Tunnel Vision and a Fresh Outlook

Tunnel Vision and a Fresh Outlook

I’ve been thinking a bit about tunnel vision this week… you know, when you’re too deep into the trees to be able to see the forest.

We can go through times of spiritual tunnel vision as well. Times when you get so focused on a specific scenario, a specific problem that you’re trying to resolve… that you find yourself feeling like your back is up against a wall.

At times like that, even something as simple as a physical change of scenery can help you to gain perspective, Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs & “Hambourgeois”

Châtellerault is the LAST place I’d expect to find Toronto Maple Leafs memorabilia on public display…. but I did! Keep reading to find out where…

Family Time

As you know from last week’s post, Liz’s parents were here visiting from Belgium.

Île Cognet, Thanksgiving, Landscaping, Nonno, Nonna, NonniIt was their first time to visit us here in Western France and the first time that we’d had a bit more of a prolonged visit since our arrival in Europe last January. We visited Châtellerault, walked through Île Cognet and shared Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday.

Note re. Thanksgiving…
Canada = 2nd Monday  of October
USA = 4th Thursday of November

Liz’s dad also helped me one afternoon down at the church doing some landscaping at the church to help “dress up” the front of the building.  We planted a boxwood hedge accented with lavender in front, cypress trees on the ends and two miniature apple trees that we’ll train into standards. The bowed out center section will eventually be filled with roses or some other flowering shrub. (see photo)

Finally, we took them on a short jaunt to Angle-sur-l’Anglin. It was one of the warmer days during their visit and we walked down to the lower part of town (near the river) before gradually making our way back up. Tourist season is over, so the little village was pretty quiet.

Taste of home

Caribou Café, Châtellerault, Quebec, Sirop d'Érable, Hambourgeois, CanadaWhile Liz’s parents were here, we also tried out a special little restaurant for the first time: Le Caribou Café.

The atmosphere is built around tons of Canadian icons… cedar strip canoes, a framed RCMP uniform, old Quebec license plates, skis, snowshoes… etc. And the bare wood walls & floor make it feel like a good ol’ fashioned cabane à sucre (maple sugar shack).  Speaking of which… lots of their dishes feature maple syrup (like the tiramisu I had), and it’s the real-deal… O. my. word. …So good!!!

Three funnies we saw there:

  1. “SVP enlevez vos caoutchoucs” sign (literally: “please remove your rubbers”). It’s funny because here they’d definitely translate “rubber boots” or “bottes en caoutchouc”.
  2. Rather than “hamburgers”, they serve hambourgeois(Jr. High French immersion joke). The French here, unlike the Québecois, would normally just go with the English “hamburger”.
  3. A hockey jersey was on display… but it was from the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey fans will understand the irony). If anything, I’d have expected to see a Habs jersey.

Residency is in the bag!

It wasn’t so much a question of IF it would happen but rather WHEN; it was just a matter of working through the paperwork and red-tape. There were a few minor snags along the way but here’s how I felt on Thursday night:

 

No Comparison…

To be honest, there are times when I struggle with what to write you. A quick scan of social media gives instant access to great reports from across the globe; miracles that God is doing, new ones being baptized or filled with the Holy Ghost, etc. It is wonderful to experience, but when you’re looking on from the outside, it can be a bit intimidating due to the temptation to compare.

At this point in the life of our little church in western France, life is pretty quiet. We are not seeing the “highlights” mentioned above, and we deal with the challenges of a small congregation. On one hand I’m dissatisfied by this particular quiet but I also know that God does His work in His time, so we simply do our best, knowing that we’re in His will and avoid the temptation to compare.

Tonight:

Liz is off to a Tupperware party in Poitiers… bring on those bowls & lids! It’s being hosted by one of the ladies from our church and it’ll be a great chance to meet some new people.

Thank you for being a faithful reader.
Let what you read inform your prayers for us, for the church here and for France.
God bless your day today!

