Monday, November 27, 2006

God still speaks today! Are you listening?

I am blessed.
I am renewed in my relationship with God right now. I don't know about anyone else- but I am very easily "religious". What I mean by that is that I can easily boil my relationship with God down,falsely, to a ritual of routines. I find it easy to forget that I am in a relationship with a living God- who can and will communicate personally with me.
(I was reminded of this probably most explicitly by Chuck Maher of Grace Harvest Church who came to talk to our group about listening to God.)

I don't know about you- but I can even tend to forget who I am praying to. It becomes a language of familiarity- God help me to get through today- or help me with my responsibilities or thank you for such and such. It kind of took me back afresh thinking that God can and will speak to me (and you!). God actually listens to our prayers. He know what we are asking even before we ask the Scriptures tell us. He is also in the business of speaking to us to affirm us and encourage us- (and sometimes to correct us too!)What an awesome God we serve- how blessed we are to serve Him.

Most recently Jesus has spoken to me "Trust me".
This seems like a fairly warm and fuzzy message on the surface- yet underneath as I ponder it- it is a life changing one. Jesus is asking me to trust him- not only with the easy stuff or stuff I already do trust him with- but in all areas of my life- even those where I need to be free- in areas of my life and heart where I hold fear or mistrust. Anywhere in my heart where I hold on to posessions or sin as a way to meet my needs instead of Jesus is what he is asking me to trust Him.
What I found has had the most impact on me through these two words: is who it is that is speaking them. Jesus Christ- King of Kings, Almighty God, - humble servant who loves me. I know that what he wants and plans for me is the very best for me- and to make me more like him and to be a light in this dark world- he is now challenging and calling lovingly for me to walk Him and only Him. Fully; completely. I am ready to take new steps Jesus- help me overcome my unbelief!

Are you trusting Him with every part of your heart? With every part of your mind? With all your strength? plans? everything?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blessed by Blunders

Ever feel like you are getting ahead on something? Ever feel like you are getting one up on the world- only to figure out that you are actually further behind?
I just did that. I came home after Youth Group and Coffee afterwards. I then decided to get a jump on writing the Sermon for Sunday morning. I went through the passage- actually the whole chapter of 1st Thessalonians. I prayed beforehand and started writing. It felt like a really productive time. This would mean that a bit of the pressure I feel about getting it mapped out before Saturday (when I often do most of my work on writing) would be out of the way.

It did seem to me- not entirely familiar- (as I just read the passage I was preaching on the other day.) I just dismissed those thoughts of unfamiliarity as late night-itus or something. Afterall I was using a different translation than what I read it in last week. After spending about an hour on this- and finishing the mapping out part- (and feeling great) I decided to look up the 1st Chapter of 2nd Thessalonanians. By now you are guessing what is coming next! Uhm... it is 2nd Thessalonains that I am preaching from. LOL or Cry Out loud?! I ought to doubt any thoughts that are in my mind that claim to be getting ahead as almost invariably they are wrong.

Well, in any case- should the occaision arise - I am ready to preach from 1st Thessalonians now- and I was really blessed by God's Word in the process.
I did this once before at Taylor College. I prepared the Sermon on an entirely different text than I was supposed to. I guess the silver lining is that I figured it out now and not Sunday Morning at about 10:55. Anyone in need of a sermon on 1st Thessalonians Chapter 1?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'm Spiderman!

Hey Phil- I'm Spiderman.

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Want to know what superhero you are?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My Hands Are Bananas

Jill Chapman if you read this post- you need to click on this link. You will like this!

This is not spiritual or wildly contemplative. This is just silly- weird- rare and random. Elijah and I discovered it one day as we were watching one of his favorite video's New Numa -

I however am reflecting on why I like this video so much. It is random and stupid. It does not require deep thought. It does not wrench my heart. It is not a weight upon my shoulders. I don't know about you... but I get weighed down by that which is wrong with the world. I want to weep for those who weep. I can't help but be affected by the news stories I hear everyday. I take them home with me and reflect upon them. I can't help but feel for people. It could cause one to be in a constant state of mourning. Is this what Jesus meant when he instructed us to mourn with those who mourn? But then when do we stop? We could constantly discover new sorrows so that our entire existence is mourning and weeping with people. Part of me lashes out when I get like this...(though it is good to have a soft heart) I like this video as - although it defies those who think my blog ought to be - religious or serious all the time- this video is neither negative nor about hurting people (my apologies to any "milky pirates" out there.) I rejoice in humor that is just fun or silly. I wish more of the humor in this world were more like this and less insulting or attacking.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Love is Evangelistic

As you may have read in my blog two posts ago- I am reading a book or was- called the Language of God by Francis Collins. It was a good book in some senses. I enjoyed the first part of the book - which was largely a recap of a lot of stuff by C.S. Lewis on Moral Law. It really made me have another look at what I believe about how God created the universe. Was it created directly by God? As Creation Science or Intelligent Design Theory claims? Or Was it Theistic Evolution; God created the laws of the universe including "evolution" and therefore we basically evolved under the guidance and foreknowledge of God?!! I subscribe more to the former than the latter theory, even after reading the book- but it has got me thinking- re-examining what I believe.

