Building or Wrecking?

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam, and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman: “Are these skilled–
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said: “No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by a rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well made Plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
-Edgar A. Guest

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I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians 

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians- Mahatma Gandhi 
I was thinking about the dangerous truth in this quote, particularly as it relates to the ongoing struggle with hypocrisy in my life and the life of believers everywhere.  

As strange as it may sound, it is the hypocrisy of Christians in the Bible that encourages me more than anything else.  Moses’s doubt, Abraham and Isaac lying about their wives, David’s adultery, Jacob’s lies, Thomas’s doubt, Peter’s temper, the twistedness of the entire Corinthian church actually shout hope to me. 

These stories remind me that God’s relentless grip on me, not my feeble grip on God, keeps me in his love.  These stories remind me that if there is hope for prostitutes and crooks and audulterers and racists and elitists and murderers and terrible husbands and coveters, there is hope for someone like me. 

You see, being a Christian gives me the freedom to be honest about my own sins, shortcomings ( that’s a long list) and inconsistencies.  Because I have been forgiven of all of my past, present and future failures through the death and resurrection of Jesus, my fear of being found lacking by those around me is no longer a real threat, only a perceived one.  The more that I remember and realize that because of Jesus my advocate I will never have to face the full wrath of God’s judgment, the more I can let my hypocrisy be brought into the light by God and others. 

Then and only then, can I forsake my hypocrisy and see the peace, hope and purpose  for the hypocrite in all of us. 

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With Wings as Eagles

Some of you have asked for a copy of yesterday’s literal translation of Isaiah 40:27-31.  
Here you go:
How often, how many times, how long, do you assert and declare, O son of Isaac, and proclaim loudly, O Son of Jacob?

My journey, my conduct, my example, my path is actively hidden and concealed from the God and Lord of Israel, and my right, my claim, my decisions are disregarded and actively passed over/ignored by your shrunken perceptions of God daily.

Have you not clearly understood, acknowledged and declared?

But you, you most assuredly disregarded that the God of Israel is Lord and from ancient times and forward into eternity is the only divine God.

He is the one that who brought about and actively created the corners, edges and even the fringes of the countries and their lands.

He does not become exhausted or breathless or tired from the effort of His worries.

He Himself is the only source of His discernment and skill filled understanding that cannot be searched in the depths or recesses because it is unfathomable.

He apportions, brings down literally knock out power to the weary one

And to him who has no power or strength remaining, even the ones lacking maturity, he abundantly enlarges and gives great might and power.

Even though the children, the dependent, and the young shall become exhausted and weary from their work and efforts, even the vigorous young men get tired, stumble and fall.

But those who hopefully, expectantly and patiently wait for the One God of Israel shall watch and see springing and sprouting anew a charged knockout power.

They shall ascend and approach on the attack with wings like a great strong eagle.

They shall dash back and forth like messengers do, outrunning everyone, and are in capable of or fail at becoming tired or weary from their efforts.

They shall journey and cannot become exhausted.

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What Sort of Tale?


“I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.” “Yes, that’s so,” said Sam. “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”

This Sunday at FMC- we are going to be looking at the “tale that really matters”, and considering what is important- what is visible, or what is real?  If you’ve got a few minutes this week- read Isaiah 37 and think about this question.


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He Left it All

There I was, sitting in my third church service in less than twenty-four hours, with thoughts all –a tumble in my brain. I admit it: I was overwhelmed by the seen needs and depressed by the number of unseen hands that weren’t helping no matter how hard I hoped. 

Then, I sat up and starting hearing the words that I was listening to, if that makes any sense at all. This is what I heard.

he didn’t bring an army

to help him on his way

he didn’t bring an angel

to praise him night and day

he didn’t bring one piece of Gold

to buy some food to eat

instead he turned and he laid it all

at the fathers feet

he left it all, to rescue me

he left it all, to die on calvary,

he left it all, not one comfort did he bring

not his robe, not his crown

not then thousand bowing down

not one piece of jasper wall. He left it all

this man they’re crucifying he says he is a king

but judging from the clothes he wears

he doesn’t own a thing

but little did they know that day

as his blood came streaming down

he owned the sun the stars and the moon

he even owned the ground

he left it all, to rescue me

he left it all, to die on calvary,

he left it all, not one comfort did he bring

not his robe, not his crown

not then thousand bowing down

not one piece of jasper wall. He left it all

not one piece of Jasper wall

he left it all


Just like that, the tumblers in my brain clicked into place and the doors began to open. You see, I was struggling with how to communicate my strongly held belief that the role of the church, in times of suffering, is to reach out to those less fortunate. When we consider the global catastrophe that is our current refugee situation, I think it is far more important that our opinions be shaped by the word of God, rather than talk radio. I think chapter and verse brings more reality to bear than clickbait on social media. Too many times, we mistake conversation for action, dialogue for effort, and are in reality just too lazy or too greedy to give sacrificially of our time or money. I watch the raging debates of fake outrage on social media by people who are more concerned with being right than they are with making a difference, I see people attempting to drive their own agendas forward by capitalizing on the misfortunes of others. And I grieve.

