Depending on where you live in this world, potholes can be both a distraction and dangerous. For those who perhaps live in a climate that never experiences frost in the ground, potholes may be foreign to you. But here in Atlantic Canada they are as common as a Tim Horton’s double-double. Again, if you don’t live in Canada Tim’s coffee shops are the equivalent of Duncan Donuts in America — they are everywhere — and so are potholes!

It really doesn’t matter what road or highway you travel, when the winter frost is driven deep into the ground it expands and moves earth, then with the warming of the earth in the springtime along with heavy truck traffic, you guessed it, the roads crack, break up, and often times leave holes that can be either a mild annoyance or a force to be reckoned with.

This is where potholes become a distraction or a danger. A distraction is simply anything that takes your focus off what you are doing. I’m being distracted right now because the sun is just starting to shine after an overnight rain and I really want to go outside and enjoy it — a harmless distraction. When you’re operating a motor vehicle you really don’t need any distractions to pull your attention away from the task in front of you — driving safely requires an alert mind. But then throw in the occasional pothole as you’re trying to drive, drink your Tim’s brew and keep your eyes on other motorists who are doing the exact same as you, and your attention is all over the place — literally all over the place because you’re dodging potholes so your coffee doesn’t spill on your clean shirt. Potholes are not your friend!

They can also be quite hazardous as well, especially when they are deep enough to lose a small car in! A slight exaggeration, but still potholes in Atlantic Canada can be very deep and if you hit one just right with your wheel it can cause major damage to your vehicle’s tires, rims and suspension. Now compound that with multiple craters on your commute and the fun of driving is all but gone.

Of course if you drive carefully and thoughtfully you can avoid most of these pesky potholes! The same can be said for our spiritual lives. Distractions and dangers are everywhere, and our hearts and minds can become damaged when we don’t pay attention to the way before us. When we allow life’s daily cares, worries and tasks we need to accomplish to crowd out our devotion to God, we will be easily distracted by lessor things — subtle as they may be. Yes our lives are busy and with life as we used to know it being totally flipped upside down and inside out because of this pandemic, well it’s not hard to imagine that we can be distracted. COVID-19, mass shootings, race protests, job insecurity, food insecurity, and political strife — and the church not being able to gather — I really don’t have to remind you that life is hard right now.

So remaining focused on our relationship to God has never been more important. Pastor Sterling Gosman used to say this when discussing important ministries in the church — “it’s critical”! Well I believe his usage of this little phrase is somewhat prophetic; it is critical that we give our full devotion and allegiance to Christ and His will and plan for our lives and His Church. When we are easily distracted we can often miss the danger ahead, dangers that can lead us all down roads of needless pain and suffering. We need only examine the public discourse in social media to see the destructive power of distraction — where everyone has an opinion about everything and everyone is an expert on every subject. Our hearts are easily swayed and our minds too easily filled with dissension. Of course debate is healthy and useful for discernment and understanding, yet the words of hate and meanness are far from helpful and unifying.

“The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭10:20‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Potholes will come our way — get used to them — but let’s not allow them to distract us from greater things or swallow us and destroy our lives. Let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Time For Change

Today, the last day of another year, I’m drawn again to the Psalms and the words of David. The poetic nature of the psalms reveals God’s heart in a way that especially speaks to creatives — of which I’ve come to embrace that I am one of those up and down creations. The psalms are full of real and raw emotion: angst, anger, fears, tears, pain and desperation. Of contemplation on His complete otherness and commitment to praise and honour the only true God.

As I was reading psalm 139 I was once again struck by this all-knowing God who knows everything about me — the really bad and hidden me, the me that gets so busy with life that often ignores the one relationship that actually can change my heart — and yet this awesome God of the universe that holds the stars in place still has the gracious heart to lead me in his ways and place His hand of blessing on my head (vs5). Oh my goodness He is so patient, He is so kind, He is so unlike me! As David says in this wonderful psalm: “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand.”

So this year I am determined to welcome change! To pursue and embrace more of His Heart for me — to let it wash over me and let Him radically transform this fragile life, that I’ve mistakenly come to count on, for His glory, for His fame and for my good! This is not meant to be a pie-in-the-sky New Year’s resolution that’s uttered today and forgotten tomorrow, but a heartfelt longing to lean into His presence and to live out the transformation He freely offers! It’s time for change — real change!

