Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where HAVE you been?!

Dear Tom,

We couldn't help but notice you've kind of stopped blogging recently! We think that's lame.

Said no one ever.

Hey y'all! July is almost over and I've posted exactly one time this month. Things have just been really crazy and busy and overwhelming, and it doesn't look like that's going to stop anytime soon.

So this is my way of saying I'm probably not going to be very consistent until September. The rest of the Summer promises to be really ridiculous and I just don't know what that will mean for this blog, haha.

For the time being (and beyond) you can continue to enjoy weekly videos by me and Tim Blais by checking out (and subscribing!) to our YouTube channel!

Seacrest out!

Monday, July 02, 2012

TV, Music and Gym Memberships

Sometimes, I feel like it's necessary to just write about the daily goings-on of my life.

This morning, I woke up with one thing planned: To shoot a solo video for Cabin 9. This week, Timblais and I didn't have time to meet up and do our usual duet cover video stuff, so we decided we would shoot two separate videos this week and each get our brief moments in the spotlight. Tim's video, a cover of his brother's semi-famous band's new hit single, is super fancy and really amazing! My video, lacking the fantastic quality of the equipment we usually use, is less exciting. But it's an original song! So that's kind of cool. It's a work very much in progress and it's nowhere near completion but it's a start, and sharing it has given me the opportunity to get some feedback that will, hopefully, help me round it out a bit more and ultimately make it a lot better by the time I get around to doing a proper recording.

Anyways, all I had planned to do today was shoot a video and watch some TV. This past weekend I picked up all three seasons of Arrested Development and a box set of the complete series of Reboot. Super exciting, getting to watch through these two amazing series again. So I thought today I would just shoot the video and burn through a couple of DVDs, maybe do some cooking, the usual relaxed Monday. But then a friend of mine called me up and suggested we go down to the local YMCA and sign up for summer memberships.

Now, I am not really the most physical guy. I don't bike. I don't hike. I don't swim. I don't jog. I don't really exercise at all, apart from phys ed courses and all the walking that inevitably comes from living in a big city and not riding a bike or owning a car. So the idea of signing up for a gym was actually kind of appealing for me! I figured, if I'm going to pay for a membership to a gym close enough to my house that I can go when I have nothing better to do, I might actually make an effort to get in shape, because I'll want my money's worth! So I'm pretty excited about that. I'm going to make an effort to go for at least an hour each week, but I think there will be a lot of weeks where I'm able to do way more than that, so hopefully I will actually do so!

I'm really tired right now. It's been one of those days where I'm super exhausted for no good reason. Maybe it's the weekend catching up on me, but I'm not sure. What I do know is that I'm getting up at 6 tomorrow to take an early trip to the post office (yay long weekends..) so I'm calling it a night.



Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Post on Carl's Blog: Starting Over

Hey hey!

This week, I wrote a guest post for my buddy Carl Jones! It was the first in a series called "If I Was Starting Over in Youth Ministry"

You should go check it out, and read the rest of his guest posts from this week!

You can find that post right here!


Friday, June 29, 2012

I Used to Know Somebody

I've always found it kind of interesting how people can just walk away from everything and everyone they know and love. Weather for practical reasons like a move, or for more emotional, personal reasons, people come and go. I find it strange, though, that some people are able to do this without any hesitation, to just pack up and leave everything behind.

What I find even more interesting is that even without any intentionality, it seems that people walk in and out of our lives all the time. Sometimes they do so without leaving much of an impression, but other times they grow to be big parts of our lives and still manage to disappear eventually.

This week I've really been thinking about the people in my life who, for one reason or anything, aren't really around any more. I suppose when you're involved in any kind of student ministry, it goes without saying that you won't be around that group forever- young people move on eventually and whether it's a job or university in another city or just circumstance, they drift apart, at least physically. I think there's something really beautiful, though, about being able to maintain a relationship with the people you leave behind, even if that's just sending letters or emails, or a Skype call here and there.

In God's Kingdom, we are one body together with all his people, and that calls for some kind of communication at least! I think that's what I love so much about social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter- their ability to act as a sort of virtual carrier pigeon between friends and family make it so much easier for us to stay together when we're apart.

That being said, here's a shout-out to all of you who read this blog who I don't see on a daily basis! Thanks for doing your part to keep in touch with what's going on in my life! I would love to hear about yours!

And I'll leave you with that, a song about the bitter sting of broken and lost relationships, to encourage you not to leave anyone behind ;)


Friday, June 22, 2012

I Won't Give Up

Hey everyone!

So, for those of you who follow this blog regularly, you probably know that I've been looking into moving out this Summer and living in intentional Christian community with a couple of the other leaders from Emmaus Youth Group. You probably also know that stuff has been kind of up in the air with all of that for the last little while. Well, over the weekend, things became a little more clear (and a little more confusing, all at the same time!)

Basically, we had gotten super close to signing a lease on a really nice apartment in Verdun, but the landlady required our parents cosigning the lease because we're students. I thought we had things sorted out, but then one of my potential roommates decided to back out at the last minute, and now I am out of options. The other roommate would have been one of the female leaders, and while I don't think there's anything wrong with mixed gender housing situations if it's a group of at least 3 people, I do think one-on-one would be really difficult to pull off and probably seen as inappropriate. So in the end I have no roommate lined up for September.

Due to extreme circumstances, I can't stay "home" beyond the Summer either. But I can't rent an apartment on my own, and there's no options as far as roommates are concerned. So it looks like my best option will be what I've decided to call "Functional Homelessness"- I'll technically have no home address, with my mail being sent probably to the church office or something, and I'll be couch-surfing at various homes for an undetermined amount of time until I can find a roommate with rich parents who are willing to co-sign the lease. (This is of course assuming I don't somehow find a place I can rent all by myself that's totally perfect and doesn't require a co-signing parent)

I am so blessed to have already had a couple of offers from people. I will of course keep you all posted as things come up, and please continue to pray for the situation "at home"- that there would be peace in my parents' hearts and that they would come to know the Lord in a cool and personal way.

