Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Year!



Have a Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy your holidays everyone, and please what ever you do, do NOT dress up your animals, its insulting to the animal and it says very little about you! Look at this cat, his eyes are not cute, they are not saying: "I am adorable." What they are saying is: "I am jumping of a bridge...and i dont care that I can't swim!" or perhaps: " I am packing heat, and I am ending this party and I am taking as many with me as possible...you dirt bags!" So enojoy the season...and leave animals to be animals...

Friday, December 23, 2005

ummm...

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Well i guess if i was a super hero it says i would be this guy...um ok...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Poor Ronald...


Ever since the famous ‘documentary’, Super Size Me…Ronald just can’t get a break… I mean ok McDonald’s serves greasy unhealthy polluted filth that is made by greasy youth who at the slightest wrong look at them, will spit in your burger and handed to you with a smile…BUT…Are we the consumers not aware of what we are getting once we penetrate the doors of this establishment? I mean as a youth pastor and an ex-greasy, burger spitting youth who worked at McD’s, I have put into my body more cheeseburgers and Big Mac’s then I care to talk about…but I know what I am putting into me…my high cholesterol, low cardio and apparent mood swings of a menopausal woman are hardly the blame of McDonald’s…IT’S THE CHOICES that I make, Ronald doesn’t call me and threaten me and my family if I do not go to his establishment…(well at least not anymore, umm thank you restraining order…in the case of Morgun vs. Ronald) But seriously Is McDonald’s a capitalist establishment that is after your money and not your health? YES. Is McDonald’s food if eaten every day kill you? YES. Will Ronald stalk you? Well YES…wait a minute void that last one…The point is we are hardly entitled to sue, get mad or blame others for our, obese eating, hart pounding, anger managing, cholesterol pumping, knuckle dragging, grease desiring selves…


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

TRUTH...


How do ‘we’ decide what truth is? We are so quick to argue about what we know, what we believe, we claim to understand scriptures and very often many of us, have a different out take on the passages. In fact it is easy to make scripture say just about anything we want. So what is the foundation? To claim personal enlightenment on certain passages is hardly enlightening, but it occurs all the time. So who is right? I will give an example: Most of Christians will quickly agree that the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is real, that God was able to become fully man while still being fully God, then die on our behalf and three days later come to life so that we could have life. Yet the same Christians can easily limit God’s power of what he can and can’t do, in terms of creation, flood, man being swallowed and spit out by a great fish…ect. So who is right? Is scripture authoritative, did the writers mean this as literal stories or only as teachings to motivate us? And if God is able to do such great miracles, why do we limit him on some and not others? I don’t proclaim to have it all figured out (thus the questions) but it does seem to me valid to trust the witness that has been set for us by the early church by the community of hermeneutics. Whether interpreting the oral data, written scriptures, liturgy and commentaries. It would seem that faith must accompany logic. The two are not held one above the other but complimenting each other. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Emergent Church


Well there has been much talk about the emergent church. Passport (Briercrest College journal) has an article on this topic that I think is worth reading, its very brief.
http://www.briercrest.ca/passport/online/articles/default.asp?id=497&cat=top_story

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Others...


Piecing some of my readings lately together seems disjointing which of course it is…but few of the readings I have been doing lately have led me to this thought of desperateness of the world, the poor, the sick and the influential positions in the church, and how do they all relate. I guess the connection is not that hard to see for most so its not brain surgery. But few quotes to explain my thinking lately: “Christianity is not for people who think religion is a pleasant distraction, a nice alternative, or a positive influence. Messy Spirituality is a good term for the place where desperation meets Jesus.” (Yaconelli) The second quote that keeps bouncing in my mind is a quote from an unlikely source for me to listen to and that is from Rick Warren: “The purpose of influence is to speak for those that have no influence.” These are powerful quotes. First desperation meets Jesus because he is ultimately the one and true peace giver. And the second is that any influence that we have has been given to us to speak for those that can’t: poor, sick, dying, ignored, shunned…the list can go for ever. I don’t mean speak for them as if they are not capable but I mean and I think Rick does also in a sense of justice, mercy and our given purpose to help! To love those that are rejected those that are desperate, those that lost all hope, to love them, not out of pity but out of genuine care. Because it is through this love that the desperate can meet Jesus… “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matt 25:45)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thirsty?


Thirsty? Need refreshment...then why look any further then this Japanese drink. Its even Peach Flavored! MMMMM COOLPIS!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

what the dirty?


