What we’ve lived through

Feb 14th, 2011 will be 6 years exactly since Becca and I (and now little Ellie) have been on staff at Agincourt Church in Toronto.

In the past 6 years, here’s what’s happened in culture (I’m remembering some…don’t kill me if I forget some!):

Avatar
Saddam Hussein got caught
The Bed Intruder didn’t…but got a song made about him
Kanye verses Taylor, Bush, NBC…and a whole lot of other people
Katrina, the Massacre in Bombay & Haiti
The death and repopularization (made up word…) of Michael Jackson
The Sox won the World Series (’04…not the ’07 one)
The rise of Auto-Tune
YouVersion
Brokeback Mountain
The end of Lost/24 and the start of Glee/Modern Family/Mad Men
The decline of American Idol
The iPhone (and fake pretenders)
Twilight
The threat of nuclear war
The 2010 Olympics (The golden goal, Rochette and the craze for Canadian clothing)
Satelite Radio
North Korea
Sarah Palin and the Tea Party
The Rise, RISE, leveling and current falling of President Obama’s popularity (dude still has Jigga on his iPod)
LeCrae (Christian Rapper) getting play on iTunes and CNN

Crazy huh…I remember most of these moments so clearly. What things in the past 6 years stood out to you? What did I forget? What needs more shine? If this were an award show, what would get the “BIGGEST NEWS” award? What does this list tell you about our world? What do you hope to see or experience next?

Every year brings highs, low and a reminder that we need to stay connected to God and to one another…here’s looking forward, friends!

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    epic fail blog Vol. 5 (The John Abbott Bully Episode)

    Hey everyone, here’s another fail I thought about this morning. Unlike the other ones, this one is more MEAN than FUNNY. Well, it may be funny to some of you and it WAS over 12 years ago…so I dunno.

    The year was 1998 and I was in my first year in CEGEP, which for you non-Montreal readers is post secondary college before university (we finish High School in grade 11). It was the first week and I was making a lot of friends, mainly because my older cousin was there and she was (and still is) one of the coolest people around. The guys I hung out with were all older than me and really into wrestling shows, particularly WCW/NWO and Stone Cold and the Rock. I was a HUGE Rock fan. I would lift my one eyebrow, talk with his hard swagger and use his catchphrases wherever I could.

    One particular day, I chose to use one of the catchphrases on an unsuspecting student. I saw a guy walking down the hall wearing a black t-shirt, a cap and glasses. He looked lost and so I asked him, in front of a whole cafeteria, “Hey man, what’s you’re name?” Before he could even respond with a “Gary”, “Bret”, “Chet” or “Barry” (all assumed names), I yelled at the top of my lungs:

    IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME ISSSSSSSSSS!

    The guys who I hung with, and who knew it was coming, lost it. They laughed, cheered and hi-fived me and each other (I swear my life is like an 80s High School movie…prolly Lucas…). Yet, something inside me died. I knew better. I had been a leader in my youth group. I loved Jesus. I knew how to treat other people, yet for the sake of…I don’t even know any more…I thoroughly killed that guy. And that’s the fail.

    I hurt someone…and I didn’t even get his name. I put myself over his feelings. And as for all that “popularity” from 1998…I don’t even talk to 96% percent of the dudes and girls I knew from then (though I’m sure we’re all fixtures on each others Facebook walls). What was hilarious in September of 1998 is a now a painful memory and a fear that it may happen to my own kid by someone who’s just as needy for attention as I was. I hope that guy is okay…I think of him often and whisper an apology all the time. I’m still not 100% with my mouth (i have another epic fail blog to prove it) but I’m a lot faster at recognizing my failings and doing right the next time. I hope you are to.

    PS – In light of the rise of bullying happening in high schools in North America, especially online (away from the eyes of teachers, principles and parents), if you are a pastor or leader to youth, talk to your students about it. Remind them that everyone is equal. Remind them to stand up for the little guy…every little bit helps.

    The Cool Kids…

    Every social group has them.

    Nurseries, Elementary school, youth groups, work situations, sports teams, churches…youth pastors 🙂

    THE COOL KIDS.

    The people who have it all together. The people who we all look up to and want to be like. They have this thing called swagger (wagon sold separately). They walk in packs. They are sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, always cooler than you. And it makes you feel crummy. And so you being to covet, to want more than to be LIKE them. You actually think that your life would be better if you WERE THEM.

