The Pulse: Outside of my Communicator Speciality

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The Pulse is starting a new writing exercise: we’re getting our EFCC Catalysts to offer your perspective and maybe even advice from within their area of experience. Brad serves as the EFCC’s Communications Catalyst.


Clearly, it was time. When our 3 year old son started to exhibit signs of frustration in his inability to get his ideas across, we needed to reach out for help. Apparently, his cute toddler-ish babblings had real intent behind them, and we just weren’t getting it.

With encouragement from caring people in his life, we signed up for a class offering training to specific parents whose children were behind their age-group’s expected ability, and yet who could be reached with relatively minor intervention — there weren’t medical impediments which would require surgery, for example.

For me, in some ways, it was a return to the basics — the beginning was stuff that I learned in the very first course of university Communications.

  • What’s the definition of a word?
  • What are the building blocks of communication?
  • What’s the difference between speech and language?

But quickly we departed from my area of education and experience, and began to ponder how speech interacts with the mystery of communication. Like so many things in life, it’s only when we’ve encountered a glitch in the process that we stop to examine what’s really happening. The physical and mental processes which go into talking are far more complex and intricate than most of us think about on a regular basis, or maybe ever.

For example, the speech therapists explained that to pronounce the word ‘church’ requires 42 different muscle movements. 42!

I was there for a practical reason — to get some resourcing and training for my son. And I did (those speech therapists are pretty special people!). But I also found that it was as amazing for me as a person, as it was for me as a dad.

It was a reminder that not only am I fearfully and wonderfully made, but that each of us is, and together, we are! Our ability to share ideas is a bewildering blessing (even if we sometimes turn it into a curse). How we share perspectives, inspiration and our whole selves with each other in the process of communication is worth considering.

Often.

Maybe even before there’s a crash! :-)

This journey with our son isn’t over. We’re taking time to practice the hard words with him. And there are still times when his speech is indecipherable. But the improvement he’s showing after some directed attention is remarkable. The way his confidence has increased is obvious. And the thrill he gets from us laughing at his jokes is unparalleled.

Reflections on Theological Summit 2017

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Well, we are finished another EFCC Theological Summit. 120 of us gathered in Okotoks and many dozen more assembled at 10 live stream locations from Ottawa to Vancouver Island to be inspired and challenged by Dr. Mark Yarhouse as he walked us through two of the most challenging issues of our day: Sexual and Gender Identity. I don’t know about how others experienced this time – but I was deeply moved and challenged regarding what speaking truth and love means in our culture today.

Here is what I found particularly helpful:

The Three Lens View

1.) Integrity Lens:
This lens views people through the Genesis 1 and 2 storyline: God designed us as male and female. This is a core truth that we cling to as Christians. We don’t believe that physical sex and gender are unrelated. Hence we cannot condone same sex marriage or agree with the current thinking that gender is entirely a social construct and is unrelated to physiology – we do not believe that binary categories are inherently evil as many in our culture seem to hold. God’s good design is just that – good.

2.) Disability Lens:
This focuses on the Genesis 3 storyline. Yes, God designed male and female, but the fall has left us broken and confused. Our response ought to be compassionate ministry and care to broken individuals who are unclear about their identity and what they should build that on.

3.) Diversity Lens:
Lastly, the diversity lens, which our culture promotes so loudly, elevates individual choice above all, and believes that celebrating the way a person understands their gender or sexual identity — even if it is different than the majority — is the morally-correct option.

As a local church elder, practicing therapist and professor of psychology, Dr. Yarhouse is uniquely positioned to explicate all three lenses.

Call to Abandon “Culture War” Rhetoric

If we watch the nasty culture war between right and left wings in the US, we can get drawn into a very unhelpful pining for the “good old days” when everyone in the culture held Christian values. Firstly, was there ever a day in Canada’s history where we all held Christian views? And second, who cares? Is that really our calling — to make sure that our neighbours all think and live morally like us? No.

We are gospel people. We introduce others to Jesus Christ – who is Messiah and Lord.

