Friday, February 17, 2012

Necessary Endings

I am currently reading the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud in conjunction with a number of colleagues.  It is proving to be a very good read on both a personal and professional level.

The author does a great job in getting the reader to recognize that there are beginnings and endings in many facets of our lives.  This really isn't a new concept to us as we speak often of "new and old" things and the reality of "life and death".  But, at the end of the day, most of us don't life to focus on the "ending" part of things even though we can all honestly look back and be glad for seasons which have come to an end.

For example; I am grateful my University days came to an end.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my University days immensely and will always carry great memories of those days as it was there I met my wife and attained my passion to serve Christ within His church.  But, I was glad when my days as a student came to an end so that I could launch out into life.  It was a necessary ending.

I am currently thinking long and hard on this overall topic as I am guessing there are still some personal and professional "endings" that may need to take place within my heart, mind and life in order to move on to God's best for my life.  I am concerned that there may be some needed endings impeding what may be God's next adventure.  What about you?  Are there any necessary endings you need to consider?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One Year Ago Today... Africa

It was a year ago right around this time that our plane was touching down in the Central African Republic.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime that will never be forgotten.  Here are a few of the lessons that still ring true within my heart even today.
  • Never underestimate what God is able to do through those who are open and willing to respond to Him!
  • The fellowship we enjoy in Christ transcends all culturally boundaries.
  • Pure religion is to care for the widows and orphans of this world.  I believe this pleases the heart of our father.
  • Lord I believe... Help my unbelief as this experience stretched my faith.
  • I love my wife and children as it was tough being apart from them.  Being a world apart left me releasing them into the Lord's loving care which isn't easy for this husband/father to do.
  • The joy of the Lord seems to be found in the simple things of life!
  • The hope of life eternal found in Christ alone is what gets so many believers around the world through another day when surrounded with so much death.
  • I can't open my fridge or take a hot shower without thinking and giving thanks for all we have.
  • Everyone needs to experience a short term mission trip to another part of the world where there is such need to awaken us to how selfish we are in North America and how much is yet to be done for the sake of Christ our Lord.
  • I will forever remember the people I met and their stories of faith and trust in God.
That about does it for now... so many things going through my mind today as I reflect upon this trip.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Rookie Cold Weather Mistake

It has been nearly a month since my last post as Christmas has come and gone and we are well into the New Year.  Part of my New Year here in Ottawa has been adapting to cold winters once again.

Last week I made a cold weather rookie mistake. My family and I were heading over to the Scotiabank place to watch my son's basketball coach who plays for the Carleton Ravens take on the Gee Gee’s (by the way… just found out what a Gee Gee was) It was a cold night with wind chills around -28 degrees Celsius, but I figured it would be a quick run from the car to the arena and that dressing somewhat lightly would be appropriate. I was wrong!!!Shortly after we got into the arena, I found myself shaking somewhat uncontrollably as the cold had penetrated to the deepest core. I sat there chilled to the bone for the whole night and let me just say that the walk back to the car did nothing but bring on the cold shakes once again. This had only happened to me once before when I did not dress appropriately for a PSU – U of M November football game.
As I thought about this in a spiritual context, I could not help but think of how casual we get with our spiritual lives as well. The journey from hot to lukewarm to cold isn’t as far as we think. It only takes one causal approach to sin for the heart to grow cold and penetrate to the deepest parts of our heart if we aren’t careful. God has called us to dress spiritually as defined in Colossians 3:12-17 in order for us to stay spiritually hot.
In a spiritually cold world, what are you doing to stay spiritually hot?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Gift to Go...

It is hard to believe that another Christmas Day will soon be upon us.  As the day quickly approaches so to do all of the final preparations that go into it all.  To be honest, I haven't had much to do with the Auld family preparations as they fall mostly to my wife.  In fact, as the day quickly approaches I find myself somewhat weary as the bucket of ministry has been poured out on so many fronts and yet there is one final gift that must be sought out.

My need to pursue this gift was birthed out of a question posed by a ministry colleague earlier this week when he challenged us to consider what we were giving Jesus this year for Christmas.  At first glance, this many seem like a silly question or one that deserves a pat answer and yet it is a question that has me really thinking.

What do you give the King of Kings?  What do you give the God who loves you so much He willingly took on flesh and entered fallen humanity in order to rescue us from our sin?  What do you give a Saviour who has given everything for you?  These are not easy questions that warrant easy answers.

