All posts filed under: Teaching

Bread or Bruises?

Yesterday afternoon I drove around a rougher area of town giving out bread. It’s just something my wife and I do whenever Lighthouse Ministries has more bread donated than we need. Usually people are happy to see me and only take what they need. No trouble, just happy faces. Yesterday, this streak of beauty came to a screeching halt. While a woman with three kids was choosing her bread, a big man came strolling the street. I asked him if he wanted bread. He said “I’m a bad guy.” Now I am somewhat familiar with bad guys, I even taught a group of federal parolees once and I worked at a federal penitentiary.  Not to mention living in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Canada. Most bad guys don’t have to say they are bad. Maybe I should have been nervous. ‘I don’t care if you’re a bad guy,” I responded, “Do you want some bread?” His response was not what I expected. He stopped and started towards me and threatened that he was …

What is Wrong With Those Radical Demonstrators?

Did you know, we have a new normal? People are demonstrating in the streets, and disrupting our lives; and this gets them into the news. I remember the seventies, when demonstrations were common, but now they seem to be making a comeback. Someone must think this is a good idea. For me, and people from my generation, these kids are amateurs. I remember when every high school assembly was interrupted by radical students. I can’t remember one assembly that worked out according to the plan. One of our classmates liked to shout about “Acheemitka.” We eventually realized that some nuclear devices had been exploded under an island called Amchitka, and our classmate probably had dyslexia. It was all fun, and then we graduated and got jobs. Today, it’s all forgotten, except I can clearly remember someone shouting “Acheemitka, Acheemitka.” It’s like a song I can’t forget. And now we have the new wave of demonstrators: RELATED: Walterdale bridge blocked as part of climate protest: Global News We are used to living our lives without these …

The ability to forgive others is birthed in fully understanding our forgiveness

A Dallas jury recently found former police officer Amber Guyger, 31, guilty of killing Botham Jean, a believer, and worship leader at a Church of Christ in Dallas. Though the prosecutor was asking for a sentence of 28 years, Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison. It was a bizarre story. Guyger lived in the same apartment building as Botham. She was a police officer and had just finished her shift in September 2018 and was returning home. But according to her testimony, distracted by texts, she inadvertently mistook Botham’s apartment for her own. Apparently Botham’s door was unlocked and thinking this was her apartment, Guyger was immediately suspicious that someone had broken in. When Botham stood up, thinking he was an intruder, Guyger pulled her gun, and shot Botham, killing him. There were obviously a lot of questions about this senseless killing and many were upset that Guyger hadn’t received a longer sentence. In fact, there were protesters outside the court room demanding a longer prison term. But after the sentencing came down, …

Exposed!

I live in Canada and in Canada our current Prime Minister did something years ago that was stupid. At least back then it might have been only stupid but looking back with the modern lens of racism it is now seen as bad. Really bad. For those who don’t know, he colored his face brown and then black on separate occasions and dressed up like a person of color.   He champions himself as anti-racism so this was quite the shock for his followers. According to the media this might just have done him in. Perhaps we will have a new Prime Minister within the month after the election is over. Good thing I am not running for office! My slogan would have to be I sinned! Get over it! Remember the fiasco in the United States regarding the past of Brett Kavanaugh during his process of being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court? His family had to weather a storm like few others have encountered. Which brings me to victims. What about when a …

The journey from your earthly father to your Heavenly Father

Recently, I had an appointment with a young lady. Halfway through, my daughter arrived bringing me a coffee and joined us for the last half of the appointment. I love this young gal, and she obviously felt the freedom to express her thoughts on various world views. But the conversation was starting to become intense. Something had triggered her and I wasn’t able to figure out what it was or why. In the middle of this, she abruptly stopped and said, “I would give anything to have the relationship you and your daughter have.” Then she started to talk about her own father and it was then I realized she was talking about the relationship my daughter had with her dad. My daughter joked about her dad and how he likes to tease her. My daughter loves her dad, and they have a good relationship. I had found the trigger and the explanation why the conversation had become so intense. I looked at her and asked what the relationship with her father was like. She …

