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Monday, July 31, 2006

thots2Vu

enough faith?
So God says to Noah, "Build an ark", no explanations, no big public warning of the global catastrophe to come...and Noah builds an ark, saves his family and all animal life, repopulates the world...life goes on.
And then God says to Abram,"You'll have more offspring than the number of stars in the sky. Pick up your tent, your family, and move to a land that I'll show you". No explanations of where or why, no 10-Step plan to Knowing and Following God's Will...and the whole Abraham,Issac, Jacob line of descendents comes to be, though Abram and Sarai were waaaaay too old to have any kids!
Do we see that kind of faith today? No one's building an ark, as far as I know. Was it because God actually spoke to these men that they so instantly and completely complied?
Maybe that kind of faith is apparent when a church with a small congregation steps out and does things it shouldn't be able to...send missions teams all over the world, continues to hold onto God and delve into prayer despite more illness and setbacks and obstacles than it's ever faced before.
In a few more days, our church will have its senior pastor away on sabbatical, it's assoc. pastor and intern pastor overseas on missions...leaving no pastor to preach and lead the church.
Once again, we are being put to the test...will we continue to trust in God, remaining and stepping out in faith, or will we crumble under all the pressure?
Do we have enough faith?

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Friday, July 28, 2006










you know what?

as funny as this is, it is also really sad because it just drives home how shallow and spoilt we are as a culture. obviously the woman in 29E has never had to use a squatty-potty or, for that matter, had to deal with the heaviness of third world air -a strange combination of fish, excrement, garbage, spices and sweat- which comes out of nowhere, hitting you in that humidity with a wave of something that is in many ways so septic but in many others you long to be able to remember later.

weird how powerfully emotive olfactory memory is. it elicits an impromptu emotional quantum leap, placing you somewhere you’ve been before.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cindertales

in response to Cindertales post
re: open-chair policy

Love that someone besides myself feels convicted in this area...nothing sadder than being lonely in a church or small group or whatever. Funny that I would've been approached by someone this week who is feeling that way--undervalued, unrecognized, not part of the "in" group. Wow. That got my attention...do we have an"in" group?? Apparently one person thinks so. And apparently I'm one of "them". God help me if I've in any way aspired to that.

Yes, words. Interesting the effect they can have. And how quickly communication can break down.

And how the devil must laugh each time this happens.

Even when I think my eyes are open, I must be careful to always keep them focused on God, my ears open to the cries of those who feel unloved. I don't ever want to be unloving. Or in the "in" group.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

flat on my face


aaah, the twists and turns of "fate"...or whatever you call it when you set out about your ordinary day, with a smile on your face, plans for the future polished and shiny, enthusiasm just oozing out of you, because, by-golly! things are going your way....then....whammo!...(stop me, if you've heard this tune before...)

don't know if you've heard this sorry
sad, sad tale, this young gal's story
had a famiy, earned a livin'
loved the Lord, had no misgivin's

loved to jog, slow but steady
kept her runners at the ready
thought her lifestyle healthy, clean
she never for a moment dreamed...of...

(chorus!)
clogged-up vessels, achy heart!
high chol-es-trolll! played a part!
bad blood sugars, did no good!
clogged 'em vessels...clogged 'em good!

her Dad got sick, the stress it rose
basement flooded, shoulder froze
she took a sick leave, tried to rest
then Dad passed on, was this a test?

she prayed for answers, went back to work
she was outta sick-time perks!
feeling tired all the time,
thought it midlife slow decline...not....(to chorus)

that fateful day, was bright and sunny
she took a jog , her chest felt funny
dizzy next, she took a header
out cold til the ashphalt met her

ambulance ride to the Pasqua
"don't you work here?"people asked her
lots of tests and waits for docs
what they said came as a shock...you've got....(chorus)

she's stuck at home enjoying life
soon going under the knife
six clogged arteries need bypassin'
eight weeks rehab then she's laughin'

can't do housework, she's home readin'
nappin', chattin', rest she's needin'
thanking God He gave her warning
when she went out to jog that morning...yes, she's got...(chorus)
(big banjo ending)

well, the story has a happy ending so far...had my open heart bypass surgery 6 weeks ago(and it was 7 plugged arteries, not 6!), postponed my mission trip to Mexico, still can't work, still can't run(yet)...just lots of time to sit and listen--to my kids, family and friends, my Father, who says,"Well, now that I've got your attention, here's what I'd like you to do..."

sometimes falling flat on your face is a blessing
sometimes falling flat on your face is what you need...

