Infatuation

I haven’t written a blog in a while, so I clicked the “inspire me” button and this was what came up.

“Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?”

One word, five syllables, I’m not to sure why it happens or what it truly means, this word, “infatuation”

According to Google: “an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something.” that is the definition

Guys, do you ever get that feeling for a girl?  Kinda like the “flutterbys” (I mean “butterflies”) in your belly

Please excuse me when I’m dyslexic, fact is that right now my insides feel like jelly

I have absolutely no control over how I feel

It feels like a dream, but I know that for sure it’s real

 

Based on that poem, I’m sure most of you have figured out that my strongest memory of nervousness was about a girl that I really liked.  I won’t go into detail about how we met, but one important fact was that at that time I had only known her for eight months.  At first I didn’t think of her in any way except as a friend, but overtime, my view of her changed because I was going through a tough time and she was always there ready to comfort and encourage me.  We started talking a lot and it turned out that we are very similar to each other.  The way we both don’t like to feel like a burden to other people by telling about our problems, the way we both are studying in the same faculty, the way we both love to work with children and youth.  I didn’t even realize that I was getting the feeling of infatuation for her until she went on vacation for a couple of weeks and I realized that I really missed her.

When the next semester started, we studied together in some of our free time and I was so content just sitting in the same room as her and working on my work and asking her every so often if she needed help with her studying.  One day I decided that I was going to tell her after one of our study sessions.  It was the most nerve racking experience ever.  I felt like my heart was going to jump into my throat, and all I could hear was the pounding of my heartbeat.  I chickened out and didn’t tell her at that moment, I even walked her to class and I just couldn’t say it.  That afternoon I went to the basketball court to vent my frustration and to meet up with a very good friend.  I told him that I just couldn’t understand how I could be so confident in myself while I have a ball in my hand and in the middle of a match, yet I can’t say one little thing to a girl.

Anyways, I told her eventually and the rest is history.  We are still good friends, but that’s not what’s important.  The important thing is that I had to go through that moment where I was not confident in myself.  Was the nervous feeling justified?  Yes… How did I respond to the situation?  Well I followed what the scriptures say about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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God is like a song

So last night in bible study we talked about God and how to describe him.  The speaker (Rob Bell) in the video (titled “Rhythm” from the NOOMA series in case you are wondering) challenged us with how we view God and how we should view God.  Some may see him as depicted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, some others may look at ourselves and think that if we are made in his image then he MUST look like us, and yet others may think of other images.  However, Rob Bell challenges us saying, God cannot be described physically; instead he sees God like a song that we have to tune ourselves to.  Not to say that physical depictions, like the Sistine Chapel, should not have been made (it is important for those particular depictions to make sense and tell a story), but in reality, these depictions (no matter how awe inspiring and amazingly beautiful they can be) are inadequate to describe how God is in reality.  That is why Rob Bell describes God like a song.  A song has many components, physically we can read music sheets and play the instruments, but it is meaningless if it is not played accurately.  To play a song accurately, it is important to play in the right key, at the right tempo and most importantly with the right FEELING.

God doesn’t just want us to play the right notes.  Think about Jazz songs and the improv involved in them.  Yes there are notes written out, but those are just guidelines, as long as your instrument is in tune and you play in the right key, then you could play any note that brings out the fullest in the song.  Jesus often talked about this with the religious leaders of his time.  They were all hitting the “right” notes, but there was no feeling in it.  Jesus’ followers, however, sometimes played the “wrong” notes but they had the passion and really got into the feeling of God’s song.  If you watch a professional orchestra, you will notice how they sound absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!  Even to people who know nothing about music, they can FEEL the music by listening and watching the musicians.  If you watch soloists in an orchestra, they don’t just play the right notes rigidly, they move their body with the music and add feeling into their part.  Sometimes you will even see facial expressions that help them evoke feelings into their solo.  This is what makes songs so pleasing to listen to, it’s not just the notes played, it’s the feeling put into the music and the emotions that it evokes.

For those of you struggling to find out how to be in tune with God’s song, don’t worry.  One of my bible study members said something that I think will help you.  When asked, “Do you think that you are playing in tune with God?”  He answered, “Not yet… I’m still listening and not playing.”  Take some time to listen, but don’t take too long, because when performance time comes, you need to be ready.  After you take some time to listen, start playing what you know.  Even if it’s every few notes that you manage to play at first, overtime you will figure everything out and you can maybe even add some improv (in the right key mind you).

I want to share this song where God’s love is compared to a song.  I hope that it inspires you today.

Friendship (the story of ONE church)

Here’s the fourth and final part of my blog posts about our youth retreat.  I apologize for posting it so late, I was pretty busy with school work these past few days.  So without further ado, let’s begin…

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One thing I love about youth retreats (especially ones that involve multiple churches) is the unity that it brings to the group(s).  I feel so sad when I hear about people leaving their church family due to conflicts within it.  This makes me sad because in Romans 12: 5 it says, “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  If we are called to be one church, one body, why are we so separated?  Why are people getting hurt by their own family?

