Saturday, May 31, 2008

THOUGHT: Confession #5

still about the confession are you?

Adam and Eve's era of open communication with God was, well, rather short lived.

While the actual time it took for Adam & Eve to sin is unknown, what we do know is that for us it is usually only a matter of minutes between mess-ups. We rarely put temptation at a distance--we stay too close, we like to linger around that tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. All around us we see the evidences of that last mess-up, oh yeah and the one before it. Hey look over there...more evidence of my transgressions.

Our only hope is confession.

Confession is the courageous step of putting the partially eaten fruit down, looking at it with God and agreeing that the fruit has our teeth marks in it. This, though, is not easy to do. Who among us likes to stand before the King of righteousness and admit both error and our need?

Nope, not easy at all. In fact, that leads us to the next problem and the next development.



Friday, May 30, 2008

THOUGHT: Confession #4

and again with that confession stuff:

Consider this:

"8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:8-9 (NIV)

Confession, when you dig back into the Greek stuff, means that we are living in agreement with God. It is not so much that we are letting God in on things He doesn't know as it is agreeing with Him that those things were sinful and damaging to our relationships (specifically our God relationship).

If you can reach this agreement then that is the beginning of power in our prayer. Confession isn't exposing some secret part of our lives as though God had no idea about our dark side. God knows. He knows everything. He most certainly is painfully aware of our deeds of evil or our deeds of selfishness (sin). Instead, confession is a brave step forward with God to look at our dark side and agree with all He has said about it in the Bible.

As simple as it sounds, this agreement with God is rare--it's hard to find. We, sadly, are all too much like Adam and Eve, crouching in the dark forest of Eden, hiding the half-eaten fruit.

What am I trying to hide from God today? What would I love to not carry anymore?



Thursday, May 29, 2008

THOUGHT: Confession #3

Continue the's good for the soul.

The word confession has at least 3 meanings:
1. you openly agree to a statement, a proposition, a creed or collection of thoughts. These would be things like the Apostle's Creed and had to do with theological stuff.
2. to confess: you openly admit your guilt for some wrong thought or action.
3. a spiritual autobiography like the ones written by Augustine or Patrick.

Tie these three things together and confession is, in a Christian spiritual context, agreeing with God about something--either the teachings of the church (a creed) or about our own sinfulness (our guilt).

Somehow I believe that confession can free us from sin's lasting ownership or jurisdiction in our lives and instead tie us to, or unite us with Christ. But how?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

THOUGHT: Confession #2

The ongoing considerations of confession.

The word confession has slowly faded almost to non-existence. The concept of sin faded also. Apparently both of these concepts are too hard for human beings to deal with and they were credited with psychological breakdowns. Sin is a bad concept because it produces guilt, and guilt is apparently, "self-negating" or "self-deprecating." That is bad. We don't feel good then. Now no need for confession cuz there is nothing to confess, I haven't done anything wrong.

Blindness does not remove reality. It just doesn't see it. The damage is still there and still growing.

That kind of callousness to sin and guilt needs to be cleared out of our lives with some tears. Tears of remorse. Tears of regret. Tears of humility. Tears of need. Tears of revelation. Tears of confession.

People who confess NEED to do it. We don't like to need to do anything that we don't want to.

People who NEED anything are weak. We don't like to be weak.

Sin is serious. It requires a serious response. Those tears remind us that it is important, essential, critical, required, necessary to have a clean relationship with God.

Those tears remind us that God is important...and serious.

Real tears also help us to communicate our sorrow and remorse to God. That is praying in words that we cannot speak...tears.

The self-sufficient see God as a mere topic of discussion.

Therefore, only the needy really have a God. To believe in God is to see yourself as both sinful and needy. Why is this important? For this reason: the needy confess.

Do you need God?

I am pretty sure that I do.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

THOUGHT: Confession #1

Ok, so I am reading another book (I seem to read more than one at a time) and it got me to thinking. Confession, that ugly word. The problem with confession really seems to me to be the need of it. If I am to confess, that also means that there is something that requires it. I bobbled it again. I do not look forward to confession, I am glad enough that is available as an option, but I don't relish it.

