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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When Tragedy Strikes…#PrayforParis

The City of Light has become the City of Darkness, where panic, chaos, uncertainty and fear looms large over all.  The place that has given so much to “civilization”, to education, to knowledge has, this evening, become the place of unspeakable acts of barbarianism.

I, like everyone else, have been horrified and filled with a deep sense of sadness at the tragic events that are occurring as we speak in Paris.  As I watch the simultaneous horror and confusion unfold on social media, I was reminded by the eternal implications of our seemingly everyday lives.

It seems that whenever death visits us in ways that seem too sudden and too horrible to contemplate, that we feel numbed and unable to know how to respond. When it is a distant event, separated by geography as today’s event was for me, it seems apropos to perhaps post a status reminder on Facebook, or mention its horror in passing to our circle of acquaintances as we go on with our normal routines.

Our twin senses of justice and outrage both feel violated, as we consider the fatal nature of the simple act of going out for the evening for those who lost their lives. Our sense of calm seems violated almost unspeakably by a horrible act of violence that we are tempted to   barely acknowledge (sadly) since it happened half a world away.

How should we respond as believers to a tragedy like this when it happens far away? This, as always is the bigger question. I would like to suggest 4 quick points for your consideration.

1. Pray. Pray that comfort and peace would be the portion for those families who have had their lives ripped apart. Pray that the God of all peace would bring comfort to those who are willing to call Him Father. Pray that those who do not know his peace can understand that true peace is available because of another death on our behalf, the death of His Son. Pray for those who believe that only in the giving of their life can Paradise be assured. Pray that they would learn that One gave His life once for all and that there is freedom and forgiveness for all at the foot of the cross.

2. Trust. Remember that the Sovereign God, creator and designer of the universe has allowed this to happen for a purpose. Some day, we will understand, but not today. Today, we grieve, we ask, we question.

3. Parallel it. What jumped out to me as the situation unfolded was this- counter terrorism troops  were driving into danger, knowingly and deliberately, while everyone else was getting out. When duty calls, every one of them knew where they needed to be, knowing that it may put them in harms way. For some people who fulfilled their calling, sacrificing their lives may be the the ultimate expression of dedication to their vocation. In that instant, driving in to assist is the ultimate act of sacrifice, knowing that fear is both real and will be a constant companion. However, in that moment of sacrifice, a picture is painted of the ultimate Sacrifice, the ultimate willingness to serve the greater good, by giving up what is most important to us. Redeem your conversations about this to point to the parallel of the Redeemer.

4. Localize it. Death is the last enemy that each of us will face. When we are honest with ourselves, we realize that our end will be the same some day. To be sure, we may not face death at the end of a gun barrel in the course of walking into a concert hall for an evening, but we will face it nonetheless.
If we had known the events of today were going to unfold in that way, every one of us would have done everything in our power to prepare for it and to prevent it, however possible. We know that it is “appointed” for each of us to die. Instead of living a life trying to avoid that truth, we should embrace it.

Then, when tragedy strikes, as it inevitably will, in our lives, in our communities and in our worlds, we will hear the words that all of us who are soul weary of this dark, sad and broken world are anticipating:

Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of Your Lord.

For that day we long. May every tragedy remind us of the hope that we have been called to.

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Multi Level Marketing and the Church

This is an underserved topic, and one which will see some more development here over the next few months.  Meanwhile, to get the conversation started, please take a look at this response from Jonathan Leeman in the 9 Marks Mailbag.

View the original here

Hello! I’m wondering whether Christians should be involved with multilevel marketing, like Amway, for example. I’d also like to know what to do if someone who claims to be a believer is ‎involved, but doesn’t go to the same church as I do.  

Thank you!

—Anna, Calgary


I’m glad you asked since this is a subject Christians don’t always give much thought to, particularly in the context of their church relationships.

At the most abstract level, multilevel marketing is simply one form of direct sales that is neither good or bad in itself. It’s a tool that can be used well or poorly. A pyramid scheme, of course, would be a very bad (and illegal in many countries) use of the model. At the same time, when a real estate or insurance salesman has someone selling for him or her, and they receive a portion of the commission, that effectively is a form of multilevel marketing. And I don’t have a moral objection to that, as such.

But now let me offer a couple of cautions. First, you should always ask whether the product you are selling actually helps people to live better lives. If your company seems more interested in signing up others to sell than it is in selling the product, take that as a big red flag. Realize also that multilevel marketing organizations, both the good and bad ones, love churches because churches are one of the few remaining places that autonomous Westerners structure their lives around a community, and the organizations are only too happy to take advantage of those relational webs.

Second, whether you are selling insurance, real estate, Amway, Arbon, Cutco, Mary Kay, Juice Plus, Tupperware, or whatever the latest suburban living room party product is, you don’t want to exploit your church relationships to make the sale. Just as I wouldn’t want an insurance agent joining my church so that he can phone his way through the membership directory, so I would caution someone against emailing all their friends at church in order to talk about Arbon or Juice Plus.

The reason is, we want our church relationships to be used to pursue much more important matters, namely, helping one another prepare for eternal life. And we don’t want anything to interfere with that.

I remember people felt slightly suspicious about a couple who sold Amway in my church as a kid. Were they using relationships just to make a sale? To some extent, they jeopardized their ability to enter into fully transparent, vulnerable, sin-confessing, hope-encouraging relationships with other people. They worked against their own spiritual good. And goodness, how much more important to help one another begin living eternally now rather than expanding our current client base!

(Full disclosure: I spent two weeks the summer between college and graduate school selling Cutco knives to my parent’s friends in the church. It was horrible! But I still have an awesome set of knives.)

Am I saying that someone involved in a multi-level marketing program should never invite a fellow church member to consider their product? No, assuming that product is in some shape or form legitimate, but I would strongly caution pastors against doing so, and I would want to have a conversation with any member who was pushing into church relationships with their product. I’d want to know more specifics. I know of situations where pastors needed to tell members to stop involving other members entirely.

On the other hand, my friend and fellow church member Jason is a real estate agent, and he does an exemplary job of serving our church members through his profession (including me). But he doesn’t pursue us. We pursue him. There is no doubt in people’s mind that he loves them as people, not as potential clients.

There is a larger conversation here, and that is, how do we balance church relationships with professional competencies? You don’t want the real estate agents or doctors or handymen in your church to feel like you only contact them when you need their professional expertise.

Much depends upon judgment. Yet thanks for raising the subject, because my sense is that many Christians can be careless about these things, including me. The solution is to make sure we’re loving our fellow members for eternity’s sake more than ourselves for this world’s sake.

So – what do you think – Let’s get the conversation started – and then I will tell you what I really think!  :)

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