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I’m in it

26 Sep

Quite a lot has happened since last we spoke.

In April I was baptized on Easter Sunday. What an experience that was! In the morning we had our normal, combined with all our NSW campuses, at the Sydney Entertainment Center. For our combined night services we did water baptisms in which I decided to take the plunge, literally. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life. Not only was I baptized in front of 15,000 people while the greatest worship team on planet earth lead worship but I got to make a (very) public declaration of my faith in my saviour.

In May we had Sisterhood. Have you ever heard 15,000 women singing in unison? Yeah, didn’t think so. I’m not going to lie, seeing that many women in one place at one time stressed me out a little bit. But just being able to play a tiny part in something that impacted so many women was really special. I’ve learned to think outside my immediate circle of experience when it comes to events like this. It’s not about me. Sisterhood is about the 15,000 women who came and were changed forever.

In July it was the Superbowl of conferences, the big daddy of christian events. Hillsong Conference 2014 (No Other Name). Before the actual conference students were put through a two week boot camp of what we can expect when it comes to Hillsong conference. We learned everything from making sure we were getting enough rest (which was difficult because of the 6:15am bus departures and 10:00pm arrival home from conference the night before) to how to deal with “interesting” or “funny” delegates. You’ve now discovered that by “interesting” and “funny” I actually mean difficult.

Now, I would never be as insensitive to compare when soldiers arrived on Normandy beach on D-Day to arriving to Hillsong Conference on day one…but I was getting that vibe from students on shuttle to the stadium. Nobody was really talking. A few faces had lost all colour and gone completely white. One guy had a nervous vomit. Not really. But I wouldn’t have been surprised. I’ll give you a brief day to day testimony of how conference was for me:

Day 1: Fueled by adrenaline, conference is easy breezy. Four more days of this? I can do this easy. I’m not sure what everyone was warning me about.

Day 2: Ok. Maybe I need to pace myself. I definitely need to get a better sleep tonight. Maybe I’ll do some stretching so my back isn’t as sore for tomorrow.

Day 3: If I have to say hi to one more person I’m going to go insane. I can’t do this. Absolute rock bottom. Two more days of this? I think I might call in sick with shingles or swine flu. Why are delegates so angry at me? If it was up to me you guys could go anywhere you want but my oversight said you can’t go downstairs. STOP YELLING AT ME!!!!

Day 4: Are you there God? It’s me Jimmy. Is there some unrepented sin in my life I need to deal with? Is that why you’re punishing me? Fine! I’m sorry God! I’m sorry I took an umbrella from church without returning it! It was raining and I have already lost five of my own umbrellas! Is it because I took my friends student ID and scanned him in while he went to the beach? Ok fine. It was ME who gave my ID to a friend and I went to the beach instead of class. I’m sorry God! FORGIVE ME!

Day 5: Wow. What an experience. I’m not even sure I can fully comprehend what I was just a part of. Not only will this conference effect Australia and it’s cities but it’s going to impact the world. I was pushed to my limit and I found you there. I got to hear the best speakers in the world with 20,000 people. I’m sad it’s over…..What’s that? Pack down? What’s that? I’m going to retreat to an isolated area and crumble to the fetal position. Wake up when the busses leave.

We started our second semester in mid July and it has been amazing. I’m being challenged in my faith. I’m being challenged on why I believe what I believe. I’m learning more about Christ and falling more and more in love with him each day. The bible has come alive to me. It’s not just words on a page anymore. I feel like I know the people I’m reading about. I’m emerging myself in the love story that is the books of the bible.

My friendships are growing stronger. I’m also learning how to be a better friend.

I’m getting platform opportunities, which has been incredibly humbling. I’ve played guitar in first year chapel, bv’d at Hillsong men and most recently I was rostered to co lead worship at Hillsong men! That, I can say with all sincerity, was the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything in my entire life.

The semester is coming to a close and the seasons are changing. We’ve gone from winter to spring and soon it will be summer which will signify the end of the year here. I will be doing second year and I can’t even comprehend what that will be like. I’m really looking forward to that.

