I couldn’t help but scan this in and post it here. Anyone that appreciates good corporate logo design, branding, etc, etc, will know that this is the worst display of design. I thought I’d seen it all, what with some terrible stuff produced by evangelical churches, and the many examples of Jesus Junk, such as this one, I posted about awhile back. However, I can finally say that this bad design, isn’t from the church. It’s just plan hilarious.
Thanks to Steven Thiessen for grabbing this ad for me while on his recent trip to Haiti, from the Skymall Catalog.
Lately I have been pondering so much in my head. Maybe it’s because I like to think and internalize alot as I am by nature someone who doesn’t share with others very easily. You might be thinking, then why in the world does this guy have a blog in the first place. My answer… I dunno…
Maybe it was my way of finding an avenue of social outlet (facebook seems to have taken over that), maybe it was because in a way I thought no one would read this in the first place and so why not share, or maybe it was because I thought it would help me to better communicate my inner dialogue with those that really know me. Either way, I’ve been sucking at it and I know that I need to share what’s on my mind, my heart, and my soul more often. I just wish I was a better communicator, a better writer. I feel a sidetrack coming here…. as a writer I am terrible, I can’t have any official document from our office sent out without it going through tons of proofreading, oh and somehow I think that has something to do with me losing 99% of the games of Words with Friends I ever play. So if you ever wanna beat someone, look up ddgrunau. Sorry back on topic. So with that being said, I am going to say that I am going to make an effort to post here and share what’s inside this twisted messed up, sinful, thankfully covered by Grace mind of mine. Oh, there will be grammar errors, and spelling mistakes (thankful WP catches most of those), but I am not going to apologize. I’m just going to share. Hmmm, seems fitting as the title is Terribly and not Beautiful or Awesome. So enough about that… let’s move on to something more heartwarming.
Along time ago, I did a short lived series (only 2) called Artist Showcase. I really enjoyed doing posts like that as it took the focus off me and onto someone else. So I thought I should do something like that again.
So today we are going to Focus Outward and we are going to do something special, even sentimental. I am going to do short bios and write ups on people who have greatly impacted my life. And we are going to start it off with a great friend and co-worker
Many of you who read this will know Greg Benson. But what many of you don’t know is that Greg and I have worked together forever. In fact, Greg is a huge reason why I am who I am today. It all started in the summer of 1995 or was it 1996, I can’t remember. Anyways, that summer my mom (thanks Mom) forced me convinced me that being a Leader in Training (LIT) at Camp Kadesh would be a great idea. I was raised on a farm, I wasn’t stupid, I knew that being an LIT just meant doing work. ie. Cleaning toliets, dishes and other manual labour. But somehow, my mom got me to signup for a couple weeks. I know now that I’m sure she wanted the best for me, and to get rid of me (I was crazy afterall) for a few weeks during summer. Well, my LIT Director was none other than Greg Benson.
Here I am with my first group of LITs. In case you missed it, I’m button right with the short hair – I know weird huh? – And Greg is top middle with the hair – I know weird huh?
Well, I’d like to say that I was a great LIT and that I always did my best when working. But I can’t. I sucked. So much so that Greg almost sent me home. Not sure how I got to come back the second week. But looking back I know that God had a plan and it included an LIT director was wasn’t going to give up on me. That is the summer my life changed.
From then on I kept returning to camp to work and so did Greg, until one day I was his Junior Cabin Leader as seen in this next picture. We had so great times in that cabin. The 2 tallest cabin leaders together with the smallest junior campers. Fun times.
Those summers at camp impacted my life in a huge way, Greg (and others as well) modeled a faith that was real to me and ultimately what changed who I am from what I was. This caused me to have a hunger for growth in my life and eventually lead me to Briercrest and into fulltime ministry. But this isn’t my life story, this is about Greg.
God has always been so aware of my needs, and as I mentioned above, I am not a super open guy. I don’t connect deeply to others quickly, but when I do it is deep rooted and meaningful. So God made sure to place people in my life along my path, and that the most striking example of that is Greg.
