Monday, October 30, 2006

The Good Inevitably Leads to...

The bad.

It continues to blow my mind how we as humans take advantage of others and continually abuse them. I think of Moses in the desert. The Israelites time and time again questioned his leadership and his relationship with God. As if a pillar of cloud and fire wasn't enough to confirm his unique relationship with God. They had to tear him down and try to usurp him.

One thing that I can really rely on in that whole narrative is how faithful God is to Moses. How Moses is affirmed and re-affirmed by God that he is on the path that God designated. God carried Moses almost literally through the desert, and gave him the patience and the strength to rely upon God in the midst of everything that went on.

My time here at Bethel has been more than informative, with all of the change that has been going on. But in the midst of that have been quite a few trials. Now, much of this information is sensitive, so excuse me for being overly-vague. One of the issues with Blogging is that people give too much information, and expect it to be kept secret. That's not a wise assumption to make.

I have been struggling with interpersonal issues with certain people. The hard part is that I have nothing against the people in question, I'd be one of the first to step up to defend them. But the way they choose to go about certain things, handle situations, and especially interact with me has really begun to wear on me. It seems like weekly something new is coming up, and I wonder if they aren't completely oblivious to the entire situation.

Take on top of that the ever-present Christian problem of gossip, and it becomes even more frustrating. DO NOT talk about other people because of something you heard. Talk to them! Always talk to the person first! They deserve at very least that much.

And lastly, I attempted to confront someone on an ongoing issue this past week. It was done as gently as possible, and from my side of the story, giving them every opportunity to explain themselves. I knew it was going to be difficult, but in reality it ripped me to shreds. The response that I got in return (and it is my interpretation) was... great, but you're an idiot. You should have seen that, I shouldn't have needed to tell you. That hurt me. Not only did it not deal with the issue at hand, but it proceeded to compound it, so that not only was the issue the problem, but my intelligence, and my leadership was in question.

So I'm working through a lot of things right now. The truth of the matter is that I'm glad I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for ministry. It's no longer any mystery why the average life of a pastor is 6-8 months. Churches are brutal.

God, my friends, my father, and Jordan mean so much to me right now. They have been a huge source of support and prayer during this trying time, and because of that, I know I'll make it through.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday, nearly there!

Fridays have no longer become the 'end' of the week for me. That comes Sunday night, when youth finishes and I can take a little bit of a breather, and know I can sleep in on Monday. Then we start all over again on Tuesday. It's a never ending cycle, and you just try to keep improving things a little bit at a time.

It makes me think of the movie Groundhog Day. The day repeats over... and over... and over... and everytime he gets to choose a different path, and different way to do things. The only difference is with that movie, your actions have no consequences, you start with a fresh plate every day.

In life, every week resets, but you hope you can build off of the previous one so one step at a time you can get all the work you need to do done, and make it better for the coming week!

Somehow this is exciting. Don't ask me how.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meetings can be Fun!

Last night, I gathered here with 4 other of my children's leaders with the goal of hammering out some long-term plans for the children's ministry. We laughed, we joked, we prodded, and had ... strangely enough ... a lot of fun doing it. Shocker -- I had fun at a meeting!

We really dug down deep into the River to figure out what we are aiming for with the whole program. The current format, music, small groups were things that we combed over very carefully. There were disagreements, differences of opinion, and a mutual respect of everyone to find something that works for the kids and for the goals we are going for. That speaks volumes to me of how the church is supposed to work.

At the end of the day, I feel we are better of because of the conversations, and I'm looking forward to seeing the project take wings and fly without my direct involvement. But as with any program, it is important to see that people do not burn themselves out.

It's a exciting time!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids Floor Hockey

Have you ever noticed... you say floor hockey, and all the boys will show up? We've been running a youth/adult floor hockey here at Bethel for nearly a year now, and it's been getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately, in the mix, we had some kids who showed up and tried to keep up with the adults. While it was awesome to have them here, it also meant that the men who wanted to play a little harder stopped coming, because they were afraid of hurting the kids.

Today, I started a floor hockey time for grades 4-6, with some Jr. High's to come out and help. We had 16-18 kids show up, and I just announced it two days ago. It was a fun time, and good to see them coming out to play and run around. I'm definitely mentally worn out, but it's good to see them out to just have fun.

To me, that's what the church is about. Having fun. If we can get people into our churches, then we can show them the love of Christ. Bolstered by people who go OUT to minister... and we have a powerful formula.

The Challenge of Staying Free

If I had one class I wish they had offered in college, it would be, "How to keep your timetable free in ministry." Yesterday, I was busy all day working on Children's related things, and at 4:30 I went to help out with the kids Karate class, then I booked it home quickly to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich, because I was super hungry. As soon as I was done that, I went to Blue Chip Kids, the town-wide kids event, and from there I went to a board meeting.

Time I ate supper: 10 PM.

Tonight, I have a meeting at 7:30, and floor hockey for the afternoon with the kids. If there is one thing that I've learned over the past few months, it's that the biggest enemy of pastors is themselves. While some might argue to say that it is the pressures of the job, or some congregations... ultimately I feel those all fall behind me.

