Monday, January 17, 2011

See You Soon

Leilani got some new fishies (that's what she calls them) and a tank for Christmas this year. Being an animal lover, I relish the opportunity to foster this same love in her. And she has it. She loves sitting and watching them do their thing, feeding them, and talking to them.

But even being a little kid, she can teach me something about perspective.

Sometimes, like when we want her to wear nice shoes instead of her rubber boots to church, she'll throw a tantrum, collapse on the floor, cry for 10 minutes, and not understand the true importance of things like time and perspective. There are other times, however, when she can teach me a thing or two.

Last week, one of her fishies got caught behind the filter and died. When I found it, I was sad. Not too sad, but definitely a little. I got the fish out, and wanted everyone to look at the poor little fish, see how beautiful it was, feel the sadness of a life cut short.

Jennie-Lynne had no need to examine the fish along with her feelings. It was a fish. And she had no feelings. Leilani had more heart, and at least looked at the fish with me and wanted to poke it, perhaps with the desire of resuscitating it back to life. I know I wished to do the same, and looked closely over and over hoping to see some movement that would prove the foregone conclusion wrong.

So after examining our hearts, and realizing there was no saving this tetra, Leilani said she wanted to come with me to the toilet where we would say goodbye to our fishy. When we got there, she turned the fish net upside down, and with a couple taps on the seat, set the little fishy free into the cold, lonely waters of the toilet.

At this point, I was ready to wait a few moments, hopefully see the tetra spark to life with the shock of the cold water, and if not, say some poignant words to close out and memorialize this fishy's wonderful life.

Leilani was not in the same mindset.

As soon as the fish hit the water, she reached for the handle and flushed the poor thing down!! As it started to swirl around and around, she waved and said, "Bye bye fishy, see you soon."

I love seeing life through a child's eyes. Sometimes they can teach us so much. Although Leilani loves her fishies, and loves all animals, she does not yet have the awareness of losing something and never seeing it again. Often, things she says goodbye too she does in fact get to see again. And other things, she simply forgets about. Sometimes, we blow things out of proportion, and I was doing this with the fish. And there are many things in life that I lose perspective on and give too much importance.

This funny story relates to a great talk I heard by Andy Stanley from this year's Passion Conference. He talked about APPETITE, and how our appetites will either be ruled by us or will rule us. He talked about how when an appetite grabs our attention, we lose perspective on everything else, and that particular need is magnified out of proportion. In fact, this magnification is what psychologists call 'Impact Bias' and is a physiological fact. When an appetite is magnified, our brains literally change as energy is focused toward getting that particular need met. Everything else becomes blurry and of less importance.

Although the story of the fish is just a funny anecdote, and I wasn't really all that wrapped up in it, Leilani's perspective still gave me a lesson on how sometimes we put too much focus or energy into the wrong things.

May you, today, find that you are a master of your appetites, fulfilling those that are placed in healthy things while shifting away from those that cause damage. May you not lose focus on the good, the true, and the right.


PS. Here is the link to a Andy Stanley's great talk. I highly recommend it, but it is about 45 minutes long so set aside some time. I think it's worth it.

PPS. As I finish writing this, Leilani is crying about not wanting to sit in her highchair for lunch. Everything Mommy offers her for lunch is met with more tears and more "no ways" because she has gotten to that point where she has lost perspective, can't even remember what it is she wants, but knows it's not what Mommy has to offer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Update

Well everyone knows I am not the best blogger. Too much other stuff to do, and facebook provides a far easier way to spread the news. However, I think this blog is a great place for more extended updates, and I've got news to share, so here goes!

FAMILY
Leilani is now 2.25 years old! It has happened so fast, with lots of fun and challenges along the way. She is a darling little girl who surprises us daily with a new word, phrase, or action. My favourite over the last couple months was when she came out of the bathroom after a couple minutes alone, with mommy's makeup on either side of her mouth and dotted on her nose, saying "cat!" She had dressed up as a cat for Halloween, and a week later, decided she wanted to do it again. So cute!

TRANSPORTATION
Although it seems like boring news, this area of my life has changed quite a bit lately. In September, the insurance for my bike was up, and because of a lack of funds and a maxxing out of our credit, I had to park Ebony indefinitely. Without my motorbike, I had to switch to using my bicycle more often. I enjoyed that most days, though the rain can be annoying. However, both JL's and my bike got stolen a couple weeks ago :( So now I'm back to my main transportation option from 2003: my longboard! If you see me humming along, make sure to give me a honk!

