My good Pastor friend, Rob Dale said it better than I could…
Oh, yeah! can't wait!
My good Pastor friend, Rob Dale said it better than I could…
Oh, yeah! can't wait!
I love this church.
We were so blessed on Saturday night. We tried a new format, moved the front to the side, and did a semi-circle with the chairs. We had some challenges with sound and projector that I think we will be able to figure out. There's just not a lot of time before the meeting to really fine-tune stuff, when you have to get it all setup and working and the clock is ticking. I'm really proud of our guys that serve us in that area. They are accepting the challenges and going for it.
Gen led us in worship, Amy D. accompanied her. They sound really good together, and Gen's heart and love for the Lord comes shining through when she leads. I know I'm biased, but she's my favorite out of all our worship leaders!
We did 'Family Time' again, and it's still new, but I think it's working well. It's a great opportunity to give testimony, praise reports, share announcements and encouragement with the whole group. We do have one fellow that is taking more than his fair share of time. I'm going to try and encourage him, I really don't want to shut the whole thing down, I think it's important for people to have an opportunity to address the church in the presence of the Lord.
Gen did a new song "Here For You" that comes from the Passion Movement. I thought it was very powerful. We've been singing and humming it for weeks here at home. It was also cool to sit through the last song. I took the opportunity to close my eyes, and really let the words sink in, as I was singing them to the Lord. It was a great moment. I was sitting next to Daniel and Adam, and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Why not? We are there to commune with Jesus! Let's go for it!
My new friend Mike McDonald shared with us what the Lord is doing in Mexico through YUGO Ministries and CCBC in Ensenada. His message was from James 1 and Romans 12, and dovetailed nicely into what we've been studying as a church. I think it's the first missionary that we have had speak to our church. May the Lord call many more from our fellowship into missions.
We took communion, then closed the meeting, but invited people to stay as long as they could and spend some time in the presence of the Lord. We spent the next hour, worshipping, singing, sharing, praying, encouraging, prophesying. It was a great time. Gen sang a new song "Come to Me" taken straight from Jesus' words:
Come to me,
All of you who are weary
Heavy laden, and I
Will give you rest.
Oh, I, will give you rest
So, take my yoke upon you
Let me teach you
For I am humble
Take my yoke upon you
Let me teach you
For I am gentle
And you will find rest, for your souls
You will find rest, for your souls.
It was like, amazing… words fail. The spirit that was in the room, I know it was soothing, healing, instructive, corrective, tender… powerful.
I think there should be some time in the life of the church, where we are unhurried, unscheduled and just enjoy the presence of the Lord. I loved seeing people spread out through the room, in the dim light, pacing and singing with their hands raised, kneeling and praying with their hands raised, praying for one another, hugging, sitting with their eyes closed and their faces radiating peace, softly weeping, sharing truths from the Bible. Oh, man, God is very, very good.
Sunday morning, just continued in that same vein. Gen and Amy led us again. "Here For You" was powerful again. Mike shared again. He changed his message though, instead of teaching through Romans 12:1-3, he just shared what the Lord was doing, telling stories, we were riveted. I asked him when he was done, how, why he ended up going there, and he told a bit of his story. He was a pastor in rural Saskatchewan, took a missions trip to Mexico and was challenged by a widow down there who had taken in over 20 orphans to feed and care for in her home. He heard the Lord say that He was pleased by that, more than what Mike was doing then, and wanted Mike to do the same. It was powerful.
We took communion there as well. It's interesting, I shared in communion both times, and Sunday, I still had stuff to clear out with the Lord. I'm so grateful for those opportunities.
The big news on Sunday was Irma. She was a first-time visitor, came to us through her daughter who attends a CC in California. She was a treat to have there, and I think she's made a couple of new friends in Cathy and Lisa. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord is going to do there.
Sunday night, I had the opportunity to fill in for Randy at the Jericho Road Sunday night Bible Study. Randy's wife gave birth to their first child last week, a boy, and so Randy's a bit occupied these days. I was glad to do it. I haven't taught at that study in well over a year, and it was a joy to share with those guys from John 1 and 2. I ended with the wedding in Cana, and I loved teaching guys in recovery about Jesus turning water into wine!
Oh, yes, and I met a guy on Saturday night that's praying about moving to Ottawa to plant a Calvary. I'm hoping to have lunch with him later this week. The fields are ripe!
Would you take a minute (or an hour) and pray for us this week? My kids started school on Monday. We are up to our necks in a new routine. There's a lot of projects that we are trying to wrap up with the office, website and technical stuff. Also, Gen and I will be ministering in the Sunday night service at the Met this coming weekend. It's a big week.
Friday… last day of summer break, kids go back to school on Monday…
I visited a friend at OCDC today. It was an encouraging visit. He seems to have had a real encounter with the Lord, and is eager to grow in his relationship with Christ. I'm looking forward to seeing him more when he's released in a little over a week.
