Sunday, December 30, 2007

this is how we do

“once again jesus went out beside the lake. a large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. as he walked along, he saw levi son of alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. ‘follow me,’ jesus told him, and levi got up and followed him.
while jesus was having dinner at levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. when the teachers of the law who were pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘why does he eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’
on hearing this, jesus said to them, ‘it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. i have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” mark 2:13-17
this was one of those passages in scripture that motivates what we do at the upper room. this is why we eat together. there is something almost mystical that happens when we share a meal. my prayer for the coming year is that we would find more around our table…those that some might label tax collectors or sinners. the call is still the same…follow me. he ate with tax collectors and sinners…i want to follow him…
so this is how we do
peace to you,


Friday, December 28, 2007

a tale of two healings

the leper he touched
the paralytic broke through the ceiling
both healed
both for different reasons?
a man cried out on his knees
"if you are willing"
and jesus was filled with compassion
friends carried the other to the lord
and again jesus healed
this time by forgiving sin
who is this man who claims he can forgive sin?
Son of Man and Son of God
we echo the words of the crowd that day
"we have never seen anything like this!"

sunday night at fude...4pm
a tale of two healings

peace to you,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

ancient words come to pass

this is a gentle reminder to celebrate the messiah, not just the merchandise this season. we will be getting together again at fude after the holidays...see you on the 30th at 4pm. bring your leftovers and christmas goodies to share.
peace to you and merry christmas,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

christmas at the upper room

here is how the next few weeks unfold for us at the upper room

saturday, december 15 - the upper room christmas @ derek and heidi's (email scott if you would like directions)
sunday, december 16 - no upper room
monday, december 17 - lending hands to osborne house
tuesday, december 18 - lending hands to osborne house
sunday, december 23 - no upper room...spend the holidays with your other loved ones.
sunday, december 30 - the upper room will gather at fude.

we are looking forward to a season filled with family and friends, of celebrating and remembering. we pray that you have a peaceful, meaningful and memorable christmas this year.

peace to you,


merry christmas everybody

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

heading for a time of solitude

the man heads out for a time of solitude. it is not yet dawn. the cool early morning air causes the hair on his arms to rise slightly. he shivers. in the distance there is the sound of a bird venturing out for its morning meal. a twig snaps under his sandal as he continues out beyond the limits of town. just a few hours ago there was an entire village crowded here. calling for mercy, desirous for healing. so he met them. he heard their story. he took care of them. many were healed. but now he is tired. not just because of lack of sleep, but a tiredness that runs much deeper. he has expended himself for others. power has gone out from him.
his labour of love has cost him. he was willing to pay the price, but now not only is his body tired from the previous late night, but there is a slight weariness in his soul. it thirsts for connection. for a time to recharge.
he finds a place of quiet...of solitude. in the words of paul simon...a time when my restlessness is past and i can lie down on my blanket and release my fists at last. a place of quiet
and it is here that the silence is broken with the words that can shake the mountain...
father...i need you.
there are days where i feel weary. not because i was up at 5am before the sun rose. nor is it because i have worked a full day. but a weariness that runs much deeper. naps, (o how i love thee) do not seem to relieve this sluggishness in my soul. perhaps because it is there that the weariness resides...the soul. it is not merely a physical issue, though they are somehow inextricably linked. nagged by the weariness that sleep cannot requite.
in those times i know only one place to turn. just like my master before me...
father...i need you.
it doesn’t take long for the world to cram in on us. appointments and schedules, people clamouring for our time and energy. jesus knew what it was like to feel this...
do you?
and where do you turn?
this week at the upper room we will look at mark 1:35-37...
peace to you,