Then the Lord made me aware of my unbelief, so that--however late--I might recollect my offenses and turn with all my heart to the Lord God. It was He who took heed of my insignificance. who pitied my youth and ignorance, Who watched over me before I knew Him and before I came to understand the difference between good and evil, and who protected me and comforted me as a father would his son.
aka Saint Patrick

Confession in the life of this saint was actually seen as a delight. A way to make right with God that which under any other circumstances would keep him separated. That is not how I think about confession. I stumble into and struggle against it. I want what it will provide for me but I am very cheap in what I want to pay to acquire it.
More thoughts on confession to come.


Monday, May 26, 2008

EVENT: Full Disclosure Soulhouse May 25

This Week:
Celebration: X-pression. what a great night! In total there were more than 30 people with direct participation in the event. Original works of art were displayed and performed. Many different people faced the risk and made contributions. Thank you very much. There is so much talent here and the doors are just starting to open so that we can find out the true depth that we have been blessed with.
Art seems to evoke in us respect, awe, mystery, pleasure and even feelings of purity. I understand not all art does this, but the artists represented here did a great job. It makes me want more. I guess I am a little greedy, but I just love watching people release their gifts and talents to each other before God. For me the countdown starts now for next year. For you also. Now you have lots of time to get ready, to dream bigger, to imagine more.

Next Week:
Everything is Spiritual (Will Sherman Sr.)

Next Next Week:
Finale, Merge, Graduation. Last Soulhouse of the season...but then the countdown starts for the brand-new, totally redesigned Summer Soulhouse on Wednesday nights beginning Wednesday July 9th 7PM. Will you be there?


Thursday, May 22, 2008

THOUGHT: A little life & a little death

I am in a funeral right now. Ok well it hasn't really started. Family friend. I am amazed again at how lifeless the body seems. Maybe that seems obvious, a lifeless body at a funeral, but that is what I am struck by. Maybe if I change the word 'lifeless' to 'spirit-less' that would help. She is basically unrecognizeable without her spirit.
All of the animation that we identify inherently as that person is removed. It has escaped. It has been released. We are left looking at a shell that we barely recognize. The body has been prepared for viewing but the pictures somehow seem more real.
Our essence is our spirit, but we think it is the body. The body seems valuable now only as it relates to the spirit.
Perhaps we should spend more time caring for our essence; caring for the part of us that is really us. There is no beauty without the beauty given by the spirit.
What will heaven be like when we all are gathered together in our true uninhibited forms?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

THOUGHT: The Whine of Discontent

Drink deep. Maybe you already have. Do you enjoy a full glass of "I'm right?" It seems that many of us do. That drink leads to behaviour that we dislike in others but can't see so clearly in ourselves.
Ever complain? Ever think that many things are against you? Read what I just read in my study (concerning the parable of the Prodigal Son):

When I listen to the words with which the elder son attacks his father--self-righteous, self-pitying, jealous words--I hear a deeper complaint. It is the complaint that comes from a heart that never feels it received what it was due. It is the complaint expressed in countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways, forming a bedrock of human resentment. It is the complaint that cries out: "I tried so hard, worked so long, did so much, and still I have not received what others get so easily. Why do people not thank me, not invite me, not play with me, not honour me, while they pay so much attention to those who take life so easily and so casually?"
It is in this spoken or unspoken complaint that I recognize the elder son in me. Often I catch myself complaining about little rejections, little impolitenesses, little negligences. Time and again I discover within me that murmuring, whining, grumbling, lamenting, and griping that go on and on even against my will. The more I dwell on the matters in question, the worse my state becomes. The more I analyze it, the more reason I see for complaint. And the more deeply I enter it, the more complicated it gets. There is an enormous, dark drawing power to this inner complaint. Condemnation of others and self-condemnation, self-righteousness and self-rejection keep reinforcing each other in an ever more vicious way. Every time I allow myself to be seduced by it, it spins me down in an endless spiral of self-rejection. As I let myself be drawn into the vast interior labyrinth of my complaints, I become more and more lost until, in the end, I feel myself to be the most misunderstood, rejected, neglected, and despised person in the world.
Of one thing I am sure. Complaining is self-perpetuating and counterproductive. Whenever I express my complaints in the hope of evoking pity and receiving the satisfaction I so much desire, the result is always the opposite of what I tried to get. A complainer is hard to live with, and very few people know how to respond to the complaints made by a self-rejecting person. The tragedy is that, often, the complaint, once expressed, leads to that which is feared: further rejection.

