in just a few days – Romania!

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Hi everyone,

Just a very brief note to let you know that next week Yvonne and I leave on another Missions/ministry trip to Romania. This is trip #7 for me and trip #4 for Yvonne. This trip we will visit some churches that will be new to us, for encouragement and teaching – we have way more invitations than we can fit in! We will also spend a number of days in Tg Mures, in the Gypsy village of Cold Valley. This is a very needy and difficult community. Our good friends, Pastor Horvath and his extended family always offer incredible hospitality. What an experience to preach and worship at Maranatha, the Gypsy Pentecostal Church!

I am excited that our congregation, St. Andrew’s here in Kimberley, is partnering with this church to begin a Kindergarten for 15 children – due to open September 16, while we are there. St. Andrew’s is looking to raise $300.00 per month for 10 months, which will cover the salary of the full time teacher.

If you know of anyone who has this type of global kindness on their heart, generous assistance large & small is welcomed. Donations for official charitable tax receipts (Canada only) can be sent to ST. Andrew’s c/o D&Y Johns 117 Norton Ave. Kimberley BC V1A 1X8, or you can always donate using Paypal at http://barnabasbridge.net

We just need to know whether you want to assist with the Maranatha Kindergarten project or give to support our costs to do ministry in Romania. They are two separate funds. We have a few faithul supporters for Romania, some who donate every month and some every year – wow, you are blessing indeed! Thanks.

We will certainly take photos, make a detailed report, and hopefully post updates on both http://barnabasbridge.net or http://dougjohns.net

Most importantly we appreciate your encouragement and prayers for safety and energy.

We leave Calgary the morning of Thursday September 5 and arrive in Budapest the next day. We return Thursday September 19. I have registered for my 5th official half marathon, this one in Budapest a day after we arrive (jet-lag anyone!?) but I have been receiving care for a 5 week leg injury, so this will be a last minute decision!

SOME HAVE ALREADY DONATED TO ASSIST WITH SUPPLIES AND CURRICULUM FOR THE KINDERGARTEN. EVEN THE EXTRA SUITCASES HAVE BEEN DONATED ALREADY. IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO HELP FILL THOSE CASES – WE JUST NEED TO HAVE THE STUFF TO STUFF THE CASE NO LATER THAN NOON ON WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 4TH! OR ALTERNATIVELY, MONEY TO PURCHASE SUPPLIES IN EUROPE.

The primary motive in writing is not to ask for money, really. The real desire we have is just to keep you informed about our great adventures! We are thankful to our new church, St. Andrew’s for showing how much they believe in Missions and how much they recognize our passion – the provision of two paid Mission weeks a year is generous and awesome!!!!

We have enjoyed an awesome summer: grandchildren have come to visit: we held an extended family reunion in July in S. California and Disneyland; I officiated the fun wedding of nephew Jordan Willis to Chelsea, also in California; Yvonne had a great ‘travel writing & blogging’ seminar in Boston last week; and last May we attended an incredible European Leadership Forum for ‘study leave’ – Wisla, Poland. And I will end a 16 part sermon series on Thanksgiving in October – something always happens when you ENCOUNTER GOD.

Life is good, God is good.

We love you all – Doug & Yvonne

HAVE YOU EVER STOOD ON HOLY GROUND?

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I was sitting in the front row of the chapel, with all the other pastors and leaders who would take part in the Sunday worship. The worship centre was filled with students, faculty and families, and the worship team had taken its place on the platform. This was my India missions/ministry trip to New Theological Seminary in Dehradun, North India, in the latter part of 2009. Then something strange began to happen – at least strange to me. If this was summer camp I could understand it. But here were these men in shirt and ties, suits – who began to take their shoes off – all of them right there in the front row – the other preachers, the worship leader, the Scripture readers ….. I’m glad my host leaned over and quietly explained: “all of us who lead any part of worship believe we are standing on holy ground. To show our respect, we remove our footwear.” Then the light went on for me. Of course – just like Moses in Exodus chapter 3.

