Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Scratched and Dusty Vinyl Records

About 7 years ago, I inherited my Father and Mother's old turntable and record collection. At the time I didn't think too much of it. They didn't have enough space for storage in their new home so I tucked it away underneath my staircase and promptly forgot about them, until a few weeks ago when I went underneath there to find something. I can't remember what I was looking for, but what I found was a treasure of memories.

I pulled out the old fashioned DUAL 502 belt drive turntable from underneath the stairs and ventured to put it all together with our receiver.  I plugged it all in wrong the first few tries, but eventually I did manage to get it to work and the hip sounds of Huey Lewis and the News filled my living room.

After Huey it was Liberace's turn and then I pulled out Engelbert Humperdinck and as the song Quando Quando Quando rang out through the speakers I was transported to the age of 8 years old and I was learning to dance while standing on my dads toes in our living room at 2115 Farnham Place.
I noticed that my Foreigner 4 and Journey albums were missing from the pile of vinyl records, and there were only the vintage albums of my parents time left. The ones that I use to roll my eyes at as a teenager every time they played the archaic outdated music. I my suppose Foreigner 4 and Journey albums would be considered Golden Oldies now, eh?  Although, I did hear my youngest daughter singing "Don't stop believing" the other day as she listened to her Ipod. She's got that one downloaded.
As I pulled out the Christmas albums the other day, and tried to put the albums in some kind of order, a thought came to me. I was thinking about my story. The story of my life, and I realized, I'm like one of those old records. Over the years, my life has had a few tough times. Depression, loneliness, fear, low self worth has shown it's ugly head. I'm a bit weathered, a little scratched up and dusty. As I looked closer to the album, beyond the dust, past the scratches, I noticed the grooves where the music is hidden, and I realized deep within the grooves of my heart is a song. I never thought of it as a worthwhile song, but God tells me it's a beautiful song that He created. He wants me to allow Him to put it on that turntable, so the music can play out to let others hear. 
It's taken me many years to be able to visualize just how much God loves me, and for me to be able to embrace that truth with all my heart. 

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Each of us is a record. Some of us are a little more scratched up, some are less dusty, but each of us has a beautiful song within the grooves. My prayer for you is to know without a doubt that you are a beautiful song. Beyond the scratches and dust may you allow God to take you out of that dark place under the stairs that you've been hiding in and let Him bring you into the light of the Living room to be played and enjoyed.

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom an pain of it no less that in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace. 
Frederick Buechner

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Give To Caesar What Belongs To Caesar

- $7,000 braces
- $400 Pony Club Rally
- $400 stuff for Rally
- $300 shocks for car
- $800 water heater
- $600 new brakes on car
- $300 soccer
- $200 stuff for soccer
- $25 birthday present for your child's friend
- Back to School shoes and clothes (maybe in B.C)
- Mortgage
- Hydro
- Gas
- Food
- Insurance
- Taxes

I'll stop right here. I think you get the picture. The money lists due seem to go on and on and on, don't they?  I have had my moments where I find myself not breathing due to stress; when I focus on the money list. My breath is laboured and short, my body tense, my joy non-existent. I live in great dis-ease. My family is affected and my health is affected. I do not live free.

Galatians 5:1

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Why am I not living free? 

I'm focused on money and not on Him. I'm ashamed to say that money, and it's worries, hold me captive at times. It is my yoke of slavery. My decisions have been based off the question, "How much money will this bring us?" Not that I want a lot of money... I just want to breath and pay off my debt, so I can start saving and live free.
Perhaps, you too have felt like you were on a sinking ship with only the top of the mast up out of water and you're hanging on for dear life?

We need it to live, but we don't truly live worrying about the lack of money, do we?

How do we get the ship of finances back afloat and start living in that freedom?
- Pray
- Humble yourself and stop trying to do it all on your own. 
- Find a financial adviser you can trust - don't be embarrassed to ask for help.


"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Mark 12:17

Don't let money hold you back from being the person God created you to be. It's going to take time and effort, but you can do it!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I was privileged to teach a lesson at Celebrate Recovery last Monday June 2nd, 2014 on Hope. I am the Children's Leader at CR and every once in a while they'll let me out of  kids tower to speak to the adults.

For those who were unable to make it, here is the lesson for you:



Tonight we will be tutored on University Frat Houses, Baby Grand Pianos, and Spiderman, Seriously, although these topics will be discussed, our main focus tonight is on Hope.

Principle 2: Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13

So what is hope? Some say that hope is the souls manna that feeds our future giving sustenance, energy and purpose to life. Other’s say that hope is the seed that is planted in a desperate soul. It is light and life in a dark place. It’s that ‘light bulb’ moment in our self-pity parties when we realize the negative attitude we hold onto is getting us nowhere and that we need to do something different to get out of the darkness that surrounds us. Hope is the realization that there is a need.