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Monday, July 17, 2006

missionally active



hey, cinder gave me the idea for this posting. it was originally logged as a comment on poitu varam ('jollybeggar abroad'). you see, our church's partnership with the free methodist movement in sri lanka is becoming more and more involved. pretty exciting considering Jesus' words to us all in acts 1.8.

note: since the original writing of this letter the political tension in sri lanka has heightened, prompting some changes in our itinerary. padawan and i will no longer be speaking at the youth event (which has been cancelled, as the government has legislated a change in the school year there) but will, instead, be heading down to the southeast part of the country to assist in tsunami relief and redevelopment. although there is no direct threat (the sri lankans like tourists and are proud of their land), the danger of collateral damage and such increases the further east you go. the first five days of the trip will represent the greatest risk to us and your prayers are coveted.

having said this, however, i am also eager to quote raphael mcmanus in this context:

there is no easy road made available. we cannot claim to know Christ and to honor Him if we refuse the path He calls us to follow. do not insist on binding Him or associating Him with a domesticated or civilized faith. do not dishonor Him by claiming that a life of faith is a life without risk. this war has no room for pomp or pretension.
(mcmanus, the barbarian way, p 140)

anyway, here's an internet-suitable anonymous version of our support letter from June... i even used capital letters and proper punctuation!

Hello friends

It is time to share with you how God has been moving within our church’s increasingly globally missional heart. In the last year, God has called our church into an exciting partnership with the Free Methodist movement in Sri Lanka. Global ministries experts have pointed out that missions work does not consist only of evangelism, famine/disaster relief or medical aid. For example, in countries that already have 3% or more of their population evangelized, there is sufficient workforce to reach their countrymen with the gospel. What these countries need from a missional partnership is not evangelists but friends who will walk alongside of them, resourcing them as they seek to further reach their own people for Jesus. The population of Sri Lanka is 3.7% evangelical.

The relationship between our local church and the Free Methodist Church in Sri Lanka began with a “Scout” mission that Pastor Jolly was called to participate in back in August 2005. His role was essentially to participate in the blazing of a trail towards the adventures that God is setting up for Canadian Free Methodists from local churches to become involved in Sri Lanka and the world. The partnership continued with a “Diplomatic” mission that Pastor Amigo was called to participate in this past February 2006. On this trip, he built relationships with many of the Sri Lankan pastors, visiting and speaking at many of their churches, as well as bringing moneys raised by our Discoveryland children towards the facility needs of a Sinhala congregation in Colombo. Now this local church's missional odyssey continues with the sending of a four-person team consisting of Pastor Jolly and three others (Cinder and her husband being two of the three) to Sri Lanka in August 2006.

This adventure is especially exciting because it is involving not only pastors but laity… everyday people responding to God’s call to actively apply the instruction of Jesus found in Acts 1.8. After all, we all know that there are no ‘class distinctions’ in God’s family… everyone in every station of life is called by Jesus to be his witnesses. The excitement grows further because of the measure of faith required for a local church to send an entire team anywhere to do anything. In truth, when a church sends anyone out, it is as though the whole church is going. However, sending a team involves greater challenges and greater opportunities for the faith of the local church to grow in the process.

Pastor Jolly and Padawan will be providing teaching and leadership at the Young Adults’ Camp in early August, and will be leaving on August 4, 2006 ahead of the rest of the team. They will be joined by the Cinders (leaving August 9, 2006) who will be providing children’s programming for the Pastors’ Family Camp that is to be held the week following. Pastor Jolly and Padawan will be involved in teaching and leading at this event as well. In addition to these official duties, our team members will also be ‘on call’ to, as Dan Sheffield, Global Ministries coordinator for the Free Methodist Church in Canada has put it, “preach, pray or die (with hopefully a couple minutes notice!)” Although Dan was joking about the last one, the team covets your prayers, as Sri Lanka is spiritually diverse (its population consisting of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim resistance to the gospel) and in the throes of civil war.

There are numerous ways that you can participate in this adventure- the first has already been mentioned: fervent prayer. As we seek to glorify God in all things, he often requires us to serve out of our weakness, or at least out of our comfort zones! Please pray for health, peace, and spiritual protection for the members of our team, even in the weeks leading up to the trip of August 4-23, 2006.

The second way to join in is to help with the costs. The cost of this trip for our team will be approximately $10,000 for airfare and other transportation costs plus approximately $1800 for living expenses (about $35/day/person) In addition to this, there is the need for materials for the children’s programming. We know that God is faithful and He will provide what is needed for us to go. The team members are personally raising funds, but would like to ask you for help in this area. Any financial aid, great or small, that you can provide for this trip will be gratefully accepted because it all adds up. Our church is authorized to provide tax-deductable receipts for any financial gift.

Thank you for taking time to prayerfully consider how to take part in this adventure that will take us all to the ends of the earth to be witnesses for Jesus there.

