Tag Archive: family


My wife and I had a unique first experience just before Christmas last year: we experienced Black Friday shopping in Michigan for the first time in our lives. It was exhilarating, it was intense, it was LOUD, it was late…(we had to line up)…it was crazy…and at the same time I had so much fun. We picked up some really great deals on Christmas presents for our kids, presents for other people and a few things for us.

There were people present at WalMart that evening, however, who did not handle this shopping trip in the same light hearted nature that Mandy and I approached it with. There was swearing, pushing, light punching, diving on top of merchandise, evictions from the store by security and shopping carts EVERYWHERE.

Lets fast forward to Christmas morning: our kids got up and were amazed at the number of wrapped packages that filled the living room! We skyped with some family and then began to open presents. It went something like this: rip paper, look, set aside…rip paper, look, set aside…cry and scream because you want to play with a toy you just opened (me included)…but instead get another wrapped package placed into your lap to open.

As Mandy and I reflected on this first Christmas in our own home with our children we realized that it did not play out quite like we had wanted. We envisioned a quiet and peaceful time opening presents, making organized piles of everything and then playing with toys later in the day in an organized fashion. We were naïve…and quite wrong!

Recently I ran into the photo that I included at the beginning of the blog post. I was immediately reminded of my Black Friday shopping experience and subsequent Christmas morning chaos. There is a poignant truth conveyed by this photo that is quite impossible to relate in words. I guess a photo really is worth 1000 words.

I am not writing so as to condemn us for enjoying the blessings of life in Canada. I too enjoy a warm bed, more food than I need and many toys and gadgets that make life easier. I even enjoyed Black Friday shopping…and the 40” television in my living room that came as a result.

However…I also enjoy being a good steward of the blessings God has given me. I enjoy receiving our charitable donations receipts at the end of each year to see that with what God has given us we have been able to return a tithe and then some. I enjoy speaking with Phil and Donna Williams of Servant Heart Ministries; our church supports their medical and relief work in the Dominican Republic. I enjoy visiting the Dominican Republic and hanging out with people like Sandra Torino; though she has nothing she gives evenything back to those in her village of Auga Negra. She is a modern day Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). I enjoyed taking Sandra out for ice cream one afternoon with our youth missions team and hearing her describe how special this was for her.

I enjoy the talk of giving a young girl in our community a baby shower to show her that we still care deeply no matter the choices she has made. I enjoy having friends over when part of their family is out of town and I enjoy hanging out with Benjamin’s friends for an evening while their family attends to a medical emergency.

These are the things that are necessary in life.

When we define necessity with greater depth than what can be found in a department store we suddenly find many more things to enjoy in this life and much more fulfillment in the way that we live.

When we become aware of the blessings that we can pass on to others we suddenly realize that in so many ways we can bring much joy and fulfillment to those that live around us.

Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Our youth ministry at EGCC regularly participates in hands-on ministry endeavors so that our students have an opportunity to experience a practical side to their faith. We have assistance numerous times at the local soup kitchen, we have operated two short term missions trips to the Dominican Republic during March Break (2008 & 2010) and we have participated in other local events. This summer we are doing something that we have never done before: we will attempt to plant a Jr. High Youth ministry at a sister church in the city!

This is the plan: we know from the body of research that exists regarding teens and faith that students are most receptive to faith in Christ in their Jr. High years (i.e. ages 10-14, grades 5-8). It makes sense therefore that this is out target group. We are in the process of planning an entire week long Jr. High day camp to be held at our sister church and staffed by a mix of volunteers from our youth ministry and their youth department. This will be held from August 22-26. We will blitz the surrounding neighborhoods with flyers & posters as well as engaging the online community with a Twitter account, Facebook page, custom website, and a YouTube promotional video. All of this will be coming online shortly.

What are we expecting for an outcome? We are praying and expecting that significant relationships will be initiated between our sister church and their surrounding neighborhood. We want to see this week long summer camp turn into a weekly Jr. High ministry at our sister church; plans are already underway for this to happen. Ultimately we want to see these Jr. High students grow into well discipled Sr. High students and bring a new dynamic of youth and leadership to come alongside of the existing leadership at our sister church. These are ambitious plans…but all things are possible!