The early church did just fine living their faith in a loving manner, with a winsomely different set of values and morals from the rest of Roman society. They did not seek to control the culture – they lovingly and subversively showed people a better way. Read Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity: How the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the western world in a few centuries” to understand how the early church lived out its faith. I believe that it’s “show and tell” time for us as evangelicals, not “run and gun” time.

Guarding Our Tone

Lastly, I loved Dr. Yarhouse’s gracious tone.  He didn’t leave us with the sense of “those people” that is so easy for us to hold towards a group we feel are pushing an agenda on us.  Yes, many are pushing an agenda on us. Yet we ought to be careful in adopting an attitude that mirrors that of the Pharisees (remember the Pharisee and publican praying in Luke 18:9-14?). In that vein, I was proud of the spirit in which our EFCC family asked questions during the Q&A times.  It matched the spirit and tone with which Dr. Yarhouse graciously answered those questions.

My Only Regret

I wish that there were more lay people there and at our live streaming sites! This is a topic that all of us need to engage – all of us know someone wrestling with identity issues. May I gently nudge pastors to not attend the next one alone? In May 2019, Dr. Scot Mcknight will lead us to consider the nature of the gospel and the church. Perhaps we assume that theology is for pastors.

Let’s get past that assumption — theology is intensely practical!

We are all called to care for victims of the fall – and we are all called to live out the gospel and be the church, so please invite your lay leaders to the next Theological Summit in 2019.

So Many People Deserve Gratitude

In closing, please allow me to thank the many people who made the Theological Summit possible. Our friends at Okotoks EFC did a fabulous job of hosting. Dave Acree, our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst, envisioned and planned the days. Our Home Office staff made it possible from processing registrations to organizing travel details to making all the technology work without a hitch. Thanks to all who invested in a rich two days of learning what it means to minister in a challenging culture!

Pulse Podcast 008: What is the Gospel?

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Here we go, with episode 8! Neil and Bill examine some ideas and definitions of the gospel — a critical component of our Revitalize initiative. The goal here isn’t to arrive at a single, definitive statement. It’s to help us make sure that we’re thinking about the gospel in compatible terms.

New! Preview version!

See below for a preview of the podcast. We’d love it if you shared this at your church gathering, or small group where time is precious. It’s an invitation to the larger, ~20min session.

Prayer Calendar: Wordless Prayer

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


Who’s got your back? All of us need someone watching out for us, whatever our life circumstances. It is good to know there is someone paying attention, ready to step in and help when we are unable to handle what life is throwing at us. Sometimes friends, family, work or schoolmates, or others step up to fill that role. When it comes to prayer, they pray for us, but there are times when that is not enough.

That’s when “wordless prayer” comes into play.

Perhaps you have been involved in group prayer when an “unspoken request” is thrown into the mix. That’s when an individual asks for prayer for someone but can’t name the person or tell the specifics of the need. Perhaps they don’t have permission to ask or are afraid that stating the need might cross the line into gossip. So knowing that God knows, even though we do not, we pray a generic prayer without specific words. That’s not what we are talking about.

Have you noticed all the groaning going on in Romans 8? First, all of creation groans waiting for that time when it will be liberated from its decay and returned to the glory God intends it to have (v. 22). Then, we Christians groan waiting for God to bring us into the fullness of our salvation and to redeem these frail broken bodies of ours (v. 23). Neither we nor the creation can hardly wait!

The third groaning (vs. 26-27) is where the wordless prayer takes place. This happens when we are so overwhelmed that we are struck dumb. There are no words. We don’t know what to say, what to pray, what to ask for. We are not even sure at times what to expect from God.

That’s when the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. What’s that? I don’t know but when we can’t, the Holy Spirit can, and takes up our prayer challenge and does it better than we could ever hope to do. He knows God’s will and prays towards that end on our behalf.

So, when it comes to prayer, who’s got your back? The Holy Spirit does. There is a strange unexplainable comfort in that.

Pulse Podcast 007: An Update from Asia

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In this episode, we chat with Mel, the EFCCM’s Asia Area Director. I think we’ve laughed at least once every episode, but this one may have made us laugh the hardest.

To subscribe to Mel’s newsletter, or connect with missionaries, get in touch with him directly: melvinsayer@yahoo.com