Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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The tensions of small groups – being family and being on mission

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

(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

You are on mission with God

 

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eatwhatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

 

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?

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Are you a masterpiece?

I’m sitting in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in a corner of some room filled with amazing paintings.  Some of them are just tests – the artist was practicing so that he could later do a masterpiece.  It’s a great place to be considering the longest story told in the book of Genesis (longer than Noah, creation or Joseph).  I believe that this story, found in Genesis 24, is a vivid portrait (or allegory) of the God’s own search.  The story is a masterpiece but the subject of the story is young and immature.

Room 81 at the V & A
I would entitle the story of Genesis 24: “Rebekah’s Extravagant Responsiveness.”

This story starts with desire (every great love story does) – the desire of Abraham for a family.  He wants a bride for his son.  There is no mention of Isaac’s desire for a wife, but I think we can safely assume that his passions are coming alive and his dad wants a daughter-in-law who will carry on the family line that God started.  This bride must be pure and carry the values of Abraham’s family.  God is starting a family and this bride will be the mother of descendants as numerous as the sands on the beach. Continue reading


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The Heritage & Reward of Children

When I got married I thought that I was pretty selfless person – generous and forgiving in my life. Becoming a husband burst that fantasy – I was (though hopefully am less now) an arrogant & self-serving man. Likewise, when I became a dad I thought that I was a patient person and that I was beginning to really get a handle on my anger. It sure didn’t take too long to realize that I have a much greater capacity for impatience, self importance and anger than I thought.

Loving the fighter jets at the airplane museum

Loving the fighter jets at the airplane museum

Maybe you’ve heard others blame their adult temper tantrums on their children? I’ve even heard parents say that they have to drink heavily or use illegal drugs & painkillers because their children cause them so much stress. It’s easy for me to understand why they make these statements, but it’s not how God sees children. Continue reading


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A Review of The Parenting Course

Last night was the last night of our Parenting Course and I thought that you might appreciate a review of how it went for us.

We advertised by word of mouth, in the community, at church, on Facebook and targeted emails.  We were quite specific with who we advertised to because we ran it in our home and knew that not everyone would be comfortable going to someone’s house.  In the end, it was Christa and I and one other couple. Continue reading


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What to do on Halloween?

A friend emailed me recently who feels torn between giving their kids the fun of Halloween and standing against the evil associated with the day (witchcraft, gluttony). Here’s part of my response.

Halloween for us is our one chance annually to talk to all our neighbours. If the Lord is telling you not to celebrate on this day, keep reading, I have some ideas.

We participate at Halloween for these reasons:
1. It was, at some point, Christian celebration: hallowe’en is hallowed evening which is holy evening
2. Partying together is bonding
3. God is redeeming all things: he’s making all things new.
4. I really like the final chance to see my neighbours before we lock everything down for the winter. (a Winnipeg thing)

But, don’t destroy your conscience. The Lord has a reason for how you feel (same as how I feel about obligation gift giving at Christmas – if it’s an obligation it’s no gift). Here’s some ideas about how to make it special and not engaging in the evil elements of the night.

1. Volunteer to be a safety patrol. Be crossing guards at a busy intersection.
2. Put on a big pot of soup or chili, pull your fire pit to the front yard and feed the parents of kids.
3. Kids love to dress up. Dress up with them, go buy some candy and visit the children’s hospital (or the seniors home). Do it a day early or a day late and it’s just goofy. Do it on the 31st and it’s still goofy.

Ultimately, if you’re feeling uneasy, ask the Lord and ask your family. Help your kids know what you feel uncomfortable about, because it’s probably not everything. It may be that you’re to pray and call others to pray. (This is probably a good idea anyway).

Your feelings on it are trustworthy, but for what purpose? There’s no universal principal, you must walk with the Spirit. Can you think of ways to bring honor to Jesus on Halloween? What do you do to be God honouring on Halloween?