Monday, April 28, 2008
They had a new urgency of purpose, too. On Wednesday, at the monthly prayer meeting upstairs at Gospel Mission, Pastor Barry made a declaration: the showers must open before the end of the month. Even if all the interior work is still not complete (and it won't be), we have to turn the water on and open the door on Wednesday April 30.
And so we will. At 6:00 Wednesday morning, I'll be in there, putting the lights on, turning on the hot water tank and setting up the coffee; 7:00, the door opens. I know there's been a lineup of people wanting to be the first to have a shower in the new place, so it will be interesting to see who it will actually be.
It's what's called in the marketing biz a "soft launch", and we'll do something really special further down the road. But for now, the call of God on this project is to get it open and ready as soon as it's practical: and it is now.
Had a chance to testify at Westpointe on Sunday -- it was wonderful to hear the applause for the news that it's about to open. Not for me, but for the wondrous work of God to make this happen. One couple, Don and Joyce Low, who have been very supportive from the beginning, werethere: they go to other churches as the Spirit leads, and "just happened" to be at Westpointe on the day that I gave the testimony.
I had already agreed to give an update to the Richmond Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship on -- guess when? -- Wednesday. Now I'll REALLY have something to tell them! And by the time I speak to the monthly men's breakfast at Sonrise Full Gospel in Surrey on June 14th, we'll be well underway!
Lord, we cannot give You enough praise for making this happen, and we stay right with You to take this further. No one said it was going to be easy, but the same Spirit that moved on the face of the waters and raised Christ from the dead and now lives in those who believe and receive it is carrying the project onward!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday morning newspaper headlines screamed about a food shortage, and The Province, which never lets rational thinking get in the way of a good grabber, out-did them all with "$50 a loaf?" on the front page.
But while the papers generally blamed hoarding for the shortage, there was an item from the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, April 22, which suggested governments and industry would have to re-think their plans about using biofuel because of the shortage. Biofuel is made from grains in many cases -- soy and canola, e.g. -- and so that means the major component of food is being diverted so we can power vehicles.
The depletion of supply will mean higher prices all around. A great time to have money in the Winnipeg and Chicago Mercantile Exchanges, but lousy if you're trying to feed a family.
(Another newspaper item recently suggested that food waste would soon be composted not for fertilizing more food production but for producing more biofuels. The hits just keep on coming!)
Of course, governments like British Columbia are starting to require the petroleum industry to blend in biofuel. That means it's no longer an option, and while the whole thing is cloaked in "reducing carbon emissions" and "caring for the environment", we've now begun to put human lives in jeopardy as a result.
I still need to research this further, but there are predictions of this in the Bible. One that leaps out at me is this:
Monday, April 21, 2008
OK ... if you don't recall that powerful reference from the last update I sent out, it's an analogy to a high-powered sports car, getting stuck in deep mud, and the driver tries to stomp on the accelerator to get it out ... but instead, the car keeps digging itself deeper into the mud. The only solution is just to take your foot off the gas and let it pull out by itself. Similarly, with some of the delays we've experienced with The Lord's Rain, the only thing we can do is stop fussing about delivering MORE POWER to the engine and let the Lord -- Who's in charge of this, anyway -- work this out.
And that's been happening in the last week or so.
Barry and Brodie have been testing the water supply, now that the City has approved it, and on Saturday, the gang from The Oasis in Duncan descended on 327 Carrall Street for one final (for them) work blitz. Showers are walled-in, drywall is up, and a counter has been built for shaving sinks; a lot of other stuff has been installed, and now it just remains for a smaller work crew to finish installing the materials they've cut and left for us.
One of the reasons why this is probably the last time the Oasis will send a crew over is that they've acquired a new property for their church -- one much more visible than the Cowichan River Bible Camp, and hence will serve the Kingdom better. This means they're doing a LOT of work there, getting it ready. Pastor Brandon Wall -- son of Pastor Gerry -- says every time they do something for us at Carrall Street, their own project gets advanced. Go figure. Brandon, would you care to write out a testimony that we can post on the blog?
In any event, we hold the Oasis up in prayer, that the contributions they have made to this project -- financial, material, labour and all other things -- will be multiplied back to them, according to Luke 6:38 (Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.).
