Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Does Anyone Read Blogs Anymore?

The title is a legitimate question!  Does anyone read Blogs anymore when we are connected with Facebook pages, texts, tweets and a whole plethora of other options for connecting and communication?  I look around and people have their heads down many days as they are devoted to the latest text that comes from a friend somewhere that is of utmost importance.
When I look at this blog listing for our church, I wonder if anyone really reads it now or has this become "passé" or "obsolete" or "old school" compared to the new and improved methods of communication?  I wonder because I find that many of our communication skills are diminishing over time and not really improving.
I also am concerned with the number of people that are settling for short snippets of life compared to a nice flowing dialogue that can happen between two people, or in the case of those of us who have given our lives over to Jesus....the daily dialogue with him, are robbing themselves of what is available.  Recently I have been involved in a life group that is looking intently at the task of uncluttering our souls so that there is time and space for our devotion to Jesus.  It seems to be easy to grab a moment here and there with Jesus relationally and yet not really grow deeper or more intimate with him as we spend time in reading his revealed will to us and the history of how he has operated in the past through the record of the Bible.  There is also the aspect of prayer!  Those moments that we intentionally take the moment to speak to God about our life in some form and then to listen to what He might have to say to us.  Some people balk at the concept of God speaking to us and the possible danger of hearing any number of scary voices, but scripture tells us that the Shepherd speaks to us as his sheep and he directs us. John 10:27 from the English Standard Version of the Bible reads like this, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
There is something about hearing your name spoken or called out that connects with our being.  So when the creator of the universe and saviour of our souls calls out our name....I think it's a good idea that we listen.  Listening is part of any relationship that is meaningful so I encourage you today to develop a flowing ongoing dialogue with God throughout your day so that the connectedness that He desires can be established in your life.
Reading a blog may give you insights to life or information, but a relationship and communication with the Living that is something to blog about.
May today you hear His voice and respond to Him.
In His Grace,

Pastor Brian

Friday, February 20, 2015

Put another log on the Fire!

Yes I know....that's an old sad song...but it's true for most people in Manitoba right now.  It's been a little cold for the last few day I like to say....look at all the bright sunshine we get!!!
When you have a fire and throw another log on naturally begins to burn a bit brighter.  That's exactly what I  would like you to consider doing when it comes to your prayer life.
I find that in my life...I need reminders.....not so much the "take out the trash" kind of reminders but sometimes....spiritual reminders.  We started the year off at McDermot Church  with a message focused on scripture from Leviticus 6:8-13. 
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.  The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.
The part that struck me was that there was a command that the fire shall not go out!!  That's serious instruction...serious commitment...serious determination...serious priority in life. 
Jesus was teaching his disciples about prayer and over and over he used the phrase...."when you pray"!  Not "IF" but "WHEN."  There is a sense that prayer was to be part of a persons life that trusted Jesus for life here and forgiveness here and both in eternity. 
This Sunday we are once again going to throw another log on the fire of prayer in order to Keep the fire burning.  Communication with God is vital to our very lives...not only as followers of Jesus Christ as His disciples....but as rescued and restored people of God.  Jesus is more than just a great teacher...although he is the greatest teacher to ever live....he is a rescuer...and deliverer...and Saviour first...and then a great teacher.
If we want to walk with God....listen to God...and talk with God....the we want to be intentional about prayer.
If your prayer life has gotten a little cold...throw another log on today and heat up the relationship.
Pastor Brian

Friday, January 02, 2015

Beginning a new file!

It is time for a new file that is labelled....2015!  I start one each year that allows me to put things in it for planning purposes.  I find planning essential so I always include a calendar that I can write all over so that I make sure that I keep on top of events and engagements all through the year.  I know that many people have gone to paperless but I keep a glossy calendar of classic cars in my file or this year it's a classic with paintings from Normal Rockwell.  You know you are old if....I know!
I just put the 2014 file away and as I looked over the items I realized two things....
One...I was involved in many events and lives this past year.  I have notes from funerals, planning meetings, evaluation meetings, messages and cards from those who encourage me. I didn't get all the things done that I was planning to do.
Two....I saw evidence of growth, deeper faith and a greater connection with people and as a result...I was able to achieve so much more than I imagined.
You are likely think.....get it figured out Brian...either you were able to achieve less than what you were planning or more but you can't have it both ways!!!  I know it sounds that way but there were people in my life that took priority of the things in my life.  I can also attend another meeting or prepare another message or read another book or watch another cool video or read a friends post...but I cannot always visit a person from our congregation or talk with and pray with someone on the phone that is going through a day in life, and that is how I was able to accomplish more than planned. 
For months we focused at McDermot on one phrase and let it seep into our lives with each passing Sunday.  The phrase.....Make Room for God!  Simple but in every way, life changing.  So, I did just that!  When opportunity presented itself, I took it as a sign from God to go and visit someone, have lunch with someone, phone them and talk with them and in some cases...even email an old friend to encourage them.  Each time I was drawn away from things to people.  Each time....great choice...and I might even be so bold to say....God's choice.  
My new file is very empty but I'm looking to fill it with ideas and thoughts and scripture that impact my life and then pass that on to others while God gives me time.  I had a shock today as I realized that I will turn 57 this year!!  Wow...where has the time gone??
In reality I've retired 56 file folders with events in them and many people that have intersected my life as I've intersected their lives.  This year I'm looking forward to the intersections of friends as I journey with my Saviour, my wife and family, and my friends.  May your year be filled with the treasures of time with people.  I will continue to make room for God to work as I engage in the lives of people.
Pastor Brian

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Joy of Serving!!

