Murray's Blog 2009


Occasional reflections on the journey - from wherever we might be...

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December 31, 2009

What Difference Do I Make? We come to the end of another year - a year that for many will be remembered as a difficult one - and some media pundits ask "why are we celebrating?" Many of us may wonder what difference our lives are making. It needn't be so. This last day of the year Carol and I watched Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" - again! Why does a movie remain popular for over 60 years? Because it speaks truths we need. Such as:

1. Everything we do affects others. For many years cultural forces have resisted public discussion of moral issues for fear that the "what I do in the privacy of my home affects no one" myth might be exploded. The fact is that everything we do, and even think, affects those around us. We can choose to do good and affect generations not yet born. We can choose to be selfish without ever committing a crime and diminish the lives of many. We can believe the lie that our life is inconsequential and hide our talents under a rock (Matthew 25:14-30) trying to do "no good and no harm," and miss tremendous opportunities to bring strength and encouragement into the lives of many.

2. Even when life is difficult, it is good - far better than the alternative. George Bailey, in the movie, comes into such difficulty that he despairs of life itself. If we come to such a place we, like George, have lost perspective. Life itself is God's gift to us and when we live it, even painfully under difficult circumstances to the good of others, life is good, the gift of Him who says, "I have come I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) here.

December 19, 2009

Who will make room? This morning Carol and I visited Home Church where my brother Jim reflected on the spirit of our secular age which increasingly, like the innkeeper, says "no room" to Jesus. Earlier in our visit to Canada, Carol and I browsed the "Christmas section" of a major bookstore chain to find largely new age authors promoting the 'Jesus' of their own making. A few days later in preparing for a family dedication service for our grandson Kai we searched in vain for a card which referred to Jesus. Even the "happy christening" card at the Hallmark store could bring itself only to say 'God.' We chose a blank card to write in. Finally we found a store with plaques and carvings which expressed truths, some of which were Biblical. Bringing our small carving with the words "Hope Faith Love" (from 1 Corinthians 13) to the counter we met the owners, a Muslim couple who had left Iran. Though not followers of Jesus, they, far more than our secular culture, were willing to make available to the public expressions of Biblical truth, leaving the door open if only a crack, for Jesus.

December 10, 2009

Gender wars, can we do better? Over the years I've grown weary of gender 'camps' to the point I confess I now don't even want to play 'men against women' in board games, sport or card games. Why? Because the key word is 'against.'

Certainly marriage, and the 'Venus and Mars' books, tell us what we already knew - women and men are different and there are in these differences themselves many opportunities for misunderstanding or conflict. The domination of men over women of patriarchal societies is not necessarily improved on in the male passivity of matriarchal societies.

The higher biblical goal of mutual respect, listening, understanding and service is difficult enough without the constant - from books to game shows - setting the genders over and 'against' each other in fun or in power struggles. Loving, serving and caring for one another is the better way.

November 25, 2009

Art in the Kingdom: One of the themes of the Ethne gathering earlier this month was the use of art in communicating the Gospel in the diverse cultural contexts of the thousands of unreached people groups in the world today. A definition of EthnoArts is offered in the photo to the left. Art, like human language, is the best bridge of the Gospel of grace through the cross of Christ when it comes in a form familiar to the culture it seeks to reach. Art is a personal taste and can communicate what words struggle to say.

The Catholic church has long used art to communicate aspects of the Biblical world view, including but not limited to times and settings where those it sought to read was non-literate. The photo of the tomb (below) depicts both the strength and vigour of the person on the top of the carving, and the weakness of the same person utterly dependent upon the Lord for resurrection. While the image may be viewed by some as heavy handed, there is little question of the emotional power of the depiction.  

I'm not an artist but am desirous of communicating God's truth and grace effectively. So I invite those of you who are artists to look afresh at the art forms of the culture with which you desire to interact - stimulating in turn, in the hearts of those who experience your work, engagement with the Gospel - and to use those gifts in sculpture, graphic design, painting, music and other forms creatively for God's redemptive purposes.

