The Fine Line

I just finished reading The Fine Line by Kary Oberbrunner and I must say I was surprised at how challenging and insightful it was.

Even though the book claimed to re-envision the gap between Christ and Culture, I truly expected it to fall slightly into one camp or the other. Leaning more towards, as Kary calls it, the Separatist or Conformist camp. However in this book Kary truly does walk the fine line and shows a different way. A Transformist way.

I for one am impressed. It was heartening to see someone call for an end to the insanity and to challenge us all to love!

One of my favorite lines from the book is "Just like the Samaritan we'll be relevant when we get off our proverbial...um...donkeys and love people."

If you are tired of the status quo in your Christian life than this is the book for you. If you tend to shun the world...well you aren't reading this review so never mind, but if you are one who embraces the world and all it's trappings (and if you shun the world but secretly read this blog) than you will not want to miss this challenging book.

The stories will touch your heart, the diagrams will bring a visual picture to the teaching and the point will change your life if you let it!

Walk the Fine Line and become a Transformist! Race to your nearest Christian Bookstore and pick this up today.

The Fine Line is published by Zondervan.


Guns in Church? Really!!!!

Let me start off by saying I am blessed. I am blessed to have been born in the US and blessed to have been born in a country with more freedom than other places. Even though the Lord has called us to Canada now, I am and will always be proud to be an American.

However I am gravely concerned when pride in one's country takes center stage and God and His Kingdom are bumped down a notch. I am even more concerned when I see people mixing and equating God and American culture as synonymous.

I have heard from more believers around the world who feel their Christianity has been "stolen" by the Religious Right in America. I have met many non-Christians who now equate Christianity with American politics and cultural beliefs.

It doesn't help when we have the American Patriot's Bible which seeks to intersect the teachings of the Bible with the history of the Unites States while applying it to today's culture. With everything from Christianity and the equal rights movement to the faith of our early American founders this Bible intertwines the Word of God and American culture. One line from their website which I think sums up my concern is:
In the midst of these faith-related debates, the recession and other turbulent times, a new Bible project is offering hope to rekindle the American spirit, The American Patriot's Bible.
See, I thought the Word of God was "inspired by God and useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval. It equips God's servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) I did not realize it was to rekindle the American spirit! Which chapter and verse do we find the American spirit in anyway?

Then today I read in the USA Today that a KY church was promoting a "bring your gun to church day!" Seriously! This article states that "200 people answered gun-toting Pastor Ken Pagano's call to celebrate the Second Amendment at New Bethel Church in Louisville on Saturday." The only rule was they had to leave their bullets at home.....I guess that is a relief!

Preaching about the right to bear-arms, and that America would not be there without this right, the crowds offered hearty 'amen's as they celebrated their 2nd amendment rights! This right means among other things, you can carry a gun to church and worship the 2nd amendment!

Which begs the question: If everyone is focused on the 2nd amendment in church, who is focused on God?

Are we not told to seek God? Matthew 6:33

In the end where does your citizenship lie? Are you prouder of being a citizen of your country first? If so it's time to lay aside your priorities. I leave you with this sobering Scripture:

"In the end they will be destroyed. Their own emotions are their god, and they take pride in the shameful things they do. Their minds are set on worldly things. We, however, are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior."
(Philippians 3:19-20)


Missionary Spotlight: Lindsay Hallman

Here is the next Missionary Spotlight. Each month I will highlight a different missionary that my wife and I know somewhere around the world. We encourage you to pray for them and their work. You will find contact info if you want to send them an encouraging note and also information on how to donate towards their ministry if you feel so led. The next missionary I want to spotlight is Lindsay Hallman. We first met Lindsay a couple years ago when she spent a short time in Smithers, BC. I asked Lindsay to share a bit about herself:

Hi! My name is Lindsay Hallman. I grew up in Red Deer, Alberta. When I was 19 years old God called me to be a missionary in Mexico. Finally two years later I was able to go. I came down to Oaxaca, Mexico in August 2008 and hooked up with an organization called Global Frontier Missions. I attended Mission Training School for 7 months. Mission Training School (MTS) is basically an on-the-field program where we are able to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and learn about God's heart for the nations while practicing what we've been taught. In April I graduated from the program and was asked to stay with Global Frontier Missions in Oaxaca. I will be doing discipleship with the single girls who come down from the States and Canada to attend short-term mission trips and Mission Training School. As well as working with the school I will continue to grow my relationships with Mexican friends and tell them about Jesus so that they can fall in love with him too. One of my Mexican friends and I will be going every couple of weeks to a village about an hour and a half from where I live to minister to the people there. This village only has 1 or 2 Christians. We believe that one day a church will be in that village because the Lord reigns and He is mighty to save!