Blogging has seem to have some problems for me. At first it is liberating to put your thoughts out there and allow a dialogue to begin. But I often find myself not presenting my view or hypothesis very well at all. I use my ultra excuse, that english is my third language and I mean this not that...I just find that often I am not able to write what I think, well or is it good. Which is completely different from my wife who is an amazing writer and presents her thoughts with clarity and wisdom...(which is why I am suprised that she is not blogging for a time)...I guess its just a reminder to me not to assume much from written posts. So that leaves this little work of art to your imagination...and your assumptions? lol.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Apparently I am in to Taoism...Quizes they make so much sense!



You fit in with:
Taoism



Your ideals mostly resemble those of the Taoist faith. Spirituality is the most important thing in your life. You strive to live by all of your ideals, and live a very intellectually focused life.


40% spiritual.
20% reason-oriented.





Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sermon for President Bush

Just a great link, to a post few days ago on our debate about President Bush, this is a good sermon encourage those of you that are intersted to read it.... Thanks Andrew for the link. http://www.faithmaps.org/bushsermon.htm

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

salvation


"So maybe salvation isn't something we ' get' and then consider the option of joining God in his grand mission. Salvation is what we experience and spread in the process of joining God in his grand mission. Of course this is not a works/earning/self-justification thing-it's all about God's grace from start to finish. But the focus moves from me to God, from my plan for myself to God's plan for the whole world (not just 'wonderful' plan for my life'?!)"
- Brian McLaren

What do you guys think?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Church and State

Perhaps much of this comes from watching many documentaries and general observation of a way of life of our brothers to the south. It has been very frustrating to read articles like this in the news: “'George, go and end tyranny,' Bush says God instructed him”
Raina Delisle
CanWest News ServiceFriday, October 07, 2005
U.S. President George W. Bush allegedly told Palestinian leaders that God has guided his war against terrorism, a new documentary series reveals.
Bush said God advised him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and deputy prime minister Nabil Shaath say in the BBC-funded Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs.
In the film, the leaders recall their first meeting with Bush in 2003, and the president's promise to bring them a Palestinian state with God's blessing.
Shaath recalls: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fi ght those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it.' "
Abbas remembers Bush's pledge at their June 2003 meeting at the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."
White House spokesperson Scott McClellan dismissed the allegations Thursday night as "absurd" and said the president has "never made such comments."

What I am tired of is not the ignorant, lying, terrifying leading of this nation…what I am sick of is the abuse of the name of our Lord and Savior, the connection of Jesus Christ to the hateful, ignorant actions of this government! It seems that the Christian Right is very happy to ignore lies, stupidity, murder and human sacrifice in the name of 'freedom'... i guess the people are happy in producing this kind of generation: SIGH.....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I need God...


“I stub out my cigarette, close the tent flaps, and lay back on the ground sheet on top of the soil. I close my eyes and prepare to sleep, but something underneath me nudges my spine. I reach my arms out of the flaps, into the rain, and underneath the ground sheet, where I pluck out a small object. I bring it back inside and feel it-it is a spruce pinecone. I smell it, cold and wet, and then hold it up to my cheek. I then stick my arm back outside the tent and plant the cone into the soil, just below the ground sheet.
Time is how the trees grow. I will fall asleep for a thousand years, and when I wake, a mighty spruce tree will have raised me up high, high into the sky….
Now-here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God-that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.” ---Douglas Coupland, LIFE AFTER GOD

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Christian.


So I am continuing to make progress through my reading of The New Kind Of Christian, and I am enjoying it although I am finding that I have to pull my eyes from the text and contemplate what I am reading, and re-read certain portions of the story. I like the idea that McLaren is proposing, a way of identifying and thinking in a post-modern (a word that I am sure is hated by many) world. I like that his approach is not about rethinking the faith but thinking about the faith in a different way. I think we MUST look at faith differently then our evangelical conservative-right position that is being shoved down our throats, through books, media, and resources from our brothers in the south. Being a Christian is not about being conservative or liberal, or wealthy or healthy or North American hmm imagine that! I don’t like the connotations or connections we add to faith or make it about. So I like where McLaren is going thus far, I like being rattled out of my comfort, out of the known or accepted or expected.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A New Kind of Christian...Or maybe An Old Kind...


