Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Well, it's the 31st of December, 2011, and you know what that means: It's New Year's Eve! As of about 7 or 8 hours ago, there have been people partying in various time zones to celebrate a new year, all over the world! (Except maybe China. They'll get theirs in February)

People have been asking me all week if I'm excited for the new year. I think I definitely am, and I think a part of the reasoning behind that is that I was a little unsatisfied with 2011. Or at least, this is what I have convinced myself of. So, I've decided I'm going to write a post reflecting on ten things that were particularly great about 2011, so that I can look back fondly and not remain convinced that it was mediocre!

1. 2011 was a big year for me in terms of blogging stuff- in that, so far, it was the ONLY year for me! So that's kind of exciting! I have had over 1600 hits since I started writing in June, and that number just keeps growing! Thanks to all of my readers, regular or occasional, for making that possible!

2. I turned 18 this year! (This is the part where anyone reading my blog who *didn't* know how young I am goes "what?!") I am now officially old enough to be considered an adult, to vote, to buy alcohol (at least in Montreal) and to gamble! I don't particularly want to do most of those things, but it's still nice to have options!

3. I met an amazing Australian, Nathan Royters, who is totally awesome, on fire for Christ, and I'm excited to say will be moving in with me this summer when he gets back to Montreal!

4. Emmaus got a rector! In June/July (I forget at this point) we were blessed with the arrival of Keith Ganzer, a fantastic preacher and all-around cool guy who's been a really great addition to our community.

5. I got a laptop! And just in time too- I got this thing and about a week later, my desktop PC decided it hated itself and died. It's not beyond the point of fixing, I'm just too lazy and not computer-savvy enough to deal with it. Maybe that will be another goal for 2012...

6. I went to Crosstalk Ministries' Senior Youth Camp for the first time ever, and met a whole bunch of really amazing people! Shout-outs to Mark Latulipe, Paulo Gonzales, Liam Julien, Mike Still and all the others!

7. Thanks to Mark, I got my first real job! I've been a proud member of the Braxon team since September, cleaning carpets and such, along with Paulo! I also got another job, as the janitor at St Stephen's Anglican Church in Westmount, so I guess this year has been a really good one in terms of work stuff.

8. I also started an acapella band, the Brovertones, with Paulo, Nathan, Tim Blais and Josiah Henderson! So far we've only really worked on one song, and only three of us were there for it, but it sounds really great and it's better than nothing, I think!

9. I wrote a song! And while it's true that I was hoping to be done with it back in July and am still ironing out some kinks, I'm happy to say it will definitely be ready for release sometime in the next month or two, recorded and everything! So keep an eye out for that!

10. Last but certainly not least, I got to spend even more time working with the lovely kids at the Emmaus Youth Group. I've known most of them since before I was their age, so it's been such a blessing watching them grow up and being able to be a part of their lives!

So, after writing all that, I am no longer convinced that 2011 was a mediocre year. It was pretty darned exciting actually! And I'm even more excited to see what God has in store for me in 2012.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bury the Hatchet

Hey guys,

This has been a dark week for me- coming to terms with the fact that there's a lot of stuff in my life that is broken and uncomfortable, a lot of things I'm not okay with as much as I thought I was, and a lot of things that I just need to get over. Needless to say, God's at work here.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." Essentially, the idea he's trying to get across here is that we need to keep short accounts with people. If someone wrongs us, we need to be very quick to forgive and reconcile that relationship. And vice versa. And if that's hard to do, which it often is, we need to make that effort regardless and try to fix things.

In a lot of churches, there is a time of 'passing the peace' that happens before the giving of Communion. This part of the service, though often just coming off as a time to greet your brothers and sisters with a few words of well-wishing, is actually traditionally meant as a time to go and do what Jesus tells us in the passage above. The idea is that you're supposed to leave your offering, go fix whatever's wrong in your relationships with people, then come back and with a light heart give your all to God.

So I know what my prayers will be this week- that God helps me to get over and reconcile my broken relationships, so I can more effectively and wholly love His people.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recent Goings-On

So you might be wondering what I've been up to recently that's kept me so busy!
Or you might not, that's cool too.
Either way, I figured I should talk a little bit about how I've been spending my time the last couple of weeks!

I finished school a couple of weeks ago, so it's weird that I've had less time to write recently than before. You would think that being done with all my classes would give me more time, but that's not really the case. Christmas is a really busy season for me- and probably for a lot of us, now that I think about it! I was asked to lead the music for the Emmaus Christmas Day service this year, so I've been thinking a lot about Christmas music lately.

We also wrapped up youth group this past Friday night with our annual Christmas Party! That was pretty amazing- we had a gift swap, only we did it "yankee-swap" style and it was a lot of fun to watch people steal gifts from eachother. Hot ticket items included a package of bacon, an Edward Cullen action figure, some Angry Birds merchandise, a lock of hair and lunch for 3 at a tasty dumpling restaurant.

Also this weekend was the December edition of Crossroads! Crossroads is a monthly youth service hosted by Crosstalk Ministries, where I have the pleasure of helping lead musical worship alongside some truly wonderful people! It was a really great service as we celebrated the advent season with a spaghetti dinner, a special Eucharistic service and a ginger-bread house making (and eating!) competition.

 I've also been working, and eating more pizza than is probably healthy, and enjoying the company of friends and family! Last night I had the final meeting of a small study group I was attending this semester, as most of the group are heading back to Singapore next week! A quick shout-out to Abigail, Leroy and Tommy and all of your companions! Praying for you guys to have a safe trip home and looking forward to hearing from you soon :)

Well, that's the end of my exhausted ramblings for now. I'm still pretty wired though so I will probably write up something that's actually interesting and provocative in a few minutes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Bible in a Year: My New Year's Resolution

Hey people,

Sorry, it's been awhile since my last post! Things have been busy the last couple of weeks and I haven't had a chance to just sit down and write for a little while. I guess that happens toward the end of the semester, though I can't really blame school, since I'm in a pretty easy program with minimal amounts of work and no final exams. But I digress!

I've been thinking a lot recently about the whole idea of a "New Year's Resolution." It's a strange concept to me, because it seems like there's two schools of thought about it: The first is that you use it to make yourself feel good for a couple of weeks, then fail to take it seriously and say "Oh well, next year." The second is that you use it as an excuse to do things you should be doing anyway. In the past, I've tried to get on board with the idea of giving something up or trying to do something new every year. I'm not sure if I'm inherently bad at that kind of intentionality or if I just didn't ever actually care.

This year, Keith suggested that the men of Emmaus Anglican Church commit to reading the Bible in a year. I've tried to do this in the past but went about it without a plan or any accountability, and usually just tried to go from start to finish. I think as great as Genesis is, trying to read like five chapters of it a night tends to get old really quickly, and starts to feel like a chore. So I never really got past a week or two of reading. This time around I'll be using the ESV Bible in a year daily plan, meeting up once a month with Keith and the others, and fully committing to it.

I think there's a definite value to this exercise. Reading Scriptures in this way is a great way to saturate our minds with the Word of God, and having a good knowledge of this stuff is important for all believers, especially those involved in ministry. So I'm pretty excited! And I want to encourage any readers out there to check out the ESV (that's English Standard Version) website and look into doing the same!

Yours in Christ,


Monday, December 12, 2011

Benefit Concert for Goa

Another one of those two post nights! Mad world!

This one's less of a post, and more me linking you to a video you should take a look at! It's an interview with my voice teacher, Jacinta Luis, about our recent concert to raise funds for music education in Goa, India.

The video was filmed and edited by Sinath Yip, a student at Dawson College, and you can find it right here!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quick Note on Redemption

So this morning, I decided to sit in on a Youth Sunday School class being taught by Josiah Henderson and we had a brief discussion at one point during his lesson about redemption. I have been meditating a bit on this today so I thought I should write up a post about it!

Sometimes, I feel like the word 'redemption' is very Christianese. We throw the word around all the time, because it is a bit part of our belief! The Gospel is the good news that Christ died to redeem us! But what I find fascinating about this word is that, at least in English, it seems to have two meanings.

To redeem is to:
1. Claim something or cash it in for its value (such as points or a lottery ticket)
2. Restore something to its full value.

