Saturday, December 29, 2012

365- a poem

Three-hundred and sixty five
More days I am alive
Each Day is a gift
Even when through wheat and tares I sift.

Three Hundred Sixty Six
Days in this leap year that God must fix
Two-thousand twelve was not my best
Somehow, better than some of the rest
Broken hearts, spirits and lives
Down a slope my spirit dives

Three Hundred Sixty-Five
Chances to be more alive
In Christ, each day is new
Forgiven for what I chose to do
I ask for wisdom, I beg for grace
Until that day when we're face to face

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The good, the bad, the Christmas

It's a minute or so into Christmas and I am up late unable to sleep as usual. Thankfully Muppets Christmas Carol is keeping me company. I've been thinking lately about the true theology and nature of Christmas. We've developed a habit of making what was likely an ugly night into something beautiful. Now, there's nothing wrong with that! Not condemning it in the least. The nativity scene is the epitome of servanthood and humility. Even as an infant, Jesus came into the world in a lowly and humble manner. No room at the inn so baby Jesus emerged from the Virgin Mary in a barn.  Perhaps echoing the future where Jesus ate with the lowly. I often wonder, as Relient K does in their song "I Celebrate the Day"   "The First time, that you opened your eyes, did you realize you would be my savior?" Well, of course. Isaiah prophesied it, heck! It was even predicted in Genesis! God's plan all along coming into reality. The theology of sacrifice wouldn't be what it is today. Jesus is fully God and fully human. He HAD to be. When sin entered the world, a completely holy and perfect sacrifice could be the only thing to erase sin. No amount of animal, grain or blood offering could do so! Only Jesus!

Back to the manger scene, most of us paint the picture of the whole crowd there. Shepherds, wisemen and the family surrounding a seemingly glowing baby. Lovely, yes! Accurate? No. The gospels say the shepherds were tending to their flocks by night, probably meaning Jesus would of been born in the summer. Plus, it may of taken months to arrive in Bethlehem. And we all know that Constantine decreed our Christmas today to be December 25th, coinciding with pagan's Saturnalia. Put that aside, BUT we must know the true facts and why we celebrate the way we do today. I do enjoy the imagery of the nativity because it paints a picture of truth. Would much rather have that on my lawn than an inflatable Santa.

Sacrifice is to be selfless, serving and humble. Jesus was the epitome of that; his birth and death were all of said things. So, no matter who you are Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Canvas

Canvas












I am a blank canvas awaiting a coat of paint

Covered in dust and blood, every moment I feel faint.
My life is painted by the hands of the creator,
Strokes of genius crash down like a meteor.
Imperfections erased with the greatest of ease,
Using blood red, it becomes possible to please
The one who holds my canvas in hand,
My minutes to Him, as grains of sand.
Until art meets artist, dark becomes light,
The battle is won! Dark forces won't fight.
My canvas now, hangs on a wall wider than the sky,
The very face of God is painted on scum such as I.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WWJD?

What Would Jesus Do? An often used and abused quote by us Christians. It has found its way into pop culture by those classic bracelets, t-shirts and memorabilia  Much like the rainbow afro guy holding up a John 3:16 sign at nearly every sporting event (older folks may remember). Not surprisingly  this quote the source of ridicule but when you really think about it, it is kind of a farce. How can we know what Jesus would do? Based on Scripture, we have a pretty good idea but some things have become grey areas because people over-think it. People at times even (to quote a good friend) "trivialize the sacred." I know I am guilty of it.

To share a few examples: I was having a conversation with a former colleague who shared a story about a bachelor party that ended up the Strippers. Of course, as a married Christian man he refused to enter, much to the chagrin of his friends. He then asks me "Fretz, do you think Jesus would enter a strip joint?" I can just hear the voices of the Conservative "NO NO NO!! My Lord would not enter such a vile place." Well.. how do you know? Are you  Jesus? Let me see your scars.  When you think about it: Our minds and hearts are vile places. Sin places thoughts, lustful desires there and only the sacrifice of Jesus absolves it. Jesus went to people and places that were considered the scum and outcasts of the earth. The Pharisees always slammed Jesus for eating with the tax collectors and whores, doing what was considered unlawful on the Sabbath and occasionally cracked a whip.
Now, we all know Jesus was not capable of sin and that Mary Magdeline was a prostitute. In my mind, there is little to no difference between a stripper and a prostitute. One takes off clothes for money, the other has intercourse for money. So, is it a grey area? Would Jesus go in, like to witness, make disciples? Probably. Should we go in? No. It is not a sinful grey area, pretty clear sexual immortality is not grey. Jesus enters the hearts of SINNERS.

