Thursday, December 21, 2006

Not much to say...

Well, I figured since it's been a couple weeks since I've posted anything good, I should attempt another one just for the sake of it. Also due to pressure and slander from a friend, or should I say the rowdy little sister of my friend Mike Schalin (who by the way is planning some risque endevors on her upcoming trip to some tropical place, take careful not Mike), I'm going to write something.
It's just after 9am on Thursday morning, I am currently in the office, but normally I'm still in bed at this time on Thursdays because of the late night with youth on Wednesdays. So I'm taking slight advantage of a little extra time regardless of my status at work.
Maybe it's the cheerios in my underpants, or maybe it's the short stubbly beard I'm attempting to grow, but I can't help but feel frustrated by some things going on in my world as of late. Mainly to do with myself and my ministry here in the Nizzle Bizzlefizzle. I don't know if it's cause I'm new, if somehow I've given the wrong impression to the students, or if I'm just way off base with everything, but there seems to be little to no interest and virtually no respect/discipline.
I am a firm believer that you need to earn respect before you get it, or at the very least give respect before you get it. As a result of that belief, I ascribe to it. I try to give respect, I try to give second and third and 20th chances as much as possible, but for the 4th or 5th consecutive week, our Wednesday nights have been almost unmanageable because of the lack of interest and apparent complete disrespect.
I know it's being recognized as a bit of a trend in today's youth, that there's little respect and much less control than there used to be. Besides all of that I can't help but ask the question "what am I doing wrong?" or maybe more applicable "what am I not doing right?"
If I'm supposed to lead kids to Christ, I need to be there myself. So then I have to ask myself another much more taxing I there? Does my relationship with Christ show to myself let alone others around me? Am I completely surrendering to God?
As I sit here in this office, whiche is a tad warm this morning, I can't help but look at myself (metaphorically of course) and say a resounding "NO" to answer those questions. I think this blog is actually becoming a part of my morning devotional for today because, well I need to examine my heart and confess sin if it's coming up.
I'm preaching on Philippians 2:1-11 in just over a week, December 31st to be precise. My theme and quite possibly even the title of that sermon (now that I'm thinking about it) is going to be looking at an "Attitude Adjustment". In verse 5 of said passage Paul states that "your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." He then continues on to describe in short but slightly poetic detail just exactly what that attitude is.
As I think even more and reflect and perhaps even receive some conviction from the Spirit, I need a tremendous attitude adjustment. I am so focused on myself that it hurts to say it. I can try to chalk it up to any number of excuses: I'm single, I'm a youth pastor it's supposed to be about me, I'm human, I'm sinful, I'm , I'm , I'm..... That's just the problem, there's something that all of those statements have in common..."I'm...insert tired and old remark here". Even when things become clearer they're jaded.
Yes, we need to examine ourselves, it's Scriptural. Yes we need to repent of sin revealed to us by the Spirit. Yes it's so incredibly important to utter the words that few people like to say and even fewer seem to mean when they say it "I'm sorry." BUT, if all I ever do is think about myself, whether good or bad things (see "sober judgement" passage in Romans 12:3), something's missing....what? Jesus!
If I am so focused on myself all the time, Jesus is left out. Then my schedule becomes an attempt at just that, it being "MY" schedule. My free time becomes something that I'm trying to actually take ownership of. My attitude, my pain, my hurt, my joy, my happiness, my...whatever becomes something that I forget someone else shares in... Jesus' role in our lives, in my life is forgotten for the sake of independance (which we all know is completely undesirable, though many would try to convince us otherwise) and the result is loneliness.
Alas, we forget still, even in that loneliness the Spirit of God is never far off. In fact He is within us, we've just suppressed and ignored Him and so forgotten His place in our lives.
The beauty of God mysteriously intertwined within us to dwell and to shape us, but part of that mystery is that the work is only done when we finally allow it to happen.
Oh how I want to allow God's Spirit to overwhelm me today. How I long for my attitude to be characterized as being like Jesus, for my life to no longer be mine, but to be continually broken for those around me that God may be glorified in this body and in theirs.

Well there you have it, another journaling thought.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ok, this is funny.

I'm cheating on this post, I'm just putting a link to a really freakin' hilarious video on youtube.
I don't want to take the chance of wrecking my blog like Mike did when he tried to actually post the video. The link will work just as well.
I'm sure lots of people have seen it, it's a clip from a Family Guy episode. You'll know when you see it, why I laughed so hard.
Here it is. Don't laugh too hard.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

How did I get here?

There are moments where I find myself wondering, how did I get here? This is not a question of the origin of species, whether or not I was created or I came from a monkey or even a single cell organism, obviously God created me.
Nor is it a question of how did I end up in North Battleford? Or maybe how did I end up in Calgary? Or how did I end up going to CBC? No, this is a question of "what has led me to this moment, why do I feel the way I do? What has caused my specific emotions of this moment? What has made me happy? Sad? Contemplative?
So I am finding myself wondering the answer to this question at this moment. You know, it's so incredibly hard to imagine that God uses my screw ups, my huge mistakes and my little mistakes, to somehow bring glory to himself. I am so incredibly thankful for that, because that says that my life is not a waste, which it otherwise likely would be were it not for grace.
My good friend Mike, whose blog you can be linked to on the right side of this page, recently wrote about how he's been reading some of Yancey's stuff. I've not read any for myself, but he quotes from "The Jesus I Never Knew". Talking about dependance, sorrow, repentance and a longing to change as the way to Christ. Those are so not atractive qualities to the majority of people.
Who wants to be with someone who is dependant, seems weak, admits wrongs, wants to be broken hearted? But how can I not be like that, or want to be like that? Those are the results of the grace of God. I can be dependant on him because of his grace, I can be healed of sorrow, because of his grace, I can experience godly repentance beacuse of his grace, and receive forgiveness because of his grace.
Grace...grace is how I got here...Grace is the answer to all those aforementioned questions. How did I get here? Grace. How did I get to experience happiness? Grace. How did I become sad? Oddly enough, grace...Any emotion, is given to me by grace. It's how I deal with stuff. The Psalms is the perfect example. Tremper Longman III is a super intellectual, he taught my Psalms class, which was a great class by the way. He pointed out at one point that every human emotion can be found in the Psalms...
That sets a precedent for it to be ok to experience those emotions, those are God given things. Jesus experienced them, he wept, he laughed, he got angry, he loved. God gave/gives us our emotions to help us through things, to help us cope. Tears are an outlet, laughter an outlet, words an outlet, music an outlet...All given to us by God.
So how did I get here? Only by the grace of God that I may be broken hearted for those around me, that I may be filled with grief because of my sin, that may experience joy because of God's goodness.
God's grace is how I got here...he didn't cause me to sin, or make me do anything, but he has allowed me the grace to rebound, to live.
Thank God for grace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

All the answers

So I sit here thinking...Wow, I haven't blogged for a while... then I think...What will I write about this time, cause I don't have anything really on my brain.
Then I think about this seminar I've been taking today, and tomorrow. It's a suicide intervention seminar that scares the poop out of me. It's really not a pretty sight actually, poo all over the place, I'm not looking forward to cleaning that up.
But when I think about it, yeah I want to be able to help people in such situations. I want to know the things to say, the steps that need to be taken and the methods to use to prevent a person from taking their own life. But it's terrifying. What if I screw it up? What if I don't read the signs well enough? What if I'm the one responsible for their actions?
Of course you can't blame yourself if you do everything you can, but what if I don't?
It kinda makes me want to just go and work in a feed mill or a warehouse where all I have to worry about is unloading a trailer and loading another one up with boxes. There's much less stress to such a job, at least for me, and I like to do that kinda stuff.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I'm feeling the weight of my career choice and my calling. It's a pretty large responsibility, and it's intimidating, especially when I still feel like I'm trying to learn how to navigate the world of pastoral ministry.
It's tough when there's nobody who sleeps beside me to share such stuff with. Obviously I would never want to burden a wife with my issues, but I'm really kinda wanting that these days, although at the same time not as well.
So as my incoherent ramblings continue you see how I wish I had all the answers, knew what was coming ahead for me, and who would be a part of my life in the future. It's tough to just hand it over to God and relax...obviously I need some help with that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boy Band - Take That - So Funny

Funny video mocking boy bands. So funny because it could actually be a legitimate music video for a tpyical boy band

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who do I love?

A challenge has been issued to me this evening. I believe this challenge is from God and I'm not sure what the result will look like, nor do I know precisely what needs to be done quite yet but one thing is clear, I am now and need to continually be forced to face the truth of God with expectation and fear.
I've entitled this entry "Who do I love?" because I feel it's the question that is stirring within me and the answer that is coming up is neither pleasing to God nor me.
We've been having some teaching sessions from a revival preacher from South Africa named Dr. Francois Carr at our church this week. He came to town last night and spoke then, spoke again tonight and will do so again until Wednesday night. I will get to spend some time with him in a car for a little while on Thursday morning as I'll be driving him to his next stop. However, he addressed sin tonight, not so much the sin aspect as the standard God has for us. My discomfort, my lack of peace and understanding comes from a proud heart, unwilling to confess and ask forgiveness on a consistent basis.
As I read some Scripture after the session tonight, as I've been convicted strongly was the course of action needed for this evening, opening the pages to John I read a few chapters. I think John was a postmodern in his own rights. He was different than the others (Matthew, Mark and Luke) in his style and his approach to the message of the Gospel (ok enough heresy for now). I was led to John 14 and read through and one particular verse stayed in my mind as it relates to the topic of the talk tonight.

