Why get dunked!

Why get dunked? (or water baptized)

When I decided to do this Jesus thing (aka. follow his lead, his way of letting love guide), I started to read how he wanted his followers to be water baptized. 

For those who don’t know what that is, it is this

No, it is way more than that lol
Despite the 50% divorce rate (did you see that coming?), people get married a lot. 

Even when they are in long term relationships, committed ones and have found their ‘one’; they decide to have a ceremony, a public declaration even of this special love they have. It is a ceremony, to symbolize coming together, union of lives, to enter into a covenant that will be forever…. 

It is kind of beautiful! 

Its an old tradition, that is still practised and enjoyed by thousands everyday. 

When it comes to water baptism, it is similar in a way to the marriage ceremony. 
There isn't a first kiss, or sex after; but there is a death (bet you didn't see that coming either!) 

Death? At a wedding? Yes. 

Death to the single, 'me first' mentality. 
Death to me, and life to ‘us’ 
And where there is death, there is usually life. 

To follow Jesus, you can not hold onto ‘stuff’ like caring if you are keeping up with the ‘Jones’ or caring if you have 1000 twitter followers. You can not hold onto selfishness and unforgiveness.
It costs a lot to follow Jesus. A lot. Some things will have to die, so that you can live. 

Depression, anger, not feeling you are good enough. 
The weight of your mistakes. 
The way you try to do things to please God, but are not helping. 
The way you try to please everyone, because you don’t know how to care about you (that ones touchy)

These things need to go to make room for life. 
Sure we can just say “God you take it” and believe it. 
But we as humans, seem to have this need to ‘do something’ to believe it. 
In fact, I would argue, it is one of the ways we know we are truly committed to something (or someone) is that we have some sort of celebration, ritual?! 

Enter water baptism. 

It is the time when we get the chance, to tell someone we love them. 
It is the time when we get to shed the things that keep us down, symbolically (and physcailly) leave them in the water and come up free. 
It is the time when we publicly say, “Me and Jesus are BFF’s” 
It is the time when we say, publicly, “I love him” 
It is the time we leave our old life (stuff) behind to embrace the new....

Sunday is our water baptism + bbq day. 

If you haven't been baptized and think you are down for this; let us know. 
We will be celebrating the new addition to the family of God. 
You are welcome to come, be a part of the day and our family… 

Party on Sunday!! 
See you there??! 

 

God might actually love you

Yes. God actually loves you. 

What I find the most interesting, is how much we don't believe this simple statement. 
We have this way of thinking that God’s love is predicated on what we do. 
That somehow, God ONLY likes us if we are our best. 
That somehow, God ONLY loves us if we do ‘right’ all the time. 
And if we do bad, then he stops loving us.
If we do wrong, he can’t love us.

Where did we get this idea? 

One person added to the conversation on Sunday that the worst thing is when you were a child and your parents would give you the silent treatment. They were so disappointed in your actions that they stopped communicating. Someone mentioned they think God is like this too sometimes, that there isn’t literal communication from His end. 

Does that resonate with anyone? 

But here is the thing, God is not emotionally insecure or immature. He is fully able to handle when you make mistakes and always communicates with us whether we are good or bad. So let’s just get that out of the way. Giving someone the silent treatment to me (coming from my own struggles with this) is emotionally immature and is a failure to communicate. If you need space to think about something or if another person has hurt you; just say that! Silent treatment is not a great way to communicate your pain or frustration and only leads to more rejection and hurt. 

Has God been silent before? Yes, but not like that.  

There are basically 3 ways I think God communicates (these are in no specific order); 
Interpersonally (gut, intuition, dialogue)
Scripture
Community

Some people have honed in on internally hearing/communicating with God that others don't get as clear. Just as we are all different and have different abilities, so too I think this is one of those things that some just are good at. It can be worked on, but that takes discipline and work :) 

God uses scripture to often speak to us. Sometimes, its a verse in our minds. Sometimes its randomly opening the bible to a passage that speaks to us. Either way, it is a good thing to read! 

Lastly, community. God uses the people in our lives to speak to us. Often confirming what we are thinking or helping to make decisions. 

So where has God been silent? There is a period where the old testament bridges into the new. A span of hundreds of years where we have no writing, no real prophets and not much material on God speaking. People have called this the ‘silent years’. The truth is though, God never stopped speaking. He has always been speaking to people, his word and community. I think too we all have an internal dialogue that we either choose to listen to or not. To quote Moana, “nothing can quiet that little voice inside” 

But is God silent when we do things we know we shouldn’t? 
No. 

Does he love us less? 
No. 

There is a passage that says, “…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (romans 5:8) In other words, God showed his love for us, whether we believed in Him or not. He has poured out his love on us, whether we go his way or not. 

