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Monthly Archives: November 2007

WHOOP!

today is a snow day. i tried to drive christina to her placement this morning and gave-up because the car could barely make it up the street. then the pastor called me to say that no one was going to make it in to the office today. then came the WHOOP!

snow days are great.

even greater when you’re a kid. i looked out in the backyard today and saw the jones’ kids playing in the snow, so i asked them what they were doing.

“playing in the snow,” they said.

of course. what else do you do on a snow day?

anyways, today i shaved which i hadn’t done in almost two weeks.

then i read some of tom wright’s ‘simply christian.’ every time i read some of this book i get really excited. it’s kind of weird really. chapter six is all about israel.

“it is fundamental to the christian worldview in its truest form that what happened in Jesus of Nazareth was the very climax of the long story of Israel. trying to understand Jesus without understanding what that story was, how it worked, and what it meant is like trying to understand why someone is hitting a ball with a stick without knowing what baseball, or indeed cricket, is all about,” (wright, 71).

and so, with that, i’ve decided to read through the old testament. not as if i’m reading a history textbook (for that would be rather boring), but as if i’m reading a story (an exciting one at that, like ‘james and the giant peach’, or like ‘matilda’), a true one at that, and one that reveals God.

i’ll let you know how it goes, or rather, how far i make it.

peace.

jt.

a couple of days ago i was cleaning out some stuff in my office and i came across a piece of paper from about a year ago. it had scribbled writing on it and was from a meeting i had with a friend. during our hour or so together he was trying to help me figure out what i wanted to accomplish in the youth ministry that i’m a part of. here are some of the things that i had wanted to see happen:

ultimately, i want the youth and the people we come in contact with to experience God. church kid’s have loads of knowledge about God. they have it coming out the ying-yang. i mean, come on, they were raised memorizing scripture and doing sword drills and spending time in sunday school. they know lot’s about God. yet many still don’t know God. they haven’t yet experienced God. i want this to happen.

i want to see unity amongst the group. i want to see real relationships develop amongst people, not just superficial ones. which leads me to the next point…

i want to see acceptance of others. acceptance of the new, the hurt, the broken, the different. i want people to feel like this is a place where they can come and be accepted despite their shortcomings, because God accepts us. i want people to feel safe enough to stop pretending like they’ve got it all together. i want people to feel safe enough to admit they are struggling and to know that they are accepted. because Jesus never turned an honest searcher away, no matter how stained they may have been. and it was in his acceptance of them, and them of him, that they are made clean.

i want to see holistic growth. growth in all area’s of their life as a result of experiencing God and being nurtured in community.

i want to see youth reaching out in love to others. i want to see servanthood with no agenda. i don’t want our church to serve the community just so they can add people to the pew, rather, i want to see them serve the community because they love the community. and because this is what Jesus has commanded us to do.

but ultimately, i think that none of this can truly happen until people experience God. i think that when we experience God, i mean REALLY experience and know him, this will lead us into unity. it will lead us into acceptance and growth. and it will lead us to go low in humility and serve the least of these.

which brings me to the question: can i make this happen? can i ‘make’ young people experience God?

how can i foster this kind of experience?

peace.

so i came across this website, quite by accident. what you do, is input your blog URL and it spits out the level of education needed to understand your blog. the following is what i saw when i entered my blog:

cash advance

apparently anyone who can eat their own food can understand my blog. i’m pretty sure ‘elementary school’ is the lowest level, unless there’s a ‘comatose’ category that i’m unaware of.

i don’t know what the criteria are for upping your level, but from now on i will periodically throw in big, complicated, words in the hopes that i will climb the ranks to ‘genius’.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

i wonder if Jesus had a blog, what his level would be. he talked about kids a lot, so maybe he’d have an ‘elementary school’ blog too. but then again, he told stories that no one really understood, so maybe he’d have a ‘genius’ blog.

dang it.

peace.

Floccinaucinihilipilification.

jt.

…is that it’s often hard to understand or come to grips with if you demand to read it through the lens of your preconceptions and presuppositions. a couple of weeks ago i wrote about some scripture that i didn’t quite understand. well as it turns out, i’m challenged again by what paul writes in romans. romans 3:1-4a says the following:

“what advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? much in every way! first of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. what if some did not have faith? will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? not at all! let God be true, and every man a liar…”

it’s hard for me to understand God’s relationship with, and commitment to, his people Israel. some light was shed on my beliefs recently. i was, albeit unknowingly, of the  ‘replacement theology’ variety. this theology has been influenced by the likes of justin martyr, origen and augustine. it basically says that God’s relationship with Christians superceeds His relationship with ethnic Jews. in other words, God’s people are now defined in spiritual terms rather than nationalistic terms. this always kind of made sense to me, until i started to read more of paul.

all of this sort of begs the question, if God made a covenant with Israel (ethnic Jews) can he break it?

in romans 3 paul mentions Jews who do not have faith (presumably in Jesus) and says that their lack of faith will not nullify God’s faithfulness.

