Monday, December 29, 2008

interesting read

OK, I know that it is after Christmas and all that, but I came across this today and I wanted to share it with you. It is the Christmas story "re-written" for modern times. Taking what happened and putting into our modern day. As I read it today, it hit me ina way that the Christmas story has not in a long time.

You can read Part 1 here.
And Part 2 here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

reflecting on 2008 and looking ahead to 2009

So the other day I started reflecting on the past year - on 2008. It is not quite over yet, but it is getting close. I was not reflecting so much on the events but on what God has been up to in my life in the last year. I pulled out my journal (I write on here, but it is only a snippet of what I write about) and started reading what I had written in the last year. It was amazing to read the stories of what God had been up to in my life. He was definitely at work and I can see now that even in the times when I wondered He was there and He was working.

As I did that I started to move into looking ahead to 2009 with anticipation of what God has in store. If He did all that He did in 2008 in my life, I can only imagine what He will do in the coming year. I am excited to see what He has in store for me! Based on the joys and challenges of this past year, I know that it will not all be easy, but it will be good in the end no matter whether the time is hard or not.

I pray that you would be looking ahead with anticipation as well to the coming year. And I pray that you and I would both be open to whatever God has in store for us in the coming year.

Happy New Year to all!!! (Just in case I do not get around to posting another blog before we move into 2009!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

how many kings

I have come across my new favourite song for Christmas. I am not completely sure that it would be classified as a Christmas song and it is not on a Christmas CD, but in my mind it is a Christmas song. I wanted to share it with you because I think the message of the song is important. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

what Christmas is all about

I can hardly believe that in a week it will be Christmas day! It really does not seem like that is possible right now. I keep seeing all the Christmas decorations up everywhere and hearing the Christmas music, but I do not seem to think that it could really be Christmas yet.

I guess, if I were to be honest, it is because I have chosen to put that fact out my mind and not allow myself to think about it. I have never been a fan of all of the craziness that typically comes with Christmas . . . and this year I was even less inclined to get into any of it. I just did not see the point. Really, this past fall started off pretty crappy and I have been reeling from it since. It seems that only now I even want to think about Christmas . . . and I realize that I have missed much of what does excite me about it. I still have a week and I anticipate lots of stuff in this time, but I still feel like a part of it all is missing.

Yet, at the same time, I think because I have pretty much ignored the Christmas excess and consumerism happening around me I am thinking more about what this is all supposed to be about in the first place. Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus come to earth . . . it is the beginning of the greatest rescue mission of all times! I wonder if sometimes we lose that in all the decorations, and pageants, and food, and gift buying. I know I often do.

For me this year Christmas is something pretty simple . . . and I find myself looking forward to it all with more anticipation than I have had for Christmas in a long time! It is about celebrating the birth of Christ . . . and doing so with family and good friends. It is about taking time out to remember that my Savior chose to come to this earth so I could be reconciled to Him. It is about Jesus Christ! Nothing more . . . nothing less . . . just Jesus!

May you not forget the true meaning of the season in this next week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

honest with God

Do you ever find yourself trying to come up with the "right" words to say when you are praying?
Do you avoid praying out loud in a group because you are afraid you will not have the "right" words to say?

God wants for us to be honest with Him . . . and that means telling Him how we really feel - what we are really thinking. But I find that it is not always easy. I get caught up in looking for the words that I think I am supposed to say and often do not even end up saying what I wanted to say. I can use all the "right" words and ask for all the "right" things but that may not be how I am actually feeling or what I am actually wanting to say.

I have been reading in Job lately and the other day I was struck by the utter honesty with which Job talks to God. Job does not look for the "right" words, he just tells God how he feels. There is no holding back on Job's part in what he says. As the reader you know how he feels. Job is honest with God.

I have started to think that this is something we need to do more of (well, at least I do). Rather than trying to find the "right" words, we need to learn to tell God honestly what we feel and what we think. It is not a surprise to God that we feel or think that way so why would we not honestly say it.

In the past few days I have been trying to do this. Believe me . . . it is not proving as easy as it sounds like it should be. I have all these ideas in my head of what I "should" be saying. But, as I have taken the time to practice (for lack of a better word) this I have found an incredible freedom in it. There is something freeing about not trying to say the "right"things all the time.

So, I want to challenge those of you who may be reading this to take some time to reflect on your own prayers to God. Are you honest? Or are you always looking for the "right" words to say? Are there changes that need to be made for you to actually be honest with God when you pray?

over my head

I was reading on another blog earlier today and it talked about a song I had never heard before, but I liked the words. I headed over to YouTube to see if I could find the song because I wanted to share the song with you. May you be encouraged by what you hear.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

deep people

So, I have apparently taken a bit of a hiatus from writing these last couple of weeks . . . and I didn't even realize it until I logged on today. I guess you could say that these last couple of weeks have been a little busy.

Anyways, I read a quote earlier today that really got me thinking.

The doesn't need more busy people, maybe not even more intelligent people.
It needs deep people,
people who know that they need solitude if they are going to find out who they are;
silence, if there words are to mean anything;
reflection, if their actions are to have any significance;
contemplation, if they are to see the world as it really is;
prayer, if they are going to be conscious of God;
if they are to know God and enjoy God forever.
(Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline)

When I read this it challenged me and got me thinking. Our culture tells us that busy-ness is good and is to be expected. Busy-ness is held up, almost like a badge of honour or significance. But, when we get caught up in it we lose our ability to be "deep people" because we do not have the time for silence, reflection, contemplation, and prayer.

I have been thinking since about my own life and how much time I have for these things. And, really, there is not much. This was the challenge I needed today and maybe it is for you as well. Especially in this Christmas season where there always seems to be so much going on, maybe we need to become intentional about stopping the busy-ness and taking time out to spend with God - afterall, that is what we are supposed to be celebrating this time of year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

some videos to make you think

So last night at church, they showed some videos that really amde me think and I wanted to share then with you. Tehy're a bit of a spoof on the Mac vs. PC commercials on TV these days.

I know that there are people out there who would not necessarily agree with the idea of a Christian versus a Christ Follower, but I think that there is a point being made in these videos about how we tend to view things. As someone who has grown up int he church, I can find it quite easy to get caught up in how things "should be" - how I was told they should be growing up. But sometimes I wonder if that really is effective.

These videos made me think and I hope they do you too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

when silence falls

Do you ever have those times when God seems silent? When you can pray and your prayers seem to just bounce off the ceiling? Or you read your Bible and as soon as you have read it you forget it?

Up until last weekend, that is the way I felt for much of this fall. It seemed like God was not there - like He did not hear me. And, I can say, it is not a fun way to feel or a fun place to be. But there was a song that kept me reminded that He was still there even when I did not know it.

It is called "When Silence Falls" by Tim Hughes. This has become one of my favourite songs over the past couple of months.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

being versus doing

I was sitting on the beach the other day watching some ducks swimming by and struggling to go against the wind and the waves. (Yes, it was still warm enough to sit on the beach, but not without a warm jacket, gloves, and a blanket.) As i watched the ducks go by I started to think about how what they were doing paralleled things in my own life.

The ducks were working hard and making very slow progress fighting against the wind and the waves. I started to think about how in my own life I can so easily get caught up in doing stuff - really just busy-ness - and yet when make little progress in anything. It was a bit of a realization that sometimes all of our doing isn't what we should be doing. Sometimes we need to just be.

I get busy with doing stuff at church and doing stuff with my friends and doing stuff at work and I forget that sometimes I just need to be. I need to stop all of the busy-ness and just sit. Be still and listen for what God may be trying to tell me. I can't always hear Him when I'm caught up in the busy-ness of life, but when I take time to slow down and just it for a while that's when I hear what He is trying to say.

Really, that's what had happened when I was sitting on the beach the other day. I had stopped in the midst of my busy-ness and just allowed God time to speak when I was listening. It wasn't easy, there were many moments of that time when I just wanted to get up and go do something. But the longer I sat there, the more I realized that I need to learn how to just be sometimes. To just stop and sit and be in God's presence.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

why i love the church

So, I've had a few conversations with people lately that have been disillusioned with the church. Many times these people have been ready to walk away from the church altogether because of that. It has made me think a lot about how I feel about the church . . . and I've come to the conclusion that I love the church (now before you jump down my throat for that statement, please read all this blog).

