Having a clear vision for your life is like having a destination on a road trip. It keeps you focused and creates a sense of united purpose.
What I learned about faith from city planning. On a sunny March morning in 2017, I stood waiting by the elevator of the City Hall atrium as smartly dressed people rushed by. Soon our no-nonsense engineer arrived and we headed up for a preliminary meeting with Calgary city planning. Averil knows the ropes of City… Continue reading When God Begins.
The journey of Shepherd’s Gate and the replanting of our Church, so far. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Is 43:19 The behind the scenes work of God is often more obvious… Continue reading Miracles and Milestones
Driving to my office in an April morning snowstorm, the music is playing and the traffic is moving. It is feeling like it’ll be a good day . . . and that is about the time I noticed my back window was shattered and falling to pieces as I drove. It doesn’t take much… Continue reading Unbreakable
“The little strength remaining in the soul is like a spark hidden in ashes” Thomas a Kempis Our TV fireplace with it’s warm orange glow and crackling logs doesn’t change the room temperature, but with a little imagination you can almost believe there is heat. Add a few candles and some background music and you… Continue reading Crackling Logs
Talking to a Sunni Muslim women recently, I was curious about her practice of Ramadan. She shared that not drinking water all day was the hardest part; and that the fast in Calgary, is from 3:40 am to 9:40 pm. She explained that all Muslims are expected, once they reach puberty, to participate, but there are a number of exceptions such as health and pregnancy. I pointed out that Jesus anticipated that Christians would fast also. She was curious whether Christian fasting included not drinking water like Sunnis do. Oh, I replied Christian fasting is optional, people can do whatever they want.
This got me thinking about our Christian practices. Jesus spoke about fasting and prayer often but he also warned against basing our religion on external exercises. “When you fast Jesus said, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” (Matt. 6:16) All traditional spiritual disciplines whether solitude, silence, fasting, bible reading, prayer, worship, giving and others, can become forms that are empty of spiritual reality. Yet, without them, it is impossible to imagine a person will make much true progress in their Christian faith. Just as Ignatius had his “Exercises” and St Benedict had his “Rules”, we need our own set of practices tailored to fit the rhythms of our life.
Imagine playing for a sports team where workouts were optional. Or, suppose a dietician recommends a diet of chips and pop, where vegetables and fruits are non-compulsory. Picture learning piano from a teacher who said practice is elective. Have we turned the grace of God into freedom to do what I feel like? How often do you feel like taking up your cross daily to follow Christ?
James said, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jas 2:17)
In other words, every person whose life exemplifies what it means to be a follower of Jesus, develops a set of compulsory spiritual practices to follow.
How do you practice your Christian faith? What “rules” do you live by to give structure to your spirituality? Do you feel it is helpful to have patterns of daily spiritual practice?
It took some courage to open up and share their story of struggle with me. A heavy cloud seemed to surround us as we spoke and it felt like all the exits were closing. At those moments when words are not enough, and only listening matters, it is a struggle to remain positive. … Continue reading Good Hope
“You look snazzy,” I said to a young boy as he arrived to church. He was often dressed in a costume and came in this day looking sharply dressed in a suit. “I’m a Man in Black,” he said. The briefcase and sun glasses should have been an easy clue. Pretending and role-play is a… Continue reading Dressing Up
met·a·mor·pho·sis A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function; Biology – the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, A white butterfly danced across my path the other day. As record warm temperatures bathe our city, nature is changing and blooming early this year. Like nature all around us, we yearn for change and aspire to fullness of life. I know I… Continue reading Metamorphosis
I recall singing that old hymn, “Where the Roses Never Fade” at funerals. Tears fell down as people gathered to say their last farewell to a lost loved one. During those times, when words never seem enough, I’m always grateful for the promise of a life that never ends. I am going to a city … Continue reading Life That Lasts