Pastor John Van Sloten's Blog 2001-2007

John Van Sloten's Blog 2001 - 2007


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Some pics from this past week

Aug 18, 2007






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Rushing to Judgment

Aug 10, 2007


Here's an editorial I wrote for the Calgary Herald (published this morning).

Whoops. Sorry about that Leslie Wolf Child. Our bad.

And I do mean ‘our’ bad.

If you caught the breaking television news story of this young woman being mistakenly identified, accused, accosted and arrested for the death of 17 year old Gage Prevost (on the LRT platform last week), you may, like me, be feeling a bit sheepish right now...
How in the world did I get caught up in that rush to judgment? What was it in me that so readily took on that mob’s mentality?

The event offers an interesting insight into our collective psyche.

Rewind the tape and play it back in slow motion.

Here you have an angry teenaged girl screaming out judgment against another confused young woman. The angry teen is attending an impromptu transit-side memorial for a close friend who had just died a gruesome death; crushed beneath two rail transit cars.

A mob of teens are circling, having already initiated the first attack on their prey.

Immediately, the police intervene. They pounce on the woman, push back her angry assailant, and strong arm her into a waiting police van (on the television news report you could see the skin contort on her arm as the officer forcefully twisted it behind her back).

At this point, it’s like a bit of a double entendre is playing out. The girl is obviously being taken into custody, while at the same time being saved from the vengeful crowd.

And then you get caught up in the zeal of CTV’s news report on the event (what a coup to scoop a live arrest when all they were there to do was report on a platform memorial). The optic of their news report seemed to prejudge the defendant – stereotypically zooming the camera in on her confused face as she is corralled into a caged police van. (CTV only pixilated her face - in subsequent reports - after the truth came out.)

The news anchor seemed to have a ‘don’t worry folks, we caught her’ tone of voice in his headline report.

The blood on the accused’s face (from the punch she’d received from someone in the teenaged mob) didn’t hurt in fueling my sense of criminal conviction either; MINE.

Looking back and reviewing those circumstances, as they so quickly played out, I have no choice but to confess my culpability.

I shared the incredulity of the angry teen mob, I threw a pre-judging punch at this innocent young woman, I took that legalistic place of moral authority and strong armed her into that cage, and I, through that news camera’s lens, knew we had the right woman.

Feigning innocence as she was taken into custody - what criminal doesn’t do that?

To top it all off, when I read the headline story in the paper the next day, having already come to my verdict, I just skimmed it, totally missing the self-indicting punch line; that the accusation was actually false, that this was a case of mistaken identity. It took my wife – having patiently read all of the details, having taken in the whole story – to set me straight.


This whole series of unfortunate events has me pondering my huge propensity toward quick judgment.

Part of what fuels this is good I guess; we’re so impassioned about injustice, about the unfairness of all that is wrong in this world that we want things to be made right; right now! This passion should never be dispelled or dissipate.


Another part of what happened is not so good; we become so self righteous that we fail to acknowledge, weigh or bridle that overly judgmental part of our own beings that rushes to convict. Sometimes our heartfelt desire for things to be made right clouds our discernment. In our minds and in our actions we condemn an innocent human being.


To me, there’s a big lesson in all of this. Unless we’re vigilant in our awareness of our propensities to rush to judgment, we’re going to make mistakes. If we don’t take the time to fully assess the details of others’ stories, we may misread and misrepresent them.

Soon we’re seeing any downtown teen as a threat, and every street person as dangerous.

We must be vigilant in our efforts to avoid living out of these prejudicial stereotypes.

One way to do that is to guard our prone to prejudge hearts.

Yesterday, while walking down my safe residential street, I saw in the distance a black robed, highly pierced, goth-like teenaged boy walking towards me. Instead of averting my eyes at our point of intersection, I looked him in the eye and said, “Hi.” He smiled and said Hi back.

Read Calgary Herald story
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=d5caed1f-6d09-48b9-a091-2bb2493ac920&k=78061


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Remington Microflex 600

Aug 04, 2007


For a few days now I’ve been kind of excited about getting out and buying a rotary shaver for Edward. (He’s got three significant hairs on his chin, and is even more hirsute around the sideburns). Fran offered to make the purchase for me, but I vehemently balked at the idea, “This is a dad thing to do!”

