The Best is yet come

It’s that time of year again — kids are groaning, keeners are cheering, parents are counting down the days left of chauffering kids to summer camps, pool parties and back to school shopping.

Yep. Back to school. Again. For almost the second decade.

For the past 4 years I haven’t had to make new friends so I’m a bit rusty and apprehensive about doing that again — and if you’re like me, “not rusty” is not anything to boast about either.

There are so many kinds of people out there with rich and complex backstories that have brought them to cross paths with you in the coming year, and for me, interacting with that is daunting and overwhelming and exhausting.

Social life? No thanks.

I exaggerate — to an extent.

It’s interesting why I find making new friends and new connections so dislikeable though, given that I know I enjoy people’s company (mostly) and that my prospective career depends on finding like minded people to collaborate with.

Not only that, but my making new friends in the past has been incredibly fruitful and the big picture that God has painted through my friendships — that He’s still painting — is truly wonderful and I haven’t been able to appreciate it until 10 years after this story had begun.

Authentic friendship and a longing for deep connection and understanding has marked my youth and childhood. In fact, it plays a large part in my testimony.

Growing up as an only child I was always in search for that best friend, that partner in crime who would be with me forever and never leave me alone.

God in His grace introduced Himself to me. Then in His abundance brought 5 wonderful girls to play with at school. A sisterhood and veritable tween clique.

When I lost my place of acquaintance with the many, I gained the mutual best friendship of one.

When I was desperate for a sister, God gave me one younger and one older.

After many years, when the one drifted away, I grieved.

But little did I know that God was placing me on new paths with people that had always been before me. People that I never thought to connect with because I had my one.

I thought I only had room for one — best means second to none after all… Right?

But as I searched and watched and waited to see who I’d cross paths with next… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… Soon there were so many whose friendships were precious to me.

And so everything that I sought after and lost was returned to me ten fold — true to His promise.

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:32-33

In Him are all things found. It’s not “if I want blank, I’ll do what God says and He’ll give it to me.”

When we yearn and search for Him, we are already quenched and THEN in addition to that, everything else tends to follow and fall perfectly into place.

Instead it’s “I am enough to satisfy your need.” He is enough. He is more than enough.

In those moments of pain and grief and soul shattering loneliness — I was never alone. Not only was He true to His Word that He would never leave nor forsake me, he showed it by placing me with my closest friends when I needed a community most, when I didn’t know they would become my closest friends — when at first they were little more than strangers and kind acquaintances.

It took me years to see and realize it. I thought I had that “did we just become best friends??” moment with each of them but looking back… It was a long time coming.

So making new friends at a new place, away from the last new friends at the last new place? Bring it on.

When you think your heart is full, or can only hold enough for one best, or only a few, God knows how to open new spaces and fill even those to an overflowing brim.

Best doesn’t always mean one. Best simply means of exceptional quality and you can never have enough of that.

Indeed, the best is yet come.

#feelingthankful #feelingblessed

MM EL EM AZ DL EL — we’ll all be spread across the province and the country soon, but distance has never stopped us before ♥

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Paris 01: Lets get down to business

Cue the intro to “Be a man” !

The day has come. Training is over and we fly for the city of light tomorrow!?

We have a tight team and already God has shown us how good He is and how much He knows us and loves us. We haven’t even left and there are already a few cool stories, a number of examples of “coincidental”, “that was lucky”, “guess that worked itself out” moments. AKA God-ordained, super cool, crisis averted moments.

From “happening” to have extra essential things to cover exactly what was forgotten, to “happening” to be all musically talented with hearts for worship, to “happening” to be perfectly compatible housemates… I’m amazed.

What training has challenged me most in is making a habit of checking where my heart is at with regard to pride, my attitude towards others, especially my team mates. To not hide behind a surface version of me, but to not be afraid to be vulnerable. Amidst all the fun and the teasing, I have to be careful with my words and use them to edify and encourage also. Not only that, but to be caught in His grace if I fail and something weird and unnecessary comes out of the mouth. Also, being ready to generously offer grace to others, especially in ou varying degrees in French fluency.

What I find encouraging is that we’re all learning and for many of us, but I’ll speak only for me, there is less fear in asking what words mean or how to translate a saying. And there is no shame when gently corrected.

Our very wise directors gave us some potential points of culture shock and the most worrying is the cultural sport of invigorating discussion. Debating with rationality and rhetoric. Did I mention that most Parisians would identify themselves as atheist? Ouf, debating… not my cup of tea. Nor my glass of wine, or slice of brie, or bite of croissant. (Can you tell I’m looking forward to the food?)

And yet by God’s grace and the wise training we just went through, I’m going on this mission trip without any significant feelings of fear. I have no expectations because what God has planned is far more magnificent than anything I can imagine.

The other day I was reading Isaiah 55, and it is my prayer for Paris, that they would see the compassion of the Lord.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. …Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way,and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. €œFor as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace…”

Jesus is enough to satisfy, and the Gospel is enough for an answer. God in His sovereignty and the power of the Holy Spirit is stronger than our human hearts, He is mighty to save. His word is enough to water this hardened soil, and I trust that the next 5 weeks will yield fruit, even if we never see it.

