Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Windstorm Update...

From my brother-in-law Reid as he reflects on the past 3 weeks...
"Life is funny sometimes, and then you break down and cry."

Read the rest of the update here.

Prayer of St. Anselm

Trying to refocus your relationship with listen to Him as He is and not as you think He is? Knowing God always starts with the humility of admitting that you need help.

Coming to the Quiet shares a great prayer that helps with this from Anselm...

"Lord teach me to seek you and show me yourself when I look for you.
I cannot seek you unless you show me how;
I cannot find you unless you reveal yourself.
So let me look for you in hope and with longing, let me long for you as I seek.
But let me find you in love and love you as I find you."

Friday, January 26, 2007

God is great, and I ain't...

I have a good friend named Matt Auten. Other than my wife and kids, he is probably my most favorite person to eat pizza with. We went to college together, but since 1993 we've lived 3000 miles apart. I've had four daughters in that time frame. He has married and had two sons. (That's Amy and the boys with Matt above...) I'm a pastor. He's a finish carpenter and a great musician. He's been nice enough to fly out and visit a few times, and whenever I'm back down south I make sure to go to My Father's Pizza with him. I keep telling him to move to the Great White North (which is Great and North, but not really very White) but he stubbornly refuses. For such a good friend he can be quiet mule-headed at times. We both hate talking on the phone so the bulk of our conversation is via email.

What amazes me is that even though life and our experiences have us so far removed from one another, our spiritual journeys are at times almost identical. Well..maybe the journeys aren't the same, but we sure end up in some of the same places. Matt has a way with words (you should read some of his lyrics to his songs), so often he puts what I am thinking so clear it's as if I'd said it myself. One example of this came in his last email. I liked the words so much I just had to share them here...

The Incarnation and the Cross are the only parts of Christianity that 'keep' me a Christian (by the Holy Spirit). There is nothing else for me these days. It's just Creator and Createe and the reconciliation between the two in Christ for His glory. That's it. I live on it like it's food. Most everything else in life is some misunderstood shade of grey, and getting greyer. But God is great, and I ain't.

It's really pretty simple. Thanks Matt, for reminding me (once again) of what I already knew...

Blowing in the wind...

More on the windstorm I wrote about here can be found from my sister-in-law Cyndi here and her husband Reid here.

Nice to have Cyndi and Reid back and posting on their blogs...

Nice to have Cyndi around at all. But if you're reading this Cyndi...don't let it go to your head.

Hunger Facts

More than 850 million people in the world go hungry.

In developing countries, 6 million children die each year, mostly from hunger-related causes.

But we can end hunger. We have the means. The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year.

What makes the difference between millions of hungry people and a world where all are fed?

Only a change in priorities. Only the will to end hunger.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' (Mt. 25:42-45, NIV)

Read more on world hunger here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Canadians are different than Americans...

In case you didn't know. Here's a clip from the movie Canadian Bacon that gives a little insight...

Just for the record...I love it here. If I could bring all my family from the States up here life would be great...

No Blinding Lights, Just Perseverance....

A great post from a new blog that I am reading - Coming to the Quiet.
"There are things in my life that I desperately want to change, that need to change. Today, tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that, etc. I will get up and go about my day. Some days I will fall, I will sin, I will need repentance, healing, restoration. Some days I will not fall. On all days, falling days or standing days alike, I will get up, stay on the path, pray, study, do works of mercy and justice...I will live my life, my daily, ordinary life, and I will live it in pursuit of the One.... And in so doing, today, tomorrow, next week, next year, a decade down the road...I am changed, I am converted, I become a holy man....

At least that is the way I see it. No blinding lights, just perseverance until the end...."

Read the rest of the post here.

I have seen God's face... the faces of His people. As I pastor I realize that more and more each day. We just had a church "business meeting" last night that was a great encouragement to me. We called Ed Thomas as our Associate Pastor (a unanimous vote), and we heard the stories of 8 people who became members of our church. It was amazing to hear (again) how God works in so many different ways to call people into a relationship with Him. What I realized was that He almost always uses people in this process. While it is true that many (myself included) often distort who God is and what He is like by the way we live, there are those people who live life in a way that allows us to know Him better. In their weakness He is clearly seen for who He is and not for who they are. It is an incredible privilege (as well as a huge responsibility) to reflect the nature and character of God to the world. For those of you who have given me this gift, let me take this opportunity to say thanks...

I would list your names, but I know that I'd leave someone out.

Along this same line, I came across this great quote by Frederick Buechner,
"In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints."

