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