Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ordinary and Extraordinary

I was preaching about Moses and the burning bush this weekend and had an "aha" moment that I wanted to share with you. Most of you who read this are familiar enough with the story that I don't have to go over the whole thing with you, but I want you to think about something. From the moment that God started talking to Moses all He did was make promises and declarations. "I have, I AM, I will.. Etc, etc.." From the time that Moses started talking to God, all he did was make excuses. He kept telling God all the reasons why he couldn't do what God was asking him to do. I started thinking about this and then the realization of what I was pondering hit me...
"Our excuses keep us ordinary."

A recurring theme in the bible appears when God invites people to participate with Him in something significant and supernatural and they give him a list of excuses as to why they can't follow through. Gideon was too small, Jeremiah was too young, Moses couldn't talk and the list goes on and on... It was only after they came to the end of their excuses that they were able to participate in the divine adventure that God had for them.

And so I concluded that "my excuses keep me ordinary". If God is calling me to do and be something bigger than what I am, it must only be because He SEES that I can do it and that He's already made provision for me to see it happen in and through my own life.

If my excuses keep me ordinary, it must also stand to reason that saying "yes" to what God has for me moves me into the realm of the extraordinary. There is an "excellent adventure" to which God invites us to participate in on a daily basis and the way to get there is to quit making excuses, get past our fear, doubt or whatever and move towards the greatness of what He has for us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Embracing My Pentecostal Inner Self...

I have wrestled with being Pentecostal for a long time.

Sometimes I want to downplay the whole thing, become more sophisticated and strategic and just be part of the broader church as it just seems to have less "baggage" associated with it than what Pentecostalism brings with it. (Especially with our "nuttier" members of the family... I just get tired of explaining flakiness...)

It seems that while Pentecostal culture may be slowly and subtly infiltrating the broader church, it appears that Pentecostal Power is missing in action among our own ranks. Adopting/Embracing the best parts of our culture is easy, because we have some very good things going on. Our culture (in theory) is participatory, energetic and enthusiastic, but none of these things on it's own will change the world. Let's face it, the devil doesn't run and hide just because you raise or clap your hands when you sing. He doesn't freak out if you dance a little jig and he really doesn't tremble just because you become emotional at times. Pointing to the infiltration of Pentecostal culture as a sign of our success is at best desperate and at worst pretty lame. Pentecostal culture is okay, but it's not what has set the world on fire time and time again...

There are other times, in my life (like now...) when I think the answer is just to be a "holy ghost guy" and let God take care of the details. I'm not elitist at all. I don't think I'm better than any other believer because I am coming to terms with my "Pentecostal Inner Self".

I confess that I'm attracted to spiritual power. I love the thrill that comes with prophesying, praying and preaching in a Pentecostal context. I love it when GOD shows up in a prayer meeting, church service or altar service and absolutely takes control and sets my plans on their ear. I'm not an elitist by any stretch of the imagination. All I'm saying is that Pentecostalism in it's truest form fully expects that GOD is VERY INTERESTED in being SUPERNATURALLY INVOLVED in EVERY PART of our lives. There's an expectation that "God Moments" or "God things" can happen at any moment and there's something about that paradigm that works like a nuclear reactor inside of me generating both spiritual passion and spiritual power.

My favorite ministry memories are driving home after church saying to Barb - "Can you believe what happened tonight?" Did you see what God did??

Anyway - bottom line - I'm happy that the church is embracing Pentecostal culture.

My prayer is that it would be overtaken with Pentecostal Power!

Check back later, you might find my "I AM PENTECOSTAL" rant!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Knowing His Plan

I have more "favorite verses" than I can tell you about, but the one that comes to my mind today is from Jer. 29:11. "For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God's plans are established by his declaration. In the beginning "God said let there be ... and it was as He had declared it should be. The same is true with our lives. In the beginning, as he knit us together in our mother's womb, God said, "Let there be prosperity, peace, hope and a future" over our lives. I'm well aware that there are many who believe that God wouldn't or doesn't do stuff like that, but everything I see in the Bible tells me He does.

As a dad, I want the best for my kids. I see them being successful, prosperous, happy and healthy. If I can believe these things will happen in the lives of my children, how much more will a Perfect God want those same things for me and for my kids? Jesus said, "If you being evil know how to give good gifts, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him."

