A Voice

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bless me, father, for I have not blogged! It has been months since my last entry. Please have mercy.
That's me seeking absolution for being a derelict blogger. I guess I'm just not into the habit...but I hope to be soon.

Anyway, I've been busy recently and I find myself being a little more picky about what I spend my time doing...but on the other hand there's a strong temptation to procrastinate as well. Strange how that works. Just when you need to be efficient and do what needs to be done every bone in your body cries out, "run away, run away"! But at the end of the day, all that has happens is the proverbial ostrich head-burying. It's still there - that thing you need to do, that person you need to call, those 5000 emails you have to respond to! It can seem overwhelming.

I've been thinking recently about where my strength is - especially when I collapse at the end of the day in a heap! Those who hope/trust/wait on the Lord (Yahweh - the one who made all that exists) will find that they have renewed strength. Soaring like eagles...walking without fainting. That's what God says. Oh, to realize that kind of strength! But I, well, I find myself pressing, more often than not, using my own strength to do what I think I need to do. Boy, what screwed up priorities...what messed up priorities! I, I, I, I - where's the focus? "Seek first My kingdom", God says, "and you'll have all you really need". It's as if He says, "run after me and my priorities; getting to know me and the way I think; not building your own little castle in the sand but my indestructible kingdom...I know what you really need and what you really need to be doing, so why don't you ask"?

So, here I am at my computer committing myself yet again to God's priorities and to asking him to remind me what they are. I can't be truly effective in my own strength...I need a power that I don't possess in myself. But God knows me better than I know myself - he made me - and he says that if I trust him my strength will be renewed...with His strength, the very power of Christ, filling me! That same power that filled Jesus with resurrection life fills me! Wow, God, let this be true for me...may your spirit, power, and priorities fill me today and everyday.

I praise you. I trust you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hello all!

I wanted to pass on a huge word of thanks to all those who have supported me through the process of my ordination preparation. One never knows how an examination is going to take shape and as such I went in realizing that I had worked hard but also knowing I didn't have it all together. As I went into my interview I prayed, "Lord you know what I know and don't know. And you know your plans for me. Would you guide me?" And He did, He did, He did!! My interview felt like a beautiful conversation with and about our Lord and at the end I looked at my watch and couldn't believe it was over! There were some hard questions, for sure, but I feel I was able to answer both honestly and well. The long of the short is that I did well and was told that they will ordain me (I passed)...thank you so much for all your prayers and for all those who have helped in many ways to make this a reality!

May God be praised!!



Friday, June 08, 2007

Well, I just thought I should give an update on how things were going with the bike because people have asked. I went back to "Spokes" and picked up my bike and took it over to the Bicycle Cafe (I think that's what the name is) as their tune up cost is cheeper and, from everything I've heard, do a good job. Anyway, I'm going to pick up my bike this afternoon and am hopeful that it should be ready to ride. The plan to ride to work is back on line! I decided not to buy the $200 bike (from Spokes) as the upgrade costs (new seat needed and few other things) would have costed up to $100 extra. So it's back to my beloved garage sale bike! Here we go!

You know what I found interesting as I walked into the Bicycle Cafe? Before I sheepishly brought in my poor bike I went into the store I went in to scout out the land. How much are the new seats, how much are tune ups, and (I thought about this one) do I like working with these people? The financial stuff was important to me, but the last one was what I was really getting at.

I've realized something about myself recently. Quality, connection and relationship is more important to me than price. I go to Safeway not because of the price (because they are arguably more expensive) but because I love the layout of the store, per unit pricing, quality of the produce, and personel. I had to think about this. Is it being extravagent? Hmmm. I came to the conclusion that we all have choices to make regarding the resources we've been given. And our choices reflect our values. So, it really is in line with my values. Believe it or not, this is not an ad for Safeway! It was just the place where I started to think about what I value.

So what does this have to do with the bike shop? Well, I got along really well with the people in the shop and they didn't come across as hot shots. They didn't look down on my bike as one which deserved only to live in the junkyard, but helped me to make it the best it can be. I'm still going to need to get a newer bike if I take this seriously, but for now I appreciate their help with my baby.

So what have I learned from all this? I think there's one main idea...

...My choices spring from my values. So, how does this affect every area of my life? We can really look at this in two ways - one looking at the cause and the other, the effect. What do I mean?