- When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
- When we are over worked and exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy.
- When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.
- When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.
- When we lose our way and confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic.
- When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
- When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control
- When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.
- When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future.
- When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to trust.
- When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone… we’ll make it.
- When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.

From the book “Hope Again” by Charles Swindoll

We don’t look alike. We don’t act alike. We don’t dress alike. We have different tastes in the food we eat (I love sushi and Greek… you may enjoy BBQ’s or Curry). We have different tastes in the books we read, the cars we drive, and the music we enjoy. We have dissimilar backgrounds, goals and motivations. We all work at different jobs, and we enjoy different hobbies. I love writing stories and going on adventures, maybe you like knitting, going on hikes, or riding motorcycles. We ascribe to a variety of philosophies and differ over politics. We have out own unique convictions on child rearing and education. Our weights vary, our heights vary and so does the colour of our skin and hair.
But the one thing we all have in common; we all know what it means to hurt. Suffering is a universal language and our tears are all the same.

Tonight we are going to take a deeper look into the word Hope, because if there is one thing we all need to understand is that God’s love is looking for us, no matter how lost we feel. God’s searching love can find us, no matter how many times we have fallen. This is our hope and this hope heals.

Let’s take a look at the acrostic for the word Hope:

H - Higher Power
O - Openness to Change
P - Power to Change
E - Expect to Change

H stands for Higher Power:

Roman’s 11:36
“Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power.”

All hope, begins with this understanding of who this higher power is. I know in the past I have struggled with this. I have doubted my higher power and questioned who this Higher Power really is. Sometimes I have wondered if I said I believed, because other people said I should. Truthfully, I never really had a relationship with God. Back then I allowed my doubts to rule the way and just pretended to know what I was doing… pretended that I had a relationship with God. Some of you may be in this boat right now, wanting to but, just don’t know how to get there.

How do we get there? It’s a process. You see the first four words of the second step are… We came to believe… Belief is a result of consideration, doubt, reasoning and then finally a conclusion. This process takes time. For some it happens overnight and for others it takes years.

Without this belief, without this trust in our Higher Power we are not open to change or understand the Power we can tap into to change and we also have difficulties expecting change. Then we get stuck in our old patterns when we don’t trust in this amazing Higher Power.

So, how big is this higher power we are supposed to trust?

Ephesians 3:17-19
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. (You don’t have to do anything but accept/believe). Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Agape Love is something really hard for us mere mortals to understand.  Let me try explaining it… a little differently…

Picture a University Frat House. Now, to get into one of these frat houses there is usually a few initiations you must go through before you are accepted into that particular house and each house has it’s own rules. Perhaps you’ve heard the one where the initiate must down a drink with a live fish in it and then proceed to throw it up… if the fish survives you may enter the home. Or perhaps you’ve heard about when students were deprived of sleep for many days, unless they ate a can of cat food. Maybe, you’ve heard about some students having to suck on oxo bullion cubes while parading around the neighbourhood with whole raw dead fish stuffed down their bras and then having to eat those fish afterwards. Nasty… but I only chose the more tame initiations that I read.
Now, picture a frat house with the doors wide open. No initiations. All you need to do is believe the doors are open and that all people are welcome, no matter what. All you need to do is believe and walk right in. That’s all.
All the other religions of this world or non-religious groups of this world are asking you to do something in order to join up. I want to get a Nexus pass for the girls and I because it would be a lot easier to go visit my sister down in the States with one, than sitting in the 3 hour border line-up at certain times. Paperwork filled out in triplicate, fingerprint scans and who knows what other scans. It’s quite a process and there are a lot of hoops I must jump in order to join this club of border crossing travellers. Maybe not drink a live fish or anything like that… but you get my point. But, Christ… has already gone through that initiation process, he drank the fish… and guess what? It’s still alive. We don’t need to do anything. Just believe that He loves us that much. His door is wide open; we just need to walk in. That’s it.

We are chosen by God, we are not thrown on this earth like dice tossed across a table. We are sovereignly and lovingly placed here for a purpose.

No disorder, no disease, not even death itself can weaken or threaten God’s ultimate love over our lives. No matter what the problem, no matter what the disappointment or depth of pain, no matter what kind of destruction occurs in our bodies or around us, we are divinely loved… always.

Believing in this kind of love has a tremendous healing power.

Hebrews 11:6
“Anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Psalm 62:5:
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

A classic letter of hope is found in 1 Peter 1:2-6 and as you read the words picture Peter saying these things to you.

“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. it is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance - an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.

You see Peter (the Apostle), didn’t try to pump them up with positive thinking. Instead, he gently reached his hand to their chins and lifted their faces skyward - so they could see beyond their circumstances to their loving God.

He’s saying to them… now look… stop looking at your trials…
If God brought His son through the most painful trails and back from the pit of death itself, certainly He can bring us through whatever we face in this world no matter how deep that dark pit may seem at the time.

