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Forgotten

 

I’ve never been left behind before.  Have you?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine pinned me to my chair as he shared an experience he had a number of years ago.  He was doing relief and development work in the Middle East.  Thousands upon thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, journey hundreds of miles to another country, and reside in refugee camps.  My friend worked in those camps and what he noticed most was the type of people who arrived there; or rather, those who didn’t arrive there.  There were few or no people with disabilities.

Why?  Because at some point, in the midst of the helter skelter, war-wracked environment, a family member had to make a horrible decision.  You see, not everybody could survive the journey.  Somebody had to be left behind, or nobody would make it.  And those left behind were often people with disabilities.

I was struck by how painful that kind of a decision might be for a parent.  It’s hard to imagine from my latte-enriched perspective.  What is more, I wonder what it would be like to be left behind, to be…forgotten.

By the way, my friend’s name is Ed Epp and he’s the new Executive Director for cbm Canada.  It’s an organization I’m committed to because they are committed to the forgotten people of the world, people trapped in poverty because of disability.  I’ve been serving on the cbm Board for a number of years and I’m committed to their vision.

I want to share with you a video that has just been produced by cbm.  It will soon air on television but I couldn’t wait to pass it along.  FYI, the video is about an hour in length, so find a good block of time to watch it.

See. Listen. Learn. Discern. Remember. 
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Holy Matrimony

 I’m sure many of you have seen this recent clip on YouTube: JK Wedding Dance.  For the record – I love it.  Absolutely love it.  Check it out.

 

Now, I’ve heard a bit of tsking about it, even witnessed some finger-wagging.  Some have said, “A wedding is supposed to be a holy event!”  My response is…are you kidding me? 

I guess it depends on what your definiton of holy is.  In short, holy means being set apart, distinct, special.  In many biblical contexts it carries the idea of moral purity.  I can’t seem to find anything unholy about it.

Sure, if one’s definition of holy means somber, stoic, puritanical, or victorian, you might have something.  Besides a good definition. 

Tony Campolo wrote the book, “The Kingdom of God is a Party.”  I’ve no idea what’s in the book…but I like the title.  For me, there is no better expression of the kingdom, than a lively wedding.  I wonder how much dancing there was at the wedding Jesus attended?  Perhaps a wedding is more a gleeful gala than a mournful march towards imminent death (granted, some have felt that way).

I showed it to my daughters.  I told them, “If you ever want to do your wedding this way, you have daddy’s complete support.”  That’s still a decade away, but I hope I planted a seed in their subconscious minds so I can live vicariously through their future wedding experience!  I’ll even help choreograph it…

Sappy as it sounds, I actually teared up the first couple of times I saw the video.  Call me sentimental, but I can’t help but imagine what the last great wedding procession will look like.  It’s the wedding between Christ and his bride, the church.  There seems to be a whole lot of rejoicing going on.

Revelation 19:6-9 (NIV)

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

 

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Trust Melts Masks

 

You don’t know me. You might think you do, but you don’t.

 

You see, I work in the office next to you, go to your church, I serve on a team with you. Maybe I’ve been one of your friends for years.  

 

You think you know me, but you don’t.

 

Sure we get together and hang out. We talk on the phone. I can twitter you or you can Google me. You can become my friend on Facebook, check out my MySpace page, read my blog, delete my annoying spam. I can text you, you can call me back.  

 

But you don’t know me. When we get together we talk about movies, or kids, or friends, or recipes. Don’t you know that I only put my best pictures on my Facebook page? Those ones that show my gut stay on my computer.  

 

I only twitter my best moments or bad moments that bring me sympathy. And if I don’t want to connect with you, I can always say my junk-mail filter blocked you, or my phone died.

 

You see, because you don’t know me.  You only know what I want you to know. 

 

I suppose you might know a little bit more about me if you read my bank statements, sift through my garbage, scan my browsing history, or read my journal. But I pay with cash, use the neighborhood dumpster, and delete my browsing history. My journal motto is: “If I die before I wake, throw my journal in the lake!”

 

Like I said…you don’t know me.  

 

The only way you will really know me, is if I tell you. And, quite frankly, that seems pretty scary. My heart is a security box and the only key to open it is trust.

