Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Times, They Are a-Changin'

I'm borrowing a theme from today's announced Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan because for me, 'The Times They Are a Changin'...

In just a few days, I'm heading back to Toronto for 3 weeks.  In the 10 days that I've been home, I've caught up on life, with friends, work a few yard projects that needed to be done and many other things.

The one task that I've been avoiding in the past 10 days is writing this article.  This article really marks a significant shift for me as my fade from active involvement in BC becomes complete.

For 9 years, serving the leaders of BC has been the focus of my work and ministry.  While I'm very excited about the future, I recognize that I am leaving behind people that I have come to love, respect and appreciate in significant ways.  Members, Staff, Security, Dining Room Servers are all people that I enjoy interacting with and while my transition doesn't mean I'll never see them again, it does mean that those moments become fewer and farther between and with me in a supportive role as I stand behind Jason rather than the other way around.

The space that most symbolizes this transition is what has been my office space in Victoria.  For the most part it has been 'my space' and the clutter, trinkets, photos, etc have reflected that.  While it will remain our national office, most of my work in that regard will happen from my workspace in Toronto.  Our Victoria space will still be where I work from when I'm home, but the space needs to reflect Jason, so I've been slowly removing my 'stuff' over the past week so that he can make it a space that reflects who he is.  My desk, complete with it's 2nd floor view of the park and trees has become Jason's and I'm glad to pass it to him.  It's an interesting feeling to say the least but just like the changing season outside, this is a season of change for me and Leading Influence in BC.

I have tremendous confidence in Jason's ability to build on the foundation that has been laid. Watching him engage with members and they with him has been so satisfying and rewarding.  He will serve BC leaders exceptionally well.

We are thrilled to announce that Leanne den Braber has joined our team as Executive Assistant.  Leanne will work with both Jason and I with a focus on donor care, special events and administration.  We are saying goodbye to Bethany who has been a blessing to us and wish her well as she and James await the arrival of their first born.  Thanks for your hard work and ministry Bethany.

Ontario is off to a strong start.  The primary focus now and for the next year is really about meeting people and building the relational capital that provides a platform for ministry.  Thus far the Lord has helped us.  Barb and I fly to Toronto on Saturday and will share a week together there before she returns home for work.  It will be fun to have her with me in the big city where the Jays play home games.

Ontario beckons.  The future is bright!

Big Changes in BC! Welcome Jason and Christine Goertzen

Serving with Leading Influence at the BC Legislature is always exciting but with an election scheduled for May 2017 things are really ramping up.  For BC’s politicians the door knocking, pre-election announcements and social media messaging is already in full throttle.  Whether or not there will be a change in BC’s government is yet to be determined. 

Where change is certain is in my life and ministry.   After 22 years of pastoral ministry, including the last 13 in Victoria, I have felt the Lord inviting me to take a “take a leap of faith”.  To step off the banks of the known and the familiar and to fully embrace the opportunity to serve those who serve us. 

Starting January 1st 2017 I will be joining Leading Influence on a full time basis and leaving pastoral ministry.  Speaking candidly, this has been a tremendous wrestle for me over the past 6 months.  I thought I was going to remain a local church pastor my entire life.  “I just turned 50!” I reasoned with God. “Are you really calling me to this?” “How will I support my family?”  The Lord reminded me of the ministry call I responded to when was I was 18 years old.  How with my hands lifted high I dedicated my life to serving him.  He promised me, “If you give your life to MY calling for you, I’ll always take care of you and your family.”  All these years later I can testify God has kept that promise! 


And From Saskatchewan...

We count ourselves to be very blessed with our leadership in Saskatchewan. There are a significant number of believers that serve in crucial leadership roles at the legislature. Prayer is a regular occurrence here. 

Of course, the challenge of elected office can erode a person’s inner life. Nobody is immune to problems. The time demands of office can pull leaders away from self-care activities like exercise and prayer. There are difficult choices to make that are not obvious or easy. Many leaders feel an emotional weight when pressed for decisions that have long term consequences for society. It also takes strength of character to reject bribe offers and eliminate favouritism.  

Imagine if you were in the role of member at a provincial legislature. Although it carries a degree of prestige and status, it also comes with contempt and vitriol from some of the public. Imagine how hard it would be for you to remain magnanimous, stoic, and compassionate while personal attacks are constantantly levelled at you.  

