Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Staff Conference 2010

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Every year, Power to Change puts on a 4-day conference for all our staff near the end of July. It was in Whistler, BC again this year, which is a beautiful location. Shannon and I always look forward to the conference, because we know it will be a great time to reconnect with some of the staff friends we have that we don’t get to see very often (especially old university friends who are now campus staff across the country). We also look forward to relaxing in a hotel, wandering around Whistler village, taking in the spectacular scenery on the drive in, and being blessed and challenged by the conference sessions.

We knew this year would be a little different, though, because it was our first year coming with a child! Fortunately, it worked out quite well. Silas slept in his stroller at the back of the room for some sessions, so Shannon and I could both participate. Other times, one of us would hang out with Silas in the lobby, watching the session on the live feed out there. Only a few times did one of us need to miss out entirely on something, and since we had expected that ahead of time, we were pretty relaxed about it. And, having Silas there allowed Shannon to win the photo contest for one day. The theme was “relaxation”, and here’s the winning picture Shannon submitted:

Here are a few thoughts that came out of the conference for me:

  • I was reminded again how much I love the vision of Power to Change. The people here love God deeply, and are passionate about people in our communities and across our nation. They are dreaming big dreams of how God could use us to introduce people across our land to the one they were created for.
  • People in Canada ARE interested in spiritual things, and want to talk about the deep issues of life. However, we have to stop approaching people around us as a “project”, but as someone we truly care about and are interested in. Erwin McManus was one of our speakers, and he especially challenged us in this area. He showed us a short documentary he had put together, where he interviewed a number of prominent, secular people from the Vancouver area, and it showed clearly how open people were to talking about spiritual things!
  • Another important aspect of engaging our culture in spiritual conversation is being real about how Jesus has impacted our own lives. And, I’m not just talking about a conversion story from 20 years ago, but how has God been making a real difference in my life in the past week? To share naturally about Christ, we need to be walking closely with Him, making Him a part of every aspect of our lives, all the time.
  • Shannon and I were really challenged to be taking greater faith steps in our own life. Sometimes it feels like we are just living a “maintenance” life – maintaining the house, maintaining the car, maintaining our friendships, etc. We both want to go beyond that, to be agents of God’s kingdom, following His leading to do things that are beyond our own ability and comfort level, that require complete dependance on Him.

May God give us strength and wisdom to put these thoughts into action.

Rewarding what matters

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Shannon and I were talking the other day about parenting. We were talking about what kinds of things we want to try to train into our son, and what kinds of values we would want him to have. We were wondering for the ump-teenth time what he will be like, and what his interests will be. Will he like sports? Will he be interested in science? Will he be musical, artistic, a writer? Shannon and I were both quite academic in nature growing up, and so one of us made the comment that it might be challenging for us if our child wasn’t academic. How will we encourage him to reach his full potential, yet not punish him or make him feel bad for bringing home a C on his report card if he tried his best and just had a hard time in that subject?

And then, Shannon said something that I thought was very profound, and that I’ve been thinking about for several days. She said, “What if we were to reward character over acheivement?” That totally clicked with me. Although we would want to celebrate if our son gets an A in some class, why not get even MORE excited if he stood up for a friend who was being picked on, even if it wasn’t popular? Why not give “gold stars” not just for doing chores around the house, but for the attitude with which they are done? Why not recognize hard work and diligence, even if the results aren’t quite what had been hoped for? Why not make it ok to fail, as long as you are doing things honestly and with integrity? Why not get the most excited, give the most praise, and give the highest rewards to the things that really matter?

My sense is, that could totally turn our son’s value system up-side-down from that of the culture’s around us – in a good way! He wouldn’t cheat to try to get a better mark, because it’s honesty that counts more than the grades. He wouldn’t feel worthless or like he had done something wrong if he failed at a project or an endeavor, because success isn’t what matters most. He wouldn’t feel that the ends justify the means, because the way you get somewhere really does matter.

This was especially challenging to me lately because I’ve been reading the book “Outliers”, by Malcom Gladwell. It’s been a fascinating read about what makes someone rise above the crowd to be exceptionally successful. He mentions a number of examples where particular upbringings or parenting styles provided children with a tremendous advantage in becoming an “outlier”. And, I find myself thinking, I want to do those things to give my child the best chance at success. I want him to stand above the rest! And yet, as much as success is great, I have to remind myself, what really matters? What do I have as my definition of success?

In the end, I believe that character does matter over acheivement. Why? Because I believe that’s the value system God has. We usually ask God to remove the problems we have in life, but I’m starting to understand that they are often tools He is using to refine our character. Think of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. If I can speak in the tongues of men and angels, or have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries, or even if I give all I have to the poor, but I don’t have love, I’ve gained nothing. The character and motivation behind our achievements is perhaps the only thing that counts! 

And so, my hope and prayer is that by rewarding character over acheivement, we’ll be able to instill that value in our son as well.

Our Visionary Leader

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I’ve been thinking about God this evening. I’ve seen God in a number of ways before – as a Father, as my Rescuer, as the Almighty Creator, and more. And, as I think about those things, it reminds me of how great our God. But, my heart was thrilled in a new way tonight.

Have you ever watched Braveheart before? I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly inspired when I watch leaders like William Wallace. He had a big vision, and called men into it. He challenged them to make incredible sacrifices, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That excites me – I love that kind of leadership!

