Friday, 26 December 2014

Hallelujah, A Christmas Carol

Everyone seems to love the melody of Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah."
I have taken the liberty of creating my own lyrics, in honour of our Saviours birth. This is me and some of Christ the King, Edmonton's musicians at our Christmas Eve service.

I hope you will forgive the quality of the recording. We hope to make a better one at some point.

See what you think.

Here are the lyrics:

HALLELUJAH (CHRISTMAS CAROL)

I heard there was a baby boy, was born this day to bring us joy
Salvation and the Holy Spirit to you
In Bethlehem this baby lay In a manger filled with hay
While angels sang a glorious Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The shepherds came and saw that night, you, Jesus, of the world, the light
The Saviour of all who give their hearts to You
They left their fields, they came and saw the One who would fulfil the law
You, only worthy of our Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And wise men travelled from afar, with gold and frankincense and myrrh
Presented gifts and bowed in worship to You
And so to this day all who love the God who came down from above
Can join together in the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And so Jesus, all praise to you. All glory, power and honour too
For salvation that can only come through You
We thank you for your humble birth that brought new hope to all the earth
We sing out, all together, “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

So on this day we celebrate, and You will come again some day
To earth to raise up all your children to You
And every knee will bow before our Saviour and our risen Lord
And every tongue will sing out “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

Music:  Leonard Cohen, ©1984 Sony/ATV Songs LLC

Original words: John Kivell ©2014

Blessings, and a somewhat belated Merry Christmas

John

Friday, 19 December 2014

Alpha Lookback 2014 (USA)

I thought this was worth sharing.
Best of 2014 - Alpha USA from Alpha USA on Vimeo.

Alberta is just one province in Canada, but we are not isolated. What is happening here is happening all over the world.

Blessings,

John

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Nothing But Encouragement

At the end of the first day of my two day tour of southwest central Alberta. I had a ten o'clock appointment at Crossfield Baptist. It was exactly 8:00 AM when I left my garage at home and exactly 10:00 when I turned off my ignition in the church parking lot, 219 km later. What timing!

As I indicated in the title of this post, my day was off to an encouraging start. Pastor Dave Wiebe has run Alpha in the past in BC, and plans to run it here in the spring. Youth Pastor Darrly Siemens ran Alpha for Youth here and was very enthused by it. He is planning to run it again this year, hoping to attract kids from outside the church. So, that is two Alpha's lined up for the coming year.

Next stop was Carstairs, at the Church of God there.  I was particularly looking forward to meeting Pastor Harry Hoehne there because he hails from Hamilton Ontario, my own home city, back in the day. He has only been in Alberta a few months, so has not yet had time to change his allegiance from the Tiger Cats to either the Eskimos or the Stampeders, whichever might be appropriate. Or, may I add, from the Maple Leafs (yuck!) to a suitable Alberta hockey team.

Carstairs Church of God has run Alpha extremely successfully in the past, but Pastor Harry, being new to his position, has never had any Alpha experience himself. However, he was familiar with it by reputation. In fact, as he told me enthusiastically what he had heard about Alpha, how it was such a wonderful  place for seekers to be introduced to the Christian faith in a relaxed and non-threatening environment, I thought I was listening to myself extolling its virtues. He was pleased (and somewhat amazed) to hear that Alpha is offered at no cost for download online.  Alpha will once again be run in Carstairs, Alberta.

Finally, for the day, I visited McDougal Chapel, east of Sundre. Once again, Pator Kent Janz had run Alpha in the past, but by the end of our conversation, was seriously considering running it again.  He was impressed by some of the new materials, and by the fact that we offer them free online. (I noticed the old original VHS tapes on his office shelf).  A glowing report by McDougal's Youth Pastor, Spencer Smith, was a highlight of my day. They ran alpha for Youth last fall and had about 50 guests (this in a rural, or at best, a small-town church), many from outside the church. Several kids invited Christ into their lives. Spencer could not say enough about how well it went for him.  Obviously, he will run it again.

Tomorrow I have 4 or5 appointments lined up in Olds, Didsbury, Eckville and Rimbey.  Lord willing, I will post again then.

Blessings,

John




Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Last Trip (?) of The Year.

On the road again early tomorrow morning. I have a 10:00 appointment in Crossfield. Altogether eight meetings arranged so far, in towns in western South Central Alberta - Crossfield, Carstairs, Didsbury, Olds, Sundre and Rimbey. I should be back late Thursday.

My friend Karl is going in for day surgery tomorrow on his heart. He is scheduled to be released tomorrow afternoon, but those who care for him are hoping, and will advocate, that they will keep him admitted at least overnight. So Karl and I prayed together that God would bring us both back home safely on Thursday.

Blessings,

John

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Too Many Words?

I was told today that my writing is too wordy, and I cannot disagree. In fact I do agree, and wholeheartedly so. I love words. I love writing them and I enjoy playing with them. I am reminded of the film,. "Amadeus," where Antonio Salieri, Mozart's rival composer, said of one of Mozart's new pieces, "Too many notes."

