Pray for our leaders

This is probably gonna be a short post.

So this week, premier Kathleen Wynne announced that minimum wage in Ontario will be increased to $14 come January of 2018, and then $15 in January of 2019. The reaction to it has been mixed.

A lot of people at my work making minimum wage are thrilled. Others in higher positions there aren’t so much…cause now they’re wondering how the company is gonna keep everyone at the hours we’re getting. Other worries I’ve heard brought up are how are they going to afford the other changes (paid sick days and 3 week vacation) and the increase? How much will our prices have to go up? How much more will the cost of living go up? How many jobs will be lost? What about the small businesses? The increase is both great news and has some worrying aspects.

The point of this short post is to encourage y’all to pray for our leaders. It’s easy to just praise or slam them for this (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t do either of those things), but it’s a big deal with A LOT of impact and should be prayed about.

Pray for the small business owners – my brother in law being one of them (who has a really positive attitude about this, it was great seeing).

And pray for peoples jobs – that with these increases people won’t loose their jobs, or generosity to those who depend on financial support (missionaries, shelter staff, etc) won’t lessen.

This can be great stuff, but definitely needs much prayer.

Thanks for reading, and God bless my friends.

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Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here something that wasn’t an interview. It’s been a bit of an up and down time, and I don’t know about y’all – but when its like that, I tend to plug myself into other/lighter/non-self reflective things. But God is good (that just needs to be said, always, to remind us how great He is).

Anyways, last sunday my awesome wife and I were listening to this older Francis Chan sermon and a particular chunk of it really walloped me ( or like a grace filled basketball to the face, as my boy Cameron Butryn would put it). I’d recommend listening to the whole thing anyway, but the proverbial b-ball to face is in the first 10-15mins.

My main take away (for the purpose of this post anyway) was something that I needed to be reminded of; that God doesn’t NEED me, and He doesn’t NEED me to advance the kingdom. I am NOT the clincher; We are not the clincher here, none of us are. God wants us, but doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need me to save anybody, but He can use me – and have plans for me. Nothing I can do can screw up God’s plan. Nothing I can do can ruin Him. Sure, I can misrepresent Him to others and I can point away from Him, but God can still save those people, and correct me.

After I left PYC, and in the frustration of this period of waiting and searching for a new ministry position, my attitude at times can be summed up perfectly by this Doctor Who
clip:

“But me? I could do so much more! SO MUCH MORE!”

And I could – if God chooses to use me for it. On my own? Not so much.

On my own strength, I can’t do anything for the kingdom. On my own strength, PYC and any of the ministries I was leading at Calvary didn’t advance an inch during my tenure there – but God was active through me, and I definitely think there was ground gained and gospel shared.  The truth is God doesn’t need me or my strength to advance the kingdom. But He used me and the volunteers to do just that, and on His strength we shared Him with the kids/volunteers/clients every week, we grew to know them more than before, and hopefully left a lasting impression/planted a seed.

There’s a comforting notion here in that we can’t do anything on our own strength, at least to me. And please, don’t get it twisted – I’m not saying we don’t do anything; on the contrary, we should do all that we are able to. But we/I need to keep in mind that it’s not me (or Jessica or Arron or Xander) who wins someone to Christ, but Christ using us to win others to Him.

This doesn’t give us license to be lazy in our walk, but it does take the pressure and (more often than I’d like to admit) the inflated sense of self off. (maybe that second part is more for me than you). We are not the clincher, that’s Jesus. To piggyback off of Cam’s sports analogies: Jesus the all star player, and we’re the ball He’s using to win the game. Without Him directing and using, we just bounce up and down and make the occasional funny noise.

Thanks for reading. I hope and pray this was helpful.

God bless my friends.

A podcast about porn

Today’s post is a link to an excellent podcast about the issue of pornography, which a dear brother in Christ sent me this morning; you can listen to by clicking this link right here.

Guys and gals (ladies and gents…dudes and dudettes), I seriously cannot recommend this podcast enough – you should really go an listen. They dive into the spiritual and scientific aspects of the negative impact porn has, and it is more than worth a listen. Porn is something that I truly believe is bad, and something I have had many difficulties with in the past. Please, give this a listen.

