‘Ends of the Earth’ (sermon research crowd sourcing)

Next Sunday I’m going to preach on the Lord Huron song, Ends of the Earth, and I thought it might be fun to do a bit of sermon research crowd sourcing.

So, here are a few questions I’m asking about this tune;

  1. What basic human yearnings does this song give expression to? (i.e. what resonates with you?)
  2. Are there places where these same yearnings are expressed in the bible?
  3. How are the yearnings expressed in this song like our yearnings for God?

If you have any thoughts, post them as a comment below. Thanks.

A Science based (next) book

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I love how my next science-based book is coming together (Lord willing!)…

  1. Last night I woke up with the concluding chapter running through my head.
  2. Two days ago I was talking with a couple of pastors and the introduction presented itself.
  3. Three weeks ago I bumped into a scientist/orthopedic surgeon who agreed to help me with a chapter of the book (on the biomechanics of the knee).
  4. Four weeks ago I met with a gut biome researcher who wants to help me with a chapter on the gut (along with his Phd supervisor) and I was connected to another researcher at the university who works in the same field (and was recommended by another friend).
  5. Five weeks ago I sent a one page proposal for my book to my publisher and there’s some interest.
  6. Six weeks ago I saw a FB post introducing a new John Templeton Grant program. As the concept for a proposal came together I realized that this would be great research for a unique kind of faith/science book.
  7. Over the past three years I’ve preached several science based sermons that will now make up specific book chapters.
  8. Four years ago our church got its first John Templeton Grant which lead to preaching on the topics for three other chapters.
  9. Seven years ago I was invited to participate in Regent College’s John Templeton grant project and the vision to preach/engage God’s revelation via science was kindled in me. I wrote a sermon on wound healing back then and it will now form a chapter in this new book.
  10. Over the past ten years I have been accumulating many books, ideas, and quotes on how God reveals himself via the scientific text. But I wondered, who am I to write on this; there are more than enough scientists of faith to address the topic… until the idea for this new book came along, along with a very cool introduction and conclusion, all founded on three John Templeton grants, and several serendipitous meetings, and scientists that have been a part of our church community, and a publisher who’s willing to listen, and a God who has a ‘just right’ time for everything.

Image – Grey’s Anatomy

Faith in the face of the Fort McMurray Fire

Landscape_view_of_wildfire_near_Highway_63_in_south_Fort_McMurray_(cropped)I just left a CBC radio interview on the Fort McMurray fire. When the reporter asked about the role that faith is playing in these catastrophic circumstances, I said that I was seeing faith at work everywhere;

  • In the trust that dislodged individuals were showing as they accepted a bottle of water, some gasoline or a tow from total strangers while stuck in gridlocked exodus.
  • In the mostly calm obedience of every Fort Mac resident as they followed the directions of civic leaders and emergency response workers.
  • In the strength that so many unsettled souls embodied as they were willing to believe all of the tweets and Facebook posts saying, “We’re with you… you’re not alone…  we’ll help you through this!”
  • In the hope that many displaced residents are now placing in their insurance companies; trusting that their coverage will be good, and that their insurers will come through and make them whole again.
  • In people’s willingness to be physically taken in by others; to be sheltered, fed and protected by individuals, families, and even oil companies!
  • In the town of Fort McMurray’s trust in the promises of a province that is trusting in the promises of a federal government that is trusting in the hearts of all Canadian people, to be there over the long haul.

Through all of these supports – all of the compassion and love, the time and energy, the people and organizations willing to ‘love their neighbours as they love themselves’, and to ‘do unto others as they would have them do unto them’ – I’m seeing God at work.

Sure, God has been working through a few faith based institutions as well, but I think the biggest moves of God this past week have been made through everyday people, organizations and government agencies, all doing what they were meant to do; all bearing God’s image in all of these loving ways.

  • God cares about our basic needs – our thirst, hunger, need for gas, and a place to sleep – and he meets these needs. 
  • God intervenes, protects and gets us to safety. Through firefighters, who do all they can to shield us and selflessly run toward the flames, and through police officers who serve and protect us in the exodus and now watch over our vulnerable neighborhoods, God keeps us.
  • God has huge resources; When all of Canada steps in like it has, or Fort Mac residents benefit from all of the insurance premiums we’ve all paid, we are are reminded of God’s communal power, and the huge scope of his love!
  • God takes strangers in; the needy, the suffering, those without a home. 
  • God sees what’s happening; like how the world has been watching this past week.
  • God’s cares about people’s stories; like how reporters have been. God gets the news out about the needy, he knows what they’ve gone though, he names their pain and suffering, and records all of their tears.

So yeah, faith has been expressed and responded to in many beautiful ways this past week, mostly outside of the institution of the church. 

image – Wikimedia

A Sermon on Unemployment

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Here’s Sunday’s sermon on Unemployment.  Just in time it seems. On Friday a Global TV reporter asked me if we intentionally timed the sermon with the release of the national jobs report. If only we had that much foresight.  Then this morning I tweeted the sermon to Nick Purdon – a CBC reporter who just did a great piece on unemployed Albertans last night – and he retweeted it to all of his followers.

Aging, time flying, and preparing for eternity

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The other day I spoke with my parents about the phenomenon of how time seems to fly as you age. I’ve been noticing it for a few years now; events that played out 10 years ago feel like they happened 4 or 5 years ago; weeks and months seem to get shorter and shorter the older I get.

I wondered out loud, to my mom and dad, if maybe this perceptual change is intentional; something God has built into us in preparation for the timelessness of eternity.

Now, no one really knows for sure if time will exist when heaven and earth come together. The book of Revelation talks about no sun or moon or day or night (that God will be our light), but that doesn’t mean that time in some made-new form won’t be there. Whatever it’s going to be like, part of me thinks that increased timelessness (and spacelessness) would be a fitting facet of a heaven-on-earth existence where humanity would live in perfect relationship with a timeless and spaceless God.

We’d be more like him in his timelessness if we weren’t limited by time.

Assuming this possibility, ‘time-speeding-up’ makes sense.

Even as we increasingly don’t notice the passage of time as we age, so too will we not notice the passage of time in a timeless heaven on earth. Is this is what heaven will be like; our existence so filled with the presence of God that a day will seem like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day? Will a state of increased timelessness make room for this kind of experience of God’s fullness? It does make some sense. For all we know, the feeling of increasingly losing our sense of time that we feel today, will intensify exponentially in heaven; as we become more and more timeless for the rest of eternity. Again, all to make room for knowing a timeless God.

All of this dreaming makes me think of Mihalyi Csiksgentmihalyi’s phenomenon of ‘flow’. Flow is that beautiful moment when you lose track of all time and space and get totally lost in the meaningful thing that you’re doing. I imagine that this is what heaven will be like; totally caught up in the everlasting love of God.

If less awareness of the passage of time as I age is preparation for that reality, then let time fly!

(image – Prague Astronomical Clock – Wikimedia Commons)