Showing posts from May, 2009


Have you ever considered the struggle a caterpillar must go through to be changed into a butterfly?
As a larva or caterpillar, it had one purpose – EAT! All it ever did was munch leaves and walk slowly along on its multiple feet to the next place that it could eat.Its body image was swollen, low to the ground and somewhat creepy.
Then one day, it had eaten enough and crawled up under a leaf.It started to wrap itself in its own body secretion until entirely encased.
For a long time, it appeared that life had ceased from outward appearances.The caterpillar had not been seen in its usual places gorging itself.Hidden away somewhere was a tiny Chrysalis which contained the caterpillar.

Though you can’t see anything happening on the outside, life and change are happening on the inside.The caterpillar has no more food from this world but is experiencing dramatic changes to its being.

Eventually, the day comes when the new creature is ready to emerge and the Chrysalis opens a tiny bit.Through str…


It was a quiet day in the youth pastor’s office.I had one of those offices that was next to the platform and doubled as a choir storage room.
The calendar lay open on the desk before me.Pen in hand, I scanned the pages and mentally mapped out activities and events for the coming months in my youth ministry.In that ‘half prayer – half dreaming’ state, I was interrupted by a mental picture of Tony.
Tony was one of the kindest, soft-spoken church board members I had ever known.There he was like a thought bubble over my head.I saw his face scowl and a wagging finger raise to accompany his shaking head.
With a sudden chill and the drop of my pen, I sat back and exclaimed, “What is that?”
In a moment of divine recognition I sensed the answer.“This is the fear of man.”
Why was I imagining such a kind person disapproving of the plans I was making?What was wrong with what I was doing?
God quickly gave me a few more mental pictures that often lurked in my imagination.
I thought back to names and faces…


Ernest Hemingway tells the story of a father and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained to the point of breaking. Finally the son ran away from home. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper.
The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office, 800 “Pacos” showed up....[i]
There are so many people who need to know that all is forgiven and the Father loves them deeply.

One of the easiest snares for the sons and daughters of God is to forget the mercy and kindness extended to them while they were still sinners separated from God.A distancing from God’s attitude will cause us to take a harsh, judgmental view of the Father.

Those who insist on the righteous demands of a Holy God sometimes forget that the axe swings both ways.…


Jesus says to the rich young ruler, “Sell all you have.Give your money to the poor and come follow me.”
Perhaps he calls the rich church to sell out.Change the priorities.Following Jesus is not easy.There are times when we will have to choose between personal success and compelling mission.
What do we need to sell off in order to remain faithful?
Sell our investments in ‘relevance’.We want so much to be liked and accepted by the community that we forget to love the least of these. To our own judgment, we seek relevance to the healthy, not the sick.Jesus was irrelevant and annoying to the self-sufficient and self-righteous.He still is irrelevant to those who have need of nothing.
Sell our need for more stuff.In the parable of the stewards, Jesus said the rich get richer and so they should.The man with ten talents earned ten more.The man with five earned five more.But to the one who felt his was not enough to do anything with, it was taken …


Jazz legend Hoagy Carmichael had a song ‘Big Town Blues’.A phrase he sang paints a vivid picture.
‘I’m in a bargain basement with a sidewalk skyline.’
Children growing up in the core of urban centres may look out the window of a basement apartment and see the sidewalk.
I want to invite you to be part of the sunrise on the sidewalk skyline.Over 80% of Canadians live in urban centres in major population hubs.The gap between the haves and have-nots is a growing chasm.The rich get richer and the poor get by with less.
If Canada were the rich man in Jesus’ parable, then the urban poor are our beggar by the gate.You may not see them, though.We have great security systems, geographic barriers and locked up churches to keep the beggars out at the street.
City planners and business people work hard to create presentation on the major downtown streets.BIAs’ (Business Improvement Areas) are cooperative efforts between city hall and the local business people of a given neighbourhood.Both want to see …


I have often found that the ones with the biggest voices against giving to the church are the ones who give little or nothing. It's always easier to criticize something you don't do. Giving is a spiritual act and it is worship. It's also about giving to provide for the poor. It is an act of support when you make a commitment to a group or individual.
Some of you with wealth are saying, “What can I do to help with the needs?”You are asking the right question.It is the heart of Jesus to ask you that question and respond cheerfully and quietly.Those of you who are fairly well off understand that and I know of many instances where that is taking place.
But what if you are on social assistance or doing odd jobs and are genuinely poor?How can you be generous and respond to the ongoing needs?Our church family is full of many examples of generous people that are poor in the securities of this world.
It is the poor who are often most capable of the greatest gifts.Let me challenge …


Where does stinginess, greed and hoarding beyond reason come from?
Eunice Pike was a missionary in south-western Mexico for several decades in the last century.She worked among the Mazatec Indians.

During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, "Who taught you to bake bread?" the village baker answers, "I just know," meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone's help. Eunice says this odd behaviour stems from the Indian's concept of "limited good." They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well--"Have a good day"--means you have just given away some…


An average person's anxiety is focused on:
40% -- things that will never happen
30% -- things about the past that can't be changed
12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% -- about health which gets worse with stress
8% -- about real problems that will be faced
Walter C. Kelly was a Vaudeville comedian who made this observation about worry.
Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat...worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles. A dense fog that covers a seven-city-block area one hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water divided into sixty thousand million drops. Not much is there but it can cripple an entire city. When I don't have anything to worry about, I begin to worry about that. [i]

Worry trumps faith.Anxiety chokes out hope.The gospel calls us to surrender to the ultimate generosity and plan of God.It is the divine i…


The sounds of casual conversation, ecstatic prayer and livestock mixed with the smells of human sweat, incense and sheep as Marah approached the tables of collection at the Temple.There was a time when she and her husband brought sizable gifts as an offering, but not today.Sadly, Marah’s husband had died from the blows of a Roman guard when he proudly refused to carry the soldier’s gear for a mile.Without children to care for her, Marah was alone.Her husband’s income had carried her for a few months, but the purse was now seconds away from empty.
Remembering Job, she prayed ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
Whom did she have but the Almighty?Her only hope now was the Lord.
As she approached the table, her hands trembled as she took the last two lepton coins-- the smallest coin of currency and she only had two left to her name.What would become of her?
‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
With a surge of remembranc…