Nevertheless the greater lesson about all of this happened not from the book itself but came about as I read over the reviews about the book on There were 96 reviews. I wanted to know what other Christians had thought about information in the book- I ended up learning something more valuable.

There were basically 3 standard reactions to the book.

1. There were many reviews which praised the book; at last science and faith can co-exist without demanding an exclusive relationship! All but one of the probably 50 reviews were by Christians who were praising the book and saying- this book is for the Athiest and the Scientist- almost as if we had found a "silver bullet" by which to defeat those who oppose us. (Love?)

Obviously most Christians who had reviewed the book did not read how most Athiests and Scientists who read the same book responded to it! Most were disappointed by the Title of the Book, and were unimpressed, to put it mildly, with the arguments for belief in God. They found the arguments put forth not scientific, nor convincing.
(I found it really intriquing that they would read the book to begin with- they must have been at partly interested to find the truth- on some level anyway.)

The third but less popular reaction to the book was by Christians who believe in Creationism who criticised and attacked the book. One such review was by a Christian, I am ashamed to write what one individual titled his review- it was an attack on Francis Collins. ( By a fellow believer.)I am not convinced it was written in love.

I was struck by a few facts about this encounter with the reactions to the book.

One reviewer from New Jersey shed light, and gave me words to what I was noticing- the Chrisians were praising the book as it confirmed their beliefs. The Athiests were condemning it because it did not line up with their own. Most read books not really looking for new information but to confirm their own beliefs. I was a bit awestruck by the Athiests comments as I thought the arguements put forth by Collins at least on Moral Law were quite convincing. It was a real eye opener to see that Athiests- who it was intended to challenge (except for maybe one response on the last page of reviews) pulled it apart easily.

What I found in myself, as I read the apologetics, was a satisfaction that my point of view is valid. I therefore assumed that others who don't know God through Christ yet, would respond in the same way. I was surprised when they did not.

This took me on a reflective and contemplative journey. Are apologetics useless? There will always be a counter point from the opposite side- another way to view events in question. Well I don't believe that apologetics are useless... however...

So far what I have come up with at the end of all this is: LOVE. I often, like many Christians, want to come up with a "silver bullet" which would convince everyone that they should believe in God. The one arguement that would silence any opposition. ( I don't believe this will ever be found- as it would then no longer be faith!) It would be so reasuring and we could fire off that reasoning to anyone. We would have the power to fire it... and bang.

What I started to realize again is that it is not going to work like that. Winning the world- or being a light for Christ is not to come up with perfect answers, but to LOVE. Let me try to explain what I mean. It is amazing when I go to highschools for lunch. Many young people at a few schools in the area know that I am a Youth Pastor and to them I represent Religion. Most of them don't have any interest in Religion (to put it mildly). Yet as I take the time to be interested in them- (not preaching at them or judging them) but sincerely wanting to get to know them - (and doing my best to love them) over time they respond. Intelectually they are absolutely convinced that they don't want anything I am selling. Yet it is amazing to see how people respond to LOVE- genuine caring, interested - yet not overbearing, having a sense of humor, and a deep side of caring- LOVE.

We are Ambassadors of Christ. God is making his appeal through us! More than what I say- how I say it is equally important. Never mind science- Love will speak the language of God- to the heart. The brain is not the chief organ where faith is based or born- sure we have to understand what we believe - but Faith is not merely a reasonable thing to do- I believe it is also a heart encounter.

Therefore :Love ought to be the distinguishing feature of every Christian- whether we "win" or "lose" and arguement- LOVE people. Jesus said: They will know we are Christians by our Love.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Coca-Cola Blak

For those who don't know, I have been a Coca-Cola fan since the mid 1980's. My best friend back then was a guy named Brad Madu. Coke was one of the planks in the patio of our friendship. His Grandpa used to work for Coke and would drop off free Canada Dry at his place like once a month. (Canada Dry was bottled by Coca-Cola- I am not sure if it is anymore.) His Grandpa got to drink as much of the stuff as he liked! My 13 year old brain could not wrap itself around this idea! Wow! All the Coke he could drink?

Anyways, Brad and I were nuts about Coke. We knew which products were bottled by Coca-Cola and which were not. It was entirely acceptable and only acceptable to drink products that were bottled by Coca-Cola and absolutely not acceptable to buy a Pepsi Product- even if Pepsi only bottled it. I remember if we wanted anything like a Dr. Pepper we would have to go to the States (Abbotsford is right on the Border) and buy Mr. Pibb (Which is the Coke Product equivalent of Dr. Pepper.)

We used to cut out the Coke Product logo's of the aluminum cans and stick them on our wall. We collected everything that had Coca-Cola on it. The coolest was having Coke Cans from other countries, like England, Holland, or Japan etc.

Now, I have since given away or gotten rid of all of my Coke paraphinalia ..

