Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the times they are a changin'

My good friend and colleague Bob Dylan wrote a song with the same title as that of this blog, and I'm not sure that it really has anything to do with this entry, but that's ok, because Bob Dylan isn't really my friend and colleague. But I can say with absolute clarity that it has been entirely too long since I've released the flow of brain juices onto this page and just let a few thoughts out. That may say one thing or many about what's been going on lately.
It may suggest that I've just been way too preoccupied with other forms of entertainment and life stuff to be able to continue on in the world of blogotry. But, it may also suggest that I just haven't had any thoughts rolling around this abnormally large head of mine.
I fear the latter may be more true than the former. I'm sure most people as they roll through periods of life may experience some lack of depth of thought, as a writer may experience that dreaded thing known to me as "writer's block".
Well, since I'm not really a writer, I can't be blocked from something I'm not, but I do feel as though my mind has not been as sharp lately as it has been in the past. It's as if there's a cloud over my head and rain falls wash away whatever may have been growing inside of my mind.
This may be attributed to more than one thing, but for the most part I think I'm just tired in the mental form of the word. My mind is exhausted, as are my heart and soul. There's a good explanation for that, I've cut myself off...
I have lazed about my days, lacking the discipline to return to a true 'comfort zone', where I learn and am fed by the God of all things. Many times I've taught and spoken the message that in order to not only maintain, but build a relationship with your Creator, you must spend time with Him. I think I've fallen prey to the predator of many in the pastoral profession, busy-ness.
Such is a pace that I have no desire to maintain or even support in my life. There are times of rest needed in everyone's life. When they are missed, they are dearly missed. And it's not meant to be a race of disproportionate means, running as hard as possible until you can no longer breathe, rather it is meant to be a steadied pace, with which anyone can keep up. Saving the energy for the final stretch, but keeping a constant speed to maintain a healthy heart rate.

Going too hard until your body, mind, and soul are crushed under the weight of imbalance is in no way healthy and will destroy in the end. That's why people tire, fade, wain in their strength. I'm not to the point of no return yet, there's still time for me to carry too fast of a pace and too heavy of a burden for a while. But I don't want to, nor do I intend to.
I have come to a conclusion, that I need to be careful, with time and energy. With resources and availability, with what I put into everything, and with what I take from others.
It's all a matter of remaining steady at a maintainable pace, I think I need to slow down, just a bit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harvest Party '06

Ahhh, the memories!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who I want to be

So I took a bunch of my kids to YC this weekend and I had such a blast. I was incredibly nervous beforehand, because of you course you don't know what to expect for a trip you've never done before, and I have this thing where I get super nervous if I've never led a certain event or trip before. Once the first one's out of the way it's much more relaxing for me.
And I even learned a few things for myself this weekend. It's funny how God will speak to you even if you don't expect it to happen (there's a story for another day).
Amidst the noise (the incredible noise) and the different bands and speakers there was this one worship band who took the stage for a couple of the main sessions. They were called United and they led me towards the throne of God to worship, it was quite the experience (I'm not an experientialist don't worry). But a pastor from their church over there in Australia was with them and he spoke for that session. His name's Phil Dooley, I had never heard of him before, but then again, I hadn't really listened to United too much either.
The ironic thing is that it wasn't a word that was said that struck me, I couldn't tell you what came out of his mouth at that point (I do remember what he spoke on in general though) but this incredible thought raced through my mind over and over again "I want to be like that."
It's not the part where he was on stage speaking to thousands of people, I don't really think I'd have much to say in that respect, though I have to admit, there is a part of me that would love to be a performer professionally...
As he spoke, I noticed how people were gripped by what he was saying, and I noticed that the members of the band (who were on the stage in the background) were there with him. He was introduced as "their youth pastor" and that's where it started. There's a group of people who lead worship all over the world, they've sold thousands of cds and they can get a crowd pumped pretty efficiently, but the still had a guy who was "leading" them in a sense. Of course I don't know the way things work for them intrinsically, it might be far different than I have imagined it to be. But as I observed how intently they listened to him speak and how the entire audience was captured by his story, I thought "I want to be like that." I want to be the kind of guy who is so full of the Spirit of God that people are affected. I want to lead a youth ministry where students don't listen to anything I say because I've asked them to or because I'm funny or really really ridiculously good looking (though I may do/be all of those), I so desperately long for my life to be such a wellspring of joy that overflows from a tight relationship with Christ that people can't help but be gripped with what's being said. And not to have anything to do with how I craft words or how I can do anything, but simply that the truth of God would flow so freely from my lips that the story itself will captivate, cause it's no my story, it's His.
I want to be that kind of pastor, Christian, friend, brother, son, uncle and Lord willing husband and father. So infused with Christ that I'm forgotten, but Christ is proclaimed.
I got such a long way to go, but it's worth the work.
May I take those steps continually.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A moment of relative silence