I know that the church has done some things that have hurt people. I know that the history of the church is filled with as many mistakes and dark times as successes and exciting times. I know that the reputation of the church in the world is not always a good one. I know that the church has it's share of problems. But, despite all of that, I love the church.

To clarify, before I go any further, when I talk about the church, I am talking about the body of believers - those who identify themselves as disciples of Christ. But, I'm also talking about the church as an institution primarily (at least in this case). I honestly believe that both of these are important. The body of believers is important definitely, and I have found very few people who are disillusioned with the body of believers. Most of the people I have talked to are disillusioned with the church as an institution.

One of the reasons for why people are disillusioned with the church as an institution that I have heard is that the church was not designed to be an institution. I would like to point out that right from the beginning there has been a structure of leadership and organization that has existed. In Acts 6, it talks about the Apostles choosing other people from among the early church to be responsible for caring for and assisting the widows and orphans, so that they could devote themselves to teaching. Paul's letters in the New Testament also speak of him finding leaders and setting organization in place in all of the places that he travelled to preach the Gospel.

So, after reading that, I can do nothing other than conclude that there was structure and organization to the early church. While the church may primarily be the body of the believers, it is also an institution. And, in my opinion, a needed one. Without the church being organized there would be many things that the church is called to do that would not be done.

The church has a rich history going back almost 2000 years. It is a history that has times of great revival, times of great persecution, and times of graves mistakes we made. And yet, through it all the church has persevered and, in many instances, has thrived. We must not forget or ignore that history. We should be making an effort to learn that history so that we can learn from it - both from the mistakes and the successes.

I think that if we had any real idea of the history that we are a part of as the church, we would not be so tempted to walk away from it. We may still not always agree with everything about the church and we will probably still be hurt by the church from time to time, after all it is still made up of broken people just like us, but I do not think we would be so easily disillusioned with the church.

As I have learned more about the history of the church - both the church as a whole and the individual church I am a part of. That is one the main reasons why I love the church. And it is one of the things that has caused me to refuse to turn my back on the church even when I have found myself hurt or not liking something that the church did.

The church is not perfect. It is made up of broken, messed up people, so why do we expect it to be? Maybe instead of expecting the church to be perfect to our standards we should seek to be the church we dream of ourselves (Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne). Rather than seeking fault in the church, let's choose to look for the good and to be the good we want to be. The church is the way that God has chosen to spread His message to the world, so rather than walking away from it, we should seek to make it what it should be.

I love the church! And I think we need more people who do. Because when we have people who do love the church that is when we can become the church that we are called to be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

God's small, quiet tuggings

Do you ever have those times when you feel like you're supposed to go to something or somewhere or do something? I have, and I've come to realize that most of the time that's God speaking to me.

Take last Saturday night for instance . . . I really didn't feel like going to church, as a matter of fact it was the last place I wanted to go. I tired to to justify my not going that evening, by telling myself I would go in the morning instead, all the while knowing full well that I wouldn't get up in time to go on Sunday morning either. No matter what excuses I made for not going I couldn't justify it in my mind. So, I got in my car and headed for church . . . telling God on the way up there that I really didn't want to be going.

But, as usual in those situations, once I got there and the service started, I knew that I was supposed to be there. God wanted me to hear and be a part of the service that night, and He made sure it happened despite my efforts to make it not. (I'm still making sense of it all that night, so I won't be going into details about why this time.) As the service progressed I knew unmistakably that God had wanted me there that night.

In the week since then, I've been thinking a lot about listening to that small, often quiet tugging in your heart. I wonder how many times I've ignored it and missed on what God had in store. My guess would be that it's happened more times than I realize.

So, then I started thinking about how I can get better at listening to it and responding to it. I know that part of this is making sure that I'm walking in step with God in my life in general. I've begun to think that another part of getting good at recognizing this is listening to that tugging and following through on it when I do hear it. Like I did last Saturday night . . . I need to do what that tugging is telling me I should do when I do recognize it. By paying more attention to it, I will learn to recognize it better.

What about you? Are there things that you do to recognize these tuggings on your heart from God?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

running on empty

Do you ever get the feeling that you're running on empty? That there's nothing left inside you and you're just kind of going through life with no emotion, no passion, no energy . . . no nothing (OK, OK I know that's bad grammar, but it's my blog so I can write what I want).

Running on empty . . . that would describe pretty much how I've been feeling lately. It's not the most pleasant way to go through life. It gets tiring pretty quickly.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this (since last night when I realized how I was feeling so forgive me if my thoughts aren't completely finished on some of these things) . . . and wondering how do you get beyond that feeling of running on empty? How do you "fix that problem" for lack of a better word?

I mean, I'm still going to church and reading my Bible and praying . . . doing all those things that a good Christian should do. And they don't quite seem to be working. So, what to do?

I think sometimes just doing the things we know we should do isn't enough because they should be a part of our lives all the time, not just when we feel empty. When we feel like we're running on empty, we need to do something different that helps us to connect with God and be filled again by Him.

What sorts of things work? I think every person is different and so different ways are going to work for them. For some people it might be getting together with a group of people and for some people it might be going off someplace alone. Some people might want to be in a church with traditional symbols and sounds, while others want to be outside in nature.

All people are different and will connect very differently with God and be filled by Him in different ways. The key is that when we feel like we're running on empty we do something about it.

I know for me it means that I need to get out of the noise of city life (however small my city may be in comparison to yours) - to a place where I can be alone and surrounded by God's incredibly beautiful creation. But, I also need to balance this with getting together with fellow followers of Christ to dig deeply into God's Word and challenge and pray for one another.

What about you? What would you need to do?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the importance of the church

With the sermon series we have been doing at church recently I have been thinking a lot about the church. The series is called the Quest for the Authentic Church, and it has been thought provoking. We have talked about evangelism, fellowship (community), worship, discipleship,and service. All of which I agree are very important to the life of the church and to life as a follower of Christ.

Tonight as the pastor was finishing up his last message in the series, the one on service, he was talking about how you need all five of these things - evangelism, fellowship, worship, discipleship, and service - to have a healthy, functioning church. And then he went on to make a comment about some people pulling back from the the church, as an institution, and saying they didn't need that since the church is the people of God, not the buildings and the institution. The pastor didn't deny that the church is the people of God, but he also asked the question of whether those who have pulled away from the church have all of these five things in their lives.

It made me think about something I have heard from a number of young adults in the past few years - that they don't come to church because they're disillusioned with the institution of the church, and that they don't need to come to church because they have community on their own with their friends. But, the words of the pastor tonight made me think a little more deeply about that.

You know, honestly, there have been times when I have felt the same way; yet, for some unknown reason I've never been able to walk away from the church. Tonight it clicked for me why I have never been able to walk away from the church, and it's because I know that without these things (the five listed above) there is something missing in my life. Yes, the church is the people of God whether we are gathered in a building or scattered in the rest of our lives, but there is an importance to both (and this sermon series talked about both).

I have also thought about the descriptions of the early church found in Acts. Even in the early church, there was some sort of structure and organization. The church, as an institution, has existed as long as the church as the people as God has existed. There is no way that a group of people on the fringes of society in those early days could have done what they did without some sort of structure and organization to guide the work. Just as there is no way that it can happen without it today. I'm not trying to discount the work of the Holy Spirit and the things that do happen outside of the church. But, I think we sometimes forget about the need for a structure and organization so we can better complete the work we have been called to do.

Does the institution of the church have its problems? Yes! I would be lying to myself if I said no. But I don't think walking away from it is the answer.

There's a quote that my pastor has repeated many times in the course of this sermon series that has really stuck with me. It's from Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. It talks about how we often criticize the church that exists, rather than becoming the church we dream of. I think that idea hits the nail on the head. If we're disillusioned with the church, or maybe we've been hurt by it and walked away before, maybe we need to set ourselves to becoming the church we've always dreamed of rather than walking away from the church.

