Friday, October 30, 2015

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?

We need to understand that God’s plans extend in both directions to all generations. God is always looking for a man or woman who will be servants of generational blessing. 


Will you receive the blessings that come through history and bring life to all who follow after you? Will there be continuity from generation to generation? Will the circle be unbroken?

The prophet Daniel said of the Lord,

Daniel 4:
How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.


The Psalmist echoes,

Psalms 145:
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.


There is no place in Scripture that isolates the work of God to a single, disjointed generation. May God help us to see that we are not alone; but intimately connected to the past and the future.

I think we need to ask ourselves a serious question; how can we be servants of the next generation? Here are some pastoral thoughts on what we need to do.

1.     Respect the past. It gave life to you.
2.     Review your history. God was at work before now.
3.     Resurrect the first love and the first call.
4.     Repent for laughing at the improbable.
5.     Renew your attentiveness to the next generation.
6.     Repair the gaps between generations.
7.     Rejoice in the new thing that God is birthing.


Abraham was faithful to obey God and receive the promise by faith. Isaac was born and he gave the rest of his days to raising him to be the transfer of blessing to the future generations.


Genesis 25:
Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.


Isaac did what his father did. He received the promise of God and passed it on to his son Jacob. Jacob passed it on to his twelve sons. Israel gave life to Jesus. Jesus gives life to all.

Have you received and are you transferring the generational blessing that serves what is to come?


Ephesians 3:
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Monday, October 26, 2015

MONO-GENERATIONAL MYOPIA


If you can only see things up close, you are myopic—near-sighted. Myopia can also be a way of thinking where you lack imagination, foresight or intellectual insight.



Mono-generational myopia is when you cannot clearly see where you came from or where you are going.

Those who only see the world and God’s work in light of their own age-stratified viewpoint suffer from mono-generational myopia. This vision impairment can happen to anyone young or old.

The person, who only sees the past generations and themselves as the last generation that really counts, will not bring blessing to the future.

The ones who can only measure from their generation forward, and believe that all that came before were insignificant, will have no sense of history, stability or resource for the future.

Jesus had much to say about the myopic people of his own time.


Matthew 11:
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”


May God help us in every generation to dance when God plays a song, weep when God sings a sad song and wisely understand those players He chooses to use. Jesus encountered a community that was not responsive to God. Let us not be guilty of being the wallflowers at God’s dance. Let’s passionately respond to the One who calls us to join in.



Thursday, October 22, 2015

100-YEAR-OLD WITH A NEWBORN

Then, there’s the strange story of the 100-year-old with a newborn. As a 75-year-old man, God called Abraham to leave home and journey to a new place that God would give him. He gave Abraham the promise of the next generations that would come through him. God was going to give him a son.

25 years later, Abraham was 100 years old and had tried to fulfill God’s promise by making something happen with Hagar the maid. Ishmael was born, but the promise was to come through Abraham and Sarah. Apparently God was not in a hurry nor limited by human weakness.


Genesis 17:
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 


When we measure ourselves by our experience, our life stage and a sense of what’s proper and respectable, we may laugh off the very thing that God intends.

Ask Brian Danter, my 64-year-old brother-in-law. He is a youth pastor at his church. Ask Claudia’s uncle, who at 87-years-old is still travelling to India to do train leaders in remote areas to plant churches. Ask Marshall Ruthven, a man who planted 37 churches in Western Canada and USA and was still going door-to-door every day in his 80s telling people about Jesus. Ask my dad who has come out of retirement twice to pastor churches and continues to do so at 77-years-old with progressive vision and clarity.

You can laugh like Abraham or you can see that God gives dreams to old men, old women and old churches.

A church that is willing to dream again will live longer than its peers. A dreaming church that obeys God can surprise and shock the world with new life. A good question for Parkway Church on its 100th anniversary is, “What needs to happen to see this congregation celebrate its 200th anniversary?”

