Category Archives: discipleship

Belonging

img_4802Every now and then someone lets you in. They open their door and, with a bit of vulnerability, allow you to see and hear what they are experiencing. Several years back, a middle-aged couple in our church opened their door, when they told me: “We’ve been members here for 12 years and we still feel like outsiders.” They weren’t complaining as much as they were inviting me to stand next to them as they shared their story of our church.  Continue reading

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Reimagining Sabbath

This post is part 3 of a 3-part reflection on Sabbath. Part 1 can be found here; Part 2 here.

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Having grown up in Michigan and Indiana, there are inevitably a few words in my vocabulary that sound funny in my current Canadian context. Admittedly, some of  it is the exaggerated nasal “a” that shows up from time to time, or the difficulty I have with saying ‘process’ with a British long-O sound. Even when I say it ‘correctly’ around here, people can still tell its not natural for me. But there is another set of uniquely pronounced words in my vocabulary that simply reflect a misplaced emphasis. The most obvious one is insurance. Most folks, place the emphasis on the second syllable, in-SUR-ance, and enunciate all three syllables. But not me, somewhere along the way I started to place my emphasis on the first syllable, followed by a contracting of the last two syllables as if the word only has two syllables instead of three: IN-sur’nce.

Too often, I’ve come to realize, our Sabbath practices have been like my funny sounding words and misplaced emphases. Even when we manage to adhere to the expected standards, its obvious something is still off.

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Sabbath (Dis)Comforts

This post is part 2 of a 3-part reflection on Sabbath. Part 1 can be found here.

My Sabbath experiences growing up were not as restrictive as most of my friends. My parents encouraged us to slow down and refrain from work, but did not define that rest by inactivity. So while we did not make our beds, run the vacuum, or mow the grass on Sundays, we had the freedom to ride bikes, go swimming, and go out to eat. Sabbath was in many ways like a second Saturday with less errands and responsibilities and the addition of one (sometimes two) worship services. All in all, Sundays were pretty relaxed, comfortable days. Continue reading

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Sabbath

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For the last several weeks, I’ve wanted to write in this space again and I’ve been wondering what my first word would be as I re-engaged this setting. Until the last few days, Sabbath was not even in the top ten list of topics I was considering.

There has been plenty of other stuff churning in the media and in me. Continue reading

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When Noise Returns

This past IMG_1821Sunday afternoon, for the first time in 47 days, the radio was on while I was driving. There was some song playing – I really did not recognize who it was. I did not mind the music itself. It’s simply that after nearly seven weeks of driving in radio silence, the music seemed oddly out of place.

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Andy, Andy, Andy…

Three weeks ago, those of us around Hamilton, Ontario had the opportunity to engage with Andy Crouch over a three day period. We found ourselves immersed in Andy’s enthusiastic vision for God’s people to engage the resources God has entrusted to us to create culture in such a way that the most vulnerable in our communities might flourish. What follows are a few short summaries and some of the lingering thoughts & questions that have stuck with me since then. Continue reading

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Unexpected Gifts: Our 12 Days of Christmas

It really was a flippant comment, one of those crazy, too-far-out-there ideas that you toss out simply because it seems so ridiculous that you would never do it. But for whatever reason, this one stuck.

Back in early December, Hennie and I were talking about how we might celebrate Christmas as a family this year. As we anticipated a busier than usual holiday season, we were tossing around ideas about how we could make our Christmas celebration into something more than simply giving gifts on one evening between a couple other commitments. More as a joke, I started singing “The 12 Days of Christmas” and suggested we could get all of our kids the traditional partridge in a pear tree. We laughed and then paused. There was something about that idea of extending our Christmas celebration over 12 days that stuck with both of us. Without hesitation, Hennie grabbed a notebook and started planning.  Continue reading

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Reflections on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 2

Calvin Seminary recently hosted the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference. The conference brought together Christopher Wright, Tom Wright, Mike Goheen, and Darrell Guder along with a well-rounded group of workshop leaders to facilitate dialogue on how a missional reading of scripture impacts various aspects of living as God’s people. In part 1 of this reflection, I posted some of my summaries and responses to what grabbed my attention from the first day of plenaries and workshops.

This post reflects the happenings of Day 2 at this conference. I did not stay for the panel discussion at the conclusion of the conference – though I heard I really missed out on a meaningful and encouraging dialogue. Word from Mike Goheen (@MikeGoheenSays) is that audio from the conference will be available on Calvin Sem’s website some time next week.

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A Few Thoughts on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 1

This post covers Day 1 of the A Missional Reading of Scripture Conference. My reflections on Day 2 can be found here

I’m spending today and tomorrow at the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI. Michael Goheen has pulled together the line up for this conference, giving space to N. T. Wright, Christopher Wright, and Darrell Guder to share their perspectives on the way mission shapes God’s word and God’s people. Perhaps, the brilliance of the conference, however, is found not in the big names, but in the three streams that shape the space between the plenary sessions. These streams focus on the relationship of A Missional Reading of Scripture and Preaching, and the Local Congregation, and on Theological Reflection on a Missional Hermeneutic. I’m planning to spend most of my time in the Local Congregation stream as it looks like it will have a fair bit of overlap between my current academic and pastoral work.

Throughout the next two days, I’ll add a few thoughts and reactions to what catches my attention in the conference. While this won’t be a live blog, I’ll keep this post going as a running commentary with updates throughout my time here. If you’re on twitter, you can follow the larger conference dialogue at #MRSC13. Continue reading

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Faith of the Wind and Waves

This morning, I found myself praying by simply listening to the wind. Don’t get me wrong: I am not talking about a mystical or other-worldly experience that overtook me. And I am certainly not advocating the adoption of a neo-pagan meditation practice. Rather, in listening to the wind, I found myself praying – but the praying was not me bringing words to the table, but me learning to be still. Psalm 46 comes to mind. As I think about it, this listening prayer really started last night as I noticed one of our trees leaning a bit more than usual as the rain soaked the ground and the winds pushed their way through our area.  It continued through the night as the wind howled around the corners of our house and the trees’ groaning woke me several times. And then again this morning, as I drove our kids to school this morning and felt the need to adjust my steering in order to compensate for the wind’s continued pushiness, I continued to listen.  Continue reading

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