Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Pencil

I just spent the last two days at a conference with a bunch of pastors. It was good to hear the truths of scripture being explained and taught with clarity and passion.
I noticed, at one time, how I was 'just one among many' and enjoyed the feeling of not having to lead or carry things along.
I think it would be true to say that one of the core teachings I received was that living the Christian life is not about me having to carry that load, but that Jesus is the One who carries me.
What a wonderful truth!
Mother Theresa once said 'I am a little pencil in the hands of a writing God'. And I say 'yes!' Each of us is 'one among many' who is being carried by a strong and loving God, whose desire it is to reach out to the world we live in. In that--God is using us as instruments through which He 'writes' out His love for the world.
My prayer for us today is that we would rest--rest in Jesus and enjoy the gifts of being His children.

Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Thursday, September 29, 2011


We all have within us a need to belong. It's in our DNA and try as we might to be independant from one another we know in our souls that we are not meant to be alone.

I write this while on the road to a church conference where I will be rubbing shoulders with many brothers and sisters in the Lord and it's a good thing. It shows that in some important ways I belong.

To be isolated is to live out the reality of the Fall when Adam and Eve became separated from God, from each other, and even themselves. It sometimes frustrates me to hear our culture praise the 'independant spirit' when the essence of independance lines up so much more closely with the Enemy than with God.

We are meant to belong.

Romans 8:15-16 testifies to this: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba Father'. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. "

Abba----Daddy! We love that you have pursued us even though we tried to run from you. Thank you for making us belong--because that is your heart for us. Help us to live this out so that others around us will become dissatisfied with independance. Change our hearts so we can really see how great it is to be a Family!

Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The View From Down Here

I was sitting in a little coffee shop on 20th st yesterday.  It was a small space with a good number of people there.  There had been some effort made to create an environment that helped you see yourself as connected to the history of Saskatoon and that, combined with general attitudes of the people, made me feel like I was part of a community.

It felt good.

But as I sat looking out the front window I noticed that from my vantage point I could see the top of the Remai Arts Center--and I started to think. . . . .This building represents, in many ways, a privileged society.  People with means built the building, and people with some means attend the performances there.  I've been to a few of them myself and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  But at the moment that I sat in this little coffee shop, I wondered what would some people that are living in a "non-privileged" society think when they saw the top of that performance theatre?

Despair?  Anger?  Self-pity?  What would the view "from down here" be like for them?

Then I wondered about myself----what is my "view from down here"?  When I look at God and His righteousness and I see just how far above He is over me, I become aware of my chronic sin and I can experience despair, anger and self-pity as well.  I can get so caught up in myself that I forget just how much God cares for me, for the people who live near 20th, and for the people who attend the Remai Arts Center.

We are all in the same boat!

But we need to be reminded of just how important it is that we don't get too caught up in the world we live in because when we do we forget about what we most need.

James 4:7-10 says "Come near to God and He will come near to you. . .Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

As I said before 'we are all in the same boat'.  Let's point it toward Jesus in every way and at all times, and as God comes near to us I think that our "view" will become something pretty beautiful.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Four Foot Crack

Here's a question that's coming to my mind:  "are we listening?"  Are we listening for the voice of God speaking through events in our world telling us to re-evaluate our priorities?
I am not one to see destruction and doom behind every negative incident in our society, but, if I take the Bible seriously, if I take God seriously, then I have to be willing to allow myself to accept that things will not always be rosy here on earth.
Recently an earthquake hit Washington, and one of its most prominent monuments was badly shaken.  After the shocks had subsided there was a significant four-foot-long crack in one of its marble panels.  You can see the picture below:

This monument represents the strength of a nation; it serves as a reminder of the foundations upon which generations have found their identity and safety.  When the magnitude of these foundations, the principles upon which a nation is founded, become clouded in that God is left to the side, what happens is that "cracks" begin to form because the only sure and safe foundation is Jesus.

Here at home, we are experiencing cracks too.  Public life, for us, revolves so much around economics that it is impossible to avoid.  My wife and I were talking about the possibilities that could affect our family if the economy cracks.  Are our hearts in the right place if our "stuff" is lost?  Is our foundation so strongly in Jesus, that if our lives change significantly will we still be able to stand?

2 Timothy 2:19 says "God's solid foundation stands firm. . .The Lord knows those who are His."

My encouragement to you today is this:  First, begin to turn your eyes from the things of this world as the source of your safety and life, and turn to Jesus.  How?  Simply make the choice and say to Him "I want you to be more to me than my stuff".  He will listen and will help you.  Second: Trust.  No matter what you may experience in your life, in your world, trust in Jesus.  He is the most solid "investment" you could ever make!

