Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


Remembering Hosea Bennett

Last Friday our good friend Hosea Bennett passed into glory and we miss him dearly.
Grandpa Bennett sauntered into our lives when I needed a weekend retreat and, with Donald Grier, travelled to Fargo ND to stay for a few days.  Hosea welcomed me in and became a good friend in a short time.  Later that summer, our whole family travelled through Fargo, on our way to BC – my children, like most children, instantly bonded with Grandpa Bennett.  Since that visit, we’ve enjoyed his visits for BBQ when he’s come to Winnipeg.
What we will miss about Hosea Bennett:

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Reflection on “Good to Great” by Jim Collins


This was a book that I felt I had read before.  I think because I’ve been in several of Jim Collin’s lectures and his stories were quite memorable.  The premise of the book was to show, through research, what were the common factors among companies that went from good (even mediocre) to being great performers.  The Good to Great companies had to sustain their greatness for at least 15 years and not just beat the market, but they had to beat their comparison companies, because good to great couldn’t be a measure of just a whole industry taking off.
I read this with a mind to the organizations that I’ve been in, the leaders I’ve been under and the leadership I would like to give in the social sector and my faith community.  Here are my top learnings from the main concepts:
  1. Level 5 Leadership is essential. Leaders of G2G organizations are not flashy – they subscribe to hard work, disciplined action, humility and they surrounded themselves with the right people.
  2. First Who, then What. Who you have around you is more important than the thing you are doing. The right people in the right places is essential. When the right people are in the right places, the leader doesn’t have to be the expert or the smartest – the team can passionately argue and then respectfully follow what was decided.
  3. Confront the brutal facts. The Stockdale Paradox: Be stubbornly convinced that you will reach your goal, but don’t make promises that you cannot keep. G2G companies were not optimistic, they under promised and over delivered. And, listen to the experts (your people who can see what’s actually happening).
  4. The hedgehog concept: foxes run around, try all sorts of things, but hedgehogs know one thing and have confidence that what they do will work. The secret to greatness lies in finding the one thing that you can be great at.
  5. Culture of discipline: fanatically disciplined, not bureaucratic. Within the consistency there is great freedom and great responsibility. There are no shortcuts, every action is focused around the one thing you could be great at. From the outside it looks boring and slow moving, but in reality more opportunities open up.
  6. Technology accelerators: technology is never a ticket to greatness and yet every G2G company was among the most innovative and tech savy companies. Technology had to work to enhance the one thing that they were passionate about.

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What will the church look like on the day Jesus returns?

God’s vision for the church is found in the story of Rebekah

I was excited to bring encouragement to a local congregation recently because the scripture from the Old Testament was the story of Rebekah. I knew that this woman was an example for the Jewish people, of service and hospitality. Rabbis, pastors & scholars have used this woman’s story to describe God’s people on the day of the return of the Lord. In the generation that sees God’s messiah return, a faithful people will be found that reflect the story of this mother of our faith.

Perhaps you look at the churches in your city or at the people of faith in your social circles and, like me, you wonder, “Is this really what Jesus had in mind when he came preaching, healing & loving? Is this what Jesus died for?” The current reality seems bleak, the church weak and many people of faith can’t be distinguished from everyone else by their life and entertainment choices. Two voices come to my mind:

I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” – Ghandi
The best money has never been on the church. Yet the church has outlasted every economic and political system.” Gary Best


God, in the story of Rebekah, is telling us our story. You’ll find this gem in Genesis 24 and it’s the longest story told in the book of Genesis (longer than Noah, creation or Joseph). There a number of perspectives on this, but today let’s just look at this story as a shadow of our story. Continue reading

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Four disastrous beliefs that hold us back from enjoying Jesus

I remember many years ago being asked to speak at my parents’ church and to fit into the preaching schedule as they were going through the book of Colossians – lucky me, I got to talk about the 2 most guilt inducing topics in the church – prayer and evangelism.

Of course, we don’t all feel guilt about prayer or evangelism, some of us have just gotten so discouraged or put off that we are calloused to the call. Here’s what Paul, the missionary pastor, expected of his congregations:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-
that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Can I suggest that we (the list comes from my own experience and errors) have believed dangerously wrong ideas about prayer that keep us from enjoyable times of interceding? Which of these have you fallen into?

Do you trust God like you trust slot machines? photo by Yamaguchi先生

1. Prayer is God’s slot machine. We put prayers in and hope that we get what we want out of it. Prayer is unpredictable but we just keep hoping that we’ll hit the jackpot.

2. Prayer is a magical language. We try to get our words just right, our theology perfect, use words we never use in conversation and even copy the inflection and hand movements of our favourite “power pray-ers”

3. Prayer is like yoga. We use God and prayer as a relaxation technique. Not that it isn’t restful, but that’s not the purpose.

4. Prayer avoidance. Many of us just leave prayer to the intercessors. We’re “not very good at it,” so we avoid it. We’re not convinced that it does much good even though we are happy to have someone else praying for us.

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” – John Piper

Time has never been the most significant reason that we do not pray.

What if there was another reason that pastor Paul calls us to pray? What if this was more than a religious exercise and an opportunity to join God in his work? Prayer is the work that Jesus is doing right now, at this moment and he joyfully invites our voluntary partnership.

Song of Solomon 2:10 “My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”
– Jesus is calling you and me to rise up and do what He is doing

Hebrews 7:25 “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
– And Jesus is living to make intercession for us.

My response:

1. Stop believing disastrous things about prayer.  Repent to God and move on.

2. Decide to dig in and ask God to help you enjoy prayer.

3. Schedule it.  For today and tomorrow and the next day.

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Is going to pray like going to funeral?

This summer I’ve been invited to 7 weddings (but because of moving continents we’ll only make it to 3). What I enjoy about weddings is that I remember my own wedding and I’m reminded about what a wedding is really about. Now some people will try to tell you that “It’s all about the dress,” and others will try to convince you that a good wedding is the only way to start a good marriage. As I was packing and shredding old documents, I recently came across the budget for our wedding. Somehow we spent $309 on our whole honeymoon, including $89 for our first night in the hotel and $25 for gas to get to Edmonton. I have no idea how that happened! (But this is also why I council young couples to get married when they’re poor – they don’t have to spend as much on the rings and wedding!)

What do you think about at a wedding?

What do you think about at a wedding?

There’s so much going on at a wedding that it’s easy to get distracted by the real purpose – to find joy in the wrong things or to be frustrated by things that don’t matter. Continue reading