Friday, August 31, 2007

They That Wait...

In a culture where being busy is equated with productivity, waiting hardly seems to be a fruitful activity. For those of us who have an 'A Type' personality, waiting is almost like torture as we sit, stand, pause and DO NOTHING until outside circumstances come together so that we can reach the top of our mountain.

This past month has been a time of waiting. I didn't intend on it being that way. I envisioned being on the phone, making appointments, meeting people, adding partners, securing office space, etc, etc. It was SUPPOSED to be a month of achievement, goal reaching and meeting targets. So I started, making calls, sending emails and generally trying to make things happen and then I made the stunning discovery that none of that was getting me any nearer to what I knew had to be done. People were on vacation, in summer mode and generally just chilling out. I felt like I was spitting in the wind ... so I began to wait. I bought some books that I'd been looking forward to reading for some time and devoured them. I spent time with the kids. I prayed. I walked the dog and kept walking with God.

Unknown to me, God had been busy doing His part on His time and in His way. Out of nowhere, people I've never met began to sow financially into the ministry. Speaking opportunities began to present themselves, simple 'get to know you' lunch meetings became catalysts to partnerships, friendships and alliances. We have a great opportunity for a fantastic office space that goes beyond anything that I could have dared to ask, think or imagine! It even provides a view of the park, has a coffee shop across the street and is within walking distance of our house and the Legislature. Anything that I had looked at or considered earlier pales in comparison to what this space will be. It's not official yet, but my Father is working out the details and I'm looking forward to moving in. Even if it's not in that place, He has the perfect space picked out for us.

I've come to see something else connected to waiting. There have been many people who have prayed, dreamed and waited for years to see something like what God has called us to do. They have plowed the way and laid down their lives and waited. I spoke with one man who was in tears as he told me that he had prayed for the government and for MLA's until he became so discouraged that he had simply given up. He and many like him have waited while God was doing what was unseen and preparing it all for such a time as this.

I'm discovering that waiting is an art. It's not about doing nothing and being irresponsible. It's about trusting and resting and staying focused while our Father in heaven is working out the details in our lives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Being still....

Zoe and I went to the beach yesterday. She explored, swam and 'fetched'. I took the opportunity to listen to the waves on the gravel and I began to think about how many waves had rolled over those small round stones and how much they had changed over the centuries. The waves came in different sizes and with varying intensity and they all ended at the same place and in the process sifted through the hundreds of thousands of stones until the rough edges were knocked off and they roll through each other as the waves recede to the ocean.

I love the ocean and the lessons I learn there. It's a place where I have always been able to hear the voice of God and see something that reminds me that He is at work in me and on my behalf. I'm in a place I've never been in my life. Launching a ministry and growing a partnership base requires a level of faith and trust that is something new to me. The temptation on days when it's slow and there aren't a lot of people available to talk to is to take matters into my own hands and do 'something' and yet taking matters into my own hands is the beginning of walking according to my own wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs tells me that there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death. One of the most interesting prophetic words that has been shared with me is that there will be days when the wind will blow favorably and fill our sails propelling us forward. There will be other times when there will be no wind and it will seem like we are going no where. The word to us was to 'be still' and know that He is God.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that being still is a challenge for me, but it's one I need to rise to so that I can learn the lesson of trust and obedience.

Learning to rest...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gopher Hunters Keep the Prairie Safe

Reports from the prairies indicate that the gopher infestation has reached epic proportions. The situation has become so severe that serious measures are being implemented to address the issue. The government has hired two "gopher assasins" to begin immediate extermination of any and all gophers. Their orders are to shoot to kill any and all gophers on sight with the exception of "Gainer" who is generally only seen at Roughrider games.

In order to avoid any confusion about the identity of these highly trained assasins, we are releasing their photos to the public for quick identification and also to demonstrate their immediate success in exterminating the vermin.

Zack "Go Ahead... Make My Day" Schindel

Toothless Tyler Schindel
"The Terminator"
These assasins were trained by their uncle Rodger "is that gunfire I hear?" Gregor, and are skilled professionals. Thanks to their hard work, dedication and commitment, the prairie will remain safe and free.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thoughts from the beach...

I took Zoe for a walk today. The upside of this move for her is that she gets a swim in the ocean every few days. If we forget, she will put her paw on your leg, look at you with her brown eyes and just push down. Anyway, I got the 'hint' from her this morning and we went to the beach. While we were there, I saw several jellyfish. One on the beach and one in the surf. Jellyfish are interesting. They rely on the tides, currents to get around.

