Saturday, September 28, 2013

Look Up, Look Way Up

As a child I remember a TV program called "Friendly Giant". At the beginning of each show one of the lines said "Look up, look way up......". The idea was to create a sense of just how large this friendly giant really was, and to me, as a little kid, he seemed huge!

I'm a lot older now and I can still be impressed with things that make me look way up. I am writing this from the Royal York hotel lobby in Toronto which is only a few blocks from the CN tower. I attached a couple pictures I took of this imposing structure- the tallest in my country!  

It's kind of interesting to think how easily things can make is "look way up". The visual intensity of these monuments compel us and capture our imaginations.  

But the thought that goes through my mind is "what things make us look down?". What compels us.... captures our imaginations about things that serve as foundations? 

Foundations get very little attention, but consider this: where would the things that rise high be without the foundations that hold them up?

The same is true for people. We can often see people rise to amazing heights of popularity, fame or influence, but what kind of foundations are their lives based on?  Sometimes it can seem that what they stand on can look pretty shaky. 

It seems clear to me that we are being offered something that helps to bring stability to life- something unshakeable and firm. This is what we hear about this foundation......

1 Corinthians 3:11 AMP

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

As a human being it is tempting to base our lives on things that look strong but again, those are the things that are the visible and noticeable. Foundations are much more difficult to see, but are the things that our lives need most!  

Jesus wants to be the foundation of our lives. He wants to be anchored in the soil that is who we are and hold us up. He wants to be the one who provides stability in storms, and to be the one who lifts us to enjoy those beautiful sunny days too!  

If you are looking for something in your life that promises to give you a firm and stable foundation to stand on, stop looking up and being distracted by all the things you see, and consider looking down for that which you need. 

He won't let you down. 

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Higher Than The Rising Sun

As I write this I'm listening to a song by All Sons and Daughters called "Rising Sun".  It is an impassioned song that cries out the greatness of Jesus as our great Redeemer; whose name is so wonderful; whose character and goodness and power rises far above and beyond even the sun that shines on us everyday.

You know we live in a culture that can throw words around pretty easily.  To talk of this 'great God', for a lot of people, is to be saying little more than 'nice weather we're having isn't it?'.  I know that not everyone will agree with me on this, but today I can't help but just be a little overwhelmed with joy because of Jesus!  These are more than just words to me, they are speaking truth, a truth that meshes with my experience.

That's when words have real impact--when they support one's experiences.  I know that believing shouldn't be all about seeing, but man, when you see God at work it blows you away!

A couple days ago I saw God answer prayers at my church.  God brought a hundred or so protesters from the LGBT community to our doorstep and He saw fit to show His hand of power and love again and again.

We had asked that He would 'shut the lion's mouths' and in answer to this prayer He brought a peace that was palpable on the grounds and in the church itself.  We asked for opportunity to speak and listen to this group and it happened again and again.  We asked that we would be given opportunity to share kindness and love to them and it happened so clearly when many people thought to set up a whole buffet on the lawn for the protesters to enjoy.  One of them even said "we came to protest, but this turned out to be an invitation to build community".  Incredible!  We asked that they would hear the message of the main speaker who lived as a gay woman, who met Jesus and was introduced to a different possibility for her life.  They came and listened and asked great questions all the while hearing about Jesus, maybe for the first time.  There were people who were told to drive from other cities to come to the event because God had called them to go.  One did, and when she got here she led a person to Jesus.  Beautiful.  Christians, who had been guilty of seeing gay people only through the lenses of their small and protected worlds, were exposed to something that opened their eyes and through that questions arose within them.  Exceptionally good!

That day, God reduced the distance and that is what He is all about.  I can't thank Him enough.

I was reading Psalm 100: 4-5 this morning which says:  "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise!  Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!  For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations."

Yeah, the name of Jesus elevates far above the rising sun, and my souls sings today.

Thank you Jesus--You are just too much!


Monday, September 23, 2013


This week I had a gift given to me. I have had the privilege of being involved in many discussions about the question of what is the basis of a person's sexual orientation- and it has opened my eyes to the incredible pervasiveness of this topic in many people's lives.

