Friends

An Open Letter To My Friends: Exposing the Elephant in the Room

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Silence.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." - James 1:19-20

Silence. It is a theme which has filled my life right now. Not the kind of silence where everything around me is quiet but rather the opposite. I have grown silent and for me, it is becoming stifling. It is difficult to write, to dream, to share my thoughts with others, and to speak in public spaces.

As a boy I can remember it being told to me, "If you don't have anything nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all." In a lot of ways I can agree but at what point does it become unhealthy for a person? When is silence no longer good for me; even if I am struggling with the inner wrestlings of unease, frustration, anguish and that which is considered not good?

No; silence is not working out for me any longer. It is over taking me, drowning me in its deafening noise, and killing my spirit. I need to get it out. I need to expel it from my thoughts so that I might better defeat its grasps.

The things you read here may not always be right and they certainly may not always sound good. I just hope you can extend me some grace as I try to put this out so that I can possibly leave it behind.

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Vision Casting and the Things of Dreams

"For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words... For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear." - Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7

Not long after graduating from Alberta Bible College with my Bachelors Degree in Theology I began asking myself the question; what is my mission in ministry and how can I tie a number of our past projects around an actual vision? I found myself drawn to the story in Matthew 16:13-20 when Jesus and his disciples where passing through Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus, while passing by the shops in the streets, turns to his disciples and says, "Who do the people say that I am?" Their answers vary from a teacher, a moralist, a prophet, and a healer. But he then turns the question around to being very personal in nature as he says again to them, "Who do you say that I am?" What a fascinating and telling question for Jesus to ask! I imagine the surprise as his disciples are taken back by the question. Jesus doesn't care so much what the people think of him. He wants to know what his followers think of him, and more I think to the point; what they personally think of him. Peter's answer hits the nail right on the head, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Meditating on that crux in the question it seemed to me that Jesus' words were transcendent over time. It wasn't just a question for his followers in Caesarea Philippi. It is a question he continues to ask me and each one of us here today. Who do we say Jesus is? The expressions and answers which we give being worked out not only in our statements and words, but also the actions and lives we live out day to day.

This was a vision I could follow; this was a dream which took over my heart. Seeking expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community. The birth of Expressions.

It was my hope that Expressions could be a community of groups which not only found and built bridges between our culture and the gospel through unique and dynamic ways but that it could also be a place where everyone could grow in leadership through the distinctive callings and gifts Christ's Spirit placed in each of our lives. The movement of Expressions would not be confined by the traditional avenues of Sunday morning church practices alone but also find new ways to revealing the gospel and the Kingdom of God in all things and in all places.

I shared this vision with our home church community and with the elders. In discussion they seemed concerned over a few issues with Missional Theology but were intrigued and wanted to see more in the way of these groups taking shape.

Over the next two years I developed a number of groups including Re:Genesis, God at the Movies, Expressions of Compassion, Conversations in ESL, Mars Hill Adventure, Adorations, H2O: A Journey of Faith, and a number of community events such as the Grey Cup of Coffee Event and the Super Bowl of Chili. It's not an exhaustive list of everything we did over the next few years as there were other events but, it is the staple of who we were. I loved every minute of it and felt as though I was living a dream!

Supporting these ministries solely on our own though, I soon realized that I could not keep up this pace while supporting my family and looking after my own personal health. I needed the support of other leadership and those who would dream, aid, advocate, be a voice, build along, and journey with me. So I again turned to the elders in our home community.

A bombshell was dropped. They explained they could not support us as we were seen as an "outside identity" and not really a part of the church.

Feeling Sold Into Slavery

"Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver" - Gen. 37:26-28

An outside identity. I felt so alone and unwanted by the elders and leadership in the church. We had been a part of the church community for over 8 years and yet we were still considered an outside identity. Still, the words seemed foreign to me and stung deeply. I found it harder and harder to sit in the back during worship and hold back the tears from filling my eyes, and rolling down my checks. I couldn't do it any longer and turning to Bonnie I said, "I can't go back to that church anymore and simply sit in the seats while passing in tithes. There has to be something more."