John 14:21 - "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Now before I reason out why that verse stuck, or sticks...allow me to expand on the teaching from earlier. Dr. Carr spoke of pleasing God, essentially what the verse above is saying, though he used other proof texts. He used an example of someone speaking somewhere after which a person came to the preacher and said they disagreed with what he had said. This was a woman who was upset because she felt he had lied. Taking a verse from Scripture, in 1John 3, "we have confidence before God and receive anything we ask". She felt this a lie because she had not received what she asked for. Though a noble desire, she was praying for her husband's heart to change, she had not seen it. The preacher asked her to read the rest of the verse, she did, "because we obey his commands and do what please him." Only after it being pointed out to her did she realize that nothing in her lifestyle coincided with this verse. At which moment God began to stir within me as if to say "This is why things are so difficult right now".

Then I read John 14 and the verse I quoted earlier resonated within my heart. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." Who do I love? Well I'm not sure it Jesus lately. I have the commands, but the obedience part has not been so evident. I say I love God, I say I would do anything for him, but my consistent refusal (whether conscious or not) to obey his commands consistent takes me another notch further from God. Because even as this verse continues "He who loves me will be loved by my Father". If I don't love Christ, how can I expect love from God? Now I know I have to be careful here because God's love is abundant and for all, he loves those who don't love him back. But similar to the woman spoken of previously, how can I expect God to step in and step up to aid me in life (however needed or wanted) if I show no commitment to him and no obedience to his constant voice in my ear? Or how can I hear him if I'm not listening?
Whoever obeys my commands is the one who loves me, and he who loves me is loved by my, that's a significant statement. And then the end of the verse, "and I too will love him and show myself to him."
It's like a chain reaction. We experience the abundance of God's love and Jesus reveals himself to us (though God first loved us, I recognize that), only after we hear and obey his commands to show we love him.
Who do I love? Me! At least that's the way I've been living. Who do I want to love? God. Or rather, who do I want to please...God.
Confession, repentance and forgiveness are a package deal.
May God forgive me for a lifestyle not completely devoted to him, for looking to myself instead of him, for forgetting that he's within me and beside me always and may I walk in freedom and step by step be attuned to the Spirit of God.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flow creative juices, flow!!!

Ok, I am currently trying to get my mind around my sermon for this weekend. This is my first time preaching "in the big house" as we in the Youth Ministry profession call a Sunday morning church service. I've yakked at youth countless times (ok, I'm sure I could probably mathematically guess how many times actually, but it's a lot either way), but never actually done the real deal on Sunday morning. The closest I came was a couple years ago at a Bible Quizzing tournament, I spoke at their Sunday morning service at a camp...still not quite the same.
But as I sit here, you may be thinking "why are you wasting time blogging if you still need to work on your sermon?" This is a very intriguing and legitimate question so let me expound on my answer.
I sometimes experience a lack of creativity whilst I write, obviously not all THAT much because I"m a creative genious, I know, but sometimes it does still happen regardless of my almost unmeasurable intellect.
One thing that helps get those creative juices flowing is to just start writing. I'm not much of a writer, in fact if I were to take an English class again I would likely either fail because I couldn't stay awake or because my language skills leave something to be desired. I could really care less about conjugating a verb, or spelling conjugating right. I have no idea what people are talking about when they ask me to point out the adverb in a sentence.
I'm a talker. I wouldn't say preacher, or public speaker, I'm a talker. I like to talk (though some people may wonder when that is), when I get up in front of people, I'll ramble on about the newest nose hair trimmer and keep talking as if people are interested.
Anyway, back to my answer, writing something gets my mind working the way I want it to. So here I write, and as you've likely discovered so far, this post has no significance whatsoever and really isn't interesting well let me add something interesting, or at least slightly entertaining.

The other day I had the pleasure and privilege to spend a few hours with some visionaries within our denomination, a few senior pastors from around this area. Of course I've not much in common with such men: I'm young, they're less young. I'm new, they're seasoned veterans. I'm a youth pastor, they're all real pastors. I have red hair, they're all missing theirs. Ok, enough with the harsh realities as none of them will likely read this (unless that underhanded brother of mine passes it along to his sr. pastor). We actually did have a thing or two to talk about so that was good but not the purpose of my being there. There's a place not far from town here that is known as Blue Mountain (of course this is prairie land so it's obviously not a real mountain) and this place is an outdoor adventure centre. There are many things that one or 100 people can do to fill a day or more at this place. One of those activities is to defy death on the longest zipline in North America, if not the world.
Now if you don't know what a zipline is, let me explain. This is a cable that crosses over a valley and the rider is harnessed up and sent across the valley on said cable. Your top speed may not be all that fast but when you are dangling 10 stories above the ground and are moving, it feels pretty fast.
Now I am terrified of heights. I have been for a long time. So throwing myself off a tower that is on the edge of a large hill, giving my life to the integrity of a couple ropes, pullies and cables to get me across the valley is not comforting to me. But as with every other time I've done a zipline, the thrill once you've jumped off is really more than worth the terrifying preparation.
So, like the huggies pull-ups commercials, I am able to declare at the top of my lungs "I'm a big kid now!" because I overcame that pesky phobia of heights and actually took a risk for once (well twice actually).
I shall now attempt to return to writing my sermon in hopes that my ramblings here have aided in my mind getting rolling enough to get this thing done today (I don't have much choice I need to).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Missin' the old...

Last weekend I took a trip back out to Calgary. It was generally a pretty good weekend. I got to see a bunch of people that I haven't since I moved, and it was good being back in the city. I did discover that I don't really miss the city all that much, but I do miss being there.
After being gone for a few months I definitely noticed the "youth" of the people there. There were people my age, within my age bracket at least, I definitely miss that. And checking out friend's websites and stuff, seeing pictures of friends hanging out...makes me miss that.
Sometimes I feel like I've been forced to "grow up" long before I ever wanted to. It's like I had to become responsible without getting the chance to be "free" for a while.
This is likely going to sound like I'm just complaining and I kinda am, so I don't mind.
I just miss having people around all the time. Just expecting that we'll be hanging out on the weekend, cause that's just what happened.
It's slightly different now. I'm either working or at home, there's not really much else going and I think it's starting to get to me a bit. Perhaps it's just a phase, perhaps it's just cause I was back around friends last weekend.
It's better to write stuff down instead of just keeping it in sometimes. Being a young fresh out of college single pastor is tougher than I expected.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The heart of God

I have been lead by the Spirit to be thinking about those in other countries, those (for lack of a better term) less fortunate than myself. I don't believe that I'm just supposed to "think" about these things, I fully believe that I need to do something about it, but I feel so useless. My heart aches to step up to the challenge and serve these people and I'm sure I'd gain far more from them than I could ever give. But I feel debilitated, like I don't have "enough" to help anyone out. I feel somehow insecure about my own status.
And here's where I rip apart my own thoughts and say "just do it" (much unlike Nike), I need to actually show that I care, cause if I don't do something about it then it's clear that I don't care.
My heart aches, so I should "follow my heart", and more importantly follow the heart of God himself to do everything within my own power (and maybe even some things outside of my power) to see that I'm giving myself, money, time, energy, essentially whatever it is that I have to do so.
Here's my I'm sure many people in North America and the rest of the Western world have experienced before...I'm selfish! I confess that. Not only that, but I'm ashamed of it. I hate the fact that I consistently choose to put myself before other people, in the small things as well as the bigger things. Sure I'm getting better at tithing (a long time struggle for me), but if that's what I do and I have more left over does that entitle me to the rest? Well where did the money come from in the first place? I sure didn't come from me! It definitely didn't come from my 'hard work'. It came from God. And being a pastor, if I try to claim it for myself, there's something not quite right. Every so often God sits me back and reminds me that absolutely everything I have comes from Him, I would literally have nothing were it not for God.
So why is it that I am still so greedy? Cause I like stuff. I like comfort. But how can I sit in comfort when even a close friend of mine wonders if he'll have enough money to make it this month? Maybe it's a lesson for me to learn (I know it is) and maybe that's a lesson for him to learn to, I can't say, I don't teach the lessons I just receive them.
This is what's on my mind tonight, I sit here in frustration of sorts, restless/feeling helpless as to what I need to do. I can make excuses far better than I can come up with solutions. I want to be a part of the solution instead of the problem, cause it's a big problem.
Bono is using his money and fame to pull strings and do everything he can to help out people in Africa, I respect that greatly. I want to do all that I can (though not nearly as much sway as Bono) to aid in all "causes" of the world. If I'm a representative of Christ, how do I ignore it? I can't!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Here's a Journal entry

Why does it seem to be one of the basest human instincts to tuck tail and run? Or at least to want to do that? Passivity is an enemy to the human soul. There's such an exhilerating rush when you go against every fibre of your being and step up to the beast in front of you. Whether that 'beast' is a short little pipsqueek who's mouth is larger than her body can handle, or the drunken football fans who can't seem to shut up. There's something satisfying about telling someone off, or standing up for another person or just facing those "demons" that can seem to haunt you for years.
Of course courage is a one way street. You can't make dumb choices and call it courage, that's stupidity. Courage comes with justice. Integrity is a result of courage. When you're honest, reliable and wise with your words and actions, integrity show itself pure. The very essence of integrity is to face the difficulty and remain true to God as you do.
Recently I've reverted back to looking through Uprising with some co-workers and the idea of integrity is integral to this book. The person who lives with integrity shares the heart of God. I can't think of anything that I want more than to share my deepest longings with the creator of the universe. To have his desires as mine and mine his. Not for him to conform to me by any means, of course, but to have my soul be so in line with Him that the only things that I desire are the very things that God wants for me. To be close to him, to follow his lead and to share Him with those around me. God's heart is noble, mine ignoble. God's desire is for relationship, mine leans to a certain "solitary confinement" of sorts. God's love is unending, mine merely a line on a page. I start and stop somewhere, He remains always.
Do I want to be God? Absolutely not! There is no chance that I could even imagine such a thing. Do I want God's character to be infused into me? I sure do. For what purpose? To bring glory to him in any way possible.
I really can't think of anything more desirable. I know I've placed others in that position before and they pale in comparison to the reality of Christ.
Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable his judgments, his paths beyond tracing out.
The poetry of Scripture brightens my soul.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