He'll be out in time for The Man Conference. Have you seen the video? Registered on the website? I'm blown away by how many people have already registered. It's more than any year before this far in advance of the conference. If you can't make it, would you take a minute and pray for the conference, Ken Graves, us who are planning, and for all the guys that need to come.
We had an incredible set of church meetings last weekend. I hope it continues. We have a guest this weekend, Mr. Mike McDonald of YUGO Ministries and CCBC Ensenada in Mexico. Gen is leading worship for both meetings, and we are planning to take some extra time this Saturday for communion, worship and prayer. So, we'll formally close the meeting at our regular time, but will invite people to stay and continue to worship, pray, and just minister to the Lord. It will be good.
Oh yes, I'll be busy the next couple of Sunday nights. This weekend, I'm sharing at the Jericho Road Sunday night Bible Study. It's been a couple of years since I've done it, and I'm always blessed to spend time with those guys in the Bible. We'll be looking at the last part of John 1 and then the wedding in Cana. I can't wait to talk about Jesus turning water into wine with a bunch of guys that have struggled with addiction.
And, Gen and I were invited to share at the Met on the 4th in their evening service. Gen will do some worship and I'll teach. I'm not sure what passage yet. I need to pray a little more about that. It's an honor to be invited, and I'm grateful to have an opportunity to serve those guys that have been such a blessing to the city of Ottawa. I've really appreciated Pastor Rick, and am grateful to have an opportunity to help out while he's recovering from cancer.
What else? We swapped our dining room and living room. It's different. The full effect hasn't hit yet, because our table is still out on the deck under the gazebo. It's been awesome to have our meals outside most of the summer.
And, Olivia is doing math problems constantly. If you've seen her in the last 2 weeks, you've probably been exposed to it. She's really good at math, and Gen has even got her doing some math games on the internet. She's really sharp.
That's it for today!
So, I thought it would be a good idea to have some "Family Time." All that did was make me prepared for what the Lord had in store for us last night.
Here's what happened:
The sound system failed. We still don't know what, how, or why, but it just couldn't get the job done. The first song was painful. We tried some stuff to see if we could get it fixed, but it was a no go. So, Dan told everyone we were obviously having some issues and would work to get it fixed, we tried something else, then Josh (who was leading worship) asked me if we could do something different. I said… "Sure!"
The image that will forever be etched in my mind is Josh walking down the middle aisle with a music stand in one hand and a djembae in the other, with a look of determination, and calling everyone to join him in the middle of the room and get close.
What happened next will most certainly become legend in many people's minds. We had a holy moment. For me, the words we sang were like explosions in my mind, like I was hearing them for the first time. There were moments of awe, and a couple of moments of awkwardness.
Family time went off without a hitch. What a blessing.
We ended it by inviting Ryan and Rachel into the middle of the room and we gathered around and prayed for them. There's some pictures of that, that will turn up on Facebook, I'm sure. Many of us cried.
We made the transition into Bible Study, and I liked how that new setup, which by now was a semi-circle, felt during the Study. It was weird wearing a mic for the recording, but again, these are the things that we are committed to: Worship, Word & Fellowship, and recording the Bible study and making it available for people that missed it.
We ended later than we normally do. But, the payoff was CAKE! We had some refreshments to encourage people to stick around and fellowship and enjoy this last night with Ryan and Rachel. It was sweet, bittersweet. But, in my heart, I sense that an era has passed, and something new is unfolding.
Of course, the big conversation all week this week will be what are we going to do next week. I really liked the semi-circle setup. I like how that feels during worship, family time and during the Bible Study. The challenges with it are sound and slides. We are going to look at it again this week and see what the options are and if we can figure something out. I think it would be a mistake to go back to the other setup without at least trying it. I feel like the Holy Spirit gave us a gift last night, and we should try to run with it, until He directs something different.
May Jesus be exalted!
So, every once in a while, I get a crazy idea, like praying together at the close of the service.
This time, it was in our weekly prayer meeting at noon on Wednesdays in the church office (that's the wrong word, it's more of a clubhouse).
In running with this theme of having 'church meetings' instead of 'church services', we really need a portion of the service, where we can share with each other what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives and / or ministries. I've been struggling with part of this for announcements. I feel like we have too many of them, and it can easily turn into a time of peddling events. Yet, they are all unbelievable things that people are doing hopefully in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we need a vehicle to communicate that effectively.
At the same time, we need a way to communicate reports of what has happened. I think I can speak for all of us, we would love to know what's going on in Siberia right now with Evgheni. Has anyone heard from Kristian lately? Did you all hear about what's happening with bikes in Bayshore? It's an incredible story. How about Matt in Cambodia? All of these, we don't necessarily want posted on the internet, but we do want to share the good news and the stories, and just sit for a minute and glory in the Lord! He's amazing! His word is not chained! And, He is using ordinary people to demonstrate His goodness! Incredible!