Shalom

the team

*if you would like to somehow partner with our team, please email jollybeggar at jollybegger64@hotmail.com

***
'more missionally active...'
(this is a partners letter that was sent to those who joined in support last year...)

Hello, my friends

Although there have already been some general APB’s sent out concerning the August, 2006 mission to Sri Lanka, I wanted to send you a more specific note regarding the blessing of your partnership.

There is a wave of greater missions awareness and involvement moving through our church because of you. Last year, you enabled me to go on a ‘scout mission’ to Sri Lanka. By partnering with me as I traveled there on behalf of the people of NorthVU, you ensured at the foundational level that God was free to draw us as a church into a partnership with the exciting movement that is taking place in that faraway land. With Pastor Amigo's trip in February, the relational ties between our local church here and the Free Methodist movement there became stronger. I continue to pray blessing into and thanksgiving for your house for how you have allowed yourselves to be used of God in this work.

This year, NorthVU church is sending a team. Isn’t that exciting? What began as a quiet prompting has grown into a mighty shout of God’s love for the people in Sri Lanka who are struggling to shine the light of the gospel into the lives of their countrymen in this land of civil war. Padawan, the Cinders and I will be working with the pastors and their families, as well as serving within their churches, bringing love and fellowship and support from the west.

Thank you for the blessings of your love and partnership in ministry. Please read the attached letter and prayerfully consider joining in with this year’s mission- both in prayer and in the giving of a gift towards this venture.

On behalf of our team, blessings and shalom

d

PS: if you are interested, I have posted all of my journals (and a bunch of pictures) from last year’s trip online. Unfortunately, the way blogs work is from back to front- the most recent post is the first one you see. Still, for what it’s worth: www.acts1v8.blogspot.com

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Monday, July 10, 2006


there are things that strike me a little weird... even nostalgia sometimes throws a curve at you. here's what happened. on holidays in british columbia, and trying to somehow train for a half marathon that i will be running in september, i get thinking 'hey this is a great opportunity to do some terrain training!'

fair enough- up the hill i go. the local high school kids run this path as part of their physEd program and i'm thinking 'yeah, but how many of them run marathons?

whatever, big shot- knock yourself out. pride before falling and all that... this thing has a vertical rise of approximately 3443 feet.

but then the weirdness. like the shakespearean play within a play, or the warhol photograph of a photographer taking a photo of you taking a photo of him; like a feedback loop from a badly placed microphone or the distance between east and west, i found myself thinking of hiking in saskatchewan one time, thinking of hiking in b.c.

so here's an ancient post that says what i was thinking as i ascended.
hey, i'm on holidays...
***

so i’m pretending that i’m climbing mountains back in bc.

everything is there: the heat, the smell of sage, the dry grass, the dust.
it doesn’t seem to matter that i am in fact in the qu’appelle valley and that this act of climbing a mountain is really just climbing up out of the hole that has been created for us through thousands of years of erosion. no, right now i am reliving my childhood while the childhoods of those climbing around me, as if part of some parallel universe, unfold before my very eyes. there are some days when it is really cool to be a teacher.

there comes a problem late in the day. one girl, while ascending a particularly steep grade has somehow irrevocably lost a sandal. those climbing with her have searched for the prodigal footwear at length before one by one abandoning her on the hill where she now remains half barefoot, waiting for something to happen. it’s time for some big teacher to save the day, i guess, and because others are supervising a great number of students in the swimming hole (for it is the end of a hot one) i head up this widowmaking hill with an extra pair of sandals.

on the way back down, something beautiful catches my eye. in the middle of the trail there is a flower. just one, pink and perfect, all alone in its colour and beauty on this dusty hill. without warning, i am caught in a moment of spiritual truth. nature will do that sometimes, regardless of your pathway to God.

this prairie flower grows out of a clump of perfectly camouflaged cacti which lies in wait for the next shoeless passerby.

my first thought is the usual darwinian, scientific theory of natural selection, kind: the cactus cluster grows as protection for the flower against its natural herbivorous enemies. right around then is when the spiritual dimension raises its hand to speak.

this thing of beauty is protection for me as i hike this trail. the only flowers i see mark the spots where all the cactus are, and the only places the cactus grow are out in the open. they only grow on the path. there are none in the deepest, densest bush, and there are none in places of barrenness- other, more treacherous perils exist there.

we need to appreciate beauty around us- be it an experience, a song, a vision or a word. we just can’t let ourselves become so entranced by the beauty that we miss the significance. beauty leads us toward God, while whispering “be careful.” God has marked every peril with a flower, so as we embrace the richness of this human walk, let us not lose sight of that which often lies beneath many of the best things in life.

but we needn’t walk in fear.

folly is the temptation to take this physical existence too seriously. The ecclesiast lamented that all is vanity and always has been. douglas coupland, whom I have been in the habit of quoting lately, said that “nothing very very good or very very bad lasts very very long.”

all things have their season, and the key to navigating the mountain path is to recognize that it is, in fact, a path. many have preceded us and many will follow. the flowers in the dirt exist there independent of the hikers, in a realm outside of good and evil. they are signposts or markers along the way, affirming that we are still on the path, and that the path is a safe one as long as we keep our eyes open and our feet shod.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

thoughts from a cave

Summer's such a funny season...in my mind it should stand for a time of relaxation and vacation. Honestly, the last few years, it's stood for anything but that for me. More often then not, it's been a time of chaos, no rest, no relaxation and a big prescription for burn-out.

