Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stay the Course

Here's one thing I've learned about ministry in the past few months: many people will try to pull you down. Doesn't matter what position they hold, doesn't matter where they've been in life, everyone comes in with their own taint on life. I'm sure I have sadly played that role in someone's life before. I wish it wasn't so, but reality tells me that in my stupidity, in my stubbornness, I was a jerk.

You push right through their criticism. Take the time to stop... and listen to the still, small voice, and you run like the wind to keep up with it. There will be barriers. There will be knives and spears that will cut you. There will be rivers that seem unpassable. Listen to that voice when life rages around you, and never stop to listen to what anyone else.

There is much wisdom in the statement... "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." -- Think about that. You can do ALL THINGS. Not just the small things, not just the things other people think you can do. Not only what your Senior Pastor tells you is appropriate... ALL THINGS. Cling to those words, never let them wander far from your mind. Claim them as your own, and fly them high on the flagpole in defiance of this world... in defiance of Satan.

Arise to the challenge. I think you'll find that God is there.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friends Rock

I just got back from an evening here in Edmonton with some of my old friends. It was good to be together, and have an opportunity to just be myself. I didn't have to worry about what I said, or how it would come across -- they give me the freedom to just be me.

You know that feeling when you put a warm blanket around you on a cold day? Feels like everything just melts away from you...? That's the same feeling I get when I'm around my friends. There is a ton of water underneath the bridge, we went through those awkward teenage years together, and now we're moving onto our working years. We understand one another, and can just get together to have fun.

These are the times I cherish. These are the times I really appreciate. If you have good friends, don't even take them for granted, revel in those times to their fullest, because there is no guarantee you'll have them forever!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 90's

I just got this e-mail, though it would be appropriate!

Anybody under the age of 13 should not read this, and if you do, you should not repost this. Just because you were born in '97 doesn't mean you're a 90's kid. It's not like you could remember the original Simpsons. I am sorry but three conscious years of the 90's just wont cut it.

You're a 90's kid if:

You remember watching Doug, Ren & Stimpy, Pinky and the Brain and Two Stupid Dogs.

AAAAAAAH real monsters.

You've ever ended a sentence with the word "PSYCHE!

You just cant resist finishing this... "Iiiiiiin west Philadelphia born and raised..."

You remember TGIF on ABC. Step by Step, Family Matters, Dinosaurs, and Boy Meets World.

You remember when, 2Pac and Selena died.

You remember when it was actually worth getting up early on a Saturday to watch cartoons.

You got super excited when it was Oregon Trail day in computer class at school.

You remember reading "Goosebumps"

You took plastic cartoon lunch boxes to school.

You remember the craze, then the banning of slap bracelets and slam books.

You still get the urge to say "NOT" after (almost) every sentence...Not...

You used to listen to the radio all day long just to record "Your FAVORITE song of ALL time"

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? was both a game and a TV game show.

Captain Planet. He's a Hero.

You knew that Kimberly, the pink ranger, and Tommy, the green Ranger were meant to be together.

You remember when the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis became popular.

You always wanted to send in a tape to America's Funniest Home Videos... but never taped anything funny.

You remember watching home alone 1, 2 , and 3........and tried to pull the pranks on "intruders"

You remember watching The Magic School Bus, Wishbone, and Reading Rainbow on PBS.

You remember when Yomega Yo-Yos were cool.

You remember those Where's Waldo books...

You remember when Mortal Kombat Was "Da Bomb"!

You remember eating Warheads.(those sour candy's)

You remember watching the 1st Batman, Aladdin, Ninja Turtles, and 3 Ninjas movies.

You remember Ring Pops.

You remember drinkin' Fruitopia and Surge.

If you remember when every thing was "da BOMB"

when they made the new lunchables so that you could make tacos and pizza!!

You remember boom boxes vs. cd players

Writing M.A.S.H. notes. (and the twenty different versions of that)

Making those little paper fortune cookie things... and then predicting your
life with them.

You knew all the characters names and their life stories on "Saved By The Bell"

You played and/or collected "Pogs"

You had at least one Tamagotchi, GigaPet or Nano and brought it everywhere


You haven't always had a computer, and it was cool to have the Internet.

And Windows 95 was the best.

