Planting my 12 Sacred Seeds writing project on 12/12/12. Check it out:

Dear RumBloggers,

I have chosen 12/12/12 as the perfect time to plant/publish my 12 Sacred Seeds writing project at . It will be a separate site from this and I will continue to use this one for regular posts and updates. Read it over and comment during this reflective time of year. This time of year naturally opens up opportunities for us to reflect on our values and beliefs. What do you believe about sacred things? When I talk to friends and neighbours around Toronto, I hear their personal statements of spiritual conviction.  Recently, I shared a paper containing a personal statement of my spiritual convictions.  Before that, I presented an expanded version of each “sacred seed” as 12 talks for the inspiration and education of my congregation. After sharing it with all of them, I thought it may be good stewardship to post it on the web for your use rather than just file it away in a drawer or under a pile.  I am posting some of the content  here as a way of reaching out to people who are reflecting on their sacred beliefs with a desire to understand what a Christian, like me, believes.  This writing project is called 12 sacred seeds because it contains 12 potent ideas that when planted in your mind and nutured in community have the power to grow you a fruitful life!

Sacred Seed 1: The Bible 

Sacred Seed 2: Blessed Trinity

Sacred Seed 3: God, The Father 

Sacred Seed 4: Jesus Christ 

Sacred Seed 5: The Holy Spirit 

Sacred Seed 6: Satan

Sacred Seed 7: Humanity

Sacred Seed 8: Salvation 

Sacred Seed 9: The Church 

Sacred Seed 10: Symbols of the Gospel 

Sacred Seed 11: Future Things 

Sacred Seed 12: The Church and State, Civil Government and Religious Liberty 

News about My New Ministry Role and Recent Ordination:

This month, I have reached a meaningful ministry milestone and also began pioneering a new ministry role.  Here are some reflections on both. Thanks for your interest in my life!

1. Recent Ordination

On Monday night, my Ordination was approved by a FEB Ordination Council and then enacted by High Park Baptist Church leadership.  I am thankful to supporters and praising God upon this ministry milestone of Ordination.  It is an honour to be formally and fully set apart for the Baptist ministry in Canada among our FEB association’s many amazing Pastors, Chaplains and Missionaries! :)

This is me in the process of reading and defending my formal statements of personal conversion, ministry calling and theological convictions to the council of FEB Pastors at 9 Hewitt Avenue for about 3 hours.

The difference that ordination makes is both objective and subjective: ability to officiate marriages in Ontario; ascribed the Reverend title (Rev.); access to discounted golf at some golf courses on Mondays; meaningful peer recognition and affirmation of my calling.  It is somewhat comparable to a lawyer passing their bar exam or a thesis defence for an academic.  Ordination is a meaningful ministry milestone for which I thank God.  Rev. Dr. Darryl Dash gave a memorable charge to me from 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

2. New Ministry Role

I am grateful to have learned so much as I have served the Lord as Lead Pastor at High Park Baptist Church from 2008-2012.  I am grateful and motivated for the opportunity to continue serving the Lord among the newly merged community of his people called Westminster Chapel at High Park (WC@HP), which I started on October 1, 2012.  My new role at WC@HP is Pastor of Community Outreach and Institutional Chaplaincy.  Click here is my staff profile on the Westminster Chapel website. Take some time to read about the church by exploring the website.  In the “Institutional Chaplaincy” efforts of my new role, I am “asking, seeking and knocking” for “open doors” of ministry with the following groups.  Please pray for contacts, discernment,  wisdom and favour in exploring service to/with:

  1. Clergy of all religions.
  2. Political Agencies, Parties and Leaders.
  3. Secular Business Leadership through BIAs and direct visits.
  4. Hospitals and Health Centres (UHN, CAMH, etc).
  5. Schools, Universities & Libraries.
  6. Police, Fire, EMS and Canadian Forces.
  7. Other NGOs. (Habitat For Humanity, etc)

Many initial indicators of the church amalgamation all point towards beneficial results for the faithful “flocks” and the broader community because two churches choose creative partnership through crisis.  Come by and experience worship among us one of these autumn Sundays at 10:30am!  I hope that the newly merged churches can carry out more for the Gospel as one new community together than we could as two independent communities.  I am enjoying the teammates in the staff and the opportunity to specialize in an area of passion and gifting! :)  During the transition, I have been praying the following Biblical benedictions as pastoral “wish-hopes” for all people who are interested, impacted and involved in the positive changes:

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:5-7

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” – Romans 15:33

Thanks for reading my reflections on my new ministry role and recent Ordination in this edition of the RumBlog.

Adam aka Reverend Rumball, Pastor of Community Outreach and Institutional Chaplaincy.

My Refreshing Summer Plans: Ordination, Conferences, Sabbatical.

I want you to know some of my summer plans. I hope, pray and work towards the realization of these goals. Please pray and encourage my pilgrimmage! :)
I need to finish my Ordination Paper. This is a written statement of what I believe about major categories of theology. It is a requirement for ordination as a Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Pastor (FEB)Pastor. Ordination, to me, is a really special process of the local church blessing me with the subjective affirmation of being a called and competent minister as well as a legal credential from our religious order for acting as an agent of the Ontario government during weddings. Once the paper is done, a council will evaluate me on everything and hopefully set a date for an Ordination Service in late June. I have seen a few ordination services in the last years and they are special events! Once I have a date, I will invite you to celebrate God’s goodness at HPBC! Please pray for the meaningful culmination of this beautiful and challenging process. :)
Moody Pastor’s Conference at Chicago’s Moddy Bible Institue: May 21 – May 24.
Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Pastor’s Conference at Muskoka Bible Conference: June 11 – June 14
July Sabbatical/Restorative Vacation:
I plan to take all of July off as restorative vacation. I want to be ready to rumble for the challenges and opportunities of the new fall ministry season. I am brian storming and planning for destinations. I’ll gratefully accept any travel tips and recommendations. People have suggested a train tour of Europe, Canadian costal cottages, African adventure, etc. My Sunday morning preaching responsibilities can be fulfilled from our church leadership, a partner church and/or FEB friends. The goal is to rest, reflect, gather my thoughts and feelings. It has been a very active 12 years of ministry. The last four years of my life have presented unique ministry and personal life challenges. I am grateful to God for every one of the experiences he has allowed me so far, yet they have taken a toll on my heart and head! Sometimes my emotions and energy are not where I want them to be! I am tired and want to refresh and heal so I can keep loving God and serving people well! A sabbatical of one month allows me to temporarily disengage from normal surroundings in order to rest, heal, grieve, refresh, reload, resharpen my passion. I want to recharge my battery in order that I can return ready to rock in September! Leaders who last take time off to recharge their battery! I want to be a leader who lasts!
This summer, I look forward with hope to my Ordination, Conferences and a Sabbatical so I am ready to embrace my role in the exciting stuff God has planned for many people during this coming fall ministry season in the Parkdale-High Park neighbourhoods and the precious city of Toronto! :)

