Deanna and I have been leading Thrive since the beginning of September and we are enjoying being back in youth ministry (although this time it is part of our Campus Pastor position). Thrive is a little different than your typical youth group and it took a few weeks to adjust but having an opportunity to speak value and life to so many un-churched teens is a real privilege.
Yesterday in my devotions I was reading in 2 Kings 6 when a Syrian army is coming to kill Elisha and he does not fear their attack because he knows a great force is on his side. When the Syrian army arrives Elisha prays for them to see and God reveals the chariots and horses of fire that surround the man of God. It caused me to do two things. First to contend in the spiritual battle that takes place every week at Thrive and made me confident that God will bring us victory. At the end of tonight it also reminded me to see properly. There were some difficult situations tonight, a few kids that we asked to leave, rocks thrown at the building during the God Spot and a few others that need our attention and prayer, but that is not the story of the night. When I see with the eyes of faith I see the reality that kids are being brought into the presence of Jesus, they are experiencing His love through our amazing team and the seeds of His Word is being planted in hearts. We had a girl come for the first time who felt safe and welcome when most places in her life are the opposite. God is doing a good thing and our students lives will be different, for the better, as they encounter Jesus in a real way.
Rich shared this video with me early and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. What a way to celebrate and enjoy a wedding. It’s refreshing to see a new way of doing an old tradition.
It has been a crazy week getting ready for camp and preaching this weekend at church. Camp starts tomorrow morning! It is going to be awesome. It is my first every church camp… and yes I’m directing it. We are off to Denman Island for 4 fun filled days. I will have some pictures later this week (we won’t have Internet there). If you read this between July 13th and 16th pray for us. Pray that God would move in life changing ways in the lives of the kids and the leaders too!
Yesterday Ryan and I signed up for the annual Build, Bail and Sail competition here in the Valley. To bring you up to speed it is a yearly tradition that happens during Nautical Days over the August long weekend. 16 teams compete in a boat race using boats they build in 3 hours and 45 minutes using $85.85 worth of supplies from the local hardware store and hand tools only! To top it off the two person teams must switch places half way through the course. We are beginning to think of and plan our concept which should be fun considering neither of us have ever built a boat before. Our strategy is to tap into our Swedish Viking roots and build a boat worthy of our sea-fairing ancestors (think the first guys to cross the Atlantic to North America around 1000 years ago). This Viking theme will cross with our modern Swedish connections and we will run with a title like “The Other Swedish Twins”. Speaking of Swedish connections maybe we will stop by IKEA this weekend and find inspiration to build a compact, affordable and stylish vessel. If you have any ideas let us know… if you know a boat builder better yet =)
The past few days have marked my first anniversary here on the Island and what a year it has been. I remember pulling away from my parents place in Surrey last June. I said goodbye to the family and as I was walking out my nephew Anderson didn’t want me to leave which left me slightly emotional. I pressed on, got on the ferry and arrived at Pastor Scott’s house and settled into my temporary home. The next day, Canada Day, was my first chance to explore and meet some new friends who have become great friends and co-workers over the year. Today, July 2nd is also significant because it marks the day that I first met Deanna and well you know that that turned out amazingly well =)
Over all it has been an excellent year. The transition has been smooth and quick and it now feels like home. I am so blessed to be growing in a great church. The themes of family, sonship, and living authentic faith help me see the ways God is using this time to further my development. I am now officially a Pastor which is a humbling experience. After the first big move I have changed addresses 3 more times from Courtenay to Comox to Royston to Courtanay again. Deanna entered my life a year ago. We’ve grown in love, learned to deal with long distance and have started to dream of what life together could be. After a little rambling I guess I would sum it all up with a sense of expectation of what is yet to come. I love life and living the adventure that God has before me. I would never have imagined myself here even 2 years ago so I couldn’t hope to envision what lays ahead in the next 2, 5 or 10.
