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Monthly Archives: June 2007

so i’ve been discouraged for quite some time now (just read some previous posts!). to add to the discouragement, i don’t really have anyone i can talk to about it, well, what i mean is, i don’t have anyone to mentor and challenge me. my father isn’t serving Jesus, so that means i’ve never really had a solid Jesus-style-male-leadership in my life. being a young man, this is obviously a challenge. however, i feel the tides beginning to change. but, enough of that tangent (i think i’ll save the mentorship discussion for another post), back to my discouragement…

it’s been a couple of months since i’ve been struggling with discouragement. now, i don’t mean to say that every day for the past couple of months has been discouraging. rather, what i’m saying is that in general i have had a discouraging couple of months. i came into a church that was in shambles. and the kicker: i didn’t even really know this. but nonetheless, i came into an unhealthy church. and in the first couple of months i was there even more crap went down. to put this in numbers for you, in nov/dec we had an average sunday morning attendance of about 250 people (some say 280 but i think that’s being generous). in contrast, for the month of may we had an average sunday morning attendance of about 120 people. and if you’re not mathimatically inclined, that would mean that over half the church has left. and i don’t mean that they’ve left over some great theological divide, no, i mean they’ve left over stupid, petty, shit (sorry but that’s what it is, and frankly, that’s what it smells like to God).

anyways, all of that aside, and issues with different people aside, i know the main reason why i’ve been discouraged. i was so thirsty and yet i was trying to draw water from a well that is empty and desolate. in other words, i set aside my time with the Lord. you know that time, where you just draw away by yourself to pray and read the Scriptures and LISTEN to God. ya, well i didn’t really have that for a long time. and so i was discouraged. obviously. this happens to many of us. we know the problem and yet we don’t do what it takes to fix it. well i’ve had enough. and now i’m on that humbling road back to the foot of the cross. thankfully, Christ refuses to hold my foolishness against me and has come to greet me with a ring and a robe, and the party has just begun.

the reason why i have said all of this is not to highlight how discouraged i’ve been (because that would be rather depressing) but to say how ENCOURAGED i’ve been as of late. this past weekend was one of the most encouraging weekends that i’ve had in a very long time and here’s why:

thursday/friday: thursday evening jon gordon and i got in the jetta and drove out to brampton to see big mike play some baseball. he was cranking out those hits, switch even! anyways, after the game we hung out at the park for a while with some people from his church (BBC!!!) and then the madness began. we went and got some pie and then rented ‘fearless’ with jet li and went back to mikes place where jon and i spent the night (we were able to do this because ashlee-heather was out of town!). it was pure jokes. but what i found encouraging was talking to mike about ministry. we went to his church at like 10PM and sat inside the sanctuary and just talked for a bit. mike’s church sounds awesome. he’s well supported and everything is going great for him. this was encouraging to hear due to the state of the church that i’m attending. anyways, we ended up laughing the night away although mike was constantly telling me how he was going to make me tap-out. oh boy! the next morning we rose early and went to play some golf with luke. it was great just being out with the boys playing some golf and having fun. the highlights i’d say would have to be the two japanese fellows golfing in front of us and mike telling me that i take too many practice swings. thanks guys, i had a blast!

saturday: saturday was encouraging because i spent most of the day doing NOTHING. i woke up at lunch and relaxed and finished preparing for saturday evening. a while back jason from cedarview asked me to come and speak at the community young adults meeting they have at the church once a month called ’emerge’. so i prepared a message and went to share. i used to go to cedarview so it was nice to see some old friendly faces and just to be able to spend time in a warm environment. i preached about ‘stupid generosity’ and as part of this i tied in the ‘upside down reading of the parable of the talents’ that nathan had posted on his blog a while ago. wow. it was just such a great evening and the response i got from people after the “service” had ended was incredible. i just pray that those young adults would loosen their grip on materialism and follow Jesus wholely. anyways, the highlight was talking to a great old friend for about an hour after the service. joel was one of my first Christian friends after i started coming to church (i’ve known him since i was in the 7th grade!). anyways, he is rad and is always such an encouragement and i look up to him and respect him quite a bit. it was great talking to him (seeing as we hadn’t talked in a while) and we’re going out for coffee tomorrow to talk about the Church and God and such things so it should be great.

