The Sons of Thunder is a Christian band and part of a larger, growing group of average guys who have decided to take a stand for Christ and work on becoming better husbands and fathers - yes, even sons.
The Sons of Thunder was hatched about 5 years ago. This group often leads/joins a larger group of men in study and prayer and seeks to serve the wider community.
Based in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, SOT has been known to tackle a range of projects - everything from home maintenance chores to helping move immigrant families. In 2008, the group did some missions work in NYC serving, playing and singing at the Bowery Mission. As is often the case, those who went to 'minister' were 'ministered to'. When the praises go up...the blessings come down!
If you live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, look us up at Bridgewater Baptist Church. And feel free to invite us to lead or participate in your event. We love road trips! Rock on!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
“I’ll take Annoying Truths for $100, Alex.”This famous preacher said, “Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.”“Who is Billy Graham? I’ll take Annoying Truths for $200, Alex.”This missionary to India said, “You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.” “Who was Amy Carmichael, Alex. I am getting very uncomfortable with this topic so let’s take “Sins that make you worse than me for $100.”
Money is an uncomfortable topic for followers of Jesus. One anonymous writer noted that a lot of people are willing to give God the credit, but not too many are willing to give Him the cash. Twenty-nine years ago a man in Kansas City made a choice to give away the cash. It was a choice that changed his life and the lives of thousands more. For the next 27 years until his death, a man known only as Secret Santa roamed the streets every December quietly giving people money. He started with $5 and $10 bills. As his fortune grew, so did the gifts. In later years, Secret Santa handed out $100 bills, sometimes two or three at a time, to people in thrift stores, diners and parking lots. He anonymously gave out about $1.3 million. It was a long-held holiday mystery: Who is the Secret Santa? Before Christmas in 2006, weakened from chemotherapy and armed with a desire to pass on his belief in random kindness, Secret Santa decided it was time to reveal his identity.
“Santa” turned out to be Larry Stewart, a 58-year-old businessman from the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Mo., who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service. While Stewart also gave money to other community causes in Kansas City and his home town of Bruce, Miss., he offered the simple gifts of cash because it's something people didn’t have to "beg for, get in line for, or apply for."
His story may be even more timely this Christmas season. Stewart’s epiphany happened just before Christmas in 1979. His circumstances were dire. For the second year in a row he had been fired just days before Christmas. He admits that he was wallowing in self-pity when he learned that giving returned an inexplicable joy. That simple discovery changed him, the entire city of Kansas City, and beyond. Let’s pick up the story as Stewart was nursing his wounds at a drive-in restaurant after getting fired once again. He describes that December day in his own words.
"It was cold and this car hop didn't have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, `I think I got it bad. She's out there in this cold making nickels and dimes,"' he said. He gave her $20 and told her to keep the change. "And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She said, `Sir, you have no idea what this means to me."'
Larry Stewart was deeply touched. He decided to go to the bank that day and took out $200, then drove around looking for people who could use a lift. That was his "Christmas present to himself." He hit the streets each December every year after that Christmas. In January of 2007 Larry Stewart died died from complications caused by esophageal cancer. He was only fifty-eight years old.
Even after his passing his mission lives on. Stewart spoke often to community groups about his devotion to kindness and to inspire others to donate their time and money. "That's what we're here for," Stewart says, "to help other people out."
Larry Stewart learned the reality of money and possessions that was eloquently expressed by author Thomas Fuller. “Riches enlarge rather than satisfy appetites.”
As a follower of Christ I think Stewart has it half right when he notes that we are here to help other people out. The religious scholars asked Jesus what a purpose driven life should look like.
"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?" Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." (Matthew 22, The Message)
The truth is that when I love and trust God with all of my passion and intelligence I have the freedom to allow God to love others through me. During this Christmas season I am challenging you to join me in trying Larry Stewart’s experiment. Go buy yourself a gadget or outfit or bauble. Note the reading on your personal joy meter. Then go give money to a desperate Mom trying to make ends meet. Or give some cash to an elderly couple who can’t pay the heating bill. Deliver a Christmas gift to children who would not receive gifts any other way. Check your personal joy meter again. Then note which action has given you real joy. Was it acquiring more stuff or meeting real needs in the lives of others? Larry Stewart learned that lesson. And the world is a better place because of the revelation he experienced on a cold December day twenty-nine years ago.