I felt as though I was being sold into slavery by my brothers. We left. It hurt doing so as we have so many friends and spiritual family there. We still do. I just couldn't seem to go anymore without the pain of those words cutting deeper and deeper into my heart. I only hope they can understand and find forgiveness.

Exposing the Elephant in the Room

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16

Over the last year and a half we have continued with a number of our groups in Expressions on our own while struggling to maintain a balance with health, time, and finances. In trying to support a number of our groups as well as our own needs; a few years back I took up a job in the local Home Depot. It wasn't meant to be a long term job as I had hoped to find a place soon on staff in a church community and it wasn't much in the way of financial support but, it helped with things and enabled me to continue with some of our groups in the house. It has been hard though as it leaves little time for personal health needs and times for rest or family gatherings.

In the last few months I have taken a few personal leadership classes as well as evaluational courses. They've been difficult. Not in the intellectual sense but rather because their forcing me to look internally at some things which are glaringly confronting me. They always seem to start with the question, "If you can sum up who you are in one brief sentence, who are you?" Searching for an answer this small voice I've been hearing over the last year creeps up inside of me:

  • "You are a joke!"
  • "You are not a pastor nor will you ever be one."
  • "You are useless and pathetic."
  • "You are the running joke of the pastor community."
  • "All the times that people have said that you are great at speaking, teaching, leading, ect... They are only being polite and don't really mean it."

They are statements which leave me with the questions:

  • What is wrong with me?
  • Is it because I am in a wheelchair?
  • Is it because Bonnie and I do not have any or cannot bear any children?
  • Is it because I do not have enough education or a Seminary Masters Degree?

Call it burn out, a broken heart, or call it something else; I don't know. What ever it is; it has robbed me of my self confidence entirely. The more I wrestle with this elephant which has invaded the space I call my personal identity; the more I realize that I am facing a deep depression within myself and I don't know how to defeat it. This depression has slowly eroded my ability to dream and find hope for the future. I don't know if I have any meaning in my life and if I am of any significance or for any purpose.

This must change...

Repentance and a Desire for Reconstitution

"In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!"

Psalm 31:1-2

This must change. I honestly do not know how, but I know it must.

"We need to learn the difference between the convictions of the Holy Spirit and the accusations of Satan!" Those where the words Scott Weatherford spoke from the front of a church Bonnie and I had gone to after I felt a deep need to be in worship with a community we had not been a part of before. I'm not sure why the words stuck with me but I just seemed to keep playing them over and over in my head. Perhaps God was speaking to me.

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Looking back I can realize that this voice that has been speaking to me seems far more accusational in nature then it does a convictional calling to walk in righteousness. I don't think this excuses the impact of the failure in human leadership within my story and yet I realize my struggle is one which is internally a true battle not against flesh and blood, "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12) I only pray God might restore my strength, redeem my confidence, and reconstitute  the person he wants me to be in leadership and life.

Over the past few weeks I've felt called to commit to some personal steps. I don't know where they might take me but, I'd like to share them with you.

  • I've begun reading through the Psalms. David was a man after God's own heart and I pray for nothing less then that for myself.
  • I have a deep desire to find a home church which would encourage and help me grow not only spiritually but in leadership and ministry. This might redefine Expressions, and it may not. I leave that in God's hands as it is in His Kingdom that I serve.
  • I have cut my hours back at work in the Home Depot. This will make things a little tighter in the budget but, I need the time to focus on my personal health and to search out where God may be leading me.

As I mentioned earlier, I realize that things must change and I'm not quite entirely sure how. I only hope that these steps might help and as I take them, Jesus might show me and guide me to the next steps in the journey he wants me to take. If I can borrow Thomas Merton's prayer, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you."

I thank you all for your prayers and for the words you might share with me.

Michael Ignatieff's Equality for All Speech

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Started writing this morning on FB about some of my thoughts to Michael Ignatieff's speech in Ottawa and it kind of turned into a full note. Anyways, it's been a bit since I've been writing; I just needed to get some things of my chest, so it's nothing extensive but I thought I'd share it here also. Michael Ignatieff - "Equality for ALL" (From this mornings speech in Ottawa) - Question: Does this same equality include the Canadian Citizens within the Federal Prison Systems be they people seeking reformation or employees amidst over population? Does this same equality include those who are in service to our military struggling with substandard equipment?

