Remember Canada is Free

Remember Canada is Free

Nov 11th is a day to honour those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy in Canada. Reading a few headlines recently causes me to wonder where we find are as a nation.

1. Rex Murphy: Governor General appoints herself umpire of questions of faith and science

In the National Post headline, Rex Murphy posed an important question in response to the new Governor General’s recent speech: In this wonderfully diverse Canada that Ms. Payette now represents, was it her intent to ridicule the religious beliefs of so very many faiths? 

There are many people in Canada who hold a biblical worldview and many who obviously are of a different opinion. I always understood that we have a freedom in Canada not just to hold those beliefs, but also to have leaders (particularly appointed leaders) in our country who respect those rights and freedoms, not ridicule them. It seems to me that our Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Canada, has in fact, misrepresented our Queen, who herself has referenced God many times in her speeches. I found the GG’s comments divisive while the emphasis of the Queen is unity. In 2011, our Queen said, “Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities.” The GG would benefit from reading some of the Queen’s speeches.

2. A post by CBC News in regards to Alberta’s Home Education Association who has invited Ken Ham, a top US creationist, to be the keynote speaker at their upcoming conference in April 2018. The article quoted Calgarian Paul Ens who criticized this decision and stated, “It (the invitation) signals to me that this homeschool group is not serious about following provincial curriculum or proper science education for their children.”

Based on the speech by the GG and the statement from Ens in this article, it seems that science and a biblical worldview are completely opposed to one another. However, read closer as Rex Murphy clarifies how these views are not necessarily in conflict; “… the observations on the origins of life and the religious understandings of that most profound of subjects are not in contestas evidently she (GG) thinks they are, with scientific understandings. They can, and in fact often do, co-exist. There is physics, and there is also metaphysics; facts are indeed truth, but truth is very often more than just facts.”

Truth is meant to bring us to a higher place, where we can co-exist with others who may have different beliefs and opinions. The message from the Queen is one of reconciliation in the midst of differences. Let’s remember that in Canada we are free to co-exist. Determining if what you believe is actually truth can be a challenge.

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you … Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”  C.S. Lewis

A common saying used in academic circles is, “The truth will set you free” and is often used to promote academic freedom and the power of learning. A recent visit to the Museum of the Bible helped me realize the impact of the Bible on education.  Many universities have this statement emblazoned on a sign near the entrance of a building. But “the truth will set you free” did not originate in academia; Jesus said it first. His statement has nothing to do with classroom learning. In fact, John 8:32 speaks of a higher form of knowledge than is capable of being learned in a classroom.

Canada is Free

It seems that the best selling book of all time (the Bible) is something that many are afraid of.  Maybe it is seen as dangerous, especially when it comes to education. In his blog, Jerry Bower asked that very question: Is the Bible Dangerous?

“If the Bible is the truth, then ignoring it is ignoring the truth. Contempt for it is contempt for the truth. Hostility to it is hostility to the truth. And there is nothing more dangerous to a person than to build a life on hostility to the truth”

As a parent, I want my children to be free and live according to truth and certainly not be hostile to it. It can be a struggle to discover truth but the goal is an eventual embracing of truth which creates principles we can live by.  I always felt responsible as a parent to train my children, which is a step above following any provincial curriculum.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said this of education:

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

Is Canada as free as it once was? Have you felt your freedom in Canada threatened by recent happenings?

Two Common Mistakes Christian Business Owners Make

Two Common Mistakes Christian Business Owners Make

Far too often we can let little things slide but recently I read an article titled “Never Walk by a Mistake.” It served as a good reminder of the importance of correcting even what seems like a small thing.

walk-byGeneral Ann Dunwoody was walking down the street when she saw a soldier in uniform walking with his hands in his pockets. Anyone who’s spent time in the military knows that this is a big no-no. Dunwoody could have literally walked by the mistake and not addressed it. It’s something small, it wasn’t impacting anyone at the time, and the kid probably just forgot. It wasn’t anything overtly heinous. As a general, though, she knew that if she didn’t correct the error, she would be, by the sin of omission, setting a new lower standard for that soldier. So rather than letting it slide, she approached him, kindly addressed the problem (rather than yelling at and demeaning the young guy), and reinforced the ideas of discipline and attention to detail.