My Mother’s Day Sermon: 4 Verses on the Motherly Love of God the Father.

Our Father God relates to his people like a good mother relates to her children.

During personal distress of work changes, moving house, relational conflict, physical and mental illness it is comforting to know that God the Father (Matthew 6) will soothe our souls with his love, as a mother nurses and protects her children.  Mother’s can relate to this imagery.  The Bible uses the analogy of motherhood to describe God the Father’s love for us during distress so we learn about the character of God and motherhood.

Here are 4 passages that I shared with the church on Mother’s Day:

  1. Psalm 131:2. David’s soul was like a weened child in prayer relationship with God.
  2. Isaiah 66:7-12. God promises the hope of satisfying abundance for his distressed people like a child who is nursed, carried n Mom’s hip and bounced on her knee. Read the imagery of verse 11-12!
  3. Matthew 23:37-39. Jesus longs to protect and shelter God’s people, as a mother hen gather’s her chicks.  Now Jesus is not a hen, but it is an analogy of God’s the Father’s motherly heart through the ministry of God the Son.
  4. 1 Thessalonians 2:7. God’s ministry to the church, through the Apostle Paul, was like the motherly gentleness of a nursing mother. In verse 11-12 of the same chapter, Paul’s ministry is balanced by the characterization of fatherly guidance.

On Mother’s Day, my Mom was present for the sermon and we went out for brunch at a nostalgic restaurant.  In both settings, I was grateful to have the opportunity to thank my Mom for her love over the years. She has given me the experiences over time that enables me to better understand this side of God’s character.  Good mothers glorify God’s character in words and deeds! Thanks for your comfort over the years Mom. :)

If you are reading this and wonder whether God’s arms of love are open for you to receive his love, then you need only to look to Jesus on the cross.  There he spread his arms wide for all to see that God’s love is available to any who come to him and seek refuge there. He quiets the greatest distress of sin’s guilt through making an atoning sacrifice for us.  What a comfort to know he died and rose again for me.  Jesus’ arms are open wide for us.  Will we find solace there?  I hope and pray that the motherly love of God the Father becomes a deep comfort to your soul during your distress.

Summary of my short funeral sermon for your reflection: Do you believe this?

Today, I gave a short funeral sermon on the unique and exclusively Christian hope. Here is a polished summary of what I think I remember saying. :)

Funerals are important times to aid the processes of grieving and teaching.

I tried to be brief (7-10 mins not my normal 45-55min) and clear to benefit the audience and occasion.

I started by suggesting that on this occasion, they may be wondering, “What will happen to me after I die?”

I stated that my intention was to explaining the Christian hope as the resurrection of believers to eternal life with God, modelled by Jesus himself and offered to them.

I read and explained John 11:25-27:

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

I made some observation and asked some questions that emerged from the text:
1. Jesus states the claim that he is Resurrection and the Life. The Christian hope is centred on the person of Jesus. Is he your only hope?

2. Jesus explains the condition that believers in him will have life, in spite of physical death. The Christian hope is unstoppable life winning over unavoidable death. Eternal life is a term referring to both quality and a quantity. Do you want eternal life with God after you die?

3. Jesus asks if she (Martha grieving Lazarus) believes his condition and claim. THe Christian Hope requires a personal profession of faith in Jesus. Today I asked the congregation at the memorial service if they believe that Jesus is their Resurrection and the Life. Do you believe this?

Believers trust Jesus to be their Resurrection and Life. The word “resurrection” means stand again. The female name “Anastasia” comes from the greek word for “resurrection”, meaning “to stand again” or “return to status”. This promise of standing alive again in God’s presence is achieved exclusively through believing in what Jesus did through his death for sins and resurrection to life. Living Christian’s look forward to their future, bodily resurrection after their death. Read 1 Cor. 15 & 2 Cor 4&5 for more texts that explain this. Here are two succinct ones:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:22-23

…knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. – 2 Corinthians 4:14

PROMISE: You will be with Jesus before and after you die, if you believe that he is the Resurrection and the Life proven by his death for sins and resurrection to life.
Do you believe this? Martha and I do. I hope the whole congregation and all of you do too! :)
Do you know what will happen to you after you die? I hope you share the Christian hope of resurrection to eternal life! :)

One Day of Extending Christ’s freeing love to the Spiritually Hungry in Roncesvalles and Parkdale.

Cheming and Marion led HPBC in a great outreach day!

Today was a great day of stepping out in faith to bless our neighbourhood through service and conversation then reflecting on the experiences as a group. Cheming is our Food and Clothing Bank Director. Marion is our Intercultural Initiaves Director. They are a dynamic ministry couple whom God has used to help churches overcome barriers in the way of them fulfilling their God-given desire in reaching out. They have been residents of this local Roncesvalles area for over 28 years!

Schedule of Activities:

10am-12pm: 9 people walked 2 out of 4 planned prayer routes around our neighbourhoods. The goal was to lovingly connect with our neighbours through conversation, service and general visual observation. We prayed for neighbours we met as we picked up garbage and prayer walked the planned routes. It was fun to be active outside together for a good goal!