What can you do to help in this effort? If you are a teenager that attends Emergency Ministries, we need a few more volunteers to work on preparations as well as running the events during the week of the day camp. If you are not a teenager please pray for us, our sister church, the neighborhood, and the ministry staff that will carry on this program in the fall.

As with most other youth event, I will provide a daily blog update during the summer missions project so that you can keep on top of what we are doing and so that you will know how to pray for us that week. Stay tuned for more info!

This afternoon I had the pleasure of officiating my second wedding ceremony since being ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in May of 2009. As with my first wedding, my wife was also a bridesmaid and so the experience was all the more special as we shared it together.

The couple that was married (Brandon & Nancy) are great friends of both Mandy and I; the time we spent together doing the pre-marital prep and planning the wedding ceremony were certainly highlights over the past few months.

Since I have only had the opportunity to speak at two weddings I do not have a terrible amount of experience with this; however, both times I have shared thoughts concerning love, marriage, and commitment in the real world. These thoughts have emerged from the Scriptures and have certainly challenged some views of love present in our popular culture. Here are some excerpts of what I shared this afternoon:

 

…The portrait of love as portrayed in the word of God (1 Corinthians 13) seems almost as if it were a fairy tale. Who would not want to be on the receiving end of love like this: love that never get easily angered…love that keeps no record of wrongs…love that always trusts and always perseveres…when we look deeper into this kind of love described in the Scriptures we realize that if we are expecting to receive that quality of love we must also be individuals who give that kind of love; herein lies the problem…

 

…Though Scripture records that it was Eve who was first tempted by the serpent to disobey the only law of their society, Adam did not appear to hold this against her or against their relationship…despite the wrong the Eve had committed – a wrong that would have severe consequences for Adam as well – Adam still protected Eve on the verge of her original sin being confronted…

 

…The words of Saint Peter as recorded in his first book, chapter 4 verse 8, are especially pertinent…Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. There will be days when you will get on each other’s nerves…there have likely already been those days. There will be days when you will say and do things that you will need to apologize for and the other will need to forgive…

 

…Let nothing and no one come between the vows and the bond that you are making today. Do not let yourselves be your own stumbling blocks and continually strive for that perfect ideal of love found in the Scriptures…

 

My prayer is that Brandon and Nancy will have many years of blessings and happiness and that God will grant them the strength and courage to overcome the days when the sun does not shine so that they can be an inspiration to all of those who come after them…and perhaps a few who have gone before.

Congrats guys!

Good morning readers! I have a bunch of things on my mind today and so I thought that I would let them all out for you to see and hear about. Here we go!

1. If you were in Monkey Barrel this past week we talked about VAMPIRES! No, we are not setting the Bible aside and now preaching from popular media. What we are doing is taking popular media and demonstrating how lines up or does not line up with a Biblical worldview.

Now that you are done having a heart attack about us talking of Vampires in Monkey Barrel, let me tell you what we talked about. First, we discussed the various occult-like beliefs and behaviors associated with the whole world of vampires and its somewhat close association with Wicca. These are things that our Biblical worldview tells us are very real and certainly not good, pure and noble pursuits. Secondly, we saw that there are a variety of other practices associated with Vampires that are perhaps not spiritually-related but nevertheless contradictory to our Biblical worldview. Finally, we noted that those who engage in a lifestyle of fantasy and use that as a mask to avoid the pain of real life here and now are not doing themselves any good whatsoever. We need to pursue life with Jesus Christ, not fantasy.

A full discussion about this will be posted next week once I present this material to the Emergency Ministries group.

