Tuesday, June 09, 2015

He's Already There!

Have you ever wondered where is Jesus? Where is Jesus when the foundations that you have depended on in your life are removed and you find yourself in a new world? Where is Jesus when you are about to step into tomorrow when tomorrow is not clear and the path before you is dark and unknown? Maybe it is when you have to step into a difficult circumstance or situation that seems so dark and empty of His presence that you have those thoughts of wonder and concern. Those moments when the warm glow of the calling has faded to the dark cold of reality, the challenge of the opportunity and the emptiness of reality?

We have all felt the fear. The fear in the hospital surgery room before you are rolled in, in the court house before the proceedings begin, in the bedroom when the sadness of the day is overwhelming you as you cry yourself to sleep and even in the ends of the earth before you go not knowing what tomorrow holds. 

But the promise that Jesus give us in the great commission is not to go without him, nor is it to go and bring Him and his presence to a location or circumstance. No, the promise that Jesus gives us is far more real than that.

Oh, reader, I wish you could see the smile on my face as I type this... you would see the joy shaking my hands as a type, or the tears running down my cheek and the deep breaths and I am filled by the reality of this next thought...

We do not bring Jesus to the location that we are going... HE'S ALREADY THERE! Moving, touching, setting free, healing, releasing, and above all saving.

All we are required to do is to bring our lives and our hearts into close communion with his heart and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, to provide, to sustain, to be our Lord.  
Like the old song says...

Where ever He may lead I will follow whatever He decides I'll obey. My heart will forever welcome everything that my Lord has to say. For every time I choose not to listen, and each time I demand my own way. His spirit within me suffers and I find that my joy fades away. 

Jesus is not just leading us from an area where is presence is close and reassuring to an world where His ever present help is available but distant but rather He is leading us from the land where we know Him to the land where he is already working, healing, leading and transforming circumstances and lives.

It is with this joy set before us that we pick up our cross and follow Him. May I be so bold today as to suggest that you too choose to follow....wherever He may lead?

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

Today is the First Day 

of the Rest of Our Lives.

A wise man once said, that you will never be younger than you are today. With that thought in mind I here to tell everyone that Julie and I are going to Vanuatu. Yup... that Vanuatu. The small south pacific island off the coast of Australia that was clobbered by Cyclone Pam, only a few short weeks ago.

We are going not for a week or a month but to move there and become the Pastor of ICC. International Christian Church, in the capital city of Port Vila. 

This is so exciting as we venture out of our comfort zone into the zone where God wants us to be. 

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Would you consider joining hands with us across the Ocean?


Please pray for us as we step out on the water and reach to Jesus... the one who is calling us out of the boat.

I'll have a full bowl...

Have you ever been aware of the truth of the Word of God?  No I don't mean in a passing kind of way...(like) "Wow that's really cool I should think about this some more" "Has the word ever reached out and smacked you in the face? Has it ever spoken so clearly that you would not have been surprised if the writer was sitting across the table from you?... (like) "Ohhh... I need to repent"

Well once again I am aware that the Word is living and active... sharper than a two edged sword... 

Let's look at a verse i was just reading, It's found in Colossians 4:6 (NIV) 

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Full of Grace? Really? Grace is the unmerited favour of God. Grace is offered to those who do not deserve it. Grace can only be received freely. No effort can earn grace and grace needs to be freely distributed. First year bible school... got it! But do I really?

How often my voice is only seasoned with the salt of Grace. How often I speak harshly, factually, clearly but not graciously. Somehow my personal need to be correct, or to win overpowers the delicate and gentle need to be full of grace. How often my communication contains little grace as I carefully distribute it out as a precious commodity that should be saved and preserved, less we run out.

Wow! Did you catch what I just typed? I did not realize until after I typed it and I went back to the original verse to confirm. The verse does not say, seasoned with grace but rather full of Grace. FULL! not seasoned, not flavoured, not carefully added, but Full. Not a pinch but a pound. Not a spoon but a sea. Not a touch but a ton! How often I have distributed grace out like a salt shaker, a little shake here and a little shake there and the situation or the person I am dealing with will be fine. I could not have been more wrong.

The only other reference I can find to salt is the communication from Jesus where He said in Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." You are the salt of the earth... We are the salt... not grace. 

So hearing this statement again, It appears that our interactions with those around us should be full of grace and seasoned with us. How often our communication is full of us and seasoned with grace. I don't know about you but grace needs to be flowing out of my life in a fullness kind of way rather than the fullness that is flowing, the fullness of me.

Lord today, allow me to have the strength to communicate with a full measure of grace and a small measure of me. Lord remind me that I won't fear that I will run out of grace and not have any left for myself but rather that you Lord are the giver of grace and you have enough, even for me.  Oh I know, you may be thinking that that is not really the case, but speaking for my fears... it is true.
I remember back 25 years, to a bible school class, in front of an older Newfoundland preacher, where daily he would would repeat a phrase that at the time I saw little significance in and mostly ignored. Today, the words are ringing down across the years into a heart desperate for the truth they hold. What is the phrase he would say you might ask...? 

