Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lord's Name in Vain: More than OMG?

Thou shall not take the Lord's name in vain. A simple command given from God to Moses. It is the only command that God will not hold us guiltless. (gulp!)
So next time you utter Oh my... watch yourself! Now, because of Jesus we are not bound to the Old Testament Law, but have you thought that taking God's name in vain is more than omg/jc/gd etc. Now, I do my best to never utter those words and warn those who chose to. Why would you curse the only one who can save you? Or curse who created you?
Now back to the "more than" part. Saying those swears obviously takes His name in vain. But what about false preaching, lying, intentionally misinterpreting scripture seem to be things that take God's name in vain. Example: a false teacher/preacher is one who claims to speak for God yet is false in their doctrine, would that qualify? I think so. Example: Westbro and their "God hates fags" slogan. Or attempting to speak for God when you really aren't. (again, Westbro. Or any false teacher, cult etc)
Misinterpretation of Scripture, sure if it's accidental and you straighten out your theology (repent) yeah! But if you go throwing random verses and completely miss the point on them. God's name is disrespected is it not?
Any way that we misuse God's name is sinful and should be stopped. Let God be God. Not only is this sinful, it is extremely disrespectful. Sure we say the "substitute" phrases like oh my goodness and oh my. God's name is not uttered wrongly but is that our intention? I sure hope not. (I say goodness.. but never mean to utter God's name unless I read His word or witness, talk about Him etc). Rant over.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Act Like Men


Last weekend I attended the Act Like Men Conference in Hamilton. The main speakers were James MacDonald, Greg Laurie, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Eric Mason and a bonus concert with Lecrae. It was an amazing time to be challenged, encouraged and convicted in my faith. On the first night, over 300 people made decisions for Jesus, either for the first time or re-dedications. Praise the Lord! The Holy Spirit was present the whole weekend. Two friends were among the ones going forward. Below, I wish to share some highlights.
The theme verse was 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men. Be strong, let all that you do be done in love. 
Matt Chandler covered the "stand firm" part of the verse. The gist of the message was around the prodigal son. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God. He talked a lot about God chiseling at us, as a form of chastisement I think. We need to let God chisel out the evil in our lives.
One quote that stood out was "Stop pretending like we're already there and quit feeling sorry for yourself".
And one more thing is that DOCTRINE MATTERS! Simple as that. I did not take notes in a couple of the others but Mark Driscoll's was incredible.
He talked about "Be strong". He actually talked about a genealogy at a conference. It was the genealogy leading up to Abraham. It was significant because 10 generations before him were godless, heathen pagans.
Abraham is mentioned over 300x in the Bible, including Hebrews 11 the "Faith Hall of Fame". He went on to say that Abraham is the father of our faith, since Jesus came from his lineage. Our example is in Christ but Abe is the physical father of Christianity.

- We should worship Christ not comfort, Are we waiting for some kind of sign from God? Or a blessing? We should obey Him to see it, trust God before we realize, faith before seeing.

- God the Father chooses us, speaks to us, gives us commands and loves to bless us! Amen!

One quote that stood out in this was "Each man is a link in a chain towards life and death". And yes, he used a real chain.

Next up was James MacDonald, a man I often listen to and have seen preach a few times before.
He finished off the verse with "let all be done in love".  When we are all truth and no love: we are passive, we are bad listeners, we are cynical and we suck at disagreeing. James went on to say that "Absolute truth in the hands of absolute sinners can be absolutely brutal". All truth and no love is brutal. However, all love and no truth is weak.
To close off the conference, Eric Mason talked about breaking free from our strong holds, things that weigh us down. As men, they can be anything from rage, sexual issues (porn, promiscuity), apathy, drunkenness, an un-believing mind set and believing we are sub-standard.
These mind sets hinder growth and demand us to have an encounter with God to break from them. He used Gideon as an example.
This is a short (long) version of notes I took during the services, if they throw you off then please order the DVD of this year's conference. It's worth your while

Monday, September 30, 2013

5-Great Video Game Endings *CONTAINS some SPOILERS*

This list is not based on the quality of the endings, but also the overall game itself and the feeling after beating it. As well as things I may have went through while playing it.
Video games have been a big part of my life for over 23 years and is still a favourite pass time. Some say that they are a waste, but I could say in return that your s (let's say reading) is a waste. But I'm not  a jerk like that. Beating one brings about a great sense of accomplishment because games envelop us into a new environment full of characters, enemies and surroundings that we get emotionally attached to in a way. They can be an escape for those who struggle in society (eg bullying).

