Moving on…

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Today we officially found out that after fourteen years of ministry in Elliot Lake we are moving on to new opportunities in Southern Ontario. On June 26 we will take up our new appointment at St. Mary’s Community Church.

Obviously, after having been here for such a long time, there are some mixed feelings about moving on. Having said that, the timing is right and we are very excited at the prospect of a new challenge in a new community (new to us anyway). We don’t know very much about St. Mary’s, but I’m sure we’ll find out a lot about it in the next few weeks.

There have been a lot of good times here in Elliot Lake, as well as some challenging ones. Our son was born here and we’ve watched our children grow up to be teenagers.There was also the excitement of opening our new building downtown in May 2009 and the fresh opportunities that brought. The biggest challenges for us have come in the past three years, especially with the aftermath of the mall collapse in June 2012. Some of these challenges have been draining and we believe that things will benefit from the fresh perspective that our successors will be able to bring to the community.

Over the past few months there have been some unfounded rumours about us leaving and the Army being closed down here. These have mainly been by people who don’t have a great understanding of how things work in our organization. As a lot of what was being said was second or third-hand gossip it was very difficult to deal with. The truth is that things will continue to operate after we leave here. There are no plans to close anything down and, in fact, the new people may see some different opportunities to expand upon some of the foundations that are already here.

The next few weeks will be busy, as we work through fourteen years of accumulation and pack up our belongings. The worst part may be packing up all the books we have gathered. I did cull a few in the past few months, but I find it really difficult to part with them.

I’ll post some updates as things progress, or if we find out more that we can share about St. Mary’s. Until then, if it is your thing, a few prayers for a smooth transition would be really helpful.

Top Ten Tuesday – Spring TBR List (March 17)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is: ‘Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List’. These are all books that are unread on my shelf – some from a few years ago, others fairly recently – but they are all ones that I would like to read soon! We’ll see how many I actually do manage to read in the near future.

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  1. Blue Gold – Clive Cussler, with Paul Kemprecos
  2. If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life – Alister E. McGrath
  3. Shadows on the Grass – Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
  4. Burmese Days – George Orwell
  5. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  6. Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World’s Most Popular Sport – Simon Kuper
  7. Silence – Shusaku Endo
  8. The Last Eyewitness: The Final Week – Chris Seay, David Capes
  9. Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul – Mark Buchanan
  10. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines – Ray Harris

 

Lent 2015 – Third Sunday of Lent

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Today in our gathering we looked at Jesus as a rebel, using the story of his anger directed at the sellers and money-changers in the temple (John 2: 13-22) as our text. In this story we see a stark contrast in Jesus to the thought of him being ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. It’s not always bad being a rebel and there may be times when we have to go against the flow around us, perhaps then being viewed as rebellious.

Jesus may be thought of as a rebel with a cause and throughout history there have been many who have followed his example. Even William and Catherine Booth may have been viewed as rebels in their day, for the way they stood up against many of the injustices of their day, including things that had been deemed acceptable by many in society at that time. But the point is not being a rebel. The main thing is first of all being obedient to God, which may at times lead to being seen by those around you as being rebellious. However, we should never just be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious.

I like what Donald Miller had to say about this in an article in the New York Times. I leave what he said as something for us to think about:

If you’re a Christian, you need to obey God. And if you obey God, you’re going to be seen as a rebel, both within American church culture and popular culture. But that’s not the point. The point is to obey God.

Lent 2015 – Day 3

Thankfully, I woke up this morning headache free, so it would seem that I am over my coffee withdrawal. Today was a better day than yesterday, but I still didn’t get some of the things done that I had hoped to. I started the day as I do most Fridays, going out for breakfast with a few of the usual friends I meet up with on Friday before heading to work. The food and conversation were both great, so it made for a good start to the day.

It was a bitterly cold day today, so much so that the school buses were cancelled for the first time this year. In spite of the cold, the drop-in centre was very busy, which is why I probably didn’t get much of what I had planned accomplished. This wasn’t a bad thing and it seemed that a lot of people wanted to talk to me today during our lunchtime. The conversations ranged from the plight of the Maple Leafs to poverty and everything else in between!

Poverty seems to be a huge issue in our little community at the moment, as we struggle to move forward from the tragic events of almost three years ago. A lot of people have moved away and it seems that many who have stayed don’t know how to move forward, or haven’t got either the means or the incentive to do so.

Tonight, as I’ve been thinking about some of these conversations from earlier today, I’ve been reflecting upon some of the things that Shane Claiborne wrote or said. Once in a while I like to read some of his stuff, as it challenges me to think about what we do here or if we could be doing something more or different or both. Some of my favourite, and challenging, quotes of his are the following:

“Few people are interested in a religion that has nothing to say to the world and offers them only life after death, when what people are really wondering is whether there is life before death.”

“When we ask God to move a mountain, God may give us a shovel.”

“When we truly discover how to love our neighbor as our self, Capitalism will not be possible and Marxism will not be necessary.”

“What if evangelical mega churches became known around the world for things like providing water access for entire countries or fighting to end the AIDS pandemic? Imagine what integrity that would give to the good news we preach, especially the gospel that Jesus declares is good news to the poor.”

“The lives of the thirty thousand children who die of starvation each day is like 6 September 11ths every single day, a silent tsunami that happens every week.”

There are lots more I could share, but if you want to read more, then pick up a copy of his The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary RadicalIt is worth reading, but be prepared to be challenged. Like the book I mentioned yesterday, it’s another book I should probably read again soon. Having too many good books to read is a big problem I continually face, but compared to some of the problems I talked about with others today, it’s really not that much of a problem anyway.