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To Boldly Go

This weekend I got to see the KWS (Kitchener Waterloo Symphony) perform Michael Giacchino’s fantabulous 2009 score to Star Trek… LIVE to projection.

Needless to say as a band geek and a fan (I love Star Trek, but I’m nowhere near the Trekkie levels of fandom to name myself among them), it was the most fun I’ve had in a while.

Having the music component performed live to a screening of the film brings about a whole new dimension to the experience, an immersion that I think surpasses IMAX 3D. The soundtrack is the audience’s entry point to the soul and emotions of the film, telling the stories that can’t be seen or spoken.

Those gorgeous horns heralded the main theme as the logos went up and I knew I was in for an experience. You could feel the rush of wind whenever the Romulans made an appearance because the low end brass and percussion “punched it.” The strings made my heart strings weep during all those emotional moments (Labor of Love, Head to Heart Conversation…) Don’t forget about that harp either.

Everything about the movie just seemed heightened. There’s a common misconception that the soundtrack is subservient to the film, but it really isn’t. Audio and video complemented each other, the score and film working together as one to form the narrative, neither ever overpowering the other. Of course, during the credits when there’s not much to see other than names, the score is free to shine and the symphony took us where no one has gone before. More on this in a bit.

As was tweeted about the show, “goosebumps and tears are not optional.”

Ever since the development of the film and cinematic industry, theatre has always prided itself in the live aspect of that medium since it is the one thing film can never capture. The ephemerality, the proximity and the humanity of a live performance is completely unique and can never be replaced or digitalized in the same way that other mediums have undergone. Watching a film live on set would not heighten the art of film, in fact it might take away some of the magic. Live music on the other hand… I wish I could see every movie like I saw this one. You get the stunning visual effects of film that can never be seen on stage, but you also get the intense presence of a live performance that makes theatre unique. A big world on screen deserves a big sound that recordings and surround sound fall just short of, now that I know what I’ve been missing out on. It is a wonderful, dare I say perfect, marriage of filmed and live media; the best of both worlds.

This post was originally just going to be raving about the performance as an attempt to live in those memories just a bit longer, cement them while they’re still fresh, and wade in the tides of nostalgia before moving on with life. But of course, as I started writing, a “nugget” materialized and this beautiful relationship between score and film struck me as an uncanny analogy for complementarian marriage.

Not egalitarian. When it comes to marriage, I am no feminist. A bold thing to say in this age of sexual revolutions.

Let me say this before I go any further: neither man nor woman has the right to abuse the other in any way, in any kind of relationship. Ever.

But should the woman serve her husband? As the score serves the film. If the film overpowered the score, we would miss out on that musical narrative. If the score overpowered the film, we would be incredibly distracted and missing the point. It’s a strange paradox to explain… both score and film are needed to effectively tell the narrative, but the priority of focus should always be on the film, the main vehicle for the narrative. They are not equal, but the score is not the film’s handmaiden either. The film and score work together as one work of art, and they enhance each other in different ways, bringing the other to its full potential.

Personally, between listening to a score before and after seeing the film, I have always appreciated the score even more afterwards. Recalling the emotional images paired with the moving music simply makes for a better listening experience. And of course, watching a film without the score, sound effects, or sound at all, is simply pointless.

In the same way, the man should be over the woman like the film is over the score. Once in that covenantal relationship, they need each other as desperately as film and score need each other. They can no longer be separate, they are one masterpiece, one flesh. As soon as one overpowers the other, it’s game over. After all, the score was designed and created to help the film.

Am I saying then that women were designed and created to help the man? It’s scandalous and easy to get twisted, but yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. But again, this is no excuse to allow any abuse. The score doesn’t take orders from the film, but rather from the one orchestrating this marriage of mediums. Both visual and aural answer ultimately to the director, who ensures both arts blend harmoniously to tell a single story. Both man and woman answer to the One who brought them together to reflect a single love story: Christ and the church, His bride, for whom He died.

I will take the analogy further. When the film is over and gives way to the credits, it’s giving way for the score to shine and get the last word. God calls the wife to respect her husband enough to serve him for the rest of their lives, but He also calls the man to love her enough to die for her as Christ died for the church.

It’s three-fold: film and score, man and woman, Christ and church. An analogy for an analogy for the greatest story that has been, is and will forever be echoing across time. Indeed, the greatest story ever told. May we boldly go and proclaim it.

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I’ll Remember You Forever

Re-post. I may have to update this list after I graduate. I’ve had the privilege to learn from exceptional teachers who also happen to be professors.


This article caught my attention:

This kid says she’ll remember this teacher when she’s 75.

Take a look, I’ll wait.

I get the feeling that having a teacher that inspires you is a rare thing these days. I could be wrong. I hope I am. There are the fun ones, the brilliant ones, the lazy ones, the strict ones, and any combination of these labels.

But the ones that you remember forever are the ones that cared – not just about what you did in class, but what you’ll do after your time with them is up. The ones that cared about YOU, mostly academically and often times otherwise. They made that their job.

They’re the ones that even though they had a student label – crazy, harsh, chill, etc. nobody really cared what it was.

I hope that as you were watching the video and as you’re reading this post (if anyone is reading this post) that at least one name comes to mind – one teacher that you’ll remember forever. In a life season where everything is spinning on its head at unfathomable speeds – that is, adolescence of course – I think it’s important, nay essential, to have someone with a true gift for teaching there to keep you focused, to nurture your learning. Not just to discover what you’re good at, but who you are.