Pray about what you can give this Christmas. Remember that Larry Stewart started small. I pray that you will receive the kind of joy that drove the Kansas City “Secret Santa”. I pray that you will experience the chance to witness the surprised joy of a person receiving an unexpected and much needed gift. That is kind of like salvation given by grace, isn’t it? A gift of grace received only by faith. I unwrapped that gift almost forty years ago and it is still changing me today. That is the gift that Jesus brought to Bethlehem two millenia ago. And that is another gift we should be eager to share this Christmas season.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
“God wants you to have a blessed life. He wants you to reach farther than you have ever reached and to bless so many others” (Edward John).
by Edward John
It’s important to know that God wants you to succeed so you can live a rewarding and fulfilling life. On the other hand, you also need to be aware that the enemy wants you to fail. He does this by pulling you down and holding you back with fear.1) Here are some of the greatest fear factors that he uses to hinder you from reaching your destiny:
Fear of man
Fear of loneliness
Fear of failure
Fear of God
No one said it would be easy and no one promised us a ride on angel wings, but you and I can have the assurance that the power of the Holy Spirit is available to help us.2) According to the Bible, anyone who believes and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord has access to His resurrection power.3) Because the Holy Spirit resides within us, we can experience the energizing power of God to live life more abundantly.4)
Fear of Man
As soon as we think we’ve got to measure up to what others think, the fear of man kicks in. To overcome this snare, we need to be more concerned about what God thinks instead. For it’s His opinion that really counts. No matter what others think or say, we can place our trust in Him by standing upon His Word, upon His promises, and upon all the things that He has said. Of course, we should love and respect people, but we must honour God first.5) He should always be number one in our lives. When you place your trust in Him – rather than in another human being – the fear of man will be broken.
Fear of Loneliness
What a beautiful thing loneliness can be if you understand what God does in the midst of these times of solitude. Moses was out in the desert, all alone, when God appeared to him in a burning bush, announcing that he had been chosen to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.6) It was while confined in prison that God prepared Joseph to become one of the greatest rulers in history.7) David was out by himself in the pasture field caring for sheep when he was appointed by God – eventually becoming one of the most famous kings of the world.8) This leads us to Jesus Christ, the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”9) Often surrounded by people, Jesus would withdraw purposely and go to a quiet, solitary place.10) The “King of kings” knew that unless He spent these special moments alone with His Heavenly Father, He would never become all that He was destined to be.
So don’t be afraid of loneliness and definitely don’t start complaining. Murmuring and complaining will just take you away from the presence of God. Rather, take time to enjoy being alone in His presence. Make this decision so you can move up to the next level and become all that He desires you to be. Remember, it’s important training ground.
Fear of Failure
We are all so afraid of failing, aren’t we? Yet, as humans, we’ve all made our share of mistakes.11) But it’s the attitude of our hearts that’s going to determine whether we’ve failed in the eyes of Almighty God.12) If your heart is geared toward pleasing Him, He is going to make sure every mistake you have ever made works together for good.13) He also promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”14) No matter what you do – as long as you abide by the Word of God – you will always succeed.15) So friend, don’t be afraid of failure. Rise up, become like a lion on the inside and say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”16)
Fear of God
Many people think that we need to be terribly afraid of God. Although the Bible does state that we are to have a reverential fear of Him,17) it is not to be confused with being frightfully scared. Rather it’s referring to our need to honour and respect Him as our Heavenly Father.18) The healthy boundaries He has set for us in His Word are not meant to make our lives boring or difficult, nor are they designed to make us fail. To the contrary, He lovingly gave them to us so we could avoid all the things that will sidetrack us from reaching our maximum potential.19) By walking according to His healthy boundaries, we’ll be able to abide in His love and peace.20) “God is love” – perfect love – and “perfect love casts out fear.”21)
1) 2 Timothy 1:7
2) John 14:26; 15:26
3) John 10:10
4) Acts 1:8
5) Matthew 22:37-39
6) Exodus 3
7) Genesis 39
8) 1 Samuel 16
9) Revelation 19:16
10) Matthew 14:23
11) Romans 3:23
12) 1 Samuel 16:7
13) Romans 8:28
14) Hebrews 13:5
15) Joshua 1:8
16) Philippians 4:13
17) Psalm 11:10
18) Malachi 1:6
19) Deuteronomy 5:33
20) Romans 2:10
21) 1 John 4:8,18
Born in Oslo, Norway, Edward John always excelled in sports as a youth, becoming one of the country’s top junior ski-jumpers and a promising professional soccer player. One day, while on the field, he heard a voice saying, “Are you going to run after Me like you run after that ball?” Edward knew it was a clear call from God, and decided to dedicate his life to Him. He has since become an exceptional artist, musician, author, TV host and speaker – touching audiences around the world with the Gospel.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
When prayer is our lifeline then we partner with God and come into a greater fullness of fulfilling God’s plans and purposes for our lives.
by Margaret Gibbs
In his book, Know Your Story, Shape Your Future, Dan Allender, writes: "You are a story. You are not merely the possessor and teller of a number of stories; you are a well-written, intentional story that is authored by the greatest Writer of all time, and even before time and after time.”
Prayer is one of the primary themes in our story. We are impoverished if we regard prayer as a religious activity. When prayer is our lifeline - our spiritual breathing - then we partner with God and come into a greater fullness of fulfilling God’s plans and purposes for our lives.
The power of prayer is best seen in our daily lives. Prayer changes and transforms us. Prayer is far more than asking and receiving, it is becoming. When we pray, we create our own prayer atmosphere by our thinking and attitudes. Our attitudes are shaped by our thoughts. Our thoughts form our prayers.