-Please pray for the many Unreached People Groups who have not yet heard about Jesus Christ in the State of Oaxaca.
-Alcoholism and adultery are two of the biggest strongholds here in Oaxaca. Pray that those strongholds would be torn down and that families would be reconciled.
-Pray that our Oaxacan friends and neighbours would not have a spirit of fear but that they would open up their hearts and be set free in the name of Jesus.
-Pray that more Christians would GO and tell those who don't know him about our Saviour. Let's not keep Him to ourselves.
-Please pray for me.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. :) (Psalm 136:1)

You can send Lindsay an email: lind_sayj@hotmail.com

or snail mail:
Commission to Every Nation
Attn: Lindsay Hallman Apdo. 14
Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca 69800
Donations to the ministry of Lindsay Hallman can be sent to:

Living Stones Church
2020 40 Avenue
Red Deer, Alberta
T4N 5E3

Cheques are payable to Living Stones Church. Do not put my name on the cheque. Please write on separate sheet of paper, "For Lindsay Hallman in Mexico."


If You Could Ask God A Question

If you were able to stand before God right now and ask Him one question what would it be?

Now I am laying aside the theological implications of this question. I am going for the heart. We all have questions. We all have things we want to know, wonder about, etc. So what are they?

Would your question be about prayer? Healing? Life? War? Disease?

What are your real questions?

Questions are ok.

Abraham asked questions of the Lord. So did Moses, David (read the Psalms), even Jesus asked questions of the crowds who questioned Him. Questions can help us to go deeper in our understanding of Him. Questions can help clarify what we are truly thinking. Sometimes just asking them can help clear our mind and get to the heart of our concerns. It can help us draw closer to God.

My question. Why? Why do we have to suffer physically? (I know the theologically correct answer to this. Doesn't mean I can't ask!)

Matthew 7: 7-8) "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Seek God, let the questions draw you closer to Him!

So what would you ask?


One Heartbeat

One heartbeat can change a life.

It happened to me....3 times.

Once was when Sarah was pregnant with our daughter Hanna. We found out Sarah was pregnant on the mission field and had to come home shortly after due to some other family medical stuff. However when stateside we went for the first of 5 ultrasounds. Seeing that beating heart on the monitor changed my life.

All of the sudden I realized I was going to be a father. Would I be a good one? A bad one? Was I up to the challenge? How would I take care of a wife AND a child? How would I afford it on missionary wages? All these thoughts went racing through my mind as I realized this child would change my life!

She has.....for the better. Hanna has been a precious blessing from God and all of my hopes, fears and concerns melted away the first time I held her in my arms.

Now Sarah is pregnant again. Eleven years later I am in a different place spiritually, emotionally, etc. However the same thoughts started racing through my mind. . Would I be a good father? A better one? Was I up to the challenge? How would I take care of a wife AND 2 children? All these thoughts went racing through my mind when Sarah told me she was pregnant again and I realized this child would change my life!

Then we went for an ultrasound and I saw the heartbeat. All my thoughts faded away as my eyes moistened with tears of joy as it hit me that this child as well is a blessing from God and will change my life in a good way.

2,000 years ago another heartbeat came into the world. God poured His heart of love into the world through the heart of His Son! Jesus changed the world through His words, actions and life! He changed the world again when the heartbeat stopped.

On a Cross

For you and me

He rose from the dead and is changing the world even now.


5 Questions with Martin Smith

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Martin Smith. Martin is the front man for the wildly successful Christian rock and worship band Delirious? and is not only an excellent vocalist but a talented songwriter and guitarist as well. His songwriting hits include "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever","Shout to the North","The Happy Song","Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" and "Deeper". Before Delirious? Martin was a producer. Working mainly with UK artists. One of the original three founders of "Cutting Edge" (the previous incarnation of Delirious?).

