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.