Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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Lasting Peace compared to Good Attempts to find Peace

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.

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Learning to love

My grandma passed away about a year and half ago at the age of 92. As she faded in her later years there were fewer and fewer things that she could do, but God graciously gave her continued joy in song and full thankfulness. When I would visit, I would sing for her – it was amazing and emotional. And when someone would do anything for her, even if it was uncomfortable, she’d always say, “Thank you dear.” She is for me a picture of Jesus’ friend, coming out of the wilderness. Weak, but glorious because of the One on whom she leans.

For the longest time, I thought that love was a command that I must follow – but try as I might, it seemed impossible. Some people told me that love was a decision, not emotional, I just need to decide to love him and then work hard at it. And I really wanted to, but it’s really hard and probably ended up looking for other rules to follow.

My children are part of the curriculum to teach me to love!

My children are part of the curriculum to teach me to love!

I think we may all know someone like me, who works hard at religion, loves the truth and loves the story, but their heart has yet to love God fully. Maybe it’s you. God has been working on me for years to take the ideas of love from my head to my heart. There are 3 verses in the Bible that have been very meaningful to me in helping me transition from being someone who knows about love to someone who loves (and it’s not over yet, believe me).

1. Matthew 22.37

And [Jesus] replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).

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How to know if you’re growing in love…

To the favourite children of the King,When we first arrived here in Belgium I asked God what he wanted me to accomplish in the next 2 years.  Seems reasonable, He’s the One who brought us here.  I don’t want to be busy doing anything that is not the King’s business.  What was shown to me (through songs, scripture, the Holy Spirit and other people) is that he wants my heart more alive and me more in love.  If it’s possible to measure love and life, Jesus wants these to be the true measures of my success.

What do you think, looks like a path in Belgium.

I love to see how you are growing in your love of God and your skills in the Kingdom!  It makes me proud of you to see what fine men & women you are becoming.  As you grow in your love and faith, you will go through many seasons – probably over and over – and I want you to be aware of what they are so that you can not be surprised but rather be confident that God is the Greatest Lover.  And because he’s the Greatest Lover, He has set everything up so that you’ll fall more in love with Him and grow in your confidence that His love is secure.

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How can you make space for more joy in your life?

   This is your invitation to enjoy Jesus.  Now I suspect that some people might react to this statement with questions or even shock – how could I enjoy Jesus.  Serving sounds easy, worshiping is understandable but enjoying?  This is the journey that we will take together through the season of Lent.  A journey of discovering God as lovesick over us and of enjoying Jesus, the great bridegroom.

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What is Lent?

     Imagine that your mom is making your favourite meal for you.  She’s spent time this week shopping and planning and she’s spent all day in the kitchen baking and cooking and thinking of you with every dish she’s preparing.  Now imagine that on your way to this feast, you stop off at McDonalds and have a Super-sized Big Mac Combo and a milkshake.  As amazing as that might sound, it’s garbage compared to what your mom prepared and when you show up to eat, you aren’t even going to be hungry.  Who of us would do this (at least intentionally)?  No, if someone is making us a special meal, we want to come to the feast hungry.

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My morning walk in Hoeilaart

One of the best things about having a dog is that I have an excuse to get out and explore. Then the benefit of a smart phone is that I can go further and still find my way home.

I suppose that’s the way with the Lord too. The Holy Spirit is very curious – so as I listen to the voice of God I get taken on journeys. The added benefit is that God can’t get lost – so we can find ourselves in far away and interesting places, confident that we will find our way home.

Here’s some of what I saw this morning on the roads near our home.

 


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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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“Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.  We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work.  In the teaching of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me which produces the miracle of redemption in others by the power of God.”
– Oswald Chambers

What is my work in the life of prayer?  Even the things that I must do in prayer require the grace of God, so with God’s grace, there are 3 requirements of me to live a life of prevailing prayer.  Here’s my alliteration: To pursue passionate prevailing prayer I must practice and pursue patience, purpose and power.

Patience:

Here’s what I want to remember in growing in patience, I am a waiter, not just waiting.  I am God’s servant, towel over my arm, eyes on Him, ready to respond to what my Lord requires.  I want to quickly and easily do what I’m called to do.  Patience in prayer is taking the role of waiting on the Lord – learning the rhythm of His grace.