Another example is from a poll question Life 100.3 did on their Facebook page. American pastor Mark Driscoll was advocating for the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts while Life polled "is this something Christians should watch". This bore the question someone raised "would Jesus be cheering in the sidelines to such a barbaric sport?" .
A: Fighting is not barbaric, it happens in several sports. It is competition, people stop when they cannot take any more pain
B: Some churches are using UFC as an outreach for Men's Ministries. It is beneficial because many people today are wary of churches. What matters most is that disciples are being made, not how it is done. Christ can be glorified in almost anything, sports is one of them. There are several solid believers in the UFC. Sports are meant for competition, to see who is better. There are only winners. Some people, including myself take it a little far on the whole fan thing. Although I have settled down considerably. It is just a game.

What would Jesus do? Well, we get some good ideas in Scripture but don't just throw it into every single possible scenario. Especially when it does not make sense. In the words of a former professor "we've made the image Jesus to look like a gentle hippie." We forget the other side of Jesus, we sing happy songs when we know we're faking it. You don't see any hymns/praise songs about being depressed. But we should have them, so it makes our worship truer and more real! Because Jesus can see right through it all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Christians and Alcohol

Probably one of the most talked about topic by people in youth ministry. The Bible is quite clear on alcohol, it is a sin but (uh oh! he said but after the word sin...) it is something that requires wisdom as it is not universally condemned. The Bible also teaches that complete abstinence from alcohol is a sign of total devotion to God. Daniel and John the Baptist both chose to abstain for their devotion. The excuse many believers and non-believers come up with is "Jesus drank wine" to partake in a drink. I am not slamming alcohol nor am I defending it. Actually as I type this I am enjoying a glass of Cabernet red wine. Delicious and full of anti-oxidants. I have had drinks with several believers, socially and have even used avenues like bars to witness. Then, mature or more traditional Christians would ask "would Jesus go into a bar?" I'd say yes. As believers, we are called to go out into the world and make disciples, it does not say anything about HOW. Look at the Christian music scene: Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet, Sleeping Giant, As I Lay Dying,  Disciple, Pillar, POD; all believers who all tour with secular bands. Disciple building (yes pun intended) and proclaiming the gospel! I've shared a beer with members of Five Iron Frenzy, while hearing some very intriguing life stories.

So...Drinking, be wise! If you want to do it, do moderately. If you have an addictive personality, it is better to abstain. To quote an inside joke between an old pastor and I "GM, therefore BMW" God Matters, therefore Be Most Wise!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God visits Dunder Mifflin



I recently have been re-watching the Office. In season 6, an episode called "The Christening" shows Jim and Pam's child being baptized. Now, the Offce is great at mockery and when I saw a church being involved I was interested because, lets face it: we have some of that mockery coming. Especially with having Christian versions of (fill in the blank. Music, books, mints, gum, video games.) Now Jesus music for the most part is pretty good, except for this.
This episode starts with Jim and Pam dedicating their baby with a fellowship lunch following. During this lunch, the church's youth group is announcing their missions trip to Mexico. Micheal Scott is so moved that he jumps on the bus driving from Pennsylvania to Mexico prompting Andy to join in the fun. Even though they neither portray anything remotely Christian in the show, they are inspired by the passion displayed by the youth (despite being heavily scripted). On the way there, Andy and Micheal begin to realize the setbacks of living in Mexico for 3 months and promptly asked to get off the bus, in a comical fashion. Despite this mockery, The Office is (was) one of my favourite shows.

Now that can be a picture of what our faith looks like. We see something and become a raging fire and when the crap hits the fan, we give up.

