What is the wrong in the world that disturbs you?

How can we invite people to join us in following Christ if we, as a church, are not following Christ ourselves?

How can we say that Christ offers freedom while we oppress people?

How can we say that Christ does things for our good while there is still abuse in the church?

How can can we talk about loving community while we gossip?

How can we talk about authenticity while we focus on our image?

How can we talk about truth while we are still caught up in lies?

How can we decry the sin in culture when faced with the sin in the church?

This is the wrong in our world that disturbs me.

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Not For Me

Proverbs 31:1-9:

31 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:
What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
    What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
    your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
    and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

When someone mentions Proverbs 31, the first 9 verses aren’t usually the first to come to mind. In a book full of catchy sayings, this motherly advice is easy to pass over.

King Lemuel’s mother took the time to teach her son some important lessons about leadership that are easy to forget. She begins her oracle by demanding attention, asking, “What are you doing, my son?” It is a call to stop and reflect. She asks her son to reevaluate his actions.

Continue reading

Celebrating Valour

My grandma is one of the most amazing people I know. If anyone has displayed Christ accurately to me, it is her. During some of the most difficult years of my life, she would stay up with me for as long as I wanted to talk to her, and she listened, never judging or condemning, even when I talked about some of my frustrations with my parents.

She always checks with me before she cooks a meal to make sure that it will be something that I enjoy, and she buys my favourite instant oatmeal (Dino-Eggs, just for the record) when I am coming for a visit. She never criticizes my eating.

She encouraged me when I became frustrated with my inability to cook. She has been the one who reminds me that I am still competent and talented, and that I don’t need to be great at cooking after all.

She is honest, yet kind. Christ shines through her, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She is generous, yet wise. She is perceptive, but she does not worry about what she doesn’t know. She is steady in crises, and strong in more ways than one. She is a woman of valour, and her works deserve to be celebrated. Continue reading

Making Your Youth Ministry a Safe Place for Girls

Odds are that if you went to a youth group as a teen, the youth pastor was male.  Odds also are that the youth pastor at your church is male.  If the youth pastor is you, good.  I’m writing this for you.

I firmly believe that youth groups should be safe and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of race, economic status, popularity, religious background, body type, and gender.  Whatever you believe about the genetic differences between males and females, girls and women have different interactions and experiences with culture, including Christian culture, than guys do.

The Church, as representatives of God, needs to treat girls in a way that reflects God’s love and acceptance of them.  If they can find safety, acceptance, empowerment, and inclusion in God, they should be able to see that reflected in the culture of our youth groups.

What are some practical ways to do that? Continue reading

Good Enough

This weekend I sat through another sermon about being good enough for God no matter what mistakes we’ve made or what sins we have committed.  It seems like so many people need to hear this message, but it never seems to resonate with me.  I have spent my entire life trying to be perfect for people.  I don’t have regrets that make me feel guilty and distant from God.

It’s not, though, that I think that I deserve everything God can give.  I know that I do not.  I was raised with the knowledge that what I deserve is Hell.  What I deserve is suffering.   I am not worthy of anything good happening to me. Continue reading

An Anthem of Valour

My grandma is one of the most amazing people I know. If anyone has displayed Christ accurately to me, it is her. During some of the most difficult years of my life, she would stay up with me for as long as I wanted to talk to her, and she listened, never judging or condemning, even when I talked about some of my frustrations with my parents.

She always checks with me before she cooks a meal to make sure that it will be something that I enjoy, and she buys my favourite instant oatmeal (Dino-Eggs, just for the record) when I am coming for a visit. She never criticizes my eating.

She encouraged me when I became frustrated with my inability to cook. She has been the one who reminds me that I am still competent and talented, and that I don’t need to be great at cooking after all.

She is honest, yet kind. Christ shines through her, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She is generous, yet wise. She is perceptive, but she does not worry about what she doesn’t know. She is steady in crises, and strong in more ways than one. She is a woman of valour, and her works deserve to be celebrated.

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes a woman worth noticing – a woman of valour. Throughout the book of Proverbs, you can find warnings to men to avoid the adulterous woman and to refuse to give in to her temptation. Proverbs 31 closes with the opposite message, originally aimed at young men: Look for a wife of noble character, an excellent wife, and a woman of wisdom. The Hebrew phrase for the title of this woman is eshet chayil, which can be translated as “woman of strength” or “woman of valour.” Read what this passage says about her. Continue reading

Maybe People are Okay

There are a few things that really get on my nerves:

  • When people are late
  • When people make me late
  • Harassment
  • When different foods touch each other on my plate
  • When people make jokes about feminism

Oh, I wish I had good comebacks for the things that people say.  I really do like the think that I’m witty.