One thing I want to talk about is friendship.  Not only did I find friendship at this youth retreat, I also met “Friendship” (the name of one of the churches attending the retreat).  The amazing thing about their youthgroup is that they were not very cliquey and my youthgroup felt so comfortable around them.  On the Saturday night, a large group of representatives from both our youthgroups sat together and just sang and worshiped as one.  Then at breakfast the next day, our tables were next to each other and one of my youthgroup members playfully turned one of their leader’s chairs around so that he faced our table.  One of the Friendship youth members then turned the leader’s chair back around.  I of course took the diplomatic approach and placed him sideways between the two tables (as a joke).  I never imagined that the following  step would go in this direction.  The Friendship youthgroup pushed their table up against ours so that we all sat together as if we were one and the same youthgroup (talk about friendship eh? Get it “Friendship” shows friendship? Badum crash… OK bad pun)!!

I think this is a great image about what the WHOLE body of the church should look like.  Unfortunately, at the youth retreat not everybody bonded together.  Looking around the room during a worship session, you would see all the different youthgroups sitting amongst themselves.  During free time, lots of people were in their rooms where they spent time with people from their own church.  I brought this up as a concern for future youth retreats, and I found out that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way.

To conclude, I want to challenge all of us to be that body of Christ that Jesus wants us to be.  I hope this song encourages you to help make that difference, no matter how small it is, to help bring the church together as one body; because united we are strong.

The father is waiting (time to come HOME!!)

Alright!! Here we go with blog post number three about my youth retreat experiences…  The topic I want to talk about today is one that really hits home for me, so let’s get started…

God Is Waiting On You-2

I’m sure that many of us have heard Jesus’ story called the Parable of the Prodigal Son at least once.  If not here’s the gist of the story.  A father has two sons and the youngest asks the father for his inheritance while the father is still alive and well.  The father gives the inheritance and the son goes off and squanders it.  Upon losing everything, he gets a job feeding pigs and is starved.  He realizes that his father’s servants lived a better life than he was so he sets off to go home to apologize and ask his father for a place in his home as a servant.  The father sees his son (implies that he has been waiting for the son to return) coming home and runs out to him, embraces him and reinstates him back into the family.

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Now there are many things about this story that were highly controversial for that time (which makes me appreciate the father’s gestures even more), but today I just want to focus on the aspect of the father waiting (I’ll save the other aspects for another day).

I usually associate myself with the son and I see God as the father.  The interesting thing is that this story was told on Saturday afternoon as one of the talks being delivered, and then I experienced not once, but four incidents where I had to wait on the youth (of which I will tell you the two that really stood out to me).  Not to say that I am comparing myself with God; but after these experiences I thought more about what God was possibly feeling towards all of us (except probably to a much, much greater extent).

The first incident I want to talk about is this.  So, on Saturday night, there was an outdoor game that involved running around in the dark and finding things.  To make things worse, it was raining hard.  The youth were split into 4 teams and they had to collect balloons (which counted for certain points depending on the colour).  Since I didn’t want to run in the rain in the dark, I chose to be one of the leaders that hid and handed out balloons when the youth found us.  My station was located on a playground.  Let me tell you, hiding in the rain in the dark on a creepy playground is NOT fun (my pants were soaked and it wasn’t from peeing in them hahaha).  The whole time I was sitting in the quietness, all alone, waiting for some youth to find me.  By the end of the game, I still had balloons that were uncollected (all the other leaders managed to give all of theirs away except for me and one other).  Talking with some of the other leaders that night, it was quite evident that all of us had one thing in common that we wanted to happen… We all wanted to be found (for the benefit of the youth and for our own benefit).

This got me thinking, are we making God wait for us?  Is he sitting in dark as WE run around searching for him (sometimes in the completely wrong places).  There was also another thought.  When I have an encounter with God, he usually has something to give me (just like I had balloons to give to the youth).  Is God trying to tell me that he has already given me a balloon, but there are more left to give?  Am I missing out on something?  I just want you to think about this for a bit…

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Alright, now for the second incident that happened to me.  So Saturday night was Daylight Savings and so we would “lose an hour of sleep”.  Even so, some of us planned to meet at the gym at 6 the next morning to play some basketball.  Two of the youth in my cabin asked me to wake them up when the time came.  Being the initiator, I made sure that I was up the earliest (I actually ‘slept in’ 15 minutes and felt really bad about it).  I shook the two youth to wake them up, their reactions were priceless… They kept on sleeping like little babies (Cue the “AWWWWWWWWWWWW”…)  After a bit, I decided to head out to the gym because I didn’t want people from other cabins to think that I was ditching them by not going.  As you probably could’ve guessed, I was the ONLY one there.  I decided to just shoot around by myself for an hour (because maybe they didn’t change their clocks an hour ahead), but still no one came.  That’s when I decided to go back to my cabin.  Upon return, some of the youth were up, including one of the two that I tried to wake up.  He felt really bad about not waking up and I could tell he really wanted to go play, so I offered to go play again.  This time when I tried waking the other youth up, he woke up (apparently tickling his soles was what I should have done the whole time…).  So the three of us made our way to the gym and played for about an hour.