Philippians 1:6- "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus".   God begins a good work in all. He began it in me years ago and even though I continue to struggle, to fail to live a godly life, I am thankful that I am forgiven for my stupidity, my disobedience and my failures. I could not go on not knowing that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Bubble

For almost 5 months now I have lived in Sauble Beach and I've gotten accustomed to the small town atmosphere again. After a recent visit to Kitchener, I realized how much I did not miss the city (but I do miss the people there a lot). Now graduated from EBC, I am in the world attempting to fulfill the Great Commission. I admit I am failing (at least I think so). EBC, despite always being my home and my alma mater is a bubble; a bubble of fellow Christians unified together. Now bubbles are quite easy to pop. Being in a Christian bubble is healthy for a period of time, but being so confined to it you cannot function outside is borderline insanity. Since I did not grow up in a Christian home, I had the opportunity to be out in the world talking to non-believers. Sure, a lot of them did not like what I had to say and I eventually became silent. Yes, Jesus did say "I am the way, truth and life" but not everyone will believe it sadly, so we have to stop forcing the gospel message on reluctant people. Pray over them! So, working in a secular setting may have (it has) caused me to slip behaviorally but it has also allowed me to better relate to people. I can kind of see where/how/why people become so complacent, so broken and so defiant. I can also see why people are so sour towards the church. We have painted such a terrible picture of the true church (Body of believers, not some building where we gather). To them knowledge is subjective. How can we spread the truth of Christ to a generation that says that? Well, we plant the seed and we have to allow God to til the soil.
I am drawn again to 1 Corinthians 4:12-13:  12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. 

We become the scum of the earth? Ow. That's harsh but that's how the world sees us. 
Fix your eyes on Christ. Thinking of my past few months, I am ashamed of myself seeing where I failed socially and spiritually. As I wrote this, probably my favourite song of all time "Daylight" by Brave Saint Saturn (Five Iron Frenzy's side project) came on. The last stanza of the song is a hauntingly beautiful picture of the true redemtption and forgiveness found in the sacrfice of Christ. Salvation sealed, forgiven forever when we confess and believe Christ is Lord and nothing takes it away!
Here is the stanza: 

Jesus Christ, Light of the World 
You never did forget me 
And when I bled in darkness, You held me 
Still held me 
When desperate nights I cursed You 
You loved me, still loved me 
Jesus Christ, You dry the tears 
You break my heart of stone 
Your words are life 
Cut marrow through 
The darkness, to the bone 
A heart of flesh You gave me 
Only You can save me 

Savior 
Daylight 
I am coming home. 

Wow... just.. wow. I remember being in tears upon first hearing this masterpiece. Find it on youtube, trust me! 
So there is a time where we need a Christian bubble and a time apart from it. Being away from it has drawn me to the utmost importance to find a community that worships God, believes in Christ and is theologically sound. I've found that in Sauble Christian Fellowship Church. Being out of the bubble allows us to be used by God to bring others in.
Psalm 61. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Green Tea Scum

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment (1 Cor. 4:12-13)

The very same is kind of the theme verse for the Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, which members of Five Iron Frenzy helped co-found along with current pastor Mike Sares. A few years ago, Mike wrote a book called "Pure Scum: The Left Out, Right Brained and Grace of God".These were stories about Mike's life leading up to his current role as a pastor to the "outcasts" of society and tragically, the same people are outcasts of the church. After graduating seminary, Mike found himself.. not in the field right away, working in sales, a school and a steel factory before being a pastor. When searching for a ministry job, a mentor told him not to pursue a job right out of college, but a regular vocation in order to better relate to the people he would minister to. This feels like where I am right now, two churches said no (but God really said those no's for me). Currently I am working in a grocery store, with about 90% non-believers.. actually, pretty sure I am the only one. Sometimes, I act like the others to relate to him. If I am asked, I share my faith and that is the extent of the conversation. Sometimes if people are going through drastic things, I will ask if it's okay for me to pray for them. I don't force the Gospel message upon them, nobody wants that! People want us to be real! But at the same time as my youth min professor Brett Andrews used to say "[You] might be the only Bible some people read". I think it takes wisdom where one should blurt out Jesus-y kind of things in a secular setting. One day while walking downtown Kitchener, I saw a man literally on a soap box, blurting out convictions and the Christian message. "These buildings are a metaphor for success and failure. Buildings crumble and ALL fall short of God". Now, I kind of wanted to punch him in the face but people evangelize differently (even though that method is flawed). I digress: after being in a Christian bubble of Bible College and camps for 4 years I honestly feel a little sheltered. Exposure to the real world (well.. because I didn't have the luxury of a Christian home) benefits me. 