While I didn't see any today, I know that there are salmon in the same waters where Zoe swims. As I watched the jellyfish float in the surf, I couldn't help but think about the strength and determination of the salmon. We used to go observe the Adams River Salmon Run near Kamloops. It's pretty impressive to watch thousands of salmon work their way up the river to lay their eggs especially when you consider the journey that they make in order to do it. It's no easy feat to survive 3 years in the open ocean, escape fishing lures, nets, natural predators and ulitmately swim up the Fraser River, through the Fraser Canyon, Little Shuswap Lake and into the Adams River. It's not the kind of journey that a jellyfish could make.

It occurs to me that life requires us to be more like salmon than jellyfish. There are times and seasons in our lives where it's okay, even necessary to float, but most of the time, getting to where we want to be requires us to swim, work against the current and overcome the challenges that stand between where we are and where we want to be. Keep swimming. You'll get there!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Watergun Commando

One of the things that we didn't consider when we moved is that routines would have to be re-created around our new environment. That's not to say that everything is in chaos, but it's interesting to see how a new place means that we have to discover new ways to do what we've always done. For example, Zack and Tyler just took the dog for a walk so she could run and play. In Kamloops, it was just a matter of throwing a ball in the back yard. Here, it's much different because the yard is too small and the park is a few blocks away. I told you all of that just to say one of the reasons that I haven't posted as often as I'd like to is because of what seem like endless changes in our lives that have resulted in less creative ideas than I usually have.

I saw something today that made me laugh out loud. As I was driving down the street, I noticed a little person (probably about 7) jump out from behind the fence in his townhouse complex and shoot the windshield of the vehicle coming towards me with his supersoaker. After about a 2 second blast, he ducked behind the fence to wait for his next "victim", which in this case just happened to be an unmarked police car. I am NOT making this up... I couldn't stop to observe the consequences of his actions, but I'm guessing that he's not hiding behind the fence any more... unless the policeman had a very good sense of humour or he had VERY fast little legs!

This begs for a pastoral lesson so here are several options for you:
1) Sometimes we play with a spiritual supersoaker and think that it's really something lethal.
2) Know your enemy. Don't take on more than you can handle.
3) Live dangerously... nothing will happen if you don't try something.
4) The element of surprise makes up for a lack of wisdom. (with my tongue firmly in my cheek!)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

When the seas roar and foam...

We were at church this morning, visiting with some old friends and getting reaquainted as we start to put down roots in our new city. After the service was over, I visited with an old friend. We haven't seen each other in years and had a few minutes to catch up on different things. Her husband was in a motorcycle accident 6 weeks ago and had recovered so well that he was able to go on a wilderness canoe trip with his friends. She left and I found some new friends to visit.

Shortly after, I noticed a police officer go down a hallway to the pastors office. After a few minutes, the pastor came out and called me into his office. When we got there, he told us that the person who had been in the MC accident, had drowned this morning in a canoe accident. He was on his way to break the news to his wife.

We prayed together and he left to deliver the most difficult news possible. I've spent the last few hours praying and mulling over this sad development of events. There are no easy answers, nor will there ever be any easy answers to this tragedy. Bad things happen to good people, even very good people. Death hurts. It stings and it messes up plans and lives... Death is rarely a welcome visitor.

As you read this, perhaps you could take a few minutes to pray for Gloria, Mark, Vince and their sister. They have lost a fantastic husband and father. Also pray for Pastor Funk as he ministers to the family and the church as they deal with this very significant loss. Bernie was a board member and leader in the church and this is a significant loss in every way.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What an amazing woman.

I got this from my friend Mark Hawkes who is a prof at Summit Pacific College.