 

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Afraid of Change

Some call it a fear, others a phobia. For some it’s a dilemma and for others, an outright disorder. But regardless of the setting… whether in the workplace, in relationships… even in personal style or habits, change is not easy!

Fear of the Unknown

I have stared change right in the face over the past two weeks and have survived to this point (we’ll see what tomorrow holds) I updated the operating systems on both my iPhone and my MacBook Pro.

Don’t check-out just yet… I’ll get to the “meat” in a bit… I promise.

  • Why did I wait so long with my phone that the iOS went from 6.1 t0 8.1?
  • Why, on my MacBook, did I have to jump from Mountain Lion to Yosemite without even looking at Mavericks?

Because I dislike change. I’m uncomfortable with the unknown.

Have you ever heard the old classical musician’s quippy pun?
“If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!”  (word play on ‘broke’)

Dealing with Change, Afraid of Change, Uncertainty, Fog, Leap of FaithMy phone and laptop were working well enough for the most part, but then, in each case, there was an app that I wanted to use and was unable to because I’d so successfully resisted change. What if I did the update and it set off a domino effect, requiring me to update a never ending succession of programs and patterns?

Worst case scenario: Total system crash requires me to purchase new.
Definite scenario:  I might have to … ugh… learn to do things differently.

– and that takes time, which I don’t have enough of…
– and it takes effort, which I’d rather devote elsewhere…
– and it means accepting to become uncomfortable…

Dealing with Fear

Not only am I a Christian… I’m a pastor for heaven sake. So I am very familiar with the many times that Jesus commanded people to “Fear not!”, I’ve heard countless verses and messages that deal with putting things into the Lord’s hands and leaving them there, and I’m very familiar with Hebrews 11 that defines Faith as: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

  • So why does fear still creep in from time to time?
  • Why will I avoid situations, actions or even people sometimes?

Because every day presents us with numerous opportunities to embrace change or to shrink back from it. Oh now I’m not just talking about updating an operating system… that’s just a lightweight example. This is the nitty gritty.

In short, I’d have to say that we don’t deal well with change because we’re still on the earthy side of heaven’s gate. You know, where weeds still grow in the garden and our flesh is not completely wiped out by our spiritual self. Our faith is still… being perfected.

Change-Related Stress

As I age I find I have less tolerance for change in general. Consequently, there are times when it amazes me that we are preparing to shove just about as much change into our life as can be imagined.

I did a quick tally on an interactive version of the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale (try it out here) and scored 270. If you’re not familiar with the scale, the authors assign a numeric value to various life events, the combined total of which quantifies the level of stress that you are managing. It considers things like, in my case:

– Change of financial state
– Change of residence
– Change of responsibility at work

My 270 is not good. A score of 300+ generally indicates a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future and you must get below 150 to have a low risk.

Why on earth would someone who is increasingly averse to change consider willingly introducing so much change in their life?

Key to Embracing Change

I don’t know that you’ll be able to understand unless you experience it for yourself but in my mind the only reason that a sane person willingly introduces that much change in their life is that their minds are captivated by something that is worth much more than their personal comfort.

william barclayI call it being in the Will of God.

William Barclay put it this way:
“There are two great days in a person’s life; the day they are born and the day they understand why.”

When you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are doing what you were created to do, it is much easier to embrace change and temporary discomfort.

That’s why we are preparing to leave a secure position in an established church, sell our house and move our family some 4,982km away to live in a new city, with a small church and depend on others for our livelihood.  Because we are in the will of God.

Expressing Faith

When momentary fear tries to raise its ugly head, we remind ourselves of this fact. We express, whether silently or outloud, that we trust the One who is trustworthy; the one who does all things well.

*God, I trust you for the big things…. and the little things too.*

Thank you for stopping by again today.
Be strong and courageous…. you’re in good hands!

Baptized in Jesus’ Name!

