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Filling Broken Cisterns

Jon Foreman uses an image of “broken cisterns” in his song “Cure for Pain” that grabbed my attention:
I'm not sure why it always goes downhill Why broken cisterns never could stay filled

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Reflections on Prayer While Reading HOME

Sometimes by the time we get to pray we have already fretted and considered. By the time we come to God, our prayers reveal the solution to our crisis. God give me what I believe I need so that this moment will pass leaving me with the “appearance of dignity”.

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Elders, Learning and Doing Theology

Every conversation about the things of God is laced with reflection about God. As elders, we are challenged to lead people in clear thinking. But that means elders need to think things through as well. So this makes me wonder: when and how do elders practice disciplined learning in the matters of faith?

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Community in a Lonely World

 "There are three activities absolutely vital in the creation of community.  The first is eating together around the same table. The second is praying together.  And the third is celebrating together.” 

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From Stranger to Friend

We are strangers to each other. We know each other’s names. We can sketch some truths about the other out. But more often than not there are secrets so deep and movements of the heart so hidden that we remain strangers.Hospitality is a way of grace. It is creating safe compassionate places to free the soul to become more human, where sinners are loved into wholeness and where the self-assured can become more Christ-assured.

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Budget Crunch, Money and the Holy Life

Our use of money is one place where our spirituality gets incarnated.  Spirituality in our imagination is rather high-minded, mystical, and holy.  But money matters seem stressful, mundane, practical and –in these days of recession – discouraging.

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The Pathological Pursuit of Goodness

 Yesterday I preached on the parable of the prodigal – with emphasis on the elder son on the story.  This morning I read Psalm 1.  The two passages provide an intriguing intersection of ideas.  Psalm 1 celebrates the Law of the Lord.  It is a source of life and hope.  Such a life of righteousness is a place of abundance.   Yet the elder son who did everything commanded stands on the outside of the celebration of redemption.   

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Facing a Troubled Congregational Past

This coming week at our fall classis meeting we will discuss an overture to make some changes to Article 17.  The request comes out of a concern for the ministry of the church: we have been given a ministry of reconciliation and yet in our practice of Article 17, reconciliation and healing seem so problematic.

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Too Occupied to Notice

It is around this time of the year that the demands of community life add up.  From school to sports, social life to planning for upcoming events, from regular commitments to unscheduled sickness, the moments seem to press in on us.  There is a simple consequence.  In busy times I default to the urgent.  

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75 Years

As a congregation, we just celebrated 75 years of existence.  It was a wonderful weekend.  We ate together, worshiped together, laughed together.  It was very good.  

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Rumors, Maturity and the Church

Rumors are necessary for church life.  Fact is, we could never keep up with our friends and neighbors in church if someone else did not share information about them. .... Still... 

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Stop: Do Not Pass By

Most of us are busy.  We hardly have time to keep up with the relationships around us. That is not surprising.  The simple math of relationships – family, friends, coworkers, church attendees and a host of other regular passing acquaintances – are enough.  With these we fail to keep up.  Most busy people are not looking for more. 

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Weight, Health and the Elder

It started when watching the reality TV series called “Village on a Diet” (CBC- Canada).  I had a fleeting thought about “church on a diet.”  I know it is the time of the year, but perhaps there is more...

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Covenant and Motivation in Church Life

I just finished hearing Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.  I couldn’t resist the title.  For those who confess that all people are “inclined toward all evil”, a book on irrational behavior might just provide an interesting take on the human heart.  And indeed it did.  

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Why be an Elder? In Response to Wendy

Why is it that members of the congregation are not clamoring to serve in the office of elder? If everyone said this was a fulfilling and rewarding ministry, would we not have at least a few more people ready to embrace the work?  

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Who Delivers Pastoral Care?

Over the years, there have been shifts in the practices of the church.   At one time, the answer to the question was unambiguous.  Pastors gave pastoral care. But now...

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Listening

Thinking before you speak is harder than it appears.  Conversation is by nature reflexive:  you speak and I reply.  It is dialogue. But how is it possible that as soon as you finish speaking, I can begin replying...  

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On Justifying Self

As I woke up this morning, I was having imagined conversations with some people in the church and who were once members of the church. I wanted reasons for their actions. I was asking the question every young child asks: Why? For instance: why do you attend that other church? Why have you stopped attending church altogether?

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The Elder and Lord’s Supper

According to the church order,  “The sacraments shall be administered upon the authority of the consistory in the public worship service…”  and  “The Lord’s Supper shall be administered at least once every three months in a manner conducive to building up the body of Christ and in keeping with the teachings of God’s Word.”  While not providing details, there is some direction... 

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Self-Deception

The range of what we think or do Is limited by what we fail to notice...Failing to notice is a strategy we use to avoid truth that demands change. We all believe that we ought to love our neighbour. In fact most of us think we are doing alright in this regard. Of course we tend to surround ourselves with...

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Contentment and Spiritual Formation

Christians have always remarked that contentment is rooted not in the circumstances of our lives but in God who gives life. We would do well to ask: what is my source of contentment? How do the habits of my life display that I find more contentment in the Lord than a trip to the mall?

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Wounded Lovers

“Don’t worry about the wounds.  When I go up there, which is my intention, the big judge will say to me, ‘Where are your wounds?’ And if I say I haven’t any, he will say ‘Was there nothing to fight for?’”  

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Giving Each Other Cues

There will be times we are asked to rest, to be silent, to allow another voice to be heard. But if we don’t sing or play the part we have uniquely been given, someone else will miss their cue.

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Why Eldership Matters?

In speaking about the Japanese struggle with its nuclear reactors, Peter Goodspeed wrote “But the nuclear danger may also be a direct result of human hubris.” ( National Post · Mar. 15, 2011) I suppose at least part of the reason I paid attention to this comment is because of other reading I was doing. The book is named This Time is Different...

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