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,