Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You Name It

I couldn't decide what to call this post, so here are some suggested titles. Pick whichever one works for you:

Six Degrees of Blogging Seperation from Tim Challies

It's the Internet and Everyone is an Axe Murderer

It's a Small Canadian Calvinistic World

Connect the Doctrines of Grace Dots, with Blogger

It's Irresistable - All Roads Lead to Toronto

Life is funny sometimes. Sometimes, life's little twists and turns go so far away from anything you had planned out or expected, that if someone were to have the ability to tell you "in 10 years your life will be like this..." and then tell you what your life will be like, you'd look at them like they had 16 heads. Sometimes the story they might tell you is so completely out of your realm of thinking that it just sounds like a faerie tale.

Ten years ago I was living in the greater Seattle area and rusting along with all the other folks. Its what we do there. Ask around, you'll find out its true.

So then along comes Kev (from the greater Toronto area) who I rarely admit that I met online, originally. Allow me to disclaim this by saying that meeting future spouses on the internet is only for losers, lunatics, or people with such massive faith and trust in the Lord that the potential spouse isn't a certifiable nutcase, that if you live to be 400, you'll never have a faith that deep. I'll let the reader decide which category I was in, at the time. So Kev's best friend (who I also met online originally) is named Tom. Tom and his wife Sandi, who I also first met online (hi Sandi!) were instrumental in Kev's conversion to Christ, and Tom is still today among one of the very few people Kev can talk to about the deep things of God. Kev and Tom work together and see each other every day. I don't see Sandi often enough but when we do see each other, there is always Tim Horton's coffee (famous in the greater Toronto area), and fattening yumbos. Life IS good, with fattening yumbos.

Tom & Sandi go to the church pastored by Pastor Dave. Pastor Dave has a very good pastoral blog called Live By The Truth. For a while when we still lived in town, Tom & Sandi would swing by and take the older girls to Sunday School and church at pastor Dave's church -when Tom and Kev were on different shifts, and Kev was working that Sunday. When he wasn't working, we'd all make the trip and we attended pastor Dave's church for about 2 years. It was a rough time in many ways and moving to the country meant no longer attending that church (although we did try for the first six months and realized it was just too far, and the cost of gas was monumental). Leaving that church wasn't something we wanted to do, but we didn't have much of a choice at the time.

Reading pastor Dave's blog this past couple of weeks while he was in Mongolia on a teaching trip, he posted that pastor Paul Martin (who blogs here) would be filling in for him this past Sunday. I had the opportunity to meet pastor Paul last fall at the Sola Scriptura conference in Toronto. Funny thing is, when we moved from the city to the middle of nowhere, several times well-meaning folks who were trying to help us find a church (and didn't have a clue where we really were) suggested Paul Martin's church. Of course we checked it out and even though it was too far away from us, I was glad to have the resource for future reference. As it turned out, over the last several years I've met folks online in the greater Toronto area who were looking for a church, and I was able to send them to Paul Martin's church, as well as another church in the area pastored by pastor Dave's father, Brian Robinson. One of those people that now goes to Brian Robinson's church, I had the opportunity to meet last year and again this year, at the Sola Scriptura conference. In Toronto.

I'm not exactly sure when it was that I started reading Tim Challies' blog, but I think it was somewhere around 2003, maybe 2004. Not too long after that, Tim asked if I'd consider helping out over there and I (along with this clever brother, David) accepted the job as co-moderator of his forum. We were also co-contributors to the long gone Challies Group Blog. Somewhere in there (I don't recall what year), Tim and his family changed churches and his new pastor was Pastor Paul.

Not long after that, Kev and I were also in desperate church hunting mode, and this guy (you wont know him, he's very shy and almost never posts to his blog, speaks in public, or anything like that) put us in touch with Dr. Michael Haykin in Toronto, who also has a wonderful reputation that precedes him, and was someone I had already heard much about, through friends on the Internet (where everyone is an axe murderer, never forget that!). Dr. Haykin gave us some recommendations and the one we found closest to us, was pastored by a man who has strong ties to... Toronto. Well we went and we loved it and we are still there today, and we still love it. Thing is, the name of our church and our pastor had been mentioned to us three different times in the course of about a week, and all three people that mentioned it/him, were all in Toronto. One of the people who mentioned this church, was a commenter at Challies' forum who I just happened to click his name and go read his own blog, where he had mentioned that he had just preached in that church, the week prior to his posting. Just last month we were able to meet Dr. Haykin in person, and thank him for his recommendation. We met him at a conference.... in Toronto. (This is where we all starting singing "It's a Small Canadian Calvinistic World" like those obnoxious dolls in the Small World ride in Disneyland).

Now, you're probably wondering what in the world the point to all this is. Well, there are several. Part of the point is, there are some solid brothers here in my area pastoring churches (or blogging) and blessing people left and right - and I wanted to link to them. Its pretty amazing what this strange thing called the internet can do, and what part it has by God's divine providence in not only forming friendships but in forging fellowships and being a very practical tool in helping people find local churches where they can serve and be under sound teaching. Part of the point is also to express my thanks to these brothers, for doing what they do. Whether they are friends, fellow bloggers, pastors, or merely online aquaintances, they've all had a role in our lives in some way. For reasons He alone is pleased to know, the Lord put them all in mine and Kev's life in one way or another, and we're real glad He did. Another reason I wanted to write all that is to say that you can say what you will about Toronto (and lets be honest, there's plenty bad to say and it'd all be true), but let's all remember be grateful for the gems here in this area.

There is actually one more reason I wanted to bring all this up, that I wasn't even going to mention just yet. In thinking about it though, I figured this might be a good time.

When Kev and I were in Toronto last month at the Sola Scriptura conference, someone mentioned that it would sure be a lot of fun if we all could somehow pull off a blogger get together to coincide the conference, for next year. We all said the same thing last year, and the more Kev and I talked about it on the way home, the more it sounded like a very real, very do-able plan. The conference is a two day event (Friday evening and all day Saturday), and those coming would of course have the option to pre-register for the conference and attend that as well as the blogger lunch we'd plan - or - for those that would be unable to attend the conference, then they could simply come for the get together lunch to be held on the Saturday. There's always the option of registering for the Saturday conference sessions as well, if that is a more workable alternative.

Obviously we'd prefer to pack the church where the conference is to be held, and promote the Sola Scriptura conference, and bless that ministry - so that's our first goal.

Nothing is set it in stone right now, but to give folks a general idea for this, the conference is going to be held in the Toronto area in September of 2008. (You have a whole year to plan!) Exact date and location is not yet available, but when it is confirmed you'll find that info right here at the Sola Scriptura site. The more Kev and I have discussed this, the more we just consider this a fantastic opportunity to be a part of something great. It's a way to give back, and bless the reformed teaching ministry of Sola Scriptura Ministries International, to be blessed by the conference speakers (topic for 2008 and speakers still TBA), and just a terrific time of fellowship with other bloggers, face to face. Details for all of these things - including the Saturday Lunch will be forthcoming as the date draws closer.

Now I know some might be put off by the idea of coming all the way to Toronto for a 2 day conference, but its really a rather accessible destination. Take a look at the map below to get a better idea of where we are, in relation to where you are:


As you can see by the map, we're really not that far away from many of you. So... even though its a year away, this is what we're planning for next fall. I don't have a clue how many of you folks outside of the greater Toronto area would be interested in making this trip next year, but there it is - just in case you might be. As the plans begin to fall into place over the next few months (exact date, location, speakers, conference topic) we'll start making more definite plans for a location for our lunch, and do our best to put together a list of overnight accomodations & directions and all that good stuff.