All that being said, I'm super excited to also be able to share with you this week's new Cabin 9 video! Hit subscribe, like it, follow us on twitter @cabin9music, and feel free to leave requests/recommendations in the comments!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sorry about inactivity (again)

Hey gang,

Here's another one of those posts where I apologize for falling off the radar for a little while and explain what's been going on to keep me so occupied..

I'm currently looking for an apartment to move into with Simon and Ali, two of the other leaders of Emmaus Youth Group. It's proven to be an interesting experience and we thought we were getting super close with this one place, but now we're not so sure anymore, and we're still hunting. The past couple of weeks have been spent meeting with the current tenants, and the landlady, convincing parents to co-sign leases, and so forth. A seemingly fruitless labor, for the time being.

That, coupled with intense amounts of work at Hazelaid and tons of planning for the last couple weeks of youth group, my life has been kind of hectic and all over the place.

Expect a new Cabin 9 video some time next week though! And hopefully I will have time to write a bit more once planning for our Summer Retreat is through :)



Thursday, June 07, 2012

Cabin 9- Good Riddance

Hey everyone!

Cabin 9 is a two-man act starring myself and the amazingly talented Tim Blais! We just started a Youtube channel, where we will hopefully a video every week or two, with songs and whatnot. Also we have fake voices! It's great! Anyways, without further ado, I present to you Cabin 9!

I figured out how to embed the video! Yay! I'd love to set up some way of having this page just link straight to each new video, but I'm dumb when it comes to these things, so I'll probably just keep doing this! Yay!

(and in case you can't see the embedding video, here's the URL)

Hit favorite, like it, share it, whatever! There's more to come and it will (hopefully) get even better over time!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

I'll be back soon, I promise

Hey internet!

I have not forgotten about you! I know I usually try to crank something out every Monday, but I have been super busy and didn't get a chance yesterday. I did, however, prepare something kinda fun last night that I'll post here fairly soon, so keep your eyes open for that! Until then, you should read some of my archives, there's some awesome stuff in there!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Do ALL the jobs!

So, I am kind of known around here as the guy who works all the jobs. People just know and understand that I have a lot of different jobs. I wear a lot of different hats. I have my foot in a lot of pools. You know what I mean.

Poor students tend to take what we can get. And poor, anglophone students who don't even have a CV/resume really can't afford to be picky. And sometimes, a rare few of us get super lucky, and people just offer us tons of jobs all the time! You can blame good contacts, charming personality, determination, but I really think it's just God watching out of me!

So, with all these jobs and the slight inconsistency that comes from them, people are regularly asking me, "Tom, what jobs are you working these days?"

A fun question because people are usually surprised when I tell them I'm sort of working five jobs at once. So, I thought, might be fun to write about that tonight!

1. Obviously, the job that I take the most seriously, that most-closely defines me and whatnot, is youth ministry. I am currently employed by Emmaus Anglican Church as Youth Co-Coordinator. This job is super fantastic and brings me so much joy. It's such a blessing getting to work with such amazing kids.

2. Churches seem to like to hire me- our sister Church, St Stephen's Anglican Church, which is conveniently where we host our Youth Group on Friday nights, hired me in November of last year as part-time cleaning staff!

3. Speaking of cleaning jobs, I work verrrry part time for a carpet-cleaning company called Braxon! This job is pretty irregular as I only get hours when there are jobs that work with the rest of my schedule. So a lot of weeks I don't get any, but sometimes I get tons.

4. And while we're talking about inconsistency and minimalistic hours, I am also a private tutor!

5. Last, but definitely not least, I just recently started a job at Hazelaid, a small Montreal-based company that's growing! We sell hazelwood and amber jewelry, as well as other natural medicinal products. Definitely check them out! :)

So that's that! A decent log of my current employment status, haha. I think it's a lot of fun having such a diverse background of job experience, and for the time being, it's a great way to make a living! Consistency would be nice, but I'm thankful that God continues to faithfully provide for me in His own interesting ways! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5 Things I Love About My Youth Leadership Team

Behind every youth pastor, there's a team of awesome volunteers (and sometimes co-coordinators!) who help make things even more amazing! Tonight's new post is a little reflection about the qualities I am thankful for in my youth ministry team! Consider it a bit of a shout-out, but also think of this post as a list of things I think are super important to have as a part of any successful youth ministry team!

My amazing 2011-2012 Emmaus Youth Group leadership team! (From left to right) Laura Glendenning, myself, Angela Henderson, Alicia Fortier, Simon Pelletier, Laura Griffin. Gaby Szabo in absentia. Photo courtesy of Jillian Agustin

I have been so blessed this year with an amazingly wonderful team! I get the infinite pleasure of working alongside some of the lovely people ever, who are all my best friends! We have really connected and work really well together, and everyone is super dedicated to our ministry. Couldn't do it without you guys!

That brings me to #1! A youth ministry team should be tight! If there's no chemistry between the leaders, not only will things flow less smoothly, but the teens will really be able to tell and there will be a disconnect. If the leaders don't love eachother, how can they really encourage the teens to love one another and effectively build community with them?

When our leaders get together, we have tons of amazing conversations, lots of ridiculous rabbit trails and things always diverge into an onslaught of raucous laughter. At the same time, when things get serious, we are able to have a really great discussion and, although we can get a little ridiculous and goofy at times, we always manage to say everything that needs to be said. And that's #2 for me! A leadership team needs to be able to communicate with eachother about serious things and come to helpful conclusions but also be able to enjoy eachother's company and laugh together.