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

sabbath shenanigans

"it is not lawful to heal on the sabbath, right?"
"well...yes, it is not lawful to work a healing unless it is a situation of life and death."
"so what is with this jesus?"
"what do you mean, my son?"
"well, this morning at synogogue, he cast out a demon thereby healing a man. and immediately after synagogue i followed him to peter's house and peter's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever...and he healed her."
"you mean he took a knife wholly made of iron and a piece of thornbush and a braid of hair..."
"no i mean he just spoke, and helped her up...and the fever was reading of exodus knife, no nothing."
"he helped her up? So was it life and death? Was it work for him to help her up?"
"well...umm...i'm not sure, but he healed her...and then at sundown a bunch of people showed up with their sick so that he could heal them too."
"who did you say this man was?"
"his name is jesus...i wonder if he could be the messiah?"
"take me to him..."

imagine this conversation on sabbath evening after witnessing at least two miracles of healing on the sabbath by the one called yeshua. (with many more happening immediately after sundown.)

was he breaking sabbath law to heal? did he even care?

healing, rule breaking, sabbath keeping and plenty of other "ings"...this sunday at the upper room.

we will be at fude at 4 o'clock.

peace to you,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

possession is nine tenths of the law

the blue bomber offense has possesion.
an unclean spirit has possession.
we will be looking at both of these next sunday at our place.
the upper room will not meet at fude this week.
we will meet in our home. (email me for the address if you don't know where we live.)
bring snacks to watch the bomber game.
bring thoughts on a different kind of possession found in Mark 1:21-28.
this should be interesting.
4-6 - the upper room
6-whenever - grey cup party

peace to you,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

the kingdom is near

the worship industry

four fisherman follow forthwith

lo! and behold!
the now infamous four fisherman
their tale once again told

tending their nets
one bright, crisp, early morn
business as usual
in a boat since near the day they were born.

but change hung thick in the air
this is the calling of the first pair

the son of man came to call
“i will make you fishers of men
if you will leave this all.”

at once they dropped their nets
and followed this rabbi true
two brothers were they
named simon and andrew

the first pair to become
disciples of the chosen one

a little further on
they came to the second pair
james and his brother john

preparing their nets
when the son of man came
they left all with their father
and became disciples the same

some say this calling--be dream, be myth
but ne’retheless, those four fishermen followed forthwith

this week we are looking at the calling of the first disciples...mark 1:16-20

how does their calling match our own? how is it different? what does it look like to follow jesus today? what does it mean to be a disciple?

all these questions...and i'm sure many more,

sunday at 4:00 in the upper room,

peace to you,


Monday, November 05, 2007

jesus' first words

the first words of jesus recorded in the book of mark are "the time has come. the kingdom of god is near. repent and believe the good news!"

all that humankind had been looking forward to for generations was about to come to pass. the kingdom of god established in our midst.

what does this kingdom look like?
where is this kingdom now?
what is our response to the kingdom?

all these questions will be asked (and some of them possibly answered) on sunday

until then,

peace to you,


Sunday, October 28, 2007

your own personal jesus

who is jesus to you?
i mean honestly.
who do you say that he is?
to say that he is lord means
more than you might care to admit
savior of the world
or judge on the throne does he sit?
rabbi one and the same?
tell me by the way you live
just what means to you that name.

we are currently meandering through the gospel of mark (one of the four books of the new testament that record the life of jesus). we are asking the question…what does it mean to follow jesus? what does it really mean to be a disciple of his? what does he mean to us?

so far he is…
mark 1:1 – the son of god…the good news
mark 1:2-8 – the one john pointed to (and we do too)…the one we are not worthy to untie the sandals of…
mark 1:9-11 – the baptized, set apart one…empowered by the spirit…beloved of god

next week…the tempted one.

ah yes…he knows what it is like to be in my shoes…

until then,

peace to you,


Thursday, October 11, 2007

the upper room in the osborne village

the time has come...

our first upper room in the osborne village...

sunday, october 14th @ 4:00pm...

fude restaurant...303-99 osborne st

in the upper room...

pray for us.

peace to you,


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

down to the skin

jesus tells this parable to the religious leaders of the day when they ask him why his disciples don’t follow the rules.