My goal is to stay focussed on God. On what He wants me to do. In this NA culture, it's so easy to get overloaded that I don't have time for God. I don't have time for devotions, it's from one meeting to the next. I spend all my time talking about Him, and not enough time building my relationship with Him. That, in my opinion is what leads to burnout. No time for God, no time for relaxing.

Guard your time very carefully.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Times when you just shake your head

We had Fusion last night, our normal Sunday night youth program. While the night moved along pretty slowly for my liking, I remind myself that I'm only a youth sponsor now, and need to focus instead on handing off my own Children's ministry to the volunteers. To be honest with you, I don't even remember what we talked about, that's how well it stuck. Ladies and gentlemen... if you are going to voice God's word, at least do it in some interesting and captivating way. The Bible is not boring, but often preachers are!

What I do remember, however, is the actions of a few youth after the event. While the youth leaders were debriefing, the kids were being picked up, and a few of them were waiting around for us to finish. While waiting, they decided it would be fun to run across the street and ring some doorbells... and promptly run away.

I sat them all down in the office once another girl brought this to our attention and worked them through the situation. It amazes me that they still don't understand that people don't need any help not liking youth. They already have so many marks cast against them, why add more to it?

Thankfully, all of the boys understood where I was coming from, and went to apologize to the people who were affected. I laugh... I remember when I would have thought that was fun too! Now I'm the 'adult' who is supposed to be teaching them. It's a scary thought.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Crazy Youth

Saturday morning was met with an early alarm clock and a groaning Stephen. Nothing like a late night, and an early morning to get you excited about life. The shower wasn't even hot because the washer was going upstairs; I'm still out on whether that's a help or a hindrance!

I had to be at the church this morning to help deliver the phone books that Bethel has, so that the kids can make shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse. Thankfully, the kids were all in a good mood, and I got a group of guys that were out to have fun, and to work hard as well. The four of us had a blast driving around Three Hills with the heat on full, the sunroof pulled back, and making jokes about each other the whole time.

In the end, it only took us about 2 hours to get through all of Three Hills. 4 Cars, 15 youth, 5 leaders... and lots of fun. It was a good day, and I'm reminded once again about why I want to go into ministry.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Legitimate Children's Ministry... no seriously

So here I was, having an especially productive afternoon, when I decided I needed a list of occupations for one of the games I'll play with the kids if we have the time on Sunday. So I'm perusing through the list when I come across none other than the honourable Chicken-Sexer.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm sure this is a very good job, and there are lots of respectable honest people out there that do this for a living. But can you imagine a group of grade 1-4's running around attempting to act out what a Chicken Sexer does for a living? The thought just makes me chuckle to myself.

There's my thought for the day!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Welcome to the New Kind of Ministry

There are so many lessons to be learned when you are working in a church. There are mental, physical, spiritual and emotional challenges that must be reckoned with and overcome that are above and beyond the monotony of everyday life. People are dying, Christians are walking away, Christians aren't truly believing what they speak. All of these are challenges that have to be met on a day-to-day basis.

I'm in the process of reading through a few books, but I came across an interesting quote last night. The general gist of it followed the lines of thought that it is far easier to lie about your relationship with God than it is to lie about your relationship with a person. You can say I love you to a person, and if you don't, your actions will show it. You can tell everyone that you love God, and no one will question you on it.

This is despicable. I was reading through John 4 in my devotions this morning. Jesus is at the well talking to a Samaritan woman. That in and of itself is mind-blowing. A Jewish Rabbi is stopping to talk to someone who they are forbidden to talk to. A teacher is going against the grain of the day. Not only does he talk to her, but he calls her right out of her comfort zone and puts her sin out on the table. He's not worried if she won't give money, he's not worried if she'll hate him. He's worried about her relationship with God. This... and this alone... should always come first.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sore and Loving it!

I had a good opportunity last night to help with laying some sod. Marilyn's son had bought something like 11 pallets of sod (average is 5-6), and he needed some guys to help him lay it down. So I popped out there with about 9 other guys and we worked for about 2 hours to get most of those pallets down and covered his whole yard. It was a really good time, and I got pizza out of the deal.

So naturally, my body is a little sore today... which is totally awesome. I wish I had more activities like that where I could get out and throw my body at something and tell it to keep going when it was tired. I really enjoyed it, and I'm enjoying the pain too!

In other news, there's a good chance that the problem I'm having with my car's transmission is just a faulty brake switch and nothing more. I'm hoping that's what it is, because I'm doing my absolute best to trust God with all of my worries, especially financially. He takes care of the sparrow, and he'll take care of me too. Easier said than followed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Children Will Wear You Out!

I am always amazed at how many parents keep their sanity when raising a throng of children. Over the past few days, I've spent countless hours with kids ranging from grade 1-6, and I'm utterly exhausted. I don't know if it has something about this particular week, but they have had an over abundance of energy.

I'm just thankful that God always gives me the energy to make it as far as I need. Today, it was through Religious Education. I walked in tired, I walked out tired, but while I was in there, I had energy to give to the kids and to teach with. Amazing how He does that.