Honorable mentions: Halo 4
: I was new in Sauble playing a new game with a new friend. When Halo 4 came out, Frito Lay and Pepsi teamed together to give you double XP for your online character when you purchased mountain dew or Doritos. We went through many bags and beat the main campaign on co-op, while building up a character in online matches. Certain scenes were rather hard, especially with Cortana.


5- Super Mario World- 1995
- I had a friend in public school who was a couple years younger than me. This did not impress friends in my grade but I didn't care. Stu is a cool dude. He also had a Super Nintendo, one summer we played through the entire game and after many hard tries, defeated Bowser. After which we ran around the apartment like the sugar high kids we were. Yes, we did all 96 levels!

4- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
- The year was 2009, the place: Lower Wideman Room 1, Emmanuel Bible College. During a look-in for prospective students, Michael, Caleb and I stayed up into the wee hours of Thursday-Friday and played the entire game in one sitting. 3 friends, one game and we had class at 8:30. Meaning we all had a LOT of coffee for breakfast. We played the anti-reg campaign because.... anti-reg! No way we're signing that stupid Superhuman Registration Act! Plus, I think we all fought over who would be Deadpool! Good times!

3- Clash at Demonhead- 2003
- A rare NES game and a rather obscure one. Originally discovered by longtime friend Andrew. One night at my trailer (cottage), we marathoned this classic, while likely under the influence (before I was Christian). And fondly remember screaming at the insane puzzles, the oddly numeric interconnected road system. The final boss fight against Tom Guycott (weird name, skull guy boss) was not memorable but the way to finish the game was to defuse a doomsday bomb by putting the coins you find when defeating bosses. If you screw up, you die. It was a true nerd-rage-game.

2- Paper Mario: Series 2002, 2005
- Yeah, although I am giving the nod to Thousand Year Door I have played every Paper Mario game and beaten 3 of them. I'll give a brief overview of the first 3,
*Paper Mario 1: A must have for the N64 that started the obscurely gimmicked RPG. Origially slated to be a direct sequel to the underrated SNES hit Mario RPG, this game had said elements in it while having a cartoony, paper-based feel to it. It was a 2D game in a 3D world as a 2D sprite that ca fold like paper. Teh first game was not as memorable but very fun. I loved going to the moon to face Bowser while Peach's castle was suspended in the air. Downside: I had to beat both Bowser's AND Peach's castle. However, during Peach's sidequests, you can make enemies look dumb by setting "traps" that have useful items (badges, mushrooms). The final bowser fight was meh but it felt good to beat.
*Thousand Year Door*- A perfect game and remains my favourite of the 4. One of the best games on Gamecube basically takes the first Paper Mario game, expands it  over 9000!! The premise of this game revolves around Princess Peach getting captured by someone other than Bowser. 7 Crystal Stars are spread throughout the world and this magic map to the Thousand Year Door, with both Bowser (whom you can play as during side quests in between crystal stars.) The final boss is a strange demon called The Shadow Queen who possesses Peach for part of the battle. It is by far the longest and hardest boss I have beaten in an RPG game. The feeling of satisfaction after beating it in 2006 was unmatched! The ending was beautiful too. After watching the credits, you save and KEEP PLAYING? Return to Rogueport and do the other side quests!

1- Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
- 2002. It took me a long time to even get past the Water Temple. One night after watching my friends play hockey I wiped out hardcore on my way home leaving my knee a bloody bruised mess. After limping up my driveway to my house, I put on some tea and elevated my knee (rhyme!). After cruising through the Spirit Temple, I got to Ganon's Tower. Which I admit using Gamefaqs for the first time around. In the wee hours of an icy winter night, I witnessed the end of my favourite game ever. The end is typical to happy endings in games. All characters unite and party in Hyrule Field and wouldn't you know it? Zora's Domain unfreezes. I wish it would have after the Ice Cavern or the Water Temple. Ganon's Battle reminded me of the one in Link to the Past. I remember being a bit of a "spiritual seeker" at this time. God was using people in my life to speak some truth into my life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ashton Kutcher's Speech

Although I have never, and will never watch the Teen Choice Awards, a video of Ashton Kutcher's acceptance speech has been making the rounds on social media. I watched it a few times and listened intently. It was hard to drown out the constantly screaming girls which in my mind is very disrespectful when someone is talking. Ashton or should I say "Chris" made very valid points about the world and delivered probably the greatest message outside of the gospels youth need to hear today. It blew my mind because I am seeing this come from the same guy who played lovable idiots like Michael Kelso in That 70's Show and his prank show Punk'd. Let's forget Dude Where's My Car because the movie is just so.....bad but yet funny if your immature like me. I recently heard he was going to play Steve Jobs in a movie about his life. I laughed at first. but then I watched this speech. I don't know what award he got, but he won a lot of respect from a lot of people, including me.
Steve Jobs: I joked around about him, in good fun because of the whole Apple-Hipster thing but he's another man I have high regard for because of the way he changed technology and how he did it. I will watch Ashton attempt to take on the heavy task of being Steve. Making this movie affected him and it is evident in the speech.
I will share a couple highlights and leave a link below

-  Opportunity looks a lot like hard work. I never had a job I was better than, I was just lucky to have a job. I did not quit it until my next one was lined up.
- Being sexy: the sexiest thing you can do is be generous, smart, thoughtful. Everything else is crap! It is crap that people try to sell you, don't fall for it. 

Those statements are so true and can speak to us all. Sometimes we don't think flipping burgers, delivering papers, stocking shelves or pouring coffee is ideal but you are not better than your job. Be thankful and give grace to your bosses by working your butts off and trying your best. If you "hate your job" don't quit, stick it out but keep your options open if you want to move on. We all need money so it would be wise to keep what you have until something else career wise comes up.
Yes ladies and gents the sexiest thing you can be is generous, smart and thoughtful. Nothing turns a man off like an angry, bossy, snarly woman. Ditto for you, men! And I just loved LOVED when he, a celebrity said everything else is crap. So true! Commercials throw a lot of crap like "if you use this soap, women will throw themselves at you" and "this will complete you"... I know you are all smarter than that. Enjoy the video here:


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Righteous..... Jealousy?

The title there might be an oxymoron. It is meant to be, duh!. After I graduated bible college last year, I watched several of my best friends achieve success either by a job in their field, a marriage or some other crazy awesome "God thing". I look online and see how much they love their job and place in life and honestly get a little jealous. In a good way though, I am happy for them and love them all dearly. I get a case of what I call "righteous jealousy". Yes, jealousy is a sin but I think it's really bad when you take it way too far; like Cain did. Wishing you had success is not bad, it should strive you to get out there! But when I look at my life; I don't see a lot of joy. I see a menial 9-5 job. It's hard to find beauty in the mundane, but once in a while a crack of light breaks through. It's not that I don't see God working in my life, there are areas I'd rather see it happen. Sure I've lost almost 20 pounds since Christmas and  my relationship with my brother has been great. But I've always wanted a little more, I really do not deserve it but it would be nice!

During my final year at EBC, I prayed really hard about a job, preferably in youth ministry but anything that paid my bills. And preferably in Kitchener. I grew to love that city but was also half willing to take my job elsewhere. After two pastoral job interviews both saying no (both in different cities) I began to apply anywhere and everywhere in KW. In a frantic I kept printing resumes and going on bus runs, bike rides and etc to get my name out there. One came very close, but was a no. I did get a call to move to Sauble Beach and work at my brother's grocery store, it's not glamorous but the pro's outweigh the cons. Heck, he found a fully furnished apartment near the store for me. A God thing? Yeah!
In the end, I am grateful I ended up where I did. God places us wherever there's kingdom work to be done. I just don't see a career out of stocking shelves. However ministry calling is not necessarily about paid vocation, it is about the shepherds tending to the flock. In God's timing, His will is done. "Time to play the waiting game........ ooooh waiting game sucks. Let's play hungry hungry hippos"- Homer Simpson.