However, I am way more excited about meeting my tiny little 8 month old niece Lenox Faith Hyde! I can’t wait to spoil her, read to her, laugh at her farts and have her laugh at mine. I cannot wait to be home at Christmas to see my Ottawa family!

Love you all!

Fyi — my birthday is on October 7. If you wanted to bless me with iTunes gift cards or anything I’d be cool with that.

Settling in Sydney

6 Feb

So it’s a been almost 2.5 weeks since I moved to Sydney to attend Hillsong College and it’s starting to feel more and more like home.

I’m slowly working out a routine of getting up, going for a run and reading while having coffee and toast.  We still don’t have a fridge yet but once we do I can see myself getting into eggs and strawberries for break…with coffee being the essential ingredient to a balanced breakfast for me.

Sydney is awesome.  The people are so friendly.  Like, I thought Canadians were friendly but compared to Australians we are scum bags!!  I mean it.  Everyone is cool and nobody really sweats anything.  Owners don’t have their dogs on leashes, which cause me some anxiety, but even the dogs are like, “yeah no biggie”.  It’s an awesome vibe!

My flat mates are amazing!  Everyone cleans up after themselves, nobody is a slob and we all do our part to make sure this is a place we all want to be.  I love hanging with these guys.  God has blessed me with phenomenal roomies.

I love walking around the Waterloo area and running into Hillsong College students.  We are everywhere!  At any given point, when I’m at Coles getting groceries, I could see five people from school.  And it’s not like seeing people you used to know from high school where you pretend like you guys don’t know/see each other and walk off.  You engage each other!  “Bro, how’s the day going?”  “So good mate!” etc.  (That was just a simulated grocery store conversation)

At school, we’ve began our intensive week.  It kicked off with a trip out to our Hills campus to attend a combined Hillsong staff and student meeting.  We got to hear from the Eagle, Brian Houston…boom.  So much knowledge and wisdom packed into a voice that sounds like it’s coming out of a diesel engine!  Then we got to hear Robert Fergusson for FOUR HOURS!!!  MAN IT WAS GOOD!  I could honestly listen to that guy for 24 hours.  After class was Part 3, seriously we did a three part Vision video, Pastor Brian laid out more of a local Vision for Hillsong church, what we’d be doing on a more local scale.  Oh, ps. Pastor Brian mentioned that a Hillsong United doc, a Hollywood produced movie, live at the Hollywood bowl was in the works.  Just keep your eyes peeled on that.

Making lots of friends and lots of family.  Meeting new people, not just at church, and loving life.

More to come.

xoxo,

Jimmy

Maroubra

Humble beginnings

29 Jan

So it’s been about a week now and Sydney is great!

Even when it’s cold it’s warm, you know?  The sky is always blue and the sun is always out.  It’s a dream land!

I’m finally getting MILDLY settled in.  I spent the first few nights in Sydney on a couple of really cool guys couch (Eric Ashton and Jo-Jo) as my accommodations weren’t quite figured out at the moment.  

The new students team IS excellent!  As soon as I got off the plane and made my way to the school there were trips to the mall planned so students could figure out their banking and phone situations.  

It took me a little while to settle in.  Getting a phone plan, for an international student, isn’t easy.  They needed a proof of address, which I didn’t have for awhile, passport and at least $1000 in my bank account.  EVENTUALLY, I got it figured out and I can cruise instagram all day long…not really.  My data plan isn’t all that great.

Me and a couple mates (see, I’m assimilating already) live in Waterloo in a little area called Redfern.  Apparently we live in the ghetto (Don’t tell my mom).  But, if you ask me, it’s a pretty chill neighbourhood.  I mean, yeah there is a bird up in a tree that sounds like a screening baby when it makes any kind of noise but that’s only alarming when you’re walking home late at night.  

Another thing:  I guess I have an accent.  Who knew?  It only comes out on certain words but people find it hilarious when I say “house” or “caramel”.  So, that’s not too bad.  

We had our auditions today and if there are ANY future Hillsong students, or people thinking of attending Hillsong, do not worry about this.  It is super relaxed, super chill.  Yes, it is a bit nerve racking at the time but it’s nothing too serious.  They can’t unaccept you to Hillsong College.  You’ve already been accepted and this is just a way to figure out which learning groups you would be best in.  

