Calling All Hope Workers…

Do you have a favourite quotation?  This is one of my mine.  It is etched above a church doorway in Leicestershire, England, and it reads like this:

    “In the year: 1653,
            When all things sacred were throughout the Nation
            either demolished or profaned,
            Sir Robert Baronet founded this church;
            Whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times,
And,
            To have hoped them in the most calamitous.”
To do the best things in the worst times, and to hope them in the most calamitous.

This has always been the calling on God’s people…to be faithful hope-workers for Christ.

This should be the serious calling of every Corpath member.

In his famous work, Divine Comedy, Dante wrote over the entrance to hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

In contrast, the Apostle Paul wrote, “There three remain, ‘faith, hope and love.’”  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Christian hope is no arid philosophy.  It is not a psychologically-induced, self-help program to drum up meaning for your life.  Quite the contrary.

Christian hope is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)  It is a hope that fuels the Christ-follower to live and love and serve as Christ did, no matter the time, no matter the circumstances.

Paul talks about our “endurance inspired by hope.”  (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

It was that an endurance fuelled by hope that inspired Sir Robert Baronet to build that church in 1643 when all looked calamitous.

It was hope that inspired him to do the best things in the worst times, to make a statement for God and his kingdom, that all is not lost, that there is a better day coming.

How about us?

From a spiritual perspective these are dark and troubling times…the storm clouds are no longer on the horizon; they have arrived.  In the face of rising moral calamity, when the centre no longer holds, how do we respond?

There is a tendency in all of us to give up hope, to lose heart when the signs are not good. To retreat into the sanctity of memories of a better time.  To close ourselves off from a world in crisis.  To shelter ourselves in the cocoon of family, close friends, and church. To succumb to the numbing temptations for personal peace, pleasure, and affluence, like Demas did, whom Paul said, “having loved this present world deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:10)

But hope, as Soren Kieregaard said, is “passion for the possible.”

I’m always captivated by the true story of John Chapman who lived beside a cider mill in western Pennsylvania in the early 1800s.  He saw piles and piles of apple seeds left over beside the cider mill.  After extensive planning, he filled large bags with seeds and headed west, planting apple trees all along the way.  Clear in his purpose, he knew there would be little to sustain the multitudes who migrated westward to open the new nation.  So all along the trails, and where farms would eventually spring up, he planted seeds randomly and in complete orchards, believing fruit would be waiting for the pioneers who followed.

He was a hope-worker, a man with a vision for the future, seeing tomorrow’s possibilities and sowing into the future as an act of faith.  Today you can visit his burial site in a small park in Indiana, and on the grave monument is the name that settlers gave him over two centuries ago – Johnny Appleseed.

I’m inspired when I hear of the many ways in which Corpath members are sowing into the future, seeking to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

  • Some help build hospitals in the Middle East.

  • Some support micro-credit investments in Central America.

  • Some help rescue women from sexual abuse.

  • Some serve the ongoing work of their local church.

 What can you and I do to sow seeds into the future as hope workers for Christ?

Could the following be said of Corpath members this year?

In the year 2019, when the world was in turmoil and a deep spiritual recession had settled upon the land, these Corpath members did not lose heart, and it was to their singular praise to have done the best things in the worst times and to have hoped them in the most calamitous.

In Christ,
Gord

M&M Moments

When was your last M&M moment?

M&M moments happen when the everyday MUNDANE activities of life become the soil out of which MAJESTIC moments of spiritual endeavour and human achievement are born.

From the Mundane to the Majestic.  It can happen to all of us.

Sometimes, at the most unexpected of times, God invades our mundane lives with his majestic plans, and everyday moments are transformed into opportunities for divine work.

And when they do, lives are changed, legacies are birthed, futures are born…all for God’s glory.

Consider Moses. (Exodus 3)  What’s more mundane than tending sheep on the backside of the desert, where nothing significant ever happens?  Life is dull, work is boring, the future is bleak.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a majestic moment arrives.  The bush is burning, but it is not burning up.  What’s this about?  I must take a closer look, investigate, engage.

And in that moment God begins to roll out a millennium-long process that will forever change Moses, chart a new destiny for Israel, and impact the future of humankind for untold generations.

Moses was living in the mundane.  But God had majestic plans in mind.

