Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rethinking 'Busy-ness'

In the past I've been a bit (okay... a LOT) Cruemudgeony at Christmas time. I bought into the whole hype about the busy-ness of the season and just let it get to me. I didn't like the 'extra stuff' that I felt was expected of me during this particular time of the year and I just let it make me grumpy.

Something has changed in me over the last few years. I no longer resent the 'extra stuff' at Christmas time. In fact I've really come to enjoy this time of year and the activities that come along with it. Here's why....

For all of the fuss about whether the appropriate greeting is Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Xmas, Winter Festival or you name it, the bottom line is that most of the world takes this time of the year to celebrate. Whether they acknowledge it or not, everyone is really celebrating the birth of Jesus. It's true that some people have tried to eliminate Jesus from Christmas, or at least try to pretend in some politcally correct way that we all do this for some other reason, but that's a bit like trying to eliminate oxygen from air. He is THE REASON for the Season.

I'm re-thinking 'busy-ness'. Let's stop and think about this for a minute. We might have one (maybe two) office Christmas parties, you might have a kids school Christmas event and then there's that whole shopping thing. Some people put extra time into baking and preparing for guests. So yeah... there can be more activity than usual. The other side of the coin is that most people get 3 stat holidays over 8 days so that's a pretty good trade off from a time perspective.

Here's what I've come to see. This time of year is a celebration and an incredible opportunity to connect with neighbours, friends, family and co-workers. If we approach this from a missional perspective, it's also an incredible time to build meaningful relationships and sow seeds of God's love and hope into the lives of people who have yet to discover His love and grace in their lives.

So... I've concluded that 'busy-ness' at this time of year is simply a state of mind. It's true that there's more that goes on at this time of year than others, but as people who have discovered the truth and wonder of God coming to be among us and more importantly IN US, this is our time, our day and our hour. What we need is a mind shift that moves us out of dreading or complaining about this time to a place where we embrace the wonder and excitement of the season and find God's strength and power in the midst of it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There's a Wind A Blowin'

Greetings from Moose Jaw, SK, where the temperature is a chilly -22 C (that's about -4 for those of you who read this from the US) and the wind is blowing hard enough from the north that the Canadian flag that flies over city hall is straight off the pole.

What are you doing in Moose Jaw you ask? Well... my wife's grandfather passed away and we all returned for his funeral. All of the grandchildren and cousins were able to come as well. Grandpa was a good and godly man. He was 92 and quite ready to go to heaven to be with Jesus and Grandma. The funeral was on Thursday. It was only -8 with a north wind and I thought that was cold... it's suddenly become very balmy because everything is relative.

So we are here enjoying a few days with family and friends. Both of our parents live here plus some aunts and uncles so it's always nice to come back even though we don't do it very often. Summer is more preferable than winter, although in the winter you don't have mosquitoes. That being said, in the summer you don't get frostbite so it's a bit of a trade off.

Lest you think Moose Jaw is a desolate place, let me tell you about where I'm writing from. I'm sitting in a little coffee bar on the 4th floor of a luxury spa. Our boys are swimming with Grandma, 2 aunts and 4 little cousins. Barb isn't here so I'm opting to write a blog post while everyone has a swim. The pool is just like a hot springs pool. The water is about 104 F but it's very therapeutic and refreshing. There's a small outdoor pool that you access by swimming through a small gate. That's the first place the boys went, although, they've since returned to the main pool. I'm guessing the drifting snow had something to do with that.

I lived in Moose Jaw when the work began to build what they call 'The Spa'. An old hotel was torn down as were some other buildings to make room for what some people saw as nothing but a pipe dream and a white elephant. It was just a dream and someone's idea but through hard work, investment, partnership and a long term commitment the Spa stands alone as a magnificent facility. Someone's dream became their reality because they did more than dream.

Across the street from where I'm writing this, there's a casino. A casino across from a luxury spa probably makes a lot of sense from a marketing and tourism perspective. On the other hand, casinos are all about luck and chance. A hard core gambler might disagree with me, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of skill or creativity required to win at a slot machine. As I write this, I see people going in and out of the casino hoping to get lucky and win enough money that they could fulfill their dreams

The irony is profound to me. On the one hand, someones dream came true because they invested, worked and made a long term commitment to the future. On the other hand, some people are hoping for their dreams to come true based on nothing but the pull of a handle and the spin of a wheel.

This is not intended to be a commentary on gaming so much as it is an observation on life. There aren't many shortcuts to seeing your dreams come true. It's just a matter of creativity, perseverance and investment. Stick with it and you'll see it happen. I am.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Surrendering And Suffering

This came in my email this morning. This is a huge 'life lesson'. It's a lesson that changes the way we live our lives. Sometimes we just need a gentle reminder. I hope this serves that purpose for you.


Over the last year I have spent more time meditating on and practicing surrendering. Why? Because I have had my share of suffering and have discovered that surrendering is the way out of it and into peace.

Some people feel that fighting is the way to get free. I am here to tell you it is absolutely not. Fighting is the way to stay in pain and suffering. I know you also deal with suffering, simply because you are human.

The Top 10 Distinctions between Surrendering and Suffering

10- Surrendering is simply saying YES to life Suffering is saying NO to life.

9- Surrendering brings the peace that passes understanding Suffering is continual stress, frustration and confusion.

8- Surrendering is simply following your heart. Suffering comes from being driven by your ego.

7- Surrendering empowers people to share Suffering is the result of selfishness.

6- Surrendering allows creativity. Suffering is the result of being reactive.

5- Surrendering is the way to sweet success and victory. Suffering is the bitter taste of failure and defeat.

4- Surrendering flows with the river of life. Suffering tries to swim against the current.

3- Surrendering allows you to have a higher perspective. Suffering comes from an extremely limited perspective.

2- Surrendering is the lesson. Suffering is the teacher.

1- Surrendering gives you the benefits of humility. Suffering is the consequence of arrogance.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Let There Be Peace On Earth

As you know, the Governor General permitted the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament this week. This eliminates the possibility of a confidence vote on Monday and the political scene has become suddenly much more quiet and calm. Strong feelings about what happened in Ottawa last week remain under the surface, but as most people move on to Christmas parties and shopping, there's a peace that has settled on the entire situation.

We know that literally tens of thousands of people across Canada were praying for the Governor General, the PM, party leaders and MPS from all parties. Our request as we prayed was that God would move upon the hearts of the key decision makers and direct them through the voices of advisors and the wisdom that God gives to do what was best for Canada. Without being partisan, I believe that God answered that prayer by providing stable political leadership for our country at this time.

I read something this week that confirmed what I've believed for a long time. God is committed to good government because He loves people. Government provides protection so the people can live, work, play and prosper in safety. Good government is responsible, respectful, prudent and gracious. It champions the cause of the hurting and oppressed while at the same time creating a climate that encourages prosperity and the ability to pursue a bright future. Good government walks with humility and in the fear of God.

One of my disappointments this week was that no one demonstrated the kind of leadership necessary for our nation at the time. The focus was entirely on who who would hold power, form government, be in Cabinet and possibly get a seat in the senate. This falls far short of what we need at this time. To borrow a phrase from President Elect Obama, it really is time to reach across the aisles and work together for the sake of our nation today and for many years to come.

