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On worship and fog machines

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 04:00

I was surprised when a young friend told me the other day that most of his friends attended churches that use fog machines. So clearly it’s a trend.

I admit I have never been in a church service where a fog machine was used. So maybe I’m not qualified to speak on the subject. But I’m going to anyway.

I have always felt that we need to cater our music to the generations that are closer to birth than to death. That would be the people who are actually going to be alive when I am dead. They are the church’s future.

But when it comes to worship, let’s make a difference between what really matters and what doesn’t. What matters, for instance, are the words we sing. They say a lot about what we believe. There was a reason the Scots sang the Psalms, and only the Psalms. There was no doubt about the content.

So I ask the question: should not the songs we sing be every bit as rooted and grounded in Scripture as the teaching we hear?

I could make a sad joke about being in churches where most of the fog emanated from the pulpit, but for the moment I assume that most of us are in churches where the teaching is decent and Biblically grounded.

One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the arguments over worship are not about the lyrics but about the music. Music, for the most part, is a matter of taste. Taste is what changes, and that’s where we have to cater to the younger half of the congregation if we want a church capable of reaching the next generation.

And is this is a source of frustration to me. We argue over the things that matter far less — we argue over style of music, how loud the music is, what kind of instruments we should allow, and so on. But we pass over the far more significant issue of what it is we are actually singing.

The Scots used to sing without accompaniment. There were loads of arguments over scandalous things like using an organ in worship. When I was a young Christian, people left churches when somebody dared to appear on the platform with a guitar. Never mind that the church was filling up with young people and the songs we were singing were largely Scripture put to music.

So where does that leave us with fog machines?

I admit I’m not a fan. For one thing, they seem to be a poor substitute for the cloud that filled Solomon’s temple. But let’s face it, they are part of the periphery, not part of the core.

What is a real problem is if the fog machines represent an attempt to dumb down worship and to make its focus more on making people feel a particular atmosphere rather than leading those people into glorifying the one true God.

Having said that, I would rather be in a congregation with a fog machine singing songs with Biblical lyrics and glorifying God than in a congregation with neither a fog machine nor any sense of what true worship is supposed to be.

At its root, worship is clearly defined by Paul: “Present yourselves as a sacrifice, living, holy and acceptable to God, which is worship, properly understood.” That is my translation of Romans 12:1, and it’s backed by some pretty good scholars.

If you have the foundation right, you’ll get the rest of it as well, with or without a fog machine.

But I’d still like to witness that manifest glory that Solomon saw…

Source: New feed

On worship and fog machines

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 04:00

I was surprised when a young friend told me the other day that most of his friends attended churches that use fog machines. So clearly it’s a trend.

I admit I have never been in a church service where a fog machine was used. So maybe I’m not qualified to speak on the subject. But I’m going to anyway.

I have always felt that we need to cater our music to the generations that are closer to birth than to death. That would be the people who are actually going to be alive when I am dead. They are the church’s future.

But when it comes to worship, let’s make a difference between what really matters and what doesn’t. What matters, for instance, are the words we sing. They say a lot about what we believe. There was a reason the Scots sang the Psalms, and only the Psalms. There was no doubt about the content.

So I ask the question: should not the songs we sing be every bit as rooted and grounded in Scripture as the teaching we hear?

I could make a sad joke about being in churches where most of the fog emanated from the pulpit, but for the moment I assume that most of us are in churches where the teaching is decent and Biblically grounded.

One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the arguments over worship are not about the lyrics but about the music. Music, for the most part, is a matter of taste. Taste is what changes, and that’s where we have to cater to the younger half of the congregation if we want a church capable of reaching the next generation.

And is this is a source of frustration to me. We argue over the things that matter far less — we argue over style of music, how loud the music is, what kind of instruments we should allow, and so on. But we pass over the far more significant issue of what it is we are actually singing.

The Scots used to sing without accompaniment. There were loads of arguments over scandalous things like using an organ in worship. When I was a young Christian, people left churches when somebody dared to appear on the platform with a guitar. Never mind that the church was filling up with young people and the songs we were singing were largely Scripture put to music.

So where does that leave us with fog machines?

I admit I’m not a fan. For one thing, they seem to be a poor substitute for the cloud that filled Solomon’s temple. But let’s face it, they are part of the periphery, not part of the core.

What is a real problem is if the fog machines represent an attempt to dumb down worship and to make its focus more on making people feel a particular atmosphere rather than leading those people into glorifying the one true God.

Having said that, I would rather be in a congregation with a fog machine singing songs with Biblical lyrics and glorifying God than in a congregation with neither a fog machine nor any sense of what true worship is supposed to be.

At its root, worship is clearly defined by Paul: “Present yourselves as a sacrifice, living, holy and acceptable to God, which is worship, properly understood.” That is my translation of Romans 12:1, and it’s backed by some pretty good scholars.

If you have the foundation right, you’ll get the rest of it as well, with or without a fog machine.

But I’d still like to witness that manifest glory that Solomon saw…

Source: New feed

Experiencing the presence of God

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 04:00

Is it somehow wrong or unspiritual to want to experience the presence of God?

All sorts of arguments rage over this question. And especially in relation to worship.

Are churches too experiential? Or not experiential enough? People are leaving churches today for both reasons, so it’s a significant question that demands an answer.

Let’s establish one fact first. The presence of God is not an experience to be sought or argued about. It is a theological and Biblical fact.

And a fact with several aspects or levels to it.

First of all, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. That doesn’t mean he’s in everything, just that his presence as Creator of the universe cannot be limited to one place. He is capable of being present anywhere at any time. He is present, for instance, in every Christian by the person of his Spirit. In this sense, you don’t have to seek his presence. You have his presence.

Second, God is very often present in an intensified way when we pray and seek him, or when we are gathered together corporately in worship. How often have we felt his peace or his joy in personal or corporate worship? The Bible says he dwells in the praises of his people.

Third, God is sometimes present in a manifest sense. These are times when the awareness of his presence can touch or even overwhelm our physical senses. Think of Moses or Elijah in the cleft of the rock on Mount Sinai. Think of the priests unable to stand at the opening of Solomon’s temple. Think of Ezekiel “lifted up by the Spirit between earth and heaven.” Think of the soldiers thrown to the ground as they came to arrest Jesus. Think of the believers at Pentecost, appearing outwardly drunk due to the power of the Spirit. Think of Paul thrown off his horse by the presence of God. Think of Philip transported miraculously from one place to another. Think of the building in Jerusalem shaking when the believers were praying, or the jail bonds burst asunder by the earthquake at Philippi. Think of Paul caught up to the third heaven.

And think of the congregations addressed by John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, where men and women were reduced to tears and crying out to God in repentance. Think of the Scottish highlanders on Lewis and Harris, sprawled in the fields in intense conviction of sin. Every revival has similar stories, differing only in detail.

Why then do we argue over whether it is unspiritual to seek the presence of God? When I first met my wife, I wanted to be in her presence. I felt something tangible. It was (and is!) special. Why on earth would I not want to be in God’s presence? God’s presence is nothing more nor less than God himself. Do we not want to seek God?