Well, not that I would ever have the audacity to compare myself to Mozart, but there is one thing we share; like him, I probably won't change my writing style because I'm told I use too many words.

I was told that Dr Seuss gave the writing advice, "Brevity, brevity, brevity!"

I wonder why he said it three times when one would have sufficed.

Blessings,

John 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

France? Who'da Thunk It?

Or, to translate the title of this post as accurately as I can, "quelle surprise!"

I have no explanation, but when I checked the stats this morning, the number one audience for my Alpha blog, by page view, and lots of them, is from France.

Dieu est bon... tout le temps

Merci beaucoup,

John

Friday, 5 December 2014

Hump Day in Cow Town

I arrived in Calgary Tuesday evening after an eventful and encouraging day in Lethbridge (see below).  I met my former pastor from Edson Baptist for coffee at a local Starbucks. He is now a teaching elder at Calvary Grace church. Terry is both a theological guy and a car guy, so we always have great conversations. I remember his kids from years ago, but now one of his daughters is driving and his son is married. Holy Moly! Everybody I know is sure getting older!

Wednesday morning I wanted to meet with Rob Martin of Eastside City Church on Abbeydale Drive in Calgary. I had spoken to Rob once on the phone, but had trouble reaching him again, so after leaving a number of messages I just decided I would drop in about 9:30 that morning and take my chances. He wasn't there at the moment, so I left a written note and my card with the administrator, who promised to place it directly into his hands the moment he arrived.

Back out in my car in the parking lot, I sat for a moment and thought, because the name, "Abbeydale" sounded familiar. "Yes," it came to me, "Abbeydale Christian Fellowship!" I had seen it somewhere in my records. "They're an Alpha church."

So, sitting there in my car, in the parking lot of Eastside City Church, I fiddled with my phone (a Blackberry) to find the address and a map to Abbeydale Christian Fellowship. As an aside, my older daughter (an iPhone user) tells me, every time I complain about my phone, "Dad! It's a Blackberry!"

So after Googling and mapping for a few minutes I finally had the location. Next door! Sure enough, I raised my head from my phone, turned it to the left, and there it was; the very next building. I drove out of one parking lot and into the other. They have just finished a very successful Alpha, and I had a good conversation with the interim pastor, Jim Houston, leaving some information on Alpha's Youth Film Series and Marriage and Parenting courses. 

As I was leaving the parking lot my phone rang. It was Rob from Eastside, hoping we could get together. "When can you get here?" he asked. "I'm here now," I said, pulling back into his lot. "Where's the nearest Tim's?" Rob came out and I followed him to the coffee shop.

It's such a small world when you're a Christian, don't you think? Eastside City is affiliated, through an organization called Ministers Fellowship International, and so is a sister church, so to speak, with my Sunday night fellowship, Christcity, in Edmonton, so he knew some of the people I know. We had a great conversation. Eastside is planning to run three Alpha's in the next few months, then invite all guests to a leadership course. Rob also told me of an Alpha being run on the streets of downtown by either a friend or cousin (I don't remember which) for addicts, prostitutes and the homeless, into one of which categories the course coordinator actually fell. I asked, somewhat tongue in cheek, if the course was registered. "Probably not," he said with a bit of a smile, but if he could get hold of him, he would see if he could get it done.

From there it was off to lunch at Denny's with Stephan who is going to run an Alpha on a First Nations reserve west of Calgary. He has been running a Bible study there that has been well-received, so we have high hopes for this Alpha course. I have had a real heart for Alpha among First Nations communities ever since I ran Alpha in the Fort Saskatchewan jail a few years back. I'm praying we can establish more of them. I have posted on some of my experiences there, here. Incidentally, if anyone who reads this blog wants to get involved, assist or participate, just get in touch with me.

After lunch it was back home, the end of a couple of quite eventful days on the road.

But then, as I have said, I have nothing better to do than to drive around Alberta and talk about Alpha.

Blessings,

John

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Small World Department

OK, so what do Lethbridge Alberta, the country of Rwanda, a city in central Mexico and a small town in Southern Ontario have in common? Let me explain.

I came down from my room in the Super 8 in Lethbridge for their free breakfast (one of the reasons I usually stay at Super 8 motels when I travel). I had my iPad with me to plan my day and map out the churches I planned to visit. There was one other person in the breakfast room, a young woman working at her laptop. she looked over and said, in heavily accented English.
"I see we are both working."
"Yes," I said.
"What do you do," she asked.
"I call on churches," I replied. This seemed to pique her interest, so I explained a bit about Alpha, how we introduce people to Jesus, and gave her my card. I asked if she knew Jesus or went to church. She confessed that she didn't go very often. Her name is Delhi, which most people would associate with either a city in India or a town in Southern Ontario, but she pronounces it to rhyme with "jelly."