12-1pm: When we returned to the church, we swaped stories and initial impressions over lunch. My mom and I picked up lunch from Village Bakery, one local donor of food to our Food and Clothing Bank. It was nice to eat with the people who had just reached out together. There was a sense of team solidarity as we shared meal after serving together in the cold spring weather. :)

1-3pm: 15 people joined the discussion time to de-brief the experience and discuss personal “burdens and barriers” to personally extending Christ’s freeing love to the spiritually hungry. We reflected on biblical passages, personal stories and guided reflection questions. The numerous questions and passages could be blog posts in and of themselves.

My personal highlights were 1. my direct conversations with numerous neighbours on Dundas and in Sorauren Park as well as 2. knowing that our church was stepping out in faith together in order to bless our neighbours. I believe we pleased God with these steps of love and faith together.

Tomorrow 10:30am: Join us at 1030am tomorrow for an outreach training message from John 4 followed by more discussion groups afterwards.

This was a soul-satisfying day of integrity for me and many others because we extended Christ’s freeing love to the spiritually hungry.

May God give us many more resources and opportunities do impact lives in High Park neighbourhoods.

An electoral map of our neighbourhoods.

4 prayer walk route maps plus garbage bags and gloves to pick up garbage.

9 High Parkers planning our 4 prayer walk routes. This means asking God's spiritual and practical blessing on people we see in our 'hoods. :)

Picking up garbage and chatting with neighbours behind the Sorauren Dog Park, near the train track fence.

Marion leading us in discussion and reflection on our individual and group learning experiences of the day.

Cheming is telling a personal story about overcoming barriers to friendships.

Group discussions about personal barriers and burdens to reaching out.

High Park + Westminster? 7 pictures of prospective ministry partners praying together.

Dear RumBloggers,
As I have posted on previously, High Park Baptist Church (HPBC) is exploring options, including a merquisition with Westminster Chapel (WC). Norm and I made up the combo-term “merquisition”. :)
Here is a photoblog update on what it looked like as the boards and staffs of HPBC and WC bowed their heads in reverence for Jesus and spoke their hearts to the Father in the unity and power of the Holy Spirit.   The event included name tags for a meet and greet, building tour for vision casting and deeply meaningful prayer together (as pictured below).  Initial impressions from tonight’s event were strong and positive. The purpose was to explore the possibility of merging churches for greater gospel impact here in Toronto, centred at 9 Hewitt Ave.  In due course, this may prove to have be an important event is a historic process of merging two faith families in to one blended family.  There are many pros and cons. Many opportunities and challenges to be realistically assessed and prayerfully discerned.  If there are circumstances that could be negotiated in which we can be better for God together than we could be apart, then super.  If not, we want to perceive that ahead of time. Change is part of growth! Pray for us we reflect and seek God’s vision together. There were observational comments made that indicate perception of natural chemistry, good will, sincere faith and dynamic hope.
This process is teaching me leadership lessons about unity.  One is that it is important to have united, respectful and honest communication among all interested parties, at appropriate levels and times in the process.  Reflective conversation (with God and each other) helps maximize the collaborative power of respect and reduces destructive conflict potential.  The sentiment is represented by what Dr. David Robinson prayed last night from Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers (AND SISTERS) dwell in unity!”.

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Do you know your calling? Knowing and fulfilling your calling is a mark of maturity.

Knowing and fulfilling your calling is a mark of maturity. Do you know your calling?

This past Sunday I talked about “calling”.  In Christianity, the word is used often, but requires definition.  The root word is the same root as voice.  We get vocation from the root word. I define a calling as a distinct and personal divine invitation to redemptive faith action that couldn’t be clearer if it was a text message or phone call.  I asked the congregation if they have discerned what God was calling them to do?  I explained the Apostle Paul’s calling to reveal the mystery of God in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unreached Gentiles. Read about it in Ephesians 3:1-2 & 7-10.  One piece of supporting material I used was from John Polhill‘s chapter in Preparing for Christian Ministry called “Towards a Biblical View of Call”.  It it he lists 6 types of call after the general call to salvation.

The Call: Some Biblical Examples – by John Polhill

  1. The Dramatic Call: Exodus 3:1-6, Isaiah 6:1-8, Ezekiel 1, Acts 22:6-21, Luke 1:26-38
  2. The Reluctant Call: Jeremiah 20:7-10, 14-18, Jonah, Exodus 4:1-17, Isaiah 6:6-7, 1 Corinthians 15:9-11, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  3. The Family-Influenced Call: 1 Samuel 1-3, Luke 1:5-23 & 67-80; Mark 3:21, John 7:5
  4. The Community Call: 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:5, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 & 14:32
  5. The Redefined Call: Acts 6:1-6
  6. The Misdirected Call: Mark 5:1-20

Do you know what God is calling you to do?  When he invites you to join him, go for it.  Jesus said, “Follow Me!” first salvation and then into ministry.  I hope you hear his voice invite you to join him in a special role of redemptive action.  May you experience joy and fruitfulness in your calling.  May God use you as a custom made tool in his kingdom work. :)

  • What is your calling?
  • How did/will you discern it?
  • Has it developed over time?
  • Have you ever prayed, asking God to call you into ministry?
  • Ask someone about your calling!

15 Things I like about Tim Tebow: Ideas for Torontonians about faith life, workplace and celebrities.

We Canadians rightly respects tolerance, diversity, harmony and spiritual belief systems of everyone.

Here are some conversation starters worth exploring with colleagues:

  • Does your worldview impact your workplace? Should it?
  • Where are the boundaries between public life and private belief?
  • How important is value integrity and tolerance at work?
  • Where is the obnoxious or annoying line at work?
  • What does religious discrimination look like in your workplace?

Torontonians may feel too sophisticated to learn anything from the cliche of a religious sports celebrity.  However, Tim Tebow has used recent fame to draw attention to his faith and that raises important issues for all of us about the role of worldview in the workplace.  Gaga is against bullying.  Tebow is for prayer.  What are you for?

I like Tim Tebow.

It may be because I am a Christian leader with football background, but I think there is more to it then just surface affiliation.  I listed 15 ways that I like how Tim Tebow makes us think about the place of faith life realm of workplace.