so, because of God’s covenant with his people, he cannot show favourtism when it comes to his faithfulness (i.e. only showing faithfulness to those that are faithful). in this sense, God really is faithful even when we are faithless.

what are your thoughts here? does this kind of thinking lead towards universalism (God will save everyone)? if you’re like me, and you know what it’s like to be in church, then you were probably taught to think that you can only be saved if you have faith in Jesus. but maybe, in a sense, it’s harder to understand than that.

there is mystery in God.

peace.

this past thursday evening i got a chance to see the weakerthans live for the first time. my friend jevan called me up about 2 months ago saying that he had an extra ticket, so, i got to take in the catchy, melodic sounds of one of canada’s finest bands with jevan and the man know as kyle vance (of vance refrigeration).

friday to sunday was our youth retreat up at camp medeba. we teamed up with dave and the hillside bible chapel youth for this one. our theme for the weekend was one (one way, people, life, voice). as well, joel and carrie, will and sarah, and alex came up to join with us in music! all in all it was a great weekend. one of my favourite things was seeing everyone bond together and establish new friendships. such an awesome time together.

last night (sunday) extreme makeover home edition built a brand new house for a family of 6 in camden, new jersey. the family consisted of a single father and 5 young men between the ages of 14-19. what was significant about this program for me was that urban promise was involved in it. back in may 2003 i visited urban promise camden for a week and served in the very area where the program was filmed. in fact, urban promise donated some office space for the extreme makeover crew to renovate for the fathers support group he started (single fathers of camden), and the office space which they donated happened to be the exact room which i slept in with a couple of other guys back in 2003. it was pretty cool to see extreme makeover doing that in camden!

this morning i was able to sleep in and get some much needed rest after a great but draining weekend and Christina did the same so we were able to spend some time together which was great!

whelp, i’m putting together a video from the weekend so i’ll put it up when it’s finished.

peace.

the following may, or may not, be “hypothetical.”

what happens when as a pastor you’re asked to show favourtism to the rich?

for example, you’re asked by leadership (“hypothetically” of course) to pay special attention to a wealthy family (which you don’t do). then, a couple of weeks later, the needs of a poor family in the congregation are neglected by that same “hypothetical” leadership (whom you “hypothetically” made sure was informed of this need).

does this seem right to you? is this OK in God’s sight? giving special attention to the rich while neglecting the poor.

james may, or may not (but probably ‘may’), have had something to say to this…

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

wow. james was GOOD. how did he know, all of those years ago, that we, today, would be so silly?

“hypothetically” of course.

peace.

as i ate my lunch i picked up the toronto start and read this article.

read it for yourself and them come back…

ok, so, what did you think? what was your initially reaction to this article? how did you feel as you read the following quotes?

“When the housing complex was designed and constructed in the late 1940s and early ’50s, it was seen as the wave of the future, a Utopian project that would satisfy human needs as never before and bring out the best in residents. If only.”

“Regent Park was yet another expression of this deep-seated desire to build heaven on earth…Of course it didn’t work. It couldn’t. Sadly, this is not how people behave.”

“Half a century later, the result is a place only a drug dealer could love.”

“The current rebuilding of Regent Park incorporates these principles and will undoubtedly be a more desirable place to live. The stigma attached to the area now will disappear in time and in a move that has been unthinkable up to now, middle-class Torontonians will appear. Already stores have decided to move in, again, something that never happened before.”

now, because i live close to the city and frequent the downtown area, i remember hearing about this rebuilding years ago. the other day as i drove down parliment street past the west-side of regent i saw the rubble of demolished buildings against the back drop of the buildings that remained and i thought to myself, “but where will all the people go?” now to be honest, i myself don’t feel 100% comfortable walking through regent park. granted, there it IS a community that has been plagued by violence, drugs, gangs and oppression but is it worth just tearing down?

if we tear down the buildings and replace them with nicer ones will the problems disappear? also, what will happen to all of the hard working people of regent park? if we tear down their homes where will they live? is regent park a community that is void of beauty and hope? well if you read the gospels that i read, the answer is no. because there is always hope and beauty where God is. and God is present in regent park. granted, he may be hard to see and hear at times, but he is present there. i have a friend named heather that is involved in a salvation army church in regent park called 614 (a group of churches based on God’s promise to rebuild the city ruins in isaiah 61:4) and have heard many a story about God at work in regent park.

so what is the answer then? if not tear down the buildings, what is there to do? i’m not really sure because to be honest, i am not familiar enough with the community. but i think that Jesus is more interested in building up, as opposed to tearing down. i think Jesus is more interested in life as opposed to death. in love as opposed to hate and fear. if Jesus were walking in regent park, what would that look like? how would he interact with the drug dealers and the gang bangers? how would he comfort those who were hurting? the mother who lost her son to street violence? really, WWJD? how would he react when the rest of the city wanted to “redevelop” regent park (and by this i mean build nicer buildings and bring in nicer shops so that “middle-class Torontonians will appear”).

what is really more dangerous here? (re: this article).

any thoughts?

peace.

jt.