While the work was going on downstairs, things were happening upstairs, as well. Janet, a lovely woman of God who puts in a LOT of hours at Carrall Street, both supporting Barry's services (Sundays, Mondays and the Bible study on Wednesdays) and running her own movie night on Thursdays, took over my office. My office -- also the prayer room -- became the depository for clothing etc. (especially etc.), and I was starting to get the screaming meemies, trying to figure out when I was going to find the time to sort all the stuff. So when Janet asked if she could sort the clothes and stuff, they could hear the "YES!" over the power saws downstairs. We now have the clothes sorted by size, gender and type, the various donated soaps and shampoos (not to mention body wash, which will likely be reserved for the Friday ladies' night).
So we are definitely getting closer to Opening Day, and there are some specific contributions that would be welcome:
- clean underwear (men's and women's) and socks -- one of my neighbours has offered to pick up some on her next trip to Costco, and you might want to consider doing something similar on upcoming shopping trips: I would say Medium and Large would be the most in-demand among the men
- soaps and shampoos
- furniture for the outside area: chairs, a couple of tables, a couch
- a radio/CD player
- books and magazines -- Christian-oriented preferred
- I'll check with Kathleen The Towel Lady to see how "Towelmania" is going, and if we still have a great need for those, I'll let you know.
Had a chance to speak to a group of pastors from ACOP churches around the Lower Mainland last week: did the PowerPoint presentation for them, and bring them up to speed. One of the messages that's worth repeating is that the people we serve are not political footballs, symbols of social decline or crackheads who've brought it on themselves. They're us. And we need to remember that. When I see girls no older than my daughter (who's 16) wandering the streets, it reminds me how fragile our lives are, and at the same time how encouraging the Gospel is for reinforcing those fragile parts.
The ACOP support has come in a number of ways, not all financial, but all blessing. Charles Price, whose TV show is "Living Truth" from People's Church in Toronto, told an interesting anecdote this past Sunday. He was speaking at a Missions conference, and was asked if he'd close his presentation by encouraging people to go into the Mission Field. He refused.
Why? Because if someone goes into the Mission Field -- or any kind of ministry or occupation -- and it's not the leading of God, then it's wrong. Better to encourage people to find out what God wants them to do and then pursue that. I'll expand another time on how that's been true in my life, but for now, I'd just like to encourage anyone reading this to pray about how or whether God wants them to be part of this project. If the answer is "yes", then ask Him to show you what He wants of you. It might be a financial contribution ... it might be physical labour ... it might be to provide some of the furnishings we need (see above) ... and it might be just to keep holding the project up in prayer. Whatever it is ... if it's what He wants of you, that's what will bless this project the most.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Sometimes, in fact, you hear a preacher say in a sermon, "I'm preachin' myself happy up here!". It's a lot like that, I think.
Let me explain. Near the house where I grew up in West Van, there lived a 30something woman who drove a big black Pontiac Trans-Am. She would drive up to the corner beside our house, which led off Marine Drive onto a steep hill, then punch the accelerator and go screaming up the hill.
Lately, it's felt like our project was a but like that Trans-Am, only stuck in deep mud. Standing on the gas pedal only drives the car deeper into the mud and the only way to get out is to just Let It Happen. It's been those "little" delays that can add up here and there, and it was starting to get frustrating.
Barry, who has dealt with building and city permits and tradespeople (and is one, himself), has had to fall back on his aphorism that "God comes through in the 11th hour, 59th minute". It's become our rallying cry.
Fact is, God comes through in what we think is the 11th hour, 59th minute: but for Him, it's exactly On Time.
Or, here's a parable Barry used: a construction site can appear to be a hole in the ground for a long time, but during that time, there's ant-hill-like activity putting in the necessary things like electrical, plumbing and gas. Then, once that is finished, you go walking down the street past what you thought was a hole up till yesterday, and there's a 30-unit complex in its place. Remembering that is also encouraging.
Well, the "hole" that was 327 Carrall Street is about to be replaced by the complex. The City of Vancouver inspected and passed the plumbing*, and we are now, suddenly, on the home stretch. The final plumbing connections will go in in the coming week, and the work party from The Oasis will be back on Saturday, April 19, for the work blitz to complete the walling-in. Then comes the painting and decorating, and Lord willing, we can turn on the taps and start cleaning up this town!
Of course, I won't say anything about an actual start-up date yet. But it's coming quickly, praise God!
Earlier this month, a group of us met to discuss operations matters: what times the project would be open, who would volunteer, how we'd administer the service, and so forth. The Lord's Rain will be open Wednesday mornings, 7-8:30 and Saturday mornings, 7-10 for men and Friday evenings for women. We have a core group of volunteers to oversee the operations, and are now assembling a roster of others ready to commit some time to helping out. It doesn't have to be for every opening, but just committing certain days a month would be great.
