Archive for April, 2005

African Union Needs NATO Support

 African Union needs NATO Support in Darfur

The militias have
continued to harass the civilian population, burning people out of
their homes, in defiance of international protests. In order to give
them the flexibility they need, the AU wants Nato countries to provide
logistical support, including communications, and the heavy-lifting
capacity which no African armies have at their disposal.

Our national priorities are out of whack. A relatively small amount of
money could equip willing AU troops to help end the conflict in the
Sudan and we continue to ignore the problem.  We should not care more
about what Bono thinks of Paul Martin than the thousands dying in

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Web exclusive: I'm engaged

Web exclusive: I’m engaged

Yes folks it finally happened.  Leighton Tebay is going to marry Carol Fisher.  I asked her to marry me a few hours ago!  She said yes.  It was sort of a family proposal as the kids were involved, which made for some extra chaos but it is all good.


Libs 30% Cons 28%

Libs 30% Cons 28%

For all that I hear about how bad this corruption scandal is it may not be enough to bring the Conservatives in to power.  The Liberals could probably use time in opposition to cleanse themselves of their sins but when it comes right down to it people need a credible alternative to switch to.  Increasingly we are seeing that Stephen Harper is not it.

The way Harper has handled the last week showed me that he is just as desperate for power as Paul Martin.  His “deal withe devil” rhetoric would have appealed to his base.  The rest of Canada would have looked at the deal with NDP and thought “less money for corporations and more for housing, foreign aid and post-secondary education, how EVIL!”  Unfortunately for the Conservatives the NDP deal forced the Cons to ally solely with the Bloc.  That looks evil enough without anybody saying anything.  

Increasingly the choice for Canadians is  to punnish the current government for something the last government did or helping separatists. 


Dad for a weekend

 Dad for a weekend

This weekend my girlfriend was
gone for a women’s retreat and I took care of her 2 kids.  I had a
really good time.  The highlight had to be Saturday morning. 
The youngest boy (4 years old) came in to ask if he could go downstairs
and watch TV and upon seeing me he was SO excited he was shaking. 
With great enthuisiasm he said “LEIGHTON! You’re here!”  It was
hard not to have a good day after that.

Taking care of kids something I’m no stranger to.  I did lots of
babysitting in previous years and I worked at bible camps for a couple
of years.  I encountered very little in the weekend that I hadn’t
experienced before.  “Muffler stains” on the underwear, a limited
skirmish between brothers, and an absolute refusal to eat soup were all
part of the package.  All in all the kids were very good.

I’m amazed at single parents.  My dad was a single parent for a
lot years.  My girlfriend’s husband died just over 3 years
ago.  There are so many things in life that are easier if you
don’t have to load up kids in a car, or wait for them to get
ready.  You can’t just run off to 7-11 for a snack because you
can’t leave these kids alone.  I found the biggest adjustment to
make was spending all day with just kids.  By the end of the night
I was starved for adult interaction.  I grabbed the baby monitor
and walked next door and hung out for a little while with one of my
roomates.  I live next door to my girlfriend. 

Another highlight is the youngest boy decided he was going to cheer for
the Calgary Flames.  I didn’t even have to bribe him or brainwash
him.  He simply saw the light.  Such a smart boy.  The
older son is a die hard Oilers fan.  That part is a terrible
tragedy.  He is smart too.  Unfortunately he was misguided
and deceived by his mother.


Forest fires may be fiercer

 Forest fires may be fiercer

Why is the only political leader with a grand vision for Canada the one who wants to break up the country? 

Duceppe  to Chretien in the 2000 debate went something like this
“I know your favorite song is don’t worry be happy, it’s going to be be
worried there’s an inquiry. ”  Right song, wrong leader.

Harper is already campaigning yet he is “listening to Canadians” to see if they really want an election. 

I actually had a debate with Jordon over who was sexier:  Stockwell Day or Stephen Harper.  It is Stockwell for sure!

Jordon is not lying.  I did have a Maurice Vellacott sign on my lawn in the 2000 election.  Oh how things have changed. 

Jack Layton lost me with his comment “forest fires may be fiercer.”


