Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Song on Repeat - God I look to You -- Take a Jesus Moment

Hey… so dead centre of a busy week full of intern stuff (most of which, I love.) I was just thinking…
Are you seeking God?
I mean like really… is He the reason you do what you do?
Just throwing that question out into this open void of internet connections.
I mean, have you noticed it’s in the little moments, even when you’re at your busiest and can’t seem to get your mind to slow down enough to sleep…
That’s the time when it’s really important to just look at things thru His eyes…
How does He see you?
He knows your situation... He wrote it all down and knew all about what you're going thru (get this.) BEFORE you were even born! (ya. crazy. I know.) 
What are you doing?
It’s not about works… we are covered by unending Grace.
But His calling to this life means such a high standard of living.
But that’s not easy.
That’s why we need to look to Him and not be overwhelmed.
In the midst of all the busyness and the insanity that we live in everyday, take a moment and just realize how magnificent our God is.
I pray that as you listen to this week’s “Song on Repeat”, it will be like the equivalent of how I feel when I just stop and watch the sunset.
Or when a child realizes the wonder of the first snowfall.
Or when a robin announces the magic of springtime.
May you capture a moment with the God of the universe – in the midst of a crazy week  (but then, I’m assuming your week is crazy like mine) that you would stop. Listen to these lyrics.
Realize once again the wonder and awe of the omnipotent God we serve.
One who gave His own life’s blood just so He could be in relationship with you.
And fall in love with Jesus all over again... simply because, He Is.

“Song on Repeat” – God I look to You
(Jenn Johnson – Bethel Church Music)  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Praying for Beauty for Ashes

Small-town, engulfed in tragedy.
The flames of last week were painful
My heart hurts for them
You can see it on their faces
Walking the streets of this beautiful little town
We’re hurting
The black ribbons all over downtown,
Houses and businesses alike.
The gaping hole strewn with ashes and rubble,
The blackened bricks and melted sign
Now lined with flowers in memory of the fallen.
What used to be full of busy shoppers,
Is now a solemn reminder of the fragility of life.

Life is short, beauty often overlooked
We are busy creatures,
Never taking the time to realize.
Never opening our eyes to see the hearts involved
But only the Father can restore our eyes
Only He who created can give us the ability to love
Love truly and fully… even in the midst of tragedy.
For out of ashes comes a beauty unknown
Out of tragedy can come triumph
Nothing can ever change the outcome of that sad day
But in the light of His unending love,
We can find hope.
He alone can rebuild and restore our hearts.

To console those who mourn in Zion,
      To give them beauty for ashes,
      The oil of joy for mourning,
      The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
      That they may be called trees of righteousness,
      The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
       And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
      They shall raise up the former desolations,
      And they shall repair the ruined cities,
      The desolations of many generations.
Isaiah 61:3-4

Praying my community hears the voice of God today.
Praying they recognize His love for them and that those who know Him can reach out to those who don’t.
Having faith that those who don’t know Him will seek in the midst of these sad days and find the only One who can heal their broken hearts.

- In memory of Kenneth Rea & Raymond Walter. 
Listowel Volunteer Firefighters who died a week ago.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Song on Repeat - Forever and a Day (Bethel Live)

Welcome to a new feature I’m going to throw in to “Epicphany” every once in a while. Since I am both a word nerd, and a music geek, I am excited to share some music with you that is touching my heart and turning my world upside-down!
God often speaks to me in music, especially worship songs. J
So here we go… today’s “Song on Repeat” is… 
Forever and a Day – by Bethel Church Live 
(from Redding, CA)

(and cuz I’m such a word nerd and don’t want you to miss the incredible meaning in this song… I’ve included some lyrics for your benefit! J)


- Bethel Live –

 I was afraid Your love set me free
I was in debt You paid the price for me
I was hurt You took away my pain
I was alone until You called my name
I was broken and You mended me
Before I was You loved me
You healed my body and You made me whole
No matter what I do You don’t let go

I will sing to the King I am the ransomed one
How I love Your holy name holy to the Lamb who was slain
When I laugh and when I cry You are the reason why
How I long to be with You forever and a day

When I go to bed You are near
When I wake up You are there
When I call Your name You are here
When I walk in faith You’re everywhere
You catch and save every tear I cry
You journal everyday all about my life
Your love for me reaches to the sky
I am Yours You are mine

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Perseverance & Oswald

Came across this awesome insight on “Perseverance” by Oswald Chambers today in my reading. (excerpt taken from “My Utmost for His Highest” – by Oswald Chambers)
May it encourage you to press on as it has encouraged me. J

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance

"Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10)

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.

Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling.

Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered.

Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated.

Also our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for - love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men - will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us.

Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance.
A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.
Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God.