Why? Because that is love. 

We all have this concept of love that is predicated on someone loving us back. I will love my spouse as long as they don't make mistakes! I will love my spouse until they....
This is conditional love. We put conditions on the love we give out. God does not. 

He loves us whether we do good or bad. 
He loves us enough to allow us to make mistakes and fall down. 
He loves us enough to tell us his way (the better one) and when we don’t and get hurt; he still loves us. 

God’s love for us is not based on our performance, it is there for us always. 

So can I do whatever I want and God will forgive me? 

That is the common question I get. And the truth is, that is a terrible relationship. You want to get married and then cheat all you want and expect that marriage to be a good one? No. Will she stay with you? Maybe. But the health of you, your marriage and your word (you made commitments before god, family and friends to love each other till death) mean nothing. That is truly an empty life and reveals how broken our heart actually is. 

If I ask the question, what is really cheating on my wife? Like is kissing another person? Or flirting with someone? What does that say about me? It says, I am not fully committed to the relationship I am in because I want to get my own way. 

Now, I realize that this is not a perfect scene for all of us, but it illustrates something; sometimes we want to get our own way and we think we know better than God. Yet, God loves us anyway. Yes. He is the wife who loves her husband and tries anything and everything to get him to love her back. He is the husband who pleads with his wife to stay home with the family instead of having yet another affair. He is the one always looking to reconcile not just forgive. God is forgiving us before we even realize we need forgiveness. He is that good. He loves that much. 

Sometimes, God loves us enough to give us consequences for our actions knowing we will be mad at him for it. His hope is that by getting what you deserve you will realize your error and return to making good choices (repent?) There is so much more to unpack there but we will have to save that for another blog post :) 

Do you think you have a healthy view of God’s love? 
How would you live differently, knowing that God truly loves you no matter what? 
How do we show that love to others? 

… the story continues.

This week, we will dialogue about motive + method. A teaching from the meeting house and how to love our enemies. Should be a fun one! 

Set me on fire?

When I started coming back to church after years of being away, I looked up at the screen and this was on the screen;

“This one thing I ask, is to know you and to make you known”

I was like, um thats two things. 

And it was in that moment, right there, where I realized that not everyone shares my affinity for caring what they sing. They just like singing.
And I get that. I mean it easier and it feels good.
But I don’t think that is the point of singing is it? Feeling good?
I mean, is that the point of singing to God, so we can feel good? 

Music has a giant role in most of our lives; from making our commutes manageable, to making us cry at that right moment in movies, too helping us deeply connect with our creator. Music does all of that. It has the power to take us back to our teenage years when we had to make mix-tapes by pausing the cassette at just the right time! Music floods us with memories and highlights of days gone by. It is almost magical. 

If you go to almost any church these days, they probably spend 30-60 minutes singing. That is a lot. It’s a lot to even manage logistically! But why? And who is all that singing for? Does God even like this mix? Personally, I think Sigur Ros is closer to heavens music than some of the popular ‘christian’ music, but that is just my opinion (or maybe Sleeping At Last… if you don’t know them you should look them up. I’ll wait…) 

In one of the churches I where I worked a long time ago, I remember sitting there while we sang a very strange song. 

“Set me on fire,
Set me on fire,
Set me on fire today!”
 

um. yeah. 

So, we are looking to become arsonists now? Or stunt men? What the heck are we singing that for? I asked in our staff meeting that week that maybe we could explain to people the meaning behind the song before we sang it?! Even explain what fire it was talking about so someone doesn’t report us to the fire chief or something! The very next week, the worship leader sang it again. No explanation. No forethought to those who may never understand what this churches fascination with fire was. 

I felt so disconnected from what the whole point of ‘worship’ was. 
I felt isolated, alone and questioning why I even sang. 

A few months later, I attended a huge youth gathering. There was a band there that captivated me. At first it was the bass literally moving my chest. Then I noticed the guy playing bass on the chello. And then I really listened to the music. It was amazing. They sang a song that I haven't forgotten to this day. The Band was the Myriad. The singer said, “If you are here tonight, and maybe you didn’t connect with God like some of these other people. Maybe you feel disconnected or even a little lost. This song is for you.” 

The song, was simple. It was a rock song. It was an honest song. And the band played this;

“Tonight, we will be disappointed together” (listen here)

That line got me. Because there were times I felt disconnected from God. There were times when singing some churchy song was not enough. I needed to be a little sad. I wanted to feel my emotion and that was not always happiness. Its like the kids movie inside out! We all sometimes don't realize the need for sadness. The need to feel the full gamut of emotions. There were times I needed God to show up on my behalf, and I never heard any ‘christian’ songs that resonated with that.