EDUCATION
I'm done!! Well, not completely, but kind of. I have completed all my classes and have only my thesis to finish. It seems like not long ago I was writing my pros and cons list for some education options up here on this blog, and now I'm just a few months from being done it all. Just 18 months after starting my Masters at UVic, I'm already at this stage. I really can't believe it. Jennie-Lynne has endured a lot to make this happen, and I'm so thankful for her support. I also want to thank all those friends and family members that have sacrificed Andy-time to help make this happen. It's been a huge blessing in my life, so thanks for your prayers as well!

WORK
So this is the really big news. I have decided that this is going to be my last year as the Youth Pastor at Lambrick Park Church. JL and I have thought about this for a long time, and we've decided that I will be resigning in June of 2011. We are really excited about the next season of our life, as our entire marriage has been wrapped up in life at Lambrick. It's been an amazing, 6.5 years, with so many blessings and challenges, but we feel it's a great time to make a change as the kids I started with who were in Grade 6 are now graduating. I am thankful for God's protection over the years, as many people leave ministry under worse conditions. We love Him, His Church, my coworkers, and the ministry. I will miss the youth and my youth leaders the most, but if we find a job in Victoria we'll remain a part of LPC. I do hope to find a job working with youth in some way, but just not in a church right now. Again, I want to thank all friends and family who have prayed for us over the years, and ask for more prayers as we seek God's direction for the future. We are confident He has led us to this decision for a reason, so now it's exciting to see where He'll lead now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Prodigal Trilogy

This past Sunday night (July 11) I spoke at The Place on Luke 15. Instead of doing the classic 30 minute speech, I chose to let someone who I met 3 years ago do the talking. I shared the video done by Jason Hildebrand, called 'The Prodigal Trilogy.'

The point of Luke 15 is that Jesus came "to seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10), and He told these stories to expound on that mission and to point out the need to celebrate people being found by God.

However, Jason brings out so many points with his writing and acting, that I felt it much more valuable to have him share and let others get what they wanted from it. I have heard from many that they were thankful for my different approach to the evening, and very encouraged if not provoked by Jason's storytelling. Many have asked how they can get a hold of his videos. Because Jason makes a living off of his creative work, they are only available on his website. I would suggest his 'Blue Like Jazz' which has been endorsed by Donald Miller as well (get the combo package for savings). I have a copy of 'The Prodigal Trilogy' people can borrow, and I may buy another to have on hand at the church as well.

People have also asked for the questions that I put up to inspire deeper thinking following each video. These were not meant to restrict, and didn't cover all of the emotions or ideas Jason touched on, but they were meant as a starting point for those struggling to engage his material on their own. Anyways, here they are:

The Younger Son
- How have I been a restless spirit?
- How does this monologue alter my view of others?
- Have I had similar inner struggles to this younger son?
- What embrace have I fought?

The Older Son
- What do I feel entitled to?
- Do I have a problem of pride, arrogance, or self-righteousness?
- What are my motives for staying and serving in the Father’s house?
- What do I have to release in order to be found?
- What am I trying to prove with my work?

The Father
- What does this character teach me about God?
- What does this character teach me about myself or about being a parent?
- Who or what do I need to release control of?
- How can I reach out to welcome the younger and older brothers to the celebration?

Conclusion
- Which role in the story do I relate to most?
- How does the story allow me to relate to others in a different way?
- What have I learned about God? Myself?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some Thoughts

Good Stuff
- A friend passed on this post by Donald Miller, which not only struck me as wise insight but also relating to the recent talk I just gave at The Place. Check it out if you want advice on how to make positive changes in your life, character, or faith.

Bad Stuff
- I spent last week up island with my family, reading and writing a sermon. I didn't have internet. It was a connection that I missed, but was also thankful for the time away to not be distracted. In the weeks (months? year?) before, I had spent less time on Facebook, only going on to check messages and write back to people. Plus the odd status update that almost always related to work and inviting youth out to events. But this week, after a full week away, I for some reason have jumped back on full steam. I'm commenting on a lot of other people's status' and posts, and just wasting time. I need to stop. I think I'll take Donald Miller's advice above.