sunday: sunday was amazing. we had a baptism service in the morning and i helped baptise 10 people (including some younger kids and youth from the church!). plus, mario got baptised and he only just submitted to Christ last week! AWESOME! then after that i hung out with the kids outside which was really cool. anyways, after service some of the youth came over for a BBQ and then we all went up to the beach for the afternoon and more of the youth came up and met us at the beach. it was such a blast! we just swam and played frisbee and (american) football and then once we were water logged we got out of the water and went to the park to play football (what north americans call “soccer”). what a great day.

plus i spent some great time with christina and she prayed for me on a number of occasions and i just feel so encouraged by this wonderful young woman!

all in all it was a wonderful weekend and i wouldn’t have had it any other way.

peace.

JT.

i can’t see. my vision is blurred and this is, in a large part, due to my descensitization. but you’re the same. descensitiaztion is facinating isn’t it? something can be so terrible and bring so much pain yet, if we hear enough about it or perhaps if it is in a distant land, then over time it becomes less of a terrible thing (though not in reality but at least in our view of things it does).

this is true for me when it comes to the war in iraq. now this is by no means an anti-iraq war rant, because i think we can all agree by now that what is going on over there is immoral. however, the US government obviously has it’s intentions set on staying there for quite sometime, so there isn’t much point in me expressing my disappointment with that here. this is more of a confession on my part.

we’ve all heard so much about the war “over there” that we have almost taken it to be a part of our everyday life. it seems that in every newspaper headline and on every news channel there are reports of MORE innocent people dying each day. we hear this, and then flick to the next channel to see what else is on and we’re almost not even phased by it anymore. dare i ask, have we stopped caring?

on my way home from ireland we had a brief stop over in the shannon airport in the south of ireland. the airport was packed, and i mean packed, with US soldiers that were on their way to iraq. some of them for the first time. as i stood in line for coffee there were these two young men standing in front of me, dressed in full army gear, but what stood out was that they looked no older than i. as i began to talk with them it turned out that i was right, in fact, they were younger than i, 18 and 19 respectively. and this was, for the both of them, their first trip over to iraq. it saddened me to think that these young men were going off to fight in a war that will seemingly never end and in which people are dying on a daily basis.

the incredible thing was that all of a sudden, these unknown soldiers in a distand land that i heard so much about on the news, took on faces. they were no longer unknown soldiers. they were no longer in a distant land. they were young men with families and pets and friends and worries and joys and concerns (much like you and i) and there they were, standing right in front of me. they had voices. i could see them with my own eyes and suddenly they went from characters in the news to real living human beings that are valued by God.

then today i read THIS story in the news, yet again.

as i read it i was deeply upset and thought to myself, ‘i hope it wasn’t one of those boys i met in the airport.’

tonight was a  youth night but no one showed up (for those who don’t know i’m a youth pastor at a church in aurora, ON that has been going through some serious issues for about a year now, but we’re starting to see the light). anyways, it’s just kind of discouraging/frustrating when you have this night planned and you have all of these expectations of what God will do in the lives of your kids and then no one shows. now i realize that it was fathers day AND highschools have their exams this week, but at the same time, it’s hard for me not to feel like a failure in cases like this. this just adds fuel to the fire of my feelings of incompetancy. anyways, once i got over myself i decided to go to a local park, which brings me to the next part of my evening…

i was lying on the grass in the park, pretty much in silence, just trying to listen to God. i really appreciated that time i had to just lie there and do nothing. for that 1/2 hour i didn’t have any worries. i didn’t care what time it was. i had no where to be. no stressors. just me and a patch of grass. the spot where i lay was on top of a hill and i overlooked a little lake (more of a giant pond really) and a big grassy field with a path running alongside it. given that it was a beautiful evening there were lots of people out walking etc. so as i sat and watched people go by there were a couple of things i noticed…

