Monday, October 5, 2015


Who are the teachers that have most inspired you to learn and to change? Who gave you an appetite for knowledge?

I have had many teachers in life, but not many that inspired me to learn more and grow in new ways. One of the high school teachers that had a great affect on me was Mr. Alexander. He was a tall, thin man with a long beard who drove a Corvette and taught Grade 11 English. More than others, he said things and asked questions that set fire to my hunger to know more. He inspired a love for learning.

In the ancient world, one of the ‘all time’ great teachers was Solomon. He had a desire to study and learn about everything. He kept a journal of his findings about life in three books-- Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. As a writer and communicator to his nation, he came to understand the need for truth, but also the limitations of what we choose to learn.

Ecclesiastes 12:
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Good, wise teaching is like a goad—a stick used to poke cattle and get them moving. Have you ever heard wisdom that provoked you to move forward?

Good, wise direction also keeps you nailed in place. You do not come apart with every new idea if you have been secured by wisdom. It is unfortunate when people have knowledge of truth, but insist on letting go of it. There is no reason to come unfastened from wisdom that has held you together.

Solomon knew how powerful words can be and the importance of having a solid body of knowledge. But, he also experienced study that took him past the point of truthfulness. He said that there can be an endless amount of books written, but they won’t all give you life. You can wear yourself out with senseless knowledge.

The path of wisdom leads us to trusting God. Solomon discovered that some studying brought him to a respect and surrender to God, while other studies exhausted him physically and spiritually.

Friday, October 2, 2015


While our earthly life is short-lived and temporal, it is our home for now. Unpack the boxes, plant a garden and fix up the place you’re in. Take time to walk around the neighbourhood, not as a tourist but as a five-senses inhabitant.

Too many people rush through life essentially living out of a suitcase. We drive through life just over the speed limit and never get out of the car. We engage in relationships at a shallow level fearing that we may get stuck in relationships that put a demand on our time and sensibilities.

Peter Block writes about what it means to belong and contribute to a community.

What makes community building so complex is that it occurs in an infinite number of small steps, sometimes in quiet moments that we notice out of the corner of our eye. It calls for us to treat as important many things that we thought were incidental. An after-thought becomes the point; a comment made in passing defines who we are more than all that came before. If the artist is one who captures the nuance of experience, then this is who each of us must become.[1]

Sometimes we begrudge the chaotic people and unruly conditions of a place and retreat to a world we can control and keep free of the contaminants that others bring. But is this the heart of a Jesus’ follower? Anne Lamott said,

Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived... Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation... Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.[2]

Good wisdom from Anne. Part of belonging is an entrance into and embracing of the chaos in order that we might be creative. Deciding to belong means that we help each other carry the chaos to the curb and work together to create a new environment.

That’s the story of New Song Church. That’s the story of faithful Christ followers all through time. Somehow, God’s creativity and Kingdom expression comes out of messy people in messy places.

Jacob took a rock and poured oil over it. He anointed the place and called it the house of God—Bethel. He took an ordinary rock from the ground he found himself on and made it holy. Will you worship God in the place you are?

[1] Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging (San Francisco: BerrettKoehler, 2008) p.2
[2] Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1995)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


There are times we find ourselves stuck in places we do not want to be and cannot get away from. You may have to stay, but you do not have to waste time there. Paul used his prison time to pray, worship, preach and write.

How do you use the places where you feel stuck? Study your place carefully with an understanding that tough places are opportunities for God to do a deeper work in you.

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist who has appeared on a Ted Talk entitled ‘The Divided Brain[1]. He wrote about our need to live fully with a horizontal and vertical connection.

"Clearly we have to inhabit the world of immediate bodily experience, the actual terrain in which we live, and where our engagement with the world takes place alongside our fellow human beings, and we need to inhabit it fully. Yet at the same time we need to rise above the landscape in which we move, so that we can see what one might call the territory. To understand the landscape we need both to go out into the felt lived world of experience as far as possible, along what one might think of as the horizontal axis, but also to rise above it, on the vertical axis... "[2]

As Christians we often focus on loving people, but not always on loving the places we find ourselves in. Part of loving people requires a love for the culture they are embedded in. God’s Love includes the entire Cosmos.

Dostoevsky wrote:

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day.“ [3]

[2] McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary (Kindle Locations 619-626). Yale University Press, 2014.
[3] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Great Books, 1952), p. 167

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