Post-Charismatic: Part 3 – Coverings, Authority, and Accountability

Post-Charismatic: Part 3 – Coverings, Authority, and Accountability

Your average evangelical may have never heard the phrase “who is your covering” but it is very common in Charismatic circles. A covering is a governing spiritual authority. A member of a congregation may be covered by an elder or small group leader who is in turn covered by the pastoral staff who is in turn covered by the senior pastor. Usually the hierarchy stops there but it could extend to denominational officials. Most Charismatic churches are in a non-hierarchical denominations or in no denomination at all.

I’ve always struggled to understand why so many people in these types of churches stress the importance of being under authority. If you really believe in church governing authority you better hook up with the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church.

The whole concept of covering has minimal biblical support. 1Cor 11 is the only place you’ll find coverings. They were a physical covering women wore on their heads. These coverings are identified as a symbol of authority.

11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 11:4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head. 11:5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head. 11:6 For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should cover her head. 11:7 For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. 11:9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man. 11:10 For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Taken literally and directly one could argue that Paul maintains that husbands have authority over their wives. However it would be hard to use these passages to justify some sort of hierarchy of church authority because Paul plainly states Christ is the head of every man, not an elder, pastor or apostle!

If you ask someone to explain what covering means they would probably start talking about accountability. Your covering is just someone you are accountable to. A quick search in the bible (NRSV) on accountability finds the following relevant passages.

Ro 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Ro 14:12 – So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Jas 2:10 – For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

We are held accountable to God and there is no mention of accountability to other Christians. I don’t want people to hear something that I’m not saying. I’m not saying the concept of accountability is unbiblical. I would argue that there is something deeper and richer than mere accountability. I would call that concept koinonia or fellowship. Some forms of accountability can be found in koinonia. This form of accountability is primarily relational, between equals. It is driven by love and based on mutual submission. It is only possible inside a transparent, trusting relationship. The focus is building up one another in love.

A common form of accountability is the stick and shame approach.

Shame: I avoid committing certain acts because I don’t want to admit my shame to my accountability partner.

Stick: I avoid committing certain acts because I will face certain negative consequences if an authority finds out.

Both of these are much like the regulations Paul talks about in Colossians “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.”

Sadly this is the main form of accountability that exists in church. When it is over emphasized it makes koinonia less possible. Fear of shame or judgment keeps people from being real. What often happens when people file in to a church building on Sunday morning? They go in to church mode. In church mode language, mannerisms, and behavior all change to project a more holy image to others. The lack of transparency and authenticity makes real accountability impossible.

Unfortunately when we over emphasize accountability it ceases to be part of life giving fellowship and becomes oppressive.

What about authority then? There is lots of biblical support for authority. 1Peter 5:1-5 (NRSV) is as strong a verse as any.

1Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.

5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

How we understand authority has to reconcile with Jesus’ and Peter’s words about lording it over others.

Matthew 20:25-28

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Paul also chimes in on the role of leaders in the church. 1Cor 2:5-10, 21-23

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.

21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Church authority exists but it is found inside a church leadership marked by servanthood, humility, and equality. We are all God’s servants. Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The emphasis in the New Testament church is the work of the body, the entire body. Leaders exist and they do have their roles but they do not dominate the life of the church.

This is what bothers me so deeply about many Charismatic churches. The spiritual authorities dominate and maintain a tight control on everything. They are not equals. They are the spiritual elites.

I’m still deeply shaken by what Paul means in verse 22 when he says that the apostles belonged to the members of the church in Corinth. What does that mean for leaders to belong to the people in their oversight than the other way around?

Are there times for church authority to hold people accountable for their actions? Yes. Sometimes people engage in activity that is extremely harmful and they should be sanctioned or removed for good of the church. This kind of policing should be done as a last resort. This should happen when all other forms of encouragement fail.

From what I observed most leaders that stress “coverings” aren’t as concerned about fruitful accountability. They are far too content with a church that has very little koinonia and a whole lot of top down control. Biblical accountability is primarily found in mutual submission. There is “top down” authority in the New Testament but it is used primarily as a last resort to keep the church safe. When the emphasis switches from mutual submission to hierarchy the church is hindered as people don’t have the freedom to minister as God has called them. The working of the gifts is not facilitated but stifled.