15 Things I like about Tim Tebow:

1. His faith impacts his job performance.  Love him or hate him, what he believes matters to how he works!

2. He thanks his mother for not aborting him.  Abortion is a touchy subject, but he has a personal position.

3. He leverages the opportunity present by secular media for redemptive purposes today. Obnoxious or opportunist.

4. He harnesses the team to get results (game wins) despite being young and unorthodox for his position.

5.  He talks about finding joy in the journey of everyday life, not just the destination he hopes for. He knows why he is here.

6.  He is confident is his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and let’s the social consequences of annoying people or coming across as obnoxious be what they may!  This might be at the heart of the matter.  He is not ashamed of the Gospel of God.

7.  He is a physically strong person with skills and courage.

8.  He is an athlete who honours the name “Jesus Christ” instead of using it as a swear word.

My Tebow "Te-bow" after playing touch football with U of Toronto Athletes In Action at King's College Circle.

9.  He prays in public, and I assume privately too.

10.  He handles criticisms from colleagues and clowns with dignity.

11.  He wins the trust of management, fans and teammates through strong effort.

12.  He puts Bible verses on his face paint at U o Florida. (ex. Phil 4:13, John 3:16)

13.  He is dating a beautiful girl with self-control.

14. He remembers where he came from.

15.  He knows where he is going.

Celebrity Christians

Good examples are powerful, yet there is something off track about using celebrities to sell Christianity as cool.  That is not what I am doing above.  What I am doing is getting you thinking about issues in your life precipitated by current events.  You should become a Christian because you want to follow Jesus as your Leader and Redeemer, not because of celebrity product placement.  However, we all need human examples to interact with, be they in our family, friends, neighbourhoods or professional football games.

For more on strategies for living faith in a sports context, read these sites.

http://www.athletesinaction.comAthletes In Action

http://www.fca.orgFellowship of Christian Athletes

80+ players praying on the field after Queens U vs U of Toronto!

Securing God’s peace during anxiety producing events: Principles, Passages and a Pastoral resource.

Anxiety is a type of fear.  Future possibilities of undesirable circumstances cause emotional and physiological responses.  Anxiety producing events can be news of health challenges, possible housing changes, narrowing economic opportunities when debt arises or jobs fail, increasing relational distress among family, friends or colleagues.  Racing thoughts.  “What if”s.

I know what it feels like to be anxious – ex. heart rate goes up and I talk too much or too soon.  I know what it feels like to have God’s peace – ex. heart rate goes down, I listen patiently and speak wisely.  I prefer the later, but I learn the hard way.  I know how to worry myself sick.  I experienced ‘panic attacks’ in the past. I know more now about how to practice the peace of God.  I have have had ‘waves of peace’ in the past and present.

Here are some principles and passages that make a difference for me, if or when I practice them in my faith life. I hope they help you and yours to secure a state of God’s peace next time anxiety flares up.  Here is some perspective.

6 Leadership Lessons on securing God’s peace during my anxious moods:

1. Working definition of “God’s Peace” is a state of wholeness and rest resulting from an active trust in the character of the Triune God revealed in the Bible.

2  Turning my “problem list” into a “prayer list” helps.

3. Working on God’s priorities for today always beats worrying about my problems with tomorrow.

4. God’s Peace is the presence of the Lord, not simply the absence of distress.  ex – Loving Enemies.

5. If anxiety is a fruit of fear, then peace is a fruit of faith.

6. Personal preparation is the key to performance in the moment.

*Read the points underneath the passages for additional detailed.

Here are 4 Bible passages that have helped me experience the secure Peace of God in place of anxious, fearful and low-faith times.

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 26:3-4:

3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Philippians 4:4-9:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Next time you get anxious, I hope you experience God’s peace.  Try these ideas for practicing faith in Jesus:

1.  Praying your problems to your Provider of Peace (Phil 4:7-8 & Matt 6). Make a list of your worries and petition God for help!

2.  Practice the Father God’s Kingdom principles in the present (Phil 4:6 & Matt 6:33-34). Do what he asks today!

3.  Ponder the pleasant and positive things of God (Phil 4:8, Matthew 6:26-32b). Mediate on special/Biblical and general/natural revelation!

4.  Pick “Peace of God” people to imitate (Phil 4:9). Interview or read biographies of peace who show peace with God!

Here is a special resource for Pastors like me:

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What” by Peter L. Steinke

My Top 10 personal devotional themes with Bible verses from 2011 plus a prayer verse for 2012.

Lake Scugog, Christmas 2011. Scenic views of nature help me reflect on biblical ideas for my life.

Christmas and New Years week is a natural time for looking back and reflecting on 2011 as well as projecting and planning for 2012.  It feels like our lives come under the microscope of analysis as we do things like see family and friends at reunions, read and make “top ten” lists and/or resolutions.  At this time of year, we naturally evaluate how we used the 365 days and what look for gems of what profited us in our most valued relationships.  For me 2011 was an especially steep and taxing year of growth and learning through tests and trials.  I know I will learn a lot in 2012 as well, but I hope for a smoother road and protective grace to buffer my heart and mind.  I’m an ironic mix of tired and enthusiastic these days.  I hope and pray that 2012 to be my best year ever, personally and professionally.  You probably do too. :)  So, in order to fuel your seasonal reflection, here are some Bible verses that God has used this past year of 2011 to set me in the right direction of heart and mind for a fruitful 2012!  Perhaps you might want to look at this list as you plan 2012.  Perhaps you have some key verses from 2011 to share in the comment section.  Maybe you want to memorize one of these for 2012.