Undecided Stuff?
- One of the things I have been discussing on Facebook was the recent incident involving Victoria Police and potential excessive force used to quell a drunken downtown brawl. Police officers happened upon 8 men kicking and beating one unconscious man lying on the sidewalk. They immediately threw in the pepper spray to dislodge the group, and started rounding up the offenders. One cop in particular laid down some pretty big kicks and knees to force people into submission in order to be cuffed. I personally think that sometimes this technique is necessary. When there's a potential riot on their hands, police need to be able to use greater force to get the job done quickly. I do think that the one police officer went too far. But I think he barely over stepped what was necessary or reasonable. The kicks look too forceful. The knees a little too quickly administered after the warnings. But again, I do feel that this behaviour is not over the line in some circumstances. Whether he deserves some time away from the job and some anger management courses is no doubt. But some are calling for assault charges and are heavily angered by this use of force. I disagree.
Here's a link to a recent story talking about use of force and the fact that police officers are actually trained to kick and punch under some circumstances.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sermonating

Last Sunday I spoke to about 300 people at The Place regarding Luke 18. I focused on the parable of the 2 praying men (pharisee & tax collector), the babies being brought to Jesus, and the rich young ruler. My main points were:
  1. Jesus calls us to let go of anything that hinders our ability to hold on to Jesus completely (can't grab hold with both hands if your hands are full of cash or toys or...).
  2. We can do nothing to earn our way into the Kingdom of God. Nothing. Jesus says babies are our best example, and I think that is because they can't try to do anything. They just receive care. They feed off of their mothers. They do nothing of their own accord except to cry for help. We too often TRY and prove our own merit and value to the Kingdom, and Jesus calls us to just bring our dirty nasty serves and cry for help. That is it. Our best efforts of proving our worth are just attempts anyways, as they'll never be good enough. Come to Jesus with yourself and He'll do what is impossible for us to do. Can we do it? Can I do it?
If you want to read or listen to the whole thing, then you can grab it here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Almost a Year!

Yup, that's right. It's almost been a year since I've been on here. Almost.

But I didn't let it get to that anniversary point, so I count that as a victory. I could just let this blog drift into the horizon like so many others, but maybe it's worth keeping going. Who knows. I guess you all (who are you anyways?) will know in a few years.

Regardless, here's a couple quick updates, alike to my friend's Sarah Pee's recent list:

HOME
Leilani: Still growing (almost 1.5 years). Whining often. Still very cute.
JL: Feeling the need to hobby and adventure. Sewing and Mexico fit the bill perhaps?
Calla Lily: Still biting. Sometimes cute.
House: No more renos! Well, not now for lack of money & time. Lawn needs mowing.

WORK
Youth: Still the best part of the job. Number are interested in Baptism. Pretty stoked.
Teaching: Spending a lot of time on Matt. 7:13-14 - encouraging youth to take that narrow path each day, and telling stories of those who have.
Leaders: Been a little disappointed with a few and lack of commitment. Others (like Keenan & Sarah) are awesome.
Church Leadership: Not really a part of that right now, but they're working hard.
Future: Not sure. Not eager to be planning multiple weekly events anymore. Never was. But still love being part of my kids lives.

OTHER
School: Going great. Getting good grades and half done courses for degree. Have to get approval for research soon. Have to stop procrastinating on paper I'm currently writing.
Family: Mom's heading down to Arizona with the band. Dad's taking care of Nana. Chris is 2 months from marrying Amy. Greg & he just finished curling. And Jenny is back in Vic for in Vic for a short time as she makes some pretty big decisions. Love them all!
Camp: Right in the middle of huge step: purchasing Mesachie Mountain. Big changes ahead I feel. Much prayer needed.
Health: Still not exercising regularly. I suck.
Spiritual: Some up, some down. Reading Buchanan's "Things Unseen" - easy read but really valuable. Also reading Lewis' "The Great Divorce" with our group. Between the two, thinking lots about heaven and the spiritual realm we are so often blinded to.

Okay, that's all I got for now. Sure there's stuff I'm forgetting, but gotta get back to this paper. I'll add a pick of Leilani to bring some life to this update.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Further Updates

Haven't written in a couple weeks. Not keeping up with my hope of writing more often. However, I have been killer busy with work the last while and just haven't had the time for extras, so I feel sufficiently excused. If you disagree, then you can keep it to yourself. :)

Wanted to let you know that... I got accepted to UVic for my Masters in Leadership Studies! I'm pretty excited about this. For some reason, I am really surprised because I had a feeling it wasn't gonna go this way. I have generally been accepted for everything I've ever applied to so I figured this was the one that would swing the other way. But I guess not, as I got informed earlier this week that I would be starting up my studies in May and entering another new path in my graduate studies hike. I hope this one ends soon with a degree on the other side.