1) (Looking at the effect)

I think if we look at our choices closely we'll be able to see what we value in life. Why do we choose to spend that money on one thing or another? Or maybe more importantly, why do we spend our time on one activity over another? I think this can help us to see where we're really at rather than what we wish were the case.

2) (Looking at the cause)

If I look at my faith and the real life-changing nature of it, how does this affect change in every area of the life I lead? I think this is an important question for us to ask ourselves, not just when we're in the church building but when we're in the bike, meat, or computer shop. How does this incredibly good news that the kingdom of God is here affect every area? Am I looking around me each day to see where the one true God is active? Am I reflecting His values? Wow, so many questions...

Lord God of heaven and earth...and the one who is my Father...you know my heart and understand how values are worked out in my life. Holy Spirit would you fill my thoughts with the thoughts of my Saviour Jesus Christ and may my every action resemble his nature!

Matthew 7:16By their fruit you will recognize them.

John 15:4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Well, no deep thoughts today, just a little about my morning. My wife got called in to teach this morning so I found myself without wheels - that is, not including the 2 bikes hanging in our garage...the ones we got at garage sales. At least they should get me to work, right? That's what I was thinking last week as I peered up at them…should last the summer. Ya, I've been meaning to get back in shape and this is a great way to do that! OK, I'm going to start riding to work, I thought!

So, I went out and bought a helmet and hopped on my bike, ready to conquer this new, but fun, challenge. It was then that I realized that my brakes were shot. The pads were fine but the cables needed adjustment. Harumph! At that point (last week) Liz was still at home and was able to take me to work, so hey, no worries, right? Right. That's OK, I thought, I'll take the bike in for a tune up. That's cheep. And then I'll be ready to go!

Enter today. As we lay in bed early this morning after a call from the school district office I thought, How am I going to get to work? Aha…take the bike to the bike shop this morning, then go to work!! So, I got all my things into a backpack (I’m not used to reducing like this…but it’s a good challenge) and then hopped onto my bike…well, actually, I walked beside my bike (remember the brakes) down to the bus. The bus arrived within 15 minutes and after a little tugging and pulling and then reading what I needed to do I put my bike on the bus’ bike rack making sure to secure it (thoughts of it popping off and the bus running over my precious filled my mind). 15 minutes later I was downtown at the interchange and I thought, “it’s just a straight shot to the bike store…no hills”. So off I went, carefully riding down the street, being careful I didn’t need to make any sudden stops!

Then, within 15 minutes I was at the bike store – all happy that I was now going to be able to ride my bike regularly! This elation fizzled quickly when the guy in the repair shop (though he did not show it, I know he thought this machine was far beneath him) told me that the tune-up would be $40 labour (plus parts if necessary) and the new seat would be $50+ (I felt that as I rode to the store). Then as I described what I would be doing with it (riding up and down the hill, to and from work), he said that my beautifully polished aluminum wheels and the simple cable braking system would not be that safe. He said, You could do it, but... Woah! I hadn’t planned on replacing everything, I just wanted a cheep little tune-up! My mind went to the prices I’d seen on the bikes upstairs. $1000+ for bikes? You’ve got to be kidding! I’ve never even paid $100! Do you have any used bikes, I said. Well, it turns out they have a few and there’s one there that looks like it could really do the trick and it’s going for $200! Why should I be so excited? It’s more than double what I’ve ever paid for a bike!! But it’s a fraction of the cost of other bikes. Well…I’m still thinking about it. I’ll probably cave in and buy it. But it needs a new seat too! Argh!

Anyway, after I extricated myself from their clutches (they still have my bike), I decided to walk to work. Finally, 15 minutes later, I was at work…sweat glistening on my brow (ya, right) and soaking through my shirt. Hot day! Great start! Hmmm.