As I sit in my living room watching television with my siblings (and sibling in-law), and watch my neice make strange movements and noises, I reflect on the dinner I just ate. How sweet it is.
That enticing smell that fills the house and the enjoyment experienced is like no other.
Really, I'm just happy to have people in my house for a few days. It's like someone else actually lives here, I like that feeling.
However it was rather fun trying to cook a turkey dinner in spite of the many things that I am lacking in my home. Most of which were small things that I normally have no use for that other people see as "everyday items". Items like a rolling pin, strainer, big fork, pepper, you know that kinda stuff. It's all about improvisation, that's what I always say. Nevertheless, we figured it all out and were able to enjoy and decent family turkey dinner, even in spite of my fridge deciding to stop doing its job of keeping things cold. Hopefully that'll get taken care of soon, I spoke with my landlord at church this morning about it, so we'll see.
But of course, now the sleepy drug that I swear is injected into turkey meat from an external source, is taking its toll on my overly stuffed body and I long to sleep, even though it is definitely the wrong time of day for it.
I will now go back to enjoying my family being here, because it will all be over tomorrow and I will go back to being "alone" with visitors dropping by but not actually living here. As full as the house seems, I would most certainly rather it be full than empty like normal.
Maybe it's time to get hitched? Nah, not likely, though I might not turn down such an offer, especially if it came from Mike Schalin. Who wouldn't want to marry that man? Cara, you lucky girl! If I wasn't a man.....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mediocrity is a comfortable prison

I feel imprisoned right now. That's the honest truth. Imprisoned by the ease of mediocrity.
There is so much potential that God has placed within me and I know He longs to make me fly in that potential and reach pretty huge heights. What that might look like is another story that I don't know the middle or the end to, but I have a feeling I know the beginning.
Perhaps God's stirring something within me to break free from said prison and bust away from any sort of mediocre lifestyle that just doesn't fulfil.
Jesus promises abundant life. Am I there? I'm not so sure that I am entirely. Do I see glimpses of it? Absolutely. Do I long for more? Yup, sure do. Am I saved by the blood of the Lamb? You bet I am and I'm so thankful for it.
There's something more though. There's a satisfaction in life that Jesus provides that I don't always experience. Contentment is what most people seem to call it, and I'm just not there.
I wrestle with thoughts that I've had many times in years past of, as Paul describes, "being content in any and every situation." If you've read any of my blogs you've noticed that I'm not married and I don't like that. That's not contentment! Does contentment mean that I settle for my current situation? Not in the least! It means I recognize my current situation as being where God has placed me and I find joy in Him, not in searching for what I don't have!
But there are aspects of life that I believe God wants us to be unsettled about. He wants us to feel unsettled over unsaved people, poverty, affluence, mediocrity, stagnance, etc. I shouldn't just settle for a life of second best, a life that doesn't change, a heart that isn't constantly broken for the people around me. I shouldn't settle for just getting things done, they should be done well. I shouldn't settle for last minute efforts to be prepared for wednesday night youth ministry, I should be well ahead and well prepared so that I don't disappoint the people who need to hear the truth.
I shouldn't settle for ideas that come to mind about how to strive for purity, how to help those around me, how to share Jesus with other people, only to write them down on a piece of paper and file them away along with the rest. Non-action plans just don't cut it. And if all of these things are being settled for in my life, then I'm too comfortable.
There's too much that isn't happening that could be and should be. An action plan doesn't go anywhere without the "action."
For far too long I've settled for the ease of mediocrity all the while not realizing that it's really a prison that people get trapped in. As a prisoner wants to be out of his jail cell so I should long to be as far away from a mediocre life as possible. But not only long for it, work towards it.
Can I do such a thing on my own? I think many lives, including my own, would testify that it's not something I can do myself. I need others to push me forward, I need God to pull me up out of the quick sand. Do I know the "action" steps that need to be taken? I'm not sure that I do right now and that is certainly unsettling, but do I need to take action? Yes, I do.
Will I? I most certainly intend to, but succeeding in such a track will only come from God.
Will it just happen if I don't do anything? Not likely.
I think it's time to be unsettled. I'm feeling it right now, it's only begun to stir recently, a hungry heart growls like an empty stomach. There's a longing for more, my heart is saying "more food, less garbage." A broken heart, that's what I want. Not in the normal way, that's been done before, a new kind of broken heart. One the spurs on toward love and good deeds. A heart that longs to see people come to Jesus, that would do anything to see that. A heart that doesn't settle for just existing, for just getting things done, but one that strives to excel in everything and to experience the abundant life Christ offers.
That's what's on my heart today.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's funny how things fall apart over time.

The title is not meant to be for the sake of humour that things fall apart, rather just to trigger some thought. I'm sitting in my bed not feeling top notch at the moment with some strange undiagnosed pains in my lower back. So as I face the inevitability of getting older and my body needing extra attention in some facets, I am reminded of the truth that eminates from the reality of decay. No I don't think I'm old or that my body is somehow falling apart, but the fact of the matter is, you don't get younger, you get older.
The unfortunate result of a fallen world is that decay happens, there's really no way around it in the physical world. But parallels can be drawn from this to the spiritual decay that occurs when one's heart isn't right with God.
The fool returns to his folly, but the fool also fails to learn from other's mistakes as well. There's decay that happens within the heart if those things are allowed to happen. God makes it pretty clear that if we just pay attention to what He says then the road to freedom is found. Christ didn't die so that his followers would be stuck in their own destruction, he died and rose again to free us from our own patterns of desctruction.
I need to be reminded of this all the time because too often I've been the fool, choosing not to obey God's commands and in a sense accepting the reprocusions of my own destructive actions. Pride is a deeply rooted issue that affects far more of us than any of us would like to admit.
The book I've been reading is called "It Came From Within" by Andy Stanley. In it he discusses the four main enemies of a healthy heart in the life of a believer. Guilt, anger, greed and jealousy are those enemies. As I read, I am faced with the frightening reality that those are very real oppositions of my own heart and I've allowed them to take root and at times to be strong holds preventing me from experiencing Christ as He longs for me to.
As a pastor, it feels like there's some unsaid pressure on me to portray a put-together life without any kind of struggles or difficulties and I just can't live that way. I can't pretend like I don't sin, like I don't have things that need to be worked on and ultimately removed from my life. Pride is one of those things, at times guilt has had it's way with me, anger and jealousy reach to the surface on occasion as well. Those are all indications that when I become of aware of those issues I need to confess them and release them to the healer who will ultimately heal my heart and guard me from those things. But, if left unchecked those things can be allowed to take deeper root and will cause that decay that our earthly bodies are destined for.
I don't want that to happen over and over again, I want to be freed from the pride that holds me, from the guilt and anger that I've experienced and the jealousy that has no place.
Maybe some of those things aren't as prevelant in my heart as they are in others, but even if there's a trace of them, I want nothing to do with them.
The bottom line is, I'm broken, I need to be fixed, and I don't want to even try to put across some fake persona that say "I'm fine". Just some thoughts for this evening.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A test of wills sometimes I suppose.

It's weird for me to say, but I haven't really been doing a whole lot of thinking these days. Unfortunately I seem to be just turn off when I don't have to be alert. I'm not really a big fan of that to be honest. I don't really take pride in the fact that my mind usually rolls around with different ideas but I like it when that happens.
Usually what ends up going through my mind is how there's so much work to do and I don't have any idea how it's ever going to get done. When I set a schedule somehow those things get pushed back until the absolute last minute and I hate that. It worked for when I was in school but it's not really a good thing at this stage of the game.
And then I think of different jobs that have come available since I've taken the job that I have. Not that I don't like where I am by any means, but I hear of other jobs that I would love to do but I've already got a job. Like I said, I love my job, I feel overwhelmed that's for sure, but I like my job. Then the next issue that comes to mind is....will I screw it up? I'm kinda scared that that could easily happen. I've definitely done it before, so who's to say that it won't or can't happen again?
So I guess I have been thinking, just not about the things that I may actually want to think about.
Then there's the thought of people. How are my relationships changing? What's going to happen with those that I call my friends? Do I feel burned by some? Do they feel burned by me? It's like my mind has slipped into some semi-comatose state that I can't really control what I'm thinking, and it's not in the least bit positive.
I realize this isn't the most enlightening entry, but it's the truth from my mind.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Jumpin' on the bandwagon