John Ortberg in his book, God Is Closer Than You Think, writes: “Being with God is something that takes place primarily in our thoughts, our mind. To experience the closeness of God, it means a revolution of the mind.” Back in my teen years, when I fought insecurity, acute shyness and a limited purpose, my praying came out of my own insecurity. I approached prayer with trepidation. I battled questions such as: “Does God care for me? What do I have to prove to God to be accepted? Would God just drop me if I didn’t reach a level of personal goodness?” In those days, I felt I wasn’t being embraced by God. I failed to understand what was recorded in His Word. He loved me with an everlasting love and would never leave me nor forsake me. He was embracing me and lovingly calling me into His presence but my own thinking created a disconnect between God and myself. I was in a self-inflicted prison and only Word-based prayer could set me free.
How we view ourselves is the most revealing commentary on our theology and can be the greatest hindrance in prayer development. In later years I kept an extremely busy schedule and battled the Spirit’s gentle call to prayer. I resisted because my mind and heart were elsewhere. At one mid-week church prayer meeting, I had a wake-up call when, surrounded by incredible intercessors, I found myself writing out my "to do" list.
Multi-tasking and my demanding schedule pulled me farther from my heavenly Father. He seemed removed, unreachable. Only Word-based praying could transform my thinking and bring me into a place of spiritual hunger.
A personal crisis was the catalyst God used to call me to intercession. Emotionally drained, I turned to God’s Word. The book of Ephesians became like a stream of fresh water to my parched and weary soul. I studied and prayed Paul’s prison prayers – word by word and phrase by phrase – assimilating God’s truth into my spirit. My prayer time steadily increased until an hour in prayer seemed like mere minutes.
Prayer became an incubator for change. God’s Word came alive in my heart – my thinking was transformed! I finally saw God as able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine or think according to His power that is at work within us. I saw myself as chosen, called in partnership with God to fulfill His plans and purpose for my life. The plot of our stories could forever change if we prayed the Scriptures, allowing His truth to change our thoughts and attitudes, transforming our prayers by becoming a divine partnership – one page at a time.
Hope this helps...
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
TOMBSTONE EVANGELISM, by Phil Callaway
On the night of my 35th birthday, I tucked my ten-year-old into bed. He squinted at me. "How old are you?" he said. "Thirty-five, Son," I replied. "Wow!" yelled Stephen, "You're half dead!" I tucked him in calmly, went across the hall and removed him from the will. Actually, I got thinking about how fast these years have gone. And we pick up speed the closer we get to Home. So I decided to pick out a tombstone. There are some real winners out there.
One says, "He should have ducked." Another headstone reads, "Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go." A woman in Key West, Florida, married to a man who was known as a womanizer, ordered a tombstone that read: "Frank, at least I know where you're sleeping tonight." Such a horrible epitaph should cause us to ask ourselves: What are we leaving behind? What will be our legacy?
I asked some of the best-known Christians of our time those questions. I think you'll enjoy their answers.
Josh McDowell, the internationally-renowned apologist said, "When God called me into the ministry He never called me to be successful. He called me to be obedient. And I'd like to be remembered as a man who was obedient and faithful right up to the end. I want to take as many people as I can with me to Heaven, and enjoy life along the way."
Author Elizabeth Elliot had a simple answer: "I want to be remembered as a servant of God. Nothing else."
Popular singer Steven Curtis Chapman said: "I hope my children will say I was a committed father. And it would be nice if people remembered a song here and there, but that's pretty insignificant compared to my desire to know Christ and to make Him known."
And popular songwriter Gloria Gaither, whose song "Because He Lives" has been translated into almost every known language on earth, summed it up this way: "If I had to write my epitaph, it would probably say, 'She gave herself away for the things that last forever.'"
And what would I like on my tombstone? Simply this: "He found God's grace too amazing to keep to himself."
How about you? What would you like to be remembered for? Even when you're half dead, you still live your life on purpose!
Phil Callaway is an award-winning writer and popular speaker.
Visit him online at philcallaway.com
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
When we lived in BC, I was asked to share my story at a Christian Businessmen’s Banquet. The organizers asked me to fill 45 minutes. 45 minutes! I can write and I can speak…but 45 minutes to say what’s on my mind is way too long.
I somehow managed to pull it off but left the meeting feeling like it must have been dreadfully dry and dull. When I think back on that event…and consider what to say here I am struck by the fact that most men are never invited to tell their story. Nobody asks to hear it. When has someone asked to hear your testimony?
What bugs me is that men are generally perceived to be not the ‘sharing’ kind. Consensus is that men do not want to share much of anything…maybe the odd power tool but heaven forbid a serious spiritual thought, question or response. I think that most guys are happy to be perceived in this light…wrong as it may be. Why is it easier and strangely more acceptable for a man to be a goof than a genius? Get too serious about life and you run the risk of being pegged a freak or a sap.
Regardless, I think that every man wants to tell his unique story in context. He needs to share his heart, he needs to be understood and he needs to know that he is accepted as-is. It may not pour out all at once but over the course of weeks or years. So long as it happens. With trust comes a confidence and openness to share. So, let’s start asking for more of the story.