Praying it is as helpful to you as it was me.

God bless my friends.

 

A Chat With Fran Purvis

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Good afternoon friends! Today I am happy to share with you a new interview, one I got to conduct with a good friend of mine and missionary Fran Purvis. I met Fran back in high school years (good ol EYCI) in a ‘World Religions’ class. From there I had the pleasure of getting to know her more through mutual friends and the schools Christian fellowship. Over the years I’ve been blessed to support Fran in her mission with InterVarsity, and she was kind enough to take some time and answer some questions. Hope you enjoy my friends.

Can you share a bit about your testimony?

F: When I was 7 years old I asked Jesus to come into my heart- a sincere and heartfelt decision. Children can and do hear from their Creator, and they can make genuine decisions to know and follow him!  While I grew up in a spiritually nourishing household, there were also relational tensions within our home, and I struggled with anxiety and insecurity as a result, and between ages 12-18 I didn’t know how to grow in my faith without the presence of spiritual community outside my home.

In university I encountered the IVCF community of believers on my campus which really helped my own my faith, and heal from my identity issues and to see that I could be leader and an agent for the kingdom. I learned so much from them and really fell in love with Jesus at this time.

When did you feel the call missions?

F: My university community was really what helped me see that Jesus was about reaching out world and healing all things, people, relationships and creation! I was very captivated by this vision and was experiencing the goodness of mission in my own context. I felt a call to do full time missions at Urbana 09, but at that point I didn’t know what it meant. In my graduating year I decided to do an intern year with InterVarsity, and was placed In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That year was deeply formative for me, in providing me with a supervisor and mentor, Lisa Laird, who would encourage me to learn about the bigger story of Canada’s history, and to put myself in places where I could listen to and learn under Indigenous leadership- both Christian and non-Christian.

After that year, I was invited to join full time staff with IVCF, as a campus minister at the University of Regina. These past 5 years that I have served on staff I have grown in immeasurable ways as a follower of Jesus and a leader of others.  It has stretched me and forced me to see my own brokenness and need for healing; these years of learning to love and students have also challenged me to learn to offer this healing to them, through prayer ministry, community and scripture study.  In these years God has also widened my perspective of the gospel, in particular, God’s heart for reconciliation

 

What can you tell us about InterVarsity?

F: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, who loved Jesus with a sincerity and devotion I hadn’t seen before- they let their whole lives be impacted by the gospel, but they also had room for my questions.  This community introduced me to a Jesus whose heart is to connect with women, the sick, the poor and the outcast, a Jesus whose kingdom is about reconciling, bridge-building, and restoring all things.

One of IVCF’s gifts is in helping people encounter Jesus in scripture, as well as creating authentic spaces for people to ask questions and wrestle through complexities. Also in creating genuine, loving community. IVCF is also trying to hold vision for multi ethnicity and ethnic justice which is quite unique for an Evangelical organization.

You’ve been on staff with InterVarsity with for a number of years. What roles have you had and what has your experience been like?

F: I have been a mentor, scripture teacher, led prayer meetings, led retreats, and have done admin tasks.  I have done missions work in China, Bangladesh and with Indigenous students here in Regina. Probably my favourite roles are leading prayer meetings, and helping students encounter the healing love of Jesus though prayer ministry. I also love doing any kind of cross cultural relating!  These relationships teach me so much!

What can you tell us about Urbana?

F: Thousands of students, including myself, receive a call to missions at Urbana. Urbana is an amazing chance to have your worldview and view of God’s global kingdom expanded. I have learned so much about God’s heart for the nations, and multicultural worship, from Urbana.

What have been some of your favourite experiences as a missionary?

F: I love seeing students experience Jesus, and to see them get caught up in the mission- to see that he is truly good and worth spending their lives on. Seeing students love their friends more and be more clear about why they follow Jesus, is awesome! I love a good, honest chat about faith and I love a solid Bible study that leaves people more in love with the Kingdom!

What would you say is a challenge facing missions?

Apathy and busyness. Students are so busy and it’s easy to be distracted!  Keeping Jesus at the centre, and having the mission be integrated into their lives (and my life) is essential.

