Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Family Vacation (title of my grade 4 speech)

Two weeks ago I travelled with my wife and kids and brother and his wife and kids to Toronto, the place of my birth. We went for my grandmothers 80th birthday. I hadn't seen my extended family in seven years and they had not met my children so it was a special time for me.
I was unaware that I was spiritually low when I went. I had become side tracked with doing ministry. Yes God is speaking to me about living a balanced life as I wrote before but that's not what I'm talking about. Ministry IS listening to God daily for marching orders. Ministry is NOT my agenda.
God was very gracious to me over the five days I was in Toronto. Unable to do ministry I was left to talk with God, to listen to Him, to hear what He had to say to me without the noise of ministry, of strategies. He reminded me that I was not qualified to win people to God, to convert people to Christianity, to change the youth, to make them disciples by my events that I plan. He reminded me that I am one person who can only do one thing. I am created to do one thing. I am made for one thing and only one thing. I am made to turn to Him. I am created to need Him. My job as pastor is to hide in Him.
I came away from my vacation alone with God with two specific thoughts. #1. Spend more time with people. It's extremely easy to spend an entire day in my office planning and not see anyone. He wants me to be with people. #2. God loves me so much. To Him I am his son. He wants me to succeed. He is slow to anger and he desires to give me all things. I don't know who is reading this but I know in my own life I feel often like I'm not doing enough for God, that I'm failing somehow. Sometimes God uses this method to tell us something, but more than often Satan uses this same method to bring us down, to slow our running to God. I know I get depressed some times thinking I'm not qualified for my job (and as a father). God reminded me that I'm not qualified. No one is, that's not the point. The point is to turn to God, to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and the rest will be added.
I was reminded again of God's love and mercy and grace because I know this lesson that He again has to teach me. Will I ever get it? Will we ever scratch the surface of understanding the awesome love of God?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stardate 101908.1 Busy Busy

I have for a while now wanted to share my thoughts on our youth website but not really known how without filling up the front page. This is my next idea. I don't have enough thoughts to write every day so my hope is that others will join in. My other hope is that people will respond to what is written. We only see each other once or twice a week and usually there is so much going on that we miss talking with each other.
This post is called Busy Busy. It seems like the summer and this school year has gone by faster than any year I can remember. I blink and a week flies by. Something that God has been challenging me to do is have a balanced life. What this means to me is that it isn't good enough to just do ministry well or be a good dad or husband. God is showing me that He wants me to be successful in all parts of life. So far after 30 years I have found this to be completely impossible and I haven't seen many examples of people who do this well. Even as I write this my daughter interrupts me with a picture she wants me to look at (I'm being a bad dad). I have met successful people who have failed marriages. I've met successful people who neglect their kids because of their work. I've met family people who have no time for anything outside of their family because they have no time.
Usually people do well in a few things but very poorly in one or two things. If people are doing well with work they may be doing poor at home or with their health or with their spiritual life. When we become busy in life, one part of our life always suffers, usually our health or spirituality.
The areas of my life that I try to keep a tab on are
- Personal Spiritual life: Am I daily talking with God, knowing his plans for me and praying constantly for those He has put around me? Am I living a life worthy of being called a son of God?
- Work/School: Different for me than others but am I reaching goals, doing well, am I worth the money?
- Family: Am I spending quality time with my wife and kids? Am I a good role model? Is my wife happy? Are my kids happy?
- Community: Am I a voice in the community some how? Do I contribute to helping those around me or am I too busy with my own life? Would anyone in my neighbourhood miss me if I was gone?
-Justice: Am I in any way fighting injustice? (social, political, environmental)
-Health: Am I a model of health? Am I an example to follow in what I eat and activities I do?
Am I missing something? I'm sure I am.
The verse God has led me to for the youth this year but also for myself is Matt 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Jesus is talking about material things. The truth for me is that a lot of the time I get trapped seeking material things and get sidetracked in life. I've been trying to live this verse out in my life and I am finding victory. It is impossible to live a balanced life. God desires to make my life balanced when I seek him and his glory. When I seek to bring God glory with my life, God says "yes, I want him to succeed". I'm finding my stress level very low. I'm finding time to write in a blog. I'm finding that I am having victory in all areas of my life when for 30 years I did not.
And even though I am busy in life, God is telling me which things are important and what can wait. He is freeing me up for ministry and life. Doug