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Friday, June 12, 2009

Defining.

Here are a few words that probably best express how life has been for me lately. Not the happiest thing in the world, but maybe it will encourage you too keep on track.

Oh, how You know the feeling...

to stare into the eyes of a love so true,
watch him strip himself of everything
that is keeping him alive.
everything he's ever owned of value.
Because he's stumbled upon the smell of feces
and can't stop thinking about it.

Is there yet a man in Judah
who will fight for what is beautiful?

Or is there only those who curse the truth?
Smear disgrace on their chest and arms like sunscreen?
And their mouths drip with festering platitudes.
Their hands so filthy that they poison the soil
as they dig their own graves.

Is there yet a man in Judah
who will fight for what is pure?

Selah.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I left because of you…

This is the first time in my life I’ve been officially accepted into church leadership.

It is kind of strange, because in some ways, not much changes.

I do basically all the same sorts of things I did when I volunteered, just a little bit more so. But I have had a long history with the church.

I have historically had a lot of complaints against the church in general, and often against the church I attended specifically.

I have done my best to ignore issues of preference (music for example) and tried to focus on things that I genuinely believe are heart issues, and even tried to keep those to a very select audience. I know the warnings in the bible against divisiveness.

I think that amongst my generation, I was, in fact, one of those who complained the least about certain petty things. I actually really love a lot of the church. In fact, I would often find myself trying to defend the church and church attendance in general.

But nothing could prepare me for this change in perspective.

One day, I found that a family at our “church” (congregation, gathering, whatever you want to call it) left to another church. And they left because of me.

The issue was there was a certain standard that they upheld at home, and I was organizing youth events, and one of the events we did usurped what they were trying to teach their kids.

Now, if I told you the specific issue, most people would probably be on my side, but that’s not the point. I caused someone to leave. My choices. My leadership.

All this to say, you just don’t know what your talking about, until you come under the scrutiny of leadership position. Imagine some humble, loving people feeling too intimidated by your position and not wanting to talk to you about it, but feel rather that leaving is the answer. It has taught me a lot.

One of the biggest things, is that I hope people would talk to their leaders than about them. I know it can be intimidating, or you may think they don’t have the time, but it is so much more appreciated than just leaving or harbouring feelings.

There may be a day when I offend people for the right reasons. In that day, I hope to be given the grace to stand my ground. But in the meantime, I pray for the humility to ask for forgiveness, and honour those who have come back and celebrate the great gift of Jesus Christ with me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can I pick the story?


It’s the little things that tend to throw me for a loop.

Today was one of those days where dinner took a little extra time. We had a roast with gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans. Those stupid green beans take forever to cut.

I was a little later than I had hoped for dinner, so I had to run out for ball hockey: something that I had organized to be from youth to young adults, a kind of mingling activity, plus a lot of fun.

Near the end of the game I found out my sister had phoned one of my friends to babysit, very odd since I don’t know if this guy has ever babysat in his life. It was a sign of desperation; she really wanted to go somewhere tonight.

I got home to my one of my biggest fear: the dinner mess had not been touched. Pots open, roast sitting on the counter, potatoes and green beans slowing going hard.

All those negative thoughts rushed into my head: “this is so unfair! Don’t those guys see what I do for them?”

I really did try to look away from what was in front of me, but I just couldn’t. It was right in my face. My brother and sister off doing social events, leaving me with a huge mess and a crying niece. So I did the only thing I could muster the strength for. I went outside and prayed.

It helped a little, so I went back in side, and started to clean up, and not focus so much on what was in front of me. I honestly started feeling sorry for myself, wishing that I at least had someone to talk to.

Gwyn was still crying for her mother. I decided to go in and try and comfort her, knowing full well she could just get mad at me. She does that sometimes, I know she doesn’t mean it, but in situations like this, it is kind of hurtful.

So I went in, and thank God, she was really sweet: “All I want to do is read my Bible story”. She said in between sobs.

“Alright Gwyn, I’ll read you one”.

“Can I pick it?” She asked as always.

“Sure.” She snuggled up and turned to a familiar picture with a boy wearing a coat of many colours.

I almost couldn’t read. I was tearing up. It was just what I needed. The title of the story was: “The Forgiving Prince” I remembered the line, “What you intended for evil, God has used for good.

