Friday, December 28, 2012

Year End Giving

Leading Influence is funded entirely by the generosity of our ministry friends and partners. We are very grateful for your support!  For those of you that would like to make a year end gift, we need to receive your gift by December 31. 

You can give online through our website by clicking here.  If a window doesn't open for you, check your popup blocker.  If you would like to give by cheque, you can drop it off at our office located at Church of Our Lord.  (626 Blanshard St, Victoria, BC) If the office is closed, please use the mailslot.

Thanks so much for your support.  We appreciate your partnership!

God With Us!

I'm never surprised but am always amazed at the way God makes Himself known to us!  On the Sunday before Christmas I visited a friend who would be spending Christmas in the hospital.  He was recovering from open heart surgery.  As part of our time together we read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  As we did, the hospital room became as sacred and holy as any candle lit sanctuary on Christmas Eve.  Jesus was there!

He is Emmanuel.  His name means God WITH us, not just in the days around Christmas but in every moment of every day.  What an incredible life advantage it is to have God WITH you in whatever you encounter.  We know that having God with us doesn't mean that bad things won't happen, that we won't experience setbacks and adverstiy, that we aren't spared disappointment or other difficult moments.  What it does mean is that when these things happen, we are not alone or on our own. God is WITH us to strengthen us, lift us and to walk with us. 

My prayer for you in 2013 is that you will know as never before the power and wonder of Emmanuel with you every day and in every way!

Have a blessed 2013!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas at the Legislature

It’s an exciting day at the Legislature today.  For the past few weeks, staff has been busy decorating the inside of the building and changing the over 3300 lights on the outside of the building to holiday colors.  There’s a large tree that is set up and decorated inside the main rotunda of the building. (I’ll stop by later to see if Santa is leaning to the right or left this year…)  The Speaker and Premier will officially light the building and the Provincial Christmas tree.  It’s always a fun event!

When most of us think about Christmas, we default to baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, shepherds and angel choirs.  Lately I’ve been pondering the connection between Jesus and kings in the Christmas story.  The contrasts are amazing.  Herod was governor of Judea at that time.  For the most part he was nothing more than a Roman puppet.  His job was to ensure that the Jews were properly controlled and as much as possible absorbed into the Roman Empire.  Herod was oblivious to the coming of Jesus.  Jesus was born a mere 8kms from Herod’s palace and Herod missed it completely.  Sometimes leaders aren’t very different from you and me.  We miss what God is doing right in front of us.

Almost 2 years after the fact, magi or wisemen or kings appeared at Herod’s court seeking to honor the King of the Jews.   Not only were they watching the skies for a sign that something was happening, they were also curious enough that they followed the sign to Herod’s palace and ultimately to Bethlehem where they found Jesus.  Their journey cost them time, energy and comfort.  They brought expensive gifts with them to honor the king.  They were seekers, but more than just seekers.  They were men on a mission, intent on meeting and honoring the King of the Jews.

Most people are of the opinion that political leaders aren’t really interested in seeking out Jesus.  After 5 years of ministry to political leaders, I’ve discovered that there are far more who have hearts like the Magi than there are those who have hearts like Herod.  Some are very open about their curiosity and pursuit.  Some are more discreet.  What matters is that they are searching and that by God’s grace, we are there and able to support and assist in their pursuit. 

One of our highlights from this year was to hear about an MLA who had decided all on his own to read the bible for the first time in his life.  He began his journey to find Jesus on Jan 1st.  I don’t know why or what sparked his interest.  It’s my privilege to support and encourage him on the journey.  I had a visit with him in September.  When I saw him, he started the conversation with ‘I know you are going to ask so let me just save you the time, I’ve got 21 pages to go!’  We chatted briefly about what he thought about what he read.  There are more conversations to follow.  I’ve been praying that like the Magi of old, he will find the King this Christmas.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Taking Our Place

In less than 36 hours the race for the Presidency of the United States should be over.  I say 'should' just in case we see a repeat of 'hanging chads' and faulty voting machines like we did during the Bush vs. Gore race. 

Election campaigns provide something of a pause for reflection on the state of nation. We evaluate the state of the economy, the responsiveness of the current administration to the needs of the citizens and we make choices based on past performance and future vision.  In the case of America, there's been no shortage of finger pointing as to who is to blame for high unemployment, a sputtering economy, rising debt and a general decline in the nation. To date, neither contender for the Presidency has been willing to say, 'that was our fault or 'my fault' or even 'I was wrong about that...'.  It would be refreshing, inspiring and perhaps even enough to ensure election, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen. 

There's a familiar passage in 2 Chr. 7:14 that challenges me.  The verse is God's response to Solomon's prayer in 2 Chr. 6 where Solomon humbly asks God to respond to the prayers of His people when the nation experiences hardship, adversity and judgement for its willful disobedience.  God's response to Solomon's request is 'I have heard your prayers and when difficulty comes upon the nation, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.' (NIV)

The conversation between God and Solomon fascinates me because it suggests that there is a connection between what happens to a nation and what the real remedy might be.  Could it be that more than a stimulus or recovery plan, what the nation really needs is for the church to take it's place as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation and begin to repent for our own sins and for those of the country? 