What I think is especially neat about this is that both of these apply to the redemption we talk about when we're talking about the Gospel! Our redemption through Christ is, quite literally, a restoration of full value and God's way of claiming us as His beloved chosen ones! I think that's amazing.

That's kind of all I've got to say about this right now! Just a quick thought haha. I'd love to hear what you guys think about this! Leave a comment! :)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Ave Maria

Hey guys,

So this morning I was listening to Ave Maria on Josh Groban's "Noel" album. Super amazing, obviously. But it got me thinking about the lyrics. I don't speak Latin, but I understand some of the words in there, and was reflecting on them this morning before the service at Emmaus. Words that pop up in there, apart from the titular 'Hail Mary,' are gratia, dominus and benedictus. Gratia is a word that provides the root for English words like grace and gratitude. Dominus tends to refer to someone in authority, a position or power (such as a Lord or clergyman). Benedictus has to do with blessings. After googling the meaning of the lyrics, I realized this song is, in some part, a prayer thanking God for the blessing and grace He poured out over Mary.

That being said, it was a really neat parallel when Keith Ganzer started his sermon this morning, found here on the Emmaus website, and, continuing his series on the Gospel of Luke, talked about the passage where Mary learns of her pregnancy. Sort of the main point of his sermon was focused around the fact that Mary was probably like 12 years old, and had such an incredible faith and commitment to God's will for her life. He emphasized the fact that it's really unfortunate that in this day and age, people seem to take a stance when it comes to young people that none of them are mature, that none of them can have truly strong relationships with God, and that none of them can commit their lives to Him until they're much older. And he used this message as a way of encouraging our congregation to encourage the kids and teens to step out in their faith and give themselves to God in powerful ways. We're obviously not asking them to get pregnant with His incarnate Son or anything, since Mary did that already, but we're asking them to show that same kind of faith and devotion.

So, while meditating on this sermon, I realized just how powerful this message is to anyone involved in Youth & Childrens' ministries. Sometimes- and I'm willing to admit I often fall into this- it's too easy to expect little of young people, because we live in a society where we don't trust them to drive a car until they're a certain age, and sometimes we don't even trust them to work until they're "old enough." But one thing we can't allow ourselves to fall into is the thought that because somebody is young, they aren't capable of committing their lives to the Lord. And it seems ridiculous to me that I would have trouble with this myself, given that I'm a pretty decent example of one of those young people who *does* sacrifice themself for His Kingdom.

So, I pray for myself, and for other youth ministers, that we would be able to encourage our students to be more like Mary in their selfless faith and willingness to commit to God's cause. I also pray that we wouldn't be blind to the truth that they're capable of this!

So, thank you, Mary, for being such a poignant reminder that young people are capable of demonstrating fantastic faith in huge situations.

Prayerfully yours,


Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Servant's Heart


Sometimes my non-Christian friends will ask me why I do so many things* (youth group, worship, etc) and usually follow up by saying that I'm such a good Christian for doing these kinds of things out of "the goodness of my own heart" (what the heck does that even mean?). And while it might be true that doing things to serve others is definitely good, and I am definitely a Christian, I don't know if I would say that being a good Christian necessarily has anything to do with our actions. I'd like to say no, since our salvation comes from the blood of Christ alone, but I also definitely acknowledge that we are called to be faithful servants, to love and serve the poor and needy without condition, and to give of ourselves for others.
*For the record, I do so many things because I love God, He loves me, and I want other people to experience that love.

I think one of the biggest things about having the heart of a servant in the Kingdom of God is the attitude behind it. We have to be loving in ways that are unconditional; this means that if the motivation behind our good deeds is anything but to bring glory to God by showing love to His people, then our actions are empty. Sure, they're still going to make people feel good, but they're meaningless without Jesus. This is why I argue that service is more of a heart issue than an action issue. If your heart's not in the right place, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do whatever you were planning on doing- because God can use that to bless people all the same- but you definitely need to pause and re-evaluate your priorities, and pray that God will help you lose whatever idol you're clinging onto that is preventing you from dedicating everything to Him.

It can be really easy to fall into the habit of doing things for God that are really for us. I won't lie- I have to constantly check myself to make sure I'm not being selfish in my service. But I think it's super important for a leader to acknowledge that we are all broken, selfish humans, and to be actively praying against the attitudes that come to us so easily.

/End rant

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Guest Post from Carl Jones!

Hey guys,

So, those of you who are regular readers know that a little while ago I wrote a guest post for my friend Carl's blog! Tonight (or today, depending on what time zone you're in, word to my international followers) we have the pleasure of receiving a guest post in return! Carl is American, which is pretty cool, and it's my understanding that they have some kind of strange ritual this time of year that we Canadians celebrate in October. Thanksgiving! My favorite mostly-secular holiday ever. Anyways, this isn't my post, it's Carl's! So I'll stop talking now, and let's just jump right to it! :)

When Tom asked me to write a guest post for him about "American Thanksgiving," I admit the sound of those words hit me a bit funny.  I know that Canadian Thanksgiving is earlier- in fact I just saw an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which the very Canadian character of Robin comments that Thanksgiving in November just seems odd.  But truth be told I never really think of Thanksgiving as "our" holiday.  I know the history of it all- the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sitting down over a feast to celebrate surviving another year.  I, like so many others, will enjoy sitting down today with family and friends for a feast- and I will eat way too much.  There will be parades and football games to watch, and there will be the realization that the Christmas season is now officially here.   I realize that many USAmericans (technically, Canadians are Americans too.  So are Central & South Americans. I'm just saying...) manage to turn most every holiday into an excuse for patriotism, but I do not think of Thanksgiving as a day that belongs to God and country.  It simply belongs to God.  It is a day to give thanks for the many blessings in each of our lives, even in times when we do not feel as blessed as we might hope.  

I have always used a very simple exercise to help keep me focused on the meaning of this day, and I thought I would share it with you all today.  We used to sing a song at camp and youth group that went like this:
"Thank you, my LORD for the day, 
Thank you my LORD for they day.
"Cause you've given me your Son 
and you know I've just begun,
Thank you my LORD for the day."
We would sing those words over and over again, but each time through we would ask for suggestions on words to substitute for the words, "the day."  For instance, we might substitute "friends" or "turkey" or "family."  The list of things we were thankful for was usually endless. Each year on Thanksgiving I use this song as my morning devotion, taking time to list many of the things I am thankful for.  Taking time to thank God for our blessings is at the very heart of this day, whether you live here in Tampa, Florida or you live in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  Today, even more than usual, we should remember the words of the psalmist in Psalm 118 when he tells us that "this is the day that LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Live today in God's glory, filled with the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and no matter where you are or what you are doing it will be Thanksgiving Day!  Be blessed!

Because of Jesus

Carl Jones

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prologue to The Sought

Good afternoon, all.
Now I know Tom has introduced me as an aspiring creative writer, and so far you've only read a post about mind-reading, so I figured I'd post something I've written.
I'm also ditching the whole pen name thing. From now on, I am Oliver James Morello. Morello, for short.

This next piece is meant as a prologue for the book The Sought, by a good friend of mine.

Varoram stood in the fields just outside of Faromey, eyes closed, his bare feet damp from the dew that covered the grass. He opened his eyes and breathed in the moonlight. It had been so long since he’d felt the wind on his face. He started walking toward the remains of what was once the great city of Faromey. Ever since the massacre, it had become but a pile of ruins and mangled, bloody cadavers. The glory that had once emanated from that city was long gone, crushed by the abominations that had slaughtered the citizens of the city. With each step he took, he left a burnt footprint on the grass, the tiny droplets of dew sizzling into the night air. The sounds reminded him the burrowers that used to sing any time a god would approach Faromey. Their long snouts would produce a flute-like sound, and tens of thousands of them would stick their heads out of the ground and produce a magnificent melody for the gods.

As Varoram thought of them, he looked down at his feet and saw one peering up at him. He bent down and picked it up, admiring it. It tried to move, but he would pass it from one hand to the other. Its shiny mulberry skin reflected the moonlight. He looked at its small legs, its short and pointy tail, and its arrow-shaped, green-tipped ears. It eventually stopped running, and stayed immobile in his hand, flaring its snout in all directions. Varoram smiled, and it suddenly stopped moving altogether. As he tilted his head, the burrower fell to its side and shrivelled up like a wilted flower. He dropped it on the ground and it landed soundlessly as he moved on.