They may not realise they’re contributing to your discovery of your identity at the time (or maybe they will). You probably won’t either. I certainly didn’t.

I have no idea what the average number of inspiring teachers people have in high school is these days, but I can tell you that I had the honour, blessing and privilege of 4 of them. And here’s what I learned from each (in no particular order).

MR. BAYAT – Gr. 11 and 12 physics and chemistry.

He was my tutor, and I was jealous of his students at the high school he taught at.
Up until grade 11 physics, school was a blast and a breeze and my biggest fear was getting an 85.

For the first time in my life, I was failing. (On the bright side, pride was no longer much of an issue afterwards.)

My confidence evaporated at an astronomical rate in moles per second and my heart plummeted to my stomach with a force and acceleration greater than that of gravity everytime any sort of evaluation came up.

Like a racing altimeter on a crashing plane, every mark update was painful.

I had never failed a test before. I never had to ask for after school help before. Why was this happening? I failed once and it shook my world. It also seeded my dislike for learning physics and to a lesser degree, chemistry.

My identity was in my marks. Failing once meant that I was a failure. “It’s just one set back” never got processed in my brain. It was inexplicable and illogical and silly, and yet that’s how blindsided I was by it.

Bayat helped me get the grade – I impressed a handful of people with my improvement. He also achieved the impossible by making my least favourite subjects (because they were my weakest) fascinating, if not enjoyable.

But let’s not talk about the academics since, despite my success I remember nothing and am very far away from the academic fields of chemistry and physics. Obviously what I took away from learning under him, was not academic.

Lesson 1: DON’T GIVE UP. Teachers ought to care simply that you learn. Whether it’s from their lectures or your mistakes is irrelevant.

Lesson 2: TALENT can be measured in potential – how far you can go with what you have. Not how you or others judge your performance. You are more than a percentage.

Lesson 3: BE CONFIDENT in what you’ve learned. Defend yourself, respectfully challenge your teachers and your peers, be grateful when corrected. The point is learning.

In many respects, I learned these 3 lessons over and over again from all four of these teachers, every year I had them. Same lessons, different numbers — situations.

MS. GOLDMAN – Gr. 11 English.

She was an LTO, a long-term on-call while my much stricter English teacher was on mat leave.

I was doing alright in 3UENG but not as well as I hoped, in terms of numbers. It’s important to note however that at my high school, an 80 meant you were considered a genius. If not in English language and literature, then in pinpointing exactly what your teacher wants to read amidst an infinite range of subjective interpretation. I’m not sure which type I was. I didn’t feel like either.

Ms. Goldman was a refreshing change after that first half of the semester, and some marks started to climb.

Now, I won’t comment or compare with how the two teachers marked us. Again, what I took away from being Ms. Goldman’s student was not academic.

Like the other three names in this post, the first thing I noticed when she started teaching us is that she genuinely cared about the work we submitted, and how that reflected us as individuals, as a class and as a school.

She was actively participating in this unspoken dialogue, interacting with us on such a level that her students could believe her when she gave positive feedback and trust her when she gave constructive criticism. And we loved her for it.

This is perhaps the strongest theme or trait these four names have in common:

She cared, and that made us care about the subject, our work, ourselves and each other, whether we liked or were good at English or not.

But for me personally, I’ll remember her forever because she embraced creativity and taught and encouraged me to do the same, whether she realised it or not.

Many projects in that class had very little guidelines. It could be as insightfully crazy as you wanted or as crazily insightful or just standard clear and concise.

No matter how you learned, the point was that you learned.

For me, that was writing an 11 page (~12K words) “sequel” to Shelley’s Frankenstein.

I’d been writing stories for most of my life. But this project. The comments she left and the mark I got left me more than chuffed. I was stunned that she actually read it all. But that selfish pride soon faded away. After all, she was just one person.

And yet, one person is enough. It wasn’t the comments or the mark that did it. Anyone can slap a number on something. But when she handed it back to me, her eyes seemed to smile, “I’m proud of you.”

Then my mom read it and said so audibly. She was genuinely impressed as well, unlike some other times, but she’s my mom… So bias is a factor.

Anyway, after that, and only after that, did I actually begin to think that maybe writing was something to consider.

But it was a thought too dream-like to indulge and I didn’t want to admit it to myself. As a result, it took a couple years for me to go actually dive in and go for it. In the meantime, those two years were spent experimenting… literally and figuratively. It was painful. And necessary.

MRS. HEISLER – Gr.10 Math

I realize I’m going in backwards order here. I should correct what I said with Ms. Goldman. She only reaffirmed what I learned with Mrs. Heisler a year earlier.

Much in the same way, those grade 10 “anything projects” allowed me to let my creativity loose.

1. Create a comic STRIP explaining how to solve a binomial expansion.

…I created a 27 page Stargate-based comic booklet.

(She’s a fan, don’t worry.)

2. Create a presentation on how to use the quadratic formula.

…I spent a couple weeks creating an espionage choose your own adventure on Keynote for the class to play, with me as the game master.

I’ll never forget what she told me on the last day of class:

“I would love to open up your head and explore your brain one day.”