Thanks to so many of you for being the "handkerchief" of God in my life...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

LIVE by Brokeshopaholic

A great quote by Victor Hugo from my friend Randi at LIVE by Brokeshopaholic
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."

Wow. Thanks Randi for pointing me to that nugget...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Smart or Stoopid

Here's what "they" say...
"The Smart or Stoopid test is purely meant to be a fun quiz to see how your IQ rates alongside the average, based on the scores of other people who have taken the test. Naturally, only stupid people would take it as a true indicator of intelligence, and only intelligent people would take it as a true indicator of stupidity. Or something like that."
Just so you know, I scored 24 which means that I am 26% smarter than average. Aren't you impressed? I thought so...

Take the test here.

Here's another fun thing called Catch 33 to test your hand-eye coordination...


Thursday, January 18, 2007

2006 Top Ten...

Last year (actually in December 2005) I listed my "Top Ten Books of 2005" and got some good feedback so I thought I'd do the same for 2006. These are the books that have challenged, encouraged, and shaped me over the past year. Sorry for the layout...I tried to make it better, but finally reached the point of just wanting to get this posted. Maybe this year I'll read a book about blog layout. If you want to see a big chunk of my library you can look here or check out my wishlist here.

First on the list comes one of my most loved mentors (as evidenced by being the only person to have two books on this list)...and he doesn't even know it. Eugene Peterson has been used by God to teach me what it means to be a pastor. He's working on a series of 5 books to sum up his life's work. Two are available. And two have made my list. Eat This Book and Christ Plays in 10,000 Places. Want to become more aware of God's presence in your everyday life? Want to see beauty in the broken things of this world? Want to read the Bible and other spiritual books in a way that transforms you? Read these books.

There are some real life stories that point you to "real" life. They go beyond just being stories and give you a small taste of the Kingdom of God. They show you what it might be like if we actually surrendered to the leadership of Jesus. That's why Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore makes my list. I blogged about it here. It is an amazing you need to read.

Not a light read (but the best stuff rarely is), The Prophetic Imagination challenges us to see how God communicates with us and what role we are to play in that process. It's a fascinating book by Walter Brueggemann that has shaped and is shaping how I preach. Even more exciting is that Dr. Brueggemann has agreed to meet with me during my sabbatical in Alabama to help me better understand how his ideas are related to what God has called me to do as a pastor/preacher.

The Younger Evangelicals - by Robert Webber. This book has been around a while but I just got to it this past fall. The reason I list it here is that it is in many ways biographical for me. It was very affirming for me to read that there are others who are wrestling with the same questions that I am wrestling with. That there are others who are committed to Jesus, to Scripture, and to the church but who are questioning a lot of the assumptions that we currently make about those three. It reminded me that I am not alone. There's something to be said for a book that does that.

Secrets in the Dark - A Life in Sermons. My great friend Mark Friesen introduced me to Frederick Buechner several years ago. That is one of the greatest gifts Mark has ever given me. This compilation of his sermons is Buechner at his best. If you read it, read it slowly and savor what God is saying though this man.

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle is a series of three books that reintroduce the idea of fixed hour prayer to the evangelical church of today. The insight that I got on the Lord's prayer by following these books was worth 1000x what they cost me.

The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience : Why are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? This is a hard book to read...but it asks questions that expose the heart. Thanks to Ron Sider for being willing to push us. We need it.

The Irresistible Revolution is a fascinating story of the spiritual journey and thoughts of Shaine Claiborne. He truly paints an irresistible picture of what the Kingdom of Jesus could be like. Shaine is one of the founders of The Simple Way.

Follow Me by Jan Hettinga is a must read for every disciple. What does it mean to follow Jesus? How does it influence our day to day decisions. An older book, but a powerful message.

I have four ...

...daughters (pictured here with my parents) and that has been an incredible blessing to me. They are a tremendous gift of God. But there is one thing that I hate about having four daughters. One day they will probably marry. And that will mean that four unworthy young men will take them away from me. I've been concocting plans since the birth of my first to thwart this evil conspiracy, but as the days pass I'm becoming more and more resigned to my fate. Every now and then I slip into a mild depression when I think about it...usually after watching Father of the Bride.

I've always known that there are others who share my pain. And just today I found a poem by Ogden Nash that succinctly and poetically sums up my feelings. Nash has been a favorite poet of mine since grade 7 when I read his poem, "The Panther"...