They are honest questions of Federal prioritization. In light of resent global events, I'm not sure I'd count on the US covering our _____ in the event of military movements! :( Prisoners serving their detentions in a correctional facility are not second class citizens in a society which claims equality for all. Over population can also force into early release in dangerous circumstances which in turn also impacts society. Should we not give adequate space and legislative time to the reformation of such people; not to mention the danger over population places of Correctional Employees?!

Family Care, Health Care, and Education are also all valid concerns and issues Canadians face. Yet, these can be issues perhaps more directly addressed within the Provincial and Local Municipalities alternatively. Ultimately, my personal nee-jerk reaction is to say it also falls to the role we as individual citizens play as active participators and care givers to our society and communities.

We must stand up for our neighbour and ourselves; not leaving the sole responsibility of health and education to government parties. We must make better health choices for our own bodies and inspire and encourage others to do the same. We can and should give freely to others as they have needs out of our personal responsibility to care for one another - this is a responsibility of individuals and community not institution or organization. (Please note: This includes Religious Institutions however... it does not dismiss responsibility to personal faith, belief, and world view which may become expressed through such organizations. I wish I had more time to define this but perhaps another time.) Yes, this may mean we need to change our expectations of personal status and wealth as a social vision but let me ask you... what are you asking of those who are in the minority of the vote? (i.e. - Prison System, Military, Immigration, ect.)

Ultimately, I am concerned we have become a society of "Me First!" mind sets. This must change. Please do not consider this as my vote cast. There is still many policies to be defined and clarified. It is simply just my wonderments for the time being... :)

Living for Potential (Audio) - My Message at CCCF

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship on Sunday January 2nd, 2011 about Living for Potential while focusing on Matthew 5:48. Although feeling a little rusty, here is what I shared...

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/living-for-potential.mp3]

[slideshare id=6510883&doc=livingforpotential-110110164658-phpapp01]

5 Kinships With Jesus at Christmas

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"Are you ready for Christmas?" It seems like an innocent question enough but what are we really asking? Most times we're wondering if you're done rushing around to the many over run shopping malls and sale displays too which you are looking to buy the greatest gift for your loved ones and family. I must admit that even I have caught myself in this frame of mind from time to time throughout the last few weeks. After all, who wants to be stuck in traffic and that last weeks rush before the big day arrives on December 25th. Yet is that what Christmas is really all about? Just us consumers delighting in the buying of gifts for others while waiting to see just what presents they might also have for us?

Last week while taking a moment to relax, I came across a post called 'The 5 Stages of Relationship With God'. It didn't really have any particular holiday theme but as I read it, I couldn't help but truly see the meaningful beauty it connected with in the story of Christmas and our relationship with Emanuel during this time of season.

I have a Kinship with Religion

It is pretty much impossible to say today that you do not know who Jesus is. At least that is true for a North American culture and society. We all have in one way or another been impacted by an understanding of the word Christianity and the general story of the Nativity. I think every year I hear about someone stealing the little baby Jesus from some church's Nativity scene as a bad practical joke!

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The spirit of Christmas as a religious relationship finds its expression for those of us who brave the cold to find a local church community who is hosting a Christmas Eve Service so that we might join in with carols and song while not feeling we have to attend church any other time of the year. Or as my fellow columnist Chris Hammer at the Calgary Beacon writes in his post 'The Christmas Dichotomy', "Christmas is a time to engage with the comforts of tradition; whether celebrating the birth of a baby in a manger or the arrival of a jolly soul in a red suit."

This is without a doubt a deep and meaningful relationship we have and Jesus is there too of course, but the relationship is distant. Not distant in presence per say but more so in the meaning of relevance. Soon the daily activities of life resume and the fable story of a little baby in a manger have little to no significance in our activities or thoughts.

Still for some, that distance might like other far reaching relationships cause us to question, "Who is this baby Jesus?" What happens to him when he grows up?" "Is Jesus real and if so, what makes him so special?"