The self-awareness brought by the Gospel depicted by Sarah Brown (left) is another form entirely and to me as powerful and engaging.

November 16, 2009

Kai Christopher John: I received a phone call in Worthing moments ago from Carol, who had travelled to Vancouver to be with our children for the blessed event, to announce that the Lord had made us grandparents again! Chris and Julie are proud parents of Kai Christopher John! Mom, baby and the encouragement team are well, Kai arrived 1:01am November 16 and we praise the Lord! An additional blessing was that our daughter Melanie had been previously scheduled to work the maternity ward of Ridge-Meadows Hospital this particular shift so that was a special treat as well. I've asked Carol to send photos and text when she's had some rest and these will be available at the link above.

(These photos are now available at the above link and I've included one of my favourites (right) of Chris and Julie welcoming their first born shortly after his birth!)

November 5, 2009

Bogotá, Columbia: This week I've been in Bogotá with colleagues who share the commitment to establish church planting movements in every 'ethne' (Matt. 28:19 'nation,' best translated 'people group') to invite people to follow Jesus. Outside were many evidences of Columbia's need for a society and government that follows Jesus: poverty, an average of 12 murders a night, largely under the watchful eye of machine-gun toting teenage military at most ATMs, hotels and major retail outlets. The photo to the left reflects a mural in protest against the oppression of big banks against little people, the latter depicted as powerless skulls swept away before the the big banks. The people I met were friendly and helpful, generally resigned, it seemed to me, to their lot, working often as street vendors making a living from day to day. The young man who was my seat mate worried aloud that Chavez of Venezuela would sweep into Columbia as Hitler did into Poland. His father was a military historian and appeared to see parallels. As I prepared to leave Bogotá I boarded the plane after several hand-searches of my luggage, not so much the contents of my luggage but the luggage itself, looking for false bottoms or sides in which drugs might be stored. On the plane seconds before push-back the entire airport was abruptly closed while we waited on board for 'military exercises' to conclude. During the delay we were not allowed to leave the plane. Delta Airline staff soon broke out juice boxes and nibbles. Passengers took the unexplained delay in stride. The contrast that struck me most was that the pilot (photo, right) joined the flight attendants (who are not paid for time on the ground) in the isles handing out the goodies. I've flown a lot but haven't seen that particular expression of servant-leadership and was delighted in what the flight captain modeled and his attitude of making of the experience a time of some fun with very limited resources. The contrast between those who 'help themselves' first, evidenced not only in Columbia but in fact if we look closely, in the battle of every human heart, and this simple act of service caused me inspiration and reflection. 

October 23, 2009

Today brings me to Portugal to speak at church planting conference. I've been hosted in a Roman Catholic seminary related to the Congregação do Espírito Santo Entering the cafeteria I was struck by the wonderfully placement of a stylistic depiction of Jesus sharing a meal with His disciples as backdrop to the shared table fellowship of the seminary. I found myself reflecting on the painting as in actuality of "Jesus's housechurch" sharing it's last supper before His crucifixion and resurrection. I'm convinced from Scripture that Jesus had no more complex an intention for the structure of His church than what He modeled: relatively small informal groups sharing life and ministry together. Am I suggesting there is something 'wrong' with the institutional church? Not per se; but I am seeing it's structures as somewhat cumbersome and in some cases even inadvertently a "barrier to entry" to the Kingdom of Christ's grace for those who cannot see beyond the structures. What then? Should everyone be in a housechurch? Perhaps not, but evidence from every continent shows those outside of Christ more easily and frequently find Him in small informal gatherings, living out their struggles and faith together, than in more structured expressions.

October 10, 2009

Groundbreaking: one of the dilemmas of our work is that some of the best stories cannot be told! This is because they involve ministry among a faith group where security issues require we say little. However we rejoice in a recent event symbolizing the beginning of a ministry which has been in preparation for many months in the formation of a partnership bringing together the strengths of four Christian organizations. The picture to the right was taken moments before a groundbreaking celebration anticipating the development of a significant center of training and production of media resources for ministry in the Middle East. Please pray with us for those engaged in all facets of preparation for this centre and for those in greatest danger as they witness to the resurrection, Lordship and salvation of Jesus Christ. A forerunner of this work has seen the deaths of two of its emerging leaders. But as believer in Central Asia - where churches are growing despite persecution - encourages coworkers:

   "If you are beaten, thank God you are not put in jail.