Searching for transforming experience, we often seek to be different from how we were or who we were; in fact we are called to be different. Living as children of Light, “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephs. 5:1-2) Why is it so hard to feel transformed, it is very easy to talk about it, to teach about it. But how does one become truly transformed…Imitation? Why are the worldly habits so easy to keep? Discipline seems to be a word that is imbedded in my mind for everything these days. Discipline of pacifism, discipline of prayer, reading, solitude, simplicity, love, and imitation… I have began reading, A New Kind of Christian and I like it so far, but as I am finishing introduction and the first chapter, my mind keeps wondering, maybe ‘new’ is not the solution, maybe reinventing, reforming, protesting is not the answer, maybe it is truly found in the OLD. Maybe it is truly found in the disciplines of our fathers, in the saints, in the witness of the early church. After all as Ana Baptists isn’t that what we are about going back to the early church, to be Jesus centered…I know McLaren is dissatisfied with the North American Church, and don’t get me wrong I like McLaren and I like what I am reading, but I think the issue is that we allow heresy like, health and wealth and attribute blessing to them in North America, the problem is not the church catholic (Stanley Harwaus), so the solution is maybe not the: ‘new’ but rather the ‘old’…any thoughts?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Politics

You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Falk Concert


Amanda Falk concert was awesome. We had a good turn out of 170 youth/few parents and few college students. The over all show was good; it was a concert, some fun stuff and ended with worship music, just as a ‘Christian’ concert aught to be. No pretences of worship is us, blaring our music at you while we don’t know your songs…it was instead: here is our concert, our music, lets have fun, then we will do crowd games and fun ‘stuff’, then Amanda shared her testimony, followed by lets sing some worship songs that we all know and direct them at God…it was very well done…and my youth loved it! What an elation to see youth be able to have fun and direct this excitement to God. That was great, thanks to those that have been praying for me and this event as I was getting flustered with anticipation of it…

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sinner/Pharisee

Jeff’s sermon on the ‘beatitudes’ this past Sunday was a wonderful interpretation and understanding of God’s grace. In Jesus’ sermon to the people on the ‘hill’ in their immediate setting… What a wonderful presentation of Grace….Kingdom of Heaven is now available to you, even though you are in this ‘spot’.
Grace has always been such an encouraging theme to my life, although it has been abused, bruised and misunderstood, and I am still grasping to understand what it means sometimes in my direct settings as youth pastor ….we have so much ‘stuff’ in our lives. Often my priorities are a mess and it is refreshing to know that the kingdom is available to even me.
I have been reading today the story of the Lost in Luke 15, it is an amazing chapter in the view of that Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom is available to us to all of us…no matter what ‘spot’ we are in…but not only that, our Heavenly Father seeks us out…searches for us…
The chapter begins with: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around him.” Jesus was a magnet, the kingdom was available and people wanted it, especially those that thought it was not available to them before. Of course the religious leaders missed it again as their muttering was: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” What an amazing story of Grace….Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them; he partakes in communion, in fellowship with sinners, with liars, thieves, cheaters, etc. What a story of Hope and Joy, and yet Jesus even has time for the religious to explain to them why, he could have dismissed them, BUT he chooses to help them understand through parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son…his grace was even for the religious…how astonishing!
I hope in the end of my time people will say this about me: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Monday, September 19, 2005

Holy Water


Somewhere there's a stolen halo
I use to watch her wear it well
Everything would shine wherever she would go
But looking at her now you'd never tell

Someone ran away with her innocence
A memory she can't get out of her head
I can only imagine what she's feeling
When she's praying
Kneeling at the edge of her bed

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She wants someone to call her angel
Someone to put the light back in her eyes
She's looking through the faces
The unfamiliar places
She needs someone to hear her when she crys

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She just needs a little help
To wash away the pain she's felt
She wants to feel the healing hands
Of someone who understands

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me
And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water


-Big and Rich

Ignorance


"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." - Derek Bok

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

KICK OFF TONITE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well our KICK-OFF is today!!!! SO AWESOME...I cant wait, the youth band has been practicing hard, the girls were decorating till late last night...and i feel out of space and room TOO Much on the GO!!! Are all my ducks in the row, will they like it, will we have fun? Well here goes nothing....well maybe something!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Purgatory


