Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Balance 101

Over the past few weeks we have continued to pray for wisdom on how to balance out life. There are lots of people to get to know in church, lots of places we could serve, friends and family who want to visit, and kids who need our attention, love, and time. I am still adjusting to preaching every week, and while I enjoy the opportunity to study God's word, I need much wisdom to know how much time to spend reading the Word, and how much time to spend getting out there and sharing the Word with others.

We do thank God for the blessings of a gracious church, and the support and love from our families back in Winnipeg. Easter weekend was a highlight, as I had the chance to study and preach on the question "Why do we need the resurrection?," and Lois's Mom, her aunt, her sister Elaine, and her boarder from Germany came to visit. We also accepted an invitation to have an Easter Feast at a hunting lodge owned by some good friends at church. It was a memorable time as our extended family of 9 joined their extended family of 12 for a great meal and a walk in the beautiful outdoors.

Stephen and Lois made Paska for the family the week prior to Easter, and we used some of this yummy Easter bread as little "we are your new neighbours" gifts to the people on the street. If you are ever looking for a non-threatening way to meet people, just bring food to their door! One couple on the street even returned the favor, and gave us some lake trout fillets before we left. Amazing - you seek to bless others, and get blessed in return!

After church on Good Friday, we headed to the bush just by the school to hide the kids Easter eggs. As Lois and I think back about our prayers for a home, we realize that we had prayed that we would either have a large yard, or be near a park or school. Well, the school yard is half a block away, and it even has a creek and a bush for the kids to play in. God truly is gracious.

Easter Sunday also happened to be Caleb's 9th Birthday (so this year we have Christmas, Easter, and St Patrick's Day covered!), and we celebrated it on Saturday by doing what we have thought of doing almost every morning since arriving - buy fresh baked donuts from Cloverleaf Grocery! We go for walks with Kelly behind the story in the mornings, and the smell is very tempting. Since all the rest of kids celebrated their birthdays on our trip and couldn't have a friends party, we decided to be consistent and just keep the party for us as a family, though we did do Pizza Hut in Fort Francis on Sunday with Grandma and Auntie Elaine.

Caleb's collection of Star Wars LEGO continues to grow, and we were able to finally get him a "big" set this year, because we had the means, and more importantly the space to display it. It is encouraging to see Caleb grow up: he is responsible with his dog, willing to do the chores that are needed, spends time each night on his own reading a chapter of the Bible, has accepted the job of folding bulletins for church, and prays with a deeper understanding of God's Word and his working in people's lives. He also still loves goofing off and is a huge fan of watching Christian Comedy.

This past weekend my brother and his family were over, and got introduced to our small town life. They enjoyed the quiet (minus the train of course), and were blessed by the people in church. Ellen joined Lois at the Ladies bowling night, and was educated on the fact that going bowling means driving 20 minutes to the Fort for 5-pin, and going over the border to International Falls for 10 pin (the closest movie theater is in the Falls as well). They were really happy for us that our new house has more space than our last house, and agreed with us that if God takes his time in finding us a place in the country that is okay, because we are very comfortable where we are.

We also had some brother bonding and cousin bonding over two important activities: playing Wii (which we borrowed from some friends in church) and shooting pellet guns! We have purchased two guns for our family, and drive about 5 miles out of Emo to shoot them off at a friends place. There was some serious fun happening as pop cans and juice cartons were flying off our homemade target stand. Joseph is an especially good shot, and might need to take the hunter safety course with me so we can feed the family come deer hunting season in the fall!

So, as you can see, we have been having fun, and ministering to others, with often the two activities going together. Ultimately, the best balance is to seek to live for Christ in everything we do, for then we can't fail: life will be purposeful, God will be glorified, and death with be something "far better," because we are entering into a fuller relationship with our Savior who loves us. I pray that our family, and those we minister to here in Emo will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, "To live is Christ, to die is gain."


setstone said...

This is from my dear Jewish uncle and I thought it might interest you (due to your opening comments). If it does interest you, I can send you the whole piece he wrote. Be blessed, dear pastor. Jepne

If we are called to anything, it is to be the bearers of God’s word. There is a profusion of speaking, welters of tapes and videos, yet in the midst of it all, there is little that can be labeled the word of the Lord. We need a deep and new perception of this ‘holy sacrament.’

The first statement of the anointed ministry of Jesus took place in the synagogue at Nazareth, where He was handed the scroll of Isaiah, and commenced to read from the sixty-first chapter.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed Me to preach … (Luke 4:18a)

There is a conjunction between anointing and preaching, and any preaching that is not anointed is not preaching, but mere oratory. There is, therefore, a peculiar and particular quality that distinguishes apostolic or true proclamation from all other speaking. This is a remarkable life and death phenomenon because:

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14–15a)

This is the heart of the whole mission calling of the church, particularly to the Jew. The unbelieving world is waiting for a certain kind of speaking which I want to call ‘apostolic proclamation.’ It is the preaching of one who is sent. He whom God sends is given the Spirit without measure. This sending is critical, therefore, for which reason God establishes sending communities.

True preaching, or the devising of a sermon, is to be confronted with a contradiction. Preaching is a category unto itself. It is in the realm of the impossible. We have many men today who are glib, and who know how to play on words. They have even made careers out of their ability to speak. If you are attractive, have the gift of the gab, and a winsomeness with men, you can go far in the religious world today. True preaching, however, cannot come from this world. It is altogether a divine and supernatural phenomenon. It is the word of life. It quickens the dead. The hearing of it constitutes an ‘event.’ It sets in motion things that have a myriad of consequences, and has a power and a life unto itself. It is a word that is sent.

Ironically, this kind of speaking has to find expression through the mouth of an earthly vessel standing before men, and that is a formula for disaster. It is the bringing together of the most disparate contradictions, that if you really understand it, or have to perform it, it is nothing less than excruciating. There is, however, no greater joy than expressing the burden that God has given to people who draw out His heart, and who therefore hear and receive God’s word. Likewise, there is no greater anguish than the word to be stopped up in your mouth because your listeners are not hearing. Neither does yesterday’s success guarantee today’s. It is the same trembling, the same fear, the same uncertainty, and the same overwhelming sense of the patent impossibility of the task. This paradox, and the terrible contradiction of it, have got to register deeply in our consciousness, namely, that the word of God is going to come out of the mouth of an earthly, human vessel, but the word itself is divine and heavenly. It is not as if the instrumentality is some utilitarian thing that is objective, and does not participate in the process. The speaker is very much involved, because the Lord employs the man’s personality, his accent, his disposition, and his heart.

Preaching is a struggle and an ultimate challenge every time it is undertaken. One can make many good biblical statements, but that is not the same as communicating the word as God’s word. This latter phenomenon alone has the power to constitute ‘an event’ instead of merely communicating biblical knowledge. We need to distinguish between the two things, and probably ninety-five per cent of all Christian preaching and teaching is teaching about God, or making biblical statements of interesting and insightful kinds, but does not constitute the expression of the word as God’s word. We have become so attenuated to hearing the ‘other,’ that if it is biblical and doctrinally sound, we think that that is true preaching. We have, however, misunderstood the utterly supernatural character of communicating the word of God, and therefore our hearers remain unchanged. We are not going from faith to faith, and from glory to glory, because we have not gone from ‘event’ to ‘event.’ We have only gone from the predictable to the predictable, and if it is clean and biblically sound, we come away with some measure of satisfaction, but we will remain unchanged. . . .

andrea said...

So glad to finally come across your blog! I kept meaning to look for it when you were on your trip!
So excited for your family...
I'll be signing up for the RSS feed so I can keep up!
Love you people!
your cuz in NC