I remembered how spoiled I am. All I have to deal with is a lonely night and a few dished, Joseph had to deal with many lonely nights in prison. Jesus had his share of lonely nights too. And neither of them had done anything to deserve them.

Thank You so much Jesus. You heard the prayers of a winy little boy tonight. You don’t just tell us how to act, you were there. You don’t just tell us you love us, You show us.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jerry


I go for a lot of walks.

On this walk I was, ironically, sitting down.

Sitting down with a great view of this beautiful little city.

A man on a bike stopped just off to my right and said, “enjoy this.”

He continued on. This man had strong opinions, but he loved Our city.

By most accounts, this was a strange looking man. Long black hair, a bike helmet with two small side view mirrors on it, black jeans with masking tape around the bottoms, and all sort of reflective stickers and a vest on. But he had a lot to share about life, and death.

One of his strong opinions centered around Christians. The Nazi’s were Christians. Pretty much every atrocity that was every committed was done in the name of “some Jewish corpse”.

Was I offended by this? I’m not sure. More than anything, I just wanted him to know what was true. But I just listened. One of the few things I said was in response to his statement when he leaned close to me and said,

“I have good news: your not a dirty rotten sinner!”

With a smile I responded, “yeah, not anymore!”

Then he launched into his philosophy about how only those with 100% cruel intent were actually evil. I thought of the verse that talked about how an apple tree doesn’t bear figs, and a fountain of bitter water does not give for sweet water. But I didn’t have to. I just listened to him. And for me, that was okay.

It isn’t always okay. I think the reason why I was okay to not talk was because I knew in my heart I wasn’t afraid too.

As my awareness of the evening’s activities became more pressing, I excused myself, with one thing I really felt I needed to say.

This thing would be trite and meaningless in many contexts, but in this one, somehow, I think it meant a lot. Was it my idea to say it? Probably not. But I knew I had to say it, and it makes a lot of sense now as I reflect on it. So from about street’s width away, I called out my last words to him:

“God Bless, my friend!”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

belonging...

What desparate things would a man do to feel like he belonged?

How would a man walk if he knew where he belonged?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

subtle arrogance.


I was inspired to share this little story by a new friend, so here goes.

I was reading the SS 11 text book, since I'm teaching SS 11 right now, and the topic is WWII. I'm just at the beginning. How the treaty of Versailles was really harsh on the Germans, to the point were there was no way that they could pay back their debt.

Another interesting note, the American president at the time, wanted a treaty that emphasized forgiveness, which may have lead to the avoidance of WWII! Anyway...

So the first thing I realized was that Germany, albeit for a short time, was an oppressed country! People were hungry, and poor, and out of work, and the world was like, "Pay up!"

At the same time, Canada (and the US) was going through a depression, and socialist parties were gaining momentum because of the hard times. The people figured democracy didn't work, so we should try something else. And it wasn't even as bad in Canada as it was in Germany!!

Now in comes Hitler, makes all these promises to get people back on their feet, and when he does come to power, he actually delivers!!

Now tell me we wouldn't follow a guy who brought us out of the suffering and misery of a depression? Most of us don't even know what a depression is like, though we may soon find out. What would it be like to look your family in the eyes when they tell you they are hungry, are we going to eat tonight, and this guy gets you a job, and feeds your family?

The fact is, we turn to false saviors everyday. Not all of them have the immediate repercussions of an Adolf Hitler, but we do anyway.

Any Savior besides Jesus Christ is idolatry, and Christians need to be careful they don't see themselves as morally superior to even the Nazis! For it is by grace we are saved. Of course, that doesn't mean we excuse the behavior at all. sin is sin.

Just a little something I noticed while reading a text book.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

If you want to know a guy...


Some people say that if you really want to know what a guy is like watch him play sports. I agree. I've know some pretty soft-spoken guys that are absolute goons on the turf. But I have noticed another one.

Maybe this is with all people, but if you want to know how insecure a guy is, watch how he reacts when somebody cuts him off, or does something else inappropriate in traffic. Chances are he'll do this:
1.Immediately get mad, perhaps swear, or display other uncommon behaviour
2.He will continue to talk about it, even though you try to bring up another topic.
3.He will tell this story to the first friend he meets, and all the rest of his friends for the rest of the week, and even beyond that if the topic comes up.

