Pastor John Van Sloten's Blog 2001-2007

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Feb 22, 2006

Mid March I’m preaching a message series entitled, The Theology of Oil. When I googled the phrase, as part of my preliminary research, all I got were 6 hits; one was an editorial that said that someone should do a theology of oil, 4 others were irrelevant and the last one was a New Hope Church advertisement on the upcoming series.

Further online research continued to leave me short. Apparently there’s no one in the ‘google universe - the gooniverse’ who’s written on the topic from the angle we hope to pursue. Every single faith based comment on the oil industry had to do with moral advice, ethical considerations, or some kind of ‘capping commentary’ designed to reign in the greedy corporate colossus. While I’m all for accountability and good stewardship of resources, (and we’ll spend a Sunday on these facets of the business) I was hoping to take a different approach; drill a little deeper.

The way I see things (this may begin to sound painfully and redundantly familiar), our world belongs to God. That world includes both oil and the industry built up around it. Now while all things in this world are a bit messed right now (via presence of the spiritual disease of sin), that doesn’t leave this resource or its accompanying industry without hope. And it certainly doesn’t negate its inherent goodness! All kinds of good and Godly things are at play when it comes to oil... the gift of a high utility resource, the gift of the business acumen and resourcefulness to discover it, and the gift of a resource that has a huge product development upside (from cycling jackets, to cycling helmets, to cycling tires, to chain lube) leading to all kinds of wealth and prosperity production, leading to all kinds of technological and societal benefit. My thinking is, “Why not talk about this stuff as well?” Wouldn’t it be slick if we could celebrate all the good and Godly things that are at work in the biz, along with all the moral ethical stuff?

I think oil has something to teach us about God. I can hardly wait to discover what that something is.

(BTW... the pics are all taken by Barb B.)


Authored by: rob_b on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 01:06 PM PST
Here's the link to the "Theology of Oil" editorial.

Waddle says "The world's theologians need to get together and ponder a question: Why did God create oil? The world's future depends on an answer." Wouldn't it be better if it was the world's leaders that got together and asked the same question? How about CEOs of oil companies?

New Hope getting together to discuss this is a start. I'm looking forward to the discussion.

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 02 2006 @ 07:22 PM PST
I was talking about this Theology of oil series at work today (I work at an oil company) and my friend thought at first I was talking about oil used for anointing someone. Apparently in Swedish the term is close to greasing the person. (My friend is from Sweden.)

When we got back to the Theology of oil that I wanted to discuss we wondered if God would have intentionaly put the oil where he did. My friend remembered an expression, God gives oil to those who can't feed themselves. I'm guessing this in reference to the Norwegens. It's interesting that he was able to quickly recall an expression that involved both oil and God. Well at least I found it interesting.


Giving up control

Feb 17, 2006

I’m just sitting here this early morning, in my chair, looking at Edward. He’ll be 14 soon, and for the most part, he’s still completely dependent on others. His disability ensures this. That bothers me very little, mostly not at all. It’s out of my control. Looking at this young teen, I’m amazed at how free he is. He never worries about things. I’m not sure he’s capable of it. He rarely complains if he encounters the unexpected. Yesterday, when he arrived for his PREP class (for Down Syndrome kids) he and his mom discovered it was cancelled. The #1 activity in Edward’s life, all he ever talks about, surprises him by not being there and his only reaction is to say, “Oh, Oh... no PREP!” And then, with a huge smile on his face, he turns away from the closed door and heads off for the next thing; for the rest of his day. He just goes with it. Absolutely no complaint, no wondering how they could do this to him, no concern about the time he’s wasted, no fretting about what to now do with his afternoon. He lives with total freedom it seems. You gotta love it.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading a lot from the Apostle Paul’s biblical letters. Never before have I read these words and found so much emphasis on the idea of ‘getting on with what God is already doing.’ The concept is so freeing, if we dare to give up control. This morning, in just chapter 12 of the letter to the Romans, I find these pieces of advice...

Verse 1 – “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

Verse 2 – “... fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.”

Verse 3 – “'s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”

Eventually I’ll figure this out... or not.