Hillsong is awesome.  It’s a big church.  A really really BIG church but it does not feel like that at all!  I feel like I’ve made hundreds of friends already and it’s only been a week.  The worship is awesome…but you guys already knew that.  The teaching is excellent!

There it is!  My first week in Australia is in the books.  I’ve been to the beach, did a little night time cruising and am generally living the dream.

I do miss home though.  I miss my family, my brother, my sis, my dog and my niece Lenox.  Seriously, have you seen her yet?  She is a KNOCKOUT!  I can’t wait to hold her at Christmas time!

God is already challenging me in a lot of areas in my life.  I didn’t get a chance to mention Summerfest but I can safely say that whole weekend rocked my world in a lot of ways.  It is going to be an awesome year and I am SO excited to get going!

Please keep me in your prayers.  Yes, I do live in Australia but I miss home.  Pray that I stay present in this season.  That I keep Jesus at the centre and always remember WHY I came to Hillsong in the first place.  

I’m excited for this journey but wish all of you were here to share it with me.

Love you lots!

xoxo

Ps. More to come. 

Ambassadors of the spirit

13 Aug

I get the privilege of playing lunch time hockey every so often.  How did I get dealt such a sweet hand?  I try not to think about it.

Typically, for the Bell Sensplex, the month of August is full of kids whose parents are so desperate for someone to look after their kids that they will enroll them in summer hockey day camps.  Nevertheless, the Bell Sensplex is packed with kids who love the game of hockey.

This past week, during our very mixed bag of skill, age and athletic ability hockey game, a younger kid, probably around 9 or 10, poked his head into our sheet of ice and had his face up against the glass, looking on with great interest.  Then it dawned on me, “You don’t have to be Sidney Crosby to be an ambassador of the game of hockey”.  You are an ambassador of the game when you lace’em up.

I could have walked over to him, looked him dead in the eye, and told him I thought he sucked and he could have been so devastated about it that he would never play hockey again.  On the flip side, and the more likely of the two scenarios, I could have gone over, complimented him on his skates/gloves/helmet, handed him a puck and he may have been so fired up about that that he remembered that day as the day he decided to be a professional hockey player.  It sounds really arrogant, but it’s true!

As Christians, we have this EXACT same opportunity with non-believers or people who aren’t quite sure about their faith.  We need to be ambassadors of the spirit!

If I walked up to random people on the street, declared my love for God, and then continued to make fun of their clothes, life style choices or favorite music, WHATEVER, chances are that person will NEVER set foot in a church EVER because of that one time a Christian came up to them and started making fun.  On the flip side, and the more likely of the two scenarios, I could pay for someone’s coffee behind me, make conversation with the clerk at the gas station or WHATEVER!  I could be an ambassador of the spirit of God!

Chances are people aren’t going to run into Carl Lentz, Brian Houston or TD Jakes on the streets.  Non-Christians and Christians who are in weird spots with their faith will, however, run into us.  They will run into average ordinary lovers of God.  How we interact with people could make or break their salvation.  It may sound arrogant but it’s so true.  The stakes are SO high!

Christians worst enemy has been, and always will be, Christians themselves.  Be ambassadors of the spirit!

peace,

Jimmy

Into the Wild

15 Feb

” 25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”  

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”  

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”  

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?”  

30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.  

31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.  

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”  

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 

35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 

36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 

37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

Dear readers,

I don’t know who you are, what you’re interested in or what you dream about at night but I can say this, you have a calling.  God has placed a calling on your life to not just be good but to be extraordinary!

Take David, for example.  He was a Sheppard.  For his entire life, or at least when he was old enough, he tended to his fathers sheep.  He did whatever sheep herders do.  I’m assuming he fed them, kept them clean AND, as it says in1 Samuel 17 34:36, he kept them safe.