I have been working on a sermon for this Sunday, looking at the perspective of Naomi and how she approached the events in her life. While I have been working on Naomi’s perspective God has also been opening my mind to Ruth’s. Man I do love the God I’m serving (ok most of the time!!). This amazing story follows a family from Bethlehem during a period of total moral chaos and confusion. Ruth is about the sovereign work of God in the lives of unassuming, humble people. Out of the gloom, decadence and moral crises comes this refreshing, wholesome love story. In it God is actually working out his blessing in and through this family. However, if one looks in the wrong place it will be missed. This reminds me that so often I look in the wrong place and miss what God is doing.What was it about Naomi’s boy that attracted Ruth in the first place? He was a foreigner and refugee from Bethlehem. He wasn’t rich and he didn’t have a sweet ride! Ruth marries and within a few years, she is left a a widow with no child. She must have wondered if she had made a mistake marrying into this family, especially when her father-in-law and brother-in-law also die. What is that? What would I be thinking? What did these three women talk, how did they explain all their husbands dieing so close together? What were the neighbours thinking and saying? Wouldn’t they possible be thinking the gods have cursed them; there must be something wrong with these women? How can they all be barren, and all their husbands die?When Ruth’s mother-in-law wants to return to Bethlehem, Ruth makes the decision to go with her. What was Ruth thinking? Did she not have any family in Moab? Would she not have questioned a God who would let three men in the same family die, leaving only widows? She must have had many questions. Did she not understand that in moving to Bethlehem she would most likely remain a childless widow? She was still a young widowed woman with no child of her own. Did she wonder if God was displeased with her? Did she wonder what this God of hers was doing? The questions must have raced through her mind. As I read this story, I’m amazed at the situation of this young woman. What was God thinking???Naomi returns to Bethlehem with Ruth, and yet Naomi states “she went out full and came back empty”. How did this make Ruth feel? Ruth must have had great fear and apprehension as she went out to work in the fields. A stranger and a foreigner to boot. How did she just happen to find a field that Boaz owned? How did she choose it (rock, paper, scissors), how did God lead her there? Boaz must have been watching Ruth, he inquired about her, he takes a liking to her, because she is industrious (hard work does pay off) she must have had some looks also. What went through her head when she is given so much food, and she is invited to eat with Boaz? I wondered if she though about Boaz at all? Boaz was a land owner, why was he not already married? Was there something wrong with him; was he too picky, maybe he was not good looking? I don’t know, but he wasn’t married, which does not fit the normality of the day. What had God permitted in his life that would place him in this place at this time? Did he wonder what God was doing.I wonder what went through Ruth’s mind when Naomi told her to go to the threshing floor, find Boaz and at night "uncover his feet" and lie down at his feet. Would you do that if your mother-in-law asked you to, I think NOT!! Had they talked about Boaz before? Did Ruth even like him, he was much older so the text tells us; "The LORD bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor” I wonder if she entertained the thought, what if he doesn’t accept the proposal. What then, would she be the brunt of the jokes, would they call her a desperate woman? I can’t imagine her thoughts and fears as she waits at the threshing floor for all to fall asleep. Then she sneaks through the darkness to where she saw Boaz lie down for the night. She then lies down at his feet thinking “this could turn out really bad. “This God I serve already took my first husband; it couldn’t get any worse, could it?”Boaz awakes and lets her know that he accepts her proposal and wants to marry her. I’m sure she was filled with excitement!! And then the incredible!! Boaz tells her there is another man who has first choice!! FIRST CHOICE, am I a piece of meat that can be bartered on? Boaz tells Ruth to stay the night and in the morning go home and wait until the matter is settled. Wait, wait for what? Did she sleep that night? I know I would not be sleeping at all. I’m sure Ruth must have been thinking, “Naomi when I get home I’m going to kill you. What did I get myself into!!” Can it get any worse??? You bet!! There is the real possibility that she will have to marry this other man, and she doesn’t even know him. Her first husband died, now the man she proposed to, her next possible husband must follow some stupid law which would see her marrying someone else. That has to suck!! If I was in that situation, how would I be waiting?? How would you be waiting?? I think I would take off back to Moab!! This God of Israel sure knows how to screw things up!! Try and tell Ruth that YHWH is working things out, go ahead I dare you!!Boaz does the right thing and he and Ruth marry and they live happily ever after. I almost feel the tears welling up in my eyes. NOT!! A son is born to Boaz and Ruth and the women bless Naomi. Now I’m sure Ruth thought, these people are crazy, they praising Naomi. “The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! The women living there said, "Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth knows she gave birth to this son, and yet the son becomes Naomi’s. We see God working through a person for the good of someone else. And yet that working is not always easy. What did Ruth think? This was her first child and it was a boy!!The events of Ruth happened "in the days when the judges ruled" (1:1). People did what was right in their own eyes. This woman puts me to shame! How did she do what she did? Naomi blames God for the bad things, and then praises him for the good things. We are not told what Ruth thought or said, but she is the one who shines in this story. I have read this story many times, and this is the first time I have really tried to look at it through the eyes and perspective of Ruth. This pagan woman has great faith, and when Israel is doing what is right in their own eyes, Ruth is doing what is right in God’s eyes. Oh God help me to do what is right in Your eyes, regardless of what is going on around me, regardless of what others are doing. And if there are painful events in my life that you design to bless someone else, help me to do what is right in Your eyes regardless of my perception.