It was, and perhaps still is, my favourite compliment I’ve ever received.

learned in that class, and not at all in the conventional way. I learned because I was allowed to be creative without fear. I was allowed, because she was creative without fear. (I still remember some of the many QF songs we heard).

MR. COLLEY – Gr. 9 – 12 Music.

Yep, so this is definitely in backwards order. As my first high school teacher I ever met, this whole narrative might have begun with him.

From the moment I met him, I could tell he was one of the crazy ones. But also one of the kind ones. Then I was a student in his class, and I saw the way he worked. His passion for music, but more importantly his passion for students and their growth, academic primarily, but otherwise as well. (Well maybe not physically. Although he did poke fun at us shorties.)

It was the first time I’d seen anyone fulfilling their calling and it blew my mind. I wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Secretly, I think it’s why people stay in the music program for all 4 years.

Yeah the marks are easy, the trips are fun, but the rehearsal hours can be brutal – and yet Colley is always, always ready to go. (With his never ending coffee supply of course.)

I can’t speak for the hundreds of students he’s had and whose names he somehow never forgets, but even if I wasn’t a band geek already, I might have stayed just to see what he would do next, how he would do it and why.

There was something different about him. Other teachers care, but he’s next level. He’s genuine, he’s tough, and he’s hilarious. Perhaps the three key things a teacher needs to help students learn and grow in a healthy way.

(Let me be the first to admit that I am no pedagogical expert – these are simply my observations based on my personal experiences)

When I learned that he was also a brother in Christ… Suddenly things made so much more sense, and things clicked very quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be Christian to be a great teacher. Many of them aren’t, and conversely, very few who are, are akin to Colley.

What I do mean is that the “why?”s could be answered.

Why get to school before 7 am and stay til 5 to help students? Why listen diligently to all 300+ students play up to 48 scales each? Why push and spur on a student when it would be understandable if he gave up on them?

This is what he was made to do. Encouraging students is his passion, music is his skill. He did not openly preach the gospel, that wasn’t his job.

Instead he taught us to work diligently, to find our passion, to encourage and be encouraged, to build community, and to care and listen to one another unconditionally. What’s more is that he taught us – or me anyway – all this with his actions first, across the 4 years, and his words last, during our last day together as a band.

It was during my one on one sessions with him that he taught me to put my identity in Christ. Not marks nor praise. In Christ alone.

He loved us first, so we too must love others with the same unconditional love that is manifest in how we use our gifts and talents.

Now… I can’t help but feel a bit vain going on about my greatest high school academic successes throughout this post.

So I’ll sum up what the connection between all of this and my life now to show that in many ways, I am indeed who I am today because of these people and their success at what I call real, true, teaching.

Without Mr. Bayat, I would not have the confidence or patience to persevere after a failed script or query.

Without Ms. Goldman, I would not have thought to be remotely capable of writing anything entertaining or worth reading.

Without Mrs. Heisler, I would never have the guts to share my work with other creatives, let alone the more sane people.

Without Mr. Colley, I would not have seen what being the light and the salt of the earth or a calling fulfilled, looks like in real life.

These people and so many others like them need medals for both leading by example and then passing that example on in their students. Who and where would we be without them?

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Easter

Re-post. I wrote this post shortly after my time with TCMT13. Yes, I went back. One of the things that we did frequently was have communion together, and these are my thoughts on it.

Also, easter marks my baptism anniversary… this was my first year. :’)


Another year on TCMusic… way too much happened to retell in a post or ten, but it was amazing and memorable and the team is my second family 🙂

On easter Sunday as I was standing there with a broken cracker in my hand for communion, I was reminded of what we’d say to each other on the tcmusic team when we did communion:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ shed for you.

And that first statement alone hit me with every word.

Let’s break it down.

THE BODY.
Whenever we speak of Christ’s suffering, it’s usually on the cross, but it started long before that. Christ is fully human, fully God. He had a body, a mortal, fragile body. But this didn’t simply happen, he had to be born just like the rest of us. He was clothed in majesty and glory with angels and cherubim singing his praises forever. He was living greater than any king or celebrity could ever imagine. But he gave it all away. He gave it ALL up. He became a baby, who couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, couldn’t dress himself, feed himself, he was UTTERLY helpless. From having everything to nothing, not even the power or strength to hold his head up. And from that moment on, he had to suffer through everything we have to suffer through in life, and more. As a child he got scolded by his parents. As a man he was tempted, and he was both praised and mocked. He was betrayed and denied by his friends, he was popular but hated. And then he was tortured. From sweating blood, to thorns in his skull, to shredding his skin off, to being forced to walk however many miles or km, bearing the weight of the cross… he suffered, in his human body, and I haven’t even gotten to the crucifixion yet. How it must have burned to choose to keep suffering when he could have spared himself of the pain. Christ had a body, just like ours. He knows our pain, he knows our suffering, he went through it and beyond what most of us could even imagine. Because all of the above is JUST the physical.

OF CHRIST
Christ. A name so carelessly tossed around. So meaningless to many who speak it. But who is Christ? He is the Son of God. The messiah, the one who gave it all away in obedience to the Father, and who loved this world and its people enough to be willing to suffer for our sake. Suffer physically yes, but suffer so much more spiritually. He had to absorb the wrath of the Father, the wrath meant for us. Christ’s ‘loss’ when he left heaven all the way up until he was nailed to that cross is nothing compared to the wrath of God. Utterly scorned, abandoned, by your own father.