The more that I interact with our MLAs here in Saskatchewan, the more I see a desire with many to prioritize spiritual life and relationship with God. That puts them in a good position to tackle the emotional and ethical challenges. Those that pray for our MLA’s contribute a great deal to the integrity of our leaders.

The Fall session of the legislature will run from Oct 19th to Nov 30th, 2016. This session is promising to be quite interesting with the prospect of significant transformational change to our province. This work is set against the backdrop of lower revenues due to low commodity prices. This is not an easy road to travel, so our leaders would definitely ask for your prayers as they contemplate the benefits and consequences of certain initiatives. 

Dr. Scott Francis

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Super Dad To the Rescue!

I have an active imagination.  Some say it's overactive.  I say they have no imagination at all!  :-)

Every so often I like to think that God likes to 'show off' for His kids.  He doesn't 'show off' just because He can, He does it to inspire even greater confidence in WHO He is and WHAT He is able to do.  For me, this has been an inspiring confidence building kind of week.  Here's what happened.

I was a guest speaker at a church north of Toronto this past Sunday.  After I spoke, someone I've known for a long time pulled me aside and shared something that God had put on her heart.  

Here's an edited version of the email follow up I sent to her on Tuesday afternoon...  

Just to encourage you…..

I didn’t really know what to do with the word you shared yesterday, because it really made no sense to me at the time, but you are going to love this…

I went to the Legislature this morning for the Throne Speech and connected with my MPP friend for a few minutes before the speech started.  After it was over, we went for lunch with 7-8 members of from his caucus. As we were sitting across from each other, I noticed the orange ‘puff’ in his pocket.  It’s odd that he would wear orange because his ‘team colours’ aren't orange,  but there it was.  I didn’t connect the dots at that point…

Over lunch something about the Plowing Competition came up and that they would all be going to that next week.  The whole thing seems kind of odd to me, so I asked about it and my friend says …. you should come…. let’s talk more about it later….

When we back to his office, he offered to take me with him and said I could share his room and ride along with him and a couple of other guys.  This is a huge opportunity for me.

Later, I needed to step out and make a few calls and he said, let me show you something… and he took me to a spare office in his part of the building and said, this is mine, I don’t use it…. you can… My office is your office... 

At around 5 we were heading out to the Jays game and he asked if I’d like to stop in at the lounge for a few minutes.  I assumed this was a place for everyone to go, but it was their private caucus lounge.  We spent about an hour there hanging out with about 8-9 other members.  As we were sitting there, I kept noticing his orange pocket puff.

It was only then that I connected ‘watch for orange’ with his puff and realized that I had been following him all day.  God has put this man in my life to help establish the ministry here.  

As I pondered it on the way home from the game tonight, it struck me the orange puff might just be God’s way of saying that He is here with me, working things out before I even get there.  The orange puff speaks of His plan and attention to the details.

Thanks for being obedient yesterday.  Just wanted you to know what happened today.

Expectation ....

‘I’m full of expectation, but I have NO IDEA what I’m expecting…’ 

It’s a funny thing to say, and yet it’s what I keep hearing myself saying over and over. 

For those who aren’t aware, I’m walking through a season of change and transition.  Last fall our board released me to take on the challenge of launching Leading Influence in Ontario. It has been an exciting and stretching season.  I am experiencing again what it means to wait, rest and trust while God is doing more than I think He is behind the scenes. 

After taking some time to prepare at home over the summer, discovering that God had arranged a wonderful suite in Toronto and had provided some seed money to get us started, Barb kissed me goodbye at the airport early last Wednesday morning.  I won’t be back for 3 weeks.  On day 1 of my 2nd week, I can say that I continue to be surprised at what God does and how He does it!

This has been an exciting and stretching season.  I am experiencing again what it means to wait, rest and trust while God is doing more than I think He is behind the scenes.  Trusting is an intentional discipline.  The temptation to involve myself in what is God's business is enormous.

I’ve been pondering these words out of Is. 43:18 for the past several months….

