Saturday, December 23, 2006

Family Rocks

Being home for Christmas rocks my world. It is so good to be around people that accept you for who you are, and who know you enough to have all the background. We've gone to movies, played games, talked, laughed, ate. It's good to be home. This is the kind of environment that I thrive for, to just be me and interact with others in a safe environment.

I'm heading back to Three Hills tonight, and I'll be there all day tomorrow. Dedicating a baby in the morning service, and helping lead the Christmas Eve service, and then driving back up to Edmonton. It's my last Sunday at Bethel, and it will be a great time to wrap up the loose ends.

And then next week, when the rest of my family leaves for Vancouver, I'll be driving most of the way with them, and heading south to Peachland to visit Jordan! She surprised me by coming up to Canada for Christmas break, and I can't wait to spend some quality with her and hear some of the stories she has from the first few months in Mexico.

It's going to be a great Christmas break!

And let's not forget I have the cutest niece in the world!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


What a crazy time of year. Christmas in the money-spending sense is upon us, and has been for quite some time. People are shelling out more money than any other time of the year (unless it's thanksgiving and you're American) to bring 'the spirit of Christmas' to all those around them. It's at a moment like in which I stop myself, and do a little bit of navel gazing.

When I think of Christmas, I remember the times when I was little. We would drive to Grandma's and all of the cousins would gather in a central location. It'd be a week of festivities, driving behind the four-wheeler while we tried to hang onto the sled, or the games of decathlon on the Atari, while Brad schooled us all on the finer points of muscle spasms that lead to an incredible rate of wiggling that joystick. I'm reminded of the presents under the tree, and the I'm inevitably lead to the ever-building excitement that lead up to Christmas.

But nowadays, Christmas is more about getting together with family. It's the time to spend with people that you don't normally get to see, people that you trust and love. Christmas has moved away from the 'what do I get?' mentality, and into the family mentality. For me, I find that's the true centre of Christmas.

Jesus came to this earth, so that we could be a part of His family. He set aside everything, and joined one of our families. It's incredible to think about, and I believe I'm going to spend some good time just ... pondering the real depths of that over the next few days. God is SO good.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The End of a Season

It's official: I'm in my last week here at Bethel. I've spent more than a year at this church in ministry, 8 months of that in an internship, and 6 as the children's pastor. Just now am I beginning to feel like I'm fitting in. Funny how now is also the time that I'm being called elsewhere.

There has been many things that I've learned along the way, but the first is that you should never, ever burn bridges. I have had many people tell me in the past that it doesn't matter what happened, what was said -- never use those last days to burn what may be left... instead use them to reinforce them! While there's no danger of me wanting to burn bridges here, I can't support that statement enough. When you leave, always go for allies, rather than leaving enemies.

The second is that it is better to focus on a few things and do them well than to try to do everyone and do none of it well. I had many ideas of what I wanted to do over the past six months, but God always kept the priority in focus: the River. That children's church was one of the main reasons I was hired to stay on, and I was given the opportunity to see it cemented and moored in for the long-haul. As I was talking with one of my leaders yesterday, she said how encouraging it has been for her to see the maturity begin to grow in these kids. I couldn't agree more! We have kids that are authentically interacting with their faith, and the fruits are beginning to show.

The last thing I'll write about is that ministry is never easy. There are many unexpected challenges and attacks that come your way. Things you never would have expected are thrown at you almost daily. The important thing is that you remember who you're doing it for, and why you got into it in the first place. Changing lives is more important than your pride. It's more important than being right. It's more important than looking good. Changing lives is paramount, and there will be knocks along the way that will make you want to turn from the course... but hold steady, God will give you the tail winds to drive you through.

14 months, and it's been an excellent experience. Tough times, good times all sum up into a worthwhile experience that gives me a better perspective moving forward into my own independant ministry. Now I look forward to Fiji!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I'm in the process of reading through a book for one of my Distance Ed courses, The Spirit of the Disciplines. Dallas Willard's look at the importance of spiritual disciplines is enlightening and challenging, because the book does not demand an answer, it demands action.