Why do people after youth, or after bible college walk away from God? Why are the numbers so high? Why is our faith seen as a drug to be on a high for a while but when life hits we just surrender and become nominal…Why is there no difference between what we do and what the world does? Why does the church fail? Sooo many of these questions are now on my brain. Is it the lack of discipline in our ‘evangelical’ churches is it the lack of disciplines such as: prayer, fasting, solitude, simplicity, tithing, chastity, fidelity….Do we have too many quick answers and too little of hard nosed disciplines of getting down and dirty? If we have everything on earth, if every pleasure is met, every desire given, why want God? Jesus promises the opposite, simplicity will keep us from wealth, chastity will keep us from gratification, tithing will keep us from illusions of being a self made man/woman. Which on paper seems great but how many of us turn wealth or gratification down? In fact the whole Jesus thing promises persecution hate and abuse in this world…Why would any one want that when we can gratify our selves, be gluttons and enjoy life? The truth is I know there is no simple answer…The problem is only when we give simple answers. People fail, fall, disappoint and lie…The only truth is that God is good and faithful even when we are not…all we can often do is pray and fast for our friends…I will pray for you my dear friend…God has not left you, even though you are trying to leave him…

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Usual Suspects


First day of High school is here. I went to school and wandered the hall ways, talked to the usual suspects, tried to talk to others as well…It was great seeing them all again, reminded me again how much they all change and how different this year will be again. This year we are going to introduce our theme for youth and our church: The Kingdom. Becoming people of the kingdom of God, becoming people who are like Jesus, people that are growing each day in different directions but ultimately desiring to be like Jesus. I think the hardest part for people and youth specifically to accept about Christianity is often Christians, people are not opposed to Christ, people are opposed of becoming like one of the Christians…the challenge is to be an imitator of Christ, rather then one of the club members, who have same politics same lingo same ugly suits…. “He who follows Me, walks not in darkness, says the Lord. (John 8:12) By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His Life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort; therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ...Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.” -- Thomas a Kempis.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shock and Awe

Well another busy season of Youth is about to erupt, and I feel like Ralph Kline at a Janet Jackson show…..Hanging out with certain youth this summer I had a great time getting to know them, growing with them and laughing with them. But I also miss the others, its been so long since I have seen so many of them, and summers change Youth so much, and you never really know if they will be “in to” things you are planning or hoping to teach, but there is always that one time when things click and you make a connection and you see a break through. Man I was one of those youth my self, that my youth pastor must have lost soooo much sleep over…but that persistence paid of…well at least I think it did…well anyways the shock and awe of it all begins Sep. 14th ohhh yeah....... :)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Language

Recently I have been talking to my friends and family about language. Jessica had a really good Blog about language few days ago; I guess I am just echoing a lot of what she has said. But I find that so much of what we understand or choose to believe is wrapped around in how we understand certain words or phrases. It is no wonder that my friend who I will keep anonymous by calling him Gil D. no wait that’s to obvious lets say G. Dueck, find arguments about hockey or other trivial things but at the end of the day unearth that we are saying the same things, just with different words that mean different things to us.
I think part of my problem is adopting language and using it in insincere ways, I must admit that I am a product of ‘western’ culture when it comes to this, as we have this idea that we can say what we want when ever we want to and others have to listen to us, like its our right. I think the lesson that I am quickly learning is that patience, humbleness and LISTENING is much greater then my talking.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hope


I love my job, although I must admit I am not great at it. I love talking with youth, getting to know them, learning with them, and ultimately sharing Jesus. There are many hard times when it feels like I am not making any kind of impact or I am not good at what I am doing, or some one more qualified should do this. But ultimately I am thankful that I have the privilege to share Jesus with anyone, and that I am paid for that… I was thinking about that the other day, would I do this (my work) if I was not paid, would I sacrifice my time (often my family time) and do this ministry if I was in lay position? Would I reschedule my time for youth? Would I do what it takes? My answer is yes…although I thought about that for a VERY long time. I think this ministry and the joy I receive in it (yes I do have joy in doing it, although sometimes I seem fed up) is part of my gifting that I have, and ultimately I can use this gift to: “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the HOPE that you have…” (I Pet. 3:15) And I do have hope, and often working with youth, Hope is the only word that can describe what keeps you going. But at the end of the day I see hope for the youth, I see the joy and the life that can invade their lives, and transform them, no matter the past…I have hope! It has been refreshing to think this morning about HOPE, I have forgotten to focus on Hope for a long time, and thoughts of death, purpose, loose ends have been in my thoughts, but today Hope has really invaded my space and I love it…what a wonderful word, hope.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Messy


“This may sound shocking to some, but spirituality is a home for those who don’t have life figured out, who don’t know the Bible as well as they could, and who don’t have their spiritual lives all together—the rest of us who thought there wasn’t a rest of us, Christians who are trying to follow Jesus the best we can.” Mike Yaconelli Messy Spirituality

It’s useful to know that I am not alone…

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Saga begins!!


