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I’m a little drifty in my thoughts these days but I seem to have some more poetic expression. It’s helping get what’s in my brain onto the page so I’ll give this a try to restart my writing here.
Jesus in you, us in Christ
Making all things new
Restoring homes, hope, future to what they were meant to be
That dream that drifted through your thoughts was not just passing gas or a fanciful fantasy
But the thoughts of the Divine.
New futures are reality waiting to happen.
Jesus in you making movies, making music, making money,
Leading churches, making others around us successful.
Growing families where the divine lives and forms us into
The people we were made to be.
Poverty is vanquished – it was just a mask we wore anyway
We are inheriting the Kingdom.
Here’s a little photo I took as I rode my Villo! bike through Brussels yesterday. It may be unwise and a little dangerous but the view is impressive.
Exam time started today! And exams here in Belgium are serious business. Already last year when Sinéad and Silas were in grade 2 and 4 they had quite serious end of year exams that many children stress about. This year Olivia (grade 6) and Orien (grade 8) have significant exams that could leave them with extra work for the summer or the chance to do their grade over. If you’re Canadian, you can’t relate to this type of exam stress until grade 12 or university.
The good news is that our children are developing good study habits at a very young age and that they are excelling in their exams. Continue reading
After a hurried rentrée (return to school after a week off) and praying through the stressful situations that many of our friends find themselves in (and you too?!), I’m reminded that we do not live in a peaceful world. There is always something for me to be worried about. There is always something trying to steal my joy and peace.
The verse that came to my mind this morning was John 14.27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I am reminded of the ways that people around me (and me included) look for peace:
- In political powers: my own nation of Canada is groaning and rejoicing with the political shift that has just taken place. In 4 years it will all shift again. Palestinians, Israelis, Syrians, Ukrainians, Romas are still waiting for political peace.
- In economic prosperity: many of the deepest economic recessions have happened after stratospheric financial booms. A bumper crop can be wiped out with a hail storm.
- In educational superiority: just when you think you’re getting somewhere, along comes someone who makes you seem very ordinary.
- In family stability: we are all hoping that home will be a place of peace and security and look to copy those around us who seem to have it. Family is where tension and strife is most normal (and faith can make it even worse).
- In physical health: one accident, one illness, one unusual test result and it’s all shattered.
This weekend my family and I are going on vacation. We’re going to pack ourselves into our Citroën C8 (which has about 1/8th of the packing space our Honda Odyssey had) and drive to London. It’s going to be great – time together, building memories, eating together, seeing the sights, doing Legoland! But at the same time, we are a family trying to follow after Jesus and he’s sending us out to show God’s love to people. How will we balance the tension of time together and doing the things that the King would have us do? I’ll let you know.
This is also the tension that small groups and home groups in the church face. Small groups are meant to be the new family unit of God – a place of safety, growing, honesty and even conflict. But they’re also meant to be the most basic unit to bring God’s light to dark places. Most groups do one much better than the other. Some are really great at helping anyone feel welcome and comfortable. Other groups are closed both to new members and serving other. Other groups go the other way and care for outsiders at the expense of insiders and members. None of these seem quite what God had in mind.
I will not give you a formula. Instead I want to put out these two values as tensions that each leader and small group must hold up.
You are the family of God
You are on mission with God
Just like my family on vacation, if we want to be true to who we really are, we must do both. Be the family of God – restoring, growing, feeding, protecting and sharing; and be on mission with with God – reaching, loving, healing, touching and giving.
What else is at tension here? What are we called to that seem to war with each other for attention and time?
I grew up in a Christian home, but in the same way that being born in McDonald’s does not make you a hamburger, being born to Christian parents does not make a person a Christian. My home was certainly the first place where I explored and experienced a life of faith, but it was just the beginning.
Youth group was a great place to discuss, and be real about doubts, passions and to try out my ideas. In my later teens I started groups where we studied the Bible or learned about life together. As I look back on my life, my spiritual journey has been highlighted by being involved in small groups. Sometimes bigger groups, sometimes just 2-3 families meeting together for meals and short prayers. They’ve helped me through low times and helped to grow in me skills and gifts that I use much more publicly today.
Maybe you’re on the fence about whether you have time for a small group. You might be unsure that you would like the people in a small group. You might be resisting joining or starting a small group because people (like me) seem to be putting a guilt trip on you. I understand – I’ve felt all those emotions and more.
Today, I’d like to share with you 3 reasons why I love small groups. This is a little exercise just to build my own faith and convictions. If it helps you, then that’s great. If not, I’m sorry to waste your time.
3 Reasons to Love and Join A Small Group
1. They are local. The closeness of God’s people to the rest of the world is essential to the health of the church and the sharing of good news. Sharing news from a long way away is much less effective than to come close and be the deliverer of good news. And people who are being changed by God’s good news need to be geographically close.
Small groups are the vehicles God uses to change things.
“The local church is the hope of the world!” Bill Hybels.
2. It’s the model that Jesus gave us. A group of friends, learning together to be like our master and to do the things he does, in the way that he does them. Jesus started with 12 and after 3 years of doing the stuff together, he left them with the Holy Spirit to “turn the whole world upside down.”
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
3. We were meant to do this life of following Jesus together.
“No one can become a new [person] except by entering the Church, and becoming a member of the body of Christ. It is impossible to become a new [person] as a solitary individual. The new man means more than the individual believer after he has been justified and sanctified. It means the Church, the Body of Christ, in fact it means Christ himself.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)
And you? What keeps you from a small group? What keeps you in a small group?