#3- the better the individual leaders' relationships with God are, the greater overall quality during those discussions and in the teachings each week. If you have a team of leaders who at least pursue deeper relationships with God, regardless of where everyone is at, there is an attitude of commitment to that and that really shows.

On the topic of attitude, #4! Youth leaders should be committed and have a good attitude about that! They should *want* to come in on Friday nights. If your volunteers feel like they're being forced to show up to meetings, they clearly aren't volunteering and shouldn't bother coming. We don't want lukewarm people in ministry, we want people who are passionate and excited about doing God's work and being a part of the team!

And that's #5- a team should be just that- a team! I can't have volunteers on my team who are insubordinate and argue with myself and Angela. If we're completely off base with something, it's definitely respectable to call us out on that. It's a different story, however, when a volunteer feels the need to take charge of the lesson and lead it in a completely inappropriate direction, and won't listen when we ask them to back down. We have had issues with this kind of thing in the past, but I am thankful that our current team are all really lovely and able to feel like part of the team without overstepping boundaries.

My team has been so incredibly faithful, and it's really cool watching them all grow together! It's been such a blessing working with a group so dedicated and amazing, and I look forward to many Friday nights to come with my fantastic youth ministry team.

Monday, May 14, 2012

... And We're Back!

So at the beginning of this month, I wrote a post about my new living situation, and how excited I was to be living in community with a few of the guys from Emmaus. It was a pretty wild week adjusting to that, but right when I did start to feel at home in the Point-St-Charles apartment, I felt God calling me back to my parents' house. So I popped in for a couple of nights over the weekend, which was convenient anyways because their house is closer to the church, and while I was there, I prayed about my whole situation.

I prayed that God would give me some direction about my living situation, and, long story short, I really clearly felt him telling me to stay at my parents' house! This was kind of distressing because I had just settled in, but it was really clear to me that I needed to come home and work on my relationship with my parents before trying to move out again.

So I'm back, living in NDG with them, which I hope will be exciting and good for my relationship with them.

Monday Morning Mentions!

Hey everyone,

I'll (hopefully) find time to write a little more in terms of actual content later today, but for the time being, I thought I'd do another shout-out post!

A little while ago, Angela Henderson, the co-coordinator of Emmaus Youth Group, started up a blog where she writes about the things that are on her heart and on her mind- and you can find a link to that blog right here!

Ange has been with our group for about two years now, and makes an amazing addition to our team!

Also, she's a great cook! Here's her serving up her awesome homemade chili at last year's Winter Retreat! (What is up with my moustache.. that was a bad idea...)

The next shout-out is for "Lamb", who, if you have ever attended Crosstalk Ministries Day Camps here in Montreal, needs no introduction. For those of you who haven't, go check out this blog!

And last, you should follow Simon Pelletier, one of the other leaders from Emmaus Youth Group, on Twitter @hipster_moose! At the time of my writing this post he hasn't actually tweeted anything yet (shame shame) but he assures me he will eventually!

Aaaand that's all for now, because I am going to watch a bit of TV then head out for lunch with an old friend.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More Dawson Videos

Hey everyone,

Dorry for the lack of post yesterday, things have been busy! Tonight I have a special treat, a few links to some videos from a group vocal performance I took part in last semester at Dawson College!

"For Emma" - Bon Iver

"Firework" - Katy Perry

"Sex on Fire" - Kings of Leon

Thursday, May 03, 2012


So I've been living in the my new apartment for a couple of days now, and I am quickly realizing that this is going to be an incredibly different experience from what I imagined and expected.

When I moved in, I did so expecting two things:

The first was that I would feel more independent and get a taste of how different life is when you have to start paying for things and doing your own cooking and cleaning and such.

The second was that, because I'd be living in intentional Christian community, I would spend heaps of time talking and praying with my roommates and doing lots of cool stuff with them.

So far, this has not really been the case.

Half of the other people who are supposed to be living here right now are away for a week at MarkEast, a weeklong intensive study of the gospel of Mark, out in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia or something (maritime provinces, am I right?) Because of this, things have been fairly quiet here the last couple of days. I am not sure if I like quiet particularly much. There's been fairly minimal activity going on since they left, with the few of us who are leftover mostly out of the house and doing work, so it's felt a little lonely. I know this will change when everyone gets back, and I actually just had a really lovely conversation with one of the guys I live with, but it was pretty discouraging this morning when I slept through morning prayer and woke up to an empty house.

I guess all this being said I would really appreciate prayer as I continue to get used to things here! Aaand I will try to post again very soon!

Father, give me strength to adjust to my new situation and help me feel at home even in the quietest moments. Help me to not take those moments for granted, but rather use them to spend time with You.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Living in Community

Hey everyone!

So, tonight I am sleeping in my own apartment for the first time ever!- sort of!

For the months of May and June I will be living in intentional Christian community with a bunch of really cool people from Emmaus Anglican Church! For the last two years, a group of about six young adults from our congregation have been living together in community in Pointe St-Charles, a poorer area of Montreal, with the goal of growing together in their faith and reaching out to the people in that neighborhood. I am super excited to be living with them for the next two months as a member of their community!

I don't have a whole lot to say right now, but I felt I should keep in tradition and write something on a Monday night, and figured this was as good a thing to write about as any! So, I will end this here for now but you can rest assured that as I adjust to the madness of morning prayers and community dinners and independence from my parents I will have lots of things to talk about and lots of prayers to request!

For those of you who feel so inclined, here is how you can pray for me this week:
- Pray that I can easily make the switch between living at home with my parents and living at home with my friends
- Pray that I can adjust to the new lifestyle that comes with living on my own
- Pray that I am able to build tighter relationships with the people I'm living with
- Pray especially that God uses this to stretch me and bring me closer to Him!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Touch the Leper

I've been thinking a lot recently about social justice- oppressed people groups, equality, and all that jazz. It occurs to me that, as a Christian, it's my duty to show love to people, especially people who are marginalized and really need it.