    Here’s something you may not have ever heard.

    You’re cool.

    You’re worth getting to know, hanging out with, learning from, acceptance, love, forgiveness, etc.

    You are a trend setter, a leader and a good friend.

    The cool kids are only COOL because we say they are. Because they look the part of what we think COOL looks like. But what if we stopped look at them and started to look at how God’s wired us and said, “I’m okay with how I am…He’s made me specific and unique.” This doesn’t mean we’re above improvements…what it means is that we’re letting God bring the BEST out of us! He doesn’t remake us. Instead he works WITH us as we are to shape us into the ME (aka YOU!) we’re supposed to be! (And for the record, those who are “cool” struggle with the same insecurities you do…)

    Let the revolution of COOL begin!

    Qs: How’s God wired you? What do you like about yourself? How much time do you spend looking at what other people have? What is God trying to teach you today yourself and how he’s made you?

    Good Morning…right?

    I’m not a morning person. I like sleeping. I mean, who doesn’t, besides Napoleon (who history tells us only slept 4 hours a day. He was too busy thinking about taking things over. Or escaping exile…)

    That being said, when I get up, I’m good to go. I hate wasting time, so sleeping in isn’t something I often practice. But I still get up with a “To-Do-List” stuck in my mind.

    • Get showered/teeth brushed/dressed
    • GET COFFEE
    • …everything else is pretty easy after the java:)

    I’m pretty crummy. Most people are. Except for kids. Every morning I go to wake up The Kid, she does the same thing…she smiles, jumps on her bed and says HIIIIIIIII DAAAAADDDYYY! She’s good to go! She’s slept way too long. There’s Treehouse to watch, crayons to use, walls to colour on, pots to bang with drumsticks, songs to sing and books to read. For Eliana, the fun in the day is endless and it’s just about to begin. Sadly, as she gets older, she’ll begin to dread waking up…like so many of us do today (hopefully not). We wake up to bills, jobs, broken relationships, misguided dreams and wants, loneliness (even if we’re married or ‘popular’) and somehow we think, “Life is better when I’m sleeping…”

    But everyday is a gift. Everyday is an opportunity to make something of the lives we have. To choose to symbolically jump up and down on our beds and say “This day was made by my Creator and I’m gonna be excited and take joy in it.” How we respond to the sunrays that hit our faces (or the darkness that greets us during the winter months) is up to us. It’s funny how WE CAN CHOOSE to be better, isn’t it. Yet, more often than not, I choose to get up and be blah…blah feels easier but it’s not. Because it makes getting better THAT MUCH HARDER.

    What are you afraid to wake up to? Let’s practice surrender together! Let’s practice inviting God into EVERY waking moment. Let’s wake up knowing that for every morning there are new mercies waiting for us, to bring us through (Lam 3:19-24).

    Don’t sleep in (in the mental sense).

    Wake up.

    Jump on the bed.

    Get excited.

    There are walls that need colouring. And you got the crayons!

    …and we can choose this life…even on four hours sleep:)

    Invitation – Based on Shel Silverstein’s poem…

    Ever read the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein? Good book, eh? Nice metaphors? Teaching stuff, etc.

    In the children’s book of poems “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, there’s a a great one at the very beginning that I’d like to share with you.

    INVITATION

    If you are a dreamer, come in,
    If your a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
    A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
    If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
    For we have some flax golden tales to spin
    Come in!
    Come in!

    Being in ministry, I think this is how our doors should be to anyone who comes in, especially for the 1st time. I wonder if people don’t come to churches because they think they need to BE someone or something. That they aren’t allowed to be a searcher, figuring things out, someone who from time to time messes up. So they avoid our doors and find acceptance somewhere else…anywhere else.

    Well, I’m about the invitation. The openness to say, sit with me and let’s figure life out together. No simple answers, just honest life together. Even if you are a liar or magic bean buyer because the truth of the matter is, we’re all something or other in need of being redeemed and renewed. The invitation He made to US, we must make to everyone else. Please note that no where do I say to lower your standards…what I am saying is don’t hoard your standards over others. Who made you better anyhow:)

    So what does that look like for you, in your setting? In your life? If you had to put words to the invitation yourself, what would it look like?