I’m not.

So when someone makes fun of feminism, I just sit there and hate them.

I’m no stranger to feminism being looked down on.  It’s kind of discouraging, actually, how often I encounter sexism at school and at work.  It’s not unusual for me to hear someone talk about the so-called evils of feminism in a school where I am learning how to lead both men and women in the church.

This last week, a good friend of mine was on a roll with the feminism jokes: “I’m a feminist.  I have no problem with hitting women.”  “See, I don’t like feminism because then I can’t be chivalrous.”  “This is why I’m not a feminist: we guys don’t get as many bathroom stalls, so now I have to wait to use the washroom!”

And I sat there, and I got angrier and angrier.

I wanted to fight back.  I wanted him to understand how important feminism is to me, but I also wanted him to hurt like I was hurting.

But then I thought of Jesus’ instructions to love, and to turn the other cheek, and I didn’t want to.  God!  I said,  “Fight for me, because you said I shouldn’t fight for myself!  Defend my rights, because I can defend my own rights when I”m supposed to be willing to surrender them.  Fight for me!

Maybe what I meant was, Hurt him for me.  Make him feel guilty.

Maybe that’s why God didn’t agree to my suggestion.  Instead, God said, “Tell him.  Tell him that you are hurt.  Tell him how much this means to you.  Tell him how feminism means freedom from the abuse you experienced.  Tell him how rape culture has scarred women you care about.  Tell him about how feminism offers the hope that one day young ladies will be able to go for a run without worrying about catcalling or being followed by a group of guys.  Tell him that it matters to you.”

My hands shook as walked toward him after chapel.  I turned around twice, then resolved once again to go through with it.

Then I told him.  I told him about my family, about my friends, about me, and about how we all need feminism.  I told him that I couldn’t tell whether he actually believed what he joked about or not because way too may people do believe it.  I told him that I don’t want to tell him what to believe, but I do want him to understand how the jokes make me angry.

He listened.  He didn’t argue. “That totally makes sense,” he said.  He listened, and he apologized, and he stopped.

Maybe people are okay.

Maybe what is needed isn’t a fight, but a dialogue.  When both sides put down their swords and listen to each other, maybe things can start to change.

Getting Back To Thankfulness

I set up an interactive bulletin board last week at my college in preparation for thanksgiving.  It was covered in strips of blank paper, and said at the top,

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

What are you thankful for this thanksgiving?

Nearly all the strips of paper had been filled in by students by the end of the week.  Some were simple, some were profound, some were thankful for the people around them, a lot were thankful for good food.

Sometimes finding things to be genuinely grateful for is difficult.  Especially when the depression settles in, the anxiety brings up every worst case scenario, my body is sick and lacking sleep and is becoming increasingly uncooperative when I need to focus, and I have taken on way, way more than I should have this semester, I look at my life and all I can see is what needs to change.

What can I be thankful for? I wonder.  My life is okay, but it is not good by anyone’s standards!

I have to think about it.  I have to search for reasons, but they are there.

I am in my third year of my degree program, but this semester is the first semester in which my bank account has not drifted below $500.00.  This is good.

I received such encouragement this last week, which got me through my lowest week in months.

I have a reliable job which lets me take the time off that I need.

How I would like to take nothing for granted!  But I am not there yet.  So I will begin with today.  Though with only a few thanks, it is a step in the attitude I aspire toward.

The Father’s Good Pleasure

Luke 12:22-32 (ESV)

“And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’”

Can you think of a time when you needed something – anything?  Have you ever needed money or food?  Have you ever needed friendship, or help with something, or advice?

I have.   Continue reading

To the One I Consider the Least of These

Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father,inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’”

You know, as far as I’m concerned, you are most definitely the least of these.  I don’t want to go out of my way to show kindness or love to you.  You don’t deserve my forgiveness, let alone my love.
Have you heard the song “Spirit Speaks” by Know Hope Collective?  The line that resonated with me goes: “I’ll go where You will lead to love the least of these – my greatest offering.”
My greatest offering indeed.  Loving you is a sacrifice.  It means giving you what you don’t deserve – what you didn’t give me.  I don’t want to.  It’s not fair.  It doesn’t seem like justice.
It’s not justice.  It’s grace.  And it will take time.  But I will.