Daybreak on a day of Possibilities!

images of France, Pictures of France, Bible Verse,, AIMLong, pont henri IV, sunrise, la vienne

The sun rises over the Vienne River in Châtellerault.

Today you woke up.
(Perhaps some of you are still in the process of waking up)
Maybe you found yourself mulling over yesterdays worries or last weeks failures; often times those things stay with us a while and oddly enough they are most present in our minds when we are trying to fall asleep or when we awake… potentially coloring our mood for the day.

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Light in Darkness…

Light in Darkness…

Yet again… France has been struck by an attack designed to kill innocents and strike fear in the hearts of the rest of the nation. The date: July 14th – France’s National Holiday (like US’s July 4th or Canada Day)… Crowds were gathered in city squares & parks all over the country and in Nice, the crowd was diminished by 84 lives immediately following the end of the fireworks display.

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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!

#$HealthCheck … ?

As you can imagine, there are many things that need to be considered when planning a move like that which we are planning in less than 4 months!  In the context of dealing with some of those preparations, we found ourselves sitting across from a personal banking representative yesterday and I had a thought.

The Background

photoFor readers who don’t know us personally, Liz and I married in 1997 and have spent our entire married life in the same neighbourhood. Our house has been paid off for a couple of years and we have only limited debt, however there are still other financial preparations that need to be done, over and above simply raising financial support. One of the big questions has been, “What about your house?  Will you rent it or sell?” So, yesterday we went to the bank to examine our options in that area as well as when it comes to managing things like life insurance payments, pre-existing RRSPs (the Canadian equivalent of the American 401K), etc.

Near the outset of the meeting, our banker indicated that she had a few questions to ask as part of a general Financial Health Check, the answers to which would help her make suggestions that would be the right fit for us. The questions were straightforward enough: Tolerance for risk? Desired time of retirement? Investment knowledge? and so on… which leads me to the thought.


As she went through a lot of information I found myself, at one point, thinking: “Lord, help me to process what I’m hearing.” and, alternatively, “Lord, help her to help us in the best possible way.”  It caused me to draw the following parallel:

When we’re at a cross-roads in the area of our physical health, we often rely more heavily on the Lord or are at least more conscious of our need for his help. We also consult someone with greater knowledge of the normal functioning of the body and who, where readjustment is needed, is best suited to advise on how that readjustment can happen.

Similarly, when it came time to understanding multiple financial tools available, how each works on its own and how they interact when used together, we had come to seek counsel from someone with more knowledge than we have. …and I found myself praying.

It occurred to me… how often to we prepare for “average, everyday meetings” by praying?  Oh I know that when pastors or missionaries are going for a new building or a land-purchase, they’ll request prayer, but this is just “managing our everyday finances”… no biggie, right?   Wrong.

The End of the Matter

photoOver and above our banker’s very valuable counsel and advice, everything we possess is from the Lord and our dependence is ultimately on him. I was glad that I could call on Him for help to wade through the options and trust that he is guiding both our banker and ourselves.

Got questions? Pray. God’s as interested in seeing us succeed in the everyday things as he is in the big decisions. As for us and our house… well, now we wade through the options and trust that the Lord’s hand will guide us. He’s never failed us yet and we don’t expect him to anytime soon.

Thanks for stopping by… let it feed your prayers for us!
God bless you today!

Fundraising & Miracles

Neat things have happened since I last updated you on fundraising specifics… so today’s post will address some of those things.

#1:  half-way there!!!

photoWe are THRILLED to tell you that with only 4 months left, we have topped the 50% commitment level.

Thank you,
Thank you,

One-time donations:
One-time donations total $24,450.00 (40% of the total commitment). Most of these have already been received however a portion of that total is based on a commitment to give.

Monthly Partner Commitments:
Monthly commitments total $36,000.00 (the equivalent of thirty $50/month partners). This total assumes two things:

a) that confirmed donors maintain their giving for the full 2-years that we expect to be in France and
b) that those who have given us a verbal commitment, though the paperwork has not yet been received, will proceed with the giving.

Given that we only announced our appointment in January and began fundraising in March, we are thrilled that, in just over 6 months, God has opened up this level of support through youhis partners in missions.  Thank you!

#2: Every little bit counts

TypicEarlier this week I spoke at Northeast Christian College, in Fredericton NB and presented our burden for France. At the end of our time together, Rev. Mel Calhoun asked the students if anyone wanted to contribute to our support as a one-time donation. The students responded:

There was one donation of $100, one of $50 and one of $40. The rest were commitments of $5, $10, $15 and $20, yet when all was said and done, these students had committed $780.