    And in case you were wondering…our invitation looked like this:

    “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
    and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
    Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
    Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
    Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
    I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David. – Isaiah 55:1-3

    Epic Fail Blog Vol. 4

    Well, it’s another addition of the Epic Fail Blog, where I open up the vault that is my embarasing life for you, the 10 to 12 who read this blog. If you’re newer to these posts, here the last blog

    Well, this tale takes place in 2005, during my first view months at Agincourt Pentecostal Church. It was a simple time. I was learning the APC ropes, meeting people and hopefully developing as a young leader. Oh, and I also thought I knew everything about everything. Cause all 24-year-old do.

    The setting was in our lunch room during lunch time. It was one of those days when there were a lot of people in there…and we were talking about certain singers in our church and how blessed we were t have them. In the midst of our convo, my good friend and fellow blogger Maria mentioned a lady who was a singer at our church who at the time had lost her voice. Before she could continue, he was my response to her ‘mention’:

    “Well, the reason she lost her voice is because most black singers never learned how to sing properly from her diaphragm so she sings from her throats cause that’s what she learned.”

    Or something ignorant like that.

    You could imagine the room, right…

    Maria, without hesitation simply replied,

    “…actually, she is a trained singer. People simply lose their voices sometimes…”

    Boom. No one even laughed but air smelled of ‘You dun got told, lil man.’

    Fail. And not only was it a fail, it was a ‘Trust me it’s a race thing’ that wasn’t even a race thing FAIL.

    Sad.

    Thanks John Mayer

    This morning I woke up thinking about important lessons I’ve learned throughout my young life.
    I think I’ve learned a lot about life. I’ve messed up enough and hurt enough people to know that for a fact. But this was the lesson that came to my mind before anything else.

    Fathers be good to your daughters/daughters will live like you do

    girls become lovers/who turn into mothers

    so mothers be good  to your daughters too.’ – John Mayer

    My daughter Eliana (aka The Kid) turns two in a few months and I’ve seen how my priorities have changed since she was born. Doing high school ministry for most of my life, I’ve seen the affects of a dad who’s not there, especially for their little girls. The search for ‘daddy’ hurts, confuses, conflicts and breaks their hearts. That voice of daddy means a lot, to daughters AND sons. And this doesn’t count only for the dad who LEAVES because the dad who’s THERE in body and home still causes damage if he’s not THERE in HEART and SPIRIT. Kids will go one of two ways, either they will act out and seek attention constantly OR they will become recluse and afraid. And in my home, it’s my God-given call to be here with and for Ellie. To teach what I know about God, life…boys…(they all suck, Kid), you name it. Because it’s true, she will live like me. For better or worse.
    I have a group of friends at my church. Three sisters named Kathy, Christine and Margaret. Three awesome women of God with awesome gifts, abilities and smarts. And each time I see them, whether its at church or on something like twitter, I always see their dad and mom in shining through. Always. I see the care that their parents show me and my family shine through them constantly. It’s cool and it’s something I look up to constantly. I remember sitting down with Mr. Lim (their dad) and asking him about raising three girls. He just said you love them, serve them and help them. His pride in them shines greatly and I admire that.
    I hope that when Ellie is their age, people would say of her that she got the best of Rebecca and I. And that would only happen if we make time to MAKE time. So I have to be good to her.
    Love her always.
    Shield her from harm.
    Discipline her when she goes off track.
    Remind her of her Creator in the days of her youth.
    Help her find herself and think for herself.
    Give her tips on how to sense when the One is calling & challenging her
    Expose her to the wonders of music, art and other good stuff our world has to offer
    Teach her to love others as she loves herself.
    Encourage her to work hard, try hard, learn from failure and grow through defeat.
    Simply: Be a good dad.
    And in most cases, she’ll be looking for a guy one day who is a little bit like me…OR if I do it wrong, the COMPLETE opposite. This is either a preview to the best story ever OR an epic fail blog waiting to go down. And like Shawn Carter, I will NOT lose.
    Run and tell that. Thanks John Mayer.
    IMPORTANT P.S. If you grew up without a parent, this isn’t a slam against you or your story and I hope you don’t read this think that. I’m more than glad that you made it through and shout out to the resilence of your single parent and family support system for helping you through.
    ANOTHER IMPORTANT P.P.S. Shout out to ALL SINGLE PARENTS doing that work on your own. You are heroes. Period.