Nations lose their moral compass and forsake their moral foundations when the church abdicates its role as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation.  I understand that we don't live in a theocracy and this is not a call for the church to 'take over' or dictate it's values to the rest of society. It is a call to humbly and intentionally recognize that we have a responsibility to those who govern over us and to those who live around us, to pray for God's blessing upon them.

Some will be hostile to our faith, others will be dismissive of our prayers.  That does not negate their effectiveness. Paul wrote to the early church to pray for those who ruled over them so that they would live peaceable lives.  It's worthwhile noting that the ruler of the day was Nero who was dipping Christians in tar and using them as torches to light Rome at night. 

More than an endorsement from a church leader or an unspoken political relationship with a particular ideology, political leaders need a promise from us that we will take our place and intentionally and purposefully pray for them!

In the News!

I got an email from a friend last Thursday congratulating me for being on the front cover of a regional newspaper.  I'd heard about the paper, but had no idea how or why I might be the cover story.  The interview took place just after our annual MLA prayer breakfast.  The reporter did it for another magazine and her story got picked up by 'The Light' magazine.  The Light is based out of Langley, BC. 

Here's the link to the article.  I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alberta Bound - Part 2

After months of dreaming, thinking, talking, planning and preparing, we are very happy to announce that Leading Influence will be launching in Alberta on the week of October 23.  Pastor Larry Lindoff will be partnering with us to provide chaplaincy ministry at the Alberta Legislature.  Larry brings a pastor's heart and tremendous political understanding to this role.  We are confident that God has arranged his path and ours for this very exciting partnership.  The timing is perfect in that Alberta has just had an election and the MLA's have all been elected to a 4 year term.  That gives Larry lots of time to build relationships and sow the gospel into their lives. 

Please pray for Larry and Leading Influence as we venture into Alberta.  We believe the time is right for a tremendous harvest!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'She vs. He' Fall Fundraiser

Sometimes fundraising events are just so 'predictable'.  Chicken, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables, a speaker and an appeal.  (Yawn...)  They work and have been effective for us in the past, but we've decided to put the FUN into fundraising this fall with our first ever 'She vs. He' Fundraiser.

Barb and I have been training for the Victoria Half Marathon that happens on Oct 6.  The challenge runs to October 31.  Barb and I will compete around who can raise the most sponsorships during that time.  If she wins I will be her servant for a day and wear the costume of her choosing for lunch at the Legislature. If I win, she will be my servant for a day (no big change there she says...) but she will also write and sing a love song for me on the steps of the Legislature. 

Here's how it works.  You can sponsor either one of us (but please sponsor me!) on a per km. basis (a half marathon is 21 kms) or on a flat rate for the entire event.  By way of example, a $5/km pledge will result in a $105 commitment.

Barb is light years ahead of me on an informal basis already, but who really wants to see me in a costume at the Legislature?  We'll add a thermometer to our side bar and Facebook page so you can see how it's going.  Click here to be taken to our pledge page!

Thanks for your support.  It's going to be a lot of fun hearing Barb sing.... (I hope)

What Do You Think The ....?

I've heard the question so often, I almost want to finish for the person asking it.  'What do you think the government's chances are for re-election?'  That usually launches me into a conversation about how Leading Influence is non-partisan and how that what we do is provide Chaplaincy services and that it's not prudent for me to make political comment.  And then they lean in and ask again... but what do you really think is going to happen?  The question is as tempting to me as I'm sure the fruit that the serpent offered to Eve was, but I still can't answer.I have my ideas about what could happen in the election and as fascinating as that might be to me, there's something that excites me even more. Let me tell you about it...

 PrayBC is the prayer ministry of Leading Influence.  It's the vehicle we use to encourage prayer for our political leaders and to communicate prayer needs to our prayer network.  During the last election, we became the largest prayer network in BC and had almost 2000 people praying with us on a daily basis that God would use the election to accomplish His purposes for our province.  We did it using a daily email. 

With the election 8 months away, we've been talking about what could happen if we pressed beyond email and dared to think and dream bigger.  So here's what we have in mind.  We want to spark a prayer movement across our province during the election campaign that will be bigger than anything that has been done before. We believe that as literally thousands of people begin to pray, God will hear us and respond in remarkable ways.  Our prayers will reflect who we are as a ministry and be non-partisan in focus, but the unrelenting cry of our hearts will be 'Let your kingdom come, let your will be done.'

Email is good, but its' limitations.  We'll certainly use social media, but we want greater visibility that we believe will result in greater participation.  Here's what we see.  We plan to buy signage on city busses.  The signs are protected from vandalism, cleaned daily and are constantly moving and are at windshield height.  We've got some other ideas too, but this is the big one that I want to share with you.

We'll need to raise $30,000 to do this the way we believe it needs to be done.  Before you check out and think that's impossible, let me say that our God specializes in doing the impossible and we are very convinced that He's eager to see this happen.  Our plan is to break it down into 'bus sized' chunks to make it easier for people to pariticipate.  We are going to need your help to make this happen.  It's bold, it's big and it's very exciting when we think about what can happen.  We'll be back with more information in the coming months.  In the meantime, pray for us.  We are going to need plenty of help!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Do YOU Do In The Summer?

As most readers of this blog know, I provide chaplaincy services at the BC Legislature.  Because most of what I is based on a ministry of presence, I’m often asked what I do in the summer.  To be honest, I used to dread the question because it felt like I needed to justify my time through the summer.  However, over the past few summers, I’ve come to accept that summer is an opportunity for me to recharge, refocus and reach out. 

