “When is our meeting?” you ask. “Today at 2,” they reply. Yet your meeting is delayed three times and doesn’t start until 3:30. It is the exact opposite in NA. “When will you bring us water?” you ask. “Tonight around 7,” they reply. And it shows up at 7 or you call and complain. “When is our meeting?” you ask. “Today at 2,” they reply. And the meeting starts at 2 and if you are late you get fired. No matter how you look at time shapes our relationships. It is at the center of everything we do whether we use it or not.

Time exists. It is more than a theory or philosophy, it is a proven scientific measurement. It is the 4th dimension. We can’t ignore its effects on our beauty. So what do we have left when time takes its prize. We have relationship! Even something as powerful as the universe is finite. Stars die, planets die, plants die, bugs die, people die. So how does relationships trump time? Because there is one person that is not in temporal creation. He is in a place that time can not touch and He seeks our souls. He doesn’t just seek them, He longs for them so much that He actually entered times arena to repair what we had destroyed. Whether you love Him for it or push Him away it doesn’t change how He feels about you. We can’t love Him without Him loving us first. He is love (1 Cor. 13.4-13). Seek that relationship and time will loose its hold on you.

Don’t let time win!

Peace
Lee

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