IS BROKEN
So let’s back track a bit. The body (fully human, fully God) of Christ (the second person of the trinity) is broken.
What?
Christ, who had a perfect body who cannot get sick, get weaker or stronger, now has a fragile human body. And it’s been broken. Torn. Shredded. Tortured. It’s not only broken it’s massacred, murdered.

FOR YOU.
When I got to this part, I was ready to sit down. All that. All that Christ gave up. All that Christ suffered. All that he let happen and stopped from happening, was not for his own glorification. It was not to get attention. It was his purpose here. He did all of that… FOR YOU. Yes, you, on the other side of the screen. He suffered, so that you wouldn’t have to. So all that happened to Christ, was for YOU. Why? He loves you. Not this greco-roman idea of love, but true, biblical love. Where the head or the authority, just takes the gloves off, and ‘volunteer as tribute’ if you will and says I’m first, if anything bad must happen.

This is love.

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TCWT12 – Day 4: Seniors II

Re-post. Part 5 of 5. Recap vid here:


LAST DAY OF TC!!!!!

I’ll try to keep this one brief since most of the day was pretty similar to the previous 3.

I’d say the only thing that was different was that everything was MUCH LOUDER and even harder to try and get some sleep.

Funny story… After spending lots of down time journaling, praying, just meditating on everything that I’ve learned from this experience so far, I went up to the Sanctuary, lay down in the back pew and tried to get some sleep, earphones in to drown out any other sounds. Some of the media girls were already there, as was Funfun so I think they slept, but during a break within songs, the conversation of the workshop going on caught my attention for some reason.

I think it was about how to respond to those tough questions that friends have probably asked you because you’re a Christian.

Q: What do you say to someone who’s gay?
A: Just say “Hi!” God calls us to love unconditionally 😀

Q: Is God real?
A: This question took up a lot of time as you can imagine, and we got a very sidetracked but the speaker managed to bring it all back. He just did a quick Christianity vs. Evolution because there was an entire workshop on that question happening in another room. But in a nutshell, and I agree with this for now, that according to the Theory of Evolution, every human being alive, every newborn baby is a mistake, a sum of mistakes over time. No one is supposed to be here, we’re all here by accident. And because we’re here by accident, there’s no purpose in life. Without a purpose in life, without a God that will judge us at the end of our life, we are free to do WHATEVER WE WANT. Go ahead, drop school, go do some fun crimes, if you die, so what? You weren’t supposed to be here anyway. With evolution, it is implied that morals and ethics are as worthless as the bubbles in your coke: it’s just chemistry.

Obviously there’s still an enormous amount of debate going on, but this question of where we came from has been asked since the beginning of history, and whether the Earth is thousands or millions of years, there’s still no way for us to be 100% sure of what happened in the past. And while there is “evidence” you can often use the same evidence to prove opposite points, which just keeps us chasing our tails and causing more division and more resentment.

ANYWAY.

I had to go downstairs and meet up with everyone so I couldn’t stay for the whole workshop.

So that morning, Christine did a sermon on the need for continual cleansing.

Jesus took on the task of a lowly servant and washed the disciples’ feet, to symbolize the spiritual cleansing. We are declared righteous, saved, sanctified in Jesus Christ.

If 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

We CAN’T claim to be sinless. We need to be cleansed, like taking a “spiritual shower” of love and grace. We are NOT cleansed by DOING things, although we do strive on towards the goal and prize of salvation. We are cleansed by repenting, admitting that we are dirty and broken, as well as accepting Christ’s forgiveness. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Phillippians 3:12-14

We need to confess our sins to one another… keep each other ACCOUNTABLE to stop sinning. Just because we are sinful by nature, does not make it an excuse to say, “I can’t help myself”. It’s still possible to sin less.

We’ve all sinned and done something crazy/stupid, so no one can judge, no on evan blame another for something. From the judgmental “woooooooooowww” to “hey… you know what? I’ve done that too.”

In confessing, your deep, dark, secret sin that only you know, that sin is laid down into the light and CLEANSED.

Though our sin is like scarlett, Jesus washes it til it’s white as snow.

We need to repent DAILY and cleanse DAILY.

So how is cleansing good news? I love this analogy she made:
It’s like going to a doctor and you get diagnosed with cancer. It’s good that it was found, since it was always there. Then, say the cancer is CURABLE. Removable, whatever.

That is good news!

The fact that you were dying, suffering, but that you have a chance to live on!

Going back to that song, Before the Throne of God Above

Because a sinless saviour died
My sinful sound is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me(emphasis mine)

In our little corner outside the Sanctuary, Planning Committee put up encouragement verses to each team, including the speakers.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:22-25

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ… We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:6, 8-10

So I mentioned that each of us on the team had some down time to just reflect on the past 3 days and everything that’s happened so here’s a bit of what I wrote…

Our God is able, He has done GREAT things. It’s the last day of TC and I haven’t REALLY been convicted of anything. I feel like, up ’til now, I haven’t taken anything away except for just having fun. but as I sit here, sink down under the weight of… I don’t even know, I feel Him. I hear Him. Like a gentle whisper in my heart, a silent embrace of love around my soul. MY GOD IS ALIVE!!