Back to the book: One chapter that stood out for me is: 
Chapter 6: Real "The Importance of Being Honest: What makes you different than anyone else?" The name of it alone was daunting and familiar. Mike talks about.. well being real! Simple as that. At a youth conference, the DJ's interviewed a woman who had to be in her eighties about what it takes to be in youth ministry "Just be real with [the youth]". She says, voice trembling while receiving a standing ovation. 
Another thought from the book: A poetry night was scheduled on Christmas Eve one year and a young woman wanted to say a poem that was.. raw.. honest.. REAL.. beautiful. But one problem: it has a couple of F bombs. Now any typical pastor would rob anyone the right to dare say a swear in the house of the Lord but Mike knew that F--- is how some people talked at Scum and let whatever happened happen. Mary-Kate did cut the bombs out, but the impact of an "R-Rated poem" shook the whole church. Only God knew the impact it would have. Many in the congregation were in a state of complacency and wrote positive reports about how real the service was! One even said "This service was so real, which means God is real. I could go on about this some more, but I highly recommend reading it, order it from Amazon.. worth a read. 

My closing thought, with this book full of Five Iron Frenzy stories, I could not help but think why Reese Roper wrote Brave Saint Saturn's beautiful song "Under Bridges".. we are all guilty of casting people aside only because they are homeless, have more tattoos than skin, "look" different or have a different worldview, without having regard for their well-being.. Jesus wants all to come to Him, those who are weary.

Read these hauntingly beautiful lyrics.. I had to bold some significant ones 

Yesterday while walking,
Beneath an overpass,
I saw the figure of Jesus,
Standing barefoot on broken glass.
His beard was graying,
The smell of urine filled the air,
Asking if I had some change,
Anything that I could spare.

Emaciated,
His shaking fists balled up,
Influenza and pneumonia,
Begging God to take his cup.
So different from his pictures,
Breathing air through yellowed tubes,
Jesus Christ, dying of AIDS,
Can look right through you.


And all have hated,
Crucified and walked away,
The Savior of the prostitutes,
Drunkards, rapists, and the gays.


Under bridges,
With hands raised,
From the ghettos they praise his name.
Broke and crippled in the dark of night,
Raise your voices to Jesus Christ,
Hallelujah 

Friday, July 20, 2012

More poems

Fell-written July 8/12.

Off of the edge I fell
Spiraling towards the depths of hell
My bones, breaking one by one
All of black replacing the sun.
A darkness like none has ever seen
Like no place I have ever been
I thought that my punishment was just
I lie, I cheat, I steal, I lust.
After things that matter not
That after time will rust and rot.
Rather I must chase the prize
That makes me worthy in God's eyes.
Faith in Christ, eternal life
Ends all sin, all death, all strife.
Upwards I fall above the Earth
In heavens gates I find my worth.

Just Like in Cartoons-written July 9/12.

Little people on my shoulder
One good, one bad, one young, one older
My faith is new, so it is easy
To make my Lord a little queasy
Whisperinginto each ear
Giving me two ways to steer.
One in black, akin to lust
The other in white, both gain my trust.
Until one day, God spoke to me
"James trust me, and live in harmony
With everyone, all whom I love
Perfectly, from up above".
Quickly though, my frail hands slip
From the grasp, I've lost my grip
Dark ones, dark ones surround me now
Reminding me I fail, here's how:
I murder those with all my hate
Preventing me from Godly fate
I lust, I cheat, I hate I lie
How can God so pure, love I?
His word says "If you confess I forgive, so keep your head up".
So I can tell the dark ones "shut up"!

Frailty- written July 12/12.

My frail hands, tremble as they pen perhaps their last
My weak words, cannot say what cannot be surpassed
In my young life, I have tried and tried
To not have lust, greed and pride
Take my heart, my life my soul
And other things the devil stole.
Yet in the end, God wins center stage
But life's so hard, skip to the last page.
Fighting battles on my own
Can't be done as I groan.
Yearning for peace to quiet my heart.
Wins the fight, no need to start
Christ will conquer all my fears
As I'll be with him for eternal years.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The poetry bug

The last few nights, I've been unable to sleep. So I got out my journal and did some poetry. Now I am not the best at it, (ask any girl, I suck at it haha) but my heart was poured out.  Enjoy!