On holy ground, good things happen. Like the reassurance that God is here with us, right now! Like the invitation to Moses to join in on a great divine rescue plan. The trajectory of human history dramatically changed because of a divine encounter in a burning bush – HOLY GROUND!

So how is God getting your attention these days? What mission is He sending you on? Be alert, don’t miss the sign, listen carefully, and know that God will make up for all your inadequacy.

HOLY GROUND PPT PIC

three pillars of the church

WHAT HOLDS YOUR CHURCH STEADY, SOLID, SOUND? Of course there will be a multitude of answers suggested. My contribution to the discussion will be just three elements; worship, witness, and nurture. I believe all three are so important that this became the last series I preached in Brockville and the first series I preached in Kimberley.

Neglecting any one of these is like trying to balance on a 3-legged stool: you can’t do it for very long. Everything done at our church should be focused on these pillars. If I’m busy with church work, can I say with certainty that what my energy and resources are going to can easily be filtered through the matix of this trinity of priorities?

For more on this please go to http://churchpillars.blogspot.com

to be like an olive tree

My dear wife Yvonne is doing a guest post for me. She is a great speaker and deeply spiritual. On October 16, 2011 Yvonne met in Bacau, Romania, with women from various churches in the region. It was such an inspiring time of fellowship! Her notes are printed below.


Why I Want to be Like an Olive Tree

Yvonne Johns  Oct 2011

I was reading Psalm 52 when something jumped out at me.  The first 4 verses describe the wicked who ‘love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking truth.’  Verses 5-7 tell what happens to the wicked ones and then verses 8 & 9 talk about the Godly person.  It was verse 8 that caught my attention.  ‘I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.’  What is so good about an olive tree that the psalmist compared himself to one?  I needed to do a little research and here is what I came up with.

Olive trees were grown in Biblical times and the olives used as food.  They are very nutritious and good for you.  The oil was used in their lamps to give light, not only in their homes but in the temple as well and to anoint their kings and priests.  The leaves of the olive tree were a symbol of abundance, wisdom, purity and peace.  When Noah sent the dove out from the ark, she brought back an olive leaf and Noah knew there was enough dry land for them to leave the ark.

The tree itself is still considered sacred in Greece.  Each one is owned by someone and rarely are they cut down.  An olive tree provides income to the owner and, as they are precious they are well taken care of to ensure that they keep producing well.   Each tree can live to be 1000 years old, (they get gnarled and bent as they get older) up to 6 m around but not usually very tall.  (Those are some ways I really don’t want to be like an olive tree!)  The leaves stay green all year so give welcome shade and the tree continues to be productive and useful all its life if it is properly pruned and cared for.  They like hot weather, like to live near the water, are hardy and drought and fire resistant because of their very hard wood.


Doug and I were in Greece recently and were fortunate enough to visit Olympia where the Olympic games originated.  There were olive groves all around with their beautiful, silvery green leaves.  Each tree grows differently and has its own unique character.  They still use olive oil to light the original Olympic flame which is then taken to Athens to start the modern games.  The Olympic flame is the symbol of the nations coming together peacefully to enjoy healthy competition.  (Well, that is the intent.)  We saw the stadium where 40,000 people would gather to watch the games, where the olive oil was used to anoint the athletes and the leaves from nearby trees made the victory crowns.  It was such a thrill to be right there where it all started.   It has been tradition in our family since our children were little that we would watch the games together.  They are still carrying on that tradition with their own children.


Back in Katakolon, I found a little shop that held everything you could possibly think of made of olive wood.  There were beautiful plates, salad bowls, candle holders, picture frames, decorative boxes and jewellery and so much more.  I learned that the darker the grain is, the older the tree is, that the pattern of the grain tells where on the tree the wood was found, that they only use pruned branches to make these items and since the wood is so hard it is perfect for kitchen items such as cutting boards.  To keep the wooden items looking new, just wipe it with olive oil.  That got me thinking and I did some more research.