I'm hard at work on farther fine-tuning the children's ministry program, and figuring out my place with Blue Chip Kids, the local town-wide children's ministry. I want to help out as much as I can, I'm just unsure of how they want me to plug in, so I'm in some conversations to figure that out.

I'm getting more and more excited about going to Fiji and working there. I'm really praying that God will guide my path and lead me exactly where He wants me, when He wants me there. I'll trust Him in that!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

All People'd Out

What a week it has been. It's been really enjoyable, because of the amount of work that I needed to get done, but it also has really worn on me. Spending the 7 hours driving (and counting) that I have, hanging out with friends, loud music, loud children, etc. etc. etc. has really taken a lot out of me.

This morning's children's service went really well, once everything got underway. Thankfully the work that I did during the week paid off in the form of less last-minute prep this morning. The kids were generally really good, but they were all hopped up on some kind of sugar. Take into account that I was up late the night before having a really good conversation, and I was already exhausted from Friday night... it made for an interesting morning.

Then right after church I booted it back up to Edmonton for Thanksgiving with a bunch of people I don't particularly know. Dad and Marlene had a lot of her family over for Thanksgiving dinner, which is awesome... but when you're already emotionally spent it can really take that last little bit out of you.

I'm going to get to bed early tonight, and just sleep as long as my body wants tomorrow. It's one of those things of ministry.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Home for the weekend

Well, isn't life a blast. I'm home for the weekend (sort of, but we'll get to that in a bit), and it's a good time. It's been quite awhile since I've had a chance to get up to Edmonton and see my friends, so it's nice to just be able to hangout and catch up with them.

Last night, I went to Danielle's birthday party. She had declared a 70's theme, and we were going to a roller skate park to get into the retro feel. She had quite a few friends there that I hadn't met before, so it was an interesting night all in all. I still can't skate on rollerblades or skates worth beans, which made for some pretty hilarious moments. Add into that a bunch of teenagers who were trying to pick up older men, and it was definitely a night to remember. I'll leave with you one photo that really sums up the whole night.

From Danielle's Bi...

Josh and I ducked out a little early and went to Moxies to just sit, eat and get caught up. We were both tired from a long week, and sick of overly loud music and strobe lights. It's always nice to get caught up with someone that you haven't talked to in a few months... see where they are at. Add to that the fact that I've always appreciated Josh's input, and we have a winner.

Other than that, I've finally put the part into my car, and my new diagnostic tool has nearly paid for itself already in clearing 2 engine codes. We'll see if anything else pops up, but hopefully all of the bugs have been worked out, and it'll be smooth sailing.

I'm heading back to Three Hills tonight so that I'm present for tomorrow morning. I need to be there to run The River since I took a few weeks off during the summer. So right after the service, I'll be getting back into the car and driving up to Edmonton again. Lots of time in the car this weekend... good thing I like driving!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ever forward, Never back

31 weeks and one day

It's been a crazy past couple of days. I've had to schedule in time to spend with friends and to call Jordan. Yet, I think this is how I like my life. I get bored when I have to sit around and make things up to do. It's very important that I have my downtime, but it's equally important that I have a purpose, a drive to keep moving forward and pushing ever onward.

Lately, that push has been children's ministry. From manipulating the curriculum into our format, to creating binders for each of the small group leaders, to getting involved in the town-wide children's events, to teaching religious education at the town school.... It literally is a full time job, and I'm loving every minute of it.

To be completely honest, I wasn't sure I was going to feel that way in August. I didn't have anything tangible in front of me to work with and see how the results came out. My ideas were just that... ideas. They didn't have a practical outworking, and that just would never do for me. Now that it's started, I have something exciting to work and build off of.

Tomorrow I head to Calgary to pick up some supplies for a craft we have coming up this weekend. Then I have to put it all together, and hopefully get everything ready to go before I leave for Edmonton on Friday! Andrew is coming in with me tomorrow, so we should have some good conversations.

Jordan is doing well, and developing a passion for the kids, which is an answer to prayer. It was pouring rain and booming thunder and lightning when I called tonight, but she is over her first wave of culture shock and starting to enjoy working with the kids. It'll be odd when I'm in Fiji and she's in Mexico, but God has a plan through it all! We're both trusting that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gossip, Slander ... It's No Big Deal, Right?

1. defamation; calumny: rumors full of slander.
2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report:


1. idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others


These are two words that most Christians are completely ignorant about, but should be very, very familiar with. It is interesting how whenever Christians are gathered in a place for long, this becomes one of the main cesspools that grows and matures into it's own full-fledged culture. We are all so interested in someone else's business, and quickly forget that it really has nothing to do with us. Unless we are directly involved in the situation, we need to stay out of it and let those who are in the situation, or in leadership, deal with the problem.

Going to a Bible college really awoke this realization in me. Very few people fully understand the damage that is done by gossiping with someone else. Words can truly cut deep, and their affects have a long-lasting scar. The Bible is quick and swift with it's dealing of gossip, yet we allow it to persist and downplay it as though it were no big deal.

It's a cancer, and we desperately need to cut it out.