When I went to Bible College, Greg and Jess lived on campus and I spent many many Fridays at there house. Sometimes probably too much time, but again, I was never turned away. I especially remember one difficult month and I bet I was over at their place 2x per week. Did I have super deep conversations each time, no, did we have an official “mentorship”, No. But I always knew that I could count on Greg and Jess. And I do remember enjoying alot of beadwedges and Kool-Aid at there place.
When I got married, Greg was there again to stand up as one of my Groomsmen. I won’t get into stories on this one as somethings are left for another day.
And then when I graduated from college to start my first ministry employment, who does God place me to work alongside? You guessed it Greg. Those first few years working with Greg at Youth For Christ(YFC) I was young and needed a lot of guidance and mentorship and He did SOO much for me those early years of ministry. One thing I appreciate is that I was given a chance and even given a chance to fail. But when I did fail he was beside me guiding me through and helping me pickup the pieces. When Greg left YFC I was scared. Scared to be without him. But during these years working alone I learnt alot and was challenged to step out for myself, which was a great time of growth for me. Now there is a whole story of how Greg challenged me while we worked at separate ministries in the same city, and even how I got to where I am know, but that’s a story that is really long and tough to tell. but what I can say is that God brought us back to working together at Ranger Lake Bible Camp and I must say that working with one of your closest friends is so very rewarding. And working with someone with integrity, courage and strength of character, but most of all, strength of faith that also happens to be a great friend is even better.
But don’t take my word for it. This past week while down at Briercrest for the college’s Camp Day’s, Greg was honoured and selected on the school’s 75th Anniversary as one of the 75 Alumni in the school’s history for being a Faithful God Honouring Servant who stands out. You read that correct, only 75 Alumni are being chosen for this special recognition. 75 of the 1000’s who have graduated from Briercrest. And I think everyone should know that. And know that I agree 100%.
So here’s to Greg Benson.
I look forward to serving with you for many more years to come.
Truly, in my absence of communication you are my Aaron
In my encouragement, you are my Timothy
And in my weaknesses, you are my Paul.
I hope this post is the first in a long line of Focus Outward. To honouring and encouraging each other and to challenging each other to strive to honour God. May this be a way to follow Thess 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Hey everyone, as I mentioned in my last post. I finally got the sermon posted. Go download it here or subscribe to the podcast here
I have been meaning to write this post ever since this Sunday morning, the Sunday that I was wrecked. However, I have been putting it off mostly because I am wrecked and don’t completely know what to share, but as I have reflected over this for 2.5 days now, I know that I need to share what God is doing to me, and what I believe He wants to do with many others.
For me, this didn’t just happen this Sunday, it has been a process that has climaxed in a dramatic way this Sunday. Nonetheless, I will begin earlier than Sunday. Earlier this fall I was given a book entitled Radical to read as some leaders in the church where giving them out. This book challenged me in the comforts we as have and how Jesus challenges and demands that we live in a way that requires Him. So as I look at my life, one area God pointed out was money. Yes, I’m going to start talking about giving first. The money I am given is from God, and when I look at my life, and when you look at your own, are you given in a way that is a sacrifice? I mean are you giving to God, knowing that He will need to continue to provide for you? I’m not talking about giving more, I’m talking about things like retirement plans, savings, the way we put our money away for that trip we’ve always wanted, I’m talking about giving in such a way that we completely, 100% rely on God. I venture to guess that NO ONE reading this right now is doing that. But I believe we ALL should be. I’m not going to go into details on how God has challenged myself and our family on that fact, but know that this has been very difficult.
So that’s was the beginning. God showing me that He needs to be the provider. God then has been challenging me that if we rely on Him for everything that He also demands so much more of our time, energy, talents, etc, etc. This is when the bigger struggle begins for me. As I have been looking for more ways to serve, I’ve also been challenged by how much time I spend with my family, and what can my family do together to serve, and all these thoughts get in my head, and I get pulled in so many different directions. But what ends up happening is that I end of thinking about things and going to work and then going home to a warm house sitting down, after what I think is a hard day, with a cup of coffee to relax to one of too many mindless TV shows or movies to watch as the day ends. And time passes and I still am thinking about this, and before you know it, I’ve done nothing to change. Oh, I can spend the time to make sure I am up to date on the latest TV Shows, or tech whatever (insert something else for yourself here), and make sure all of my comforts are taken care of, but really making a change, especially one that might get in the way of the comforts that you and I all think we deserve? That’s all together different, isn’t it?