After finally arriving in the city, he felt a strong breeze blowing his long black robe about. The streets of Faromey were meant to channel winds from the South-West, as they were the winds that brought good weather. He remembered, he’d helped design the city.

After a few moments, he felt something cold on his foot. When he looked down, he saw a corpse’s hand. His eyes followed the arm and reached finally reached the head. It was Tyll. He recognized the man. He was one of the city’s apothecaries. Varoram found it ironic that the one who healed people had been one of the first to die in the massacre. He remembered how the kraven had been the first creatures to charge, followed by the rest of the abominations. Kravens looked like dogs, but with a back that was far more arched, and were much, much more vicious. They were meant to be swift, but not to kill. They would maim, wound the opponents, while the other creatures went in for the kill.

With a quick jerk of his foot, Varoram moved Tyll’s limp hand, which turned an ugly shade of brown, as all the flesh dried up. He kept walking, stepping over cadaver after cadaver.

It was when he looked up that Varoram saw it: Nyusatar. Faromey’s great temple. It took up a large part of the city, since the city itself had been built for the gods. Nyusatar had been built out of the finest hewnstone in all of the land. It had once stood, proud and tall, towering above all the other buildings of Faromey, with spires that could be seen from miles away. But now, it was merely a pile of stone, a broken memory of a paradisiacal edifice, a crushed mirror of the beauty of the heavens. As Varoram approached it, he smiled as lines from the stone lit up in a bright powder-blue. When Nyusatar had been erect, these lines traced vines all around the exterior and interior of the temple. Leaves and flowers had been drawn on the hewnstone by magic from Nyunamey herself, and these drawings of divine beauty were meant to shine as soon as any god approached the city. Whether it be bright as mid-day, or dark as a moonless night, the beautiful lines never went unnoticed.

Varoram entered the temple, looking around him. It was strange to see it from this angle. He’d come in and out of the temple many times, but he was always in his ceremonial colossal self, never in human height. And as he walked through the halls, his marmoreal hand feeling the cold, hard walls, tracing the vines, he heard nothing. It was a deep and utter silence. There weren’t the usual cacophonic cheers from the citizens or the music of the fays and sprites. Even his feet didn’t make any sound. The corner of his mouth began to curl into a smile.

When he reached the courtyard at the center of the temple, it was exactly as he’d expected. On the floor of the courtyard, in those same lights as everywhere else in the temple, was an accurate astrolabe, a map of the stars under their feet. A true work of art, but now cracked all across. Varoram looked up at the night sky. The stars had once danced for him. With him, even. In the many glorious celebrations they’re had in Nyusatar, the stars, the moon, and even the sun had joined in the great feasts.

But that had been a long time ago.

A long, long time ago.

In the days of old.

He kept walking toward the opposite end of the courtyard, where the eight thrones had once stood. Now, only two of them remained: The one in the center to the left, and the one at the very right. He walked up the three steps and sat on the throne. His throne. He looked to the other one with hungry eyes.

Suddenly, there was the sound of claws on stone getting closer. Varoram slowly turned his head to the courtyard and observed as a kraven walked his way. It walked up to his throne and looked at him dead in the eyes. Then, it turned around and sat at his feet. He reached out and started petting its head. He looked straight ahead.
Somewhere out there, was Raiu.

Somewhere out there, was his son.

Somewhere out there, was the one who would help him, Varoram, the god of passion, of fervor and rage, in his ascension.

Help him in the instauration of his realm of darkness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Self-Indulgent Blog Post

Hey internet,

I'm writing today just because I feel like talking about myself. I try as much as possibly to avoid doing that, or at least to bring it back to a point every time, but today, I'm actually just indulging myself and writing a post entirely about me. So if you don't read blogs that are just about how people's days or weeks or months are going, that's totally fair, and you're welcome to ignore this post if you want to and read some of my juicier stuff. But if you're the type of person who's happy to hear about what's going on in someone's life that you may or may not know in the real world (this being the internet and all) then I encourage you to read onward as I babble a bit about what's been happening with me lately!

I've been pretty excited recently about a big project that's coming up for me in the not-so-distant future. For the last couple of years, I've really wanted to move out of my parents' house. It started off because I was sick of living with them (ah teenage angst, aint it grand?) but I quickly realized that was a crappy reason to move out, and got over it, deciding to persevere and endure their quirks out of love. It was only when I realized I really want to live in community with other Christians that I felt God giving me the thumbs-up I needed to start planning to move out. I prayed about it a lot, and something really exciting came up that's going to be a real game-changer for things around here. Along with two (or possibly more) of the other guys who lead youth group at Emmaus, I'm going to be starting up a sort of missional community in the Verdun area of Montreal, since like 90% of our teens live around there. Our goal will be to grow together in our faith, and to disciple the teens and offer up our space as a safe place where they can hang out, have barbecues, game nights, Bible studies, etc, all while doing what we can to be a blessing in that neighborhood.
So that's super exciting, and things are starting to pull together a little bit- there's three of us definitely on board who share the same vision, we're planning on moving out July 1st 2012, and I'm actually making tons of money right now, which is a comfort, since I know things will be financially tight for the first little while.

Another thing that's exciting is that school's almost finished for this semester! I have about three weeks of class left, then a massive break for Christmas. What's best about it is that even though things are picking up in terms of work-load, I still don't feel overwhelmed by school, and probably won't until next semester! God's blessing me with peace and rest. I'm very excited about Winter break, because it will mean extra hours at work, extra time to work on music, extra time for friends, and a bizarre sleep schedule! Might try out the whole 28-hour days thing ;)

As a treat for those of you who actually took the time to read this post through to the end (or tl;dr'd it and skimmed down to here) here's a sneak peek at what to expect in the next couple of weeks!
- "A Servant's Heart"
- "Worship: More Than Just The Same Old Song and Dance"
- "A Critical Analysis of the Physics of Luke Cage"
- A guest post about Thanksgiving from Carl Jones!
- Music?!
- Much, much more ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guest Post on Carl's Blog!

Hey guys!

Nothing new here today, but I did do a guest post for my friend Carl Jones, so you should go check that out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Problem with Mind-Reading

So Tom and I thought it'd be cool to have a series of posts about the pros and cons of super powers.
I know that a lot of people think mind-reading would be awesome, but I'm here to prove them wrong.
It's pros and cons time.
No one can lie to you. You can interrogate a super villain and find out where he's hiding his death ray and how to destroy it. You can ask the Russian spy who his contact was, and no matter his answer, you'll find out. You can discover the secret identity of your arch nemesis.
You wanna find something out? There are easy ways of manipulating thoughts. If I say "Don't think of an elephant." What do you think of?
An elephant.
Comes in handy, like I said, for interrogations.
That's about it.
There are two possible scenarios: Either you can turn it off or you can't.
If you can't, the problem is pretty self-explanatory: Thoughts are chaos, you hear what everybody's thinking at all times, it's a nightmare. It's like an overwhelming cacophony of uncensored thoughts, an deafening circus of judgments and non-sequiturs. Sooner or later, you'll go mad. You won't even be able to hear your own thoughts.
Second scenario:
You may think you can handle it, but truth is, you can't. You forget that we have emotions. More specifically, doubt. You'll tell yourself you can use your power for good, and not for your own needs.
But trust me, you cant.
One day, your friend will say something, you'll doubt him or her, and then, before you know it, you'll tap into their thoughts. You'll start using it over and over again, and you'll eventually stop trusting people. Ever.
You know the saying "Ignorance is bliss?" Yeah. It applies here.
Eventually, people will find out.
You: Hey, how was the concert?
Friend: What are you talking about?
You: Good enough to skip our plans?
Friend: How did you find out?
You: to yourself Crap... He never told me... Forgot about that.
That's when your status of "hero" turns to "stalker".
Let's face it, reading people's thoughts is invading their privacy. You will no longer be the dude (or dudette) who saves the day, but rather the creeper (or creeperette) who listens in to your thoughts.
No one will want to come near you, you'll end up alienated, isolated because your attempt to do good backfired. Kinda like in The Incredibles.
Okay, assuming you can turn it off, assuming you're not taken away by emotional conflicts and your cover's safe and you find out some kick-ass info about a super villain. Then what?
Let's face it, mind reading doesn't allow you to do much. You can just find stuff out (which, if you're a decent cop, you can also do). Mind-reading is a dead-end.
And by the way, Professor X's powers go beyond mind-reading, so he doesn't count.
Besides, what kind of a name could you find for a superhero who reads minds?

