Grace Community Church

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Fasting-from Negativity

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

So I'm fasting this month.  Yep, I'm fasting for the whole month of May.  I'm not partaking of depression, oppression, or heaviness.  I've decided that I'm taking a break from discouragement for the whole month.  Instead, I plan to lead a life of joy and hope.  I've been struck (not literally) by Psalm 16:11 "...in your presence if fullness of joy, in your right hand there are pleasures forever."  That's what I want.  I'm fasting from negativity; I'm refusing to accept discouraging ideas that want to move in to me.  When those ideas show up, I plan to say, "Sorry, you'll have to leave.  I can't have you in here.:

I have slipped a few times already.  I've sneaked off to the cupboard for a dose of hopelessness.  You know how pill bottles have child-proof lids?  Well, I'm trying to make the discouragement bottle Keith-proof.    We'll see how I do.  Will anyone notice?

Aaaannnd we're back!

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (1)

As you probably noticed, this website hasn't had much attention for quite some time.  The changes you see are long overdue.  I hope you find the changes refreshing, or at least, different.  :D  I hope to begin posting some of my profounder thoughts (well, I think they're profound) in this space in the future.  Hopefully, they will inspire and encourage you.  Be blessed!  

1 Corinthians 13 in my own words

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Recently I was given an assignment to write 1 Corinthians 13 in my own words.  I thought you might be interested in my take on it.  This should be taken as my thoughts or commentary on the chapter, not a definitive translation or paraphrase.  

  1. Though I am an awesome orator, and my words flow smoothly, and I can influence all people to live by altruistic ideals and patriotism and generosity, but I’ve lost my love, I’m just a rattling tin can! 
  2. Or, what if I can hear what God says and I tell to other people? What if I know the dictionary AND the encyclopedia, AND I’m full of faith-power so that roads, hills, lakes, and buildings obey me? What then? Well, do I have love? No? Then I might as well not exist. 
  3. Or what if I’m the most generous philanthropist in the world? What if I just give money away until all the money is gone, and I even give my body to medical research, but I’m empty of love? No payoff for me! 
  4. Lovers practice kindness and patience. Lovers aren’t loudmouths about their own abilities.
  5. Lovers reject rudeness. Lovers give other people the chance to decide what happens next.
  6. Lovers love and laugh with truth and hate and reject lies and deceit. 
  7. Lovers hold up burdens, they believe the best, they hope for the best, and they endure the worst. Always. 
  8. Love just goes on and on and on. Hearing God speak and repeating what he says is going to end one day. So will those beautiful words. So will knowing that I know things. Only love os endless. 
  9. Right now we are partial, incomplete. There is so much we don’t know. Even hearing God and repeating what he says is incomplete. 
  10. One day, though, the complete will show up. That’s the day that the incomplete will vanish. 
  11. I used to be immature. My thinking was immature. My speaking was immature. But when I grew up to manhood, I left my immaturity behind. 
  12.  But even as I reach maturity, I am still incomplete. I look through foggy glasses. Therefore, the people I see are a little foggy. When I look at God, he is a little foggy (because of my glasses). But a day is coming--oh what a day!--when those glasses are comin’ off! Whoohoo! Then, I’ll see clearly. Then, my limitations of knowing him will be GONE! 
  13. So, there are these three great qualities: faith/risk, faith/hope, and love. Among these three, love stands out. It is head and shoulders and chest and waist above the rest. 

Sabbatical

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Several months ago, we asked the Leadership Team for a sabbatical.  The reasons are these:

  • Feelings of dryness.  I feel like I don't have a lot of enthusiasm to give to our people.  While most people can give grace for a time to a leader like that, it is hard for us to feel very inspired unless the leader is showing the way.  
  • Decaying vision.  This includes personal and corporate vision.  I realized lately that instead of my vision getting bigger, its getting smaller.  One leader said, "Vision leaks."  Its the leader's job to keep refilling it.  Since MY vision was leaking, it is hard to keep it refilled in everyone else.  The exciting part about this sabbatical is that I've seen it start to get refreshed simply in anticipation of the sabbitacal.
  • Weariness.  The load of leadership has been heavier than I expected.  I don't want to sound like I'm whining, so this is hard to write.  But it is true that being in leadership is a weighty thing.  The weight isn't so heavy when I feel constant refilling from the Lord Jesus, but if that is lacking, then the strength comes from myself.  And I want to grow greatly in receiving a constant refilling from the Lord Jesus.  Rest assured that leadership is also a rewarding thing, and I've experienced some of those rewards.    
  • Emotional and physical health.  This is related to the points above.  I am seeing my own lack of completeness in several areas.  I want to use this sabbatical for some time for prayer and growth.  