In 2011, God used these verses to teach me about my calling:

1. Contentment:

Philippians 3:8 – Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

1 Timothy 6:6 – But godliness with contentment is great gain,..

2.  Effectiveness:

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

3. Opposition:

Hebrews 12:3 – Consider him (Jesus Christ) who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

4. Interpersonal Attitudes:

Colossians 3:12-13 – Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

5. Teaching:

2 Timothy 2:1-2, 22-26

1-2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

22-26 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

6. Progress:

1 Timothy 4:15-16 – Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;…

7. Temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Timothy 6:9 – But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

8. Joy:

Nehemiah 8:10 – Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

9. Mindfulness and Though Life.

Romans 12:2  – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,…

10.  Heaven:

Revelation 22:3-5 – No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

My encouragement prayer for everyone of you readers in 2012 is from this verse, which has been massively encouraging to me during tough times of this year:

Colossians 1:11-12 – 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

2 Minute Video: Reasons to Involve Yourself in a Local Church this Weekend

Yes, this video is American in origin, yet it speaks to the honest excuses and hang ups that Torontonians have about getting involved in a Gospel-centred local church community. Maybe you will identify a few of these ideas?  As one friend said to me on Facebook, they forgot laziness and busyness as excuses. :)

Here is what to do:

  1. Watch this video 3 times.
  2. Consider these reasons for involving yourself in a church this weekend.
  3. Use the share button to get the video to a colleague, neighbour, family and/or friend.
  4. Get involved in a local church, like HPBC, or one near you that loves and serves Jesus Christ with Biblical vision for faith community.
  5. Use these lines in future conversations about recruiting church involvement.

Please know that I am praying for you to realize true peace, power and prosperity in the ultimate and eternal sense, which Jesus Christ makes available in relationship with him.  I think local church involvement is important in that quest for fulfilment.

4 Images of Spiritual Growth Plans after you Receive Christ: Walk, Rooted, Built Up, Established

I really want my RumBloggers to be syncronized with what I am teaching. This past Sunday I totally loved teaching the HPBC fall launch message! The 1 hour presentation was organized like this:

(1) 37 minutes to describe a deep, clear vision of spiritual growth from the Bible passage Colossians 2:6-7 called “4 Images of Spiritual Growth Plans after you Receive Christ”.

(2) 23 minutes to explain our Root Group Strategy through a live testimony and then explain the HPBC Enfolding Process Diagram PDF below that was part of a larger handout.

Listen to my fall launch message here: Rooted In Christ

Read the stuff below as well. :) If you want the original handout, then I can get you a copy.

Colossians 2:6-7 breaks into the following phrases.

  • Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord,
  • so walk in him,
  • rooted and
  • built up in him and
  • established in the faith,
  • just as you were taught,
  • abounding in thanksgiving.

HPBC Discipleship Process of Enfolding Diagram PDF: Sept 2011 HPBC Enfolding Process

HPBC Root Group Strategy:

  • Everyone who wants to be in a root group can have one before summer.
  • I have been praying that God will raise up godly, organized, hospitable, caring root group facilitators.
  • Root Group Strategy: Incarnate the 4 values by gathering in groups of 3-8 around the city by sign up sheets and informal invitations.
  • Let’s get organized into root groups again this year.
  • The biblical call to growth is served by groups.
  • You may feel the need for RG in these symptoms: individual isolation, need for knowledge, capacity to care, burden burnout, spiritual stalling.
  • Sundays are not enough to become Christlike fast enough.
  • Experience shows the cultivating supportive community is important for you to become more effective in mission and more exhibitive of the values by this time next? September 2012.

Personal Reflection Questions on Root Groups:

Q: How would a Root Groups make you more like Christ?

Q: What has you past experience been with small groups, growth groups, bible studies, prayer meetings? What will be different this fall?

Q: Who are the 3-8 people would you put roots down with this fall in a Root Group? When?

Q: What does the picture of growth described in Colossians 2:6-7 make you want to do differently this fall?

How to Pray for Your Church Leaders, including me.

In his book, “The Prayer Shield”, C. Peter Wagner states that, “The most underutilized source of spiritual power in our churches today is the intercession for Christian leaders.”  He further states, “No question exists in the minds of those who have experienced it; committed, faithful intercession brings increased spiritual power to Christian ministries.”
How to pray for your Church Leaders:
1.  Read over Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 before you pray t0 remind you of your duty to pray supportively for their place in God’s sovereign will being accomplished.
2.  Pray for the leaders of your church by name and office.  At HPBC we have Pastors, Deacons, Leadership Council, Root Groups, Task Forces and Committees.
3.  Pray for the vision and values of your church to be accomplished through effective leadership. Click here for HPBCs.
4.  Pray for things like these: Deep roots in Christ through personal quiet times and supportive discipleship community (we call them Root Groups at HPBC), protection against burnout, harmonious efforts and communication skills, new leaders to be developed, increased favour with God and humans, purity and power in the Spirit, physical healthy and vitality, protection from sin, selfishness and Satan through schemes of intimidation, deception, temptation and oppression, pursuing prosperous priorities, emotional needs, building the strong bonds of family dynamics.
Thank you for praying for me in this way as I seek to take joyful refuge in God’s character of Holy Love and remain content and abiding in Christ as I serve him and his church here at HPBC.
I love preaching, praying, leading and listening.

Success Story of Truth from Ruth: God’s Loyal Love Leads us Forward into Fulfillment.

Dear RumBloggers,

Today’s national news story is the death of Jack Layton.  My condolences to his family, friends, followers and colleagues. Canada has lost a leader.  A family has lost a lover and provider. (I have tweeted a few obituaries and a video from Rick Mercer Report.) When the hopelessness of loss hits any of us, we need hope found in God’s word.  I am posting this trusting that the thoughts will give you hope in your famine of faith.  Yesterday, I the biblical success story of hope and faith I shared in church was God’s redemption story woven through the loyal love found in the book of Ruth.  Trust that God is at work for your benefit even during our hopeless feelings and desperate times.  He is faithful to lead us with love into the life he plans!  Ruth displays that truth in a beautiful story.

A Sacred Short Story

I love the story in Ruth.  The story speaks for itself. That said, my sermon preparation always involves studying secondary sources and literary features of the text in order to grasp the message God intended in the text. This week I benefitted from study aids recommended by Terry Sanderson, Calvary Church. Thanks Terry.  Ruth reads like a Jane Austen novel: cultural practices, strong characters, rich dialogue, reversal of fortune, loyal love! In this one, Jesus is our hero! :)  Ruth reads like a Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet except in reverse.  In Romeo & Juliet, tribal conflict and tortured love result in tragic loss. In Ruth, God moves people from famine to feast by overcoming tribal difference, providing loyal love in family leading to a prosperous future including marriage, children and grateful praise to God.  The characters are strong and there is rich dialogue.  I recommended that you take 20 min to read the Bible book called Ruth. Enjoy the beautiful story of faith in 4 short chapters.  Here are some major lessons we see in the verses, themes and characters.