I have a Kinship with Doctrine

Every year around Christmas I hear the conversational whispers of the battle between perceived Consumerism and the "true" meaning of Christmas. On one side are those who want to see a greater focus on the celebration of the birth of Jesus while on the other side are those who simply want to find a sense of joy in giving and receiving gifts from family and special loved ones.

Doctrine makes us want to create and follow certain beliefs or principles according to our understanding of faith or truth. It is the foundation to our world view and by definition creates "laws which are established through past decisions". But following doctrine at the absence of feelings and emotions is outside of human natural behavior and becomes void to the essence of our need for relational acceptance and support. We need community and with community is our need for a greater sense of grace and tolerance.

Last week I was strolling through South Center Mall and came upon a quote from William Arthur Ward. He said, "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." I pondered the feelings that I have of gratitude, as a Christian, for God sending his son Jesus to us here on Earth. What or who would I be today if Jesus had never been born? How would I feel knowing that my faults, my sin had never been forgiven by my creator? Or how could I have known what purpose I might have; what on earth is right and wrong; is life meant to have a moral, ethical, and emotional compass? And if so, how could I possibly relate to it?

Words cannot express the emotions of gratitude, joy, love, and admiration which I have for Jesus and the relationship we have today. It is a relationship which not only sets a living compass for doctrines which guide my thoughts and actions but; it is also a human kinship filled with the workings of grace, forgiveness, and life long blessings.

It is that relationship which makes me want to share that same spirit with those around me; my friends, loved ones, and even the stranger I pass in the mall as I look up and smile while giving a friendly greeting, "Merry Christmas!!!"

I have a Kinship with Jesus

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the Christmas song 'Little Drummer Boy' and wondered, "What is the essence of my drum to play?" "What is my gift for Jesus?"  I know I have and at times and in some instances I have felt like the little boy, in that my gift isn't really that special. Yet, in Jesus' eyes all our gifts are special!

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/09-drummer-boy.mp3]

When we find ourselves realizing our relationship with an incarnate and living Jesus, we begin to explore the gifts, talents, and passions in our life in a new way. They're no longer meaningless and pointless but instead they are unique and special just between us and God because they become expressions of our relationship with Jesus. Our hobbies become the praxis of His presence in our lives!

I wonder what the wise men must have thought as they packed all their belongings, gathered their family, servants, and helpers, and headed west across the continent to see a little baby Jesus in a manger who would one day be king? The pride they must have felt, knowing the relationship they had with this future king must have been great as they even bragged about it to King Herod while coming close to the end of their journey! (Matt. 2:1-2)

Jesus has a Kinship with Me

I am just a guy but if I were Mary I cannot imagine the terror that would have filled my heart when an angle stood before me saying “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus." (Luke 1:30-31) At 14 years old, the thought of being pregnant and unmarried must have been scary to say the least. Even more so would be facing the whispered judgments of the many who would watch her as the little baby Jesus grew inside of her.

Being in relationship with Jesus brings the comfort of friendship and unconditional acceptance that we all love but when the realization of Jesus' character as Lord and the Son of God settles into our minds it becomes a little terrifying to think of his relationship with us. So how do we get beyond this fear so that we can bridge his Lordship from our minds to the heart?

There is a well known proverb in history that says, "The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding." (Psalm 111:10) This is not a fear of harmful intent or life threatening danger. More so this is a fear which inspires us to become something better and maybe in the process we might just make a difference in the community and world around us!

My colleague Justin Bills has been my friend for several years now and I was inspired by his post that he wrote last week called 'The War on Christmas'. When he shared that he was giving half of his parents Christmas gift to Living Water International so the people in Africa might have clean water I was moved by his faith. Justin doesn't just want to lead through his knowledge of scripture or authority by position; he wants to inspire others by following the life calling of Jesus being in relationship with him.