The Return of the Prodigal
Henri Nouwen

Kind Father, deliver me from the desire to complain and to feel mistreated. In all things please lead me to freedom. I do not want to be in bondage to myself, my selfishness or my opinion. Freedom, Father, please have mercy on me as I stumble down that path finding so many ways to become caught. Be patient with me and please continue to grant me the presence of Your Holy Spirit to bring light to my darkness. I must decrease. You must increase. May it be so. Into the man you have created me to be; continue to shape me.


EVENT: Full Disclosure Soulhouse May 18, 2008

Last Week: Seek Ye First (Jon Harvey): How can we honestly, thoroughly pursue God? What does it take to maintain that focus? One desire. One desire that identifies all other desires as secondary. How might I bring glory to God? How might I advance His Kingdom? Not my will but His be done. Jon Harvey took us on a journey into his recent growing edge. He has been struggling for, longing for that sense of being in the place that God wants him regardless of where that place is. Whenever we open ourselves to God in this way we must start with some level of repentance. It always seems that the very first thing God reveals to us is how we might better align ourselves with His voice. Listen, repent and be transformed so that we might all, with greater energy and vitality go forth in the way of the Spirit. To do this we must consistently "Seek Ye First..."

This Week: Everything is Spiritual (Will Sherman, Sr., Erin Carter, Christina Wong)

Next Week:
Finale, Graduation Ceremony, Merge


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

EVENT: Narnia Invades My Sweet, Awesome Pad

So there I was just sitting home all alone when all of these people start piling in. Well I made them sit on the floor and watched a preparatory movie with them. How else would we have been prepared for "Prince Caspian" if we did not actually watch "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"? So now we are ready.
It was great to feel our place so full of goodness. Honestly, our couch and TV never felt as valuable as they did that night. We were glad to have you and hope to do this again real soon like.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

EVENT: Full Disclosure Common Ground May 14 2008

This Week: The Secret You: Courage (Graham Clinton):

Character is what we do when no one is looking. Reputation is what other people think of us. Are you the same in a crowd of friends, with your mom & dad, at school, alone with your special friend or just alone? Is there ever any difference? The battle is in your mind. Everyday, and then throughout the day we must battle to answer: "Fear or Faith?" How will I respond? Matthew 14:22-33: Peter walks on the water, an enormous step of courage and faith. He sinks when he chooses to fear the waves instead of choosing to have faith in Jesus.

Why the change from faith to fear? His focus changed. When we focus on the what we fear there is good reason to be afraid. When we focus on what we have faith in, Jesus, we do not sense the fears in the same way. The fears remain but they are overshadowed by our faith in a faithful God.

Next Week: Big Event: Common Ground at the Movies...we're off to see Prince Caspian.


Monday, May 12, 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT: Podcast Update

Amazing! We have now passed 20 days and 100 downloads/listens on the Soulhouse podcast. Great job. Keep spreading the word.


THOUGHT: Sharing Grace

Here is a little follow-up for you on our special offering @ Soulhouse. This is part of a prayer of thanks to God that you need to know about. Well done!

"As I write this letter it is with mixed emotions. (All good.) I want first to say God has used you to speak… no yell something great at us. Something like…. I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!!!!!!! I am clumsy with my words when thinking on the spot yet somehow when I am putting the words on paper they come out with the full meaning that I intend them. I want to make sure I do this right. So here it is.