Think about it for a while. What would happen if we decided to become the church we dreamed of and set ourselves to doing that, rather than deciding we don't need the church and walking away from it? I think it would have a bigger impact and be the better answer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

showing up at important church stuff

So, I just got home a few minutes ago from a church business meeting. Not always the most exciting thing to go to , but they're important and so I go and sit through them so that I know what's going on and have a say in decisions that are made. Really, the same idea as a government election (since we Canadians just had one this past week) . . . if you don't show up you don't have a say.

As I looked around the room tonight, I was both happy and dismayed at the same time. Happy that there were lots of people taking an interest and happy that there were more young adults there than I usually see. But, also dismayed, because out of the group of young adults that I know are members and should be more involved there were so few of us there. Not that I look down on those who weren't there . . . I've done my fair share of skipping these meetings because I decided they were boring.

But, as I thought about it today, I started to draw a bit of a parallel in my mind between things I've heard from both young adults and the generations that have gone before us. I've heard the generations that have gone before ask where the next generation of leaders - the young adults (age 18-30ish) - are at these meetings. I've heard young adults say that they don't come because they think they're boring. I've heard the generations that have gone before us say that if we really cared about it we would show up whether we found parts of the meeting boring or not, and because we generally don't show up we don't care. I've heard young adults ask why the generations that have gone before us don't take us seriously and don't ask for our input.

Both sides are asking valid questions and deserve answers.

My answer to the generations that have gone before us is that we do want to be taken seriously. But, sadly, we don't always make the effort to be heard or get involved. If you know young adults who should be at these meetings, challenge them to get involved. Don't be afraid to get us upset enough to come.

But, my passionate answer is the one that I give to other young adults. The generations before want to take us seriously - they want to hear from us - they want our input. And there is a way for us to do this, but it requires that WE DO SOMETHING! Those church business meetings that we decide are boring and therefore don't attend, happen for a reason. They are the opportunity for the church members - the people who make up the church - to have a say in decisions about all kinds of matters. If we don't show up at these meetings, our voice cannot and will not be heard! In an organization the size of most churches these meetings are the most effective way to bring things to the church and get the feedback of the people who make up the church.

If we continue to refuse to get involved in these things, then we can continue to expect the generations before us not to take us seriously. We are the future leaders of the church! In 20 years, we will be the ones who are called upon and relied upon to do these things. Why not start now and learn from the older generations, so that as we get older we don't make the same mistakes that have already been made!

The young adults of today are the future leaders of the church! We must get off our butts and get involved now!!! We cannot continue to sit around and complain that no one takes us seriously. They don't take us seriously because we don't take initiative and get involved. Let's change that! Who's in???

Sunday, October 12, 2008


So, with this weekend being the obvious Thanksgiving weekend where people turn their thoughts toward what they're thankful for. So as with most people I've been thinking about that today as well. The more I've thought the more I've realized how incredibly much I have to be thankful for. God has blessed me richly in many ways and I have so much to be thankful for. Yet, I so often take it all for granted when I shouldn't.

So here's my list so far of what I'm thankful for:
  • a family that loves me and cares about me
  • amazing roommates to enjoy spending time with
  • incredible friends
  • freedom to worship God and to gather with other Christians
  • an amazing job that I enjoy most days
  • the beauty of creation that I get to live in
  • having enough money each month to pay the bills and still have some left to have fun

Those are just some of the many things in my life that I have to be thankful for. If I took more time I'm sure that I could come up with even more.

I'm not sure why it takes a once a year weekend that is planned for me to think of what I'm thankful for. It should be something that is a part of my life all the time. That's the challenge right now . . . for me to remember to acknowledge the things I'm thankful for year round, not just once a year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

what really matters in life

So, in the past month or so, I have been thinking a lot about what really matters in life . . . but most of the time I wasn't even conscious that I was doing so. With all the events that have happened in my life in the last month, I've been thinking about a lot of things all the time just as I go through every day.

Anyways, back to the topic fo what really matters in life . . . I realized how much I had been thinking about this on Monday night. As usual I was one of the last to leave after Alive. There wasa group of about 7 or 8 of us that were discussing various understandings of Scripture, theology and science. It was a good conversation and I was enjoying it a lot. I like to discuss things with people because it makes me think . . . and it gives me stuff to blog about.

There was a point in the conversation where we turned to something that I sometimes don't mind and soemtimes can annoy me. We were discussing whether a word someone used that someone else wasn't a fan of in that context, was the right word to use or not. I know, I know sounds like kind of strange conversation to have.

Anyways, while we were sitting there debating about the meaning of a word and whether it had been used correctly I just got this incredible urge to leave right now, rather than say what I had in mind to say. When I got that feeling, I knew that I had to leave . . . I didn't know why . . . and I knew that my friends would wonder why I jsut got up and left . . . but I didn't have a choice.

So, I got up, grabbed my bag, and walked out to my car. It was as I was walking to my car that thos realization about the need to be involved in thigns that matter in life rather than things that don't came to mind. The conversation that I had just left had turned from discussing things that did matter to debating whether a word was used properly (even though the meaning of what was siad came across whether it was the correct word or not). It had moved from what mattered to what really didn't matter.

Normally, I'm the kind of person who would have been right in their for this kind of a discussion. But, the more I think about it . . . the more I realize that it's not something that is important. Arguing over word useage really serves no prupose other than to possibly make someone feel stupid or seem to devalue the point someone was trying to make. This isn't important!

Since Monday night, I've been reflecting a lot on what matters in life - what really matters. There are things that do matter - that do make a difference - and those are the things that I want to focus on. I don't want to get caught up in what's not important. I want my life to be spent on what matters!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

our craving for acceptance

So, at church last weekend we were talking about community. One of the things the pastor mentioned when talking about it was our craving, our desire, for acceptance. And about how often we will do crazy things just to be accepted into a group. We will even do things that go against our values and beliefs to be accepted.

I definitely think this is something that plagues our culture. Despite constantly being told that we can do it all on our own and we don't need anyone else, we defy this statement by how we live. We may say it on the outside, but underneath it all we still have this desire for acceptance that supercedes anything we might say about our ability to live life completely on our own. We want to be accepted by a certain group and we will do anything to be a part of that group. Really,when you think about it, it doesn't matter if it's a sports team, a social group, a gang, or a church group. If we want to be a part of that group we will do whatever it takes to become a part of it.

The saddest part of it all to me, is not that we crave acceptance, but that there are so many times in church circles where this craving for acceptance causes us to do thing we would never otherwise do. In the one place we should be accepted no matter what, we still seem to have to earn our acceptance! Why is this? It doesn't seem right to me!

Why does this happen in the church?!? It shouldn't!!! The church should be the one place where everyone can find acceptance - a community to belong to. Afterall, Jesus never turned anyone away - not even the social outcasts of His society. So why do we think we have the right to turn people away or judge their acceptability by worldly standards?!?!? We don't! But we often act like we do. Just because someone doesn't dress right or act right doesn't make them less worthy of belonging than us. None of us is worthy of acceptance by God on our own merits, so why do we think we have the right to judge other's worthiness of acceptance by God?

I am as guilty of doing this as the next person. Far too often I've judged people by their appearance or actions and deemed them unworthy of acceptance. It comes naturally to most people.

But I've been thinking a lot in the last week about what the church would look like and the force it could be in our world if we became a group - a place - that just accepted all people. What kind of a raical dfference would we make in our world if all people were accepted - were welcomed with open arms. We live in a world surrounded by people who are desperately searching for acceptance - for a community they can belong to. What ifthe church were to actually become the community it should be? Maybe, just maybe, that would move us more in the direction of becoming the world-changing force that the early church was.

Now, I can hear people saying . . . but what about the sin in people's lives? By just accepting them are we condoning their sin? Think about this for a moment . . . who are the people in your life who have the freedom to tell you the hard things? To call you out when you are in sin? They are the people who you are accepted by - the people in the group you are a part of. People living in sin - people who are lost - are not going to listen to us tell them they're living in sin until they feel accepted. We need to welcome people wiht open arms for who they are and, after that, we can get around to helping them change their sinful ways.