I've always been kind of a skeptic of guys like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels and most other mega church pastors as those, especially when they've written books and make tonnes of money from such things. I went to a small groups conference this weekend and it was from the small group's pastor at Saddleback church, Rick Warren's stomping grounds and I was able to see a different side. In fact the two conferences that I've participated in in this last month or so have given me a little perspective on the whole idea of it.
When you see the heart behind the empire it gives you a better picture of why things are as they are.
Anyway, that's beside the point, sort of. I think God used this small groups conference to hit more than just the need for community into my heart. The reality of why big churches (for the most part) become so big and why those particular models of ministry work is because they're based on truth. I thought about how I've always tried to "do my own thing" when it comes to a ministry model, or at least that's how I'd want to do things and that because I don't want to have a "canned" ministry that comes from somewhere else. But then a thought entered my mind about how even if I were to try to do it my way, it would still be based on the same things, the same truth, the same scriptures, etc. Why not attend those kinds of conferences to refresh your soul and your passion for ministry? To see how the truth will change the lives of people, because that's really all those guys are trying to do.
What does God ask of us in life? Surrender. Does ministry stop at the office or church on sunday? No, it's how you live life. I was really convicted by the Spirit about my lifestyle since I moved, I haven't even made an attempt to meet any of my neighbours...there's so much potential for good things to happen if I just take a few risks.
I'm not really a risk taker in general, I never really have been, but I've noticed that when I do take risks, even if they don't work out, things are better off. Today, I introduced myself to a kid I'd never seen before, with his family right there, I don't usually do that kind of stuff, not easily anyway. It was great. I talked to a few others that I hadn't talked to before, it's a blast, you don't know people's response, but you take the risk anyway.
I would rather live a life taking risks and failing a couple times but in the long run succeeding, than trying to play it safe and being useless to God.
All I want to do is see Christ's kingdom grow, people's lives change, and the community be transformed. If I'm going to be a part of God's work here, I gotta work on how I live.
It starts with choice, and then you can work at it from there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

For everything there is a season.

Life is a continuous flow of new and old intertwined. There's always new friendships/relationships coming to fruition and old making their way out. New jobs and old existing within our minds, new beginnings and old experiences mingling with each other in the recesses of the mind.
Look at me trying to be all abstract and wordy, I know it doesn't work. But seriously, I look at my limited experience and I can immediately recognize different phases in my life and the different people who have played important roles to me and how some remain and some drift.
I don't see that so much as a bad thing as a part of the human experience. Is it always easy? Is it the way God intended? I'm not sure I can answer that one with any sort of authority. But is it the way things life goes? Of this I am confident.
Think about it, if I were to think of all the close relationships that I've had with other people, of course I am talking both male and female, some have lasted through til the present and some have not. Maybe it is a separation that is a result of the fall, maybe it's not, I'm not going to try and figure that one out right now. But I do see it as something that can be seen in a less than negative light. Do I mourn some relationships? For a time maybe, but in the end I can look back and see the significance of them for the time they existed in such a way and see the significance of newer relationships forming and other long term ones continuing to deepen.
Maybe it's a mistake on my part but I am perfectly content with certain friendships morphing from a close knit experience to an acquiantance to someone I can fondly remember in later years.
Maybe I'm heartless or am missing something here, and that's ok, such things will be revealed in time if need be. I don't hurt when I think of changed relationships. I can recognize that lives change and go different paths at times and experiences are no longer shared together but told to each other after time. That's not a bad thing either, to learn from the stories of God working in the lives of others.
Ultimately God brings redemption to all things whether we live to see it or we see it in perfection later on. There's a reason for celebration in such truth.
Having been in Bible college for 5 years I've met and conversed and deeply connected with a number of people that I don't expect to continue the same level of connection 5 years from now. This is not because I'm lazy (although I accuse myself of such slothfulness at times), but because God has specific ideas and plans in mind for each of us and it will take us all over the world. That I celebrate as well. Having the priviledge of saying I was friends with the missionary who God used to reach multiple muslim communities (although I don't know anyone specifically right now, I think you get the idea), or who lead a church of 20 people to being God centered and experienced tremendous growth to being the biggest church in Canada. There's such diversity in the lives of people I have had the priviledge of knowing and I am thankful that God has placed each of those people in my life in the capacity that He has for the time that He has (and will for that matter) and I will continue to follow God and seek to serve Him in the avenue in which He has placed me for the time being.
Great things can happen if only we would trust God for them to happen. (I will eat my words, I know it full well).

Monday, September 04, 2006

Responsibility?....What's that?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the shift from living life as a student and actually living within your chosen career path. It's really quite interesting to be in that place where you are at a whole new level of learning life skills. For years long before I was ever even in college I had my own little ideas of what life would be like when I was finished with school and out on my own. Somehow my version of reality and the real thing have turned out to be two different things. I'm really quite certain that many people find themselves in such a place in life where they look back and say to themselves "I never thought life would turn out this way." I know that those words have certainly rolled through my mind on occasion.
It's funny (I use the word loosely) how God's ideas for our lives can vary so very much from our own. Or is it the other way around? I think it very much is. Our ideas are often very different than what God's got in mind. Is it to make us suffer? Angry? Faithless? Nope, nope, and nope.
If you really think about it, the bottom line is, life as it has turned out is the way that it is, and things will change, things will shift, be harder or easier but in the end, that's the way it is.
The downside of original sin is that things are no longer perfect and as a result the world has become the way it is and the things that are ungodly run rampant and our lives are affected negatively because of it. It's not a game of chance, nor is it a cruel twist on creation that God decided to place on us just for kicks.
So because my life hasn't worked out the way I thought/think it should, am I somehow right in being angry? The fact of the matter is that I always look around and see the things I don't like instead of the things that I do. How can I enjoy life as a whole if I am focused on the things that I "wish were different?" There's so many great things to be enjoyed in life, why waste the good stuff by focusing on the bad?
These thoughts are just reminding me that I need to keep seeing the great things God has placed in my life and be so excited about where He's placed me and where He's taking me instead of what "I want."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ballad of San Francisco (or North Battleford?)

As with many people with whom I am well acquainted, music plays a large part in my life. Not so much playing it myself as of late anyway (hopefully that will change again soon), but singing and listening to music. One of my favourite bands is Caedmon's Call, they have been for quite some time. One of their former members has gone solo, you may or may not have heard of him, Derek Webb. He wrote a lot of songs while playing with Caedmon's and on their "Long Line of Leavers" album there is a song called "Ballad of San Francisco." I was just listening to it and I thought it was a good one to place the lyrics on my blog for today. Derek Webb is quite a decent writer and when you delve deeper into his music you discover that he's not really content with "the way things are" and sees "the way they could/should be" and I find myself very much resonating with that idea. So here's the lyrics of that song, although not quite the kind of song as I just described, it's still a good song.

So I'm walking down the street somewhere outside of San Francisco
But, I don't really know my way around
And I'd love to stay a day or two and get into some trouble
But tomorrow I'll be in another town

There's at least one coffee bar for every single couple
And there's at least a couple in this place
Strange the things you notice when the walls are closing in
And the walls are closing in on me today

So where, oh where, can I find someone, anyone
'Cause there's no way outta here
Well, here is where I live and so I guess that means
The carrot's gonna dangle for at least another year

I love anonymity and I love being noticed
Just the same as anybody else
Years ago I told you how I loved to be alone
These days I'd be perjuring myself

It's like you gave me up like I gave up drinking coffee
So I guess I would have done the same
Now I know I'm lost somewhere outside of San Francisco But I'm still glad that I came

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The nights grow long

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

I recently started reading a book by a guy named Andy Stanley called "It Came From Within."
He's a pastor in Atlanta, started a church in like 1995 with just himself, his family and a few others and now the church has like 10,000 people or something in regular attendance. Depends on who you are whether that means anything or not, it doesn't make me look at the guy any differently than I would a piece of toast, but what he has to say is beneficial.
He looks at matters of the heart, or rather, the words of our mouths and the actions of our lives and the direct correlation they have with what's stirring around inside. Jesus said a few times that what we say and do reflects what is really happening deep within.
When things are hidden and not released, when past pains continue to fester, when habits are kept secret, they will manifest themselves in our words and deeds.
Unfortunately I know this all too well from first hand experience. The destruction that such things can have on one's attitude, relationships and overall personality is devastating. At times I've been that destructive force that pushes people away even though I think I'm trying to draw them in. When you've something to hide, people aren't able to get close because you won't let them, and when you do, it's like a volcano vomiting molten lava all over the one who was really only trying to care.
What is attractive about someone who is closed off? Who says and does things that defame themself and others? Why should a person try to dig into a heart like that? Well, logic says stay away. At least in my mind that's what it says, protect yourself and back off. I see a problem with that approach however. If I'm supposed to love others like myself, I should really stop at nothing to try and help that person towards healing in Christ. Does love shrink away? Does love say "I'm out" when there's potential for disaster? I don't think so, Scripture seems to lean the other way. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." That's Jesus talking to his disciples and telling them to love each other as he has loved them (John 15:13). But what does that say about love? It says do anything necessary to help out a friend.
What are you saying if you walk away? You're saying you don't care, that says there's stuff within that needs to be resolved. What comes from the mouth comes from the heart.
I have a tendancy to step back, to allow someone else to deal with people. To "stay out of it" even when it's a friend that needs help.
There is continually stuff that's being brought to my attention, whether by the Spirit of God directly or through a friend, that needs to be dealt with. Things that have been long neglected that have caused rifts in relationships and would continue to do so were they not resolved. Many things have been and are being resolved, it's cool how that happens actually. God walks you through the trash and removes it from you but it seems that it happens in layers. When one layer of filth is peeled away another is revealed and the process starts again.
An infected wound is not able to heal unless the dead tissue, the infection, and any other impurities are removed. Obviously I'm no doctor, but I know this is the case.