In other good news, the Lambrick leadership has agreed that my studies at UVic are in fact ministry relevant and will be so valuable to what I do here at LPC that they'll be helping to pay for my degree. If it takes me 3 years to complete, they'll pitch in about half of the $9000. I'm so thankful for all the leaders who discerned that this step forward for me was valuable for the church as well.

As for other updates, I just got back last night from the 5th annual LPC Youth Work Camp up at Imadene. It was a great time and our youth worked very hard, even though it was snowing. I'm proud of these guys every year and this was no exception. Great work youth! Leilani and JL also came up to visit with us and it was great to have them along for the first time to Work Camp. Trips are always better with my family along for the ride.

My parents are almost done their trip in China, and they seem to have had a great time. They're there with the Reynolds Senior band and the kids are having a great time too. My dad climbed 1400+ stairs on the Great Wall with some of the students and was sore for a couple days afterward. They say the smog in some areas is literally unbelievable.

And that's about all for now. Hope that gets you 'updated' on all things Andy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Update

I wanted to say thanks to many friends for giving me their suggestions and thoughts into what I should aim for regarding my future education. All of your comments we're insightful and valuable in my deliberations.

The update is that I have in fact applied for a MEd in Leadership Studies at UVic (which I'll transfer to an MA after I find a supervisor for my thesis). However, getting accepted is a whole other matter. We'll see what the Faculty of Graduate Studies has to say about my odd academic history, and hope that my vocational experience and glimmers of excellence (12 A+'s, but also 9 N's or F's) tweak their hearts.

In other news, I have been asked how my meditation on Ephesians 4 is going. Well, I'd say. Not great though. I kind of got caught up around verse 27 and have struggled to nail down those last few verses. But it's still permeating my mind, and I've found it very valuable. I've also jumped on some other passages and stuck them up their in the head as well. I thank God for the reminder to be dwelling on Him and writing His Word on my heart.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What To Do?

I graduated from my undergrad in 2003. I immediately applied at Acts Seminary at Trinity Western University and began a Masters of Arts in Christian Studies there. After one course (Intro to NT Greek - B+), and learning that Masters courses I was beginning in Victoria were transferable to Regent College and not to Acts, I switched schools. I enrolled as a student at Regent, with the intention of attaining my Masters of Christian Studies in Applied Theology, but didn't actually apply to that program as I knew it would take longer than the 5 year maximum they allowed.

I took four Applied Theology courses in Vic over 2 years, but did not get credit for them as I didn't have the money to put into it. Plus, I'm always eager to get free education :) I have taken 2 courses (5 credits) at Regent, where each credit costs about $500. I need 60 credits to graduate, so not only do I have a long way to go, but $$MONEY$$!!!!

So, that's where I've been, and lately I've been trying to figure out where to go now. I have looked at various options over the years, and have generally not decided much. A year ago, before JL and I found out Leilani was coming to visit, I decided that doing the Arrow Leadership Program (which gets me credits with Regent, but not many) would be the best initial move forward. But I've recently been encouraged to take an MA in Leadership with Royal Roads or UVic instead. So now there's lots of options.

I'm writing all this, not to bore you (you can stop reading anytime you feel, and move along with your day), but rather to inform you about my life and ask your opinion of 'what to do?' (note title). Below is a list of pros and cons for each option I'm currently looking at. Feel free to pass along your thoughts, or any further options you may suggest for my consideration.

Regent College MCS:
+ Great reputation within church (good cred if I remain pastor for life)
+ LPC will give me ~$1500 for courses
+ I'm already in this program
+ Lots of freedom in my degree, which allows me to take courses I enjoy
- EXPENSIVE
- Will take me at least 5 years, probably more to complete
- Related to above, no real end in site has been bad in past for Andy (including with education)
- Not as well recognized outside of church (what if I am not pastoring?)
- Still not sure how to meet residency requirements (doing on-site courses)

Arrow Leadership Program:
+ Great support among other Christians in cohort
+ Counts for credits toward Regent degree (not many, but a few)
+ I get a scholarship and LPC will probably give me money as well (still $4500 out of my own pocket)
+ Only 2 years
+ Good reputation within some church circles
+ Supposedly really good (and devastating) for personal awareness and spiritual life
- Takes 2 years, and then I still have 3+ years left to get actual Masters degree
- Quite a lot of money considering what credits I get
- Hesitation in past has been my disagreement with leadership philosophy of Arrow CEO (also a prof)