Yours truly,

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Pre-service Ramblings

Good morning internet,

I got up an hour early this morning (derp, derp, daily savings) and really feel like just throwing out a whole bunch of thoughts, so where better to do so than here?

I'm leading worship this morning at Emmaus Anglican Church. Weekends where my team leads are usually the craziest in terms of workload- long practice hours, lots of prep the night before, and getting up extra early (even moreso today!) to be at the church early for more practice! It's always a neat reminder for me of how much I love serving at church, because I think about the amount of time that goes into it and I realize that nobody would do that unless they loved what they were doing or were getting paid for it. I think that's what is so beautiful about doing service for the Lord- it's not something you can do without being genuinely into it, which means that His servants are super committed and love the cause!

That's all the time I've got this morning! Maybe I'll do a full post about this later...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How Great the Pain of Searing Loss

I was reading through Job earlier before I fell asleep (it's been a long week, give me a break) and stumbled onto a passage near the beginning that really spoke to me, so I thought I should share a bit.

Job Loses His Property and Children

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; 14and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans[c] raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly a great wind came from across[d] the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

      “ Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
      And naked shall I return there.
      The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
      Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

How amazing is that? In the midst of all this bad news, crappy thing after crappy thing, Job broke down, but instead of whining and complaining and blaming God for all of it, he mourned healthily and in a way that glorified the Lord! That takes such a crazy amount of faith and character- to acknowledge that something sucks and is hurting you, but to praise the Lord in spite of that and not jump to the conclusion that He doesn't love you or something. I see that happen too often, people losing their faith and hope in Him because something horrible happened and blaming Him for their suffering. But suffering doesn't come from the Lord, instead, through Jesus we have freedom and salvation from that suffering, redemption and a knowledge that there's so much more.

So if you're feeling hurt or upset or are grieving or mourning, take some time to praise God and keep your heart in a good place! Also, today is Comment Day, so leave a comment! Would love to hear from you! Am also totally ready for the disappointment of seeing no comments on this post, haha. Prove me wrong!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blog Challenge #4: Father Abraham had many sons...

Hey guys,

So this is the last week of the October Blog Challenge (obviously) and the theme for this week is to write about the character in the Bible we feel we relate to and why. I had a lot of trouble with this one because I feel like the answer changes from week to week, depending on what I'm going through or how I'm feeling. But today I was reading the story of Abram and Sarai and something resonated a little bit, so I thought I'd write about that.

In Genesis we read about Abraham, that amazing mystical man who God promised a son and an amazing amount of descendants, but had to wait until way later in life to have that promise fulfilled. Before his name was changed, he was even so desperate (or, arguably, his wife was so desperate) to have kids that he slept with his servant Hagar and had a son through her first! And then, into his old age, God gave him a new identity, a greater promise that not only would he have kids but he would be the ancestor of many nations, and a son to fulfill that! Talk about your amazing covenant!

I think I feel like I can relate with Abram/Abraham at least a little in some ways. I kind of feel like I've been waiting a really long time for some of the things that the Lord has promised me, and I've even made some kind of crazy irrational decisions along the way trying to hurry that along, but He uses those things to help me grow and his promise doesn't become any less true no matter how many times I screw up! Pretty incredible to know that God does come through with His promises, even if it takes a lifetime to realize fully the glory behind that!

That's all I've got to say about that for today. Stay tuned next month as I participate in another one of these weekly blog challenges (not because I feel the need to be challenged, but because it's nice having the extra push to make sure I write something every week!

Exciting Update!


So this was kind of a cool night- I hit 1000 views! And I couldn't have gotten here without you (seriously, because I told blogger not to track my own pageviews, so like, all those hits were you guys!)

I'm excited to announce that a new section will be added to my blog in the weeks to come! There'll be a new page popping up soon that will be an archive of posts about superheroes! Specifically, detailing the pros and cons of various superpowers and hero-related phenomena!

And to make things even more exciting, there will be a second writer coming on board! He'll be writing mostly, if not exclusively, about the superhero stuff, but is also a really talented creative writer, so we'll see if some of that comes out a bit too :) His name is Oliver. That's all the information you're getting about him for now, but hopefully you'll be seeing more of him in the next couple of weeks!

That's all folks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Power, Man?

I went to a lecture yesterday about the morality of superpowers. I know, right? I sometimes feel like I don't do any real work at school ever. Anyways, it was really fascinating- the speaker was talking about utilitarianism and this whole concept of "saving many at the cost of some" and kind of how that relates to superheroes. One example he used was 'The Watchmen' where the alleged villain kills millions of people to save billions from the threat of World War 3. His utilitarian logic was that a million is a lot less than a billion, so it was worth doing. I don't think I could handle making that kind of decision, and I'm kind of glad I won't ever have to.

But the lecture got me thinking about superpowers. Okay, I'll admit, I probably think about this a lot more often than I'm willing to admit, but I don't find myself really regularly considering what kind of powers I would choose if given the option. Suspending disbelief for just a moment, let's say I am suddenly able to choose any power I'd like and get everything that comes with it- the struggle of fitting in with normal people, the government hunting me, the sudden conviction to fight crime, whatever- I hadn't really spent much time thinking about what power I would choose! When the speaker asked the audience what powers they'd want, tons of hands went up, but I really had no idea!

So I was thinking about it, and came to something of a conclusion: I would love to have impenetrable skin. Not invincibility or anything, but just skin that was so tough nothing could cut through it, like Luke Cage. He was just an ordinary guy, framed for drug crimes, who agreed to do some government testing in exchange for a shorter sentence. But then (surprisingly) things went wrong and he was exposed to too much of something and it made his skin really really tough. And when your skin is hard as iron, you can bet you're going to be a really strong guy too (and heavy!). What I appreciate about Luke is that he didn't really feel like he *had* to fight crime- he hired himself out as a hero in order to pay his rent! Inevitably some of his missions became more personal as loved ones and his own arrest got involved, but for the most part, he was just trying to make it in the world.

His power is appealing to me because he's not any stronger than the average bodybuilder in terms of muscular strength. He's not going to live any longer than the average person who doesn't get murdered. He's not invincible either- he feels pain when people shoot him, or stab him, or burn him, but it doesn't leave a mark on anything but his ugly yellow disco shirts. It's great! Superheroes like Superman who have bullets bounce off their eyes don't have nearly as much at stake when fighting armed enemies. Luke manages to be a hero, an average Joe, and a mortal all at the same time! I would love to have his power, because I feel like I could be so helpful without the threat of becoming too strong and corrupt.

Anyways, I'm getting tired, and the more tired I get, the less interesting I'm going to become, so I'll end this here with a question: What power would you choose?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Night Shout-Outs!

Hey Ladies,

So I kind of just feel like doing a shout-out post to a bunch of people you should totally follow on Twitter and/or check out their blogs! In the last few months since I started getting involved in social media, I've kind of become more aware of just how many cool people are out there writing things and also of how many of them are fellow believers with interesting and insightful stuff to say! So take a look at some of these heroes as I shout out to them in tonight's post! I will aim to do a post like this once or twice a month, depending on how many outstanding people I find at any given time :) So, without further ado, here we go!

The first person I'm going to shout out to is Carl Jones! This guy has quickly become one of my favorite people on Twitter! He's a really cool, open, honest former youth pastor with lots of great stories and insights on his blog. I interviewed him briefly in my last blog post, and he'll probably be doing a guest post here in the near future! You can find his blog by clicking his name above, and follow him on Twitter @Youthguy07!

The next person I'm going to shout out to is Sierra Nichole! She's a great blogger and Twitterer with a heart for Jesus and a great story! She put together the blog challenge I've been participating in this month (and the one I'll be taking part in next month!) and has been a real blessing by organizing all of it and putting in so much of her time into social networking! @iSierraNichole is her Twitter name, go follow her!