My prayer is that by His strength and dependence on His Spirit I will be more honest about my shortcomings, less selfish in my decisions, more cognizant of the needs of others and less dependant on myself. I will also seek to come to grips with the reality that transformation takes time; that the sojourning with each other is not always easy but always joyful because of this I’m completely confident: that true joy is found only in a life lived in the Spirit and one that embraces the journey regardless of the potholes we have to maneuver around.

Speaking of potholes, I have a writing project on the burner called Dodging Potholes! I’m not sure when it will be completed, if ever, but you’ll definitely know when it’s ready!

What is your prayer for this coming season of life? Come on, let’s get real with God and each other and embrace the transformation He has in store for each of us. Change is a comin’ — embrace it with arms and heart wide open!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Psalms 139:23-24 NLT

A Dream Team Does Exist


When I was in elementary and middle school school I played in the local hockey league at our community rink. Each year there up to 5 teams in each division and in my final year of playing competitively I managed to get picked for the “C” Team — not the “A” Team but it was still quite an honour because we got to travel to other towns and play in tournaments, of which we did okay.

Although I had a classmate who was on the “A” Team, it never bothered me that he got to travel out of province while only made it to the next county. It was fun and that’s all that mattered to me.

That same season our regular league team was almost unstoppable all year. The line I mostly played on consisted of two brothers, one a centerman and the other left wing while I held my own on right wing. The centerman brother was really the star of the team yet because he excelled we all excelled. I hope my recollection is clear in that I scored 30 plus goals and many more assists that season. Even if I’m off a little on my statistical memory, I know I had never come close to that in my five previous years in the league.

When it came time for the playoffs, we blew it. We went from the favoured team to win the championship to ending up in fourth place while the champions were the last place team all year. We were really disappointed in our performance — the dream team came up short, perhaps because we really weren’t as good as we thought.

Fast forward to present day. No, I don’t play hockey anymore and the closest I get to team sports is watching my grandson play high school football. And it seems history has repeated itself in his life. In his first year playing defensive linebacker his team was unstoppable all season. Actually  10 – 0 for the past two years. They just went game after game wiping the other team out every time — the scores were almost embarrassing, but hey, they were really good and deserved to win.

But when it came to the championship game last weekend, nothing went as planned. The other team simply outplayed them and the dream team was soundly defeated. I felt so bad for my grandson, he practiced hard, hit hard and cheered on his fellow team mates on and off the field. And we are very proud of him!! No doubt he’ll have another great season before his high school days are done.

So by now you might be thinking “what is the point to this little story?” Or “where are you headed with the dream team stuff?” Good question! I’ve been serving on staff for 16 years at a church that I’ve been attending since I was five years old and over the years there have been excellent pastoral teams — everything just seemed to click into place. We saw steady growth in attendance, financial goals were met, massive building plans come to fruition and people were coming to Jesus and caring for one another in small groups.

That’s not to say we didn’t experience seasons of little growth and pain from people just being human, but overall our church seemed strong. The dream team was unstoppable — or so we thought. Through a series of events that I won’t mention or dredge up, we seemed to lose sight of what really mattered and in hindsight, I think we got caught up in ourselves, in our own success  — not a good thing for people of the book! And yes, you guessed it, it all fell apart. Factions. Disunity. Disillusionment. Someone has coined the phrase “hurt people, hurt people.” They were right, unfortunately.

But an amazing thing happened, God called a former associate pastor back to us as our lead pastor. God refused to give up on us and His church! This pastor whom I like call my boss and friend — and he calls me padre — is extremely caring, loves Jesus and preaches God’s Word with passion and humility. He’s a visionary leader, a deep thinker and very creative. God knew what needed to happen, we needed a new head coach — one whose goal was not to build a dream team staff, but a dream team congregation who loves Jesus, loves each other and is passionate about making disciples — seems like a no brainer, but it’s not always what churches do. We’re often like sheep who get lost and can’t find our way across the parking lot without needing directions. We needed a shepherd who, like our Saviour, would pick us up out of the mess we found ourselves in and bring us home. Someone who wouldn’t scold us for being stupid sheep, but would gently speak words of truth into our messiness.