Or consider a little boy on a picnic outing with his family as they listen to a charismatic prophet.  (Luke 9)  The kid takes his meagre lunch of five little loaves and two fish with him, never once imagining that the prophet will later say, “Bring them here to me.  I want to use your mundane picnic lunch to demonstrate my majestic divinity to thousands of awe-struck hungry people on this mountain meadow.”

How about Peter and John on their way to the temple at three in the afternoon for a time of prayer.  This is what Jerusalem Jews did, day in and day out.  They went to the temple to pray at the designated time.  Regular.  Predictable.  Nothing special.

And then this mundane moment begins to pulse…pregnant with majestic possibilities.

A man crippled from birth suddenly arrives in front of them, carried into the temple gate where he was put every day to beg.

He asks for money.  But God has other plans.  He wants to turn this mundane moment into a glorious miracle.  And then Peter says those tingling words that reverberate down through the centuries, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3)

Is God still in the business of taking our mundane moments and firing them with majestic possibilities?

Four regular guys were walking across a Plus 15 in downtown Calgary over 35 years ago.  They see a disheveled homeless teen who confronts them and begs for money.

But God sees a majestic future.  He sees a city each year where thousands of homeless men and women will receive the necessities of life, shelter and vocational training.

He says, “I think I will call it The Mustard Seed.”  And out of that mundane mustard seed moment of conversation on a Plus 15, a young man by the name of Pat Nixon begins a journey of Christ-discovery.  He is shown love by these 4 guys who buy him a meal.  He finds his way to First Baptist Church.  A coffee house is started.  It morphs into the Mustard Seed.

And the Seed becomes a majestic monument to God’s never-ending desire to do something new and life-giving for desperate people who need his truth and love.

Mundane moments pregnant with majestic possibilities are everywhere.

They can arrive when we least expect them.  At your Corpath place of business.  In your neighbourhood.  On a holiday.

Does God have a burning bush moment for you around the corner?  How about a mundane lunchtime conversation?  Or maybe even a Plus 15 encounter?

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

Blessings for each of the M&M moments that God has planned for you,

Gord

Summer Reads

I enjoy reading.  I imagine you do too.  I can’t imagine life without a book.  Whether you’re at the summer beach, or enjoying a cool one on the deck, or just wanting to settle in with a good book before hitting the pillow, here are some great reads I’ve enjoyed which may satisfy your summer hunger for a good book.

Biography

Tesla, by Richard Munson

Nikola Tesla brought the AC electric current system to humanity, and invented the radio, robots and remote control.  His motors run our appliances and factories.  He designed plans for cell phones, the Internet, death-ray weapons, wireless transmission and interstellar communications.    Brilliant, bizarre,  enigmatic, an acute germaphobe, and strikingly handsome, he mastered eight languages and could recite entire books from memory.  His ideas have shaped the modern economy.  A truly remarkable life.  A fascinating read.

Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo was a creative genius.  “His creativity came from standing at the intersection of the humanities and technology.  He peeled flesh off the face of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile on the Mona Lisa.  He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper.  (Book Jacket)  “To read this magnificent biography of  Leonardo da Vinci is to take a tour through the life and works of one of the most extraordinary human beings of all time…” David McCullough

Theology/Philosophy

Total Truth – Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, by Nancy Pearcy

“The most serious undertaking on Christian worldview to date – from one of the finest writers in America.”  Mike Adams, columnist and author

“Viewed by many as the Francis Schaeffer of her generation, I suspect Nancy

“Too intriguing too put down…a fervent call to evangelicals to wake up from our cultural captivity to the paradigms of the world.”  Steve Erickson, Smerickson.com

The Day The Revolution Began – Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion, by N. T. Wright

“N.T. Wright is the most prolific biblical scholar in a generation.  Some say he is the most important apologist since C.S. Lewis.”  Christianity Today

“I can’t think of anyone who has done more to clarify what thoughtful, historic Christianity looks like in our day than Tom Wright.’  John Ortberg

Devotional

The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning

“Brennan does a masterful job of blowing the dust off of shopworn theology and allowing God’s grace to do what only God’s grace can do – amaze!”  Max Lucado

“Most of us believe in God’s grace – in theory.  But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives, yet God gives us grace, no matter what we’ve done.  We come to him as ragamuffins – dirty, bedraggled, and beat up.  And when we  sit at his feet, he smiles upon the chosen objects of his ‘furious love.’  Brennan Manning’s now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it – simple honesty – has changed thousands of lives.  It will change yours, too.”    