I think the whole argument against seeking experiences is based on a misconception. The misconception is that those people seeking the presence of God in a tangible way are looking for an emotional experience. Our faith is based on Biblical truth, not emotion, the argument goes (and so far quite rightly), so we should not need those kind of experiences, and certainly should not depend on them. And it is true that we should not be seeking God for emotional experiences.

But here’s the mistake. We do not encounter the presence of God with our emotions. But we do encounter the presence of God in a way that affects our emotions.

We encounter God’s presence when the Holy Spirit invades our spirit with his power and reality. Our spirit is the deepest part of us, that place where his Spirit comes to dwell, from which he begins to establish lordship over our emotions, our intellect and our body.

God is always present in our spirit by his Spirit: that is his omnipresence. His presence is often felt in a tangible way when it is intensified in prayer and worship. And his presence may be felt in a manifest way in times of special power and revival.

God is present: that’s a fact. And that’s what our faith is built on. But if he chooses to come in an intensified or even manifest form, it is for a kingdom purpose. It’s not so that you can be emotionally overcome, but that you can be spiritually empowered.

I advise you to seek as much of God’s presence in your life as you feel you need to do his will.

And as for me… I’ll take as much as I can get. Because his call on my life requires it.

And his call on your life requires it too.

Source: New feed

Experiencing the presence of God

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 04:00

Is it somehow wrong or unspiritual to want to experience the presence of God?

All sorts of arguments rage over this question. And especially in relation to worship.

Are churches too experiential? Or not experiential enough? People are leaving churches today for both reasons, so it’s a significant question that demands an answer.

Let’s establish one fact first. The presence of God is not an experience to be sought or argued about. It is a theological and Biblical fact.

And a fact with several aspects or levels to it.

First of all, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. That doesn’t mean he’s in everything, just that his presence as Creator of the universe cannot be limited to one place. He is capable of being present anywhere at any time. He is present, for instance, in every Christian by the person of his Spirit. In this sense, you don’t have to seek his presence. You have his presence.

Second, God is very often present in an intensified way when we pray and seek him, or when we are gathered together corporately in worship. How often have we felt his peace or his joy in personal or corporate worship? The Bible says he dwells in the praises of his people.

Third, God is sometimes present in a manifest sense. These are times when the awareness of his presence can touch or even overwhelm our physical senses. Think of Moses or Elijah in the cleft of the rock on Mount Sinai. Think of the priests unable to stand at the opening of Solomon’s temple. Think of Ezekiel “lifted up by the Spirit between earth and heaven.” Think of the soldiers thrown to the ground as they came to arrest Jesus. Think of the believers at Pentecost, appearing outwardly drunk due to the power of the Spirit. Think of Paul thrown off his horse by the presence of God. Think of Philip transported miraculously from one place to another. Think of the building in Jerusalem shaking when the believers were praying, or the jail bonds burst asunder by the earthquake at Philippi. Think of Paul caught up to the third heaven.

And think of the congregations addressed by John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, where men and women were reduced to tears and crying out to God in repentance. Think of the Scottish highlanders on Lewis and Harris, sprawled in the fields in intense conviction of sin. Every revival has similar stories, differing only in detail.

Why then do we argue over whether it is unspiritual to seek the presence of God? When I first met my wife, I wanted to be in her presence. I felt something tangible. It was (and is!) special. Why on earth would I not want to be in God’s presence? God’s presence is nothing more nor less than God himself. Do we not want to seek God?

I think the whole argument against seeking experiences is based on a misconception. The misconception is that those people seeking the presence of God in a tangible way are looking for an emotional experience. Our faith is based on Biblical truth, not emotion, the argument goes (and so far quite rightly), so we should not need those kind of experiences, and certainly should not depend on them. And it is true that we should not be seeking God for emotional experiences.

But here’s the mistake. We do not encounter the presence of God with our emotions. But we do encounter the presence of God in a way that affects our emotions.

We encounter God’s presence when the Holy Spirit invades our spirit with his power and reality. Our spirit is the deepest part of us, that place where his Spirit comes to dwell, from which he begins to establish lordship over our emotions, our intellect and our body.

God is always present in our spirit by his Spirit: that is his omnipresence. His presence is often felt in a tangible way when it is intensified in prayer and worship. And his presence may be felt in a manifest way in times of special power and revival.

God is present: that’s a fact. And that’s what our faith is built on. But if he chooses to come in an intensified or even manifest form, it is for a kingdom purpose. It’s not so that you can be emotionally overcome, but that you can be spiritually empowered.

I advise you to seek as much of God’s presence in your life as you feel you need to do his will.

And as for me… I’ll take as much as I can get. Because his call on my life requires it.

And his call on your life requires it too.

Source: New feed

The problem of truth

Mon, 03/27/2017 - 04:00

Truth is not a problem.

But that is the problem.

“You’re talking in riddles, David.” I can hear you saying it!

Let me try to explain.

When Jesus encountered the value system that had the power to set him free, it all boiled down to an issue of truth.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, was interested in power. And so he posed the question to Jesus: “Are you the king of the Jews?” What he meant, of course, was this: “Are you planning an uprising against me?”

Jesus wasn’t even thinking along these lines. And so he told Pilate his kingdom was not of this world. If it had been, his followers would already have been fighting in the streets.

This puzzled Pilate. And so he put the question to Jesus: “So you are a king?” Jesus didn’t bother to dignify Pilate’s question with an answer, which was extraordinary, given that his life apparently hung in Pilate’s hands.

His answer was this: “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.”

Pilate’s answer, to me, is one of the greatest attestations to the accuracy of the New Testament. He said this: “What is truth?”

Pilate was reflecting the beginnings of the decline of Roman civilization. He had given up on truth. And we know that’s an accurate picture of where many of the Romans were at – and certainly cynical, disillusioned and corrupt politicians like Pilate, which is the picture Roman historians paint of him.

We live in a very similar world today.

For Jesus, and hence for those of us who follow him, truth is not a problem. God alone reserves the right to define truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil.

But we live in a world Pontius Pilate would have been right at home in. Laughingly, we call it “post-modern,” when in fact it is as ancient as Pilate himself.

Pilate was bothered by Jesus’ answer – but not bothered enough to take a stand against the Jewish leaders and let him go. For him, truth did not matter. And that is why when he saw the personal embodiment of truth standing in front of him, he did not recognize it.

For the world we live in, truth is a problem. In fact, a massive problem.

Our culture demands that every possible personal preference or orientation be accommodated. Everyone lives in their own personal space as far as truth is concerned. In reality, no one is really interested in truth at all. What they are really interested in is the promotion of their own interests.

Here’s the catch. In the absence of truth, anything goes. But what happens when the interests of one group are hostile to the interests of another?

I’ll tell you exactly what happens. The group with the most power forces its interests on the others.

In the absence of truth, might becomes right.

Those with the most clout gain privilege at the expense of those with the least.

But Christians see things differently. Or at least they ought to.

Our world is living in a mass delusion. The delusion is this: everyone can have their own “truth,” and it won’t cause any problems. The reality is different. The “truth” belonging to the people with the most power will prevail.

