Jesus Prayer

Yesterday, in our staff Chapel, we were reflecting the Jesus Prayer. A beautiful prayer, attributed to the Desert Fathers in the 5th Century.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve come across this gem, but on this visit, it really resonated with me. Perhaps it was part of the meditation that came with it –

My whole desire was fixed upon one thing only — ​to say the Prayer of Jesus, and as soon as I went on with it I was filled with joy and relief. It was as though my lips and my tongue pronounced the words entirely of themselves without any urging from me. I spent the whole day in a state of the greatest contentment. I lived as though in another world.

– The Way of the Pilgrim

I inadvertently took on this challenge to be intentional with praying this prayer. Too help, since I look at my iPhone more than most other items throughout the day, I created a wallpaper, as a reminder. My intention is to repeat the prayer whenever I unlock my phone.

A new challenge

Dear Friends of Threshold Ministries –

The Board of Threshold Ministries meeting in Haliburton County on April 11-13, 2012, received the recommendation from Bruce Smith that that we appoint Shawn Branch as National Director to work out of the National Office in Saint John. He also recommended that following 16 years as National Director, he might best serve Threshold Ministries as “Ambassador at Large”, doing so from Toronto.

By resolution we have made Bruce Smith ‘Ambassador at Large’, with the assignment to cultivate support for the ministry and do the work of an Evangelist across Canada.

Shawn Branch is National Director Elect until October 1, 2012, when he will become National Director.

Threshold Ministries is an across Canada Ministry committed to seeing God’s Kingdom furthered through creating and partnering with local parishes, ministries and individuals.

Please remember to pray for Bruce and Shawn as they take on these responsibilities.

Sincerely in our Saviour’s Name,

John W. Irwin
Chair, Board of Directors

Click here to download a copy of the Press Release.

being persistent

Deep sea fishing from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico

about a month ago, i started fishing.

fishing for mackerel.

i started by accident really.  it was the sunday afternoon of the labour day long weekend, we went down to new river beach for the afternoon.  hardly a person around because it was forecasted to be bad weather and we went down to the water for a bit.  i acted as ruth’s lifeguard, which in retrospect was a bad choice, because i hate being in the water over my head.  if she got into trouble, she would have been screwed – at the time though, it seemed like a good idea for me to guard while she swam in the bay of fundy.  while ruth was warming up after her swim, i had a nap on the beach leaning against hilary.

it was a nice afternoon.

ed came back to pick us up and brought us down to blacks harbour, he really wanted us to watch him fish.  [ed grew up in fishing communities in newfoundland.]  after he caught a few, he wanted the rest of us to experience the same joy of catching a fish.  it had been quite some time since i last fished – but for the record, i have fished before.  it was fun, we had some laughs and i think ed regretted bringing us down there – we weren’t quite as serious.

i’ve been back at least once, sometimes twice, a week since.

the last few times, the fish haven’t really been biting.  we’ve stood on the wharf for 3-4 hours each visit, just throwing the line, chatting, listening and being still.  my last visit, the borrowed fishing line that i was using broke.  i pretended like i knew how to fix it and put it back together.  still broke.  ed felt bad and wanted to leave because i couldn’t fish.  i wanted to stay.

it is so peaceful and relaxing, standing on some floating wood along the coast of the ocean. fishing and watching others fish.  because the mackerel season is basically over, we weren’t catching much.  we tried a few different places.  it gave me lots of time to think and wonder.  we started catching some harbour pollock, which aren’t very good (i’m told).  it was fun catching them, we were catching 3-5 at a time but releasing them.

it got me to thinking that as followers of Jesus, we are called to be persistent – castling the line, being patient and waiting.  when Jesus called simon, james and john, he met them after a long night of fishing and told them to go back out.  they were reluctant but went back out and fished again.  caught a boat load.  ed and i began talking about how hilarious our situation was and soon realized that its similar in ministry, you can throw the line – offer a program, meal, event, etc… and catch some results.  but it requires patience to catch what you’re hoping for – growth, a willing heart.

i want to go back fishing – i’m not sure by the water or on the streets.