Over the next few weeks, my prayer will be that a genuine transformation of hearts will take place among the key players on Parliament Hill and that genuine leadership would replace the quest for power and control. I will be praying that repentance will replace rhetoric so that God's grace and mercy will flow to our nation in unprecedented ways.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Political Crisis in Ottawa

As you probably already know, there is a very real possibility that the Federal Government could lose an upcoming confidence vote scheduled for next Monday. The Liberals and NDP are working hard on creating a coalition alternative with the intent of forming government should the current government fall.

Leading Influence Ministries is a non-partisan ministry so I have no comment on the political ramifications of what is taking place. However, this week is critical for our nation. We find ourselves in a place where we do not have a defined economic strategy to deal with the global situation and we are now faced with the possibility of an unexpected change in goverment.

I think it's important to recognize that we need to make this a matter of prayer as we ask the Lord to have His way in this very important period in the history of our nation. I remain convinced that the Lord's plans for our nation can prevail if we give ourselves to praying that God will intervene in this situation.

The next few days are probably more crucial than the actual voting day. If the coalition is to move forward and form goverment there will be significant hurdles to cross. If the government is to stand, then the best thing for our nation is for the plans for a coaltion to collapse quickly so that the government can give it's attention to the economy rather than it's own survival. This is truly a situation where something needs to happen quickly.

To that end, I'm encouraging you to pray as follows:
1. That the Lord will work all things to work together for his good and any plans of the enemy would crumble very quickly.

2. That Canada will prosper and be protected in spite of the political uncertainty that we are facing at this time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

So Here's What Happened

Earlier in the week I mentioned that I would be spending more time in prayer for our government and MLA's as they debated the government's 10 point plan to deal with the economy. In addition to thanking you for your interest, I also wanted to tell you what happened.

I continue to be amazed at the response to the email I sent out earlier this week. Over 800 people read it and were praying with us. That is amazing and tremendously encouraging. On Tuesday afternoon I sent an email to the leadership team of the Pastor's prayer group that I belong to inviting them to consider holding their meeting at the Legislature on Thursday morning. I'm delighted to tell you 10 pastors came together to pray that morning. I am so grateful for the favor of God upon the ministry and what we are seeking to do. It was a very dull time in the Legislature that morning as the bill was being debated line by line by a very small group of MLA's, but we prayed that God would accomplish His purposes for our province during this critical time.

I feel like we've turned a very significant corner this fall and that there's a broader level of understanding, acceptance and support for what we are doing. Our last two public events have been well supported by local pastors which is very encouraging.

Even the MLA's I was able to see expressed their appreciation for what we are doing. I have a very clear sense that God is preparing us for the next step in moving the ministry forward here in BC during the Spring session.

Thanks again for praying and standing with us. Knowing you were there has made this an awesome week!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Call To Prayer

The Legislature resumed on Thursday for what turned out to be a fairly short day. The purpose for this abbreviated fall session is to pass an economic strategy that will help BC manage the current economic situation. Next week, the House resumes business from Monday to Thursday. By all indications, it will be a raucous and combative session as both sides seek to score points in preparation for the election. Politics aside, there is a serious global economic problem that is certain to affect British Columbia sooner or later so it's important to deal with the proposed legislation in a prudent manner with an awareness of the seriousness of the situation and the consequences of a poor set of decisions.

As I sat in the gallery on Thursday, my impression was that, bravado aside, no one really knows what to do because the situation remains so volatile that what may be a good decision today may be a disastrous decision tomorrow. That being said, I am comforted by the confidence that this is not the first time in history that leaders have faced uncertain times. I'm keenly aware that God remains in control and that He is able to either speak to the storm and bring peace or that He will use the storm to accomplish His purposes through it.

In the midst of my confidence, I also see that I must do more than simply observe the leaders and their responses to the markets. I must stand in the gap. Not only I, but we... together... must stand in the gap to pray for those who are making decisions in what has become a very perilous time. If they make decisions that are in keeping with the heart and mind of God, we will benefit as a people and province. If their decisions are contrary to God's purpose and plan, we will face an economic and social disaster.

I'm committing myself to praying diligently for the members of the BC Legislature over the next week as they make decisions. In particular, I suggest that we pray for the following people on a daily basis with the simple request that wisdom and a desire for the highest good would overtake political agendas over the coming week.

Premier Gordon Campbell, Hon. Colin Hansen (Minister of Finance), Carol James, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mike de Jong (Government House Leader) and Mike Farnworth (Opposition House Leader)

When you pray, ask the Lord to give these leaders in particular a spirit of wisdom, grace, courage, insight and humility. Our province needs a level of leadership that is able to rise above short term partisanship and political ideology and into a level of unity and cooperation that will result in good decisions being made that will benefit us now and in the future.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BC Legislature Resumes Today

The BC Legislature resumed sitting today for an abbreviated fall session. The agenda is fairly straightforward. The world has changed significantly since the Legislature last met. In May, gas was 1.39/litre, the market was soaring and while the US economy was undergoing stresses, BC was still doing well. What a difference 5 months can make. The market has dropped over 6500 points since May. The crisis in the US is much more severe than anyone would have expected and the wheels are falling off the market forces that have driven our economy.

The reason for coming together is to approve legislation that the government hopes will help BC manage the current economic crisis. I spent about 90 minutes this morning listening to speeches. It's one of the few times that everyone agrees that there is a problem. One member spoke of the impact in his community and he drew the very important connection between job loss and community impact. Lost jobs mean lost coaches and volunteers. They mean lost families and neighbors and lost community leaders. He spoke with passion and emotion. I think every member cares about their constituents, but this man cares for those he serves and I think there's a big difference between the two.

The Legislature starts every day with prayer. The prayer this morning was particularly impressive as the member asked for wisdom in this difficult time. There are no easy answers to what we are facing and it is only through the wisdom of God that we will find a way out.

Today I'd like to direct you to our monthly prayer calender. Every day, we pray for a different MLA and over the next week, they will need our prayers more than ever before. You can download the monthly calendar or you can use the online option. Either way, take some time to remember those who serve as MLA's over the next week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Pastor Speaks About Barak Obama

I confess that I've been somewhat stunned by the response of leaders within the Church to the election of Barak Obama. I've read their books, used their material and held them in high regard, but their mean-spirited response to Mr. Obama's election to the presidency really disturbs me. I've been tempted to write a rebbutal, but I don't think it would serve the purpose that I intend. Then I determined to do nothing, which is appealing but so NOT what I really believe in.

Then a friend shared this video with me. While the focus is clearly American, I can't help but be impressed with the pastor's approach, wisdom and integrity as he handles a difficult and complex issue. It's about 20 minutes in length but well worth the time and I'd encourage you to watch it, particularly if you are a pastor or church leader.

Beeson's Thoughts from Granger Community on Vimeo.

Have an awesome day!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

National Philanthropy Day

When I heard the radio story about this being National Philanthropy Day, I couldn't help but agree with how appropriate it was to make THIS DAY National Philanthropy Day. What puzzles me is that while this has been National Philanthropy Day for some time, I have yet to receive any philanthropic benefits on this day. For 46 years this has also been MY BIRTHDAY so... here's a big 'shout out' to all of the Philanthropists out there. It's your day and it's my day .... let's get together.... LOL!!