Next up is an old friend of mine, Erin Pressner! We worked together at a day camp years ago and now her little sister is one of the teens at my youth group! She's a wonderful girl with a great heart and a fun food blog, with a bit of a twist- it's all food she can eat, and with the dietary restrictions her health situation places on her, there's a lot of creative ideas there! You can find her on Twitter @rinrinjii!

Last, but certainly not least, PAULO GONZALES! A member of my acapella band, the Brovertones, and a wonderful guy, Pow is an up-and-coming filmmaker and a close friend of mine. Right now he's doing a social experiment for which he's given up Twitter and Facebook and such, and is doing a lot of video blogs on Youtube (linked in his name above). He'll be back on Twitter eventually, and you can follow him @PowLoTheOddMan!

So that's it for tonight's shout-outs! More posts coming later this week, probably! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blog Challenge #3: Interview with Carl Jones!

This is the third week of the October Blog Challenge, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Carl Jones, an awesome former youth pastor with a fantastic blog! My questions are in this font, his are in the bold! :)

Yours is a pretty unique situation, a tale about a guy who made an honest mistake that changed his life forever, what I'd like to know is how that affected your view of the church? How did it change your perception of the church as an institution, as a body, and as a place of ministry?

My sin and losing my ministry has changed my perception of the church in both positive and negative ways.  The love forgiveness and grace I have received from so many Christians has been a blessing, and to some extent, a surprise.  I have not felt that grace from much of the institutional church and many of its leaders.  My failures have opened my eyes wide to the fact that the church talks about grace much more often than it puts the teaching into practice.  But I would not have survived these past 5 years without the love and forgiveness of my Christian friends.

Have you done anything to stay involved in ministry in some way?

My blog.  I started as just an outlet for stories and remembrances; it has become a ministry in many ways.  God has blessed my efforts there by giving me opportunities to write some curriculum and for a few other publications.  Writing has become my ministry.  I also love answering questions and sharing ideas with my many youth ministry friends on Twitter (@Youthguy07).

You've mentioned a few times in your blog that you have a passion for music and lead worship from time to time, are you still involved with worship music at all? If not, would you like to be?

At this point only as a participant.  I would love to be more involved, but feel like because of my circumstances I need to wait for an invitation before I go charging in.  I'd love to do some simple worship leading again- just me and my guitar.

Blogger to blogger, do you have any tips about dealing with writer's block, and committing to writing more often?

I'm a big proponent of scheduling my writing.  I am committed to writing every day; I think it's a good idea to pick a frequency and stick with it.  I also think that it's good to plan out topics in advance.  That way your mind can be working on them before you write- and you can always change if inspiration comes from a new area.  I also read as many blogs as I can.  Keeps me fired up and wanting to write!

Would you like to do a guest post on my blog sometime? :)

I would love to!  And would love to have your write for my blog as well.  I love the cross-sharing of ideas!

Life in a Lava Lamp

So, I'm marathoning the second season of NBC's hit series "Community" today (ah student life, aint it grand!) and just watched an episode where Chevy Chase's character, Pierce, loses his mother. The rest of the characters spend the whole time talking about death and religious beliefs and what happens when people die.

What I think is great about this is that it raises the question of what happens to us when we die- specifically, it deals with the separation between body and soul. In Pierce's case, his fictional "reformed-neo-buddhist" cult has convinced him that his mother's soul has been vaporised and turned into a lava lamp, or something. So this got me thinking- as a Christian, I know that I have salvation in Christ and when He returns at the rapture, I'll be off to Heaven to worship God in eternity. Pretty rad! But what happens in between the death of my earthly body and the second coming of Jesus? Good question!

Let me just say now that I don't claim to have the answer! But I'm super excited for the day that I find out. Last year, our youth group had a sort of panel discussion with the leaders and some guest panel members, and the teens asked questions about the Bible and about faith and stuff. One of the questions that came up was "What happens when we die?" Our guest, Professor Ian Henderson from McGill University's New Testament Studies dept. (and also father of one of our teens), gave an answer of what he imagines death to be like, and I really liked his answer, so I'm going to re-phrase it and talk about it here a little!

Essentially, his idea was that when we die, we lose consciousness (obviously) for whatever amount of time it takes for the rapture to happen, and regain consciousness when it happens. He likened it to the way we feel when we sleep- we sleep for hours and hours, and whether we sleep for two hours or ten, we're not conscious enough to know how long we were out for. So dying is kind of like sleep! We lose consciousness, and when Jesus comes back to earth, we regain that consciousness, and because we weren't conscious that whole time, we all feel like it took the same amount of time. Also, a cool thought- when we wake up from sleep, we are refreshed, and I like to think that when we wake up from death, we are sort of refreshed again, in an even more amazing way!

What do you think about death and life afterward? How do you feel about that sleep analogy? Does your dead mother exist in a vaporized state inside of a lava lamp? Would love to hear your stories!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog Challenge #2: Why Jesus?

It's week 2 of the October Blog Challenge. Last week I re-posted my testimony, and this week I've been asked to write about why I chose Jesus instead of Allah or Buddha or Mohammed or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Now, I cringed a little when I saw that this was the theme for this week. I could take this as an opportunity to rip on everyone else's beliefs, but I'm not a huge jerk so I'm not going to do that! Instead I'm going to talk about the reasons I think Jesus is amazing, and kind of leave out the comparativeness that could easily come out of this.

Firstly, Jesus teaches us how to love! He's literally a living example of the Love of God. He was sent down to earth so that a God who's so huge and powerful could show us how much He loves us and show us how we're supposed to love one another! Similarly, and I know this will sound a little sick until I explain it, I think it's so amazing that He suffered! Not because people suffering is a good thing, but because His suffering is a reminder that God is vulnerable and uses that to relate to us on a more intimate and incredible level!

Honestly, I think it's all about the love! Part of me wishes I had more to say about this, but I really don't feel like I need to say anything more to justify this! And, probably, if I have a moment where I feel convicted to share some insights into how amazing Jesus is, they'll get their own blog post in due time ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011


Victor the 30lb Thanksgiving Behemoth. R.I.P.
So today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada (don't ask me why) and I just realized I've barely posted anything yet this month! So I guess I'll write a post about Thanksgiving! Smart!

Every year at the beginning of October I tell myself that I should seriously get into the habit of being thankful all year round. I mean, the Scriptures pretty clearly tell us that it's a good thing, right? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says we should "Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (NKJV).

I think it's really just too easy to get caught up in the things that are hard in life. This has been a difficult thanksgiving weekend for me because I had a really hard month in September, dealing with some really challenging faith issues and facing some disappointments that were really painful for me emotionally and spiritually. While I'm feeling better every day about that stuff, I still feel kind of weighed down by it, and I think that's totally okay. We need time to grieve the things we lose, but that doesn't mean we should dwell on them either. We need to find that balance between "oh, this sucks and I'm bummed" and "I have hope for tomorrow because Jesus is so amazing." It's not to say that we need to completely ignore the things that are hurting us, but we should definitely not allow them to bring us down to a point of hopelessness and depression.

This year, I'm thankful for so many things! Thankful for the way God is constantly working in me and through me. Thankful for the changes in my heart and my mind that His word is opening up to me. Thankful for the amazing ministries I'm involved with and all the lovely people they include. Thankful for meaningful relationships with friends and family, and for the love of God that lives within me and makes me a light in this world. And most of all, thankful for His perfect sacrifice and the huge implications that has on my life and the lives of everyone on this beautiful, messed-up planet we call home! :)


Monday, October 03, 2011

Blog Challenge #1- Re-post: My Testimony!

So, for the entire month of October, I'm participating in a Blog Challenge! The challenge/topic for Week #1 is Testimony, and since I already did a post about this July, I figured I would just re-post it again, because it's a story that never gets old! :) For more info on the blog challenge, click this link.