MA in Leadership Studies at UVic:
+ Comparably really cheap compared to other degree options (about $9-10K total)
+ Walk away in 2-3 years with a Masters degree
+ Good reputation everywhere (not JUST Christian agencies)
+ Great learning, more academic than Arrow
+ A foreseeable end in sight... very good for Andy
+ Thesis option allows for future in academia (not currently a big priority for me)
- Possibly no financial help from LPC
- Possibly not recognized as equivalent to Masters at seminary for LPC or other church
- Have to apply and get accepted!
- Not Christ-focused (a con suggested by a mentor, though I think this has value too)

MA in Leadership at Royal Roads:
Same as above except
+ Lower admission requirements mean I should be a lock to get in
- Twice the price of UVic
- No thesis option

And that's that. Thanks for helping me with going through this process.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Little Update

I've been meditating on Ephesians 4 lately. Here's a bit from memory:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live lives worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called. One Lord, one faith, and one baptism, one God the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train, and gave gifts to men." What does "he ascended" mean if he had not also descended to the lower, earthly regions?

That's about it for now. Check up on me if you want :) Hope it allows you to meditate a little on it too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How Far Will It Go?

Here's a story for you. A 60 year-old woman has just given birth to twins in Calgary. My thoughts below, may be offensive to some, so I apologize now if that's the case. Maybe stop reading now if you prefer. But I still want to share.

Now I have no problems with older people having children. If you get pregnant then that's life, and God be with you. And I have no problem with older people choosing to raise kids either. I am aware of a semi-retired couple that has just adopted their grandchild because their daughter is incapable of caring for the child who is fighting an infant addiction to many hard drugs. I think it's not only commendable what they are doing, but I also pray fervently that God will be with them and bless them in this incredibly hard task.

What I have been thinking about recently is the assisted pregnancy our country has normalized. Now this takes many forms, from simply helping the parents gametes not fight each other off, to in vitro fertilization with ones own embryos, to the same IVF but with donor embryos, etc. So many variables. I am not necessarily against them all. I have a friend who is currently carrying the child of a couple who was unable to get pregnant themselves. She has done an honourable thing, and I am proud of her, but I still question (not 'decided') the ethics of it all.

Paul said everything is permissible, but not all things are beneficial. Just cause we can, doesn't mean we should. The medical world has jumped leaps and bounds in the last 30 years in what can be done for assisted pregnancy, which is great for science. But is it right?

The two main concerns I have are (and notice I'm staying away from the theological - just don't know regarding that):

1) What about adoption? Are there not enough children in our world that if having a child is hard for us, can't we try loving and caring for another's natural child? Two friends that have adopted have shared interesting thoughts with me recently. The first is a woman who adopted after having multiple miscarriages. She says she knows her children (3) were born in her heart, and she regularly forgets they were not born of her body as well. Interesting. The second is a friend who made the choice to adopt rather than have natural children (which he and his wife use careful protection to inhibit). He says he is shocked and saddened that people always presume and offer apology for the fact that they can't have 'natural' children and HAVE to adopt. Some people even suggest IVF as a better option. His experience shows that adoption is sometimes even frowned upon, including in the church community. What?!

As people who have decided to walk down the road of adoption and see where God takes us, JL and I are excited to learn about what God is going to do through us and teach us in this somewhat isolated community. I'm excited as to how it will further influence my thoughts on IVF and other assisted pregnancy options.

2) Healthcare costs. Having children is expensive. In every way. It is very expensive for our healthcare system. But our country desires for our nation to produce more children, so it's worth it. It's always worth it.

However, the cost exponentially increases with children who have health irregularities at birth or who are premature. And with assisted pregnancies, the chances of these goes up exponentially as well. IVF regularly (around 50%) results in multiple pregnancies (twins+), which almost always result in pre-term births (the rate of preterm births in multiple births babies is 17 times higher than single babies). In Canada, a normal weight, single birth child costs our system about $1000 by the time it goes home (after a couple days). With additional health concerns for pre-term babies, the cost goes up quickly. It is suggested a pre-term baby born before 6 months costs well over $100,000 to our system before it leaves the hospital. The average cost for per-term babies was a lot less however, but still 12 times the normal cost at over $12,000.