And, with all of that, I think in the heart of every pastor is to see our times of worship become deeper, richer, fuller, more meaningful, less rote and more authentic. And, there out to be a way that the church can worship God beyond songs. If it's just restricted to that… I think it's impossible that meaningful worship is restricted to a 30 minute, 5 song, sing-a-long. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not good, and I'm not saying that it's not meaningful. I'm saying that, I think God is amazing, and I think there's other ways that we can praise Him, worship Him, remind ourselves of who He is, and have a meaningful exchange of affection and adoration, where we are left in awe of Him.
So, the crazy idea.
Why can't we set aside a few minutes and just open up the floor and share, talk to each other, report on what's happening? I know it could be potentially awkward. But, I'm willing to risk it. I think it could be powerful. What did they do in the early churches? Didn't they do that? They must have. They must have also sang, studied the Bible together and prayed together. Let's do it!
I shared it in staff meeting (that's the wrong word too, try to find staff in the New Testament). Anyway, Daniel (yeah, I know, there's 13 of them, ask me in person, I'll tell you which one) said that his old church used to do that and they called it "Family Time." And it was really sweet and really powerful. He gave a couple of examples. I was sold.
So, this weekend we're going to try it. After the time of worship and before the Bible Study in James, I'm going to open up the floor for 10 minutes for "Family Time". This will be the perfect moment for announcements, testimonies, prayer requests. I think eventually, we are going to want to move it to the front end of worship, maybe open the meeting with a song or two and then "Family Time" then some more songs. That may encourage more people to arrive on time, or early, when all the great fellowship and all the great cookies come out.
So, yeah, tweaking things…
Sunday morning, though, we're already doing that. It's natural. This week, we're just going to move it into the youth room. We might try a semi-circle too. And, yes, the worship times have been some of the sweetest I've known in my "Sunday church" memories. It seems the Holy Spirit 'meets' with us, when we 'meet' with each other. Something about two or more being together in His name.
And, they continued daily, in the apostles teaching (study), in the fellowship (sharing, serving), in the breaking of bread (worship) and in prayer (that would be prayer out loud with each other)… and the Lord added to their numbers daily, those that were being saved. (Acts 2)
Wanna go for a coffee?
I've tried to use this blog to be like a living missionary letter. Instead of getting one once a month, it would be a little more often than that. So, to all my friends that are out of sight, but not out of mind, here's what's happening up here:
Ryan and Rachel are heading back to Florida in a week. They will be with us for one more weekend, and then they are driving back to Florida. It's pretty bittersweet. We are grateful for their sacrifice and there service and will miss them terribly. But, we know that hanging on to someone longer than the Spirit intends will actually be bad. So, it's good. We are going to have a little farwell party for them after each church meeting next weekend.
We had a great couple of meetings this weekend. The times of worship were sweet, Randy led us, and Chelsea shared a testimony from some mission work she did down in Jackson Mississippi a few weeks ago. I'm still buzzing from the passage that Daniel A. read on Saturday night during worship. That was awesome. My heart and soul were drinking that in. The circle on Sunday morning is going well, and the acoustics in that gym when we sing are angelic.
We started James. We are all in rehab now. Rehab for sinners. James is where a lot of the material for the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous came from. I'm having a blast showing the connections. We're all in rehab! (So, shut up and listen!). That's an inside joke.
We had a girl visit on Saturday night that was looking for a gym, and ended up talking to Tyler on the street. He invited her to church and she came. She loves God, but had given up on finding a church. She was wondering if God wanted her to come to this one, because she met this random guy (Tyler) who invited her. I didn't get to talk to her after. Maybe you could pray for her? Obviously, the Spirit is working in her life.
We are in month 4 of our office renovation. We're stuck at carpet installation. Dan Woods (new adminstrator at church) thinks he's got a solution lined up. I can't wait for that to be done. It's going to be so nice in there. After that, it's finishing the bookshelves and picking up a few pieces of furniture. I'd love to see that space used this fall as a hub / clubhouse for all the CF people.
I ran 2.75 miles barefoot with Ryan on Friday. My blisters don't hurt that bad today. If my mom reads this she won't believe I did it. Yes, it was wierd. Yes, 2 people stopped us and asked "Why?". Yes, the little pebbles hurt. But, on the upside, I stopped running over a year ago, because my IT band was causing knee problems. I haven't had those problems when I go barefoot. Crazy eh? Winter's coming though… I have to figure something out, barefoot won't work on ice…
Gen's lining up some stuff this fall. France, Ottawa, Westport, Heritage concerts… Looks like I'm going to be a single dad for the glory of Jesus some more. I don't mind. I want Jesus' name to be exalted in Francophone churches!
What else? We had a blast in Virginia at the YDI camp there. Our friends Dave & Sandy Vollmer invited us down. We spent part of our vacation in their "upper guest cabin" which was incredible. I put some pictures at the bottom of the post. No cell service, no electricity, no indoor toilet, but it did have a gas fridge, stove, lamps, a generator, nearby outhouse, blueberry bushes and a black bear. We spent the rest of our vacation in the lodge. Our talks with Dave & Sandy were VERY encouraging, and clearly answers to some specific prayers a couple of months ago. God is faithful.