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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

A God Story Part 2 – Ankles

6 Sep

Warning:  This story includes heavy doses of believing in God (or a lack-thereof).

Ladies and gentleman I have been misdiagnosed.  As a result of that misdiagnosis I have been walking, awkwardly I might add, around with a boot on my right foot.  The boot is designed to make sure my ankle is stationary so that it could heal and I could still walk around on it.  However, my ankle was never broken and therefore I did not need the boot.

It went like this, I hurt both my ankles wakeboarding.  I went to the walk-in clinic to get them checked out.  The doctor told me to go get X-Rays and apparently the X-Rays showed that I had broken my right ankle.  So the doctor told me that broken bones take six weeks to heal, gave me a prescription for a walking boot, told me to get re X-ray’d in a couple of weeks, and away I went obviously distraught that I would be seriously limited in my abilities over the next few weeks.

Finally two weeks had passed and I went for a follow up X-Ray on Friday September the 2nd with a raging hope on that I would receive some good news as to the status of my broken bone.  The people who took my X-Ray told me to follow up with my family doctor the following week and not the one from the walk-in clinic, where this whole thing began.  I was able to meet with my doctor today and apparently my ankle was never broken.  It turns out that my right ankle just has an extra bone in it and that was why my ankle looked broken.

So, there I was sitting on the doctors table having just been told that I had been wearing this walking boot for the last two weeks because the doctor at the walk in clinic never bothered to touch my ankle.  Any normal person would’ve been pissed.  But I’ll tell you something.  It was my own damn fault.  I deserved to wear that boot.  God told me my ankle wasn’t broken from the get go and I neglected to listen to him.  The whole thing was my fault.

On my first trip to the doctors office they sat me in a room where I waited for about 15 minutes.  I started to get depressed thinking about how my summer was pretty much over and about how I wouldn’t be able to golf, swim, or enjoy the remaining warm days.  I was down in the dumps.  So, out of desperation I asked God if my ankle was broken.  The answer I got back was an emphatic, “No”.  With a brighter outlook on things now, I headed to get my X-Rays done.  You could imagine my despair when the X-Ray revealed that my ankle was “broken”.

My ankle was never broken.  However, I’ve been wearing a boot for the past two weeks because I didn’t believe God when he said as much.  God told me when I was sitting on the bed in the clinic that my ankles was not broken and I didn’t listen.  Which got me to thinking about how many times have we had the opportunity to believe God but have chosen to walk around with a boot on instead?

So, hear I sit with a boot on my ankle that I don’t need because I didn’t believe and I am asking you that if you get a chance to believe God todaybelieve him…no matter what the X-Rays tell you!

peace,

Jimmy

A story about God

26 Aug

What your about to read will include a heavy dose of God.  There will be talking about, praising, and all around good vibrations of God in the coming words.  So, if you don’t want to be complicit in the glorification of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit then stop reading now…

The reflection, which is the basis for this entry, began last night.  For about a month my brother hounded me to read ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’ by Romeo Dallaire.  It is the accounts of Lt. Dallaire’s time in Rwanda and how humanity basically allowed 800,000 Rwandans to be slaughtered in a few weeks.  I am 30 pages in and I can feel the frustration rise with every flip of the page.  Anyway, I was reading the preface and at the end of it was this chilling paragraph:

After one of my many presentations following my return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked me how, after all I had seen and experienced, I could still believe in God.  I answered that I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil.  I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him.  I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God.  Peux ce que veux.  Allons-y.”  LGen Romeo Dallaire – July 2003

I had to pause a second to let what I had just read to sink in.  He knew God existed because he met the devil.

How lucky are we, as Canadians, that we have the privilege to wake up in this beautiful country every morning.  We wake every morning and go to work without every wondering if we will make it back home to see our families.  We can do, basically, whatever we want.  We get to go to school, have coffee with friends, swim in our rivers, eat our fresh food, etc.  People in Rwanda didn’t , and probably still don’t, get to do any of that stuff.  How come we Canadians are so lucky to be Canadians?  What makes us so special that we get to live in a safe and beautiful country?  It’s not really that fair, is it?  I’ll answer those questions with a story of my own:

When I was building my house I fell into a bit of a depression.  It was a good solid 3 month depression.  I would wake up every morning, stroll over to my house, which at that point was still under construction, and think, “Why am I so fortunate?  How come I get to have this amazing house?  I didn’t really do anything to deserve it.”  And from that I fell into a bit of a spiral.  Every day I would think the same thing about my house.  It almost felt wrong for me to be in the position to have something so great.  Instead of what I was going to live in, I felt like I deserved something much less….say a shack in the woods or something.  Every day I would tell God how guilty I felt that I was getting something so extravagant.  Then, one day, God sent me a message.  I love those.  It’s hard to understand if you’re not a believer but every now and again something will happen in your life that only God will have been able to do.  Lucky me, this particular day I experienced one of those moments.  I was in the drive-through for CIBC bank, about to deposit my pay cheque.  I was in my usual funk of feeling guilty about my sweet house and telling God that I didn’t deserve it, that I actually deserved a shack in the woods.  So, there I was waiting in my car to deposit my pay-cheque, feeling like garbage, and I looked ahead to the car ahead of me in line and the license plate read, “BEGRTFUL”.  I’m still a bit stunned.  A vanity license plate had just changed my life.  I snapped out of my funk and at that moment I thanked God for all I had received, and was about to receive.  That, despite not deserving any of it, I was thankful that my situation had allowed me to build something great.  It was a God moment.  It was something that happened and the only explanation was, “God did it”.  It wasn’t a burning bush or virgin birth.  It was a vanity plate.  But it was still God.

By now you’ve probably figured out this is a blog about grace.  How, despite falling short and being undeserving, God still loves you.  He loves you so much that he sent his one and only son to die for you.  That is Grace, my friends.  So thank God for living in Canada.  Thank God for allowing you to go to work, swim, eat, drink, and live.  Then ask yourself how we can use what God has given us to help people in places like Rwanda, Pakistan, Libya, the Congo, etc. instead of feeling bad about being given so much and them so little.

Here’s some good news:  God loves you, a lot!

peace,

Jimmy

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