2. The second thing on my mind today is the Royal Wedding! Not the dress, not the hats, not the people, not the ring, not the weather, not the kiss, not anything like that…..come on now, what about the Royal Wedding do you think I would deem worthy for including in this blog post? ……..the sermon by the Bishop of London! I encourage you to review a few excerpts from the wedding sermon delivered earlier this morning at Westminster Abby as I was quite impressed with the truth about love and marriage presented to millions of viewers today. You can see some excerpts at http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/blog/2011/April/29/The-Bishop-of-London-s-Sermon

3. The third and final thing on my mind this morning is a new blog series that I have been thinking about and will begin to write shortly. I want to put the idea out there now to increase your expectation and whet your appetite. I plan to write a series entitled “The Top 10 Threats to a Teenager’s Faith”. In this series I will draw from my experience of 10 years working with teenagers to highlight some common pitfalls I have seen over and over again with the anticipation that perhaps it may assist some teenagers and parents from repeating the mistakes that others before them have already made.

That’s all for this morning!

p.s. I have noticed that my Katy Perry post from well over a month ago is STILL getting many hits every day and is currently my most popular post. Perhaps you’d like me to review more artists in the near future?

Good morning readers! Just two more pieces of information to complement my last post entitled “Facebook: Friend or Foe”.

In my last post I reference one teenage suicide in the Halifax region last week; there were actually two teenage suicides last week and both funerals were this past weekend. It is not clear if both are somehow linked to cyberbullying; however, there is certainly the perception that at least one of these suicides may be linked to this. This is certainly a tough week for many students at teachers in Halifax region schools and prayers for them would be much appreciated.

Secondly, CBC.ca has followed up their Facebook depression article with another article yesterday. This one is called “Monitor Facebook use by teens” and can be found at (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/03/28/facebook-social-media-teens-children.html). The bulk of this article is reiteration from previous articles, however, there is a sidebar included with some very practical advice for parents and teenagers regarding Facebook use. It is certainly a worthwhile read and a great complement to the suggestions that I have put forth for safe social networking.

Have a great day!

~PN

It seems that Facebook has been the topic of some interesting media coverage lately. It is not surprising that Facebook is in the media for some reason; there are over 500 million users worldwide! Certainly this must be an administrative nightmare at the best of times.

Let me tell you about three recent news reports. The first report that caught my eye this morning was on CBC.ca and was entitled “Facebook Depression raised by MDs for teens” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/03/28/facebook-social-media-teens-children.html). The premise of this article is that medical doctors are now starting to see a phenomenon in teenagers that is similar to depression but is caused by devastating experiences with social networking. This is how something like this might work: a teenager signs up for a Facebook account and can then sees the pictures and postings of their friends or others they might know from school who do not have strict privacy settings on their profiles. Perhaps this teenager reaches out and requests friendship with several of his/her classmates and is rejected or simply ignored. Maybe there is a group event that is initiated but this person is not included on the invite list. Or, perhaps after posting pictures of himself/herself or family events others respond with hurtful or degrading comments.

This is essentially the online equivalent of getting picked last in gym class…times a million because everyone in the school will see it in their newsfeed over and over and over again. More than just one event in time, offenses that take place on Facebook are present indefinitely and the hurt can be relived each time it is viewed or talked about.

Is this for real, you might ask? Well, let me tell you about the two other reports that have been in the news recently.

The second and third reports are both from the Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia’s provincial newspaper published in Halifax, NS). One article was published on Friday March 25th and was entitled “Is Lower Sackville teen’s suicide a result of cyberbullying?” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020294.html). The other was published on Saturday March 26th and was entitled “Online bullying, suicide link probed” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020297.html). All of this after a 14 year old girl from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia killed herself this past week. At some point after her suicide there was a memorial page started on Facebook and numerous comments attributed her death to cyberbullying. Now, family members and her principal are questioning these reports stating that other factors likely contributed to this death…which makes me wonder… if just days after the death we can be so certain about what contributed to it, why then did we not reach out two weeks ago to prevent it? Anyhow, I digress. The fact is that there is a perception that cyberbullying certainly contributed to this unfortunate ending of life and the RCMP in Nova Scotia are following up this lead.

Here are my thoughts on all of this: it is for good reason that Facebook has a policy that you must be 13 years old to have an account and that even those individuals who are older than 13 should still consult with their parents as they experience Facebook. I know for a fact that many teenagers somewhat embellish pictures, ages, and other features about themselves on Facebook…I know this because I know these people in real life and I also follow many (many, many…) teenagers on Facebook and see the glaring discrepancies.

