Langenburg Evangelical Fellowship

Lifting Up Christ, Transformed by His Love; Serving Others

Langenburg Evangelical Fellowship - a small church in southern Saskatchewan which promotes authentic worship of God, is Christ-centered, and holds the Bible as being divinely inspired and authoritative.

9:45 am - Sunday School for Adults (integrated class for children)
10:45 am - Worship Service, and Sunday School for Ages 2 to 17

Cell Phones and Your Soul

During our recent holidays, we found ourselves sitting in an airport lounge.  When I’m bored in these situations, I often watch people. As I scanned the people beside me and across from me, every one of them were on their phones – or some kind of electronic device.  They were totally immersed in the cyber world and practically oblivious to anything going on around them.  Actual live conversation didn’t exist.  It made me wonder what kind of a world we are creating.  Has the anticipation of the next text become more important that the person sitting in front of you? 

            I am currently reading a book about the importance of replenishing your soul.  In it the author has a chapter where he comments about the invasive nature of our technology on human relationships, and ultimately on our very souls. He is a pastor himself and tells of a recent meeting he had with a group of pastors.  He writes: “At one point I noticed something disturbing; remember, this was a live meeting with real people discussing important issues about the church.  I realized I was multi-tasking.  I had several screens open.  I was answering time-sensitive e-mails.  I checked some possible flights for an upcoming trip.  I was also carrying on two different chat conversations.  One was with another guy in the same meeting (By chatting we could give commentary without anyone else knowing what we were saying). As if that weren’t enough, I was regularly checking my phone for text messages.  And I was engaged in the live discussion.  I am a sick person!” (end quote)

            On the one hand I am quite amazed that someone could do that all at once – I could never juggle that much communication.  But on the other it seems a sad commentary on the reality we have come to embrace.  The constant barrage from too much information and communication can create an internal noise that threatens our very soul. We are continually wired up and even become addicted to the noise.  If you don’t think that is true, try to be completely quiet for even 5 minutes.  Do you become fidgety or restless?  Again I quote: “There was a time when silence was normal and a lot of racket disturbed us.  But today, noise is the normal fare, and silence, strange as it may seem, has become the real disturbance.”

            I admit, it’s easy for me to throw stones, because I neither carry a phone nor do I own one.  Yet I understand the amazing benefits of this form of communication – for business and for families separated by miles, it’s wonderful.  But I do wonder where all this technological means of communication will lead us.  The author goes on to say that all this internal noise hinders our ability to focus on people.  We struggle to stay engaged in a real conversation because we’re “constantly checking, monitoring, tweeting or texting.  Even though it’s unintentional, we’re devaluing people and cheapening relationships.”

            I don’t know about you but I get irritated when I am trying to carry on a conversation with someone and I know they are only half-listening because they are distracted by what’s happening on their phone.  I feel devalued – as the real person in the room, I am reduced to second place in their attention span.

            This is the real danger in all this tech – that in the end human relationships will suffer, and we will be the worse for it.  Life without relationship with God and others is artificial and will damage your very soul.  So let’s be tech-wise and tech-savvy – recognizing it strengths, but also having a keen awareness of the dangers to the core of our very humanity. 

Maybe try a 24 hour technology fast each week for Lent??

 Thank you for reading!

Pickleball Pulpit

My wife and I had the privilege of spending the month of February in Arizona.  At the community where we stayed, we discovered a very well organized and active Pickleball club.  While we had played the game some before, we had never been a part of a club setting such as this.  It was highly social, people were friendly and everyone came with their appropriate garb, court shoes, and matching backpack (except us!).  However, there was also a real sense of seriousness about it all.  It was competitive, it was highly structured, training was offered, players were “rated” according to their skill level, and there were court rules and etiquette that were to be followed – and if you didn’t you were gently reminded of them.  There seemed to be multiple tournaments going on, but you could only participate if your rating matched the tournament rating, and court availability on certain days was often according to a person’s “rating.”   I found this “world of Pickleball” all quite fascinating and somewhat amusing.  One day I wryly said to my wife, “Down here, Pickleball is a religion.”

            Now don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy the game – and I like its competitiveness!  In fact, I like sports; I played sports; I watch sports: baseball, football and hockey, so this is not an attempt to bash the world of sports.  However, sports are not, and never will be a religion to me.  But in our western culture, I would suggest that sports have too often become our religion – our god at whose altar we worship.  Consider the current Stanley Cup playoffs – people not only fill the arenas, paying absurd prices to be there, but also fill the streets outside the stadiums creating pandemonium every time their team scores.  Professional athletes are paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a game because the “faithful” continue to cough up the soaring prices for tickets.  In small town Canada, we pack our kids all over the place in order to compete in sporting events in the slim hopes that some will make the “big-time.