Life and ministry is very demanding when the legislature is in session. It’s not uncommon to go for multiple weeks with very little time off.  Between weekdays at the legislature, weekends visiting churches and just the general stuff I need to do to run a ministry (administration, donor relations, fundraising, etc.), there’s not a lot of time left for anything else.  By the time the session ends, I’m as eager to come up for air as the MLA’s are. 
One of our best fundraising ideas has been the IronMan of Golf event.  We use the money raised from the event to connect with MLA’s through the summer.  This summer, I’ve already made several trips to Vancouver and one into the Interior to connect with members.  Those are usually very relaxed visits, as the pressure of the next meeting isn’t as intense. Where possible, I’ve been able to connect MLA’s with local pastors and ministry leaders.  It’s been exciting to watch key leaders begin to build relationships that can have a huge impact in their community.  One of my highlights is also meeting office staff and connecting with them.  In many cases, these are the people I chat with via email as I set up visits in Victoria and in the constituency offices.

I’m also doing something new this summer.  I’m on the “Can you come and say grace at my fundraiser?” tour.  It’s been a great way to support MLA’s and meet new people.  Sometimes it’s golf, sometimes it’s dinner, but it’s always interesting.  There’s always someone who wants to know more about our work and what I do, which gives the trip double value.
I also use the summer to read, plan, prepare, write and think, although not always in that order.  Sometimes, thinking is best done at the beach, on a run or while I ride my motorcycle.  I’m also working on some new teaching material for the fall that I hope to release in CD format.  It’s something new for us, but I think you’ll enjoy it. 

Finally, summer is a time to rest.  We are taking some vacation time to soak up the sun, play on the beach and watch a few baseball games. It’s always good – and important! – to spend time with Barb and the kids.

Hope you are having a great summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Do MLAs Do In The Summer?

Without fail, somewhere in mid-summer a local radio station asks people how they feel about the fact that MLA’s get paid throughout the summer when the legislature isn’t in session.  Inevitably, callers are opposed to the idea of MLAs being paid and there’s a long list of callers who have taken the host’s bait to get all riled up yet again. 

If MLA’s only worked when they were in Victoria, then I’d be opposed to them being paid all year round, too.  However, I know that the bulk of their work happens in and through their constituency offices all across the province, all year round.  
Each MLA represents approximately 60,000 people.  In densely populated regions like Metro Vancouver, some MLA’s could quite literally walk around their entire riding in an afternoon.  Others require a full day to drive across their ridings. In those cases, work-related travel alone takes up an enormous amount of time and energy. 

In broad terms, there are several aspects to the work of a member of the Legislative Assembly.  The largest part is in the area of advocacy.  If you’ve ever tried to navigate through government bureaucracy, you’ll appreciate how difficult this can be.  MLAs work with community groups, as well.  MLA’s meet with business groups, local government, special interest groups, and others in order to support and help members of their community who are working together to enhance their community and region.

Another part of their work is with committees.  Committee work happens year round and is an extension of what happens in the legislature.  Committees hear presentations from people across the province, which requires days and evenings of meetings and, at times, long travel days, as well. This work forms the basis of government policy and legislation so it’s important that it’s done well.

Public relations is the third part of what MLA’s do when the legislature isn’t in session.  PR is everything from attending large community events (Canada Day, Remembrance Day and BC Day, for example) to the openings of businesses and offices, as well as government announcements and community fundraisers,.  There’s always an event for a politician to go to.

An MLAs work is endless and that’s why it’s important that we continue to pray for them as they serve our province, even when the legislature isn’t sitting.
Coming Up Next Week:  What do YOU do in the Summer?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Early Morning Phone Call

My phone rang early yesterday morning.  When I answered it, I was greeted by a familiar voice.  I've known this person for a long time.  The last few years have been fairly challenging and difficult for them.  After a bit of small talk, the caller said she had some important news to share.  She proceeded to tell me that after many years of living life on her own terms, she had recommitted her life to Christ last week.  This was a welcome but thrilling surprise to me.  I feel a bit like the father in the parable of the prodigal son. It's been a bit of a long and winding road with many ups and downs along the way but I am hopeful (and FAITH FULL) that the future looks much better than the recent past has been for both her and her family.  In the meantime, I can't stop singing and celebrating because of this very good news!

Don't stop believing!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!  Or... if you are old enough to remember 'Happy Dominion Day'.  When our country was choosing a title to go along with our name there were some political 'sensitivities' to be considered.  With a restless America to the south, it was important that the name not be seen as a threat.  'Kingdom' wasn't an option even though we would be part of the British Commonwealth.  We were holding to a British Parlaimentary system so 'Republic' wouldn't work either.  The Fathers of Confederation chose 'Dominion' coming out of a verse in Psalm 72.  The verse was perfect in the sense that the Confederation would stretch from sea to sea (Atlantic to Pacific) and from the river (St. Lawerence) to the ends of the earth (Arctic).