So... I still have one gift to go.  I am still not sure what I am going to give Jesus but it is proving to be a very soul searching exercise that I want to take quite seriously heading into 2012.  I trust that all who read this will also consider what they will be giving Jesus this year as you finish up your shopping lists heading into Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reflect and Project

As the year 2011 comes to a close, I am preparing to fulfill an annual heart and mental exercise I like to do at the end of each calendar year.  As with most people, I try to grab a few days of vacation/rest and travel to visit with family.  This usually provides me with a few hours of drive time whereby I can usually take some time to think.

Part of this exercise relates to my need to reflect.  I never want to close out a year without reflecting upon the following three things.  First, I want to remind myself of God's faithfulness throughout the year.  I need to pause and think through how God has showed up in love and grace throughout all of the events of year 2011.  Secondly, I need to honestly reflect upon where I am at spiritually, emotionally and physically as the year closes.  How am I feeling in each of these areas?  What has been tested in each of these areas?  An honest awareness of where you are at personally in all three is important.  Finally, I need to honestly reflect upon where I am at relationally.  How are the most important relationships in my life going?  What tested those relationships throughout the year?  What growth and great things took place in those relationships throughout the year?  Again, an honest awareness of where I am at in my key relationships is important.

But I also am convinced I can't live in the past reflecting.  I must also spend some time projecting and asking the Lord to help me set some concrete goals to pursue for the year in each of the areas mentioned above.  I never want to grow stagnant in my life and will constantly look to the Lord for His leading in how to keep growing and becoming all that He would have me become while I have life to do so.

So, I am looking forward to some time out of the office to prayerfully reflect and project as 2011 comes to a close and 2012 launches.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Breaking out of the Squash Box

I am heading out this afternoon to play a bit of squash with a friend of mine.  I haven't played much squash or racquetball in life, but, I do enjoy getting out and trying new sports.  One of the unique features about these two sports is the court upon which you play.  You basically go and lock yourself into a concrete box with only one small door as the way out and then smack a hard rubber ball off the walls.

As I thought about this, I could not help but equate it to the lives so many find themselves living in.  I even find myself fighting this temptation to view life as this box we are are forced into whereby you spend your days trying to keep the ball of life moving as it bounces out of control on the walls that surround you.  There are days when you just want to break out of the box you find yourself in and yet there often appears to be no way out as the ball keeps begging to be hit.  I also believe that many of us naturally return to the box as we at least feel safe and somewhat in control when in it even if we don't like it.

I really don't think the Lord has called us to live lives like this.  We have been set free in Christ and I believe we have been called to be agile and ready to move as He moves within our lives.  So often the daily requirements of surviving and being successful within the North American culture create and force us into the box of life whereby we stop dreaming big for God.  It is here that our faith can begin to shrivel.

I guess my question to self daily is simple, "What am I doing to make sure I never stop dreaming big in Christ and for Christ so that I can move with Christ?"  I don't want my remaining years on this planet to be defined as trapped in the box of daily grind but rather alive, free and moving in faith with my Saviour.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What do I need this Christmas?

Over the weekend, I was speaking with my mom and we were talking Christmas gifts. At one point we found ourselves going around and around trying to figure out what to buy certain individuals in the family who in reality don’t really need anything. We have so much and are so blessed and yet every year the commercials and our own greedy longings make us believe we need more.

This carries over into our spiritual lives as well. How often do we approach our God and complain like He hasn’t given us everything we need to successfully navigate life here on earth with Him and for Him. Isn’t it amazing how often we live out our lives as Christ followers with a poor man’s attitude rather than the spiritually rich people we are. Paul states it so clearly to the believers in Ephesus where he writes “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
So as we head into the Christmas season, let’s not act like we don’t have much. We have all that we need in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s live like that’s true in our lives no matter what you find under the tree this Christmas. Maybe the answer to the original question above is that we give one another spiritual reality checks this year by spending some time celebrating God’s goodness to us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crossing the Bridge

Recently my wife and I joined another couple and traveled to the quaint little town of Wakefield, Quebec.  It was an absolutely beautiful Fall day and we came across this recently renovated covered bridge.  As we enjoyed a leisurely stroll across the river through this covered bridge a number of thoughts crossed my mind as it relates to my journey with God.

