Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Gift of a Godly Heritage

Today while I am sitting on a plane flying to Guatemala my parents are celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I decided to post this because I think that the Godly heritage that they have given to my siblings and I is by far the greatest gift that we have ever been given. As a pastor I have seen the struggles that marriages can bring people's way and I clearly realize that 53 years is an amazing commitment. So, mom and dad, thanks for your surrender to Jesus all these years, and for your sacrificial love for each other and for all your kids and grandkids. We are where we are in great measure to the prayers you have prayed for us and the example you have given by your lives. You are "running the race well" and all your descendants will "rise up and call you blessed". We love you and are so thankful for all that you have poured into our lives. Enjoy your day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Quote of the week...

"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist."
-- Cardinal Suhard

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Itinerary

So in three days my friend Wes (of the world renown Blue Moose) and I fly off to Guatemala. As I sit here looking out my window at the almost 12 inches of snow in my yard, I have to admit it will be nice to have some sunshine. Guatemala won't be summer like, but is should be bright. You can check the temperature there currently in the sidebar of the blog. Here's the plan for our trip with some links that you can check out if really want to be jealous.
  • December 30th - Fly from Seattle to Houston to Guatemala City. We shuttle to Antigua, Guatemala and stay at the Posada El Antano until the morning of January 3rd.
  • January 3rd - We travel to Chichicastenango, a mountain town with the biggest artisan market in Guatemala every Sunday morning. We will spend the night at the Hotel Santo Tomas.
  • January 4th - Spend the morning in the market and then head out to Nebaj, spending the night in the Villa Nebaj.
  • January 5th - The main reason we came was to check out some of the coffee farms in Chajul that service the coffee co-op (or see here if you want to try out your Spanish) that Wes buys coffee from via Ethical Bean (the specific coffee is here) in Vancouver. It's only 12 miles from Nebaj to Chajul, but word has it that it is a two hour trip. We'll spend the day in Chajul and then return to sleep that night in Nebaj. (Check out some pix of Chajul here.)
  • January 6th - We head off to Panajachel on beautiful Lake Atitlan, an incredible lake surrounded by three volcanoes. We spend two nights at the Posada de Los Volcanes.
  • January 8th - In the afternoon we head back into Guatemala City.
  • January 9th - We fly home and I get to see my family!!!

    So there it is. I'm very excited to go, but I the closer it gets the more I am dreading missing Ang and the girls...nothing personal Wes, I just kinda like having them around.

    Not sure how much I will be able to post while I'm there...but I'll try to get into an internet cafe for an update every now and then.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My prayer for all who read this blog...

...is the benediction that I used last night at the Christmas Eve Service at our church.
May the prophet’s longing for healing in this broken world remind you that you are not alone in waiting…

May God’s entry through a poor Jewish girl in a little town with no significance remind you that God can and does work through what the world sees as insignificant

May the choosing of the shepherds remind you that in Jesus all are called to come and worship…and may you come.

May the joy of the angels remind you that the healing of a broken world through Jesus is truly good news of great joy for all people…

And may the great light that Jesus brings fill you, overwhelm you, and spill out of you into this dark world, until He returns.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve...

Want to see where we live? Here's a link to a bunch of 360 degree pix of the town in which we live, Hope, BC. Here's some aerial pics as well. Today it's all white, but the pics are from the summer time. Enjoy...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quote of the week...

“Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make clear.”
--Joseph Jourbert

Saturday, December 20, 2008


...in my front yard...

...in my backyard...

...and a good time was had by all!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Awe...

“Christmastime may be the hardest season for churches. We are inured not only to the Christmas story itself, but also to our pastor’s annual rants against consumerism. Every creative attempt to make the season meaningful, to steal it back inside the church, away from the shopping malls and cheesy radio stations, has been tried, and most of those creative attempts have proved wanting. Perhaps the problem is that we don’t know what the meaning of this holiday, of Jesus’ pushing into the world, is. If we did, we wouldn’t have to worry about consumerism; if we knew what the Incarnation meant, we’d be so preoccupied with awe that we wouldn’t notice all the shopping.”
--Lauren F. Winner – Girl meets God. (p.35)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A prayer for my four daughters...

...taken from John Piper's Desiring God blog.
"A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek God to find her!"
~ Dannah Gresh, author

An Advent Poem...

Here's something I wrote a couple of years ago that I think about at Christmas time...hope you enjoy it.
The greatest mystery known to me,
(If mystery truly known can be),
Is that in human flesh and bone
God would come to make a home.

What novelist could make this up?
Power poured in paper cup,
Helpless babe in feed trough laid,
Whose very word the earth had made.

If God would stoop to this degree,
Then maybe there is hope for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brrr...contrast with Antigua weather to the right...

BLIZZARD WARNING: Fraser Valley Issued at 1:26 PM PST WEDNESDAY 17 DECEMBER 2008



12 days and counting...

In 12 days I am off to Guatemala. As I look out the window at 4-5 inches of snow it heightens my anticipation just a bit. In order to help you understand I have temporarily installed a weather info box in the side bar. I'll leave it there until I get home so you can vicariously experience the sun with me...