Now sometimes per-term births cannot be avoided, and I obviously believe we need to care for any child born in Canada. But, should we look at controlling IVF and other assisted pregnancy options that regularly (over 80%) lead to pre-term and/or multiple births? Or what about the woman in the above article, who was deemed too old to be eligible for IVF in Canada, so went and paid for it in India and then returned to Canada for the free care? Does the taxpayer have the obligation to care for these people? Well, ethically, yes. But should we look into it a bit more. I think so.

Well, those are some of my thoughts. I think this will gradually become more and more of a concern for Canada (especially with universal health care) and you'll see it as a hot topic on a political stage near you. Best to do some research and get your opinion ready cause someone may be asking for it soon.

Sorry again if I offend anyone. Please be gracious.

Here are some resources you may found valuable in thinking through this all:
Recent Can. Press article
Article on recent Canadian Institute for Health Study
Victoria's Fertility Centre

Monday, February 2, 2009

On the Move Again

This past year's been a tough one on my body. Not only am I just getting older, and that's hard enough, but I've had some injuries that have put me up longer than hoped for.

The first was an ATVing accident that was 100% my fault, as I pushed the boundaries of what that Quad could do and felt what it was like to fly. Concussion, whiplash, some cuts and bruises were the minor problems. The back pain lingered longer and eventually required some physio treatments and a trip to a Chinese medicine-man who worked this magic on me by beating the junk out of my back, neck, and shoulder. The worst part was that I tore the two menisci in my left knee. MRI's, sports doctors, and physiotherapists worked on that to get it back in shape, but it was 3 months before I could walk without discomfort and 4 months till I got the go ahead for normal exercise.

That was around late October. Unfortunately, after going to the gym for a few weeks, the next hit came. In November, I was walking down the stairs with Leilani, and the stairs fought back. Now, I always have trouble with stairs, and especially the ones in my house. I fell down them every other day for the first 6 months we lived here. Now that we're almost 3 years in, I do a lot better. But I knew my time would come when my daughter and I took a tumble together. Fortunately, I was able to sacrifice my body to keep Leilani safe. She was fine, but my left foot and ankle were not. Two months later, I'm finally feeling confident to get back to exercise.

So, I'm on the move again. I've been exercising the last few weeks, but it's all involved lifting weights and doing action on the floor that doesn't involve my foot. But now I'm taking the plunge and gonna start hitting the pavement again. I hope to complete my first run this week (complete with ankle brace of course). Short, but hopefully sweet. And come April 26th, I hope to be able to make 10km cause I'm signing up for the Times Colonist run. Really excited actually. Haven't done that since 2001 or something, so I'm eager to try it again. I have NO idea what kind of time my old and injured body will be able to muster, but I'm hoping for at least under 50 minutes. I regularly ran 40-42 minute 10km as an 11 year old so 50 minutes shouldn't be too much of a stretch. I know I can handle the pace, but can my foot handle the distance. Ah well, we'll see!

Check back to hear the report.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ephesians 4

Over the last year (at least), I have increasingly realized my tendency toward gossip.

For many years now, I have liked to talk. I talk way too much. I've wanted to listen more, but for some reason, I struggle to do so. It's a lack of focus at times, a restlessness at others, and just plain old selfishness most of the time I'm sure. Lord, help me with this...

But the gossip, well that HAS to go. I get talking, start storytelling, and usually in an aim to spread some humour, the stuff just starts rolling off my tongue. I often realize it part way through, and only a couple times have I been able to stop it midstream. I need to submit to this.

The worst part of gossip is that it's almost always done to puff up yourself. I'm not usually trying to do this, but subconsciously my mind/tongue goes there. Clearly I feel the need to do this for some reason, and that shows me I am not finding my confidence in Christ. Two words, one phrase: Not Good!

So, what to do? Well, I've always enjoyed Ephesians (which my fingers keep automatically spelling Ephesiance for some reason!) chapter 4. Unity in the Body. Living as Jesus would have us. Good stuff. The first chunk is important to remember when you realize you're talking bad about others. But the last paragraph hits much harder. Look it up. It's elemental.

So I think a good place to start on this journey toward a cleaner tongue (well, I've started already, but each day is a new start and today I put a stake in the ground and mark out my trail once again) is to memorize this. Ephesians (did it again!) 4. The whole thing. Dang, why'd I type that. I've never been able to memorize a whole chapter except a couple Psalms like 150 which are short and repetitive. What have I done?!

