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Showing posts from March, 2009

Now a Member!

I became a member at church today. There were six of us and each was to speak for about five minutes. I read from my palmtop what I had prepared:
I grew up in a community saturated with God and the Bible and I loved it all. By the time I was twelve years old, I was buying theology books, books about missionaries and my own, leather-bound study Bible. I wanted to become a missionary but instead I got married on my eighteenth birthday and began to move away from God. After nearly four years, I moved away from my husband as well and spent the next two years in promiscuity.

When I discovered I was pregnant, I began to search for support services for single moms. What I found was a Christian woman who brought me back to God. From then on, I spent much time reading the Bible and praying and realized, to my dismay, that God wanted me to return to my husband. But God changed my heart so that by the time I moved back, I was looking forward to starting again with him. I was still pregnan…

Spring SNOW Sale

I can't resist. This is too good to not share. While people in other places are talking about their gardens, we've had a snow storm. One enterprising store in the city has capitalized on the storm with the following ad:

The Light Christian Store

The Incredible 2 Day - 20% Off
Winter Please Go Away Sale

Greetings! Just when we thought winter was over and Spring was here, SUPRISE almost 20cm of snow and -20 C with the Windchill. With the bad weather everyone is staying home and I can't blame you. We need your help because we have lost two days of business and we have bills to pay. Read below for an AMAZING offer for 2 Days ONLY.

-20 Celsius, 20 cm of Snow = 20% Off The Entire Store

I love it, especially that last line! Only in Winnipeg.
(So, if you live in Winnipeg, go give them some business! They deserve it--and they were the first store to carry my book so they're extra deserving.)

A Bit of This and That

It's been over a week since my last post. I'm not sure why except that I know I tend to withdraw at times, especially when I feel stressed. I would appreciate your prayers about this because writing is one of my favourite things to do.

Next week, from Sunday to Friday, Tom and I will be tucked away in a lakeside chalet in the Whiteshell area of Manitoba. I'm looking forward to it but, unless I'm able to do a fair bit of writing between now and then and post-date some to fall during that time, I will be silent a while longer before I again start to write.

Also this coming Sunday, I will officially become a member of my church. I've been attending since the first Sunday of 2008 and am looking forward to really belonging.

The Red River Valley from Fargo, North Dakota, north through Winnipeg, Manitoba, is preparing for a major flood. Twelve years ago, in 1997, we had "The Flood of the Century." It wiped out 80% of Grand Forks ND, all of St. Adolph MB and …

QQC—Belief and Righteousness

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 15

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6 NIV) Paul quotes this passage in Romans 4 and it’s referred to in Hebrews 12 so it’s obviously a very important truth but Abram’s belief wasn’t as steadfast as it sounds. When the promised son didn’t come, he accepted Sarai’s solution of taking her servant Hagar by whom he could have this child, contrary to the promise. Despite what we would consider a grave error and sin (Abram and Hagar would have been disfellowshipped from many churches had it happened now or in the last couple hundred years or more), God called him righteous.

In fact, Abram is said to have believed God even though he asked a question very similar to that of the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, who was made mute for disbelieving the angel. Abram asked, “How can I know...?” (Genesis 15:8 NIV) Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure of this?” (Luke 1:18 NIV) Whereas Abram was said to be…

QQC—Born in his Household

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 14

Abram’s nephew Lot, and all of Lot’s household, had been travelling with Abram since leaving Haran but when their herdsmen started to quarrel with each other, they decided to separate. Lot chose the fertile plain of the Jordan River and settled in Sodom. Abram chose the hill country to the west.

Sometime after, four kings went to war against the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah and three other cities. The four won the battle, carrying off “all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah,” including Lot. One man managed to escape, found Abram and told him what had happened.

Abram “called out the 318 trained men born in his household” (Genesis 14:14 NIV) and, along with his allies, chased the four kings, recovered all the plunder and captives and returned them to Sodom. How did Abram come to have so many men born into his household? Who were their parents? How big was Abram’s household? Was the sole purpose of all these extra people to fight? But this is the …

QQC—Pharaoh and Sarai

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 12

Abram and his wife Sarai (later called Abraham and Sarah) had travelled to Egypt to escape famine in Canaan. Abram, afraid for his life, told Sarai that, if asked, she was to say they were brother and sister, rather than husband and wife. So Pharaoh took Sarai into his palace, thinking she was a free woman.

