A Dream Team Does Exist

E11EAB65-FB6A-4A6F-82BC-9E675F4E189D

When I was in elementary and middle school school I played in the local hockey league at our community rink. Each year there up to 5 teams in each division and in my final year of playing competitively I managed to get picked for the “C” Team — not the “A” Team but it was still quite an honour because we got to travel to other towns and play in tournaments, of which we did okay.

Although I had a classmate who was on the “A” Team, it never bothered me that he got to travel out of province while only made it to the next county. It was fun and that’s all that mattered to me.

That same season our regular league team was almost unstoppable all year. The line I mostly played on consisted of two brothers, one a centerman and the other left wing while I held my own on right wing. The centerman brother was really the star of the team yet because he excelled we all excelled. I hope my recollection is clear in that I scored 30 plus goals and many more assists that season. Even if I’m off a little on my statistical memory, I know I had never come close to that in my five previous years in the league.

When it came time for the playoffs, we blew it. We went from the favoured team to win the championship to ending up in fourth place while the champions were the last place team all year. We were really disappointed in our performance — the dream team came up short, perhaps because we really weren’t as good as we thought.

Fast forward to present day. No, I don’t play hockey anymore and the closest I get to team sports is watching my grandson play high school football. And it seems history has repeated itself in his life. In his first year playing defensive linebacker his team was unstoppable all season. Actually  10 – 0 for the past two years. They just went game after game wiping the other team out every time — the scores were almost embarrassing, but hey, they were really good and deserved to win.

But when it came to the championship game last weekend, nothing went as planned. The other team simply outplayed them and the dream team was soundly defeated. I felt so bad for my grandson, he practiced hard, hit hard and cheered on his fellow team mates on and off the field. And we are very proud of him!! No doubt he’ll have another great season before his high school days are done.

So by now you might be thinking “what is the point to this little story?” Or “where are you headed with the dream team stuff?” Good question! I’ve been serving on staff for 16 years at a church that I’ve been attending since I was five years old and over the years there have been excellent pastoral teams — everything just seemed to click into place. We saw steady growth in attendance, financial goals were met, massive building plans come to fruition and people were coming to Jesus and caring for one another in small groups.

That’s not to say we didn’t experience seasons of little growth and pain from people just being human, but overall our church seemed strong. The dream team was unstoppable — or so we thought. Through a series of events that I won’t mention or dredge up, we seemed to lose sight of what really mattered and in hindsight, I think we got caught up in ourselves, in our own success  — not a good thing for people of the book! And yes, you guessed it, it all fell apart. Factions. Disunity. Disillusionment. Someone has coined the phrase “hurt people, hurt people.” They were right, unfortunately.

But an amazing thing happened, God called a former associate pastor back to us as our lead pastor. God refused to give up on us and His church! This pastor whom I like call my boss and friend — and he calls me padre — is extremely caring, loves Jesus and preaches God’s Word with passion and humility. He’s a visionary leader, a deep thinker and very creative. God knew what needed to happen, we needed a new head coach — one whose goal was not to build a dream team staff, but a dream team congregation who loves Jesus, loves each other and is passionate about making disciples — seems like a no brainer, but it’s not always what churches do. We’re often like sheep who get lost and can’t find our way across the parking lot without needing directions. We needed a shepherd who, like our Saviour, would pick us up out of the mess we found ourselves in and bring us home. Someone who wouldn’t scold us for being stupid sheep, but would gently speak words of truth into our messiness.

Now I finally feel like a dream team actually does exist and it’s right here in our church. I’m so grateful for a loving heavenly Father who never gives up on us even when we seem to have lost the game — I think we just needed Him to remind us, there’s another season to be played and that the team would play on for the sake of Christ and His church and His glory! And I get to play whatever position is needed — sometimes it’s just being the water boy — and I’m okay with that!

Advertisements

Creativity is Messy

unnamed

Give a small child a colouring book, a pack of crayons and two minutes and you’ll soon witness what creativity looks like. The crayon package is empty, its contents spread out on the table and floor, several are broken or half eaten and numerous pages of the book are colourfully enhanced. Despite the messiness, the pictures created by the child are quickly turned into masterpieces fit for the refrigerators of the world for all to see and admire — at least the refrigerators of parents and grandparents.

Just like children creating Crayola works of art, messiness is inevitable for the artist who is gifted or perhaps burdened with the high calling of creativity. When the artistic mind is fully functioning, paint gets spilled, pots and pans fill the sink, fabric is scattered around the room and sawdust fills the air — creativity is messy.