Then I asked her where was her home.
"Mexico" she said. I asked her what in the world would bring her from Mexico to Alberta Canada in the middle of winter (the temperature was -13 and there were 10 cm of show on the ground.) She told me she was working on her doctorate at a Mexican university, but was visiting someone at the University of Lethbridge. I asked her what field her doctorate was in, and she replied, "Animal Sciences; working to improve breeds of cattle."

"Wow!" I replied, "I know someone in the same sort of field " So I was able to bring up this website on my iPad.

This is Rachael Spence, from our church in Edmonton. She is a veterinary doctor and has a mission to Rwanda, helping farmers care for and improve their own livestock. Here is a Youtube presentation of Rachael speaking to a group of Rwandan farmers, although I suspect you have to be a Rwandan farmer or a cow doctor to appreciate it fully.


Delhi was quite impressed. "She must be a very wonderful woman," she said.
"She is just serving the Lord with her gifts, " I said.

I didn't have much more time, as my first church appointment was coming up at 9:00, but I gave her a "Why Jesus?" booklet and a "
Question Everything" card, wished her well and checked out. I have her e-mail, so I will try to put her in touch with Rachael. It would be interesting if they could make a connection.

Just another day on the road for Alpha; just another of those coincidences that God seems to enjoy arranging.

Blessings,

John

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

OK, So God Arranges Things; What Else Is New?

Tuesday evening, 6:15. I'm in my hotel room in Calgary, just arrived from a full day in Lethbridge and a 2 1/2 hour drive. Had a wonderful and encouraging day there today, visiting 6 churches.

Westside Community Church is a PAOC church running Alpha for Youth, and having great results. Shaun, the youth pastor, pointed out one problem: many of his youth group come from outside the church, and some are Mormon, so some of Alpha is "new teaching being presented." and some of their parents don't like it, so they still bring their kids, but after the video. Made me smile.

At Immanuel Lutheran, they had registered for the Youth Film Series, but had not run it. However, by the end of our visit, Kathy there was, "on fire to run it," to use her very own words.

The whole trip here was based on a fleece I had laid regarding my next appointment, lunch with John Albiston of Victory Church. I may have mentioned this in a previous post. I had met John before, and had hoped to meet again, so had sent a few e-mails and left a few messages, all without hearing back. So I reached the point a week or so ago where I said, "Lord, if you want me to go down to Southern Alberta, let John get back to me.  That will be my sign." I then had three calls, in quick succession, from Calgary, one from a couple who wanted help running Alpha in RV courts in Arizona and California, where they go each winter. Another was from a fellow planning to run it on a reserve west of Calgary; a third from a church I had been trying to reach, who, I discovered on a recent phone conversation, runs three Alpha's a year, in succession. My fleece stood, however; if I didn't hear from John Albiston, I wouldn't make the trip.

Long story short (if it's not already too late), during my Alpha Monday conference call, I got an e-mail from John saying, "Lunch tomorrow would be fine."

So, off I went. I had to rent a car from a different organization than I usually do, but everything fell into place, I fired off e-mails to a number of  Lethbridge churches, and I was off by 1:00 for the 5 hour trip to Lethbridge. I ended up with five appointments in Lethbridge, every one of them made from the e-mails I sent on Monday morning and confirmed on my trip down. There's an advertising slogan here somewhere. If God tells you to do something, "Just Do It!"

Victory Church Lethbridge is almost worth a post of its own. They have an amazing facility and I hope someday they will put up a video tour online. They are the church that started the Miracle TV Channel. I had a suspicion that they ran Alpha, but were not registered with Alpha Canada as doing so, so this was one of my main reasons for wanting to visit them. What a surprise to discover that they run Alpha continuously, with a new course starting every 4 weeks! I last visited them in April of this year, so this has started since then.

They do it a little differently; rather than the usual model of people inviting people, they have as many as 5 - 10 responses to their altar calls every week, and every new believer is "run through" if I can use that crass term, Jamie Haith's Campus Alpha, as both an introduction to, and an explanation of, their new faith.

My next appointment was coffee with Rohan Crown of Amazing Grace PCA Church, a church with a very strong youth outreach and who are running the Youth Film Series. I have mentioned my connection to the PCA in my personal testimony, and Rohan was for a time the associate pastor at Crestwood in Edmonton, the very church that planted to congregation in which I came to faith over 20 years ago. Small world.

Both John and Rohan recommended I visit the River of Life church, so I went out of my way to make a cold call there and leave some Alpha material. No pastors were available, so I left the material and my card with the administrator, who knew of Alpha and its excellent reputation.

My final stop in Lethbridge was University Drive Alliance. They have run Alpha in the past, and are currently running the Parenting Course.

So, here I am in Calgary. I just texted my former pastor from Edson Baptist, now in Calgary, to see if we can get together for a coffee.

More on the rest of my trip on another post.

Blessings,

John