I had a moment this evening when I was talking with a friend who is very likely moving to Ottawa over the next few weeks. The last time we talked, neither one of us would have known it was happening, but over the last few weeks, God has been putting some things together. I'm excited for him. He's a wonderful person and will be a tremendous blessing in our capital city. He's very aware of the vision that burns within me to reach our leaders with the love and life of Jesus. As we talked about his upcoming move, we both realized the divine implications as God was ordering both his steps and mine toward the same place at some point in the future. It was an "aha" moment that continues to burn inside of me. God is up to something much bigger than anything I would have dreamed of.

Eph 3:20 tells us that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we are able to think or ask or imagine. I'm starting to see it happen and can hardly wait to see how it all plays out over the coming months and years!

In case you're wondering, God does play favorites. And you're one of them. We are all "favorites" in His eyes and He is constantly looking for ways to show His favor to us!

Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

22 Years Ago

It scares me that I can write about anything that happened 22 years ago, but today marks 25 years that Barb and I started going out together. We'd been out on at least one, maybe two dates, but this was the night when it all became official.

We were at at a city wide youth meeting that night that was hosted at her church. She was leading worship, wearing a dark blue sweater that made her platinum blonde hair sparkle. All I remember is her looking out and smiling at me during worship. I was smitten before we started, but that certainly put me over the brink.

After the meeting was over, I had to get my youth group back to the church and then make sure everybody got home. After that I phoned Barb to see if she wanted to go out and get something to eat. While she was waiting for me to call she was doodling "Barb Schindel" on a scrap piece of paper that still exists somewhere in our crawl space.

Being the romantic guy that I am, I took her to a drive thru (Burger Flame) ordered two burgers, fries and a couple of drinks and proceeded to drive to a place where we could view the lights of the city. This is easier said than done in Moose Jaw, because it's in the prairies...

After some driving and subtle suggestions from Barb we found a place near a Senior's Care Facilty that had a great view and afforded us some privacy. (It was the place where her great grandma was and so we "visited grandma" a lot after that.... While we ate our burgers (complete with fresh onions) we talked about a lot of things, but nothing really important. As the night went on, we began to identify various landmarks in the city and pointed them out to each other. In a coy move that ranks among the best I have ever done, I managed to pick out something that she couldn't seem to find without following my finger to where I was pointing. When she looked back to ask if she'd found the right place she turned to look back at me and kissed me. We've been kissing ever since...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Meeting the Challenge

This came from one of our board members today. Please follow through to the end for my comments.

Peter Marshall's book, "The Light & the Glory", records a prophecy given by Puritan Reformers around 1776 when the British Empire Loyalists turned north to settle in Canada in order to remain under British rule. When zealous Americans sought to persecute them because of this decision, the Spirit of the Lord spoke through their prophets saying:

"Do not hinder these people. Let them move to Canada. Do not seek to incorporate the land of Canada into America. I am in the independence of America from Britain, and will mightily use this country. But Canada has been reserved by Me for the last days for a special work."

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Yonngi Cho's prophecy delivered October 1975 at Evangel Temple, Kelowna, BC:
"When I came to Canada, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart, 'Son, you have come to the place which I chose. This country is the country I chose to fill the gap.' "Being a Canadian is now a welcome hallmark throughout the whole world … You have the welcome open door like the Philadelphia church in Revelation, you have the finances, well-trained personnel, and a good Church. God calls you to rise up to meet this challenge before Christ comes. A clear-cut clarion trumpet sound is coming to Canada. Rise up, Canada! Meet the challenge.
"God wants your young men and young women to rise up and give their lives as living sacrifices. God needs your money, your businesses, your homes, your lives to be dedicated to Him … God is depending upon you … I know that you will do it. I know that you are well able to do it."

At a 1984 church growth seminar in Sackville, Nova Scotia, Dr. Yonngi Cho reiterated the earlier prophecy, adding to it:

"Five years ago I visited Canada and travelled from Montreal to Vancouver by car. I was preaching from town to town, and while I was speaking, I felt somewhat depressed. The Canadian Church seemed so small.
"But wherever I went, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart that God was going to raise up tremendous churches in Canada and that Canada would be used as a missionary sending country, and that Canada would open the way for Jesus Christ to return to this earth.
"I was afraid to confess that but when I was praying … the Spirit of the Lord would impress my heart to say it. I was afraid because I already thought that America was far greater than Canada. If ever God would use any country, He should use America instead of Canada because America is a … country with greater resources and more population.
"But again and again God spoke to my heart that He was going to use Canada, so finally in Toronto, with great inner faith, I prophesied as the Holy Spirit anointed me.
" … I really believe that God is going to bless Canada and the Canadian Church is going to rise up once again and go to the four corners of the world and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to pave the way for His second coming."

