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.