Every New Day

Every new day
I must find a way
To run the race
Guided by your grace
My struggles go on
Wisdom I lack
All my sins pile on my back
I yearn for peace
For a release
From Satan's hate
To a heavenly fate
To a world without end
Where my brokenness will mend
In God's healing hands I stay
Every new day.

A dream

I had a dream that I was in love
Life was bliss, a gift from above
Nothing could stop us
In eachother we did trust
Then love left me
I was so empty
Wanting to die
No tears left to cry
My fate was sealed
When my heart was healed
I looked up and saw a tree
It said love has died for me
No human could ever love you
As God says He will do.

Ethos

Can you hear me?
Future wife?
It's me!
With whom you'll spend you're life
Wherever you are, I promise this
To have and to hold in God's perfect bliss
Only Jesus could love you more than I
Even though, you know I will try
Not even death will separate me
From loving you for eternity
With God's great love, we become one
A brighter love than any sun
Until then I can only dream
Of a woman I'll treat as a queen

Daylight Dawns
Daylight, will you please save me tonight?
I am not coming home, I can no longer fight
Another battle with the flesh
All my sins begin to mesh
Shine on without me now
As the sun takes its final bow
Darkness falls and all is black
No light gets in from any crack
Surely now, my fate is sealed
Layers of my skin are peeled.
Suddenly I hear a shout
“Hark! A light! A way out!”
A light so bright, I become blind
And my whole life flies by in mind
I kneel down, begin to pray
“Father, I do not deserve to stay”
Before I could even speak
I heard every sin from every week
That I committed against Him.
I remembered and I cried
God said “ This is why my Son died”
For you, for all your sin
That you may enter in.
To see a daylight that never ends
Where on God's promises life depends.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Conspiring and plotting

I ordered Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship and it  sparked a discussion with my good friend Matt. As some of you know, Bonhoeffer was a pastor who was involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Now, you're probably thinking "Oh it was Hitler, so that is okay". Well... not really, see despite being a sick, twisted piece of garbage he was a human created in God's image. Yes, he was responsible for the largest massacre ever and I feel he got what was coming to him.  But Bonhoeffer was a believer, a pastor condoning murder (I kind of just did, but Hitler killed himself) The same thing crossed my mind when Bin Laden died. At first I thought: well.. good! He got it but then I thought, he was also created in God's image like we all are.  If you do any crime, you deserve to do time. Justice must be served but murder is too far. Plus, the Americans dug themselves into a bigger hole by killing Osama. He was also responsible for a big massacre himself but I wrestle with such evil deserving death...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The lost art of evangelism... but is is supposed to be an "art" ? And the art of the Green Tea crash.



I am not an evangelist. At all. This is probably because this is not taught.. well maybe not properly. Upon a few dictionary searches this is what came up:  "The preaching or promulgation of the gospel."  or Missionary zeal, purpose or activity. Despite not coming from a Christian family, I started going to Awana and Sunday School around age 9 and was told to tell people about Jesus and that's all. (leaving out the persecution part.... or the part where I got beat up.. .. but I did not know what that was until I was 20... the hard way) I have always wrestled with evangelism despite the fact we should all do it somehow. Some methods are different than others, some work some don't and some need generous (or massive) tweaking.  I wrestled with this because I have seen Christians abusing. God is love and God is just, now because we believe that, should we not try and nudge others to try and live better? In a way, yes. But how should we do this? By standing on the street corner and yelling? I wouldn't, it takes guts, hardcore faith and more guts n faith. By preaching? By being a speaker on behalf of God, gently guiding people to holiness? Perhaps relational evangelism, getting to know someone genuinely. Being concerned for their eternal security and getting to know the person inside, without having some kind of agenda. All may work for some, but should we come down on people?

In a way, all Christians are wired to evangelize. Perhaps from a good dosage of teaching they receive themselves. I believe it can come up supernaturally, God wills for all to be saved and receive the knowledge of the truth of Scripture (1 Tim 2:4). We should make disciples and find ways to tell others about Jesus without being condescending. One such issue that comes to mind is gays. Yes, being gay is a sin and not God's view for relationships, how the church approaches it is rather sketchy. I have been brought up to respect people no matter what they do, but as a true loving and just person, must I tell them to stop? I feel sorry for people who are marginalized because of this; on both sides of the fence. I am not an advocate for people who practice it because it is indeed unbiblical but in my heart, I cannot tell them to stop because God gives us free will. But does He predestine people for destruction? I'd be very worried and bugged if He did. Stealing and lying is also unbiblical, so it should be treated on equal grounds. It skews the image God creates us in as much as anything. I feel that the unloved should be loved, guiding them to the amazing grace of God.