I won’t worry about the hundred tomorrows, I’ll trust in what You say.

God, you are so amazing, that you can use so many writings to speak to me, INCLUDING my own. Lord, I pray for your wisdom, for your comfort, and for your glory Lord. On the last day of TC, tonight, be with us all in your house. Make your presence INCREDIBLY LOUD to us so that more might come to you, might be freed… Cleanse me Lord, I want to be with you. I feel bad that I’m always asking, asking, asking, and even though you don’t five all the time, when you give, you deliver and you make it the best there is. So thank you 😀 Thank you for being who You are and always being by my side. I will seek you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways, and step by step you’ll lead me and I will follow you all of my days…

In your glorious name,
Amen.

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TCWT12 – Day 3: Seniors I

Re-post. Part 4 of 5


Seniors.

Not old people… well… oldER people… grade 10-12s!!!

Rinse, wash and repeat.

For the Senior Conference it was basically the same thing, except we had A LOT more time on our hands because we weren’t assigned to teams.

A few of us tried to get some sleep, but I certainly didn’t succeed. Raph was doing homework and Christine and Charis were doing some outstanding legit art, so I did the iPod on face thing 😛 I think it kinda annoyed people though so they gave me earphones LOL.

Haha everyone was taking the smack down pretty seriously, so after nap time, we started singing our rep in our room. Some of us went to workshops, others went to learn their parts on their own and then joined us all in B26.

I took a break and hang out with media for a bit with Raph. We chilled, I got to know some of them a bit better, until the rest of us next door started singing REALLY loud with harmonies and all (it was pretty darn awesome) so we all migrated again. We set up chairs in a circle, and we just worshipped. Eliot came in at some point and fixed us, Michelle SR did too 😀

Next thing we knew, it was 2 hours later, and media had to go for their rehearsal. We followed them (heehee) and watched them rehearse, and experience first hand what El and Lorr were talking about when they talked about media in our smack down.

Us music kids got to participate in their piece called MOBS to kind of fill in their mob and have more than just 10 people. It was… interesting… to be an angry member wanting to destroy God. It was REALLY hard not to laugh, but again, their coach James talked to us about the striving for excellence, and it was very beneficial observing media and how they work.

Maybe it’s because we can get away with blips in music that we’re very laid back and not a very serious bunch, but watching them and their “no tolerance for mistakes” was incredibly inspiring 😀

Christine Lee, the speaker for the Seniors was always a joy to be around, but to be honest, I was so tired I couldn’t really concentrate on the sermons… SO GOOD THING I TOOK NOTES hehe 😛 (from the powerpoint)

Everyone struggles with sin, and sometimes it’s the same sin from youth to maturity. What’s often the most personal is the most universal… you’d be surprised how many people can relate to your story 😀

Alright, sin. So what? Why do we need to be spiritually cleansed?
1. The peace in your heart (1 Peter 1:24)
2. Confidence in life (Jeremiah 29:11)
3. Victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:57)
4. Wisdom of the Word
5. Eternal Life <- comes only through this cleansing

^Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere (Psalm 84:10)

But above all, here are the MAJOR reasons for our continual need for spiritual cleansing:
1. The Glory of God
-Psalm 19:1
-Isaiah 43:6-7

2. ONLY GOD SATISFIES
-Psalm 17:15

Hmmm…

God you are amazing… beyond description, there isn’t a word that best describes you in your entirety, in your perfect love, and holy presence.

At the beginning of each conference they played a call of worship video. It’s amazing how simple words, and soft music could do so much. I know for me both times I watched it, I couldn’t help but take slow deep breaths and just calm my heart, close my eyes, and smile…

I don’t remember the words exactly, and I hope it goes on YouTube, though I doubt it, but I wrote down my thoughts in my journal as it was playing.

YOU ARE HERE.

TCWT12 – Day 2: Juniors II

Re-post. Part 3 of 5.


ALRIGHT.

So after a long and tangent full debrief at Lorr’s (and more “Ryan/Thew moments” <- cheese, who knew these two quiet kids could be so funny?!) we went to bed, and some of us skipped on showering ’cause we’re cool, efficient, and eco-friendly like that.

The rest of the day, schedule-wise anyway was pretty much a repeat. With the exception of course that this was the junior’s last day of the conference and they were much more excited and into the games and open to sharing during interactions and lunch. Music-wise, both sessions were MUCH better but there was still so much to do… more about that later 😛

Ho-ming’s sermons were really good that day, although I think I connected with day 1 stuff more. Hence, it’s kinda fuzzy already and I don’t want to accidentally twist what he was saying. I think the evening sermon was about the Gospel though 🙂

Throughout the day we got to watch media rehearse a bit, which was REALLY awesome.