I say "relative" because it seems that this house in which I currently live does not see complete silence on the best of days. Sacrifices are indeed made in the life of ministry.
It's now 11:30 in the evening and I should really be heading to bed to rest up for a big day of ordination studies tomorrow but I've unfortunately been thinking again.
A dear friend, though one with whom I've not spent nearly enough time, left a comment on my last post (for those who may not be plugged into facebook, my blog posts are imported to facebook and the comment was left there). In reading the particular comment I began to think of how much respect I have for some people.
There are some people who truly eminate Christ in their personality and practice. There are those who are just so full of Christ that when you see them all you can think is "that is a devoted follower of Christ". It's an incredible thing to witness, but something that blesses me to no end when I run into such people. Of course even the "greatest" of humans has his or her quirks and "downfalls" (for lack of a better term, I should really get into reading dictionaries), but there are definitely some people who, with the way they live and love, somehow make you forget the idiocyncracies of flawed humanity about them.
I suppose upon closer inspection of anyone, one could see the carnality of behaviour, even in the most radiant believer. But I do have to say that I so long to be the kind of person in whom Christ can be seen.
I want to be the kind of person who is humble about himself and boastful of God. I want to be lost in the background of an extravagant scene of servanthood in which only Christ can be seen. I want to be forgotten in the midst of Christ being glorified by anything that might come from my mouth or actions.
The very thought of this brings tears to my eyes mainly because it seems so far from where I am now that I grieve my own inadequacy. But, even as these tears arrive I do remember the reality of the gospel and the words of the apostle Paul as he passionately persued righteousness and urged his Galatian brothers and sisters to do the same said "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me."
Ah, what a sweet melody. Christ lives in me, as long as I live in this body it is by faith in the Son of God who not only loved me, but sacrificed himself for me. It's a love story, of which I am so graciously able to be a part.
I've not arrived, I've not made it, I've not even come close. And oh how I long to reach that goal that has been set, as Paul again asserts he has not "already attained all of this or have already been made perfect" but I will "press on toward the goal, to win the prize, for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Some are just closer to their master than others and I think we see that in the maturity and and composure of those whose walk is closer with Christ.
It's an idealistic approach to a relationship with Christ, I recognize this, but I think we can all think of at least one person who displays qualities of such a relationship with Christ.

And thanks Mel for your kind and encouraging words, God's timing is indeed perfect.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I see things upside down