That brings us to…

Openness to Change:

So… okay, you’ve chosen to walk through that open door and believe. Now, what? Just sit on the couch and wish for things to change? Maybe even resist change? Change is scary… I have. I have found myself a few times like this…

(I opened up a bag of chips and flopped down on a zero gravity chair with a blanket and pillows on it and pretend to flick channels on a remote while munching on the chips).

"Oh, Lord… I wish my life would change. Please change it for me... Oh, Bones is on Netflix?"

Yes, the door is open to that particular Frat House. Yes, you believe and walk in and are accepted unconditionally. But, you are still in University and there is a lot to learn. You can’t just sit around and do nothing and just wish for change. You’ve got to open up the books and study. How else will you get to know what God wants you to do? You’ve got to be open to learn something new.
Let me put it this way… I love piano music.  But, I don’t know how to play.

If you lock me in a room with a beautiful baby grand piano and left me there for a day. I would not be able to play Pachelbel’s Canon for you. If you locked me in that same room, with the piano and perhaps a pianist playing Pachelbel’s Canon all day. I may be able to give you a few notes from it, but, it wouldn’t sound pretty. Now, give me lessons each day and theory on how to play a piano for months, perhaps many years and I might sound like Liberace…well, I might be able to play you something that sounds like Pachelbel’s Canon.
Same thing… If you stuck me in a room with a Bible and I stared at it all day. I wouldn’t really get to know God. I wouldn’t be able to teach you about God and how much He loves you. Now, if you threw a Pastor in with me, and he prayed and he talked about God all day, I may pick a few things up, but I would really get to know God if the Pastor did all the work? I need to pick up this Bible and open it and read it and pray and seek wise counsel and this must be done for many months, perhaps even many years.

Okay… Maybe you need me to show you a different way. (Throw sunflower seeds to the ground).Okay those seeds are hope. You can grow now… (Pause)… Hmmm…
Okay… come on. I am hoping you grow now… Why are they not growing?  These seeds need water, dirt, sunshine, and maybe fertilizer.  They won’t grow without it. You won't grow if you do not have the openness to learn something new, roll up those sleeves and get a little messy. I know... It's out of the comfort zone.

Jesus desires a hands-on, day-to-day, moment-to-moment relationship with us. With Christ in us, we gain perspective, we grow deeper in a relationship with him and maybe we even grow up?   

Power to Change:

God’s power in us can change us.

Spiderman… He’s the protagonist in the Spiderman’s stories, or if you like, the hero. So who is Spiderman’s archenemy or antagonist? The Green Goblin?  I think he has a few, doesn’t he? Well… did you know that you are the protagonist of your story? Yes, you are the hero. And you have a few antagonists wearing you down… don’t you? Well, you may not have “spidy” senses or a web that can help you fly and/or swing from tower to tower. You have something greater; you have the creator of the universe right by your side. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

Philippians 4:13:
“For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”

We just need to tap into it!

Our final meeting is not with the antagonist in our life’s story, but with the author himself… as a Christian, what you are going through isn’t the end of the story… it’s simply the rough journey that leads to the right destination and out hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life that blow our way and want to knock us down.

Expect to change:

Matthew 17:20:
“If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move!” and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.”

The dictionary says Hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment… to expect with confidence.

How do we do that when we feel like crap? When we feel unworthy?

Did you know that some of the most famous pieces of art in the world -Mona Lisa or the Pieta in Rome- are priceless because of their makers? World-renowned artists created them.

You were created by God.

Psalm 139:13-14:
“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful…”

Now ask yourself: What is my worth? My value as a person? If we really paid attention to who made us and actually embraced that our worth is found in our maker and not in ourselves or in other peoples opinions of us, it’s not a stretch to say that each of us sitting here is a priceless treasure. Who we are is derived from who God is. Because of God’s greatness, we are created in God’s image just might have great worth.

God doesn’t make junk. You are not meaningless accidents - You are God’s masterpieces.

In closing, I’d just like to end with:

“As important as water is to fish,
Vital as electricity is to a light bulb,
Essential as air is to our lungs,
Hope is that basic to life
Take away our hope, and our world is reduced to something between depression and despair.”
Charles R. Swindoll from the book Hope Again

Without hope prisoners of war languish and die, students get discouraged and drop out of school, athletic teams fall into a slump and continue to lose, fledgling writers, longing to be published, run out of determination, addicts return to their habits, marriage partners decide to divorce, inventors, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, even preachers, lose their creativity.

Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It’s essential to our survival.

This week may you be filled with a deeper understanding of who your Higher Power is and may you be drawn to his grace and mercy this week. May you be open to change and encouraged to step out of your comfort zone. May the freedom Christ gives to you, give you power through the trails and the storms that may pass. And from those experiences, may you find yourself expectant that a change is a coming.

In Jesus name.

Thanks to:
- "Hope Again" by Charles R. Swindol  
- Celebrate Recovery Leader's Guide and The Landing Leaders Guide
- Jesus 
- Spiderman 
- You tube and Pachebel's Canon