Sunday night, I had the incredible pleasure and great privilege of baptizing Timo in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins…. what a thrill!

4 Great Days

Timo_baptized_1

In Timo’s own words Sunday night…. “These will be four great days!” He was referring to the fact that:

  1. Friday was Atlantic District Kids Convention.
  2. Saturday, Kids Convention (cont’d) with Evangelist David Morehead. Timo told us that he’d been filled with the Holy Ghost.
  3. Sunday, was the day he got baptized, and
  4. Monday, was the day he was celebrating his upcoming birthday with friends.

It’s possible that Timo received the Holy Ghost earlier (he’s very sensitive when praying in the altar), but we never pushed the issue too much with him: we wanted it to come from him… we wanted him to be convinced enough about it to tell us… We thank God for his incredible gift!

Excited

There were a couple of things that were very neat to see / hear: Timo_baptized_2

  • Timo was jumping up & down in the changing room beforehand… I’m going to get baptized, I’m going to get baptized!!” he repeated several times.
  • Afterwards, while still in the changing room, he said “I feel so light!” 
  • A little while later (still at home afterward), he said… “I’m so glad, because now my name is written in the book of the Lamb!”

How neat to hear statements like that which make me so grateful for Liz’s influence and the influence of Sunday School Teachers who put that kind of understanding in the heart of an almost-9-year-old!

That makes Three!

IMG_5363

As of Sunday night, November 9th, all three of our kids have been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of their sins and filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as God gives the utterance. (the promise of Acts 2.38, exampled in Acts 2.4)

All three have been baptized since I became a licensed minister and so I have had the incredible honour of baptizing them all myself. I’m somewhat in awe when I stop to think about that.

#IAmGlobal Connection

When Timo told us Saturday that he’d gotten the Holy Ghost, I didn’t put it together immediately, but Sunday night before service, I remembered that there was a connection between that day and the #IAmGlobal offering taken at General Conference.

IamGlobal

Liz & I pledged an amount in the #IAmGlobal offering… an amount that was a stretch for us. We determined that, rather than rent our house while we went on AIM, we would sell it. This would not only allow us to leave completely debt free, but would allow us to make a sacrificial offering as well. It wasn’t an easy decision: not only would it require more preparation prior to our departure, but it also removed one of the safety nets for our eventual return home post-AIM.

Timo_baptized_3So what’s the connection with Timo’s Great 4 Days?
I think the best way to make that clear is to quote you from my journal entry of October 2nd, where I describe our experience of the Global Missions service and the #IAmGlobal offering:

“During his sermon, Bro. Mangun said that the supernatural would follow the sacrificial, so he urged people to not leave… to wait for the giving to be completed, then we would pray and there would be healings & such.

In my head I was thinking:
“I don’t need a healing, but God, give us our city (thinking of Châtellerault).” 
“I don’t need a healing, but Timo needs the Holy Ghost.”

“I don’t need a healing, but we need to leave fully funded.”

After we came back to our seats, someone that I did not know came up to me and prayed:
“It’s not that it ‘will happen’, that it is ‘going to happen’… it ‘has happened’. God has seen your desire, your tears and it has happened; He has brought it to pass, He has heard your prayer.”

.

What else can I say? We trusted him with something that, eternally speaking, is of little consequence (our house & our finances) and within barely a month, he established the eternal in Timo’s life!  Stepping out in faith is never easy (or it wouldn’t be a step of FAITH) but there’s nothing like the way that God answers!

God is great!
God is real!
I can trust Him!
Praise the Lord!

April in Review

Welcome to May!

As I sit down to write this first post for the month of May… we are on the verge of a very busy month! Before we get to that, however, let me give you a quick run-down of some of the things that happened in April.

Financial Update:

progress 14-05-01

Financial standing to-date
(graphic courtesy of iPhone app: GOTRAKiT)

This graphic gives you a general snapshot of where we are to date in terms of our financial support. It shows:

  • Monthly Partners in Mission pledges* and
  • One-time offerings

At this point, roughly 14% of funds needed for a 2-year stay in France have been pledged to, or received by, Global Missions in St. Louis.