Whether it’s an artist like Mike Lewis who uses brushes and hands to paint amazing portraits of Christ or a writer like my friend Randy Elrod who chooses pen and parchment (or perhaps a Macbook) to paint vivid word pictures, the creation of art is very messy — because life is very messy. Of course the messiness of art doesn’t necessarily have to create chaos in one’s creative space, however more often than not art is created via the messiness of the internal workings of the human heart and soul.

Songwriters often write from personal experiences of heartache and pain. A lost love, a messy breakup or a difficult childhood — messiness is everywhere. Some of the greatest painters in history were tortured souls and yet through their pain, we who gaze upon their visual giftedness have been the beneficiaries of a remarkable feast for the eyes.

When we think about the creation of the universe by the Master Builder, we might ask how such intricate beauty could spawn such messiness that has so plagued humanity? The answer is neither clear nor appealing — from the perfection of the Genesis narrative to the chaos of brother killing brother we see that creativity is very messy. In spite of God’s plan to create a perfect Eden, man, through deception and lust, not only coloured outside the lines of that perfection, but also threw His crayons on the ground and trampled them to pieces.

The good news for us is that God did not leave us without crayons —  He did not leave us in the mess of our brokenness — He made a way for us to escape the messiness and gave us a second chance at enjoying the beauty of Eden once again. The way He would accomplish this was through His son, Jesus!

One of my favourite bible stories is found in the 4th chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well seeking fresh water. I love this story because it is so real and normal for me. Jesus knows this woman needs a fresh start, He knows she has had a tough life — He knows her beginning-to-end life story of heartbreak and marital disfunction. Her messiness is obvious to Jesus, yet He doesn’t write her off as a lost cause, instead he offers her living water and a new start. Her life was rewritten; she was recreated by an encounter with Jesus!

So what does this story have to do with creativity and child’s play you might ask? If you read the Old and New Testament as one story, you will soon see that God has been very creative throughout history to create a new world for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the messiness of God’s creativity, we become His works of art. The Apostle Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ — refreshed by His life-giving water — he is a new creation — worthy of being displayed on God’s fridge — the old has passed away — the mess has been cleared — behold, the new has come — you’re back in the perfection of Eden.”

Creativity is messy but when the work is finished the art — that is you — is quite simply beautiful!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 

June 28/15 Worship Recap

 

This Sunday at NMBC we started a new summer series based on selected verses from the book of Proverbs. Pastor Daniel challenged us all to be like “cracked pots” that leak refreshment to others, and as we refresh others, we too, will be refreshed!  

Here’s a look at the setlist and crew this past week:

The Band & Crew:

  • Mark – Lead Guitar
  • Chris – Drums
  • Rick – Bass
  • Gina – Keys
  • Celeste & Rae – Vocals
  • Paul – Acoustic & Lead Vocal
  • Lex – Lighting & Video
  • Pete – Media
  • Paul – Audio

Father’s Day Recap

There are moments in the life of a church when all you can say is “YES”! Today was one of those times! The church was completely packed for Father’s Day, the band was awesome, and the preaching was so powerful!

Pastor Daniel spoke from Joshua 24 about the nation of Israel saying they would serve God alone. Yet Joshua told they they couldn’t do it, unless they gave up their idol worship and pledged themselves to the one true God and Him alone. As men of faith, we were challenged to pledge ourselves afresh to God and to be the men God created us to be…God’s A-Men!

We closed out the day with a song by Tim Neufeld called I’m Free! We had over 30 guys (The A-Men Choir) singing out with all they had and it was a blast! Here’s the setlist and crew for today:

Setlist:

GreaterMercy Me, Open Up the Heavens Vertical Church Band, Build Your Kingdom Here Rend Collective, I Sing the Mighty Power – traditional hymn, Dreamers of Your DreamsNoel Richards, I’m FreeTim Neufeld

The Band:

Fisher – keys & vocals, Peter – lead guitar, Lyle – bass, Nate – drums, James – vocals, Me – acoustic & vocals. With the choir song we also had Mark on Banjo and Danny on harmonica.

Tech Crew:

Richard – audio, Tjeerd – media, Carson – lighting

A Lot Like Jesus

   How many times have you heard someone say of a child “she looks just like her mom!” or “he’s the spitting image of his dad!” I think most times that’s meant to be a compliment. Recently my mother said when she sees me leading worship I remind her of my older brother Barry who passed away many years ago. I guess when I look in the mirror I can see some family resemblance. 