Here is what intrigues me: by not correcting the error, we are actually setting a lower standard, which is obviously not acceptable.  After reading  an article by Jerry Bowyer entitled “Are Christians Allowed to Get Rich?” I saw that there is a standard set for Christian business owners and there are at least two mistakes that lower that standard:

  1. Not Understanding Your Purpose and Calling
  2. Not Understanding You are a Steward, not the Owner

1. Purpose & Calling

Typically, when we speak of  “calling,” business owners are not the first to come to our mind. We tend to immediately think of those with a more sacred calling, like pastors or missionaries.  David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby is “the son of a pastor, and the brother of a large cohort of pastors, pastor’s wives and missionaries.”  Like many Christian business owners, “David felt that there was something not fully Christian about his passion for running a successful store.” When he would talk excitedly about his business, his saintly mother would ask him, “Yes, but what are you doing for the Lord?” Obviously his mother meant well, but had a limited understanding of God’s calling.

work-is-our-calling-400We usually make the same mistake when we categorize our work (or business) as secular, separating it from the sacred (calling). Rather than sensing the pleasure of God  through our work, we often consider our work less than God’s calling. It seems that David Green felt like a black sheep because the rest of his family were “ministers” while he was in business. However, when we serve others (in our work), we are actually serving the Lord, not just men (Eph. 6:7) and can fulfill the call God has placed on our lives. Here is a great piece of advice: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord … (Col 3:23).

In time, David Green discovered that God can use a merchant just as well as He can a pastor. It seems that business was his purpose and calling after all and was a means of engaging in the great commission. I love what he said in the interview with Jerry Bowyer: So I believe I have a calling on my life; I think we all can, no matter where we are, be anointed. I sense God’s anointing on my life as a businessman.

2. A Steward, Not an Owner

It would certainly be valuable to listen to the audio interview with David Green as he provides insight on how Hobby Lobby endeavours to incorporate biblical principles into its business. He speaks about the importance of avoiding long term debt and he says, “We go into debt when we think God isn’t moving fast enough,” which identifies our lack of contentment.

DGreenThe part that I found most interesting is the corporate structure of Hobby Lobby, where the shares are owned by a trust rather than by family members. This speaks to the fact that the Green’s are stewards of the company and the corporation is actually held in trust. This means if the company was to be sold, 90% of the value would go to a foundation and subsequently distributed to the Lord’s work. Typically, a business is passed down to the next generation, then the next, but in the case of Hobby Lobby, the family cannot actually touch the assets. Since these assets are seen as under God’s ownership, the corporate structure reflects that and is actually referred to as a “stewardship trust.” 

God owns it all, like Psalm 24:1 clearly states, is a statement Christians agree with in principle but despite this knowledge, we often live like we are the owners.

If you are a Christian business owner or a Christian financial advisor, accountant or lawyer directing business owners, please listen to the audio recording for just 10 minutes (start from 14 minutes to 24 minutes).  It is easy for Christian business owners and Christian financial professionals to be “conformed to the world” when it comes to business structure and advice. What I heard is transformational because it is based on biblical principles.  If we choose to ignore these principles, we are setting a lower standard than has been laid out for us.  Does the legal structure of your business align with your theological structure? Does the corporate structure represent the interest of the steward or the interest of the owner?

 

 

Why are Thoughts and Prayers Insufficient?

Why are Thoughts and Prayers Insufficient?

The headline in the National Post read:

‘Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient’: Jimmy Kimmel tearfully calls for gun control

Is America’s national Thoughts and Prayers Strategy (TAPS) no longer working? That is a question raised in an article in Maclean’s magazine making statements which can be disturbing to the Christian community.

Here is one example: Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that TAPS may not be delivering the results we would expect from appealing to an omniscient and all-powerful deity.

In other words, thinking about others and praying to God is simply not effective and the results are not clearly evident. We ought to think more about what is really accomplished through “thoughts and prayers” because it seems to be terribly misunderstood, especially in light of recent incidents of violence.

The power of thinking is impactful on the person having the thoughts and only impactful on others when those thoughts are expressed.  Many have probably quoted the proverb that says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” If a person then, is consumed with thoughts of murder and killing, and those thoughts are not taken captive, they will eventually be acted upon and that person can become what was thought about. I would suggest that this is exactly what takes place when murderous acts happen; the thoughts transform the person to become what he is thinking.

The idea expressed in the Maclean’s article is that the thoughts and prayers of US congressman are somehow supposed to alter the behaviour of the American people. Let’s get it right; the thoughts and prayers are to comfort after an event like these incidents  (Las Vegas, USA and Edmonton in Canada) and should not be trivialized.  Maybe it is true that the thinking around gun control needs to change in order to make America a safer place, but please don’t diminish the effectiveness of “thoughts and prayers” for the people impacted by these sorts of incidents.

A most challenging statement for many Christians is this one: This data is very surprising when you consider the power of beseeching God. You would think parting the Red Sea, or smiting the Egyptians with a plague of frogs, would be far more difficult than just reducing gun violence. It is worth noting, however, that most well-known examples of successful celestial intervention in earthly affairs are over two millennia old.

Pray for LVHe goes on to cite the reasons for the non-response from God, which could be denominational, or we are not praying enough, or the wrong people are praying, or praying wrongly (kneeling or not, with eyes open or eyes closed).