 

Can you be trusted?  If so, you might know me.

 

 

Want to know more of what this is about?  Visit this link to hear the latest series I taught on being “True Faced”: http://www.beulah.ca/321604.ihtml.

 

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Know Thy Values

 

Ever sat down and tried to identify your personal values?  I don’t mean the values you’re supposed to have, or the values handed to you from your church, family or workplace.  Are you happy with your personal values?

So many of us are guided by implicit values injected into our psyche by our environment, or stuffed down our throats by the media.  I love the ancient Greek aphorism inscribed at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi: “Know thyself.”  This is a primary truth, a truth that is so essential to understanding your world and how you engage it.  We meet the world through the lenses of our values.  Do you know what your values are?

Your values are like your operating system.  They unconsciously guide your choices every single day.  A values inventory is a worthwhile exercise because it enables you to see the operating system behind the machine.  Sometimes changes need to be made to the operating system.  Sometimes it just needs to be celebrated.

This past year I evaluated, audited and edited my personal values.  While they are incomplete, they show the high points of who I am, the major intersections in my web of being.  Here they are:

inspiring: I will help others see possibilities and move them to change.

pure: I will seek to have a clean heart and mind.

innocent: I will envision the world each day as though I am seeing it for the first time.

dreamer: I will see the impossible rather than embrace the acceptable.

God: I will live in full dependance and devotion to God.

faithfulness: I will keep the covenants and commitments I have made – with joy.

adventurous: I will play, explore, laugh out loud, and roll on the floor.

respect: I will treat all humans with dignity regardless of race, gender or religion.

love: I will live and act in the best interest of those around me.

truth: I will have fierce conversations, each garnished with a dollop of frivolity.

integrity: I will live in such a way that my private life will reveal no surprises to my public audience.

desire: I will embrace and enjoy simple pleasure – food, wine, song and dance – but not abuse them.

 

After some soul searching and different drafts, what you see is the finished work.  May they define who I am and who I am becoming.

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I’m Yellow

 

I recently acquired my yellow belt in Ju Jutsu.  That’s right, I am now officially dangerous to myself.

Most people who know me understand how much I love basketball.  I would drive for an hour for a game of pick-up.  I decided last fall to take time off from basketball to try something new.  My trip to Africa in October was a life changing experience that left me wanting to try new things.  I can always play basketball but I’ve never taken up a martial art before.  Besides, deep down inside, doesn’t every boy want to be a ninja?

So after some research, I landed at a great dojo in my area of the city.  Check it out at www.celterre.com.  Kudos to Sensei Trevor…he is a very good teacher.

There are tons of lessons that I have gained this past year in Ju Jutsu.  I think the greatest lesson has been one in “decreasing gain” (I talk about this in another blog posting).  I have learned the value of knowing nothing, of reaching my limits, of having to start at the bottom of the totem pole.  Ju Jutsu is not something you just pick up.  Every class I attend brings new understanding and a greater appreciation for my limitations.  I find myself decreasing, but the result is nothing but increase for my attitude and spirit.   

 

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Training not Trying

 

I recently spoke about self-discipline at Beulah Alliance Church on March 8-9.  For a copy of the message, click on the following link: http://www.beulah.ca/321604.ihtml  The message topic is “Steady to the Core.”

In my talk I focused on the importance of training versus trying.  This concept comes from Dallas Willard’s book, Renovation of the Heart.  I recommend this book for any fellow sojourners desiring transformation of the heart.

At the end of the talk I described four training tips to help develop self-discipline.  I promised that I would post these tips online.  I want to give credit to the book, The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.  The tenth chapter in the book, “Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals,” helped provide some of the formative thinking that went into these training tips. 

Establish God-centred rituals.

Rituals are very powerful things. Rituals express our beliefs about life and reality at a very deep level. They help to train us so that when we face an opponent, it requires less energy because we have conditioned ourselves.

 

Gathering together on Sunday with other believers is a ritual. Participating in a Life Group or Table Group is a ritual. Praying with your friends or family is a ritual. Practicing the spiritual disciplines in solitude is a ritual.