I was born in Montreal, QC in September of '93. Believe it or not, I'm that young. Before I was conscious of anything, we moved to Vancouver, BC. I was born to a single mother after my dad ran off, and my mom, at the time fairly dependent on her parents, moved there to be closer to them, and probably for work or something. My earliest memories are from when I was three or four, watching Veggie Tales in the morning before pre-school. Let me just say this- my mom is totally not a Christian, so it's hilarious looking back at how God had His hand on me from a really young age. I would always go to a friend's house in the mornings before pre-school while mom went off to do her photography job or work at the toy store, I forget at this point. Anyways, I would go to his house pretty early, and he'd always be sleeping, so his mom would sit me down in front of the TV to watch Veggie Tales. To this day I'm not sure if they were Christian or if there was just nothing else on at 6 AM on a weekday for kids to watch.

One day, when I was about to turn 6, my mom announced to me that we were moving again. I didn't think much of it, because we had moved a few times in the last five years. But then she told me we were moving to the other side of the country. You can imagine I wasn't thrilled with the idea, because it's so hard to make new friends when you're six? Seems silly to me, but at the time it was a big deal. We moved a week or two after my sixth birthday party- mom made me the coolest cake, shaped like a castle and with little plastic knights and stuff. What a boss! I'm gonna remind her that I love her when she wakes up. If I'm awake. Maybe I'll just email her.

So we arrived in Montreal, and moved into a sketchy little apartment on Regent and DeMaisonneuve, in NDG. There were roaches and grandma was living with us. My grandparents haven't lived together in a long time, but they're still best friends- she was just too much of a financial burden for him or something, not totally clear about the story. Anyways. Grandma was living with us, I was having nightmares about wolves, the apartment had roaches, it was not a great situation, but it was temporary until mom found something better. I started going to school at Willingdon Elementary School and on my first day (or at least the first day I can remember), I was stuck outside of the schoolyard in the rain (they hadn't opened the gate yet) and ended up chatting with a guy who would change my life forever. His name was Mat, and he was in my grade 1 class, and lived a block away from where we ended up moving (closer to the school, in a nicer place, where we lived until about a year and a half ago!). More importantly, he was a Christian.

He wasn't my best friend at the time, and actually we haven't really hung out in the last couple of years, but he definitely had a huge impact on my life and I wouldn't be where I am today if God hadn't used him to lead me to Him! Pretty cool to think that He uses 6-year-olds in that way! So this next part of the story is a little jumbled up in my own memories and the stories I've been told, but it went something like this: That summer, my mom was still looking for a camp to send me to, but we were poor and couldn't afford most of them. So we went to the pool one afternoon and I bumped into him there! He was with his day camp, Inspiritus Ministries Christian Creative Arts Camp, and I ended up swimming with him and his camp buddies for awhile, while my mom talked to one of the camp directors. I've been told that the conversation went something like this:

Mom: So what kind of camp are you guys running?
Karim: It's a Christian arts camp.
Mom: I will never send my son to a camp like that!

And two weeks later, because it was cheap and Mat's mom had encouraged my mom to go for it, there I was at Inspiritus. A name I'll never forget, because I spent the next bunch of summers there.

After a few years there as a camper, I still didn't really understand what I was hearing all the time. I mean, definitely I knew what they were talking about- Jesus, etc- but none of it really had any meaning for me. I was more focused on the cute girls and the friendships I had built with the guys there (some of whom are still good friends of mine today!) but definitely the seeds were being planted. One year, one of the camp directors asked me and Mat if we wanted to be Junior Counsellors, because she thought we were mature enough to handle it. We jumped at it. It was a cool opportunity to get some awesome job experience. Little did we realize how hard it would be, because it was more than just a day camp, it was a ministry. You don't hear tons of stories of guys being saved while doing God's work! But here's one such story :)
The first summer was super hard- all the older girls, who were my classmates at school, hated that I was a leader, and rebelled against me. It was stressful, lots of work, and I felt useless because I didn't know anything about God or the Bible or any of the stuff I was supposed to know about. Feeling useless in a leadership position sucks, and I was ready to give up on God and camp forever. But then, on the last day of camp, one of my campers (now a good friend of mine!) came up and thanked me for being his counsellor. That was when it hit me: What I was doing made a difference, and for some reason, even though I didn't believe in Him, I felt God calling me back the next year. And the year after. And many years after.

                                             Even into my long-haired teenage years!

It wasn't until 2006-2007 school year that I started to really think about what it meant to be a Christian, and how I wanted to do that. I sucked at it, and barely made an effort. But I believed it. And I went back that summer, after a three week trip to Hungary where nobody spoke English and I was more or less miserable half the time, trying eagerly to go back to work at camp. But they had changed locations without telling me, so I waited, day after day, for them to show up in the morning, and they never did. Then I got a call from a friend's sister, telling me they had moved to a building a block away. Derp. I walked in and it was chaos- apparently they had been praying for a miracle because it was a tough start to the summer. Coming in late like that, suddenly I felt like I belonged and was making a big difference. I got to really fully experience God that summer in so many amazing ways, working with people who are now my close friends, and ministering to kids who are now part of my youth group! I saw that those guys had a different love of God than I had, and I wanted what they had because it was rad, so I pursued it, went to youth group with them, and ended up going to church with them and falling in love with Jesus in new ways! I decided to give my life to God in 2008 and was baptised that June.

And the rest, as they say, is history!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Dawson College Peace Garden Video

Here's a video from my vocal performance at Dawson's ceremony last month!

Frustratingly enough, you can't actually hear any of the guys singing, because there were 3 of us and like fifteen girls, but still, kind of neat.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Feel Pretty

Something the majority of teenagers struggle with is body image. We're too fat. We're too skinny. We don't like our hair, or our noses, or the color of our eyes.

When I was in elementary school, I was overweight. When I was in high school, I was overweight. Right now? I'm overweight! Weighed in this morning at just under 200 pounds! It was kind of a crazy revelation, because I've been making such an effort to get fit recently. What I realized was that the weight I've gained this past year hasn't been fat, but muscle! It's kind of exciting. I'm still overweight, and a little on the chubby side, but I'm working through that.

So why am I writing about all of this? It's not to brag about my self-improvement or to encourage people to try and change the way they look. I'm writing this because I figured out that there's something so much more important than being the optimal body weight for your age + height. Now, for health reasons, that stuff is important to keep in mind, but I think what's ultimately more significant is how much you respect yourself and are just able to come to terms with where you're at. We definitely have to take care of our bodies, but it's so much more important to take care of our hearts! And if we hate ourselves because we ate too much pizza this morning or because our genetics left us with a weird, asymmetrical hairline, we aren't loving God enough! We were made in His image, so if we don't like what we see in the mirror, we don't like Him enough! We've gotta be able to look at ourselves through His eyes, and to love ourselves regardless of what the world tells us is 'normal.'

I don't think I have anything else to say about this. Anybody have any self-image horror stories? Any advice for readers out there who are struggling with this stuff? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section! :)
Stay tuned next month as I take part in the 2011 blog challenge!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Bite the Pepper

So this afternoon I realized we had no food for snacks for the youth group, and went over to the Open Door, our church's homeless drop-in centre/soup kitchen, and spoke to one of the guys there. They always have so much extra food and love helping us out when we need groceries and stuff. So I got enough crackers to last us a month and about six cans of fruit. Along with all of these snacks, I was given a single jalapeno pepper.

I'm a huge foodie, so I love interesting flavors and got super excited when he handed me the pepper. He even warned me, with a laugh, that "some of the clients at the Open Door grabbed a bunch of these when we put them out and just started eating them right then and there, and it took them a few minutes before the spice kicked in, so watch out." I told myself that I would eat the pepper at the end of the evening, because I always like to have a little snack after things calm down. Of course, because I'm used to using jalapenos as an ingredient, it didn't really occur to me that I should do anything special with it before eating it.

So I washed it.

Then I took a huge bite.

And it was super delicious! I really love the taste of a good, fresh pepper! God has gifted us with amazing flavors and foods that are just so unique and fun!

Then my mouth was on fire, for a good five/ten minutes, and I can still feel it a little now, two hours later.

The pepper was incredible- it tasted fantastic and was such a great color. Truly a vegetable that was pleasing to the eye and the flesh. And I gave in and just went for it without thinking about it, and I suffered the consequences.

Amazing how a pepper can remind me that I should look before I leap. It's so important to remember to check in with God about things before just jumping at them- even if they might look super fantastic on the outside.