When I read these statements it upsets me because in my 50+ years on earth, I have seen God’s intervention. As a matter of fact, without it I would have only been here for 5 years because meningitis would have taken my life. We need to think deeper about the true purpose of prayer.

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” – Soren Kierkegaard

From this quote, we see the focus is really about bringing change within the person who prays. Therefore, the focus of “thoughts and prayers” is actually more about changing the thinker and pray-er rather than those being thought about or prayed for. However, I certainly can testify that both can be transformed by prayer. I wonder if we have really missed the true power of prayer and thereby dismissed its effectiveness. Isn’t prayer about relationship with God, communicating with Him regularly rather than someone we call on only in crisis? Relationship with God through prayer is meant to change us. When prayer changes us, that’s when we can be an influence for change.

Just think for a moment about what God said when he created earth and also man. He said, “Let them (man) rule over the earth.” Mankind has been placed in a position of authority and influence by God, within nations to effect change as it is needed.

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom

Think about it –  we often use prayer to God as a spare tire. When there is a major incident or crisis, we call out to him. Prayer is meant to be our steering wheel which actually sets our course. It is meant to be part of our lives daily, not just when we have a blow out.

Does God intervene today? Maybe someone like paraplegic Joni Eareckson Tada, who had her neck broken as a teenager is much better qualified to answer this question:

“God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves”

She calls suffering “a splash of hell” but maintains that a “splash of heaven” can be found through intimacy with Christ in the midst of it. And she can say so because she has found it to be true. The first part of that statement is strikingly similar to Jimmy Kimmel’s statement, “It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.” The problem is most are missing the “splash of heaven” since intimacy with Christ only comes through “thoughts and prayers” on a regular basis, not just at times like this.

What influences your life most? The splash of hell? Or the splash of heaven?

The Power of Sound

The Power of Sound

I had the opportunity to speak recently at a local church and chose to talk about the impact of our words. In essence, I began to walk through what words actually become as we speak them and the potential impact of those words on those who hear (including ourselves).

I quickly referenced Job 4:12-14 to demonstrate the path words take within us and how they are able to impact us. “A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it. Among unsettling thoughts from visions in the night, when deep sleep descends on men, fear and trembling came over me and made all my bones shake.” We are truly complex creatures and what we hear impacts us more significantly than we realize.

If you look closely this verse reveals what words become:

  1. Firstly, “a word” was heard or became a sound.
  2. Then came “unsettling thoughts
  3. And “visions in the night,
  4. Which developed into “fear and trembling
  5. Finally it “made all my bones shake.

All this disruption came because of a whisper in the ears. How is this even possible?

The Power of Sound

Until I did some research, I didn’t realize that sound actually creates, organizes and forms all the basic fundamental shapes found throughout the known universe. For more than 50 years, scientists have proven this to be true. Interestingly, these forms are referred as “Sacred Geometry,” which is said to be a discovery of man, not his invention.

Take a look at an amazing video demonstrating the effects of sound being played underneath sand pebbles on a metal plate. The sound causes them to move and organize into geometric shapes and the higher the frequency the more complex the shapes (just watching for a minute will illustrate).

 

Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. So if you think about throwing a rock in still water, the resulting rings of waves are similar to the effects of sound. It is interesting that irregular sound waves create noise, while regular repeating waves create music.

Researchers have also discovered that we pay more attention when an emotion (such as happiness, sadness or anger) is expressed through vocalizations than we do when the same emotion is expressed in speech. So sound itself then, may be more powerful than we typically give it credit. Have you heard the proverb: “a joyful heart is good medicine?” If you stop and consider how joy is expressed, it is usually in the form of laughter (maybe some of the healing is through the sound itself).

Consider our lives at times; there can be so many different inputs with emotional attachments (like anger and frustration) and the result is often noise. Joy, on the other hand, is medicine because it produces regular repeating sound waves, having an impact that is like music to our ears!

Elba Mueller explains the Power of Sound  by referencing one of the most amazing experiments, conducted by Doctor Masaru Emoto, who gained worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking research and his discovery that water is affected by vibrational sound in some very surprising ways.

When I read this, my immediate thought was about creation (in Gen. 1), when “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” I’m thinking those waters were affected by the vibrational sound because “God said.”  It seems the sound of God’s voice resulted in the earth changing from empty to being filled.

In his experiments, Dr. Emoto analyzed the formation of differently shaped crystals in water as it was exposed to different sounds in different forms. Part of his research included verbal affirmations, thoughts, music, and even prayers from a priest. He focused on verbal affirmations of love and gratitude as they were being directed toward water that was sitting in a Petri dish. He then analyzed the water under a microscope and took before and after pictures to document the change.

pay attentionDr. Emoto and his team observed that after the experiment very beautiful crystals had formed in some of the frozen water samples where the positive vibrational waves were directed. Dr. Emoto then exposed water samples to music from Mozart, Beethoven, and other classical composers and found that beautiful crystal shapes formed in these samples as well.