Marriage is God's idea, Genesis 2:24 man and woman. I am sorry peeps who support gay marriage but foundationally is FOR man and woman. Although I think church and state should be separate entities.

On a slightly different train of thought; sin is separation from God. Now, if we see someone (or do ourselves) continue in a sin should we question their salvation? THAT is SCARY! If I struggle a lot with (blank) than I might not be saved? Hmm...

SO evangelism, what's your take? and on anything else?





Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Sunday Shopping Conundrum

For quite some time now, most if not all stores have been open on Sundays. In 1982, the Canadian government upheld The Lord's Day Act (and rightfully so) since it violated the soon-to-be-created Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Lord's Day Act was deemed unconstitutional in 1990 and stores were open Sundays from then on.
Now, for some pathetic reason, some Christians still oppose this. Seriously! Get over it! It is not salvific so no need for concern.  But, I have seen believers abuse their freedom of speech in order to violate the rights of others (like protesters). Since not everyone beleives the Bible, why should we force our beliefs into government? Because we think it's wrong? I am sorry but that is foolishness. Everyone has the GOD GIVEN right to do what ever they please.  Below is the response from an assignment I did on it.



Businesses being open on a Sunday is an outdated argument, but for when the article was written it was a bigger deal to Christians. Today, many accept the fact that everything is open Sunday. Although this issue has become increasingly irrelevant, there are still some who believe it is a sin for stores to be open Sundays. The Christian defence for this, albeit a weak one is found in Exodus 20:8-10; “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Six days you shall work but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not work, nor your son, daughter, servant, animals or sojourners”. It should be understood that this comes from Old Testament covenant law and that these are not the only things God commands of His followers.
Some believers read this passage too literally and do no work or shop on Sundays. In a pluralistic, supply and demand society I can see the need for stores open on Sundays. It is good for the economy.
I do not see any issue with having stores open on Sundays. Not everyone agrees with biblical principles, so believers have absolutely no right to judge others. Trying to Christianize law and customs of the world is naive because everyone has free will and the right to chose customs and beliefs for themselves.
I believe in the importance of a day of rest, the sabbath is meant for gathering and worshipping the Lord (even though we should have an attitude of worship all the time). Taking a day of rest is not only healthy for the body but for the Christian walk as well. A sabbath edifies us in our Christian walk. If one were to take this passage literally, they could not eat, feed their families, animals or necessary chores when one lives on a farm. Reading into Scripture requires a dose of reality and open-mindedness, even if others do not agree with it.  




Thursday, April 12, 2012

The End of the Beginning. Four Years of Awesome


Next week I graduate from Emmanuel Bible College. Wow! I cannot believe I am saying that! The past 4 years of my life are cuminating and closing a book in my life. I have come to love Emmanuel and despite being a commuter this year, I still consider it my home. It will always be home to me. Many relationships and friendships have developed over the years, but none mean more to me than the people pictured above: Mike, Jason and Anna. Despite having a one semester advantage over them, we hit it off first year pretty much from day one. We are all graduating in the youth ministry program, a youth min family! What can I say about the past 4 years? Well... they flew by much faster than I desired them to. EBC has brought me through a lot of growth, happiness, tears, struggles, freedom, stress, relationships, reconciliation and many other things....and papers. Oh the papers! Wrote some good ones that really made me think and develop theologically. I see a pretty big difference from the day I walked into EBC from today. I am never the type to toot my own horn but my mind has opened, I have grown significantly and have solidified what I believe is my calling in life. I notice many changes, but still see a few struggles. The struggles are there, from pain I experienced but nobody is perfect, God loves me.. (which I still find hard to grasp sometimes) From the laughs of pranks like fake eviction letters and hidden alarm clocks- to "back farts" (ask Riddols) to Zehrs trips with Brandon- to room mate-ing with Jon- to Theological-induced stress with Mike to fun that caused us to watch every comic book movie ever made.  TO fun with Infusion to Nitro to random craziness to the daunting theology seminar and now to today: on the cusp of my degree. I cannot believe it. More highlights:

- The first people I met at EBC: Graham Sweet, Drew Peterson, Rachel Neumeister and John Hamill. Immediately they welcomed me and showed me the ropes.
- Working with Jeff Angst, a devout Habs fan and all the trash talk between us. Later became a good friend. Amazing cook too!
- Having fun with Brandon Meyers, either by poorly attempting to emulate his amazing singing voice or playing random board games and eating exotic fruit we experimented with.
- Meeting my now closest friends: Jay Bowes, Mike Wilson, Anna Hobden, Braeden Burrows, Al Barry, Jeremy Hewitt, Crystine Lloyd, Dan Weber, Jessica Weber,  Jesse Goulet to name a few. (theres many more)
- Having to deal with theology stress. Without saying a word, Mike Wilson walks in and turns on X-Men. This is how we unloaded our stress.
- Messing with Hamill's alarm clock.
- Being fake evicted.
- Ball hockey.
- Weekly Leafs games in Trevor's room.
- General insanity of residence life.
- Random people walking into dorm to chat.
- The support I had from my failed relationships.
- Guys night!
- Chapel
- PJ's
- Pancakes
- Bob, Brett and Schuit classes
- Youth Min Family
- And more amazing people and even more amazing experiences

This is the end of the beginning of the next step. My time at EBC is over and now I look forward to the future, and as much as I would love to peek into the next chapter I know God's got a plan for my career. EBC has taught me how to be a true man of God, think critically, be REAL and dig deep into Scripture; not just surface read it. I cannot put into words what EBC has meant to me. Maybe I can write a book ahaha!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Singleness/Happiness/Love and Caffeine crash

I have a huge amount of respect for my fellow brothers and sisters who seem to be fine with singleness. But I often wonder: do they ever feel really alone? Like soul-shattering loneliness? Do they long for companionship?  Do they miss or want to just be with someone? To hold onto when they need a companion? To cherish and love? To talk to? To confide in?  Because I sure do! In my mind, because of my life struggles with lust I do not ever deserve another shot at love and that is a fact! The people who are fine with singleness seem like they are independent, maybe they've had their hearts broken too many times. Maybe they have lost faith and trust in people; I know a few who have, it is both heartbreaking and understandable. We can only take so much before giving up or going cold turkey. That or some are lying, loneliness hurts a lot. More than I can express here.

Valentine 's Day is just around the corner and once again I am sickened at the amount of crap the stores throw in my face. For one thing: being alone and seeing all the hearts, chocolates and flowers kind of gets me down. Secondly, filling one day of the year with corny cards, chocolates and love when there are 364 other days of the year is... dare I say stupid (now I realize Valentines is nothing more than a day that stores created to make money, and the epitome of consumerism. that's why its stupid). If I was not single, I would rather plan to do something instead of buying something for my mate because let's face it: that plush heart will collect dust. Doing something romantic, spontaneous and fun will create lasting memories. And of course guys getting on the knee with a ring on Valentine's may seem typical but hey, go for it! But why do all this lovey stuff on Feb 14? Surprise him/her on a different day too!  I look at this and realize what a distant dream that is. So this year on Feb 14th, I have a hot date with books, commentaries and blogs.... oh joy....

In the book Soul Cravings, Erwin McManus disucsses love; not much about romantic love, but agape love and community:
"When you give up on love, everything else seems to go with it: faith, hope, forgiveness, compassion, joy- they are all interconnected. But you might wonder: 'what if I never find love'? (I ask that question more than I care to admit)... When love does not come to you, it breaks your heart, but when you do not give love away it hardens your heart. One thing stranger than our need to be loved is our need to love.We are designed for love". - Soul Cravings: "Love is a Thin Red Line".

Where am I going with all of this? God IS love. We were created to be a loving community. There is an empty feeling to being single, but it helps me examine myself and how badly I need grace. How much of a sinner I am, but also how I can grow, change and transform my heart; making it cleaner and purer than snow.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence O Lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me, the joy of your salvation. And renew a right spirit within me.

Happy Valentines/Single's Awareness/Weezer Day/Birthdays peeps!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We Are Broken

We're all so broken. every living life form - broken. None the same as it once was. Why do we try so hard to present ourselves as if we are ... perfect? I am living in pieces, and each new day I discover what I was, and what I can become. There is beauty in the breakdown.- Bethany Liesmer .(friend from a previous job)