Mary faced some amazing fears in those moments standing in front of God's appointed angle. Yet with awe inspiring courage she spoke, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Matt. 1:38)

"Never get stuck with the angels---if shepherds in fields or Mary in tomb (Jn.20) had stayed with angels, they never would have seen Jesus!" - Leonard Sweet

Jesus and I have a Mutual Kinship

Many years ago I can remember exploring the Anglican cathedral church of St. Steven's in downtown Calgary. My mother would bring me there late on Thursday evenings while she practiced with the choir for the yearly Christmas celebrations and I would have my prodigious imaginary adventures while exploring the "catacombs" and secret passage ways within the halls of the church (usually consisting of over and under the pews and the tunnel passage way behind the altar front) :-).

At four years old I had little knowledge to the relationship I had with Jesus nor the way he and I would encounter one another in the future. Yet looking back I now know that he most definitely knew and loved me. There were many people he placed in my life at that church that showed his love at Christmas and many other times of the year. People like Bob, "Aunt" Ruth, Meredith, Graham and Barbra Goode. People who are still in my life today.

Jesus and I having a mutual relationship is so much like my imagined adventures in that church as a boy. Through the exploration of the unknown and the relationships we develop along the way, Jesus shapes who we are, loves who we are, and in turn allows us to in our own time, come to know who he is freely in our own way and at our own pace. There never is a "right" way to do it. Just the slow prodigious adventure of being in mutual relationship with him at Christmas and every other time of year.

So where do you find yourself in relationship with Jesus this Christmas? Which of the 5 kinships do you find yourself this year? It doesn't matter which answer you might discover because it is the right one for you today. In all of the 5 Kinships with Jesus at Christmas we find the real Spirit which fills this season... “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

May you find yourself surround by a Spirit of Love and Joy this Christmas as Jesus blesses you, your family, and loved ones. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Broken

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I starred blankly at the news screen as they described the story of a stranger who was listening and after hearing the faint cries of a baby, leapt into a garbage bin. After peeling away the layers of garbage they took off their shirt and wrapped it around a new born boy who with its umbilical cord still attached was rescued from the clutches of death. It wasn't until later that the stranger would find out that he was not a stranger at all but the unexpecting father of the child. Let's face it; it’s a story we have all heard so many times before. We cry out in frustration, "What's wrong with that person!" "How can they just not know...?"

A Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces is arrested and charged with sexual deviance, rape, murder, and other horrific charges. Teenagers are found gang raping teenagers in the school yard. And prostitution is legalized in certain states and provinces. It all seems so wrong, so decayed, so grotesque, so... Broken.

I was four years old when I was exposed to the realities of a broken world. My mother worked long days and would leave me at a day home behind our condo in SW Calgary. I remember the lady running the home would keep us locked in the basement all day exclaiming, "That's where children belong." Usually with a few "F" words in the mix.

It was here that the eldest daughter of the lady who ran the home began taking me with her to the darker corners of the basement. I don't remember much, but I remember that I spent most of my childhood trying to hide it and make sure no one ever found out. Most importantly, I tried to make myself forget it ever happened because I thought it was my fault. I was Broken.

I was broken and because I was broken the world will never look the same to me again. The world has become a place of overt violence with battlefields in every marketing advertisement plastered on the billboards and storefronts in shopping malls and road ways; in snippets of film, movies, television, and commercials as they provocatively  exploit the psyche of human relational conjecture; in the one liner jokes we so innocently speak to one another with; and in the headlines of news media leading to social judgements based upon the bias of social and personal exclusion from the stories context.

My Brokenness has caused me to become angry. Why can we not see the exploitation of human sexuality and relational identity as the violence which it truly is? Why has it become normal to treat human sexuality as a consumer product and individual right rather then a relational identity and spousal gift? I suppose the reality to which I found is that I am broken, just as everyone is has been broken. The world is Broken.

Jesus' brother James gives us something we can use in our brokenness. He wrote and called us to, "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." and promised us that, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5:16-17)

I don't have all the solutions to the broken realities of our world but I do believe James is right. We need to first recognize our own Brokenness; and once we've accepted that we need to expose it, confess it to those around us, and talk about it. When we can be open and real with one another about the struggles we have, the challenges and fears that are a part of our lives; we can be honest in the midst of communal grace and truly seek to transform those realities. Then we can see the real beauty, the real gifts God has placed in our lives.