But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God.

He brings fulfillment, "because you have kept My command to persevere..." Revelation 3:10

Continue to persevere spiritually.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

WARNING: Heavy Rainfall!

NEWS: Weather Forecast
ALERT: Heavy Rainfall Warning for – insert your town here 

Wait a minute… heavy rainfall warning?
Oh please… like we haven’t endured raindrops before.
You know, they’re those little wet round things that plop… pretty sure I first saw those on Bambi.
If they had said hurricanes or flooding then there’d be cause for some warning… I’d even probably be pretty concerned.
But when the weather channel (or – in my case) tells you that “heavy rainfall” is on its way… I say, bring it on!
I mean come on! Are we scared of some rain?
What month is it?
Oh right… it’s March.
In Ontario, no less.
Rain is welcome here… it’s beautiful, the snow is melting… poor hibernating Canadians (such as myself) start to get that glimmer of hope that spring could be just a month away!
After somehow surviving a long winter of nothing but snow-squalls, white-outs, and flurries (for my friends south of the border, a Canadian flurry is a ton of huge snowflakes falling out of nowhere. Could be sunny one minute, flurries the next. We don’t limit this to McDonald’s.) we see some harmless rain (as long as it’s not freezing) as a chance to relax and believe in miracles again.

The weather channel proclaims: HEAVY RAINFALL WARNING!!!
Apparently over the course of the next 24 hours we are supposed to get 10-20 millimetres of rain!
Do you know how much a millimetre is?
Yeah. A tenth of a centimetre.
Ooohhh scary.
It’s like this big -
That’s it.
Why are you listening to the weather channel’s scare tactics?
It’s just rain.
I know the guy who created that stuff… he loves me more than his own life. ;)

I was reading earlier today in my homework (shout out to Pastor Paul if you’re reading this! Yes, she does do homework.) about the grace of God giving us power to live out the lives we are meant to live. God has so much planned for us to do in life, but without his grace on our lives and his power working thru us, we can do nothing.

What does this have to do with rain?
Well… let me let you in on a secret.
I’ve just had a highly caffeinated Friday, I’m tired – yet wired, and I’m massively excited cuz my best Nova Scotia friend – Lori – is coming to visit me tomorrow! And I haven’t even seen her in like almost 2 years… so my brain is goin crazy and when it does this it jumps from one thing to the next at lightning speed… oohh I love lightning. Wish we had some right now… it goes well with rain… SQUIRREL!!

Ok. Back to where I was going with this.

There’s a story where Jesus and his disciples are going across the lake in a boat… massive storm comes up… they didn’t have the weather channel to warn them. Bet there was some heavy rainfall  tho.
So the disciples reacted the way any of us would when a storm takes us by surprise (or sometimes we react even when makes us fully aware of warnings)…
They were SCARED!
Ok ok… I’m making a little light of it. It was definitely a bigger storm than the 10 millimetres I’m supposed to see tonight.
But the concept of fear can occur to whomever fear wishes to grip its easy targets.
Whether it be tough fishermen, who have seen a storm or two… or a little baby girl, afraid of her first summer thunderstorm.
But… what can we cling to?
What did the disciples seek out during this storm?
They didn’t look to the weather channel and buy in to some scare tactic made up just to intimidate them into giving up.
No. they took their small, trembling faith to the feet of the Master.
“you wake him… no you! … come on, it was your idea! … we’re all gonna drown if we don’t wake him up… how can he sleep at a time like this?”
Finally someone gets up the nerve and pokes Jesus in the ribs.
“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Fear… doubt… many things were weighing on these guys minds.
Its like us… when all we can see is storms and opposition, it’s hard to remember that God is in control. It’s hard to see past the “10 millimetres” of impending rain, and believe that HE has a purpose for your life. You may not see it yet, and you may be “of little faith” that His dreams for you are even gonna come true…
But keep looking. The Master has spoken that we are “going to the other side”, and no matter what storms lie in between, he has the strength and power to get us there. If only we will trust that he is who he says he is.

That’s all I have for tonight… going to sleep peacefully with the sound of 10-20 millimetres of rain falling softly on my window, and Jesus watching over my life. J

PS. For the full, unabbreviated story on Jesus calming the storm, read Matthew 8 OR Luke 8. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Facebook Fiasco

Today I’m thinking about relationships.
Our lives are driven by them, fuelled by love – or lack of – and often full of drama.
We centre our lives around relationships.
One thing I noticed, however, is that our current society is full of some whacked out different form of relationships called: SOCIAL NETWORKING.
Ring a bell?
Let me bring it down for ya.
Even this blog is a form of social networking.
So don’t get me wrong, but I LOVE social networking… I have each of the things I just listed. 