Thank you @NCC4Ministry!

#3: Baggage bigger than Carry-On

What!? That exists?

In 17 years of married life (with the exception of Liz’s move to Canada from Belgium) we have never traveled with anything but carry-on sized luggage. Consequently, we didn’t own large suitcases. THAT would have to change in preparation for France… and it has; we got six brand new huge suitcases. The price should’ve been $700, but we got them virtually for free!!

How’d we do it?

  • We began sorting stuff that has accumulated in 17 years of married life and we prepared to sell anything that had value.
  • Yard Sale: $400 kijiji
  • Kijiji (Canadian equivalent of Craigslist):  $300
  • Bargain Hunting: My wife had been keeping her eye on some suitcases at a local store. She waited until she they came out with a “buy 1, get one 1/2-price” sale… so the total came to $590, but the sale of our stuff paid for it, so the suitcases really cost us nothing out of pocket.

The bad news…  more expenses are coming.
The good news… we still have lots more stuff to sell!

#4: Inspired Reading

GodAskKindleIn discussion with Bro. Poitras this past weekend at our missions conference, he mentioned the book “The God Ask: A fresh biblical approach to fund raising” by Steve Shadrach. It discusses the process of raising funds for either a missions trip of some kind or a church or para-church ministry or organization. I’m currently only about 30% through it… but it’s a wonderful read and if you’re considering any kind of short-term missions involvement for which you need to raise your own support… I highly recommend this book!!

$19.99 on Amazon or $9.99 for the ebook*
(prices are from and could vary slightly in the USA)

#5: Postcard Results

Just an update to say that we have already seen results from our postcard mailout back in August.  Although I plan, in the next two weeks, to touching base with many of these pastors by telephone, one pastor in Georgia didn’t wait to hear from me by phone, but sent us both a one-time offering as well as a monthly partner commitment. God is blessing us beyond measure through ordinary people and pastors just like you!  Thank you for your support!

This Weekend

That’s pretty much it for this morning folks. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel to Upper Kent and St. Anne-de-Madawaska this weekend, both in north-western New Brunswick, to present our burden for and call to France.  Two great churches which we’ve never been to before.

God bless you today!

The Power of One

I hesitated between entitling this post “The Power of One” and “Quiet Strength”… both of which describe Rosa Parks well. I was recently exposed to her story in incredible detail and left the experience deeply moved.

Her Story

Portrait (top) by Susan Tusa

Portrait (top) by Susan Tusa

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat to white people, boarding a bus in Montgomery Alabama’s then-segregated municipal bus system. Although the particular seat she was in did not technically have to be yielded to whites, according to city by-laws, the over-zealous bus driver either forgot or disregarded that detail in order to make an example out of Parks. He had her arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

The exchange between Parks, who practiced peaceful disobedience, and the driver, James Blake, went something like this:

Blake: “You gonna give up that seat?”
Parks: “No.”
Blake: “You better give me that seat.”
Parks: “No.”
Blake: “I’ll have you arrested.”
Parks: “You may do that.”

Parks’ quiet refusal and subsequent arrest sparked a year-long boycott of the bus system, by 50,000 African-Americans; causing the company to lose some $3,ooo / day. Her actions resulted in the US Supreme Court ordering full integration of the public transportation system. Thus began the modern civil rights movement.

There were other battles fought as part of the overall war on race-equality in the United States, but this was a major one.


Of course the name Rosa Parks was not unfamiliar to me, but I came away from this experience of the story deeply moved for the first time.

In the 1990s, while honoring her, Bill Clinton referred to Mrs. Parks, who was sitting in the audience with then first-lady Hillary Clinton and he said something to the effect (as everyone around her was rising to give her a standing ovation)

“Mrs. Parks may stand OR remain seated… as is her good pleasure.”

When I heard this, it took me several minutes to regain my composure.

What is the Power of One?

It is the power of one decision, made by one individual… the result of which is neither known at the time nor guaranteed to be favorable. It is a belief that the possible (though not guaranteed) outcome is worth the risk.

Though she new it would have ramifications, she probably didn’t realize just how far those ramifications would be felt and how many people they would impact. At the very least, it affected the 50,000 people who spent a year boycotting the Montgomery bus system… but we know it went further than that.

What about you… what about me?