Yesterday we both headed out to the store and made our purchase; a Remington Microflex 600! After a day of battery charging, I tested the unit out – mostly for safety, but also for the fun of it. It worked fine. But now the real challenge; getting Eddy to use it...
It took years before my son was comfortable with the electric trimmer we use to cut his hair, how long will it take for the Microflex 600 to take? Already I’m imagining months and months of training; first let him hold it in his hand and see that its not a scary thing, then turn it on, then touch it to my face, then touch it to his, then calm him down when he screams, then coax him back into the bathroom, and then do it all again a week later.

How do you teach a child who’s cognitively 3 or 4 years old, how to shave? Over the years people often ask us where Edward is at, “Where is he developmentally?” It’s a tough question to answer. I’ve always found it difficult to peg an age, or make that pencil mark on the wall. It’s almost as though he doesn’t fit into that kind of scale. From now on when people ask I’m gonna say, “He shaves and he still plays with stuffed animals.”



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imagination

Aug 01, 2007


"...for my part, I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five." George McDonald, 1824-1905, Poet, novelist and church minister

The imagination is key to seeing God’s face in his world. Over the years this statement has become increasingly true to me. This September I plan on preaching a 2-3 week series on the topic. I’m excited.

This morning I woke up pondering again an idea that’s been hanging around my consciousness for the past month. It’s connected to a recent Sunday message on the gospel as it was found in the life and times of Ray Charles. The thought, I now realize, requires a bit of imagination to grasp.

A bit of sermon preparation background first...
The way that sermon came to me was as follows. One day I go for a walk listening to Mr. Charles’ tunes. As I take them in, the big picture story of the Bible starts presenting itself in my mind – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Return. Over the course of an hour, sweating it up on Signal Hill, six hip tunes weave their lyrics into the macro-scriptural story. Songs written for human to human relationships all of a sudden speak to the God/human relationship (Sort of like how the bible book, Song of Songs works). Three weeks of creative energy later, the sermon gets preached.

Ok, now back to that idea. While that message did turn out quite well, colourfully and effectively communicating the biblical story, the more numinous facet of what happened was this; (and this is the idea I’m referring to) God knew (and dare I say planned) for all of it to come together the way it did. It almost sounds arrogant to think that a human being can see this, but I think I can see it. And I see it in an ‘all in one moment’ kind of way.

God is the God who created Ray Charles in his image. That image bearing couldn’t help but reflect something of the nature of God in its creation of both song and life. That life story, to some degree, is all of our life stories. That life story is also a reflection of humanity’s life story as presented in the scriptures. All of these stories connect. And at a moment in my life I got to see the connection. Even more, I got to see the God who is present to all of these stories (in his timelessness, all at the same time).

That’s the idea that keeps floating around in my head; a picture of God holding all of this in his providential hand in a very planned and purposive way. God knew this would all fit together so nicely. It was all his idea in the first place. I just happened to trip upon it.

"Everything of man," [George McDonald] insists, "must have been of God first." So what the poet "creates" he really only "finds." The patterns are already present in the mind of God, awaiting our discovery...” Dr. Trevor Hart, Professor of divinity and director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland

I think God has given us imaginations in order to help us engage in this discovery process. Without the mind expanding, possibility opening capacities of a child like heart, we can never see it.

We need to recapture all that is good and of God in our imaginations; “Imagination is something we have in common with God. Imagination is that in man, [McDonald] writes, "which is likest to the prime operation of God." As human beings, therefore, we may say that we are "made in the image of the imagination of God."


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holiday wisdom

July 31, 2007


We just got back from two weeks of holidaying in hometown Ontario; beautiful sun, comfortable humidity, cottage country; it was all so perfect. Though for the first time since we’ve moved out west, despite its welcoming nature, it didn’t feel like home.

On the family re-union side of things, the experience was terrific. Both Fran and I had an amazing time reconnecting with parents, siblings, nephews, nieces and friends. What we’d fatalistically pre-imagined as being draining, was in fact the exact opposite. Sometime early on in our visit I caught myself thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m a part of a biological family.” I reveled in my renewed identity as son, brother, and uncle. I miss them all already...


And it seems they miss us. Several family members reiterated the suggestion that we move back “home.” My mom subtly mentioned a new church planting project in the growing town of Milton... six times! Others made similar gestures. It’s nice to be loved, but I really can’t see it happening any time soon.