Worth a Thousand Words...

Sometimes a picture really says more than we could ever write about it...and that is true of this one. But I'll write about it anyway.

When I first saw this picture I thought someone had "photoshopped" it just to get a laugh. Turns out that the picture is valid. (Read the real story here) No digital tricks, just really bad PR for "American Aviation". After I read the details I clicked on to something else, but I couldn't get the picture out of my mind. It seemed a bit weird actually, as if there was something else there that I had missed. So I took a little time to look at it and see if maybe God had something that He wanted me to see.

I gained some insight later as I was reading a passage from II Cor. 4...
"...But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body." (v.7-11)
What would definitely be bad "press and public relations" for American Aviation is a reality that we deal with in the church. We have no superstars. We are what we are; a group of broken and sinful people, thankful for the cross, seeking Jesus, and trying to point others to Him. What we tend to do in the church is to try to hide the reality of who we are and the struggles that we have. Jesus has forgiven us and begun the transformation process by His Spirit, but we often look more like a plane wreck in a tree than a shining new 747 prepared for takeoff. The good news is that's okay. While we don't love our weaknesses or seek to perpetuate them, we don't have to hide them either. In fact, they are a proclamation to the world that we are all learning to follow Jesus, and you're never too far gone to begin to learn. Our "crashes" act as a glaring notification that we all have some learning to do.

So is a plane crash good marketing for a flight school? Probably not - but in the Kingdom of God everything functions a bit differently than in the world around us. That's why even our weaknesses and failings can be used to point people to Jesus. Don't know about you, but that's pretty encouraging to me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top 10 books of 2008

Back when I was posting regularly I always ended the year by listing my favorite books from the year. You can take a look yourself if you don't believe me...(2005 and 2006)

This year I thought I'd do the same. Here are what I think are the best 10 books that I have read (or am reading) from 2008.

Jesus for President - Shane Claiborne

Shane gave me the gift of reading the Scriptures from an "out of the box" perspective. He does an excellent job at looking at the story of the Bible and how it applies to the way the church needs to be living out our relationship with Jesus ... especially in an American context. This book has started something within me. Not sure where it is going but I think that I'm going to enjoy the journey.

This short little book was written for preachers, but I think it's impact goes way beyond preaching. Barbara asks the question, "Who are we to attempt to speak for God." Her thoughts are challenging and affirming and disarming.

Here's one that challenges our vision of church. Fitch stresses that we've become very confused as to why we do what we do and have surrendered our calling to other avenues in society today. It's not a light read, but for anyone seeking to help the church be the church, it's an important one.

It took me a while to buy this one. But it was money well invested. Rob Bell gives a good theological understanding of God's purpose in human sexuality in a way that is easy and fun to read. I highly recommend this book.

The Jesus Way - Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson always makes my list. He is one of my greatest mentors. This book reminds us that Jesus is not just the way to heaven when we die, but He is the way to life today. If you only read one of these ten, read this one.

Scot McKnight is one of a kind. He writes from the level of a scholar, but communicates as if you are sitting across the table from him in his kitchen. This book addresses what I am finding to be a major problem in the church today - how to read the Bible. Scot shares some good thoughts in the first half of the book and then shows how to work his ideas through in relationship to the Bible's teachings on women in church leadership. An easy read...and an extremely important one.

This book was on my 2006 list. I include it here not because I am too lazy to choose new ones, but because it is still shaping and impacting my thinking. I pull it off the shelf and reread sections almost every month. Brueggemann helps us to see the manner in which those who sought to call society back to God spoke prophetically into their context. As I said back in 2006, it's not a light read, but the best stuff rarely is.

These last three are works in process. I have been chewing on them for a while but have become convinced that they are books to be read slowly. They have already impacted my life and thinking and am sure that they will continue to.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church - NT Wright

This book came along just in time for me to work through some of the questions and ideas that surfaced as I spent 20 weeks preaching through Revelation. The simplicity of it's teachings about heaven made me wonder if I had ever even really read what the Bible says about heaven. Wright challenges the typical "Philly Cream Cheese" idea of heaven and the resurrection and calls us back to what the Bible actually teaches.

Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered - James C. Wilhoit

This is one that I have just started, but have found it to be amazing. I do believe the church matters, and I do believe that it has a key role to play in helping people be "formed" into the likeness of Jesus. Wilhoit, while providing no 3 step approach, helps to lay out a foundation for church structure that does more than just keep the organization afloat. He helps us understand what it means to teach people to actually follow Jesus.

Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society - Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers.

The title says it all. Be prepared, this is not a "Christian" book, but it is a fascinating discussion of the ways that people, groups of people especially, actually change. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about spiritual change, this books has provided a lot of food for thought.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of the week...