Well so it begins, his first pair of skates and I am beaming with joy!! Yes I know he does have a basketball hoop and ball, and a football and for some reason even a baseball glove and ball…but there is nothing like his first skates, at least in my mind! I know he may not like hockey or sports for that matter, but for now he loves it, since he sees me in my skates and always wants them on, now he has his own pair he laughed and giggled, when we tried taking them off he said no and kept saying Sasha’s skates…its Awesome! For now this joy is ALL MINE!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Service...Obedience...

I have recently finished reading: The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. What a passionate view of God and heaven, what a wonderful comforting place for all to choose…Lewis also has a great way of illustrating how selfish and self absorbed we tend to be…He puts it very well that even with heaven in front of us, sinful and full of self-centered ideas we likely would reject it…as we often do everyday on earth. What would make it any different in the afterlife? The choices of many characters in this afterlife are also the product of their choices on earth, and they can no longer see heaven for what it is, and choose isolation, loneliness and ultimately hell.
It’s scary to see how easy it is for me to get caught up in arguments and proving that I am right, as if that matters….In the book there was a character that is confronted with the opportunity to go to heaven (all the characters are given this opportunity in the book), but he has all the right answers about “theology” about God about Heaven, that he can’t even see that he is in HELL…he argues with the heavenly creatures and ultimately chooses hell, because there he has a theology club, where they puff themselves up with their knowledge and their “right” ideas. He ultimately chose Hell, because heaven did not fit HIS understanding… It’s sad how I could see some of my own characteristics appear on the pages of C.S. Lewis’s book. The desire to have the right answers to know…rather then do…
It is no wonder obedience is our call, servant hood, mercy, compassion as Jeff preached this past Sunday. So much of my experience (it is a bit limited) with the church, that when problems arrive as they always do (as my parents church is experiencing) is often found in people arguing about trite ideas of who is right who has the right answer…I often hear (sadly even from my loved ones): “why can’t THEY just see it… or if they only understood ME….or if they only knew the Bible like I do, like its suppose to be understood” they are all such self-centered arguments….even if they are RIGHT…often my response is to think in my head how self-centered they are and if they only understood this as I do…WHAT! Wait a minute my own response is also self-centered self glorified, pumped up, self overvalued… ( I hear someone somewhere echoing me “I have a BA”….GIL…) …How much better would it be if I chose to serve the church instead of proving my self right to the church….

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ignorance is not bliss

So I am speaking at camp this week, at a Jr. High Camp (age 12-14). It has been going pretty good, although its hard to listen and hear these kids lives, just about all of them come from divorced homes, religion or faith or God for that matter is an alien thing to them, the only things they know is Christmas and only as gifts time. So concepts of sin, God’s sacrifice, and life everlasting are very foreign to them. It’s been good trying to teach and explain these significant aspects of life, and more importantly to teach about Jesus and who he was and is. The hard part (one of many) is these youth, have been growing up with filth in their lives and most of that filth is introduced to them through their parents, whether it is movies (I hear some one somewhere, someone named Gil saying: Team America?), crude jokes, and dire attitude about life and many more are a normality of life for them…So although you talk about purity in life and speech and they nod their heads, the next thing they do after chapel is make the crude jokes and comments, and defend their attitudes. One 12 year old was convincing me that American Pie, and Eurotrip movies are “not that bad” their JUST funny. The sad thing is, that this acceptance of sin desensitizes us to this filth and makes us ok with it, and yet don’t we learn in church from young age that no darkness can be in light, and God is light (I John 1-5:10)…The problem is that most of the youth do not grow up going to church and the youth hear concepts over and over, what they don’t see is people materializing these in life. It’s very hard to convince a youth that life is about choices and they need to make the ‘right choices’. But how do you convince them of this when those closest to them, their parents and friends make the same bad choices and justify them…DARKNESS…What we need is more and more youth, adults, children to live in the light, and for the light…The painful part is the more I am out of my Church bubble the more I see things going the other way …I guess that is why it is important that we (believers) must stress in life our faithfulness in our speech and most importnatly in our conduct…I think ( I am thinking lots today) we are used to ‘fast food’ disciplines in our faith, when we truly need is a whole hearty meal in which we are satisfied, and for which we can long each day, the kind of meal that we are so quickly willing to share because it is sooo good. Instead of getting quick fixes here and there…and by doing so not being able to share with anyone else because our discipline allows only for a quick fix for ourselves… our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...Why isn't it for so many of US, BELIEVERS...well my head is going to explode, I’m out…