100 years ago, a group of people filled with the Spirit of God came together to live out their calling as a new generation church a few miles from Ottawa. These early Pentecostals built the house on four things:

1.     Jesus saves
2.     Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit
3.     Jesus heals
4.     Jesus is coming again

Who in the church today was alive 100 years ago? Who will be alive and part of this congregation in 100 years if it’s still in place?

Anyone in God’s family has the potential of becoming a 100-year-old parent. At any age, we must be willing to listen to God’s voice and take direction to a new time and place. God is always looking those who will a servant of the next generation. Each generation requires that previous generations facilitate their emergence. How are you serving the generations? If we look back at our history and what has been given to us, we must also look at what we have to pay forward.

This is the essence of what it means to be Pentecostal—developing a set of ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. And then, we move forward.


Monday, October 19, 2015

LIFE AFTER 100


I have the honourable distinction of being the first youth pastor at Parkway Road Pentecostal Church.  www.parkwaychurch.ca 



Following my years of study at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College, I came to assist Pastor Clair Mullen at this little country church on the outskirts of Ottawa. The year was 1985 and I was 23 years old.

What an incredible honour to be invited back on Thanksgiving Weekend to help celebrate their 100th anniversary as a church. It’s an amazing thing when a church can celebrate that event.

If you were 100 years old, what would your life be like? What would you spend your time doing?

A 100-year-old man was having a big birthday party at his nursing home. A TV crew was there to interview the man on this special day.
"Please tell our audience how you managed to live so long," asked the reporter.
"Well, I don't ever drink and I've never smoked," replied the old geezer. "And, I make it a point to stay away from wild women."
Just then, there was a loud shriek in the hall. The crew turned to see a nurse run by, followed by an agile looking, older man. The older man carried a foul smelling cigar in one hand and a glass of whisky in the other. As he ran by, he paused for a moment, looked at the crowd and let out a hardy, "He, he, he!" and then continued his pursuit.
"What was that all about?" asked the astonished reporter.
Replied the old geezer, "Please excuse my father - he gets carried away sometimes!"[1]

Another man who was a few years younger said,

I've sure gotten old! I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes.
I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject t o blackouts. Have bouts with dementia.
Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92.
Have lost all my friends.
But, thank God, I still have my driver's license.
[2]

In current Canadian culture, churches have a mortality rate similar to a human lifespan. Between 70 and 100 years of age, churches are usually in serious decline or moving into palliative care and finally closing (death). Somewhere in the last 30-40 years this church has broken the pattern and extended its life. There are more than twice as many people worshipping in this house than there was in 1985, and there is strong leadership and vision for the next generation. They have cheated death!



Friday, October 16, 2015

SEEING REALITY BEHIND THE CIRCUMSTANCE


Do you evaluate your options simply by looking at data or is there another reality at work behind the data?




Richard Foster said,

The principal task of study is a perception into the reality of a given situation, encounter, book, etc. We can go through a major crisis, for example, without any perception of the real nature of the tragic situation. But if we carefully observe and reflect upon what occurred, we can learn a great deal.[1]
After the nation of Israel heard the details from the spies, they were anguished by the majority report. They focused on the giants and the walled cities. Their tribal leaders were mostly afraid of the challenge. The people complained in their fear and started talking about finding a new leader to take them back to the relative safety of Egypt.

When you study the place that God wants to take you, you will have to choose which path you take. Will you follow the trail that fear leads you to, or take the less-travelled route of faith in God?

Joshua and Caleb were the two of twelve who knew that God was giving direction and tore their clothes in grief. With a loud voice they cried out.


Numbers 14:
… “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”


Isn’t that the challenge that each of us must face to become free? Will we hold back in fear or trust God and move forward? There was nothing lasting and good about the wilderness they had been in, other than the journey to get to this place. To return to Egypt was certainly foolhardy, and yet also appealing. Everything behind them was a ruin compared to where they must now choose to go. But you can’t go forward without trusting God.

This same choice will face each of us many times in life. Will be study the map and move forward? Unless we trust the Guide, we will settle for the easy path of retreat. May God help us to discern the steps that will lead us into the fullness of God’s Kingdom.




[1] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline p.64

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