Insert Sunday morning.
Read Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Instead of trying to describe more about this Sunday, I would like to have you read an excerpt from our Pastor’s latest blog post below.
On the second Sunday of Advent this year God met us at church in a startling fashion. He drew our attention to the needs in our own city. Not Toronto or Vancouver but Saskatoon. The way that happened was through Hands On Ministries down on 20th. We had Rick Langlais come and share at our Friday morning men’s breakfast. We left disturbed with the news of what is happening within our own city. We discovered that we have over 250 prostitutes under 16 working our streets. These are under age children so as Rick said let’s call it what it is….these girls are being raped.
It was a sobering, disturbing Sunday because we were talking about the coming of the Messiah. It should be nice and Christmas-like but the truth is Jesus came to change lives. He did not come so we could have church. He did not come to make us comfortable. He did not come so we could be nice. He came to change our hearts and to give us a message to share.
This is what wrecked me. In the Christmas story you will remember that when the angels came to the shepherds in the field that he said, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” ALL THE PEOPLE, includes those girls in Saskatoon that are being abused. Jesus does want to save the world, and He wants US to be the ones who deliver hope. Not just those that are officially in paid ministry, but ALL of us. He doesn’t want us to be comfortable. So I am completely wrecked and I hope I don’t ever get fixed.
It’s time to get uncomfortable.
I’ll end with the Great Commission. And I like how the version, The Message, puts it.
From Matthew 28 – “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…”
Also, as soon as the audio podcast of Russ’s complete sermon from Sunday morning is available, I’ll post a link. Or you can subscribe to it via iTunes here and get it right away.
Well it’s cold, the ground is covered in snow, the winter tires have been put on the cars and when I enter stores I am surrounded by crazy shoppers. It’s almost time for the holidays and Christmas. I’m not sure why I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas time. It’s not like I had a terribly childhood or some tragic event that I am being reminded of. It’s actually quite the opposite, I have great memories of family Christmas at the farm. From the hours building snow forts, to the annual Christmas Eve time of opening those loot bags from Church services, to the anticipation of Christmas morning, there was always much to be thankful for and to remember. So now I’m a father, with two wonderful girls, it’s suppose to be my turn to build those same memories into my own family, my turn to put up the ridiculous amount of lights on the tree, the house, the everything and I just don’t feel excited about it. Oh, I am excited to see Libby’s face Christmas morning and to snuggle up with her and read the Christmas story and to teach her about why Jesus coming to earth is so very important. But all that other stuff, I’m just not ready for it, or even wanting it.
Sure everyone keeps telling me, “You’re a Scrooge”, “Ba humbug to you”, “Where’s your Christmas Spirit?” And frankly, I’m getting rather sick of it. In fact, those comments probably make it worse. I have Christmas spirit, I want to show and teach to my family and to others what really matters at Christmas. Does my house really need to be visible from a radar image for me to “have Christmas spirit?.” Even Christmas trees and all the decorations and dare I say it, even the many nativity scenes around…. is this all there is too it? Decorate, give some socially conscientious presents, eat way too much food, sing a carol or two and call it another Christmas season? I think we’ve ALL missed the mark somehow. I think that’s why I don’t enjoy all the preparations. And yes, I have thought this for awhile and I’ve done nothing to change. Shame on me. But shame on all of us for letting Christmas simply get out of hand. I mean, my Savior came down to earth in a very humble manner. He choose a stable, a barn, the most humble surroundings to arrive. And how do we choose to celebrate? Big events, tons of decorations, hours shopping for gifts and let’s be honest, gift cards, for others that don’t need anything at all. Doesn’t anyone else find this to be, well, strange?