I am also reminded of some Scripture verses about God's direction:

Psalm 37:23- The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
Proverbs 2:6-9- For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.
Luke 11:9-10- "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sabbath

*I started this blog entry in March, and just got back to it now*

Last year, I did a blog about "Sunday Shopping" and why I think it is okay to do so. Again, it is a beyond-outdated discussion. But this goes beyond Sunday. Now when God created the universe in six literal days, he rested on the seventh day and established "the Sabbath". On such a  day, The Pentateuch and Jewish Law strictly forbid anyone from doing work but to focus solely on God, attend temple, atone for sins, etc..  When Jesus was eating with the tax collectors on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were furious! To which Jesus replies: (paraphrased) "If one of your sheep went missing, would you go looking for it? Or hold onto your strict laws, letting it die"? Given the historical context behind this and the importance of sheep back then, I'd go find it! I would go beyond this, say someone was sick and your a doctor, would you save a life knowing its the Sabbath? You know my answer..
When I think of a Sabbath, I think of a day where I am not scheduled to work. A day for God and myself. Now is a Sabbath necessarily supposed to be Sunday? I disagree. Why? Look at people who work regularly on Sundays: clergy. They are working, but are also making disciples. Which is why almost every pastor I know has their "Sabbath" on Saturday or Monday. Anyone in the service industry works Sunday, right now I am working nights, working til 6:30am and do not desire to stay up to go to church.
The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday at dinner time and lasts throughout all of Saturday. The Muslim Sabbath is Friday and the Christian is Sunday. Also, God ordained the Sabbath thousands of years before the Julian calendar was even invented. So, on whatever day you have off take time to read, listen to worship music, go be in nature and simply be with God etc. Give that day to Him. Give ALL of your days to Him.
Making use of a Sabbath is beneficial to the soul, do it as often as possible. In a busy, work work work world, try and use some spare time for Christ.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Canyon

There is a Canyon, deep within my soul.
Deeper than the sin that I can take toll
So many sins, I am losing my footing
Falling off the edge is very off-putting
The edge of the cliff is my only one choice
As I prepare to jump, I can hear Satan rejoice
But before I leap I hear a voice yell "STOP"!
He explains to me that God is on top
Of his life, priorities and that he has peace
As I pray, all of my trails cease.
Now this canyon, contains all of my sin.
God throws it in, "IT IS FINISHED!" Christ, over death his victory does win. 

*Written April 23, 2013. On the Grand Canyon*

Monday, May 6, 2013

Twenty-Nine

*I spent my 29th birthday on the Grand Canyon. I was surreal! From there we drove all over and ended up in Yuma, AZ right near the border to California. REALLY late at night, like 2am PT Pacific Time..like 5am EST. I was pooped, but it gave me time to reflect on my life. This was written, in those wee hours of April 24th in Yuma*

Twenty Nine

Twenty-Nine Years
Twenty-Nine Tears
Twenty-Nine Chances
Twenty-Nine Glances
Twenty-Nine Times I sin
Twenty-Nine Times I am forgiven

Every new day, every new year, on this earth I trod
Brings about my fear, my fear of God.

A fear that does not produce terror, but reverence and respect
A fear that allows me to obey and expect.

God to be God, may His will be done
By the cross of Christ, where victory is won.