It might be because I'm thinking on things of the past today, due to my day starting off (quite early I might add) with a men's study group working through the Wild At Heart video series. Or maybe it's because I'm hanging upside down, but I'm thinking upon life in a slightly different genre of thought this evening.
The likelihood of the latter being the case is slim to none because I've not spent much time in the upside down position before, but the former may have something to offer for a reason. Though I must quickly give props to Derek Webb for the title of his album "I See Things Upside Down", but I will continue with my train of thought.
About a year ago now I read Wild At Heart for the first time upon suggestion from a trusted friend. When I first being wading through the pages and thinking upon the suggestions of John Eldredge to what happens in the heart of a man, everything within me wanted to revolt. In fact I'm sure there's probably a post from when I first began the book where I discussed my stirred spirit. I remember thinking that I was being insulted and basically called a sissy because I didn't fit the mold of what a "man" should be.
Of course, just like the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover", I think it's fair to suggest that you can't judge a book until you've finished it. As I read on, I began to resonate more and more with the concepts brought forth by Eldredge.
That was much more detail than was needed, but I've recently within the last couple weeks, jumped into taking a journey through the book again, this time with a group of men, much older than me. It's great to actually discuss many thoughts I've had previously (even a year old) instead of just thinking them through on my own.
I think one word that can describe my experiences of the last year or so could very easily be "alone." This doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation to it, though there have definitely been moments of negative aloneness since graduating from school, rather it's more of an accurate description of the forrest through which I've stumbled as life has continued on without me. By that I mean, I don't think I've accurately or properly continued into this still so new phase of post-graduate (not to be confused with post-grad studies) lifestyle. Life beyond school.
This morning as we met and watched a couple scenes from Disney's The Kid as well as the video of Eldredge and his boys for the study, I saw myself in Bruce Willis' character as a grown man in the movie. For those familiar, or not familiar with Eldredge's book, he speaks of a "wound" that every man has sustained at some point in his life (please note, I'm speaking in personal terms, not excluding women in any way except that I'm not one). I'm not the type to adhere to the victim mentality, that somehow it's not my fault for stuff that's happened in my life, in fact I err on the opposite side of that coin, where I take perhaps more responsibility than I should for negative (and even perhaps positive) things that occur. But, regardless, the point is that starting to work through that topic again has caused me to think about a lot of different things.
Do I believe I've been "wounded" if that's what you want to call it, then yes. I think there are instances in my life, words said, words not said, and experiences that I've had that have contributed to my tendancy to isolate myself from others and even moreso close myself off from relational intimacy. I think Eldredge is right when he says that a man needs to face or "walk into" the wound(s) he has endured. The conversation this morning in the video and in the group led to conclusions of many that their "wound" was received from their father. Not necessarily deliberate or even blatent, but boys/young men seek validation from their fathers and don't always receive it. I can't say I didn't receive validation from my own father, he's great! My dad's always been very vocal (whether with spoken or written word) about how proud he is of me and such. So I sat (and now sit) thinking, "I can't pin point a place of a person where that might have happened" and I don't think I need to per se. I don't think it's something that needs to identified specifically to a certain event, rather it's something that needs to be recognized as falsehood, released to Christ and then you're well on your way, maybe not over it, but well on your way to "recovery" of your soul (or however Eldredge may choose to say it).
So I don't sit here a critic tonight, rather I'm sitting here as one trying to identify those things in my own heart that are hindering me from real, deep, meaningful relationships that are Christ centered and healthy from all angles, in order to begin dealing with them and welcoming new realms of relational intimacy that I'm so desperately craving but so innately terrified of.
I guess recognizing that there is something I'm petrified to allow myself to experience again is a good start towards re-discovering some aspects of life on this earth that God has wired into all of us.
Keeping others at arms length is a tiresome game that I'm not ready to keep up much longer, I suppose it's just a matter of allowing myself to be vulnerable again, even if it doesn't always work out for the best for me.
"Let go and let God" is beginning to take on significant meaning to me now.

Monday, March 26, 2007

my utmost apologies

I have seriously neglected my blog recently. I guess truth be told I haven't really felt like I've had much to contribute, my mind has not been working in the ways that it once did. I haven't really been pondering philosophy/theology nearly as much as I used to, nor have I done so nearly enough.
perhaps I should spend some quality time on the toilet, or set myself up with an epiphany toilet like that of the Janitor on Scrubs in season 3 (yes, I know the season, and episode number- 3, 15) where I can go to escape the rush of the everyday crapper and relax enough to think.
But I guess even beyond not thinking much, I have not spent the time I need and want to spend in prayer and Scripture reading.
I suppose that's something I can reflect on at the moment. How do you maintain a structured pattern when you don't really have structure and you suck at building it. Yes, I know that it's true that you will make a priority of what is important to you and if you don't make God a priority then He must not be important to you....
Well bear with me for a moment here as I exercise these thoughts a little. Is it not possible for someone to be important to you but you feel helpless to make the effort you desire? Perhaps it's fallen humanity, perhaps it's an erroneous perspective, but that's kinda how it seems for me these days.
As a pastor your main job is to care for the "flock" and if you don't have the closeness with the master how can you do so? It's very true, but then there's the seemingly endless list of "to do's" that you can never seem to reach the bottom of and it becomes slightly or tremendously discouraging and depending on your personality....debilitating. How does one pull out of such a "slump?"
Though, I have to give credit to my good friend Mike, who pointed out to me not a week ago that something significant is lacking in my life. That is a mentor. I've only had short experience with such a relationship and it was a tremendous growth period for me, but I am not currently in a relationship as such. I have a solid work relationship with my sr. pastor and as it continues to grow, it's a great thing, but as far as a personal-mentorship relationship, it's just not there.
Part of the problem I think is the shear fact that I'm so internal in most things. I think too much (usually), I keep a lot of stuff inside, and I tend to isolate myself from the very life lines that I need to keep on keeping on. Essentially, it's a neglect of self that is not in any way healthy. I guess the first step is recognition and the second is action...though as I sit and think of it I can't think of anyone within close proximity that might be able to fill that role that I so desperately need.
Of course, non of this is to replace personal time with Christ with some guy who can never fill that void, but it is to enter into a solid one on one relationship with someone who has gone before me in life and can share wisdom with me and kick me in the toosh when the need arises (which is far more than I might like to admit).
I guess the bottom line is, when you land in a hole, there is no such thing as "digging your way out", especially if you don't have a shovel. But to recognize that you need some help from someone else to get you out of there, to actually do the very thing that many of us fight so hard against, cry for help.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm such a rebel