Have a fantastic day!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I attended the Remembrance Day service in our community today. I was impressed with the size of the crowd and the measure of respect that was shown. I think the fact that there's a strong military presence in Victoria adds to the significance of the moment. There were so many members in uniform. As the Last Post was being played, they stood at attention and saluted. It was very moving.

Remembrance Day marks an anniversary for me personally. I moved to BC in 1986 and arrived here on Remembrance Day. Barb was already here and I was on my way to Duncan to serve as the Youth Pastor there. I remember driving the Coquihalla in some of the worst conditions I've ever seen on that road. My car was fully loaded and the downhill grade after the toll both was covered with wet, early winter snow. If you've ever been there, you'll know that the grade is quite steep. Being from the prairies, I didn't know what I was getting into and was soon hurtling down the slippery road at about 100km, which was far too fast for the conditions. When I touched the brakes, the car started to slide. The snow was falling so fast there was no bare pavement or sand to provide traction. I felt like I was on a bobsled ride and hoped and prayed for the best. Thankfully, the infamous 'snowshed' appeared on the horizon. I knew that my best hope was to make it onto the bare pavement inside the shed. I'm certain I held my breath as I my speed approached 140 km on the way down to the shed. I remember breathing a profound prayer of thanks as I flew into the snowshed. While the grade diminishes considerably after that, I'm pretty certain that I crawled the rest of the way to Abbotsford that night.

It's hard to believe that 22 years have passed since then. They have been good years for which I am very thankful, but I often think back to my first trip down the 'Coq' on Remembrance Day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Wins

I've spent most of the last few hours watching the US Election results. I couldn't help but be moved by the scene at Ebenenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Ebenezer Baptist was the church that Martin Luther King Jr. and his father both served as pastor. The idea that it was a pastor who led the movement that eventually permitted a black man to become the President of the United States is inspiring to me. Few would have given Rev. King, Rosa Parks and others much hope of success when they began marching and preaching and defying the authorities and the many odds against them.

How appropriate that on this remarkable and historic night that the church where Rev. King once pastored would be filled with worship and thanksgiving. The church must return to the place where it becomes the cradle of national transformation, the crucible that brings forth a social renewal that prevails over cynicism and skepticism and the catalyst that releases mercy and justice, faith,hope, courage and strength into a world that so desperately needs it.

Congrats to President Elect Obama. May God strengthen you, help you and fill you with tremendous wisdom and strength. May the Church in America rally to your support on their knees as they lift you up before our Father in heaven as you assume your responsibilities as President of the United States.

Election Day in The USA

Today is the big day. After almost a billion (that's with a 'B') dollars spent over the last 21 months, Americans will vote today to choose the next President. Expectations are for heavy voter turnout (90%) which is very impressive. Within about 12 hours we should know the results as we watch the US Map divide itself into Blue and Red states.

I have some thoughts on this election that I'll share later, but today I wish our neighbors to the South a wonderful election and pray that God would use this election to accomplish His purposes for America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

City's Passionate Preacher Dies

Bernice Gerard was a forerunner and visionary. She successfully engaged and shaped her city as she allowed God to use her many gifts and abilities. She was a bridge-builder who was willing to engage those who disagreed while at the same time holding true to her own values and beliefs. As you'll see in the article below, in addition to planting a church in Vancouver, she was also a broadcaster, radio host, city councillor, University Chaplain, voice of conscience and a general catalyst. She made her life count for someone more than just herself. She made a mark on her generation and the ones that follow because of her willingness to be a servant of her Lord and Saviour.

I'm attaching the story of her passing from today's Vancouver Province.

From the Vancouver Province

Katie Mercer, The ProvincePublished: Monday, November 03, 2008

Bernice Gerard, ground-breaking broadcast evangelist, former alderman and pioneer of university ministries, has died. She was 84.
"She was a strong voice for moral decency and challenged the city in new ways," said pastor Greg Laing of Point Grey Community Church.
"She just had so much going on. She was just tireless, full of passion, full of righteousness and full of love of God."

Gerard, who was adopted by a native family before becoming a ward of the province, spent her early years travelling throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Central America, evangelizing with Velma Chapman and Jean McColl.
She settled in B.C., and pioneered the University Christian Ministries by becoming the first chaplain at the University of B.C. and one of the first at Simon Fraser University.
She was a Vancouver councillor from 1977 to 1980, and most notably staged the 1977 march against nudity on Wreck Beach.

The pentecostal preacher took her passion to the airwaves, hosting the Christian talk-show Encounter from 1971 to 1988. Gerard also co-hosted Sunday Line with ministry colleague Chapman, from 1971 to 2000.

Before being forced into retirement because of Parkinson's, Gerard hosted the daily talk show KARI, in Blaine, Wash. Laing said Gerard was a legendary, inspiring and humble leader.
"Her legacy is the countless lives she has touched," said Laing. "She had the vision, she had the passion and she just did it."

Gerard, who had been in hospital for years, died on Saturday.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saints Day

Did you know that Nov 1st is 'Saints Day'? It's a day set aside on the church calendar to celebrate the saints, both known and unknown. The intent is to remember the character and exploits of all of those who have run this race before us and to draw inspiration from their example.

I think it's fantastic to look back and celebrate, but I also think it's important to see the saints around us and recognize that inspiration and exploits are happening around us today. The saints are making a difference today. The saints are touching their world and transforming it and shaping it as they do. The saints work as school teachers and aides. They work as nurses and bus drivers. The saints start soup kitchens, street ministries and businesses. The saints run for office, they serve as community leaders and they are members of service clubs.

The saints coach minor league teams, coordinate car pools and work as school volunteers.

The saints make time to pray for their neighbors, communities, schools and governments. Though there are times when the saints are maligned, misunderstood and marginalized, the saints are serving as salt and light and are making a difference in their world.

This is the Day of The Saints!! Enjoy it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't Look There...

My mom is pretty fussy when it comes to keeping a clean house so when I was growing up there were some pretty high expectations about the cleanliness of my room. Like most boys, my standards were considerably lower as there were often more important things to do. Every so often things came to a head and I couldn't do my 'important' things until my room was cleaned. When that happened, the priority was to get the job done as quickly as possible so dirty clothes went under the bed, in the closet and were stuffed into drawers.

My mom is also pretty smart. When I would come out of my room 10 minutes after she had told me to get it cleaned, she knew something was 'up' and came down the hall for inspection. She would begin by opening my closet. If there was no mess there, she would check the drawers and if there was no mess there she would look under the bed. This was my default place to throw stuff when I wanted to 'clean' in a hurry. Sometimes she wouldn't look, other times she did. Most times it was a matter hoping she wouldn't look there... When she did (and she did more times than not...) I had no choice except to clean the mess under my bed and it generally meant that the clean standard in my room just went up a notch which required more time than if I had just done what I was supposed to.

I participate in a weekly prayer meeting with pastors from across Victoria. I arrived late this morning due to a couple of earlier appointments that went long. When I got there, they were singing 'Heart of Worship' by Tim Hughes and were lingering on 'You're looking into my heart'...

As we sang that, I became very aware of my humanity and unworthiness. It was almost like I was saying 'God, please don't look too closely or deeply and PLEASE don't look under the bed...'
I'm glad God is full of grace and compassion. He doesn't condemn us or treat us according to what we deserve. On the other hand He is slow to anger and rich in love. When He sees my 'junk and stuff' He helps me clean it up and get things together.