I think much of this is a jumbled mess of thought in my mind, but that's alright, I don't really expect people to follow everything, but hopefully some of the things that I learn may give some insight for someone else.
Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. So what does that say about the way I talk trash about myself, about others (at times)? What does it say about my lack of trust in other people? What does that say about the times when I do nothing productive?
Methinks it says that there may be some things yet to be revealed that God wants to heal. These days, I'm always up for a challenge.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A quick thought

I was at a retreat this weekend, a youth retreat. It was such a good time, I honestly loved it, which is quite a nice feeling cause many of the other retreats that I've gone on in the last year or so have been more burden than blessing for me (due to a bad attitude and stuff).
This morning as I sat on the dock on a beautiful lake and prayed and read some Scripture, I read Luke 18 cause I'm still following the daily reading pattern of RockPointe Church in Calgary even though I'm in Saskatchewan now. Anyway, as you sit and reflect on God I believe He tends to give you some things to ponder. Actually, truth be told, the thing I was thinking of mentioning was something that was rolling around in my little mind before that moment, but it seemed to keep coming to mind. Jesus spent much time teaching people, especially his disciples. What would it have been like on a regular night with Jesus? The nights that aren't written about in Scrtipture, although if they're not there we don't need to worry about it, it's just interesting to think about. It seems as though Jesus took any opportunity he had to teach. Maybe he just hung out with the boys on occasion, who knows? But as you read through the Gospels and pay attention to his interactions with people and his disciples, there were a good few times when he used the down times to teach. He'd give some wisdom or truth as they were kicking back at night after a long day of ministry, it was just part of his everyday conversation to impart truth into his disciples.
But how cool would it be to just kick back with Jesus and hang out with him? I mean, at this point all you'd want to do is sit on your face and thank him, but imagine the disciples, they were his closest friends. They got to be with him "behind the scenes" so to speak and just be with him whenever. As I got to sleep in a cabin with a bunch of jr. high guys the last couple nights I just thought about how it might have been like that with Jesus and his disciples on occasion. They'd just talk, he'd probably say something rather Godly (surprise, that's who he is) and it's just be a good old time. I love that thought, and man I'm sure glad that God has that in His character. I'm also glad that I can just fall on my face and sit in reverence of His greatness.
Which leads me to the Luke 18 passage. I can't remember which verse or section but it's where Jesus has little children coming to him and his disciples try to rebuke their parents but Jesus tells them "Let the little children come to me....." The part that stuck out to me, and maybe I should do a bit of a word study on it, but in Luke anyway, the verse before that says: "People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them." That was verse 15, I found it!
The part that stuck out to me pretty clearly was how they just wanted Jesus to touch the babies. That's all they were asking, not for him to do anything specific, just to touch them. It's like the woman who just wanted to close enough to Jesus so that she could touch his clothes, she knew that something would happen. Now that's faith.
All they wanted was him to touch them. They didn't ask for words of wisdom, they didn't ask for anything, just to touch them. It's like they knew that somehow just because he touched them, something would happen. People's lives change when Jesus touches them (which he still does, obviously). That's an incredible thought.
What would those babies that were brought to Him have been like after that? Did they grow to be disciples of the truth? Did they grow up to be great influencial people? Who knows, but it's clear that their lives were affected just by Jesus touching them.
What a great thing.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

From the depths of my bowels

I have to rather honest about this new stage of life. It sucks sometimes. I mean there are a lot of things that I just didn't really want to be ready for let alone having to deal with them. I know this is sounding much like complaining, and that's kinda my point. I complain too much. I mean, I'm so incredibly self centered at times that all I can see is the immediate result instead of the long term benefit or consequence of where I'm at and what I do.
I finally finished that book that I've mentioned a number of times, Uprising, and near the end of the book the entire focus was on the importance, richness and nobility of a life of wisdom. McManus was very good at communicating the truth of Scripture on the topic of wisdom, as I read I could honestly feel a stirring within me, a longing to live like that. Wisdom is a gift from God and the nobility that comes from a life of God given wisdom is astounding. Not the type of "nobility" that cries for attention or looks at oneself as higher than the rest but it is a life worth running after, it is a "noble" quality.
Do I want to be considered wise? Who doesn't?
Do I want to be applauded for wisdom? No, it's not mine to begin with, so how can I take any kind of credit for it?
Do I long, yearn to be blessed with such a gift that God allows me to see the long term benefits and consequences of today's actions so that my life will be honoring to God by the decisions and choices I make? Without a doubt.
Of course I still want to do dumb stuff and act like a so-called "idiot" at times, goof around and make people laugh, cause I love that, but if at the end of my life I could look back and thank the Father for providing me with the wisdom I needed to make the right choices, and see how that has been useful to Him, I would be so very thankful.
I look at the decisions and actions that I've made in the past that have brought me good and bad results and I say "thank you Lord for saving me" and "forgive me for my faults."

In my office I have placed a few things on the bulletin board, just some quotes and reminders of God's grace. The last couple days have been a bit of a struggle for me in many ways and as I was pondering some things this morning, I read "A Father's Love Letter" which is Scriptural truths of how God views us and who He is. One of the lines had Acts 17:26 attached to it. Here's what Acts 17:26-28 says:
"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'"
The part that was in the letter is italicized and as I sit and think about the stuff that's dragging on me I am reminded of God's love. He put me here in this place for this time, so that I could seek and find him and share that with other people.
It's my calling to share Christ with people, and I don't always live worthy of that calling, but wisdom would say "take it easy, don't worry about yourself, you'll be taken care of. Just be who God has made you to be for now, God will continue the work He started in you long ago, live for others and the rest will get there in time."
It's a trust/faith issue. God gave me a moment of clarity so that I would come here, and He'll make things clearer and clearer as I continue to follow.
And so I part with the lyrics to a song that has been used to churn my soul towards God numerous times. It's by Caedmon's Call, it's called Lead of Love.

Looking back at the road so far
The journey's left its share of scars
Mostly from leaving the narrow and straight

Looking back it is clear to me
That a man is more than the sum of his deeds
And how You've made good of this mess I've made
Is a profound mystery

Looking back You know You had to bring me through
All that I was so afraid of
Though I questioned the sky,
Now I see why

I had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view
Looking back I see the lead of love

Looking back I can finally see (I'd rather have wisdom)
How failures bring humility (than be)
Brings me to my knees (a comfortable fool)
Helps me see my need for Thee

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some things never change.

Having been a Bible college student I have had the priviledge to be a part of a few weddings in my time. This weekend was another one of those opportunities when I got to see one of my best friends marry probably the perfect person for him. I don't know what it is, but everytime I get to see that kind of match I just love it, anything that I can find to whine about just disappears and it's like some unexplainable joy hits. It's like you're seeing one of the greatest gifts that God could think of giving to someone so how can you not be excited about that?
Plus with stuff like that you get to hang out with people that you haven't seen for a while, especially at this stage of life when we're all relocating to different places and don't really get a chance to see each other all that often. So spending a couple days with the guys was a grand thing as well.
I did feel kinda bad that I took time off work after only working for a week but it was something that I asked about before I started so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about it.
It was definitely difficult to come back last night, however, for lots of different reasons. I had to say goodbye to those people once again, some of whom I really miss a lot, but also because some good things were happening as the day progressed. And of course I haven't been living in SK for all that long so it was tough because I got used to being with all those people again and then had to take off back to my new home where it's not too much unlike the Cheers themesong, because everybody does know my name, but I don't know theirs, and they don't really know me all the well yet. It's like I had to leave the familiar, again, only to come back to the unfamiliar and mildly uncomfortable place.
People keep asking me if I'm getting settled in and I'm consistently honest with them when I answer. Yes, I'm beginning to settle in but it's going to take a while for me to get used to a lot of this stuff. I'm a pastor now..............yikes........I'm living on my own now.............twice yikes.............I have no can see where I'm going with this.
But even as I write this and talk to a friend on msn, I sit and look at a little bear that my parents gave me at my graduation with a pin on a card that reads Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Right now I'm kinda feeling like I need to hold on to verses such as those and claim God's promises of looking after me and knowing what's best, because if we were to look at what logic says, I would not have moved to a place where I don't know anybody, especially knowing my personality. And the way that I've been feeling, although I'm enjoying getting to know people and this church is great, coming home to nothing is not all that enjoyable sometimes, I have to rest on those words in Jeremiah because there's not much else it seems that I can count on. In fact, there's nothing else that I can really count on.
But as a result of that hope, that promise, I need to "walk on" in the words of U2 and continue following God. I need to love like Scripture screams out at us, the way that Jesus does. That's another one that I've been faced with recently as well. Reconciliation is a good thing and I'll leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A question to ponder.

So here's a question, if there's anyone that actually still reads this stuff then feel free to make a comment, if not, well, that's ok too. If Jesus said that his "yoke is easy" and his "burden is light" then why is it that so many Christians consistently feel overwhelmed/weighed down/burdened/wrecked, etc, the list can go on and on. I'm not really asking so I can find the answer to such a question, I'm just curious as to what people's thoughts on said topic might be.
And maybe even an add on to it, why do so many pastors, the one's who are supposed to be studying Scripture and applying Biblical practices to their lives, get tired, weary and lose heart?
Once again, not because I feel like I'm losing my grip on reality or any sort of thing like that, just pondering and thought I'd like to hear some other thoughts on it.
I have my first youth "event", though it's not really an event, tonight and I'm curious to see how many will show up, the summer seems to be pretty lazy around here and there don't seem to be many people around a lot of the time. So we'll see how it goes, in 10 minutes we're supposed to start, here's hoping some kids show up.
Then it's up bright and early, before the sun rises tomorrow morning to head to Vermillion and meet up with Mikey before we continue on to Edmonton.
I shall try and write something more in depth later.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I don't wanna settle.