You watched the original cartoons of Rugrats, Power Rangers,and Ninja Turtles.

Michael Jordan was a king.

Yikes pencils and erasers were the stuff!

All your school supplies were "Lisa Frank" brand.(pencils, notebooks, binders, etc.)

You remember when the new Beanie Babies and talking Elmo were
always sold out.

You collected those Beanie Babies.

Growing Pains.

Carebears and The Gummy Bear show.

Lambchop's song never ended.

The old dollar bills.

Silver dollars, were cool to have.

You collected all the Troll dolls

You remember a time before the WB.

You owned a portable tape player.

If you even know what an original Walkman is.

You remember wanting to sit on the orange Nickelodeon couch.

You've gotten creeped out by "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"

You know the Macarena by heart.

"Talk to the hand" ... enough said

You always said, "Then why don't you marry it!"

You know the significance of the number 23.

You went to McD's to play in the playplace.

You remember playing on merry go the play ground.

When we were younger:
Before the MySpace frenzy...
Before the Internet & text messaging...
Before Sidekicks & iPods...
Before MIKE JONES...
Before PlayStation2 or X-BOX...
Before Sponge Bob
....Back when you put off the 5 hours of homework you had every night.
When light up sneakers were cool.
When you rented VHS tapes, not DVDs.
When gas was 39.9 a litre & Caller ID was a new thing.
When we recorded stuff on VCRs .
When we called the radio station to request songs to hear off our walkmans.
When 2Pac and Biggie where alive.
When the Chicago Bulls were the best team ever.
Way back.
When it was all about N64.
Before we realized all this would eventually disappear

Who would have thought you'd miss the 90's so much!!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Woes

Preaching can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. You are asked to pour your heart and soul into a message, put in countless hours of study and preparation, and put it out into the public forum in the course of 20 to 30 minutes. It can be one of those things that will either rip you to shreds, or help you build for the next time.

I posted a bit of detail this past week about the message that I was preparing. Truly, it is definitely what is on my heart. We are in danger of losing the next generation, my generation. There are people out there who are seeking nothing but their destruction, and the constant plummet into relativism, and the misunderstanding of the foundations of the Christian journey are leading down a dangerous road.

It was one of those messages that I poured myself into. I read, and I studied, and I spent a lot of time crafting my words so that they would come out properly. It was my heart, like telling someone about how much I love Jordan, or talking about my family. To throw this out would be a slap in my face.

God is good. He takes our words, no matter how frail they might be and makes them strong. He translates our inadequate language into one that reaches into people's hearts. If you are afraid to speak out, lean on Him. If you are scared to share your heart, draw from Him. If you don't know the words, let Him speak through you. God is faithful.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Three Tiers of Influence

Tiers of Influence in Modern Culture

In our modern day culture, we are competing for the minds of our youth and children. They are being bombarded every single day with stimuli from every direction. Media Moguls are clamouring for the minds and hearts of the next generation. The scary thing? They're winning.

The diagram above shows a basic breakdown of what influences our children's lives the most. The first, and most influential tier consists of contemporary culture, movies, media, and thankfully parents. These are the main contributors that will stick with a child throughout their developmental years and shape them.

Immediately, it becomes clear that we need to be carefully regulating what our children take into their minds. It will eventually come out, and it's up to us to determine if it's sludge, or pure, spring water.

The Secondary level consists of peers, school, radio and mentors. These are the external sources that will guide them, but ultimately only influence, not shape them. People who spend a majority of their time with them only have an effect! Parents, your job is crucial!

Perhaps the most sobering part of this pyramid however, is the place church takes in their lives. We as a community play third fiddle to all of the other sources. Considering they barely spend more than a few hours a week in church, it's not so surprising, but it makes it important to form long-lasting relationships with the children and youth, so that we can go beyond the walls of a building, and bring the church into their lives.

Time to Sermonate

I'm here in my office, and I've got a little over a page done for my sermon tomorrow. I decided it was time to resort to drastic measures. I went to IGA, picked up popcorn, mountain dew, and popcorn. Now I'm ready to dig in and write this thing!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fight For The Next Generation

I am preaching on Sunday. I am scared to preach on Sunday. The topic I am covering is children and youth culture. Essentially, I am borrowing from such books as Battle Cry For a Generation and The Last Christian Generation to lay out the facts about those who are younger than me. Predictions are saying that if nothing is done, only 4% of this generation will hold core Christian values.

