Learning Who I Am (and some other thoughts)

I feel like I’ve been drifting. It makes me wonder. Do I really need God? I’ve been doing pretty good so far… yet still I know I need Him. He seems so far away.

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But that was earlier. Now I feel forgiven. The peace that passes understanding is rolling over me. But as much as it is in fact peace, I feel unsettled. A healthy unsettled. My heart is waking up. As much as I feel fuller, as much as I feel loved, as much as my capacity to love feels like it has increased, I grow anxious. I can’t sit still. It is the world around me.

There is so much going on in this world. I hardly understand it. They say ignorance is bliss. And they are right. But bliss is suddenly an unattractive option when my heart wakes up. Bliss is not enough. Bliss is a sort of laziness, a cop out. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, but an Unitarian existence is not enough. It can’t exist. It reminds me of the quote by Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

I suppose I’m one of the good men. A part of Dumbledore’s Army, but in a grander scale. Because my leader isn’t some fictional wizard. My leader is the ruler of all, the King of kings, Creator of the World. Wow. That is crazy. Awe astounding. It never dawned on me like that. I can’t even put it into words. My understanding of how great God is has grown again.

Sometimes I go to the mountains. They are like cathedrals. The trees rise like pillars while the wildflowers find refuge in the valleys from the wind. When the sun sets, the rock reflects the most beautiful colours of purple and orange you’ve ever seen. It’s as if the very rocks cry out to his majesty.

Majesty. A king. A kingdom. A kingdom upside down. A kingdom of love. What am I then? A peasant? Or am I a knight. No, I am in fact nobility. A child of the King.

But still I run around forgetting who my father really is. Nobility made undeserving of it. I am so unworthy. But still he makes me His child. I am covered so completely by grace. Every charge laid down. I don’t need to make a show, perform a ritual, or prove myself somehow to a distant deity. He’s the king, and I am His son. This is so very incredible.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG)

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The Boy In The Red T-Shirt

I’d seen it earlier. You’ve probably seen it too—the image on the front of the Globe and Mail on September 3 2015. The three year old in the red t-shirt, washed ashore on a beach resort. His name was Alan Kurdi. “That’s awful,” I said to myself. Then I went on with the rest of my day.

That evening I watched a movie with my girlfriend. Then I showed her the picture. That’s when it hit me.

I’ve been asking the man upstairs if he could make me better a loving people, that somehow he would show me how how he feels when he thinks about them. Sometimes I guess its dangerous to ask for things like that. Turns out it can feel sort of unpleasant.

Every time I think about the boy in the red t-shirt a deep pain wells up inside of me. Tears well up in my eyes. While I sit idle on a couch watching movies, fathers lose their families while trying their hardest to save them.

Why does this happen? Why this great unbalance? Why is there such pain halfway around the world? Why does it seem that I can do nothing?

Church, what must we do? I’ve heard that the church struggles with staying relevant. Maybe this is a good place to start. Will we reach out? Will our hearts be troubled? Will our sleep be restless? Will this deep unrest cause us to love more deeply than we ever have before?

I think it must.

Church, let us not be idle. Let our hearts be broken. Let tears roll down our cheeks. No we can’t save the world, but we can damn well play our part. Let us love more deeply and more authentically than we ever have before. Let our feet be led by our hearts to pick up the pieces of our broken world.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns!

In case you’re not up to speed on the Syrian refugee crisis, check out this article in the Globe and Mail.

Worship

I went on a missions trip to Belize last week. The following is a reflection about worship from the beginning of the week.

I’m sitting here in the Belizean hotel getting ready for tomorrow morning. Prepping set lists. Praying. Contemplating. Worrying about the last minute details. Will the powerpoints all work out? How will the sound be?

It’s not like we haven’t done this before. We’ve practiced. Played at churches. We are about as ready as we can be to lead the congregation of the Eagles Nest Baptist Church in worship tomorrow morning as we have every been. Later in the afternoon we’ll play kids songs for the children at the orphanage. Still a little worried on how that’s going to go. But, hey, it’ll be fun right?