One thing both Fran and I noticed in all of our discussions on and experiences of church in Ontario, is that we are in a totally different place than family and friends. Apart from one conversation with one distant family friend, there was this huge feeling of disconnect. It’s kind of ironic as I look back on it; big time relational reconnect - massive ideological dissonance.

All of it seemed to reaffirm one thing; that Calgary is the place we need to continue to be. Our calling to the idea that God is playing out here at New Hope is the most important thing in our lives right now.





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My last Sunday sermon at NHC...

July 15, 2007


Before going on holidays that is.

I told someone this morning that there’s something about preaching on this last, pre-summer break, Sunday. It’s like you get a bit more reflective about where you’re at, and where the church is at; a good practice I’m thinking.

To be honest I’ve been in this reflective mode for a few months now. Wondering about decreasing Sunday attendance and church viability (live attendance that is - online attendance is growing fast), and at times weighing the direction and vision of the church, I’ve been praying for God to make his plans clear...
These past two weeks I feel as though those prayers have been answered. First, through a series of social get togethers with New Hope members; their levels of commitment were contagious. Second, through the coming together of three cool ideas re: how we can better discern God’s voice in creation (using the lens’ of parable, icon and love). I must be maturing a bit if three ideas can have that kind of affirming effect on my life. And third, and probably most importantly, through the two powerfully numinous moments I experienced this morning.

The first occurred as I was praying in the upstairs prayer room prior to the service. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I was really talking to Him. And then downstairs, in the opening prayer, the feeling returned. Intimacy. Communion. Affirmation that God is still with us.

What better way to answer our direction seeking prayers than for God to give us Himself?
It’s a great way to leave for summer holidays. Secure and faith filled.

Yesterday, these words from Psalm 20 (MSG) caught my heart,

“God answer you on the day you crash,
The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm's reach,
Send reinforcements from Holy Hill,
Dispatch from Zion fresh supplies,
Exclaim over your offerings,
Celebrate your sacrifices,
Give you what your heart desires,
Accomplish your plans...
May all your wishes come true!

That clinches it—help's coming,
an answer's on the way,
everything's going to work out.” (vs 1-4, 6)


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Kierkegaard, Love and Seeing God

July 12, 2007


Last fall, as yet another conference on “Seeing God in your World” was wrapping up, I remember participating in an end of the day dialogue with a bunch of theologians/preachers/thinkers. As the discussion played out – on a fairly technical and abstract level – I found myself frustrated with the direction and tone of the discourse. I remember thinking to myself, “This is not all just abstract theory... you need to have the right heart as you try and engage God’s presence in creation! If you don’t love God’s world (the way he does) you’ll never be able to fully perceive him there.” Love, to me, seemed the key.

After standing up and saying that, there were a few seconds of awkward silence, a room full of blank stares and then everyone shook off the comment and continued the theological debate.

I wish I’d known then what I know now about how Kierkegaard felt exactly the same way (about finding the truth in things). C. Stephen Evans wrote this in a recent essay on a few of Kierkegaard’s biographers...
“Kierkegaard himself addresses this question in ‘Works of Love’ in some reflections on the Pauline claim in 1 Corinthians 13 that “love believes all things.” In this section of the book, he argues that a loving person and a mistrustful person may have the same knowledge about a given individual, but they draw different conclusions from what they know, the loving person always choosing to interpret the individual in the best possible light. The mistrustful person regards this as gullible foolishness, an invitation to be deceived. Yet there are many ways of being deceived. To allow one’s suspicion and mistrust to cheat one out of love is to be deceived in the most terrible way about the most important thing in life. The lover who believes in another may be deceived about some finite, temporal event, but has a sure grasp on the most fundamental truth.” (Books and Culture, July/Aug 2007)

I’ve said this many times before; the more I seek God’s face in his world, the more I find myself loving his world. And the more I love the things that God has made, the more of him I seem to find. Giving the benefit of the doubt to other people and things seems to me to be a huge eye opener.

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

Kierkegaard, Love and Seeing God
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 09:37 PM PDT
I like what you say about seeing God in this world. I have a harder time doing this. It seems to me your view is the idealistic goal for a Christian/spiritual person. The way it should be, we could say. But it also seems a little too optimistic. Too positive, too Joel Osteen. I don't think it's a very realistic view to hold. A wiser idea might be, "I trust you, but not yet." What do you think?