Our cultural circumstance are different than they were for the early church, but we are still a part of a hurting and broken world. And we still hold the only hope for our hurting and broken world. But, if they are going to come to us and we are going to go to them, we must become a community that accepts people for who they are and where they're at. We can't judge people as worthy of acceptance or not - that's not our job. We must accept them!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

a Franciscan Benediction

So, I've heard this a few times and it's something that I'm really thinking of as a very important to the life of Christians these days. I just want to share it with you tonight.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial realtionships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a faith of convenience?

Disclaimer: The idea for this blog came to me while I was watching M*A*S*H a little while ago. If you have never watched the TV show, some of details that I explain to try to get my point across may not make sense to you.

OK, so on with the blog now . . .

I was watching Season 10 of M*A*S*H after I got home from work. In this particular episode, Father Mulcahy (the company priest) is talking to a soldier who has gone AWOL from his unit. When things go wrong and the soldier turns on Father Mulcahy with a rifle, Father Mulcahy utters these words while trying to talking to talk the soldier down: "A faith of convenience is no faith at all."

For some reason, hearing those words tonight started me thinking (and it's far from the first time I've heard them . . . I own all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD and have watched them many times). Anyways, I started to think a lot about that statement and what it means.

I think that we often do have a faith of convenience. We are willing to call ourselves followers of Christ so long as everything is going right. But, as soon as things get hard or someone says something disparaging about Christians we no longer claim the Name.

Why do we do this?

We know that it's not right . . . that we have not chosen a faith of convenience . . . but a faith that costs us much. Yet, it is so easy to fall into a mindset of only following it when it is convenient.

I don't want to just have a faith of convenience, because that really is no faith at all. I pray that this is not what you want for yourself either. We need to be willing to have a faith of inconvenience . . . a faith that is costly!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

making a difference with your life

With all that has happened in my life in this past month, I've done a lot of thinking about making a difference with your life. As I've seen the "fallout" from my friend's husband being killed tragically, it's been something that has come up as something I've been thinking about a lot.

The stories I've heard about how he lived and the glimpses of it that I saw, he lived to serve God and others and that was all that he wanted to do. His life was one that inspires me to live differently. I know my friend (his wife) was the kind of person who couldn't just drive past another driver in need and ignore it - her husband was the same way, as was evidenced by what he was doing when he was killed.

Then I was sitting in church last night and the pastor was talking about evangelism. At the end of the message he asked a question that was something like this: What will it take for you to get off your "spiritual butt" and start sharing the message with people? What is holding you back from doing so?

After he asked that question I started thinking. I've been one of those people who has sat back and left the sharing of anything to do with the Gospel to other people. I even often claim that I'm letting the way I live my life speak for it instead. But as I was challenged last night that's not the way it should be done. And I thought about my friend's husband and who he lived, I was motivated to move beyond that more passive thinking about how I share the Gospel.

I'm not an upfront kind of person, so I know that I'm not called to be preaching to others and all that. But, I need to be more willing to talk about it in the interactions I have with people.

I want my life to make a difference fro eternity. I think that's something that most people want. But I think it's also easy to become content with life the way it is and to stop doing anything that we've been called to do, because it's not comfortable or easy.

Really, my challenge that I've taken up and want to challenge others to get involved with is to not sit back and be content with the way things are. We can't just decide that we're doing to live our lives and do nothing else. If we want to make a difference, we have to get out there and do something about it . . . and maybe that something is as simple as just stopping to help someone in need when you're driving.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

limitations to understanding

So, I just started taking this "course" through my church that's about leadership development and spiritual formation. I'm excited about it. It's looking at the biblical foundations of leadership and at how what has happened in your life to-date has shaped you to be the person you are today and how that influences your leadership. So, yeah, at least to me, a very interesting course.

Anyways, as I was getting started on the reading last night I was drawn in by something on like the second page. (I love it when things I read just jump right into the good stuff.) One of the points made really got me thinking.

"Many of those who think they are dissatisfied with Christianity are really dissatisfied with something else - their own grasp of Christianity. For most of us, we have scraped the surface and nothing more, yet we mistakenly believe our superficial encounter represents the gospel in its totality." (by Alister McGrath)

I've been thinking about it since I read that last night. And it's been making a lot of sense as I do that. I mean, really, who hasn't been dissatisfied with what they understand about Christianity? When things happen that just don't seem fair or right, it's very easy to begin to question. (I know, I've been there in the last few weeks.) But, yet, as I've thought about it I've come to see a lot of truth in the statement.

I think if we really began to understand - really understand - the depths of it all we would never cease to be amazed or have those doubting questions. But, we so easily get caught up in our own little world and think that we know it all and understand it all, when in reality we don't. When we begin to think we know it all and then have questions that our knowledge cannot answer or make sense of, it's very easy to become dissatisfied.

Yet, all of the understanding we could possibly have can never even begin to grasp all the truth about the gospel. It is so much more than we understand with our human limitations. We really have only scratched the surface of it! Therefore, we must be careful that we don't get caught up in assuming that we know all and that our understanding is everything there is to know.

Not only does realizing we have barely scratched the surface help when we're wrestling with the hard questions in trials, it can also help to keep us from growing bored with Christianity in the rest of our lives. When we acknowledge that we have only scratched the surface, we always have more to learn and understand. This leaves us with no reason to become bored with Christianity!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

God's workmanship

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

The Greek word that workmanship here is translated from means a work of art or masterpiece! That's something pretty incredible to think about! We are God's masterpieces! We're not just something that God created and just sort of did and okay job at. We are His masterpiece! That means we have incredible value and worth in God's eyes.

When I read that and found that definition the other day, it really got me thinking. If I'm God's masterpiece than I need to be treating myself as such. I started thinking about how we treat the incredible works of art created by human artists. They are given a high value and are placed in museums where they are protected or they are given places of honour in people's homes. If that's the way we treat a picture on a canvas, then how much more carefully should we treat our bodies since they are God's masterpiece?

This knowledge should change how we treat our bodies. We need to look after ourselves. This means we need to be paying attention to what we put into our bodies and what we do. We shouldn't become so consumed with our appearance and what we eat that it takes precedence over anything else. But we do need to pay attention to it.

when your world is shaken

So . . . for those of you that have heard anything about what has been going on in my life in the past while you would know this . . . but the title of this blog really does describe what has happened so far in the month of September for me. My nice comfy, safe world has been shaken through a series of events, some not small and some big. Needless to say it's been a challenge. (My last two posts refer to the biggest and most world-shaking, for me, of these events. You can read those posts here and here.)

When your world is shaken, it's easy to start to wonder where God is in all that is happening. It's definitely a question I've asked a lot in the last few weeks. There are so many times when things just don't seem fair. I mean, is it really fair that my mom was in another accident? Or that a friend of mine lost her husband and their children will now never know who their father was except from pictures and stories? I wouldn't say that this is the first time I've ever wondered about the apparent unfairness of life, but it's the first time those questions have hit home quite like they have this time.

I've come through this with an even greater appreciation for many of the Psalms that David wrote. Many of them were written in times of great distress and trouble and they tell God that, but they also end with a declaration of his trust in God no matter what. It was obviously a choice that David made to trust God and it's a choice that I've had to make too. As these things have happened it would have been very easy to turn the other way and decide that God wasn't there or that He didn't care.

The words to a song that Jeremy Camp wrote really hit me the other day as I was driving home from work. I was singing along with the CD like usual, when I was struck by the words to the song. And I realized that those words described exactly what God had been doing for me recently.

Carried Me (by Jeremy Camp)
Jesus You have carried me
When I could not stand
Jesus You have carried me
It's all been part of Your plan
Jesus You have carried me
It's Your footprints in the sand
Jesus You ave carried me
It was always in Your hands.

As I look back over the past few weeks, that's definitely something I see now. The only way I made it through is because Jesus was carrying me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

prayer request

OK, so, a break of the silence to post prayer request . . .

Last night I got a phone call asking me to be praying for my friend Tara. She and her husband, Preston, and their two year old son had been driving from Oregon, where they lived, to the Okanagan to spend a week visiting her family. On the way, they stopped to help another motorist who had hit a moose. A car that was swerving around the moose and the other car on the higway hit Preston as he was phoning for help. Preston was killed by this car that night - leaving behind his two year old son and Tara, who is pregnant with their second child.

