Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Struggle is Our Diagnosis

     I've had some great conversations lately with several students from different faith backgrounds about whether some of the more rigid and difficult commands in the Christian faith are actually keeping people away from Christianity.  Their idea was that these commands either need to change or Christianity will become either obsolete, irrelevant, or both.  I disagreed and offered a different perspective on the purpose of God's commands.
     We often teach that behavioral commands like do not kill, lie, covet, lust, etc., are actually given to us to protect us or to give us a more satisfactory life if we follow them.  If this is the reason why God gave us behavioral commands then many people will simply "opt out."  Their reasoning is "I would rather be a little less safe or a little less happy and do things my way than deal with the struggle and guilt that come packaged with commands."  In some ways this isn't so unreasonable.    
      But behavioral commands are not really for our benefit (although there is fruitful wisdom in many of them).  Behavioral commands and our struggles with them help us understand the condition of our heart.  They are a diagnostic tool.  They prove to us that we are unable to follow the greatest command- "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself."   If the great command was the only command we were given then over time we would start to convince ourselves that we are actually keeping it consistently.  We would lie to ourselves and say "I AM loving you with all that I have, all the time!" 
      But God in His wisdom gave us these behavioral commands to show us that we are not the God-centered beings He asks us to be.  Using commands, God puts boundaries on key parts of our lives that He knows we will struggle with.  Some struggle with the command not to worry, others with the commands restricting sexuality, and others with the command to be honest in business.  There is a wide spectrum of commands in every area of life so that each person would find one that they struggle with. 

     That's right! God designs for there to be a noticeable struggle between His commands and our nature.  It pushes us to accept His grace as our only hope!

     God wants us to have a command that we don't like, that our nature contradicts, that makes us angry or feels unfair! This experience helps us "bottom out" spiritually.  If we found every command of God to be agreeable with our nature, how would we ever know if we are denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him?  The struggle reveals to us the nature of our heart and how self-centered we really are.  Only after "bottoming out" do we see our spiritual condition accurately and this is the beginning of true repentance and turning to God.      

     We should be thankful for difficult commands and those with the biggest struggle have the shortest path to "bottoming out" and seeing their heart in its true state.  We should not teach that God's commands are centered around "life enhancement" but rather to provoke a struggle that serves as a window into our soul. 

   ...Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.  Romans 7:7

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Things I Love The Most About My Wife...

   Erin and I have been married for more than 7 years now and we're not only in love but we actually enjoy each others company (and many of you know that's not always the case).  What I love most about my wife is that we laugh together so much!  She allows me to be goofy with her when I don't always allow myself to be goofy with others.  She makes me laugh with outrageous statements that only I ever get to hear.  We understand each others sense of humor so well.  A simple episode of Jeopardy can turn into 10 minutes of uncontrollable laughter because of something said or worn.  "What Would You Do?" with John Quinones is appointment television for us because it is a goldmine of comedic material that we will giggle about the rest of the evening.  The part I like the most is that it wouldn't be funny to anyone else.  Our humor turns us into children again with a secret club and I love it!  And the most exciting part is that we see it developing in our children.  Sophia and I will just stare at each other and laugh for minutes for absolutely no reason (I can already anticipate your suggestions of what she is laughing at, so save it!).  She also copies Erin's little catch phrases that she doesn't always realize she says and then will break them out at absolutely the right time sending us rolling in laughter.  I want Sophia and Elias to know home is where we laugh, a lot!  Erin and I want to always make sure that it is that way.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Christian, a Muslim, a Baha'i, and an Atheist all walk into a bar...

     It wasn't exactly a bar. It was a meeting room at our campus but all these and more were there. 