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

IN MY COUNTRY

Few days ago, my wife and I were watching a movie called In my Country, this film based on the events in South Africa after the fall of the apartheid; this film had much potential as it revealed an amazing system of forgiveness and amnesty. People seeking amnesty had to come to court face the people they have hurt, (whether they killed their family members or they have tortured one of them) and re-tell the whole story of how and why they did it, if they could explain the whole story with understanding that all their actions were due to orders from above they would receive pardon. The slogan for this in South Africa was: The Truth will Set you Free. It was an intense experience as murderers and bandits would come and confess their crimes, for most part it was the white apartheid members who would admit their guilt, but it was clear in the film that tragically both sides took parts in murders and heinous acts. And BOTH were given the opportunity to be set free. This movie was going in all the right directions as it was revealing the spirit of people to be able to kill and also to be able to forgive even the most horrible crimes. As scripture it self teaches us of freedom through TRUTH. And then alas came the ‘brilliant’ (major sarcasm) direction of the director who decided to instead of keeping the film on this heart felt story of lies, pain and hurt of South Africa, to focus on the story of the two journalists who were covering these trials, as they began to have an affair with each other and find “love” in each others arms, I especially found it aggravating as Samuel L Jackson’s character (Washington Post, journalist) began to lecture one of the apartheid members about how can 'he' (the apartheid member a killer) look these people in the eye after the acts he had done, how can he seek pardon (rightfully so maybe)…what annoyed me was the fact that this same lecturer, same righteous journalist had just had an affair with a women and had no problem looking into her husbands eyes as if nothing had happened as if this crime was some how innocent, or unavoidable. I don’t know why the director decided to have the story shift into this affair, making the last quarter of the movie about their relationship, perhaps the “deep metaphors” of those wronged and later those who hurt had to apologize for the affairs, (although Samuel L Jackson’s character never apologized and was even irresolute, when he found out that the wife did) but yet there was no seeking of freedom from sin in this relationship as there was in the South African story as the lovers, only separated because He was leaving for America and after all she was married with children so perhaps the sense of duty was there, yet her comments, “my skin will never forget you” gave the impression that there was a longing for what they had if only things were a bit different, which then throws the metaphor out the window, since no murderer wanted to stay un-forgiven…even the once who were less repentant were shown as “evil”…but some how the journalists affair was not. What ever the reason was it just distressed me and made me wound up that even an important story such as the class struggle in South Africa has to be tainted with Hollywood’s affairs and as if to say that they were so disturbed by the horror they were hearing in the courts forced them to have sex…SIGH…as if this is ‘normal’ turn of events, as if it was almost expected. I am not going to write a conclusion of my thoughts here…I want to leave it open I want the thoughts that I have already wrote sit on this page and be…I want the final conclusion in this matter to be yours (if any one reads this)…and not mine…

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Life After God

Douglas Coupland, life journal book entitled Life after God is an remarkable description of life, is it a constant search for something, or is it just an aimless existence? These expressed hopes, fears and frustrations of the “Generation beyond God” (Chicago Tribute) scream of the reality that our society finds it self in, and by association I do as well :) . It’s been really weird two weeks of my life…lots of frustrations, feelings of aimlessness…maybe doubt…As I have been sitting in my office and doing no work at all, it stood out to me on my shelf, specifically its title, Life after God, I don’t know what this title means to me, being born into a Christian Home and now a pastor, but re-skimming the book, I was able to again connect with the aimlessness of someone else, not in my shoes, whose confessions in this book were real and honest and not just “church jargon” It was/is helpful to see through the eyes of some one raised with out religion period…to see the “impulses [that] flow in a world of malls and TV, Kraft dinners and jets. How do we cope with loneliness? Anxiety? The collapses of relationships? How do we reach the quiet safe layer of our lives? (Douglas Coupland) These were good questions to hear, honest questions, unafraid, not tied by any religious lingo, not vague and masked with fear…questions that perhaps I am only now willing to examine…