Conservatives will become Liberal to win

Conservatives will become Liberal to win

We are headed in to an election campaign and our two main parties have the same platform.  I’m not him.  For the last few weeks I’ve heard the feint hum of Conservative knives being sharpened.  It is very possible they will have their day in the sun.  I wonder how long it would take for all the angry white men that curse the perceived Liberal darkness to realize that life will not dramatically improve the moment a Conservative takes office.  To win this election the Conservative party is going to have to become Liberal government without the Liberals. 

The great experiment of the reform party has now ended in a miserable failure.   They have come full circle.  They maintain the status quo on abortion.  They have now hopped on the Kyoto bandwagon.  They will honor all Liberal spending promises.  In the end the merger of the PC’s and the Reform/Alliance was a PC takeover. 

They will hammer on the sponsorship scandal and paint themselves as the white knights of honest government.  Riiiiight.  The fact is that there are honest Liberals that called for the AG’s audit and the RCMP to investigate.  I saw a lot of that happening in the eighties.

Regardless of what happens I hope Ralph Goodale wins.  In the short time he has been finance minister he has done a lot of good things for Saskatchewan.  He has been the point man to clean up more than one government mess. 


Post-Charismatic: Part 2 – Revival

Post-Charismatic: Part 2 – Revival

Many Charismatics believe that if we can just pray enough we gain enough ‘spiritual authority’ we can ‘open heaven’ and bring revival. Those with prophetic gifts encouraged the church with insights about how the mighty move of God was going to begin. It seemed like each city and each group had a special anointing and a strategic place in God’s last day master plan. Revival was always just around the corner. There seems to be this unspoken assumption that when the power of God comes down people would just immediately flock in to our church buildings. This would happen even though these people wouldn’t know anyone in the church or have any normal reason to show up.

Pentecost is the one event in written about in the New Testament that could be considered a revival. As the apostles spread out to the known world they planted churches and accomplished their mission but no “revivals” are reported. This happened despite the fact that they probably had lots of “spiritual authority”. I have great esteem for the leaders and movements that spawned revival in the past. However these events only occurred in nominally Christian societies. There had to be something left to revive.

As much of the western world shifts from being nominally Christian to post-Christian I wonder whether revival is something to pursue. Is there much left to revive? If we pursue spiritual blessing without mission is the end result questionable movements like the Toronto Blessing or Pensacola?

In some ways I believe the pursuit of revival has become an idol in the church. It isn’t about God; it is about achieving the greatest hallmark of Christian success. If we expect God to empower us as a people we can’t be motivated by our own religious success.

If there is going to be any powerful move of God it will happen through people who seek no fame, no status, no money, and no notion of religious success. It will happen through people that are more concerned about the kingdom than their own personal ministry. It will happen through people who see ministry primarily as a calling rather than a career. It will not happen through people who think Godliness is a means to financial gain. It will not be about large crowds. It is will be about caring for and respecting each individual person. It will happen through people who are willing to lie down their rigid assumptions of how church is supposed to work. They will respect the signposts of biblical orthodoxy and listen to scripture rather than using scripture to bolster their assumptions. They will build structures, but they will be light and flexible and will fit around what God is doing.


I am post-Charismatic: Part 1 – Theology and Experience

I am post-Charismatic: Part 1 – Theology and Experience

In the beginning wasn’t a blog.  It was an assortment of articles and prophecies. At one time I was heavily influenced by the prophetic/charismatic movement.  My favorite author was Rick Joyner. He had a tremendous impact on me with books like The Harvest, The Final Quest and articles found in the MorningStar Journal. 

Give prophecies 15 years and you start to see how don’t always line up with world events.  Regardless I appreciated Rick Joyner a lot.  He always seemed to weave in spiritual principles and take lessons from history.  There is one section in the Final Quest called the Great White Throne of judgment that thoroughly convicted me of doing good things with selfish motives. 