 

What are we training ourselves to be? We are essentially training ourselves to be in a God-centred state where we are led and empowered by the Spirit. This is a state where we are aware of God, rely on God, and surrender ourselves to his leadership. We do this as we train so that, when we enter the arena of life, we are prepared.

 

Aim for gradual change.

Self-discipline comes in degrees. In 2 Peter 1:8, Peter talks about possessing self-discipline, among other qualities, in “increasing measure.” Sometimes we envision self-discipline as a light switch. Either it’s on or it’s off.  Either we have it or we don’t have it. But Peter says that we can have more or less self-control. If that is true, then it is better to understand self-control as a dimmer switch. We either have more of it or less of it.

 

Some people tell me that they just don’t have time to establish God-centered rituals. What they often mean is that they can’t find an hour a day to be alone with God. That’s kind of like “hitting the ground running” (this metaphor will make more sense if you listen to the message).  Typically they fall flat on their faces because they have tried to do too much, too soon.

 

Like any training regiment, it’s important to start at a slower pace.  Can you find five minutes tomorrow to connect with God? I bet you can.  Turn off the radio on the way to work or take the time in the shower.  During that time, center yourself on God.  Let God know that you need him, that you want him to lead your life.  Do that consistently for a week. Then take your training up a notch by increasing your time, or adding another dimension to your training.

 

 

Be precise and specific about doing it.

Studies demonstrate, time and time again, that the more specific you are about a ritual, the greater likelihood that you will do it. I recommend that you describe what you will do, where you will do it, and when you will do it. In other words, I will pray, in my car, while I am driving to work. Schedule it in. If you want to develop a ritual, you need to do this. If you say, “I will find some time to pray tomorrow,” there is a high probability that you will not. Why? Because you have not developed the capacity to do it.  It has not yet become a habit.

 

Find a motivation partner.

Studies also demonstrate that if you tell someone what you are going to do, and ask them to help you do it, you will have a much greater chance of success.

 

I recommend that you find a motivation partner. Note that I didn’t say accountability partner. An accountability partner, in the strictest sense, is like an accountant. An accountant doesn’t tell you how to succeed at business.  If you are in the red or the black, it’s not the accountant’s fault.  Similarly, an accountability partner is someone who keeps track but doesn’t necessarily encourage you to succeed. They tell you when you pass and fail – or, rather, you tell them. I recommend that you find a motivation partner, someone you can trust with your goals and someone who will encourage you to succeed.  Find someone who can fulfill the biblical mandate to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

 

If you are looking for a bit more training guidance, I recommend you listen to a message presented by our Lead Pastor, Keith Taylor on January 25-26 titled, “Being People of the Book.”  It’s both inspiring and insightful with added practical tips.  You can access it at this link: http://www.beulah.ca/321604.ihtml

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Love Your Cabby

 

Cab drivers are under-appreciated.  About five times a year I take a taxi to and from the airport.  This is because my family chooses to own one car (keeping it green my friends).

I have met cab drivers from every corner of the globe and am always touched by their stories.  So far, every cab driver I have met has immigrated to Canada.  I’m astounded that so many of them have graduate or doctoral level education.  In fact, two of my recent drivers used to teach in a university.  It brings to mind the Amanda Marshall song, “Everybody’s Got a Story” where she sings about the taxi driver with a PhD.  So true.

So I asked my driver this past week, “What are some of the craziest stories of things that have happened to you while driving a cab?”  Thirty minutes flew by as he unfolded some fascinating tales.  On two separate occasions he was an unwitting driver for bank robbers.  Both times he was rolled by the police with the culprits still in the car.  He said that one time he was assaulted at knife point by someone who refused pay the fare.  He wrestled the assailant to the ground and took away the knife.  Then he stood with his foot on the man’s throat until the police showed up.  On another occasion, he had a woman offer to pay for her fare by removing her shirt.  He didn’t take her up on the offer.  He said to me, “What does she think I am, some kind of an animal?”

I can’t imagine leaving behind the country you love, friends and family, and a prominent career to escape persecution or find a life of freedom.  All I can say is, never underestimate the person behind the wheel of your taxi.  Get to know him.  Tip well.  Love your cabby.