Also, it's so important to remember to take the seeds out if you're going to eat a jalapeno pepper raw...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things I Love About Youth Ministry

Hey, so I realized earlier this week that I've been kind of lame recently: I've been spending a lot of time feeling bad about myself and not being nearly as trustful of God as I should be. It seems like, even in the midst of amazing things happening around me, I've been really bad at praising God for the good things that are going on because I'm so focused on the things I'm still waiting for Him to deliver.

So I've decided that in order to be actively working against that spirit of unappreciativeness, I'm going to start blogging about things I really love in life! And where better to start than by writing about the top 10 things that I love most about youth ministry?! Definitely leave a comment, I'd love to hear about your experiences too! :)

1. Launch Parties! It's always so amazing at the start of a new year or semester, when everybody comes back and gathers together for the first youth meeting of the year. Our group at Emmaus has begun a little tradition of launching the year with an ice cream party. So we get to eat stupid amounts of dessert AND hang out with amazing people all night? Good deal, if you ask me!

2. Spontaneously Breaking Out Into Song! So I'm having tons of trouble, admittedly, with coming up with an order for these. I guess it's just because I love everything about youth so much. Anyways, our group tends to have a lot of spontaneous musical numbers... Mostly because I'm always breaking out into song, but it helps that we have lots of really cool teens who join in every time.

3. Costume Parties! I love dressing up. For those of you who don't know this, I'm a super theatrical person, so this one and number 2 are biiig items on my list of awesome activities. There's something so amazing about seeing everyone come in costume, able to express their creativity (or sometimes lack thereof) outwardly in a unique way :)

4. Retreats! Definitely a staple of our youth ministry, spending a weekend away with the leaders and teens is always a fantastically rewarding experience. So many intimate moments with God, so many bonding moments with one another, and so much delicious food.

5. Seeing Teens Grow Up! This is one of the ones that always breaks my heart- in the best ways. I've noticed that the longer you know and minister to a group of kids, the crazier it is for you when they're suddenly in high school or start growing facial hair or become taller than you. For me, this is a really significant thing, because I've been working with some of this generation's youth since they were 6 or 7 years old (under a different context, obviously), so when they start growing up it's always really amazing. Partly because I'm so proud of them, and partly because it's a constant reminder that I'm also getting older. Wonder how soon I'll start balding/going gray?

6. Leaders' Meetings! No matter what's happening with the youth, the leaders behind everything are always so great! It's amazing being surrounded by other people who are passionate about sharing the gospel with the next generation! Oftentimes I hear people talking about how you don't really choose your ministry team, and how there can be times when you have nothing in common with the team except for the ministry itself. I've noticed this doesn't tend to be true with our group! Maybe it's just because we're all so good at appreciating a variety of things, but I think it's because God called us together as like-minded Christians so we could work incredibly well together. That's not to say that everyone agrees on everything all the time and we don't argue, but even in those moments of friction we get along to amazingly well! And that's something I definitely appreciate :)

7. The Worship! There's something so amazing about seeing the next generation of believers worshipping God through song together! It's just really amazing being blessed to have the privilege of leading them in it on Friday nights! What's cooler is that some of them even help out from time to time with the leading, which brings me to the next item...

8. The Potential! I get super excited when I think of all the potential the teens have to do amazing things- not just in the future, but right now! It's awesome, because in our group there are so many teens who are incredibly gifted in so many different areas. We have talented musicians, actors, people with such hearts of servitude, compassion, etc, and it's just really amazing seeing all these spiritual giftings coming out and growing in them!

9. The Relationships! This can be taken many ways- I love watching the teens grow in their relationships with God. I also love building up relationships with them and with the other leaders and growing as a community. And I also really love watching all the drama that is guaranteed to play out between any group of teenagers when romantic relationships start developing within the group- it's like watching a soap opera, or an episode of Glee, only usually the conflict resolution is a LOT better and nobody's breaking out into song about it (except me).

10. Those Moments. The big moments. The small moments. Basically, the moments that are really significant for one reason or another. Whether it's a teen accepting the Lord into their heart for the first time, or someone saying something really brilliant and wise beyond their years during a discussion, there's so many cool moments in youth ministry that make me cry 'Toy Story 3' tears. The good kind of tears, about how beautiful God is and how cool it is when people grow up. Not the 'Bambi's Mom' tears, where you're just a puddle of sad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've been thinking about baptism a lot recently- not for myself, but about the whole idea of it. We had three infant baptisms at Emmaus last Sunday, and one of the members of my worship team was baptised over the summer. What I find so interesting about baptism is that there are so many different ways of going about it. Whether it's full-immersion or a dip or sprinkling, infant or adult, there's something so cool about the whole thing.

Infant baptism has always been an odd concept to me- having grown up in a non-Christian household, I wasn't baptised at birth, so for me, my baptism really was a thing that happened after, and only after, I was old enough to consciously decide on my own to follow God. For obvious reasons, that's not really how it works with babies, but I wouldn't discount infant baptisms just for that reason. I think what's neat about an infant baptism is that, while it's true it's not a decision the child is making on their own, it's still a vow taken by the family, friends and community of that child to uphold and support them in their childhood and eventually in their walk with Christ.

My friend from the worship team was complaining that, while she has been a believer for a really long time, people looked at her baptism over the summer as her finally deciding to accept Jesus, and made a big deal out of it. While it's true that this kind of attitude is frustrating, I think there's still something really great about a person's baptism, even if (especially if!) they've known and loved Jesus for a long time. For me, my baptism came a little later in life- at 14, if I'm not wrong- and was very much a decision I made for myself when I was ready. I had believed in God for a couple of years before then, but that was around the time that I decided I wanted to live my life for Him, so it was a real defining moment for me.

What's interesting is that, if we look at Jesus' own baptism, it didn't occur until he was an adult, right at the start of His ministry! I think it's really cool, because in some respects, my ministry really started after my baptism too- that was the year that I started teaching kindergarten sunday school, and was one of the first years of my ministry at Inspiritus day camp.

Does anyone out there have any interesting baptism stories? Thoughts about infant baptism? Leave a comment!

Dawson College Peace Garden

This week I had the honor of participating in the opening ceremony of the Dawson College Peace Garden. My voice teacher, Jacinta Luis, wrote and composed a song in honor of the ceremony and had our class perform it at the end of the event.

And I ended up on the front page of the Montreal Gazette! Not as the headline, that was an article about getting druggies out of the gay village, but in a short teaser for the article located a few pages into the first section. But still, a photo on the front page? That's pretty rad! I got excited when my buddy Simon texted me telling me his mom saw me in the newspaper, haha.

Anyways I've linked to the article up on the Gazette's website, take a look at the great shots in the album!

More posts coming later this week, possibly about some really intense stuff! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Too Much Grease

Oh man, I am awful.

So during the summer I did a post here confessing to a horrible habit of mine involving greasy, fatty, unhealthy foods. I said I would take better care of my body this year, and that to start, I would stop eating McDonalds.

Well, I did. For the whole summer. But then school started up again, and the golden arches called me back in with their cheap chicken burgers. Since the 24th of August, I've eaten at least one Junior Chicken sandwich every day that I've had school. They're just too delicious.

This stops now. When I go back to school on Tuesday (hooray for never having class on Mondays!) I'm going to bring extra food from home, and only go to McDonalds for drinks (they still have free refills, which are a beautiful thing when you don't feel like only drinking water) and to steal Wifi.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Worship Hangover

Last night, I got together with a bunch of friends in the Plateau for a worship night, and in the midst of praising God through song, one of the other guys there opens up the Scriptures to 1 Corinthians 13 and starts reading to the group, but in a different context:

"Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy; Jesus does not parade himself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails."

Obviously, the difference here from the original text is that he replaced "love" with "Jesus." Makes sense, when you think about it in the context of "God is love, whoever does not know Him does not know love." It was at that moment that I just felt the overwhelming sense of God's presence in the room. He used my buddy Nathan to reveal himself to us in a new way!