Social media in itself is not to blame for the depression or suicide described above. Facebook, or the less popular (and less monitored by adults) social network found at formspring.me, are tools that can be used for much good. Mandy and I connect with family that live a great distance away using social networking tools.

Here are some beginning thoughts to keep safe while using the benefits of social media:

1. Be true to who you are! Post pictures, posts, and birthdays that are accurate! Misrepresenting yourself online can never lead  to good things. You are unique and special in your own way and you don’t have to pretend to be something that you are not.

2. Treat bullying seriously. Bullying is never ok, and just because it isn’t face to face (but on Facebook instead) it still hurts and obviously has devastating consequences. Don’t do it, don’t believe it, and don’t stay silent about it!

3. Involve parents and other people in your online activities. Don’t ever let your online habits become so secretive that you are not talking with parents and others that you trust about what is taking place online. Parents, talk to your kids about their online habits just the same as you would about the friends they see in real life and the places they go in real life. As someone said, Facebook is the new ‘corner store’ where teens go to hang out.

Lets strive to make sure these past news reports never become future headlines once again.

Blessings for our Kids

Mandy and I have been reading through the whole Bible lately with the goal of doing a complete read through by May 2011. I am not sure if we are going to reach that goal but we are continuing to strive for this very noble achievement. While doing so I have been struck by many new thoughts and reflections on portions that I have already read many times before. Recently I have been reflecting on the passages that mark the transition of leadership from one generation to another and the blessings associated with this. Two instances that stick out in my mind are when Isaac blesses Jacob prior to his death and when Moses passes the torch of leadership to Joshua prior to his death. These instances are not just trivial matters – they are milestone moments in the life of a group of people. Without getting too theological or philosophical (and thus missing the whole point of this posting), how does this notion of blessings for our kids pertain to our present culture?

Every time I think about this topic I have a somewhat morbid mental image of my old self lying in a hospital bed and requesting some time alone with each of my children to pass the mantle of family and faith on to them and thus to the next generation. There is no need to wait until that moment however to speak prayers and blessings of encouragement for your children. All milestones in life are opportunities for significant moments to occur much like the Isaac-Jacob and Moses-Joshua moments. The moment your children are born, when they begin school, when they graduate, their marriage, their children, when they become grandparents…and ultimately the moment when they will have carry on life without you and become the matriarchs and patriarchs of your family.

That being said let me give you a glimpse into the thoughts and blessings that I have in mind for my kids right now.

Benjamin: You made life happier and more complete than I ever imagined. I told people having you was the best thing that your mom and I had ever done in life and in our marriage. I love guiding you through life and I love watching you grow. I was told once that Benjamin was a good strong name; you are a strong person and full of drive when you have a goal in mind. Never loose that determination but always make sure that you are driving for the best goals. Your faith in God will direct you always. I love the way you pray with us at meals and bedtimes now; don’t ever stop. You will be a great and strong influence in our family and on your brothers and sisters, my eldest son Benjamin.

Sophia: Your name means ‘wisdom’ and this was no accident; always make wise decisions in life and always remain connected to God, the supplier of great wisdom. I pray that you will be as wise as Solomon and through that you will save yourself and those around you much grief in life. I see you as gentle and steady, a trendsetter not just by charisma but also by how you have lived each day over time. I love your snuggles and your smiles and the strength that you have exerted just to be here with us today. You are loved, my eldest daughter Sophia.

Aubrey: Your mom thought this name was beautiful and I have no doubt that you were too. We had a hunch you were in there but only knew for certain just one week before you left us. Though I will never know you the way I know your brothers and sisters your life inspired many conversations and moments within your family and between friends…all that in just one week. Where you are now I have never been, however my wish for you is that the story of your life will be a blessing to those here and that you enjoy your new life while you wait for your family to join you. My third child, Aubrey.

I share this in my “just for parents” category to encourage parents of teenagers who may be following this blog to embrace milestone moments in life and to allow spiritual things to continually intersect with your lives. Pray blessings for your children, continually encourage them in spiritual pursuits, and make sure to leave with them significant moments of wisdom and faith for all the days that they will live after our loving and prayerful direction has passed on.