Ok, so this "revival crusade" is still going on, theres two more days of it after today, and I have to be honest, I'm very much looking forward to the last meeting on Wednesday night. I'm sitting in the sound booth as one of the twins preaches.
It's been a great time of learning and growth but so tiring and, really, we weren't meant to be working 18 days in a row...it's not Scriptural.
I could go on about the different things that bug me about these old guys, but they are rather trivial and basically a result of the era in which they grew up and all and not so much a really huge issue. For example their constant mention of the "evils of rock music"...it gets me a little excited and wanting to fight back, but I hold off for the sake of learning something and not causing a disturbance.
There's lots of stuff to be able to take from these meetings that have been going on, but the presentation is a little....less than up to date I guess you could say, and it's, well, too long of a time all at once.
So my question that has been running through my mind for a while now...I'll share it with you...Does God work through people who aren't really in touch with the current culture and use vocabulary years out of date? The only answer I can give is YES. I've seen some pretty incredible workings of the Spirit of God the last couple weeks, even if these guys are old and still pray using "Thee and Thou" and use the KJV fervantly.
God can stretch across a generation gap as such, it's really cool to see, especially when youth are getting up and testifying to the things that God has been revealing to them. How can you not get at least somewhat excited about that? I sure am, even if it means some painful endurance of things that cause me to want to vomit sometimes...God still uses even old people, am I surprised? No, I am humbled cause sometimes I don't want to listen...

Friday, February 16, 2007

This is Daniel Cook, I mean Troy Dunham writing a sermon...

So obviously the sermon writing has taken a bit of a break, actually I haven't even really started on it for the day yet, but when I have other things on my mind I can't really focus well enough to write up something for a sermon, so I'll get all my nastiness out here because I can and I'll write as many run on sentences as humanly possible.
The truth about me today is that I'm just tired...I don't think there's really any other way to put it. I honestly don't know how people do it with families and spouses and everything. I'm single, so nobody else is really affected by my busy schedule, and not only busy but long hours (like by the end of this week it will have been 80+ hours of work), if I had a family they wouldn't deserve that kind of treatment from me. How does one do it? I'm actually pretty thankful at the moment (though I don't always feel this way) that I am single at this point in life cause it would be way too hard to maintain a healthy/strong/godly relationship with a woman and try and figure this ministry stuff out all at the same time. I guess God really does know what he's doing after all.
Knowing full well that I'd not be able to treat a wife properly as I learn to live and breath a life of ministry, He's allowed me freedom to struggle on my own so that I can gain some ground before bringing someone into my life. I pray it will happen soon but I guess I can't be anything but thankful deep down (though I've been struggling with that lately) that I am where I am and know that God has placed me here for some purpose beyond my limited understanding.
But alas my sermon doth call my name, I shall resign to writing of the great things of God instead of my lonely little world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Good times on the zipline

This is a video I made to show at our district's pastoral prayer retreat to promote peer networks among pastors.
Who knew pastors could have fun?

Fox Hat

I know it's scandalous, but still funny!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New perspective