In truth, it isn’t about truth at all. It’s about the power to force my views on everyone else.

But as Christians, we believe in real truth. We are interested in truth for the sake of truth, because we follow the man who said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

We believe only God has the right to define truth. And Jesus is the only man who ever completely lived it.

That is a problem to the world around us, with its many interest groups trying to force their views on everyone else, to their own benefit.

Jesus stood for truth, and he died for truth.

How about you?

Source: New feed

The problem of truth

Mon, 03/27/2017 - 04:00

Truth is not a problem.

But that is the problem.

“You’re talking in riddles, David.” I can hear you saying it!

Let me try to explain.

When Jesus encountered the value system that had the power to set him free, it all boiled down to an issue of truth.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, was interested in power. And so he posed the question to Jesus: “Are you the king of the Jews?” What he meant, of course, was this: “Are you planning an uprising against me?”

Jesus wasn’t even thinking along these lines. And so he told Pilate his kingdom was not of this world. If it had been, his followers would already have been fighting in the streets.

This puzzled Pilate. And so he put the question to Jesus: “So you are a king?” Jesus didn’t bother to dignify Pilate’s question with an answer, which was extraordinary, given that his life apparently hung in Pilate’s hands.

His answer was this: “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.”

Pilate’s answer, to me, is one of the greatest attestations to the accuracy of the New Testament. He said this: “What is truth?”

Pilate was reflecting the beginnings of the decline of Roman civilization. He had given up on truth. And we know that’s an accurate picture of where many of the Romans were at – and certainly cynical, disillusioned and corrupt politicians like Pilate, which is the picture Roman historians paint of him.

We live in a very similar world today.

For Jesus, and hence for those of us who follow him, truth is not a problem. God alone reserves the right to define truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil.

But we live in a world Pontius Pilate would have been right at home in. Laughingly, we call it “post-modern,” when in fact it is as ancient as Pilate himself.

Pilate was bothered by Jesus’ answer – but not bothered enough to take a stand against the Jewish leaders and let him go. For him, truth did not matter. And that is why when he saw the personal embodiment of truth standing in front of him, he did not recognize it.

For the world we live in, truth is a problem. In fact, a massive problem.

Our culture demands that every possible personal preference or orientation be accommodated. Everyone lives in their own personal space as far as truth is concerned. In reality, no one is really interested in truth at all. What they are really interested in is the promotion of their own interests.

Here’s the catch. In the absence of truth, anything goes. But what happens when the interests of one group are hostile to the interests of another?

I’ll tell you exactly what happens. The group with the most power forces its interests on the others.

In the absence of truth, might becomes right.

Those with the most clout gain privilege at the expense of those with the least.

But Christians see things differently. Or at least they ought to.

Our world is living in a mass delusion. The delusion is this: everyone can have their own “truth,” and it won’t cause any problems. The reality is different. The “truth” belonging to the people with the most power will prevail.

In truth, it isn’t about truth at all. It’s about the power to force my views on everyone else.

But as Christians, we believe in real truth. We are interested in truth for the sake of truth, because we follow the man who said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

We believe only God has the right to define truth. And Jesus is the only man who ever completely lived it.

That is a problem to the world around us, with its many interest groups trying to force their views on everyone else, to their own benefit.

Jesus stood for truth, and he died for truth.

How about you?

Source: New feed

For he was but one: the power of insignificance

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 04:00

Things were tough for God’s people. And worse was coming.

In the midst of it all, Isaiah called the people to look to the rock from which they were hewn, to look to Abraham their father and Sarah who bore them. And then he makes this statement: “For he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him” (Isaiah 51:2).

For he was but one.

How many times have you felt alone, abandoned, misunderstood or powerless in the face of circumstances? How many time have you looked enviously or wistfully at others who do not appear to be in such a hard place?

For he was but one.

How many times does the church regard success in terms of numbers? Speakers are invited to conferences simply because of the size of their church. I once heard a very godly and wise pastor say he knew God had given him one of the largest churches in America simply so that people would listen to his message. He said it with regret that this should be the case. Yet so often it is.

For he was but one.

At Gethsemane, Scripture records Jesus was deserted by all of his disciples.

He also was but one.

Sometimes God strips away our outward success. He removes our popularity. He puts us in a place where it seems we have only him. But here’s why. It’s when we have nothing, when we know we are nothing, when we are but one, that he can begin to bring a harvest out of our lives.

If Abraham had not been one, God could not have been glorified in the miracle of multiplication that followed. Abraham was significant precisely because he was insignificant.

Many years ago and though very difficult circumstances, God brought me to the devastating realization that I wasn’t his greatest gift to the body of Christ. Something in me died, but because of the death, God slowly but surely began a process of resurrection which, I hope and pray, has brought blessing to the lives of others, blessing that would never have come had I found myself in a place of self-defined success.

We so foolishly think God is most glorified in our great ministry gifts and successes. What a lie! Advertising our ministry accomplishments brings glory only to us.

In truth, God’s glorification is found in our desperation. And that usually comes at the moment we feel we are but one.

I am so glad Abraham did not give up. His greatest qualification for leadership was his refusal to walk out. And because of that, the covenant line was preserved for the Messiah to come and save you and me.

We so often read the stories of the Bible with the end in mind. We forget what it was like for the disciples in the boat before Jesus showed up walking on the water to rescue them. We forget what it was like for Jairus at that awful moment when the messengers told him there was no point bothering Jesus because his daughter had died. We forget what it was like for Peter in Herod’s prison the night before his scheduled execution. We forget what it was like for Abraham during all those long years when he was but one.

If that is where you are today, hang on. Know that God is not deserting you, he is preparing you.

Knowing you are insignificant qualifies you to be significant.

Another day will come. Just hang in there and stay faithful.

You are not but one. He is with you.

Source: New feed

For he was but one: the power of insignificance

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 04:00

Things were tough for God’s people. And worse was coming.

In the midst of it all, Isaiah called the people to look to the rock from which they were hewn, to look to Abraham their father and Sarah who bore them. And then he makes this statement: “For he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him” (Isaiah 51:2).

For he was but one.

How many times have you felt alone, abandoned, misunderstood or powerless in the face of circumstances? How many time have you looked enviously or wistfully at others who do not appear to be in such a hard place?

For he was but one.

How many times does the church regard success in terms of numbers? Speakers are invited to conferences simply because of the size of their church. I once heard a very godly and wise pastor say he knew God had given him one of the largest churches in America simply so that people would listen to his message. He said it with regret that this should be the case. Yet so often it is.

For he was but one.

At Gethsemane, Scripture records Jesus was deserted by all of his disciples.

He also was but one.

Sometimes God strips away our outward success. He removes our popularity. He puts us in a place where it seems we have only him. But here’s why. It’s when we have nothing, when we know we are nothing, when we are but one, that he can begin to bring a harvest out of our lives.

If Abraham had not been one, God could not have been glorified in the miracle of multiplication that followed. Abraham was significant precisely because he was insignificant.