The panther is just like a leopard
except it hasn't been peppered

should you see a panther crouch
prepare to say " ouch "

best yet, when called by a panther....
don't anther.....
But today as I read "Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children" I realized that Mr. Nash and I are kindred spirits. So with apologies to my sister in law Marie (who has three sons and always insists that there are a few good young men in the world). and my friends Matt and Andrew (who between them have three sons who will probably turn out okay but will be too young for any of my daughters) I print it here in order to encourage all you other fathers who painfully await the arrival of "him", whoever he may be.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.

Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.

I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he'll want to crop his curls,
And then he'll want a pony,
And then he'll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.

Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He'll sell a bond, or he'll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He'll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry My daughter Jill.

Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I'll open all his safety pins,
I'll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I'll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
Then perhaps he'll struggle through fire and water
To marry somebody else's daughter.
There. I've done it. Pray for me. And for those four unworthy, yet I fear unavoidable, young men out there somewhere.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Come know you're curious...
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

You know you're in a redneck church if...

Maybe this is because I'm soon to be headed to Alabama...

Maybe it's just because it's funny...

But here it is, compiments of my mom...

You Know You're in a Redneck Church if..

...the finance committee refuses to provide funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members knows how to play one.
...when people learn that Jesus fed the 5000, they ask whether the two fish were bass or catfish, and what bait was used to catch 'em.
...when the pastor says,"I'd like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering," five guys and two women stand up.
...opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday.
...a member of the church requests to be buried in his 4-wheel-drive truck because "It ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of"
...the choir is known as the "OK Chorale". a congregation of 500 members, there are only seven last names in the church directory.
...people think "rapture" is what you get when you lift something too heavy.
...the baptismal pool is a#2 galvanized washtub.
...the choir robes were donated by (and embroidered with the logo from) Billy Bob's Barbecue.
...the collection plates are hubcaps from a 56 Chevy.
...instead of a bell; you are called to service by a duck call.
...the minister and his wife drive matching pickup trucks.
...the communion wine is Boone's Farm "Tickled Pink".
..."Thou shall not covet" applies to huntin' dogs, too.
...the final words of the benediction are, "Y'all come back now, Ya heah".

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What do we really need this year?

Thanks to Unashamed Workman for pointing me to this...(from John Piper)

“People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul, ‘Show me thy glory!’

Years ago during the January prayer week at our church, I decided to preach on the holiness of God from Isaiah 6. I resolved on this first Sunday of the year to unfold the vision of God’s holiness found in the first four verses of that chapter: ‘In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.’

So I preached on the holiness of God and did my best to display the majesty and glory of such a great and holy God. I gave not one word of application to the lives of the people. Application is essential in the normal course of preaching, but I felt led that day to make a test: Would the passionate portrayal of the greatness of God in and of itself meet the needs of the people?

I didn’t realise that not long before this Sunday one of the young families of our church discovered that their child was being sexually abused by a close relative. It was incredibly traumatic. They were there that Sunday morning and sat under that message. I wonder how many advisors to us pastors today would have said, ‘Pastor Piper, can’t you see your people are hurting? Can’t you come down out of the heavens and get practical? Don’t you realise what kind of people sit in front of you on Sunday?’

Some weeks later I learned the story. The husband took me aside one Sunday after the service. ‘John’, he said, ‘these have been the hardest months of our lives. Do you know what has gotten me through? The vision of the greatness of God’s holiness that you gave me the first week of January. It has been a rock we could stand on.’ The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. People are starving for God. So I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the lynch pin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach. Our people need to hear God-entranced preaching. They need someone, at least once a week, to lift up his voice and magnify the supremacy of God. They need to behold the whole panorama of his excellencies.”

Now that's what I call a deep need. Something that I pray God meets in and through me this year.

The Reality of Worship...

As a pastor I am constantly confronted with the fact that I am not the kind of person who is worthy to lead people to worship. I am also keenly aware of the weaknesses of our congregation. But what brings me joy is the reminder that wherever we we are, God calls us to worship. He wants those who need Him, "it's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick". That's why I enjoy this poem by Father Killian McDonell so much.

"The Monks of St. John's File in for Prayer"

In we shuffle, hooded amplitudes,
scapulared brooms,
a stray earing,
skinheads and flowing locks,
blind in one eye
hooked nosed,
handsome as a prince(and he knows it),
a five thumbed organistan acolyte
who sings in quarter tones,
one slightly swollen keeper of the bees,
the carpenter minus a finger here and there
one pre-senile writing deathless verse,
a stranded sailor,
a Cassian scholar,
the artist suffering the visually
illiterate and indignities unnamed,
two determined liturgists.
In a word,
eager purity
and weary virtue.
Last of all, the Lord Abbot,
early old(shepherding the saints is like herding cats).
These chariots and steeds of Israel
make a black progress into church.
A rumble of monks bows low and offers praise
to the High God of Gods who is faithful forever.

"Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (II Timothy 2:11-13)

Monday, January 15, 2007

And I'll blow your house down...

Wow, that last week blew by...literally. Last Tuesday (Jan 9th) my wife and I were driving back from Chilliwack BC in a huge windstorm. I had been to an eye doctor's appointment and we were hurrying back for a basketball practice that I was supposed to run. Our kids were with Ang's sister, Cyndi. As we pulled into Hope it was clear to see that the power was out all over town. We turned down Cyndi's street and an eerie unrest began to settle in our van. As we approached their house we could see a powerpole leaning across the street. What was most alarming was the ambulance sitting just by Cyndi's driveway. We quickly realized that something horrible had happened. Here's what we would piece together over the next 36 hours.

Of the 5 kids home with Cyndi, 3 were downstairs. Cyndi was upstairs with the other 2 watching the amazing wind storm through their living room window. Suddenly, the power went out. The girls downstairs freaked out (as little girls often do when the lights go out) and started up the stairs. At that same moment Cyndi realized that this was no ordinary windstorm and was shuttling everyone downstairs to a safer spot. They all met somewhere on the stairs and began the downward trek together. At that very moment, a huge gust of wind lifted the roof off of the rear deck of their neighbor's house across the street. This huge chunk of lumber and tin flew over the top of the neighbor's house, across the street, and slammed into the front of Reid and Cyndi's place, causing the front door and the 4 foot x 4 foot window above it to explode into the front entryway/stairwell. The door blew completely off its hinges. Cyndi took the brunt of the impact, which undoubtedly saved the lives of the children, and the whole group of them were thrown to the floor. The 5 kids got up screaming and hurried into the downstairs laundry room, terrified. They didn't know what had happened. They'd heard a loud boom, been sent flying to the ground and had seen glass flying through the air. My 8 year old Kaitlyn thought that robbers had broken into the house. As they looked out the laundry room door, all they could see was their Auntie Cyndi lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, covered in blood and not moving. They all thought she was dead. They paniced, screamed, tried to figure out a plan. Maddie (my 10 year old) and Phoebe (Cyndi's 10 year old) ran out the laundry room door to find a neighbor for help. The wind literally blew them from the carport into the alley, terrifying them so much that they returned to the laundry room. Becca, my 12 year old (almost 13) took the bull by the horns and ran out to check on Cyndi. She tried to find a pulse. Then she heard voices outside. She rushed up the stairs to see neighbors in the street. She called out for help. They arrived and phoned 911. In no time at all the kids were taken around the corner to our close friends, who "co-incidentally" had both come home early that day. That is where we found them -- shaken, scared, and yet safe. When we first saw them, Bethany (our 6 year old) burst into tears saying, "You're alive! You're alive!" In her mind this had happened everywhere and she thought that we were dead. Cyndi, meanwhile, had been taken to the local hospital. A trip to Vancouver and a CAT scan later confirmed that she had suffered extensive injuries (6 broken ribs, 2 cracked vertebrae, a broken shoulder, bruised lungs, and numerous cuts and bruises) but nothing life threatening.

It's interesting that my last entry had to do with living in this imperfect world of suffering. Little did I know that I would see that again first hand within 12 hours of writing that entry. I saw power and desolation and fear to the degree that I hope I never see it again. But I also saw much more. I saw a church community rally around my family with unconditional, over and above love and support. All our needs were taken care of. The phone rang off the hook. Our kids were cared for, loved, prayed for. I saw people reminded that stuff is never as important as people. I saw people giving of themselves. I saw God take a horrible situation and bring something beautiful out of it.

I'll tell you more about this later. I hope to post some pictures, including one of a 6 foot 4"x4" post that flew from the back yard across the street and into Reid and Cyndi's house. But for now I just wanted you to hear what's been happening here. And to realize once again that life can change in seconds.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Love is the Reversal

Sometimes I whine and worry too much. One of the things that bothers me most is what I see as the lack of any spiritual substance in Christian Youth Culture. It often seems as if Jesus if just an add on to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Not so with the recent album from the group STARFIELD. Here's a group of young guys who write and sing songs with some substance.

One example is "Love Is The Reversal". It speaks about something that I see every day. The world is broken. Life is not as it should be. That's why Jesus came. He created the world (and us) for a perfect purpose. We walked away from that and are reaping the results. We live, as the song says, " between the was and the could be..." Yet there is hope. Love is the reversal. As we surrender to Jesus and His call to love God and love others, both we and the world are transformed.