A final thought:  look around you, consider what you see, and be honest with yourself--is there a voice speaking to you?


Friday, September 23, 2011

A Bride and A Family

For the last while I have been asking myself what role or responsibility the church (the Family) has in helping people to grow in their spiritual maturity.  Do we see it as a place we just choose to attend or is it a place we need?

Do we see church as an institution or as a Family? If it's an institution then we will place it right alongside all the other things that are clamoring for our time, our money and our commitment.  But if we see it as a Family, then it becomes something entirely different.

We need family.  God calls us His family--do you know that?  His desire for us is to be part of something that will help us to grow in healthy and strong ways and I'm not convinced that we can do that "part-time" or without committment.

But every single time we talk about committing to a church, giving of our time, regular attendance or anything like that, it always sounds legalistic--like we are talking about rules and regulations that must be obeyed.  And to be really honest, it just sounds wrong.  It doesn't sound like a place for family.  It doesn't sound like a place for freedom and life----it sounds like an institution.

I have to stop and consider a radical alternative:  if God really sees the church as a family (and He does!) then what does that really mean?

Let's consider something new:  what would it be like to imagine all the questions about church involvement through the lens of "other" first?  Here is an example:  Imagine yourself sunday morning wondering if you should go to church today.  You are really stressed from work, you really need a break--some down time, and church just seems like another thing you have to do that requires more of your time (church as institution).  But then a different thought goes through your mind.  You begin to wonder that if you don't go to church then you are robbing someone else of your presence!  You not being there could actually hinder their growth, their spiritual health, their joy.

We do understand this principle when we think about a relationship between a husband and a wife:  if the husband refuses to spend time with his wife he is robbing both of them of joy and a healthy life.  Is there something in this we can use to understand what it means to be in the church family too?

Rev. 19:7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."

Jesus loves His Bride (a "family" term).  One of His greatest joys is to express His love and care through the Family He died for.  The Bride is a group of relatives who have been brought together for the purposes of life.  This is where the world is to see what love really looks like; this is where the broken are to find protection; this is where the wanderer finds a home; this is where the rebel finds correction; this is where discipline is learned; this is the canvas we have been given to paint love and life onto other people; this is family in the deepest sense.  And family must be together in order to be family.

My prayer for you today is that God would shine forth His heart and desire for you--that He would imprint an indelible image on your soul of the incredible value of what He has allowed you to be a part of--His Family.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


1 Peter 1:3-2:12.

"Lord Jesus, sometimes you just strip me down to the raw bone.  Longing rises up in me for you, and I can't even describe it--I just know I need you, I just want you.  I can't put into words this longing and so I go to your words to help me get there.

The longing I have leads me to say this one thing:  I sometimes don't know what to do!  What does it mean to "serve" you?  What does it look like suffer for you?  I know that you tell me that faith is of greater worth than gold but how come I can't see that?  Why does my heart and mind struggle to really understand what that means?

You tell me of "salvation" and of "glory", incredible things that seem so far beyond my ability to comprehend.  You speak of angels that long to look into these things and understand--as though they don't have a clue themselves.  How on earth am I supposed to know what these things mean?

I'm supposed to have my mind "prepared for action" among many other things.  I would love to, but it seems difficult to me to know what steps to take so that I can be genuinely prepared.

At the end of it all you caress my soul with words that portray something absolutely unbelievable---do you really think I am a "royal priest"?  Do you imagine me to be holy and part of a holy nation?  Do you love me so unconditionally that you openly state that I "belong" to you?  How can that be?

You have chosen me.  You have chosen me.  I can't believe it, but you have chosen me.

I am raw in your Presence, I have no words, I have no thoughts, I am simply found in the I AM.

Beautiful is all I can say.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Grace and Chocolate Covered Almonds

Chocolate covered almonds are so delicious. The smooth chocolate combines with crisp almonds in a perfect taste experience. As I was munching on them I realized some other unique things about them: they come as a "unit"--that is to say that when you pick one you think you are picking up "one". But what you are really getting is something that has two distinct elements combined to make something special.

Jesus is all about redeeming what He made, bringing it back to the place where real life shines through again. Here is something I want you to hear today: when Jesus lives in you, you have become something you weren't before. In fact, you have become like a chocolate covered almond--two distinct elements combined into something really good. Jesus is fully responsible for the change and you get to enjoy the benefits of that change--isn't that something?!