The sabbatical will begin on April 30, 2012, and go through October 31, 2012. During this time, I will pull back completely from all church ministries, including pastoral and oversight duties. Jenni will reduce her commitment to worship leading and the prayer team, but will continue to contribute as she is able.  My responsibilities will be temporarily divided between Merle, Ivan, and Chris.

We plan take an extended trip during most of May and June. Our emphasis during the trip would be on family time, rest, and spiritual and emotional rejuvination. We would like to visit Bethel Church in Redding, California, and some friends and mentors who we connected with in Kamloops last year. We believe that these are people who can help us in emotional and spiritual healing.

The remainder of the sabbatical will be spent (mostly) in Red Lake.  I will take specific time blocks to seek the Lord and his words to me.  I will continue to work at the Ambulance Service part time like I have been doing.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.  May the Lord Jesus will be blessed in all we do!

Still learning...

Pastor Keith

Brokenness

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 2:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Brokenness vs. Woundedness

Has God repeatedly tried to get your attention about something that he wants to teach you? In the last three weeks I have been repeatedly challenged to face the value God places on brokenness. Here are the ways he has spoken to me about it: through Watchman Nee’s book The Release of the Spirit, through a seminar in Thunder Bay on Spiritual Fatherhood, through God speaking to me in a picture, through a conversation with a friend, and through Promise Keepers this last weekend. (I wonder if God gets tired of clicking the “Send” button on the same email to me over and over and over… Thankfully he is a God of grace.)All that to say that he has my attention.

In today’s society, humility is generally interpreted as weakness. Anything that attacks the image of strength and self-sufficiency is rejected. The ideal woman is strong, lean, and competent. The ideal man is even stronger, self reliant, and fast with a gun (if you watch any action movies). In contrast to this unrealistic standard we are confronted with the ideal to which God calls us. God places a high value on brokenness.

He calls us to it, leads us through it, and brings glory to himself and ourselves by it. Paul seems quite proud of his low times; he points to them as proof that he is God’s worker. And he says that the very fractures God allowed into his life are the cracks through which God’s glory shines most clearly. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b. At Promise Keepers one of the speakers said, “God takes strong men, he weakens them, he heals them, and then he uses them.”

Today’s society calls us either to self-sufficiency or to woundedness. The message is that we deserve a pain free life. To achieve that state, we’ll fixate on the pain of our wounds until all the pain is gone. (How are we supposed to be pain free when all we do is live in our pain?) Woundedness is a life of emotional illness. Woundedness is self focus: “What about me and my pain?” An emphasis on woundedness never heals the wound.

Brokenness vs. Woundedness

Healed Wounds Open Wounds

Victory Acting out of Pain

Humility Victimhood

God Focus Self-Focus

from Spiritual Fathers by Dan Schaffer

Brokenness is not the end. It is part of the pathway en route to a specific goal. Watchman Nee says in The Release of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit is released through our spirits when our outer man is broken. “Outer man” refers to our soul and body together. He declares that “Everyone who has received grace has the Holy Spirit dwelling in his spirit. Whether he can be used by the Lord depends not on his spirit, but rather on his outward man. The difficulty with many is that their outward man has not been broken.”

We enter into great error when we focus on the breaking process more than God does. Father always has a specific goal in mind when breakage is occurring: the replication of his Son, Jesus Christ. His goal is to see Christ formed in us and shining through us. The breaking isn’t the goal. Jesus is the goal.

Therefore, it is necessary to look for God’s hand in every experience. We have a deep belief that anything bad in our lives is to be rejected and defeated. What if that bad thing is the very tool of God’s hand to produce brokenness? Shall we reject it? We do expect God to remove sickness, pain, sad hearts, conflict and depression from our lives. But it is too easy to focus on the bad thing and completely neglect God!

The primary difference between brokenness and woundedness is where we are looking. In woundedness, we are looking at our sorry selves. In brokenness, we are trusting God to produce something good out of the bad.

In the midst of pain, where are you looking?

Still learning… Pastor Keith

Posting

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting every Wednesday. I have unintentionally let my weekly schedule slide.  I've decided that I will post as I am able, but I won't be posting every Wednesday.  When I started blogging, I wanted to do it weekly to keep me producing.  But I'm finding I can't keep up, especially if I travel (as I did last week) or if I get sick (as I did three weeks ago).  I am working on a post right now about brokenness.  I hope to have it up in a few days.

