Monday, August 14, 2017

On Charlottesville...

I'm trying to put into words right now the range of emotions I've felt this weekend as I watched Charlottesville unfold.

And the only words that surface are: Lord Jesus, come.

It's all I can think to say. Well, okay, I can think to say a lot, and yes, I did and probably will continue to keep letting words flow, but I keep coming back to these three words. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

And somehow, it doesn't feel like a small and helpless cry, but as if there is power in that name. Because there is.

And this is what I come to, after an exhausting and horrifying weekend: Christ-followers, we need to be declaring the name of Jesus right now. We need to be establishing His Kingdom with our words and our actions because if not, the anti-Christ of white supremacy, or Nazism, or violence, or racism, or war, or whatever evil might be coming next weekend will take root in far too many hearts, and honestly? I am sick of losing souls. Aren't we all?

So look--Church, at this moment in history, we can't just be about justice. Or peace. Or love, in general.

There will be a lot of voices that call for justice, peace, and love.

No, right now and always, we need to be about Jesus. 

Because being about Jesus means being about justice. Being about Jesus means being about peace. And you better believe that being about Jesus means being about love.

But if we believe that His Kingdom is where all things are made new, then we cannot just declare our own kingdoms of justice or peace or love. Because declaring their own kingdoms is exactly what those people in Charlottesville are doing and oh, did we see what a dangerous road that is to walk.

No, we need to establish, with our lives, the Kingdom of Jesus.

This weekend--in the between refreshing Twitter a million times, hoping to get just one more image of Charlottesville that might finally tell me that it wasn't real--our church family was working tirelessly to prepare for the arrival of the second Syrian refugee family that we are sponsoring to come to Canada.

There have been so many miracles in this process thus far, such as mid-month occupancy at an apartment in a crazy housing market, but the miracle I'm personally holding in my heart is the way that the Lord simply knew that I would need those preparations this weekend.

If white supremacy was going to rear its ugly head this weekend, then God gave me the gift of being able to counter it with preparations to welcome this family to Canada. To respond to the shouts of "You will not replace us," with an emphatic, Jesus-centred, community effort to declare, "We welcome refugees."

Friends--now isn't the time to just be peaceful, or just be anti-Nazism, or just be for defending marginalized communities.

Now is the time for intentionally establishing the Kingdom--on earth as it is in heaven. All those other things--good and vitally important things--are all by-products of Christ's Kingdom. So let's be, live, declare, establish it.

There is power in the name of Jesus. If you happen to believe that, then more than anything else you could do, the world needs you to declare that power right now.

The world needs you to establish a space and live a life where Jesus is King.

Because in that Kingdom, the King Himself suffered under all the evil humanity had to offer and declared it is finished.

In Christ's Kingdom, it is finished. White supremacy. Racism. Nazism. All evil--all of it--is finished. 

All that's left is for us to deny the kingdoms of this world--deny ourselves, our own kingdoms, and the evil that often lurks even in our own hearts--and instead declare the Kingdom of heaven.

And the Good News of this all is that the Kingdom of heaven is near--and not in the way the obnoxious street preachers mean it. No, the Kingdom of heaven, the one where all evil is finished, is so near that we could maybe even see it here--if only we choose to stop chasing our own kingdoms and seek out Christ's Kingdom.

If only we choose to declare that Jesus is Lord.

A related MUST READ (Please. Sit and listen to this!): After Charlottesville, the Question We Absolutely Have to Answer: Who Is Willing to Pick Up their Cross? by Lisa Sharon Harper

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Story We Live By

It's funny how reading can convict you to write.

I'm taking The Canadian Short Story in summer school right now--a fun elective for the summer.

And it is totally convicting me to write.

We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives. 
--Nigerian storyteller Ben Okri

That quote resonated with me deep.

I hoped to be around this blog more this year. But many times I've felt word-less. Why write? I thought, Is there really any thing left to be said in this world?

Yes. That's what I hear zing through my heart as my professor reads it out: We live stories. Stories change lives. 

The writer deep inside me always knows this, of course. But sometimes I needs a reminder.

And when the world feels like it's imploding on itself, it can be hard to comprehend the power of a simple story.

But what about that story of a God who loved us so much that He refused to leave us in this imploding world all on our own?

So He made a plan and suddenly--God with us, showing us the way to live our stories. To live compassion and humility and servanthood and peace.

Then He spread his arms wide at calvary and took the brunt of the worst this imploding world had to offer... and He defeated it.

What. About. That. Story?

Yeah--that's the story that gives our life meaning.

And until every heart knows the immense, overwhelming beauty of it, we must tell it again and again and again. No matter how many times it takes--because the Love in this story is relentless.

So yes, yes, yes. Artists and singers and filmmakers and thespians and yes - writers, too. We must tell stories, and live stories, and change lives.

Because until every life lives transformed by the Greatest Story of a Man on a cross, defeating death and inviting all to the resurrection...

There are still more stories to be told of lives transformed by the Good News that He is making all things new.

Does this mean I'll blog more? Perhaps. I do know that words are slowly coming back, and that feels good.

Monday, January 30, 2017

There Is No Neutral

I don't know about you, but I am starting this week feeling incredibly heavy. burdened. weary.

The weekend started with the Muslim ban. People were detained in airports because of the passport they carry. Families who had been going through a gruelling application and vetting process had their hopes of starting fresh in the safety of a new home totally crushed. Some had been in the pipeline for 3 years and had just a few months or weeks left before boarding the plane. Instead, they were told they had to stay where they were--in their imploding cities or nearby camps, living in extreme poverty.

