Building great people, because great people build great families and great families build great communities.
To God be the glory!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Guilty Until proven innocent

Do you ever have one of those days where it seems all you do is “contemplate”?

Today was one of those days. As of late I have been weighed down in spirit due to an opposing spirit. It seems no matter what I do this individual sees it as wrong in their eyes. In my Christian walk thus far I have not been aware of just how powerful and dark this oppressive spirit is.

I have recently become aware of a peculiar thing: it seems that when a person spreads lies or rumors about you, those accusations, although unfounded are readily believed. Before there is an opportunity to address the accusations the victim of said slander is found guilty and someone is calling for a rope.

Why is it that the innocent has the burden of proving the accusations false, rather then the reverse?

I talked with God today about this ungodly attitude being in the church. I contemplated the dozen or so pastors I know of who have been hurt by one or two individuals in the church. I thought about my brethren who had moved their families into a town or city to fill the role of pasturing the local church. All was fine until somehow the pastor offends someone in the fellowship and it is war! No discussion, no chance for peace - it is all out war!

A dark spirit comes over an individual (usually a women) and they are used by the powers of darkness to press against the pastoral leadership in an attempt to crush them. Lies are spread, accusations arise, camps are formed, division follows, the pastor’s family is forced out and the devil puts another notch on his pitch fork.

I asked God to show me what is going on. It is funny how God answers. Friday nights we take care of our grandkids, so down into the basement I went for a video. As I passed by the book case (do this a lot) a book seemed to jump out at me. It was a 1918 Edition of Aesop’s Fables. I took it upstairs with me. I made a tea and carefully thumbed the pages. The following fable is what I read….

The Wolf and the Lamb
WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf's right to eat him. He thus addressed him: "Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me." "Indeed," bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born." Then said the Wolf, "You feed in my pasture." "No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass." Again said the Wolf, "You drink of my well." "No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me." Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, "Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations."

The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny, and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust.

As they say, I’ll let you do the math. Even though I don’t know what to do, perhaps knowing the spirit behind it will help. May God have mercy on those who have caused heartache and grief for pastors and their families. May God have mercy on the church that caused my dear friend and pastor to have a nervous break down and leave the ministry. Perhaps we are living in the framework of John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time will come, that whosoever kills you will think that they are doing God service.

Too bad we couldn't live in I Thessalonians 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

I am sorry that I haven't posted the wonderful news about Casey's recent missions trip to El Salvador. He is in the process of putting together a story for the Okanagan Sun, and I hope to cut and paste it to the blog. Judi and I are very proud of his commitment to the Lord.
To say this last year has been a difficult one is an understatement.
With Casey and Janice seperating in January, Judi's continued battle with Sardicosis and the persistent attack from within the church we the Brouwers have been stretched. Stretched, but not broken. Disappointed, but not in despair. God is ever faithfull! In spite of all the attempts of the devil to destroy, we are in the midst of revival. To hear Casey's proclomation Sunday morning, "Lord begin the revival in me!" moved me to tears.
O'God move in our children's lives. Let Your presence be manifested in them!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Worth A Second Read...

Q. What good is a denomination today?
A. To support, encourage, resource and empower the local church in its community

Successful new movements continue to be birthed in the Christian community. Most have a clear vision and purpose. Almost all are led by an individual, family or group with vision, dynamism and drive. It seems obvious God honours strategic, energetic leaders with vision and a sense of mission.

What about long-standing denominations? Those that do not have the advantage of being “new,” are structurally cumbersome and have for years believed in their uniqueness, either in their belief structure and/or in calling. Will they again be recognized and blessed as in times past?

Although I claim little special insight into Canadians’ future choices, I tend to think most people will be attracted to something dynamic and relevant to our times. The following material from my own family of churches may offer this in a form relevant to new and long-standing denominations.

The Associated Gospel Churches (AGC) came into being at a time when the authority of Scripture was being challenged and when the understanding that individuals needed to repent and embrace Christ as the only way to be accepted as a child of God was seen as narrow and irrelevant. In response, our predecessors developed an extensive statement of faith and named the denomination/association after the heart of its mission: gospel churches. The movement has grown to 145 churches in Canada.

The AGC Vision and Strategy Here is the current AGC vision of a new, healthy, reproducing church in our multicultural society in Canada:
1. Churches must be a reflection of the community they view as their primary calling.
2. Churches must be intentional in their reproduction, relational care, partnerships, discipleship, leadership development and cultural transformation.
3. Churches plant churches; denominations resource, empower and coach churches to be obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
4. Local community-focused churches led by supported, trained pastors, church staffs and lay leaders are our best hope for transformed lives, communities and cultures.
5. We value biblical authority, dynamic spirituality, loving relationships, effective discipleship, intentional reproduction, strategic partnerships and cultural transformation.