Monday, July 18, 2005

at the office....s Posted by Picasa

Sermon on Little Graces

During the last months of World War II, the British conducted daily bombings raids over Berlin. The bombers would take off from an airstrip in England and fly surrounded by smaller fighter planes whose job it was to keep German fighters from attacking the bombers. Which were easy targets.
One night after a successful bombing raid, as they were heading for the safety of England, the bombers were attacked by a large group of German fighter planes. Somehow, during the dogfight, one bomber found it self flying alone with no protection, and suddenly, a German fighter appeared out of nowhere. The crew of the bomber watched as the German plane moved closer and closer, until finally, it was in range. They prepared for the worst and watched helplessly as tracer bullets began spitting from the fighter. Bullets whizzed by them, over and under, until bang, five bullets slammed into the fuselage of the bomber near the gas tank. The crew braced for the explosion, but nothing happened. They could see fuel pouring from the bullet holes, but there was no explosion. Miraculously, they were able to make it back to their based and get safely off the plane.
A few hours later they had landed , one of the mechanics showed up in the crew’s barracks. He had found the five bullets inside the fuel tanks, crumpled but not exploded. He handed them to the pilot. The pilot carefully opened them and to the crew’s amazement found each empty of gunpowder. Inside one was a tiny wad of paper. When he unfolded the paper, he found a note which read: “We are Polish POW’s forced to make bullets in factory. When guards do not look, we do not fill with powder. Is not much but is best we ca do. Please tell family we are alive.
Five tiny bullets, out of millions and millions of bullets made during the war, made all the difference for the crewmen of a British bomber. These seemingly little act by the Polish prisoners changes the world for the British Crew.
It is these acts that I want to talk about today, the small acts of life in what ever situation we happen to find ourselves that we can change and create a catalyst for major events that change the world, and the life of those around us and abroad. In our youth group, our challenge for the summer holidays and time after was to begin to change our actions to mirror those of Jesus, to begin to live our lives in such a way that people around have no choice but to be moved by our kindness, love and support that we give and radiate. To some this small work may not seem that important, but these small sparks are exactly what start a forest fire of transformation. Mike Yaconelli puts it this way: “The Power of Goodness is found in the tiny. Since the beginning, God has chosen the tiny over the large: David over Goliath, Gideon and his three hundred soldiers over thousands of Midianites, Elijah over the prophets of Baal, one sheep over the ninety-nine sheep.” Spirituality is about doing the tiny work of God, little acts, small responses to God’s presence in our lives. Today I want us to examine these small responses, little acts, which I entitled ‘little graces’ but before we get to what I mean by this title which I shamelessly plagiarized from Mike Yaconellies book Messy Spirituality which again, if you have not read it I highly recommend it. Now If you have your bible with you would you open to Matthew 25:starting at verse 14 to verse 30. This passage of scripture demonstrates to us the need for responsible use of the gifts of God in His service that He has given us according to our ability, during the time when Jesus is not present, as verse, 15 states. The first two servants were Good and Faithful, for they made the most of their opportunities for their master’s sake. The third saw no point in trying to get profit which would go to the master at the risk of making a loss for which he would be punished. In fact from the Greek word poneros this word used for the third servant has the meaning of slothful servant, lazy servant in verse26. This passage brings a personal incentive to be a good steward of what is given to us, what ever our circumstance is. The Polish Prisoners of war had much to be mad about, and much to be afraid of, they were invaded, taken out of their homes, they didn’t know if their families are alive, people all around them were dying in the hands of an empire, their choice is to make a small difference a tiny glitch in the enormous production of armor and weapons, their small tiny choices saved lives. The question then we need to answer for ourselves is, what have we been entrusted with? What have we been entrusted with according to our ability? Is it our jobs, our families, our neighbors around us, money, certain talents, our personality or all of the above? What are we to be good stewards with? I want to suggest to you that when ever you do ANY small act of love, grace, kindness even though it is not seen, IT is seen (PAUSE), and it makes a difference, in the spiritual realm and the physical. For every small act of kindness, love and grace, will change the world around you and me, and begin a transformation of our world. Using more of Yaconellies words: “Spiritual people are about tiny things, which are the fruit of their spirituality. The spiritual life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness, and it’s not easy.” I am not sure what the servants did to earn more talents from what was given to them, but I want to suggest that what they did do is become faithful to what was given to them. What I want to suggest about the unfaithful servant is what his Master says in verse 26 “ You knew …” the master begins his rebuke by reminding the servant that he knew, he knew the desires of his master, You knew… then is rightly given question. On the supposition that he was right, he was right that His master would be angry if he wasted or lost the talent but, he ought all the same to have acted differently. This parable concludes that different spiritual opportunities are given to different people. These opportunities and gifts are around us, small and tiny they are often hidden and neglected but nevertheless they are there, they are often disregarded, overlooked, and ignored, but they are there. The call is to do the little things, to be good stewards of them so we can be trusted with big things. Well this teaching makes sense.