This is VERY encouraging, thank you!

* Note: This amount…

  • assumes that PIMs maintain their support for the entire duration of our AIM term.
  • reflects only those pledges or gifts already received and processed by Global Missions – some may have been sent, but are still being processed.

Honour Roll!

A HUGE thank you to those pastors and churches whose support has already been received by Global Missions:

  • Rev. Stephen Tompkins – McAdam NB
  • Rev. David Ferrell – Perth-Andover NB
  • Rev. Scott Grant – Trois-Rivières & Greenfield QC
  • Rev. Dwayne Steeves – Corner Brook NF
  • Rev. Timothy Mitchell – Montgomery AL
  • Rev. Doug Davis – Old Westbury NY
  • Rev. Anthony Mangun – Alexandria LA
  • Rev. Gary Keller – Lancaster OH
  • Rev. Wayne Neyland – DeQuincy LA
  • Rev. David Reever – Baltimore MD
  • Rev. Jimmy Wallace – Elk City OK
  • Rev. Richard Flowers – Mesquite TX

Also… a HUGE thank you to those pastors who have supported us, to date, by scheduling services in the coming months (in order of calendar dates).

  • Rev. Stephen Tompkins – McAdam NB
  • Rev. Timothy Mitchell – Montgomery AL
  • Rev. Scott Grant – Trois-Rivières & Greenfield QC
  • Rev. Steve Schobert – Dallas TX
  • Rev. Dieudonné Kahozi – Montréal East
  • Rev. Kent Carter – Shediac NB
  • Rev. Trevor McGuire – Milleville NB
  • Rev. Donald Hood – Charlottetown PEI
  • Rev. Troy Wickett – Summerside PEI
  • Rev. Keith Carter – Ste-Anne de Madawaska NB
  • Rev. Ron Carroll – Doaktown NB
  • Rev. Allison Cromwell – McNamee NB
  • Rev. Raymond Woodward – Fredericton NB
  • Rev. Michael Trail – Taymouth NB

 For up-to-date details, please see our schedule.

(During the month of May, we will be driving through the Alabama, Florida, Texas & Missouri. If you would like to have us come to your church or know of someone who might like to have us come, please fill out the form below.)

More April-Highlights…

  • On April 3rd, I began some of the paperwork necessary to temporarily move to Europe.  Bureaucracy exists in every country and France specializes in it!  Starting early, though, should help alleviate some of the stress.

Our efforts… God’s credit

We are trying to be diligent in our attempts to raise financial and prayer support. We realize however that for whatever comes in, the credit belongs to God. This principle is portrayed in Proverbs 21.31:

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD. (KJV)
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD. (NIV)

The assurance that “victory rests with the Lord” does not alleviate the necessity of the horsemen to prepare or make ready their horses for the battle. In the words of Duncan Campbell:

“…while God is sovereign in the affairs of men,
His sovereignty does not relieve men of responsibility.”

Contact Form:

Thank you!

Thank you for your support. Yes. You are showing support simply by the fact that you are coming back time and again to stay informed about our project and preparations. Let it inform your prayer time and be part of the work of God in France.

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The Lewis Revival 2

Context

You’ll recall, from my last post, that I promised to allude to the role of prayer in the incredible revival that was see on the island of Lewis-Harris in the early 1950’s.  The following excerpt is taken from the transcript of a taped message, preached by Duncan Campbell (a Scottish preacher with the United Free Church of Scotland and the Faith Mission) in 1968, on the topic of the Hebrides Revival.
(formatting & emphasis mine)

Prayer…

photoNow I am sure that you will be interested to know how, in November 1949, this gracious movement began on the island of Lewis. Two old women, one of them 84 years of age and the other 82 (one of them stone blind), were greatly burdened because of the appalling state of their own parish (where) …not a single young person attended public worship. …They spent their day perhaps reading or walking but the church was left out of the picture. …Those two women were greatly concerned and they made it a special matter of prayer.