1) there was a little blonde boy out for a walk with his parents. he was quite young, no older than 3 maybe and his father had a camcorder to record all of his sons adventures in the park. the funny thing about this boy was that his parents couldn’t keep him walking for more than 10 feet at a time. it seemed that every other moment something would catch his attention and he would stop to examine it. a couple rode past on bicycles. a dog went by on a leash. he spotted something on the ground (quite possibly a bug of some variety). and what i found most interesting was that he wouldn’t just watch whatever it was that caught his attention, he would stop, stare and then point at whatever it was. then he would make this little grunting/cheering noise as if to say, “that’s cool!” this little boy just had such a sense of discovery. to him, these were all new experiences. he was allowed to roam free in this gigantic (from his perspective) park and you can imagine how his senses must have been having a party at all of these fresh/new discoveries. this got me thinking: when Jesus tells us to have childlike faith, does this include some sort of sense of discovery? an excitement at all of these new things we  learn as our relationship with God develops?

2) i saw this young couple kicking a soccer ball back and forth. every couple of kicks the guy would just *boot* it and his girlfriend would have to go running after it. he kept saying sorry, but then he’d do it again a couple minutes later. i laughed to myself the first couple of times and then i just thought he was a jerk.

3) i randomly looked to my right at one point and noticed that a man had come and sit on the hill beside me about 15 feet away (which was wierd/creepy enough since he was completely silent about it). what was really strange though was the fact that he had a ferrett (sp?) with him. i don’t appreciate those animals much. i find them rather creepy. but the man seemed to like it as he sat there stroking the thing. wierd.

that’s all for the park. i went home and got a call from 5 of my youth about 10 minutes after getting in the door saying they were heading down to the same park and wanted me to join them. so i did. we played grounders on the park and it was loads of fun. we then went to timmy’s for some cold drinks and relaxation.

that’s all.

peace.

the following is a letter that was writen into my local paper today in the suburbs of Toronto.

Beggars around plazas should look for work.

I have a concern about the growing number of beggars cropping up in our plazas, especially the 404 plaza. Everyday, there’s at least one person begging for money for some reason or another. Come on, people, there are jobs out there. There are also services that can help these people. It ticks me off when I am shopping and one of these beggars hits me up for extra change. It’s time some of them got up off their butts and looked for work like anyone else. What this town doesn’t need is beggars. Toronto, especially Yonge Street, has enough of them.

i don’t write into the paper that often but upon reading that letter i couldn’t just ignore it. the only problem is that when writing to the paper your letters must be under 400 words. it was difficult to cut it down, but here is my response letter that i just sent in.

I would suggest that poverty is far deeper a problem than Mr. Webber (and the rest of us for that matter) may suspect or care to admit.

Much of the problem with our lack of compassion for the poor has to do with the individualistic and materialistic nature of the lives we live. We considered it a virtue to build for ourselves comfortable lives. In turn, money becomes more valuable to us if it stays in our pockets as opposed to going towards meeting the needs of others. This causes us to focus more on ourselves than others and as soon as I do that then I start to care more about myself than that man in the plaza.

We have segregated residences that we try to pass off as communities even though most people do not know their neighbours. Even though we live on the same streets we’re all living completely separate lives. This is a problem. There is a deep-seeded reason why people desire relationships with others and that is because humans were built for community. When we build up our own lives and live as individuals rather than a community we, in fact, dehumanize both ourselves and others.

These “beggars” that Mr. Webber refers too are valuable humans. On Saturday night I met a homeless man named Tim in a local plaza. I took the time to sit down and talk with him. On Sunday we went out for coffee. I say this not to boast, but to force myself to enter into relationship with poverty. I would argue to say that most people keep poverty at arms length. We live our own lives and maybe, if we are “charitable” enough, make donations to a charity every now and then to ease our conscience. However, this is a problem because it allows you to keep poverty at a distance. We trick ourselves into thinking that we care for the poor and then turn up our noses when we see a homeless person in a plaza.

So I urge you Mr. Webber, and the rest of our community, resist the temptation to keep this issue at a distance and enter into relationship with poverty. If we start to live this out then maybe we will find it less bothersome when “one of these beggars hits me up for extra change.”