I spray painted a white sheet. I painted a tree with a blue-sky background. I created a pocket on a tree limb from which would emerge my puppet Solomon the owl. I created a hollow in the bole of the tree from which Rueben the raccoon would appear. This with the addition of two thumb tacks became my highly portable puppet theatre as I ventured into children’s ministry in Northern Manitoba. This ‘theatre’ would easily hang in any doorway and had the added advantage of taking next to no room to pack as I travelled to ‘fly in’ communities.

Solomon was a wise old bird. He would supply the wisdom that was required to solve the problems of Rueben, the silly raccoon. Their personalities made them endlessly versatile to tackle almost any Bible story I decided to highlight. Kids warmed to these characters. They related to Rueben and the messes he would get into and listened attentively to the solutions-oriented Solomon. I found that First Nation’s children also took to the idea of learning from wildlife creatures. To the advantage of the Gospel

Later as I moved ‘South’ these two characters morphed into Bert (the wise owl character) and Ernie (the silly messy raccoon character). I have always had a knack at mimicking voices so I could do a more than passable Bert and Ernie. They simply picked up the threads of their predecessors and children responded warmly.

I had learned, early, to use what was at hand to the advantage of the Gospel and this has stood me in good stead. I have learned to look for opportunities as life changes. The tools of the past sometimes (almost certainly) need to be set aside in favour of newer ones. The message remains the same, but the vehicle alters to carry it in a new situation.

Often this feels like “taking the lemons life hands you and making lemonade”, and this is an indispensable asset in any evangelistic ministry. In my day to day life with our little community of Street Hope Friends, I try to encourage and exemplify this. Often my friends will name and complain about the latest indignity or injustice they experience. Dwelling on the hurt can often lead to a spiral of anger and despondency, so I encourage folks to take their eyes off that, at least for a moment and instead think about a recent blessing, or thing to be thankful for. We are living proof that despondency and thankfulness cannot co-exist. Thankfulness has the power to lift us, emotionally and intellectually, above our circumstances. Like Paul and Silas, we can ‘sing in our prison cells’.

God is the Creator and as his image bearers we are called to creatively build hope and health into even or especially, the most trying circumstances. To make lemonade!

I have only just learned that the bus we were counting on for our Roamin’ Holiday will not be available to us. This felt like a crushing last-minute blow … but I believe it provides the opportunity to widen the circle and enlist the help of other drivers to join us creating a ‘Convoy of Hope’. This hasn’t yet come to fruition, but I am squeezing this lemon for all its worth. I’ll let you know in a future blog how it goes. In the meantime, pray for our Roamin’ Holiday.




It started with a phone call. I’m not a great conversationalist on the phone (that explains why the kids usually ask for their mother if I answer). I learned the phone as a business tool rather than a social one. I like to get my objective accomplished and then get off. I called one of my friends from Street Hope in order to invite him to a barbecue. He gladly accepted, as I knew he would. He loves barbecues and often asks me if we are planning one. I was ready to close off the conversation when he asked if I’d like to meet him for a coffee. This is an invitation I rarely refuse and so we set a time and place to meet.

Usually when someone asks me for coffee, it means they have something on their mind, and so I arrived at the coffee shop wondering what his issue might be and if I could help.

Well, it turns out that he just wanted to spend time with me. He asked about my life and I asked about his. We talked about his bicycle and about bike locks. We talked about my children and his job. All the time we sat on a ‘patio’ overlooking an asphalt parking lot! My friend really enjoyed coffee-ing el fresco. He doesn’t have a deck or lawn, and this was a virtual Eden to him. He was obviously delighting in our time together. We eventually parted lighter than when we met. We had experienced a fellowship without expectation.

Later, as I was praying, I felt the Father say to me “Reed, I love it when you approach me like that: without lists, without agenda, simply to meet together in warm fellowship.”

This was reinforced as I was reading the Psalms in the Passion Translation. The translator conveyed the meaning of the mysterious word ‘Selah’ a “Pause in His presence.”

Recently I was reading about how it is the silence between notes or chords that distinguish music from cacophony. Pausing in his presence may be the difference between a life of chaos or a symphony conducted by a master composer.

Just this morning in our devotions we read anew the story of Martha and her sister Mary. I’m ready to say to God “Okay! I get it”

Summer provides that time of pause for many of us. Let’s pause in His presence. Selah!

Let’s set aside our task oriented prayer lists and sit with Father and see where the conversation might take us!