I can't say what exactly is the source of this, but I know for me, I really want to be right. I need everybody in the world to tell me that "the other guy" was wrong, and idiot, unsafe, etc., and that I am a skilled, competent driver. Ha ha. If I was really confident in my driving ability, I would be able to let it go, and sometimes I can. It all comes down to having my value in how Christ sees me, not the people I'm driving with, not my friends, not anyone else.

Anyway, ladies, if your wondering if this guy is "the one" watch how he reacts in traffic...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pity Party


If I start on a sadder note, I usually pick it up by the end of my post, but I'm not making any promises, this could be depressing.

I don't think a lot of the following thoughts are very healthy, and they are also very selfish, but I will allow myself this one time to be completely honest, especially since it appears as though no one really ever reads this... (see comments for the past 12 posts... 0 comments, 0 comments, etc.)

I was struck by my situation today, because I feel like it is uncommon.

I am in the grocery store, buying my sister a little Valentine's gift, shopping for my family, getting ready to take care of my niece, who lives at my house. I am not going out tonight, I am taking care of her. When I go out tomorrow night, I am taking her with me so that my sister can have a weekend away with her friend.

Sound a little self-righteous? Well it is.

Here's the thing. I am still single. 5 years now. Not a single date.

My love life is a combination of rejection, disappointment, and being the reject-er. Sometimes it is really harsh being the reject-er, because you look into that persons eyes and you see that all-to-familiar pain, and now you are the source of it.

There are a lot of things that bother me about that. Namely it is hard to not think, "what is wrong with me?" Doesn't this sound like a good profile?:

27 year old male, physically fit, healthy eater, leader in local congregation, cares for/lives with younger sister and niece, singer/songwriter, Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Education, cooks, cleans, responsible, committed, passionate, and above all, loves Jesus with all His heart.

Maybe arrogance is my problem... :)

Seriously though, humility is not denying what God has done in me. I don't know. The biggest problem is, that sometimes these facts lead to believe that God does not love me. Either He can't control what is going on, or He doesn't care enough to change anything.

But you know what? I refuse to believe that. I know God. He is good. Not only that but His plans are so much better than mine. I know that He deeply desires to give us everything we ever could want, which is why He gave Himself to us... because even though we don't realize it sometimes, the only thing that will every truly make us go, "I don't want anything else," is to be with God. Even finding the most amazing girl in the world won't fix me.

So now that that is over, I'm free to move on with my life.. ha ha. This will continue to come up, but as His grace increases, I will love Him more and more, and one day I'll really be able to say,

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."

You can pray for me if you think of it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Protecting the Heart.

I have already written a lot about men, especially single men, and what it means to be entrusted with the hearts of women around them. I have a couple of things to add.

It is easy to tell a guy to protect the women around them, and they’ll take that on, or at least they will to the best of their understanding. The problem is, when I tell a guy to protect the hearts of the girls around them, the one they have to protect the girls around them from is themselves.

That’s right. I’ll give an example.

Your friend Tanya is looking a little down at church. You ask her is everything alright. She assumes you mean it the way most people do, and says, “yes”. But you, being the caring guy you are, insist, “No really, are you alright?” She ends up spilling a story about her ex-boyfriend and how he’s into drugs, and she want to help him, etc., etc. So you sit down and listen to her, and when she opens up the conversation for a bit of help you respond with, “You know, God loves your ex more than you do, and it is probably best to just let Him handle it.”
She visible looks better, and thanks you for listening and for your advice. You go away feeling like the nice guy, the hero.

In this situation, the male feels like he has done his job, he has protected the girl, he has saved the day, that’s what God made him for, isn’t it? Not really. Inside there is evil afoot. The man is using this situation to pump up his pride, and he also opened the door for this girl to have feelings for him, even though he has no intention of persuading her or committing to her. He just wants to feel manly himself.

I’d say the biggest issue is that when most guys hear that they have to protect girls hearts, they think the enemy is out there. When the real enemy is in their own heart. Their selfishness. Their pride. Their saviour complex.

I want to see the guy who will do what’s right in regards to protecting the hearts of their female friends, even if it means all their female friends will hate them for it. That may mean, NOT siddling up when the girl is depressed. That may mean NOT flirting when the girl has put themselves in a potentially embarrassing position by flirting with you. And the end result is all female onlookers and their gossip community thinking, “What a jerk!”.

Are you willing to make that sacrifice?

"The essence of manhood is self-sacrifice"

- Matt Chandler