What did Abram think Pharaoh wanted with his wife? Surely he realized that Pharaoh was adding her to his harem! Why didn’t he object? Why didn’t she object? Was Abram’s safety so important to him that he was willing to relinquish his wife to another man to save his own life? (Genesis 12:10-20)

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My Son Mons

Yesterday I showed my second son, Erik, leaping in the air with a footbag move. Today I want to share about my eldest son, Mons. The music he creates and plays is something I love listening to--and others have told me the same thing. Listen to more of his music at

QQC—Nothing Impossible

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 11

Many generations after the flood, the people gathered together to build the infamous Tower of Babel. We know God introduced multiple languages at this time so that the people dispersed and discontinued the building of the tower. Why did he do this? “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6 NIV) God was concerned that they would be able to do whatever they decided to do.

Isn’t that where we are today? We are doing far more impossible things than building “a tower that reaches to the heavens.” We’ve not only built buildings that surely are taller than any of the architects' of Babel, we have gone into the heavens themselves with our satellites, space shuttles, walking on the moon and sending robots with cameras onto the surface of Mars and beyond. When is God going to confound us as he did those at Babel and how much worse will that b…

Waiting in Silence

My prayer time yesterday took me on an interesting excursion. In my book I describe an experience I had with centering prayer and how, for the first time, I was able be on God's lap, feeling his arms around me, and actually be in the experience, not just looking at it from afar. It was life-changing for me.

From time to time, I return to the daily practice of sitting silent before God, though the form has morphed somewhat from that initial introduction. I get into a comfortable position--sitting in my rocking chair, feet up on a make-shift stool--set a timer for 20 minutes and then, in silent stillness, come before God. To keep my mind from distractions, I choose a truth about God and repeat it. Today that truth was "You are my strong tower, fortress when I'm weak." Yesterday it was from Isaiah 40:31 KJV, "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength."

It's amazing what God will do when we come to him without an agenda--not asking for anyt…

My Son Erik

My son Erik in the middle of some footbag move. I love watching him kick. Footbag should become an Olympic sport. If you want to learn more, go to

QQC—Cain, Methuselah, the Flood and the Ground

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 4 to 8

Cain is notorious for being the world’s first murderer, having killed his brother because God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. God cursed him, drove him from the ground and made him “a restless wanderer on the earth.” We think of Cain as a reprobate but notice his response, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence....” Cain still loved God and wanted to be in God’s presence! (Genesis 4:8-16 NIV)

Methuselah lived longer than any other man recorded in the Bible—969 years. Can you imagine being alive for nearly a thousand years? Interestingly, when we do the math, we discover that Methuselah died the same year as Noah’s flood:

Methuselah was 187 years old when his son Lamech was born.
Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born.
Noah was 600 years old when the flood came.
187 + 182 + 600 = 969. (Genesis 5:25-28; 6:6)

Noah’s dad, Lamech, died five years befor…


Quirks, Queries and Commentary--Genesis 2 and 3

Consider the whole idea of work. Some people have the idea that work is a dirty word and there certainly won't be any of it to do in heaven but look at Genesis 2:15--"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (NIV) God had work for Adam to do from the very beginning.

Or what about that tree in Eden they weren't supposed to touch. What was the point of having that tree there? To taunt and tantalize? (See Genesis 2:17)

When Adam and Eve discovered they were naked (Genesis 3:7) they sewed fig leaves together. How did they sew? What did they use?

Later, "God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." (Genesis 3:21 NIV) God killed and skinned animals?

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Quirks, Queries and Commentary

I love reading my Bible and spend about half an hour before bedtime doing so. I also love to scribble all over the empty spaces in my Bible and have collected a lot of observations and questions that intrigue me. I think I'm going to start sharing some of them from time to time. Please be aware that my questions are not intended to show doubt of God's Word. I firmly believe that seeming contradictions are perfectly harmonious in God's eyes. I simply can't see what he can. Still, there are a lot of curious things in the Bible that get me wondering.

QQC--Weighty Clothes (Exodus 28:6-29)
QQC--God Blessed and Prepared them Anyway (Exodus 28:1-5)
QQC--Did it Ever Catch Fire? (Exodus 25:31-40)
QQC--Where Were the Utensils Kept? (Exodus 25:23-30)
QQC--Ark and its Poles (Exodus 25:10-16)
QQC--God in the Cloud  (Exodus 24:15-18)
QQC--God is a Consuming Fire (Exodus 24:15-18)
QQC--Seventy-four Saw God  (Exodus 24:9, 10)
QQC--Your Bloody Clothes  (Exodus 24:8)
QQC--They Will…

Seeking God in Silence

Silence. It's something that's absent in our high tech, busy lives. TV, music, phones, traffic, chatter--even the drone of the refrigerator, hum of the heater/air-conditioner, the various chimes and alerts on the computer and the clacking of the keyboard--ensure we have no silence.