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 20 2006 @ 08:06 PM PST
I work with people who are mentally and physically challanged, and find everyday that they are teaching me more and more how to life "Jesusly".
They show me how to me totally loving and accepting. Two fabulous qualities that I often lack.
However, if I screw up, they tell me...but seldom hold it against me.
They don't judge me....something else I struggle with.
If they are happy, I know about it. Sad, they cry. Concerned, they pray. And when they worship, they sing, and dance, and praise! They lack the mask that I have when I go to church, or when I interact with other people. Their emotions are raw and revealing. I love it! I wish I could be more like that.


Freedom to be selfish

Feb 13, 2006

Yesterday’s sermon dealt with the topic of freedom of expression. (Click here to listen) While it’s something I wholeheartedly endorse, I still wonder why some ‘free democratic folk’ insist on imposing that freedom on others, expressing that freedom when they know it could offend another, recklessly wielding something so beautiful. It just seems ironic; using such a good thing in such a destructive way. The problem? As Woody Allen’s famously quoted as saying, “People want what they want.” We’re selfish. We want to define freedom with an “I” more than with a “we”.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve been trying to stand objectively above my own selfish tendencies. (logically problematic as you can imagine – how does one stand outside of one’s own myopia?) When you stop to look, it’s amazing just how much space selfishness takes up.

I wake up Sunday am. and go over my ‘anti-selfishness’ message, then head downstairs to make breakfast. My youngest meets me there and wants some help getting his breakfast organized. My first thought is that I need to stay on schedule. My wife can feed him later. I catch myself and dutifully prepare his toast. Later I find myself trying to figure out the best plan possible for a date day with my wife. “Whatever she wants, I’m going to make sure that whatever she wants to do is what we end up doing.”

“Dinner and a movie would be nice,” she suggests. “Absolutely, you pick the flick and the restaurant,” I say. “Memoirs of a Geisha looks good, what do you think,” she asks. “Arghhh,” I reply. Quickly trying to recover I say, “Whatever you want dear.” (a feeble attempt... so strong are my selfish tendencies!) I’ve blown it and she moves on to suggestion #2, Capote. I’d love to see Capote, but feel that I need to lobby for the Geisha gig a bit harder. She insists on Capote, and wanting to put her first, I accede.

Pre-film we find ourselves in a lovely restaurant. “Lets both sit on the same side of the booth,” she suggests. “Oh really,” I think, “We’ll look like honeymooners.” But... The meal was wonderful and so easy to share when you’re immediately adjacent to one another.

Then we head out for the movie. “What kind of snacks do you want?” she asks. Again I find myself having to hold my selfish first reactions in abeyance, “Anything’s fine for me, you choose.” Then we watch Capote, and see in celluloid, a story about the most ego-centric of characters. Selfishness out the whazoo; a mirror. Wow what a film!

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Christ’s core value. God’s heart. The simplest of concepts to comprehend, the most difficult idea to implement. I read this this morning...

“Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.” Romans 8:6-8, The Message

(and yeah, it is ironic; blogging on this topic at all)


My psychological dissection

Feb 07, 2006

This morning I spent a few hours talking with a group of University of Calgary, faculty of education, students. My job, as a dad of a kid with a disability; was to be their psycho/sociological guinea pig. For 2 -1/2 hours they dissected me with questions and I spilled my guts providing answers. I’ve done this every year for the past 6-7 years and every year the same thing happens. We start off talking a lot about the ins and outs of parenting a Down Syndrome child; how I reacted to his birth, how the family responded, how well we were supported, etc... and then we somehow (I’m not sure how exactly) end up talking a lot about God.
Today was no different. Only this time I purposefully tried not to over play the God card. So instead of being forthright about it all, I was more reticent. But it didn’t work. As the students kept probing, more of the Divine attributes of our life story came out. (I had just read in my bible this morning about God going ahead of us in all things; Romans 4:16 “...the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does...”)

At one point, one of the students just kept digging, and finally it all spilled out. At the end of my ‘sermon’, having just made the point that God is mysteriously at work all over the world, in all of our lives, I said something to the effect of, “Even here in this educational setting, God at work all over the place; in Science, Education, Sport, Business, Math, Psychology, etc...”
I was making the point that all truth is God’s truth.

They all just stared in response. All I could think of at the moment was a quote by John Calvin, re: how he handled the presence of God’s truth in secular places...

"Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God's excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of all truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonour the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself." (Inst II.ii.15)

I'm glad God made it on the agenda again this year... don't want to sell him short.