Maybe you are going through a real hard stretch in your life and you are finding it difficult to see your life with Jesus as something sweet. If this is you then remember this: Jesus in you is the sweetest thing around and He is at work in you to help you grow in that truth.

Chocolate covered almonds are a real treat, but life with Jesus is beyond compare.


Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lego Theology

How many of us have played with Lego over the years?

I love the simplicity of this "toy". You just stick rectangular blocks together--but the beauty of it is that it provides the 'canvas' for such creativity and complexity! The only limitation is the extent of what you can imagine--how amazing is that!

I am writing this blog from Camrose Lutheran Bible College (CLBI) where I am once again being so blessed to be able to play a small role in helping others discover a vibrant life in Jesus.

While here I realized that I am just like a piece of Lego-- I am only one small piece of influence in the lives of these wonderful students, but I am filled with such a sense of fulfillment because this is what God wants me to be and do.

When you feel that affirmation from the Lord, it doesn't matter the size of the contribution--you just become grateful to be a part of something that is so much bigger and more beautiful than any single piece.

There is a great passage that teaches us good "Lego Theology" in Colossians 3:23, 24, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

The Lord blesses those who are willing to serve Him, even if it is a seemingly small thing. I am receiving that blessing from Him and I want you to know that you can experience this too.

Do you sometimes feel like you aren't making a difference? Like your contribution doesn't really mean much? Remember that God is most pleased with your one piece of "Lego" and He just wants you to commit it to Him--to see the worth of what you are doing through His eyes.

And trust me, when He blesses you, you will most certainly enjoy it!

Take care my friends,


Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lasagna and the Love of God

Who would think that lasagna should be associated with God's love? It doesn't really sound very spiritual does it?

Yesterday I came home from work and what did I see? My sister had brought over a lasagna for my wife who was feeling under the weather. I thought to myself "isn't it wonderful to be a part of a family that cares so much!"

Then, this morning I see one of my colleagues blessing someone with--you guessed it--a lasagna! Another example of expressing care to someone in need.

But then I realized something else, something bigger and deeper: these were people who were God's children sharing their love for one another--this was God's Family at work!

As children of our Heavenly Father we can sometimes get too focused on things that aren't that good in the Family (church). But we need to remember that Jesus loves His Bride and is continually showing us His love through Her.

Maybe today you know someone who needs a "lasagna" and you have the opportunity to bring it to them. I encourage you to do it--make the effort to go out of your way today to bless someone.

I think you will find it 'tastes' pretty good!

Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Love and Money

I was driving into work this morning with some heavy things on my mind.  It seems that for a lot of us we have concerns about our finances.  Whether it's because of global economic turmoil that undercuts the value of investments or the possibility of losing one's job, or just trying to get by--whatever it is, we can find ourselves preoccupied with worries about these things.

I'm no different.

But, as I was driving on the road with all my fellow citizens who were also driving to their work destinations something pretty cool happened to me:  I heard the voice of God speak to me and this is what He said--"show love to those who are sick and in need, get your heart into rhythmn with my heart and I promise I will provide what you need."

What He was saying was only a reminder of what He has been saying to us for centuries in Matthew 6:19-34 where He says not to worry about how to get things like food, clothing and housing--you, know, the practical things we all need, but live with a heart that beats for His Kingdom. 

If you are like me, when I hear that my very first thought is this: "But how?"  Even that question is soaked with worry and confusion.  If we are going to trust Jesus, then that means we trust Him with everything, including the "hows".

What I haven't mentioned yet is that when I heard God's voice on College Drive this morning something else happened--I felt His presence and His promise in my gut.  And it was such a good feeling.  I knew He was there and what He was saying to me was true and that I could trust Him with my concerns about money and could even trust Him to show me what living a life of love for His Kingdom really looks like.

It's not easy to be convinced that God's promises are bigger than our earthly concerns.  The latter seems so much more real.  But let me tell you that today, in my car, I was reminded again of what God wants so desperately for us:  To live in the freedom that comes when we trust Him with everything.

Maybe it's time to believe what He says is really true. . . . .


Monday, September 12, 2011

A Christmas Story?

Why on earth would anyone write about the Christmas Story in September?

I probably wouldn't except for some recent events and a picture that I was given related to those events.

The Christmas Story is about a faithful God whose desire to show this love propelled Him to do radical things--things like becoming human and walking shoulder to shoulder with them, telling them just how much He loves them; just how much he wants to help them; just what lengths he was willing to go in order to bring life to them.

This is the Christmas Story to me.  It's so vivid and real, and full of hope that if I stop to think about it for a while, I can begin to get a sense of what that really looks like.