I have heard perspectives that have drawn on the dangers of 'gay therapy', the ambiguity of how the chromosomes of individuals do not always line up in comfortable black and white categories in determining who is male and who is female. Psychological, physiological, psycho-somatic, environmental, social, and theological resources have been used to try and clear the path for some kind of understanding in this minefield of human identity.

I want to say clearly, very clearly here that I respect the insights these various disciplines can and do offer. However, there are two things that I feel should be addressed.  The first is this: all the discussions that are surrounding these debates over one's sexual orientation portray the issue as one where sexuality is the whole of one's identity- and this is just not true. A person's identity is far more complex than one's genitalia or who a person is sleeping with.

One's thoughts and dreams are part of your identity.  What makes you laugh and cry, what words you want to speak and how you want to speak them also points to one's identity. There is a rich diversity within a unique human being that forms a much more robust picture of identity than only your sexuality.

I believe that if this were taken seriously then many of the debates that surround the topic of sexual orientation would take on a very different tone because it would be seen in a more appropriate context.

But with that said, I also believe that something else is missing:  in all the bandying about the latest scientific or therapeutic or social experiment that have things to say about sexual orientation and identity, why do we not hear anything about what God would say in His own words?
In one interview I heard a self-proclaimed Christian endorse what the LGBT community believes about sexual orientation and identity and then went on to say that God endorses this too.  But then he went on to say that nobody has a direct line to God. My question is this: if he didn't know what God was saying about the topic then how could he use him as a reference to justify his position?

I want to say this-  everybody has a direct line to God because He speaks through His Word-the Bible.

Now I know very well that everyone has to make their choice as to what their guide for life will be , and the Bible is not really in vogue any more.

However, I still believe it.....for better or for worse I'm putting my life into the hands of the God described in this book, and He has things to say about the identity issue.

In Genesis 1:27 He tells us that He "created man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

I know that saying this opens up a whole can of worms as we can look at examples of the physical DNA of babies that are 'formed by God' and yet have chromosomes that seem to be 'confused' in terms of 'male' and 'female'. Though I think there are biblical explanations for this too, that is not my emphasis here: what I am emphasizing is that we re-engage with the idea that we are made in God's image- that our identities, are fundamentally found in Him.

Maybe, just maybe, if we make room for the idea that humanity was God's idea in the first place then our attitude would change about the things he would like to tell us about our identities? 

People will make their own choices, and using the Bible is no guarantee that people will be unified in their interpretations, but seeing yourself as intimately connected with a living being who seems to care about me and who seems to desire to communicate with me about who I am seems like a fairly appealing alternative.

What do we have to lose?  Maybe we can get some better perspective on this whole thing if we allow God back to the table where we can at least hear what he has to say?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

As Good As It Gets

I remember a movie with Jack Nicholson called "As Good As It Gets." 
In it Nicholson plays a character who is very wealthy but lonely. He always struggled with holding people at a distance because he was unable to be vulnerable enough to let them in. Until he met this waitress who captured his heart. And even though he really wanted to be close to her, he seemed to always make a mess of things- saying or doing something that would hurt or frustrate her. 
But in the end, against all odds and probability, love won out. 

It makes me think of our relationship with Jesus. We have this longing to belong, to be accepted and loved, to have our hearts filled with something that helps us to see past ourselves and experience something bigger, something brighter, and yet we have this innate ability to say things or do things that get in the way. We try to run and hide from God because we see just how messed up and broken we are inside. 

But this is where the love Jesus simply blows my mind: Regardless of how much we mess up, hide or try to push him away, just like Nicholson did- His love for us just won't stop.  And when it overwhelms our hearts everything changes. 

Just listen to how love had changed Paul's heart when be wrote:
Philippians 1:3-11 NIV

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

The love of Jesus had broken down this man's heart and filled it with such a deep affection for others- a reflection of the same affection that Jesus had for Paul. 

It's hard to express how wonderful this life and love is that Jesus wants to share with us!  It's hard, but maybe it's appropriate to say. . . .

It's about as good as it gets. 

Hope that today you are ambushed with the love of Jesus. 


Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Praise of Clarity

I am abnormal.