    If you are in jail, thank God that you have not been killed.

    If you are killed, thank God you are in Heaven!"

A Courageous Board: Following this celebration of groundbreaking we joined the Board of one of our fields who accepted responsibility for a missionary candidate to serve in one field and agreed in principle to take the lead in taking responsibility for opening two other fields including one in the Middle East. I think/know it was a 'stretch' for this Board but I rejoice in leadership which weighs the cost and moves ahead!

September 29, 2009

Field Visits and other travel: Carol and I will make a series of field visits and this along with other travel will continue to November 5. During this time I'll be home in Worthing 7 days in 37. Seldom does looking forward to sleeping in "one's own bed" seem so appealing as when on the move! Please pray with us for wisdom in serving the needs of teams, stamina and health, and time for personal prayer and scripture meditation to nourish our souls so that we would live out of the overflow of His grace.

September 23, 2009

Thanksgiving! Good news! This morning, two days before a scheduled prostrate biopsy, I received a call from the doctor informing me results of my PSA blood test taken last Friday had inexplicably dropped to 2.2 after climbing steadily for a year (for those not familiar with the scale, for men my age anything over 4.5 or 5 is concerning) with the consequence that the biopsy is not needed! Carol and I praise the Lord for this and want to share it with you immediately as we know some of you have been praying with us. How the Lord has intervened we don't know, but that He did, we do, and we praise Him! 

September 5, 2009

Family Roots: My parents immigrated from Holland before I was born. I was unaware of how deep and many were my roots in that land. August 29 to September 5, six of the eight brothers and sisters, and two cousins and their spouses returned for a week of cycling and visiting the locations of our parents' childhood, meeting gracious and hospitable relatives and listening to the stories which revealed the shape of those roots;  the hardships of their childhood years, the war years, the personalities of our ancestors and the faithfulness of our God. The house pictured is the birthplace of my mother. The upper window was the place from which a rope dropped, to which she tied a bucket with food for those who couldn't leave the house during the Nazi occupation. Each day, while the soldiers assigned to be fed by the family were at the table, she was daily sent out to "prepare tea" and carried out her secret task. We worshipped in the church where our parents were married and the graveyard where many of our relatives were laid. We cycled in the wind and rain just as our parents had cycled. The trip was initiated by a cousin battling cancer. We were deeply aware of how important experiences like these we shared are often delayed by daily routines which take priority until something like cancer shakes us loose. The closing evening, we shared with each other the experiences that had touched us most deeply, and gave thanks to the Lord.

In the individualism of western culture, and it's priority of the present over the past and future, allow me to encourage you to value family roots, particularly those through whom the Lord has shown His faithfulness and reminded us of who we are in Him.

We also had lots of fun :-) pictures

August 11, 2009

The Gospel for All Seasons: In our August update we shared my need of a prostate biopsy to which a friend responded sharing a recent report suggesting "almost all men in their 70's will have prostate cancer." "Happily," he writes, "this same report stated that for most of them, the cancer will spread so slowly that God will use other reasons to finish their races." We trust this will be so in our case as well. Our trust is always in in Him alone.

Either way, as Tim Keller, reflecting on his own experience, well paraphrased Samuel Johnson in his The Reason for God (p. 201), "the 'cancer' word pronounced over you any circumstances 'concentrates the mind wonderfully.'"

The Gospel - as my friend, colleague and fellow-traveller Jeff Fountain illustrates in his recent 'weekly word' - even in the face of ultimate challenge, remains the source of irrepressible hope. He points to the example, near the Latvian border, of Lithuania's "Hill of Crosses".

Now all that may seem a bit much related to simple elevated PSA levels and that may be. But the irrepressible hope of the Gospel in all experiences is firm, in all seasons of life, and to that I testify and for that I rejoice.