Great quote for the Advent season from a man whose writings have had a profound impact on my life and thinking...
“Our problem today: the space for imagination to expand and take shape is inversely proportional to the speed at which we live. Driven hard and fast, we lack the time to allow alternate worlds and possibilities to form, careening past small turnings and exits, bound to follow the obvious straight paths of the present arrangement. Yet if we stop and wait, and close our eyes to the “buy now, take me now” images, we will begin to remember, new worlds will form and new exits will become apparent. Before change.. comes waiting..” (Walter Brueggemann from Hopeful Imagination, 56-57)
Hat tip to Len at NextReformation

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A powerful Advent reflection.

"Christmas is all about God doing things his way..."
Here's a powerful advent refection that is worth a slow and thoughtful read. Thanks to Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed for the hat tip.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The solution to political corruption.

CNN has a great commentary by Chuck Colson that talks about power, politics, and American culture. It is well worth the read. He writes...
If anyone knows how Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich feels right now, I do.

On Tuesday, the governor was arrested in a glare of publicity and charged with going on "a corruption crime spree," as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald described it -- including alleged attempts to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Some 35 years ago that ugly glare of publicity was focused on me as I was charged with a Watergate-related crime, subsequently convicted and sent to prison. The governor hasn't been convicted and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

In the wake of Blagojevich's arrest, many Americans are left wondering once again how intelligent people can do such stupid things -- especially when they've achieved the pinnacle of power.

The answer comes down to... (Click here to read the rest)

Did you ever wonder...

...what the early Christians thought about war and peace? You can read some interesting snippets here.

It's interesting to contrast them with the following quote from Jerry Falwell (I know he wasn't speaking on behalf of all Christians, but this is the perception that many outside the church have...especially the majority of the Muslim world).
You've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops and I am for the President — chase them all over the world, if it takes ten years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord. -- CNN Debate with Jesse Jackson (24 October 2004).
What has caused the shift in thinking over the past 2000 years?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Speaking of Guatemala...

Here's the amazing slide show my wife made for our presentation from our last trip...

And here is a great video about the mission that we work with when we are there, Impact Ministries...

If you want to sponsor a child let me know and I can get you the info...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Guatemala Bound...

In 3 weeks I'm heading back to Guatemala. I'm traveling with friend of mine who owns the Blue Moose coffee shop. Our goal is to visit the co-op and the coffee plantation that grows some of the coffee that he sells at the Blue Moose ...but we are also going to see the country and relax a bit too. If you've never traveled to another country I highly recommend it. Especially if you can do so in a way that helps you to meet the local people in their own element. There is something about seeing life from someone else's perspective. It challenges my North American assumptions and reminds me once again that life doesn't consist in the abundance of my possessions. (Luke 12:15) I'll miss Angela and the kids like crazy, but I am excited to be going. So you can be jealous of me. That's okay. I'll post some pictures when we get back.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tunnel Vision Economics...

Jesuit theologian John Haughey writes,
"We read the Gospel as if we have no money and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the gospel."
Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about economics. I know, as a pastor that is a task that is, in the words of Barak Obama, "way above my pay grade." But the more I read the Bible the more I see that it has some pretty counter-cultural teachings in the area of how money is used. My realization continued to be challenged by reading some books by Shane Claiborne, specifically Irresistible Revolution and Jesus for President and it has been really stirred up by something I am reading now called The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics by Chad Meyer. What I am wondering is if we have become so used to our capitalistic economic system that we can't envision anything different. What if God's economic system (and our calling to live in His kingdom) is radically different than what we are used to and/or feel comfortable with? What if our "normal" is nothing more than a rut that we live in because we can't imagine something different. Meyer quotes economist Douglas Meeks (from his book God the Economist)
"Our theological imaginations have long been captive to the market-driven orthodoxies of modern capitalism."
Now I know one thing from my time being a pastor. Christians have no problem talking about God's direction and control over their lives. But people can get really angry when you begin to ask questions about how that plays out in their use of money. So here's two questions that keep rumbling around in my mind.

First, how do we read the OT passages about not charging interest or the jubilee practice of canceling debt as well as the NT focus in Acts 2 (and elsewhere) where the early church shared their possessions so that there "were no needy people among them" and apply those truths today?

Second, what if Christians began to practice what I like to call "the voluntary redistribution of wealth"? In the US election I heard over and over that we don't want a socialist government that redistributes wealth. I think that's fine. But why would Christians not redistribute on a one to one basis? Why would we continually seek to build bigger houses and buy huge plasma flat screens and new cars while others are homeless or starving? Doesn't following Jesus have something to say to that?

Wendell Berry challenges me about my fear of changing my own mental economic ruts when he writes,
The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent upon what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do.
This is something that I'm going to be thinking about for a while so if any of you want to comment please feel free to enlighten me...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quote of the week...

Christmas reminds us that God acts in ways that we don't expect. He catches us off guard and forces our agenda to be surrendered to His. No one expresses this better than Frederick Buechner, who, in The Hungering Dark, writes:

Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If the holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant's child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and re-create the human heart, because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully. --Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark (Harper San Francisco, 1985)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quote of the week...

Emily Dickinson writes some of the wisest words that I've ever read about how we seek to communicate truth.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant
Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---