Most people probably think that about me, but what I'm really getting at is that I have an abnormality, and it's in one of my eyes.  In my right eye there is an imperfection that is shaped kind of like a sea horse and it resides in the lower left hand quadrant of what my eye sees.  If I am looking at an object I don't notice it, but if I do happen to notice it and then try to focus on it, it always moves away, so I can never focus on it directly. 

I can never get real clarity on this problem, it just sits on the sideline, letting me know it's there, not causing a lot of trouble, but nevertheless letting me know it is present.

I have felt this way about the Christian life from time to time.  We know that sin is present, but we are so focused on the things in life that have our attention we don't really notice it as something that can be addressed directly, because, to be quite frank, it can seem so elusive that trying to get a real handle on it is like trying to focus on that abnormality in my eye--as soon as you focus on it, it darts away again, hiding in the corners of our souls.

It seems to me that as we live as distracted Christians one thing we can struggle with is to get a handle on things that we feel we should know very clearly but don't.  We know that something is not as it should be in the world (sin) but because we are so immersed in it, we don't really know how to identify it.  We know that God shows us things that are right and wrong, but somewhere in the translation of hearing it spoken in a church service or in personal devotional time and then trying to understand it in the rough and tumble of everyday life, instead of crystal clarity there are many questions and doubts.

But even though this is all true I am, once again, in awe of just how great our God really is.

You see, in a few days, our church will be hosting an event where a woman will be talking about her journey as a gay woman who met Jesus and was shown a different way to live through Him.  The Gay community is coming to protest and express their opinions about this event and the message they think will be shared.  And there is a lot of media attention, and tension.  We may be identified publicly as a group that is intolerant, and this could affect followers of Jesus in a very real way--personal attacks, ridicule even loss of jobs.  I say these things because when people in the Bible were asked to stand and be identified with Jesus publicly--things happened. . . .

And yet I still can't stop feeling this deep sense of joy!!

Sure, I'm just as immersed in questions about what it will feel like to be there on that day when there is every possibility that anger, misunderstanding and raw feelings will be expressed.  I wonder what it will feel like to be openly considered 'narrow minded' or even a bigot!  These are natural I think.  But this joy. . . . .what is up with that?

And then I'm reminded of Paul writing in prison--in prison.  He was writing in the midst of a world who probably considered him a failure. To some of his followers, a disappointment; to himself--I wonder if he had times when he questioned his level of "success".  And yet, in the midst of all this stuff he writes this in Phil. 3:7ff:

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering..."  And with all this in mind, Paul says in 3:1 "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!"

You see, Paul's circumstance brought great clarity to him--things in his life had gotten to the point where he had clarity on what was most important--and the very real presence of Jesus Christ, with him in that prison cell, was enough to overcome all his distractions, all his questions and his soul was rejoicing.

That's why I praise the clarity that comes when Jesus leads us into those times of testing when opposition arises against you as you are being identified as a follower of Jesus Christ; that's why my soul is being filled with joy because even though the times of testing are hard, and you do experience loss, and wrestle with questions and doubt--Jesus holds you close and allows you to have clarity on what really counts--and then your souls sings!!.

Jesus, I know your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and thank you so much for the privilege of being identified as part of your Family.  Don't stop!  Don't stop speaking into this dry world, and don't stop allowing us the honor of being able to stand in you in all of this---

it is just too good.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I am in the midst of a debate. It is not a conversation that has much volume, in fact you might not be able to even tell that there is a debate going on at all. 

It is a conversation of one, and it's contained within my soul. But it is real. 

I saw a YouTube video of a debate between an atheist and Christian today that was most interesting: they were both comedians talking about their respective views on religion, God and Jesus. It was very interesting because their views were presented in such a funny way that it was disarming. They had a way of hearing each other but not really listening and that was interesting too. 

But as I was listening, especially to the believer, I found myself disagreeing with some of his take on Jesus, and I was frustrated. I was frustrated because I wanted to agree with him, I wanted to be able to align myself with this person who was funny and quick witted and engaging, but I couldn't. I just didn't see him standing on the mark. 

And so I found myself having a debate, that silent but real debate in my soul. 