The entire premise is that Jesus and Paul did not do what they did solely by the grace of God. Rather, it was their daily routines that made all the difference in the world to their spiritual lives. Jesus spent much of his time alone and in prayer, and Paul followed in the same footsteps. Willard asks then... is it any wonder why they had such effective ministries? Perhaps they are tied together!

I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm just getting my feet wet. If you're curious about the importance of fasting, praying, solitude, etc. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Asking Questions

Why is it that we have become so afraid of asking the hard questions? I read through the Bible, and it is filled with our spiritual forefathers digging deep into the meaning of God and asking the hard questions. It seems we have a Pharasitic view of people who stop to ask the hard questions, and encourage other people to do the exact same.

I would challenge this view, however, and instead say Jesus was the one who encouraged the Disciples to ask the hard questions of God to discover their faith and grow. Job himself stopped when God allowed everything to be taken away and cried out against God to ask Him the hardest question of all: why?

But there is a chasm between the attitude of the Pharisee's questioning Jesus to the Disciples. One is approaching God with a sense of arrogance, and one is approaching from the realization that we are nothing. Both ask, but their hearts are worlds apart.

We need to be encouraging our young people to ask the hard questions, because God is faithful in hearing our prayers and answering them. This is what will solidify their faith deep into their souls, and create a generation that will rise up and be strong advocates for God. But we also need to teach them the reverance of God that my age-group has so neglected... they are talking with a living... active God. He needs to be approached cautiously!

He is not a tame lion.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winding Down

One of the best parts of ministry, at least in my opinion, is watching something you've started take a life of it's own (in the angel kind of way, not in the Frankenstein kind of way!) and carry on without you. People take up the vision, they pick up the purpose, and they consider it their own! And suddenly, something you had to put up onto it's feet is running without you! This must be what it is like to be a parent.

Ministry experiences are a great thing. The process in between can be extremely frustrating... but somehow the result is always worth the pain.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Welcome to Culture

The message I gave a few weeks ago focussed on many of the misconceptions our children are growing up with. They share the same role models as secular children and youth, and subsequently, they are thinking the exact same way. This becomes a huge issue when you think about the consequences... truth is no longer foundational, it is situational.

Here's a good example, as I was poking around MSNBC, this stunning quote came up:

BeyoncĂ© Knowles says that one of the most important people in her life was her late uncle, who was gay. “I was raised by my uncle who passed away with AIDS a couple of years ago,” the “Dreamgirls” star said, according to WENN. “He was my mother’s best friend. He brought me to school every day. He helped me buy my prom dress. He made my clothes with my mother. He was like my nanny. He was my favorite person in the whole world.” Knowles says that her affection for her uncle didn’t conflict with her deep religious views: “I never mixed Christianity with how I felt (about him). I am about faith and spirituality more so than religion. Doing right by others and not judging.”

Now, don't get me wrong, there is definitely a point where we need to look at the person, and not the sin that they are living in. But does that make black and whiter? When you think about the consequences of that statement, it suddenly becomes clear why Christians look no different than the secular world. One of the most famous 'Christians' in the music business has given up the definite word of the Bible, to instead say, "It's ok. As long as they are a nice person, who am I to say what they are doing is wrong?" It's a scary world.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Intense Weekend

We got back last night from a pretty intense weekend. We took the kids out to camp for a retreat, and the focus was on worship. It was an awesome time, and it really built some awesome relationships, and got the kids thinking. But as with any youth event, sometimes things can get a little crazy!

This weekend, I got to play the bad cop. We had 4 or 5 very very high energy boys that came out with us (funny how it's always the boys ;)), and they had to be kept on a fairly short leash. That meant almost keeping an eye on them for the entire time they were awake. It can get pretty draining when you are constantly working with the same guys. I love them all to bits, but boy it's the first time I've seen a 5 second attention span, literally.

You'd tell them stop. They'd acknowledge you, look at you for 2 seconds, and their minds wandered. Incredible.

I'm going to be taking the next few days to just recover from all that! Thankfully, God is faithful!