“Father, thank you for the men this community of faith. Help us to share earnest support for each other by our actions; may we care enough to ask for more of the story, to listen intently and respond with the love of Christ. Amen.”
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
One of my all-time favourite quotes. It’s a quote that can be interpreted several different ways, but if you research Thoreau, it appears his meaning applied to the masses who toil day after day at a job they despise, but do not have the means - or perhaps the courage - to walk away and do what it is they really want to do.
There could be nothing worse than living a life of quiet desperation. Yet it seems so many people do. To me, it relates not only to what you do in life, but who you are. Not that long ago, I remember waking up one day and thinking, “This is not my life. This cannot be my life. This is NOT what the rest of my life is supposed to be.”
So I changed it. But it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t simple. It was kind of like standing on the edge of a precipice and preparing to jump, not knowing how far down the bottom was, or if you’d even land safely, or if there’d be anyone to catch you.
But I jumped anyway. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing ignoble or desperate about working 9-5 to pay the bills, feed the family, maintain a roof over your head - all the things society and obligation and responsibility demands of us. But even if that is so, even if your livelihood is not your passion, then it behooves you to find passion somewhere else – be it in a hobby, a cause, your spouse, your kids, your friendships, whatever.
Do not settle, do not let your one shot at life be filled with moments of doubt and despair and regret over what might have been. Find your song, and then…sing.
To those not living lives of quiet desperation, I salute you, I admire you. To those who believe they have no choice but to go to the grave with the song still in them, I feel your pain. I urge you to reconsider.
It was missionary Jim Elliot who said, "Until you find something worth dying for, you're not really living."
Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, lived to the full." (John 10:10) In one respect, as followers of the Master, we are called to live life in the extreme - this is so far from 'quiet desperation', behind closed doors, isolated and alone.
Let me leave you with another piece of classic Thoreau for your reflection: “When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I’ve picked out “EPIC” – Discover the story that God is telling. It is designed to help reveal every man’s crucial role in the God’s Larger Story! I believe you will appreciate John Eldredge’s perspective. This is a short study – only 6 weeks, and that could be good as we head into summer. Format will be simple: Watch a 20 minute thought provoking, dramatic presentation on DVD and follow with some more thoughts, questions and reaction. It will be casual.
Please know that by committing to this you will not be put on the spot in any way. I do not presume to know your personal story and you may be questioning, for the first time, what faith in Christ really means. At the same time if you’ve been a Christian for many years there is definitely a place for you too. Trust me, every man will benefit! So please come, feel welcome and comfortable!
Oh, best part…you won’t need to buy anything – no materials required. Come as you are.
Monday, May 19, 2008
The author is David Murrow, author of "Why Men Hate Going To Church" You've heard it said that fathers are the spiritual leaders of the home. Now there's a study to prove it.
Researchers from Switzerland examined whether parents' religious habits were transmitted to their offspring. They studied different variables, but one critical factor towered above the rest: the practices of the father determine whether children grow up attending church or not. And here's the shocker: the habits of the mother have almost no influence over their kids' future devotion.
Consider these findings:
When Mom is a regular churchgoer but Dad attends infrequently, just 3 percent of their kids go on to become regular churchgoers.
When Mom is regular but Dad never attends, just 2 percent become regular attenders.
Now, let's flip the chart. What if Dad is faithful?
When both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 33 percent of kids grow up to attend regularly.
When Dad is regular but Mom only goes once in a while, the figure jumps to 38 percent.
Here's the real bombshell: when Dad is faithful but Mom never attends, 44 percent of the kids end up as regular church attenders!!
Bottom line: in spiritual matters, kids take their cues from Dad. If Papa doesn't go to church, chances are very slim that his children will become regular worshippers. If the kids see religion as "Mom's thing" they are more likely to become disenchanted. But if Dad leads by example, children are twenty-two times more likely to become lifelong churchgoers.
Curtis Burnam, a 20-year veteran of youth ministry has seen it time and again. "Kids who are taken to church by Mom but not Dad are harder to keep in church. They tend to drop out at higher rates when they reach adolescence. They are also harder to engage when they do come to youth group. This is true for girls as well as boys."
Why are these findings so alarming? Because men are dropping out of North America's churches. Consider this:
In 1952, the typical protestant worship service drew an adult crowd that was 47 percent male. Today that figure is 39 percent, or less -- and falling.
On any given Sunday there are 13 million fewer men than women in the pews.
Almost a quarter of married, churchgoing women attend services without their husbands each Sunday.
According to Barna Research, men lag behind women in every area of Christian endeavor (except the senior pastorate).
Few churches can establish or maintain a viable men's ministry.
The majority of churchgoing men do nothing midweek (other than pray) to grow in faith.
Two obvious questions come to mind: why are Christian churches losing their men? And why are churchgoing men so uninvolved?
Jesus enthralled men. Rival faiths such as Islam inspire fanatical allegiance from young men.
What's the difference?
I studied this phenomenon for five years, and wrote my findings in a book titled, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nelson Books, 2005). If I had to summarize my conclusions in one sentence it would be this: The modern church system is not designed to do what Jesus did: reach men with the Good News.