Booking Through Thursday – Weeding (Jan 8)

btt2This week Booking Through Thursday poses the following questions:

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?

At least twice a year I critically examine my bookshelves to see if there are any books I no longer want or require. Sometimes they are books that I no longer require, perhaps old textbooks I’ll never reference again, or maybe a book I bought on a whim and discovered it wasn’t the book I thought it was.

I’ll do one of two things with the books I weed out. I’ll box them up for either the SA Thrift Store or to take to Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound for credit. On a rare occasion, I may give the book away to someone I know who likes the writer. I’m not that keen on getting rid of books, but sometimes I’ll find a few that I just don’t want to have around any more.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Reads of 2014 (Dec 16)

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(Note: I started this post last night, but fell asleep before I could finish it and post it!)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Books I Read In 2014’. I’ve read 73 books so far this year. With a couple of weeks to go, I should manage a few more, hopefully. Picking my top ten reads has been quite difficult, but here goes:

girl who saved the king of sweden small1. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – Jonas Jonasson. I read his previous book (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared) last year and really enjoyed it, so I was worried that this wouldn’t live up to my expectations after that one. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed and I almost enjoyed this one more, although it’s hard to say which one is the better of the two. This one is a very funny book and definitely worth reading. The main characters in this book seem so far apart at the start of the book and you wonder how it is all going to come together, but in the end it does in very funny and plausible way. The story becomes more engrossing the further you get into it and I found it hard to put down. I’m really looking forward to Jonasson’s next book and hope that it’s not too far away.

in the name of jesus2. In the Name of Jesus Henri J.M. Nouwen. I read four books by Nouwen this year and, although I enjoyed them all, this was the one that spoke to me the most. It’s a very short, but powerful, book, speaking about Christian leadership. The book is based around the three temptations faced by Christ early in his ministry and what they mean for anyone involved in Christian leadership today. What comes through a lot is the humility of the writer, through many of the personal illustrations he shared. Although he passed away almost two decades ago, Nouwen’s writing is still very relevant to us today and I wish I had read more of his books when he was still alive.

19293. 1929 – A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future – John Larsson. When this book first came out a few years ago I was mildly interested in reading it, but never got around to picking it up. While visiting London in the summer this year I picked up a copy for 2 pounds and decided to read it when I got home from our trip. I have to admit that I knew very little about the content matter and was interested to find out why what had happened had been seen as such a major crisis. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed this book. It was very engaging and I found myself staying up much later than normal to keep on reading it. Perhaps even more surprising is that it was one of my favourite reads of the year!

ocean at the end of the lane4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. Gaiman rarely disappoints and this one was far from disappointing. It’s a highly imaginative book, but is very magical and beautifully written. It didn’t take me long to read as I just kept on reading, finding it hard to stop. I know I’ll have to read it again soon, perhaps slower to take more of it in. However, I still have many unread Gaiman books on my shelf that I need to get to as well, so it may be a while until I get back to it.

opening to god5. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer – David G. Benner. I’ve spent a lot of time this year exploring different spiritual disciplines and practices, so this book, recommended by a Spiritual Director I met with earlier in the year, was very timely and helpful. It’s a very practical and insightful book, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Benner’s books soon.

other voices small6. Other Voices: Exploring the Contemplative in Salvationist Spirituality – Christine Faragher. This was another book recommended to me by a Spiritual Director. I sometimes struggle with the fact that I am quite contemplative and introverted by nature, especially in light of the work I do. This book really helped me with this struggle by showing me that the organization I am a part of has quite the rich heritage of contemplation in its roots. This book also has very helpful study questions after each chapter and is one that I will continue to enjoy for a long time, as I hope to return to it often.

late starters orchestra thumb7. The Late Starters Orchestra – Ari L. Goldman. I received a free review copy of this book from LibraryThing. Something about it just grabbed my attention and I was fortunate to get the chance to read it. I enjoy books about music and musicians but, as I wrote in my review, I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did, so it was a pleasant surprise when I did. You never know what you’re going to get when you request a review copy, but this one was great.

allegiant8. Allegiant – Veronica Roth. I was a latecomer to this series, as I read the whole series this year. The reason for this was that I didn’t want to see the first movie before I’d read the books. The movie turned out pretty well, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I actually thought this book (the third one in the series) was the best of the three and, unlike many others, thought that it was a great ending to the story. The ending that many people seemed to want would not have been true to the characters or the story.

jesus a theography9. Jesus: A Theography – Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. I’ve really enjoyed reading Viola ever since I read his Pagan Christianity? a few years ago. He and Leonard Sweet have put together what can best be described as a theological biography of the life of Jesus. It’s quite an in-depth study of Jesus, but is well worth taking the time to read through. I tried it a couple of years ago, but only got back to it this year. I think my mind was more in the right place this time, as I found it to be a great read, even if at times it was challenging.

first phone call from heaven small10. The First Phone Call From Heaven – Mitch Albom. Ever since I read Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven a few years ago I’ve been an avid reader of his books. I like his style and I never find him too predictable. He’s a great storyteller and I have really enjoyed all the books of his that I have read so far. My favourite is probably Tuesdays with Morrie.

So, that’s my top ten for this year. One other book I would have included in the list is Tony Jones’ The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. The only reason I didn’t include it is because it was a reread. It is one of my favourite books of recent years, as it is so practical and has helped me a lot on my spiritual journey. It is one I always heartily recommend.