Thoughts on life

Been a while since I’ve blogged.  Things have been kind of crazy since the day camp that I ran ended.  Upon going back to school, I knew that something in me had changed, I don’t feel very happy anymore.  It’s kinda funny but I miss being in charge of 40 children and 10 volunteers, all the kids coming to me about the simplest little problems, all the yelling, crying, laughing, singing, etc.  I miss it all…  It’s not the fact that I was in charge of everything and everything went the way that I said it would that I miss that experience so much, it was all the bonding that took place with the children and the volunteers, it was the fact that I accomplished something that I never thought I could before.  Ever since the summer, I’ve been thinking about ways that I can get back to a place like that.  It’s hard because even though it seems like school is the only answer to get me back to something that will give me back to this feeling faster, it also feels like school is the thing that is burning me out and making me feel unhappy.  In this time it’s also been hard trusting in God’s timing for different things.  However, I cannot deny that I’ve crossed paths with people who are meant to be in my life to help me through this time.  I’ve made friends who accept me as part of their group and look out for me just because a friend introduced me to them.  Also there are other people who would be there for me anytime to the best of their abilities.  Even though I have a hard time feeling happy right now, I definitely feel cared for and I know that God is looking out for me.

One example that is extremely fresh in my mind because it just happened two days ago.  Two days ago I got into my first major car accident as a driver.  I’m not going to go into details about how it happened, but it was out of my control.  As soon as it happened, there just happened to be an ambulance there and the paramedics came and took over the situation and made sure everything was OK with me and the other driver.  They blocked off oncoming traffic so that we could pull our cars off the busy main road onto a side road before they left.  After exchanging contact and insurance information, the other person drove off, but I couldn’t because of the condition of my car.  My phone was on the fritz and I saw a light on in a house nearby, so I rang their doorbell to ask to borrow a phone.  They had a camera and a microphone and after about two minutes of conversation explaining who I was and what I needed help with, the family opened their door and lent me their phone.  At first when I called my dad, he told me to catch a bus home, so I called a friend who I just met this term if he could pick me up and he readily agreed without hesitation.  As it turned out my dad wanted to swing by to look at my car anyways so my friend didn’t have to come, but to know that he was that willing to help me made me feel cared for.  Everything that happened that night couldn’t have been a coincidence!!  What are the chances that two paramedics in an ambulance would be right behind me when I would need them the most.  There was only one house with their lights on that I could see and the family readily opened their door to a complete stranger to let me use their phone, and my friend being available and willing o pick me up (even though in the end it was not necessary).  Oh and the reason why my dad was able to drive out to where I was was because it just so happened that my mom was not using their car and she is usually out with the car on Tuesday nights.  Just try to tell me that all of this was a huge coincidence!!

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A new journey in faith

So, this summer I am directing a day camp and there has been an interesting turn of events that I would like to share about… Here we go!!

The weeks leading up to Sonshine Day Camp were filled with wonder. Wonder of what I were supposed to do (being a first time director was intimidating to say the least). Wonder of if I was doing the “right” things. And Wonder of what the future would bring. The week preceding this week, my assistant director and some of her church youth group went on a local missions trip called “Serve”. Upon return, many of them fell ill, and she fell victim as well. After visiting the hospital, it was concluded that my assistant director would not be able to participate for the first week of camp.

When I received the news (on Saturday), I was pretty devastated. To make things worse, I was scheduled to help lead worship the next day at The Way Community Church and I felt like I couldn’t give it my all. Despite my feelings, I decided to proceed with leading worship because I really like the worship leader that was leading that day and she doesn’t lead with us very often. On Sunday morning, I was making lots of mistakes during rehearsal because my mind was on what I had to do with SDC and was kinda freaking out. Even though I hadn’t told the worship leader my situation, after rehearsal, she came up to me and told me that she felt like I was holding back in my guitar playing. She then told me to just let everything go and just play my heart out for God regardless of any mistakes that I would make. I felt comforted by what she said and I did play hard, I did make (many) mistakes, and I did pour out my soul to God. The two songs that stood out to me that day were the songs “Everyday” and “Lead me to the Cross” by Hillsong. Both songs reminded me to lay myself down and live for God and to shine my light. This gave me comfort that God would always be there even if my assistant couldn’t. I didn’t have to go through this situation alone.

Almost right after service, I got a text message from one of our volunteers who was not scheduled to help out for week 1. She had found out our situation through an announcement made at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Now this was one of our volunteers who was extremely shy and didn’t feel comfortable stepping up in many situations, yet when the need arose, she was the very first person to step up. Not only that, but she asked me to help instead of the other way around.

Throughout the week, I learned to rely and trust my volunteer team heavily. Even though we had lots of new volunteers, they all rose to the challenge and helped make the first week of SDC a success. I am so grateful for each and every one of them!! Whenever one volunteer could not come out another person would come and take their place.

On Wednesday, my greatest highlight happened. I am mainly in charge of the worship portion of the day camp and my assistant director is mainly in charge of the crafts portion of the day camp. Interestingly, the craft idea for this particular week was an idea I had and it made me feel a little bit more confident because if she had planned it, then I would be constantly worrying if I was doing the right thing.

