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.