Fiction

The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny

Louise Penny, a Canadian, is a New York Times and Globe and Mail, best-selling author.   Her compelling series of crime novels feature Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  In this brilliant work that “leaps the abyss between faith and despair,” Gamache must find a murderer among cloistered monks, but “before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human and the cracks in between.”  A mystery tour de force!

Blessings for good summer days of reading ahead,

Gord

No Little People, No Little Places

It’s one of God’s laws written into the fabric of the universe:

Right-thinking…produces right actions…leading to life-giving outcomes.

The key then is right-thinking…right-thinking about God, right-thinking about others, right-thinking about ourselves, right-thinking about our businesses, right-thinking about possessions.

The Bible has a lot to say about right thinking.  One of the great temptations of life is to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.” (Romans 12:3)

But conversely, there’s another great thought temptation…to think less of ourselves, and of others, than God does.

We think less of ourselves and others when we think that we are not really important to God, that we actually don’t amount to much, that in the large scheme of things our life decisions are inconsequential.

Such thinking diminishes ourselves and others and is an affront to God because in his eyes there are no little people and there are no little places.  Right-thinking tells us that…

Each person carries the imprint of God, for we are made in his image. (Genesis 1:27)

Each person is imbued with gifts and talents from God. (Matthew 25:15)

Each person’s place on earth has been determined by God.  (Acts 17:26)

Each Christ-follower carries within them the very glory of Christ himself. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Each person will interact with Christ on an equal footing in the life to come. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Knowing that God so values us and has made us “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5)  should fundamentally shape the way we live and how we view others.

And as Corpath members, the value bestowed upon every human being by God should radically frame the way we view our employees, our co-workers, our customers, our board colleagues, our suppliers, and our investors.

I was reminded that from God’s perspectives there are no little people and no little places when a Corpath member recently toured me and his Forum friends through his business space.

Everywhere the office hallways were filled with pictures.  It was striking…pictures of couples, pictures of families, pictures of singles.  Pictures everywhere.

“Who are these people?” I asked.

“These are our employees, our valued employees, every one of them,” was his response.

No one was left out.  Each person was valued, significant, special.  Each person, each family, each couple were important to God and were therefore important to this Corpath member.

The culture of this business spoke volumes.  My heart sang when I viewed hallway after hallway bearing witness to the truth that in this company there are no little people and there are no little places.

Jesus made it clear that in God’s kingdom right-thinking means everyone is invited to the feast.  Everyone is elevated to first class.  Everyone is royalty.

This week, let’s remember there are no little people and there are no little places.  Every person and every moment is freighted with value, with purpose, with potential.

In God’s eyes, even the little children are no longer little, for didn’t Jesus say,

“Permit the children to come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  (Luke18:16)

Blessings for a good week,
Gord

Feel Good About Your Faith!

It’s not hard to notice the negative stereotype which secular warriors project about Christian faith these days.  In fact, it can be downright nasty.  This should not surprise followers of Jesus.  He said if his detractors hated him, they would also hate his followers.

The now somewhat discredited Freud once baldly declared that belief in God was “a universal obsessional neurosis.”  Today, much secular dogma proclaims that religious faith is not just harmful to mental health, but even pathological.

And not only that, the new atheists proclaim that Christians, with their dogmatic belief in a risen Christ who demands total allegiance, are a threat to democracy, for there cannot be two conflicting ultimate authorities, the state, and God.  And since God is a figment of our imagination, Christian doctrine must be delivered to the ash heap of history.

How ironic then that multiple studies in recent decades have turned the tables on the subject of religion and health, putting the lie to the once-settled stereotype that religious belief is associated with mental illness.  In fact, the facts point to the exact opposite conclusion.

As a graduate student in psychiatry, the late David Larson extensively researched the relationship between religion and pathology and found that subjects who were more religious actually tended to show up in the healthy groups, not the sick ones.

Scores of studies now confirm that religious belief, which generally means Christianity in North America, actually correlates with better mental health.  What a surprise!  Religious people have lower rates of depression, suicide, family instability, drug, and alcohol abuse.

And religious belief also correlates with better physical health…with lower rates of virtually everything from cancer to hypertension to cardiovascular disease.  And when religious people get sick, they recover faster and live longer.  The simple fact is that people who attend church regularly are happier, healthier and have lower mortality rates.