Arlene in New York has become our liaison with Pastor Reggie at the Bowery Mission, and they've already had a good chat about operations there. It seems they employ a combination of easy rules and toughness to make sure things stay orderly, which is the way I like it. Note to all of us: one of the biggest problems they have is with towels disappearing (Arlene says they've been known to tear up t-shirts for towels), so if you have any towels you'd like to donate, please contact Kathy Kinahan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Arlene is researching a source for disposable towels, too: someone anonymously donated three months' supply of those to the Bowery, but Reggie says he can't find the supplier, so whatever Arlene finds will benefit operations on both coasts!
One of my neighbours says she'll pick up some underwear and socks for the project -- changing into something clean -- at least with the underwear -- is important, and until we can get a clothing exchange up to speed, if anyone else would like to donate underwear and socks, that would be tremendous.
We did a presentation on the project last month to the AGM of the Gospel Mission Society, and I'll be giving an update this week to the ACOP Pastors' Conference in Surrey. One of the main points of all this has been the way people have come together to make this work. People with different skills and gifts and ideas, coming up with questions and solutions that no one person could have thought of. I keep thinking about Paul's comment about "many members ... fitly joined together". If you come up with ideas, or think of an area that might not be covered, or think of something you can do to help out, let me know.
One more thing: CTV is doing a follow-up story, which will air Sunday, April 13. It's the 50th anniversary of the network, and Peter Grainger -- who did the story that mentioned the theft in February, and which led to a major donation to get things back on track ("The Lord always has a ram in the bush," as Kenny Black put it) -- was asked to do a piece on any news items that have made a difference in the community. He thought of The Lord's Rain and we did an interview. It was a pleasure to be able to point out how the story helped give us a much-needed boost, and led to further confirmation that the Lord has His hand firmly on this project, and when He does that, nothing can get in His way.
*This is not to be confused with the notice, purportedly placed in a Hong Kong hotel room, stating "Customers will be assured that all drinking water has been personally passed by Management."
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
It's been a week since I got back from Seattle, flush with the success of my appearance on The Thor Tolo Show on 820 KGNW, and I haven't completed this post. The message of A Very Convenient Truth appears to be resonating, which is very encouraging. The message needs to get out, because I see more and more evidence every day that Satan is dragging people into a maelstrom of worry and confusion and strife ... none of which is "of God".
One of the highlights of the interview was this letter from a woman named Dani in Port Ludlow, Washington. She is a supporter of Al Gore's local "Step It Up" campaign ...
While I do not agree the verdict is in, regarding the absolute cause of global warming, the debate is over, regarding the need for widespread community action in protecting the environment. Regardless of the actual cause of global warming – cyclical, human activity, animal flatulence, or a combination, thereof – it's a no-brainier that we should all do our part in maintaining our shared surroundings. This is particularly true for me as a Christian; first, because I love God and he created it; second, because God made it very clear "in the beginning" that man, alone, above all earth's creatures, was created in his image and is solely responsible for the earth's maintenance. While there are philosophical differences about the application of this stewardship, such as land use, there should be no question about the mandate to care for our natural environment. To do otherwise is contempt for God.
I applaud Step it Up for its effort because, in principle, it points us in the right direction. So what if there are a few detours (disagreements) and we hit a pothole or two (conflicting information and antidotes); let's resolve to lay aside any differences, political or otherwise, and cooperatively work with others in developing local solutions to an undeniable global phenomenon. At the very least, let's demonstrate our personal support for our neighbors and future generations, as we dutifully preserve that which has been entrusted to us.
Port Ludlow, WA
To which I replied, that, if you get people committed to resolving the issue God's way -- as opposed to the world's way -- it doesn't matter what their political stripe is: get them together in a room, all praying and listening for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and they will all come up with the same answer ... the right answer.
This morning, I woke up with a word in my head: "guilt".
That's one of the main motivating factors behind the whole environmental conversation ... and, in fact, has been a motivator behind much of human action in the past century. We've been motivated by guilt to do something about human rights, residential skills, the Komagata Maru, the Chinese Head Tax, Japanese-Canadian internment, native land claims, feminism ...