And still, so many people carried on cheering for this policy.

By the time Sunday night came around and news came through of a mass shooting at a Quebec mosque, I just wanted to shut it all out. As if that would make it stop.

photo source

There is no neutral anymore. This is the time for the Church to be the Church.

We're no longer allowed to say, "I don't do politics." Because this isn't about politics. This is about humanity. This is about the Kingdom. This is about Jesus.

Church, this is not the time to disengage. This is not the time to preach recycled sermons and have quiet small groups and be apathetic and have shallow fun at youth group and spend another night at family midweek getting spiritually fat.

This is the time to engage like never before. To not only engage but shape, inform, and cultivate culture and society like the Church has been known for throughout history. To passionately preach subversive peace and radical love. To roll up our sleeves and get to work welcoming strangers and feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and visiting the sick and imprisoned.

Church, if we hadn't yet, we have officially lost the ability to be neutral. Either we stand up for the marginalized, or we oppress them ourselves. Either we pick up our cross, or we are the Romans cracking the whip and driving the nails.

There is no other way around this. This goes beyond borders. This goes beyond politics.

This is what the Church is on this earth for. When governments won't protect the marginalized, when nobody else will... the Church will. That is who we are. That is who our Saviour is: One who was so often moved with compassion. One who was a refugee. One who protects the vulnerable.

Perhaps, this is the very moment for which we were created. And no, we can't afford to sleep through this moment. We just can't.

Pray like you have never prayed before. Be the Body of Christ in real, tangible ways. Contact your elected officials. Welcome a refugee. Raise awareness. Learn. Donate to people spreading Christ's hope on the ground.

And love. Love like you never have before.

Because Love conquers all.

Jesus conquers all.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Build Your Kingdom here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#OneWord2017: Presence

Better late than never?

One of my Christmas vacation goals was to renovate the blog and thereafter, get a post up semi-regularly again. It's taken longer than expected, but here it is.

I missed this place! Last year was sporadic at best, and I seriously missed the time of reflection that blogging brought to my life. Nothing made that more evident than my lack of a one word last year.

It's not that I centre my whole life around my one word. In fact, I'm not always very good at focussing on the goals the word is supposed to represent.

But God has used my various words to speak into my life, help me find some themes in certain seasons, and really just have something to anchor my journey and growth in for the year - be it spiritual, personal, professional, academic, or otherwise.

All that to say, I resolved to find a word for 2017.

I landed on presence.

I want to be more aware of God's presence this year. I want to be open to it, to be actively listening for Him, and to be aware that He is present and working in every moment, every situation, every life.

I want to be present right where I am, wherever that happens to be, in whatever I happen to be doing. As a student living in 4-month bursts, it is so easy to look to next semester, to the summer, to my co-op placement next year, to what's next? after graduation. More than that, I am also involved in a lot of different things at school, at church, with Compassion, and personally, and it is so easy to be doing one thing while thinking about something else entirely.

But I want to recognize that God is doing something right here. Right now. In each moment, something is happening and more often than not God is orchestrating something beautiful before our eyes. And I want to be present for that. I don't want to miss out on the incredible things He is doing in the here and now. 

I don't want to sleep through the important moments. I want to stand in the river, expecting God to do something big if I show up, be present, and expect Him to move in world-shaking ways.

That is my #OneWord2017! A few concrete New Year's resolutions include blogging regularly, continuing to build the skill of speaking as I speak at gatherings and events, and reading the entire Bible this year.

I am glad to have this space refreshed and revived and I am so looking forward to the year ahead!

How about you? What's your #OneWord2017?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Aleppo and Advent

Just over 2000 years ago, an oppressed, forgotten people waited for a Saviour.

A Messiah. A King.

And they expected chariots and fire and revolution and war. They expected the overthrowing of their oppressors by a mighty king and ruthless warrior.

Instead they got a baby. A carpenter. A small-town boy who just so happened to be God Himself.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Today, oppressed and forgotten people wait for a saviour all over our bleeding, broken world. Today, the oppressed, forgotten people of Aleppo wait to be saved, and many wait in vain.

And we expect fire to rain from heaven. Miraculous intervention. We expect Him to move mountains and do the supernatural.

It’s the season of advent. A season of waiting. And we wait. We wait and we wait and we wait... But what if He’s waiting for us? What if He’s saying: “I already came. And I left it now to you to continue.”

What if this whole bleeding world is waiting for us to be the Body of Christ—broken and poured out and given?

We wait. And rightfully so, we wait for the day that He makes all things new.

But perhaps we can do more. Perhaps He is actively making all things new and how can He do that but through His Church? Through His Body. Through us.

So, as we wait in this advent season, let’s consider that maybe the world is waiting for us. Waiting for us to stand up and mean it when we say “never again”. Waiting for us to stand up and be the Church. Waiting for us to stand up and be the broken-and-poured-out Body of Christ to a world that so desperately needs Him.

Let’s not utter Come, Lord Jesus, unless we’re willing to be the vessels through which He comes.

Let’s not celebrate His birth unless we’re willing to be the ones who breathe a courageous, Mary-like yes to birthing Love Himself into the world each and every day.

Because it’s advent, and millions of people are waiting for a Saviour.

So, come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Here are 3 ways we can can be the Church to the people of Aleppo and Syria:
:: Sign this petition, calling on the Canadian government to protect the people of Aleppo.
:: Sponsor a refugee family to come to Canada.
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