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 10 2006 @ 08:06 AM PST
they just stared in response...

struck me that in our culture, hearing God as caring creator and involved, when faced with this, awe of that magnitude, does create silence.

it takes awhile for it to sink in, God's love overwhelms!

people just don't 'hear' the God involved in culture etc approach... they don't know how to fit it into the typical delivery of 'religious' themes.



Superbowl Sunday Editorial

Feb 06, 2006

Editorial for the Calgary Herald

In about 8 hours, 800 million people will gather in front of their televisions to watch the Superbowl; 400 million for the football, and 400 million for the commercials! It’s going to be amazing.

Listen to John's message about "Getting to the End Zone"
They’ll come from around the world, eager to experience the greatest consumo-entertainment show on earth. You can already picture the scenes; families and friends, beer and chips, all sharing one couch, busy people pausing, taking a break from their frenetic lives, in order to share in something bigger; something significant. All of western culture, gathering round the set, for the greatest, twenty first century, Sunday ritual imaginable; the Big Game!

Superbowl XL is a global event, a storied North American rite and a microcosm of our times; athletically and commercially.

Sports, in general, are. They’re the place where we learn lessons about what it means to be human. They teach us how to do community via the phenomenon of team. They provide a forum, showing us how to win and lose gracefully (most of the time!) They create venues where we can witness, participate in and celebrate the glory of our miraculous human bodies. They present us with the gift of play; invite us into the profound joy of leisure. They’re a metaphor for life.

And football, in particular, has a few allegorical lessons to offer, especially in relation to the concepts of conquest and rest; experiences we’re all ultimately made to know. One academic described the game this way, “The object of the game is the conquest of territory. The football team invades foreign land, traverses it completely, and completes the conquest by settling in the end zone.” Ok, so maybe the guy’s never played football in his life, you can almost see him pushing his horn rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose, but there may still be some validity to what he’s saying.

You’ve felt it, at the top of Mount Rundle, at the end of a long run, when you completed that huge project, when you closed the deal on that amazing oil play. It’s that intangible feeling that money can’t buy; bigger than anything a Superbowl commercial could ever offer. There’s something about starting off at your own 20 yard line, putting the right series of calls together, finding and applying the precise amount of strategy, grit and determination, and then executing that final ‘red zone’ scoring play; touchdown! We’re meant for that, for conquest; on the field and in life.

Now some might argue that this conquest spirit can go too far; in football and in life. On any given Sunday football’s violence can be very jarring. Many of us still shudder at the image of quarterback Joe Theisman’s leg snapping in half. Can we play too hard? Could the game inordinately influence real life? (Exactly where will those USAF F18 fighter jets be going after their national anthem fly over this afternoon?)

Like all sports, football is about conquest; unlike many other sports, the conquest is about land. There’s something uniquely significant about that; something about gaining turf that matters. We’re talking about more than just gaining a first down here.

Possessing land means securing a permanent place; a literal place that provides stability, security, identity, history, context, meaning, and home. When the Pittsburgh Steelers’ names are engraved on the Vince Lombardi trophy later this week, they will, to some degree, find their place; a place in history. That’s important. But to possess a more earthily defined place, that’s significant as well. Land is history; it has a deep rootedness, a very long memory. Contemplate planting your feet on your land, crossing the threshold onto your own property and you’ll know what I mean. It’s a gift; it’s right, and if you think about it too much, you might even be inspired to spike a ball into the turf and do a jig.

Maybe we’re all meant for that kind of feeling. And maybe we’re all looking for more of it. Our highly mobile society seems to be filled with rootless wanderers, players without a game plan; people longing for a deeper sense of home; temporal or otherwise.

Perhaps the Superbowl, vicariously, ritually, knowingly or not, helps us participate in taking possession of that mystical place. Perhaps.

Lord knows the commercials aren’t going to get us there! Even though, ironically, they’re trying to sell us the exact same thing. Here we have a sporting event that appears to be ritualizing our desire for post conquest satisfaction, and it’s sponsored by a media machine whose primary goal is to dissatisfy us. Think about it, what is advertising other than an attempt to create discontent, wants, needs, unrest, to uproot us from our materially settled places?

Surely their product will bring rest to our souls. Yeah. Until the next set of commercials come along.

And then irony upon irony, we’ll have the Rolling Stones doing the half time show. Ancient artist poets, putting to verse our all too human cry, “I can’t get no satisfaction...”