Well it has been a little while since I have had the chance to write something out on here and so here I sit in the "office" of my new place in North Battleford, SK (which is really the spare bedroom but I don't have a bed for it yet so it will remain the office for now). I started officially working at the church yesterday and found myself running out of time already, oh the life of a pastor I suppose. Today, however, was a different story. A bunch of the church leadership went into Saskatoon for Willow Creek's annual Leadership Summit, one of the churches in Stoon is a satellite host, the things you can do with technology these days.
Anyway, one of the speakers today (we're going back again tomorrow and saturday) talked a little about what we should expect of God as ministry leaders and how a lot just settle in their little comfortable lives and don't really think anything else will happen, and of course if you don't think it will and don't act in faith, what are the chances that God will honor that? Pretty good actually, I think He'll honor your lack of faith with the results that you deserve which turns out to be a whole lot of nothing. Now of course, God can choose to do whatever He wants and if He chooses to bless a ministry in spite of a leader or the congregants, that's cool, but I"m not sure it happens as often as we might wish.
Essentially what I was made to think of consequently is the fact that I don't just want to settle, I want to dream big and expect big things from God, why shouldn't I? After all He is the creator of the universe, you know, all powerful and all knowing, He can do huge things. But why should I expect something like that if I'm not willing to obey and push forward?
I look at this new ministry opportunity in which I have been so graciously placed and I see huge potential for some incredible God stuff to continue to happen. I don't know much of this place, I don't know much of anything really, but I'm finding that I have pretty strong confidence that God can do things beyond the limits what we generally place on Him. It's not a big city by any means, but why can't we have the largest church in Canada in this small city? There's no reason for me not to think it possible, especially if I'm leaving the real work to God. Something that I found much comfort in today was the sense that I actually believe God can do something huge in this city, I just need to act on that faith and tell other people about it and hopefully they can grab that vision. Why can't we have a church of 2 or 3,000 or more in a city of 14,000? There's no reason why not, unless all we all do is just settle for what we got.
God brought me to a conclusion today, that is that I don't wanna settle. I don't want to just accept that a small city has churches under 1,000 people and that's just the way it is, I don't want to settle for the daily grind, I don't want to settle for being a pessimist, I don't want to settle for a spouse just because I want to get married. I want to keep on walking, keep on looking, persue an incredible woman with passion and huge faith to spend my life with, I want to expect God to do huge things in this place and in my life, so I'm going to start doing those things. If it requires some waiting, that's fine, being impatient doesn't make the time pass by faster, or make the line grow shorter in a quicker time, it's all paced out in God's timing.
So faith without deeds is dead, I don't want that to be my faith.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Come with me if you want to live"

I decided to take a popular movie quote and twist it to serve my purposes. Good ol' Arnold Swarzenhooser said it in The Terminator but it reminds me of a few other things. I've mentioned in a previous post that I'm reading Uprising by Erwin McManus and I'm really loving it. I've been finding myself resonating with what he writes about so of course I'm going to like the book. It's really all about living, actually living and not just existing. I've found that this last year or possibly year and a half I've just been existing for no other purpose than to do so. I have to be honest, I've never really been comfortable with that idea but have often, well almost always found myself just existing and never really living.
Basically the premise of his book is to point people to the call of God on our lives to live, in some respects dangerously, but essentially to live like Jesus. I mean if you think about it, what was Jesus saying to his disciples when he told them to follow him? And this is where I twist the quote, he was basically saying "come with me if you want to live." He called Peter and Andrew, James and John out of their boats from their plain old lives and offered them something different. He called Matthew from being a tax collector (one of the more despised professions of the time) to follow him. He was drawing those guys from the monotony of their old lives to take them places they never would have even dreamed, from merely existing to experiencing life.
These are things I have been thinking about lately as I find myself preparing for something that I've never done before and frankly am not sure that I'm ready for, being an adult. But it's as if I'm responding to Jesus saying to me "come with me if you want to live." He sees the monotony of my life and knows there's so much more for me to experience if only I'll go. So I'm hoping I've at least taken a step in the right direction by taking a job that I feel completely helpless to do, to experience some incredible acts of God in that context.
I mean think about the lives of the disciples after they chose to follow Jesus, was there really any ordinary day for them? Yeah they kicked back and enjoyed themselves on occasion, Jesus knew the importance of that, but what happened with the rest of their lives after that initial decision? They experienced life, I mean really experienced it. They saw things that nobody could explain, Jesus healed people, drove out demons (taught them to do so as well) he fed thousands in their presence, he caused excitement for them and a few moments of fear as well, and that's before his resurrection! Then after that they kept on going and did some crazy weird things then too! I have to be honest, that's kind of exciting and appealing to me!
I'm kind of tired of always playing it safe all the time, what's the point? Why not step out and do something that otherwise seems stupid or dangerous? Why not talk to that guy that's sleeping in the back alley beside his shopping cart? Why not help that person change their tire on the side of the road? Why not jump out of a plane just for the thrill? Why not stir up the pot a little for the sake of advancing the gospel? Why not ask the pretty girl for her phone number?
Why not? What's the worst that can happen to me? I get rejected? Laughed at? Hated? Persecuted? Chased down? Beat up? Shot at? Kidnapped?
So what? What was Jesus like? He was the type to take some risks, to go out on the limb, knowing he was going to cause some uproar, but he was cool with it. He didn't have any problem with the Pharisees, with the demon possessed, with the outcasts. It's the same thing we've heard a billion times, but why does it never sink in?
The people that I've most admired in life have been the ones who took the chances that people like me were too scared to take. Why did they do it? Conviction, passion, love, service, all the things that I want to be, that's why they did it. So will that be me? Will I get out of the boat and follow, will I leave my tax collector's booth and go? When Jesus says to me, "come with me if you want to live" will I say, "ok, let's go" or will I just stay put for safety's sake?
I want to live. That's what I've decided.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

That's my boy.

Ok, this one may sound slightly cheesy but that's alright. I've been in Ontario staying with my parents for the last couple weeks almost and I have a couple weeks left here. My uncle and his family are visiting right now and here's a bit of a story that made me think.
I was working at the old fry shack today (that's a story in itself, mainly cause I need some extra cash but they were also in a bind), and at the end of the day, it was around 8:30 tonight actually, my parents and my uncle, aunt and their two little boys were down at the beach where I met them when I was done work. So while we were down on the beach, I went swimming and caught the sunset as I swam. Now for those who aren't familiar with Sauble Beach, the beach itself faces west so the sun sets over the lake, it's incredible and tonight was no exception in that respect. Well, it was actually exceptional, the colors were amazing. And of course I couldn't help but think of God and His bigness.
Now later on, but not too much later, as we were getting out of our vehicles at the house, my little cousin who can't be much older than 4ish (I'm actually not sure how old he is) asked my dad "what's he doing here?" Of course he was curious because the last time I saw him all he knew how to do was load his pants and smile, so he didnt' know who I was. My dad answered him with a certain tone in his voice, "That's my boy." He was of course explaining to the little one that I belong here and it's ok, but what he said was what really sparked my thoughts.
I've been told that something changes when you become a parent and you just love that kid, no matter what. Now of course there's exceptions to that and it's rough to see that too, but of course I don't understand either side of it. Regardless, that comment made me think. There's not a thing that I could do that would make my dad not love me. At least I don't think so, I mean he's seen me at my best and worst, I'm not the greatest person at times but he still says "that's my boy."
Now of course knowing me, I took it another step further and started thinking of how God says the same thing. He even said it about Jesus in the Gospels. When Jesus got baptized and the Holy Spirit decended on him like a dove, what did God say, well the "voice from heaven?" He said "this is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased, listen to him," or in other words, "that's my boy!" There's a sense of pride in that, but the good kind, the kind that comes from love, the "boy, I'm proud of you" kind of pride. But if my dad, my human dad can have that kind of pride in me, how much more does God feel that way about me, regardless of what I do or don't do. That's a comforting thought on both levels.
So that's my story.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Life's a Beach.