Hoping to create dialogue in a school where most people don't talk to one another.
     By design, I've been spending more and more time with non-Christian students on campus this semester.  I had a chance to be a part of a meeting that had representatives from the Baha'i club, Muslim Student Association, the Moral Atheists, SC Out (the LGBTQ club on campus), and two Christian clubs.  We organized a weekly meeting where each of us can present what our faith (or way of thinking for non-faith groups) says about certain topics. This is open to all students and we are expecting about 20-30 students weekly.  Our first topic is community.  I am presenting one paragraph that summarizes what Christianity says about "community" and I want you to tell me what to say.  Just leave it in the comment box. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just When You Thought Canada Couldn't Get Any Whiter

This is the park from our window
This is slow, cold torture

Just when you thought Canada couldn't get any snows! We haven't had much snow this winter but when it comes it flies in like its mad at you. I used to love this in Poland. I could just retreat to my high rise apartment and wonder how long it would have to snow before the accumulation reached the 7th floor. Here in Canada, though, I am required by law to shovel the sidewalk in front of our home. It is exactly 4 ft of sidewalk, hardly worth the $10 I spent on the shovel, but I am a law abiding immigrant. Luckily, Sophia thinks this is the greatest job in all the world. She asks everyday to "Go shovel snow?". So this is Sophia with her own shovel we bought her, doing her best.

Being Ready

Asian Christian Fellowship
     Right before winter break my team leader, Greg, asked me to prepare a discipleship plan that I can use with students the next year.  The task was to produce something more than just material but a plan on how to really produce a Christlike disciple.  Discipleship doesn't/shouldn't just center around a lesson or workbook but around a relationship and a lifestyle.  The only requirement was that once I had gone through it with a student, they would be able to go through it with someone else (self replicating). 
     After looking at things I had done in the past and thinking about things I wish I had done, I finished my plan and shared it with Greg last weekend (I will post a link to it here after I've cleaned it up a bit).  In explaining why I needed a discipleship plan to some partners I asked "What would you do with a student who just walked up to you and said 'Show me how to become a Christian'?"  Now, of course, this was only a hypothetical situation...until last night.  Two students walked into a student-led Bible study for the first time and asked how they could become Christians without any Gospel presentation prompting them. They were ready to take the first step in discipleship.   I marveled at God's ability to draw people to Himself.  I also grieved that if this would have happened last year, I may not have been ready to walk them through becoming a follower of Christ in a way that would have left them prepared to disciple others.  I just wanted to ask you, the reader, the question:  What would you do if someone said to you 'Show me how to become a Christian'?  Would you pass them off to someone else or would you be ready to walk that path with them?  

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Sophia enjoying the room Tio prepared for her!
      Erin , Elias, Sophia and I were able to spend Christmas and New Years in Texas.  It was our son's first trip to America which feels so weird to write.  Of course anywhere can feel familiar and like home when you have a loving family waiting for you.  My brother went over the top in how he prepared the kids' rooms.  Sophia, especially, who is always shy for the first five minutes she sees anyone no matter how familiar, immediately dropped her guard in when she saw her new room.  She slept in a tent!  It was a perfect ending to a hard day of traveling.
All the cousins!
     Erin's family was great as always.  We ate so much together and watched our kids play.  Sophia loves her cousins and hasn't stopped listing their names yet (Aidan, Jacob, Chloe, Riley, Will and Baby Bennett get mentioned everyday here in the Great White North).  Grandma and Grandpa were great as well providing a life saving rocking chair to help us put our boy to sleep every night.  The only thing missing was Papu and Abu (who will be here April!).
How can you not love this guy?!
      We also connected again with our friends at Richland Hills Baptist, Marine Creek, Gethsemane, and CityView and others. 
     The time we had made me think about how blessed we are to have a loving family to visit, the resources to travel, and the health to enjoy every second.  God is good!  I also am thankful that we have a place in Toronto that we were happy to return to because of our incredible chance to serve here in a meaningful way. 
Thanks to everyone who made our short time in Texas special and we look forward to keeping you posted on a great year!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fun At The Park

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you see how the kids are doing as they do what they do best- goof off!  We had some great weather and in November in Canada that means cancel everything and get to your closest park!  Here's a look at our day.