"Grace Flows Like a River." 
Dr. Graydon Giles...  
thank you sir.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

There and Back Again...

Have you ever prayed a prayer like this... "Lord, where ever you lead I will follow, what ever you decide I'll obey?" Well I have... many times and each time I have felt like the Lord simply smiled and listened. 

You know what I mean... in the same way that a father listens to his children when they declare that when they grow up they're going to be a Doctor, or an Astronaut or a Fire truck. We smile and nod approvingly knowing that the little guy does not really understand what he is saying or what life has in store for him. Well many times when I have prayed that prayer it seemed that the Lord smiled, and nodded.

But we, as fathers, sit up and listen when our children graduate from High School and declare their intention to start a career. We sit up and listen because we understand that they are finally at the stage of life to make the decision and the maturity level to venture into the area that they describe.

Oh how I understand the heart of our Heavenly Father better now than I have ever understood before. Now when I prayed, Lord where ever you lead...I'm sure he sat up and listened and then simply said.... 

ok.... finally... they're ready...

To Be Continued....

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Here I am Lord...send me...

How often... in the past few years  I have expressed a question to the churches and groups that I have had the pleasure to lead. 

How often... I would ask the listeners a question without really grasping what I was actually asking? 

How often... I would wait quietly until the moment of silence, the moment of peace when ask, "Are you ready to die for your faith?" 

You know the drill... the room quiets, look over your glasses and quietly and slowly challenge each person to live for Jesus and then quote the call from Christ...

Matthew 16:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"

As I sit here in front of my computer I am listening to the voice of a young man describe his call from God to reach the youth and children of Mozambique. I listen as he describes his desire to serve God with all that he is and all that he has. I sit here in front of my computer listening as to his voice cracks and he stands describing his desire to live 100% for his Lord. I'm thrilled.

As I sit here, I now listen as a man full of the spirit of God describes his desire to help children in West Ghana. Containers being sent... books, bed and clothing traveling to those in need... faith filled people going to the ends of the earth to share the truth of Christ. I'm encouraged. 

And then...
Against this moment, my heart travels across the sea to the deserts of Syria where a young man is kneeling, hands tied behind his back, a shot is fired and a young christian sinks into the sands of the desert and into the sands of time. 

Against this moment, my heart breaks as I realize that entire fellowships of believers are being removed from this world and are being ushered into eternity by the hands of evil men and corrupt groups.

Against this moment, my heart is soaked by the reality of the lives dying daily for Jesus. 

Against this moment, my heart sinks as I look into my heart and ask that very same question to my spirit, my soul and find the reality of fear and pain. Am I ready to die for my faith?

Against this moment, I cry...

Jesus said in Matthew 10:18-24,  “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.  But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.  You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.  

When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.  And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel."

Historians have said for years that the church of Jesus Christ grows on the blood of it's martyrs... that being true... 
prepare my heart... prepare for hope... prepare for harvest. 

Maranatha... Christ is coming... even so Lord Jesus come quickly.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Peace that passes...

The year was 1978 and Dad and I had just arrived at Waterfowl Campgrounds in Banff Alberta Canada. The moment the car came to a stop I wanted to bust out of the car with a cheer and run, shake out the legs and scream at the top of my lungs. I was 15 and Dad and I were going backpacking. This day could not start too fast!

But Dad had different ideas... Without saying a word he quietly stepped from the car and walked only a few steps into the trees. And then, while I was trying to get him to move, joining me in my burst of energy, my father just stood.

"David come here. Breath... come here and breath. Listen...quiet... you can hear the heartbeat of God. There now stand still and breath deeply." So deeply I breathed...slowly and tried as hard as I could to reflect the peace that I saw, the peace I knew was in his life. 

"IN WHATSOEVER situation I find myself...there I will be content." Paul

Wow... if ever there was a time when I was impressed with the Apostle Paul that moment would be today. Contentment is one of the most difficult disciplines to develop in life. 

Our culture rejects contentment as a sign of a non leader, a lazy person or at worst... a complete sloth. These are the frames of reference that is so wrong and may I be so bold as to suggest that we have this completely backwards.

We talk about the peace that God has given us and yet we live so differently. The World is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment. We hustle and fly through life hoping that in the speed of our activities we will somehow discover the peace that we all so desperately need.  

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said 
 “For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”

How often do we live our lives as William Shakespeare described them... "we strut and fret our hour upon the stage." But this is the lie that our culture has pushed.

But in against this noise, God's word stands and says...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Contentment is a discipline that comes slowly... deliberately. This principle is one that is easy to talk about and challenging to live out.  I have no words of direction about how to do this...for truth be told I'm still trying to listen.

So come with me...back into the woods, stand still and breath while listening to the heartbeat of God.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Once a Wildcat Always a Wildcat."

I've been asked recently why I have taken the time to be the Chaplain of the Edmonton Wildcat Junior Football Team. People have come up to me and asked, "When in your schedule are you going to fit this in?" "Why a football team and why be a chaplain?" These questions were ones that I have been thinking about for a while now, and as time passed my thoughts became clearer and reasons became more apparent. 