Well, I’m telling you this all so that people will quit saying I have no Christmas spirit, but also as a form of accountability. This Christmas I am going to do something different. Instead of just complaining I’m going to seek out different ways to celebrate and I’m going to look for humble ways to do that. For starters, this year Christmas day is actually open for just my family to do whatever we want, no gatherings for either side. So we are looking for a place to go and serve others, humbly serve those in need. So if anyone has an idea for a place a family of 4 with 2 small Children can go to serve on Dec 25th, I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Other ways I’m going to change, well, I’m not sure. Don’t think I can get away without any decorations, as my wife might shoot me, but I do want to do something different. Ideas?
PS. I still haven’t started listening to Christmas music yet. Ugh. And the picture is just for Jess
Just thought I would put a quick plug out to advertise the Ranger Lake Bible Camp Fall Banquet. Come find out what God has been doing at camp this past summer and what exciting things we are planning for 2011. It is Nov 13th at 5:30pm at Cornerstone Church, 315 Lenore Drive, Saskatoon, SK
Cost is $10/person, or $30/family
Please call 249-6448 to attend or drop me a note here.
So we are very excited that we got some new family photos done by Umbrella Photography a few weeks ago. And today we got to check them out. We are so happy with them and love the feel these pictures bring. Can’t wait to fill some frames around the house to replace the old photos, especially since the old ones don’t have Norah even in them. So instead of just reading more of my usually boring post. Why not just check out these fine photos of my beautiful girls.
If you are having trouble viewing the photos on here you can view them on Facebook if you are my friend here
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So I’m writing this after a full day of training for CSSM Ministries, which is the parent company that owns and operates Ranger Lake Bible Camp. It has been a very full day of sessions, from talking fundraising, to policy manuals, to ending it off with a session on prayer. Overall, most of the info is stuff I’ve heard before however, I’m doing my best to keep an open mind and to try to take something away from my time here. The thing that is making that easier is relationships. Chatting with people new to the ministry, to people who’ve been in it for a long time, to young to the old, it’s been a great time of connecting with others in camp ministry. What I do find odd, is that everyone seems to want to goto bed so early and I’m left wide awake at 10pm trying to find something to do. Thankfully my boss let me borrow his iPad so I have something to play with, but with limited Internet, it has limitations.
So I got chatting with someone tonight about my design background and how I got into this and what else I’ve done in the past and we talked and I showed him some of my stuff from the Poetic Industries site and that led me to talk about this site… Then i realized that I hadn’t posted for a while, when I had full intentions of starting to again. I guess I missed the boat on that one again. dang.
Anyways, I’m so glad I was reminded because today is a day to remember God’s blessing in my life and in the life of our little family. Today little Norah if officially 1 year old! Praise God!
I can’t believe how much differently this past year could have gone and to be reminded that God was and is still with us. He was with us during the hard labour of her birth one year ago today, He was with us when we learnt something was wrong with her heart, He was with us when we were told she would need surgery, He was with us when we needed to make arrangements and pay for expenses, He was with us when he had to pass her to a nurse and watch her go into the O.R. He was with us during what seemed like the longest wait of our lives, He was with us during recovery, and He is still with us as we continue to monitor her back and rib issues. Without God we wouldn’t have handled this in the way we have. I am so thankfully for every minute He has been with us, and thankful for how this has changed us, how it’s strengthened out faith and how it continues to stretch us. Looking back now, I don’t wish for any parent to have to go through what we’ve experienced, but I wouldn’t want to loss what God has taught us either.
Now if I go back farther in life, I am reminded of the stress and everything we have gone through just to get pregnant the first time, and to go through much of it again the second time. However, as stressfully and as painful as that experience was and very much could be if we look to more children, I know that God used that pain, and the way He worked in me to learn what the peace of God was, that I wouldn’t have been able to handle Norah’s surgery as well as I did. I heard it said once, that the things you are going through, the pain, the joy, the success and failures, are all being used to prepare you for something bigger that God has in store for you. I know this to be true in my 6 and some odd years in full-time ministry, but to begin to see hope God works in the realities of my day to day life and with my children and wife is something altogether and infinitely more special.