What spoke to me about this was that God will also “wake up” at the time that we agree to and he will wait for us to come out the the meeting place.  When he gets tired of waiting he goes back to where we are.  When we finally wake up, he offers to go out again to where we were supposed to meet him to begin with.  He will always, Always, ALWAYS give us more opportunities to spend time with him, even when we fail to do it sometimes.  God is like the father in the parable, waiting patiently for us.  When we finally wake up from our stupor and go find him, he RUNS out to meet us and throws his arms around us.

I pray that this encourages you today.

prodigal-son-

REALLY Holding onto God

Blog post number two of what I learned on my weekend away at a youth retreat.  So my last post was about turning your life around to find God, and this one will talk about Holding onto him.  I mean REALLY hold onto him.  I hope this will speak to those who are feeling like God is allowing things to happen to you that you feel like you are not ready for.  Maybe you are mad at God for this (hopefully not).  I’m not saying that what I write in this blog will be exactly the answer why, but I pray that if will open up your perspective to think more broadly in terms of why God COULD be putting you through these situations.

Two things happened on Saturday that really stood out to me as good imagery for holding onto God.

The first was this.  So there are two leaders from our youthgroup that are siblings.  The brother was sitting in a chair waiting for Saturday morning worship to start and he was talking to people around him and tipping the chair in front of him back and forth.  His sister come by and is about to sit down when he tips the chair and accidentally hits her in the knee.  She pretended to be really hurt and offended and he tried to lighten the mood by apologizing and asking her to forgive him and saying that he needed a hug from her to prove that she really forgave him.  She decided to play “hard-to-get” and refused him the hug (GASP!!).  As she sat down on her chair, her brother went up to her to give her a hug and she kinda halfheartedly put her arms around him.  He said, “That’s not a REAL hug!! Do it properly!!” and you won’t believe what he did next…  He tipped her chair backwards while she was sitting on it (he was still holding her at this point) and her reaction was to grab onto him tightly.  Then he set the chair back to normal and said, “you REALLY hugged me that time!!”  (Oh how I love these two siblings, they really know how to brighten me day!!)

You may be thinking what does this have to do with God giving people situations that they are not ready to handle.  Well, think about it… In this story, did the girl expect her brother to tip the chair when he was hugging her?  I don’t think so.  Imagine that you are that girl and God is the brother in the story.  Something happens to you and you are hurt and so God says, “Give me a hug… A REAL hug…”  You choose to oblige only when he initiates the hug by putting his arms around you.  Even then you only put your arms around him softly, barely qualifying your choice of action as an embrace.  So God tips you back quickly but slightly and unexpectedly, while holding onto you tightly.  How do you react, do you return the embrace and hold him tighter?  Do you panic, freeze and blame him afterwards and never want him to get close anymore?  What do you do?  You see, the thing I love about this story was that the brother had the whole thing planned out and was in complete control of the situation, just like God.  The rest of the story was up to the sister to decide.  So what do you do?

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The second story I want to tell you is this.  So at the lodge that we were retreating at, there was a ropes/obstacle course.  Our youth leaders were in charge of running this event during free time.  Now on this particular day, it was raining hard.  The whole time we were out there we only had three participants show up.  We kinda got bored (OK not kinda, we DID get bored…) so we decided to try some of the obstacles.  The one that we were particularly proud of accomplishing was climbing a 12 foot tall wall as a team.  The way this works is we had to get someone over the top (without help from the top) and then everybody else would be pushed up from the bottom and helped by the person that already made it to the top.  Once at the top, we were not allowed to go back down to push the last person from the bottom (though spotters were allowed to support him/her when he/she jumped to try and grab the people at the tops hands, they were not allowed to push him/her and hold that person until they had a firm grip with the people up top).  Therefore it is up to the last person to work with the people at the top to make it over.

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Similar to the first story, imagine that you are that last person to get over the wall and God is the people at the top of the wall and people that support you in life are the spotters.  God is reaching down the wall to you and it is up to you to jump and grab hold of his outstretched hands.  Once you grab hold you cannot let go or else you will fall, but if you fall you have at least two choices, get back up to try again, or stay lying down on the wet ground (as far from God’s reaching hand as you can be).  Other people may support you in life (like the spotters at the wall), but they cannot push you up and hold you there.  YOU need to hold on and work with God to pull yourself over that wall (or whatever situation you need to get over).  It doesn’t work if you only let the people up top pull you over without using your own effort to get over (in fact that might hurt you more than falling).