In as much as I found so much good I also found so much bad in the whole charismatic movement.  There is little discernment.  What matters is whether a teaching is “anointed” not how well it fits within the whole biblical story.  Often the theology is bad, really bad.  A lot of theology on things like spiritual warfare is based on experience rather than scripture.  I’m not saying what people believe is all wrong but it does get surreal when one anointed leader that hears directly from God disagrees with another anointed leader that hears directly from God.  Anyone who watches these folks operate for a long time generally concludes that just because you can perform a miracle doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.  Unfortunately a lot of leaders fall in to the trap of thinking the opposite.

Success is often defined by how many ecstatic experiences one could have or somehow produce in a crowd.  Many people I knew didn’t think God was doing anything unless there was some sort of physical manifestation of the Spirit.  There was such a drive and a desire for these experiences that some people thought I wasn’t striving after God because I didn’t “manifest.”  One time I joined a group of people in a restaurant and one guy was waving the Spirit in my direction, but because I was resisting it bounced off of me and hit the woman I was sitting across and she started manifesting.  At times it was just weird.  

Sensing or feeling the “presence” of God was something I had experienced right from my earliest days of faith.  I experienced physical healing and I have witnessed some others.  There are some that doubt the power of God or hold to theology that says God doesn’t intervene in our lives.  You would be hard pressed to convince me because I’ve experienced way too much divine intervention.  Unfortunately what happens is these kinds of spiritual experiences often become an end in themselves.  Worship ceases to be about God, it is about an experience.  People resort to emotionally manipulating themselves or others in an effort to reproduce a spiritual experience.   In this I believe some people are led astray from pure devotion to Christ.

Charismatic Christians tend to get caught up in fads.  Despite their overwhelming emphasis on Ephesians 4:11-16 they seem to be the most susceptible to being buffeted by every wind of doctrine.  It might be tithing, or spiritual authority, intercession, or the father heart of God or whatever.  An inordinate amount of attention is paid on these things. 

I think Charismatics make the same mistakes most evangelicals make in regards to theology.  Evangelicals construct their understanding based on the small parts we like to focus on without taking a step back and looking at the larger blueprint.

For example intercession is a huge theme.  One can find scriptural support for this by looking at all the verses in scripture about prayer. There are a lot.  However if intercessory prayer is such a key component in ministry why didn’t Paul give Timothy specific instructions on it?  Why does Paul expound deeply about the gospel, and grace, and the Spirit and so little on prayer?  It is probably because prayer has its place but it should be in right relation to other things. 

I believe God’s inspiration exists in the Charismatic movement but it has been derailed by a few things

They are so focused on individual blessing that they neglect the selfless purposes of the church
God doesn’t trust people with His power that will use it to promote themselves or their ministry. 
In a desire to experience God they move from patiently receiving God’s grace to trying to invoke the Spirit and cross the line in to spurious and even dangerous spiritual experiences
Many Charismatic pastors emphasize their own positional authority to the point that it crosses the line in to spiritual abuse
Lay people are disempowered by theology and structure that over emphasize hierarchy and control


EmergentNo goes way too far

EmergentNo goes way too far

Here is a quote from the latest article EmergentNo linked to about Brian McLaren.

“Interestingly, this ecclesiastical milksop who won’t even take a stand one way or the other regarding sodomite matrimony characterizes the American nuclear family as a “waste” of resources and unworthy of the attention it receives in popular Evangelical thought. McLaren hopes extended families and “intentional households” (think glorified communes) will be the wave of the future.

One wonders if Pastor McLaren’s will be as keen on the share and share alike and the what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine outlook when the additional men he invites to reside at his compound have intentions for his wife? Or as most experiments in communalized domesticity end up, will Rev. McLaren be the only one permitted to relish the benefits of the community property if you catch my drift? Jonestown or Waco, anyone?”

This after posting the following.  Carla says she agrees with the a-team which wrote.

 1) Can we give each other the benefit of the doubt that
a) both sides are doing their best to understand one another
b) both sides have legitimate concerns that should be discussed instead of mocked?

2) Can we refrain from taking criticisms of ideas personally and emotionally overreacting?

3) Can we attack ideas without attacking the people who hold them?

4) Can we be specific and clear about what our concerns are, either in criticisms or against criticisms? (Without assuming too much and over generalizing.)

5) Can we remember that in the end what matters most is not how we feel about something but that God is glorified in our thoughts, comments, and deeds?

Update: The post has been taken down