As followers of Jesus, we should receive the same comment when people come in contact with us. We should hear the words “he’s like Jesus” or “I can see Jesus in her!”

That’s who we should be like, but often times we are nothing like Jesus. 

He loved everyone, no matter what; we love while looking for something in return. He hung around the worst sort of sinners; we shun them or even worse call the police. He forgave those who beat Him and ultimately put Him to death; we hold grudges for years waiting for the other person to make the first move.

How crazy is it that we say we want others to have a relationship with Jesus, like we say we do, because He is so good and He saved us from our sin! Yet we walk around like someone just ran over our family pet or like we just ate something that didn’t agree with us. I’ve gotta say, that’s not very convincing or appealing to people who really need to hear the Good News! 

Good news should bring a smile, don’t you think?

Jesus said we are to love God and love others…as ourselves. Maybe that’s our problem, we don’t even like ourselves. It’s hard to love others when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. The reflection of the person we do see is often bitter because life didn’t pan out the way we’d imagined it would. 

It’s so easy to look back and say “what if” I went to a different college then maybe I’d have a better job? Or “what if” my parents hadn’t been so hard on me, then maybe I might not be so hard on my own kids? “What if” I’d made better choices, then I wouldn’t be in this predicament today? “What if” is a phrase that reeks of regret! 

Regret. Just. Plain. Stinks! 

This past year I decided that I would not live with regrets. I made up my mind to risk more, not in a bonehead kind of way like risking our retirement fund on some crazy scheme. But through prayer and perseverance I am determined to not take the safe and easy road just because it’s safe and easy.

Too often we shy away from risk in favour of embracing what is safe and comfortable. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:13 that we are to be like salt in this world. Salt adds flavour. I don’t know about you but I’ll go for flavour over bland any day!

That may have seemed like a rabbit trail, but stay with me a little longer. When we are more like Jesus, salty and not playing it safe, we are more like Him and less like others. We are less like we used to be. Of course we are still fallen creatures who still have a propensity to do and say the complete opposite of Jesus, yet when we keep following in the footsteps of the One whom we most reflect, I’m confident we’ll hear people say “hey man, you’re a lot like Jesus!” 

That’s what I want to hear! What about you? As image bearers of the Most High God, let’s make sure people see Him when they see us!

Chime in…I’d love to hear your thoughts!

WorshipSet 06/07/15

 

 

Another great day at NMBC! I love when the church comes together to worship our great God, reflect on the divinity of Jesus and share in remembrance of His sacrifice for all, once for all!

Today was also bitter sweet as we say farewell to one of our drummers. Cory has been with us since he was twelve and next weekend will get married to a very special girl whom we also will miss. Sydney has blessed us over and over with her violin! But I’m so happy for them and look forward to God’s call on their life together!

Today’s setlist:

  1. Let Everything That Has Breath – Matt Redman
  2. You’re Worthy of My Praise – David Ruis
  3. You Allone – NCC Worship
  4. Jesus Paid it All – Kristian Stanfill
  5. The Wonderful Cross – Chris Tomlin

The Band & Crew:

  1. Cory – Drums
  2. Rick – Bass
  3. Peter – Lead Guitar
  4. Gina – Piano
  5. James – Vocal
  6. Kira – Vocal
  7. Me – Lead Vocal & Guitars
  8. Richard – Audio
  9. Pete – Media
  10. Jeremy – Lights & Camera

Worship Recap

 

 It finally feels like Spring! The temps are higher, the sun is brighter and the snow banks are giving way to the birth of flowers and grass! New birth is what we are celebrating as a church family; 3 new babies born in 7 days and more to come! Simply exciting!

As we celebrate new birth, we also morn with others who have said goodbye to loved ones. But we also share in the hope that one day we will be reunited in God’s glorious presence!

As a creative arts team, we said a fond farewell to two of our students who are soon graduating and moving away to pursue their chosen vocations! We’ll miss you Ann-Marie & Nicole!!

Today’s theme was from John 8:12-20, “I am the light of the world.” We featured songs by Vertical Church Band, Hillsong, Rend Collective, The City Harmonic and rounded out the setlist with a familiar hymn.

Setlist: Light Shine In, Endless Light, My Ligjthouse, A City on a Hill, May the Mind of Christ My Saviour 

The Band: Mark – lead guitar; Nate – drums; Zack – bass; Nicole – keys; Chris – synth; Ann-Marie & James – vocals; me – acoustic & vocals

Tech Crew: Paul – audio; Stephen – media & podcast recording; Carson – lighting & video recording

How was your Sunday? Chime in at The Worship Comminity!