|Posted on April 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM||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.
|Posted on April 4, 2012 at 3:25 AM||comments (0)|
Several months ago, we asked the Leadership Team for a sabbatical. The reasons are these:
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!
|Posted on March 21, 2012 at 2:25 AM||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
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
|Posted on January 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM||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.
|Posted on January 11, 2012 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
Over the past few week, I have had the….privilege? of witnessing the effects of a stomach flu go through my entire family. All within the space of a week. One night it was so bad that I bedded down in the living room with three sick children so that I could be close at hand when...well, you know. And, as I write this, I feel the faint stirrings of unease within myself. I’m tired, weak, and unmotivated.
All this started me thinking about soulsickness. We can easily have the same symptoms spiritually: fatigue, lethargy, dia-- you get my drift. I must be a little lightheaded. In fact, I wonder if many of us have chronic soulsickness and think it is our normal state.
One of the things that makes our souls sick is the Creeping Doubt Worm. It slowly slips into our hearts like a parasite sinks into its host. The symptoms of this worm include “healthy” skepticism and God-shrinking. Once the worm is inside, it simply asks a few questions. But, it asks them over and over. “Are you sure God is good? Does God really care? Will I ever change? Are you sure the Bible is authentic? Are you sure God is good? Does God really care? Will I ever change?...” The constant repetition of the same questions chip away at our trust. After a while, the host of the CDW begins to believe that he can’t believe in God because the questions keep coming. And all the mature and strong followers of Jesus don’t constantly ask these questions, do they? So I must be a doubter.
Here is where we are deceived. We believe that true trust is the absence of questions. If I ask, I’ve already lost my faith. True trust is not stifling the questions. True trust is asking any question to the right Person. A simple reading of the Psalms makes that clear. The various authors of Psalms are shockingly free to express outrage, deep sorrow, doubt, charges of neglect, hesitation, indecisions, and suspicion against God. The cure for CDW is not a determination to quash the questions. It lies in honestly bringing them to the Lord Jesus. The desperate father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9 had the perfect expression of honest doubt when he said, “Lord, I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” This desperate plea can go far in killing the Creeping Doubt Worm. Jesus responds with kindness and patience to those who honestly seek answers.
I know that there are other sicknesses that affect our souls, but I’m not going to explore them today. I’m going to rest a bit.
|Posted on January 4, 2012 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Why do men and boys find video games so fascinating? Why do males get addicted to games? Is it satisfying some deep need to shoot things? Is real life too boring? Is success in gaming enough to make life worthwhile? Is the best use of one’s life accumulating meaningless points in a make believe space? Do men need video games to help them cope with life’s pressures?
I’ve played a few games, and I’ve watched people play games, and I know a few game addicts, so I know a little about gaming. Gaming is scary because it is such a deadly trap. Gaming tells us men three things that we desperately want to hear:
I could go on about the dangers of wasting time, addictions, loss of real life perspective and more, but I’m going to leave that for another time. I think the important thing for a gamer to do is to examine his motivations for playing, and ask the Lord if those motivations honour him.
These verses may be helpful: Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? The Message: By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single minded in my pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. Has God posted a road sign that says something about your gaming?
Just one comment about the last question in the introduction: Do men need games to cope with life’s pressures? I’ve heard the "I need to check out" argument used to justify everything from alcohol use to watching TV to playing video games to getting engrossed in a book to getting engrossed in Facebook. The argument is baseless because checking out only provides temporary relief. In fact, in my experience, it makes the problem worse because using the relief valve actually drains the strength and mental energy needed to deal with the pressures. I’ve often felt drained after watching a movie. How does that help!? God promises us that he will “restore our souls” (Psalm 23:3). Show me a video game that can do that!
|Posted on December 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Thanks to Josiah for giving us an applicable and timely sermon on rest last Sunday. Christmas is probably one of the best times for a sermon on rest. We routinely hear things like “Christmas rush” and “last minute shopping”. How many of us have sprawled on the couch after a strenuous day of decorating, shopping, cooking, and wrapping, and wondered, “Why am I doing this?” Simply because Joseph and Mary had a hectic and chaotic arrival of their first son doesn’t mean that our season of commorating that birth should also be hectic and chaotic. At least I hope not.
What is rest? How do we “enter” rest? How long can we stay in that rest? How guilty should we feel about resting? Can my work be restful? We know our bodies need rest, although we still aren’t totally sure how physical rest works. For a long time, sleep was one of the most poorly understood functions of the body. Scientists didn’t know what drove the sleep-wakefulness cycle, or how to treat sleep complications. As recently as May 2010, National Geographic wrote: “From birth, we spend a third of our lives asleep. After decades of research, we’re still not sure why.” http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/05/sleep/max-text/1
There are now “sleep doctors” who will watch you sleep and try to diagnose problems with your sleep. Does anyone need one of those? Regardless of our knowledge or ignorance of the mechanics of sleep, we all instinctively know that we need it. Fighting the effects of drowsiness is difficult, and the effects of not enough sleep are also unpleasant. So our bodies need rest.