You see when first asked by our Team President if I would consider this
opportunity it was the excitement and the thrill of being close once again to the action that caught my attention. The dirt, the fight, and the victories were all a great motivation to join the team and honestly this still thrills me. As the team prepares for battle my heart prepares with them. As the game struggle begins and the team breaks through to victories my spirit is carried along, challenged by every setback, saddened by every injury and thrilled by every touchdown.

But now a new motivation is beginning to take precedence. You see, over the past year I have been honoured to be able to work along side, or meet the Wildcats from past and present. Men of honour, dedicated to each other, and to a common goal. Men who know the challenges that lie before them but without hesitation step into the fight, step up to the challenge and push through to victory. 

Now you might surmise that I am solely speaking about the football games with all their drama and excitement, but I'm not. 

Rather, I am speaking about the men of integrity that I have met in this city who have, at one time, been a Wildcat. Businessmen, lawyers, bankers and civic leaders all who at one time wore either the Edmonton Wildcat or the Edmonton Maple Leaf Jersey.

Leaders... Men among men with names like Marco, Ryan and Dave and of course Big Al all speak to us. Men whose legacy lives on beyond the time in uniform, beyond the 60 minutes on a field, to the time when they would carry those around them forward into the future. 

Men who give more then they ever expect to get back. Men who have lived their lives for others. 
Men who have sacrificed in the hope that another would win. Hmm somehow these attributes seem familiar. Almost Christ-like.

It is for these men that I stand on the sidelines and offer my heart to the new team of men. It is for the greatest leader who ever lead a team of men that I do what I do. It is for those who have come before that I give my all to encourage the team, support the team but above all pray for the team as this years men suit-up

You see the Wildcats (Maple Leafs)...

... have not solely been in the business of making a football team... 

...but rather making real men who play football... 

...and while they are at it, win championships. 

So as we are about to once again put on the pads and take the field. I call on the men of renown, the Wildcats of Old to once again rise up and call out these young men to the legacy that is theirs for the taking. Join us in battle once again, and challenge us from the stands. Further, I call on the team of today to answer the call and find within themselves the character and integrity that it means to be a wildcat. Then we will be men among boys... remember...

Oh yeah... that is why I'm a Wildcat!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Winston Churchill the great leader and Prime Minister of the British Empire was once asked "what was your greatest accomplishment?" What was the one thing that he considered the greatest single thing that he was able to do with his life? 

Here was his response...

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me." Winston Churchill 

Now to some, this statement may be difficult to understand. Some may read it and not recognize just what is the depth of this statement. Allow me to give you my thoughts on this. 26 years ago I persuaded Julie Young to "take a flyer" or "bet on a long shot". For some reason she agreed and the story of David and Julie began. Along the way discoveries were made and truths uncovered, and together the tale was woven into the amazing tapestry of God's truths.

The Wood Anthology - the beginning

Humbly at first, there were two young people who simply believed. Believed in a loving God and a plan that just needed to be walked out. So walk they did. First to London, the land of discovery and the place where their adventure was first challenged. An evening listening to the whispers from the Lord and the crackling of a fire... a school burning to the ground.  

Faith and Faithfulness is forged not simply found.  

Fire is needed and fire we had.

Theirs is an epic tale of trial and challenge, vision and passion. Yes there is passion, but that tale is for other eyes only. But I digress... above all else it is a tale of God's amazing grace extended to a young man and woman. The tale of a kind, patience girl who along with God transforms a young "whipper snapper" into a respected church leader and man of God. 

My working title is, "If she could see me now...my mother-in-law would not believe her eyes." 

Faith is not ever what you see but what God sees.

Oh don't misinterpret this description this indeed is an epic tale. Complete with all the memorable characters from classic literature. There is the thoughtful wise elders guiding the couple on their journey, the family members coming alone side for a time, and the comic relief characters that are added to the troupe to keep the story moving along. Clearly, their influence cannot be under valued for they were the road markers that pointed the way when the road became overgrown or too dark to see. With two ears and one mouth our next discovery was found.

Faith grows only when you listen twice as much as you speak.

As the old maps say "Here... there be dragons". Huge, vicious dragons. Not the ones of modern tales, friendly and wise but those of ancient literature, evil and full of rage. Here the journey dives into the dark times, times of fear and distress; hospitals and surgeries, problems and pain. Dragons rose out of the pit to destroy all but mostly to burn the heart of love and faith that was growing in their hearts. All this is a part of this tale too, all of this exists to purify the faith that has been placed there by God. Each dragon released and designed by God, the author of this tale, for the perfection of the couple. But through it all there is the grace of God and the love of a girl and boy for each other that breaks the greatest obstacle and kills the largest dragon.

Faith must be tested or it will never really be faith at all.

So as I sit and reflect on this epic tale my heart and mind goes back to the statement from Winston Churchill, truly the greatest single accomplishment that I did in my life was to kneel in the snow, open a small box and hear those amazing words...Yes Dave...I will marry you.

Thank you Julie for 26 amazing years, I'm looking forward to the next chapter in this tale. If this blog feels unfinished...that is because, it is...

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I'm just someone who desires all that God has for me. - To follow God with integrity. - To relate to people honestly. - To live a life to it's totality.