This post is inspired at least a little by conversations I've had over the last few days, and by Keith Ganzer's sermon preached this morning at Emmaus Anglican Church.

In Jesus' day, people with leprosy had it really rough. They were outcast from society because of their condition- not only because it was contagious, but also because they believed it was caused by their sins. If you had leprosy, you had to walk around shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" so that people would know to keep their distance. You were literally as far removed and ostracised as you possibly could be.

When I try to think about what the modern equivalent of a leper would be- that is, a people group that is marginalized and gets a lot of hate- the first groups that come to mind are the homeless and the gay community. Too many people in the world have negative attitudes toward homeless people, and homosexuals get treated poorly all over the world (granted, less in recent years than before, but still more than they should)

Speaking on a more confessional, personal level, I think I've definitely been guilty of not showing enough love to these two groups- and maybe that's why I'm focusing on them tonight. I've always claimed to have compassion for the homeless, and yet I never make any effort to make them feel loved. I've always claimed to love homosexuals (because their sin is really no worse than mine) but I've never made an effort to reach out to them or support them in any way. I've been pretty lousy at showing love to these two groups, and Christ's example shows us that we need to reach out to the world's pariahs.

In Luke 5:13, Jesus "reaches out and touches" a man "full of leprosy" and heals him. Keith pointed out this morning that Jesus really didn't need to touch the leper to heal him. There's instances where He simply says the word and people are healed and get up and walk. Jesus touches the leper to show compassion and love to this poor outcast. He doesn't just heal the leper- he forgives him, and shows that by His actions! Similarly, we as Christians need to reach out and touch the marginalized people in our society!

In May and June, I will be living in community with a few other members of Emmaus Anglican Church- one of whom is currently homeless, and is super excited to be moving into an apartment with Christian roommates who can help support him in prayer and help him get back on track with things! This guy is super cool, and we've had a lot of good conversations, and yet I know that in my heart there's still some kind of barrier there, so I am excited to see how God uses this to grow me in my ability to feel compassion to people who are different from me, and to reach out to them in love!

All this being said, I'm pretty tired and have to be functional tomorrow- I am taking a three day trip to Ottawa this week, and have to cram 5 days of work into 2 days. Should be fun.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Post-Easter Catching Up

Hey everyone!

Sorry it's been such a long time since my last post. Easter is always the busiest season of the year for me because of all the church services and family get-togethers and whatnot. I was going to do another post today about my daily Bible readings but I have actually fallen behind a fair bit- I am still on April 1st! So that will be my goal for this week, to catch up on two weeks' worth of readings.

In this pascal season of the church calendar, we are reminded of what is, essentially, the formative story of our faith- that is, Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, and the weight of sin that is lifted off of us through that. There's heaps of church services full of rich liturgy and lots of Scripture, and it's just such a beautiful time of year, weather-wise as well! We've had sun and mild temperatures here in Montreal for the last couple of weeks, and that is just excellent.

This year, pastor Keith decided to plan a Maundy Thursday service at Emmaus. I had never even heard of Maundy Thursday, let alone gone to a service for one, so I didn't really know what to expect. But he asked me to lead the music, so I got to take a look at the liturgy in advance and that gave me a better idea. It's a pretty neat service actually- it basically focuses on the Last Supper and has a sort of joyous but sombre feel to it, if that makes sense? We had the privilege of having Bishop-moderator Don Harvey join us for this service to help Keith give communion to the congregation.

The next day, for Good Friday, Emmaus members were encouraged to drive out to Lennoxville for a joint service with a new ANiC congregation there. So a bunch of the young adults from our church hopped in a van together and made a party out of it. One of our good friends is living out there to study at Champlain College on the Bishop's U campus, so we picked her up after the service and brought her home to surprise her family.

Saturday night, after a long evening of dinner and walking around, my girlfriend and I joined a bunch of our friends at the Newman Centre, a catholic church group on McGill's campus, for an overnight reading of the Gospel of John. There was something really awesome about a big group of young adults hanging out all night and reading the Word together in preparation for Easter Sunday. In the morning (super early) we all walked up to (theoretically) watch the sunrise on Mount Royal, where there were a few other groups already there worshipping and just having a lot of fun!

Sadly, the sun didn't quite rise this year, as it was super cloudy and threatening rain that morning. So, up there is a photo from last year, when I went up with Victory Heights, and we joined up with the Newman crowd and a few other churches that had headed up.

What I find really amazing about Easter is that it's not just a day, but a full-on season in the church calendar. So, while the secular celebrators have had their chocolate and eggs and have moved on, Christians everywhere get to keep celebrating the joy of Christ's resurrection for a few more weeks before Ascension (which is also super exciting, but we'll get to that in May)!

That's it for today. I am currently reading a lot of stuff about penal substitution, so I will probably end up writing something about that fairly soon. It's seasonally appropriate I think :P


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 13

Whoo! Sorry this is a day late, I was fairly busy yesterday (and by that I mean I watched hours and hours of TV and completely forgot about my blog, gasp!)

So, my Bible readings have finally brought me into Deuteronomy, and I must say I am pretty stoked to get out of the Pentateuch sometime soon. Jokes aside, it has been a really interesting read, if a bit heavy.

One thing that kind of struck me this week while reading Deuteronomy was the whole idea of Moses not being allowed to enter the promised land. As a person involved in leading ministry, that hit me really hard. I thought about how much Moses must have connected with the people he was leading, the deep bonds and relationships he built along the way, and the love he must have felt for them. I thought about how intensely sorrowful it must have been for him and for all of them when he told them that he would not be with them forever. Then I thought about how painful it would be for me, if I was in a similar situation. I wept a little, reflecting on Moses' leadership and on the humility it must have taken to stop before reaching the place he had worked so hard to get people to, and to just let all the glory go to God as His people were brought into the land He had promised them.