            None of these things are necessarily “wrong” in and of themselves (I’ve done them myself), but they should make us ask some deep questions concerning our life priorities. Sports become a religion when they become an all-consuming priority and passion – actually, they become our god.   We display much more passion towards our favourite team than we do in our worship of God.  And yet God told the nation of Israel, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Have sports come before the true God in your life?  Do sports come before worship?  Do sports interfere with your relationship with God?  Whenever sports have the priority of attention and affection over God in our lives, they have become an idol.  Think about that!

            Enjoy your Pickleball or whatever your sport, but don’t allow it to become a religion.

Langenburg Bible Conference

The Rock has graciously supplied us with a link to the interview that was aired October 13 with Dr Marty Culy and Pastor Dennis Elhard.  Many (most) of you are busy that time of day and didn't have the opportunity to listen, and so now you can listen to it when you have the time.  You are encouraged to listen as it's only 15-20 minutes.  Hear Marty's heart and desire for the upcoming conference this weekend.  Scott Fitzsimmons does a great job of interviewing them.

Here is the link:

More Than Conquerors

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8:35-37

The month of November is set aside in many Christian circles as a time of focus and prayer for the persecuted church.  Many churches hold a special service on a Sunday in November that is designated each year as the “International Day of Prayer” for the persecuted church.  Christians in more than 130 countries stand in prayer and solidarity with those who suffer for their faith.

Today around the world more than 200 million are suffering for their Christian faith – it’s an appalling figure.  The persecution comes in the form of harassment, arrests, beatings, imprisonment and even executions.  In fact, I have read that there have been more Christians martyred in the last 100-150 years than the amount combined in all of the years previous.  The perpetrators of this persecution come primarily from two sources – countries that are Communist states and countries that are controlled by extremist Muslims – and while that may be unpopular to say, it is undeniable.  And yet many are unaware of this ongoing tragedy because it generally goes unreported in the western media.  I don’t have an answer for that, but apparently the widespread persecution and murders of Christians’ worldwide is not newsworthy enough.

Persecution is nothing new for Christians – it began shortly after the death of Christ with the stoning of Stephen, and Jesus even told us to expect it.  History is stained with the blood of martyrs who died simply because of their faith, and it continues to be on the rise worldwide.  The current issue of the magazine put out by an organization called “The Voice of Martyrs” contains the story of a woman whose young husband was beheaded along with 21 Christian men on a beach in Libya in February 2015 by the group ISIS.  Of course, the murders were not enough; they had to post the graphic videos on the internet.  After unspeakable grief, she chose to watch the final minutes of her husband’s life.  As the camera focused on the faces of the men, they were unmistakably mouthing the words, “Lord Jesus Christ.”  This young widow found great comfort in knowing her husband’s final words were fixed on Christ and that he did not deny his faith.  Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, and this courageous woman is seeking to do just that by praying for the perpetrators of this horrific act.  This act of love makes her more than a conqueror.

So what can we do about this injustice?  “Pray for us...” is the cry of persecuted Christians around the world.  Incredibly, they do not ask for the persecution to be removed, but that they would have the courage to remain faithful and not deny their faith in Christ.  You can also support various organizations that minister to the persecuted church.  Will you join me in prayer, especially during the month of November, in remembering those who are suffering today simply for their faith?

Life Together (February 2015)

As I write this, I am sitting in the lounge car on a Via train bound for Toronto.  It has been a long time since we have travelled this way, so my wife and I have been looking forward to this opportunity.  However, passenger trains do have reputation for being late, and this one is turning out to be beyond anything we could’ve imagined.  We were four and a half hours late in leaving Winnipeg and our current estimated time of arrival in Toronto is twelve hours late!  While this is certainly out of the ordinary, I have always understood that travelling by train is all about the journey, not the destination.  If you have never taken the train, give yourself some extra time and climb on board – I highly recommend it, and the food is excellent!

            One of the things I find so interesting about train travel is to observe the development of community.  You are all “trapped” in this long tube for a significant length of time, living quarters are somewhat tight, and so interaction with your neighbor is natural and necessary.  People seem to quickly develop friendships – and it is probably because of the situation we are all experiencing.  We find ourselves on the same journey to the same destination.  That common or shared experience tends to draw people together. 

            It can be much the same for the church, or at least should be.  The church at its best is a community of people – a community of faith that is draw together by a common experience.  We, too, find ourselves on the same journey to the same destination.  One of the most precious things about the Christian life is this “life together” (in spite of it’s sometimes messiness), and it provides a stark contrast to the individualism of our culture.  We are to be a community of people who love and serve God and each other.