Gotta go... one of the kids is cleaning up their room....

Monday, October 27, 2008

(PUSH) Praying Until Something Happens

I heard the term 'microburst' for the first time about 12 years ago. I can still say it the way the speaker did. (MIcro BURst, but you have hold your throat like you are about to cough, and then push hard with your voice... If your throat tickles after you've said it, you've got it just right....)
I'd probably heard the word before then, but about 2 years ago, the town I grew up in in Nothern Ontario actually experienced a microburst. Without warning a powerful windstorm uprooted trees, destroyed buildings and damaged many others. Here are some pictures to give you a sense of the power of the storm.

This was called the 'sand dome'. It's where they stored sand to spread on the roads in winter.

That's the 'sand dome' in the background. The trees looked they were mowed down.

This is the Natural Resources building. Remarkably no one was killed or injured in the storm.

Today was day 13 in the Civic Election Prayer Campaign that we are leading through PrayBC. I've been reflecting on what can happen as we stand together on this. I know that God responds to unity, and I know that God responds to His people when they pray. It seems to me that the combination of Unity and Prevailing Prayer set up the right conditions for a 'Prayer Storm' that could have a tremendous effect in every community in BC.

I'm certainly not in favor of disaster and damage taking place in the natural realm, but at the same time, I am longing to see something spectacular happen as a result of what has become hundreds of people praying all across BC that God would use this Civic Election for His purpose in every village, town and city across our magnificent Province.

Keep praying... something very amazing is going to happen...

Life... Unplugged...

The screen on my Blackberry is blank with nothing but a 'reset' button. When I highlight it and push the button, the screen goes black, the red light comes on, the screen flickers and then nothing but a blank screen. It happens again and again and again and again... My phone is the victim of a JVM error.

I am approaching 24 hours without the use of my phone. Every so often my leg senses the vibration of an incoming email, but it's really just a phantom vibration, there is no email, there is no phone... I had a spare phone set aside for moments like these. A phone that I could use in times of trouble, but when I went to the special place I put it, it wasn't there...

So here I am, unplugged in a wired world. This is probably more of an opportunity than I realize and while I'll need to wait for a new phone, there's this possibility that I may find 'rest' for my soul. It may even be that I might come to enjoy the quiet that comes from being unplugged.

My friends who have known me for some time will know that I may begin to exhibit 'withdrawal' symptoms, but that too may be good for me as I find freedom from my 'crackberry'.

If you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because I may have gone completely cold turkey. I'll be back.... I'm sure of it, but hopefully in a better more balanced kind of way. In the meantime, pray for me that the email spiders don't start crawling all over me....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Morning After...

I watched the election results until I couldn't stay awake any longer. My hope was to see our own riding decided by the time I went to bed, but with a 76 vote difference it sounds like we are headed for a recount. Both candidates here are good people and will serve us well.

Most people today are consumed with who won last night. That's certainly understandable, but I want to take note of those who didn't win. Being willing to put your name on the ballot takes courage and the odds of winning are about 1 in 4 or 5. There are more second, third or 4th place finishers than there are winners on the political landscape in our country today. I want to applaud and honor every candidate that was willing to put their name forward. You stood up for what you believed in and were willing to let the rest of us decide if we thought you were the right fit. I honour your courage and commitement to your values and principles. Thanks for being a part of making the political process work in our country.

At this point the campaign is over and the real work begins. Today, Prime Minister Harper will start the work of building a cabinet to lead our great nation forward. He (and those who work with him) will need wisdom, discernment, insight and tremendous courage.

We also need a fresh spirit of cooperation in Ottawa. As much as the fireworks of Question Period are entertaining, we are at a point in our history where we need the best and brightest leaders in our nation to work together in a cooperative effort to lead our country effectively. This is a time for a commitment to doing what is best for Canada. My hope is that every MP will make that focus their top priority.

Generally speaking, our ministry focus is provincial in nature, but today I want to urge you to give yourself to praying for Prime Minister Harper, every MP who was elected last night and for their families and those who serve them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How To Vote in The Federal Election - 6

Today is Election Day. Today you have the opportunity to exercise your democratic right to mark a ballot. Someone from our church posted on Facebook today that you can do all the praying you want before the election, but if you don't go and actually vote, it doesn't mean anything. I think it aligns perfectly with what James had to say. Faith WITHOUT WORKS is DEAD! (Sorry, I'm not really shouting, just trying to make a visual point!)

So... if you still haven't made up your mind, PRAY A LOT on your way to your polling station and do the best you can.

Talk to you tomorrow, there will be lots to watch on TV tonight...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What could happen if...?

What could happen if the Church in BC actively prayed through the civic election campaign? I believe that God would use this election to fulfill His purposes for our communities and school boards if we just asked Him too.

We want to find out, so we're launching a prayer initiative for the Civic Election in BC. Our goal is to build a network of people who will take 5 minutes a day to pray with us that God would use this election to accomplish His plans and purposes for the 189 municipalities in our province.

Most of you are busy people, so we want to make this as easy for you as possible. We've put together a 33 day email campaign that will start on October 15. Each email will contain a daily prayer focus, a scripture verse and a written prayer. It's designed to take less than 5 minutes a day. We believe that by mobilizing the church to pray through this campaign, we can shape the outcome on our knees. Here's the key, this is an opt-in list. You'll only receive the emails if you sign up. We won't use this list for anything other than this campaign and the provincial election campaign in the spring.

To join our list, go to and click on register.

Be a part of the miracle!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How To Vote In The Federal Election - 5

I think it's very interesting that what began as perhaps the dullest election campaign on record has become perhaps one of our most important elections in light of the current financial crisis. It's been interesting to watch the polls slip, slide and climb for the various parties and I'm guessing that these must be the most stressful days of the entire campaign for leaders and candidates in general.

I was asked earlier today about how I was going to vote. I'm officially non-partisan and while I do exercise my right to vote, I follow the example of my father who always says 'it's a secret ballot and I'm going to keep the secret.' I'm still undecided. I'm hoping someone will say something that will resonate with me before election day. I know what I ENVISION for our nation and I know what VALUES I'm looking for in the lives of those who serve us politically. I also know that sometimes there's a difference between what I want and what's available.

I also wrestle with the whole idea of voting for my local candidate who is actually going to serve my needs and voting for the leader even though most people will never interact with them. I'm leaning towards voting for the local candidate who is most like a servant. On the one hand I want to know their vision, plans and platform, but I also remember that it's my money and the money of my kids that they are promising to spend so I'm not quickly sold on the promises of tax cuts. Historically, people who are servants find ways to serve and they don't do it just before elections. It's a pattern in their lives.

I want a servant to represent my interests in Ottawa not just someone who is looking for a job with some great perks. I hope you do to!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How To Vote In The Federal Election - Part 4

I just got back from our local all candidates forum. It was an interesting evening with some excellent questions. As I listened I came away with the distinct impression that the main candidates all had some good ideas. I also came away with the distinct awareness that there are no easy answers to the challenges that exist in our nation. With the recent meltdown on Wall Street it's just a matter of time until America's financial woes begin to affect our economic health in Canada.