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Martin,

Question 1: What one word would describe your current relationship with God?


Question 2: Why CompassionArt? What drew you to the project?

Delirious were invited to visit India, and Cambodia with Joyce Meyer Ministries and the trip has changed me forever. I wrestled with the 5* lifestyle of hotels and nice food against knowing just outside the hotel complex there were people living in slums and literally dying of hunger. JMM arranged for us as a band to visit a local slum in Bombay. There I met a girl called FARIN in a mafia controlled brothel who was 10 years old. I witnessed the terrible life she was exposed to as her mother earned a few pennies relentlessly as a prostitute to help her and her brothers and sisters eat and survive. Sadly Farin would sleep on the floor under the bed of her mothers workplace. I was sickened by the conditions in which they lived and wanted to adopt Farin. I took steps to try and bring her back to England, but over a period of about a month God revealed to myself and my wife Anna that we should try instead to assist her and her family in their own land. So, as time went on and with the help of some finance from Delirious and JMM we built a safe house and were able to transfer 70 Prostitutes and their children from a life of slavery to a life of HOPE.

This is what inspired Anna and myself to start CompassionArt and so are first idea was to gather 12 songwriters from the Christian music scene. We wrote 20 special songs during a period of 5 days together in a house in Scotland, ended up recording 14 of them and also wrote a book together.

Publishers and the Christian copyright licensing people are supporting these songs by way of waiving their percentages and so what this really means is the more these songs get sung in church the more chance there is of CompassionArt benefiting from an income stream from royalties with proceeds going directly into projects. Our long term vision for CompassionArt is to see people from all areas of the ART world become HISTORY MAKERS, including musicians, painters, sculptors, actors and athletes. Our prayer is that they get inspired and collaborate using their own area of skill and creating something themselves that will ultimately make a huge difference in our World.

Question 3: How has being involved in this project affected you?

I am looking for more energy. Do you know where you can buy any? The songwriting and recording process was very exciting and exhilarating but drained me of resources and energy. I hope and pray that God will use these brand new songs over the next 30+ years to raise money for good causes.

Question 4: What charity did you pick for this project?

Links International.

Question 5: What is next for you?

Delirious ends November 2009, CompassionArt has been birthed. Helping the poor is very much in our DNA and our focus as a couple and family with six children. We just need an Angel or two to come along and help us financially to take this thing to the next level. We have lots of creative ideas for the next stage. Anyone interested?

Thanks so much Martin.

There you have it. I would again encourage you to pick up the CompassionArt book and CD. You won't be disappointed. You WILL be helping to meet the needs of those in abject poverty. For more info on CompassionArt check out their website: CompassionArt
For more info on the charity Martin picked, Links International, click here.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


CompassionArt - The Book

I recently reviewed the CompassionArt CD and website here and mentioned then I had ordered the book.

Well the book came and all I can say is WOW! This book was absolutely challenging. It challenged my thinking. It challenged my actions. It challenged my lifestyle. All that and I had only read chapter 1!

Each musician involved with CompassionArt: Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, Israel Houghton, Graham Kendrick, Steven Curtis-Chapman, Andy Park, Stu Garrard and Martin Smith wrote a chapter about compassion and how they came aboard this project, how the focus on poverty has shaped them.

Needless to say this is not a light book. It's not fluffy. It's painful, raw and very vivid. This is exactly how it should be. We live in a de-sensitized society and can easily pop a CD in the car, cruise down the road and drive right by the hurting and homeless.

What Martin and Anna Smith envisioned with the creation of CompassionArt is something that will not allow the people involved to return to the status quo. You cannot read this book without commiting yourself to do something...anything....to help those in need.

I challenge you to read this book and walk away unmoved. It's next to impossible. So pick up a copy today at your local Christian bookstore or order it today via the CompassionArt website.


The Red Streak of Death!

The line was crawling up my foot. The pain was a bit intense but seeing the streak, the read streak of death, caused my fear to increase.

It was not the first time I experienced the red streak of death.......