Read Article in PDF (1.1mb) format



Feb 04, 2006

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had over the past 3 months has been the maintaining of grace. In the face of a whole lot of (sometimes in your face) push back, both personally and professionally - primarily regarding the vision of our church - I’ve found my self straining, sometimes to the breaking point. Not in terms of my psychology per se (although it’s been a stretch), but more in terms of my ability to handle matters in a wise, non-aggressive, non-judgmental way. Even if I really do believe that I’m right about something, and even if I’m convinced that I’m being unfairly addressed or treated by another, I feel that I must not allow myself to fall into the trap. It’s like I know that the moment I respond in kind, I’ll be in big trouble. The moment I unfairly judge back I’ll be no better.

This morning I read these wise words from the Apostle Paul;

“Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done.” Romans 2:1-2

I know this is true; from experience. Both within and outside of myself. And it’s the non-application of this principle that has caused countless people to leave or avoid the faith. Later in this chapter of Romans Paul agrees;

“You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, "It's because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God," shows it's an old problem that isn't going to go away.” Romans 2:23-24

Paul’s referring to judgmental legalism here... keeping a whole bunch of rules and slamming/excluding others for not keeping them.

And interestingly, in between these two texts, he writes these hopeful words... words that elevate those outside of the faith community... words that show God already at work in their lives... words that confirm that the truth that they live out and experience comes from him... that the right and wrong they know in their hearts has a divine origin;

“When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong.” Verses 14-16

How can we ever be judgmental toward beings who have this woven into the very fabric of their creation? How can I?


Texas Hold'em

Jan 30, 2006

This week John's Sunday morning message dealt with the topic of Texas Hold’em (the #1 card game in a poker craze that is currently sweeping the world) .

View "The Banner" article about Texas Hold'em

Calgary Sun Article - Jan. 28, 2006


Thou shalt play Texas Hold 'Em, says a city preacher known for his ability to connect God and pop culture.
Pastor John Van Sloten intends to preach to his congregation about the positives of poker during his sermon tomorrow at the New Hope Christian Reformed Church.
"Right now, everybody's interested in poker - in Texas Hold 'Em, in particular," Van Sloten said yesterday...

Read the full article (pdf 365kb)

Expanded content about gambling and John's message

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

Texas Hold'em
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 08:36 PM PST

Just some thoughts that occured to me in the past 24...

I think that the issue of Gambling could be placed under the heading "disputable matters". These type of issues don't come accross well for sermons in my opinion for the sole reason that they only ever cause division (thus the name - disputable matters). I believe what we are called to do as Christians in these matters (according to scripture) is keep our ideas to ourselves. Unfortunately, as a result of our Church trying to find and balance on that fine line between sacred and secular, I think we may have caused a lot more confusion and hurt instead of direction and healing. Perhaps we should take more caution when talking about these issues, for they only lead to conflicts - art vs p0rn, indulgence vs addiction, drinking vs 'drunking', medicine vs drugs...

In addition to all I have already said, I think there was a stretch for a connection in the sermon between gambling and casting lots. I know that the connection made didn't hold any truth for me, for the practice of casting lots was always used as a means to make decisions. That point is explicit throughout scripture.

Just something to think about...

Texas Hold'em
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 31 2006 @ 11:56 AM PST

I thought that the sermon on texas hold'em was in my opinion, one of the best sermons I've heard in a while. I thought drawing the parallels between the feeling of risk and being all in in poker, and being all in in our faith and the risk feeling that occurs was an incredibly connection. In reality - i think this message is really going to "stick" with me, any time taking those risks - hiking a mountain and standing at the peak realizing the risks that you took to get to the top and then the reward that came with it.

I thought that the message did cover it's grounding in making sure people were aware of when gambling - or alcohol - or sex went too far - that's when it becomes an addiction and the person becomes less whole, and exits important relationships. There were resources in the program and a checklist for people to examine if gambling was becoming an addiction.

Yes - the sermon did touch on a hot topic issue - however, i think that the message was clear. For instance, the same message could have been preached using extreme sports as the example - but less people can connect with that. Here, we have something relevant, probably something that a lot of people have played for fun (just like playing any other board game). , and something a lot of people can connect with. Overall, I thought the message was fabulous and certainly rang home with myself and those people that I talked to.