One of my favourite pieces that they did was Jar of Hearts. It was more of a dance, but the stage presence was incredible, personifying how we’re not strong enough. How sin just plays with us, and we waste our time trying to please it, trying to please our selfish desires. How also, that by Christ’s strength and purification sin is also conquerable 🙂

Heartbeat – Sure, we go to church every Sunday, we read the bible every night, say a quick “Jesus, thank you for the food, in your name we pray, Amen” before eating, but… what does it all mean? What is it all for ESPECIALLY if we’re cheating in school, we’re having unhealthy relationships, being disrespectful to our parents, and just not following Christ’s commands in general? What is it all for if you’re only a Christian on Sundays and Fridays? Our spirit, just like the body needs healthy food, or else it will die, your heart beating at a slower and quieter pulse every time we sin, bringing us closer and closer to a spiritual death. The only way to be revived is to be cleansed in God’s love and grace 🙂

Another piece, that might have been during Day 1, but I forgot to mention was Charcoal. It’s so easy for us to be tainted with sin, and yet it always happens so subtly. Gradually, we tarnish ourselves with selfish and evil desires, and we don’t even realize until we are downright filthy, and the only way to be white as snow once again, is through the Lamb who is worthy to be slain for our sake, Jesus Christ.

They also showed a video that they had filmed earlier (NEAR MY SCHOOL!! HAHA) called CRASH. It’s really hard sometimes to believe in a God when life comes crashing down and explodes in your face. It’s especially hard when, if you are finding it hard to believe in God, to see Christians always so happy and smiling when life explodes in their face. In this video, Matt rediscovers God’s peace and grace when Jesse is called home in a car accident through a letter he wrote to Matt just before he “died”. (Hopefully this goes up on YouTube, so I can post it… and everyone’s fine btw… just thought I’d put that.)

Another one of my favourites, which is already posted in the TC VIDEOS post, is called Time, reminding us of the importance of urgency to spread the Gospel, and to be ready for Christ’s return. (GO WATCH IT BELOW!)

This was actually taken during the Senior Conference, but it’s the same skit 😛

Wow so much happened, I totally forgot to mention the amazing opening they did that morning (or maybe the morning of day 1. GAHH!!)

Masters – We must keep watch and be diligent in seeking God DAILY and not be pulled away from God by our own selfish desires and by Satan’s lies.

This is all in terrible chronological order, but I guess my brain’s a little scattered at the moment 😛

So earlier in the day, we got a smack down from our coaches… haha the “talk before the big game”. It felt really weird, and not at all offending surprisingly, to finally get down to business and put the fooling around far aside for a little while. It was nice in a way (again, surprisingly) to hear all the things that we did wrong, and all the things that those mistakes might have affected. There was also a lot of alluding to media and their excellence on stage, and our lack thereof. Looking back, it should’ve hurt, but it didn’t… like, at all. I don’t know, I guess I just kind of went, OK. Let’s do this. I spent the next while before going on stage solidifying harmonies and lyrics, lying down with my iPod on my face (I didn’t bring my earphones ok! The speakers are really low on the iPod too 😦 ). On top of the smack down though, just before we went on stage, they also reminded us to just WORSHIP. We’ve got this, we rehearsed it 50 thousand times, just gotta get our heads in the game and not worry about the music… worry about your hearts. Are you POURING your heart and soul out to God? This was the Juniors’ last night of the Conference for the year, gotta make it one they’ll remember with God.

All in all, the smack down helped A LOT, and definitely added to the experience. As always there are things that could’ve gone better, but the response we got was amazing. At Ho-ming’s altar call, I had never seen so many people come up and praying and crying and worshipping. About half if not more came up praise God!!

We did a quick send off and once we kicked 600 kids out, we promptly made our way to Lorr’s house, prepping to do it ALL over again (rinse, wash, and repeat) for the Seniors, only better — I mean…

😀

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TCWT12 – Day 1: Juniors I

Re-post. Part 2 of 5. Recap vid here:


I think after getting settled and showering and all that, we (well the girls anyway) went to bed at around 2 am. Next thing we know, it’s 4 hours earlier… RISE AND SHINE!!! Some of us were up before then to shower… SO MANY OF US!!

Morning waking up things, breakfast (waffles and pop tarts :D) and away we went to RH3C. After a Tim’s run of course 🙂 mmm French Vanilla…

On a side note, I later discovered the warming but refreshing peppermint tea. MY NEW TIM’S DEFAULT DRINK!

But yeah…

7:30 ish, we’re in the sanctuary setting up, sound checking, rehearsing for our FIRST SET OF THE CONFERENCE :O

