Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Surprise for BC!

There's some big news in BC this week that has nothing to do with the HST or possible recall initiatives.  In a summer that has featured some fascinating political developments, unprecedented heat waves and forest fires, we have been unexpectedly blessed with the largest Sockeye Salmon run since 1913.  As I write this 25 million fish are starting their journey up the Fraser river to return the streams of their birth. 

What makes this really fascinating is that NO ONE expected this.  The government didn't know it was coming, the scientists didn't know it was coming and the fishing industry didn't know this was coming.  What makes this even more interesting to me is that a year ago, the run was almost negligible.  The fishery didn't open, fishing boats remained tied up at the dock and processing plants remained empty.

It might be the preacher in me, but I can't help but think how similar this is to what happened in Jn.21.  The disciples have gone fishing.  They have worked all night and caught nothing.  No bites, no nibbles, no fish....

They are close enough to shore to hear the question that every fisherman dreads.  'Have you caught any fish?'.  You don't ever want to have to say 'no' to that question, but in this case, they didn't have much of a choice.  The person asking the question told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat and that they would find some.  It seems a rather ridiculous suggestion in the sense that if there had been no fish all night, why would they suddenly catch some on the other side of the boat?  I doubt that there was a lot of expectation in the next toss of the net.  After a night with no success, how much could you really believe that anything different was going to happen?

Can you imagine their shock when they started to pull up the net and discovered that it was full of fish?  No one saw it coming.  There was no reason to believe that it could or would happen.  But it did happen and the disciples quickly realized that GOD was on the scene.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a place just like the disciples.  We have fished all night and caught nothing.  The temptation is to quit, pack it in and admit defeat.  But somewhere there's a voice that says, toss the net on the other side.  Don't quit.  Listen to the voice and toss the net one more time on the OTHER SIDE of the boat!

Happy fishing!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thoughts from the Road

We are on vacation this week.  It just so happens that it was necessary for me to bring my motorcycle on this vacation.  This is a distinct blessing as there are some fantastic spots to ride in the area.  Yesterday  I went on a road trip.  I left Birch Bay and went south through Bellingham onto Highway 11 which takes you through a State Park and out to the coast.  This is not a 'beach road'.  It's a high twisty, up and down kind of ride.  It's absolutely beautiful. 

I left Highway 11 and went across country towards 'Farm to Market' road where I eventually picked up highway 20.  Highway 20 took me to Whidbey Island where I crossed over 'Deception Pass'.  The bridge is 180 feet above the water and is 976 feet long.  A thick fog had rolled in about the same time that I arrived and there wasn't much to see.  Not to mention that I'm not a great fan of narrow high bridges to begin with....

I did some quick research into the name when I got back. Wiki tells me that the it was given it's name because it appeared to be the entrance to a bay rather than an actual pass.  Deception is about hiding secrets.  Hiding is hard work.  It's better to live with no secrets and have nothing to hide.

I stopped for lunch in Oak Harbour.  Oak Harbour is home to Whidbey Naval Air Station.  I would have loved a tour but I don't think the US Military offers tours of air bases.   I would have really loved the opportunity to ride my bike down the runway or at least on the road beside the runway like Tom Cruise did in Top Gun but I had to leave that for another day.

After Oak Harbour, I headed south on 20 for Clinton and took the ferry to Everett. I met another biker on the ferry and we had a good visit as we crossed the water.  He led me to I-5 and this is where things got interesting.  Traffic volumes were heavy and it wasn't long before I was crawling along thinking, 'what is that smell?'.  It smelled like something was rotting and decaying.  100 meters in front of me was a garbage truck.  He was in the centre lane and upwind (and it was warm) so it really didn't matter where you went, you caught the smell of Everett garbage.  It's not a great impression for a city.  'Drive on our Freeway.  Smell our Garbage!' is hardly a good tourism slogan.  As soon as I got past the truck and could breathe freely again, I started thinking about the smells that we leave behind us.  (No... not THOSE smells...)

Our lives are meant to be a fragrance.  To give off a beautiful scent that is as attractive as a rose garden.  Sadly, our scent isn't always sweet.  Sometimes it reeks of bitterness, anger or a distinct sense of 'betterness'.  At the end of the day, it's only as my life is transformed into the beauty of what God intended it to be that it becomes a sweet fragrance to all around me. Many years ago, a former pastor was leaving for Africa.  As he hugged me his last words were 'Stay Sweet'.  There are days I smell sweet and there are days I give off a horrible stench.  I try for sweetness but my garbage truck experience has strengthened my resolve to work harder at sweetness.

Having cleared the air at Everett, I pressed north to Burlington where I stopped at Cycle Barn and the nearby Starbucks.  Free wifi and a coffee after a browse through a motorcycle shop makes for a great way to finish the day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to the Beginning

Our family just spent a week at a Family Camp for Pastors.  This has become a bit of a family tradition for us and is always a highlight of our summer.  The camp and the venue hold a special place in our lives.  God has spoken to Barb and I powerfully there over the 7 or 8 years that we've attended.  It was 5 years ago this summer that God quite unexpectedly gave me the vision for Legislative Chaplaincy.  It happened like this...

Our speaker that year was Ian Green.  If you've never heard Ian speak, he's fascinating and has a way of helping you hear God's voice.  We arrived for a morning session and Ian announced that the plan for the day was simply to take some time to let God give us a fresh vision for our lives and ministry. (I think this is a brilliant way for a speaker to use a session....)  Given that I was a pastor at that point, I fully expected to get some direction for an exciting fall program.  I was in for a huge surprise....

As I opened my notebook to begin to write, I was shocked to hear God speak to me about starting a Legislative Chaplaincy.  The vision was remarkably clear and specific.  Looking back, It's remarkable to see the way in which what I heard God say has become reality in my life.  It's really nothing short of a miracle.

Over the next few months, Barb and I began to sort out what this would mean for us and for our family.  Our kids would leave everything they knew, we would give up all of what we thought was our security and stability.  One huge lesson was that it's easy to preach about faith and trust.  It's quite another to actually let go of everything you have and know and simply to trust God with the only guarantee being His promise to look after us. The transition took longer than we anticipated, but without a doubt, we made the right decision and are so thankful to serve God and MLA's in the way that we do.

All of this reminds me of God's faithfulness and in His ability to make something out of nothing.  Without a doubt He has gone before us and made our way straight.  We've had our challenges and struggles but it has underscored our confidence in God's ability to absolutely open doors, make provision and calm us while He calms the storm.

We are off to a week of vacation with some friends.  Blessings to you all!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mid-Summer Update

Hi Everyone. Don't tell your kids, but in less than a month, school starts! Here's a mid-summer update for you.  With the Legislature not in session, things are much quieter than they were a year ago.  Most members are happy for the break which gives them the opportunity to focus on constituency business at a less stressful pace.  This presents a unique opportunity for us as well to connect and engage in a more relaxed environment.  Last week I stopped in to visit a member in his office on my way home from a funeral. I was on my motorcycle.  I discovered that he rides as well so we've set up an evening ride in a few weeks.  I'll post pictures after we are done.  These are the kinds of things that happen through the summer.  Things are more spontaneous and relaxed.  This results in greater openness to strengthen relationships with leads to conversations about the things that matter most. 

We just sent out our summer newsletter.  If you haven't received a copy, please contact our office and we will get one in the mail to you.  We'd love to send one to you.

I'm on vacation for a few weeks and we are all looking forward to the rest.  Have a great summer!