As we assess, build, coach and develop in an unending circle, pastors and churches that are clear in their appreciation of the authority of the word of God and focused on people will flourish.
Assess leadership and church health using tools that have corresponding helps to strengthen weaknesses and exploit strengths.
Build leaders and churches through every available resource in partnership with other organizations.
Coach pastors, church staff and key lay leaders through area clusters, monitoring coaches and regional superintendents.
Develop an ongoing recruitment and assessment process that values people and the sovereignty of God.

Old denominational structures may be dying, but denominations that empower, resource and encourage community-based leaders and pastors have every hope of God’s blessing and impact on the community.

Early Outcomes
An Ontario church noticed a strip of older motels populated with people waiting for more permanent housing. They began to offer a Saturday evening hot meal free, served by people from the church who were there simply to show care, acceptance, love and hope, and to provide interaction and understanding. After one year a number of the motel residents are participating in an Alpha program, others are in Bible studies and a few are now attending church services.

In a Western Canada church, people volunteer to help the town maintenance department and have stepped alongside farmers and small business owners to offer help and encouragement. The result is that the church has grown from 35 to 135 people worshipping each Sunday. They have built a new church building in a declining town, giving hope to the community and purposeful life to the church.

In thinking about the purpose of a denomination today, one would be wise to focus on the local church.

A. F. (Bud) Penner is the president of the Associated Gospel Churches with its home office in one of its churches in Burlington, Ont.

Nobody's Friend

My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted the more I am believed. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. I make headlines and headaches. Before you repeat a story, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it harmless? Is it necessary? If it isn’t, don’t repeat it. Why do people gossip? It is probably the major form of communication in any business, church, social or family setting. Gossip can be pretty destructive and counterproductive especially when it is about you. For the person who is carrying the information, he or she may feel as though it is a civic duty to share their knowledge with anyone who will listen. It also seems to be necessary to embellish it a little, in the event that the topic of gossip isn't juicy enough. You probably heard about the office gossip who said "…that is all that I can tell you…. I have already told you more than I heard myself." We have been told that knowledge is power. So, the person who seems to have a lot of knowledge may be perceived, or perceive him or herself as "in the know" and therefore powerful. In fact, often that is not the case. Now what to do about the office gossip. Gossip requires a talker and a listener. If no one listens then he or she can't gossip. It's up to each individual to make the choice to participate, or not, in this past time. In breaking free of the practice of gossiping, we could apply the Rotary Club's four-way test regarding the information received and passed on to others.
· Is it true?
· Is it fair to all concerned?
· Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
· Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, don't participate!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Once a man and his son were walking to the market with their donkey. A countryman noticed that the donkey was walking alongside them and laughed, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?!” So the man decided to put his son on the donkey and they went on their way. A little while later they passed a group of men. One of them said, "See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides."

The man then ordered the boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women. One of them said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along." The man didn't know what to do at first. He thought and thought and finally decided to put his son up in front of him on the donkey.

Soon they reached the town. There too the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked them what they were scoffing at. The people said, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey?" The man and the boy got off. They had to think of what to do all over again. At last they had an idea. They took a long pole and tied the donkey's feet to it. Then they raised the pole to their shoulders and carried the donkey upside down.
They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to the market bridge. The donkey accidentally got one of his feet loose and kicking out, caused the boy to drop his end of the pole.

In the struggle that followed, the poor donkey, with his forelegs tied together, fell over the bridge and drowned.

When you try to please everybody, you won't please anybody.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A preview of next week's message:

Once a man asked an evangelist “how can we have revival?”

The evangelist answered by asking “Do you have a place where you can pray?” Yes the man replied.

Tell you what to do, go to that place and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk draw a complete circle around you and pray for God to send revival on everything inside that circle. Stay there until He answers, and you will have your revival
The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.

Christians need to care about the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to accept the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to love the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to establish meaningful relationships with the people they hope to reach.

The Cry Of My Heart!

Holy God make me holy!
Merciful God give me a merciful heart!
Lover of souls help me love them too!
I want to be more like You!
I need to be more like You!

Today's Word - "GRACE"

There is a single word that encompasses all the riches we find in Christ - GRACE!

This magnificent word is used more than 150 times in the New Testament.