He also experimented with people saying things like “you fool,” “I will kill you,” and other unpleasant phrases using a harsh tone. Dr. Emoto found that ugly, incomplete, and malformed crystals were formed in the water samples exposed to these negative expressions and tones.

 

Dr. Emoto concluded that any sound is vibration, and vibrations such as music and other positive sounds including the human voice can be a form of healing energy.

Here is what I find fascinating: on a 3D level the body is more than 70% water. If crystals formed in water from sound vibrations, then it seems pretty clear that the sounds and words we hear impact our bodies. Think about your words and the tone used expressing these words. I think it is fair to say that the vibrations we make when we speak are either forming something beautiful or something ugly, incomplete or malformed in those who hear.

When you talk with your children, spouse, neighbours, clients or colleagues; what impact is the sound of your words having? Are they building up or tearing down?

 

What Have I Become?

What Have I Become?

We are all on a journey in life and the one thing that remains constant is change. My wife recently took on the task of capturing some of our home videos (30 years worth). These include so many memories and changes, from hair styles to the way we dressed. The music at our youth events seemed radical to some at that time, but now, much heavier music is typically used in many worship services on Sunday mornings all across North America.

TrumpThink about politics for a moment. Just look back one year when the United States was in the midst of an election campaign. Let’s be honest, when you first heard that Donald Trump was running for President, how many thought he would actually become President? Most didn’t believe he had a shot at becoming the candidate to represent the Republicans in the run up to the election, let alone be in the presidential race. For many, the unthinkable happened … Breaking News: Donald Trump is now the President.

How was this possible? Many were left wondering how this could happen. Think about one of the things that politicians do everyday. They talk a lot, sometimes getting themselves in trouble because they say the wrong things. Things change because there are people who speak to influence others to bring about that change. 

For America, this was a major change. What was the basis for that change? I think you will have to agree that media of all kinds, was and remains a major influencer that results in significant change in our culture. Have you ever felt outrage when you hear about people who have been unfairly mistreated? Often times we hear about these types of circumstances through some form of media. When there is frustration over an issue, the media drawing attention to it can be the very means to bring change.

The fact is, whatever media you tune into begins to shape you and slowly your opinions can change, sometimes without even realizing it.

Change is constant and often comes through relationship and communication. Here’s an example in my life. I met a pastor in the early 2000’s who was a cyclist. He would often ride 30-50 kilometres (20-30 miles) at a time, and then on many Saturdays, he would double that distance. I first thought the guy was nuts, until he looked at me and said, “You would make a great cyclist.” Well, I wasn’t involved in any other sport and knew I could use the exercise, so I bought myself a bike and started. First, it was shorter distances, but in a very short time, I was riding those same distances too. Before long, I was challenging myself and one day, rode 120 kilometres (75 miles). My point is this: I became a cyclist, because someone said, “You would make a great cyclist.” I agreed with that statement and decided to become what I was told I could be. 

In 1991, I became a salesman of life insurance, partly out of necessity, but also because I was told I would be good for the role.

On 3.16.2017, our son, became a father, making me a grandfather. Well how did that happen? Without making this a PG rated blog, allow me to explain: It started with a conversation. Cathy (now my wife) and I, had our first date in May 1985. We talked together a lot on that evening. We shared our dreams and visions for the future and discovered that we had so much in common (at least until we got married, but that’s a story for another day). Well the words we shared eventually led to our marriage, where we publicly spoke our commitment to one another (before God and this company, I believe is how it traditionally goes). I still recall memorizing our vows in which we promised to “speak words of grace that would build one another up.” Maybe, I remember that so well, because it was one of the most difficult parts to keep.

IMG_2027

Well 25 months after those vows were spoken (to the very day), our son, David was born. He made similar vows himself when he was married (20 years later).

Here is the point: change comes to our lives because words are spoken.

Marriages happen because words are spoken (vows), divorces happen for the same reason. Politicians are elected in many cases because of promises made (words spoken) and not re-elected in other cases because promises were broken.

We are constantly becoming or changing because of the influence that comes into our lives through media (words that are spoken to us). You may not even realize it, but you are actually very much an influencer, and are helping others become who they are. The words you speak are more important than you realize because they are agents of change and with them you impact those around you.

Interestingly, the Bible says “the word became flesh” referencing, of course, the coming of Christ to live on this earth as a man. The Bible is the only book that has the claim of being alive and still desires to become something, or bring about change in us.

My son and daughter-in-law have discovered that when new life entered their lives, change was immediate. In my next few blogs I will walk through the impact  words have within us and how they impact what we become.

So let me ask you this: How have words spoken to you impacted your life? What change are you bringing in others through the words that you speak?