Actually, the craft idea I had in mind had to do with worship, it was to create a song album for the campers to take home (check out https://soundcloud.com/edward-dengler/sets/step-by-step-an-sdc-album) and enjoy and to have them decorate the cover as they pleased. Many campers had a blast singing and it really made my day. I played the CD as they decorated and the campers and volunteers would sing along and do the actions. This helped me see the light that I shone in the camp. I couldn’t previously see the light I cast because my shadow of doubt covered it from my sight, but now that I am aware of it, I will try my best to continue to let it shine for the rest of SDC. I always here compliments about my musical talents and I’m always flattered but would kind of think of my other friends whom I perceive as more talented and brush the compliments aside.

I pray that I can stop being so insecure about the talents given to me and to help others see their light as well.

Patience: Following God’s Plan For Us

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At a youth group that I volunteer at, every week one of us leaders will give a brief message based off of the fruits of the spirit.  One of my friends gave her talk on patience.  She gave her examples of how she handles patience in different situations.  For her personally it’s easier to show patience when she is in a situation where she when it has to do with listening to other people (especially when they are sharing personal feelings or stories about events that took place), however it’s harder for her to show patience in a situation where she has to wait for something to happen (such as working out and getting immediate results).

 

She quoted Habakkuk 2:3, which says:

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.”

She also used James 1:2-4, which says:

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

 

Both of these passages talk about waiting and persevering, both qualities associated with patience.  All of us know what it’s like to wait and/or persevere; whether we are a baby attempting our first step, or when we are at our peak years practicing the movements that we have honed over our lifetime, to when we grow old and walking is painful so we persevere with each step.

Everything doesn’t come naturally, we need to take time to get better at things that we do.  Most importantly, the message behind her talk is the message of perfect timing.  Not just perfect timing in our human terms, but GOD’S perfect timing.  Everything happens in a timely fashion and it planned perfectly by God our creator.  We may go through trials, but we need to see it as learning opportunities that make us the people we are today.  These trials come in many forms, maybe it’s the physical struggle of enduring harassment daily, or maybe it’s the emotional struggle of waiting for good/bad news about a loved one while waiting in emergency, or maybe it’s the spiritual struggle of not knowing what the meaning of your life is and the struggle of wondering if there even is a God out there.  In any of these situations, patience is key because all these situations should not be destinations, rather they are rest stops along the highway of life.  If we stop here, we sill never know what the city looks at at the end of the highway.

Her personal example that she gave was about her experience looking for a job.  For two years she looked for a job and applied to many different places, but never even got a reply call.  Last summer, she decided to give it one last try and she got a job at a fast food joint.  She had to lower her expectations for what sort of job that she wanted to get.  She had to persevere with the job hunt before she even got a job that was originally very low on her list of job opportunities.  Now that she is here, she knows that this is not the destination and eventually she will move on in life to get to the real destination.

She ended off her talk with Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG), which says:

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

 

So may you find comfort in this and persevere in life.

The Secret Life of ME!!

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Been a while since I wrote my last blog.  Amidst final exams (which finished a week and a half ago) this is how my head feels hahaha…

 

Anyways today I want to talk about a movie that I watched the other day with my family.  This movie has some great imagery for our relationship with God.  After watching it, it became one of my all-time favourites.  The movie is titled “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, directed and starring Ben Stiller, this movie is loosely based off of a short story written in 1939 by James Thurber.

In this movie, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a negative assets manager (the person that manages photo negatives and prepares it for printing) for the ‘LIFE’ Magazine.  He lives a pretty ordinary and boring life; he doesn’t travel much, has no love life and daydreams about a more exciting life to make up for it.  ‘LIFE’ gets bought out by a larger company and Walter Mitty is assigned to process the final magazine cover of ‘LIFE’.  The photographer who took the picture (Played by Sean Penn) sends Walter Mitty the negative roll along with a birthday and ‘thank you’ gift (a wallet) for the sixteen years of service that Walter Mitty had done for him.  The problem was that the picture that was to be the magazine cover was missing and no one knew what it looked like except for the photographer (who travels around a lot and does not have any direct way of communicating with him).  From this point on, the movie is about how Walter Mitty travels around the world following clue after clue to find the photographer to ask about the missing photograph.  In the end he does find the photographer and the photographer told him that the picture was in the wallet, so he actually did have it the whole time.  All Walter Mitty had to say was, “you’re crazy!!” (in reference to putting the photo for the front cover in some obscure location like a wallet).  Now here’s the thing, throughout his journey, Walter Mitty gets fed up with the things that were happening in his life and decided to throw the wallet away.

This got me thinking, does God give us gifts to thank us for all the hard work that we do for him?  YES he does… This can be found in the parable of the Talents Jesus tells us in this parable that we all have talents and that we are to use them all.  Those that use their talents will gain more, and those that don’t lose EVERYTHING that they have.  So how many talents/gifts do I have that I don’t know I have?  How many talents/gifts have I thrown away in frustration because I didn’t know that I had it all along?  But here’s the great thing, there’s redemption.

As it turns out, in the movie, Walter Mitty’s mother sees him throw away his wallet and she retrieves it and gives it back to him when he said he needed one.  This reminds me of when I think to myself that I don’t have the skill to do something anymore so I stop doing it, but then later on I find out that I never lost it.

Anyways, just a thought that I had, I hope you can relate to this.  Again I highly recommend watching “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I hope I didn’t spoil too much for you.

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.

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