The bottom line is that those who will win this election will need a measure of wisdom beyond themselves. At the end of the day, I want people of wisdom working on Parlaiment Hill on my behalf and I think you do to. I want people who understand the economic implications of tax cuts, tax increases, I want people who are able to navigate changes to social policy and also have a sense of how to address environmental issues. What I really want is someone who has the humility to recognize that there is a SOURCE of WISDOM outside of themselves and will have the courage to seek it out.

Every morning that Parlaiment is in session, the day begins with prayers. My hope is that the primary request of the person I vote for is 'God grant us your wisdom as we lead this great nation.'

Proverbs tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. My prayer is that every candidate will seek the wisdom that only God can give and that as they find it, they will apply it to the challenges in our nation.

Sarah Palin a Disgrace to Women - Bridget Bardot...

I just read an article on where Bridget Bardot calls Sarah Palin a disgrace to women. Here's part of the article for your viewing before I make my comments.

PARIS - French film icon turned activist Brigitte Bardot took a swipe at Sarah Palin on Tuesday, saying the U.S. vice-presidential candidate was a disgrace to women.

"I hope you lose these elections because that would be a victory for the world," Bardot wrote in an open letter to Republican John McCain's running mate in the November vote.

"By denying the responsibility of man in global warming, by advocating gun rights and making statements that are disconcertingly stupid, you are a disgrace to women and you alone represent a terrible threat, a true environmental catastrophe," wrote Bardot.

Let me get this right... A FRENCH actress is criticizing an AMERICAN politician. She can't even vote in the election because she's not an American citizen but feels well within her right to attack another woman simply because she disagrees with her politics. If the shoe was on the other foot, the media would be crying foul because a white, middle class American 'hockey mom' was berating a foreign national. Her actual comments don't actually rate discussion because they are rude and completely inappropriate.

I'm not American, but this really bugs me. I think what bugs me more is the constant skewering of anything that appears conservative or on the 'right' by the media in general. It seems to me that the idea of an objective presentation of issues, ideas and ideology has been lost by this relatively small group of people who have access to ink, websites, the airwaves and pod casts. The idea of the Hollywood elite declaring who is best to lead the country is almost laughable.

That being said, I do want to applaud Rex Murphy from CBC Radio. A few weeks ago he was hosting his weekly 'Cross Canada Checkup' call in show and took a call from a woman who was warning about the dangers of right wing fundamentalism in our country. He took issue with her statement and noted that there is an equally dangerous 'left wing fundamentalism' running rampant in our country that should be checked as well. I think it's the first time I've ever heard it said by anyone. Way to go Rex! Any thoughts on Sarah Palin?

How To Vote In The Federal Election - Part 3

As I spend time with politicians there’s at least one thing that always stands out to me. These are people of courage. They willingly put themselves, their ideas and their policies on the line every day. They are criticized, mocked, despised, scorned and rarely applauded. I’ve been a pastor for over 25 years and my worst days as a pastor are pretty tame compared to what elected officials endure. This is not a career for the faint of heart or those whose feelings are easily hurt. Political life is a popularity contest at election time, the rest of the time it’s more like a shark tank where only the strong survive.

In my mind, anyone who is willing to sign candidate papers and be willing to have their name printed on a ballot has already shown a measure of courage. There’s only one winner in every race and so just willing to say yes means you are willing to risk the chance that you have a 1 in 4 chance of actually winning. In light of a 4 or 5 year tenure in office, the initial step of courage pales in comparison to the journey before the candidate.

Finding a candidate with courage is harder than you might think. It’s not likely that you’ll see displays of courage at all candidates’ forums. It’s more likely that you’ll see it in the voting patterns of incumbents or candidates with previous political experience. You might want to ask candidates if they’ve ever voted against party lines and/or public pressure. The candidate will most likely tell you that they always want to listen to their constituents (that’s a good thing...) but the reality is that political leaders are required to make decisions based on the information in front of them and not simply on a sampling of the polls. There’s a difference between being a maverick and a person of courage. I don’t think that our nation needs political loose cannons in positions of power and influence. At the same time, I don’t think we need rows of ‘yes’ men and women who base their decision on the winds of public opinion. We need leaders who have the wisdom to act with courage in spite of public opinion and pressure.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting men and women like that. They have voted against party pressure and public opinion knowing that it may cost them everything. What’s interesting is that they survived what appeared to be a no-win scenario and have been re-elected, in some cases promoted but almost always respected because of their courage.

God sent an angel to Joshua when he commissioned him to give leadership to Israel and told him to Be strong and very courageous. Joshua needed it as he led the people across the Jordan, around Jericho and into the conquest of the Promised Land. He needed it and so do our leaders today!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How To Vote In The Federal Election - Part 2

Someone said that those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it. I think that’s especially true as we choose who we will vote for. While I’m a great believer in a fresh start and in what Jack Layton likes to refer to as ‘Damascus Road’ experiences, barring a genuine transformational moment, it’s pretty safe to say that our past decisions and practices are a fairly accurate indicator of how we will conduct themselves in the future.

As I’m getting ready to cast my ballot on Oct 14, one of the questions I’m asking myself is what are the convictions of those who are running for office? To be able to understand the convictions of the candidate or leader you really have to learn to see beyond the chest thumping and podium pounding and seek to discover the convictions of the individual. What are the things that they are absolutely convinced are right and true? I don’t think that you can really find that out by asking the standard questions. Generally speaking, candidates are provided with talking points for all candidate forums and doorstep conversations by their respective parties so you aren’t likely to discover their convictions there.
The real answers are more likely found in asking questions about the candidate’s past actions and activities. Questions about previous involvement with community groups, associations, activities, etc will help you discover something of their history. I think a simple ‘why did you get involved there?’ follow up question will give you a much better grasp on their convictions and will help you see if their campaign rhetoric really aligns with who they are as a person. I’d suggest that if their party platform doesn’t align with their personal background, you might not be speaking with a person who is true to their convictions.
I admire politicians who are willing to take a stand sometimes at the risk of their careers, opportunities and the chance of re-election because of their convictions. I may not always agree with their decisions or actions but at least I know that they are true to who they are, where they have been and what they believe. They’ve chosen to stand and I admire that!

Friday, October 03, 2008

How To Vote In The Federal Election - Part 1

I was interviewed by a reporter last week who asked my thoughts on how Christians should vote in the upcoming federal election. I think it's a great question and one that I'm glad he asked. The financial crisis in the USA combined with their election in November means that our election is even more important than usual.

There are several characteristics that I think need to be considered before casting our ballot. The first is the integrity of the candidate. Integrity speaks of wholeness and internal strength. It's actually an construction term that describes the ability of the structure to withstand the pressure it will be exposed to.

If I've learned anything in the last year, it's that politicians live with incredible pressure and demands. There are certainly the political expectations that come along with the job, but there are also demands that come from family, constituents, schedules and their leaders and colleagues. Politics is a challenging and difficult environment and succeeding requires an extra measure of integrity.

The challenge with integrity is that you can't measure it during the election campaign. You might hear a lot about it, but integrity can only be measured through an examination of the candidates track record over time. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking as you prepare to vote? If you don't know, ask someone who does, or better yet, ask the candidate themselves? You might be surprised at their response.