An idea for the future.....what about a message on taking risks in your faith and what that looks like? Just a thought

Texas Hold'em
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 31 2006 @ 01:10 PM PST

Great idea on 'what faith risks might look like' I probably could have tacked a few onto Sunday's talk. Ah... retrospective wisdom!

Perhaps the engaging of a topic like Texas Hold'em itself was the example of faithful risk taking! Daring to believe that God's truth might reside there, that the game could be a teacher, etc... :)

Texas Hold'em
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 31 2006 @ 01:13 PM PST
When I first heard that John was going to do a sermon on gambling - I thought that it could be an issue that would evoke some strong feelings. It has - and it's been great. Some of the best discussions I've had with my kids and extended family and friends from other churches were because of this message. It was awesome - and I felt (and everyone I talked to agreed) that it was something that was perfect for church - for newbies as well as old because it was something we could all relate to in many ways. John gave some great examples and some good follow-up and it all helped to solidy my thoughts on faith and salvation too. As Christians we have won the jackpot!


Making things Happen

Jan 26, 2006

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head... well, not really. Actually I just lied there, with that 7:00 am kind of weariness that only those who’ve been there can know. Tossing and turning since 5:30 am, wondering why my stomach has ached so much over the past two weeks, trying to figure out if I’ve got it in me to write another message. I feel so tired. Fran tells me I need to stop trying to control things, “Relax, stop thinking so much, let go a bit!” My son Edward offers another solution, upon entering my bedroom he takes his rightful place beside me on the bed and touches my face... looks me straight in the eyes and holds my face.

I’d just woken from a dream where I was preaching one of the ‘typical’ messages I preach (to a bunch of peers that I respect). At one point during my talk I noticed them all rolling their eyes. At that point I just gave up, “Forget it... it’s not worth it!,” and then I woke up.

A family’s love is enough to get you out of bed on days like this. God’s is enough to really wake you up again.

Found my way downstairs and drank a cup... and Someone spoke, and I went into a dream...

I sat down to do my morning spiritual exercise... reading through the New Testament again. My book mark opened to these wise words;

“Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” Galatians 3:2-4, The Message

And I’m thinking, “Yeah, you’re right... this whole faith thing did happen to me, I really had nothing to do with it, what makes me think I can make it all happen now?” You eke out a semi-depressed kind of smile.

And then you read on; “Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.” I think, “Yeah, you’re right God...”

And then it’s as though God’s Spirit says, “And another thing John...” “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” Verse 11

Yeah... I’ve been preaching that for the past three weeks haven’t I? That this whole spiritual life is about getting on with what God is already doing in the world. Perhaps I ought to practice that a bit more... enter into what God is doing for me.

Seeing, listening and responding. Knowing God through it all... Sometimes I wonder if this is all I need to do to best honour and love God.

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 26 2006 @ 12:13 PM PST
Cool... I appreciate your honesty.


The Eye of God

Jan 20, 2006

“Our scientific ability to explore the rational beauty of the universe is seen to be part of the Father’s gift of the imago Dei to humankind, and the beautiful rational order of the universe is the imprint of the divine Logos, ‘without who was not anything made that was made’ (John 1:3). Whether acknowledged or not, it is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth (John 15:26), who is at work in the truth seeking community of scientists. That community’s repeated experiences of wonder at the disclosed order of the universe are, in fact, tacit acts of the worship of its Creator.” John Polkinghorne, Science and the Trinity, p65

Hear what this Templeton prize winning Physicist Theologian is saying here...?
...That all truth seeking scientists’ experiences of wonder are a worship of God (whether they believe in God or not!) Could it be? Could God make a way that leads us to stand in wonder of him, even if we don’t know we’re doing it? Is wonder God’s way of offering some ‘first steps’ toward worship? A foretaste of future glory? Whether it’s wonder at a child’s birth or at a star’s, an eco-system or a solar system, are all of the myriad ways God catches our breath, precursors to his catching our eye?

What a great preparation for the day when God connects the dots and let’s people in on the truth of his very real and personal presence.

(image is Helix Nebula NGC 7293, Deep Space photograph by the Hubble Telescope)


You've got to see this for yourself

Jan 17, 2006


Maybe all this
is happening in some lab?
Under one lamp by day
and billions by night?