I still felt it my obligation to try the new Coca-Cola Blak product...

here's what happened:

When I first saw them at the Superstore I tried to play it cool and thought, I will buy that later, when it is not almost $2 a bottle. K and I went to the Superstore on Friday night last week. Then when we went to pick up a few things on Saturday- my heart went into a minor palpatations.... the Coca-Cola Blak display was gone. I had heard about Coke Blak for months since we went to NY. Now my chance had come and gone and I had missed it. Could this really be happening?

That is when I noticed the display for Coke Blak had simply been moved to the other end of the isle that it was the day before. Instantly I bought a 4 pack and brought it to the counter.

How is it you ask?

Interesting. It has an initial coke flavor- almost Vanilla Coke flavor when it first hits your taste buds. Then the coffee taste appears like out of nowhere. It is an interesting flavor experience if you like both Cola and Coffee- and you are willing to drink them both at once...well I think that you might like it- otherwise probably not. (I don't think that I will be buying it often at all considering the price.)

After this or somewhere in the middle of this, I was reminded by the Scripture... "don't worry about what you shall eat or drink...for life is more than food" -Matthew Ch. 6. The Greek word for anxious in the Bible also translates to "excited". I know that this is something our culture in North America, is very preoccupied with.. we become "anxious, worried, excited" about every new product of food and drink... "hey did you go to such and such yet and try the new ____" Or Did you see the new _____ at ____".

It is easy in a culture which is bombarding us with advertisements to get sucked into thinking that life is about trying the latest new product that a company brings out - as if these products are really going to fulfil our deepest needs as humans. I mean we all know that the commercial for a Toyota on T.V. which says, "Life is Simple- Eat, Sleep, Drive a Toyota." As if life is really that simple. As if eating, sleeping and driving a Toyota is the total picture of what life it. Nevermind family, friends, marriage, personal character- just eat- sleep and drive a Toyota!

My life is definitely no more fulfilled because I had a Coke Blak than before I had one. Yet- and I don't mean to sound preachy- but- one thing that I have found that I would recommend to you as the most deeply satisfying thing I have in this world is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone fills that God shaped void that I had in my life till meeting Him.

Jesus points us to the fact that food, drink, and new styles of clothes, and products is not what real life- real day to day life is about- designer jeans, gourmet food, and marvelous possessions do not spell a satisfied soul- don't believe me? Look around! Some of the saddest people in this world are wealthy. Some of the most fulfilled people in this world have next to nothing. Life is more than food, clothes, and money.

Here's my new add I want to put on T.V. -

Jesus says that, HE is the Bread of Life... Are you satisfied? Really, deeply, at the core of your being satisfied? Drink Jesus! He does a body, soul, and spirit GOOD!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Doubting Faith

"Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith." - Paul Tillich

I found that quote within a book that I am reading
Doubt is a necessary part of our faith- doubt helps us to process what we are learning and experiencing about God and ultimately solidifies our faith as we come out the other side.
If faith is a journey (and I believe that it is)that we are "being" changed into the likeness of Christ, day by day, as we yield our selves and our bodies to His will and Word- ...

as we encounter or experience God in our lives in moments of mountain top experiences like Peter at the Transfiguration- and we can't live there- there is inevitably a valley on the other side of the mountain- We then find ourselves in a place where we begin to doubt whether or not God's Word is true or whether God's presence was real or whether God is for me -("you don't know how messed up I feel") etc... We hear something and it discourages us from persevering in our goal to serve God -you fill in the blank-

Yet -Doubt, when it is a country we are merely passing through- can actually be good! When we perceive something of God- doubt creeps in -it comes in to ask did it really happen or is God really?

Allow doubt to ask questions...yet seek for truthful answers- don't get carried away by doubt - examine what happened, examine that claim- or discouraging voice in light of God's hand on your life now, or in the past and in light of what God promises in His WOrd.

God's Word continually tells us to seek - seek for Jesus- seek for Truth- seek for Wisdom- it is a gift from God.
(Did you know that Daniel and his friends were the wisest men in the most powerful and elaborate empire on earth in their wasn't just because they ate their veggies...Daniel credits his wisdom to God!) James tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom that he/she should ask God who gives freely. God is the giver of good gifts to His children. Proverbs tells us that Wisdom cries out in the street... it is actively ready to engage those seeking her.

Doubt your doubts- but not just because that is a cute saying- arg!I don't think just because you get a sappy e-mail with pictures of nature and some pseudo spiritual poem on the bottom telling you to live life to the full because having an ice-cream under a perfect blue sky with someone you love- is really going to solve all of humanity's problems! But examine!

Doubt is part of the cycle of growing our faith. We have a mountain top experience, or God promises to do something in us or through us which seems unbelievable- we doubt- it is just the real human part of us which is in a struggle to believe God at His Word. But think about it- read the story of Abraham again - Abraham's doubt in the early part of his walk with God was just a land that he passed through before settling in the land where true obedient faith is found. Abraham would not have been able to absolutely trust God in offering up his son Isaac on the alter- unless his faith had been formed through doubt to the realization that God can do what He promises! His evergrowing relationship with a living God had been solidified by his journey through roads filled with doubt and he KNEW God well enough to know that God had a plan- and not a plan to take his son Isaac- through whom a nation would be formed!

Take courage- It is I- Jesus says! Get out of the boat!