The problem with being motivated by guilt is that it, too, is not "of God". Guilt is Satan's way of preventing us from repenting and receiving our forgiveness, by making us believe that we always have to Do More to make amends. That inevitably leads to Satan jumping over to the other side -- whomever has been wronged -- and constantly raise the stakes, demanding more or claiming that whatever is done is Not Enough. (What's that favorite line of the environmentalists? "A good first step ... but much more needs to be done.")
(Thinking over that guilt-motivation list above, one incident stands out as an exception: the Saint-Louis. This was a ship, which brought a load of Jewish refugees over from Europe just before WWII broke out. But Canada was one of a number of countries that turned them away, sending them back to Europe and, for many, ultimately to the death camps. Many churches of the day supported turning them away, reflective of the attitude "Christian" churches held towards Jews at the time. In 2001, a group of evangelical leaders from across the country met in Ottawa with Jewish leaders -- and many eventual survivors from the Saint-Louis, since some did make it through the Holocaust. The Christians asked forgiveness. The Jews gave it. They prayed together. There was a measure of reconciliation. And life continued. No guilt: just Conviction; no demands to Do More; no demands for compensation; no political posturing: just "Please forgive us - We forgive you - let's pray". And that's as it should be.)
When it comes to the Very Convenient Truth about the environmental discussion, we need to realize that guilt and recriminations won't get us anywhere. When we realize that the whole issue boils down to our personal relationship to God, we realize that we have a responsibility to follow His leading in consuming and enjoying Creation -- as He intended -- while not going beyond our ability to replenish it (Gen. 1:28). Healing our relationship with God means receiving forgiveness for our failure to be His managers (see the previous post about "Hiding in plain sight") and then committing to getting back to the job. We have to stop listening to the guilt trips -- all from the enemy -- and remember that assuming responsibility is not the same as wearing the blame.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
This blog has had a lot to do with the showers project -- The Lord's Rain -- on the Downtown East Side, but the title actually relates to my book, "A Very Convenient Truth", which is a Bible journey around the environmental issue. One of these days, I'm sure, the Lord is going to bring all of these issues together in one great revelation about the connection: He has a way of doing that, doesn't He?
Anyway, one of the key Scriptures behind the thesis of the book is
Receiving forgiveness from God is sometimes easier (if "easy" is the right concept) than receiving healing. Physical pain lasts longer than guilt, and for some people, understanding that God has forgiven their sins gets into the soul and spirit a lot more readily than understanding that one is healed. But there's Jesus, telling us that the two are one and the same. And, in fact, there's God, telling us that as we turn back to Him, He forgives us and as He forgives us our land is healed.
But that's not what this entry is about. This entry is about the fact that often, the solutions God provides for us are hiding in plain sight. In Genesis 21, we read about Hagar, Sarah's servant, who was the mother of Ishmael. She's been run out of the household by Sarah -- once Isaac had been born -- with nothing but a bag of food and a bottle of water. When the water runs out, she leaves Ishmael under a bush and goes off by herself, so she doesn't see her child die. That's when an angel comes to her and tells her the Lord has heard the boy's cries, and reminds her that He had promised to make a great nation of him.
That's when God opens Hagar's eyes, and she sees a well. She runs to the well, fills the bottle with water, and gives it to the boy.
The well was always there. She just couldn't see it, because she was looking inward and concentrating on her own plight: it took God to open her eyes.
We run into situations just about every day, in which we focus on ourselves and our situation. When we do that, we usually forget what God has promised us. Even if we open our eyes in our own strength, we might not see what God wants us to see. But if we allow God to open our eyes -- as He did with Hagar -- we see exactly what we need, and that will relate directly to the promise God has for us.
Praise God, He has given us His Word about the promise He has for us. 66 books, spelling out what He expects from us and what we can expect from Him.
So when we run into trying situations, situations where we can't seem to stop focusing on ourselves and what a trial we're going through and what attacks the enemy has been laying on us, we need to ask God to open our eyes and show us the well in the wilderness: what's been hiding in plain sight, waiting for us to look at it. Then, like Hagar, we need to run to it, fill our bottles with as much as they can hold, and share it with everyone who needs it.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
King David at his worst -- in his worst time of temptation.
In the books of Samuel, we read what happened when David saw Bathsheba. Despite the fact that she was married, he lusted after her, desired to have her, became to obsessed about her that he first seduced her ("it's good to be king," as the line from the Mel Brooks movie went), then set out to take her from her husband. Or, more accurately, to take her husband from her. Completely in the grip of Satan, David ordered her husband sent to the front lines in the upcoming battle and, sure enough, he was killed. David, playing the Caring and Compassionate Comforter, "took care" of her and, in essence, "claimed the prize".