1. How have they conducted themselves?

2. Have they demonstrated stability and strength over the long haul?

3. How have they handled difficult situations in the past?

4. When they have made mistakes, how have they responded?

5. Has adversity caused them to crumble or to be renewed?

6. What lessons have they learned through hardship and how does that understanding affect their world view?

Next time, we'll talk about wisdom.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pay Attention to the Signs

I saw the most interesting thing yesterday morning at the Regina Airport. I was waiting for my flight to Toronto and my seat was almost right beside the Men's washroom. While I was sitting there, I watched a woman get up and walk directly in the Men's washroom. She exited about 5 seconds later somewhat embarrassed and talking to herself as she quickly walked away. One minute later, another woman did exactly the same thing EXCEPT that she tried to explain herself and her mistake to the gentlemen who were already in the room.

Now... I have my own 'right idea, wrong room' experience so I'm not making fun of these ladies at all. As it happened, I couldn't help but notice that the room was well marked as the MEN's room and I wondered, why don't you just pay attention to the signs? That thought led to this...

Signs surround us. There are warning signs, opportunity signs, caution signs and of course 'for sale' signs. Our body gives us signs regarding our health and our clothing gives us signs about our bodies. (Those jeans used to be much baggier than they are now...)

The question is... how well do I pay attention to the signs around me. I'm in Toronto so I'm paying a lot of attention to the street and highway signs, but I wonder how attentive I am to some of the other signs around me. Sometimes, we miss the obvious because of the pace at which we seek to live.

Slowing down, taking a breath and a good look around can avoid a lot of awkward moments in our lives, not the least of which is finding yourself in the wrong bathroom.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Saul Factor

It sounds so lofty, but it really did happen as I was praying this morning. I was meeting with our ministry prayer group this morning and we were praying with regard to the federal election. As I waited, I had a spiritual 'aha' moment. I was reminded of Saul in the OT. As Israel's first king, Saul embodied everything that the people wanted in a leader. He was tall, striking, brave, charismatic, photogenic, good with a sword, etc, etc. Men were inspired by him and women were attracted to him. His enemies feared him. He had just enough religion to be acceptable for the important national moments but not so much that he would put people off. In short, he was exactly what they wanted. He was a king, just like every other king in the area.

Our expectations of leaders are not that different than what Saul embodied. We want our leaders to be 10 feet tall (that's 3m for some of you...) and bulletproof. Strong and brave, they should also be decisive but willing to listen to every concern from every citizen. They must be interested in babies but not 'babes' and be able to stand on a moral high ground that neither the media nor the masses can attain. They should be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, stop locomotives with a single hand, rescue damsels in distress and generally be all things to all people.

Here's my 'aha' moment from this morning. I was reminded that while Saul was everything people expected him to be, he failed miserably because he lacked everything that God expected him to be. This lesson is profoundly underlined in the scriptures where Samuel sees Saul's successor David as a young boy and is ready to dismiss him until God says that while men look on the outside, God looks at the heart. God saw and knew something about David's heart that no one else could see. God is far more impressed by the substance of our character than He is by whatever 'sizzle' we may be able to generate in the people we meet. He is more interested in our passion than He is in our potential and possibilities. He weighs our lives (and the lives of our leaders) on a completely different set of scales than what we ordinarily use.

I'm weary of the 'Saul Factor' in the political arena. I'm tired of 'being disappointed by superstar' leaders who make disastrous decisions that affect our world, our country, our communities and families. I'm going to start praying as never before that God would give us leaders at a national, provincial and community level who are men and women after God's heart. At the end of the day, I think our nation is better served by men and women of substance rather than just sizzle.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Barb and I just dropped off Brittany and Zack for the youth meeting at our church. That's probably not remarkable in itself. What is remarkable is that I was the youth pastor at what is now our church 19 years ago. Some of the leaders were just kids when we left 14 years ago. Probably 30% of the crowd wasn't even born when we were on staff. Some of the kids who were there belong to people who were leaders with us.

For all of the changes and feelings of nostalgia, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The room had 'the aroma' that can only be produced by 12 and 13 year old boys... if you've ever smelled it, you never forget it...

First time kids still cluster together, wanting to be there, but wishing they were anywhere else...

The 'cool kids' still hang out in groups. The 'uncool kids' do the same. Only the newbies are left to find their own place.

Girls still come doing their best to look at least as nice as their friends, but hopefully, just a bit better...

Youth Pastors and Leaders come full of dreams and vision for the new year.

Parents still drop off their kids and ask... 'What time will they be done...' and then they leave and try to figure out how to spend their evening...

Lucky for us there is ice cream at home...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What To Pray For the Election

Our friends at Nation At Prayer have launched a '5 to a Million Campaign' for the Federal election asking Christians across Canada to pray for 5 minutes a day during the election. They've also provided the following prayer guide to assist you in praying effectively. You can download a copy of the guide from our website by clicking here.

What To Pray For the Election

1. That this election will serve God's purposes for Canada.

2.That Canada will be a country whose elected leaders are:
- Individuals of Integrity, Discernment, Grace, Courage and Conviction
- Willing Servants
- Wisdom, Endurance and Protection for the Candidates and their families

3. That Candidates will be filled with Integrity, Courage, Humility and Grace

4. That the Holy Spirit will Guide and Guard the Thoughts and Speech of Candidates

5. That the Holy Spirit will Guide Campaign Strategy

6. That Candidates and Campaign Material will present Positions and Platforms
Clearly, Openly and Fully.

7. That the Holy Spirit will guide Electors in Examining Issues, Candidates and in

8. That Every Elector Will Cherish Their Right to Vote

9. That Every Elector Will Vote

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jack Layton Says PM Has A "Damascus Road' Experience

Politicians say the most interesting things. Today the Prime Minister announced that a Conservative government would provide a .02/litre reduction of the tax on diesel fuel. It will happen over 4 years and cost the government about $600 million dollars.

Mr. Layton responded that the PM must have had a 'Damascus Road Experience' in response to the anouncement. "All of a sudden it's 'road to Damascus' and he decides he's going to make an announcement in the middle of an election campaign,". (Vancouver Sun)

I've got to tell you there's something about Mr. Layton that makes me say 'hmmm....' I'm intrigued by his periodic references to biblical events. The Damascus Road experience speaks of the Apostle Paul (then named Saul) being knocked off his horse in broad daylight and then hearing a voice from heaven speak to him. In the last general election, Mr. Layton stated that 'Ottawa needs to hear the prophetic voice of the faith community.' The second quote left me 'slack-jawed'. I'm thrilled that he actually invited the faith community to speak into life on the 'hill' in Ottawa and can't wait to honor his invitation.

I'm not sure where Mr. Layton draws his material from, but it seems to me that somewhere along the way, he (or his writers...) heard enough Sunday School stories or Sunday sermons for something to take root in his life. It's almost as though the parable of the Sower and the Seed is playing out and that the seed that found some good soil is starting to produce fruit.

I hope it's true and that the seed continues to produce good fruit for many years to come!

Monday, September 08, 2008

And They're Off..

Prime Minister Harper did the expected yesterday morning and called a General Election. The next 37 days will be a blur of anouncements, soundbytes, debates and controversy. Promises will be made, criticisms will be leveled and everything from the ridiculous to the sublime will be discussed on call in shows across the country. At the end of the campaign, we will be asked to mark our ballot and make our choice. Political futures of candidates will be decided, but more importantly, we will also make some choices about the destiny of our nation.