While I'm not a 'dominionist' in terms of my theology, I'm fascinated by the fact that our founding fathers chose this verse as a framework to define our nation.  Dominion speaks of sovereignty, ownership or control. We are blessed to live in a free, democratic country where we choose our leaders and give them the authority to lead.  Leading Influence recognizes that the challenge of leadership is immense.  We are committed to serving and supporting leaders by providing spiritual and moral counsel and support as they serve our nation in this way.  Along the way we have met many amazing people who are believe in the future of our great nation.   It is a privilege to walk with them and to invest in their lives.  Thanks for your interest and support.

'and He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth'

Monday, June 25, 2012

Flooding Situation

Lord Jesus, you see what is happening in our province today.  From Sicamous to Prince George, Chilliwack and beyond, flood waters are impacting and threatening thousands of people.  We ask today that You would intervene in this situation and cause the waters to begin to recede.  We ask that You would cause the rain to stop and that the melt rate would slow so that the rivers could contain the water. 

We pray today for civic leaders and workers who are dealing with the current situation and we ask that You would give them Your wisdom and Your strength as they seek to protect the communities from the rising water.  Help them as they plan, fill sandbags and build dikes.  Keep them safe from harm.

We ask this in Jesus Name.  Amen

Exactly What I Needed

I was on my way to lunch in the Dining Room when an MLA waved me over to his table.  When I was close enough to have a conversation he began to tell me how perfect the daily MLA prayer was for him that day.  I had no idea what was happening in his life on that particular day, but someone, somewhere, several weeks earlier was inspired to write a prayer that was exactly what he needed on that particular day.  Later on, he stood in Question Period and I understood exactly why the prayer was a fit for him on that day. 

This particular prayer so impacted him that on at least 3 other occasions over the next week, both privately and publicly he expressed his appreciation.  I love it when we have this kind of impact.

The Bible tells us that we should pray for those who govern over us.  PrayBC is a tool that helps you do that on a daily basis.  The prayer is delivered to your inbox every Monday to Friday night and is there for you in the morning.
Our team of writers and editors ensure that they are easy to pray and that you can do it anywhere.  To join the PrayBC team, visit and add your name to our email list. You’ll start receiving prayers the next day.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I've become a bit of a blogging sluggard. There... I said it....  It's not that I don't want to write, I really enjoy writing.  It's more that I have been distracted by a mountain of other things. In the time that it's taken me to write this post, I've checked Facebook 5 times, answered 4 emails, sent 3 text messages and had 2 conversations….)  I'm probably ADD but that's really no excuse at my point in life.

I'm convinced that distraction makes us needlessly busy and that 'busyness' results in fatigue. It’s the kind of fatigue that saps you emotionally, physically and spiritually. Ultimately, distraction keeps you from fulfilling your God given destiny. 

The key to overcoming distraction is to stay focused on your goals.  My life is evidence that this is much easier said than done.  However, it can be done and if we have any hope of changing the world around us in a meaningful way, it must be done.

The Bible addresses our propensity for distraction multiple times. Hebrews 12 reminds me to ‘fix my eyes on Jesus’ and to run with diligence (or perseverance) the race that is set before me. Stay focused.  Keep running!  Finish well!

Talk to you next week!

Friday, May 04, 2012

6th Annual Prayer Breakfast Update

We held our 6th MLA Prayer Breakfast yesterday. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to write anything more than I could put up on Twitter. It was an incredible event.
We had almost 200 people in the room so it was packed. 26 MLA's came for breakfast.  Our speaker Ian Green NAILED IT! He brought his usual British humor and provoked our thinking about poverty, the church and the power of the gospel. We did 2 additional sessions after the breakfast, one for Business and Church leaders and one for ministerial leaders only. Add to that a marketplace ministry luncheon on Tuesday and it's been a busy week.

During breakfast we were able to present a Poverty and Justice Bible to the Speaker of the House with additional copies for every member of the Legislature. The members who were present received bibles as they left the breakfast.  The bibles were provided courtesy of the Canadian Bible Society.  It was very exciting to see MLA's holding bibles in their hand as they walked out of the venue. We'll have some pictures up on our website as soon as possible.

In the afternoon, I delivered the rest of the bibles to the respective caucus offices. As I was carrying the boxes into the building, the realization that we were placing the Word of God into the hands of the 85 people in BC who lead our province filled me with excitement and faith about what can happen next. God is up to something in our province!

5 years ago, most of what I do today was a dream and existed only in my heart in a very fuzzy way. The breakfast was the first public event that we did. We had 44 people including 7 MLA's. I was terrified that the media would mock us, that MLA's wouldn't engage with us and that I had just put everything on the line only to crash and burn. God has been nothing but faithful to us in every way. We have had challenges, mountains and set backs. There have been more than a few times, I wanted a 'do over' with a conversation, ministry presentation or interaction with a Member. In spite of all of that, GOD has made a way!

On Wednesday, for the first time ever, I was publicly acknowledged in the Chamber as the Legislative Chaplain. It was a milestone for us. It was made more special because my parents were there to hear it. It came as a complete surprise to me. Something has shifted for us here in a very good way. It's hard to describe except to say that I feel like the boundaries of our territory have been enlarged.

To that end, I'm thrilled to share on more piece of news with you. On Monday we received news from the Alberta District of the PAOC that we have been granted permission to begin the process of establishing LIM in Alberta. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity and can't wait to see how God is going to build the ministry there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Takin' It To The Streets

At some point over the Easter weekend, I started thinking about where the main events of Easter took place.  Passion week begins with the Triumphal entry on Palm Sunday.  The scene is outrageous as Jesus is the focal point in a massive public outpouring of affection and celebration.  Count one public event.  Jesus goes from there to the Temple. Rather than a safe church service, He makes a whip and drives out the money changers.  What's always been interesting to me is that He's been there many times, but on this day, He addresses the corruption of the church culture.  Count one church event.