Research on religion was relatively unheard of in academia decades ago.  But today even non-Christian researchers are recognizing the correlations.  In her book, Total Truth, Nancy Pearcy quotes Herbert Benson from Harvard, who claims no religious faith, who said our bodies simply function better when we believe in God.   In his catchphrase, “We are all wired for God.”

Guenther Lewy, another non-Christian, set out to write a book on why America does not need religion, but persuaded by the overwhelming weight of evidence changed his stance 180 degrees and wrote Why America Needs Religion.  In his own words, his original book idea was going to be “a defense of secular humanism and ethical relativism.”

But he ended up proclaiming that religions, particularly Christianity, correlate with lower rates of multiple social pathologies, such as crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and family breakdown.  He concluded, “Freeing people from the shackles of traditional religion does not result in their moral uplift.  No society has been successful in teaching morality without religion.”

So we can be blunt without apology.  Biblical truth and principles for living work in the real world.  Science confirms with strong evidence that they are true.

What’s the takeaway?

First, let’s thank Jesus that when he said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly,” he knew what he was talking about.  Didn’t he say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”?  (John 14:6)

Second, let’s appropriate this truth about “abundant living” for ourselves, leaning into God each day and embracing everything that his truth implies for us, and in so doing become an attractive “fragrance of life” to those around us.

Third, let’s not shrink back from respectfully and confidently declaring to those who may disagree with us that God’s ways work.  The Bible describes the way God intended us to function, and when we live that way we are all healthier and happier… because our living lines up with the objective structure of reality as God created it.

This is all good news, really good news.  We should live it with smiles.  We should trumpet it with joy.  We should celebrate that our God is a good God who has always had our best intentions at heart.

Of course, Christians, including Corpath members, can screw up, individually and collectively; and when we do, the good and beautiful life that God intended for us drifts away.

But when we embrace God’s truth and live integrated, holistic Christian lives that bear credible witness to our Lord…well, there’s no life like it!

That’s why the Apostle John wrote these poignant words to his friend, Gaius:

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.  (1 John, 2)

 So smile, and feel good about your faith!

Blessings,
Gord

On Being “Woke”

Woke.  It’s an old word.  But it has recently entered our English lexicon in a new way.

For generations, we used “woke” to simply refer to waking up from our night sleep, or from an afternoon nap.  We said, “I just woke up.”

But if you follow any social media or cultural commentary pieces, you know the word has taken on profound new meaning in recent years.

It’s no longer, “I woke up,” but rather “to be woke.”

To woke means to be alert to injustice in society, especially racism.  “We need to stay angry, and stay woke.”  When we stay woke, we have a continuing awareness of injustice and inequality and discrimination issues.

Woke has become a social awareness byword for those who are passionate about injustice. Most of us are likely not yet using the word “woke” in this sense.

But the more I think about it, if woke is all about a new awareness to some important reality, then the Bible is full of “woke” moments.

Think of Moses startled by the burning bush.

“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight…’  God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’  And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said.  ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” (Exodus 3:2-5)And suddenly Moses was “woke” to the presence and holiness of God.

Or consider the experience of Jacob.  He is running from his brother, Esau.  He reaches a certain place, stops for the night, puts a stone under his head and falls asleep.  And then he has that amazing dream about the angels of God ascending and descending, and of God speaking to him about the land he will give to Jacob, and his descendants being like the dust of the earth…and how God will not leave him until “I have done what I promised.”

And then Jacob wakes up, and he is really woke!  Here’s what he says,

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it…How awesome is this place.”  (Genesis 29:11-17)

There is no doubt Thomas was woke to the reality of who Jesus really was when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his death and resurrection and tells Thomas,

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop   doubting and believe.”  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)

Talk about being woke!  But my favourite is John.  The disciples decide to go fishing after Jesus had again appeared to them.  They fished that night but caught nothing.  We read that early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore.   He called out to them, but it says, “The disciples did not realize it was Jesus.”   He tells them to throw their nets on the other side and an incredible moment happens.  Suddenly the net was so full of large fish they were unable to haul in the catch.

And then John is suddenly woke.  A brilliant awareness comes over him.  His spiritual senses are tingling and he says to Peter,

It is the Lord! (John 21:1-7)

The Bible says that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear are blessed because they are spiritually woke.  Maybe we could coin a new Beatitude…Blessed are the woke, for their spiritual antenna are up and working, they sense the presence of God, and the person of Christ among us, and they are woke to his purposes, they discern his priorities, and consequently, they walk in his ways, and are blessed.

