Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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Exams in Belgium

A good street view of Brussels from my bike ride.

A good street view of Brussels from my bike ride.

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

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Why I love being in a small group

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.

Fun times out skating in Belgium.  It wasn't hard to pick out the Canadians.

Fun times out skating in Belgium. It wasn’t hard to pick out the Canadians.

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.
Acts 2:42-47

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?


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How to do a singing Bible study

Dear Worship Leader,

I enjoy worshiping and singing with you – it’s easy because your heart wants to worship.  Your role is important because the songs we sing will stay with us longer than most sermons or even encouraging words.  Your worship, helps us worship.

I’d like to give you a little tool to help your Bible Study time turn into songs between you and Jesus with a little model: Read it, Write it, Say it, Sing it, Pray it (thanks to my friend Kirk Bennett).  The goal is to take God’s word and turn it into prayerful worship, new songs and increased revelation of God. Continue reading


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The church I would join: values in the story of Pentecost

 I grew up in a family that loved our church.  Many of our best friends were also in our church community and I loved my friends and the way I was grown and encouraged to become a man who could follow after God.  For me, church was not a once-a-week gathering, it was my extended family and support network.  Even now, when I go home, I consider these friends as my family and I always make a point to connect with them. Continue reading


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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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Get up, let’s go together!

To the one made beautiful by Jesus,

What I believe affects deeply how I respond to situations. If I believe that my boss is like an ogre (like Shrek on a bad day), when he says something nice, I’ll just think he’s manipulating me. And if she gets really mad, I may just say – “That’s just her, she’s always going off like that.” There are some people who easily offend me and others to whom I give lots of grace.

Shrek_angryshrek - It works this way with God. Some of us believe that God is a master and we are his servants. Others think of God as a big cuddly grandpa that likes to give out hugs and treats. (These are both good pictures, but incomplete.) Still others figure that he’s quite far away and doesn’t notice what’s happening here. We all respond to God and to life based on what we believe. Continue reading


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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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