In 1994 I was bitten by a brown recluse and saw the streak go from my thumb to my armpit. You can read more about that story so I will not repeat it here. Needless to say, coming close to death once, it was not a scenario I wished to repeat.

Yet here I was 15 years later seeing the streak move slowly up my foot.

I won't bore you with medical drama, needless to say a hospital visit was in order.

I hate hospitals. I mean I REALLY hate hospitals. Just visiting there will cause my blood pressure to rise. I am not proud of the fact I deal with fear from time to time. I am really ashamed of the fact that the fear is multiplied 10x while in a hospital! Here I was in yet another visit to the hospital, with sweat pouring down my head, shaking nervously as the "what if" scenario worms it way through my mind.

2 Tim. 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

I know this fear is not from God and it IS NOT healthy. I know it....yet I still struggle. Fear has been my thorn in the flesh. It is something I think I have conquered, prayed through and won the victory over and then comes roaring back when I least expect it.

I know 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. I know the Bible repeatedly says do not fear.

So what am I afraid of? Death, no not really. I am more afraid of the unknown quantity. It's the not knowing that seems to incite the fear in me. Once a Dr comes and tells me where I stand I seem to relax despite what he says. It is an irrational fear of the unknown.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt. 6:34)

This is the verse I need to meditate on when fear strikes. I need flee from worry, to trust and to remember 2 Tim 1:7!

So what happens next? I would like to say I have won the victory! The reality is I struggle. I am continuing to pray through this. I want a complete victory. Fear has run deep in my family and I am praying this "curse" stops with me!

Will you stand with me? If you struggle with fear let me know and I will pray for you as well.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)


It's All (Church) Politics!

I used to love following politics as a child. To read about candidates, congressmen, senators and presidents use to thrill me. To follow the stories during an election period was a fun hobby! I even liked following the world political scene.

Not any more.

As I look around the last few years I have grown weary of broken promises, back-biting and scandals. I don't enjoy the political double-speak, gossip and innuendo. The behind the scenes shenanigans disgust me. It seems everyone is out for their own benefit and want to topple the guy or girl above them anyway possible.

Now read that last paragraph and you can say the same thing about church politics! Sin and selfishness run rampant in both.

If you are still reading this than you are probably like me, tired of it all.

I love seeing the body of Christ gathering together to worship. I love hearing the Word preached and to see people loving one another.

Yet it's the behind the scenes stuff that tears the church apart and makes us no different than the world around us. I remember being invited to speak at a church about missions and after the service my wife and I were invited to lunch at a parishioners house. They just had to have a quick, tidy vote on a new pastor. As we packed up our display table, you could hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth emanating from the back room. The door would open and someone would come running out sobbing and grabbing increasingly younger and younger kids to quickly enroll as members to sway the vote their way!

Granted, this is an extreme (I hope) case. Yet how many reading this have heard or participated in church gossip? Or as we try to sanctify it "prayer requests for brother so and so who did this, that and the other!"

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Love. Is the love of Christ emanating from your life today? Are you having issues in your church? Is the sin and selfishness coming from you?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Let's leave the politics to the world. Let's operate our churches in love!


5 Questions with Tom Morrisey

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's Guest is Tom Morrisey. Tom is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section. He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines. His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of five other novels: Turn Four (Zondervan 2004), Deep Blue (Zondervan 2004), Dark Fathom (Zondervan, 2005), In High Places (Bethany House Publishers, 2007) and Wind River (Bethany House Publishers, 2008); and two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Tom,

Question 1: What one word would describe your current relationship with God?

Developing. I identify with Peter, whose relationship with Christ turns and deepens all the way through the New Testament.

Question 2: All of your books are wrapped around the outdoors: fishing, deep-sea diving, rock climbing. Do you feel closer to God in the outdoors?

Closer to God? No. But I do feel farther away from the noise of humanity, which can oftentimes soften the focus of God's handiwork. There is a saying by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright: "The house should not be on the hill; it should be of the hill." I take this as his admission that the Creator is the superior designer.

Question 3: What is one thing you want people to take away from your books in regards to our relationship with the Lord?