Secondly, we need to pray for one another as well as ourselves. Speaking to God about our need for healing and openly asking for his hand in our broken reality brings an internal connectivity which reaches to the very depth of our created being as it was meant to be. In Jeremiah God speaks to us saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Lastly, we must live with grace for one another; accepting that we are all Broken in a reality to which none of us can ever fully understand, experience, or comprehend. Forgiveness is not always easy to work out but, judgment is never ours to make lest our own judgments come upon our own brokenness.

This world will never be the same to me as it will never be the same for you. I will pray for you though just as I pray for the Broken people which I wrote of in the beginning of this post. I hope you would do the same for me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxiacjZSq28]

To Save a Life - Youth Event

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o56pazEh-Q]

John Lloyd Inventories the Invisible

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I thought this was rather brilliant this morning as I contemplated the beauty of Gods creation and the humor of finding things of invisibility. I must use this as an illustration some time! By the way, in answer to John's agnosticism and defining terms... I believe that is the point! Man cannot define God's terms just as we cannot define his character. To do so is to miss his existence entirely and in the midst of trying would only be caught up in ideology and ultimately idolatry. It is God who can and did state his terms through the act of incarnation not through words or things!

[ted id=635]

Who am I?

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Who am I? I am a man of Authenticity, What you see is what you get; More so I am the same in public as I am alone, And visa versa.

Who am I?

I am a man of Honesty, So much so it can get me in trouble; My life is an open book, One which I freely share in the hopes to inspire.

Who am I?

I am a man of Integrity, My word is my bond; Even greater to me are the words of action, Everything I do is meant with purpose and a sense of personal moral ethic.

Who am I?

I am a man of Justice, I seek it in everyone and in everything; My heart breaks to the point of physical pain and tears, At the smallest witnessing of prejudice, bias, or inequality to our relationship with truth.

Who am I?

I am a man of Love, In the eternal agape sense anyways; I love life, people, animals, adventure, And the wonder of all miraculous moments when this amazing gift returns!

Who am I?

I am a man of Faith, Convicted strongly in my relationship with God; Through the Truth of Jesus’ eternal presence, In my heart, soul, and wellbeing.

Who am I?

I am a man of creativity, I let my imagination drift with the realities around me; So as to bring life to grips with Truth, And freedom of expression to redemption in righteous relationships with God, my wife, and those who journey with me.

Who am I?

I am a Husband, Married to my wife as one flesh; I can do nothing apart from her blessing, As she becomes the greatest of blessings throughout my life.

Who am I?

I am a Pastor, Not one by earthly titles, status, or appointment; But by example, presence, and character, Which only the Holy Spirit might bless and sustain.

Who am I?

I am Incomplete, Journeying through my destiny in search of my fate; One which only God can complete, And measure by standards of his grace, love, and acceptance.

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/01-this-is-who-i-am.mp3]

Breathing in a Life of Beauty – Thoughts of Dominion

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"God watched as though he were like a child full of joy as the sun rose over the horizon. And as he was engulfed by its beauty he cries out again and again each new morning, ‘Do it again!’” These were the words of my friend Steve several years ago that as I drove into the Rocky Mountains last week I couldn’t help but personally reminisce while describing the beauty of God’s creation to my friend Kenny in the back seat. Kenny was here in Calgary visiting with a team from Abilities Church in Toronto while presenting in a conference at Center Street Church called ‘Life Without Limits’. Being their first time out to Calgary we took the opportunity as a leadership team to drive out to Banff as a bit of a retreat on the Saturday. As we drove further west from the city I realized that Kenny has been blind since birth and so the only way he would be able to see the natural beauty of our surroundings would be if I described it to him.

As I drove I would try my best at describing the amazing beauty of the soaring heights to the mountain tops, the amazing colors of the trees and flowers around us, the depths of the crystal clear lake waters beside the highway, and the excitement of the chance at seeing a large moose which crossed the road in front of us just inside the town of Banff. Each time I described something new Kenny would be so excited while exclaiming, “This is so cool!!!