But God (two of the my favourite words when paired together), makes a mockery out of our greedy and clutching hands, out of our obsession with regularity, comfort, possessions and security when he reminds us of the sacrifice that He made…His one and only Son. And that Son came to earth as a baby, to a poor family in a forsaken part of the world. Just as assuredly as He brought nothing into this world we too can expect not to take anything out.


That leaves an awkward question: What will you do with that reality?

What do you do with the homeless man that you see walking down the street? The face of the child who has seen too much of life and has found no security in any of the places that were supposed to be safe? The boat load of refugees who have seen their families executed and their daughters kidnapped?


Is discipleship really not supposed to be costly? Can you tell the One who died for you that it is just too much bother to care for your brother or sister in need, even though they are from a different place and speak a different language, or have a different hope. All of us face the same future, the same two choices. 


Philippians 2 tell us that Christ’s children should:

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider equality with God

as something to be used for His own advantage.

7 Instead He emptied Himself

by assuming the form of a slave,

taking on the likeness of men.

And when He had come as a man

in His external form,

8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient

to the point of death—

even to death on a cross.


Emptied, slave, humbled, obedient. Hard words. But words of reality nonetheless. There’s an entire world waiting to see which Jesus you reflect.


Reach out, let go. Don’t be afraid to be the one who left it all.
















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Marching Orders



“Follow Me.”

He could have been talking to the brightest, most well-educated man He found. He could’ve been speaking with a businessman who had seen enormous success, so much so that the money from a potential partnership would more than pay for His expenses. He could’ve been talking to those who would’ve led a militia and fought for Him as king.

But no… His summons was to some grimy fishermen, fixing their broken nets beside an inland lake.

“Follow Me.”

Another summons. Would it be any different this time?

Would He call the chief priest to join His band of beleaguered followers? Would He call the holiest, most spiritually prepared person for the kingdom He claimed was arriving?

No. This summons was more shocking than the first. He called a man involved in the most corrupt business of all – collecting taxes for Rome. Even more unlikely.

“Follow Me.”

Once may be a surprise. Twice is a strange coincidence. Three times is definitely a pattern. Whom is He calling now? The fishermen who left their nets and their families behind – they were strange enough. The tax collector who left behind his life of bribery and extortion – that was daring enough. But perhaps this next summons is most shocking of all.

He has called you. It’s your name on His lips.

Calling you in the midst of your darkness, piercing your corrupted heart, stilling your deceitful tongue. Calling you despite your broken and painful past, your worried future, your guilt-filled present.


Two thousand years later. In a different time, in a different place. But it’s the same Galilean voice.

You have  things to do, people to see, meetings to attend, children to tend to, parents to mind, activities you are trying to press into an already squeezed schedule. You are the picture of busyness, the example of the one who has places to go and things to do.

And yet quietly walking past you in the midst of your darkest  struggle, in spite of your most crippling sin, He issues His royal summons.

How you respond to His summons will change your life forever. Either you will decide to continue on your path, living for yourself, following your heart, your own desires, your so-called paths to happiness and right living. Or you will give up your aspirations, dreams, ambitions, goals, and surrender your will to the King who is calling your name.

The summons is directed to you. But it’s not about you.

That’s the difference between Christianity as it should be and Christianity as it has become. We live in a world where many Christians still live for themselves. When “Follow Me” means “Let Me make you happy.” When “I have come to give life” means “I’ll give you money.” When “I have called you My friends” means “We can steer this life together.” When the royal summons to follow the King turns into a private devotion to buddy Jesus.

And in this crumbling world around us, beautiful even now despite the horrors thatcontinually take place within it -from Mali to Syria, Jesus is still calling. He invites us to take the journey behind Him, to allow His cloak of righteousness to cover our sin as we walk closely behind. Step by step.

Jesus invites us to the religious experience of a lifetime, precisely because this journey is not about having a religious experience. Adventure is promised, but not just the thrill-seeking adventure we desire, a way of satisfying our innate need for something bigger than ourselves. Adventure comes because that real need is only met when we realize that Christianity is not about us; it’s not about my personal religious faith that I practice in the prayer closet;  and it’s not about my secure, prepared heavenly afterlife. Granted, all those get thrown into the mix.


But the center of Christianity is the Christ  the “ianity” follows.

The summons is a royal one. The Messiah has beckoned. The King has spoken.

Each morning, as we wake up and our feet hit the floor, we ought to remember – “I’ve been summoned. Today belongs to my King.”

And that changes everything.

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