Here are 10 Things to Do With Olive Oil
1.     Wash your face
2.    Revitalize wood furniture with 2 parts olive oil to 1 lemon juice on a soft cloth.  Keeps wood from  drying out and hides nicks and scratches
3.    Massage a small amount into scalp to fight flakes and dry skin
4.    Soothe sunburn after the first couple of days to prevent peeling
5.    Remove makeup
6.    Unstick a zipper – only 1 drop needed
7.    Prevent hairballs by giving your cat ¼ – ½ teaspoon  Keeps coat shiny too
8.    Shine your hair by massaging in a few drops.  Leave for 1 hour, then shampoo
9.    Moisturize dry feet after bath or shower and put on socks to help absorb
10.  Moisturize and exfoliate skin with a scrub made up of sugar, enough oil to make a paste and 1 drop of essential oil for soothing scent.  Massage into dry skin in shower or bath.


Who knew you benefit so much from the little olive tree?  I can see how the psalmist  thought it was good to be an olive tree in God’s house.  We belong to Him and He takes care of us to make sure we are being productive.  Each of us has a unique purpose.  Sometimes He prunes us but it is for our good and His.  He watches over us because we are precious to Him and He loves us so much.  I want to serve Him all my life and I want my life to be a brightly shining lamp showing the way to His kingdom.  The last part of verse 8 says, ‘I will trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.  I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done.  I will wait for your mercies in the presence of your people.’

Doug bought me an olive wood bracelet to remind me of all that I’ve learned about the olive tree.  Each piece is different from the others just as we are but the bracelet is a circle and each piece is joined to the others.  One piece or even two by themselves would be pretty but would not be a bracelet.  When we are working together with other believers, then He can make us into something beautiful and useful for Him.  We are all part of one body, His world-wide family of Christians through the ages.  I’m so glad to be part of this family with you! 


 Yvonne Johns  Oct 2011

people were crying at the bank today

People were crying in the bank today: no, not because of the world economic chaos; no, not because of offensively high service charges; no, not because there was a robbery in progress – but because the bank staff excelled in customer service. And I thought of Jesus, and the angels in heaven. Yes, let me explain.

I was standing in line, waiting patiently (those of you who know me will find that statement a little hard to believe, true) – when the lady behind me could wait no longer. She rushed in front of me and urgently asked a question of the customer service rep. This lady appeared somewhat frantic. It seems she had been to the bank earlier. Sometime during the day she had lost a ring. She was now retracing her steps, hopeful to find that someone somewhere had picked it up and kept it safe.

The customer service rep went to one of the tellers, who said “yes, I found it and locked it in the drawer”. What followed the joyful tearful reunion of this woman and her ring was stirring. It was an engagement ring. I don’t know how fancy or expensive it was. I do know that it was of utmost value. The owner started to sob, so appreciative of the bank staff. Somehow her dark and broken world would be restored. Bank staff had tears in their eyes. Even customers stopped and gulped. A public display of emotion on all our parts. Something of great value – lost – searched for – found – relief –rejoicing. We had witnessed something very intimate, very profound, very moving.

Jesus talks of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. A careful and costly search follows. The lost item is of such incredible value. And when located, the whole world is to know – and all heaven rejoices. Tears of joy. Just like I saw in the bank today. The Bank of Montreal in Brockville was the location of today’s spiritual lesson. Luke 15 is the location of the parables of Jesus. This is why we engage in mission. This is why we partner with God. This is God’s heart revealed. This is at the heart of our church right? Not competition, not politics, not agendas, not empty ritual – finding that which is lost, returning it to its rightful owner, and crying with joy when the lost is found!

When was the last time you saw God’s truth played out at your bank?

like JFK, ask not …

I concluded our series on The Purpose Driven Life yesterday. (Click here to review the study notes).

 Now, to sum it all up, and in the spirit of JFK (listen & view the famous quote & video here)

  • Ask not what God can do for you; ask what you can do for God.
  • Ask not what your church can do for you; ask what you can do for your church.
  • Ask not what your community can do for you; ask what you can do for your community.