This is particularly relevant for me right now because I am going to be attending a seminar that is going to deal with homosexuality and Jesus. It looks like a large number of people from the LGBT community are going to be there too. And there is debate going on in my soul.....

Part of me wants to be able to align myself with my community, my culture. Part of me wants to see the wisdom that has captured the imaginations of these people whose experiences have brought them to a place where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual life makes sense. 

But I just can't. And so there is a debate happening in my soul. 

As a follower of Jesus in world where it seems that there are so many ideas competing for our allegiance it can seem that every conversation is a potential debate. Jesus says that he is the prince of peace, but then he also says that he has not come to bring peace but division-  more debates. 

I've come to realize that following Jesus is much simpler if we can sanitize our "religion" by keeping it indoors, or hidden in our hearts. We are more comfortable with our beliefs in Jesus if we can follow him with a small group of people who basically believe the same things, say the same things, and generally do the same things. But this kind of faith- this kind of safe, homogenized belief is not what Jesus had in mind at all. He has called us to stand with a belief in Him that defies the reigning beliefs of the day. He has called us to be "out there" with Him, among those who disagree, with those who cannot see how what we believe makes any sense at all. 

And this causes debates. 

These are the words of the One we follow:
   Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I don't know about you but Jesus has said to me that if I believe in Him then I need to be among those who don't know him and might not like me. 

I think that is exactly where we will find the One we profess to love and follow.

I take comfort knowing His promise to me: "I am with you always"....

Even in the midst of a debate. 

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuning Fork

I remember an event that happened years ago when I was in highschool. We were hosting a weekend event and part of the celebrations included a professional choir that came to sing for us. I still remember the director who swept into the room with his long grey ponytail flowing and his fur lined coat hanging stylishly over his shoulders. 
Then there were the singers: they were so impressive because they were adults who took this seriously and were intent on performing to a very high standard. 

It came time for the performance. And I remember one number they performed was so complex that each singer had a tuning fork they would tap periodically and then, as the tuning fork was ringing, they would touch one end of it to their temple and hold it there for a short moment. The intricate parts they were asked to perform were so varied and difficult they needed to have these tuning forks to help them stay in tune. 

It looked odd, but ohhh the sound was incredible!  

Each singer had a clear purpose, a gameplan and was intent on following the one who would lead them through. Their purpose was to sing with excellence and clarity;their gameplan was laid out in detail through much time spent in practise; and their attention was given entirely to their director who would confidently show them the way. 

I have been more and more thoughtful lately about what we should expect as followers of Jesus Christ. Is it His desire for us to have some of the same kinds of intent and expectation as this choir?  Did Jesus bring salvation to us only to expect us to do little more than wait for our time to end so we can enjoy eternity with Him?

Or does He desire for us to experience so much more?  Are we being invited to participate in a symphony in which each of us has the privilege of playing a significant part?

I want you to listen to something that God is speaking directly to you as a disciple of Jesus:

1 Corinthians 12:18 NIV

'But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.'

Have you questioned what it means to be a follower of Jesus?  Are you so confused what this actually means that you have have serious doubts that you have a role to play that only you can play?  

God called you.  And he has stated clearly that he placed you in His Family just where he wants you. He has given you a part to sing.  He has put you in just the right section. He has provided you with others who will sing with you. He has given you music you can follow. He has even provided you with a tuning fork you can use to find your way when things get really confusing. Oh, and there is even a Director who knows a thing or two about leading!

The question is do you believe it?  Do you really accept that God has you where he wants or are so preoccupied with all the things in your life that you are convinced are wrong in you or around you that you can't even recognize that you are part of this great choir let alone that you have a part to sing?

God says to believers in Jesus "you belong and you have been given a part to sing".  Full stop. 

Would you like to believe this?  Would you like to discover what your role is?  Would you like to experience what it feels like to sing in harmony with a group that has meaning and purpose?

Then pick up your "tuning fork" and allow it to show you your part. It will help you to find your notes in real life and will give you direction on what that is to look like. 

God's words for you are written on the "sheet music" and the first movement is titled 'Genesis' and the last stanza is captured in 'Revelation'. 