Actually, I’m incredibly privileged to serve under a leader like that at my job. Leonard, the president at Power to Change, is an amazingly visionary leader. I get inspired every time I hear him speak. He speaks simply and humbly, yet calls us each into a mission much larger than ourselves. He dreams big, and challenges us to pour ourselves into something that really matters.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that my heart longs for leadership like this. I long to be called into a mission that is bigger than myself, that will outlast my own life. I desperately want to pour myself into something that will make a difference.

And suddenly, I realized that GOD is that kind of leader! I was blown away as I thought about it. I don’t know that I’ve seen God in that way before. And yet, He has a huge vision for drawing all peoples of the earth to Himself. He is leading the charge in a mission that is mind-bogglingly huge, that has been going on for over 6,000 years, and has involved literally millions of people. He is incredibly creative, and although He never changes, He always surprises us with the new directions He takes in this mission. He is orchestrating events, people, and even nations, as He continues to unfold His plan.

Not only that, but He calls us into this mission! I heard a statement today that stuck in my mind: if you are going to pour out your life into something, why not pour it into a gold goblet – not a paper cup. And yet, that is what so many people are doing. They are pouring out their lives into something that will crumple and vanish. But our Leader calls us into a mission that is truly worth pouring out every last drop of our life’s energy for. He is a King and Lord who is worthy to be followed!

God, may I be a good and faithful follower.

Perspectives on Missions

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Shannon and I have been in classes all this week. We’re taking a course called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” (www.perspectives.org) which is taught all over the place. It gives biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspectives on missions, and it’s fantastic.

The course started for us about a month ago when we signed up. Since the course is so intense, they expect you to do all the readings and quizzes ahead of time. Shannon and I worked on them together, and they were a huge amount of work. There are 15 lessons, and each one took us between 4 and 8 hours to complete! But, the readings are so good. And this week, we’ve been getting a variety of speakers – at least 2 every day – discussing the material from each lesson, telling stories from the mission field, challenging our assumptions, and stimulating our thinking.

One of the biggest take-away lessons for me so far can be summed up by a quote from John Piper – “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” Let me unpack that a bit.

First, I’ve been impacted by the centrality of worship. Worship of God is the goal. He’s created us to worship, and to bring Him glory. It’s not because God is insecure, and so He needs us to tell Him how great He is to feel ok about Himself. God desires our worship because He alone is worthy of our worship! And, He knows that we will only find true joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment when we give Him glory. After all, we will always worship something, whether it be family, material possesions, career, or something else. But all of those things will en-slave us to them, and will let us down at times. Only God is a worthy object of our worship.

Second, God doesn’t just want me to worship Him. He wants to be glorified by people everywhere around the world! He’s created each nation, language, tribe, and culture uniquely, and He desires that each one would bring Him worship in their unique way as well. The story of God’s plan to bring people from ALL nations to worship Him is throughout the Bible, starting with the promise to Abraham in Gen 12 (“through you all the nations will be blessed”), through the Psalms, through the Prophets, and culminating in the great commission: go and make disciples of ALL nations.

And that is why missions exists. It’s purpose is to proclaim God’s greatness and glory throughout the world, in places where He is not yet worshipped, so that people will be drawn to Him and He will receive the glory He deserves.

That’s one of the main nuggets that I’ve taken away. But, there have been many more, and I’m still processing much of what I’ve heard. Maybe I’ll share a few more thoughts that come out over the next weeks. Oh, and I’d highly recommend this course to anyone who is committed to seeing God’s purpose in the earth go forward, whether you are thinking of becoming a cross-cultural missionary or not.  

Trip to Comox

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Oh, how I enjoy time to get away from the regular routine, to relax, reflect, and hang out with people! Shannon and I needed some time like that, so we planned a trip over to Vancouver Island from Feb 29 to March 3rd. We stayed with Chris and Judy Gytenbeek and their 4 kids, who now live in Comox. They used to live in Langley and go to Home Church, and we got to know them pretty well – especially when we babysat their kids for a weekend!

Anyway, they are a great family. They love the outdoors, are adventurous, and keep family as a top priority – things Shannon and I connect with really well! They are also quite laid back and relaxed, something Shannon and I aren’t so good at. But, being on the island for a weekend certainly helped.

Comox TripOne of the highlights of our visit was going skiing / snowboarding at Mount Washington. We rose to a beautiful, sunny day on Saturday morning, with 5cm of fresh snow on the hills. It was fantastic being outside all day, taking in the incredible vistas from the top of the chairlifts. (I managed to pull off a few fun jumps too, without hurting myself!)

God definitely used this trip to re-energize us, but also to slow us down enough to reflect. We spent quite a bit of time hanging out and talking, especially about missions. Chris pulled out his old slide projector and dusty slides and gave us a great tour of his time in Africa before he and Judy were married. We also got to hear from a missionary from India at their Sunday morning service. We talked about our thoughts, plans, and dreams for what we’d love to do. But, we were also reminded that this life is more about our relationship with God then about what we do. How hard it is for us to get that through our heads! I’m always so concerned about what I’m doing, and about how productive I am. It’s so hard to let go of that, and to realize that all my running around might not be what God really desires most.

If you want to see more pics from our trip, check out the online album.

The Working World

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

So I’ve graduated- how adult-like. Working full time, benefits and all. But is working all it’s cracked up to be? Some days, yes. Some days I love nursing. I love the chaos and the different kinds of people you help and work with. I love the ability to help but then the days, like yesterday with patients screaming and cussing out of their room, throwing garbage around, staggering around the hallways with scraggly clothes and hair and screaming at whoever listens…denying care and angry at it all….those days I wonder- what have I got myself into? I guess we are called to care for those who aren’t the friendliest, cleanest, nicest…but some days it just gets to you.