Okay, well, in God's grace and for His glory and toward my cleaner tongue, I will push forward on this journey. Ephesians 4, one verse at a time (a day?), you are mine. By March 1st I should have you mastered. If only my gossip would leave me that quick.

Please pray for me...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Comparison

I happened across something today.

A rare opportunity to compare two things.

Two things that are so alike, but yet so different.

Two things that almost never end up side by side.

And it made me smile.





Here are the pics I took to 'record' the comparison.

These 'machines' are both 3 years old, making them potentially archaic based on their industry, but one still functions fantastically. The other has new versions, slightly smaller, but nothing like the other.

I hope you enjoy the comparison yourself.

The battle between the smallest desktops of their time: the Mac Mini vs. the Dell Mini.

See you for yourself, I hope you smile too...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Women in Leadership

A few days ago, a friend and co-labourer asked me my thoughts on women in eldership. He figured I was well-read and researched on the subject. I am not.

However, I have spent time chatting with friends and other pastors, and poured over Scripture as relating to this subject. Below, you will find my very rushed, unedited (read the 'About Me' to the left), and potentially calloused response to him. I'd love feedback and thoughts in order to move myself and the Church forward in this thinking.

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In my mind, the whole of the Biblical text shows how holding to the truth of one specific word is not the intention of the Word. God doesn't necessarily change, but His will and desire for a people changes, especially as that people group goes through change. When Abraham came to Canaan, God wanted him to dwell alongside the people in tents. When the Israelites came back, He wanted them to rid the region of the Canaanites so as to not be ruined by their paganism. When Saul stretched the boundaries of the Kingdom, He wanted something of the same. When the Israelites failed in these things, He wanted them to live in captivity of another nation and still hold true to Him. When they returned, He wanted them to live in peace with their neighbours. When the Romans ruled, He wanted to begin a war of heart redemption, not of violence. etc....

The point being, God's will for us depends on the time, place, culture, people involved, and witness. He's always very concerned about what our lives and actions will say to our neighbours. When the rule of law was violence, He was willing to work within that framework.

I believe there were some New Testament communities for which Jesus' message and plan of no Gentile, no female, no slave, etc. was too hard to handle. Paul recommended these churches remain with what they could handle so as to remain in love and therefore give the best witness to the community. Some NT communities could handle it, so Paul celebrated with them and acknowledged the women who were in leadership of the community. It was also a cold hard fact that women did not have the time in the synagogue that men did, they didn't have the experience (or opportunity) to pour over the Scriptures, nor educate themselves in other ways. I can understand that they needed time before they could 'teach/lead' in order to get their wisdom/knowledge up to speed so to speak.

Today, not only are we 2000 years down the road of hearing Jesus' message, but lots of things have changed. Men were able to keep women out of leadership and education for a long time, but over the last 100 years, women in the West have received the same upbringing. The culture around us in North America now expects and practices equality (on almost all grounds). For us to not practice it, what kind of witness are we showing?

What would God's will be for us? To continue to subjugate women, and by doing so within this context/culture, disrespect and disenfranchise them? I can't imagine that He wants that. In our culture, we deem inequality a form of oppression, tyranny. But why do we stand up for "men being the head of the household and leadership of the church" in an oppressive way? Because it's men who have the power now, and it has to be their decision to see Scripture in a different light and give up that power. That can be hard to do for those who have thought the same way for 50+ years.

So ya, in my mind, men are the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the Church. We need to be an example worthy of following, and be willing to not only take the blame for our family but lay down our lives for them. It doesn't mean we have to or get to make all the decisions unilaterally.

In the church, I believe we should not only practice equality, but also humility. In humbleness, how about we submit to God, ask Him if women should/could be involved in leadership, step forward in faith, and see how He leads us. If He shows us that our moves are wrong (and not just by the strong, conservative men - and their families - leaving the church), and we need to believe that He can make that clear if He desires, then we step back. Move forward with that honest and authentic humbleness to God and each other, everyone knowing you're stepping out in faith. My experience of having women teach (allowed in our church) has been a tremendous blessing and value to our spiritual life. Would God work in this way if He was so against it? Can we move to allow women serve as Elders of the community too (which my church does not allow)?

I have experienced leadership groups with and without women. I personally have seen the tremendous value in having the varied opinions in the room. I believe that men and women's hearts and minds together better represent the heart and mind of God. But I don't have the time to get into that side of the argument...