No, today's churches, without even realizing it, create an environment where women and tots thrive, but men feel hesitant and restrained. How so? Without even realizing it, modern churches default to a feminine spirituality. For instance, we focus almost exclusively on Christ's gentle side. A good Christian is always soft, sweet, and sentimental, focused on family and relationships instead of goals and achievement. Common church practices such as handholding, sitting in a circle and sharing your feelings, public reading and singing make men feel uncomfortable or incompetent. Today's praise songs present Christ as lover rather than leader. I could go on.
So men depart (or go passive). This in itself is a tragedy. But the greater loss comes years later, when the next generation turns its back on church, despite their mothers' superhuman attempts to grow them into spiritual champions.
It's time to face the truth: if we're going to pass a lifelong faith to our children, we must re-engage men. No amount of Sunday school, VBS, or youth group will do the trick. We might as well fold up our flannel-graphs and go home. In fact, we might reach more kids by canceling the entire children's ministry and focusing our efforts on men. This strategy would, in the long run, produce more lifelong followers of Jesus.
Kids need one thing: to see their fathers following Jesus. The question is: do we have the courage to transform the local church into a place where your average guy can connect with God?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The highest tides in the world are right here in our backyard in the amazing Bay of Fundy. Consider the impact of 1 billion tons of water moving in and out twice a day. The terrain is unmistakably changed. Do you see how we can change the landscape of our community? Pray for vision.
And, pray for Rob travelling in Indonesia. Pray for Rob’s family here at home. Pray for Paul & Janice on their Alaskan Cruise. Pray for Sarah & John getting married in 2 weeks. Pray for Kerstin as he has decided to take on something huge! Pray for the young guys in our church. May the older guys be available and strong examples to all young men. Pray for the Red Rally that David has organized. Pray for our families – parents, brothers, sisters and children. Pray for Harry Gardner who will speak this weekend. Keep praying for Eric and the mission and vision in our church and the Capital Campaign that’s taking shape. Just keep praying.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
First, let me tell you how blessed I am by my friends. It is rare these days for men to share in a warm, inviting and supportive fellowship. It seems almost anti-guy doesn't it? Society somehow paints a picture of the man who stands alone as the strong man...alone and strong like the Malboro Man. Truth is we need each others’ strength. As men, we are busy with the stuff of life – kids, wives, work and our own lawn maintenance. So much is asked of us on a daily basis.
A dozen guys came to share the work last evening. The number alone speaks powerfully to me.
Secondly, I was impacted by the lady of the house who openly shared her fears of what lies ahead for her ailing husband. There will difficult decisions to make. There are so many questions that remain unanswered. And, where is God? Well, God showed up in the work last night. God showed up as we prayed for her and her husband. God was there in our fellowship and in our meeting the need.
And, God spoke directly to me. Truthfully, when I first arrived I wondered what really had to be done because the yard appeared flawless. There was even a WEEDMAN sign out front. Did I have the wrong address?
From the street one would never know there was a mess out back…not a huge mess – but it did need some attention. I thought about my own life – how, from the curb – or from the front you might not see the ‘mess in the backyard’ of my life. We need to invite God into those dark, shaded places where the leaves and debris collect. It takes continuous maintenance – prayer, reading the Word, support from each other. We need to shine the light into those areas of our lives; expose those regions of pain or shame and invite healing and renewal from Christ.
There’s some stuff I’m working on. I am reluctant. I hesitate. And, God calls me forward just the same. I struggle to accept His prompting in my life because it is so much easier to remain in the shade. To wait and watch others do all the work is just dead wrong.
And, how many men wait on the sidelines to be invited into the game? Some guys seem happy to observe from a distance as mere spectators but something deep inside each man is longing to be called into the adventure. Think of the men you know. Encourage them. Invite them off the couch of doom and into the fray.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Thank you for meeting with us this morning and for listening to our shared vision. We are not asking for much really - just that you stand...and join us at the front of the church during the chorus of "Bring the Rain" on Sunday, May 25th. We'll provide more details very soon. In fact, you don't have to sing or even know the words. Essentially, by standing with us you will be adding to an incredibly powerful moment of unity and strength! As of today, 30 - 40 men will be standing with you. You will not be alone.
As men, we need to do more 'standing' together. I mentioned at the beginning of this note that we are not asking for much...I do believe, however, that we offer much; We offer the love of Christ. And, together, we strongly believe in the power of prayer, accountability, discipleship and support. Who doesn't need more of that?
A bit of history: The Sons of Thunder began several years ago as a loose group of musical friends. Through the inspiration of Robin Churchill, the group decided to commit to a weekend trip to the Bowery Mission in New York City last month. It was a life-changing experience and lately the guys have been asking, "what now Lord"? "What's next for this group"?
God has opened the eyes of these men. Life is more fragile than we guessed...life is short...and life can be hard - but together, with a supporting network of Christian men, we can work it out. We are stronger together and our church and families will be strengthened! I really appreciate the range of ages in our group...from College Age to Senior Sage! You all have so much to offer. Confession time: As one who thought he knew most people in the church...I don't know all of you. Wow, was I mistaken!