The next few days are spent with His disciples.  It's one massive download of teaching and encouragement. Count one for personal time spent with His disciples. On Thursday the disciples are instructed to rent a spot to celebrate Passover.  That evening, Judas betrays Jesus in the Garden.  Count two events in a public place.  From there we go to the trial before the High Priest.  (Count a second church event...)

From there to Pilate (3rd public event) and from there back to the square where the people chose between Barrabas and Jesus.  From there to the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus carried His cross on the way to Calvary. (Public events 6. Church events 2, if you are keeping score.)  From there to the Garden Tomb where Jesus lays for Friday Night, Saturday and early Sunday morning until He is raised from the dead.  After that, He's seen in the garden, on the road to Emmaus (that's 7 appearances in public places) and then closes out the day with a visit with the disciples behind closed doors. Let's call that a church event. 

By my count, that's 7 public events and 3 church events over the course of the most important week in Christendom.  Do you think that there might be something important in those numbers? I do!  I believe that God is pointing us to a key place in our society where He is constantly at work in the lives of people.

It used to be that the church was the centre of our culture and social fabric and that fulfilling our goal of reaching people was relatively easy.  We were engaged and connected and for the most part people fell into our lap because they had a connection to us by default.  The world has changed and more and more we find ourselves on the edge of the culture and disconnected from people who are wired differently than we are.   We have to find a way to reverse this trend.

I'm convinced that the key is to become effective in the marketplace.  It's the place where people spend the bulk of their time and where relationships are easily developed.  Church leaders need to find ways to help their people to begin to live and work with a missional focus.  Leaders can set the pace by intentionally engaging with people outside of their church.  (Sports teams, service clubs, community and recreation groups.)  Groups will be glad to have the opportunity to access your expertise and community insight. From there, it's a matter of being intentional about your relationships.  Show people you really care about them.  Invest in their lives.  The church can manage for a few hours a week while you invest your time and energy into your community.

My greatest surprise in transitioning my ministry focus over the past 5 years is that God is constantly at work in the lives of people in the marketplace. Our part is easy.  Watch and listen for the signs that He is at work and then track with Him.    The journey is nothing but exciting!  The rewards are out of this world!

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Purple Day! (National Epilepsy Awareness Day)

In the early fall of 2004, our youngest son crawled into bed with my wife and I in the middle of the night.  It wasn't an every night occurence, but it also wasn't a huge surprise to us. Shortly after he settled down, he began to make some strange noises.  Within 30 seconds we realized something was very wrong as he began to have a grand mal seizure.  You have to remember it was dark, we were only half awake and the 2 minute event felt like it went on for an hour.  Neither Barb or I had any context for what was happening.  When he stopped convulsing, we weren't sure what to do next.  His eyes closed, his body relaxed and after a few minutes everything seemed normal.  I'm not sure that either one of us slept after that.  He went to school and apart from being a bit tired, seemed fine.  By the time we got to the doctor that afternoon, there was no indication that anything had happened.  Our doctor assured us that a night seizure was not uncommon and that it was quite likely a once in a lifetime event.  We appreciated his insight and proceeded as though it was behind us.

After several more events, we decided that we needed to take further action and so we visited our doctor again and he ordered some tests.  The diagnosis was that our son had a form of childhood epilepsy.  The good news was that as long as his seizures were limited to the night that he would most likely outgrow when he came into adolescence. His condition wasn't serious enough that he required medication, it was more just a matter of being attentive of the length and severity of the seizures.  If they increased in their intensity or extended beyond several minutes, we were to call for medical assistance. We were fortunate that he shared a room with his older brother and that he was very good at letting us know if his younger brother was having a seizure.

It was scary and nerve wracking time for us.  There were times that he was aware that 'something' had happened.  There were other times when he just awoke after it was over and was tired and lethargic. Perhaps the most difficult time was when he had seizured in our bed during a night time visit at around 6 AM.  He slept for about 30 minutes after it was over.  When he awoke, we visited and chatted as everything seemed 'normal'.  He announced he had to go to the bathroom and jumped off our bed to use the ensuite.  When he wobbled and stumbled, Barb picked him up, got him to the bathroom and then brought him back to bed.  He was a bit embarassed that he had fallen but we visited and talked together for a few minutes longer.  He announced he was going back to his room and bounced out of our bed again.  I will never forget his look of fear and confusion as he looked back after wobbling and falling again.  I don't know that I've ever felt so powerless and helpless.

For almost 3 years to the day, we watched our son suffer grand mal seizures every couple of months. During that time, he played sports and remained a healthy and active boy.  There were times when we thought we had an idea what caused the seizures and then other times where we were completely taken by surprise. What we ultimately learned is that you can't really predict when a seizure is going to happen.

