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Showing posts from July, 2009

CHURCH OF THE URBAN VILLAGE ( RETURN TO PARISH MINISTRY )

Luke 14:21-2321 `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22 "`Sir,' the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' 23 "Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.NIV
Sunday School curriculum in the 60's and 70's often portrayed the Church as a building with a steeple. Today, if you open the doors of the building, you may not find too many people. Cities are filled with many archaic church buildings that serve a small handful of parishioners.
At the heart of the struggle is a tension between the local church functioning as a parish ministry, or as a regional center serving a larger number of mobile people. A parish church focuses primarily on the demographic needs expressed in the area or neighborhood that it is part of. A regional center also focuses on a demographic…

DOWN FROM THE BANDWAGON

1 Cor 13:1-313:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. NIV
There are many who make a lot of noise in their attempts to be culturally relevant communicators to the lost. They may even demonstrate supernatural insights and approach their target group with academic fervor and statistical propping. But, it’s all lost without true compassion.
Some create wonderful programs and outreach events to ‘do love’ to the lost, but it always has the same bottom line. They may not remember the food voucher, the drama team or the colorful church brochure, but they can tell if you really care about them or not.
What are loving responses and actions that we ca…

REVERSING THE EFFECTS OF BABEL

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Acts 2:4-124 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?…11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" NIV
In Acts 2 the first urban church was born – 120 like-minded believers gathered to pray and wait. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they began to speak in languages they had not yet learned. They had come to seek God face-to-face in worship and prayer.
While Pentecostals have often focused o…

JESUS IN MY DARKNESS

As a young boy, I remember awaking in the night feeling alone and afraid.The darkness was oppressive and I was gripped by my feelings.I made my way through the dark to the familiarity of my parents’ door.I crawled in bed next to their sleeping forms.
In that place, I was warm and secure.My fears subsided and I knew everything was going to be okay.It was a place of faith, knowing that their presence was enough.
Jesus sees the child in us gripped by the darkness and fear of not being good enough, failing and being judged.At to that fearful child he offers hope.
Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
He is aware of our fear and uncertainty.He sees the burden we carry and offers to be the presence that calms our fears and lightens our load.He says to the frightened chil…

HEARING WITHOUT LISTENING

Matthew 11:16 "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 " 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
Here is a picture of a generation who are unresponsive to God’s messengers. If good news is given, the crowd shows no joy. If bad news is given, they show no affect. If the Old Testament shows us anything about relationship with God, it is the range of emotional response that God has towards people. He gets angry, threatens with judgment, appeals as a lover and nurtures like a mother.
How do we get to a state of being untouched by God’s message to us?…

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT FOLLOWING THE LEADER

The question of integrity in leadership is valid. Those who lead are carefully scrutinized and evaluated by a public who have grown weary of disappointments.
When questions arose from his cousin John (the Baptist), Jesus sent him an answer. The crowd who watched John's disciples seeking answers may have developed some questions of their own about Jesus. He answered the questions that had not been verbalized.
Matthew 11:7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: "' I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'11 I tell you the truth: Among thos…

THE BAPTIST HAS A QUESTION

First century Judaism had a very detailed expectation of God’s requirements to be a holy person.

The followers of John the Baptist were intent on living holy lives as members of the Essenes community. John spoke of Jesus in reverential terms and identified that this was the Messiah walking among them.

But Jesus was a stretch to their way of thinking about holy men. Even John began to wonder if he had been wrong about Jesus.

Matthew 11:
1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fa…

ARE YOU A HOLY MAN?

This week I had lunch with a Muslim ‘imam’ (the Islamic equivalent of a pastor but with distinctions). I learned that you don’t call him an ‘iman’. That is a girl’s name.
I sit on a regional committee for the Ontario Multi-faith Council[i] . Part of my role as the chaplaincy coordinator with my church district is being a liaison to Christian chaplains in Western Ontario. The committee was gathered to interview a possible new chaplain for the Sarnia and Chatham jails. The committee is represented by several religious groups.
After our meeting we headed out for lunch being mindful of the dietary requirements of the Muslims in our midst. I shared the table with another Egyptian Muslim, a Jamaican Anglican, a Bavarian Lutheran and a Baptist. We ate a feast at Windsor Palace Restaurant[ii], a place of incredible halal food.
Beyond the small talk, we had some rich theological discussions. Ahmed (the imam) is a graduate of Al-Azhar University[iii] in Cairo, the premiere learning cente…

UNSEEN HANDS WITH OVEN MITTS

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Last night was interesting at New Song Church.
I got a call at 10:30 saying that church was on fire.Then a 2nd call confirmed that it was not the church, but an abandoned bakery next door.Steve Green and I arrived to a sea of flashing lights, tenants and spectators on the sidewalks.The old bakery did burn down and today the wrecking crew were in to knock down anything unstable.Our tenants all found accommodation with friends and family for the night and are now clear to return to their places.Tomorrow morning our gas will be turned back on heralding the return of hot water and a hot meal for Friday supper.We did have some damages and have contacted our insurance company.It’s a $2500 deductible (ouch!) but thankfully no injuries.·Siding on north face of roof melted off
·2 broken windows
·1 damaged door and 3 damaged door knobs
·Basement flooded from firemen spraying the building
If there’s anything else, the adjuster will let us know.