August 1, 2009

Living Positively in the World We Live In: Many have viewed a presentation circulating on the internet in recent months focusing on demographic changes in the west and what they will mean for the future (see YouTube). Though good arguments have been made that the presentation is unbalanced, one of its valid observations is that adults in increasing numbers of western nations are choosing not to have enough children to maintain their culture. Refusing to have children is in fact a form of cultural suicide.

One of the challenges of parenting and of encouraging those who are parents, is to choose and continue to live positively in a world in which powerful persons seems bent on changes which will make the world a more difficult place in which to raise children. Often the public seem willing to accept changes touted to be for their protection if they can be convinced it best in light of a current crisis. Recent examples include the willingness to accept literally anything done by a government in the name of "security" following events of 9/11 (which increasingly to this observer has marks of a 'false flag' operation). Currently in the news are the proposals of President Obama for universal healthcare (who could be against healthcare after all?) which take advantage of the public's trust in "the good cause" to bring in a wide range of totalitarian measures, e.g. the right of government to decide what treatments you will be permitted and make electronic withdrawals from your on-line bank account without your consent. (It's worth researching for Canadians also in that Canada's government is committing itself to sharing databases with the USA and Mexico.)

Well, yes.

But here is the real challenge. It's easy to say, "oh, what's the use?" and settle back in front of the sports broadcast.

Rather we are called to live fully, deliberately and expectantly as we work for and trust in the coming of the Kingdom of Christ over against the lesser kingdoms of darkness. This morning following my 'quiet time' I begin to review the way witnesses to the Resurrection expressed the Gospel in the face of opposition and injustice in the Book of Acts. I gathered a number of them for those who might want to review them. One expression that struck me particularly came from the post-resurrection lips of Christ: "I am sending you to open (their) eyes so that they may turn from darkness to the light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18, NASV)" This speaks to me of a) the high stakes of bringing the Gospel of deliverance to the world and of b) the certainty of God's presence with those who receive and share their inheritance from Christ.

I reflected last month to one of our sons the story I'd heard from my parents about their family life during the occupation of Holland by the Nazis. My mother's family had managed to hide a radio in a carved out haystack. Every night one of her brothers would burrow in to listen to news of the war from the BBC. Nazi propaganda was everywhere; truth was sparse but desperately needed. When he returned the family discussed the war for one hour. Then it was done. Tea was served. Hymns were sung. The family loved one another and lived out their faith as light in the darkness of that hour.

There are parallels for our day. We too need the truth and should seek it out diligently beginning with the Word of God. We too should purposefully discuss our strategic responses to the kingdom of darkness for an hour - and then stop - to live life in fullness in the Kingdom of God in Christ; having and enjoying our children and sharing the Gospel with them and with all, in full hope of the coming of His Kingdom. How can we do both? (cf. Rick Joyner in PDF) Christ is victor over darkness and we follow in His train. He is the world's only hope.

July 21, 2009

The Quickness of the Journey: Yes, there is life after becoming grandparents - richer and fuller than ever! (For more updates on our grandparenting adventure with Canaan John, please click here)

One reflection is the amazing quickness of the journey. The photo on the left is me with our first-born, Christopher John, at a similar stage to that of Matt and Chantalle with Canaan John - the difference is that 30 years have whizzed by. Many I recognize express their sense of this reality. The years of loving, moulding, preparing our children to be disciples of Jesus Christ for the world in which they will make their contribution are few and quickly past. And then they are off and we can do little but love them from a relative distance and pray they will be aware of the stakes of the privilege that is now theirs. One of the joys of this season is the deep confidence that Matt and Chantalle are deliberate about the journey as well and will be great parents to Canaan John. May the Lord give much wisdom and grace as they launch their fleet towards the harbour of His embrace...