When we were done we went downstairs had a mini debrief, calmed the few nerves we had and did Holy tingz 😛 Oh and we drank our coffee 😀
Morning session went really smoothly, everyone was really excited and we stopped worrying about the music so much and just worshipped 🙂 Ho-ming had a great message about idols and how we’re very protective of them in the treasure chest of our hearts. So many times we go to these empty wells for satisfaction, when God is there, and He’s ALL we need.
Media has been blessed yet again with so much talent and creativity. The skits and monologues this year were outstanding! The opening of course was our flashmob which was pretty fun. One of the other ones they did made you think a bit about why you’re at TC. For the hype? Your friends? Your parents signed you up and forced you to go? Or for God? Another skit they did that morning was called Vending Machine talking about the different gifts God has given us. Oh and they also did the rules video which was really funny 😛 [to be posted later]
For junior we were assigned teams, so we went to our first interaction after that. (TEAM CORE!!!) My captains, Josh and Rebecca were awesome, as well as John and Kat our coaches. A lot of the other kids on my team were quiet ’cause they were younger and for some this was their first time at TC. We did the introductions and learned the team cheer which was actually really cool 🙂 Soon it was time for lunch (yay subs!) so we headed upstairs, got a little bit rowdy (R-O-W… D-Y!) and ate. Near the end J-To did one of his spoken words which was really cool to watch. I forget now unfortunately what it was about 😦
After lunch was workshops. I forgot which one I had signed up for, so I just picked one and stayed there: Mormons and Bubble Tea. There was no bubble tea, but I did learn a bit about Mormons, their theology, the differences between it and Christianity even though they use the same terms, and what to do if you encounter a mormon. There were also some things that we can learn from mormons like their dedication and commitment and guarding their innocence. They spend 2 years doing missions work after high school before going to university. If Christians did that… how far would God’s kingdom be furthered? Also during those 2 years, they study their scripture every. single. day. Again, if Christians did that… would not our abilities to back up what we say be SO MUCH stronger?? They also wear “magic underwear” to not be revealing and to guard their innocence. While we don’t have to wear the thing, we can still be conscious of what we wear, the brands, the messages, the cut, etc. Because ultimately, people watch us and use us as examples. If Christians are wearing their jeans low or loose/low v-necks, definitely sends the wrong message. I think there were 8 things to do if you encountered a mormon, and I don’t remember them all, but the two that stuck out to me was: 1. Know your Bible and 2. Love them unconditionally.
Next was INTERACTION 2. Bible study on Hosea 🙂 [Hosea, Hosea, your wife was such a playa] ANYWAYS…
Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5
As described in the passage, this whole situation represented the sins of Israel. Gomer was married to Hosea but was a prostitute, loving other men. Israel was God’s chosen people, but they turned from Him and worshipped idols. Most people would say that Hosea had the right to be mad, and in the same way, God was mad. But in His love and mercy, He would reconcile the Israelites to Him and forgive them. So how have we cheated on God?
I left the Bible Study a bit early to go to the sanctuary to rehearse for the evening session… MY FIRST SET OF THE CONFERENCE!!!

We had dinner and soon we were up on stage!

The set went well, always things to improve, but I just sang for God. It was a little weird at first ’cause this was the icebreaker (haha testing the waters) but ultimately God was glorified 😀

Media did their pieces, one was called the Proposal which captivated the Hosea story using a conversation between bride and groom. Even though the bride was totally undeserving of the groom’s love, and even though it broke the groom’s heart to see her in such a state, he loved her all the same with all his heart. (Great skit Matt and Grace!)

One of my favourite pieces of the conference was called Screwtapes where people came before a religious looking guy, calling him Lord, with prayers. The one they called Lord used scripture to comfort them and teach them or condemn them, but taking it grotesquely out of context and taking love out of the equation. Finally when one of the girls, Agnes, came up and repented, wanting to change, the man said nothing, only shifting in his seat. Again, he used scripture to send her away. When she ran, he got up and turned to show his face. “Surely you mustn’t be surprised. For even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.”

Here’s an interesting pic during dinner after Jesse got his makeup on for that piece. Plus Gabe with his troll face 😀
Ho-ming’s next sermon was on the 3 ways we take towards God. Every human being has used at least one of these ways.
1. The RELIGIOUS way:
This is the way that some people take, doing things to get to God. Praying more, serving more, doing whatever it is to climb that ladder to get to God.
2. The REBELLIOUS way:
Saying no. My life is only controlled by me, myself, or I. I make my own rules, I do whatever I want, I will do it MY way, because only I know what’s best. I don’t need God.
It’s actually BOTH ways that don’t work. The first way, is like the Pharisees… all show no substance. You do all these things, climb the ladder, but what we don’t realize is that we fall short of God’s glory EVERY SINGLE TIME. No matter what we do can save us, because salvation comes not from works alone. The rebellious way is simply rejecting God, going the TOTAL opposite direction, which usually lands you in tons of trouble anyway.
Gabe (not the one in the picture) also known as Floodgates I think, shared his testimony how he was a Sunday Christian. Raised in a Christian home, but only good on Sundays. The rest of the week, he did his own thing getting into tons of trouble with the law, at home, at school, struggling with his identity, following the crowd, when he decided to find his identity in Jesus Christ. His heart was changed so radically that people noticed right away before even talking to him. Today, his passion to serve is pretty amazing to see and also how far someone can come with God’s strength.
Which brings us to the third way.
3. REDEMPTION
God didn’t make us into human doings, but human beings. We can’t do anything to get to God because of sin. Even if we climbed that ladder, it wouldn’t get us anywhere. No, the only way to God is by being redeemed, cleansed of the sin that separates us from God, through Jesus Christ. How? By admitting that you can’t do it alone, repenting, by accepting that you deserve death in Hell but Christ took your place and punishment and rose from the grave out of His undying LOVE for you. On Sunday we sang an old song during worship called Before the Throne of God Above, and the whole song I think captures what Christ has done for us, but this one part sticks out the most to me:
Because a sinless saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
We went a little behind schedule (ermm half an hour… :/) but finally we went home debriefed, laughed A LOT and got side tracked but just talked about the stuff we’d learned, the things we need to improve on musically, etc. I think we went to bed at around… 1 ish? Anyway… Teen’s Conference Junior Day 1 😀
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