In 1 Kings 18 we read how the prophet Elijah had a great victory over the priests of Baal. But when Queen Jezebel heard what happened, she threatened to kill Elijah. Afraid, he ran away and hid in a cave. While he was there, a fierce, rock-shattering wind, earthquake and fire came, each in all its fury but it wasn't until these had past and the "sound of sheer silence" (1 Kings 19:12 NRSV) descended that God came to Elijah and gave him instructions on his next mission.

Thomas à Kempis was a 14th century mystic and monk remembered today for his devotional writings such as Imitation of Christ." He wrote:
"In silence and peace a devout soul makes progress and learns the secre…

Balaam's Donkey and Persecution

Mike, one of our pastors, has a second job. His employers, Christians, forbade him to tell clients and staff that he’s a pastor. He could say he works with children for a “benevolent organization” in the North End but that was it. He finally found this so difficult that he began to ignore the rules. Eventually they let him speak, but warned him that if he did, some would hate him.

Hatred. The Church often deserves the hatred it receives. Through the ages Christians have done some terrible things in the name of Jesus. But sometimes we are hated simply because we love and follow God. Jesus warned that this would happen but we are still surprised when it does.

Our text today was from Acts 13 and 14, the story of Paul and Barnabas, first in Antioch and then in Iconium. In each city, they preached to the Jews. After all, it was the Jews who had been promised Messiah. Some accepted the good news Paul and Barnabas brought but most were angry and drove them out of town.

Frances Shaf…

Jacked for the Rent

I prepare to make the last turn to church and watch “Hookers’ Corner.” Will she be there this morning? She hasn’t been all winter but still I watch, ready to give a friendly smile and wave.

She’s not there but I see a little bit of a thing walking through the intersection toward me. “Could I get warm in your car?” I’m late for prayer meeting but she needs help.

“Sure! Come in.”

I park against the church, leave the engine running and wait. She tells of being “jacked” for her rent money. The large, bruised “egg” on her forehead testifies.

“I need money for my rent. Can you help?”

I am willing. Does she speak truth? What should I do, God?

I could take her for breakfast. She’s probably hungry. I ask.

She wants money more but I want time to think and pray. “Let’s go to McDonald’s.”

She agrees. Does she hope I’ll give her money too? She livens as she takes the hot chocolate. “This is good!”

We sit by a sunny window. I search for ways to open conversation—I don’t want to be intrusive—but ther…

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love...

Winnipeg Centre Vineyard is closely knit to and planted at the same time, about fifteen years ago, as the Vineyard church in Katmandu, Nepal. Today, there are thirteen other Vineyard churches that have been planted by joint effort between us throughout Nepal. We nearly always have people from our congregation over there and currently, the head pastor there is here in Winnipeg. A short man with quick wit and humour, Noel preached to us last Sunday. He spoke about the Fruit of the Spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV).
I’ve observed that most Christians repeat this list of virtues as something we need to discipline ourselves to attain, but Jesus said, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4 NIV). Fruit is the result of being connected to God, not the way we get connected…

Church with Diversity and Contrast

I love the variety, the unexpected and the huge diversity that is my church. Perhaps I should describe the basic setting first. We meet in an older-than-a-century four-story brick refurbished tractor factory built in what was, at the time, the perfect location, right beside the railyard. Today this neighbourhood is the saddest, neediest, most violent place in the city. The old brick, massive timbers and polished but distressed oak floors inside remind us that this is no ordinary church.

Our pastor said that we are at the intersection of the ordinary and the kingdom of God, which couldn’t be truer. In our midst are suburbanites who move in the finance, medical and education worlds, Others are artists, musicians, writers. Some are homeless, some living in booze-can hotels and some in apartments and houses that have seen better days. We have the well-dressed and the unwashed, those with poise and those who hide in corners, never looking anyone in the face. Prostitutes and drug add…

Who Is the Real Me?

When the alarm rang this morning for church, I did not want to get up. I had gone to bed much too late and this alarm seemed much too early. Nevertheless, knowing I would regret not going, I got up, showered, washed my hair and came back to my room to dress. What should I wear? I had no energy to think. Something easy. Okay, my jeans (I dress down for church because of the street people there). I sat on the side of my bed to put on my socks but even that task seemed daunting.

I can’t do this! Should I stay home?

The question I’ve been asking myself lately is, Who am I? Who am I apart from Tom, apart from friends, apart from all the things that influence me in my desperation to please others? I lay down and pondered. What does the real Debbie want? Who is the real Debbie in this debate?

Three scenes from my past came to mind. One actually happened and two were in dreams but all were very real. In the first, I lived alone in a single room on the second floor of a rooming ho…