I pray that I would keep that in perspective while doing His work, that I would be able to understand that sometimes we can't be there for the beautifully fulfilling moments, but that we have to trust His glory and mercy to see things through to the end when we can't.


Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 12 (Thoughts on Synod)

So, as you have probably figured out, I'm reading through the entire Bible this year!

If you are at all interested in doing the same, I'd like to recommend the ESV study plans, as I am currently using their "Every Day in the Word" plan for my daily readings. I'm a couple of days behind (March 23rd right now) but it's going fairly well!

I am very excited to announce that yesterday, at our Annual Vestry Meeting, I was elected to be the Youth Delegate for Emmaus Anglican Church at this year's Synod! I feel honored and privileged to be chosen for this job, and look forward to taking lots of photos this November when the event is taking place.

I've always been kind of hesitant to get involved in any kind of church politics. Perhaps this aversion was partly due to my aversion to politics in general, but it seems more likely that I just didn't think of the church as a place that should be governed by any kind of meetings or structure. Of course I now realize that's crazy, but hey, we're all young and ignorant at some point or another. When I was asked to let my nomination stand for this year's election, I was initially hesitant, but mostly because I wanted to give the opportunity to somebody else. They turned down their nomination though, so I let mine stand, and I'm pretty glad I did! I think it's going to be a rewarding experience, and it should open my eyes to things I have been otherwise unaware of about the workings of our diocese. Plus, it's a trip to Ottawa for a weekend, with my pastor and two or three other people, so it should just also be a lot of fun!

Well, I'm pretty exhausted from a super long weekend and too much walking, so I'm going to call it quits and watch some mind-numbing television for a few hours, eat some bad food, and pass out.


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 11

Well, it's been about a week since my last post, sorry about that!

This past week was my "reading week" at school- but when you have two classes and one of them is Phys Ed, reading week really becomes "watching TV and hanging out with friends week"

Speaking of readings, I am actually a few days behind on my Bible readings for this week, and am going to spend the morning fixing that. Because I've fallen behind a bit, I don't actually have much to say today (again) so I'm going to use this post for a couple of shout-outs instead!

My good friend Alex Richards is currently preparing to run a marathon with Team in Training, as a fundraiser for cancer research! Alex is an amazing guy who faithfully serves the Lord through his work with Crosstalk Ministries, and you can learn a little more about this project, and make donations, by clicking this link!

Alex's sister, Natalie Richards, also a great friend of mine and soon-to-be guest-speaker at Emmaus Youth Group, has spent the last five or six months doing missions work in Cambodia, and you can read more about her trip by checking out her blog!

My former youth coordinator and good buddy Reg Mclean, and his band The Fundamentals are currently raising money to help produce their debut album! This is super exciting because they're really great, and you should definitely like them on Facebook and, if you feel so inclined, make a donation!

Last but certainly not least, I'd like to shout out to my good friend and former bandmate Lilo Lynx! She's a promising young singer-songwriter and you should definitely go check her out over on Facebook!

Well, that's all for today! Thanks for dropping by, and be sure to keep checking back for more fun stuff! :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 10

So, after a couple of weeks of hiatus, we're back into things!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been reading through Mark and Numbers as part of my effort to read through the entire Bible in 2012. With about four books finished now (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Matthew) I am making good progress!

Reading the Scriptures intentionally every day is a really interesting experience. It really encourages you to spend more time thinking about and reflecting on your relationship with God, and the way you live that out in everyday life. During this process, God has been bringing up some stuff in me that has been really significant and also just really cool to think about more! The most significant example of this is that God is convicting me to actually spend more time studying His word!

As a youth leader, it's kind of my job to familiarize myself with the Scriptures so I can more effectively teach and lead the teens. I've always been kind of a terrible student, so the idea of actually studying things in depth for any reason was always a really daunting task for me. Committing myself to this project has done a really good job of showing me that I am actually willing to put in the extra effort and time to really study this stuff, which is super exciting because I don't really feel that way about anything academic.

So, I'd like to ask you guys to be praying for me as I look for new, exciting ways to get into this stuff!


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Annual Ministry Report

Hey everyone!

So, this week I sat down with Angela Henderson, my co-coordinator for youth ministry at Emmaus Anglican Church, to write our annual report. I figured, since I haven't had a lot of time to actually write any new posts in awhile, and so many of you out there are praying for us and our ministry, it would be a cool idea if I shared that report here!

At our June 2011 Retreat, we encouraged the teens to spend more time in community, living as the Body of Christ, pointing them toward the Christian life examined in the early church in the book of Acts. This summer was a time spent building community with one another in intentional ways. Coming off of this, our year started with a close group of teens who were very excited to get back into things and to welcome the new members of our group!

Our objective going into this year was to help the teens realize how God sees them, how to be a Christian in everyday life, and why that’s good and exciting! To do this, we started with an overview of what it means to be a Christian. We then discussed our identity in Christ, why we pray, why we memorize Scripture, how to glean from a sermon, what a testimony is, how to write a testimony, and why we serve one another.

After this, we asked the teens what topics they were interested in covering for the rest of the year. The topic we started with was being content with where we’re at in life, specifically with regards to singleness (a huge concern among high school students). After this, we had our Winter Retreat. God blessed us immensely by leading us to use The Friendly Home after our location cancelled, and we had a really good turnout. We discussed spiritual gifts, with the main focus of the weekend being “Value and Self-Confidence.” The teens went away encouraged and closer to one another and God than ever before.

Some other special evenings we had this year were a costume party at Hallowe’en, a Christmas party and a Q&A night with Keith which was enjoyed a great deal by both Keith and the teens!