July 4, 2009 

First Grandchild: The morning after, Carol and I woke up smiling! I reflected to Carol I found it ironic that the achievement I had contributed least to, I was finding myself proudest of: becoming a grandparent! And if that wasn't bad enough, the first thing I wanted to do, in the way all the grandparents I'd seen before, was share the pictures! Ok, here goes (the short version as least)...Waiting Family First, there's the eager family waiting outside the maternity door (beside Carol and I, there's our eldest son Chris with our daughter Melanie who is a maternity nurse in the hospital but wasn't on duty, and his wife Julie, seated). We were beckoned by text and were prepared for a long wait. However the baby came much quicker than anyone expected.

Then there's the happy father, Matt (below), coming to the door to Happy Fatherannounce the birth of the baby. He had 'texted' us the news a few moments earlier but, wonderful rascal that he is, had only said 'Healthy, just cleaning everyone up' - without telling us if it was a girl or boy. (Matt had told us confidently when the pregnancy was first announced that it would be a boy. Matt's always confident - that's one of the things everyone loves about him.) 

Chantalle with Canaan John






And here (left) is their baby boy with Chantalle, his hard working mom! "Canaan John" means "Hope for God's People" and we're delighted with Matt and Chantalle's vision for their son! (John was also my father's name and the name we gave our first born, Christopher John, who with his wife Julie are expecting our second grandchild in November '09.) Chantalle and baby are doing well. We're so delighted with God's gift of allowing them and us this unspeakable joy!

May 29, 2009

Travel: Yep. A few days at home in Worthing, then off May 12 to participate in meetings in Spain and the Philippines - significant times, maybe more about them later - then home three days and off again today.

 I have a version of the picture of Lucy's "in" and "out" sign on the door of my office and for sure the "out" side has been up a lot more this month than Worthing a total of 10 days I believe. Living out of a suitcase 217 days the first year, 158 the next... 

What happens when one travels that much? There are downsides but mostly we love it! We look into the eyes of people in the cities we visit, try to get to know the gracious but badly underpaid working class in Manila, get off the beaten paths when we can, see where the Gospel is touching lives and where the needs remain desperate.

All in all we are renewed in our calling and rejoice in the opportunity to serve in so many settings, help develop and make more effective the strategies we're privileged to engage and in the high calibre of the committed, sacrificial missionaries it is our joy to love and work share the journey and battle with. God is good!

May 9, 2009

Carol and I have enjoyed busy days with lots of travel in the last couple weeks but before we launch into the next lap I'd like to share a couple brief observations on recent experiences:

Rome: We returned last night from theClean Water city where we anticipate placing a team next year in a nation with the majestic heritage of the Roman Empire (Photo: Carol filling our water bottle from one of 100s of outlets which have carried clean water from springs many miles to the city initially via aqueducts built by the Romans, a tribute to a remarkable civilization influencing Italy and much of the Western world to this day) and the Roman Catholic Church. We attended an annual conference which wrestles with the challenge of planting living churches in the context of post-Christendom Europe. One unexpected and encouraging experience involved meeting members of the charismatic renewal movement in the Catholic Church, a movement now embracing 150 million Catholics globally. May 'living water' again flow from Rome! Please pray for Brazilian friends, Rene and Sarah, who will work in church planting and on the campus of the University of Rome. More of their vision is available from a PP available on a page accessed here.

Athens: Last month OC leaders heading teams serving in various regions of  Europe gathered in Athens for a weekPrayer of training, prayer and fellowship. Carol and I continue to be encouraged and inspired by the calibre, commitment and vision of the teams in the region. One of the highlights of our time together as a team meal honoring the service of the lead family having served in Greece for over 40 years. The team has developed an effective evangelistic ministry, unofficially endorsed by Greek Orthodox leadership, which brings many nominally Orthodox to Christ who would be more difficult to engage through evangelical expressions of the call of Christ. One of the challenges of Europe is that popular thinking in many nations, such as Greece, links patriotism with the historic church of the region even though no faith commitment exists. (Photo: One of the prayer times during our week with our OC teams, for the needs of our mission teams, and for Europe to return to the Lord.) For a link to the "Prayer Life of the Missionary" written by our Greek team leader, please click here.