So, you get the idea. And, you'll hear from us quite often. Email makes it easy to stay in touch. So jump right in - don't be shy! And let me tell you straight up that if you ever need someone to pray with or talk to - call me. I will make the time. I am sure the other guys will do the same. Please feel welcomed and supported. The original group of guys is already praying for you.
I heard at least two of you ask about a 'Men's Breakfast'. We'll do that. The men's study I want to launch is called "Epic - Discover The Story God Is Telling". It's a short 6 week DVD series by John Eldredge, author of "Wild at Heart". I'm sorting out the logistics and will give you lots of advance notice. We may even offer it a couple of times through the week. We'll see.
Visit the Sons Of Thunder blog at http://www.bridgewatersons.blogspot.com/ Read all about the trip to NYC and various thoughts, testimonies, reaction and ideas! Let me know if you would like to become an 'author' on the blog and I can set that up for you.
Thank you for agreeing to take a stand. Invite those you know to join us!
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13
Friday, May 2, 2008
Thank you David for the challenge and for being the first to step up and boldly post your testimony. Trouble is, for me, is I doubt that I can wait a whole month to be next.
Thank you Jeff for the passionate and supportive message. Hey, it could go down as one of the most famous speeches never given. I love it! “Burn The Ships”! Such a great statement of faith!
You may know this about me. It’s no secret - I am not much of a reader. Now and then, however, I stumble upon something that stirs me. Victoria actually pointed out this piece from Oswald Chambers’ devotional “My Utmost For His Highest” (May 2nd): “If we have only what we have experienced, we have nothing. If we have the inspiration of the vision of God, we have more than we can experience. Our reach must exceed our grasp. Things come to you with greatness and add vitality to your life because everything is energized by God.”
Phillipians 3:12,13: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”. (NIV)
The Message translation puts it this way: “I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.”
So, we keep moving ahead. We must. There is so much to say about how God is working and how I see him changing me and the hearts of those around me. Silence doesn’t say much.
It would be sad if the band was never invited to play again but it wouldn’t matter because The Sons of Thunder could go on a speaking tour. Who can keep quiet?
It is so good to be coming alive. Remember the movie Braveheart and the words of William Wallace, “All men die, few men ever really live”.
“To settle for less, or to have less, sounds like a compromise with misery.” – Craig McConnell
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
I want to start by telling you about my first car. It was a 1977 Mustang, 2.8 litre, V6, 4-speed. It was blue. My dad discovered it and thought of me. He even bankrolled me until I found a job to pay for it. Although it wasn’t new, this was the car I’d always wanted. I’ve never since been closer to loving a car. It was peppy enough to suit me. The wheels would chirp in second gear just from putting my foot down and it sounded like a V8, not noisy and irritating, but throaty, like it had intentions. I looked good in it and it felt good on me.
The job I got required me to travel over most of the province carrying lots of gear. Cargo space was not a strong point in my Mustang, but I managed, by making more frequent trips to the office and spreading into the back seat when the trunk was full. Lots of business miles on an already old car led to a breakdown now and then, and eventually my boss told me I needed a more dependable vehicle with more cargo space. What was I to do? I loved my car, but my work required that I let it go. I traded it in on a new Capri hatchback that had much more cargo space and better reliability. I soon wore the Capri out and upgraded again, this time to a Mazda truck with a cap. It wasn’t long before the box was loaded to capacity. This need for change was driven by the requirements of the job.
Let’s look further back in history. The Baptists in and around this town purchased “The Lord’s Barn” in 1849. After five years and a lot of hard work, the “Baptist Meeting House” was opened. Over the years, through times of struggle and victory, the congregation grew. Improvements were made to the building; a new baptistery was added, the pulpit was lowered from its elevated position to be nearer to the people, a 12’ X 15’ extension was built behind the pulpit to allow the choir to leave the elevated gallery behind the assembly and face the people from the front, new pews were installed, a 28’ X 35’ vestry was built at the back of the church, new windows were installed. In the early 1900’s, the church body was thriving and they had outgrown the previously expanded ‘Baptist Meeting House’. Take a moment right now and imagine we are there wrestling with many of the same problems we have right now… You, your family and your friends have been saved, baptized, nurtured, married and buried in the Baptist Meeting House. There is a great deal of sentiment, nostalgia, intrigue and history attached to this old town landmark. Do we find a way to continue to renovate? Do we need a new structure? What will we do…? What did they do? Well, sometime between 1912 and the start of WW1, a building fund was established. At the annual meeting in January of 1920, the building committee was authorized to proceed with the erection of a new church; this building we’re in now. Work began that year and the grand opening was held on Jan 30, ’21.
This structure has harboured us for almost 90 years, but now, I believe, our boss is telling us our Mustang doesn’t have enough cargo space and we need something more reliable, metaphorically speaking. Why doesn’t this structure meet our requirements any more?