Helping student grow roots in God through spiritual disciplines, like prayer, is a big issue too. Students need to learn to exercise these muscles, and there is alot that gets in the way (phones; socializing, not knowing how to spend time with God…)

Are there any resources (pastors, authors, theologians, etc) you learn from that you’d recommend to people to check out?

F: C.S Lewis; Henri Nouewen, Thomas Merton, and Belden Lane.

How do you see the church at work in Saskatchewan?

F: The church here is visible, but seems separate from the rest of life.  The church is sincere and wants to make a difference, but struggles to make an actually difference to peoples’ lives.  There is a heart for revival though, and there is a growing desire to pray and worship and see God move.

Do you see any differences in church culture in Western Canada compared to the East?

F: The church here is more conservative.  Other than that, I’m not sure how to comment, such a big question!

And finally – what would you say to someone thinking of pursuing missions?

F: Pray and ask God to open doors; pray for partners in ministry (friends with similar vision and values).  Work on developing skills and character growth, and spiritual growth, rather than fixating on what specific place you are called to. God will clarify location, but when we’re starting out its good to think about our first ministry assignments as “training ground.” Listen to where Jesus might be calling you and even if it doesn’t make sense or its costly- say yes! Jesus is worth saying yes to every time!

 

Thanks for reading, I hope that the Lord somehow speaks to you through these interviews and through Fran today. God bless my friends.

The point of church should be Jesus

The above sermon was from 2011, but still holds up today. Now I’ll admit this is a sermon that takes one point and pummels us with it – but I like the point, and think it’s a good one. The other thing is during the many examples Fran Chan The Man gives to support his point, it DEFINITELY opens up possibility for discussion – so this could be a fun one to watch in a group – but also works by yourself (how do you feel about his overall point? do you agree with the conclusions he comes to with his examples? why/why not?).

Hope you all enjoy.

God bless my friends.

Free Speech

 

I remember having a conversation with some friends from church a couple of years ago. One was upset that there was a sign on the TTC from an atheist organization and thought it shouldn’t be allowed, but were thrilled there was a sign from a Christian organization. But even though I disagreed with the atheist ad, the truth was clear – if one ad was allowed to be there, the other had every right to as well.

Two quotes immediately come to mind when I think about free speech: “Sure, you’re free to do it, but what does it mean to do it?” and “living where there’s free speech means sometimes you get offended”. And in my opinion, both are right.

Right now there is a lot going on. A lot of people are upset, and they want to be heard – and they should be. But in turn they should also listen – and that doesn’t seem to be happening. The university protests are an example of this; people demand their side be heard, but then verbally harass, assault, shout at, browbeat, and turn violent on people who disagree with them. They come up with any number of terms to dismiss the other side without hearing them. That kind of response is not compatible with free speech.

Please don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying don’t be offended – but what I am saying is that if you want others to hear and listen to why you think and feel the way you do, you should be willing to hear their side. You could both learn something – even if you don’t change their mind.

Protesting Milo (or whomever, I needed an example) in the extreme ways that are going on should not be happening. Disagree with him by all means, even (peacefully) protest, but don’t block his chance to speak. Dare I say even listen – you may gain an understanding why people agree with his view.

Open dialogue is a good thing – it challenges us and helps us grow. Retreating to extreme safe spaces and only speaking to those who are like-minded doesn’t, nor does painting the other side in broad strokes based on stereotypes.

And please, if you need to protest, do it. You have a right to peaceful protest. But macing someone you don’t agree with, destroying property, spitting on widows, and assaulting people isn’t that. It doesn’t endear those your view – it shuts down any chance for understanding (ie; “why would I even listen to you talk about love when there’s all this hate in your ranks?”) to be found. What will be associated with the view is the terrible things being done, not the message you’re trying to convey.

All this post boils down to is this; please think before you speak (especially  to the Christians, as we are called to imitate Christ, which there’s not a lot of that happening, particularly online), and be willing to listen. Don’t try to silence others, you know you wouldn’t want that to happen to you or any of your loved ones. If you’re willing to talk, please be willing to listen.

Hope this post was enjoyable and leads to some conversation. God bless my friends.