I don't believe that every election brings us to the key crossroad regarding the future of our nation, but I do believe that every election presents us with the opportunity to have a voice in shaping a part of our national destiny. That in itself is a tremendous responsibility and privilege, one that we should neither take lightly or cynically.

With the cross section of options and promises that will be presented to us nationally and locally throughout this election, the challenge will be to sort out what is best for the country and who is best suited to lead. One of the greatest challenges is to be able to see past what is good for us in the moment and to somehow discern what is best for the future. (I might really enjoy a cut in gas taxes, but if it means that the roads I drive on 5 years from now look something from Afghanistan, I might not choose to go that route....)

As I write this post, I'm reminded that the Bible promises that if we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives liberally (in the generous sense, not the one...) to anyone who needs it. I'd say that more than anything, we need true wisdom as we choose our next federal government. We need Someone who knows and understands our future to help us choose a leader in the present who can take us into the future.

Here's an invitation for you. Over the next 35 days, I'm going to be praying that God would give me wisdom and discernment as to how to vote on Oct. 14. At the same time, I want to know how many others are interested in doing the same. I don't think this has to be overly complicated or difficult. I do think that as we begin to pray that God's kingdom would be come and His will would be done through the electoral process, some amazing things could happen in Canada.

So.... who's in? You can email me ( or respond by using the comment box on either the blog or on facebook to let me know you're in this too. (FYI, I've switched to moderated comments to keep the spammers of my blog, it's just a better way to go than have strangers using my space.)

Can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Family Update

Barb and the kids just returned from buying school supplies. That’s a definite sign that summer is over and school is about to begin.

We’ve had a great summer at our house. Tyler (our youngest) played baseball at the Provincial Championships and came home with an MVP award. His team placed 3rd. We had a lot of fun watching him play.

Zack, our middle child, didn’t play baseball, but had a lot of fun watching his brother play and cheering him on. He will play ‘fall ball’ and is looking forward to starting youth group at church this fall.

Brittany turned 15 this summer and spent most of the summer becoming even more independent. We’re very proud of her. She has some natural talent with her camera so we bought her a good quality camera for her birthday.

Barb is ready to start teaching piano and voice again this fall. She’s a great teacher and never lacks for students.

We (are hoping to run in the Royal Victoria Marathon in October. We just plan to do the 8k. Barb’s training is going much better than mine but I intend to carry on and give it my best.

Finally, Zoe (our yellow lab) is expecting a litter of puppies within a few weeks. We’ll post pictures on the blog and facebook sites when the puppies arrive.

Thanks for your prayers and interest in our lives and ministry. We appreciate you so much!

September Prayer Focus

With the possibility of Federal Election looming on the horizon, we have a tremendous opportunity to see God do something amazing. Over the next 8 months, British Columbians will choose representatives for every level government that affects them. We are making plans to coordinate a province wide prayer initiative through PrayBC that will be active through the Federal, and upcoming Municipal and Provincial elections. We anticipate making an announcement about our vision for this initiative by September 15.

Please pray for Pastor Murray Lincoln as he establishes Leading Influence Ministries in Ontario. He and Alida have taken a huge step of faith and I'd like you to pray for them as they walk through days that require multiple miracles. Both Murray and I have an expectation that God is going to do some amazing things in and through the ministry this fall. Please pray that as we prepare for September through December, God would begin to open doors, make provision, and move the ministry forward.

We've planned several partner and friends events in Kamloops, Kelowna and Moose Jaw in late September. In addition to providing a ministry update, our goal is to grow our monthly partnership base. Please pray with us that we will be successful in this undertaking. If you would like to join us for any of these events, you can register online by clicking on the link or by visiting our website.

Finally, we will celebrate the launch of our Ontario ministry during the first weekend in October. This is going to be a key time for the ministry as we commission Murray and Alida to serve the Lord in this way. I'm excited about this step forward. We really want to provide a strong foundation for Murray as he and Alida move forward into a new sphere of ministry and believe that God is preparing to do something amazing in Ontario.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is it Time to Leave Afghanastan?

Canada lost 3 more soldiers in Afghanistan this week. The total number of soldiers now killed in this action is 93. 93 sons who won't be coming home. 93 families suffering the loss of a child who won't share birthdays, reunions, Christmas and other special family functions. I couldn't find how many of these warriors have left behind children and expectant wives. Somehow, 93 soldiers just seems like a lot of people and a great sacrifice for a nation. Justin Trudeau agrees. He says it's time for Canada to leave Afghanistan. The cost in terms of losses and casualties has simply become more than what we signed up for. It's not an uncommon sentiment.

Turn back the clock almost 65 years. Next June we will remember the 65th anniversary of D-Day or the beginning of the Invasion of Normandy. The day is historic for several reasons and Canadians are remembered for their heroic acts of bravery and tremendous sacrifices on the beaches of France. If you go to Juno beach, you'll find a memorial wall built to honor and remember the 961 young men who lost their lives on that early June morning. Total casualties among all the Allied Forces on that day alone, came to approximately 9000. Canadian losses through all of WW2 totalled over 37,000. The numbers are staggering and sobering to say the least.

Our national sacrifice and the sacrifice of young men and their families created a sense of national pride and identity. We discovered ourselves and our role in the world through the horribly dark days of WW2. We are peacemakers and peacekeepers. We don't believe in peace at any price, because that approach just creates another set of victims outside of those who do the bargaining. We believe in addressing tyranny and extremism. We are opposed to the oppression of people groups and men, women and children. There's something fundamentally wrong with denying girls the right to an education, women the freedom to choose their own destiny and killing people because of their faith or lack of religious zeal.

In addition to being peacemakers and peace keepers we are rebuilding a nation that extremists leading the nation destroyed through either lack of attention or through willful acts. In either case, today in Afghanistan, young girls can go to school and get an education, health care opportunities are available to those who need them and the atmosphere is changing to something more moderate and stable.

Sadly, there are lives that are lost when we choose to bring the same freedom and hope that we enjoy to other nations . I would prefer that we could fulfill this task without the loss of life, but that's not reality. At the same time, I'm extremely proud of every soldier who puts their life on the line to serve our nation. Most come home again.

We need to stay in Afghanistan until the mission of rebuilding a shattered nation is complete. The cost of staying is significant. The price of leaving the job unfinished is far more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Train Wreck...

The board of Fresh Fire Ministries announced yesterday that Todd Bentley had stepped down as president of the ministry. Bentley, as you probably know was the primary leader at the Lakeland Revival. Several weeks ago, I watched the commissioning service led by Peter Wagner and attended by a number of high profile Charismatic leaders.

As I watched the service online, I just kept thinking that Todd was being set up for a huge fall. The question that kept swirling in my spirit was 'Who is going to pick up the pieces when this train leaves the track?' 3 weeks after the fact, there is a train wreck of enormous proportions. Todd and his wife have separated, he has admitted to an 'unhealthy emotional relationship', and the board has removed him as president of his own ministry. Added to that, tens of thousands of people are angry and disillusioned, the sceptics are crowing that they were right all along and the media smirks at yet another ministry leader who has crashed and burned under some close scrutiny.