You are one choice away from seeing your whole life differently.........I look forward to hearing your voice. 

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Are There Ruins On These Lands?

I was recently listening to a friend of mine who was describing a trip he had taken to Newfoundland.  One of the highlights of his trip was to go to L'Anse aux Meadows, which is a Norwegian settlement established sometime around 1000AD.

This is interesting enough in itself, but what really caught my attention was how this historic site was discovered.  A Norwegian explorer/archeologist by the name of Helge Ingstad went to Newfoundland/Labrador and asked the locals "do you know of any ruins on your land?"  And it was through this simple question that a great discovery occurred.

This might not seem too significant but when I heard "are there any ruins on your land" my very first thought was to imagine if this is true of our spiritual state of being.  Are there spiritual 'ruins' that reside hidden in us, buried deep under years and years of experience, hurt, pain and sin? And though they do not seem to show themselves readily, are they providing a foundation upon which our lives are built?  And if so, is that God's desire for us?

God takes seriously the ruins that lay hidden in our souls.  Just listen to His words in Acts 15:14-16--"Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.  The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:  'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent.  Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things.'"

God's chosen people had wandered away from Him, they had made a ruin of the great gift of relationship that God had wanted for them.  But God was not satisfied with this ruin, and He began to reach out to others, to 'restore' this relationship out of the ruins of humanity, and recreate this most amazing gift of relationship.  Why?  Because God's desire is that all people would seek Him, find forgiveness and freedom and ultimately new life.

Yes, we have hidden ruins, but there is also a God who specializes in renovation projects on a personal and global scale!

God is all about restoring things that are broken.  Listen to Jeremiah 33:7-9 as we hear God's deep desire to help those who had wandered away and rejected Him.  "I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.  I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.  Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it."

It is incredible to imagine just how seriously God wants to heal the ruins of people's hearts.  And this is not just true for a people who lived thousands of years ago but also for us right now! 

Is God asking you the same question that Helge Ingstad asked?  Is He asking you if there are any ruins on your land?  If you are hearing Him ask this question today remember that it is coming from Someone who has a deep passion and longing to restore and rebuild those ruins so that you would be filled with joy and praise and that you will also tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace He wants to pour into your life.

Hope that today is a good day for a rebuild.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Seeking Irrelevancy

I have started reading a book by Henri Nouwen called In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, and I came across a phrase that really struck me.  This is what Nouwen wrote:

"I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." (pg. 30).

Completely irrelevant?

Why would this make any sense at all?  Wouldn't we want to say that it is more important for followers of Jesus, and leaders in His church, to work hard to try and communicate something of God to the world in a way that is relevant to their lives?

But maybe in our frenetic attempts to be relevant we are missing the whole point--the heart of God himself?

Nouwen describes Jesus' ministry as focussed solely on revealing God's love to the world.  And a major point that Jesus wanted his hearers to really hear was that this love of God for them was not based on their accomplishments whatsoever but was pure grace.

That's what Nouwen means when he says that we should be completely irrelevant. . . .He is saying that we desperately need to understand that we have deep-seated desires to try and earn our way, to strive for and accomplish things, and not for the primary purpose of doing well, or contributing to society, but because of pride!  We want to accomplish things because we want the world to know that we have accomplished them.  Or, we want to accomplish things because it makes our hearts more comfortable knowing that we did not need to depend on anyone else but ourselves.  In the words of Blue Eyes himself---"I did it my way. . . "

Does this make sense?

Maybe this will help:  Nouwen says that Jesus' first temptation was to be relevant and that was the temptation to turn stones into bread.  Satan was asking Jesus to "prove his power as the Son of God by the relevant behaviour of changing stones into bread" but instead Jesus did nothing.  He was completely irrelevant, that is, he chose not to perform and simply declared:  "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4)

I'll conclude today by once again using Nouwen's words as he describes the spiritual state of our current world:  "The secular world around us is saying in a loud voice, 'We can take care of ourselves.  We do not need God, the church, or a priest.  We are in control.  And if we are not, then we have to work harder to get in control.  The problem is not lack of faith, but lack of competence.  If you are sick, you need a competent doctor; if you are poor, you need competent politicians; if there are technical problems, you need competent engineers; if there are wars, you need competent negotiators.  God, the church, and the minister have been used for centuries to fill the gaps of incompetence, but today the gaps are being filled in other ways, and we no longer need spiritual answers to practical questions.'" (pg 33)

This helps me to ask the question:  just how much do I live this same way?  Just how much am I dependent on my abilities to navigate my way through life?  And just how much do I value my own initiative and drive to accomplish things?