Plans for March-June

Please be praying for the upcoming months as we have some serious as well as fun things planned. One topic that many teens have asked about is homosexuality. We will be taking 2 weeks to discuss it in April. We also have guest speakers, the 30 Hr Famine, a possible retreat at Rivercross Farm, a leaders’ retreat and our annual summer retreat in June. When we discussed the 30 Hr Famine with the teens, they decided that they wanted to support World Vision’s efforts to provide safety to children and teens being used as prostitutes and soldiers. They’re very excited for this event and we would encourage you to support them financially, if you can, and prayerfully the weekend of April 27-28!

Some Important Numbers!

7- Leaders currently serving on Friday nights!
5- Hours spent praying for and encouraging one another on our Winter Retreat!
11- Teens whose faiths were refreshed after our Winter Retreat!
1- Fence-sitting leader deciding to pursue a relationship with Christ!

On behalf of all the leaders,

Angela Henderson & Tom Zalatnai
Youth Ministry Co-Coordinators


Hey everyone!

It's been awhile since I last wrote a proper post, and I wish I could say that streak is coming to an end right now, but it's not. I just wanted to quickly let you know that I'm still alive, and plan to get back into things as soon as possible! Unfortunately, that is not what tonight's post will be.

In fact, this post is going to be very short, as I've basically already said everything I wanted to say. Sorry things have been lacking, but thank you for continuing to read and support, and I assure you things will be back to normal soon enough!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Posts This Week

Hi everyone,

So you might be wondering why I didn't post anything on Monday. And tomorrow you will probably be wondering why no new posts are going up.

This has been a kind of ridiculous week for me and I don't really have any honest explanation for it. My Bible readings have been rushed and uninspired, I've been exhausted and sluggish, and even while I type this I'm slowly drifting out of consciousnesssssssssss- just kidding, it's not that bad.

There have been a number of things on my mind recently, and I'll likely have a lot to say once my schedule calms down again. I've been praying for discernment about things for next year with regards to ministry, work and school, as well as with regards to relationships. I was also given some pretty intense news and have been working a lot and spending my down time disappearing into the worlds of The Office, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation.

All this being said, I will be back to normal next week, with regular posts on Monday and Wednesday, and I'm sorry I have been a little less than productive recently!

God bless,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dangerous Prayers

I was having a really great conversation with a friend of mine last week about faith, love and discipleship, and there came a point in our long discussion when the idea of dangerous prayer came up.

Dangerous Prayers are the kind of prayers I think we all need to pray more often, but are too afraid to pray. They are prayers that, in reality, are not actually *dangerous* per se- we aren't going to get murdered or accidentally blow up a bridge because of them, usually- but they are risky, in that God's answer to them is going to challenge the heck out of us! The example I was using at the time was in reference to praying for one's future spouse. This is a discipline I took up about a year ago, that I will regularly pray that God is preparing for me a wife who is godly, passionate, fertile, healthy, and going to challenge me a lot in my faith. I would call this a dangerous prayer because I am literally asking God to put me into a difficult relationship, because I just don't think I want something easy. But that's a story for another day.

Since we're talking about Dangerous Prayers today, I thought I would list a few others, and challenge you guys to pray some of them from time to time! :)

Pray for God to convict you of your sin. I figure this is a good place to start. It sounds pretty straightforward, but for a lot of people, the idea of *asking* Him to point out sin in their life is a terrifying thing. It's akin to asking your boss or supervisor what you can improve on at work. You just know there's going to be some stuff in there that you hoped nobody would notice, or that you were putting off fixing because of how difficult it is. And that's why this is a dangerous prayer, because it is so challenging, but so so worth it!

Pray for humbling experiences. This is one that I need to do more often, because it scares the heck out of me. Asking God to humble us is like a branch manager asking the CEO to make him receptionist for awhile- humility comes out of situations where we are lower, where pride is hard to come by. It is a good feeling being exalted, acknowledged publicly for good works, given a position of high importance, it all makes you feel more worthwhile. But the experiences that grow our character most and bring us closer to God are often the ones that are humble, behind the scenes and go unnoticed. This prayer is dangerous, especially for leaders, because it challenges our pride and invites us to step out of the spotlight and into the bathrooms with a mop.

"Break my heart for what breaks Yours" I couldn't come up with a way to phrase this one, so I'm just giving it to you as is. Asking God to help us see things the way He sees them is a dangerous prayer, but an amazing one. Often we see people who are so compassionate that we are blown away, and we wonder how they do it. It's because God has given them the gift of compassion, and they are able to see people and situations in a different, more holy light. This prayer is dangerous because it first takes acknowledging that we have built up so many expectations and biases that we are, in that sense, very disconnected from God; and also because having such compassion can move people in incredibly unexpected ways. Ready to do a lot more crying? If you're not, pray for humility first, then pray this one ;)

These are just a few examples of the dangerous prayers we can pray, but I'd like to challenge you to think of a few more, and start praying them from time to time! :) I read a book awhile back and am blanking on the title and author, but they listed quite a few and I just loved it. So if I find that, I'll come back and edit this post, but until then, that is all I've got! :)


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 7

This has been a really incredible week for me! Just an amazing sense of God's blessing, lots of discernment and so much fellowship!

This weekend was February Frost, an annual winter retreat involving lots of people from Crosstalk Ministries' various groups and events. It was a really great time, staying up incredibly late playing Dutch Blitz, enjoying amazing times of worship and fantastic lessons with our wonderful guest speaker.

What a lovely bunch! And this wasn't even half of us!

It was such a blessing being able to spend the weekend with lots of amazing young people who are all so passionate about God! We even had a buddy of ours fly in from Winnipeg for the weekend, which made it all the more excellent!