Maybe we could rewrite our Corpath mission and say it is to pursue excellence in business, in life, and to be woke in spirit.

The Apostle Paul chastises the Corinthians for not being woke when he says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God.” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19)  “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world…and judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)  Clearly, they were not spiritually woke.

On a scale of one to ten, how spiritually woke are you?  The Psalmist David said,

Open my eyes that I may see… (Psalm 119:18)

Blessings for a truly “woke” summer.
Gord

The Warbler and God

A few afternoons ago, I listened enthralled to a back yard warbler perched upon our neighbour’s tree exuberantly singing its God-song.

As I listened, I was overcome with joy.  It was an entrancing experience, a spiritually blissful moment.

I was in what the Celtic Christians of old called a ‘thin place’, a numinous moment in time when the curtain was drawn back and the created world mysteriously merges with the invisible spiritual world, and God’s presence and His purposes take centre stage.

I suddenly realized I was no longer just listening to pure melodic notes.  This little creature was God’s project.  (Didn’t Jesus say our heavenly Father sees the little sparrow fall?  Matthew 10:29)

The songbird had been created for a purpose – to sing joyfully, and in so doing bless the heart of God.  It was reflecting the glory of its song back upon its Creator and was sharing its musical artistry with the watching world, inviting all who heard to experience God’s glory in that moment.

So it was not just a back yard summer moment; it was a spiritual moment, a sacred place where I became aware that this was God’s warbler, reflecting to me God’s creative genius, sharing with anyone “who had eyes to see and ears to hear” the glory of God’s purposes in this small slice of creation, just me and the songbird.

In the Genesis creation account, we read, “And God said, ‘let birds fly above the earth, across the expanse of the sky…and every winged bird according to its kind.’  And then the writer says, “God saw that it was good.”  (Genesis 1:20-21)

This little warbler was ‘good’ because it perfectly reflected the genius and power of God and the glory and purpose of God.  It was if the songbird was saying, “I’m here to sing for God and for you.  That’s why He made me.  This is what I do.  I love to sing my joyful song for Him, and for the world He created.”

And in this moment of warbler-induced bliss, the epiphany emerged.  I felt God saying to me,

“See how this songbird sings for me and brings me joy by fulfilling its purpose in creation. This is what I want you to do.  I want your life to sing for me.  You will do that when you become all I created you to be and partner with me by bringing my joy into the world.

Just like the warbler brings me glory by fulfilling the purpose for which I created it, so too you are an agent of my glory when you fulfill the purpose for which I created you in my image.

I want you to reflect my glory to a watching world.  That’s why I created you.  That’s why I’m transforming you “into the likeness of Christ,” filling your unique life with grace and, mercy, with love and joy.”

We live in a world filled with nihilism, cynicism and the pursuit of fleeting pleasure.  Many are like lemmings falling over the cliff, mistakenly trying to create their own meaning as they struggle with existential angst, wondering what it’s all about.  Sadly, for many, in the words of Shakespeare, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Contrast that meaninglessness with the stirring words spoken by Eric Liddell in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run fast I feel His pleasure.”

God always had a plan.  It was not for us to create our own meaning and make our own purpose, but instead, to discover the meaning He has given to us, and to live out the purpose for which He created us using the gifts and opportunities He provides.  That is how we sing our song for Him.

Like the warbler, God wants us to glorify Him and experience His joy, by fulfilling His purpose for us in this world.  Didn’t Jesus say, “I want my joy to be in you that your joy may be complete”?

This summer, when the pace slows down, and the burdens are lifted for a season, find a moment when you can hear God’s song singing to you, telling you that,

“He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with his love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

For all the songbirds…
Gord

Gord Dirks
President (Interim)

 

 

Today is July 1. Today is Canada Day.

Today is a day for each of us to pause for a moment and reflect on who we are as a nation, who we are as Canadians.

In the world of nations, there is something truly special about Canada, “our home and native land.”