They were so burdened that both decided to spend much time in prayer, twice a week. On Tuesday they got on their knees at 10 o’clock in the evening and remained (there) until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning–two old women in a very humble cottage.

Vision

One night, one of the sisters had a vision… she saw the church of her fathers crowded with young people, packed to the doors, and a strange minister standing in the pulpit… (she) said to (their) minister, “You must do something about it. And I would suggest that you call your office bearers together and that you spend, with us, at least two nights in prayer in the week. Tuesday and Friday if you gather your elders together… and as you pray there, we will pray here.”

…that continued for almost a month and a half, until one night… they were (all) kneeling there in the barn, pleading this promise,

“I will pour water on him that is thirsty, floods upon the dry ground”
(Isaiah 44.3)

…when one young man, a deacon in the church, got up and… said, “It seems to me to be so much humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.”

Repentance…

…he lifted his hands and prayed, “God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? “ But he got no further. That young man fell to his knees… into a trance.  At that moment, he and his other office bearers were gripped by the conviction that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness. …and an awareness of God gripped the community such as hadn’t been known for over 100 years.

Campbell Arrives…

I shall never forget the night that I arrived… The minister turned to me and said:

“I know Mr. Campbell that you are very tired-you have been traveling all day, …and I am sure that you are ready for your supper and ready for your bed. But I wonder if you would be prepared to address a meeting in the parish church at 9 o’clock tonight on our way home. It will be a short meeting…”

barvas-church

The Parish Church Barvas

We got to the church about quarter to nine to find about 300 people gathered… Nothing really happened during the service: A sense of God, a consciousness of His Spirit moving but nothing beyond that. So I pronounced the benediction… When I went to the door of the church I saw a congregation (outside) of approximately 600 people. …Where had they come from? I believe that that very night God swept in Pentecostal power-the power of the Holy Ghost.

Where’d they come from?

Over 100 young people were at the dance in the parish hall and they weren’t thinking of God or eternity… when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They fled from the hall and made for the church. They are now standing outside. Oh, yes–they saw lights in the church. That was a house of God and they were going to it.

Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church. Nothing in the way of publicity–no mention of a special effort… But God took the situation in hand and became His own publicity agent. A hunger and a thirst gripped the people. 600 of them now are at the church standing outside.

Read more:

  • The full transcript of the text featured in this post can be found here.
  • To download a free .PDF booklet on the Lewis Revival, written by Campbell, click here.
    (a quick read that is WELL worth the time)

The Lewis Revival 1

Lewis-Harris

I recently read a short booklet entitled “The Lewis Awakening”, written by Duncan Campbell in 1954. The book traces the remarkable story of revival coming to the small island of Lewis, between 1949 – 1953. Lewis is part of the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland.

Campbell dedicates Chapter 2 to describing how the revival began. Below is an excerpt.
(emphasis & formatting are mine)

Defining Revival

“I would like first to state what I mean by revival as witnessed in the Hebrides:

  • I do not mean a time of religious entertainment, with crowds gathering to enjoy an evening of bright gospel singing;
  • I do not mean sensational or spectacular advertising – in a God-sent revival you do not need to spend money on advertising.
  • I do not mean high-pressure methods to get men to an inquiry room – in revival every service is an inquiry room; the road and hill side become sacred spots to many when the winds of God blow.

Revival is a going of God among His people, and an awareness of God laying hold of the community.