Right now, Tara needs prayer. Even though, as she has said, she knows that Preston is in the place he has always wanted to be - with his Savior - it is hard for her. She has lost an amazing man.

I was privileged to meet Preston only a couple of times, and other than that just to observe their relationship from a distance at Bible college, but what I know of Preston is that he was a great guy who loved his wife and his son and God with everything he had. From my observations of this man, I know that he died doing exactly what he always did - helping someone else in need.

So, please remember Tara in your prayers in this time; as well as, both Tara and Preston's families as they have also lost a loved one.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

no new posts for a while

To all faithful readers:

I will not be posting anything for the next week or so. My mom and sister were in a car accident last night and much of my writing time will be spent helping them out in the next while. They are OK, in spite of what could have been a very serious crash. Nonetheless, they are sore and not completely able to do things on their own, so my time will be spent with family for the next while.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


A few things that I've read lately have made me think a lot about the people who have had the greatest influence on my life so far. For the most part, they're not well known people . . . they're family, and youth leaders, and summer camp counsellors . . . people who took an interest in my life. They're the people who cared about how I was really doing and took the time to answer my questions, and listen to my struggles, and encourage and pray for me. Honestly, I don't know where I would be today without them.

When I think about these people, I realize that I want to be someone like that in other people's lives. I don't want to just pass though my life and not take the time to really care about someone. I want it to be my priority to take the time to really listen and encourage those I meet.

Really, this post is just to say thanks to those people cuz I know some of them read this blog.

Thanks to my incredible family . . . my parents and my grandparents in particular. I've always known that you were there and that I could come to you with anything. Thank you for being there and for showing me the way to go by how you live, not just by what you say.

To the amazing youth leaders that I had during high school . . . my youth pastor and my small group leaders. You probably knew more about my struggles with things in high school than my family did and you were always encouraging when I needed to talk. And you weren't afraid to challenge me when I needed it. Especially one small group leader who came back year after year . . . when my world in high school began to fall apart cuz I was no longer able to play sports I didn't really tell anyone, but so often it seemed like you knew exactly what to say when I needed to hear it.

To my summer camp counsellors . . . I think all of you had some kind of an impact, but one in particular . . . I was privileged to spend a lot of time with you - first with you as the junior cabin leader for a cabin I was in, then with you as my cabin counsellor, then with you in charge of the junior staff program when I was junior staff, and then working with you as summer camp staff for two summers. I consider it a privilege to have been able to learn from you and to have been able to work with you. Your love for the kids and for God inspired me in so many ways.

And then of course there are many friends who have come and gone in my life . . . some for short periods of time and others for many years . . . you have all played a huge role in who I am today whether you knew it or not. Your encouragement and the time that I could just enjoy spending with you has also helped to shape me.

And my Bible college profs . . . after going to university for two years I was amazed by how much all of you cared individually about each student in your classes. And to one in particular . . . in your Spiritual Formation class . . . your heart, your love for God, and your desire to see each student grow was so obvious in everything you did - from the discussions in class to the comments you wrote on my assignments. You weren't afraid to push me in my walk with God and you were willing to share yourself too.

I'm sure I could list more people if I spent more time. None of these people are well-known authors or speakers . . . but all of them has played a huge role in who I am today just by their presence in my life. I think I need to be more intentional about letting these people know how much I appreciate them and the role they have played in my life. I so often take them for granted. Yet, I know that I have been hugely blessed to have them in my life.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

beauty of God's creation

I went camping this weekend and it was an amazing weekend. It was a VERY COLD weekend! But it was so good to just be out in creation and see the incredible beauty of all that God has created.

A few of my freinds and I headed up to Revelstoke - just a few hours north of Kelowna. I live in a place surrounded by mountains and forests and yet I don't even notice most of the time. But then I head up a little higher into the mountains and I'm once again struck by the beauty of what surrounds me everyday. Here in Kelowna, I don't even go and explore the beauty in the mountains that surround me. It seems strange to me that I so often ignore what surrounds me.

One evening as we were standing along the edge of the Columbia River where it ran through our campground just looking up at the starts in the sky, I was just really struck by the incredible power of God. I mean, there is no way that a God who didn't have any power could have created anything like what I was looking at that night. It was exactly the reminder I needed this weekend. We serve an amazing and incredible God!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"the shack"

So, I will now add my thoughts to the many blogs and comments on the book "The Shack". I'm not usually someone who reads fiction - most of the time I don't enjoy it. I had many people tell me that I should read the book - the most adamant being my mom whose opinion on books I trust, as she often points me in the direction of really good books. Also,I had read many people's comments on the theological issues with some of what is in the book. So, I picked up having really no idea of what to expect when I read it.

Now, before I begin, I don't think I can argue against any of the theological issues that people have found with the book. I'm not so sure about the idea of God the Father appearing as a female and yet being called Papa. I'm not sure about a few things, and for that I caution people to read this book with a discerning mind and guidance from God as to what is truth and what is not.

But, depsite anything I might have questioned, I cannot deny the incredible honest reality of the struggles that main character deals with in this book. Who among us hasn't struggled with forgiveness? Maybe not in the scope spoken of in this book, but I think we all have those people in our lives that we have struggled to forgive, or that we are struggling to forgive right now. "The Shack" is an incredibly powerful story of forgiveness and the journey to get there.

There's also the storyline of struggling to forgive God for a wrong that happened to you or to your family. Our wisted, incomplete view of God comes to play in this. I think we all struggle with this to some degree and we shouldn't feel like we have to hide that or deny it.

Honestly, all I can say about this book is what everyone else is saying: "You have to read it!" It's a story that will tug at the deepest part of your heart and challenge you immensely if you let it. Read it with a discerning mind asking God to filter any untruth out, but READ IT!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

note to readers

After a couple of email comments I received about my blog, I was looking back over some of what I have written in the past while. I had people tell me that I was really good at pointing out where the church needed to grow or change in order to live up to what we have been called to. There are many times when I have issued a challanege in an area where I believe the church, as a whole, does need to step up, or we, as individuals need to step up.

Please note that these things come out of my love for the church and my desire to see us living what Jesus calls us to live. I don't point out things where the church or individuals may need to grow lightly. I point them out when I see them (or think I see them, I don't profess to be an expert on any of this either) because I think it's when we acknowledge where those weak points are that we can begin to make the changes to better live out what God calls us to.

Also, I don't write about things that I have all figured out in my own life. Most of what I write comes out of what I'm learning in my own life. I am far from having it all figured out. But I believe that as believers we need to be sharing the lessons we're learning and challenging one another to deeper growth. That is my purpose in writing this blog.

I don't want to come across as a know-it-all seeing all the problems and having all the answers. I seek to humbly challenge people to greater growth in their walk with God.

heavenly minded

I don't know about you, but there have been a couple of times where I have heard people caution that we, as followers of Christ, must be careful that we don't become so heavenly minded that we're of no earthly good. I'm not so sure this is the caution we need in our culture today. I think we struggle with exactly the opposite. We become so earthly minded that we're of no heavenly good.

I started thinking about this when I read Colossians 3:1-2 yesterday. These verses say:
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things above, not on earthly things." (NIV)
Paul makes it very clear that our hearts and minds should be focused on the things of God, no on the things of this earth. So, reading this passage made me start to wonder if the caution to not be too heavenly minded was maybe, at least, somewhat, unnecessary.

As I thought about it some more, I came across a definition of what it means to set our hearts and minds on things above that I found helpful. The Life Application Study Bible puts it this way:
"Setting our hearts on things above means striving to put heaven's priorities into daily practice. Seeting our minds on things above means concentrating on the eternal rather than the temporal."
By that definition, we should be seeking to be heavenly minded, not earthly minded. And I think that is something that is definitely lacking at times in our world. Maybe we need to spend more time focusing on the things of God rather than the things of this world.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

growing cold to the need in the world

I had a conversation with one of my roommates last night about the incredible need that we are surrounded by everyday in our own city. We don't live in a culture that has the same kind of poverty as some of the third world countries, but do have people who are poor and homeless according the basic standard of living here.