We tend to reverse the order. Our country, our parents, our God, our church – all are there to pamper and please us right? Wrong assumption! We are not alone in thinking this way as even those who hung out with Jesus 24/7 had to be reminded by their esteemed teacher that ‘first is last and last is first’.  They had to be reminded that even the Lord himself came not to be served but to give his life a ransom for many. Therefore we conclude: Jesus died for me – I’ll live for Him.

Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do,

yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.

 

O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to thee; for thou in thy atonement,

didst give thyself for me. I own no other master; my life shall be thy throne,

my life I give henceforth to live, O Christ for thee alone.

Life is to be lived with purpose. Churches are to live with purpose. How do we stay on track?

  1. Let go of sin, release the weights that slow us down, avoid the stuff in life that distracts and entangles. – Hebrews 12:1
  2. Make church attendance a priority – it encourages others and stimulates good works – Hebrews 10:25
  3. Understand that the church is not about maintaining an image in the community but participating in a mission which will point the community to God. – Matthew 5:14-16

We look to history and make a list of saints to be admired – those who have given their lives in devotion and dedication; those through whom God has accomplished great things. We tend to forget though that these faithful servants of God started out just like you and me, asking God “what is it that you have for me to do with my life?” They discover their God-given purpose, and pursue their divine design with enthusiastic obedience. The Apostle Paul compares this kind of living to running a race. (1 Corinthians 9) – with intensity, discipline, focus.

 So I say to you as individuals, and to you as churches – ask not what ….

I want to get to heaven and be amazed by stories of how Christians blessed the people in their communities and around the world – relief work, education, food banks, water, meals, clothing, kindness …

Two very interesting things I found in my research today; hope you take time to consider what they say about the church and its purpose.

  1. Pastor Pete Wilson, visiting Harvest Church in Billings, Montana, reports in a recent blog post  that this amazing church is making an incredible impact in the community it serves. They actually have four campuses with one in Cody, Wyoming. They are in the process of raising money to build an Olympic size pool that they’re actually going to give to the city of Billings as a gift just to show their intent and desire to serve the community.
  1. Check out this video clip about a church project of purpose with global impact – bringing to life the instruction of Isaiah 58!

the danger of drifting

When I am on holiday at my favorite Florida resort, I love to drift in the lazy river. I could do it for hours. When I was a child at the cottage, I loved to take the boat out into the middle of the lake, kick my feet up, and fish while drifting with the wind. On these occasions, drifting is a relaxing, refreshing, freeing experience. It’s not wasting time because the purpose is just that: slow down, chill, calm the body and the spirit.

But drifting can be dangerous on other occasions. I recall the story of a friend who laid back in a canoe in the Florida everglades, closed his eyes behind his sunglasses, caught a few zzzz’s until he was rudely awakened by a rocking motion – an alligator trying to get into the canoe with him! Or drifting in the Niagara River above the famous falls is probably not a good idea either.

 

Hebrews 2:1 = we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away … how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

 

Disobedience and disinterest can have fatal implications. Do not drift towards death and destruction. Embrace the gifts God offers in his son Jesus.

We are finishing 6 weeks of study and preaching on Rick Warren’s popular decade-old book The Purpose Driven Life. I feel like the warning of Hebrews is appropriate in this context too. What a tragedy to waste a life. Let’s know why we are placed here on earth, for this time, for these purposes. Let’s live according to our divine design. Let’s not squander the short time we do have.

I don’t think Rick Warren is making this stuff up out of thin air. I see it in the Bible: Ephesians 5:15-17, Psalm 90:12, Deuteronomy 10:12,13, Acts 26:9-20, 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Are there specific steps you can take to make sure you live according to purpose? It is never too late. Here is my simple prayer: God help me to learn from the Apostle Paul how to ‘get purpose’ and how to ‘stay on purpose’. I’ll be paying attention tomorrow.