This morning, I woke up with a massive, pounding headache, feeling really exhausted and just generally physically unpleasant. I started chatting with Nathan on facebook, and his first words were "Hey man, how are you doing? Feeling hungover from last night's amazing worship?" I'm paraphrasing a little, but before I even mentioned that I was feeling crappy, he totally pinpointed it- I had such an amazing time soaking in God's presence last night that I woke up this morning with a splitting headache! I had a Worship Hangover. And you know what they say is the best cure for a hangover- drinking more! Of course, in this context, the best cure for a hangover is spending MORE time worshipping God! So I grabbed my guitar, and just spent some time praising Him for His glory.

I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that I really need to get into the habit of waking up and worshipping God first thing in the morning, because right now I feel fantastic and so full of His love! Super excited about proclaiming His glory and just want to encourage all of you to do the same! Take some time today to sit down and pray with Him, thanking Him for how amazing He is and giving the day to Him!



Sunday, September 04, 2011

Emmaus Website!

Hey Blogland!

It is with great excitement that I post today about the new website for Emmaus Anglican Church!

Our church has been meeting for a few years now and it seems like this is a big year for big stuff- we finally got a rector in Keith Ganzer, an awesome guy from Vancouver BC (represent!), and now we have a website! We're also slowly upgrading to wireless audio technology, despite some minor setbacks...

Anyways, the page I'd like to point out here is the Youth page, for the obvious reason that our youth group is really awesome and we start up this Friday night! You can find that page here! I am so stoked at the opportunity the website brings to us to sort of archive our teachings and series and whatnot! So definitely keep checking back there in the weeks to come, and keep checking back here as I will be posting a lot more this month than I did in August (sorry about that) and most of it will be really awesome, I hope.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

God Provides

So a couple of weeks ago my bank account reached $0.13.
No big deal, people (especially students) hit 0 all the time, right?
It's not so bad running out of money, it's just a temporary thing, right?
Not if you're unemployed.

I started panicking, worrying that I wouldn't be able to afford my books for school, and a little upset that I wouldn't be able to go out for lunch/dinner as often as I like to (although that I would have gotten over, obviously).

Then somebody awesome who cares about me a lot gave me a little money toward my books, to start me off. I felt so blessed and so loved, and it was awesome receiving this kind of gift! But I was still worried because school books are never cheap, and the money was about half as much as my books had cost me last semester. So I thought to myself, well, "this is an amazing blessing, but God, please provide for me, let me work really hard this week to make the rest of the money to pay for my books." I started just trusting that God would provide for me enough money to cover books.

Something I was reminded of recently is that God exceeds our expectations.

I worked with my mom, ripping up carpets, on tuesday, and made fifty dollars. I went busking friday morning and my partner and I made fifty dollars in an hour and change. Then I got hired to work part-time for a carpet cleaning company.

When time came to buy my books, I was amazed- most of my courses this semester don't have a booklist, and a couple of the books I *do* need are books I already own from other semesters! I stepped into the bookstore with my money in my pocket, and the total price was outstanding-


That's right. I paid next to nothing for books this semester, and all of the extra money I made this week was such a blessing! God provided for me even more than I asked Him to! He gave me enough money to buy lunches, dinners, etc, not just for myself, and to treat myself to some special stuff- like a new game of Dutch Blitz :) And I managed to save a fair chunk of what I made this week as well, to put toward my driving lessons.

God exceeded my expectations, and provided so incredibly!

And now I have a job (sort of) and I'll be tutoring and babysitting again soon. I'll be making enough money to pay for guitar lessons with a professional jazz guitarist, and to save up for things I'll need later on :)

Shoutout to @sharingwithchu, a good friend of mine who sent out a newsletter this week on the theme of God exceeding expectations, and reminded me through that about how amazing His blessings are.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer 2011- a Recap

Hey lovely internet people!

So I just got home from spending a week out at Camp Livingstone for Crosstalk Ministries' Senior Youth Camp 2011! And before that, I had told you I was taking a week to visit my grandparents in BC! This is just a quick account of what I have been up to for the last few weeks.

From August 1st to 8th I was out in beautiful British Columbia, visiting my grandfather in Port Alberni and my grandmother in Gibson's. We mostly ate lots of really tasty food and spent a little time with their friends and business partners (my grandfather's a goldsmith) but I think what really stood out for me was just what God was working through in me during that time.

I had applied for the open position of Youth Coordinator at Emmaus Anglican Church, and was obviously the youngest applicant for the job. From the beginning it was clear that my age would be a bit of an issue but the corporation had assured me that it would not affect their decision-making process because they know how responsible I am. Well, while I was in BC, I prayed through it, and had a good talk with someone important to me, and they told me they didn't think I was ready for it. This was one of those moments where I felt betrayed and hurt and isolated, then realized that, actually, they were right! My reaction to their comment was super irrational and I wasn't taking constructive criticism nearly as well as I should have. Further prayer led me to decide I would withdraw my application and continue to serve as a volunteer with the youth group for a little while longer, while God continues to work in me.

Now here's the fun part, where I realize just how amazing God's timing is.

My good friend Josiah Henderson- check out his blog, Jo Apropos, here -had been encouraging me all year to check out Crosstalk Ministries' Senior Youth Camp (google them, they do lots of cool stuff!) and I had been putting it off because I was worried I'd be needed in Montreal if I got the coordinator job. Well, since I withdrew my application, I immediately went and applied, very last minute, not knowing what to expect but definitely feeling called to attend.

This past week has been so incredible for me. I met lots of amazing Christians my age, grew super close to most of them, and had a lot of really intimate moments with God. One thing that really stood out was that the small group material we were using (lessons based around Rob Bell's book "Sex God") were super relevant to the things I'm going through in my life right now. One of the lessons talked about Agape love (or unconditional, self-giving, self-sacrificing love, like the kind God has for us) and that's a concept God's been revealing to me and helping me understand all of this year. So it was just really incredible being in such a neat environment with such neat people learning such neat things that God was already starting to work on in my life!

Brief shoutouts here! Follow @Mikecalo (the speaker from this week's senior camp!), @Youthguy07 (Carl Jones, a very neat guy and former youth pastor) and check out that blog I linked to above for amazing art by an amazing guy (Josiah Henderson)!

Lots of cool stuff coming up in the next little while! Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wow, I'm awful

Hey again,

So, on the last day of my trip to BC I decided I was going to sign up for Crosstalk Ministries' Senior Youth Camp! Kind of exciting, but also means I will have no internet access until like the 20th of August! And because I've been so busy this week catching up with people, I am probably not going to have time to do another blog post until I get back from camp! So I guess August is going to be a realllly slow month for me here, and I'm sorry about that, but I will definitely make up for it in September with all of that content I've been promising since July.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

In BC!

Hey blogosphere,

Sorry about the lack of updates recently! I promise a whole bunch of cool stuff will be coming up this month- videos, music, stories, and the like- but I can't really do much until I get back to Montreal! I am currently visiting with my lovely grandparents in beautiful British Columbia (not to be confused with probably equally beautiful hispanic Columbia, word to my south american brothers) and have somewhat limited access to the interwebs.

I get back August 8th and am excited to bring you new and cool content then! Keep up with me on Twitter and send me a message, would love to hear from you!



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Choose Your Seat

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  —Luke 14:7-11

This is one of those dangerous passages of scripture that can be hard to apply to our lives properly. Jesus is challenging us to be more humble so that we can be exalted in God's eyes, which is definitely good, but I say this is dangerous because it raises the question of motive.

It can be really hard to tell if you're actually being humble or not. There's no humility in putting yourself down just to reap rewards, but there's also no humility in putting yourself down just for the sake of putting yourself down. Confused? I guess what I'm trying to say is that there should be only one reason for humility: to glorify God. (Arguably, that should be the only reason we do anything!)

When Jesus sees these guys pushing and shoving and running to get good seats at the table, he doesn't just see their actions, he sees their hearts. He knows their motivation is to exalt themselves. My fear is that, after reading his advice to them, "the humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled," I will fall into a bad habit of humbling myself with the goal of being exalted later on. This is really not what He's encouraging here, because to strive for personal exaltation is the very opposite of humility! Rather, He's telling us not this parable to remind us that we should be humble, because there's far more grace in humility than there is in humiliation, and humiliation tends to come from being knocked off our high horse ;)

Would you rather be humble and potentially get moved up to a better seat, or think highly of yourself and probably get told to fly coach?