April 25, 2009

Human Rights: The claim to human 'rights' is broadly made and often in our day, and I suspect for some, without an awareness of the roots of this foundational value in western society. History has known nothing of human rights until revealed first to a slave people freed from Egypt in the Old Testament and then more fully, in Christ. I love the truth of Christ expressed in the Chrrstmas Wishcarol "O Holy Night:" "... long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt it's worth." (Photo: In the gloom of Britain's deepening economic crisis, the hope of Christmas is etched in the window of an abandoned store, already in April.)

We have rights because God has given us dignity as those made in His image and redeemed through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Further we have rights, and only those rights, given us by God. As such, we have the legitimate right to food and clothing, available medicine, to know the truth, to a fair and speedy trial, interrogation without torture, etc. For these rights, given by God, I am eternally grateful and we must challenge those who deny the worth of persons made in God's image.

Conversely however, that is not to say that we have any right that may come to mind simply by declaring it to be so, e.g. the right to do whatever one wishes, to define marriage however one wills, the right to have sex with anyone who consents, or the right to demand the dismemberment of a child growing in one's womb. To have a right, God must give it, for God alone is the source of what is right and of all legitimate human rights. 

April 20, 2009

The Crucifixion and Resurrection: On a flight from London to Athens I engaged a flight attendant in conversation about the origin of his name and learned that his father was Muslim and his mother Orthodox. I asked what it had been like to be raised in such a home and he responded it had been peaceful because both religions basically believe the same things. Surprised to hear that view from one who had been exposed to both Islam and Christianity I asked him about the celebration of Easter which had taken place on the Orthodox calendar that weekend. "Oh no," he replied, "Muslims don't celebrate Easter." I wasn't surprised that Muslims don't celebrate the resurrection of Christ whom they deny was crucified. But I remain surprised with the view, also widely held in liberal societies, that both (or in some cases, all) religions believe essentially the same things. If belief in, and denial of, the crucifixion and resurrection comprises "the same thing," it seems to me that not only does language and logic cease to have meaning but I come away with the feeling that those who hold the view that all religions are essentially the same, in fact respect, or perhaps understand none of them as they desire to be respected or understood. It may further be that no one can respect a worldview, be it the Gospel or Islam, if one does not understand it well enough to distinguish between the celebration and denial of the resurrection. 

March 27, 2009

Obedience-based Discipleship: Earlier this month Carol and I enjoyed and were challenged in a church planting movements workshop at a number of levels including the question of whether discipleship should be 'knowledge-based' (lots of notebooks on the shelf) or 'obedience-based' (doing the words and example of Jesus). The two are not mutually exclusive of course but the contemporary western church, in its eagerness to avoid the pitfalls of legalism, has too often substituted learning for obedience, a trade-off sanctioned nowhere in the New Testament. In fact, Jesus expected and commended the opposite: e.g. the widow's mite (Mark 12:41ff), the two sons (Matt. 21:28ff). Jesus opposed both legalism and knowledge without obedience. The 'love-language' of the Father is wholehearted obedience (John 15:1-17).

March 20, 2009

Watching Television: Some of you are aware I watch very little television. In fact for the last five years I haven't owned one. The reasons for this are many but as I watched people in an airport terminal waiting with me for a flight I couldn't help being struck again by the sight of vacant eyes drinking uncritically the 'download' of ideas and values being poured into them in the form of 'news,' commentary and depictions of what is or should be normal. I don't want television to make those choices for me. I remembered also a study which suggested people actually loose IQ (yes, the ability to think) in proportion to the hours traded for television and a more recent study (Nov. 14, 2008, The Metro, London) concluding - from the analysis of 30 years of data covering the attitudes of 30,000 adults in the USA - that the more television you watch, the less happy a person you are likely to be. A quote from the article: "While the depressed watched TV, happy people were socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers."

What then is the alternative to watching a screen tell you what you should think, do and believe? Take some time to consider your mission in life, switch from television to books, and fill your heart and mind with thoughts and activity worthy of eternity.