A few days ago, our church threw a party for our local neighborhood and I was once again struck by God's faithfulness.  It shone through volunteers who sacrificed time and effort in order to let our neighbours know that they matter to them.  God provided an unbelievably warm and calm September day in which many people experienced the warmth of his heart.

Can you imagine how excited God was to see his children reaching out in imitation of His reaching out to us?  I know that He was smiling on us that day.

I knew that God was going to bless the Party, but He has a way of going above and beyond is His blessing.  The night before the Party a few of us were setting up tents.  A picture was taken of one of them just as it went up--I was unable to rotate it so you will have to turn your head to see it clearly. 

Just like the Star that guided the Three Wise Men to where the baby Jesus lay in the Christmas Story, we see below another example of God's faithfulness, promising to guide our neighbourhood to a place where they could experience some of His love.

Yes, our God is faithful---

                                                               What a good story.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good Things or God Things?

I was sitting on my deck last night, late into the evening, enjoying this unbelievably warm weather.  It was the perfect night to have some time with God.  So as I'm sitting there I realized that God was really so close--I knew that He was speaking words of comfort to me and it was so good. 

I realized just how much I need to be in the presence of God and to hear His voice, especially when life gets crazy busy.  That's what it's like for me right now--busy, busy, busy.  With this rattling around in my head God asks me: "So are you doing good things or God things?"

It was one of those moments where you kind of sit up and take notice.  I pondered what He said to me and realized that I need to be careful not to simply do things and justify them only on the basis of whether they are good or not, but to be more mindful to do the things that God wants to be done then.  God wants His children to do good things for sure, but He also cares enough about us that He wants us to do the proper amount and in the right timing.

He was offering me a place of rest by speaking to me right in the middle of all the busy circumstances.  He really does care!

Titus 2:11-14 says this: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

So we are to say "no" to ungodliness and be eager to do what is good.  Saying "no" to ungodliness means that we reject making decisions to do things on our own--even if they are good things!  Being eager to do what is good includes taking the time to ask God for help and direction--"should I do this Father?"  "Is this something that you want to be done?"

Jesus wants us to be close to Him.  Let's take the time to relax on our deck and just be in His presence so that He can teach us how to live well--so that we can be about God Things.

Many blessings on you today.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can You Hear The Music?

Years ago I applied to sing in a Christian touring rock band to minister to youth.  I had been accepted as a singer, but when I showed up I was told that I was the new bass player!  Needless to say I was introduced to a whole new way of listening to music as I had to hear the individual parts so that I could learn my new instrument.

When I listen to music today, I still break it down in my head so that I hear the separate instruments playing.  It's a skill that is useful but it doesn't seem to be transferable into other areas--here's what I mean:

Today I read an email that asked the question of why it seems that Rock of Ages is not really open to the movement and leading of the Holy Spirit?  This was not asked in a malicious or hard-hearted manner--it was just a question.  The reason for asking was due to a number of times in our services when God had led us to a place where He wanted to do a deep work in us but we didn't seem willing to trust Him enough to move to that deeper place.

I have to admit, when I read this email, my heart fell.  As the Lead Pastor, I want to be one who is really ready to follow God when He leads.  When the Holy Spirit is stirring, I want to respond so that we will really be changed from the inside out.

But I realized that I am not "hearing the music" right now.  I couldn't hear the "instrument" of the Holy Spirit, because I have been too consumed with all the other "noise" in my head.  Responsibilities are a good thing until they start to drown out the music of God.  There is nothing more beautiful than to hear His Voice and to feel His presense and healing that comes when your spirit communes with His.

Listen to David express his heart to God:
Psalm 63:2-5
"I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you."

David was hearing the music, and his heart was singing right along with it--with Him!

If you are having trouble hearing the music of God, His song designed to bring life and health for you, don't despair, because He will not stop singing.  Let's take some time to stop and be in His presence so our spirits can be tuned in to Him. 

Let's ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear the music again. . . .


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hide and Seek

Remember when you used to play this game?  You probably found yourself at a friend's house and someone was hastily picked to be the one to "seek" after all the others who will soon run and hide in various places--usually thinking that their hiding spot is so amazing when it really wasn't.  Then the counting starts, "one-one hundrend, two-one hundred. . . ." and everyone scrambles until they hear "ready or not, here I come!"