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  Galatians 5:13 ESV

What a party!! I  just came back from the CHVN Listener BBQ where I was able to serve with the staff of CHVN and several others to provide a great event of connection.  My experience today had me thinking as I drove away....why don't more people step up to serve in situations where a church or a ministry invites them to invest in eternity?  I had a great time today....from cutting buns for the Danny's Pulled Pork BBQ to chillin water to giving my suggestions for the sauce people should use to guiding the young children on the blow up bouncer.  It was completely enjoyable the entire time. 

The people from CHVN were serving right beside us volunteers and the people that came to make the party colourful...I mean the face painters and one young man that was amazing with balloon creations and the young ladies inside the station providing colourful nails and beauty tips.  With the support of local business personalities....Shona Scappaticci and her team, Danny's Whole Hog Barbecue & Smokehouse, Corpell's Water and was a party! 

Anyway....back to the serving and volunteering part!  This is what I concluded after today:
  1. The attitude or "heart" of the volunteer has to be right. I looked around and saw people that were genuinely happy to be there serving others.  The attitude of doing something for others was contagious.  There was no one that I saw volunteering that looked like they wanted to be somewhere else!  Each person was engaged in the event and many were doing what brought them joy....serving others.
  2. Pride and Position were missing!  Thomas Guenther was the leader of this Summer Event and so he was in charge.  We listened and served him as he lead the team.  When a person volunteers to serve, there is a lack of pomp or rights that are given up.  Servants ....serve.  We are not the guests...we are the help...we make the guests know that they are welcomed....special...important...that they matter to God and to us.  It was fun serving with others today because there was "no one greater than another"...we were equal servants and when that happens....there is joy.
  3. It is important to keep the goal in mind.  This was not about CHVN wanting more exposure or making an event to bring attention only to itself as a Christian Radio Station....I think it was all about the Kingdom of God.  People that Love God loving people through an event that brings people together.....a BBQ Party!  There is what I would call a unique attitude among the church leaders within Winnipeg.  We get the fact that we are all on the same team trying to build the Kingdom of God and not our own little castles.  The friendships that have formed between many of the pastors continues to strengthen the Church in Winnipeg and I hope that the people can see that the Love Winnipeg Campaign is not just something that we "do"'s something that we "are".  Today was another example of God allowing us to be involved in something where He gets the glory and people are loved...maybe just a little bit closer to Him.
  4. Investing in people's lives in the greatest return investment.  As I served I was approached by a young lady who re-introduced herself to me.  Many years ago I had baptized her and so she was updating me on her family and their life.  Within the year they(her Husband and her) will be commissioned as Missionaries and are looking forward to whatever God has planned for them.  It was a thrill to see this woman passionately following God's call on their lives and the fact that I had a little part in that so many year ago.....priceless!
There you have my long version of the Joy of Serving.  I trust that you will look at the opportunities that God puts in front of you each day and especially in September as so many ministries re-engage, and consider how you can experience the Joy of Serving.
Pastor Brian

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Living With Questions for God!

Why? Why? Why?  There are so many questions that start with that one word.  Why do we ask why questions?  Reading one author, "We ask why questions because there's deeply ingrained in us a fundamental belief that somehow life on this planet should make sense."  There is something deep down in our souls that says we should be able to make sense of this life...this planet...this extreme swing from joy to sorrow.

Sometimes the fact that we are asking questions may seem like there is a dark cloud over our heads.  That we can't see clearly and that our vision is ....well...clouded.  Clouds that are similar to this photo taken by Arilyn Zunti.  Frightening...and yet intriguing. 

There is a prophet in the Old Testament who was comfortable with asking God questions.  In fact, the book with his name attached to it reads more like a prayer journal with God than a prophetic declaration.  His name is Habakkuk.  As you read through the book you will find that the structure is very simple.  Habakkuk asks a question and God answers.  As a result of that answer, Habakkuk asks another question and God gives a second answer.  Then Habakkuk concludes with a prayer that contains praise and a confession of faith that sounds similar to something Job would have said or written.

Asking questions means that we are seeking!  This is good as God is desirous of us seeking Him for truth and meaning and understanding in this life and the next.  If you were to read through the Bible you would find many people that would be listed as righteous or godly asking questions of God.  It seems like the prophets were always asking questions and the leaders and shepherds like King David.  He wasn't afraid of letting God know his thoughts or his frustrations or how he saw life on earth. 