First, there was a need for me to cross over to a holy God and I recognized long ago it was impossible for me to do on my own.  There was a need for someone to provide a "bridge" over to God on my behalf because of my sin.  That "bridge" is of course Jesus Christ who came and made the way for sinful human beings to cross over to the Father.  Jesus paid for my sin upon the cross and I just need to cross the bridge of redemptive work found in Christ by faith.  Praise the Lord there was a point in my life where I responded and took that step of faith towards Christ, our bridge to enter into a personal relationship with a holy God.

Secondly, it required some real pioneers to build the bridge over that river.  In life, God will call us as both individuals and church families to take some big steps and cross some pretty big rivers in life to get to the next God sized adventure on the other side.  It will always take some courageous pioneers willing to take that first step and start building the bridge over the challenges of life by God's grace.  We do so in order for others to one day follow and benefit from what has been created.  May God give me and other leaders the courage to take such steps.

Thirdly, may we all be willing as Christ followers to cross over to the other side where the adventure of God awaits us.  There is no need for a bridge to help us cross if we are unwilling to walk across it.  Sometimes in life it seems much easier to just sit down on one side of the river of life and enjoy the scenery when God is really calling us to stand up, cross the river and experience whatever He has for us on the other side.

Is there a river God is calling you to cross today?  If so, by faith and with confidence in Christ the master bridge builder, take some steps to experience whatever adventure God is calling you to on the other side of the river.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pastor's Wives

Recently, a few articles have come across my desk dealing with the pressures a pastor's wife often lives under and the unfortunate outcomes of these real life stories. 

When I was going through my studies in preparation to become a pastor, many wise individuals passed along great insights on how to protect ourselves from moral failings as men within a ministry.  They spoke often of how women would look to their pastor's and see things in them that they did not see in their husbands thus demanding the need to place protections around ourselves in order to remain faithful to our marriage vows.

But, these articles seem to point to a new trend where more and more men are hitting on pastor's wives.  As the divorce rate continues to climb and more and more middle aged people find themselves single again, the number of men looking for a "new wife" is on the increase and the pastor's wife is not immune to this reality.  In fact, many would view the pastor's wife as a vulnerable person because many pastor's are not giving their wives the love and attention they truly deserve.  The ministry has often become the pastor's mistress leaving his wife looking for someone to care and walk alongside of them through all of the pressure's of being a pastor's wife.

As I continue to ponder these readings, I am struck with at least two thoughts.  The first revolves around my need to continue making my wife a priority far above my ministry responsibilities.  She needs to know on very real and tangible levels that I am married to her and not the church.  Secondly, we must be fully aware of the pressures and temptations that so many pastor's wives live under.  So many face what feels like unrealistic expectations and the need and desire to "just escape" can sometimes lead to poor decisions that ruin marriages.

These are sobering realities facing even those who sit in leadership within ministries and all couples must continue to fight the good fight and make marriage a priority.  Here are a couple of great resources that I've come across to help with this; Couples = and Pastor's wives =

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sweet Fellowship and Thanksgiving

It is Friday afternoon and I am preparing to head into my first Canadian Thanksgiving in nearly six years and I have a few thoughts running through my head.  So here we go...

First, last Sunday night I preached on Philippians 1:1-11 and focused in on the sweet fellowship we enjoy and must guard as saints in Christ Jesus if we partner together in the work of the Gospel.  As we head into thanksgiving I continue to ask the Lord to give me a love for the church as He loves the church.  We need to be incredibly thankful for who we are together in Christ and cherish the sweet fellowship we enjoy in Him.

Secondly, I've been thinking a lot this week about my brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic.  As I set up my new office this week, I came across many pictures and memories from that trip that got me reflecting on the things I witnessed and experienced while over there.  I am so thankful for what we enjoy here in North America and must guard my heart against grumbling.  From the material blessings to the spiritual ones, there is so much to give thanks for and keeping this eternal perspective in mind is necessary in order to avoid the spiral downwards into not being satisfied with what we have been blessed with.

Thirdly, I am so thankful for my family.  In a world with so much brokenness within family units, I give thanks for a marriage and family that seeks to firmly plant ourselves upon the principles and truth of God's Word.  It doesn't make everything perfect, but with that foundation we believe we will experience the blessing of a strong family unit which is to be cherished, guarded and celebrated with a thankful heart.

Finally, as I reflect upon the above three thoughts they all have a few things in common.  They reflect our need for others and our need to build those relationships upon who we are in Christ.  May we give thanks for the sweet fellowship we enjoy in our relationships as we strive to keep Christ central.