Originally published in Spread the Fire, March/April, 1995.www.tacf.org/

Tim's thoughts: Some 30 years after the fact, I remain convinced that God still has a plan for our nation and that what Peter Marshall wrote about and what Yonngi Cho spoke about are in the process of being fulfilled. There are very encouraging signs from Ottawa and elsewhere that we are beginning to embrace our destiny. This confirms the vision that burns in my heart to influence those who shape the climate of our nation. We need to go and we need to go now.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Turning Back The Clock

I got a phone call from our church today. They needed an "onsite pastor" to attend the youth meeting tonight and just be there. Our youth pastor left a few weeks ago and we are in between pastors at the moment and no one else could be there....

Well, after 14 years away from youth ministry this was a bit of surprise for me and considerable stress for Britt as she was going to be there. When I got home from work, I put on my most "youthy" type clothes - multi colored striped shirt, jeans, and my coolest shoes. After I got there, I discovered that what might be cool for 40 somethings, doesn't cut it with 15-17 year olds. So there I was, looking positively out of place among 130 "happening" kids. Fortunately, the lights were off, the music was loud and most of them were dancing up front so I didn't stick out too badly.

It was a great night! One of they young leaders preached and did a great job. The band was happening and they had a great response to the altar. All in all a lot of fun.

The funniest moment was when a girl came forward for prayer. She had a plugged ear and wanted us to pray. Now you've got to picture this, a band playing at full volume, a drummer really going for it and a bass sub behind us. We pray for her and then ask her if she can hear anything... You would have to be stone deaf, not just have a plugged ear not to hear anything where we were standing. I guess that's one way to ensure a miracle!! :-)

All in all, it was a lot of fun being there. IGNITE is a great program led by people who really care about students and know how to create an atmosphere that allows God to work and move. I told Britt I was going to volunteer for youth staff, but first I'd have to dye my grey hair blonde, get a few piercings and a couple of tattoo's...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lessons From the Fair

We did our annual visit to the IPE (Armstrong Fair) this weekend. We had a great time, although my feet are still sore from the hours of standing in line so that the kids wouldn't have to wait as long for their next 60 second ride. We had a great time with my parents and Barb's aunt and uncle watching the rodeo and cheering on the competitors.

This might not be profound for some of you, but it keeps coming back to my mind so I've decided to pass it on to you. As you can imagine, parking was insane on the Saturday of the Long Weekend at the fair. Without exaggeration, there were cars parked everywhere. On sidewalks, boulevards, and in clearly posted no parking zones. As we walked up to the main gate 4 police cars pulled up to oversee the towing of about 10 Harley Davidson motorcycles. It looked like something out of a movie. When we left to get something to eat, we saw the same tow truck working on a group of cars that had double parked and blocked people in. My guess is that there were some pretty unhappy people at the end of the night when they were trying to get home.

You are undoubtedly wondering what I might have seen in the removal of improperly parked vehicles that could have spiritual implications, so here it is... I keep thinking about the Sovereignty of God in this simple illustration. Sometimes we "park" ourselves in places where we think it's just not going to matter in the grand scheme of things or maybe we "double-park" because we think we can get away with it. Sometimes it's a matter of being rebellious, sometimes it's just a matter of becoming stale and stagnant. Whatever the case, I see God getting involved to move us to where we are supposed to be. I don't see this as punitive or even judgmental from God's perspective as much as I see Him moving us to the places that we need to be to fulfill His purposes for our lives. This is an expression of His love for us and an illustration of His commitment to:

A) Work all things out for our good and
B) To continue the good work that He has begun in us until the day of completion.

Like the people who came out looking for their towed cars on Saturday night, we're not always taken with the expression of God's sovereignty in our lives. Sometimes we don't understand it and sometimes we don't even like it. But further into the journey, we are able to look back and see WHAT HE HAS DONE and WHY HE HAS DONE IT!

In that moment, we can simply stop and say "Thanks!"