We don’t have enough room for the people we have attending now. At times, people have had to leave because there was no place to sit. We have a full house even when many regulars are away. The ‘overflow’ seating has become regular and even preferred seating.
Stairs are everywhere we need to go. This causes difficulties for some seniors and others with mobility difficulties.
The aisles are narrow and crooked creating difficulties for weddings and funerals.
We don’t have adequate or convenient parking.
There are three old buildings, each with high maintenance and heating costs.
There is no A/C.
Platform and front floor space are too small.
We have to prohibit jumping in the sanctuary because there is not enough structural integrity in the floor to support it.
Poor sight lines from overflow and choir.
The lighting is insufficient to allow us to air our services on local cable.
Inadequate, poorly positioned washroom facilities.
Offices and annex meeting room are far removed from main building.
There is no reliable Internet access in the main building.
The gym is small, noisy, and inadequate.
There is a woeful lack of storage space.
I suspect each of you can add to this list.
Through surveys, interviews and discussions, church workers have told two building committees what was needed to support our present and expected future needs. The solutions are in the new plan, which addresses and fulfills all the identified needs.
Many reasons are given to argue that we stay here.
We can’t afford our current bills. How can we build a new church?
It’s such a nice old building.
I grew up here. It holds a lot of meaning for me.
What about the organ and the stained glass windows; we don’t want to lose those, do we?
These are all nuts-and-bolts issues; important to consider, but, I believe, not of paramount significance in the matter. Let me talk about them for just a bit. In the end, though, it’s important to remember that we must be obedient to God’s call and leading.
It’s not unexpected that people would develop attachments to this place. They’ve laboured long and hard to build this body of believers into the family we are today. That work must be respected and honoured, but the honour and respect must come from the rest of us who follow their example, not from the structure. The building housed us, but it was the communion of believers within the walls that created those fond memories and the comfortable feelings of security and peace. It was not the pews and organ and pulpit and stained glass. This is a building where we have come together to worship God. It must not be that which we worship. I don’t know of any place in Scripture where we are commanded to maintain buildings because of their historical or architectural significance or character. The building we use is a tool in the work, but the tool itself sends a message. I think we should want that message to speak to today’s, and tomorrow’s, cultures with relevance and authority. Today’s culture is one of media bombardment, using steadily evolving technology in more ways every day. How long can we expect constantly changing culture to find post WW1 form and function appealing and compelling?
The issue of finances is always a thorny one. I’m not going to take the time to preach to you about how you should use the money God has placed in your hands. I will, though, quickly relate the high points of a Bible study I recently led for the senior youth. It was part of a series on social justice and our responsibility in the fight against oppression. The lesson was called “God’s Vision Brings God’s Provision.” The scripture text was the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. The theme was, “If YOU show up, GOD will show up.” Jesus asked Phillip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed these people?” They were in an unpopulated countryside with no grocery stores and even if there had been stores, eight month’s wages couldn’t have fed the crowd, according to Phillip. He saw the problem as one of economics. Another disciple saw the problem as an opportunity. He had found the only food there, a boy’s lunch, and brought it to Jesus. This was a ridiculously small amount of food compared to the number of hungry mouths, but the boy gave it willingly, without holding anything back for himself, without telling Jesus that he was nuts for thinking it would be enough. You know what happened. Jesus blessed it and started passing it out. Everyone ate until they were full and there were 12 baskets full of leftovers. The message is this; if YOU show up at the picnic with your lunch and whatever meager resources you have and bring a willing, obedient heart, GOD will show up with his limitless resources, use your lunch to feed 5000 people and have leftovers for the food bank. That same Jesus is the one who is telling us our Mustang is too small.
Please take a moment, right now, to think back to the time of your conversion, or another significant time that you and God had together… In every case I’m sure you had the realization that God was there to meet you exactly where you were. He was totally relevant to your situation in that moment. To have a continuing, effective outreach to the people of this community, which is our primary goal and an element of the Great Commission, we must be prepared to meet them where they are so they can know that God wants to meet them there, too. Our society is constantly morphing, being shaped and reshaped faster than most of us can keep up, but it’s our job to show that God remains relevant in all this change, that he’s not an old-fashioned concept that is no longer of any use or interest in our present society. We must make our message current. The building we use is one tool that gets used in our presentation of the good news and that tool becomes part of our message. It needs to be as current as our message for the message to have teeth.
Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song that I think could be our anthem throughout this process.
Burn the Ships
In the spring of 1519, a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors, ‘This mission must not fail.’
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world made them restless and weak
Quietly they whispered, ‘Let’s sail back to the life we knew.’
But the one who led them there was saying,
‘Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.’
In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that will not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill and destroy
Quietly he whispers, ‘Go back to the life you know.’
But the one who led us here is saying,
‘Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.’
Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone
Burn the ships; we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
now that we’ve come this far by faith.
Burn the ships; we’ve passed the point of no return.
Our life is here
so let the ships burn.