Many years ago and though very difficult circumstances, God brought me to the devastating realization that I wasn’t his greatest gift to the body of Christ. Something in me died, but because of the death, God slowly but surely began a process of resurrection which, I hope and pray, has brought blessing to the lives of others, blessing that would never have come had I found myself in a place of self-defined success.

We so foolishly think God is most glorified in our great ministry gifts and successes. What a lie! Advertising our ministry accomplishments brings glory only to us.

In truth, God’s glorification is found in our desperation. And that usually comes at the moment we feel we are but one.

I am so glad Abraham did not give up. His greatest qualification for leadership was his refusal to walk out. And because of that, the covenant line was preserved for the Messiah to come and save you and me.

We so often read the stories of the Bible with the end in mind. We forget what it was like for the disciples in the boat before Jesus showed up walking on the water to rescue them. We forget what it was like for Jairus at that awful moment when the messengers told him there was no point bothering Jesus because his daughter had died. We forget what it was like for Peter in Herod’s prison the night before his scheduled execution. We forget what it was like for Abraham during all those long years when he was but one.

If that is where you are today, hang on. Know that God is not deserting you, he is preparing you.

Knowing you are insignificant qualifies you to be significant.

Another day will come. Just hang in there and stay faithful.

You are not but one. He is with you.

Source: New feed

We jumped – and here’s where we landed

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 04:00

For many years, we have felt the Lord speaking to us about change.

When I was approaching my sixtieth birthday (and feeling a bit low about it), I attended a conference where three men independently approached me over two days and made the same statement to me: “You are about the enter the twenty most powerful years of your ministry.”

We knew we had a choice. Stay where we are, focus on the local church, maintain our financial security and gradually fade away. Or… throw our security away, leave where we are and sow ourselves into the kingdom of God around the world in whatever way God called us to do, making our latter years our most reckless and hopefully most effective for God.

And so there really wasn’t any choice.

A year ago in a blog I described it as jumping off a cliff.

Over that time we looked at all the options available to us, did everything we could to explore them, and came up with nothing we felt at peace about. In the meantime, I had committed to resigning the leadership of my church and moving away to give my replacement some space.

In a moment of utter desperation six weeks ago, knowing we had to leave, knowing we had nowhere to go, and knowing we were running out of time, the Lord graciously showed up. I felt God speaking to me about Stratford, Ontario.

What, Lord? I don’t even know anyone there!

Six short weeks later, and with many remarkable things happening in between, we have committed to moving to Stratford, and we have bought a house there. Our own house, in which we raised our 8 kids, is on the market. And we are being warmly welcomed by the leadership at Jubilee Christian Fellowship in Stratford, a church with a worldwide vision, and a church which, in its history, has affected the world in many ways since its founding by our friend John Arnott in 1981.  As friends of Jubilee, we can remain part of our worldwide Newfrontiers family of churches and serve across networks as well as nations.

So what’s the plan?

We will divide our time three ways, between our base in Canada (from which we will serve churches here), the Firm Foundation churches in the USA, and the various churches in the UK we have many long years of relationship with. I am publishing my book on foundations of faith this summer, books on suffering and manhood after that, and others to follow. The blogs will continue, and I hope will be a blessing and encouragement to you who read them.

That’s the plan. But more fundamentally, what is the vision?

Our vision is to raise up a generation of leaders who will impact the body of Christ around the world, and to leave a legacy of faith, power and integrity in spiritual sons and daughters who will change this world for Christ for many, many years after we are gone.

Please pray for us. And if you feel called to support us financially, we are setting up ways in Canada, the USA and the UK for you to do that as of July 1. We don’t as yet have enough money to live on, but we know God will look after us as he always has.

One thing I know. God is faithful. I believe it was William Carey who said this: God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision. That is as true for you as it is for me.

And as for us… we’re getting ready for the best twenty years we’ve ever had.

Source: New feed

We jumped – and here’s where we landed

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 04:00

For many years, we have felt the Lord speaking to us about change.

When I was approaching my sixtieth birthday (and feeling a bit low about it), I attended a conference where three men independently approached me over two days and made the same statement to me: “You are about the enter the twenty most powerful years of your ministry.”

We knew we had a choice. Stay where we are, focus on the local church, maintain our financial security and gradually fade away. Or… throw our security away, leave where we are and sow ourselves into the kingdom of God around the world in whatever way God called us to do, making our latter years our most reckless and hopefully most effective for God.

And so there really wasn’t any choice.

A year ago in a blog I described it as jumping off a cliff.

Over that time we looked at all the options available to us, did everything we could to explore them, and came up with nothing we felt at peace about. In the meantime, I had committed to resigning the leadership of my church and moving away to give my replacement some space.

In a moment of utter desperation six weeks ago, knowing we had to leave, knowing we had nowhere to go, and knowing we were running out of time, the Lord graciously showed up. I felt God speaking to me about Stratford, Ontario.

What, Lord? I don’t even know anyone there!

Six short weeks later, and with many remarkable things happening in between, we have committed to moving to Stratford, and we have bought a house there. Our own house, in which we raised our 8 kids, is on the market. And we are being warmly welcomed by the leadership at Jubilee Christian Fellowship in Stratford, a church with a worldwide vision, and a church which, in its history, has affected the world in many ways since its founding by our friend John Arnott in 1981.  As friends of Jubilee, we can remain part of our worldwide Newfrontiers family of churches and serve across networks as well as nations.

So what’s the plan?

We will divide our time three ways, between our base in Canada (from which we will serve churches here), the Firm Foundation churches in the USA, and the various churches in the UK we have many long years of relationship with. I am publishing my book on foundations of faith this summer, books on suffering and manhood after that, and others to follow. The blogs will continue, and I hope will be a blessing and encouragement to you who read them.

That’s the plan. But more fundamentally, what is the vision?

Our vision is to raise up a generation of leaders who will impact the body of Christ around the world, and to leave a legacy of faith, power and integrity in spiritual sons and daughters who will change this world for Christ for many, many years after we are gone.

Please pray for us. And if you feel called to support us financially, we are setting up ways in Canada, the USA and the UK for you to do that as of July 1. We don’t as yet have enough money to live on, but we know God will look after us as he always has.

One thing I know. God is faithful. I believe it was William Carey who said this: God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision. That is as true for you as it is for me.

And as for us… we’re getting ready for the best twenty years we’ve ever had.

Source: New feed

The illusion of God’s delay

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 03:00

Why is it that God delays? I have thought about this a lot the last several years, as we have gone down a long and often very hard path seeking God’s plan for the next phase of our lives. Does God not care about the situation we are in? Does he not see our desperation? Does he not hear our prayers?

The other night, I was reading that extraordinary story in the Gospels where the disciples were straining at the oars for hours, making little progress. All of a sudden, Jesus showed up, walking across the waters. They took him into the boat, and by supernatural intervention, they instantly reached the other side of the lake.

Like so many Bible stories, we read this one with the end in mind. We already know what’s going to happen. But we forget that those guys in the boat had no idea whether Jesus was going to show up for them or not. They were almost certainly desperate. They were probably near the end of their strength. They were likely terrified of drowning. And you can be sure they had been praying.