            The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…”  The Christian life was never intended by God to be lived in isolation, but to be lived out in the context and support of a faith community.  Sadly, it seems for many Christians today, involvement in the life of the church community has merely become an option.  It is to their loss, because God knows our need for community, our need to belong and be strengthened by those who walk the same road.  Like the people on the train, we need community – and especially so for those who walk the path of faith.  Let’s not give up on this “life together.”

Can We Blame God for the Weather?

           We have just lived through one of the longest, coldest, most arduous winters that I can ever remember.  As I write this it’s the first couple of days of May, and the winter snow has just finally vanished from our yard.  This winter and the last have been the longest winters I personally have ever experienced - never before seen winter snow still around the last week of April.  If this is global warming, I would hate to see what global cooling would be like!

            I do have a confession to make.  One of my biggest struggles of living in Langenburg is that I don’t like the weather here.  I was raised and lived most of my life in the Chinook belt of the prairies, so moving here added another month of winter to my life – during a normal year!  So what I have experienced these last two years would’ve been unthinkable.  Consequently, there are times when the long periods of cold get under my skin and begin to frustrate me – and I begin to watch the Phoenix weather reports, which doesn’t help the situation!

            My wife likes to remind me that being frustrated with the weather conditions is akin to being frustrated with God – since he controls the weather.  Is that true?  The Bible makes a pretty good case that that is true.  In ancient Israel God would send famine on the land when Israel disobeyed his commands and timely rains when they walked in his ways.  In Psalm 147:8 it says: “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.”  In verses 16-17, God is even responsible for the cold, “He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.  He hurls down his hail like pebbles.  Who can withstand his icy blast?”  There are many other references in scripture to God’s ultimate control over the weather.  So if he controls the weather, then yes, I guess we can blame him for the weather.

            I don’t always like to make that connection; I just want to be angry about the weather.  But there is also a larger issue at stake here.  One of the qualities of character of the Christian life is contentment.  The apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” and it was God who gave him the strength to do so.  There are many things in our lives that bring us frustration, and yet in the larger scheme of things, many are really quite trivial.  We have so many blessings that if we took the time to count them, maybe winters wouldn’t feel quite so long.  That’s something I’m going to need to remember, because gratitude is always better than blame.


Motorcycle Musings

Just last week, I had the pleasure of taking a short motorcycle trip with my brother and our wives.  We made a loop going over to Clear Lake, then up to Swan River, and then back home – covering some 650 kilometers over three days.  Now that’s not exactly hard riding, but my purpose in climbing onto a motorcycle has never been about conquering distance, but to experience the ride. 

Even in that short a trip, we experienced the beauty and the incredible diversity of changing landscapes – everything from vast fields growing lush crops of canola, wheat and hay, to dense stands of forest; from flat lands to rolling hill country dotted with lakes.  The deep and rich colours of summer were everywhere to be seen – such beauty!  One of the reasons I really enjoy riding a motorcycle is that I not only get to see the country, I also get to experience the smell of it.  As diverse as were the landscapes, so too were the smells.  There was the unique smell of the canola fields, the sweet clover in the ditches, the alfalfa, the new-mown hay, the forest – sometimes even smoke, manure, or slough-smelling water.  The air seemed to be continually filled with some kind of aroma.  It began to occur to me that the immense beauty and incredible diversity of creation was singing for me a song of praise to its Creator.

One of the purposes of creation is to reveal to us the truth and reality of the Creator.  The visible beauty and complexity speaks to us of the invisible reality behind it.  In my estimation it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that all this came into being through chance and random selection.  In the first chapter of Romans, verse 20 it says: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (universe/nature).  For those who have eyes to see, creation speaks a clear message of the God who is, and who creates with beauty and infinite variety.  The verse goes on to say that because of this message, humans are without excuse.

So in your travels this summer (or even your next trip to your garden), take the time to drink in the beauty and diversity of the world around you.  Let it remind you of the God who loves us enough to speak to us through creation and allows us to enjoy his creative power.


Pastor Dennis - Biography

Dennis was born in Yorkton, the second son of a pastor.  He grew up in the town of Warner, Alta. where he graduated from high school.  He lived for 10 years at the west coast where he met his wife Donna.  After marriage, they farmed for 20 years near Eastend, Sask.  They have three children – a son and two daughters, all married and are blessed with five grandchildren.

Dennis has earned a BA from University of British Columbia and an MA in Christian Ministry from Briercrest Seminary.  

His favorite verse is Psalm 107:1: “ Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and his love endures forever.”