March 8, 2009

The Shack: I enjoyed the book and understand why it is controversial among some but believe its strengths far outweigh weaknesses. Here's why:

The Shack

  1. Problem of Evil: the intention of the story is to help people process personal pain and the problem of evil. If you have difficulty responding to sceptics or yourself  I encourage you to read it. (In my experience the existence of evil is is the number one reason Christians and non-Christians don't trust God.) The story deals magnificently with the reasons God gives moral freedom and how God uses what he doesn't purpose or desire.

  2. Trinity: while some critics fuss over theological points the wonderful image of God as the basis and model of human community, loving and serving each other, is joyful and beautiful. It also helps, I believe, those for whom the concept of three-in-one is too much to wrap one's mind around move from wrestling with an abstract idea to seeing community in unity as foundational to God's highest intentions.

The book helps Christians and non-Christians alike relate to the only true God in a healthier and trusting way, opening the door to redemption and strength and understanding in facing the hurdles and pain encountered in broken world.

February 22, 2009

Work or Retire: A tension in my mind and heart about turning 60 is between easing off in towards some form of retirement or continuing to go for the gusto. More and more of my friends have moved towards retirement at this age and are happy to be there. I have to be honest and say that tugs at me. Many people aim at "Freedom 55" - the freedom not to work by age 55. At the same time the needs and opportunities for service in a desperately needy world have never been greater and it's hard to back off when I'm still able to help.  The hardest part of knowing when to slow down is that none of us know how long we'll have good health.

So I find myself asking, "which will I regret most,

a) pulling out of the race when I'm still able to contribute, or

b) suddenly finding ill health or death keeping me from pursuing the personal interests or hobbies I would have liked in retirement?"

None of us like that kind of choice. But given none of us know our life-span or future health; it is in fact a 'forced-choice' for all of us, a difficult one. I've accepted the fact that I'd have less regret with the latter of the options.

February 12-14, 2009

Church Planting in Challenging Settings: No pictures on this one for security reasons but these were very special days with people serving church planting movements in very challenging settings from several continents. Someone asked about a group of planters in one setting, "are they prepared to die?" The response was simple: "nothing happens in this region unless you are prepared to die." Carol and I were deeply moved and called to greater prayer. We look forward to serving this emerging network more fully.

February 2, 2009

It was fun! Monday morning Carol and I arrived at the station for the 5:30 am train and learned it wasn't running due to what appeared to us to be not a lot of snow. We tried a cab but the taxis were unwilling to leave the city limits. The buses weren't running. What to do? So we went back to our car and drove to Gatwick and found our flight cancelled. Into a line to be booked on another etc. - all day! To add to the fun Heathrow closed because a plane's front wheel slide off the concrete on a turn and bused all who would go to Gatwick even though only the odd flight was making it off the ground. The good part was that I got a lot of email written :-) The next morning we tried again and were able to get away 24 hours late but without difficulty - unlike Canada (right-click and "save as')

January 13, 2009

60th B-day cardYes, it's my 60th birthday! - a special day which Carol and I celebrated in a low-key way while in Spain with ministry partners. This card from my sister-in-law Christine - reflecting her expectation of the buses circling our home for a closer look at the birthday boy - was my favourite! Overall I feel good given the decadal transition and appreciate all the cards, emails and good wishes on my facebook 'wall.' I'm deeply aware my health and ability to serve to the degree I'm able are a gift from God and am very grateful for the years and opportunity to continue. The Lord has given Carol and I a rich marriage, a wonderful family and so many learning experiences from which we continue to seek to learn and grow. Thanks for being a part of the joy and adventure. Thanks too to brother Jim for...

The Perks of Turning 60

01.    Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

02.    In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.  

03.    No one expects you to run--anywhere.

04.    People call at 9 pm and ask, did I wake you?

05.    People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

06.    There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

07.    Things you buy now won't wear out.

08.    You can eat supper at 4 pm.

09.    You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10.    You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11.    You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

12.    You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.  

13.    You sing along with elevator music.

14.    Your eyes won't get much worse.

15.    Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.  

16.    Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

17.    Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18.    Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.  

19.    You can't remember who sent you this.