Time to back up. Set the details aside. Put the focus where it’s due. What we do tomorrow is not as important as who we do it for. Whether we’re in a church or an orphanage, in front of friends or strangers, in Belize or Canada, our purpose tomorrow is simple.

To kneel down before our Father.

To give Him the praise that He is due. Not because he needs it, but because we know it pleases Him. It is a joyous affair to worship our creator.

We will join with Canadians, Belizians, and everyone in between in offering a humble offering of praise to a King who is most worthy of it.

// revelation 4

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Not Safe… but Good

 “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)

notsafebutgood

What the Church Has Right

I observed the church for a week. I saw enacted before me a vision of the community of believers as it was intended.

People gathered in their weakness. The church does not shy away from mistakes.

People believing even when it seems futile, and being rewarded! God is faithful.

The few who are deeply in love. Almost silent, easy not to notice, but they are the encourager, the faithful.

The struggling, who are silent but loved deeply.

The leaders whose vision is real, and are patient to see their dreams fulfilled. Inspired by Spirit.

The quiet but adventurous, building the kingdom.

The doubting, who still hold on to small strings of faith.

The passionate dreamers, inspired by the believers around them.

Would we work together to build the kingdom. To press on in love to spread the good message of the gospel. To simply love.

God is good. He works through his people. How humbling, how dangerous, but how wonderful.

Stinky Feet and Holy Ground

I’ve been running around a bit. Connecting cables, moving equipment. Responding as fast as I can to the question, “Can you give me a hand with this?” It’s not really stressful, but certainly busy. Being involved in ministry seems to be like that. I’ve been on my feet all day. I’ve been sweating a fair bit. Pretty gross. I think it’s genetics. But that’s not important. Point is, my feet stink.

But enough running around. Two o’clock has made its way to the present. Encounter is about to begin. My body shakes with some sort of unexplainable excitement. Something tells me that God is here.

Almost time to pick up my guitar. Sing some words into a microphone. Present an offering of praise. I hope my feeble attempt at worship will be pleasing to my King.

My thoughts turn to a portion of scripture from 1 John that has captivated me for the past week.

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

How incredible. Not that I loved Him, but that He loved me. I could care less of the dude upstairs. But goodness, he sure cares about me. Am I worthy? Nope. Do I deserve it? Nope.

But he loves me.

He knows me.

I’m empowered. I’m compelled. I must make known this message of love. Probably by loving. That seems to be the message.

I look up to the ceiling of the sanctuary. I feel like I can almost see the spirit of God in a cloud of invisible beauty above me. God is here.

So I slip off my shoes. The faint odour of my stinky feet tingles my nose. I let my socks, damp from the sweat of the day, rest upon the green carpet. My humanness and his Holiness touch.

I now stand on Holy Ground.

I pull up my guitar, and lay my still shaking fingers on the metal strings. I’m ready to worship His majesty.

Not because I loved Him, but because, right from the start, He loved me.

Pursuit

There is no greater mystery then that which we live in. Continually, I find myself dumbfounded by the actions of people, the course of events, and the peculiarities of nature. The harder I look, the more I see, and the less I understand. The simple things often made complex, and the elaborate thesis reduced to a single thought. Throw this in with the mélange of everyday life, deadlines, commitments, expectations, and more often than not, I find myself overwhelmed. To slow it down is hopeless, and to comprehend it is impossible. Continue reading “Pursuit”

The Fate of Humanity

Humanity is doomed. It really has nothing left to give. Perhaps there may be small glimmers of hope, but these do not last, simply fading away with everything else that once was good. We go about our days working a global economy that relies on the backs of slaves around the world. Millions of people lie homeless while a few desolate, confused people hold wealth that they don’t know what to do with. Immorality is prevalent in society, as people forsake morals for ideas like “relativism.” Right and wrong, good and bad, the lines between them becoming ever more faint with each passing day. Continue reading “The Fate of Humanity”