Now that I'm home in Ontario, especially here at the beach, I've been appreciating this place more and more. I absolutely love it here, the scenery that is. It's so beautiful and I never realized how great it was until I lived a few years in the prairies and came back. My parents and I went for a picnic at Tobermory today, for those of you who have no idea what that means, it's the end point on the Bruce Peninsula, the escarpment that begins at Niagara Falls continues through Owen Sound and up the Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory is sort of the end point, although it still continues....blah blah blah, I know. But we were walking around in that little town which is essentially a small marina with some shops and houses surrounding it, and I was realizing how much I miss those types of places, you know, water.
Then I spent some time on the beach tonight, read and went for a swim. It was a good way to reflect, I'm in that kind of a mood today, moreso than usual I suppose.
I recently started reading "Uprising" by Erwin MacManus and I am really enjoying it so far. It's actually been useful in God showing me how deep pride runs in me at times, it's kind of scary, but it's a good thing to be made aware of it. You can't fix something if you don't know it's broken.
Pride is one of those things that works its way into you so that you don't even notice, sometimes it's painfully obvious and other times it's not so clear, maybe to those around you but not always to you.
All I could think about as I read was how much I want to be so bent on God and his purpose that nothing else matters, and as things fall into place after that I can count them as a gift from Him and not as the goal in themselves. As I reflected on life earlier today and how I often find myself desiring to be in a relationship with a "significant other" and further into the future, married with kids, but I often see those things as the goal in themselves. Or even what my career might look like and all that junk, seeing those things as the end in themselves does not provide much hope in life, because once you get there, then what? If my goal is to get married, and it happens, then what? But if my goal is to dive deeper and follow God wherever, that's a goal that I think is worthy of persuing with everything, and if I am blessed with a wife and a family, that's great! Then I can enjoy that and contribute as much as possible.
I guess it may not make a lot of sense, at least the way I said it, but it's making sense in my mind. The ultimate goal, in my mind, if not eternal is not worth it.
I tend to be very much of a future oriented person, I'm always thinking of what things will be like 5 or 10 or even 40 years down the road. I think there's some importance in making plans, but worrying so much about the future only stalls me from being who God has made me now.
These all seem to be such fundamental realizations, but when you rerealize them for the first time in a long time and actually begin to really grasp a bit of the concept, it's exciting.
The bottom line is, I want to live, and live freely, I mean real freedom, not something that I think is freedom but is really holding me back from experiencing God and being changed and molded to look more like Him.
There's a song, it's a country song (that's right), Paul Brandt sings it. The song is called "Loving You" I think, something along those lines. One line goes a little something like this: "Loving you is what I want to be remembered for." Now the song is directed towards a woman, it's pretty clear, but man do I want to be remembered for loving, actually living the two main commandments. Love God, love people. The question is, what am I going to do about that?

Monday, July 10, 2006

The air is thick with moisture.

I have recently found myself returning home to Ontario for a few weeks vacation and everything seems the same since the last time I was here. One thing I definitely haven't missed about Ontario summers is the humidity that coats you as you leave a building, or stay inside, anywhere really. I can feel my lungs working just a little harder to deal with the moisture in the air.
The best part about such weather is the incredible thunder storms that come through. I was hoping that there would be at least one good thunders storm whilst being home and it did indeed occur last night. The storm lasted for hours and the windows shook with various rumbles throughout the night. There's nothing quite like going to the beach and watching the storm as it crawls across the lake. I sat in my parent's minivan, which is a sweet ride by the way, and watched the lightning light up the entire sky, you know it's a good one when for a split second it seems like daytime.
I couldn't help but feel dwarfed by the storm. Imagine what it would have felt like to one of the Israelites in the Old Testament when they were within spitting distance of the close presence of God, near Sinai, the pillar of fire, etc. I am so not fit to follow God, but he lets me anyway, I can't get over that one, and I don't ever want to. It's so great to be able to reflect on God's goodness to me in spite of me.
I've been reading Joshua lately, there's some pretty interesting stuff that happens while Joshua leads Israel. The Jordan river stops flowing at the command of God, the walls of Jericho crumble at a shout from God's people, and that's only within the first few chapters, all because they believed God and obeyed. What does He want to do with me, through me, or even for me if I just believe and obey? Unfortunately I come short of both of those sometimes, but how cool is grace? And I don't mean my grandma(whose name is Grace), I mean the fact that God is so relentlessly in love with me/us that He went to the absolute extreme and continues to do so just so that He can have me and I Him. Wow, that's all I can say.

On another topic, it's wierd being home again. There's not many people that I know anymore and even those that I do "know" I don't actually "know" them, you know? But it's fun to be back and kick around town and hang out on the beach. I really had a good place to grow up and call home. I was thinking the other day about how much has happened with me since the last time I was home. It's been a year and a half, a lot happens in that much time, it doesn't seem long, but so much has happened. I can't even think of what my life may be like a year and a half from now, I think it's best not to think about that. Matthew 6 comes to mind with Jesus' words of "do not worry", many times He has reminded me of His sovereignty through that passage.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Relocation: The epic saga.

It was a beautiful sunny day of late when the moving vehicle arrived at my Calgary home to steal away with my belongings and take them toward their next adventure.....Ok I can only take so much of that language.
So I'm actually moved to North Battleford now, well, mostly. Everything that I own is now sitting in the basement of my new place awaiting my return in August. This past week a couple guys from the church up there came to Calgary with a truck and trailer to load up my stuff and take it up there, I joined them there the next day. It blows my mind the lengths those great people are going to help me get there. It's an incredible blessing really, which makes me even more excited to get started up there working in that community with those people, of course it won't be a cake walk but there's so much potential and well friendliness there that it's definitely something to look forward to. The funniest part of that story is that in all the moving process, it only took about 30 minutes to load the trailer and 18 minutes (it was timed) to unload it. So with the exception of packing, unpacking and travel time, the move took less than an hour.
I guess that's the way it works when you're fresh out of college without much in the line of material things. I'm kinda hoping it'll stay that way as well, makes things a little easier in the long run.
But as for now, the thing that I look forward to most is going home to Ontario for 3 and a half weeks. There's something about home that is an oasis for me. It's been the place of much healing I suppose you could say, although this time I might be a little more proactive in what I do while I"m there. I have about 4 or 5 books that I want to have completed by the end of my time there, it shouldn't be too hard to do. If I am able to get through them all, it'll have been the most books read in that short of time for me, ever I think. I have recently been discovering that I enjoy reading good books, this is a relatively new experience for me because I've never really enjoyed reading. I suppose things change when you're no longer in school and forced to read.
It's interesting how God uses other people's perspectives on faith and life to strengthen, shape and restore your own.
So now I await heading to Ontario for some fun and refreshment (not refreshments), and who knows what's coming down the pipe next, well God does, He's been leading me so far, even when I wasn't asking for it, and here I am, not done yet. A life of pessimism turned somewhat optimistic, now that's a strange thought. And to think of the things that needed to happen for me to finally be maliable enough for God to work some miracles. Not that he couldn't before, but it wouldn't have been the same, not for me anyway, and I think it's better this way even though I don't know what's ahead necessarily, I welcome it all with very open arms. This is not a case of the blind leading the blind, it's definitely a case of the guide leading the follower. And this is one follower who's putting all stakes in the one leading him.
It's a high stakes reality when you think of it. Putting everything you've got in one hand, and betting your life. But knowing what will come in the end, that's a chance I'm willing to take, regardless of what happens along the way. In no way does the end justify the means, but when the end is right, there's really only one way for you to get there.
On a completely unrelated topic, I have my own place now. That's such a crazy weird thought for me, living by myself, with no roommates, without the cafeteria nearby, you know the comforts of college. This growing up thing is strange, good thing I'm not going to actually grow up, I'll just pretend to and that'll satisfy the people around me. I'll be the mature kind of kid though, you can be sure of that.

Friday, June 23, 2006

so tired....

I know, I know, the last thing that I should be doing is writing another shpiel on here, but it's not going to be long.
I'm doing custodial work for a worship conference at our church this weekend, but it has a good number of people at it that aren't from our church, in fact most aren't. As well as seminars all day and such that we have to set up for, there have been worship services at night as well, led by Robin Mark (not sure if you've heard of him and yes I"m name dropping). Anyway, the worship sets themselves I find myself not being able to engage very easily, which isn't all that out of the ordinary for me, but it's strange. However, the speaker, who is Paul Reid, the pastor at Robin Mark's church, is incredible. He's Irish (it makes sense, considering he's from Ireland), and he's fantastically funny but an incredible preacher as well.
He has some interesting thoughts and beliefs on life and I find myself fitting right in. This evening I was having trouble focussing and it allowed my mind to wander to all the reasons why I want to be mad at God. When it comes down to it, I'm just full of pride that I couldn't even recognize before. I knew I had some issues with pride, but it's showing itself pretty strong right now. I hate the stuff that comes up when God brings it up, not because it's at the surface or that it has to be dealt with and repented of, but mostly because it's been allowed to be a part of me for so long. That's where the sting comes.
God's been showing me (I think) how my attitude is often a "kicking and screaming" type of attitude. As if to say "Ok, I'll do it your way, but I'm going to make it as hard as possible." Well who's it hard on? Me. I'm not being cynical or over self-eroding, I'm just exploring this as it's fresh in my mind.
I'll likely end up writing more (strangely enough I wrote another post earlier saying I didn't have much to say anymore), but for now I must hit the hay, late nights and early mornings this weekend. 11 hours of work today in a 16 hour period, likely similar tomorrow.

Is it the end of the world as we know it?

I'm a little frightened at this particular moment because I have just realized that I've not been "thinking" as much as I normally do. I can't blame it on a lack of creativity or say that there's nothing to ponder, because neither of those are true.
I am, however, finding myself actually thinking more about my future and how to "strategize" for what's to come, mostly with regards to my career. I"m actually thinking on why it is that many youth pastors seem to want to leave their churches after only 3 years of service. That's a good run, I suppose, but to me it seems like you'll never really get anywhere with jumping from place to place and spending a minimal amount of time at each place. Maybe it is possible to accomplish much and see many great things happen in that short span of time, of course it's God who does the real work anyway, but it seems that when it comes to the human relationships and the direction of a ministry plan, there's hardly a chance to get that kind of ball rolling in that amount of time. Of course I'm also beginning to wonder how long is "too long" for a youth pastor to be in the same church. It seems that ministry can always continue on well, but the impact that one can have decreases significantly after around 6 years, and maybe your passion and desire for that one church might diminish as well. I don't know, these are all just thoughts, but one thing I do know is that the church needs people who are committed to pushing through, even though it may get hard and it needs people who are intentional and at least somewhat strategic in what they do so that there's some sort of direction happening.
It seems that a lot of people bail when it gets super tough, I know there's definitely good reasons for some to leave their situation, and some even have trouble doing so as well. But then there seems to be others who just get "burned" by something and check out.
That would be like someone deciding to become homosexual because one relationship with the opposite sex didn't work out, that's how I see it anyway. Not all situations are the same, yes it is vastly important to take time to heal and recover, but why ditch completely? Maybe God's calling them elsewhere, maybe it'll happen to me and I"ll have to eat my words, who knows, I sure don't, but God does. Maybe we're just too chicken to face a little adversity when it really comes down to it. Maybe not.
I know some people who have left a ministry situation after a relatively short period of time and it's precisely what needed to happen. I'm in that situation right now, and it's exactly what needs to happen. So I'm not saying that everyone who leaves a church before their 4 year mark is a wuss or isn't committed, what I am saying is that there seems to be a trend that says after 3 years you're done, so you might as well get out while you can. That, I'm not fond of.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pack it up, pack it in...