Pass the Past

Ever find an old box that hasn’t been opened in years? You open it up and it has your old uniform or your old outfits in it. So, you try it on and if you manage to get it to stay on without using tape and staples, your glory day memories can pop up faster than the shirt buttons! Why can’t I be young again? I was called ‘The Cat’ because I was so quick when I played sports. The last time I played hockey my own teammates called me the ‘Old Jalopy’!  Old Jalopies are still useful as witnessed by all the joy (okay it was sneering laughter) from the bench. Now I am not complaining about my life now. In most ways it is better than I could have imagined. It’s just that my chiseled body of the past is now made out of clay that looks like it flopped down around my ankles. Being made of clay is not a bad thing though since God made Adam out of clay. Then he …

A Man For All Seasons

The saddest day of the year is fast approaching. It is a day in which I am sullen and silent. Yeah, if you knew me, you’d be saying what? You’re always yakking about something and at least you’re happy. Not on this day though. For this is the day I have to switch from shorts to long pants. The summer fades and soon so will my tan. The leaves fall and the rain and dampness of fall turns to snow and bitter cold of winter. And somewhere along the way I’ll be forced into the switch. And don’t even get me going about socks and shoes! I live in sandals and shorts all summer. From spring really. I walk, shop, preach, and write in them. Well, never mind what I wear when I write, if you knew you’d never be the same! But why the sadness? Seasons are inevitable and so what if I have to wear grown up pants. Good points but there is an allegory happening here. Each season has a different impact …

Should We Ban Harry Potter?

There is a news story from Tennessee, in the U.S., about a Roman Catholic priest who removed all Harry Potter books from the school library. The priest, Rev. Dan Reehil, made a statement that Harry Potter books contain actual “actual spells and curses” that might summon demons. The parents, who complained and asked for the priest to be fired are quoted; “Reehil is a toxic narcissist who hates Pope Francis and views himself as ‘a soldier of God.’ … Our school, however, consists of children, not soldiers” The parent’s statement contained 50 bullet points. RELATED: Parents complained of priest who banned Harry Potter books: CTV So, the battle lines are obvious, in that confrontation, and I’m glad I don’t have to be a referee. The answer, from the priest’s employers, the Diocese, was that the priest’s views and some other opinions “have homes in the church.” The Diocese backed the priest by saying that his ideas were acceptable in the Roman Catholic Church. The parents talked about their children’s education, and the Diocese talked about …

Me Forgive? No Way!

Betrayal is a nasty word. But that is how we feel when people we love and trust suddenly turn on us. It is tough to forgive someone we want to kick in the shins. Yet the Bible says we are to forgive even them. The Bible sure doesn’t understand, does it? Surely God would be on my side! I’m the victim here. Didn’t David ask God to dash his enemies and their children to pieces on rocks? Can’t I pray for God to destroy my once friends now enemies? Well, of course you can. You can ask God for anything you want. Doesn’t mean you will get it. And when you are talking with God, I have to warn you, he talks back! And if you start quoting the Bible to Him, He might just point out that He wrote it, that the Word is Him, and throw some quotes your way. Rather than get into a bunch of quotes about forgiveness, let’s talk about why you ought to forgive. First, let me confess that …

Study says optimists more likely to live longer

According to the Daily Mail, researchers from Boston University stated that optimists tend to live longer than those with a more pessimistic view of life. The researchers came to this conclusion after monitoring the attitudes and lives of 69,744 women and 1,500 men. The women (aged 58 to 86) were surveyed for ten years and the men (aged 41 to 90) tracked for 30 years. During this period, the researchers asked them a series of questions to determine if their outlook on life was negative or positive. They concluded that on average men with the most optimistic view extended their lives an additional 11% and women 15% when compared to their negative counterparts. They also found that optimists were more likely to hit 85 years of age with 70% more men and 50% more women reaching that age. Their findings were published in the journal entitled “Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.” According to the researchers, optimistic people were defined as those who believed “the future will be pleasant because one can control …

Who Are You?