"no one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. if he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. and no one pours new wine into old wineskins. if he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. no, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. and no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'the old is better.'" luke 5:36-39

i have puzzled over that last line. no one, after drinking the new wine wants it. they want the old. the old is better.

i have often focused on the wine in this passage. thinking that the wine represents the new life that jesus had come to bring. this life abundant. the pharisees had turned faith into a list of rules. i was all about keeping in check, and jesus comes along and breaks that with a revelation of relationship. i thought that was the point. that jesus was saying that the pharisees just didn’t get it.

but i now wonder if the point was not the wine, but rather the wineskin. it all came down to the skin. an old wineskin, had the tendency to become rigid, and when filled with new wine, would not have room for the fermenting wine to expand as it gave off gas. it would then crack and the wine would be spilt. both wine and wineskin would be ruined. it all came down to the skin.

the question becomes the flexibility and stretch capacity of the skin. is it able to expand beyond its current state? can it be stretched?

maybe that is what jesus was getting at. if we are rigid and unable to be stretched, we just might miss out on the new wine jesus talks about. we won’t want it. we will be satisfied with the same old same old.

what does it look like to hang on to the old and grab hold of the new? because jesus did not replace the old, he fulfilled it with the new.

what old wine is worth keeping and what could be dumped down the sink? what new wine needs a little time to mature and what is ready for us to share with friends over dinner?

when you think of your faith, your background, your history, what is worth holding tight? what can you stand on? and what things might be making your skin rigid and tough to stretch that might be worth dumping down the drain?

it all comes down to the skin.

peace to you,


Thursday, April 26, 2007

how do we be “the” church?

it has been an interesting few weeks. running into old friends, attempting to explain where we are at in our lives right now. i kept using the phrase “we are in the process of planting a church” and people would immediately say “wow that’s cool”. within a matter of moments, the question invariably came…how many people have you got?

looking back at my response to the question i realized that i had set them up for this. i used the phrase “planting (a) church”. i’m not so sure that is the most accurate description of what god is doing in us right now.

you see i do not want to plant a church. i don’t want to add yet another variety to the buffet of options for believers to choose from. i want to be a part of a community that takes being the church to a new level. i am not sure what that is all going to look like just yet, but I am sure that i do not want to be a church. i want to be “the’ church.

and lest that be mis-interpreted as “the” church…as in the church that everyone wants to go to…i want to be the bride. i want to be the church universal. to tap into the incredibly rich heritage that is christendom. to look back at what it truly means to be the hands and feet; the body of jesus.

so if we are the body of christ…and he only has one body…what does it look like to be the church?
peace to you,

Friday, March 23, 2007

experience the truth (an excerpt from how not to speak of god by peter rollins)