Please take your Bibles and flip back now to Matthew chapter 20 starting in verse 1 to verse 16, Here we are again presented with another parable of a landowner and who hired people to take care of his vineyard, all through the day. This story is involving absurd economics, to get home a truth of the kingdom of heaven. In the first parable that we read out of Matthew 25 we are given a picture of God asking us to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us. In this parable as in other parables, many of the details are to give color to the story and are not to be pressed for a theological meaning. The point is driven that in the kingdom men receive what they need and this is eternal life. But this economic absurdity is complicated and although we like to say that its clear it isn’t…its not fair… Mike Yaconelli puts it this way: “ [this] parable by anyone’s standards is offensive, discriminator, elitist, ridiculous, and is very annoying.” In this parable the workers are angry, unhappy they feel that a great injustice was done, today this landowner would surely be sued. The reality is that if we were to think of ourselves in a working environment of the same situation if we were really honest we would feel wronged, undone, angry, surely I put in 8 hours and they only 1 how can the pay be the same?... ITS NOT FAIR! In fact yesterday as I and many others were re-shingling my roof, I was thinking to the similarities of this parable to my day, as some cam early to help, others half way and yet some more at the end…and yet they were all paid the same…..NOTHING….It’s not Fair….But yet Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like this! What? THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE WHAT? Like the unfair landowner? The earlier parable made more sense, we were to be good stewards and if we are not we are punished…that’s clear…that’s simple…but the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner that doesn’t understand our economic fair democratic system? Not according to this parable. Generous? Yes but Fair? No. This is given by God, who is continually calling people of different degrees of moral attainment and spiritual privilege to His service, and therefore no-one has any claim on Him for more than anyone else. God has sovereign freedom to do as He pleases for generosity may be added to justice. To the Jewish community this parable could also have been upsetting to hear as the chosen people of God, Jesus is now telling them a parable that God’s mercy and generosity is being given to others.
What is going on here? These parables teach us important lessons, One the importance of faithfulness and stewardship, living in a way that is productive loving and caring even in the small things of life. Second Lesson we receive from the next parable is that God’s grace is not Fair, but its Generous, faithful even to the little us, who may have some how only worked for an hour. There is coloration here in these two parables the call to our faithfulness and even though we are not often even or faithful. Even though we are often bad stewards of our gifts, even though we some times only get it right really late. God’s generosity and faithfulness gives us credit even when we only had short time to do it. Jesus presents it to us very clearly: “The last will be first. You have to die to live. Clearly Jesus’ love is more than radical; it is arbitrary, bewildering, shocking, and offensive. None of us wants to admit it, but if we had started work at sunrise, we would have resented those who had worked only an hour and received the same pay”
So what is the connection, perhaps my title doesn’t even make sense in the light of both parables, but what I want to explore is that we are called to be good stewards in little things, and that God’s faithfulness is great in Big things and little things, and his generosity is a home for us all…So perhaps little grace could be understood as little acts that we do to change the world around us…To be Jesus to those whose world needs just that, and perhaps the Graces part of Little Graces can be understood in the light that Jesus ultimately gives us a hope, chance, life, and grace when we are bad stewards.
It’s easy to say that loving everyone is a great concept, but when love contradicts our sense of fairness, we are angry. Yes, we are all in favor of God’s love, but his love is mysterious, the landowners unfairness was great news to those who were unemployed with no hope of being hired. God’s news is Great News to us…God’s love may be “unfair”, but when his “unfairness” includes you and me, who wants to argue? We should be comforted by this generosity and faithfulness, and recognize that because of this unfair grace we now have life and are called in turn to be faithful and generous. AMEN.
Me at the office Posted by Picasa

Life

The Spiritual Life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness, and its not easy. - Mike Yaconelli