Now I finally feel like a dream team actually does exist and it’s right here in our church. I’m so grateful for a loving heavenly Father who never gives up on us even when we seem to have lost the game — I think we just needed Him to remind us, there’s another season to be played and that the team would play on for the sake of Christ and His church and His glory! And I get to play whatever position is needed — sometimes it’s just being the water boy — and I’m okay with that!

Creativity is Messy


Give a small child a colouring book, a pack of crayons and two minutes and you’ll soon witness what creativity looks like. The crayon package is empty, its contents spread out on the table and floor, several are broken or half eaten and numerous pages of the book are colourfully enhanced. Despite the messiness, the pictures created by the child are quickly turned into masterpieces fit for the refrigerators of the world for all to see and admire — at least the refrigerators of parents and grandparents.

Just like children creating Crayola works of art, messiness is inevitable for the artist who is gifted or perhaps burdened with the high calling of creativity. When the artistic mind is fully functioning, paint gets spilled, pots and pans fill the sink, fabric is scattered around the room and sawdust fills the air — creativity is messy.

Whether it’s an artist like Mike Lewis who uses brushes and hands to paint amazing portraits of Christ or a writer like my friend Randy Elrod who chooses pen and parchment (or perhaps a Macbook) to paint vivid word pictures, the creation of art is very messy — because life is very messy. Of course the messiness of art doesn’t necessarily have to create chaos in one’s creative space, however more often than not art is created via the messiness of the internal workings of the human heart and soul.

Songwriters often write from personal experiences of heartache and pain. A lost love, a messy breakup or a difficult childhood — messiness is everywhere. Some of the greatest painters in history were tortured souls and yet through their pain, we who gaze upon their visual giftedness have been the beneficiaries of a remarkable feast for the eyes.

When we think about the creation of the universe by the Master Builder, we might ask how such intricate beauty could spawn such messiness that has so plagued humanity? The answer is neither clear nor appealing — from the perfection of the Genesis narrative to the chaos of brother killing brother we see that creativity is very messy. In spite of God’s plan to create a perfect Eden, man, through deception and lust, not only coloured outside the lines of that perfection, but also threw His crayons on the ground and trampled them to pieces.

The good news for us is that God did not leave us without crayons —  He did not leave us in the mess of our brokenness — He made a way for us to escape the messiness and gave us a second chance at enjoying the beauty of Eden once again. The way He would accomplish this was through His son, Jesus!

One of my favourite bible stories is found in the 4th chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well seeking fresh water. I love this story because it is so real and normal for me. Jesus knows this woman needs a fresh start, He knows she has had a tough life — He knows her beginning-to-end life story of heartbreak and marital disfunction. Her messiness is obvious to Jesus, yet He doesn’t write her off as a lost cause, instead he offers her living water and a new start. Her life was rewritten; she was recreated by an encounter with Jesus!

So what does this story have to do with creativity and child’s play you might ask? If you read the Old and New Testament as one story, you will soon see that God has been very creative throughout history to create a new world for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the messiness of God’s creativity, we become His works of art. The Apostle Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ — refreshed by His life-giving water — he is a new creation — worthy of being displayed on God’s fridge — the old has passed away — the mess has been cleared — behold, the new has come — you’re back in the perfection of Eden.”

Creativity is messy but when the work is finished the art — that is you — is quite simply beautiful!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”


June 28/15 Worship Recap


This Sunday at NMBC we started a new summer series based on selected verses from the book of Proverbs. Pastor Daniel challenged us all to be like “cracked pots” that leak refreshment to others, and as we refresh others, we too, will be refreshed!  

Here’s a look at the setlist and crew this past week:

The Band & Crew:

  • Mark – Lead Guitar
  • Chris – Drums
  • Rick – Bass
  • Gina – Keys
  • Celeste & Rae – Vocals
  • Paul – Acoustic & Lead Vocal
  • Lex – Lighting & Video
  • Pete – Media
  • Paul – Audio