Questions are good as they lead us to answers and so I believe that it is very healthy and right for us to be asking questions of God and expecting answers of some kind.  God Almighty is very interested in revealing who He is and what His plan is for this planet and all these people.  He even has a plan and purpose for your life.  Right where you are there is a reason for it and a plan for you to use the breath and strength you have and the talents and gifts in order to help others and to focus your attention of God. God has used all of creation to point us to himself and even when  you look in the mirror, you can see the fingerprints of God in your design and beauty.

What can we learn from Habakkuk?
Right from the beginning he got one thing.  He brought all his issues and concerns and frustrations and questions and even anger to God, to the only person who could do anything about them.  Many of us are asking lots of questions but we are asking each other instead of God.  Like we have the answers to the Universe!  Those people are few and far between but there is a God who has the answers and is willing to take us out of our comfort zone to see that our only comfort can only be in Him.  He will remove our props that we have been using so that we learn to only lean on Him. 

If you are going through a difficult time right now I would encourage you to keep asking God questions and have an open ear to what He might be saying to you.  Just because you question God doesn't mean that he is insulted or angry with you.....Good father's like questions because it means that the person is growing and maturing.  I will let you know that we might not get all our questions answered here on this earth.  I know I still have several that I have that I'm waiting for an answer, but I have faith to believe in a God who knows what's best for me and He will tell me when and if it is necessary.  In the meantime....I will choose to trust him. 

I like what Habakkuk writes near the end of his book as recorded in chapter 3 verses 17-19 from the English Standard Version of the Bible.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

He declares that no matter what it looks like around him....he will choose to trust in God.  The strength he finds for a new day, to pursue God's plan and design for his life is found only in God.  That is where I am standing today.  Where ever you are....keep asking questions, but be ready for an just might be surprised to find out....God is listening.
Pastor Brian

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday, August 3

Our Worship Celebration will take place this Sunday Morning at Camp Nutimik Baptist Camp located in the Whiteshell Provincial part.
There will be an outdoor worship service where we'll celebrate Communion, a baptism service and a BBQ lunch.  If you are in the area or would like to drive a little and join are welcome.
See you Sunday,
Pastor Brian

Have we made God too soft?

You likely know the story about Goldilocks and the three bears!! When Goldilocks had eaten her fill of the porridge and broken the chair, she was tired and looked for a bed to have a rest.  She headed for the bedroom and found that the first one was too hard,  the second one was too soft and when she came to the third one, it was "just right"!  

I wonder if we too often approach God like we do our porridge or chairs or our order for us to be in touch with Him, He has to be "just right"....comfortable....soft. 

To my understanding, that is not the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible has chosen to reveal himself to us through creation, the prophets, through Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit.  We don't get to pick and choose what we want Him to be like...He Is!  He reveals to us who He is and how He conducts himself and in doing so, invites us to a life that is designed by Him for our good, our benefit, and our development. 

In our effort to have a God that is "just right"....could it be that we have taken a Lion and removed his teeth and asked Him to keep his claws in...and in doing so, have made Him out to be something that only gives us a portion of who He is?  I'm all for love and kindness and mercy, but if I wanted something warm and fuzzy, I'd go to Build-a-bear and make one in the color and design that I thought was "just right"!  I've realized in my life that I don't need a God that conforms to my understanding and operates in my ways, I need a God who is who He said he is....someone reliable, trustworthy, holy and powerful enough to provide exactly what I need for this life and the next!

Scripture that comes to mind is Isaiah 29:16 where it reads.

How foolish can you be?

                 He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!

Should the created thing say of the one who made it,

    “He didn’t make me”?

Does a jar ever say,

    “The potter who made me is stupid”? (New Living Translation)

The old testament prophets are not the easiest books of the Bible to read and the ones we call the "Minor Prophets" are a shortened version, similar to many of the longer prophetical books, but it seems to me, they carry a much more condensed punch, as it were, of God's communication. There is not a lot of soft and fuzzy in these books but they do provide us with insights into the character of God. We may have gotten soft on Sin but God hasn't.  It's still an offense to Him and can only be dealt with through confession, repentance and forgiveness.  

This week I've asked our church family to read the prophecy of Nahum which was delivered against the city of Nineveh.  This prophecy is not too's kind of hard actually.  It makes a reader sit up and take notice...notice of what might be in your life that doesn't please God?  Are there areas that are compromised in my life?  If God was to send Nahum to my home....what would his message be?

It makes me think.......maybe things aren't "just right" according to God.   Maybe there is a message of change that I need to hear...and maybe you as well.  Nahum 1:3 reads... "The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished." That got my attention and as I continued to read, I also read verse 7 where it reads..."The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.  He is close to those who trust in him."

My prayer for you today is that you would not allow yourself to only see the soft side of God.  Yes He is loving and kind and compassionate and merciful, and He is also Just, Holy and Righteous.  It is because of all the aspects of His nature that He is worthy to be worshipped, trusted and loved.  I pray that you find for yourself that the Lord is good, and close to you as you trust in him.

Blessings, Pastor Brian