A Success Story of Faith

  • The light of loyalty in Ruth shines in contrast to the darkness of apostacy in Judges. That light points to Jesus!
  • God secures the redemption of desperate people in desperate times. His loyal love causes our loyal love!
  • God led this family from a famine into a feast through faith. Do you want Jesus to lead and feed you too?

God’s providential care in what we might call random events or happenstance:

Ruth 1:22. “And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” (Bethlehem means house of bread and they fled a famine of no bread).

Ruth 2:3 “…She happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” (The name Elimelech means “God is my King”.)

Ruth 4:22, “Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.”  (David would become the King of Israel and Jesus would be his descendent and become our King.)

The Characteristic of Loyal Love, Covenant Faithfulness, Kindness.

I tried to show that the characteristic of loyal love, shown by Ruth (the transliterated Hebrew verb sounds like HESED) paved the way for God’s redemptive plan and that theme finds fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ who demonstrated loyal love to his Church.  Jesus is the greatest loyal lover of his people.  He is the Ultimate Ruth.  Trying to be loyal like Ruth is a noble moral goal, but we will fall short in our relationships due to our selfishness, but there is one who never fails to be loyal to us.  God promises never to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)!  Ruth reminds me of God’s love for me, his Child.  Thank you Jesus, for loving me with perfect loyalty.

The Character of a Kinsman-Redeemer.

I tried to also show that the character of Boaz, who is in the role of ‘Kinsmen-Redeemer” (the transliterated Hebrew noun sound like is GOEL) chose to take up his responsibility to purchase the rights to marry, love and provide for Ruth and Naomi (Ruth’s mother in law).  This cultural practice was God’s gracious provision for socially and physically vulnerable and marginalized widows or divorcees.  It may sound like a patriarchal practice that is very offensive to us, but it was God’s gracious provision for (1) Ruth and Naomi, (2) Boaz, who had been alone and childless and (3) Elimelech the deceased patriarch, whose linage would end otherwise.  This role of “kinsmen-redeemer” points me to Jesus, the one who chose to redeem/buy us through the cross so we could be the Church, his bride, whom he loves and provides eternal life in the present, with all our spiritual blessings.  Jesus is our kinsman because he was God in the flesh, sharing our humanity yet without sinful nature or behaviour.  Trying to be like Boaz is a noble ambition, but we will fail in our relationships in trying to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations perfectly because of sin.  Thankfully, there is one who is greater than us and greater the Boaz at being a redeemer and provider: Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful that Jesus spread his cloak of love over me and chose to ‘married’ me.  Boaz reminds me of Jesus.  Jesus is the Ultimate Boaz.  Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me.


I drew great inspiration from this story!  Please draw hope during hopeless circumstances from the providential care of God through the loyal love in Ruth’s success story.  I tried to share that hope, rooted in Christ on Sunday and in this post.  I hope that people feeling the loss of loved leaders will draw strength from a relationship with their Permanent Lover, Great King and Ultimate Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Success Stories of Women in the Bible: Priscilla, Phoebe, Deborah, Jael remind me of Jesus.

Hiya RumBloggers,

During the golden days of August, I have been preaching to HPBC about women in the Bible who are “success stories” of faith.  I have previously posted thoughts on Lydia.  I will speak about Ruth on August 21 and then conclude the series with Esther on August 28.  The past week weeks, I have spoken on Priscilla, Phoebe, Deborah and Jael.  These women all remind me of Jesus in different ways and inspire me to follow Jesus more closely!  I hope they impact you in the same fashion.  Here are my reflections and key Bible verses from the English Standard Version (online edition) on these heroines:

Priscilla was a married woman whom God used in the early churches fragile, early development.  God used this couple’s political persecution to lead them to a new place where Paul could use their trade skills in the evangelistic expansion of the church through Europe.  God also used this couples’ hospitality to encourage the early church.  Their discipleship training of a young, passionate and immature preacher to maturity of knowledge.  Priscilla may have been the primary teacher in their home group.  Their legacy of international influence is reflected in the intra-church correspondence of Paul.  Jesus wants to us our experiences in evangelism, our hospitality and discipleship to build young believers, and our international correspondence to leave a legacy of encouraging the saints.  Follow Jesus and you may become like Priscilla in your own way!  God uses couples and single people in such ways.

  • Acts 18:2And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them,

  • Acts 18:18After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.

  • Acts 18:26,  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

  • Romans 16:3,  Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,

  • 1 Corinthians 16:19The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.
  • 2 Timothy 4:19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

Phoebe was a commendable servant of the Church, entitled deaconess, at a time when that was an office held most entirely by men.  This reminds me of Jesus’ redemptive and progressive empowerment of women in gospel ministry. I believe the difference in men and women are complementary.  The ESV has a footnote on the word “servant” saying: or “deaconess”.

  • Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,… 
Deborah was a true, bright, spiritual leader and advisor of God’s people during a spiritually dark and disobedient time.  She stands out from her contemporaries as a Judge or Deliverer.  She was a woman that God used at a time when we would have expected a man to step up!  This is ironic according to gender roles of the day.  God’s point is to humble us by the people he used.  He used the best available person of faith in his word and work at that time – Deborah.  We should have expected that God would be using a male judge and general, but they were disobedient resulting in absence or cowardess.  God used Deborah to remind the cowardly military leader, Barak, that God had promised political victory.  She also accompanied him to the victorious battle.  Deborah was a good leader because she reminded people of God’s promises.  In her efforts to motivate, she started where they were at, (in their doubt, fear, sin, etc), and encouraged them to move forward in action to embrace God’s promises for them!  She used rhetorical questions, recalled promises and was present with them in the battle.  She was also a song writer! :)  Deborah remind me of the greater Deborah – Jesus – who was the unlikely spiritual leader who God used to lead his people (the new covenant church) into the spiritual promised land of spiritual freedom and prosperity.  God may want to use you to speak to and accompany courageous faith action this fall.
  • Judges 4:4  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

  • Judges 4:5  She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

  • Judges 4:9  And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

  • Judges 4:10  And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

  • Judges 4:14  And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him.