One of my favorite crime shows, CSI, has a theme song that goes: “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?” Oddly enough it a song by a band called The Who. So who are you? Are you the same in public as in private? Are you really what you do? Basically we hide our true self while presenting what we think is a more acceptable self to others. This protects us from getting hurt and hurting others. At least that is the rationale. But doesn’t this just exaggerate fear? I mean the longer I hide myself the more I fear someone will see the real me and never ever stop slapping me. I even want to slap myself sometimes. Fear prevents us from being who we really are, so we often hide behind performance, jobs, looks, and other things the world tells us equals success. Don’t believe me? Remember how anxious you were the last time you had a bad hair day? This is all about your identity. Who you are is a fundamental question …

Dating Advice From Jesus

Have you noticed all the protests in the news lately? People are angry, and they are in the streets, in many parts of the world. And now, the protesters are protesting other protesters. Where I live, Chinese protesters are protesting against other people from China, who are in the streets protesting, and in the whole world, demonstrations come with counter-demonstrations. We have an epidemic of intolerant demands for tolerance: Imagine if a young man joined his friends at a demonstration rally, for some important cause, and in the middle of the action, he noticed a young woman among the counter demonstrators; and imagine if they were attracted to each other. If their convictions were sincere, there is no possibility that they could make a personal connection because they belong to different tribes. Modern culture works against connections and relationships between people. I’m not really talking about dating; I’m talking about our modern tribalism. It is fashionable today to disconnect from others, and to hate and never forgive. The other side is wrong because it is …

What it means to go the extra mile

For years my life revolved around how people hurt and wronged me but the light has recently been turned on exposing areas where I may have offended or hurt others in the past.  As God revealed this to me, I have done my best to make amends and it has been hard work. It’s never easy admitting that I was the one who erred, and I was the one doing the offending. It is all about going that “extra mile” in our Christian walk. Though the phrase going the extra mile is in our modern vernacular, in fact it has a Biblical root and comes from a statement Jesus said to His disciples: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. “ (Matthew 5:41) In this verse, Jesus was describing the practice of “impressment” that was common at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile  (1.45 km). Obviously, the Jews …

The futility of worry

A recent study by researchers from Penn State exposed the futility of worry in a very “odd” way, that seems to confirm an equally “odd” statement that Jesus made about worry. Worry is a very destructive force and if we don’t control it, worry can actually cause physical damage to our bodies, in addition to the emotional stress that can lead to such things as depression. According to an article on WebMD, unchecked worry can cause the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones are released during times of extreme stress. The release of these hormones fill the body with the extra energy required during times of acute danger. However, if there is no physical release (fight or flight), these hormones sit unused and over time can potentially damage our bodies resulting in heart and digestive problems and even affect our memory and immune system. So what did those Penn State researchers uncover? Well they studied 29 people who have a serious anxiety disorder. These were top-level worriers. For one month these people …

Don’t Blink

Do you ever think about someone you love or admire? Maybe they are the same person. What kinds of things do they believe or do? If you look at me you’d notice that I like to talk. A lot. I like to write. I like Jesus, my wife, and hockey.  You’d see that I was short for a man in my culture, a  bit grey, and after a moment or two you’d notice my sense of humor and my impish grin. Hopefully you’d see that what I believe and what I do match. How long would it take you to form an opinion of me? A few minutes? Perhaps one minute? Thirty seconds? One tenth of a second! That’s it! That is all the time it takes for the person you just met to form an impression of you. This is according to a study by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. I haven’t met them even for that long so I have no opinion about them either way. But I read the same …

Ferdelance Pit Viper

Venom or victory

It has become clear to me that forgiveness is a practice.  It is something you just do when you recognize resentment, anger or even hatred building in your life towards another person. Each of us must come to that place where we recognize that these symptoms debilitate and dis-empower us from becoming the best version of ourselves for the glory of God.  Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is always about what is best for you. When we are bitten by the venomous snake of unforgiveness, it sucks out our potential and purpose. Left unchecked, its poison will travel through the veins to our heart and once there we lose sight of everything that is important to us. The people we love end up getting contaminated by this venomous reptile, as we slither around with a forked tongue spewing and releasing venom onto our loved ones. Forgiveness needs to become a practice in our lives. We need to determine in advance, when offended we will forgive.  Sometimes it won’t be easy and will …