Thanks,

Pastor Keith

Book Review

Posted on February 17, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I love reading. I come from a long line of readers. My grandfather on my father’s side read all the time, as do many of my aunts and uncles and cousins. My dad’s brother said once that he reads 150 books a year, and my father probably reads almost that many. All of my three siblings have a solid book collection, and wish for more bookshelf space.

At our house, we have books in every room, including the bathrooms. I usually read several books at once. Currently, I am reading a book about an Indonesian revival in the 1906’s by Mel Tari, 50 Great Short Stories edited by Milton Crane (1952), Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning, Stu Weber’s All the King’s Men, Visions Beyond the Veil by H.A. Baker, and the Bible. I plan to read Romeo Dallaire's eyewitness account of the Rawandan genocide called Shake Hands with the Devil.  I suppose I should be disciplined and focus my reading on one book at a time, but what’s the fun in that? With so many books in the world, why not read them in bunches?

When I go to the city, there is really only one store I want to go to: a used bookstore. My wife, being the frugal shopper that she is, regularly shops at Value Village and similar stores. Entering a store that has racks and racks of used clothing stretching off into the distance is almost nightmarish for me. But I have found a solution for my dreaded boredom in used clothing stores: shelves and shelves of used books! So we can shop together in contentment: she finds bargains in the clothing racks, and I find bargains on the bookshelves. I also find used books at garage sales, libraries, our own local second hand bookstore, and my dad’s bookshelves. (I don’t like taking them from my dad because sometimes I have to bring them back.)

All this to say that my reading interests are quite broad. I don’t pretend to be a great book critic, but I have learned to distinguish good writing from bad. Often I read a book and think, “I’ll never read that again.” But occasionally I read one that gets an honoured place in my collection.

Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (1946) is just such a book. I have rarely read a book that:

 

  • was so beautiful 
  • was such true fiction 
  • moved my heart so deeply 
  • carried such pain 
  • was so exquisitely simple 
  • so simply explored life within an atmosphere of deep racial tension 

 

Paton served as a principal in a reform school for young offenders in South Africa. In the 1940’s he visited correctional facilities in Scandinavia, Europe, and the United States. During his travels he wrote his seminal novel. The main character in Cry is a black Anglican priest, Stephen Kumalo, who travels from a small village in the backcountry of South Africa to Johannesburg to search for his son and sister. He eventually finds them, but his finding only leads to more heartache. Along the way, he finds people who help, people who hurt, and people who hope.

A remarkable dimension is the deep pain mixed with fresh hope. Few stories that I have read juxtapose the extremes of these emotions. On one hand, the pain is unbearable. How can it be overcome? How can Kumalo go on in the face of the deepest loss? On the other hand, hope is coming from a most unlikely source. From THE most unlikely source. In a drought-torn land, there will be water, there will be healthy soil. The cattle will have grass to eat and the land will support “maize that grows taller than a man”. In other words, there is hope, the old ways can work, but it will take time.

When I finished it, I made the decision that it will become part of our homeschooling curriculum. It is that good. It challenged me to love deeply, fight fearlessly, and hope patiently.

Still learning….

Pastor Keith

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”

Change? In Red Lake?

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (2)

Can Red Lake change? Should Red Lake change? How? Who should decide? What should drive change, and what methods should we use?

I have heard all of the following complaints about Red Lake:

  • There is nothing to do here but drink. 
  • The mine doesn’t invest enough in the community. 
  • People are too nosy about their neighbour’s business. 
  • People are too isolated and they ignore each other. 
  • It’s impossible to find volunteers for charity work. 
  • There is too much money in Red Lake. 
  • No one wants to work for a living. 
  • Drugs are the problem. 
  • Alcoholism is the problem. 

So it seems that some change is necessary. So how will Red Lake be transformed? A town is not made up of streets and houses and workplaces. It is made up of people. So if we want to transform a town, we must first transform people.

And how are people transformed? Transformation takes place from the inside out. The key of that transformation is the work that God does. When we talk about transforming an antique piece of furniture, we think in restoring terms. We take the drawers out. We scrape off the old flaky paint, and strip off the old finish underneath. We sand out the scratches, fill the holes, and sand it all smooth. We purchase quality varnish. We apply the varnish carefully. We hand rub the varnish, and produce a gloss. We put it all back together and say, “Transformation!”