Did David know that one day he would fight this Goliath and go on to be King of Judah?  I would have a hard time believing that while he was herding sheep he was like, “One more day of sheep herding then it’s off to kill the Goliath!”  No, I think David knew he had a calling but didn’t know what it was.  Regardless, while he may not of known what his calling was yet, he remained faithful to what God had put in front of him.  He may not have known exactly WHAT his calling was but he knew there was one and God was preparing him for it…through herding sheep.  As it says in 1 Samuel 17 34:36, David had to rescue his sheep from Lions and Bears.  He had to protect his sheep from LIONS and BEARS.  God prepared David for Goliath through being a Sheppard.

So, two things:  1.  What’s your “Sheep Herding”?  How is God preparing you right now for your calling, for your “Goliath”?  You may work in an office but your calling is to go to Africa and help kids read…but you work in an office.  If you remain faithful to what God has put in front of you he will use it to prepare you for something bigger.  What is your “fighting lions and bears”?  2.  What is your “Goliath”?  While we are not all called to be King, like David, each one of us is called for something and here are some tips to figuring it out:  You love it, but the thought of pursuing it scares the crap out of you or makes you extremely uncomfortable, you dream about it, it  fires you up, and you just get a little more into a conversation that is about “it”.  Rick Warren had a great tweet that said, “If you want to know where you’ll be in 5 yrs listen to what you talk about most now. “Your tongue is a rudder” James 3:4″.  What are you talking about most now?

We have a calling.  The thought of pursuing that calling may be scary.  But know this: If you are living out Gods calling on your life that means you have GOD on your side and when we have God on our side, we cannot fail.  If that doesn’t give you confidence to go for it then I don’t know what will.

peace,

Jimmy

Fear

1 Feb

Hebrews 4:14 – 16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.  16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We serve an amazing God.  We serve a God who wants us to be happy and who wants us to be the best AND have the best.  Unfortunately for us, however, sometimes the things God wants for us to have and the people God calls us to be are a little outside our comfort zone.  Sometimes God requires we stretch ourselves a little bit.  And the only thing between us and the magnificent treasures he has for us is fear.

I started practicing so I could be a part of the worship service at myChurch about three months ago.  In order to achieve that certain “myChurch” sound, I needed to get a few guitar pedals…a necessity for any serious guitar player.  So, I did my research and picked out the pedals that I wanted to buy.  The problem was, however, that the month (January) I decided to purchase these very expensive guitar pedals I also got a very large property tax bill in excess of $2,000, due January 30.  But I felt strongly about being a part of the worship band at myChurch so I knew that I needed to buy the pedals no matter what.  Finances were going to be tight in January, no doubt, but I was going to make it work.  I had to.

Within 12 hours of making the decision to get the pedals, a decision that was difficult to make given my tight financial position, they were paid for.  Not by me, but by my parents.  I told my parents about the worship band and about my large property tax bill, and how I felt I needed to buy the pedals because God was pushing me towards worship and they wanted to help.  God was pushing me into worship and the only thing holding me back was the fear of lack of finances.  But when I decided that I needed to do it anyway, God provided.

So, I went on a shopping spree/treasure hunt.  However, I told my Dad that there was only one place I was not willing to look for any guitar equipment and that was at Steve’s Music downtown on Rideau.  Why you ask?  Downtown freaks me out.  I mean, I’m a country boy.  It is louder, smellier and the surroundings straight up make me uncomfortable.  I really had no intention of going to Steve’s.

The first pedal was easy enough to find but after two failed trips to other music stores, I was still having a hard time locating the PolyTune and the TC Electronic ND-1.  I looked everywhere for them but I couldn’t find what I was looking for.  At this point my Dad piped in, looking for clarification on why we weren’t going downtown, and said, “So why aren’t we going to that place on Rideau (Steve’s)?”  I replied with, “Because I hate going downtown.  It’s loud and it smells weird.  It makes me uncomfortable”.  But, against my will, I called Steve’s, desperate, looking for my desired pedals.  After I hung up the phone, sheepishly I turned to my Dad and said, “They have them, both”.

At that point, the only thing standing between me and the pedals that God wanted for me was my fear of going downtown.  God had provided finances for the pedals and all I had to do was go down to Steve’s and pick them up.  It was that simple.  But in my head it was, “I HATE going downtown because…”.  After a moment of father-son bonding, my Dad had managed to convince me into going downtown to Steve’s where I was able to buy the pedals that will help me be part of the myChurch worship band, which will make me a better guitar player.