Sometimes there is more than one right way of doing things

Many, many years ago, I think it was sometime during the Pleistocene age, I was working with a political party, and my boss gave me some advice that has stuck with me for years. He said: “Dean, there is more than one right way of doing things.” As Christians, we tend to fall in the trap of thinking there is only one way of doing something, God’s way, often cleverly disguised as our way. Now there are certainly things that we need to be dogmatic on including the Deity of Christ, the supremacy of Scripture and morality. But there are a few elements of the Christian faith where there is clearly more than one right way of doing them. One of those is whether to honor Sunday as the Lord’s Day. I was reading an interesting article on CBN, about Chick-fil-A and the company’s decision to close on Sunday. The company is owned by the Cathy family, devout Christians, who have publicly supported traditional values. Despite being closed one day a week, it is now …

One Christian’s view of the death penalty

Several years back, I was talking to a friend who asked me why the Bible supports the death penalty in the Old Testament (Numbers 35:16-17), while Jesus states in the New Testament that we need to forgive and even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45; Matthew 6:14-15). To him it appeared like a contradiction. How could Jesus exhortation to forgive in any way support the death penalty? It was a valid observation. Two recent media stories may help explain what appears to be a Bible contradiction. According to Religion News Service, the Rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue is calling for mercy for a mass shooter who killed 11 members of the congregation in a murderous antisemitic attack on October 27, 2018. The media are reporting that the social media accounts of the alleged killer, Robert Bowers, had several anti Jewish statements in some instances referring to Jews as “filthy evil.” Bowers pleaded not guilty to the mass murder. In a letter sent to the state’s attorney general, Rabbi Johnathan Perlman and his wife Beth …

View from the pulpit. Credit: Tyrone Warner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Keep Your Shorts On!

The other night I was preaching. I was just giving it! I mean I was on fire! God had given me the words to say and it was incredible! Then it happened! My pants started falling off. Actually they were shorts. Yup, I am the kind of preacher that wears shorts and sandals. And a shirt. I always wear a shirt. I don’t stay behind a pulpit or a podium when I talk. I walk around while I talk. Whenever possible I connect with people when I speak. This evening was a great setup for this. Unfortunately the word setup is more appropriate than I realized. So there I am in front of the church with rows of chairs in a semi circle around me and rows of pews behind them. I am right in the middle of the main aisle about standing right where everyone could get a good look at me. At first, it was a slight loosening. No problem I thought. I’ll make my way behind the podium and give them a …

Who is the Jewish Messiah — Jesus or Rabbi Schneerson?

There is an interesting story on Breaking Israel News (BIN) of how a group of Orthodox Jews from an organization called the Yad L’Achim recently prevented a Christian missionary group from baptizing several Jews in the Sea of Galilee. There was no mention of  the name of the Christian organization. The plan was to transport the Jews from Tel Aviv to Tiberias for the baptism. According to BIN the organization decided to baptize the Jews on the sabbath believing it would hinder any opposition as the Old Testament law limits travel on the sabbath for Orthodox Jews. But apparently there was away around it, or they just ignored the prohibition against travel and about 15 students who attended a Yad L’Achim religious school in Tel Aviv made their way to the spot that the Jews were preparing to load a bus to Tiberias. Some orthodox Jews were wearing shirts, “Jew stop! Christianity is not our way.” There was a bit of a confrontation at the bus between the missionaries and the members of Yad L’Achim …

Under Pressure

The other day I’m driving around and I hear an annoying ‘boing-boing’ sound. Normally the only annoying sound I hear when I’m driving is my singing so this really caught my attention. The oil pressure gauge read no oil pressure! Then it read too much oil pressure! Either the motor was going to seize or blow up! My poor truck. We’ve been together a long time and every scratch and dent and rust hole is a story. It has more miles on it than the space station! And it just keeps on trucking. I like my truck more than most of my kids. Probably because it cost less and doesn’t talk back. Until now. Turns out the gauge was faulty. It still is, and we, truck and I, learned to live with it. As a Christian I also have to pay attention to my own gauges. I don’t want seize up and I certainly don’t want to blow up. But what if my gauge is faulty? Or what if I simply ignore it?Did you know …

Will God Give Us Money?