4 Percent. That's a staggering figure when you think that the current generation is somewhere around 35 percent. The average age for a child to first be exposed to pornography on the internet is 11. The largest consumers of internet pornography are between the ages of 12-17. Clearly, there is something wrong.

But preaching a message like this is never easy. You are asking... no, demanding action. This is not a message you merely walk away from and talk casually over dinner about, it is one that you either lay out the cards, or turn your back to completely ignore it. I'm hoping the congregation will choose the former. To get involved in financial, tangible, and spiritual ways to reclaim a generation that is being assaulted on all sides by Satan.

Take the stand.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Floor Hockey

I've been running floor hockey with grades four to six here at Bethel. It's been a lot of fun, but I have also found myself very tired by the end of it. However, as I ran the floor hockey yesterday, I discovered something very interesting, I was enjoying myself.

Interesting? You ask. How can enjoying yourself be interesting?

It reveals something new about me. I find new things quite exhausting. I believe that I need a bit of a rhythm to figure out how things are going, and then I can settle in and finally enjoy myself. Floor hockey is a good example of this, because this is the fourth week I've been running it, and I know all of the kids names, so we can just enjoy playing.

These kids are at pivitol moments in their lives, and we have to meet them there. Show them who God is, and make that lasting difference in their lives.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nuances of Conversation

I have been blessed to talk to Jordan in the past few days not just over the phone, but to actually get to see her via the wonderful invention called the internet. It has been seven months today since we started officially 'dating' -- and we've only spent about a month and a half of that together. Now we are over 1700 miles apart, and you can imagine the strain that puts on a relationship.

What a blessing it is then to finally get to see her smile! You quickly forget all of the little details about a person when you haven't seen them for nearly 2 months, and they all came flooding back. It was a real blessing, and also reminded me of how much of our communication is non-verbal.

Often times, we send signals that we don't even know we were communicating. We receive things that the other person was unaware of, and the way people perceive us is completely dependant on what sort of message we send out about ourselves. Are we shy? Cocky? Confident? Friendly? These are all small things that we say just by the way we stand.

Makes me wish I could have seen what Jesus said through his body language!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shaping a Worldview

I'm in the process (and it is a process!) of writing my final paper for my Pentateuch course. That involves me doing a whole lot of reading, and trying to get back into the paper writing mode. Thankfully I got through most of my reading work last night, and laid out my outline. But in the process of doing that, something came out loud and clear to me: we need to be cunning.

It is defined in a few different ways. Here are some of the highlights:

1. skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile.
2. adeptness in performance; dexterity: The weaver's hand lost its cunning

One of the major purveyors of the theory of evolution is our lack of understanding. Rather than being wise about how to defend our thoughts against it, we either blindly accept the facts, or we ignorantly deny them. The truth of the matter is that logically, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that raises red flags. One merely has to ask the questions to discover the truth.

So do the reading, dig a little bit deeper, and ask the questions.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The End of a Week

So ends another week. It's crazy how much that simple statement encapsulates. I feel like I'm in a one week orbit, and everything will start all over again. Sounds like a blast, eh?

The good part about it, is that I'm wrong for this coming week. My volunteers have been doing a fantastic job with the River, and my responsibility is becoming less and less with that. I'll be preaching next week in the main service, and I'm beginning to wind down my time here at Bethel.

Jordan and I have been talking on the phone about twice a week. It's certainly not the ideal way to carry on a relationship, but in many ways, it's more than I was expecting, so I can't complain about that. This time apart is hard, but it's also very good for our relationship as we develop communication skills, and we now both know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we're both in this together.

I'm hanging out with friends tonight, writing a paper this weekend, and spending some quality time in the Word. God is faithful.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Other End of a Valley

After a few weeks of being completely exhausted, I'm finally beginning to see the road begin to climb upwards, rather than spiral down. I'm looking forward to the weekend, but I need to remember that one step at a time will take me home, one step at a time will keep me moving along the path.