My job gives me the privilege of seeing this need in my own community everyday. When I first started this job, my heart broke every time I walked or drove past the people waiting to come into our building for a meal or a cup of coffee or just some care. But, I noticed over time that I stopped having my heart broken by it. I eventually got to the point where I didn't even really see these people anymore. I had grown cold to it because it had become normal to me. When I realized this, I was quite horrified. I mean really . . . how can you get to the point where you don't see people in need? How could I be one of those people who just walks by and doesn't have my heart broken by the incredible need? I asked God to change my heart from what it had grown cold to. I didn't want this to be the case. God took me seriously when I prayed this prayer. He definitely broke my heart through a series of circumstances. Probably the hardest part of God breaking my heart for these people again was that He did it by bringing someone who I had known growing up into that place of need and me seeing that. This was someone who was more than another face on the street that I walked past. This was someone that I knew. But, as my roommate and I were talking last night I realized that God has answered that prayer I had prayed - that my heart would break with the things that broke His heart. It's not an easy place to live, but it's a place I would rather live.

I don't think we can really take seriously Jesus' call to look after the poor and those in need without our hearts being broken by the things that break His heart. And since Jesus talks in Matthew 25 about what we do for the least of these, we do for Him" we should be seeking to do just that. We should be helping out the least among us those - those in need.

Social justice . . . helping those in need . . . that is what we are called to. How are we - the church as a whole, world-wide - doing at living out this calling? How are you doing at living this in your own life on an individual level?

Friday, August 15, 2008

leadership thoughts

Disclaimer: The first part of this blog might apply more to the women than the men. Not to say that guys can't read it.

At the leadership conference I was at, they interviewed two young women that I was quite interested in. Both of them are young women who have taken a dream to make a difference in the world and gone out done just that. They both started their own non-profit organizations and began working for towards these dreams they had been given. As a woman working in the non-profit world I was excited to be able to hear from these women.

I appreciated just being able to hear from them about how they did it. I know that for myself I often find myself holding back from getting involved in leadership because I'm female. One of the women said these words, that have engraved themselves in my brain: "make no excuses for being a woman in leadership." I am called to lead where God has placed me in life. It may look different than how a guy would do, in fact I think it should look different, but I don't need to shy away from where God has called me to lead in my life. I don't need to be making excuses for myself. I just need to step up and do what God has called me to do.

The rest of this blog applies to both men and women.

Another thing from this leadership conference that I attended last week that has really stuck with had to do with whole topic of accountability. It is something that needs to be a part of all leader's lives! One of the speakers talked about how sometimes we need to be willing to sacrifice our privacy for the sake of accountability. It just struck me as so true. When we make ourselvses accountable to other peole, we willingly give up some of our privacy. And this is a good thing! Our lives cannot be lived in secret. If no one knows what is going on in our lives - what we're doing when we're not working or volunteering - we can very easily fall into sin. When we have people in our lives who have our permission to know what we're doing in our off-time and to ask us the tough questions. Without that our lives as leaders suffer greatly.

Another thing that hit me was when one of the speakers talked about failing at something you step out to do. I tend to be someone who takes failing at something pretty hard. It's something that I often transfer to myself, seeing myself as a failure rather than just seeing it as an event. So for me, this reminder is something that I need often.

As I've thought back over this two day leadership conference, there has been so much that has spoken to me. It's taken me this week to really begin to make sense of all of it and to pull out what I needed to learn. The biggest thing I think I took away is the reminder that it will be easier - not always easy, but easier - to lead if it's something you really, really believe in. When you are really souled out to the vision that you're working for, you will be more committed to it and more willing to stick with it through the challenges that will inevitably come your way.

OK, so up to this point, this is my processing from this leadership conference I attended. There was so much more information that came my way in those two days, but I'm learning that in situations like that I need to take the things that I need to learn and then leave the rest of the information for a later date. You can't process that much information all at once. You have to leave the rest to be learned at a later date.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I was at a leadership conference at the end of last week. Two days, nine sessions, 11 speakers (I think) . . . it was a lot to take in . . . and I've spent most of the past week trying to process through it all. That's something that I'm definitely still working on. I think it's going to take a while.

One of the things that really jumped out at me was the theme of social justice. It seemed to come up in so many of the sessions. While hoping to provide tools for us to learn from to be better leaders, many of the speakers also had call to be involved in righting the injustices of our world. It's something that has just really stuck with me since then.

It reminded me of the words to one of my favourite songs
God of justice, Savior to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Came to serve and not be served
. . .
We must go
Live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward
Keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go
The first time I heard this song (God of Justice by Tim Hughes) those words just really struck me. And they were brought to mind again this past week with all of the call to be involved in social justice in our world.

The past couple of days, that song has become my sort of theme song for my life. I find it so easy to just get caught up in my life and forget about what is going on in the rest of the world. Even with my job and being face-to-face with some of the injustice in North America everyday, I find it so easy to forget what we are called to in Scripture. In some ways, I think my seeing it everyday when I go to work, makes it even easier for me to turn a blind eye to it all. That is not what I want to happen.

Anyways, back to this leadership conference I was at. The second speaker was the president/CEO of International Justice Mission which is an organization that operates all over the world working to free people from slavery and forced prostitution (read more here). He was talking about leadership that matters - that makes a difference. He talked about how this means that we continue to lead, even when the calling seems hopeless, scary, and hard. He also talked about how we can do this. And we lead in these situations by remembering where our hope lies and that the work we are doing is God's and we don't have to make it happen.

There was one thing he said that really hit me, and it was this: "Jesus didn't come to make us safe, He came to make us brave." It's so clear in Scripture that Jesus didn't call us to some safe thing where we sit in our own little group where we all believe the same thing. Jesus calls us to something that is counter-cultural, that requires that we take risks - it's not safe to follow Jesus!

I think often this is something that the Church (not a building, but the community of all believers), particularly in the West where being a Christian is relatively easy, struggles with a lot. We are okay leading when things are easy and everything is going according to plan. But, when we're faced with the injustice going on around the world, and even in our own communities to some extent, we get scared and lose hope that we can make a difference. But, these are exactly the situations where we need to step up and take the lead.

We should be working against injustice not sitting idly by as it happens!!! God is a God of justice and He uses us to make a difference in the injustice that is happening in our world. As a Church we need to step up and make that difference! Whether it be through financially supporting ministries that seek to right the injustices of our world or thtough getting personally involved in seeking to right the injustices of our world. We may not be able to stop all injustice, but we have to do our part!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

learning from other leaders - from those who have gone before

Learning from other leaders . . . that's what I've spent the last two days (yesterday and today) doing. I had the privilege to attend a leadership conference called Leadership Summit. It was really good! There were some speakers that I definitely enjoyed more than others. But I couldn't really ask for a greater opportunity over the last two days.

Especially as someone who is just starting to step out into leadership roles, it was incredibly valuable. People who have been leading both inside and out of the church for so much longer than me have an incredible amount of wisdom that I need to seek to learn from. I am blessed to have personal connections/relationships with people who lead in various capacities in my own life, but, in my books taking time to spend learning from more people than you normally would is an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted!

I often look around at the church and the segregation by age that naturally happens and wonder what we're missing. There is nothing wrong with having ministries that seek to reach specific groups of people, but there also needs to be times when the entire church from the kids to seniors is together and can learn from one another. I talk to many young adults who say that they have no connection with the older generations outside of their parents and extended family (which not all of them live close to). For me, luckily, this isn't the case. I grew up surrounded my much family and many other people in my church family of all ages that have played a part in my life. (What a huge blessing that is!)

But, I see the truth to what I hear many young adults around me saying. And it makes me wonder about what we (young adults, 18-30, as a collective group) are missing by not having these interactions. I know from experience that there are people who have walked the road before us that we can learn from if we have the opportunity.

Like these last two days, I had the privilege to hear from the hearts of people who have gone before me in leadership roles, some who are just a few steps further down the road than me and some who have been doing this stuff for years. And I wouldn't trade the last two days of sitting in a church pew, getting a sore butt, for anything. I'm still working to make sense and apply to my life much of what I heard, but I also know that I heard an incredible amount of wisdom that I'm glad to have heard.