I love it when people package profound truth in a way that amplifies it instead of hiding it. This rekindles in me the "secret longings" that tell me that I'm not at home...yet.

Here's the lyrics to the song as well as a link for a Real Player sample...

Welcome to the worldwide train wreck
Welcome to the come undone
Welcome to the big rejection
Welcome to the hit and run
Where mercy cries for everyone

Chorus: Yeah, nothing is as good as it should be
'Cause this is the rehearsal
Yeah, in between the was and the could be
Love is the reversal

I believe we're underwater
I believe the engine's blown
Yeah I believe our secret longings
Tell us that we're not at home
But grace reclaims what the world disowns

Song Sample (for Real Player) here

This is cool...

For all you google earth lovers check out Bible Map.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Holy Smoke...

Compliments of Benedictine Baptist...just the idea I needed to help keep people awake on Sunday mornings.

See Mike Davis...look at what fun you could have.

Don't waste your...(fill in the blank)

Being a pastor has caused me to love some things more deeply. But it has also given me a hate for some things. At the top of the "hate list" is cancer. I have watched many families as they agonized through a struggle with cancer - sometimes rejoicing with them in victory, and sometimes grieving with them as we planned a funeral. One of the hardest things for me in those situations is understanding what God is doing. I say very little, usually I just try to be with them in their pain. Cancer is something that you have to earn the right to speak about...and the only way to earn that right is to experience it.

That's why I was so excited to find an article by John Piper about his thoughts on his own cancer. He calls it "Don't waste your cancer". I warn you, it's not a light read. I don't post it to minimize the pain anyone feels as they walk through cancer in their life. I was just so encouraged to read John's experience of a loving powerful God in the midst of his pain. Here's an excerpt...

I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.
1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

It's a heavy read, but one that is throughly Biblical and has reminded me of God's ability to bring beauty from ashes.

And it reminds me not to waste my pain this year.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stuck or Blessed...

Interesting comment the other night as I shopped with my family in Chilliwack. The clerk at the store asked me how I got "stuck with four girls". I resisted the urge to say, "Now that's a dumb way to say it...". Choosing the higher road I responded with, "Actually I've been blessed with four girls." And that's the way I see it. It's an interesting life, being the only male in a household of females. Even our dog is a girl. And it does make life different. The store that we were in when this conversation occured was Ardene's - a cheap store filled to the brim with girly stuff. Which brings us to the reason for this post.

Hair to me is a nuisance. I find it a waste of time and have happily chosen to have it cut short. No fuss, easy to keep up.

I, however, am the only one who feels this way about hair in my housefold. Today was a big day as my 10 year old, Maddie, got her hair cut.

Here's the before...

Here's the after...

Is she happy with the result? You be the judge.

No, I'm not stuck...I'm blessed.

Sweet Home Alabama

Several months ago my Leadership Team at GBC offered me a 3 month sabbatical. I loved the idea and felt that this was something God might have for us at a very necessary time in our lives. The dilemma was that due to the nature of my job (the line between work and relationships is very, very fuzzy) to truly "get away" we would need to leave town for the 3 months. I tried for a few weeks to win the 649 lottery (just kidding) in order to finance it, but had had no luck...until...I came across a program of the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford University (see picture). They facilitate pastoral sabbaticals and even provide grants to cover expenses. I applied and much to my surprise was accepted.

So for the months of April, May, and June of 2007 the Kuhn family will take up residence in Birmingham, Alabama. We're very excited and will be sharing details with you as the planning progresses. Just wanted to let you know the good news...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What I really value...

The past year has been a challenging one for me in many ways. The difficult times always form us - they remind us of who we are and who we want to be - they clarify what should be really important. As I've gone through the challenges of 2006 one thing that has been made abundantly clear to me is that the decision I made almost 15 years ago to marry Angela Davies has been the second best decision I have made in my life. (The best was to follow Jesus...but if you're a Calvinist you may not count that one as mine...)

God has blessed me by giving me a wife who completes me. I am a better me because of her. He uses her to encourage me, to challenge me, and to give me rest. For those of you who don't know Angela, she is a unique person. She has an ability to give "life" to any situation that she enters, and a freedom to be herself in every context. She exudes passion and joy. She relates to people from any sphere of life and she honestly loves them just as they are. I guess what I'm trying to say by all this is that I don't know where I would be without her.

As I have told her several times in the past year, she is my island of sanity in the middle of my ocean of chaos. So I wanted you (the two people who read of whom is Angela) to know how much I value my wife.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing. I have found a good thing.

My companions...

...on this journey into 2007. Looks like it should be a pretty fun ride.