Life will take you many different places, but it is when you focus on the end goal, the city that you've always dreamed for, that you keep everything in perspective. No matter how hard things are going, keep your eyes fixated on that city, and push ever onwards, letting nothing dissuade you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Know Your Passion

If there is one thing these past few months have told me, it's that knowing your passion can make a huge difference. Often times when you go to a volunteer conference, they will talk about putting a square peg into a circle hole. It might cover some of the things you need to cover, but it's not going to fit properly. This inevitably leads to that volunteer becoming worn out and disillusioned towards Christian ministry.

I'm feeling that way right now. I love working with kids, and I am very proud of my volunteers and the program that we've worked so hard to set up. However, at the end of the day, it's really taught me that children's ministry is just not where I'm cut out to be right now. Perhaps one day, maybe when I have my own kids, I'll be passionate about the elementary age group; but right now, I only see the importance of it, not feel the need to jump into the fray myself.

I'm going to spend tonight at a friends place, then reading my Bible and studying for an exam tomorrow. I'm really hoping I'll find that refreshing rain, and discover a source of hope and energy for the next two months.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Importance of the Body

I always took it for granted, and I didn't even know that I was doing it. Sitting in a church service is one of the most treasured things I could do right now, and I don't even have the chance to do it. It's both discouraging and infuriating at the same time. I want to just sit and enjoy a good sermon, to just be a part of the masses and enjoy what message God has to say that day.

It's been over two months since I've been able to sit through a service, and it's really begun to wear on me. I miss that community, that feeling of worshipping with others around me, and getting down into the meat of a message. To think through the words that are being spoken to me, I miss it.

If you are ever a part of a church board, my encouragement to you is this. Give your pastors one week a month off to go somewhere else to worship. It will do them a world of good, and it will revitalize the way they look at church. Everyone will be better off because of it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

There's No Breaks

Never think that when you go into ministry, you're working a 9-5 job. You are finished at the end of the day, and you can go home, kick up your feet and relax. It's not a realistic view. In my short experience, most of your nights are going to be busy, most of your days are going to be busy, and if you don't set firm boundaries, you'll never have free time for yourself.

Tonight is Friday Night, you'd think I'd be ready for a bit of a breather. Spend some time at a friends house, relax, and recoup a little before Sunday hits me like a train. That would be the sensible thing to do. Instead, I find myself heading with the rest of the youth leaders into Calgary to go to a training seminar.

Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to going in, and it will be an informative look into current youth culture, and revitalize some of my views and vigour towards ministry. But at the same time, I'm tired, I'm worn out. This past week has been going at one speed: overdrive. Now I need to keep on trucking, and I'll be looking to Monday again before I can really find a break.

What does this teach me? I'm glad God called me to this. It's not an easy thing, emotionally and spiritually, you had better have worked up to the job, because Satan is going to hit you hard with everything he has. Reading through Leviticus has taught me that to those God gives much responsibility, He expects that much more.

Stand tall, but never in your own power. Hold your head up, but only in pride of who fights for you. Walk confidently, but only because someone has made the ground level, and sets your feet straight. Boast loudly, but only of the things He has done for you. Fight passionately, but only for the things that are right, and just. Love without abandon, for all those around you. Sound the battlecry, rally the troops, and lead them into battle, knowing you have a general who has seen the outcome.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Keep on Moving

It's no big surprise that this past weekend was very, very trying on me. With lots of different things coming to a culmination in the course of a few hours, it's amazing how organized it is. Makes me shudder at the thought of a tactical, precision strike by a military to destroy key targets. Leaves you feeling helpless and crippled, even if you knew it was coming.

Yet, in the midst of this, I am reminded that I do not draw my strength from my own devices, or from others around me, but rather from my Father in heaven. My strength comes from Him, and only from Him. Though the world may fall around me, I will trust in Him to guide me through the dark valleys and over the tall mountains. In that guide, I will find no malice.

So throughout Monday, as I walked down the other side of that mountain, He held me in His arms and reminded me that everything would be ok. All I needed to do was trust in Him. I was tired, I was hurt, and I was frustrated, but I was not alone.

Ministry is not an easy thing. It will drain you, physically, emotionally, spiritually. You will be left hanging on by your fingernails, and you will learn what it means to be broken. But in my brokenness, I am made complete. I am made whole. I will never wrap my head around that one.