All of this makes me wonder . . . how can we create space for those meaningful connections between the generations to happen? What do we need to do so that youngadults can truely learn from the vast amounts of wisdom of people who are in the same building as them on a weekly, or more, basis? There has to be a way to bridge this dis-connect. Young adults are the future leaders of the church . . . and we need to learn from those who have been leading for a while.

I think this is something that requires a change on the part of both sides. As youg adults, we need to et past the idea that we can do it ourselves and be willing to admit that we don't have all the answers - that we can't do it ourselves. We need to get to the point of being willing to go to the corporate church and ask them to teach us - to mentor us - to share their wisdom. And, as a corporate church, the all too common attitude that young adults don't want you around and just want to drive you away from the church needs to change. Young adults do want you around! We may not always express it very well, but we do. You have the wisdom and experience that we need to learn from. And maybe we can pass along some of our energy to the rest of the church.

The church should not be a one generational thing. We (all people, of all ages) need for it to be multi-generational. All ages and stages of life need to be learning from one another. This is how the church is supposed to be. Not some building we go to once or twice a week, but all ages learning from one another and growing together.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

God ordained conversations

Do you ever those conversations that you know have to have been set up by God?

I had one of those conversations last night. There's a person that I've been avoiding having conversations with for a while . . . a LONG while . . . OK, so it's been like seven years! Anyways, we were dating. Then we broke up . . . and it was messy. So, I've been avoiding him in pretty much any way possible since then. Even to the ridiculous point of going all the way around the church to get somewhere because I would have had ot walk past him to go the more direct way. I must say . . . it has been a little bit ridiculous.

Anyways, on to last night. He was at Alive and afterwards he came up to talk to me and it was a situation where I couldn't avoid having to have a conversation with him. The conversation turned to something that I have really been working through with God recently. As I've seen him around more in the last 8 months or so, I realized that I was avoiding him because in all these years I had never gotten to the point of truely being able to forgive him. God made it clear to me that it was time I did forgive a few months ago and so began a journey that took about a month of getting to that point.

Yet, even after being able to say that I forgave him, I still avoided him as much as possible. Not quite in such ridiculous ways as before but avoided him nonetheless. Until last night . . . there was no way to avoid having a conversation with him, so I decided I could make small talk for a few minutes until I could escape. But, the conversation very quickly turned to the issue of the unforgiveness towards each other that we had both been carrying around for so many years. Needless to say, it ended up being exactly the conversation I needed to have in order to really be able to move beyond that relationship from seven years ago completely.

Last night was definitely one of theose God ordained conversations. Had things gone the way I was hoping I would have avoided anything other than a passing "hello" all evening. But God had other things in store. And, now, I'm glad God did and that He made His plan happen despite what mine was.

Anyways, this has all got me thinking about how often God does this in our lives. I think more often than we maybe give credit God makes those conversations with someone happen because He knows they need to. And, no matter how hard we try to avoid them, He makes His plan happen.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

living in authentic community

So, I'm "suffering" the results of drinking a half a pot of coffee after 8pm. When you don't usually have any caffeine after that time . . . that much coffee can really get you going. My roommates all seem to be going to bed, but I still have too much caffeine in me to even think of sleeping right now. Of course, this all means I will sleep in really late when I do finally go to bed . . . good thing I don't have to be anywhere tomorrow before 6pm. ;)

Anyways, being up and awake has got me started on thinking about something. It seems like God has been teaching me a lot about community and how it should look in the last year. (For previous posts on the topic of community click here or here). I've been thinking about it more tonight, just as I've been reflecting on some things that have happened in my life lately.

I've been realizing that if we completely isolate ourselves from others then when something happens we are often left alone to deal with it on our own. Whereas, when we are living in authentic community with others we have those people that we can call on - whether it's something big or something little. And, I think that is how life is supposed to be lived. We weren't made to go through it on our own.

I've also been thinking a bit about how we typically respond when people call us to help or to care when things go sideways for them. Honestly, I sometimes want to give any excuse in the book not to help. But I'm beginning to realize that it's when I drop the excuses and step out in whatever way that person needs that God shows up in some pretty cool ways. The more I do that, the more I want to do it. But, at the same time I'm always somewhat concerned about how far God will push me in doing those things that I maybe don't want to do, but know that I should be doing to help out those I love and care about - whether friends or family.

I honesty think that one of the major keys to authentic community is that willingness to just be there when someone call. The willingness to put aside your own plans and concerns and be there for the other person - whether it be by listening on the phone, heading over to be with them, or offering help in a practical way. That is the kind of authentic community we are called to live in. And then more that we do that, the more I think we will see God show up in amazing ways.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

stuck in a rut

Do you ever find yourself getting stuck in a rut? Where you have your devotions but it seems to have lost its ability to speak to you? That's where I have been for a while now. It has been a chore to read my Bible, or even to really spend anytime with God.

I'm one of those people where the look of how they spend time with God changes about as often the seasons. I just get bored with one way of doing things and need to do it a bit differently to keep my attention. This is where I was at recently. I had found a way of reading my Bible and hearing from God and I was using it. It was good, but I was getting bored with it so I was just sitting and doing it as fast as I could all the time . . . not exactly a great way to actually hear anything that God may want to say to you. I got stuck on this same way of doing my devotions, if you will, for a lot longer than I usually stick with any one method. It has a couple of years now of the same thing. It was the way that I found helpful when I was just getting my life back to normal after a battle with depression and I think becuase of that I was afraid to let go of this way. Doing things this way had spoken to me a lot during a time in my life where I needed that. But, for the last couple of months, it really hadn't been a good way for me to be doing things anymore - yet, I was still very hesitant to let it go. Needless, to say, when I finally got to the point where I knew that I had to change things, my time with God began to come alive again.

After that, and a couple of conversations I've had recently, I've started to think about we so often end up stuck in a rut in our spiritual lives. For whatever reason we get to a point where we're not learning and we're not hearing from God . . . and so we just go through the motions and keep doing things, even though they mean nothing to us. Most of the time in my experience and the experiences of others I have spoken to, God has to do something drastic in our lives to get us to wake up and get out of the rut we're in. (I'm just thankful that this time around it didn't take that for me.)

I've been wondering why we allow ourselves to stuck in these ruts. I mean, we know when we end up in one, so why don't we just get ourselves out of them? It seems so straightforward when we're not stuck in that rut . . . but it's not as clear when we are in the rut. It just seems strange to me.

fasting & keeping a Sabbath

OK, so I admit . . . this is mine, but if you also read my writing on the Alive Ministries webpage, then this will not be a new post. It is a post that put up there today as well.

Do you fast? Have you ever even thought of it being something that you should do? How about keeping the Sabbath – taking a day to rest from work? What images come to mind when you think of these things? Do you see them as having value in our lives today? Or as something that was just required for the Israelites in the Old Testament?
I was reading in Isaiah recently, and those were some thoughts that came to mind as I read chapter 58. I am going to quote a large portion of it here, so that you know what I am talking about:
“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the captives free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
when you see the naked to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
The your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call upon the Lord, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.
. . .
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honourable,
and if you honour it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord”
Isaiah 58:6-9 & 13-14 (NIV)