Today is National Epilepsy Awareness Day or 'Purple Day'.  I regret that I didn't realize that it was 'Purple Day' until it was too late to participate.  Our son had his last seizure Thanksgiving weekend 2007.  He is a healthy, athletic young man who is an A student. He is a student athlete and plays AAA baseball. We are very grateful for God's kindness to him and to us in this. We fully recognize that there are many parents, children and individuals who have not been as fortunate as we have been with this condition.  Our experience has taught us that people with epilepsy are not fragile or disabled in some way.  They are normal, bright, intelligent people who live with a condition that requires great courage and grace.  Some suffer in ways that are largely unseen.  Others experience seizures in very public ways. The temptation is to either stare or run.  Try to avoid both.  The person experiencing difficulty needs your help. Click here for more information on how to help someone experiencing a seizure.

MLA John va Dongen (Abbotsford South) Joins BC Conservative Party

I've been attending Question Period for over 5 years. In that time, I've seen a lot of things. Some that make you laugh, some that make you shake your head and some that just make your wonder. After a while it's a bit of the same old, same old theatre that we call Question Period. I saw something new today....

At the end of Question Period MLA John van Dongen (Abbotsford South) stood up to make a personal statement. That's a bit unusual because statements usually happen before Question Period. It became more unusual as he began to speak. I was aware that he was unhappy with what was happening in his party and wasn't entirely surprised that he would choose to  resign from the BC Liberals. 

I was probably as surprised most other people when he announced he would be sitting as a member of the BC Conservative Party.   It would be safe to say that heads swivelled and eyes grew wide as he made his announcement. 

The expression 'crossing the floor' has always left me with the impression that the person actually crosses the floor.  I can tell you that it doesn't really happen until the next day.  In Mr. van Dongen's case, he won't really cross the floor at all, although he will sit with the independent members in the Legislature. 

This marks the first time in a very long time that the BC Conservatives will have a member in the Legislature.

Change of this magnitude is never easy. This has been a difficult decision for Mr.van Dongen.  We wish him well in his continued service to his constituents of Abbotsford South and encourage you to pray for him in the days to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Please .... Just DO it!!

I've spent the entire almost 50 years of my life connected to the church.( I wasn't born in a church, but I'm pretty sure I was taken there within hour of my arrival.)  That doesn't make me perfect, but it does mean that I've seen and heard a few things along the way. As one of my former pastors used to say, 'I've been around the track more than once.'

I attended a prayer meeting recently.  As sometimes happens in prayer meetings, people began to share certain things that they believed God wanted them to share with the group.  That might sound unusual to some of you, but I believe that God does speak to people and that there are times when what He says should be shared with others who are there.  In this particular meeting, the general theme of what was being shared was something like this:

'God is calling us to wake up because He is getting ready to do something.'
 'He is about to give us the tools to do what He is asking us to do.' 

Before you read further, let me say that you may not necessarily like what follows. I'm not saying it to be offensive or disrespectful. I just think that it needs to be said.

Imagine if you will, that the finalists for the 100M Olympic Gold Medal Final are on the track before the big race.  The announcement goes out that the race is about to start and the athletes continue to mill about visiting with each other about how great the race is going to be.  The announcement goes out again, and again, and again... and the athletes continue to mill about discussing how great the race is going to be.  The announcement keeps repeating, the crowd keeps waiting and the athletes keep telling each other how great the race is going to be. 

Kind of absurd don't you think?  And yet I think I'm seeing it happen in the church.  (If you are looking for the place where this gets edgy, here's the first spot...)  Perhaps the church is so overexposed to the 'God is about to do the BIG thing' message that no one is stepping up to participate in the race.  

Imagine with me again.... this time the athletes have responded to the announcement, they are all in the starting blocks, focused on the lane before them.  They hear the starter say 'Ready.... Set .......' and again 'Ready...... Set ...... ' and again 'Ready...... Set......' and on and on it goes.... At some point one of the runners stands up and steps away from the blocks, others follow because they rightly conclude that the starter is never going to say 'GO'.  (If you are still reading, here's the 2nd spot....) At some point those who were ready to run conclude that the race is never going to happen and walk away from the starting line.  I've met enough disillusioned Christians who no longer believe that God is willing or able to do much of anything to know that the race that never starts has taken it's toll on the team.

There are at least 3 things that I know to be true:

1)  God is ALWAYS doing a BIG thing. It's not as though He stops and starts depending on His mood.  God's plans, purposes and thoughts are enormous!  He has more in mind than what you and I can even begin to comprehend AND He is ALWAYS working to see those things come to pass. God is unstoppable  We just don't always see it.  Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) says this:  'If you want to be a part of what God is doing, look around at what God is doing and join Him.'  That is life changing insight if you put it into practice.

2) We have been given EVERYTHING we need to do ANYTHING that God is asking us to do. 

Check this out: 

Luke 10:19 - I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of enemy.  Nothing will harm you. (Jesus)

Eph 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Acts 1:8 - You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you... (Jesus)

Are you seeing a pattern?  have given past tense, overcome all complete domination,  every spiritual blessing (the full meal deal....)  There are many more, but there's not enough time today.

A few years ago, I was given a motorcycle. It was completely unexpected and very appreciated. I love to ride it! When it arrived, the ownership papers were in my name. The keys were there and it was ready to ride. If I had parked it in the garage and went into the house hoping that some day I would have a motorcycle that was mine, anyone who knew the story would be concerned for my state of mind. The giver would have been disappointed that I had not chosen to enjoy what he had generously provided for me. My friends would have wondered why I had never put the key in the ignition and taken it for a ride. Even my wife, who was a bit nervous about it would have encouraged me to go for a ride.