Graham, I know we were a bit awkward with receiving that completely amazing gift you gave us. I’m sorry about that. On my part I think I was just surprised. I was truly not expecting it and wasn’t sure how to react. I know that it was also an exercise for Soulhouse in giving. I understood what you were doing and the reasons that you were doing it. I have to let you know though that God used that in a HUGE way to answer a prayer that has been on our hearts for a while. I hope by giving you some of the background info this will make more sense and maybe encourage you, or at least give you a sense of this way that God is using you (once again) to bless us and show us His compassion and love.

We have struggled a lot lately with finances (as you know )and I am continually burdened by the fact that I earn so little and we have had to struggle lately to make ends meet. The issue of tithing has come up and God has really challenged our family to trust him with everything, especially our money. In my walk with God over the last few months He has been asking me in many different ways if I really trust Him. I mean I say that I do, but do I really? And money is a pretty good litmus test, because when the bank account is virtually empty and the mortgage is due to come out and I feel that we really need to give our tithe fully, it’s a challenge of faith and trust for both us. Over the last few months, every time we have taken a seemingly scary step into that trust God has let enough money come in unexpectedly from the strangest places. Every month it’s been enough to cover our needs. Every time. That cheque was a big sign from God saying “I will take care of you! Trust me… I know your needs. I’ve got it covered. Can’t you see that? I just want you to trust me with everything you’ve got.”

With stunning clarity it seems ridiculous to hold back from God what is really His anyway but the gift from Soulhouse was the clear sign to both of us as a couple that God hears our prayers. He can use His very vast resources in ways our feeble minds can barely comprehend to supply us with what we need, and how amazing and humbling to be on the receiving end of that grace.

Thank you for being God’s instrument of blessing and thank you for loving us as friends so much."

Thank you Soulhouse for being willing to change someone's life, to share God's grace and to build His kingdom. Let us all be reminded of God's love and grace freely given to us at all times...especially when we need it most. To be a disciple is to be generous; it is to give something away everyday. What will it be today?


Thursday, May 8, 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT: Podcast Update

I think that I first told people about podcasting on Wednesday April 23rd. Since then there have been 78 "Soulhouse"s listened to. Wow! That's awesome! Spread the word. Let people know where and how to get at the stuff.
Don't give up!


EVENT: Full Disclosure Common Ground May 7 2008

This Week: Seven: Laziness (Sloth): Jon Harvey: The finale of the Seven series. I think we all learned a bunch during this series. One word just does not sum up the complexity of the sin described. The heart is deceitful and complex and tricky and imaginative and always looking for a way out. So we learned that we need to be watchful for the beginning signs of any of these seven sins. Laziness is not just about sitting on the couch watching TV. Sloth can be lack of engagement, mental slacking, not pursuing our lives out of fears, not wishing to think, spiritual disinterest and the list does not stop. The danger of this sin is that again it sneaks in quietly saying "just not right now. I'll do it later."And it grows from there. Jesus called us and promised us life and life abundant, not life mediocre. So let's engage.
If we are not using our gifts and talents to grow the body, the church, then we are wasting them and we are guilty of sloth. If we do not engage because we feel we are too separate from God then let's remember 1 John 1:9 learn it, love it, lean on it, live it:

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The promise is ongoing. Just like our pursuit of righteousness is supposed to be...ongoing.

Next Week: The Secret You: Courage (Graham)


Monday, May 5, 2008

EVENT: Full Disclosure Soulhouse May 4

Last Week: Return To Me: Prayer (Graham Clinton): 1 Kings 19:11-12

11-12 Then he was told, "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by."

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

Prayer is communicating with God. Good communication means we should listen and not just talk.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says pray continually or pray without ceasing. Keep your mind connected to God. It is a wireless connection but that connection may stir be severed when we choose to block Him out. He didn't leave, we did.

Matthew 6:7 reminds us not babble like pagans, or think that because of our long winded sentences that God will listen more. He isn't fooled by mindless jibber jabber or by big fancy, spiritual sounding polysyllabic utterances. He just wants us; raw, uncut, un-retouched. Genuine. Honest. Sincere. You. That is what He delights in.

James 5:16 reminds us not to take prayer lightly cuz the prayers of a righteous person have great power. So what will you set your mind to praying for? What will you loose the power of God against?