  • We are a spacious country blessed with an overwhelming abundance of God-given, natural resources.
  • We are a freedom-loving nation blessed with a heritage of boldly standing up and sacrificing for the right.
  • We are a nation blessed with incredible natural beauty from sea to sea to sea.
  • We are a country blessed with the gift of democracy, self-government, and precious individual freedoms of religion, assembly, speech and conscience handed down from our forefathers.
  • We are a peace-loving nation blessed with a tradition of solving disputes through lawful means and not the barrel of a gun.
  • We are a diverse country blessed with a heritage that welcomed our ancestors and continues to embrace the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee.
  • We are a country that has blessed the world with its achievements: peacekeeping, penicillin, AC radio, zipper, lacrosse and ice hockey, basketball, insulin, electron microscope, pacemaker, prosthetic hand, snowmobile, Imax,  jetliner, standard time, wireless radio, canola, plexiglass, Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, egg carton, peanut butter, telephone, walkie talkie, electric wheelchair, discovery of insulin and the stem cell, and of course trivial pursuit.  
  • We are a nation that has acknowledged its sometimes sordid history of discrimination towards our indigenous people and seeks reconciliation.
  • We are a caring and compassionate country whose publicly-funded social programs make our country more liveable for hundreds of thousands of needy citizens each year.
  • We are a country with a commendable level of citizen participation and volunteering. We are a charitable people.  We have a top-drawer education system, a stable banking environment, one of the world’s most actuarially-sound public pension plans.  We are a nation blessed with a low index of public and business corruption.
  • We are Canada.  We are not perfect.  But we are a nation like none other on earth … a beacon of hope, an exemplar of civility, a model of freedom, an icon of diversity.

On this Canada Day, take a moment and reflect with gratitude to God on what we have been given as a nation.  Take another moment and respond to God’s injunction to pray for our leaders.  Take a further moment and recommit yourself to love your Canadian neighbour, to seek the common good of our communities by participating in our civic life, and above all to pray that God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy would come to people everywhere across this great land.

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way,

free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong,

          or free to choose those who shall govern my country.  This heritage of

freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker

God keep our land glorious and free.
Gord

Gord Dirks
President (Interim) 

 

Corpath Friends

The June 15, 2019 edition of the Globe and Mail carried a very compelling article by Dave McGinn on the benefits of friendship.  As I read this article I couldn’t help but think of Corpath and the value of deep friendships forged in our Corpath forums over the years.

Here are some of McGinn’s more salient points:

“Having strong social relationships was nearly twice as beneficial as physical activity when it came to decreasing your odds of dying young.  In short, suffering from loneliness was as bad for your health as being an alcoholic or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  The benefits only increase as we age.” 

“People who valued friendships were always happier than those who didn’t.  It wasn’t until mid-life that the effects kept getting stronger and stronger.”

“Friendship quality predicted whether or not you have things like heart attacks or strokes over time.  Men overall all are a lonelier bunch – and thus at greater risk.  The biggest reason friendship is important for men’s health comes down to stress management.  Friendships for men reduce stress and that’s associated with better health over time.  Friendships exist to make us better.”

“Doing stuff together is quite different from bonding.  Close friendships require disclosure and reciprocity.  One of the issues preventing men from getting close to  other men is the cultural norms about vulnerability, which is at the root of disclosure.”

“Men in Canada are three times more likely to die from suicide than women.  Social isolation is a well-established risk factor for suicide and suicidal behaviour.”

“The quality of our friendships – what we feel comfortable sharing with our friends, and what we feel we have to keep to ourselves – has a tremendous effect not just on men’s well-being, but also on society’s.”

“Being a good friend requires vulnerability, but also empathy, curiosity, trust, a willingness to put someone else’s interests ahead of yours, to be there for someone in crisis to listen, to care.”

These secular insights into the benefits of friendship speak to the essence and value of Corpath.  As people of Christian faith we know God made us for relationship…with Him, and with one another.  That’s why our Corpath mission “to pursue excellence in business, in life and in spirit” resonates with God’s purposes for us.

Pursuing excellence in our personal lives surely means fostering deep, supportive friendships, a goal that is at the centre of the Corpath experience.

And Jesus modelled the way for us when it comes to deep friendships.  Consider these core aspects of His deep friendships.

1.       Proximity…Jesus always wanted to be with His friends – Jesus invited his friends to do life with Him.  Eat together.  Pursue God’s mission together.  Pray with them.  Tell them they were His friends.   He knew distance was the enemy of friendship.  He knew He had to regularly be with His friends Peter, James and John, and the other disciples and the women in His life.  He showed us why our Corpath relationships need to be nurtured through regular forum meetings and retreats.

2.      Parties…Jesus loved going to parties with His friends – Jesus had a very active social life.  He enjoyed times alone with his Father, but He balanced those private moments with intimate times of fellowship with His friends, and joyous social occasions.  His example reminds us that the Corpath experience is not just about deep sharing in our forum groups, but times of socializing on retreats, at education events and social evenings, enjoying good conversation, food and libations, just like Jesus did.