rather than describing the real or reality, the christian idea of 'knowing the truth' can be said to operate in an entirely different realm. for, unlike the former perspectives which refer to the ability to make substantive descriptive claims concerning the real or reality, the judeo-christian view of truth is concerned with having a relationship with the real (god) that results in us transforming reality. the emphasis is thus not on description but on transformation. this perspective completely short-circuits the long-redundant debate as to whether truth is subjective or objective, for here truth is the ungraspable real (objective) that transforms the individual (subjective).
while the christian can make use of these other discourses, the prime notion of truth within christianity is directly connected with liberation and transformation rather than with objective description. for instance, when we read that christ is the truth and that knowing the truth will set us free, we come face to face with truth, not, as the objective affirmation of a proposition (as if that would set anyone free), but rather as that which arises from a life-giving encounter. the truth in christianity is not described but experienced. this is not then the affirmation of some objective description concerning truth but rather describes a relation with the truth. in other words, truth is god and having knowledge of the truth is evidenced, not in a doctrinal system, but in allowing that truth to be incarnated in one's life. hence, this claim of christ is not a way of claiming that some theoretical system will bring new life, but a way of saying that by entering into a relationship with god we will find liberation. to know the truth is thus to be known and transformed by the truth. in the epistle of john we find an extrapolation of this theme when we read that knowledge of god is evidenced in a life of love rather than in the affirmation of a theoretical, dogmatic system:
“dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from god. everyone who loves has been born of god and knows god. whoever does not love does not know god, because god is love ... no-one has ever seen god; but if we love one another, god lives in us and his love is made complete in us ... god is love. whoever lives in love lives in god, and god in him.” 1 john 4:7-16
here john equates the existence of religious knowledge with the act of love. knowledge of god (the truth) as a set of propositions is utterly absent; instead he claims that those who exhibit a genuine love know god, regardless of their religious system, while those who do not love cannot know god, again regardless of their religious system. truth is thus understood as a soteriological event. this word 'soteriolo-gical' is derived from the term soteria, from which we get the word 'salvation'. in precise terms the word refers to a cure, remedy or healing.
while this religious idea of truth as soteriological may initially seem somewhat unrelated to the idea of truth as that which describes, there are times when they can come into conflict with each other. for example, let us imagine that we are hiding some jews in our house in germany during the second world war. early one morning some soldiers come to our door as part of a routine check and ask if we are housing any jews. in response to this question we have three options: (a) we regretfully say 'yes', acknowledging that we are held under a higher moral law which requires that we do not deceive; (b) we say 'no', judging that it is the lesser of two evils, a necessary lie required in order to prevent murder; (c) we say 'no' and feel happy that we told the truth.
in this example most contemporary christians in the west would, i suspect, choose (b) as closest to their own position. however, if we take truth to mean any act which positively transforms reality, rather than describes reality, then there is no problem acknowledging that, while denying there are jews in the house is empirically incorrect, it is true in a religious sense precisely because it protects the innocent (as well as protecting the soldiers from committing a horrific act).
the idea that religious truth transforms reality in such a way that it reflects the kingdom of god renders some bible stories far more intelligible, for throughout the text there are instances in which the people of god seemingly lie (i.e. say something which is empirically false) for the sake of truth. for example, at the beginning of exodus we read of two egyptian midwives who refuse to carry out pharaoh's command that all male infants be put to death. here we read:
the king of egypt said to the hebrew midwives, whose names were shiphrah and puah, 'when you help the hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.' the midwives, however, feared god and did not do what the king of egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. then the king of egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, 'why have you done this? why have you let the boys live?' the midwives answered pharaoh, 'hebrew women are not like egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.' so god was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became more numerous.' exodus 1:15-20
here god does not merely accept the deception of shiphrah and puah but actually blesses it. not only do we find other examples littered throughout the old testament, we even find jesus himself engaged in what would appear to be an act of deception. in john 7 we read that jesus' brothers attempt to persuade him to attend the feast of tabernacles. in response to this request jesus replies:
'the right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. the world cannot hate you, but it hates me because i testify that what it does is evil. you go to the feast. i am not yet going up to this feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.' having said this, he stayed in galilee. however, after his brothers had left for the feast, he went also, not publicly but in secret." john 7:6-10

more discussion on this issue of truth as experience on sunday at the upper room, or feel free to enter the conversation here online.

peace to you,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

what would you do if you were prime minister?