And who do I think I am in doing this, when even Jesus himself didn't?

Father, please help us to become irrelevant, so that we can trust You in ways that are real. May You help us to unlearn dependency on self so we can become truly vulnerable and depend on You and You alone.. . . . .even for the practical things in life.  And thank you that you have showered Your love on us in such abundant ways---may that love transform our hearts and minds so we can live like Jesus.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Jehovah Rapha

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing pastor Brian Smith speak a message on God's healing. 

In the message he explained that one of God's names is "Jehovah Rapha" which can be translated: "I am healing you". 

"I am healing you....."

I love this name of God.  It tells me that He is not just a divine being waiting in some distant place to be worshipped, but is instead a powerful, caring God who is actively involved in my life. He is at work healing me, healing those who are his children. 

But there are many reasons why we do not really believe that God heals, and the biggest one is our experience. 

Our experience tells us that people often do not get healed, that the ones we pray for do not receive that special touch from Jehovah Rapha. 

Our experience is a powerful teacher and it trains us what to think about God. In this case it teaches us to think that if we pray and healing doesn't happen, then we understand our experience as the 'fact' (no healing), and God is the 'mystery' (I don't know why he didn't heal).

I heard something different from God yesterday- I heard his word tell me that when Jesus died on the cross, everything necessary for healing was made available. I also heard that Jesus always wants to heal. And something changed in my heart:  instead of holding experience as the 'fact' and God as the 'mystery' I began to think about holding God as the 'fact' and my experiences as the 'mystery'.

If I pray for someone to be healed and they aren't then I can hold on to the firm understanding that God really is who he says he is- the healer who wants to heal. And my experience? Well I hold that in question!  I become suspicious of what is happening and don't think of it as unquestionable. My experience is now the mystery and God becomes the fact.  My experience becomes the unknown, changeable element and God becomes the anchored and solid truth that I know clearly because he told me clearly. 

Psalm 103:1-3 NIV

Praise the Lord , my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.

Heals all your diseases....

What is the foundation you stand on?  Is it God and what He declares about himself in his word, or is it your experiences?

Faith. Faith takes on whole new meaning when we begin to see God as the unmoving center and experience becomes the big question mark. 

I think the door of heaven just opened up a little bit....hope some of the light shines on you today. 
Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Wanna Be Consequence Free

I want to start off by welcoming all my Rock of Ages College and Career friends who are receiving this blog for the very first time---Great to have you here!

The title of this posting comes from a popular Canadian music group BNL (if you want to know what this stands for you can google it!)

I was listening to the radio the other day and this song came on and I began to think about it--and do you want to know something?  I'm pretty sure there is a strong tendency in me to want to live consequence free as well.

It's our human nature to want to be protected from things that will harm us while still wanting to indulge in those same activities.  We say to ourselves: 'wouldn't it be great if I could just do this and not have to pay the consequences?'

So many examples come to mind:  I would love to be able to eat chips and dip all the time, but I don't want to live with the consequence that my jeans no longer fit.  So what do I do?  I keep eating. . . .I know that I can't live without consequences, but I want to!

Of course this is a fairly insignificant example, but we all know that we engage in much more serious things we really like, knowing a price will need to be paid (anyone dealing with crazy credit card debt??).

In our heart of hearts, do we run after things that harm our souls, because we desire those things even though we know they are not good for us?

It's time for a reality check--and yes we can know some things very clearly for our lives and we need to pay attention to them for our own good.

Listen to this from Ephesians 5:8-15
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.  This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"

Have we been sleeping thinking that we can live without consequences?

It can seem crushingly impossible to overcome the influence of our society.  It can seem exponentially harder to change our minds about something.  And it can seem even harder to unlove things we love that hurt us.