But I got to thinking about what I can learn. Well...
1) as those great theologians, the Stones, say, “you can’t always get what you want”. How do I handle inconvenience or adversity? Do I allow myself to get terribly wound up because things haven’t worked out the way that I wanted, or can I realize that God may have another plan and do I ask him what that might be? He knows what we need and his way is better. I don’t know what His will is regarding my bike and transportation yet, but I’ll keep asking.
2) I need to survey the land a little more before I put up the building. Take the bike down to the shop on the weekend and ask if this is road worthy. This is good planning. Planning, not worrying. Ah, we live and learn.
3) I think the biggest thing is that I need to slow down sometimes. This morning was lived in 15 minute increments with lots of time to think as I sat on the bus, ride to the bike shop, waited to have my bike looked at and walked to work. I so often rush from here to there only thinking of productivity. I am not downplaying being productive, but how much time do I take to think, pray, meditate? Not enough, I must say.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. (Luke 12:22-23)
Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)


Friday, March 09, 2007

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17

I was think about talent, performance and accolades earlier this week in the light of what we do as artists and especially in light of our choir doing great at the festival of performing arts. Anyway, I got to thinking. God is the giver of all good things (gifts). He has given us the gift of music and of singing and has put in us the abilities to sing well...and why? Well, one huge reason is "just because he loves us". God loves creativity. Just listen to the beautiful sounds and look at the beautiful sights of nature! So, isn't it wonderful that he's given us this gift. Another reason we have this gift is that it gives us the opportunity to offer it back to him in love and service. What an incredible relationship! He gives so generously, we receive thankfully, and then offer it back unreservedly. It puts achievement into perspective, doesn't it! Not to say that receiving kudos from people is wrong or ungodly...it's good to be encouraged and to encourage...but let's remember that when we live for the glory of One life is a lot freer. We so often, as human beings, live to seek the approval of others, but isn't it relieving to realize that the only one we "perform" for is our loving heavenly Father who awaits with ever-loving, ever-embracing arms? I trust that this day each one of us may realize this love more fully.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dave, our drummer with FWJ, sent me this pic of me leading worship about a month ago. He said, "Tell us all what you're thinking while you lead".
What do I think about?

Well, I think it's very appropriate that the cross is right behind me in the picture because I guess I see myself as a worship prompter more than anything. If people say, I really felt like I met with Jesus, I'm happy. All the work on getting the music together, on practicing with the band and on preparing on my own means nothing in comparison with people connecting with God. This does not mean that getting it sounding great doesn't matter to me. Au contraire! God has made me a musician and one who is moved deeply by music, and there's something incredible that happens in my own heart when the text is beautifully or dynamically painted with the music. I believe God gave us music as a gift, to experience him in a special way.

But it's interesting how even (or especially) when things go awry on a Sunday morning (or other times of corporate worship) how God, just because He wants to, works in people's hearts...despite us, despite me. This seemed to happen yesterday. A number of the band members felt down or attacked or just not with it. A number of things went wrong, and frankly, I thought the worship time would flop (I’m just being honest!). But, you know, I had more people letting me know that God really touched their hearts during the worship time yesterday than I’ve heard in a number of months. We prayed that God would make himself very real to people – is it any wonder that he did?

So, what do I think about when I lead worship? Well, first of all, I’m worshipping God and thinking about how the lyrics and music together are describing my creator. I’m thinking about Him! And second, I’m thinking about, or should I say ‘praying for’, all those who have joined me to worship God. I’m praying that people would meet Him in an incredibly real way.

In a nut shell, that’s what I think about.

Here's an addition to my previous entry. I just love the open arms and smiles that the family has!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Well, it's been a while, but what better time than the present...

So I've been thinking alot about the father in the (incorectly named) story of the prodigal son. You know...the whole story's not focusing on the son but on the father? Anyway, I digress. Frankly, I've had a hard time thinking of fatherhood and God, especially thinking of God as my father. See my parents split when I was 5 and I grew up without a father at home. He was always in the picture, but not always with me. Enter my questions about God being my father. I've had a whole range of them. You say he's always there...what does that look like? Can I see him on the weekends or everyday? Is he someone who is even in the picture regulary? Then Jesus tells me the story about his father and my father...God.

I've been the lost son, the prodigal, going off on my own and demanding to have life my own way...landing in the pig pen. And God has looked down the road in front of the house longing for the day I'd come back.

I love how the Message translation puts it. "When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.' But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time (a party!).

WOW...so that's the kind of father God is.

...heart pounding for
...running to


I love the embrace in the picture at the top. There's no distance between them...just complete forgiveness and acceptance.

I'm going to need to ponder this a little more.
God, I haven't even grasped this in the least. But please help me!