Kierkegaard, Love and Seeing God
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 11:54 AM PDT
The world does seem to be a dreadful place at times, there is much to dwell on in the negative. It could get so downright depressing that a person just wants to checkout and leave. But I still believe there is some hope, and bit by bit I do see God working in many ways.

Kierkegaard, Love and Seeing God
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 31 2007 @ 09:31 AM PDT
Sorry for the late response... holidays!

Too positive? Possibly. I've heard this kind of comment many times over the past couple of years, and often I'll respond by saying, "It's not that we focus solely on the good, true and God revealling things in creational revelation... we're constantly aware of the evil and brokeness that resides right along side these things... it's just that we've decided to focus at least as much on the positive as the negative. The church has been very good at highlighting the influence and impact of sin in the world, often to the point of squleching the inate creational goodness therein. We're just trying to balance things out a bit more."

I'm not sure that we get the balance right all the time though.

As for Joel Osteen, I'm not sure what you're alluding to... the one time I saw him on TV he scared me quite a bit.



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Pop Culture Iconography

July 09, 2007


For the past few months I’ve been pondering what it might mean to see God’s revelation in the world as parable. If Jesus so often told these spiritually steeped stories when he physically walked on this earth, why would he stop now? And if he’s still into this mode (via movies, art, history, science, whatever...), what can the genre of scriptural parable teach us about how to discern Christ’s words today? What would it look like to engage creational revelation with a parabolic lens?

Today another approach hit me...
In a recent Books and Culture article, Dr, John Witvliet cited the following, regarding the place of Christian icons (paintings, sculptures, and other art forms used to aid in communion with God) in the seeker’s life; “The Orthodox teach us to never look ‘at’ icons but rather to look ‘through’ them.”

This is a very important delineation. Often people have told me that they will avoid coming to a particular Sunday service because, “They’re not into architecture, quantum physics, or Ray Charles.” My response has always been, “But it’s not about architecture, quantum physics, or Ray Charles!” It’s about the God who’s in behind these stories/creational texts!

Just like the orthodox wisdom cited above, we must never simply look at these icons, we must look through them...which makes me wonder what wisdom a good study in traditional iconography might bring to our ongoing search for more creational discernment tools.

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

Pop Culture Iconography
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 10 2007 @ 01:23 PM PDT
Just read your blog…and it made me think of how shallow we are (I am) as a culture…generally speaking.

Today I went to pick up a coffee on my way to work and there was this uber chipper woman behind the counter…who, as she was handing people their coffee, would hold onto it as they tried to take it from her… then she would giggle, pretend she was giving it to them and hold on again (big tease!) and then say ‘just kidding’ giggle giggle and end with a hearty “God bless you!” I am pretty sure that she’ll end up with hot coffee on her head by 11am. and I’m pretty sure that the majority of people she plays this game with are not going to see God in it… or feel ‘blessed’…my guess is that most will be irritated and walk away with even less interest in whatever it is that she’s got. My point… (and I might have one J) is that I think we have become so fast paced and so driven to immediate gratification in our lives and that has spilled over hugely into our spiritual selves…we don’t want to or don’t know how to slow down and engage and see past what is right in front of us to the God that is behind it and in it all.

So….you get someone like this woman who thinks that a quick bit of silliness will open someone up to God… (and because God is as big as He is, I can’t deny that He could show Himself in that place I suppose) and I guess there are still people out there who do their faith and seem to make bringing God into their experiences like some spiritual quickie in a dark alley, void of depth or beauty or intimacy…but getting Him out there none the less. Or you get a church full of people who are there for their weekly feel good moment… and if the topic is something that doesn’t resonate with them personally, it seems to take too much time/thought to make the connection because we live in this place of immediacy…I can be as guilty of it as anyone, wanting that instant spiritual buzz because the alternative seems like too much work, like it will require too much of my time, like it will demand too much of all of me or something.

