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Showing posts from December, 2008

IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH THE LION & THE LAMB

Restorative Justice (RJ) is not a program, but a way of looking at crime. It can be defined as a response to crime that focuses on restoring the losses suffered by victims, holding offenders accountable for the harm they have caused, and building peace within communities.[i]

Karen was sexually abused as a child.Now in her fifties, she sat in the chair across from me and told her story.Decades had passed without resolving the tension adequately with her father.As a grown woman, she was able to instantly lock into her feelings of betrayal from a daddy forever stuck in the past.
Her new friend Wayne sat on the couch to the left listening attentively with somber reflection.He had served time in prison for abusing his own children.He had not seen his own wife or children for a few years.Here was a troubled man wanting to examine his heart to understand why he had failed so horribly.
As they recounted their experiences and asked each other the tough questions, I saw understanding grow as both …

HE SIPPED THE AIR GENTLY LIKE HOT TEA

‘Last night while you slept, I heard you speaking in tongues.’These were the words of my eighty-five year old room-mate Marshall Ruthven.It was not the first time I had spoken in tongues.But it was the first time I became aware of speaking in tongues while I slept.
Marshall was my room-mate for two weeks in 1987.He came to Markham Pentecostal Church and asked the senior pastor Dean Skinner if he could go visiting door-to-door throughout the neighborhood.
As a ‘twenty-something’ single youth pastor, I was in my second year of ministry and still figuring out how to serve God faithfully as a pastor.God had been dealing with me in those days to help me overcome my fear of failure and need for approval.I wanted to serve God with all my heart but was having difficulty figuring out church life.
So God sent an old man to share meals and sleep in the bed on the other side of the room.I discovered that old men sound differently when they sleep.While younger people breathe slow and deep, he sipped …

DEAR JESUS LETTERS

Merrill is one of our Sunday School teachers for Grades 3, 4 and 5. He's in his early 60's and never had children of his own, but has grown to be a great teacher. In keeping with the Christmas theme, he came up with the idea of asking the kids to write a letter to Jesus.

"Dear Jesus, What I really need this Christmas is..."
When kids are writing to Santa to say what they want, Merrill got them to focus on something more substantial.
With drawings included, one boy wrote 'What I really need this Christmas is love, care, family, friends and food.'
A girl wrote'What I really need this Christmas is warm weather, war to end, no more bullying, love, family, friends and God.'
Another boy wrote 'What I really need this Christmas is my mom to feel better and money.'
When I was in Grade 1, my dad pastored a little storefront church in Southampton, Ontario. To make ends meet he worked at a local dairy. The problem was, it wasn't always enough to make t…

TONGUES OF MEN AND MONKEYS

When I’m communicating and thinking, I experience a visualization of the words running through my head. Like a message board or sub-titles on a movie, I can see the words I say go by on my mental screen.If I’m listening, it’s not as intense.I will have certain words I hear appear in my head for emphasis.
I think it developed as a learning tool when I was in school and trying to reiterate what I was taught.As a result of this inner thought process, it’s easy for me to spell correctly 99.9% of the time.I often remember names, locations and phone numbers.I recently bumped into someone I met eleven years ago.He had done some work on the church building at that time.Though I had not had any contact for many years, I remembered his last name when he was reintroduced to me.
What mental tools do you have to keep track of information?Can you remember childhood phone numbers, names of teachers, people you briefly met or otherwise useless trivia?How did you learn and memorize the times tables?
Thro…

THE TROUBLE WITH US AND THEM

Remember ‘Watch The Lamb’, ‘I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb’ and ‘Thank You’?Singer/Songwriter Ray Boltz came out of the closet last December.The gospel singer who sold 4 ½ million albums has divorced his wife and begun dating men.[i]
Youth drama teams and dowel rod presentations will never be the same.We need a new Christian hero for our young people to follow.Ray is now ‘one of those’.
I must confess that I feel really bad for Ray.I tend to believe the best in people and am inclined to think he believed Jesus would take away his homosexual desires.But at 55 years old after preaching the gospel for over two decades, he has chosen to give up and follow his instincts.
Perhaps we might believe that he is no longer ‘one of us’.I suspect he still is and needs Jesus now more than ever.We have lost brothers and sisters from the limelight, from the local church and from our own families.We need a new way of looking at ‘us and them’.
Ray was confused (or not so confused) for many years about his …

THE LONELINESS OF LONERS

What is loneliness?
Loneliness is having your closest friends miles away with no one else to share your pain or joy.Loneliness is trying to establish a meaningful, romantic relationship with a stranger in a chat room because real people do not take notice of you.Loneliness is missing a few days at work and having no-one notice.Loneliness is that deep, hollow feeling that says, ‘My opinions are not important to anyone.’Loneliness is staying at home when the one you want is out with someone else.Loneliness is wondering which your friends are really friends, and which are just trying to use you.

Psalm 25:15-17 (New International Version)15 My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.

CLEAR BLUE

I do not consider myself to be the epitome of environmentalism, but I'm making changes. I enjoy organizing my blue boxes every couple weeks. Being a pastor, you often do work that never seems to have an end. But recycling is easy to sort and send. Not so with people.

I have a new car coming in a couple weeks. We're trading the Ford van for a Toyota Prius Hybrid. We are going from family van to eco-hatchback getting 72 mpg in the city. We made the decision when gas prices where cresting at $1.39 per liter. After we made the deposit gas prices dropped considerably, but I still feel good about going hybrid. Partly because I can contribute to a cleaner environment and burn less fossil fuel.
But there's a more selfish reason - instead of being the taxi service for our kids, we'll have to say, "Oh, I'm sorry... we don't have room in our car for all your friends. Do you think their parents could drive this time?" (I know, I know.. we're supposed…

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER?

At the Lord's Table, there was a betrayer named Judas. The devil entered him and caused him to participate in the ambush of Jesus Christ. But Judas was not previously seen as a dangerous man.He was chosen by Jesus and publicly followed the Master.

Sometimes we think of him as being darker than most and wonder where his motivation came from.
The truth is Judas was filled with the religious pride characteristic of his day.He characterized the common religious leadership of his day.He was in collusion with the chief priests and elders.He conspired with them even though he belonged to Jesus’ followers.
He gave up the power and love of Jesus for the security and control of religion.
Mark 14:53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin wer…

INNER CITY GRACE

Grace, It's A Name For A Girl It's Also A Thought That Changed The WorldAnd When She Walks On The Street You Can Hear The Strings
Grace Finds Goodness In EverythingGrace – Lyrics by Bono of U2© 2000 Universal International Music BV.

Sunday morning I will open God’s Book and read the words that turn the world upside down.God’s Spirit will be hard at work looking for ears that hear.With clarity and purpose He will say the things that I cannot say.
I watch faces and remember their labels.Adulterer, thief, liar, homosexual, arrogant one, failure…Seated next to Down’s Syndrome, manic-depressive, schizophrenic, physically challenged…worshipping alongside sinner, saint, home-schooler, ex-con, contractor, homeless, lawyer, jobless…
Grace speaks and I am reminded that this morning they are my family and we bear striking resemblances.A few of the healthier ones are sound asleep in their chairs or giving me a smiling, blank look.Grace clears her throat and I get back to work.
This is a pla…