But their prayers had not been answered.

What do you think they were thinking? Probably most of the same things we are thinking when God fails to resolve our crisis when we think he should.

But the question we should be asking ourselves is not “Why is God delaying?” but “What is God doing?”

Sometimes God is taking the extra time to bring elements of his plan for us together which are at present unseen to us. The whole world does not revolve around you or me. Other people and circumstances are involved too, and have to be brought into the picture.

Sometimes he is saving us from things we at first asked for. How many times have you thanked God he did not give you that job, that relationship, that accommodation, that place of ministry you asked him for?

Often, he is simply changing and refining us as we pray, because in the process we are drawn closer to him through our seeking of him. Hopefully we discover it is more important to seek God than the thing we are asking for.

For all these reasons, we then look back and thank the Lord that it worked out the way it did.

The fact is that God does not delay at all. The word “delay” implies that something that should have taken place now does not take place until later. But God’s timing is as perfect as all of his ways. What seems to us to be delay is actually God working out his perfect plan for us.

So if you are caught up right now in what to you is a very much in-your-face delay, may I suggest you follow the advice James gave to those who were experiencing the same kind of thing: ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Ask God what he is doing in your heart and circumstances. Ask him for patience. Cast yourself on him. Cry out to him. But don’t give up.

Because the very point at which you feel like giving up is often the moment God breaks through. When we are at our most desperate is when he receives the most glory for what he does, because everyone knows it is him, not us who has done it.

And when God moves, he often does so with great speed. Isaiah put it this way: “I am the Lord; in its time I will do it quickly” (Isaiah 60:22).

I read that verse the other night. And I read it just at the point where God had intervened in our lives in an extraordinary way, which in a matter of weeks resolved issues we had been facing for years.

More of that next week…

Source: New feed

The illusion of God’s delay

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 03:00

Why is it that God delays? I have thought about this a lot the last several years, as we have gone down a long and often very hard path seeking God’s plan for the next phase of our lives. Does God not care about the situation we are in? Does he not see our desperation? Does he not hear our prayers?

The other night, I was reading that extraordinary story in the Gospels where the disciples were straining at the oars for hours, making little progress. All of a sudden, Jesus showed up, walking across the waters. They took him into the boat, and by supernatural intervention, they instantly reached the other side of the lake.

Like so many Bible stories, we read this one with the end in mind. We already know what’s going to happen. But we forget that those guys in the boat had no idea whether Jesus was going to show up for them or not. They were almost certainly desperate. They were probably near the end of their strength. They were likely terrified of drowning. And you can be sure they had been praying.

But their prayers had not been answered.

What do you think they were thinking? Probably most of the same things we are thinking when God fails to resolve our crisis when we think he should.

But the question we should be asking ourselves is not “Why is God delaying?” but “What is God doing?”

Sometimes God is taking the extra time to bring elements of his plan for us together which are at present unseen to us. The whole world does not revolve around you or me. Other people and circumstances are involved too, and have to be brought into the picture.

Sometimes he is saving us from things we at first asked for. How many times have you thanked God he did not give you that job, that relationship, that accommodation, that place of ministry you asked him for?

Often, he is simply changing and refining us as we pray, because in the process we are drawn closer to him through our seeking of him. Hopefully we discover it is more important to seek God than the thing we are asking for.

For all these reasons, we then look back and thank the Lord that it worked out the way it did.

The fact is that God does not delay at all. The word “delay” implies that something that should have taken place now does not take place until later. But God’s timing is as perfect as all of his ways. What seems to us to be delay is actually God working out his perfect plan for us.

So if you are caught up right now in what to you is a very much in-your-face delay, may I suggest you follow the advice James gave to those who were experiencing the same kind of thing: ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Ask God what he is doing in your heart and circumstances. Ask him for patience. Cast yourself on him. Cry out to him. But don’t give up.

Because the very point at which you feel like giving up is often the moment God breaks through. When we are at our most desperate is when he receives the most glory for what he does, because everyone knows it is him, not us who has done it.

And when God moves, he often does so with great speed. Isaiah put it this way: “I am the Lord; in its time I will do it quickly” (Isaiah 60:22).

I read that verse the other night. And I read it just at the point where God had intervened in our lives in an extraordinary way, which in a matter of weeks resolved issues we had been facing for years.

More of that next week…

Source: New feed

Adrian Smith: What happens when the tsunami hits

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00

In June 2013 I had a heart attack which almost took my life. During surgery I suffered a cardiac arrest and for a short time had a sense of being somewhere else – a place filled with mellow late afternoon light; silent, without dimensions or boundaries. It felt very good. Peace, no pain, then suddenly with a bang the defibrillator kicked me back into the operating theatre, with sounds of frantic activity and anxious voices saying you’re ok, you’re going to be ok. (They were more anxious than I was).

The surgeon treating me said with a wry smile afterwards “you gave us a fright – that one was out to kill you.” Earlier one of the ambulance paramedics and a member of the surgeon’s team each used the same phrase – “you were in the right place at the right time.” It could have been very different but for a weather forecast which made me decide not to go cycling off the beaten track on that particular day.

Just two days before the heart attack I had a vivid dream in which I saw myself swimming in a rough sea when from nowhere a tsunami wave came straight for me. In my dream I knew I only had minutes to live. I woke up with a bang, alive and suddenly wide awake. I went to my office and wrote down what I had just experienced. I dream a lot, mostly nonsense and quickly forgotten. But I have had three highly significant dreams over my lifetime that I can still remember in detail and which communicated something which changed the course of my life, and in one case that of our church community.

My initial reaction to the dream was that’s not for me, it must be a warning for someone else. I don’t feel as though I’m out of my depth or in rough water at this moment, life is busy but that’s normal and I feel fine. So that morning I typed up the notes made at 3am and emailed them to about half a dozen people I thought might bring some sense out of what I had experienced in the dream. One of my friends replied by return – “that was for me I need to get out of the deep water I’m in right now before the wave hits.” Great, I thought, that’s a result.

Another of my friends had a different reaction as he read my email – this is for Adrian, he is going to die. How do you share something like that, fortunately he didn’t but prayed instead.

Like the dream, the heart attack came totally out of the blue. I was finishing off a job at a property half an hour’s drive from home. I recognised the classic symptoms – intense pain in the chest and arms, the feeling that I was about to pass out, difficulty breathing. But part of me was arguing back – I don’t do heart attacks, I keep fit cycling, the medics say I’m low risk….

The ambulance reached me within minutes of my call and two hours later, surgery completed, I was fixed. By the time my wife Nicky reached me I was sitting in bed drinking tea, feeling as though I had been run over by several buses. I truly love all the wonderful people who work in our National Health Service.

On the first anniversary of the heart attack I visited what is for me a special place of meeting: St Michael and All Angels Parish Church in Felton, Northumberland. Why would God communicate with me through a dream which mirrored the heart attack experience but did not include sufficient detail to send me scurrying to Accident and Emergency to avoid it?