I think that when these situations happen to you, it’s because God wants to test you to see if you trust him (if so how much and to what extent).  Also God knows that you won’t have to go through the situations alone, and he wants you to realize this fact.  Of course there could be many more reasons why, but these are the two that really stood out to me this last weekend.

So what do you choose?  Will you hold tightly onto God when something you are unprepared for happens?  Or will you let him do all the holding and just pray that you make it through?  Do you choose to work with God to get over that wall with the support of others?  Or do you choose to again let him do all the work and just pray that he manages to pull you over the wall?

Turning around and finding the right place in life

So here we go, the first part of four blogs where I will talk about things that I personally learned from the youth retreat that I attended, as well as events surrounding it.

Today I want to talk about being lost.  Are you, or have you ever been, spiritually lost?  Like that feeling where “God” is just a word that exists only in your vocabulary and not your life.  Like that feeling where it is just so hard to believe in him because of all the strife.  Like that feeling where you are your own person, because there is no heavenly father to call you son (or daughter).  If so, I pray that this post will speak to you personally.

So here we go…

Get-Ready-For-A-Turn-Around

We headed out on Friday afternoon for what was supposed to be an hour and half bus ride.  Suffering slightly from sleep depravity I fell asleep for the first hour of the bus ride.  When I woke up we were still on the Highway and about 20 minutes later we pulled off onto an exit and reached a fork in the road.  The bus driver thought that we had to turn instead of driving straight.  We thought that we were getting really close to the Lodge because we were driving by lots of wooden residences and we were ecstatic!!  5 minutes later we no longer saw any residences and the thoughts running through my mind were, ” I think we are on the right track.  I mean it’s a lodge, so it would be further away from all the other residences… right?  Wait, there is no longer any lights around on this road…  Did I just see a Yeti?…”  OK maybe not that last part, but you get the point… WE. WERE. LOST.  It actually took a wooden gate blocking the road for the bus driver to realize this fact.  After much looking at the GPS on someone’s smartphone (don’t you just love technology?!?!?) we figured out where we went wrong.

Turning back was not easy, we were in a big bus and we were on a narrow road, but eventually we were turned completely around and on our way again.  At the fork in the road we went in the right direction.  Once we arrived I was taken over by a wave of familiarity and memories flooded back.  You see this particular lodge that we went to, I haven’t been to since 6 years ago and at that time I was one of the youth.  Now that we return to this place, a few of the people from the other youthgroups and I return as leaders of our perspective youthgroups.  It was also six years ago at this very location that I had an intimate encounter with God and I broke down during one of the worship sessions.  Upon arriving, I knew this was definitely the right place to be at.

So for those of you struggling and feeling lost, I want to encourage you with this thought.  Imagine that bus that my youthgroup was on was you.  You travel on the road of life in search of the place that God is at.  You arrive at a fork in the road and you choose to go in the direction that doesn’t lead to God (whether this be by accident or intentional you are still on the wrong road).  God still gives you signs that you need to turn around.  You may see other people building residences along this road, but they are sparse.  Soon enough you come to a point where there are no people around, just wilderness.  And finally, you hit that wooden fence.  You see this fence is not a dead end, you could keep going on past it, but it would keep leading you further and further away form God; therefore this fence is a point of decision, keep going or turn around.  What will you choose?

Turning around isn’t easy… You are a big bus on a narrow road and it may take a while before you are fully turned 180 degrees around.  Then it’s the slow process of getting back to where there is life again (the occupied residences) and then fully back onto the path that leads to God.  When you get to where God is, you will know it is the right place, because at sometime in your life you have been to a similar place and have gotten this feeling of God’s presence.  Question is, are you wiling to turn around?

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Youth retreats are amazing experiences

Wow!! I am totally in awe right now at how much God is working in (and speaking into) my life (through good and bad).  This last weekend (Friday to Sunday) my youthgroup went on a youth retreat with four other youthgroups and the experience was just amazing in so many ways (I learned something about him every single day that we were on this retreat)!!  I will start a four part blog sometime this week, so stay tuned!!!!

Here’s the general outline for each of these blog posts I will write (yes you get a sneak peak now):

Thoughts about Friday: turning your life around and finding the right place in life

Thoughts about Saturday: REALLY holding onto God

Thoughts about Saturday/Sunday: The father is waiting (time to come HOME!!)

Thoughts about Sunday: Friendship (the story of ONE church)

I’m really looking forwards to writing about this weekend and I pray that something will stick out to someone out there!!