So today marks a special reminder of the real life example of God at work in my life over the past year. Thanks be to God. I hope that you get a time to reflect on how God has worked in your life over the past year or so. If you’ve got a story to tell, email or comment here. Who knows maybe what I’ve wrote will impact you or maybe your comment will impact someone else.
So I have come to realize that this site has really been put on hold lately. I think it’s that darn facebook that’s too blame. I finally actually logged into my blog and realized that even with it’s inactivity that I am still getting traffic to the site. Weird. In fact, I have almost as much traffic as the Ranger Lake website. So now I am thinking that I need to bring this blog back to where it once was. What would you like to see here? Let me know in the comments
So I guess my blog is living up to it’s name recently. The Terrible part that is. A lot of things in my life have taken a back seat while camp is on. We are now at the halfway point of our summer camps, although if I count from May we are way past half I guess. Anyways, I didn’t take time from my busy camp schedule to complain or to be down on my blog. I appreciate all of you for reading my blog, even with it’s very few updates and it’s sporadic nature. I love you all. I took this time to share my heart about what’s been going on in my life and the life of my family. So here goes…
This spring coming into camp I felt very confident and at ease with where God was moving and how I knew that God was in control of everything here. The month of June is and was the hardest month for our family. Due to the camp life, I end up being at camp for most of June and my family ends up being back home. I get to come home most weekends and whenever I get a day off, but it takes it’s toll on the family. I know that this spring has been particularly hard on Dawn as life with Norah and the stresses of her health still very much exist and at times seem to linger. Add to the fact that I am away alot just makes it more difficult for Dawn. While Dawn struggles to deal with everything and handle the kids, pretty much as a single parent, I am not immune to struggles as well. It would seem that not having kids to deal with while working would be nice, in fact it takes it toll on me. Nonetheless, our family survive the month and soon they joined me at camp.
This summer, Dawn has been very excited to get more involved with camp in whatever way works. From getting involved in some admin duties, which she loves, to getting to mentor a bunch of girls, which she loves even more, she has really felt alot more connected to camp and staff than last year. This is awesome. As she has gotten involved more, so her support of what I am doing grows even stronger than before. I am so thankful for my amazing wife and her love and understanding of this wonderful ministry. Praise God!
What has been on our minds lately has been the continued stress of Norah’s health. Some of you may or may not know (from reading Dawn’s posts too), that Norah has some issues with her spine/ribs. She has a curvature of her spine and some fused ribs. We are told that she will have to see a specialist to monitor her growth until she is done growing!! Please pray that things will be alright with this, as the biggest issue is her ribs. If they stay fused then that side of her body can’t grow and develop properly and it makes it very difficult for her organs to grow. If it gets worse then she would have to undergo another surgery. This one would be alot longer and more involved than even the open heart surgery she already had. I can’t begin to tell you how much we want to avoid that! Also, due to the defects she’s had together she recently underwent an ultrasound on her kidneys, as it can be common for these defects to all be connected and for more issues to exist as well. We are waiting on the results right now and are praying that her kidneys are fine.
Lastly, in her recent checkup it was noted that she is only 13lbs!!! They are worried about her weight gain, and we are now tasked with trying to get as many proteins and such into her little body. Pray that Norah will gain weight. She is strong and can actually stand, situp, and take steps when holding our hands, but is just so tiny. All in all, I am finding it more and more difficult to remain peaceful about everything. God has given us amazing peace, but before and during the surgery. We are so thankful for all your prayers and I just feel that I need another dose of God’s people to continue praying for Norah and us as we continue to deal with it all. Thanks.
So there it is. In a nutshell that is our life. And just so you all know, if you are ever near Saskatoon or North Battleford area, we would love to give you directions to Ranger Lake to stop by for a visit. Summer here is going well for ministry, God is doing some amazing things in the lives of our staff and many, many campers. We wish you could all come be witness to His work. Until next time, (which will probably be after camp) God Bless.