I want you to know that I’m not suggesting that we set fire to our buildings. That would be dangerous and irresponsible, but I think it would be more dangerous to place our affection for this present location ahead the opportunity for growth that God has presented to us. Do we dare to limit God’s work through us in this town to the size of the four walls of this old tool that he’s already filled? I don’t. This building has been in use for close to 90 years. Do you dare tell the people of the next 90 years that their vision of God’s work for them in this town has to fit in this building? I don’t. Are you prepared to deny future generations the joy of seeing God fill a larger, more functional, socially relevant, albeit unfamiliar structure? I’m not. Where in scripture are we told to get comfortable and bask in the glory of previous spiritual victories? Can we say, “I’m sorry God, but I don’t believe you have the skills and resources to be able to afford a project this big?”
I can see three responses to the challenge God has placed before us;
God, we can’t afford to grow any more. Could you please stop working through us and, instead, use some of the other churches around us that still have room to grow?
God, thank you for using us to grow this body to the capacity of the building. Please keep bring us new people, but just a few at a time, so we can get them started in a new life with you. Then we’ll pass them on to another nearby church that still has empty pews.
God, thank you for blessing us with each other and using us to create a body that cares for each of its members and the lost of the community around us. What You’re doing here shows, and people are coming to see what it’s all about. We prayed that you would increase your flock and you answered with a ‘Yes.’ Now we’re full and we ask that you give us a new prayer. Lord, please make it possible for us to pay for what we need to continue your work. And give us the faith to start now with the assurance that you’ll do it.
To me, the proper response is clear. Our work in this mission field isn’t ended just because we’ve filled this vessel. Thank you faithful Mustang. It’s been a sweet ride, but now it’s time to burn the ships!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Why not add a few of the guys who do not play – and form a male chorus to ‘sing it out’ for that song. Why don’t we see if we can sing and play on Mother’s Day…or Father’s Day?
Which song is it anyway? David?
I floated the idea by my brother Ron and he is willing. Honest! What about John S, Mike, Pat, Greg L… – I have heard that there are a bunch of guys chomping at the bit to STAND with us boys. Come on, think of the men you know. Paul C? Carl S? Vic, Robin…
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get every man to STAND with us as Sons of Thunder. Let’s make it happen.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thank you Robin for leading us to NYC and leading us as men to a mission we may never have dreamed of if you weren't in our lives. You are so strong and you set an incredible example of what faith in God and listening to the Lord can do in your life. Halifax is far enough for you to be moving from us. Thank you Rob for being a ball of energy and showing us just how much fun you can have serving the Lord and those men. There was no stopping you brother and I hope there never is. Has that smile come off your face yet? I hope not.
Thank you Paul for your fearlessness with the guitar. You use your gifts to their fullest and you are an inspiration to us all. If you had not turned around that very first day we were in Church I don't know that any of this would have happened for me. I truly believe that you a major part of the chain of events that led me to where I am right now. Where would I be without you? It doesn't matter because I am here, not there. Thank you Paul.
Thank you Kerstin for wearing your faith on the outside for all to see. If I can get half-way to where you are I will be a force for the Lord that cannot be stopped. You are a Superman of God there is no doubt of that. Jeff, without you we would not be able to unscramble the mish-mash of sound that we put out. More then that Jeff, you listened to the call of God, stepped out with the Sons and we couldn't imagine the SOT without you. You may not play with us (very often) but I will think of you every time we do.
Thank you Victor for your strength and your words. You may be a man of few words (sometimes), but when you speak there is power there. I meant it when I said I was moved by your words at the pulpit on Sunday. Powerful man, very powerful. I'm not sure you realize how important it was that you were with us this weekend but for me there could have been no other way.
Eric, there was a year before you came to Bridgewater that I felt lost. I felt that everything that had built up, all that Tom had help me find in myself and in Christ had slipped away. When you spoke for that first time in our Church it came back in a rush. Your being in my life, in all our lives is a gift and a blessing. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be in a band let alone one with a Pastor in it. It is an amazing feeling Eric to call you friend and it is God's hand in my life that lets me call you Brother. Thank you for your blessings. Thank you for your wisdom and your guidance.
Robb, I wasn't sure if I should send this to you because I didn't want you to feel sad or upset but I feel like I need to say this to you. I want to thank you Robb because you are my brother. God put you in my life right after we moved here there is a comfort I feel knowing that you are there. We missed you so much but at the same time, you were with us. For whatever reason, God wanted you to be home. There is such comfort in knowing that it is part of his plan for you. I thank you Robb for being the heartbeat of the SOT. I thank you for standing up when God said "not this trip" and saying "yes Lord I hear you". I'm not sure I could have done that. Your eyes and ears are open to His voice and I am learning so much from you. Thank God for you Robb.
Thank you all for just being the men that you are. You are all so different but you are all pieces in the puzzle of my life. I can't put it together if you are all not part of it. I am a better man for knowing you. I am a better man because of you.
Remember, when the Praises go up.........
Give it a try. If you're not sure how to make it work - shoot me an email and I'll walk you through the process. Be brave!
Hey, I loved it last night. You guys really let the light shine and I love how the music really soared. The sharing time was excellent - I took so much away from that.
"When the praises go up..."