It's 5pm on Wednesday, in just about 2 hours my students will be rolling through the doors and I'm still not completely finished preparing for youth tonight, but that's ok, it's just a matter of filling a few things in, for once I'm not panicking to get everything finished in the last 5 minutes before people are due to show up to the church.
Why am I not just finishing and then taking a few minutes to catch up on some sleep that I've sorely missed the last couple days? Well because just now a thought has illumined my mind and I have to write it down before I forget it (for you fellow Bill McAlpine Homiletics students, WIDOLIF).
You see, I've been struggling a lot lately with my work habits, with the setting I'm in (not the people, just the laid back/easy going/small town atmosphere) and I see all these people around me (in the bigger picture of the Church in North America), I read books of great leaders in the church. I watch videos of successful pastors, and hear sermons from the "big wigs" of faith and I get discouraged. Ironic isn't it? We're supposed to be encouraged from guys like that, God speaks through them, they're leaders of other leaders, they are admirable people.
As I sift through such messages, sermons, and whatever other training that they provide I find myself discouraged cause I don't look anything like them. Well most of them, I'm glad I don't have their physical appearance cause they're just funny looking (Philip Yancey anyone?), but where they are in life, how God's used them, the tremendous leadership qualities that exist in those guys and their success in ministry, I don't look anything like that.
Then it dawned on me, I'm not supposed to look like that. Maybe I'm not ever going to lead a congregation of 20,000 people. I might not have a youth ministry of 1000+ students. I may never write a book, or be sought after to speak at big events, or have youth pastors across the nation asking me the tough questions in hopes of an answer. I'm not supposed to look like them. And even if any or all of those things do happen in my life...It will have nothing to do with me, but everything to do with God's faithfulness.
And...if any of that stuff happens to me, it's often (I say that because of course there are some exceptions) not those guys who have just started out in ministry and still don't know the names of everyone they serve in the church, it's not the guy who's fresh out of Bible college and 6 months into his first real job in ministry. It's not usually the guys who are fresh off the line who are the ones that others look to for those things...It's those guys who have been around a while, they've put in years of service, they've tried and failed, they've crashed and burned (not all of course) they've been tested and they passed.
I'm not that guy, yet. I haven't been around long enough to try and fail, or try and succeed in big ways like that. I don't know enough to be able to give answers to other people, I've got little to write in a book that can help other people.
Scripture clearly speaks of young people and the significance we have in the church and the leadership potential that there is within us. Lots of us will automatically think of that famous verse 1Tim 4:12 "don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set and example...." This is all true, I can set an example for the believers (though I'm not always a good one), but there's still an element of that "seasoned leadership" that I just won't have, unless it's bestowed upon me by God, it's called the "seasoned" part.
I don't have that kind of experience, I'm not that old, I've not been through those kinds of trials and situations.
BUT I do have my own experiences to learn from, I've got the situations I'm currently in and those I've been in before.
The big question is....am I going to learn from them? What will I do with them as they come and go? Will I learn from mistakes/failures and successes? Will I repeat the good and drop the bad?
Maybe that's what I should focus on, instead of comparing myself to someone I'm not.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Eat at the Ruby and get gas

I have recently borrowed the first seasons of the great Canadian anomoly of television comedy known as Corner Gas. Now I've seen the show before, a number of episodes, but haven't been able to appreciate the show in all it's fullness. I've been making my way through season one, and it's unbelievably hilarious.
There is definitely something about Saskatchewanians (ites) that provides them with a sarcasm that's second to, well me.
I don't usually laugh out loud at things when I'm watching them by myself, I don't know why, but that's how I work. It takes a special kind of funny to make me laugh out loud while alone, and alas I've found myself laughing til my little heart's content a few times. I might just be ashamed to admit it, but I've even giggled like a little school girl (not sure I've ever completely understood that phrase).
It's funny how the Saskatchewan pride comes through in such a show. There's a certain small town thing that happens in this province, and even though my town isn't near as small as Dog River, I can identify with much of what happens in Corner Gas, it's hilarious.
I'm actually beginning to appreciate living in Saskatchewan, I may not stay here forever, but it's not as embarrassing as I once thought it was. The Sask. pride is seeping into my being.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ringing in the New Year

It is now January 2nd. I am currently still working on recovering from our all night event with the youth the other night. I haven't done one of those for quite some time now, so it takes it's toll on you sometimes. But all in all it was a good night. I enjoyed myself, which of course is the least of my concerns, but it seemed like the kids enjoyed themselves aside from a few "I'm bored" comments here and there, not for a lack of trying.
It's always fun to just kick back and talk with teens, no agenda, just let conversation flow, share truth with them, and hopefully they'll gain something from it. This is something that I need to continually work on, cause I'm not the greatest at it. It's so easy to just talk about useless things, and not be deliberate about speaking truth. Not that I don't ever do it, but it's not the way it should be by any means. Of course, this comes easier with a more definite and determined relationship with God, which always requires work, and I've not really worked as hard as I could, if really anywhere near where I should.
As God continues to bring me through things that I couldn't make it through otherwise, I'm realizing how much more intentional I need to be in every aspect of life.
Here's some brutal honesty about me, but it's hard to hold yourself accountable, which is why we need other people. God never asked/told us to do it alone, to do life alone. Even though I don't have the life partner I am still hoping for, that doesn't mean I'm supposed to just sit back and isolate myself. Unfortunately I've done so on so many occasions and I'm seeing it happening again. I'm not entirely sure how to make that different. I know I can spend more time with people, but that doesn't mean that I'm not still isolating myself.
It's like I don't let people in where I need them most and I'm recognizing now that I've been trying on my own, without other people to help me and without God in the driver's seat.
So, here's the question of the day, the one that's on my mind the most at the moment...How/why does it keep happening that way? Why do I let that happen? Why do we as people let it happen? I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who's been here, and if I am then I'm somehow missed out on something.
Do I hear from God? Yeah, I still do, just not as I should, or as much as I should because I'm not listening. I'm not giving him every opportunity to guide me, just some.
This is not the most encouraging post I recognize, it's just what's on my head today.