Each of my novels is written to answer a spiritual or theological question. For instance, YUCATAN DEEP addressed the question, "How can it be heaven when I know that the person I felt closest to here on earth will not be there?" And IN HIGH PLACES answered a very short question, "What is the nature of hope?" These questions are not stated anywhere in the books, but my reader mail tells me that the answers are implicit in the stories. And I suppose there is a sub-theme that is there through all of them, that we all feel like we're falling short spiritually; Romans 3:23 seems to be the most frequently forgotten verse in the Bible.

Question 4: Your books are very realistic and characters struggle with real-world, contemporary issues. How personal (autobiographical) are your books?

I dive and fish and have driven Cup cars on speedways, and generally have done most of the "umbrella" activities that you see in my books. But they are not as autobiographical as most people believe. For instance, there is a deaf heroine in YUCATAN DEEP and most people assume that I have a deaf person in my family and I do not; that character is the result of interviews I did with the lady who led the signing ministry at my church. And in PIRATE HUNTER, I have bluegrass music throughout the book, but I don't play bluegrass. But I'm fortunate to know Ron Block, the guitarist and banjo player in Alison Krauss and Union Station, as well as a solo Christian artist, and Ron helped me with the musical elements in this new book. The bottom line is that I am writing fiction, not biography.

Question 5: Your latest book, Wind River, is on shelves now. What's next?

Bethany House releases PIRATE HUNTER in July. It is a "paired" novel, in which two stories -- one of an 18th-century slave turned pirate and one of a 21st-century marine archeologist -- parallel and echo one another. It's a novel about the importance of forgiveness in Christian lives.

Thank you Tom!

There you have it. I would encourage you to read any (and all) of Tom Morrisey's previous books and to order an advance copy of Pirate Hunters from your local Christian bookstore today. You can also check out all the exciting resources on Tom's website.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


Theology Made Easy - Just A Thought #34

Theology can be tough on the average Christian. I am not saying it shouldn't be something we, as believers, should study; but the fact remains it does pose an almost insurmountable peak to some believers.

I remember preaching at a church a couple years back and before the service a man walked in with a couple books in his hand. I asked him what he had there. He showed me his Bible and below that was a nice thick, juicy book of theology. (Light reading for when the preacher got boring, I guess.) I immediately endeared myself to him by saying, "Ah theology, the over-complication of Christianity."

Needless to say, he didn't get much out of my message that day.

My point, though, was not to knock theology. I do feel we should know what we believe: the 'hows' and the 'whys' of our faith. I think we should endeavor to go deeper with God on a regular basis. However I think that we, the church, put people off by our secret language, our members only mentality and our complication of the things of God.

Don't get me wrong. I am not for the dumbing down of the Gospel. I am all for making Jesus easier to understand for the average person, though. For example: Sanctification - to make Holy. It is mentioned 5 times in the King James version of the Bible. Then I look at my bookshelf. I have a book here called The 5 Views of Sanctification. A 200+ page book on something mentioned 5 times in the Bible. Why do we need to complicate the idea of being made Holy? How hard do we think that is for the average Joe to understand?

When I was a new believer I heard the word 'sanctification' tons of times from the pulpit, but it was never explained. Why not just say what it is and move on? Who are we trying to impress with our knowledge?

It is why I love kids. Kids have a child-like faith that is incredible. They just believe. Tell them God moves mountains...OK. He raises the dead...OK. They believe! They don't take the cynical, justifying faith approach we have as adults. Things are black and white, quick and simple.

Recently I was at a ministerial luncheon with a few other Pastors in our town. One Pastor, Stanley Groothof, who writes the 4th Point, brought his 3 year old daughter Hannah. We had been talking about the 5 Question interviews I do on my blog and he said he was going to interview his daughter. It went something like this:

Favourite song: “Jesus Loves Me.”
Favourite video: Veggie Tales Madame Blueberry.
Favourite Bible story: Noah and the flood.
Meaning of life: God.

Meaning of Life - God. Simple, cut and dry. Now as an adult we can take that and say..."Well, historically 'blah blah blah', theologically she forgot 'yada, yada, yada'. So what? To her, the meaning of life was God. How simple, yet how profound.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Mark 10:15)

"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2-4)

In our efforts to go deeper with God and to passionately share Him with others, let us not ignore the basics, the childlike faith.