God doesn’t transform by recycling old components. God speaks in much more fundamental terms when it comes to transformation. His transformation is so radical and so powerful that God views it as a birth. He doesn’t take something old, and paint it so it looks new. He takes something old, and plants a seed in it that grows into something new. “You must be born again.” In other words, you must start as an infant. You must take that first breath-again. You must experience a new life, just as a baby experiences a completely different life than he or she had in the womb. You must eat new food. You must learn new skills. You must learn to feel and think. You must learn how to handle freedom. The Bible is clear that without a new birth, we are dead. There is no hope for eternal life without new life. Jesus invited Nicodemus into a vision of the kingdom of heaven, into the power of the kingdom of heaven, and into the guiltlessness of the kingdom of heaven. His invitation was through a birth. (John 3) Jesus offered a radical transformation, not a new coat of paint.

This is the transformation that transforms a town. When people are renewed and revived by God they have a powerful depth to effect change in the world around them. That is the force that will change Red Lake. Good political leadership is necessary, but it is not the prime agent of change. Transformed people are the agents of change.

Still learning… Pastor Keith

Spiritual Numbness

Posted on January 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Following a surgery on my knee, I had a patch of skin which had no feeling. I could run my finger over the exact line where the sensation stopped. The nerve that supplied that area of skin had been cut during the operation. 16 years later, the nerve has healed, and I have normal sensation. But at the time it was the strangest thing. Have you ever had that kind of feeling in your spirit? You apply God’s truth to it and you can’t feel a thing? You bathe it in beautiful music that glorifies Jesus, and it just rolls off? Nothing produces feeling?  How can we escape feelings of numbness? How does God feel about us when we feel dead or paralyzed? How can we regain excitement and passion? I’m (slowly) learning that a good way to address a problem like this is to first find the relevant promises. Then, it’s helpful to attempt to view ourselves from God’s perspective. So, the promises:

Promise: God promises to be found. Jeremiah 29:13-14 “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.” God does not try to make it hard for us to find him. He puts himself in our way when we search for him. When I play hide and seek with my kids, I have the power to get out of the house, go down the road, and hide in the bush, and they would NEVER find me. But I want them to find me. So I hide to make it fun for them, but if it’s too hard, I give them audible clues so that they will find me. I think that searching for God moves his heart. “Seek and you shall find.” Matthew 7:7. God knows that when we commit to seeking him, our heart changes, and he loves to bless that change. So he asks us to seek.

Promise: If we enjoy God, he will satisfy our heart. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Imagine that all your clothing has been woven out of coarse hair, and you have never worn anything soft or comfortable. You live in a mud house with a dirt floor, and you sleep on a think blanket.  Now imagine a soft, rich, dense and luxuriant cashmere sweater. (I realize this may not resonate with male readers. Just pretend that you’re female for a moment.) Imagine being enveloped in its warmth and richness. Imagine enjoying the way it feels against your skin, and the way you feel valuable and precious because of the sweater. This is the picture in this verse. The Psalmist is saying, “Enjoy God this way. Delight in him. Be at peace in him. Find comfort in him. Luxuriate in him. And he will answer your deep heart desires.”

I don’t want to be critcial, but often our spiritual numbness comes because we focus so much on ourselves. Our heads are down, our thoughts are inward, and our vision of God is vague or nonexistent. Our thoughts are about the friend who made a cutting remark, or the guy who cut you off in traffic.  It's all about how bad my life is.  One of the prescriptions for changing a feeling of deadness is getting our vision fixed on our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ. How does God feel about us? Does our spiritual numbness affect him? I believe it does. While God is sovereign, he is also passionate about us, and our situation affects him. He offers us rest, and a freedom from weariness and overload. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Sadly, I often completely miss the rest that God has for me because I don’t ask for it, or seek or. I don’t give him the chance to bless me. I keep my deadness to myself.

Finally, sin will make us feel distant from God. Sin damages our relationship. It makes us fearful of God’s punishment, and it obstructs the Holy Spirit from speaking to us. Proverbs 28:9 “God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law.” John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him.” A prayer God will answer is “Lord Jesus, can you show me any sin in my heart, so that I confess it to you, and find freedom and rest in you?” He loves to hear prayers like that.  

Don't let Satan convince you that your numbness is irreversible.  It IS reversible, and Jesus is the most richly living and passionate Person there is.  

...still learning

Pastor Keith

...until next week

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey everyone: I'm skipping the post this week.  I'm working on a draft, but I don't think it will make it out today.  So I'm giving myself the freedom to take a week off.  Thanks!

Pastor Keith


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