Anyways, I started reading the book of Mark this week, and I'm glad I did, because I also finished Exodus and started reading Leviticus, which was a lot less exciting. So far, Leviticus has not inspired much in me. Lots of rules about offering animal sacrifices and whatnot. But Mark was interesting so far, so I will talk about it a little today!

What I find most interesting about Mark so far is that it starts right off with John the Baptist preparing for Jesus' ministry on earth! I have to wonder why it leaves out the virgin birth and Christ's childhood, but at the same time, I am really impressed by how straight-to-the-point Mark's gospel is. He kind of just gets right down to business and focuses on miracles, parables and teachings.

I don't really have much else to say about that, but I'm very excited for the next couple of days' readings, so keep checking back, in case I find time to do an extra post this week! If I don't, well, see you Wednesday!

God bless,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is the Gospel?

As Christians, we spend heaps of time (or at least we should!) talking about the gospel. We "share" it with people, we "preach" it, we try to "live it out" and we state it as a huge aspect of our faith.

But, by a show of hands, how many of you can actually give a good definition of the gospel?

I'm guessing most of you either laughed or quizically raised your hand then kind of hesitated and put it back down before continuing to read. It's unfortunate, but a lot of people throw the phrase around without having a really good grasp of what it actually means. Before I continue, I'd like to mention that I am not claiming to have the answer- this is a question I myself have pondered for the last couple of years, trying to get a better understanding of it.

I think my favorite description of the gospel comes from Romans. Paul's letter to the Romans is really brilliant in that, for the most part, it is his way of introducing himself, his ministry and his Jesus to them, and so a lot of it is very straightforward, linear thinking that almost reads like a pamphlet or an essay!

Let's take a quick look at Romans 5:12-21. (ESV)

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned- for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A little wordy, but I think it gets the point across. The basic message of the gospel is, as far as I can tell:

God created everything and everyone, and we are accountable to Him as our Judge. We turned against Him in one way or another, and our sins deserve just punishment. However, Jesus acts as advocate and offers freedom from sin and grace from judgement. This is dependent, however, on our active participation through repentance and worship.

So, basically: God loves you, but also judges you. You messed up, but Jesus will defend your case if you agree to turn around and get back on the right track and love Him.

So there you go, that is, to the best of my current ability, my definition of the gospel! I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 6

This week, the majority (if not the entirety) of the Old Testament readings involved graphic description of the temple (see most of the second half of Exodus).
I was considering writing up a three-hundred page report about that, but then I decided I would talk about something else instead. You're welcome.

Today I want to take a look at Psalm 34:1-10.

As a student, I find it challenging at times to live out my faith at school. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm barely ever at school to begin with, but the rushed lifestyle of a student makes it difficult to find time to minister to your classmates and such. But we are called to bless the Lord at all times and continually have His praise in our mouths. So this kind of passage, for me, is both a fantastic reminder of God's promise and His love and gifts for us, and also a push to be more intentional about taking whatever time I can to reach out to my peers and share the gospel with them. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do that yet, but it's something I will be praying about over the next couple of weeks.

So I'd like to challenge you to do the same- find an area in your life where you're having difficulty shining His light, and ask Him to show you how you can make a difference there!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guest Post on Carl's Blog!

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that today I have another guest post up at Carl Jones' blog!

You should all go check it out!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Midweek Update!

Hey everyone!

So there isn't much of a post today, because things got a little busy at the last minute, but I wanted to write a bit about a few changes and additions I'll be making to the blog over the next couple of days!

You've probably already noticed, this site has a new logo! It was designed by a good friend of mine, Matthew Fishman @FLIGHTTHEPOWER. This is just the first of a number of graphical changes that will be happening over the next couple of months, with his help. I'm completely lost when it comes to most computer-related and art-related things, so he's a huge blessing to have on board helping me out!

There's also a new page up there, next to the 'Home' tab- a page with a little bit of info about the guy whose blog you're reading! You can find that up there, or click here if that's easier for you! I'll be adding a few more pages like that one with a few details about the various ministries I work with, those should be up by the end of the week.

You might also start to see some ads popping up on here in the next little while. These days, I am doing almost anything to get some extra cash, and trusting that God will provide what I need, and will be monetizing this blog through AdSense. This will not really affect any of you that much, but you will start to see them in the sidebars and below posts and such. Feel free to click them if you want to, but if you don't, that's also cool! Your presence here, reading what I write, is enough compensation for me :)

The last update- as previously mentioned, my Wednesday series about brokenness is being discontinued for a little while in favor of something a little different. You'll have to check back next week to see what it is though ;)

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Bible in a Year: Week 5

For the last two weeks or so, I've been reading through the book of Exodus as part of my daily readings. Exodus is the second book of the Old Testament, and continues the history from where Genesis left off, starting with Israel's hard times in Egypt. Pharaoh, who was once a good friend of Joseph, is now a horrendous slave-driver, and Israel is sick of it (Maybe it's a different Pharaoh? Regardless he's kind of a jerk).

For me, what stands out most about the story of the exodus (that is, the story of Israel's flight from Egypt) is the man God chooses to do the job. We all know his name, we all know he parted the seas and brought plagues on Egypt and smacked a rock so hard water came out of it (not at all in that order). Moses, a man who found favor with God and managed to avoid the killing of the Hebrew infants. He led his people out of slavery and is the subject of hundreds of Sunday School lessons. But what I think is really cool about Moses isn't all of his accomplishments, it's the fact that God called him to begin with.

I'm a firm believer (and living example) of God equipping the called, and not always calling the equipped. Moses is one such example! He was not a very confident man, with something of a speech impediment, certainly not a public speaker by any means. He was so lacking in self-confidence, that when God called him, he even brought it up- "Uh, God, this is cool and all, but I can't really talk properly... Can't you get my brother to do it?" God, being faithful and understanding, decided to use both brothers for the task He had in mind. God created, in Moses, a great leader for His people, in spite of his slow speech and self-doubt.