pulling my face up


i spent a few days this week, enjoying my break before returning to the office, sitting uptown – doing some reading, drinking coffee and chatting with random people as they came by.

a few times, i was simply watching people as they walked by – some on a break from others, others running errands and some just filling the void.  about 8 of every 10 people that walked by had their faces buried in phone.

are we really that busy?  i was joking with a friend the other night, remembering the first time my parents got a cell phone – it was huge!  i’m not sure that we ever figured out how to use it and the signal was never that good – it was still cool to be able to say that we had a phone in the car.

remember when people would say “hi” to each other as they passed on the sidewalks?  now, we text/email/facebook/tweet.  those are great and i use them too and i’ve been part of the crowd with my face buried.  i feel rebellion stirring within me.  why should everyone have constant contact and access to me – 24/7.

i want to look around while i’m walking and say hi.  i want to see the world and not just read about it through someone’s status update.  i want to hear how people are doing, in more than 140 characters.

can we find the balance?  i want to try.  you might call, email, text or message and have to wait for a reply – i might be reconnecting.  i’ll get back to you, maybe we can meet face-to-face.


i’m enjoying vacation this week.

time to sit, reflect and clear my head of thoughts.

meeting bernice

wednesday night contained one of those moments in time that you know will stick with you.  it was the night of the first storm of the season to hit saint john, hilary was working and i met someone new.  as i left my office, driving on the snow covered roads, i decided to head over to hilary’s store in case they decided to close early.  the place was quiet, a few regulars around, so i offered to help give the café area a thorough cleaning.  early on, a noticed a two women come into the store, one needing to use the phone to call her ride.  i didn’t pay much more attention to their interactions.

about two hours passed, i was scrubbing the floors (the song from cinderella popped in my head) and i noticed the same older woman outside the café area in the lobby of the mall.  i asked hilary what the story was with her.  all she remember from earlier was that she was waiting for a ride.  i cohereced hilary to go check on her.  a few minutes later, hilary comes back and had found out that she was waiting for her daughter to come pick her up, from sussex.  her daughter didn’t have a cell phone, neither did this woman.  as the store was about to be locked down for the night, we got a snack and a tea for her.  i went out to chat with her while the store was being locked up.

she was one of these people that for whatever reason i couldn’t ignore.  between hilary and i, we only 75¢ (sad, i know), we left it with her and my cell number.  i told her to call no matter what time and we’d do what we could to help out.  she said ‘thank you’.  we left, i felt bad leaving, but knew that we couldn’t do much more at that point, as far as she knew her ride was coming but didn’t have any way to contact them.

within about an hour, my cell phone rang, hilary ran to answer it and i started getting ready.  the security guards let her use their cell to phone sussex to see if anything happened.  turned out that they had turned back a few hours earlier.  hilary and i said that we’d get her home, and sent off a few texts asking for prayer.  we went back to pick her up, i realized i didn’t even know her name and yet was preparing to drive to sussex in the midst of a storm.  the snow had stopped and it actually looked fairly decent out.  we hit the highway and i felt confident that we’d be good to go, so long as we took our time.  we had some random chit-chat to get to know each other and then the freezing rain started, almost as if a bucket was being poured onto the road.  we were approaching my boss’ house who had offered to put her up for the night and i knew we couldn’t drive much further.

we arrived, had tea together and i said that i’d be back by 9am to finish the journey.  i laid in bed most of the night, not fully understanding the situation.  all evening i kept hearing in the back of my head “i was naked and you clothed me, hungry and fed me, in need and you helped me” and “what ever you did to the least of these you did unto  me”.  i didn’t sleep much, and was up and out in plenty of time.  we finished the journey to sussex on clean highways.  she directed me to her door.  when i pulled in the driveway, we both said ‘thank you’ to each other and she got out.

that was the end of my journey with bernice.  a very gentle older woman.  i sat in a parking lot for a few minutes, pondering what had just happened. a call a friend on the way back and shared the story.  she suggested it was one of those situations that God puts in our paths.

i have no idea if we’ll ever meet again…