It seems each night since then that as I turn to the news I hear about the devastating environmental crises that is ravaging our planet. The Gulf Oil Spill, Carbon Emissions, Global Water Crises, Pandemics and Superbugs, Nuclear Energy Waste, and the battle between economic recovery and developments within oil companies or the need for clean energy; where is our sense of holistic stewardship and respect to dominion? Have we lost our created identity and unity for the self serving desires of one dominant species – humanity?

I have heard both sides of the argument; “The world is going to end unless we change now!” and “Global worming is a fraud made up by hippies and tree huggers.” It shouldn’t really matter whether we count ourselves on the environmentalist side or economist’s side; what is important is being on God’s side. After all, it is all created by him!

It is often quoted that God gave dominion to all humanity, “the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) I don’t think God’s intentions were that we were to do whatever we wanted to please our own purposes. Rather I believe it was a uniting identity we had as a place in creation to tend to and take care of all that God created. In much the same sense as we would bear the image of God, so to we would look after, love, and foster all that he created within relationship to us.

So then what does it mean to act in dominion of the earth? Here are a few thoughts to which I thought of and maybe you might like to add your own later.

Pray for creation and all that is in it; understanding the realities and context the earth is faceing today. It is important to recognize that we are not just physical but spiritual beings and by acknowledging that spiritual connection with nature we can find God's grace and healing uniting us in purpose and harmony.

Educate and spending some time reading while learning about the many issues our world is facing today. Don’t just really on major corporate news providers to share what they deem as important or relevant but dig deeper into the issues; listen to the hearts and minds of those who find themselves passionately involved in these global concerns. What you might just find is a vision for your own expression of involvement to transform the way we treat the environment! (A place I like to check from time to time; maybe you might like to visit this site as a way of launching some creative thought patterns http://www.globalissues.org/)

Write a letter to your MLA, Prime Minister, or city official (maybe you might even like to start a blog) articulating the thoughts you have towards the need for better environmental legislation or national practice. Don’t just write about your frustrations and disgruntlements; take the opportunity to engage there minds with some ingenuities and resourceful ways in which our city and nation can bring better stewardship to the global issues at hand.

Primarily I think it is important to take an active roll yourself in the way you practice dominion. It might mean some radical changes in your life but by acting holistically in your own stewardship you will be healthier for it and find that many who around you will be inspired by your commitment. One of the easiest ways I have found this in my own life is to try and adapt to a three R’s lifestyle – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It’s not that I’m perfect at it but as Jesus exemplified, radical transformations always begin with the movements and choices of one man!

Finally I think it is important to love our environment. Have you ever watched that video of a plant which over the span of a minute or two you see it start from a seedling and then grow into a fully blooming flower? Now imagine sitting there and waiting in natural time, watching with complete anticipation, not just seeing but hearing, smelling, feeling the plant as it blossoms and grows. Perhaps then in those moments, when we are willing to spend this kind of energy and time with God’s creation we will leap at the joy and exuberance of witnessing such miraculous beauty while catching ourselves bursting in praise with the words, “This is so cool! Do it again!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8]

A Great Grandmother And Mother, A Beautiful Woman

It has been a few weeks since Bonnie's mom Marie passed away. Bonnie's niece Terra shared a poem in the funeral which touched many peoples hearts including mine and so I wanted to share it here.

Strong, beautiful Mother and Grandma, so peaceful and serene, You deserve to live in Paradise and shown the finer things. Life has dealt you plenty of cards, some winning, others bad, And tides have brought in waves of memories; both happy and sad. Gracious, beautiful Mother and Grandma, so wonderful and divine, You've endured many heartaches-oh the world is so unkind! Your speech is confident, your eyes are soft and your walk is hard and bold Your laugh equals happiness, your heart contains love, and hides the stories untold. Tired, beautiful Mother and Grandma, so patient and so calm, it's funny how you hold the family's fear within your palm! With wrinkles, stress, and worn-torn hands, tell me how do you smile so... When you've traveled this long, endured all this pain, and still have miles to go? Blessed, beautiful Mother and Grandma, so collected and confident, I can't imagine a gift greater than you-your love is Heaven sent. Don't you dare give up now, just stay strong, your reward is comin'... Strong, courageous, gracious, blessed, and beautiful Mother and Grandma.

Rest in Peace

We all Love you grandma.