For the majority of my life, people called their happy, Jesus loves me music 'worship', but I always felt like it lacked something…. honesty. (side note, if you want a song that reflects some honesty with God, check out this song my All Sons and Daughters. Its a good one)

I was working at a church a few years back. The place was rocking. Full of life and energy as the band played. I stood there in front (where we had to sit) and started reading the beautiful words on screen. I was caught up in them. They had so much depth and meaning. I was thinking about who wrote them, how they must have felt. The words were combined with great notes and composition and the band was getting it. I was caught up in this beautiful moment. If you looked at me at the time, it would have looked like I was almost disinterested, but I wasn’t. I was fully engaged. 

That week, I was told I need to take my hands out of my pockets. I was told that I needed to express more because people are watching me and since I am a leader, I needed to express to them what 'worship' looked like. So now, I walked to the front each Sunday, with anxiety as I was no longer encouraged to enter that way, my way. I now had to focus on ‘how’ I looked. I had to focus on my hands and what I do with them. I now lost my honestly because I looked different, I thought differently. 

I realized something. Sometimes people will not understand you because you are different. Sometimes, God is more interested with you showing up then about how you look when you get there. Be brave and honest. Sing with your soul. Sing to God your praise and your laments. 

This week @ story, we looked at a very weird passage in Psalm 139. It was verse 7. 

"Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock."

What. The. Heck. 

Why would God even include this in the bible? Isn’t the psalms supposed to be all worshippy, God loves me stuff?

See, this is a lament. It is not God talking, it is the writings of the people in Jerusalem after the Babylonians have invaded and destroyed it. They expressed how they felt to God. They wanted revenge. They wanted God to get revenge for them. They were hurt. 

I think God includes this in scripture for us to see that there are times we need to EX-press our true feelings and that is not always pretty. Music, can help us do that. Poetry can help us do that. Artists can help us do that. We need to find ways to do that. We sing songs about our experiences, our joy, our disappointment. Our heartbreak and our victories. 

God does answer this prayer for them, but not in the way they want. God doesn’t want the violence and bloodshed to continue. The people wanted the messiah to come as a conquering hero to 'save' them and set up a kingdom here, but he came as a lamb. He came forgiving and loving people. He healed and got killed for it. He was bashed instead of their enemies in the name of love, to bring peace, and to restore mankind. He gives us a chance to know who God is. If there ever was something to sing about, I think that would be a great thing to sing about. 

My hope with this post is that we all understand that music has a beautiful place in our lives. That just as we need to express our praise and thanks, we also need a space to express our true feelings to God (and I think he welcomes that). I hope you to find music that encourages you, uplifts you and brings you to a good place. I pray you find a great sense of peace and calm, as well as space to feel the full gamut of emotions that we all feel. I pray you sing your heart out and rock out, dance like you mean it and open up to song that is in your heart; whatever that looks like. :) 

 

What are your favourite songs?
How do they help you?
If you had one song to sing to God, what would it be? 

Hopefully not this one. Yikes. 

… the story continues

 

a blank canvas

This weeks Sunday recap is by guest writer Gabe. 

With every new year, it seemingly marks a fresh start. It’s a blank canvas.

The possibilities of what we can do with that clean, blank canvas are infinite. For some, it is exciting - all those possibilities, all those choices, all those opportunities. 

For me, staring at that blank canvas, like I am staring at a blank screen right now – those same possibilities, those same choices, those same opportunities – is overwhelming. What if I make a mess of it? What if I make a mistake? What if I choose wrong? What if it doesn't come out the way I expected? What if it’s not perfect?

We often talk about a fresh start – it's a lovely idea we pay lip service to, but rarely do we allow ourselves to truly start fresh. From scratch. That's because we carry with us the burdens of our past.

Our bumps. 
Our bruises. 
Our scars.
Our mistakes. 
Our bitterness. 
Our hurt.
And so, our canvas is no longer the masterpiece we set out to make;
It's not what we hoped for or expected.

So what can we do? 

We can slap a coat of white on it, we cover (or more aptly, mask) it with primer and try to start over. Sure, the canvas is blank on the surface, but it's not a perfect blank canvas is it? The strokes laid down previously can still be felt. The bumps, the bruises, the scars are still there. 

Someone once said to me, the past is in the past. The past shapes us. The past teaches us. But the past does not define us. The past is who we were – not who we are. As Christians we are new creations. 

New.
Not recycled. 
New.

And here's the amazing thing: God wants to give us a true fresh start. He wants to take our old canvas, hang it up, air it out and give us an entirely new, blank canvas. Untainted. Untouched. He wants us to draw, to paint, to create beautiful things with Him. And the awesome part? If we make a bit of mess of it along way, guess what? He's lovingly there with a new blank canvas.

- Gabe

“…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” - 2 corinthians 5:17