Is it possible for us to make such a difference?

Is it possible for us to experience the power of one?

I hope so. I believe so. This is why I serve the Lord and seek to become more like Him… because, at the very least, the repercussions of that daily choice, will impact the four other lives with which I spend the most time… my family. Beyond that I desire to have this daily choice impact future generations in France.

  • Because John & Anne Nowacki chose to plant a church in Melun, France… some 400+ people worship God there each Sunday and communities around the nation are hearing the gospel as well.
  • Because Paul & Darla Brochu chose to establish a church in Châtellerault, western France back in 2000 there is an incredibly firm foundation and infrastructure upon which to watch the Lord take the next step in impacting a region.

Thank you, Lord, that we have the opportunity to be part of that next step!

Want to help us in this endeavour?
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The Pain of Independence

I’m currently re-reading a book that I read a year or so ago… “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”* by Susan Cain. The title of today’s post was inspired by her use of the term near the end of chapter 3 When Collaboration Kills Creativity.

Gregory Berns

quietAt the time the book was published, in 2012, Gregory Berns was a neuroscientist at Emory University, in Atlanta Georgia. He was doing research wherein volunteers played a game while in an fMRI machine. They were shown, on a computer screen, two 3-dimensional objects and asked whether one could be rotated to match the other. When participants played the game on their own, they gave a wrong answer only 14% of the time. When they played with a group… they gave the wrong answer significantly more often. The trick was… in the group-play version… other “players” unanimously gave the wrong answer… and the individual player themselves gave the wrong answer (in conformity to the group) some 41% of the time (as opposed to 14%, when playing alone). Berns took pictures of the brain while all of this was going on and saw that, when playing with a group, the individual displayed more activity in the part of the brain that dealt with visual and spatial perception: People were not consciously choosing an incorrect answer in order to conform to the group… Playing in a group altered their perception.

So what?

This work shows that the moment we enter a group we unconsciously want, or feel the need, to conform. The scary thing is that we’re not even aware that we might be abandoning our own conviction, belief or values in order to conform to what appears to be the dominant conviction, belief or value of the group.

Inversely, it also implies that it can be much easier to be part of a group since we don’t have to expend emotional energy “swimming upstream” against the crowd.

Nobody wants to be outside of the group… it’s a lonely place to be, and loneliness can be painful.

I repeat…. so what?

What does this have to do with short term missions? I was reminded again, recently, of the sacrifice that can be involved in missions. It is really an “against the tide” undertaking.

I had been aware of the story of Bro. & Sis. Verner and Abbigail Larsen who pioneered the work in Colombia, South America. Danish by birth and Canadian by naturalization, they arrived in 1936 to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to that country. Only eighteen months later, Sis. Larsen died in childbirth, leaving Bro. Larsen with a young son and newborn daughter.  Rather than returning to Canada, as the mission board urged him to do, he buried his wife and remained on the field for many years to follow.

What amazing sacrifice!

White_CindyMore recently I was reminded of the sacrifice of missions with the passing, while on the mission field, of Sis. Cynthia White, last Friday, May 16th; a lady that Rev. Jack Cunningham once referred to as a “modern day Deborah”** 

Appointed as an intermediate missionary to Jordan back in 2010, she had  several years of missions experience prior to that, mostly through the AIM program.

She pastored a Filipino work in Jordan and worked with other culturally-centered churches as well as coordinating prayer efforts and ladies-ministries.

What an amazing sacrifice… not just for her, but for her family.

A Jump into the Unknown

Filled with faith, hope and love, both of these missionary families jumped into the unknown: A place where they couldn’t see ahead of time what path their feet might tread. But neither can we see, yet, the reward that is theirs for having walked the road less traveled. At one point, however, they met with the unexpected.

I’m reminded of the words of the old hymn written by American gospel songwriter Ira Stanphill:

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

There can be pain in independence. There can be pain in swimming upstream. There can be pain in standing out from the crowd… but no pearl comes at a meager price, no crown without a cross.

* Thankful for their example *


Leanin’ into the Curve

Man! I’m so proud of my kids!

Curve in the Road

Lord willing, in less than a year, our kids will be leaving behind, for the first time ever, everything that is most familiar… for the first time: Their friends, their church, their neighourhood, and the nearby Sobeys, Tim Horton’s and Dairy Queen where we’re comfortable with them walking unaccompanied. They haven’t got a clue, but they’re totally leaning into the curve! Continue reading