The two spiritual practices that are spoken of in these verses were hugely important to the life of the Israelites, and to the early church, but are rarely practiced today in most churches. Fasting and keeping the Sabbath were obviously important in the history of our faith, so why do we not place the same importance on them now?
I have heard many people argue that these are Old Testament Law requirements and that, as New Testament Christians, we are no longer bound by these requirements. That is true, but I think that argument misses a lot, not only that Jesus assumed that His followers did these things, but also the intent behind them both. The New Testament has many occasions where Jesus and the apostle’s letters speak about these spiritual practices being important to the life of the believer.
These were not designed as just something more to do. Really, both of these practices force us to slow down and actually allow room for God to speak and to work in our lives. At the frantic pace that most of live our lives at there is really no way that we can hear from God. We do not allow time for that with our go, go, go schedules – always running to the next thing on our calendar. Fasting and keeping a Sabbath force us to slow down. Both of them require specific planning and ceasing of activity on our part the will not just happen.
Think about it for a moment: When was the last time that you stopped all the busy activity you do and just allowed God room to move? And I do not mean in a church service or for your devotions crammed somewhere into your day. I mean really stopped – for a longer period of time – and allowed God to speak to you and to move in your life?
Isaiah 58 talks not only about the importance of doing these things, but also about the rewards of doing these things. Take, for now, what it says can happen when we take time to fast and to pray (the two usually go hand in hand): Isaiah 58:6 says that it has the power to loose the chains of injustice, to break chains of bandage, and set the oppressed free from what oppresses them. That’s pretty amazing! And that is the kind of thing that can come from us taking the time to fast and to pray and come before God.
And, not only that, there are promises of what can happen when we take fasting seriously as a spiritual practice that we make part of our lives. Isaiah 58:8-11 outline some of these things: God will be with us as we go into the world, God will answer our cries when we bring them to His feet, and God will guide us in our lives. That, to me, is exactly what I am looking for in my life.
Or take the whole idea of keeping a Sabbath. Yes, God should be a part of every aspect of our lives, all the time, but there is something to be said for taking some time out of the busy-ness of our normal lives to just be in God’s presence. Keeping the Sabbath is not just a rule to follow; it benefits us both spiritually and physically. Our bodies were not designed for this frantic pace at which we so often live – we were not made to go non-stop for days on end – so, physically, we benefit greatly from taking time out regularly to rest from the busy-ness of our lives. Spiritually, it also offers us a chance to be refreshed. It allows us that time to just stay in the Word and in God’s presence for longer than our schedule normally allows. God also makes a promise that comes with keeping the Sabbath as well. Isaiah 58:14 says that when we do this is when we find our joy in the Lord. Since the only place to find true joy is in God anyways, this seems to me to be a good reason to practice keeping a Sabbath.
While it is true that fasting and keeping the Sabbath are requirements of the Old Testament law, which we are no longer bound by, there are many things about both of these spiritual practices that make them beneficial to us today. Although much of Christian culture does not seem to put a huge value on them, they are incredibly important and valuable tools to help us hear from God and allow Him to work in our lives. We need them!
If you are still with me know, think about your own life for a bit: How are you doing at making these spiritual practices a part of your life? When was the last time that you spent time fasting and praying? When was the last time you kept any form of a Sabbath?
With your schedule keeping every Sunday as God’s day or having a regular day that you spend fating and praying is probably not possible. And we do not want these to become legalistic and things that we do just because “we’re supposed to.” Maybe your Sabbath will be the one evening in your week and that you have free and you will make that a time where you stop with busy-ness and noise of life and allow God to speak. Or maybe fasting will be giving up TV or computer games for a time and spending the time you would have spent doing those things with God. Whatever the case, do not be concerned if you do not follow what some would consider a “normal” schedule for these spiritual practices. But, also do not allow your schedule to be your excuse for not doing these things at all.
Do not stop here with just reading about it and looking at your own life. Make a commitment now of when and how you will put these into practice. Write it down. Share it with a friend who can learn to make these things a part of life with you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

take my world apart

I was singing along with a song on one of my Jars of Clay CDs the other day, when I was struck by what exactly I was singing the words to. I often do that. I just sing along with whatever is playing. But these words just hit.

Worlds Apart (by Jars of Clay)

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icharus I collide

With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love, to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of One who loves

More deeply than the oceans, more abundant that the tear
Of a world embracing every heartache
Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me
All I am for you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees

It was especially the words: "take my world apart" that really hit me. Those aren't words that I just want to sign flippantly. They're serious words to sing, and I had better mean them if I'm going to sing them.

This got me thinking about how often I do the same thing with other songs. Are there words that I sing that I wouldn't if I was really paying attention and thinking about what they mean? Probably there are. That thought has made me more conscious of the words that I sing when a song is playing.

understanding why God does things

So, I just finished this book called "Walking With God" by John Eldredge. It was honestly a good book that really challenged me to think about how much I listen to God about the smaller things in life, rather than just when I have a big decision to make about something. Definitely a read I needed.

There was one section in the book that really just caused something to "click" for me. It was a strange story to have a lesson for me because it had to do with his family's dog . . . and I'm far from a dog-person and honestly usually don't pay much attention to them when I read them or hear them. Bu this one I was reading and paying attention to this one. The author was relating a story about having to put their dog down. He talked about how they had some time to say good bye, but how it wasn't drawn out long, as that would have been worse to see their dog suffer for a long time when he was ill and in pain.

When I read that, something just sort of clicked in my head. I related it to my uncle dying sooner that we were all prepared for. I've been still asking God why it happened, and as I read this it made sense - it doesn't necessarily make it easier, but I think it was another step on the journey to dealing with the grief that came with my uncle dying.

When God took my uncle home when He did, He was doing what was best for all. God wasn't taking my uncle away to be cruel - it was actually something that was better than the alternative. We were given a few weeks to say good bye and then my uncle was gone. The other option was to watch him suffer and die slowly for months. That wouldn't have been any easier. When I think about it, I wouldn't have had wanted to watch him die for months. I was pretty upset with God at the time, but now, a number of months removed from it all, I can see that it was the better way for things to happen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

what is faith?

That's a quesion that has been rolling around in my head for the last few days. I was reading in Hebrews 11, the "hall of faith" as it is commonly known. And it got me thinking about what faith actually is. It's a word that I hear all the time, but I don't know that I've ever really thought about what it means. There are a few places in Scripture that talk about what faith is.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

"He said to them: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:14-15

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:17

"We live by faith and not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

"What good is ti , my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? . . . Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do. . . . As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." James 2:14, 18, & 26

All of these verses talk about faith, and really are far from a complete list of what the Bible has to say about faith. Faith is a huge topic and it's a word that is used in many ways, both in Scripture and in everday life.

My understanding of faith is that it is choosing to trust that God is Who He says He is and that He will follow through on what He says. When Christ talks about having faith like a child, He is talking about the need to just trust, not to question. Not that questioning is wrong, but sometimes we need to just decide that we are going to belive something.

I think for me the key to understanding faith is that it is something we take action. Hebrews 11 repeats over and over that these people did things "by faith". They took what God said and acted accordingly, trusting that God was Who He said He was and would follow through on His end. The same it true of us. We need to take what we say we believe and act on it. Faith requires action . . . and sometimes that means we have to take a risk and step out in doing something.

Honestly, this is something I'm still trying to understand. If you have thoughts on it I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


So I've been back for a day now. I spent the weekend in Abbotsford for my great-Grandma's 95th birthday. Lots of family . . . staying in a hotel room with my parents and my sister . . . going somewhere without my own car for the first time in a while . . . a much different weekend than I normally have. But it was a great weekend! I have an absolutely crazy extended family, who want nothing more than to have a good time when they get together.

As we were driving home yesterday (Monday) a comment that one of my roommates had made a while back popped into my head. We were chatting one day and she made a comment about how it seemed like we all spent so little time with our families now that we were out on our own. All of my roommates and I come from pretty good families, yet it seems as though moving out for all of us meant that we spent less and less time with our families.

I know for myself, it's not really all that strange for me to go a couple of weeks without seeing my family other than in passing at church. And phone calls . . . well . . . I try, but our schedules don't always connect the first time so I give up. For me, I see family at holidays and on occassion otherwise, but not too much. I think what really hit me about this week was a comment my Grandma made in passing. She said something about how I don't stop by very often. I used to . . . when they lived on the lake I was over all the time . . . but she's right, I don't come by very often anymore. Yet I love spending time with my grandparents.

Anyways, all this got me thinking . . . I think I very easliy begin to take my family for granted. I know that they love me, and I know that if I need them all I have to do is phone and they'll come. I also know that I have more extended family that I know and enjoy being around than most people. But I often find myself just assuming that they will always be there, because they always have been. I mean, really, how many people have grown up with great-grandparents and great aunts and uncles around, besides grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins?! I've been seriuosly blessed in that department.

I came home this weekend with the realization that my crazy and loving family is not something that I should take for granted . . . but something that I should value. I can't put a price on my family . . . all I can do is make it a priority to spend with time with them - to make that second phone call to see if they're home yet, to stop by my grandparents' more often, to just be around them.