Freedom To Love People, Not Win People

For many years as a follower of Jesus, as well as many years as a pastor, I was afraid of loving people.  No, that is not correct, I wasn’t afraid, I was simply not called to love people, or so I thought.  The calling I had received from the churches that I was a part of was to WIN people, not to LOVE them.  Every aspect of relational involvement with people was geared at winning them over to the side of Christ.  I was taught an adversarial and competitive stance that lead me to see people as the enemy, or at best those to be conquered.  It was after many years of ministry  that I came to understand the joy of truly just loving people.

One of the freedoms that we need to experience is to be free to love people not see them as opponents to be challenged and conquered.  Now that is much easier to say than to do, because many say that they are going to  change their behaviour, but they don’t change it correctly.  Change is not always correct, sometimes it is just change.

Often people think they are loving when all they have done is changed their perspective on people.  They view them no longer as opponents or competitors and begin to view them as projects.

I always give the example of my daughters as my understanding of the difference between people as projects verses truly loving people.  I never see my 5 daughters as a project, or as people I am trying to “turn into Christians”.  I simply love my girls and as a reflection of that love I desire the best for them, and the best I could hope for them is that they will come to know and to walk intimately with Christ.

It is that kind of love I have had to learn to develop for my neighbours and friends.  To do this means to walk in true community with people, and to walk life with them.  We need to be planted among the people and we need to allow our roots to go deep.  We need to take up residence among the people that God has planted us.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry
and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your
daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.
Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”   Jeremiah 29:4-8

Freedom: We Have It, We Still Need It

This last weekend I had the privilege to share at our Alberta Baptist Association annual meetings about what God is doing through us at LFC.  As I had short notice about my sharing I did a quick mental survey and heart check about what God has been doing.  I was overwhelmed by all the good things that we are seeing as God is blessing our desire to follow him. 

As I pondered the great things that God is doing, the image of freedom came to mind.  I have been apart of the Church my whole life, that is a half of a century for those who are counting, and I have never felt more free than I do now. 

I shared with my brothers and sisters that we have consistently sent the message of freedom to our people in three very specific ways and they are: 

  1. Freedom to LOVE people not WIN people
  2. Freedom to BLESS our greater community not continue to bless the over blessed saints

In the next number of blog posts I want to take some time to unpack these three freedoms as a reminder of the joy we have in serving the Lord and living as his ambassadors here on earth. 


Pastor Dennis

Marathon Tragedy and Maranatha–Come Lord Jesus

I have been overwhelmed this week with  amazement over the amount of violence, hurt, hate and tragedy that exists in our world.  It started on Monday with the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, then the report of an earthquake in Iran, series of bombings in Iraq and then last night with the massive explosion in Texas. 

Life is full of tragedy, and while some would use this information to say there is no God, I would state that it is a sign of the world choosing to live as if there were no God.  Choice of self over God has led to a world that consistently reflects life outside of God’s will. 

I have done a number of funerals over the last few months and many of them have been due to tragic situations.  At each of these funerals I needed to address those in the room who would question as to where God was in all of this tragedy.  The answer is that these things were not God’s will and that his heart breaks as ours do at times like this.  I have stated that “due to sin in the world there are many terrible things in this world that are not God’s will.”

We, those of us who but our full trust and hope in Jesus, know that we belong to a different kingdom that will only be fully realized when Christ returns.  Until then we wait and try to make the world reflect this coming, perfect Kingdom in any way we can in the here and now. 

I have a coffee mug that has on it the word Maranatha.  It is from a youth conference that I attended many years ago in Portland.  I looked at it this week and was struck by the word.  I then read a blog post by Ed Stetzer that stated:

There is just one use in the New Testament of the Aramaic word phrase, “Marana tha. Paul writes, “Marana tha
that is, Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22). Most translate it as a cry
for King Jesus to come soon. Yet, that one word has become a cry for
Christians in pain, persecution, and much more.

This marathon tragedy drives us again to our Maranatha cry– “come quickly, Lord” and set things right.

Let us continue to pray for those caught up in these tragedies, but let us also pray for those in our neighbourhoods and workplaces, on our streets and on our sports teams,  that walk in the darkness of this world with no real hope. 

The Joy Of Life Together–The Spiritual Act of Community

I have been reminded over these last few months of the joy of doing life together.  I often struggle to make time for community.  I struggle for two primary reasons.  The first is due to the fact that life is very busy and it is just difficult to find time to be with others or to have people in our home.  The second reason is that I am introverted by nature.

Through the years it has been my introversion that has kept me from enjoying community, but over time I have learned to appreciate the need for others in my life.   A few days ago we enjoyed the fun of having our Community Group meeting in our home and sharing a meal together.  We were spread across the house eating, but over time all of the adults ended up around the table in the dinning room.  We simply all wanted to be in the same room together.  What a joy this was.

It is easy to over strive to make time together spiritual and miss the idea that just being together in community and sharing life together is in itself a spiritual act.  Trust me, being together is not enough.  We need to pray for one another and encourage each other in the Word.  We need to pull each other along toward Christ, but we must not miss the fact that the Lord has created community not as a structure but a spiritual act.

Now I do not fight my introversion as much as I fight the busyness of life to make sure that I do not miss out on the privilege of experiencing the spiritual gift of community.