3.      Self-Disclosure…Jesus verbally shared His inner life with his friends – Jesus told His friends what was going on inside Him, what He was about, why He had come, and what He longed for concerning their lives.  In other words, Jesus got real personal with His friends.  He held nothing back.  He authentically self-disclosed His stuff with His friends.  He shared His sorrows, His joys and His deep experiences with His heavenly Father.  He modelled the way for our Corpath forums update times when we honestly share what’s happening in our personal, family and business worlds.

4.      Prayer…Jesus prayed for his friends – We know Jesus friends were really important to Him because He prayed for them.  He prayed for Peter.  He prayed for Peter, James and John.  He prayed for his disciples.  He knew that deep friendship without prayer was a big contradiction.  Because He cared deeply for His friends He prayed for them.  We often say that at Corpath “Christ is at the table.”  And because He is at the table and modelled the way for us, we pray for our Corpath friends during forum meetings, and hopefully between meetings.

A life well-lived, a life which honours God, is a life that pursues excellence in our personal world.  It is a life where we not only pursue an intimate friendship with God, but also an authentic, caring, reciprocal friendship with others who have linked arms with us on the journey of life.

This is true friendship. This is Corpath. This is the abundant life Jesus wants for us.

May your Corpath friendships be blessed by the one who makes good friendships possible.

Gord

Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Practicing the Existence of God

God has a lot to say about fake spirituality.  So did Soren Kierkegaard.

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey recounts Kierkegaard’s 19th-Century parody styled after the book of Ecclesiastes:

“I saw that the meaning of life was to secure a livelihood and that its goal was
to attain a high position; that love’s rich dream was marriage with an heiress;
that friendship’s blessing was help in financial difficulties; that wisdom was what
the majority assumed it to be; that enthusiasm consisted in making a speech;
that it was courage to risk the loss of ten dollars; that kindness consisted in saying,
“You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion
once a year.  This I saw and laughed.

Kierkegard’s critique of what he perceived to be modern Christianized culture is cutting.  His words still powerfully resonate.  They not so subtly point towards an empty shell of putrid, self-centered living combined with a lifeless Christian faith, one far removed from the call of Christ to authentically “seek first the Kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 6:33)

When you read the life of Jesus you can’t help but notice that he had little time for spiritual fakers.  Over and over his word to them was, “Woe unto you…hypocrites!”  (Matthew 23:13). He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)  He exposed their pretentious living with the simple question,

Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?  (Luke 6:46)

Here at Corpath we are committed to pursuing excellence in business, in life and in spirit, because such excellence honors God and reflects our desire to authentically follow Christ and allow his values to animate all we do.  Hypocrites say one thing but do another.  They proclaim beliefs which their daily actions belie.  Pursuing excellence is the opposite of hypocrisy.

To authentically practice the existence of God and the presence of Christ in our lives is to allow our actions, our words, and our emotions to be truly shaped by the values and priorities of Jesus.  This is what it means to “seek first his kingdom.” (Matthew 6:33)  

When the values and priorities of Christ rule in our lives, then his reign, his kingdom has truly come.  That means our Christian faith cannot be a “fake faith.”  The Apostle James said it this way,

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  (James 1:22)

Consider some actions of those whom God says are truly practicing His presence and demonstrating that his kingdom has come in their lives…

  • To love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)
  • To love, bless, forgive and pray for our enemies (Matthew 6:45), and return evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
  • To generously share our worldly goods with the needy, without public attention. (Matthew 6:3, 20)
  • To pursue justice. (Luke 11:42)
  • To keep a tight rein on our tongue. (James 1:26)
  • To visit widows and orphans, and to remember those in prison. (James 1;27, Hebrews 13:3)
  • To avoid sexual immorality and learn to control our own body. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)
  • To not worry (Matthew 6:25-34) and learn the secret of being content in every circumstance. (Philippians 4:11-13)
  • To not cheat on our taxes (Romans 13:7) and pray for those in authority over us. (1 Timothy 2:2)

As Corpath members we claim loyalty to another world, a world where Jesus reigns and fake spirituality is unknown.

Blessings for the week ahead as you “seek first his kingdom” and demonstrate to a watching world that you are an authentic friend of Jesus.

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14

Gord

President (Interim)

Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca