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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The Rewards of Being God’s Friend

An Introduction to Psalm 27

This is one of the famous Psalms, well quoted and well sung – for good reason. It’s got great soundbites, and twitter-able quotes. Many of us know some of the lyrics of this song of David and our hearts resonate with the themes. In heaven, I imagine, that each line is just the title of a whole library in God’s house. David’s intimacy with God shines through. His insight is inspiring to our spirits. His confidence is exemplary; we want to know the Lord like David knows Him.

Psalm 27 ConfidenceJohn Wimber, at his conferences, would sometimes say, “Many of you would like to have the same authority as I do, but none of you wants to go through what I’ve had to go through.” The same could be same for David. We all want what he seems to have, but none of us want to go through the pressures and trials that he went through.

The most likely event that David wrote this song was during his exile at the hands of his own son, Absalom. 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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How to be confident in faith

This week I was out for a walk and suddenly felt this awareness of being far away from Jesus. Do you know what I mean?  My prayers felt like they were hitting the clouds and coming right back at me, doubts were starting to creep in and everyone with no faith seemed to be doing just fine and even prospering, while I’m struggling.

What’s up with seasons like this?  Why am I experiencing this when Jesus promised to never leave me or forsake me? (Hebrews 13:5)?  Sometimes I just withdraw (“O poor me”) other times I compensate by working harder (“I will just get through this”).  Do you ever have times like this?  Fear, worry, pride driving your lack of connection with the one your heart loves?

In the Song of Songs, this is not the the Bride’s response in Song 4 – she is beginning to grow in confident maturity because she is learning to know and love and trust her Lover.  She not only knows his love, his beauty and his strength, but she also knows what he’s thinking about her.  She is beginning to understand (knowledge) and experience (emotions) the Bridegroom’s thoughts and emotions about her.  As you read them, can you believe that this is how Jesus thinks & feels about you?

3 Declarations of the Bridegroom over his Bride (Song 4.9-16)

1.  Do you know how you move Jesus’ heart? Continue reading


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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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It’s the Easter Weekend – what if someone comes to faith?

I am not a fisherman.  There are a few reasons, primarily this: a good day for fishing is an even better day for bike riding.  Second reason?  I’m not a big fan of cleaning the fish.  Catching fish is fun, but what you have to do between catching and eating is just a little beyond me.

Alpha bannerFor many of us, the work of making disciples of Jesus is much the same.  I’m not sure about you, but I think I’m more worried about evangelism being successful than unsuccessful. If I share my faith and it’s rejected, I can carry on as usual.  If the Gospel is accepted, then I need to get to work on helping this new believer learn to walk with Jesus.  I like bringing a person to faith & I like working with mature believers, but helping them grow in maturity is just hard work.

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Are Alpha Churches ready for people who find faith in prison?

I have a theory, but it’s untested and I need some help.

Churches that run Alpha are more than halfway ready to welcome people who find faith during an Alpha Course in prison.

Now, it’s just a theory, but wouldn’t you like to help me test it?

If you’re in Winnipeg May 2, would you consider joining me for a roundtable discussion called Breaking the Cycle of Crime.  We’ve designed the time to be focused on building relationships between pastors, prison chaplains & those working in after prison ministries.  We’ll hear from Alpha for Prisons Director John Kreklo and have opportunity to talk together about what God may be doing in our city and province. Continue reading