It's bad theology to sit around waiting to receive that which is already given to us.  It makes us look foolish.  It also leaves us tremendously under-resourced.  Our unwillingness to lay hold of what has been given to us has incapacitated us and rendered us ineffective when it comes to participating in God's BIG Thing.

3) Nike has a fantastic marketing slogan.  'Just Do It' has inspired people all around the world to get active, train, compete and just enjoy a healthy lifestyle all while wearing Nike gear.  Deep inside of me, I think the single most important message that God has for the church is:
 'Just DO IT!' 

We've talked enough, trained enough, dreamed enough, even prayed enough.  Now it's just time to get it done! Game On!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

reVision Conference Comes To Victoria

God goes to work Monday to Friday! God's interest in the marketplace isn't something new.  The real action in the Early Church happened in the marketplace.Within a few years, the Early Church had filled Jerusalem, a multicultural, metropolitan city, with the good news of Jesus! Within 300 years of the birth of the Christ, the Roman Empire officially converted to Christianity. 

Most of us want to make the exploits of the early church about spiritual 'superheroes' who were more gifted, more talented and more 'spiritual' than we are.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Transforming the marketplace is a key part of God's plan for your city.  He is at work in the marketplace today through people just like you!

reVision has been designed with three specific goals in mind. 

1)  We want you to see what God is doing in our city and region in Social Services, Business, Government and the Church.  We want to give you the opportunity to reVision (see again) what God is doing around you.

2)  We want you to see how you can be a part of the change that is taking place all around you.  God is up to something in our city and we want to inspire you to be a part of it!

3) We want to help connect you to with other believers who are just as interested as you are in seeing God do something amazing in our city.  There are other Christians in your sphere of influence that you will meet at reVision.  Click the logo to learn more!

Building Great Churches.... or not.....

'If building great churches was going to change the world, it would have happened by now.'  The comment was slipped into a humourous and fast paced message designed to relax the largely pastoral crowd so that the speaker could make his very important point.  His point?  The key to the future for the Church is to see and think bigger than the church.  I realize that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but it's really not.

I believe in the Church.  (The greek word is 'ecclessia' and means 'those who are called out.')  I also believe in the local church.  (A community of believers that fellowship together.)  It's just that sometimes the local church can get it's priorities mixed up.  I know this because I worked in the local church for 25 years.  Pastors, leaders and 'the people' all contribute to our periodic loss of focus.  We fall into the place where we forget that our greatest priority isn't us!  It's easy to get focused on other things.  We don't like the music. (I always do because my wife is the worship director at our church.) We don't like the preaching.  We don't like the programs, we don't like... well you can fill in the blanks.   The church isn't perfect because it's made up of imperfect people and imperfect leaders. All of that said, the local church is the best place to learn, grow, give and stay accountable.

Our greatest challenge is the belief that we are most likely to change the world through our weekend gatherings.  We've got some great weekend gatherings, but I've learned something in the past 5 years.  Here it is:  There's some really great stuff that happens on Sunday morning that has nothing to do with church.  Shocking I know...

I've also learned that some of the people who are most open to what the church has to offer have no interest in attending church because Sunday is their only down day or family day. A better church service isn't going to draw people from the ball park, soccer pitch, jogging trail, boat launch, ski hill or  arena for Sunday morning church. 

This leaves us with one of two choices.  We either abandon the many who aren't going to darken our doors OR we release the church to be the Church outside of the church.  I think that God does His best work outside the walls of the church, in fact I KNOW that He does.   That's not to minimize what happens inside the church, it just means that there's a greater need outside the walls and He's committed to reaching people there.  Here's the most outrageous part... He plans to do it without the 'professionals'.  He wants to do it through you and people just like you.

Now I know that might sound a bit intimidating, but it's not that hard.  It's really just about building relationships with people and letting your faith be a normal part of your everyday life.  Listen for opportunities to commit to pray for them.  Watch for ways to serve, support and just generally love your neighbour.  It won't be long until the person you are reaching out to starts asking you questions and embarks on a journey of faith where you'll have a front row seat.  Don't miss the opportunity!  It's the adventure of a life time!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

'If the Lord Is With Us, WHY????'

I love the unrefined 'rawness' of the Bible.  It shows people as they really were and how they responded in the moment.  Gideon is one of my favourite bible characters.  Here's a guy with no expectation, no hope for the future and no desire to do anything more than find a way to care for his family.  In the midst of a midnight threshing session, an angels appears and delivers a startling and contextually (at least for anyone on this planet) absurd message. 

God is with you!  You are a mighty warrior.  He will use you to deliver your people from their oppressors.  The message is grandiose, large and in the natural, COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. Gideon has no track record of greatness, no leadership record, no military experience and no desire or interest in being a deliverer.  God is looking for a deliverer.  Gideon just wants to feed his family.  It doesn't look like a good fit.  All indicators point to a disaster in the making. 

Gideon's first response is telling.  'If the Lord is with us why are all these things happening to us?'  Gideon went on to ask about miracles, signs, wonders and moments of divine intervention all through the history of his people.  From the outside looking in, it appeared that God had forgotten Gideon and his people.  Nothing big had happened for a long time, but God was doing more than Gideon thought He was.