This summer's flying by at the speed of light and it's barely started, but I think the difference is that God's really opened my eyes to the past years and is trying hard to make me aware of the mistakes I've made in the past, so I hopefully won't repeat them.

Here's two verses I've been reflecting on...

One was given to me when we moved in September..."God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you. Don't be intimidated. Don't worry." (Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ MSG)

The other came in an email from a friend this week..."You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4 ~ NIV)

They are two of those scriptures which are hidden in my heart, so I can pull them out in my mind during the battles, chaos and uncertainties in this life. The thing which amazes me the most is how God brings people alongside us, those who will genuinely meet us where we are at and in turn we meet them where they're at...no hidden agenda, no predetermined bar to be reached. During times in our lives when life is so insane and we are weaker, it's humbling that these people are strong and God uses them to help you to find clarification, or as for me this time, to find the "cave" which allows you the time to regain your strength, feel Christ's peace and love, reflect and find clarity in where you are at that moment.

I've learned this last year that it is okay to go into that "cave", but two very poignant pieces of advice that have been passed to me are:

~ Be in that cave if you need to, but always be listening and be prepared to get up, get out and get going.

~ Be you, in or out of the cave.

No matter what this summer holds for you and yours...be you and be true to Him, regardless of where you are!

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

our homely naked man


this is a piece from 2002 that i've already reposted once
(can you find it in the northVUs archives?)

today, july 1st, was canada day and, as i sat in the park watching the fireworks explode overhead to the delight of the assembled crowd, i was reminded of a post from a period when i used to bother with capital letters from time to time...

God keep our land
Glorious and free
O Canada we stand on guard for thee...

have you ever noticed what we're singing there? I was at a prayer event for ALPHA recently which opened with some worship singing, led by a talented singer/guitarist. just when the crowd was really warmed up, she transitioned into our national anthem.

now, I don't know about you but I need to confess something here: O Canada has never really done it for me. for my unnecessarily critical self, it has always felt like a rather light, albeit well-intentioned theme song for a country. it doesn't have the patriotic swells that star-spangled banner has, nor does it bear the smug superiority of the old soviet national anthem that I remember from watching the various Canada-Russia hockey series. O Canada, for me, has always been an easy-going, nonpretentious "how's it goin' eh?" kinda song... ranking right up there "artistically" with "koo roo koo koo koo koo koo koo..." by the McKenzies.

this is not meant to sound unpatriotic or anything, just a bit aesthetically snobby.

however, as has happened so many times in the last few years, God took me into a moment and challenged all that I felt I knew on the topic (in this case, that of spiritual patriotism with those final lines.) a prayer of intercession for our Country- that God would keep our land glorious and free... I have, in typically Canadian fashion, bought into Canada's inferiority complex and said "take off, you hoser" one too many times...

from here i don't know where i went. perhaps the server melted down or something, i don't know. all i know is that this is all i have from that old blog. it is, however enough. i can finish it now...

the song ends with a pledge: we stand on guard.

i know that if i think this is standing on guard then i am sleeping at my post. i don't lift my country up enough in prayer or in practice. do i do anything extra, that God would keep our land glorious and free?

as we find in jeremiah 29.5-7, God commands us through the prophet to not only live here, but to pray for the peace and prosperity of the people with whom we share a driveway. he goes on to say that when we all prosper then we all prosper- pretty straight forward. my best friend and fellow pastor preached this 'social gospel' on sunday, but some of us are slow learners. it took me until today to think of our national anthem in this context.

but what the heck is the title of this blog all about?

the first line of the anthem goes 'O Canada! Our home and native land...' and i have always joked that a little child could very easily mistake the lyrics if they are not enunciated properly. however, i think that the problem lies not in the elocution of the lyric, but in the application of it. the exiles in the bible passage were commanded to pour their lives into the land of their captivity, yet i take my homeland so for granted (like a lot of easy-going canucks i know) that i make jokes rather than pray for its political, social and spiritual safety and stability.

i love being Canadian, and i love that people generally like Canadians wherever you go. i just wish that we stood for more than good hockey, good beer, cold fronts and warm humour, ya know?

sounds to me like real change, once again, starts inside and works its way out.