So… I love the idea of pursuing an intentional looking through… a slow experience with God…depth and wisdom and calm and simply more. I think I have just had a moment…



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LiveEarth - eco-conundrum

July 07, 2007


I just tuned into Duran, Duran performing live as part of the LiveEarth global concert event on MSN. No, I’m not a big fan of the band! (OK, maybe a bit) Nor am I a big fan of the way this concert is playing out. I’m not talking about the so called hypocrisy in offering up a huge concert, while at the same time using up all kinds of unnecessary energy, and causing all kinds of pollution. Give me a break with that kind of unfair scrutiny.


What gets to me is all of the advertising that’s surrounding the presentation of the event. Before I get to see the live concert I have to endure an MSN commercial. Chevy’s logo, Zune’s logo, Phillips’ logo frame my live feed the entire time.


The juxtaposition is troubling...
Yesterday I wrote an editorial for our local paper, making the point that excessive western consumption is probably the biggest contributor to excessive environmental degradation. Here’s an exerpt...


“By putting the focus on sequestering the dark forces of carbon based energy production (an easy thing to do in our geologically gifted part of the world), we avoid another, more insidious, carbon based concern; ourselves.


The selves that want to live in homes with exorbitant square foot per capita ratios. The selves that thrive on multiples of nearly everything; cars, computers, television sets, and iPods. The selves that want to eat mid-winter apples from New Zealand, tractor trailer ripened avocados from Mexico, and not so green grapes from Chile.


Face it, our hyper-consumerist lifestyle is a big part of the reason global energy production is proceeding at such a frenzied pace...”


I believe with all my heart that we need to clean up our “human/creation interaction” acts. I’m just confused as to how that can happen when our society is so consumer oriented. Heck, it seems that even this LiveEarth environmental message is coming to us as a product to be consumed.


Part 1 of John's message on Environmentalism (condensed version 9 minutes)




Part 2 of Environmentalism





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Knowing

June 30, 2007


Early this morning I walked down into our basement. All the lights were on and Edward was sitting in the corner staring intently at this picture. It was taken at the hospital for Sick Children in Toronto when he was two days old. The chief pediatric cardiologist in Oakville had just accompanied him via ambulance to Toronto, and Edward was just finishing up a few last minute tests before undergoing open heart surgery. We were so confused and scared at the time. Two days earlier I couldn’t imagine living with this little boy, now I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him...
As Edward sat there engrossed in the photograph, I sat down beside him and put my arm around his shoulder. I told him that the he was the baby in the picture. Immediately he grabbed the next nearest image in the pile of photos in front of him and pointed to it instead; it was as though he were trying to change the subject, or didn’t quite know how to handle the fact that he had all these wires coming out of his body.

I often wonder how much of his disability Edward understands. At times I feel that he knows more than he lets on.



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Ten Permissions of Driving

June 24, 2007


Here's an editorial I wrote in response the the Vatican report on the ten commandments of driving. It was published in the Herald this morning.

The Ten Permissions of Driving.

The moment I saw the “Ten Commandments of Driving” news story my heart sank.

It was like that feeling you have when a police officer steps out from behind a parked car, photo radar gun in hand, and sternly signals you to pull over. You know you’ve done something wrong, but you really don’t need yet another curbside lecture.

My first thought in engaging the Vatican’s pastoral report was, “Oh no, here we go again... more ‘drive by moralizing’ from the church!”....
Not that I’m against faith leaders offering wise direction to their devotees; Lord knows we commuters could use it! What drove me round the bend was the all too predictable way our spiritual leaders chose to address, and then steer, their laity.

I’m talking about the whole ‘commandment’ approach.

Why does religious advice so often seem to come in a “Thou Shalt Not” negative form? Why must spiritual wisdom always take on this ‘curbing’ kind of attitude?

Is there not a more automotively affirming way to approach the issue?

Surely God’s vehicular blessings have a lot of positive creational goodness beneath their hoods as well! What if the Maker of all things wanted us to accentuate that spec sheet instead? What if the church’s job was to highlight all that is right, good and beautiful in the gift of driving?

Can you imagine what a list of “Ten Divine Driving Permissions” might look like?

1. Thank God for the 200 hp, formula one inspired, independent front suspension, AWD, 5 star safety rated, ABS braked, 100,000 km. bumper to bumper warranteed, aesthetically streamlined, soul inspiring, technological wonder of the automobile! What society has ever possessed such advanced technology? God really did get it right when he came up with the very creative and industrious idea of a man like Henry Ford.