Sometimes life can feel this way, that whether you are ready or not, it's coming and there is seemingly little we can do about it.  Maybe this is the way it is for you too, but for me, when life seems to come at me again and again, and starts to make me feel the pressures that come along with it, I am tempted to "hide".  I can retreat into my shell and it's hard to get out.  A bigger issue, however, is when we hide from God.

I was reading in Job this morning and was struck by the magnitude of the suffering this man endured.  He lost everything, and I mean everything--except his life.  Family, work, health, reputation, you name it, he lost it.  And Job began to lose his perspective on God.  His suffering overshadowed his view of his Lord, and he began to "hide" in his loss.

If I'm going to be honest, I think that Job handled things pretty well, all things considered.  He is not described as someone who "lost it", but seemed to keep a pretty level head.  I can even find myself admiring his tenacity as he dealt with everything, including family and friends who were continually pestering him.

But God's ways are not my ways.  He knew that Job was hiding from the truth of things and He wanted to address that, not only for Job's sake but for yours and mine as well.

God told Job to stop focusing on his pain and loss, because it was causing him to see God in ways that were not true.  God spoke to Job and read him the riot act about who He really is, and how Job should view Him.  When you read it, it sounds kind of harsh, that God would make the effort to correct Job when he is in that darkest place imaginable.

But this just shows me again, that God's ways are not my ways.  I am told in this story that God really does have in mind the best for Job, because when he repents and acknowleges God properly, then his life really begins to turn around. 

Job stopped hiding and started to seek the Lord again.

No matter what we are experiencing, no matter what loss or pain we are enduring, no matter what it is that is causing us to "hide", from ourselves, from others, from God, we need to understand that "ready or not here He comes", because He has the right and authority to address us as He did to Job.  But don't forget, He is a God of love and He wants us to be freed from those things that cause us to hide instead of seek Him.

Today, let's put our suffering in perspective:  don't minimize it, because it may be huge, but consider just how much more immense is our God.  Consider how much larger is the love He extends to us--and let's just kneel before Him and offer the only thing we have---



Friday, September 2, 2011

Just a Note:

When I first started this blog I wanted to try and encourage ongoing communication with those who wanted to share their ideas.  I, and others, have found it difficult to reply through the blog site.
I would like to invite any who want to have discussions with me about any of my blogs to do so through my email address which is  (The letter after "pastor" is a lower case "L" in the email address.)
Please don't feel obligated, but sometimes, if you're like me, you just have something boiling in your gut that you need to get out--so let her rip!



The Chaos Christ

In the movie Get Smart, there are a group of "good guys" that are called control and their enemies that are called chaos.  It is a comedy where both groups are really inept but nevertheless the point is made that the good guys will win and when they do there will be peace and safety.

There is a sense within us that life is good when it is not chaotic--when we feel like we are in control of our lives we feel a sense of peace.  The problem arises, however, when Jesus begins to ask us to trust Him with our lives and we begin to feel that we are now losing control.  At this point we can feel that Jesus is not the God of peace and safety but chaos because my life feels so up in the air.

Trust is certainly not an easy thing. 

A dear friend of mine recently wrote to me expressing something that had touched his heart.  He was reading from a book by Brennan Manning when he came across this quote:
"If our Christain beliefs. . .are not grounded in a shattering, life-changing experience of Jesus as the Christ. . .our witness is worthless.  The gospel will persuade no one unless it has so convicted us that we are transformed by it."

Shattering!?  Is that the kind of God we want to serve?  One who takes control from us?  One who stands before us and asks us to leave our homes and go to foreign lands (Abraham)?  One who invites us to sell everything we own and follow Him (Rich Young Ruler)?  One who asks us to serve Him and then has the audacity to say to us that if we do we will suffer (Paul)?

Just who is this Chaos Christ?  Who does He think He really is?  Is it possible that He really believes that once we accept Him as our Saviour, that He also expects to be considered the Lord of our lives, as though we really don't belong to ourselves any longer but to Him?

Yes, yes, yes and YES!  Jesus tells us that we are His, but not in the sense of just allowing us to "hang around in His presence" but that we are now identified as one who belongs to Him.  He has the authority to tell us what to do.  In 1 Cor. 6:20 Jesus says "I am the boss of you."

If you read a bit about who Jesus is you will find that he is not an evil boss--the kind you dread to see Monday morning at work.  The Bible tells us that He is kind, and loving--wanting to provide for His children and protecting them.  He offers peace and an assurance of a good future.  This doesn't sound chaotic to me--how about you?

Jesus, help us today to see you for who you really are.  For those of us who see you as a chaos-maker, and one not to be trusted, break through with your love and truth so we can get past ourselves and be free in You.