If this is ringing true for you today, I want you to hear something loud and clear:  Jesus is able to free you!  It all starts with forgiveness.  He is longing to bring you close to Himself by breaking the chains of those things that you love that harm your soul.  His arms are open.

Have you been frustrated that desire to live consequence free has put a lot of stress and burden on your heart and mind?  How about considering 'waking up' and letting the loving light of Jesus shine on those things so that healing and wholeness can take its place?

I have to admit, that sounds pretty good to me---how about you?

Here's to hoping that today is a day of awakening!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Really Real

I'm writing this from a really cool place-- the Summer Palace chinese restaurant right beside where I work. 

The food here is amazing ( I highly recommend the egg rolls!). But the reason why it's so cool is because I am the only Caucasian in the place and there is not one conversation that is in English- literally. 

It kind of strikes me how this environment makes me look at myself, to take note of how I'm different. It makes me more aware, challenges me and opens me up to see a broader picture of things. 

I think in churches sometimes there is a tendency to avoid letting outside events speak to us. We can sometimes be afraid that they will influence us negatively. And we want to honor Jesus by staying on track. The problem with this, however, is that we can also inoculate ourselves from experiencing the risen Savior because it might seem too radical and too beyond normal. 

I think it's clear that Jesus wanted his followers to come face to face with beyond normal when he rose from the dead and decided to walk, talk and eat with them. Dead guys don't do this!!

Jesus wanted to expose them to a new "real" because what they knew before was just simply not enough. It was too limiting, too restrictive. It didn't allow for the possibility of real beyond "normal". 

I like how followers of Jesus are described here by Jo Kadlecek in her book "A Desperate Faith":
"For Peter and Mary, John and Thomas, and the others who'd seen his battered body and were now watching the same shaggy-haired man eat and hearing him laugh and talk- how could they not be transformed? It was reality, their lives were radically altered the moment they knew that Jesus was alive. He redefined "real" for them."

Jesus redefined real. 

So a simple question for us all today: is our normal overwhelming the really real for us?  And is it possible that the risen Jesus that radically altered reality for Peter and Mary is the same resurrected Lord who wants to do the same for us today?

I pray that whoever reads this will find themselves soon in a room filled with something so foreign that it forces you to pause and consider the possibility that your "real" could be so much more!

May Jesus take us there soon.....

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tough choices

If you are like me you have been well trained to want things your way. Everywhere we turn we are told that we should expect to have a myriad of choices available to us and that we should expect to "have our cake and eat it too". If we find that some company has failed to meet our demands we move on to another that will satisfy our desires. To do any less is perceived as irresponsible. 
It is very difficult to measure just how pervasive this is in our thinking- but we breathe this air from our very first breath. 
Unfortunately this kind of thinking doesn't translate well into the Christian life. The Bible tells us that to follow Jesus means that we must make tough choices that fly in the face of our worldly training. 

This probably sounds reasonable to most Christians, that is until we find ourselves experiencing hard or hurtful circumstances that force us to confront our desires and God's desires for us. Take a listen to this:

1 Peter 4:1 AMP

SO, SINCE Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you , arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],

Here we find God saying to us that when we suffer in the flesh and then choose to endure, when we purpose ourselves to follow God in spite of our circumstance, we are moving away from sin and standing in the grace of God!

The world tells me to do everything I can to please myself,  God tells me to live with the intent to please Him. 

Does it seem to you that we need an attitude adjustment?

The payoff is that when we make the tough choice to follow Jesus in hard circumstance we will be blessed. We will experience the love of God. It is something real and tangible. Our hearts will sing and our souls will find peace. There is strength in this that we can't find anywhere else. And it's beautiful. 

I fail in this all the time. But thankfully the Holy Spirit empowers us to actually succeed- we are not alone!

If you are facing immense hurt, trauma or physical pain today God is inviting you to try something that will bring radical freedom:  make the tough choice to follow Him, leave your circumstance in His hands and you will find blessing. 

Let's leave behind what the companies are trying to feed us and let's see what it's like to live in the company of Jesus. 

Pastor Brian Tysdal
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon, Sask.