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

It seems to me that our start in BC almost 10 years ago was ONE WAY that God chose to establish what He had called me to do.  I have the distinct impression that He has a different plan this time.  While I’m much more wired to having firm goals and plans, I also know that this is a faith journey and that God reserves the right to surprise me and exceed my expectations.  I understand that my primary responsibility at this time is to expect that at any given moment God may exceed anything that I have dared to ask, think or imagine and to be in the place where I can follow His plan. 

While I am waiting for Him to do HIS part, I must be doing mine. 

Details about Day 1 to follow!  You won’t want to miss the story….

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Tale of 3 Lands

I'm in the midst of a faith journey.  I've committed myself to an enormous step of faith and there is no turning back, there is just the journey, complete with all of it's obstacles, challenges, opportunities and victories.  

Yesterday, I was reflecting on the various 'lands' that I am visiting along the way.  My trip began in the Land of Wow.  The Land of Wow is filled with possibilities, opportunities and excitement.  My heart beats a little faster when I am in the Land of Wow.  My vision is crystal clear and I can see outcomes in the opportunities.  I love the Land of Wow!  If I could live here forever, I would!  Dreams and vision cost nothing at this point.  There are no bad ideas, train wrecks or plans gone awry.  There is just a series of happy thoughts that are filled with excitement.  If you are a baseball fan, the Land of Wow is best described as a sliding triple with the occasional walk off home run thrown in just to keep things interesting.  It is breath taking in every way!!

Not far from the Land of Wow is the Land of How.  The Land of How is a difficult place.  If the sun is always shining in the Land of Wow, it's always overcast in the Land of How.  Dreams are free in the Land of Wow but the bills come due in the Land of How.  I'm convinced there is a cemetery for dreams in the Land of How because that's where most of them die.  They die because How demands that I sort out the action steps that will turn Wow into How.  It's not necessarily that the dreams were weak or that the idea wasn't a good one.  It's more that the cost of Wow is higher than what most people are willing to pay.  Turning Wow into reality isn't cheap, easy or quick.  Most dreams, God given or otherwise, come to an end right here.

Navigating through the Land of How demands courage, focus and determination.  The Land of How requires faith... gutsy, Red Sea crossing, Lion and Bear Wrestling, Giant Killing, Fiery Furnace, a Cloud the size of a man's hand kind of faith.  This is 'God, I remind you of Your promises' faith. The kind that asks and acts boldly.  It's the kind of faith that will get you out of the boat to walk on the waves.

The last time I went on a journey like this, I was almost overcome in the Land of How.  There were days, many in fact, when HOW almost snuffed out the WOW that I carried in my heart.  The size of the mountains, the giants in the land and obstacles that were set in front of me were overwhelming.  I'm doing this differently this time.  I return often to the Land of Wow and let the scope and 'bigness' of the vision fill my heart.  I ponder the goodness of God and His faithfulness to me thus far.  I reflect on the promises that He has made and fulfilled.  I come back to remind myself that 'thus far, the Lord has helped me...'

Each time I do, the Land of How becomes a little less intimidating and overwhelming.  I am learning (again and still) that there are things I must do but there are things that only God can do.  When I try to do what only God can do, the results are never what they could be.  God doesn't need my 'help' to make it happen.  He just needs me to be true to what He's asked me to do.  Sometimes it seems that the most important part of this journey is allowing God to do His part while I stay focused on mine.  

I'm making a fascinating discovery.  Ever so slowly but at the same time in a very real and profound way, I am seeing a new land taking shape around me.  It's the Land of WHOW.   WHOW is the place where Wow meets How and vision becomes reality.  It's a messy, complicated place with more questions than answers, with loose ends and gaping holes, but it's the place where God works and creates.  It's the place where He stretches me, surprises me, challenges me and changes me. It's the place where if I'm willing to stick with Him and stick with the dream, He fulfils His promises and makes something out of nothing.  

Unfortunately, (or maybe not so unfortunately) there are no direct flights from WOW to WHOW.  You have to pass through HOW multiple times in order to get to WHOW.  It's enough to make some people give up on the journey and take up residence in either WOW or HOW, but the truth is, nothing happens in WOW or HOW.  All of the action is in WHOW! The weather can swing from bright and sunny to overcast and blustery in the blink of an eye, but if you can hold on just a little bit longer, WHOW becomes an amazing place of fruitfulness.

Happy travelling!