God’s grace is inexhaustible and boundless!

A Christian is saved by Grace... Ephesians 2:8
A Christian stands by Grace... Romans 5:2

Look at John 1:14 and see what it says of Christ..... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Jesus is described as being full of grace!

Two verses further on we read that of His fullness have we all received,

and that being grace upon grace, or grace for grace!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

IT IS TIME......

Praise the Lord……... Praise the Lord
After this I looked, and, there before me was a door standing wide open in heaven: and the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, come up here, at once I was in the spirit; and there before me was a throne in heaven with some one sitting on it.

And the one that sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian a rainbow resembling an emerald encircling the throne. Surrounding the throne were 24 other thrones And seated on them were 24 elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. From the throne came flashes of lightning and peels of thunder. And I heard praise, continual praise to the Lord.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.

The Call To Worship

Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him sun and moon, Praise him all you stars!
Praise the Lord from the earth, Praise Him among the people: Praise Him among the nations.

Praise the LORD for He is good: His mercy endures for ever.

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Praise the LORD with your mouth; praise him with dancing, praise him with the harp.
Praise him among the multitude. Praise the LORD with your whole heart! Praise Him in the congregation.

Praise the LORD. Praise, the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, Praise God in his sanctuary: Let every thing that has breath praise the LORD. Let every thing that has breath praise the LORD. Let every thing that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It Must Be A Day Of New Beginings

Wow! I just got back from our first Men's Prayer meeting. As we stood looking at each other for a few minutes we began to share our dreams and visions. The Holy Spirit began a deep work in us as each one shared his heart. The hour flew by and we realized at the end that we had been renewed with a sense of God's direction and purpose.

Awesome! There were only five of us but that was a few more than I had thought. Five men spoke about the five talents and the five fold ministry, interestinly enough we prayed until five minutes after nine. Who knows? It was exciting to say the least. Two of our guys went straight to work on the vision God had been birthing, one went to work and the other two discussed the procedure for becoming a member of the church.

It is a new day!

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Bit Of History

Each November, Poppies blossom on the lapels and collars of over half of Canada’s population. Since 1921, the Poppy has been a symbol of Remembrance. It is our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations.

Just prior to the World War I, few Poppies grew in Flanders. During the tremendous bombardments of that war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing “popaver rhoes” to thrive. Fields that were barren before the battles exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the Poppy began to disappear again.

The person who was responsible more than any other for the adoption of the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance in Canada and the Commonwealth was Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War. John was born on 30 November 1872 in Guelph, Ontario and at age 14, he joined the Highfield Cadet Corps. Three years later he enlisted in the Militia field battery. While attending the University of Toronto Medical School, he was a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

With Britain declaring war on Germany on 4 August 1914, Canada’s involvement was automatic. John McCrae was among the first wave of Canadians who enlisted to serve and he was appointed as brigade surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery.
In April 1915, John McCrae was stationed near Ypres, Belgium, the area traditionally called Flanders. It was there that some of the fiercest fighting of WWI occurred. Working from a dressing station on the banks of the Yser Canal, dressing hundreds of wounded soldiers from wave after wave of relentless enemy attack, he observed how “we are weary in body and wearier in mind. The general impression in my mind is of a nightmare.”

In May, 1915, on the day following the death of fellow soldier, John McCrae wrote his now famous work, an expression of his anguish over the loss of his friend and a reflection of his surroundings – wild Poppies growing amid simple wooden crosses marking makeshift graves. These 15 lines, written in 20 minutes on a scrap of paper, captured an exact description of the sights and sounds of the area around him.

In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the skyThe larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders fields.Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throwThe torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields.

An American teacher, Moina Michael, working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries’ headquarters in New York City in November 1918, read John’s poem. She immediately made “a personal pledge to keep the faith and vowed always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance and as an emblem for keeping the faith with all who died". Two years later, during a 1920 visit to the United States, a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France, she decided to use handmade Poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. Following the example of Madame Guerin, the Great War Veterans’ Association in Canada (the predecessor of The Royal Canadian Legion) officially adopted the Poppy as its Flower of Remembrance on 5 July 1921.

Thanks to the millions of Canadians who wear the Legion’s lapel Poppy each November, the little red plant has never died. And neither have Canadian’s memories for 117,000 of their countrymen who died in battle.

Now, decades later, Canadians stand united in their Remembrance as they recognize and honour the selfless acts of our troops from all wars. We realize that it is because of our war veterans that we exist as a proud and free nation.

Information from the Royal Canadian Legion’s website.