Make it Right



Every week I see people in difficult circumstances because of inequities and injustices in the world system. They are undervalued and disadvantaged because of their physical handicaps and or mental illnesses. They often display a kind of dogged genius in surviving week to week, month to month, but with no real hope of thriving. When I think of this, when I think of my friends, I feel angry and I long for the time that God “makes it right”. In the meantime, God calls me, not to privately fume about a system gone so wrong but to actively be a part of his answer. When it works right, my God given anger moves me to, as far as lies within me, co-labour with Him in correcting wrongs.

Most of us can relate to this anger at injustice. The earliest cries from our children (and likely from us though we can’t recall) is “That’s not fair!” Our natural bent is to justice as a reflection of the image of God. We long for things to be put right.

But do we really? I want the racism and greed of this world to be corrected. I long for the white heat of God’s wrath to burn up the straw and stubble of this fallen world. All these ‘isms’ must be banished for God’s Kingdom to fully come, but I am not ready for him to ‘burn up’ the pride and selfishness in me. My longing for justice is always in the abstract or about the other guy.

I remember singing, glibly, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. I want to experience peace, peace of mind peace of heart, but am I ready to have the rebellious “me” seared and purified. I want to be pure gold but even as I sing “Refiner’s Fire” I want someone else to feel the heat.

I have little influence over those big systematic wrongs, but I can repent of those same things in me. Most of all I can pray. I was reminded recently that prayer is more than mere words thought or spoken. When I offer practical help or dignity to those affected by injustice it is a deep groan. It is a prayer, a heart felt prayer. It is a prayer that is heard.

One of my early mentors, Capt. T., used to enjoin us to “put legs on our prayers”. In doing so he was saying that having prayed we now were to go out in service of those same prayers. I am coming to a fuller understanding now. We don’t stop praying and begin to act, as if prayer were not action. Action is a continuation of prayer! Could this be what Paul means when he tells us “Pray without ceasing”.   This is God’s will for us.

The nice thing about this concept of continuing in prayer through service is that it keeps me in the place where God can continue the necessary refining work on me, which is as much needed as correcting the ills of the sin sick world.

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”


Recalling a Call

We have been on a ‘road trip’. We drove to Ontario and visited friends and family and experienced our first bit of summer for this year. It was a really nice break. One of the most memorable events was our visit to the Mirvish Theatre production of “Come From Away”. A generous friend sent us to see this production for our birthdays (which are in December and January respectively).  The musical is set in Gander Newfoundland during the September of 2001. Hundreds of passengers from all around the world were stranded there during the after math of 9/11. The musical was a wonderful reminder of the power of love and hospitality, especially during the darkest days.

Many lives were changed on 9/11 and mine was one of them. Before those events I was energetically engaged in the politics and culture wars within the church. I was chair of a national organization advocating ‘renewal’ in the church. After 9/11 I quit. I quit not because I had become convinced that renewal was not necessary but because my calling was to a much narrower focus. 9/11 called me back to my roots. My calling was to evangelism. Others would have to deal with the important matters of politics and renewal while I recommitted myself to evangelism. I purposely stepped from the limelight into relative obscurity.

Many died that day and I don’t know how many had heard, really heard, the Good News. I realize that there have been even greater tragedies in other parts of the world, and I was not moved in this same way but the scope of the tragedy in my ‘neck of the woods’ woke me afresh to the urgency of evangelism.

Recently I found myself saying (I sometimes surprise myself and even learn something during my own sermons) that I only have one message. I do not constantly repeat myself. but the message is always the same. There is a story of a young man who travelled with John Wesley one day. Wesley began early in a town and preached from John 3:3 “You must be born again”. He moved to the next community and preached on the same text and so it continued as he travelled that day. After the last meeting of the day, the young man asked Wesley “Why do you always preach “You must be born again?” to which Wesley replied, “Because… You must be born again.” Jesus preached using a lot of different metaphors and examples, but the gospel writers could summarise all his preaching in the phrase “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

I do not preach exactly the same sermon nor constantly share the same examples but especially since 9/11 I have consistently shared the Good News so that people have a chance to hear, really hear, the love of Christ.

In many ways, I have come to enjoy my obscurity. It gives me the opportunity to consistently communicate in word and deed the love of our crucified and risen Saviour so that people have the opportunity to repent, believe, and receive him as Lord.

I will conclude with this ‘little’ tease. In coming weeks, we will be making an exciting announcement about next steps for Street Hope Saint John. Keep us in prayer!