Gideon isn't alone in thinking small about what God is or isn't doing.  Many of us fall prey to thinking that God isn't doing much because we don't see it happening on the surface.  We look at our relationships, finances, health issues, churches, communities, etc, etc and we are sometimes baited into believing that God isn't at work and that He isn't interested in working on our behalf.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Both are lies designed to convince you that you no longer matter in God's grand plan. In spite of what you may see or not see as you look around you, God has not stopped working and he certainly hasn't given up on you!

Here's what I've learned to be true again, just over the last few weeks: God is ALWAYS doing more than we think He is.  In this month alone, on both a personal and ministry level, I have been astounded by what He has been doing behind the scenes when it appeared that nothing was happening in places where I really wanted it to.  In this week alone, I have been astounded at how busy God has been behind the scenes in the lives of MLA's in ways that were completely unknown to me.  It's remarkable and exciting.  At times it's overwhelming to see just how much He is doing.  I've learned that a member has for the first time in his life, decided to read the bible.  That's always a good thing!  Another shared some deeply personal things with me and I had the opportunity to pray with him. 

I don't know what you are facing in your life today.  It may be that you've begun to believe that God has moved on to other people and other challenges and has left you alone and forgotten.  God is doing more than you think He is today.  Romans tells us that He is working out all things together for our good!  Believe it!  Expect it!  Don't settle for anything else!

God is ALWAYS doing more than you THINK He is!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Time

Our vision is to be a national ministry that provides pastoral care to elected officials at the Provincial and Federal level.  For the past 5 years we have spent our time building, learning, networking and growing LIM here in BC.  I don't know that we have it all 'figured out', but we know more than we did when we started about what works, why it works and how it works. 

Late last year, I began to feel like it was 'time' to start the process of building the ministry in Alberta and so I began the process of praying, planning and thinking through the challenges of doing that. During that time, I discovered that the Alberta District of the PAOC was holding their annual conference in Banff in early February. 

(I know what you're thinking... Banff... in February.... that must be a real sacrifice....  All I can say is that missions work sometimes requires us to make sacrifice....) 

I returned home last night after 3 days of networking, connecting, relationship building and sharing the vision of Leading Influence Ministries with pastors and leaders in Alberta.  We met some great people who were very friendly and caught the attention of some influencers who are willing to help us learn what we need to know in Alberta to be effective in ministry there.

As I flew home last night, I began to make a list of all of the things that need to happen so that LIM Alberta can become a reality in 2012.  It's an enormous list that reminds me of the mountains that surround Banff.  They are tall... big and in the natural, very 'unmovable'.

The main conference speaker was Denny Duron from Shreveport, LA.  I last heard Denny preach at a youth conference in Thunder Bay, Ontario about 32 years ago. It was at that Conference where I decided that regardless of what it might cost me, I was going to give the rest of my life to living for Jesus.  I was able to have a coffee with him during the conference and share that moment with him. 

One of the 'take-away' statements from the week that Denny shared with us gives me great hope for the future.  'GOD is ALWAYS doing MORE than YOU think He is.'  If you say it slowly and ponder the emphasized words, it will encourage you too. 

When we began LIM in BC, we had no network, no experience, no history, because no one had done anything like this before... and no successes.  We were launching on the simple faith that God had called us and that HE was going to do something with us.  Upon arrival, we discovered that God had been doing MUCH MORE than what we thought He was doing and the ground and hearts of people had already been prepared to receive what LIM was offering.  We believe the same is true in Alberta.  We believe that EVERYTHING we need to be effective in Alberta is already provided for us.  The people, resources, networks and opportunities to see this transition from a dream into substance are already in place.  We just have to take the steps to see it happen. 

I have 3 things I'd like to ask of you.  The first is that you would pray for us.  We need significant prayer support to make this a reality.  Secondly, tell your Alberta friends about what we are doing.  We need to develop a network of people who will help us get LIM off the ground in AB.  Finally, some of you may be stirred to help us financially.  In the early stages, I will be the primary contact and 'face' of LIM AB.  That will help us get started.  It will also be very costly in terms of travel expenses because neither WestJet nor AirCanada has begun a free ticket initiative, but we keep hoping....  In the meantime, if you'd like to help us, click here.  You'll be taken to our CanadaHelps page where you can give by credit card.  If you'd like to give by cheque, you can mail to:

Leading Influence Ministries
626 Blanshard St
Victoria, BC  V8W 3G6

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The City God Builds...

From To Transform A City (Swanson and Williams)

Have you ever asked yourself 'If God were to build a city from the ground up, what would it look like?  Amazingly, there are actually passages of Scripture that describe such a city.  These elements come from Isaiah 65:17:25

1) There is joy.  (v. 19)

2) There is absence of weeping and crying. (v. 19)

3) There is no infant mortality. (v. 20)

4) People live out their full lives.  (v. 20)

5) People will build houses and live in them.  (v. 21-22)

6) People will sow and reap.  (v.21-22)

7) There is fulfilling and work (v. 22)

8) There is confidence that the next generation will have a better life. (v. 23)

9) People experience the blessing of God.  (v. 23)

10) There is intergenerational family support with family structures intact.  (v. 23)

11) There are rapid answers to prayer.  (v.24)

12) There is an absence of violence. (v.25)