  • Judges 5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:

 Jael was a simple woman who God used to complete the promised military victory in very graphic fashion.  She hammered a tent peg into the enemy general’s temple.  Jesus was the ultimate Jael, who executed our enemy – Satan – when nails won the victory of the cross!
  • Judges 4:18  And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.

  • Judges 4:21  But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.

  • Judges 4:22  And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

    Jesus can and will use us as we follow God’s will, like these people did.
    Remember that God, in Christ, is the hero of our story.
    Are you following Jesus now?

4 Life Lessons from Lydia’s Success Story of Faith.

Dear RumBloggers,

I hope you had a restful Monday.  On Sunday July 31, I preached to 41 people about Lydia’s success story found in Acts 16:11-15.  Here is that source text and 4 life lessons from Lydia’s life to help us share our faith in the God who opens hearts. In Lydia’s day and age, purple dye for regal outfits came from Mediterranean seas shells!  She dressed majestic men in purple, but then she feel in love with King Jesus and became the first European convert to Christianity.  Here is the story:

The Conversion of Lydia – ACTS 16:11-15

So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

4 Life Lessons from Lydia’s Success Story.

1.  God opens our hearts to hear the Gospel.

See verse 14.  John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  He changes hearts, not us.  That is a relief because it is not up to our clever and convincing lifestyles to make someone see God and live for him.  Also, he will open hearts to know him.  We can trust him to do that.  He is the God who opens hearts, like Lydia’s!

2.  Preaching of the Gospel changes people into Christians.

See verse 13 and surrounding chapters.  God sends people, like you and me, to preach the Gospel to new people in new places. I can have confidence, as a preacher sent to the HIgh Park neighbourhoods, that God will open hearts to pay attention to what I have to say about Jesus Christ’s saving work and ongoing ministry. The power to save people is in God and his gospel, and has chosen to use human instruments – like us.  Lydia became a Christian through the gospel Paul preached.  Believe the gospel and preach it!

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,…”

Romans 10:14-17:

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

3.  The Gospel is a few propositions about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:1-6 explains the facts of the gospel.  Do you share this with people very often?

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep

4.  After people believe the gospel, the next normal step is to get baptized and join a local church.

Normally, after you get converted to Christ, the next thing that happens is your baptism and belonging in a local church community. Believer’s baptism and participation in church life (exemplified by hospitality in Lydia) are normative outcomes of conversion (See Acts 16:15). Here is a verse about baptism in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…”  You will be a success story when God opens your heart and you join his work of evangelism, church building and hospitality.  The early church was build this we and so too will your church be!

How is your personal evangelism going this summer?

Are you confident that God opens hearts to hear the gospel you preach?

People become converted when the sovereign God opens their heart to respond to the gospel.  Normative expressions of saving faith are baptism, evangelism and fellowship/hospitality, all exemplified by Lydia.  That is why she is a success story.  I can have confidence in my evangelistic efforts because I know that God opens hearts.

Colossians 4: 2-6 is a Scripture to pray as you take these 4 life lessons and seek out the next Lydia.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 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—4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.  5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Lydia’s Life: Past and Present.

Lydia was a spiritually active , but non-Christian who was the first European convert to Christianity because of Paul travelling to preach to her unreached area.   The result was that Lydia believed, was baptized, influenced her household to do the same, showed much needed hospitality to the church starters and likely leveraged her profitable business status in the fashion and trade industry to advance the Gospel for others.  Acts is not a body spray, but a sequel companion to Luke’s Gospel.  Together they records the work of the Kindgom through Jesus and then Holy Spirit through the Apostles as the gospel expands from Jerusalem to the nations for Christ’s fame.  In fact, Lydia’s story is at the cutting edge of pioneering the gospel into Europe.  As the Gospel advances into Europe from the Middle East, we see this one woman, named Lydia, whom God sent Paul and Silas to save and then use to be the first success story of a convert to Christianity in Europe.  She was the first convert in the pioneering work of the gospel in Europe.  Cutting edge business woman!  She is a good example to us today of following Christ in a big, secular city – like Toronto.

Find balance in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Take this test and become a Success Story of waiting and working.

Take this Balance Checklist and begin to pursue balance before the summer ends and we are into another crazy fall season!

We need balance in our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus is always adjusting the priorities and bad attitudes of his followers so we can become success stories of faith.  He helps Mary and Martha to learn about prioritizing and permitting different approaches to serving Jesus in Luke 10:38-42.  Martha works, Mary waits.  Martha in the kitchen, Mary in the Living Room.  Both were being hospitable to their beloved teacher, just in different ways.  Jesus validates both actions, but corrects the attitude to show balance and joy in service. In relating to Jesus, we each must find balance of sitting/waiting at his feet and serving/working in the kitchen.  There is a balance between being a monk and a missionary.  This test may help get you focussed on where you need balance in your walk and work with God.

I found this Balance Checklist on page 182 of Joanna Weaver’s book “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World“.

Signs That You May Need More Time in the Kitchen

  • Slight Depression. You feel a vague unhappiness, a sense of being down.
  • Resentment of Intrusion. Rather than welcoming people into your life, you find yourself wishing they’d go away.
  • Frustration over direction of your life. You feel a sense of purposelessness and sometime wonder, “Is this all there is?”
  • Increasing self0indulgence. You feel an itch to treat yourself with favourite treats or food or shopping.
  • Apathetic attitude: You find that very little moves you.  You know your compassion level is low, but part of you just doesn’t care.
  • Low energy level: Like the Dead Sea, you may have many inlets, but no outlets – and therefore you are growing stagnant.