Nothing inspires me more then ordinary people looking their fears in the eye and saying, “NOT TODAY!”  I firmly believe that we make God happy when we, against every feeling we have in our bodies, get out of our comfort zone.  God, in general, is out of our comfort zone.  People never live by FAITH more then when we are out of our comfort zone doing things we wouldn’t ordinarily do.  And it doesn’t matter if we are going to a destination that makes us uncomfortable or if we are getting up in front of people despite our lack of desire to speak publicly.  God is proud of us when we stretch a little.

We serve a loving God who wants us to be the best and to have the best.  Sometimes, however, the things God wants for us are JUST outside our comfort zone.  We can stay comfortable and miss “it” or we can stretch.  Personally, I choose stretch.

peace,

Jimmy

A really awesome story – myChurch

26 Sep

Check out myChurch!!!!

Dear friends,

God is real.  He is so amazingly real.  Please understand that before continuing on this blog.

I have been going to this cool little church for the past couple of months called myChurch.  Trendy, huh?  It’s been operating out of the Gladstone theatre for the last nine months or so and if you’ve ever been inside the Gladstone you know how cool it is.  I’ve never felt so energized after a service like I do when I go to myChurch.  I literally leave there every Sunday and start to get excited for NEXT Sunday.  myChurch is made up of these really crazy awesome people who bring this first rate worship Sunday after Sunday….after Sunday after Sunday etc.  I could rhyme off a list of cool things that have happened to me and around me over the last few months but there is one story in particular I feel like sharing.

A little over 10 weeks ago the myChurch started this fundraising campaign for their morning service called ’20/10′.  The goal of this campaign was to raise $20,000 in 10 weeks.  I need to mention two things right off the bat.  1.  If you’ve ever been part of any church you know how difficult it is two raise $20,000 in a year let alone $20,000 in 10 weeks.  2.  Although ALL are welcome, myChurch seems to consist of mostly students who, on any given night, can be seen huddled over their stove making a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner.  Needless to say, the $20,000 in 10 weeks seemed like a daunting task.  But the Pastor, Caleb Davidson, didn’t think so.  Week after week he would get up at the front of the church and proclaim that this was going to get done, that God was going to make it happen.  And every time he did that I would get the same feeling of “Oh, God, please let this happen so Caleb isn’t humiliated”.

September 11th was a Sunday and the 10th week in the 20/10 campaign.  I remember it well.  At the start of the service, before they took the offering, the amount of $$$ they had received for the 20/10 campaign was $9,700.  Which, when you do the math, is just slightly less then half.  Nonetheless, Caleb got up at the start of the service and said that he believed that $20,000 was the number and that they were going to get reach their goal.  God was going to provide for this campaign and there was no convincing Caleb otherwise.

So, Caleb got up at the front of the church and proclaimed that they were going to reach the $20,000 and it was going to happen that night!  And, like clockwork, I got that same feeling I have been getting for the last 10 weeks whenever he proclaimed that.

After that, we worshiped, Caleb preached an awesome message and then the we closed with more worship.  But before we got to sing our last worship song, Caleb had an announcement to make.  With the kick drum playing in the background, Caleb made his way to stage.

September 11th was a Sunday.  And that Sunday the offering for the 20/10 campaign was $16,000 bringing the money raised for the 20/10 campaign to approximately $26,000.  Instead of getting the feeling of “Oh my God I hope Caleb isn’t humiliated” I got this feeling of pure joy and excitement.  I think I described it to Caleb as “It was like the ball dropping at Time Square on New Years Eve”.  Thinking about it now, the egg was/is very much on my face and on all of the faces of the people who worried the same thing as me.  God said he was going to provide and he did.  Sometimes he does it on a small scale and sometimes he does it on a big scale.  And every time you think he does it on a big scale, I get the feeling like God says “You think that was big?  Wait until you see what I do next!”.

September 11th was a Sunday.  I will remember it well.

God is real.  He is so amazingly real.  And that, to me, is what they call Good News!

peace,

Jimmy

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