I know some things about crashing and burning by both observation and experience. Crashing and burning is no fun and the pain of the crash is only enhanced by high-fiving critics who delight in your demise. The worst part is that innocent people get hurt because of the fall of the leader. Todd's wife and kids got hurt because he messed up. His staff, ministry counterparts who supported him and those who put their neck on the line for him have just been burned by his own personal failure. Add to that all of the people who travelled to Lakeland, sowed into his ministry and gave by TV. They've all just been burned too and I'm willing to guess that they aren't about to trust a church leader any time soon.

For the record, I feel bad for Todd Bentley. It would be easy to blame the people around him for not standing up to him, but I know enough people in Todd's life to know that wasn't the case. I feel bad for Todd Bentley because he fell into a deception about who he was and what the signs and wonders that were happening around him really meant. We have this ridiculous premise within the church that says if people are being saved and healed then God must be endorsing who we are and what we do. It's an intoxicating lie that we so quickly embrace because it meets some deep need for affirmation and approval in our lives. No self-respecting Christian leader would endorse Samson for ANYTHING in our world today. He was immoral, had anger issues and was generally an undisciplined 'wild man'. In spite of that, God used him as a deliverer of His people. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks about the day of Judgement when people will say, didn't we heal the sick and drive out demons in your name and He will say, depart from me, I never knew you. That verse sobers me in a heart beat and reminds me that what God wants from me is my heart.

John Maxwell says that if you fall on your face, it's good to take note of what caused it to happen. In this case, I think that the church needs to take a look at what just happened. The fact is that there were respectable people raising words of caution regarding this revival for some time. These weren't the standard critics who are opposed to everything. These are people who actually believe in healing and miracles but saw the error in Todd's teaching and methods and were courageous enough to stand up and be heard. I don't believe we need to pay attention to every critic that comes along. However, I think we've got to take a look at who is offering the criticism and if they have credibility, we need to take heed to what is being said.

Secondly, and of even greater significance is the whole matter of discernment. We've got to have our heads up and exercise discernment in our lives. It scares me that so many people could be so easily taken in by what was happening in Lakeland. I'm all for God being at work in unusual ways, but Lakeland was WAY OVER THE TOP!! Let's give our collective heads a shake and ask ourselves what's going on here and why am I giving it a second look? The reality is that Todd had an audience because people kept coming to see what was going on. GodTV kept fanning the fire and gullible kept giving and going. The really tragic thing is that 'discernment' is used to blackball people and cut them out of prayer groups and churches while at the same time we are oblivious to massive deception on a continental scale. It's time to tune into what the Spirit is saying to the church and recognize that there really are those who go about as wolves in sheep's clothing.

I hope that Todd sorts his stuff out, submits himself to godly men of the faith who will point him in the right direction. I pray that he humbles himself, gets some education and after an appropriate season, apologizes to the thousands of people who have been hurt. Most of all, I pray that he finds a way to be reconciled and restored to the wife of his youth.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What happens after the Olympics??

We are in full blown Olympic fever at our house. We are having a lot of fun making up stories about how I used to do those things before I grew up. I was just telling Tyler how I gave up the highbar to try the rings when he shared the funniest story with me.

When he was getting ready to run in the city finals this year, someone asked his teacher where you competed after the city's if you did well. Here's what his teacher told him...

If you do well in the city finals, you go to the regional finals.

If you do well there you go to the Provincials.

If you do well there, you go to the Nationals.

If you do well there you go to the Worlds.

If you do well there you go to the Olympics.

If you do well there...

you become a teacher...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

BC Day in Comox

I spent the Sunday morning of the BC Day long weekend as the guest speaker at the community church service at Nautical Days in Comox, BC. What a tremendous blessing. I was so blessed to be there! The entire morning was fantastic and I was so honored to share the vision of Leading Influence Ministries with the Church in Comox.

I was particularly thrilled to meet a city councillor from Courtenay as well as the MP for the area. Both communities are blessed to have such quality leaders who give of themselves to serve politically. While I was there I was told that Comox actually means 'land of plenty' and that the First Nations People who were there believed that the Comox Glacier was a symbol of a giant whale. They certainly were right about the land of plenty. What a beautiful place. During worship we sang 'Blessed Be Your Name In the Land That is Plentiful'. I couldn't help but feel that we were in that place.

This is a full and busy month for me. I am speaking every Sunday this month which is a bit of a change. I'm delighted to have a full schedule and look forward to seeing how the Lord will work and what He will do over the coming month.

Baseball Report

Some of you will be aware that Tyler has been playing all star baseball this summer. Last week I mentioned that his team (Victoria Rebels) won the Vancouver Island Championships. This past weekend they were in Surrey for the Provincial Championships. We knew going in that they were a strong team but that they would face some equally strong opposition. They finished the round robin portion of the tournament with a record of 3 and 1. They lost their last game on Saturday when a player was hit by a line drive and was taken off the field by ambulance. The other team chose not to continue and was willing to forfeit the game but our team (even though they were at bat with no outs) accepted the score and took the loss. I'm really proud of our coaching staff and they way they handled the situation. They showed class all the way through the tournament and season and they really helped the boys develop as players and people.

Where it all began...

Barb and I are at a Pastors Camp this week. It's fun to spend a week with friends and peers who share so many common values, dreams and experiences. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we worship, sometimes we pray. These are days of refreshing and renewal for us and we are so appreciative of the opportunity to be here.

The vision for Leading Influence Ministries was born here on a day a lot like this one. The speaker shared a message on dreaming the dreams of God. We did what he asked us to do and were surprised by what God spoke to us. The road from there to here hasn't been without it's bumps and challenges, but to be able to return here with the dream starting to unfold is very exciting and to be truthful almost surreal. God has been remarkably and abundantly faithful to us and the ministry and we are so blessed!

Our speaker this morning shared several thoughts on God and dreams that I'd like to share with you.

1. God is able to fulfill your dream. Phil 4:13 - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' I think I've always been a dreamer, but for most of my life I dreamed too small and believed for too little. Choosing to walk this particular road has forced me to dream large dreams and to believe for big things. I have yet to be disappointed. If anything, I scramble just to keep up with what God is doing in our lives and ministry. God is able to fulfill your dream too. He's just waiting for you to say yes.

2. God is willing to fulfill your dream. Phil 4:19 - 'My God will supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.' I've come to understand that God almost always says 'YES' to those things that require me to exercise my faith. It's not that He doesn't ever say no as much as it is that He loves to respond to faith. I don't have it all figured out by any means but I can say that I've never been so fulfilled and satisfied as I am righ now. Barb and I have chosen to go on an adventure with Him and it is so exciting to see HOW He does WHAT He does.

3. God has promised to fulfill your dream. Phil 1:6 - He who has begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of completion. I love this verse. It give me a confidence that God isn't finished with me yet and that even though I might become tired, weary and distracted at times, HE doesn't abandon me. When I am renewed, revisioned and re-focused, I discover that He has been constantly working in the background because He's comitted to finishing what He started in me and through me. God doesn't (and won't ...) give up on you or your dream either. Stay with it and you'll see your dreams come to pass.

4. The dream comes with a price. Jesus said that it was important for us to count the cost. There's a cost to dreams becoming reality. We left friends and a city we loved. Our kids left schools and friends. We made some tremendous personal and financial sacrifices but we did it because the dream inspired us to lengths beyond anything that we had dared to do before. Seeing the dream come to reality has made our sacrifices worthwhile and we wouldn't change a thing. Your dream will cost you, but it will be worth everything that you lay down for it.