Here we see the difference between a successful campaign and revival; in the former we may see many brough to a saving knowledge of the truth, and the church or mission experience a time of quickening, but so far as the town or district is concerned no real change is visible; the world goes on its way and the dance and picture-shows are still crowded: but in revival the fear of God lays hold upon the community, moving men and women, who until then had no concern for spiritual things, to see after God. ” (pp.14-15)

A Word of Caution

  1. While it could seem harsh for Campbell to draw the comparison between “a successful campaign” and “revival”, let’s be careful to not over-emphasize that distinction. Both have value and both serve a purpose; Campbell is, first and foremost, describing the way things happened in Lewis, where there were none of the elements of the “successful campaign”… no flyers printed, posters hung, or high-pressure.
  2. He states that “in a God-sent revival you do not need to spend money on advertising.”  Once again, let’s remember:
      1. the context – which is rural Scotland in the 1950’s and
      2. that the author is speaking descriptively, not prescriptively.

Inspired for Real Change

  • Lord, let it be so in our communities today!
  • Let us, in our lifetime, experience such revival as was seen in Lewis.
  • Let us see it in France.

Next…

Come back on Saturday when I’ll share the role that prayer played in the Lewis Awakening, according to Duncan Campbell.

The Châtellerault Church…

A bit o’ history…

Châtellerault Church, D749 et La Fontaine, Pasteur Paul Brochu

The first time I set foot in the Châtellerault church was in 2005…. but it didn’t look like this and it wasn’t in this building!

Paul Brochu, who founded the church in 2000, was in the USA on deputation that year and Steve Schobert was covering his furlough. Cécile LeDay, the first to receive the revelation of Jesus’ name, was still alive, and the church met in her large downtown home at 57 Boul. Aristide Briand, on the intersection of Rue de la Paix.

I have fond memories of Sis. LeDay who was a former nun and had impeccable French. The fact that I was a French Teacher at the University of New Brunswick at the time, meant that we had some great discussions about the finer details of the language. She would, from time to time, gently correct my use of a particular structure or expression. More than a French resource though, she was a faithful lady who wholeheartedly served the Lord in Spirit and Truth; truly an example of discipleship in action. She always sat in the back row, on the right side (even at that though, given that we were meeting in a living room, she was still only about 15′ from the pulpit!) 

Click here to see Bro. Brochu, preaching in that building in 2006.

Our first look at this building…

In 2006, we were on a family vacation in western France and joined the Brochus for service on Sunday morning. Following the service, they took us out to see the new building, just outside the city. God had blessed them with an incredible property and building right on the Ave. de Richelieu (Route Départementale D749, at the corner of La Fontaine, directly across from the Centre d’Équitation). It wouldn’t be until 2009 that I would set foot in that building for the first time.

Repurposed…

The building had once been a small manufacturing building so the large hangar (top pic, left side) was the workshop and the smaller section (top pic, right side) was the office area. It would be repurposed… a workshop yes, but for assembling and repairing lives broken by sin, with the power of the gospel of Jesus.

The building had been damaged by fire and so the church initially met in one of the smaller offices and could comfortably hold about 20 people. I preached there in 2009 and the Lord spoke to Sis. Jeannette about her need for baptism in Jesus’ name. Over the next 3 years, work progressed on the larger office area which would, in 2012, be dedicated as the new sanctuary.

Dedicated to a Dream

The picture below is a pretty special one. It was taken on September 22, 2012 during the dedication service for the new sanctuary. Though it wasn’t taken by me (I wasn’t in attendance), it’s special to me for a number of reasons…

  • Bro. & Sis. Brochu can be seen front and center, being ministered to rather than ministering (for Pastors in smaller churches, this can a rare occurrence).
  • This ministry couple have indeed been dedicated to a dream: planting a church in the heart of western France.
  • This photo represents my dream as well… a full church in the city of Châtellerault. It is my prayer and my desire to see 100 people, regularly worshipping in this church, by the time the Brochu’s come back from their deputation.

Is that a daring dream? a big vision? Yes.
Is anything too hard for the Lord? No.
… and so, I dream!

church crowd_b

If you’d like to partner with us and be part of the dream coming true… click here.