2. Enjoy the top down, wind in your hair, sun shining on your face, independence that your car brings to life! One turn of the key and you’re free to go anywhere you want; any time. One press of that powerful pedal and you’re on the open road; moving fast, unbounded, going somewhere, in total control. Do you remember how that first felt when you were young?

3. Consider the privilege you possess in being able to actually own and operate a vehicle. How many billions of people on this planet would love to ride shotgun with you? Admit it; we in the western world have won the socio-economic lottery. Some of us are so wealthy, in fact, that we even have more than one vehicle.

4. Take into account all of the time and energy your means of transportation daily saves you. Because of your car, you can now accomplish so much more with your day. Imagine getting your groceries home via any other means. Contemplate how long a commute from Mackenzie Towne would take by horse and buggy. Who gets this kind of freedom?

5. See the benefit of all those other drivers on the road. We live in this amazing pod of community called a city; a huge, interdependent - able to do more collectively than we ever could alone – metropolis! That driver beside you might be the one who plows your roads, polices your urban development, or provides safety for your kids as they cross the street. How could you ever get ticked off at them when they want to merge into the lane in front of you?

Ok, that’s only five, but you get the point.

The Vatican may be right in asserting that automobiles can, at times, be vehicles for sin (been there, done that), but there’s also a more glorious upside to God’s amazing grace gift of driving!

To be fair, the church’s report does offer up many driving positives. I just wonder why they don’t make those positives first and foremost in their communications. Why not affirm the good, honour it, and then let it grow from there?

Perhaps then we’ll remember driving for the gift that it really is.

Last fall some good friends, noticing that my 1989 Mazda MPV was on its last legs, gave me a 2005 Hyundai Accent. GAVE IT TO ME!

I was totally taken aback and couldn’t believe my good fortune. Who does this for another person? Incredibly generous; an amazing gift.

Every time I step into this car I thank God for the privilege of ownership; this vehicle quite literally is a gift.

When I ponder this fact I treat the car, the rules of the road, and my fellow commuters differently.



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success

June 23, 2007


Increasingly I dislike the word. It used to have a very clear definition during an earlier time in my life, but now it confuses and confounds me; especially in relation to its application within the church.

The topic has come up many times over the past few months in discussions at New Hope. How do we measure success? (I don’t even like the question) By numbers? If so, then we’re in a bit of conundrum. Sunday morning community centre attendance is tracking slowly downward, and online podcast/website attendance it heading in the other direction. What do we do? Average the numbers out?

Or do we use other measurement criteria like volunteer support levels, individual and corporate spiritual growth, or financial indicators? I just don’t know... this stuff matters, but it ought not matter too much.

At our last leaders meeting we talked about this a bit...
One of the most numinous moments in the dialogue for me occurred when I mentioned a discussion I’d had with a university chaplain from Ontario. At a recent conference he told me how our church website was on his “internet explorer favourites” list. New Hope’s message was obviously important and influential in his life.

Telling our leaders this story, I then said, “So, in way, all kinds of people on that university campus are being impacted by what we’re doing... at some level.” Now, whatever that means in absolute terms, who cares (I do care!), what’s important in this is the fact that what we do – when it goes out into God’s world – is going to have all kinds of God honouring impact that we will never be able to see or measure.

I just read this little story in a book called The Divine Milieu. “Robert Hugh Benson tells of a visionary (mystic) coming upon a lonely chapel where a nun is praying. He enters. All at once he sees the whole world bound up and moving and organizing itself around that out-of-the-way spot, in tune with the intensity and inflection of the desires of that puny, praying figure. The convent chapel had become the axis about which the earth revolved. The contemplative [nun] sensitized and animated all things because she believed; and her faith was operative because her very pure soul placed her near to God.”

This fictional parable has a very powerful lesson. We have no idea what impact or effect the work of this church has, or will have in God’s world.

The paragraph that contained the above story, was trying to make the argument that purity in our pursuit of God is of utmost importance. What matters most is the undivided hearts that we bring to taking on God’s cause in this community. Undivided attention, passion, desire, obedience, etc...

So maybe the success question becomes, “Are we doing absolutely everything we can in order to be true to what God has called us to?” If the answer is as close as we can get to “Yes!” Then let the measurement chips fall where they may.

Teach me your ways, O LORD,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11




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