Facebook: it keeps me in contact with my friends when they’re far away, provides an outlet for sharing important events in my life, I can upload photos so others can see them, I can look at OTHER peoples photos so I can spy on THEIR lives… the list goes on and on.
Twitter: basically I use this as an outlet for my slightly deeper thoughts, as many of you do. I also enjoy it for a form of hearing from other great people in ministry who provide great encouraging thoughts.
Youtube: well, I’ve heard you can upload videos, but since I have none to upload, never really cared. I have this account so I can play a “favorites” list of my favourite bands, or look up other inspirational stuff to share with others. (usually thru facebook) J

All this said, social networking is amazing. For the first time in history we can “log on” and be in contact with people from all over the planet! This is pretty cool. I’m a fan of this concept since my big sister moved to China a year and a half ago. And since I have friends all over the world that I’d like to keep in contact with.

But… (and you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
I can’t stand the fact that our generation has become SO dependent on our facebooks! (insert favourite social networking program here)
I mean, can you even communicate in person anymore?
A lot of people I know won’t say two words to me in person, but we are friends on facebook. So that’s ok. I mean, they continually ‘like’ my status, <3 my stuff about church and youth, but If I talk to them at church or at youth or even on the streets all I can get out of them is:
Me: hey! how are you today?
Teen: good (clicking phone sounds insert here)
Me: that’s good… just good? Or really good? Why just good?
Teen: uh I don’t know
(here is where I peek over the shoulder to see if Teen is logged on to facebook thru cellphone, or just plain texting her friend across the room – also on her phone)
Me (in attempt at real conversation): ok, so how’s school?
Teen: good…
(clicking continues as Teen continues ignoring me)

I think we are messed up somewhere in our social networking structure. Somewere along the way we got so involved that we forgot that there’s a real world out there! Real people wanting real conversations… real beauty in a real friendship.
Again, I have a facebook. I love it. I go on it often… too often, I’ll admit.
I would rather hang with you in person.

The problem, I think, with our generation is that we have gotten so used to communicating thru facebook and other forms of technology that we forget how to talk in real life.
Did you know that life isn’t about how many facebook friends you have or how many notifications you have when you get home from work or school?
Did you know that Jesus doesn’t have a facebook profile?
Yeah, he actually set it up that way so you’d have to turn OFF facebook in order to spend time with him.
That’s what real God-given relationships are meant to be!
It’s not about logging on and filling your life with superficial ways to stoke your ego. That’s what this world wants you to think.

Think about it.
Is it about having a selfish craving to see how many people “like” your status?
Or would you rather someone take you out for coffee.
Would you rather have 1,000 friends that you never talk to in person (cuz you’re glued to your data phone)?
Or would you rather have 5 friends you could talk to about anything. Friends who will build you up and make you be more of who you really are. Friends who want nothing more than to see you succeed.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all just logged out of facebook?
What if we actually talked to eachother and were real? Honesty seems a little lost to our culture lately. We’d rather live thru our facebook profiles than live out in the open where people might see us and judge us for who we are.
Let me tell you this.
I do have a facebook profile.
But I don’t want to limit my friends to that.
I actually do have 5 friends I could talk to about anything… honest friends. I know them, they know me. We talk… but not usually on facebook.
I have outstanding spiritual leaders – my pastors, Loving parents, And an incredible mentor. All of whom know me and want to see me succeed in life and experience all that God has for me.
I know this because they tell me. But never thru facebook.
It’s not about selfishly seeking our own plastic facebook faces… it’s about having real relationships.
God wants to have that with you, and he wants you to have that with other people.
I love what Philippians 2:1-4 says in the Message version:

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

How can you be “deep-spirited” friends without personally seeing the person. How can you really know who they are?
I’m not asking these questions to get an answer… I just want you to think about it and reevaluate how you handle your relationships.
Are you the kind of person who will hide behind the facebook profile in order to obsess more about “your own advantage”?
Or are you going to use this form of technology to help others… be there for others when they need to talk. Put yourself aside, help others get ahead.
If you have a facebook account, great. But don’t use it to your own advantage. Try building others up through your status updates – if nothing else.
And after that, log off. Read a book. Have some Jesus time… cuz he’s always waiting for that.
Go out and spend time with real friends. People who have a good influence on you and want you to succeed. (and if you don’t know anyone like that,pray about it… God will send some. And then facebook me and I’ll invite you to my church and introduce you to my friends who will love you. J )

Life is more than just facebook and social networking… I don’t know about you, but I wanna go out and live a real life with purpose. I want to be a deep-spirited friend and live in community with real people.
I want to think like Jesus thought of other people…

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I’m literally going to log out, have me some Jesus time, and then go spend some time with real friends in the real world. J