I think there's something really amazing and powerful about these kind of stories. Maybe I'm biased, but I love seeing people thrown into situations that are challenging to their faith, and watching Him work through that and help them grow. (If you're wondering why, you should check out this post about my testimony!)

God doesn't always call the equipped; Sometimes, He equips the called. Moses learned this thousands of years ago, I learned it a few years ago, and I think we all need to re-learn it on a regular basis. So today, I challenge you to pray asking God to stretch you to new levels of faith!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hardcore Brokenness: The Examined Life

Warning: I am probably going to get a little philosophical today. You've been warned. Completely.

For the past month, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my own flaws and brokenness, in an effort to better understand the things that keep me from growing in my relationship with God. It's been an interesting process, and definitely rewarding and insightful, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's actually a healthy way to go about things.

Don't get me wrong- it's definitely a good idea to be aware of the areas where you're struggling, so that you can bring them to God and lay them before Him in full submission to His grace and glory, and ask Him to be at work in you to change them. What I'm not sure about is whether or not it is a good idea to carefully examine one's own life on such a regular basis, with the goal of being critical and trying to improve.

Plato gives this analogy about life in a cave- you spend your whole life living in said cave, understanding it on a purely physical level, then one day you somehow come out of that cave, and are given incredible insights into the 'real world' outside. Then you're sucked back into the cave, and you're forced to go back into your regular life while simultaneously being made aware and conscious of the world outside, only nobody believes you because "that's too meta bro"

This raises the question about whether or not ignorance is truly bliss- would you be happier to keep living your simple, monotonously cave-life, or to have your eyes opened to the truth and the things beyond but to have them unattainable because you're thrown back into the cave again?

All this to say, I've been reading philosophy textbooks recently and they got me thinking (as they are wont to do) about whether or not this series is actually good for me, and if I'm going about it the right way or not. I think if I continue to live 'the examined life' and *intentionally* reflect on things like this, all I'm really doing is being overly critical of myself and not letting God just call me out on things, which makes it feel all too artificial.

That being said, I'm going to discontinue this series as a regular, weekly thing. I may come back to it from time to time, but only when it flows naturally and comes from legitimate places. I will still continue the trend of having a new post up every Wednesday, however, so do keep checking back for more!

Yours in Christ,

The Bible in a Year: Week 4

Sorry I'm a little late on this one! (What else is new though)

Joseph's Coat by Diego Velazquez

So last week I probably talked at least a bit about Joseph, and how amazing his grace toward his brothers was, but today I'd really like to talk about that a little more. I think there's two things that stood out exceptionally for me about that: The first, is the way he responded to his brothers when they came to visit him; the second is how God was at work through it all.

We first really meet Joseph in kind of lousy circumstances- his brothers hate him, he has a vision of them bowing down to him, and he gets a really nice coat and they trash it and sell him into slavery. He gets carted off to Egypt and has more cool dreams, this time the Pharaoh gets involved, and there's so much potential for terrible things to happen. Instead, he spends a bit of time in jail then becomes incredibly valuable in Pharaoh's eyes and gains his favor. God takes Joseph from this awful situation and moulds it into something brilliant, but it gets better. When all of Egypt is thrown into famine and drought, Joseph is able to store up a ton of extra supplies that last for the seven years until that gets sorted out, and his brothers come by to ask for his help. He weeps at the sight of them and is so filled with emotion when they bring his brother Benjamin with them, and he utters some words to them that are just so insightful and actually really important for us to remember in our everyday lives. When he tells them he's their abandoned brother, they freak out and are worried he's going to enact some kind of terrible revenge on them, but instead, he basically tells them, "Look around bro- God took that crappy situation and turned it into something totally amazing! I'm here with Pharaoh, blessing you guys, and we're reunited, and all this because you tried to screw me over! I don't hate you guys for that- I now know that God was at work through this from the very beginning!"

Not only did Joseph show his brothers grace, but he also acknowledged that God was doing cool things in him the whole time! And He was providing so much for Joseph and his brothers and the Egyptians by being faithful even through the famine. This was a very helpful reminder for me over the weekend. I was worried about my financial situation (debt, debt, debt!) and was starting to lose faith in God's ability to provide for me- then someone blessed me ridiculously with a big cheque to pay off school and driving lessons! God is good :)

So let's raise a glass to Joseph- a good reminder to us that we should keep short accounts, trust in God's provision and give Him glory where glory is due!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Romans 14

I just thought this was amazing when I was reading it earlier so I thought I should share it here. Such a beautiful conviction for us! Last week was the week of prayer for unity in the worldwide church and tonight at Emmaus Youth Group Josiah Henderson gave a fantastic talk about unity in the church and why we have denominations and whatnot. I'm not going to say much more, just leave a passage we looked at tonight that I don't want to forget about because it's rad.

The text below was stolen from the ESV website. That's why it has silly html that I'm too lazy to edit. Sorry about the weird background colors and such. If it hurts your eyes as much as it hurts mine, feel free to go get a real Bible and read it from there :)

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

14 As for mthe one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. nOne person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and olet not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. pWho are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master1 that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
qOne person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. rEach one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since she gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For tnone of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, uwhether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ vdied and lived again, that he might be Lord both wof the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For wwe will all stand before xthe judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

y“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess2 to God.”
12 So then zeach of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 aTherefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide bnever to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus cthat nothing is unclean in itself, dbut it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, eyou are no longer walking in love. fBy what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 gSo do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 hFor the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but iof righteousness and jpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is kacceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us lpursue what makes for peace and for mmutual upbuilding.
20 nDo not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. oEverything is indeed clean, but pit is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 qIt is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.3 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. rBlessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.4