last night i got together with a couple friends and headed down to the old walker theatre (i still can't call it the b.c.) to catch a lecture from one of canada's foremost champions of environmentalism; dr. david suzuki. after an awe inspiring anthem by raffi (played at least four times) the crowd had grown restless and were ready to hear the words of wisdom from the star of the nature of things.
while not everything that was spoken last night gripped me at my core, there were a couple of loud trumpet calls that rang in my ears. the first was the rampant consumerism that is prevalent in our society today. this has been no secret, but it was interesting to hear it from a different perspective. our ecological footprint is directly affected by the amount we consume...not just the waste we produce, but the stuff that we have. families today are half the size they were 40 years ago and we live in houses twice the size (with a bathroom for every person in the house). families have more than one vehicle (again some people have one for every person in the house). we measure our worth by the stuff that we have. our economics are based on the financial picture alone. we fail to take into account things like the affect our actions are having on our future, how peaceful, patient, grace-filled we are, how happy and loving we are becoming. these sorts of things do not fit in our economy. it is dollars and cents; baby...the other stuff is just window dressing. i am working to change this perspective in my own life. while i may not be prime minister and able to affect policy for the entire nation, i can affect my own family and the people i hold dear to my heart.
the second thing challenged me was to have a vision for the future. there were echoes of king solomon when david suggested that we need to have a picture of what we want our canada to look like. without a vision the people perish. do i want a future where the air is clean enough for my children to breath without fear of what invisible toxins threaten their health? the kind of air you fill your lungs with on the side of a lake in northeastern manitoba, more than50 kilometers from the nearest form of civilization? do i want a canada where you could drink the water from any stream and not wonder what sort of chemicals have been dumped in it or what sort of cancer i may develop from ingesting water that is not bottled and purified? when i think of my own city of winnipeg, i would love to see a greener, cleaner, healthier thriving metropolis.
wo what can i do to bring about this preferred future? what can i do to lighten the weight of my personal ecological footprint? well i have already begun to make some smaller changes in the way i live. i purchased a bicycle and will be using it as a primary mode of transportation to and from work in the spring. cutting down on the waste, of water, of energy, and of food is becoming more of a priority for me. the benefits far outweigh the a matter of a fact; it seems to be saving me money to be ecofriendly. i have signed up for the nature challenge. the challenge breaks down ten things we could do to lower our ecological footprint and bring us to a place of sustainability in a few short years. doing even three of these this year would make a huge difference.
when i look at our responsibility as stewards of god's creation, i wonder how we are living up to the challenge of tending the garden. creation is groaning...longing for the sons of glory to be revealed. i want to ease her groaning by treading a little more lightly on her soil. i want to take responsibility for my footprint and help ensure a beautiful creation for my children.
what about you?
peace to you,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

how not to speak of god...(or hints of the divine)

"take the example of two people in a room. if one has authority over the other and commands the other to close the door, the other will of course close it, regardless of whether or not he or she likes the authority figure, since if an authority figure gives a command, obedience is the sole requirement. yet, in opposition to this power discourse, the powerless discourse is analogous to one person saying to their equal that they are a little cold. in this way, one speaks in such a way that hints (but does not demand) that they would like the door to be closed. if the other is a caring individual, he or she will be likely to close the door, and if not, he or she will probably ignore what was said. the hint speaks to the heart and will only be heard by those with a sensitive and open ear. this powerless discourse of the hint can be seen at work in jesus' parables, which can only truly be heard by those ‘with ears to hear'. instead of religious discourse being a type of drink designed to satisfy our thirst for answers, jesus made his teaching salty, evoking thirst. instead of offering a scientific explanation that would convince, or publicizing the miracles so as to compel his listeners, jesus engaged in a poetic discourse that spoke to the heart of those who would listen. in a world where people believe they are not hungry, we must not offer food but rather an aroma that helps them desire the food that we cannot provide. we are a people who are born from a response to hints of the divine. not only this, but we must embrace the idea that we are also called to be hints of the divine."

i love that…we are called to be hints of the divine…

but what does that mean?

peace to you,


the upper room in our living room

well the answers are beginning to come...and with them even more questions. i am very excited about what god is birthing in us. the upper room is a small band of lovers of god who gather together in a living room in st. james to eat together, share life together and talk about what it means to be a lover of god, a follower of the way, a disciple in this current culture. what does it mean to be a "hint of the divine"? what does it mean to be the aroma of christ? what does it mean to be a citizen of this earth and yet a citizen of another kingdom? we have just begun to ask questions like these, and our prayer is that the questions will lead us not to answers, but to the changing of the way we live this life. we desire to leave footprints that will cause others to find the same food and life that we have found.
this blog will (i hope) give you a taste of what we are experiencing as we gather. it will be filled with questions and quotes, thoughts and dreams, ideas and theological ramblings. and we hope that they will point through the mist and mire to the one who calls us to "leave everything and follow..."
if you have stumbled upon this site by chance...then welcome. if you wish to learn and talk to scott. if you have thoughts that you would like to add to our ongoing conversations...feel free to express yourself.
if you have been guided here by an invitation, then feel free to interact with what you see here. the truth is this is not the best way to experience the upper fact, it is a very poor substitute for the real community. To find out when and where our next gathering

peace to you,