As I sat in St Michaels I had a sense of Jesus saying that he was with me when the tsunami wave hit and left me defenceless and completely vulnerable. He showed me that we were both in the wave and then we beached and stood together on the shore watching as it receded, its power spent.

The dream had been sent to show me he knew the wave was coming. It came and he didn’t stop it, but he was with me, my journey and his were intertwined.

I feel as though I have been given some “extra time” and I want to use it to grow in friendship with the one who was with me in the “wave.” I trust him more now, even when bad things happen.

Source: New feed

Adrian Smith: What happens when the tsunami hits

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00

In June 2013 I had a heart attack which almost took my life. During surgery I suffered a cardiac arrest and for a short time had a sense of being somewhere else – a place filled with mellow late afternoon light; silent, without dimensions or boundaries. It felt very good. Peace, no pain, then suddenly with a bang the defibrillator kicked me back into the operating theatre, with sounds of frantic activity and anxious voices saying you’re ok, you’re going to be ok. (They were more anxious than I was).

The surgeon treating me said with a wry smile afterwards “you gave us a fright – that one was out to kill you.” Earlier one of the ambulance paramedics and a member of the surgeon’s team each used the same phrase – “you were in the right place at the right time.” It could have been very different but for a weather forecast which made me decide not to go cycling off the beaten track on that particular day.

Just two days before the heart attack I had a vivid dream in which I saw myself swimming in a rough sea when from nowhere a tsunami wave came straight for me. In my dream I knew I only had minutes to live. I woke up with a bang, alive and suddenly wide awake. I went to my office and wrote down what I had just experienced. I dream a lot, mostly nonsense and quickly forgotten. But I have had three highly significant dreams over my lifetime that I can still remember in detail and which communicated something which changed the course of my life, and in one case that of our church community.

My initial reaction to the dream was that’s not for me, it must be a warning for someone else. I don’t feel as though I’m out of my depth or in rough water at this moment, life is busy but that’s normal and I feel fine. So that morning I typed up the notes made at 3am and emailed them to about half a dozen people I thought might bring some sense out of what I had experienced in the dream. One of my friends replied by return – “that was for me I need to get out of the deep water I’m in right now before the wave hits.” Great, I thought, that’s a result.

Another of my friends had a different reaction as he read my email – this is for Adrian, he is going to die. How do you share something like that, fortunately he didn’t but prayed instead.

Like the dream, the heart attack came totally out of the blue. I was finishing off a job at a property half an hour’s drive from home. I recognised the classic symptoms – intense pain in the chest and arms, the feeling that I was about to pass out, difficulty breathing. But part of me was arguing back – I don’t do heart attacks, I keep fit cycling, the medics say I’m low risk….

The ambulance reached me within minutes of my call and two hours later, surgery completed, I was fixed. By the time my wife Nicky reached me I was sitting in bed drinking tea, feeling as though I had been run over by several buses. I truly love all the wonderful people who work in our National Health Service.

On the first anniversary of the heart attack I visited what is for me a special place of meeting: St Michael and All Angels Parish Church in Felton, Northumberland. Why would God communicate with me through a dream which mirrored the heart attack experience but did not include sufficient detail to send me scurrying to Accident and Emergency to avoid it?

As I sat in St Michaels I had a sense of Jesus saying that he was with me when the tsunami wave hit and left me defenceless and completely vulnerable. He showed me that we were both in the wave and then we beached and stood together on the shore watching as it receded, its power spent.

The dream had been sent to show me he knew the wave was coming. It came and he didn’t stop it, but he was with me, my journey and his were intertwined.

I feel as though I have been given some “extra time” and I want to use it to grow in friendship with the one who was with me in the “wave.” I trust him more now, even when bad things happen.

Source: New feed

What happens when the tsunami hits

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00

Today’s post is by Adrian Smith, a friend of David’s for many years now.

In June 2013 I had a heart attack which almost took my life. During surgery I suffered a cardiac arrest and for a short time had a sense of being somewhere else – a place filled with mellow late afternoon light; silent, without dimensions or boundaries. It felt very good. Peace, no pain, then suddenly with a bang the defibrillator kicked me back into the operating theatre, with sounds of frantic activity and anxious voices saying you’re ok, you’re going to be ok. (They were more anxious than I was).

The surgeon treating me said with a wry smile afterwards “you gave us a fright – that one was out to kill you.” Earlier one of the ambulance paramedics and a member of the surgeon’s team each used the same phrase – “you were in the right place at the right time.” It could have been very different but for a weather forecast which made me decide not to go cycling off the beaten track on that particular day.

Just two days before the heart attack I had a vivid dream in which I saw myself swimming in a rough sea when from nowhere a tsunami wave came straight for me. In my dream I knew I only had minutes to live. I woke up with a bang, alive and suddenly wide awake. I went to my office and wrote down what I had just experienced. I dream a lot, mostly nonsense and quickly forgotten. But I have had three highly significant dreams over my lifetime that I can still remember in detail and which communicated something which changed the course of my life, and in one case that of our church community.

My initial reaction to the dream was that’s not for me, it must be a warning for someone else. I don’t feel as though I’m out of my depth or in rough water at this moment, life is busy but that’s normal and I feel fine. So that morning I typed up the notes made at 3 AM and emailed them to about half a dozen people I thought might bring some sense out of what I had experienced in the dream. One of my friends replied by return – “That was for me; I need to get out of the deep water I’m in right now before the wave hits.” Great, I thought, that’s a result.

Another of my friends had a different reaction as he read my email: this is for Adrian, he is going to die. How do you share something like that? Fortunately he didn’t, but prayed instead.

Like the dream, the heart attack came totally out of the blue. I was finishing off a job at a property half an hour’s drive from home. I recognised the classic symptoms – intense pain in the chest and arms, the feeling that I was about to pass out, difficulty breathing. But part of me was arguing back – I don’t do heart attacks, I keep fit cycling, the medics say I’m low risk…

The ambulance reached me within minutes of my call and two hours later, surgery completed, I was fixed. By the time my wife Nicky reached me I was sitting in bed drinking tea, feeling as though I had been run over by several buses. I truly love all the wonderful people who work in our National Health Service.

On the first anniversary of the heart attack I visited what is for me a special place of meeting: St Michael and All Angels Parish Church in Felton, Northumberland. Why would God communicate with me through a dream which mirrored the heart attack experience but did not include sufficient detail to send me scurrying to Accident and Emergency to avoid it?

As I sat in St Michaels I had a sense of Jesus saying that he was with me when the tsunami wave hit and left me defenceless and completely vulnerable. He showed me that we were both in the wave and then we beached and stood together on the shore watching as it receded, its power spent.

The dream had been sent to show me he knew the wave was coming. It came and he didn’t stop it, but he was with me. My journey and his were intertwined.

I feel as though I have been given some “extra time” and I want to use it to grow in friendship with the one who was with me in the “wave.” I trust him more now, even when bad things happen.

Source: New feed

What happens when the tsunami hits

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00

Today’s post is by Adrian Smith, a friend of David’s for many years now.

In June 2013 I had a heart attack which almost took my life. During surgery I suffered a cardiac arrest and for a short time had a sense of being somewhere else – a place filled with mellow late afternoon light; silent, without dimensions or boundaries. It felt very good. Peace, no pain, then suddenly with a bang the defibrillator kicked me back into the operating theatre, with sounds of frantic activity and anxious voices saying you’re ok, you’re going to be ok. (They were more anxious than I was).

The surgeon treating me said with a wry smile afterwards “you gave us a fright – that one was out to kill you.” Earlier one of the ambulance paramedics and a member of the surgeon’s team each used the same phrase – “you were in the right place at the right time.” It could have been very different but for a weather forecast which made me decide not to go cycling off the beaten track on that particular day.

Just two days before the heart attack I had a vivid dream in which I saw myself swimming in a rough sea when from nowhere a tsunami wave came straight for me. In my dream I knew I only had minutes to live. I woke up with a bang, alive and suddenly wide awake. I went to my office and wrote down what I had just experienced. I dream a lot, mostly nonsense and quickly forgotten. But I have had three highly significant dreams over my lifetime that I can still remember in detail and which communicated something which changed the course of my life, and in one case that of our church community.

My initial reaction to the dream was that’s not for me, it must be a warning for someone else. I don’t feel as though I’m out of my depth or in rough water at this moment, life is busy but that’s normal and I feel fine. So that morning I typed up the notes made at 3 AM and emailed them to about half a dozen people I thought might bring some sense out of what I had experienced in the dream. One of my friends replied by return – “That was for me; I need to get out of the deep water I’m in right now before the wave hits.” Great, I thought, that’s a result.

Another of my friends had a different reaction as he read my email: this is for Adrian, he is going to die. How do you share something like that? Fortunately he didn’t, but prayed instead.

Like the dream, the heart attack came totally out of the blue. I was finishing off a job at a property half an hour’s drive from home. I recognised the classic symptoms – intense pain in the chest and arms, the feeling that I was about to pass out, difficulty breathing. But part of me was arguing back – I don’t do heart attacks, I keep fit cycling, the medics say I’m low risk…

The ambulance reached me within minutes of my call and two hours later, surgery completed, I was fixed. By the time my wife Nicky reached me I was sitting in bed drinking tea, feeling as though I had been run over by several buses. I truly love all the wonderful people who work in our National Health Service.

On the first anniversary of the heart attack I visited what is for me a special place of meeting: St Michael and All Angels Parish Church in Felton, Northumberland. Why would God communicate with me through a dream which mirrored the heart attack experience but did not include sufficient detail to send me scurrying to Accident and Emergency to avoid it?

As I sat in St Michaels I had a sense of Jesus saying that he was with me when the tsunami wave hit and left me defenceless and completely vulnerable. He showed me that we were both in the wave and then we beached and stood together on the shore watching as it receded, its power spent.

The dream had been sent to show me he knew the wave was coming. It came and he didn’t stop it, but he was with me. My journey and his were intertwined.

I feel as though I have been given some “extra time” and I want to use it to grow in friendship with the one who was with me in the “wave.” I trust him more now, even when bad things happen.

Source: New feed

Watch the company you keep

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 03:00

What kind of people do you like to be around? What kind of people should you be around? It’s worth asking the question.

Elaine and I have just returned from two weeks in northern England. We enjoyed a whirlwind tour of seven churches, and were encouraged to see the grace of God at work in all of them.

During that time we had the privilege of staying with couples who were absolutely full of two essential ingredients of healthy leadership – faith and vision. It was a feast to move from home to home and listen to the stories of how God met these folk, often in the midst of impossibly faith-stretching situations.

Here’s a “taster” of what we found. Different couples are involved in the different stories.

Lack of money to pay the bills? No problem, they pray and God provides, often at the last minute and in completely unpredictable ways. No house to live in? No problem, they pray and God leads them to a non-Christian landlord who rents the house at less than half market value. No venue for the church to meet in? No problem. They pray and go to an absolutely beautiful facility which doesn’t rent to churches and is very expensive. After a brief conversation with the manager, he decides to rent them the facilities, and at less than half the going rate. Immigration issues? No problem, they pray and at the very last minute God gives them the documentation to stay in the country. Need a building for a 24-hour house of prayer? No problem, they pray and God sends them to a Jewish businessman who renovates a damaged building in a strategic location at great expense and then rents it to them, complete with large meeting room, storage area, beautiful kitchen, foyer and washrooms, for less than $400 a month. Need more people for a church plant? They pray, and a couple comes because God sends a visiting speaker from the other end of the country totally unfamiliar with local churches into a church service they are attending who walks up to them and says one word, which is the name of the church plant! Can’t afford a house to live in? They pray, and God gives them a completely gutted and renovated house when the vendor decides to knock $60,000 off the selling price. Got a small church but desperate for a place to meet? They pray and put an offer in on the city hall. This one’s in progress, but I have a feeling the mayor is on his way out the door!

At the end of the trip, we realized there was a cumulative effect to being around all these people. Our faith was increased and our vision was expanded. And at our last stop, we received a commissioning from very dear friends to move into a new place where God will do great things.

And I want to add one important detail. These are people taking massive steps of faith and common-sense defying risks because they felt God told them to in order to extend his kingdom. They are not people with a couple of expensive cars in the garage and lots of money in a pension plan. They are out on a limb for God. And God is meeting them.

Coming home, I was sitting in the car praying, and asking the Lord to fuel my faith and feed my vision. He can do that in many ways, but one of the ways is to be around people of faith and vision.

Those of us in Christian leadership wind up giving out a fair bit to folk who really need our help, and that’s the business we’re in. But often we forget that we also need to be fed. That happens, obviously, as we pray, read the Bible and worship. But it also happens through the company we keep.

Facing some big steps of faith ourselves, I felt God sent all these brothers and sisters into our lives at just the right time. We received far more than we gave.

Nothing much is accomplished for the kingdom by people unwilling to risk their personal comfort and financial security. Who needs faith when you can do it yourself?

I want to be found in the company of those risking everything.

Because that’s where miracles are found.

Source: New feed

Watch the company you keep

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 03:00

What kind of people do you like to be around? What kind of people should you be around? It’s worth asking the question.

Elaine and I have just returned from two weeks in northern England. We enjoyed a whirlwind tour of seven churches, and were encouraged to see the grace of God at work in all of them.

During that time we had the privilege of staying with couples who were absolutely full of two essential ingredients of healthy leadership – faith and vision. It was a feast to move from home to home and listen to the stories of how God met these folk, often in the midst of impossibly faith-stretching situations.

Here’s a “taster” of what we found. Different couples are involved in the different stories.