It is now roughly two weeks until I will be throwing my belongings into a U-Haul trailer and haulin' it to North Battleford Saskatchewan, where I will be soon settling in as the Associate Pastor (or as I like to call it, the Ass. Pastor) of the Alliance Church there. This move comes with mixed emotions, sort of. If I had been asked to make such a decision and go there 6 months ago, the decision would have been packaged with much greater sadness and difficulty but at this point in time I feel the draw and release of one of those moments in life that I believe God grants us with a little more peace than we might otherwise feel.
I'm rambled on with my musings of life, love, and the American Way (what? that's not right). Ok about life and godliness, that I certainly have expressed my innermost thoughts on. At this point, I'm rediscovering how much I despise moving, not everything that goes with it, just the physical act of moving belongings from one place to another, it's annoying. I don't enjoy packing in the least, usually because for me that entails a lot of cleaning up of piles of paper that I've strategically hidden so that I don't have deal with them right away. However, today proved to be a positive experience in packing as I shuffled through some papers and cards I found $30 that I thought I had long spent on something, but much to my surprise I became $30 richer again today.
There is, however, certain difficult emotions to wade through as one packs up and prepares for a new adventure. I feel it's the right time for me to go, mainly because I feel God's calling me elsewhere, but my time is coming to a close on my life in Calgary, at least for this stage, I'm not the one to say whether or not I'll end up back here again. It's interesting how life changes, relationships change, but there are certainly some people you know you will always remain in contact with and keep up that friendship built so long ago. For me there are a few from before I reached my Bible college years that I know I will remain in contact with and I certainly look forward to hearing the stories of their adventures. Jon and Fran are two of those people, although we don't work extremely hard and regular contact, whenever we cross paths there's a great story of life to be shared. Jon and myself go back a long time, to early childhood, though our friendship didn't grow to any depth until our high school years. Steve is another that I will remain good friends with, I'm sure for quite some time, although across a country from each other, we still throw each other the occasional phone call or e-mail of encouragement and news.
Matt and Mike are two others who have more recently (by more recently I mean since I started college) found themselves at a depth of friendship with me, and I expect that the three of us will maintain our wildly hilarious and very "iron sharpens iron" sort of relationships for our lifetimes.
I feel that period of my life coming to a close, I know I will continue grow relationships with people that will be godly and beneficial and long lasting, but there's something about those friendships, especially those of the same sex, that you make in your highly formative college years that remains for a long time. The most interesting part is that I can think of numerous stories of betrayal or "dirtbaggin'" as we've affectionately named it, and stories of great laughs all mixed in with some major growth experiences with those guys. That's something to hold on to. I won't go into any details of those stories, I'm sure that those who are privy to my thoughts will gather at least a couple of those anecdotes and find some humour in them again.
I feel God is preparing me for this next step in life and in service to Him. He has wildly expanded my perception of Himself over the last short time and has grown my heart for ministry and passion for life ever more than I've experienced.
The sovereignty of God completely astounds me as I recall the hills and valleys of life. Take away one or the other and life is boring, or so I'm learning. We make mistakes and although redemption lies in wait for us from the Father himself, we still experience the fallenness and the consequence of this world. Newton's laws of physics can come into play in this idea, at least the one that speaks of every action having an equal and opposite reaction. If we look at that in a different light we can see how that may ring true on some levels in life itself. Truth or consequence it could be called. The fact is, what we do directly affects what happens later on. It may take years, it may only take seconds, but we feel the consequences of our actions, whether good or bad.
The much brighter side of this story is that God does redeem. He takes those horrible situations that we are either placed in or place ourselves in and He uses them for His glory and sometimes our own. Not to say that's a vain glory for us, that's a God-given glory handed to us from the Father. Every good and perfect gift is from above, don't forget that. I'm learning to see many things as gifts from the Father. Life, love, relationship, breath, to name a few, all come from the Creator of everything. It is through our twisted eyes from our fallen nature that skews the good in those things and causes us pain at times. Life was not meant to end, love was not meant to hurt, relationship was not meant to destroy, these were all meant for the good and enjoyment of His creation. Wow does it take a lot for someone like me to realize that. My heart is stubborn, I know that well, and unfortunately probably not as well as I will know it in 25 years. I, like Jacob, wrestle with God on many occasions, and God wins, every time and I usually walk away with a "limp" or a scar to prove it. But what do those scars do for me? They soften that stubbornness a little for the next time I decide to go head to head with God. It can be likened to a chi-hua-hua trying to pick a fight with an elephant, it's a given who'll come out on top, but I tend to jump in the ring and give it a go anyway.
With all these things occuring in a very short period of time for me recently, I know I am no where near being on the other side of that valley, but the worst of the trip is over, at least until I reach the top of the hill and see the vast mountain ranges that lie ahead of me.
God prepares us for adventure, He prepares us for the right battles that He knows we're going to be entering, and he's right there to remove the arrows and sear the wounds that we endure in the midst of those battles. He does this because He loves us, and He wants us to join in to fight the greater battle, for the hearts of the world. The battle has been won, but the war is far from over because the opposition isn't going down without a fight, so I'm suiting up and running into the crowd with armour on and sword ready.
The things that have happened in recent days have played major roles in bringing me to where I am now, God has used certain people and certain events to humble me and to ready me for the next part. And in the rest of the night, I will have people to recline and relate with, that I've been fighting alongside in the same war.
So the people that I am leaving behind, they will hold a place in my heart and mind, I will remember the days of my time here in Calgary, and I will look fondly on those people who have played a part in my life's story and have helped me (more than they know) turn to God and become more of the man that God is making me to be. But I won't live in one place while my heart still waits in another. I will carry on and I will maintain the relationships I hold here because they have all meant something to me, but my heart will lie where my Father is, and the rest will remain as an ally to a greater cause.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sometimes I wonder if there's anyone else who thinks the way that I do. I consistently get caught up in "how things should happen" instead of just going along with the way they actually do happen.
For a long time now I've had this innate fear/feeling/thought that if I enter into a situation in life that resembles another's situation, that I am destined to experience the same fate that my predacessor suffered. Another thought that plagues me at times is that if I can't imagine what it would be like to either experience something or be somewhere, then it must be that I will never experience it. These are ridiculous thoughts of course, and I see them as that but nonetheless they are an ever present picture in my mind that my life will not be any different than anyone else's. Were I to dwell on such thoughts and allow them to infiltrate to the core of my being, I would most certainly lead a rather sad existence without any hope of anything different. The fact of the matter is, I don't allow those thoughts to overwhelm or overcome me and I actively fight them off and surrender to the Spirit of God for comfort and assurance so that hope can exist in my life.
Hope is an interesting concept that I'm not sure is entirely easy to understand. Why should hope be the one thing that an entire religion holds onto? In a world full of scientific "fact" and theory (of course I speak of the "Western World") such an idea is ludicrous. Why base your life on something that you can't even prove or say is absolute? They do raise an interesting question and I think it's a question that we as believers individually need to wrestle with and reach a conclusion on if we really are to give our lives to such a cause. I am heading into a full-time pastoral ministry position within a couple very short months and this is a question that I don't seem to have difficulty with anymore. The answer to said question of course looks and sounds different for each person but the elements are essentially the same. The answer comes with time, experience, surrender and difficulty sometimes. And it seems much more simple than it actually is, or maybe it's much more simple than it indeed seems. But the ultimate conclusion that we come to as believers in such a hope is that it is indeed a legitimate hope. It is not a lie that we are trusting, it is in fact the truth that comes from God.
I have recently experienced something that I fully believe and hope will remain with me for the remainder of my life and that is an adjustment of faith that I don't believe has anything to do with me. Where I once suffered great agony in my soul of struggle with the truth of God, there is a peace and calm that can only come from one source, THE Source. Such a struggle does not seem to be evident in my mind these days, who knows maybe my sinful nature will once again catch up with me and my mind will be clouded from my Father but as for now I will live in the comfort and the assurance of hope.
And as for what I began with, those thoughts continue to flare up in mind, as I venture into pastoral ministry alone, I look at the negative possibilities and the negative experiences others have had, forgetting the positive ones and forgetting that my life is not like anyone else's. That's a weird thought I know, because we should all know that we're different than everyone else and our personal experiences will not follow any kind of precident, because with God, there seems to be no such thing and that's something that I am a huge fan of. I'm afraid of being single for long, yes, but I'm beginning to see the importance of the place in life that God has put me for now and that's part of this place. So I will carry on, I will walk into situations that I don't know the outcome to because I know that God's not finished with me yet, it kinda seems like he's only getting started.