What about our spirits? Since hearing Josiah on Sunday, and reading in Hebrews, I have been meditating on the importance of heart rest. Several things have impressed me as I’ve thought and prayed about this:
I’ve seen headstones at graves that say, “Resting in Jesus.” I want that to be true about me long before I die.
...living and learning through him,
p.s. With the above in mind, I won't be posting next week. I plan to rest.
|Posted on December 14, 2011 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
What is a Follower of Jesus? And why do I keep calling Christians by that title instead of simply calling them Christians? Some of you who have heard me speak may have noticed that I usually call Christians “followers of Jesus”. I do this intentionally. I’ll explain the reasons below. But before we look at those reasons, a brief look at the term “Christian” is in order.
The term “Christian” is used three time in the New Testament.
There is no reason to think that the term was complimentary in its early use. The practice of adding the suffix “-ian” was used to designate the relation of a slave to a prominent household. Later it become a term that meant a person was a follower of a particular leader or member of a group. Later in the New Testemant era the term Christian simply came to mean...wait for it...a follower or adherent to Christ.
My reasons for referring to people who believe in Jesus, who love Jesus, who want to know Jesus, and who have had their sins washed away by Jesus’ blood and are walking in the light of God’s love as “followers of Jesus” instead of “Christians” are threefold:
...still learning from him as I’m leaning on him,
|Posted on November 16, 2011 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
Today's Question: What does God think of personal mission statements and goals? I've read Stephen Covey's book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and he suggests that we start our journey into effectiveness by writing a personal vision statement. The idea is that your life is centered on achieving this purpose and vision. Every day you expect to grow closer to this goal, every year you can look back and mark the signs of improvement. At first glance it sounds quite humanistic: "I will change me." Or at worst, it has echoes of the sentiment that "I can do anything I want to do; become anything I want to become." Frankly, I'm wary of manmade mission statements because of our humanistic tendencies.
But then I am reminded that the Apostle Paul had his own mission statement(s). "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2) Or this one, in Acts 20:24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."
Paul's mission in life was uniquely and totally dedicated to service to the Lord Jesus. He is at the extreme end of DISregarding his own life in order to fully appropriate the life of Jesus. In Phillipians 1:21-25 he is arguing with himself about the best use of his life: die and be with Jesus, or stay, and help the people he loved. He reaches the conclusion that many others have reached when given the choice: stay and help people. I think he is basing his decision on something deeper than the comparison between eternal bliss and temporary earthly ministry. He decides to stay because he understands the servanthood of God's love, and that God's love is expressed so well through sacrifice. The fruit of his continued presence with the people at Phillippi will bring "glory in Christ Jesus" (v. 26), and Paul can't think of any higher goal than that.
So how do we focus our lives? What is the purpose of me, or you? What does a good mission statement look like?
We know that we are "made in his image" (Genesis 1:27), we are "His craftsmanship" (Ephesians 2:10), and that God has "crowned us with glory and honour" (Psalm 8:5). Therefore, it seems logical that any consideration of our purpose and value should start with God's ideas about us. So we ask God, "Why did You make people? Why are we here?" God has a purpose for people, and it goes something like this: "I wanted to demonstrate to the universe that there are creatures who will love me with their whole hearts. So I made people to illustrate in living colour the true possibility of intentional love. I can make a creature, put my heart in him/her, and they will return love to me of their own free will. You people are to show the reality of unforced love." I believe that is the general purpose for our creation. That is the overarching purpose of people. How does that relate to you and I?
A better question might be: "Jesus, why did You make me?" Since we know that if we seek we will find, I'm sure that God wants to tell us his unique purpose for us. God will show us his answer. He doesn't want your life to be wasted. My experience has been that God will give us answers to the sincere questions that we ask. And often (or always?) His answer will be truth from the Word of God. This is the mission He has given to me: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but it is Christ who lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 Often the theme of my walk with God has been dying to my selfish desires, finding life through Jesus, and walking in faith. Perhaps this isn't the focused mission statement that Stephen Covey envisions. But it is a powerful motivator for me to remember why I am here, where my life actually comes from, and what God has in store for me.
...living through Him and learning to know Him,
|Posted on November 10, 2011 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
Hi, and welcome to my blog. Yes, this is the Pastor's blog, and you're welcome to it. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy it. On this blog I want to share my thoughts on current issues, as well as stimulating our thinking about God, our Red Lake culture, and following Jesus. I don’t expect to provide answers for everything, although I do hope to raise some really good questions! Perhaps you can answer my questions for me. I plan to post every Wednesday, but I’m a little nervous about making that a deadline for myself. So at this point I’ll treat that as a guideline instead of a deadline. (Why are they called DEADlines?) I hope we have lots of fun together!
Here is a sample of the questions I hope to tackle over the next few weeks:
Living through Him, Pastor Keith