Maybe we're experimental generations?
Poured from one vial to the next,
shaken in test tubes,
not scrutinized by eyes alone,
each of us separately
plucked up by tweezers in the end?

Or maybe it's more like this:
No interference?
The changes occur on their own
according to plan?
The graph's needle slowly etches
its predictable zigzags?

Maybe thus far we aren't of much interest?
The control monitors aren't usually plugged in?
Only for wars, preferably large ones,
for the odd ascent above our clump of Earth,
for major migrations from point A to B?

Maybe just the opposite:
They've got a taste for trivia up there?
Look! on the big screen a little girl
is sewing a button on her sleeve.
The radar shrieks,
the staff comes at a run.
What a darling little being
with its tiny heart beating inside it!
How sweet, its solemn
threading of the needle!
Someone cries enraptured:
Get the Boss,
tell him he's got to see this for himself!

By Wislawa Szymborska, trans. By Stanislaw Baranczak and Claire Cavanaugh


The Gospel of Free trade coffee

Jan 16, 2006

I've got this friend at church who's been trying recently to apply the New Hope vision of 'Seeing God in your world' to his day to day life. (what a concept!)

A few weeks back he sent me this interesting article on how coffee has stimulated his spiritual life...
Having my coffee and drinking it too

Saturday morning. I’m reaching into the cupboard for the big tin of President’s Choice Gourmet coffee. But there’s a problem and it’s all Jeff Adams’ fault. I now know there are Fair Trade products that guarantee a minimum price to the farmers in all those wonderfully exotic places that grow coffee. There’s even a Calgary company that goes out of their way to help people in the small town of Belo, Ethiopia.

The good news is I can have my cup of coffee and drink it too. I just need to integrate Jeff’s recent teaching – that he brought to my church - into the rest of my life.

Now wait a minute. Isn’t this close to what John’s been talking about. In a recent Grapevine, John wrote:

We believe that God can be known through the book of creation just like he can be known through his other book; the bible.

We believe that one of the most powerful experiences a human being can have is seeing God's truth in his creation and God's truth in his bible at the same time.

We believe that when poets, artists and discerning (coffee drinking) Christians (who've got the faith glasses) help others see where God is already at work in their lives, a spiritual connecting of the dots can happen.

Could God be at work in the Fair Trade Foundation even though it isn’t an overtly Christian organization? And if so, could we learn something about God by looking to see how he is at work there? By believing that God is at work in the Fair Trade Foundation and getting involved, is there a spiritual dot connecting experience that can happen to me – to us – and to others outside of New Hope.

I think so, I guess I’m starting to know so. I remember talking about this with someone and realizing deep down that it has to be true. You see God uses even me and there are lots of times I’m not overtly Christian. It’s called sin. I think when Christians and Christian organizations forget this and think they have some exclusive deal with God – then there are problems.

As I’ve thought about the direction New Hope is going I’ve thought we need to do what we do on Sundays the rest of the week. Be relevant. Be edgy. Be caring. I’m starting to see it more as a continuum, where we see and talk about God in work, family, relationships, politics, and even coffee. Part of me wants to just get on with it and not think about it so much. But when I do and I realize how God is such a huge part of my life and my world, it puts me in the right relationship with him.

I’m ready for a second cup of coffee now. What was that website ? Editors reply - (

Rob Bronson
December 2005

Authored by: joal on Tuesday, January 17 2006 @ 12:20 PM PST
I think that these organizations such as Fair Trade and Ten Thousand Villages are totally on track with displaying how God would like us to serve eachother and the world we live in. I was privilaged enough to stop in a Ten Thousand Villages base down in El Salvador last year and was able to see first hand all of the benifits that it was able to provide to the community it was involved in. How great a blessing it was for me to see (with my critical thought) that there are organizations out there that work 100% for the blessing of others.

Cool stuff.

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 18 2006 @ 09:03 AM PST
Great thoughts. I was just thinking about getting juiced up on cafeene, and realized I need to buy more coffee. Time to go down to Ten Thousand Villages!


9 degrees

Jan 09, 2006

January the 9th, 9 degrees, chinook tailwind, sunshine. At times the beauty was overwhelming. Listening to some of the same summer tunes transported me back... laughing at U2's vertigo... crying at the beauty of a Dire Straits song. Today was God's peaceful gift to a desperately needy cyclist.


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