Lack of money to pay the bills? No problem, they pray and God provides, often at the last minute and in completely unpredictable ways. No house to live in? No problem, they pray and God leads them to a non-Christian landlord who rents the house at less than half market value. No venue for the church to meet in? No problem. They pray and go to an absolutely beautiful facility which doesn’t rent to churches and is very expensive. After a brief conversation with the manager, he decides to rent them the facilities, and at less than half the going rate. Immigration issues? No problem, they pray and at the very last minute God gives them the documentation to stay in the country. Need a building for a 24-hour house of prayer? No problem, they pray and God sends them to a Jewish businessman who renovates a damaged building in a strategic location at great expense and then rents it to them, complete with large meeting room, storage area, beautiful kitchen, foyer and washrooms, for less than $400 a month. Need more people for a church plant? They pray, and a couple comes because God sends a visiting speaker from the other end of the country totally unfamiliar with local churches into a church service they are attending who walks up to them and says one word, which is the name of the church plant! Can’t afford a house to live in? They pray, and God gives them a completely gutted and renovated house when the vendor decides to knock $60,000 off the selling price. Got a small church but desperate for a place to meet? They pray and put an offer in on the city hall. This one’s in progress, but I have a feeling the mayor is on his way out the door!

At the end of the trip, we realized there was a cumulative effect to being around all these people. Our faith was increased and our vision was expanded. And at our last stop, we received a commissioning from very dear friends to move into a new place where God will do great things.

And I want to add one important detail. These are people taking massive steps of faith and common-sense defying risks because they felt God told them to in order to extend his kingdom. They are not people with a couple of expensive cars in the garage and lots of money in a pension plan. They are out on a limb for God. And God is meeting them.

Coming home, I was sitting in the car praying, and asking the Lord to fuel my faith and feed my vision. He can do that in many ways, but one of the ways is to be around people of faith and vision.

Those of us in Christian leadership wind up giving out a fair bit to folk who really need our help, and that’s the business we’re in. But often we forget that we also need to be fed. That happens, obviously, as we pray, read the Bible and worship. But it also happens through the company we keep.

Facing some big steps of faith ourselves, I felt God sent all these brothers and sisters into our lives at just the right time. We received far more than we gave.

Nothing much is accomplished for the kingdom by people unwilling to risk their personal comfort and financial security. Who needs faith when you can do it yourself?

I want to be found in the company of those risking everything.

Because that’s where miracles are found.

Source: New feed

Sarah Galloway: Incomplete but in complete

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 03:00

Today’s post is by Sarah Galloway.

Are you discouraged? Are you weary? Are you simply still and stagnant in your faith? Have you been suffering?

I have been all these things and more. It leads me to ask constant questions of life and of God.

Why is this happening? When will it stop?

In late 2013 I woke up on a consultation floor blissfully unaware that the life I had known and loved had been broken beyond repair. The moment passed and I remembered. Shocking things, unimaginably strange and scary things that would haunt me in flash backs for years to come.

Psychosis is not an experience that is easy to describe. But it is a categorically bad experience.

Attempted suicide, in some cases very nearly successful suicide, is not an experience that is easy to live alongside. But it is a categorically bad experience.

Memory loss both short and long term is easier to describe – it’s like living in a fog and a constant state of surprise. I’ve got nothing to anchor myself to, it affects my identity as well as my ability. It too is a bad experience.

Seeing your life and the lives of those you love sucked in around you because of this invisible illness, this disease that works like a black hole drawing in the light and life and resources is a scary thing.

The uncertainty of everything has been the hardest burden to bear. Many times I have come to God with the simple prayer ‘Make it stop, make it stop.’

But it didn’t and it hasn’t. I still suffer from a form of encephalitis whereby the body attacks the brain. I can’t work, I can’t cook, I can’t live alone, I can’t concentrate, I can’t control my emotion… in fact let’s go to the can do list, as that is shorter. I can eat. I can sleep. I can paint. And I can pray.

So what is it that keeps me going? What’s the driving force? What has God taught me through this suffering? A very simple thing. I have learned that I don’t always need to learn something through my suffering. Some things are bad and wrong and grieve God’s heart as well as mine. Some things steal from you. Some things break you. And that’s ok.

I can rest and not stress about finding that silver lining, or finding more faith. If I can’t feel God’s presence in the middle of my struggle I know that’s just another form of theft; it’s not my fault that it happened and it’s not my job to fix. There is such relief in this way of thinking and being before God.

Suffering draws you into the immediate, the now, the moment of pain. God works through the big picture, the journey, the long haul. I might not win this battle, I may yet suffer psychotic episodes, I may yet feel so low that life is too much. But I know the real battle is won.

I don’t have to strive, or struggle, or suffer under suffering. I can lean into God and rest. I can find that feast amid fear, that sleep through the storm and that resistance against temptation. God has given me an identity and an inheritance that no sickness, sin or suffering can touch, not even death. So in my incomplete, disease ridden life I can be in complete and hope ridden faith.

Source: New feed

Sarah Galloway: Incomplete but in complete

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 03:00

Today’s post is by Sarah Galloway.

Are you discouraged? Are you weary? Are you simply still and stagnant in your faith? Have you been suffering?

I have been all these things and more. It leads me to ask constant questions of life and of God.

Why is this happening? When will it stop?

In late 2013 I woke up on a consultation floor blissfully unaware that the life I had known and loved had been broken beyond repair. The moment passed and I remembered. Shocking things, unimaginably strange and scary things that would haunt me in flash backs for years to come.

Psychosis is not an experience that is easy to describe. But it is a categorically bad experience.

Attempted suicide, in some cases very nearly successful suicide, is not an experience that is easy to live alongside. But it is a categorically bad experience.

Memory loss both short and long term is easier to describe – it’s like living in a fog and a constant state of surprise. I’ve got nothing to anchor myself to, it affects my identity as well as my ability. It too is a bad experience.

Seeing your life and the lives of those you love sucked in around you because of this invisible illness, this disease that works like a black hole drawing in the light and life and resources is a scary thing.

The uncertainty of everything has been the hardest burden to bear. Many times I have come to God with the simple prayer ‘Make it stop, make it stop.’

But it didn’t and it hasn’t. I still suffer from a form of encephalitis whereby the body attacks the brain. I can’t work, I can’t cook, I can’t live alone, I can’t concentrate, I can’t control my emotion… in fact let’s go to the can do list, as that is shorter. I can eat. I can sleep. I can paint. And I can pray.

So what is it that keeps me going? What’s the driving force? What has God taught me through this suffering? A very simple thing. I have learned that I don’t always need to learn something through my suffering. Some things are bad and wrong and grieve God’s heart as well as mine. Some things steal from you. Some things break you. And that’s ok.

I can rest and not stress about finding that silver lining, or finding more faith. If I can’t feel God’s presence in the middle of my struggle I know that’s just another form of theft; it’s not my fault that it happened and it’s not my job to fix. There is such relief in this way of thinking and being before God.

Suffering draws you into the immediate, the now, the moment of pain. God works through the big picture, the journey, the long haul. I might not win this battle, I may yet suffer psychotic episodes, I may yet feel so low that life is too much. But I know the real battle is won.

I don’t have to strive, or struggle, or suffer under suffering. I can lean into God and rest. I can find that feast amid fear, that sleep through the storm and that resistance against temptation. God has given me an identity and an inheritance that no sickness, sin or suffering can touch, not even death. So in my incomplete, disease ridden life I can be in complete and hope ridden faith.

Source: New feed

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