Today I got to go to Squim Washington to check out a Foursquare camp in development there with Pastor Scott, Corey and Jason. We had a great day traveling to Victoria then on the ferry to Port Angeles for a few hours before heading back home. A quick sidenote: We stopped at a game farm and got to feed loaves of bread to bears, deer, bison and even a rhino (I may have eaten a slice or two as well). I managed to land a slice of bread on the smaller of the rhino’s two horns which he was unable to get off =D. Another quick sidenote: It’s pretty depressing to see fat lazy bears wave and pose to beg for slices of bread. It’s a lot unnatural. Now I’m not PETA fanatic but it is a little unsettling to see these powerful amazing creatures caged and so far removed from any semblance of their natural habitat.
Back to the reason for this post. On the ferry I over heard a family speaking Swedish which if you know me at all makes me pretty excited. I started to rehearse phrases and greetings in my head and think of ways to introduce myself. Now this leads to the regret. I got really nervous… as in hands shaking, heart racing nervous, when I had a few openings to say hello. I allowed my fear of sounding weird and having an awkward moment override my desire to just say hello. Now not to make this bigger than it is, it got me reflecting about the areas in my life where I hold back and miss opportunities that I regret later. Whether it’s evangelism or speaking up to say hello to my fellow countrymen I need to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to slay that fear with boldness and step out far more often. I don’t know if you relate but I’m challenged again to step out and remove the chance for regret to become a common experience.
After Deanna and I got back from a hike Ryan was home watching ‘John and Kate Plus 8’ on TLC. Because of the amount of promotion on TLC through the weekend I knew that tonight was a special episode with a big announcement. Now if you haven’t seen the show you would have recently seen John and Kate on the covers of all the tabloids and gossip magazines in the check out line at the grocery store. They have been the fodder for countless headlines recently which I tried to ignore. Not to re count all of the details but tonight’s episode was one of the most difficult things I have ever watched on TV. It is heartbreaking to see a family and marriage fall apart on TV.
Now the reason for this post is not to suggest solutions or place blame (which is totally uncalled for from the thousands of viewers who are blasting this couple on line) but to challenge myself and any of you to pray. John and Kate are Christians and the enemy is having a hay day watching their marriage implode on national TV. Let’s stand for this couple, and their children, and believe for the restoration of their marriage. I am even now reminded that situations like this that the enemy might use for evil can be turned to good through prayer and the power of our amazing God.
So if this recent activity pops up on your blog reader or you happen to stop by I thought I would add a disclaimer. This is not an indication that I will again be blogging regularly -although I might. I have recently warmed up to the idea of blogging again and there have been many instances where I have found myself thinking… I should blog about this. So without any fan fare or self promotion on Facebook I submit 2 blog posts after 5 months without any.
Oh and another motivation was when Jan Buzza refered to my blog a few times at our tour dinner at Red Robins a few weeks ago. Someone actually reads this =) Thanks Jan.
What an awesome night. Deanna and I headed up to Gold River at 3pm and had a stellar drive as usual. The highway to Gold River has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the nation. We went up for our quarterly kids night with the Northgate family in GR and it was a blast. We called it ‘School’s Out!’ and played a series of games the took things that you aren’t normally allowed to do in school and turned it into a boys vs. girls competition. We threw paper airplanes, spat spit balls and measures the kids reaching 121 decibels while screaming which to put into perspective is about the volume of a jack hammer, thunder or live rock music at close range and sit just at the level where any extended exposure will cause pain leading to damage… I love kids ministry =)
Now back to the 1/3 title. We had 52 kids out tonight which is twice as many as previous nights and accounts for 1/3 of all of the elementary aged children in Gold River! (There is about 150 in the elementary school) Now think about the impact that Northgate is having in tat community. It’s absolutely incredible to think that such a high percentage of the community is reached in one night. And what did they see and hear… The message of Jesus’ love, an expression of His love communicated through His people and a picture of a God that gives life and loves fun. One of the moms not connected with the church commented on the love that was apparent as we met, played and enjoyed being together. More that that I am blown away by our Gold River family that is tenaciously contending to see 100% of Gold River saved. They believe it, expect it, are praying it into reality and are putting feet to their intentions. Yeah GR family, yeah God now we get to watch as 33% increases to 100%.
My blog is dead and I’m a big jerk…
By the way… this might not exactly be me writing this blog! Hey! Check out http://www.chrislohphotography.com while you’re at it! 🙂