Then consider the silence. Listen to God. Be alone with Him. Unplug. Listen. Find some quiet somewhere and bathe in it.

Talk to Him. He hears. He listens. He is waiting saying "Return To Me!"

This Week: No Soulhouse cuz yeeeeaaaahhhhh it's Mother's Day!
Next Week: Trust, Peace & the Kingdom (Jon Harvey)


EXPERIENCE: Dinner Theatre @ the Parshad's

Who doesn't like great people, great food and a show? I mean, honestly, just a great night. Maybe you should look into booking a night yourselves, you won't be disappointed. Seating is limited so book early!
I was surprised to see the high quality costumes that complimented the stellar acting. Truly an event to remember. I know Merlin had an incredible time playing with Robin and Mandi, so thank you very much. Sheryl, Finnley and I also had a great time, but probably no where near as great as Merlin:)
I also had a crazy thought while there...what about a night at Soulhouse with an all parent band? No firm plans or anything but what if? Any parents interested?
Hospitality is a blessing and we were blessed. Let's keep it going. Who will be next to keep the hospitality train running? Invite someone to your house, share time, share space, share food, share grace with each other.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

EVENT: Markham Youth Network Worship Gathering

Friday night some churches came together so that we could do something together. A good idea. So folks from Cornerstone Community, Markham Missionary, Olive Branch, Unionville Oasis & UAC came together to laugh, worship, sing, clap, eat, pray and meet some new folks. It was good. A good start to a relationship that needs to grow. Next event in October. We will be even more ready then.
Great job everyone.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

EVENT: Full Disclosure Common Ground April 30

This Week: Seven: Gluttony (Graham Clinton): We get so accustomed to the noise of our culture and the distractions of life that when we hear someone giving us valuable information we can blow it off as if “it is not about me.” Sometimes you can be so engaged in doing what you do not even sense the danger that you are in. “It didn’t seem bad when I started,” in fact it seemed good and maybe even important.
Here is a warning that might be easy to dismiss.
Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires. over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

“When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” (Proverbs 23:2)

Don't let overindulgence overwhelm you. Gluttony has not been defined just as consumption but the with holding of something that someone else needs. This expanded view certainly increases the number of people who might be dabbling in "Gluttony." What have you withheld from those around you? Love, encouragement, support, security, the truth. The list can be long.

Live not just for yourself.

Next Week: Seven: Sloth/Laziness (Jon Harvey)


THOUGHT: Me, Talking, Power, God

We are trying, a bunch of us anyway. We are trying to get together on a regular basis and pray for each other personally and for the churches we represent. The Youth Pastor's Prayer Gathering. It is amazing to see how many churches that there really are in the area...and we know so little about each other. How will God's people ever really stand together if we never, well, stand together?
Prayer changes things...mostly me. It gives me a chance to pour out my heart to God and therein be vulnerable. When I am vulnerable it seems that God is more able to speak to me. You know, less of me and more of Him. It is a good trade. Less of me and more of You God.
There has been a bee in my bonnet lately. A thought that just won't leave. It started from a letter I was reading. The letter wasn't addressed to me, but I read it anyway. It was still written to me, perhaps you have read it also. It was the second letter to a new, young pastor named Timothy. Yeah 2 Timothy 3:5, read it in context, but the part that has been sticking to me is just this phrase: "...having a form of godliness, but denying its power..."
That phrase has stuck with me. Is that me? Is that what I am like? How much of God's power am I DENYING? Makes me seem powerful. I can deny God's power. Makes me seem stupid. I can deny God's power. Why would I do that?
I pray God make me into Your image...but not that way.
I pray God grow me into the man you want me to be...but leave this part alone.
I pray God help me overcome my weaknesses...but just give me an instant, no effort fix.
When I pray I am confronted by what I hold back from God...too much.

"God, I don't want a form of godliness that denies Your power. Have mercy on me God, cuz I am dumb and selfish sometimes. Help me to rid myself of all the sin that so easily entangles and makes me trip when I want to run. I need your power to live well, help me to take all of my medicine. Continue to heal me from my death-style. Thanks for being patient. I am going to keep coming. I am not going to give up. Amen"