*Twenty-Nine years, God has blessed me beyond all I can understand. I am unworthy of it all, but God is so good!*


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Breathless

*I wrote this poem while walking around the Grand Canyon on April 23, 2013. It was truly a spectacular sight. This was the first part of the canyon I saw and immediately took a picture. God literally stole my breath with this beautiful piece of His creation. It did not have a specific 1-2-1-2 poetic rhyming style, but not all poems do. Enjoy!-JF*

Breathless:
I stand at the spot where God stole my breath
So much so, I found myself near the point of death
How a God could create a sight so beautiful
So breathless
So complex
So huge, and I am ever grateful.
My heart pounds in anticipation with each next sight
Leaving me breathless by the power of His might
The same might that caused Earth's waters to flood
So deep is this Canyon, deep as the sin paid by his blood
So wide is this Canyon, as wide as my sin is cast
Eternity is more beautiful than this Canyon? How can that be so? 
God saves the best sights for last, this much I know.

*I was truly in awe here. I felt so small, so inadequate, so lacking in worth. Looking down the Canyon,  I could spot people camping far off. They felt even smaller. From God's perspective, this Canyon is a dot. And I am even smaller than said dot, yet God still spots me and shines! It was a reminder of God being in control of my life, and despite my daily failures to live up to His standards, God is love, God is Justice and forgiveness has already happened at the cross*.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Route 66, a poem.

On Old Route 66
I realized my heart needed a fix
Thoughts racing
Faith erasing
Escaping a past that kept me from God
Yet, He finds me. As in the desert I trod
Route 66. Where my faith began to take shape
Each new face, each new day, each new blessing I did tape
To my wall, the wall of my soul. To pray without ceasing.
That my Saviour, My God would find my life pleasing

*I thought of this on Route 66. It was written somewhere in I think Oklahoma or New Mexico. I was not really challenging my own faith but I imagined myself in a different life. As someone who would of grown up there years ago. Going down Route 66 to California and pondering life. It stretched from Illinois to there, as the only way there once. It still stands as a long stretch of road, adjacent to the freeway. Went on it for a bit. Nice, scenic, historic.* Written April 21, 2013.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Untitled Poem. Inspired by Relient K's "Deathbed"

When I breathe my last breath, I pray Jesus carries me home.
On distant shores, I here him speak in parable and poem.
"I am the way, truth and life" He says as I fall, rendered mute and dumb
I ponder: "Why am I allowed in glory when my sin made me so numb?"
I was there, mocking the dying Christ by my foolish, unwise choices.
Yet, despite that; His death covers my sins and turns tears of pain to rejoices.
When I close my eyes for the last time, Oh Lord I do pray.
That you carry me home, where at your feet I will lay.

*Written April 26, 2013. While on vacation in Denver. Lots of free time gave me material for many poems to be published here soon*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A peace like no other

2013 started off quite well. Matt made the trip to Sauble, caught up and gamed up. Fun times. For a week or so after, my depressing feelings came back with a vengeance not knowing why. I was still soul-searching for my soul mate with pretty much a prayer and random thoughts/dreams of what it might look like. This is a symptom/ disease that has kind of "plagued" me for the past couple years. Knowing that my relationships failed to no fault of my own (I stopped blaming myself, for the most part) was no longer bothering me much. I prayed for peace, and God gave me a peace like no other. I'll combine that with some good chats and actually a blog I read on singleness. Click here
Bible College was an interesting place to be single. How often I see the proverbial "I am a Christian boy, you are a Christian girl. Let's get married so I do not burn with lust! Because [marriage] the be all end all for believers ". (um...no?!) Who trained us to think like that? I felt like that once, until I traveled back in time and sacked myself. I think it is asinine that finding that "one" is mandatory for every believer. It's a blessing, not a necessity. Not everyone is called to such a life, I accept it. Kind of love it. If God blesses me or not, He's still awesome!
I echo the song by Kim Walker "I have found"
I have found a peace that plows on through the storm.
I have found a joy that jumps over sadness.
I have found a love that lights up every room.
I have found, I've found you!

I am finally at peace with my place in life and.. it feels like freedom! Now there are always other parts of my life that require improvement I know God is working. Confidence has always been my kryptonite, because of failures in several areas and/or/both not putting enough initiative into things. I strongly desire to serve God in a youth ministry aspect and my "inner critic" (as Brett Andrews puts it) shatters every opportunity. Not anymore! I am a tool to be used for His glory. SEND ME LORD!
2013, is looking to be a great year. Here's to it!