Two votes

Over the next four days, two votes will take place that will, in some way, shape my immediate future. On Sunday, Richview votes on gender and leadership. Our position is that it's possible to come to different conclusions on this issue, and that we should be okay with that. Practically, it would open positions to women that are currently closed within our structure. I've been pleased with the tone of the discussion. Some disagree with the direction we've taken, and I understand that. I heard of a respected pastor of an Alliance church in Toronto whose own mother opposed him when he led in this direction. It's such an emotional and volatile issue. So far, everyone in our discussion has been great. But the vote's not over yet. Then, next Tuesday, our denomination votes on the same issue. The Fellowship's position is that women should not be pastors or elders, and there is no room for disagreement, at least in practice. This vote will be close and potentially more divisive. These votes are on my mind today, but strangely, I'm not stressed. Last year, after the Fellowship voted on this issue, I had the biggest headache of my life. This year, I'm a little more aware that God is in charge and that life in some form will go on no matter what happens. So I care, but I'm not taking it quite as personally as I have before. I'd appreciate your prayers over the next few days. I'll let you know what happens.


Found through Steve McMillan - a small sample of Yaconelli, and why he'll be missed:
Jesus: "You think I died on a cross to make people nice? You think I want to be relegated to the status of motivational speaker? Listen, I don't even like football, and I definitely don't like nice people. Look at my disciples! Talk about loud, obnoxious, rude, flaky-hey, these guys were anything but nice. Remember when 'Mr. Nice Guy' John wanted me to send fire down on a little Samaritan village because they wouldn't let us stay for the night? "Start telling parents that their sons and daughters should take a year after high school and do missions in South Africa and see how long you last. Tell them it isn't a good decision to make their kids go to soccer camp instead of church camp and see how supportive they'll be. Truth is, I came to ruin people's lives-just like I ruined yours. I came to turn people's lives upside down. Remember all that stuff I said about being a sword and turning parents against children? I wasn't kidding."
Update: Yaconelli on how he would be remembered:
I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis. If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like 'He was a nice guy' or 'He was occasionally decent' or 'Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people.' Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. 'Mike was a mess.'

Spies among us

I did some retail therapy at the new Sam's Club in Etobicoke this morning. I went to check it out, and truth be told, to look for a good book to lose myself in today (mission unsuccessful). While I was there, I came across an employee of the local Costco. I razzed her: "You're not supposed to be here!" Turns out she was there as a spy from Costco. She whispered to me nervously while glancing around to see if her identity would be discovered by a Sam's Club employee. If caught, she would be kicked out. Wow. I knew this stuff happened (I'm sure Sam's Club is over at Costco all the time), but I had no idea that they took it so seriously. Probably as close as I'll ever get to cloak and dagger, apart from the occasional James Bond movie.

Giving ourselves wholly

I heard this quote at small group on Wednesday night, and Sandy was kind enough to send it to me:
How shall we rest in God? By giving ourselves wholly to Him. If you give yourself by halves, you cannot find full rest; there will ever be a lurking disquiet in that half that is withheld. Martyrs, confessors, and saints have tasted this rest, and "counted themselves happy in that they endured." A countless host of God's faithful servants have drunk deeply of it under the daily burden of a weary life - dull, commonplace, painful, or desolate. All that God has been to them He is ready to be to you. The heart once fairly given to God, with a clear conscience, a fitting rule of life, and a steadfast purpose of obedience, you will find a wonderful sense of rest coming over you. (Jean-Nicolas Grou, 1731-1803)

Getting over itself

This post is from the defunct blog "Dying Church"

Mike Yaconelli, who was tragically killed this week, challenged the church to get over itself. Mark Oestricher, president of Youth Specialties, said of Yaconelli:
He thought that the church needed to get over itself, stop taking itself so seriously, and focus more on being in love with Jesus. He had very low tolerance for bureaucracy and red tape and process and committees. Institutionalism was very frustrating to him. He would regularly talk about his desire that a church staff meeting would be about talking about Jesus rather than about programs and calendars and carpeting.
This is the same guy who wrote words that began to shape my thinking in an article called Getting Fired for the Glory of God. What he said of youth ministry is probably true of ministry in general:
I'm beginning to believe that if those who are called into youth ministry follow the lead of the One who called them, getting fired is inevitable. Why? Because, in general, the institutional church doesn't get it. The institutional church has become hopelessly corporate, hopelessly tangled in a web of secularism. Instead of the church being the Church, it has opted instead to be a corporation.