What does this have to do with Gordon Campbell, premier of British Columbia?
More than you might think, really.
See, Gordon has been riding off madly in all directions, trying to turn around the MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER British Columbia is apparently heading into because of global warming. Hey: you get to meet a former vice-president and a former Mr Universe, so the perks are pretty good (if you like that sort of thing). In the past couple of months, he's introduced the carbon tax (a couple of previous entries have dealt with that in terms of witchcraft and mind manipulation -- a new meaning for the term "voodoo economics"), and last year, he set a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, by 2020, by one third of their 2007 levels.
Now, the provincial government is bringing in legislation requiring fuel suppliers to supply 5% "renewable" fuels by 2010: that is, fuels developed from sources like vegetable oil or ethanol or biodiesel.
Great leadership, right? Wonderfully visionary, don't you agree? Just one problem: is anyone capable of following the leader?
An oil industry rep in BC points out a couple of problems. Never mind that they're being mandated to do something that has little market appeal right now (he says the fact that there hasn't been the demand so far indicates the kind of economic argument for producing and selling renewable fuels): they have to import the fuels because there are no production facilities in BC; biodiesel, because of the plant oils it contains, gells at low temperatures -- much "warmer" than petrodiesel does, say around -6 C. Colleagues of mine at TransLink have pointed out, too, that biodiesel clogs fuel filters more readily, so the filters on buses have to be changed out more often, leading to a higher cost in that area.
But the government of Gordon Campbell has mandated it, cloaking itself in the mantle of a visionary.
Similarly, another colleague of mine has pointed out that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, which public transportation is able to reduce through eliminating as many private vehicles as possible from the roads, is just a sliver of the amount by which BC would have to cut emissions in order to meet the goal set by the government of Gordon Campbell. This begs the question, how else will those emissions be cut?
That question is wide-open, and I'm more than a little apprehensive about any further "answers" coming from the Campbell government because they will inevitably contain more mandates and more rules for other people to follow. The premier, switching to a hybrid car for his personal transport may be a show of leadership, but is of absolutely no comfort to the small businessperson who needs a van or a pickup or (God forbid) an SUV to do their job, or the working-class family that can only afford an older vehicle to move their family around.
So here's the connection to David: David wanted the prize so badly, he set up another man to go to the front lines and get killed, while he sat back in the palace and claimed the prize. The government -- and not just Gordon Campbell's government, but any other government that desperately wants the prize of being seen as environmental leaders and visionaries -- sets up others (ordinary citizens, the oil and gas and automobile industries, transportation planners, and so forth) to go to the front lines with mandates to achieve goals that may not be possible to achieve or may have unintended consequences. Then, if those on the front lines fail -- i.e. the goals are not met by the timetables they've laid out -- the visionaries can sit back and claim the glory for having thought of the idea, but also shrug their shoulders and say, "ah well, the people who were supposed to come through for us failed at the task".
Or, as Jim Bouton put it in one of has baseball tell-all books, "I managed good, but boy, did they play bad!"
In other words, we're looking at a feel-good political gambit by politicians, and everyone but the politicians gets to take the fall.
There's something else to remember: the portion of the Bible that describes this incident with David and Bathsheba and Uriah -- 2 Sam 11 -- says it was the time of year when kings went forth to battle, "but David tarried at Jerusalem". In other words, David neglected his duty as a king (namely, going forth to battle): he sent Joab in his place while he stayed home, thereby stepping outside the will of God and into the line of temptation.
What duties is Gordon Campbell (in particular, but any such government in general) neglecting for the sake of "the prize" -- at the least, perception that he's taking the lead in the epic struggle against global warming, and at worst, who knows? There are concerns about basic infrastructure (have you driven down Kingsway lately?), health care and education, but those concerns are drowned out by the din over reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving the planet.
If you're worried about greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, climate change, environmental trauma (as I prefer to put it) or anything like that, just grab onto 2 Chronicles 7:14 for all it's worth: "if My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, then will I listen from Heaven, and will hear their prayers, and will heal their land". That's all we need to know: get back in line with God and watch things turn around!
One more cautionary note about the BC government's "visionary" policies and statements: when David sent Uriah off to be killed so he could claim Bathsheba, the Lord punished David by killing the couple's first-born child. What will that "first-born sacrifice" be, I wonder?