I was travelling for work recently, and on a quiet evening, in a hotel with free cable TV, I surfed the channels to find something interesting. One show had a television preacher asking people to send him money. Apparently, if we send money to him, God would send even more money to us. We couldn’t lose. You might know the song by Janice Joplin, where she makes a joke about people who send money and believe in the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’ It’s an old joke, but some television preachers are still serious about it, and many people still believe. So, what is the truth? Will God give us money? Yes. On my travels, I learned some lessons about free stuff from God, either money or things we could buy with money. 1) We are asking God to do something twice, and 2) we need to patch the holes in the bucket. The Bible tells us about “purses with holes.” Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never …

The IRA vs Ulster Loyalists and Zealots vs Tax collectors: God brings hardened enemies together

An article on CBN, tells how the Holy Spirit is bringing together Catholics and protestants who were once deadly enemies in Northern Ireland. Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and two decades ago it was the center of a violent conflict between Catholics and protestants as the Catholic Irish Republican Army (IRA) was seeking Northern Ireland’s independence from British rule. The Union Protestants loyal to the British government were literally in an armed conflict with the IRA trying to stop this from happening. War raged between the two factions for decades with British soldiers also thrown into the mix who were there to keep the peace. In 1998, a peace was reached between the warring factions and though the peace has held, there are still deep-seated resentments between the two groups. And today in Belfast there is a distinctive Catholic sector in the city marked by murals of the conflict twenty years ago. Though the two groups have put down their guns, God is trying to bring a heart-felt peace and a big …

I Hear Voices

Christmas in July! Black Friday! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Sale ends today! There are lots of incentives to buy. The excitement of that new car. The beer that gets the girls. Even the coffee that wakes us up. Man, if we only had these things we’d be fulfilled. Our life would be grand. Okay. I’m not going to lie. Money and good coffee make life much easier. I’ve had both and I’ve had neither. I prefer both. Then there are the more personal incentives like health. Boring! Why lose weight when the right beer makes you happy and attractive? Besides, there’s a drug for everything anyway right? You only live once. Life is short. You know what? Life is only short when things are going well. When things are going poorly life drags on and on. No matter what your life is like, you do only live once. And who can blame you for wanting life in the fullest? I’ve counseled many people who wanted life in the fullest. From sports stars to men and women …

Can anger be a road map to a better life?

Anger is a powerful emotion and can pull us into situations we are not prepared to deal with.  We are not in control. Anger can map out a direction and lifestyle we did not ask for or want.  It just takes us there! We get angry about relationships and our circumstances at home or work. But anger can quickly get out of control. It is like an anchor attached to a rope that slips out of our hands before we can get a good grip on it. Now a lot of Christians think it is a sin to be angry. But the Apostle Paul says that we can be angry and not sin: 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (Ephesians 4:26 NKV) Anger is an emotion and sometimes things happen that are clearly unfair or simply wrong, and we are allowed to get angry. But we must catch the last part of this verse when Paul says don’t stay angry. Don’t let the sun go …

The flame of faith

Español: La llama de la fe When it comes to praying for a miracle, doubt and fear circle my mind with thoughts I can’t do this and my faith drains away. Yet my ability to pray confidently and clearly for miracles seems possible until I am actually faced with a seemingly impossible situation, then doubts flood my mind. The mountain of the impossible looms over me blocking my faith and diminishing my hope.  Why even try to pray or believe for the impossible? As a result, I lower my expectations and say to myself, maybe next time I will be able to believe for a miracle but not now . . . not this time. It’s not that my hopes are too high and I fail to reach them; it’s that they’re too low and I do. But there is something I have started doing recently that seems to help. Whether your hopes and expectations for a miracle are high or low start envisioning a candle burning brightly and steadily inside you. And let this …

I Matter

Have you ever thought about your life and wondered what happened? How did I even get here? I always knew I would be a somebody.  Like the next great journalist, rock star or great writer.  But here I am. I am just me. And what’s wrong with just me?  Probably nothing except I did not plan to be just me.  I planned to do big things with my big brain and my big ideas.  Women talk about the glass ceiling, this idea that they can see the top-level of decision makers but can never attain it.  This is not a feminist idea, this happens to men as well as women.  You see I was born into a very poor, very tired family.  My parents had their dream of farming pulled out from under their feet.  They worked extremely hard, taught their kids about love and God, and made us feel loved.  But they never recovered.  Eventually they moved to BC where Dad became a logger, then a city worker and Mom became a waitress.   I …

Is Sin Still a Thing?

One of the buzz words that explains modern society is ‘tolerance.’ It fits nicely with ‘inclusive’ and ‘multicultural’ and other similar sentiments. If you want to be tolerated, you need to be tolerant. Ironically, tolerant people will be intolerant towards you if you are not suitably tolerant. They will judge you for being judgmental. And then there is ‘sin.’ It’s a popular word among old Christians, but it clearly is not tolerant, inclusive or multicultural. A sin is something that is wrong, and needs to be condemned, and possibly forgiven. That idea is judgmental and it does not fit with modern thinking. So, is sin still a thing? I have a job that is new for me, and last week I traveled and stayed in a small-town motel. My room was clean, but the neighbors were a bit scary. They were the kind of people who stay in motels in small towns. One group was a team of furniture movers. They seem to live like gypsies, and they like to barbecue and argue about things …

Struggling to free yourself from the web of comparison

Español: Luchando para liberarnos de las redes de la comparación I think we say sorry to often. Others may not like your opinion, but provided you weren’t harsh or mean in what you said, there is no reason to apologize. Yet many of us apologize for the silliest things.  Stop saying sorry for no real reason. Ask yourself if you really need to apologize or are those words another way of belittling yourself? Save your apology for the real stuff when you have really blown it and now you have to own it.  Do it when you want to run and hide or avoid acknowledging the mistake you made. That’s when you apologize and say those words, I’m sorry. But along with this we need to train ourselves to stop saying I’m sorry for things we are not responsible for which is also backwards. So why do we do this? We need to understand the root of our apologizing for everything may have been deeply ingrained in us from childhood. It is often rooted in …

Who’s There?

Who makes you uncomfortable? Imagine walking down a lonely street and there is one other person walking towards you. It is just you and him or her. For some this is enough to make us nervous. For many though it will depend on what that person looks like and how they walk. Perhaps it is a big man who is not walking straight. Or it might be a person from a culture we don’t know or trust. It could even be nice, clean cut young woman who is more nervous than you are. How many times do we walk by a person with their hand or hat out asking for money? Does that make you uncomfortable? How about a limousine pulling up and a couple get up who are well dressed and appear very wealthy? Would they make you feel uncomfortable? I wonder how many times in a day we pre-judge others? It is more likely that the person coming towards you on the street just wants to get to where they are going. The …

Breaking free from the chains of regret

Many of us are weighed down by regrets from the past and the longer we stay chained to these regrets, the harder it is to break free from them.  We lose our freedom in Christ because holding onto past regrets links us up to self-condemnation and self- hatred. The Bible says that in Christ we are freed from all condemnation (Romans 8:1) and there is also no separation from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). We must learn to love ourselves in the same way God loves us. The longer we hold on to this chain and refuse to forgive ourselves for past mistakes and failures, the heavier the chain becomes. So how do we free ourselves from these chains that weigh so heavily upon us, that they almost take our breath away at times? It starts by accepting the fact that we all make mistakes. It is part of being human.  And then forgiving ourselves if needed. If we don’t, it will inevitably lead to condemnation. Lana Vawser, a prophet and teacher, says it’s …