Signs That You May Need More Time in the Living Room

  • Irritability and Frustration. You find yourself snapping at people, wound so tight you’re about to “snap” yourself, and especially short-tempered with those you percieve as lazy or uncooperative.
  • Uncomfortable with quiet. Silence makes you nervous so you are quick to turn on the TV or radio.
  • Low joy threshold.  It’s been a long time since you’ve sensed that undercurrent of joy and abundance running through your heart.
  • A sense of isolation. You feel all alone – as if no one is there for you and no one understands.
  • Increased drivenness. You’re haunted by a sense that you must do more and more. You keep volunteering for more projects and more committees, even though you know your plate is full.
  • Sense of dryness and emptiness. No wonder! You have many outlets and demands, but no inlets or source of strength.
Which side of the teeter-totter needs more weight?
What do you need more of: kitchen or living room?
Do you need more inlets or outlets?
The summer allows a good time for reflection and recreation so that you can be balanced heading into the fall.  Get started today!  As I wrote in a previous post.  Secret power for serving the Lord comes from sitting at the feet of the Lord.  The more we know his heart and mind, the better we can be his hands and feet. Jesus himself is the only one who perfectly exemplifies and empowers the balance of communing with the Father and completing his  redemptive will in the Cross.   You will reflect that balance as His Spirit works in your life.  So will I! :)  Whether we tend to be more of  “Mary” or “Martha” types, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will make us more of a “Jesus-type” in balancing our work and walk with God.
How balanced is your relationship with Jesus Christ right now?  Where does it need to be in September?

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Psalm 26: 2-3, “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”
Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Feeling fear? Take 6 soul soothing steps into God’s power for living.

Dear RumBloggers,

Fear. Many people are living in a period of complex demands. Life is fast, full, dangerous, stressful and risky.  Anticipated negative changes or real disappointments do happen.  Health reports, bad memories, uncertain outcomes, relational conflict, financial pressures. Are you familiar with fear?  I am. Fear is normal in our complex society.  When fear hits it can have minds running scared, hearts pounding, palms sweating, mouth dry. Fearful thoughts can make our behaviours become despondent or aggressive.  If that fear lasts, people are left feeling wiped out, in despair or sorrow where the hope of our faith feels weak and God feels distant. We need help at that point.  Comprehensive resources are available to help us all, here in Canada.  Here are some practical, spiritual faith life tips for faith over fear.

6 Sequential steps to soothing your soul:  

1.  Get physically comfortable. Remove distractions. Get alone and quiet. Settle into a soothing setting, such as the natural surroundings of water or gardens and trees. Take restrictive clothing off, like ties or shoes, even socks.

2.  Control your breathing.  In a comfortable posture,  close you eyes and count deep breathes.  For example, take twenty-five (25) breathes counted as three (3) seconds inhale through the nose, three (3) second hold, three (3) second exhale through the mouth.

3.  Pray for forgiveness and help.

(a) Say out loud, to God, that fear is sin.  Fear is functional unbelief in God’s love and care for me, as his Beloved Child.  “Heavenly Father, I confess the sin of fear. I am sorry for not trusting your promises and so I now need your forgiveness secured in the cross. Please stop these negative thoughts and remind me of the truth. Help me find the path out of this.”

(b) Say out loud, to God, that trust is worship.  Practice your faith by declaring trust in the truth of God’s promises.  Believe the truth.  He is powerful, present and providentially in control. “Dear Heavenly Father, I believe the truth that you are powerful, present and providentially in control of my life. I trust you during this time to protect my heart and mind as well as give me the path of escape. Please help me now.”

4.  Pray through Biblical Promises.  Read the Bible slowly, softly, reflectively, audibly to yourself.  Allow the Bible to re-orient your thoughts to God’s thoughts.  If you like to journal, then write the negative thought and replace it with a Scriptural truth.  Thise step can provide the pathway forward for you to take from fear to freedom.  Write down ideas about what to do if they come to you.

Try these verses, which helped me this week:

2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

Psalm 20 & Psalm 107.

5.  Connect socially.  Whether you tend to be extroverted or introverted, try calling or visiting a friend to share what truth you have learned and pray the Scripture into your life together. Social isolation can be needed, but excessive withdrawal can be deadly.  Social involvement can be good, but also can be draining.  See how you feel and do what you need to do everyday.  Go to church if you can. See friends, family and neighbours. You are not alone.  A lot of good advice comes from other people. Be discerning.

6.  Take care of your body.  Sleep enough, eat well and be active in the gym or outdoors. Get fresh air.  There is a mind, body, emotion connection. Physical self-care helps.  Take vitamins, and stay hydrated, etc.  This will help you live day to day with greater confidence and energy if you have responsibilities to carry out.

These 6 practical steps matter, but we cannot do the spiritual job in our own strength!  The Lord Jesus Christ, my hero, faced his fears with Spiritual weaponery and courage.  As God, he was still prayerful and Spirit-empowered to fight the devil, engage hostile men, endured the cross – all with a sense of trust in God.  That overcoming life is possible for us in Christ by his Spirit with his arnour (Ephesians 6). Would you like his help?

Next time you feel fear, be soothed by God’s promised, peaceful presence.  Practice your faith with these steps including Scriptural prayer in a comfortable setting.  You’ll know Christ better in the process of feeling better.

Faith. When we are walking in courageous and confident faith, according to our identity in Christ, amazing things can happen as God works his plans through us!  Ephesians 3: 11-12: “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”

What are you afraid of? Would you like Jesus to help you with your confidence?

Remember Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Fight fear with faith. :)

Sneezing Atheist: 2 minute video by comedian Dane Cook on what might happen after you die.

Watch this video and then read my thoughts below.

Morals of the story?  Please comment.

1.  Cover your mouth when you sneeze.  Use your sleeve or a tissue.

2. Saying “God bless you” can open up a spiritual conversation with the “Sneezer”.

3. Some people desire to be trees after they die rather than being with Christ forever.

4.  The decision is fixed once you die, so the joke may be on the “reincarnated-as-a-tree-person”!

5.  Hoping you lived a good life is insufficient grounds for entering God‘s heaven.  Only abandoning our meritorious works for dependent faith in Jesus will proove to save us from hell and secures our future with Christ.

6.  Everyone dies! Are you ready to risk your eternal state on your current belief system? How did you aquire that system of beliefs?

7.  Do you stake your soul on the Saviour, Jesus? Believe and delight in the gospel.

8. [Updated] See comments below about how this video touches on “ultimate justice” and “material goods like trees and bodies”.

This You Tube Video can also be found at: