Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas, The Season of Exhaustion?



Between the parties, shopping, cooking, decorating, travelling, and Christmas programs/services at church, this has to be one of the most exhausting times of the year.

I am not complaining.  All of those activities are what makes Christmas special.  But sometimes it feels like you run out of energy before Christmas even arrives.

Today I was listening to some Christmas music and all of a sudden it hit me.  The Christmas story is filled with stories of exhaustion.

Think about it...

The Wise Men...traveled
The Shepherds...traveled
Mary & Joseph...traveled

They all must have been exhausted.  I complain because I have to sit in a car for a couple of hours.  I can't imagine what it must of been like to travel a long distance over 2000 years ago.  Not to mention the lack of rest stops along the way and we know there was no luxury hotel.

But the best part of the story is that it was all worth it.  We celebrate the birth of our saviour.

So the next time you feel like this season isn't worth it.  Think about a star, a manger, and a baby that would change the world.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Patience



Has anyone advised you to not pray for patience?   Because the only way to have patience is to have your patience tested.  My patience was tested today.

I had to renew my health card, vehicle registration, and driver's license.  Thankfully I can do it at the same place now.  I am very thankful for that.  So what's the problem?  Go, stand in line for a few minutes, show them you know the date and how to write your name, and you're done.  Yes, that is the case most of the time.

Today, on a busy day full of activity, I rushed on my lunch break to get everything done.  I walked in the door and to my surprise, and complete jubilation realized that there was no line...on a Friday! 

With a giddy smile on my face, I'm sure, I took a few steps and realized that I had forgotten one of the forms.  I wanted to scream but knew that I would scare the poor old lady behind me, and perhaps get escorted off the premises.  Instead, I grumbled back to my car to drive back to the radio station to get the form.  Forty-five minutes later the process was complete and everything was in order.

It got me thinking about the grace of God.  I must make him crazy....on a daily basis...because He has to be so patient with me.  He sees my talents, abilities, and potential but has to watch me spin my tires all time until I learn my lesson.

Aren't you glad He doesn't give up on us?  In fact, instead of giving up He surrounds us with people who can challenge and encourage us, and even left behind a manual to help us realize that our situation is not unique. Someone before us has been hurt, confused, frustrated, and impatient.

If you haven't lately, crack open the Bible and be amazed at how it will speak directly to you when you need it the most.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Favourite Songs

Every once in awhile it's fun to compare favourite songs.  Here is what I am enjoying lately...

I learned this week that The Afters wrote a song with Richard Marx (yep...that Richard Marx) on their latest album.  He called them and flew to Nashville to meet with the guys and co-wrote this song.

Here is the result:


Kerrie Roberts - My Heart's Lifted

I just enjoy "feel good" songs.


Young Chozen - Without You...guilty Slammin Christian Hits pleasure.


Hillsong - Christ Is Enough - love this stripped down version


Switchfoot - Let It Out...quality isn't great, but it's just a reminder of how good a live Switchfoot show is.  Not a bad song either.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Your Life On The Big Screen

It can be tough to imagine what it would be like to make the story of your life into a movie.  Once that decision is made, then the real fun begins.  Who would be cast to play you?  Would it be a dramatic story line with lots of surprises or an all out action movie loaded with special effects?  You already have the concept in mind...fun!



Now, imagine the movie was only made to highlight the mistakes, problems, embarrassing moments, and sinful parts of your life.  Are you still as excited?  Me neither.

Most of our co-workers, friends, and even family members don't even know the worst of us.  But God does.  He could have made an example of us all.  He could expose all of our mistakes and sins on a regular basis to keep us in a constant state of humiliation.  But he didn't, he doesn't .  Instead, he gives us the free gift that is so easy to receive...grace.  God send his son Jesus to wipe the dark side of our life away if only we believe in Him.

There are many songs that talk about God's grace. Hopefully this one is a gentle reminder of what He has done for us.

Quality isn't great...but the story is amazing.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Inspiration



I want you to imagine that you are in a room full of people.  Maybe it's at church, in a mall, or at a doctor's office.  And it's not that you're trying to eavesdrop on conversations, but sometimes they just speak loud enough so you can understand what they're saying.  Most of the time it is about day to day life (errands, jobs, kids, sports, etc).  But more often than not, I hear discouragement.  How everything is going wrong and there is no way out.  Seriously, I can't believe how much I hear about situations that cannot be overcome.

I am not trying to make light of difficult circumstances, because they are difficult.  We need to persevere.  God has a bigger plan.  We just can't see it yet.  In fact, have you noticed that God hasn't given up...on us.  Look at how many people let God down in the Bible - Adam & Eve, Moses, David, and Peter just to name drop a few.  Then look at today...Steve Jones...maybe you...ok...maybe not you.

The bottom line is even though all of us have failed, He always gives us another opportunity. But, he did not say it would be easy.  He did not say it would not be tough.  Life will throw punches at us at such a rapid pace that sometimes we can't handle it and we get knocked down.  It is in that place where we choose to stay where we are, give up altogether, or get back up and keep trying.

We need to get back up and keep trying.  I know it sounds very cliche, but that's what we need to do. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Heb. 12:1

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

I know, some people get upset when you just throw Bible verses at them.  So, I remembered a clip from a movie that ties in perfectly with these verses.  Hopefully the verses and this clip will give you that extra bit of encouragement you need to get back up and keep moving.    



  

Friday, November 21, 2014

What I Learned From Shoveling

Most of Central Ontario was greeted to a blast of winter this week.  Winter tires were rolling off the shelf and sales of snow brushes, scrapers, and shovels were at a record high.



It's crazy how God can use anything to teach me a lesson, including shoveling.  If you own a snow blower, no fair.  But more importantly, this is a lesson that might escape you as you easily win the battle against snow and do your best to blow it right back where it came from.

Here is what I have learned from shoveling:

  • As hard as I try, as long as I live in Central Ontario, the snow will come.  I just have to keep plowing with my shovel until it is off the driveway.  I guess the same could be said for trials in our life.  We have a choice.  Either we get buried by them, or we stay focused on God or we persevere.  James 1: 2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.)


  • Just when you think the shoveling is done, the snowplow comes along and dumps a fresh mix of icy, heavy, snow that will take you longer to shovel than it took to clean the entire driveway! Sometimes life throws us more than we can handle.  Yes, I said more.  The Bible does not promise us that our problems will eventually go away.  In fact, sometimes they get worse. However, He does promise us that He will never leave us and promises peace. 1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


I have also learned that sometimes God has to get me out of the house, drop a pile of snow in my driveway just to get some time alone with me.   It is a humbling thought, but I am thankful for the lessons learned.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Left Behind

I'm not quite sure how, but I came across a couple of clips from the Left Behind movies online.  As hard as I try, I still have a tough time seeing Kirk Cameron in other roles.  Every time I see his face I think of this:


I also know that many have been critical of the Left Behind movie series.  Words like cheesy and lame always seem to be attached to Christian movies.  But as I watched a few of the clips, I think they served their purpose.  I started to reflect on how I live my life.  Do I really live with urgency knowing that our time is limited?  Anyone with kids will understand how time flies.  One day you're update that your child dropped the remote control on the floor and broke it.  Somehow they grew enough to reach it when you didn't think they could.  Next thing you know, they are asking you to change the channel.

It also made me think of 1 Peter 3:13, "...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"

I know it sounds like it should be a given, but I wonder how many of us can really explain what we believe.  I think it takes more than reading a few verses/day.  Imagine if medical school students only read their textbook for a few minutes/day, would you trust their diagnosis?

True understanding takes committed reading, study, and prayer.  Only God will truly help us comprehend what we read.  It is then that we will have the ability and confidence to share.

When I was a teenager a special speaker challenged the girls in the room with something different.  Look for a guy with a Bible that is worn with lots of notes.  That is likely a sign of a Godly man. I still remember that moment.  He also said, watch for guys in the parking lot after the service trying to run over their Bible with their car to make it look worn :)

So, you can imagine my surprise when I noticed Kirk Franklin's character (in Left Behind) showing the President his Bible (with lots of notes).


I'm guessing the special speaker was onto something.  This blog is not intended to discourage you if you have been reading a few minutes/verses each day or nothing at all.  Instead, I hope to challenge you as I am challenging myself.  Know your Bible inside out and see what He does in your life.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ottawa Shootings

For the most part, radio is full of fun.  I get to play great songs, give away cool prizes, and share what's on my mind and heart.  But every once in awhile, all of the "planned" elements of the show get thrown out.  That was the case on Wednesday October 22 when a man with a gun shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the War Memorial in Ottawa.  He then ran into the Parliament buildings before he was finally shot and killed.

I was also doing a radio show on the day the planes hit the Twin Tower in New York City on 9/11.

In both situations, we as a country were shocked and probably a little bit scared wondering if and what would happen next.  The simple answer in both situations is, we don't know.

You say, Steve, that certainly wasn't very encouraging.  You are supposed to be the guy to bring peace and hope to the listeners.  Truth be told, I tried to do that on 9/11.  I was working at an "oldies" radio station at the time playing the best of the 50's, 60's, and 70's.  No one really listened to the music for hope and encouragement.  Instead, we looked to our government to step up our security to make sure something like this would never happen again.

But the book of James 1 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

So...we know that our lives will have scary moments.  Worst of all, there will be situations we can't control.  But the four verses in James are not only about the trials.  It says, "your faith produces perseverance."

We are just like Peter walking on the water to Jesus in the storm.  As long as we keep our eyes on Him, we don't sink.

When the shootings happened in Ottawa, I was on the air at LIFE 1003.  Honestly, I was shocked and concerned for the well being of everyone involved.  My heart broke for the soldier who was shot.  I thought of his family and friends and how October 22 would never be the same for them.

But the biggest difference for me from then to now, was the music.  On 9/11, the music did not provide any hope or encouragement.  In that moment, it was just empty lyrics.  But on LIFE, every song brought hope and encouragement.  Here is a list of the songs that played when the news of the shooting first broke:

Mandisa - Stronger - "God's right there, even if you can't see Him, I promise you that he still cares."
Tenth Avenue North - No Man Is An Island - "I can see fear in your eyes, There's No safety here.  Oh My Friend, let me in.  I will share your tears."

And...



After 11 years, I am so honoured to be able to play such a small part in what God is doing in Central Ontario.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Take Your Time

I have conceded that my Grade 1 teacher took me off the big red pencil too early.  I should have stayed with it for another grade and maybe, just maybe my penmanship would have been a little bit better.  

I have heard all of the jokes too.  Are those real words?  Did anyone ever say, you should have been a doctor?  


Every problem can usually be traced back to one thing.  In the case of my penmanship, I think it was impatience.  If I just slowed down and took my time, we might be able to understand my hand-writing.  Yes, I said we, because I can't even understand it most of the time.

I always think of Romans 5:4 when I think of patience.  It says, "And endurance produces character, and character produces hope."  Who knew that eight words could contain so much wisdom.

Take anything in life and apply this verse.  It works every time.
  • Kids are not listening...endurance produces character, and character produces hope
  • Can't find that special someone...endurance produces character, and character produces hope
  • Never get the promotion at work...endurance produces character, and character produces hope
  • Prayers are not being answered...endurance produces character, and character produces hope
Commit Romans 5:4 to memory and think about it often.  The next time we talk about it, your character will have developed greatly and the hope you have will be enormous.
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

NHL Hockey Is Back

The NHL regular season kicked off on Wednesday night.  Honestly, it is tough to get into the hockey mood when the grass is still green and some light rain is falling outside...but that was the case.

So, here we are into another season with the Toronto Maple Leafs trying to win their first Stanley Cup since 1967.  What do the experts say?

According to NHL.com, the Maple Leafs are not projected to be anywhere close to the Stanley Cup Finals, never mind winning the cup!

I guess there are two options, the Leafs could prove everybody wrong, overcome the odds, and win the trophy.  Or, it is back to the drawing board for another year.

The only thing worse for a Leaf fan than not winning the cup is if the Montreal Canadians win it instead.  One thing we know for sure, the rivalry will live on forever!




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mechanical Devotion

My pastor used to say, "savings is what you have just before your car breaks down."  Do you believe that to be true?



As frustrating as it can be to take your car in to get fixed, there are a few things I have learned from the process.

1) Regular maintenance can prevent breakdown
2) No matter how many tune ups and oil changes you have done, they are never a guarantee that your car will not break down.
3) Ignoring a problem will not make it go away.

Sure, it's embarrassing to say that I have had to learn all three of those points the hard way.  But did you notice that those three points can apply to our spiritual life too?  

1) If we are not spending time reading the Bible and in prayer, it is almost a guaranteed breakdown.  
2) The Bible never promises a problem free life.  Believe me, I looked...it's not there.
3) If God is speaking to us about something, either through prayer, something in the Bible, or another person.  We should listen and try and fix it.  If we don't, the issue will only get worse and drag us down.

I bet you never thought a car that wouldn't start would lead to a blog like this.  I guess God really can use anything to teach us something.

P.S.  When was the last time you changed your oil?




Friday, September 26, 2014

Why You Were Born

I have a confession to make.  When I was in high school, I did not like reading.  In fact, when we were given the assignment to read a book, I would usually just skim it to get the overview and then close it up with the intention to never open it again.  I know, what a terrible thing to do.  Kids, stay in school and read all of the books your teacher asks you to read. 

The main reason I didn't like reading was because it felt like a chore.  If someone told me you have to read, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I did everything I could to do read as little as possible.



It wasn't until I grew up a little that I discovered the benefits of reading.  I learned that even in fiction, the author would often use the story as an illustration that led to a deeper meaning.  For instance, In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain used the lives of a couple of kids to dive deep into the issues of racism and slavery.  As I look back, I wished I had paid more attention in English class.  Sure, I might have received a better grade, but would have learned a lot more about myself and the world too.

A few months ago I read a quote from Mark Twain that has stuck with me ever since.  He said, "The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you understand why." 

Isn't that great?  And so true.  We spend so much of our lives working hard to get better grades. Then, we can get into a great school, get a high paying job, buy a nice house, a nice car, and save for an early retirement.  As we read through that list, it all looks great.  But where is the, "why" in your life?

What is it that God really wants you to do?  I heard a sermon by Steven Furtick.  He is the lead pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He said something that caught my attention, and I am paraphrasing, but this is the basic idea.   We all want to find our purpose in life.  But most of the time we think it is a bigger, better job.  Or maybe we have to move far away to Africa as a missionary or wait for a huge opportunity to drop in our lap.  But in reality, we just need to be ready when opportunities do come.  And those opportunities are all around us all the time.  Look for opportunities to meet a need in your family, neighborhood, job, or church.  Get involved and watch God do something amazing.  Those are the moments when your, "why" will become clear.

  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Danny Gokey

There are only a few tv shows that my wife and I look forward to each year.  American Idol is one of them.  As a guy who works in Christian radio, I am amazed at how much talent has been discovered for "us" because of American Idol (Mandisa, Jeremy Rosado, Kris Allen, Jason Castro, Chris Sligh, Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry).  

Danny Gokey left Idol to pursue a career in mainstream country.  He tried it for a couple of years, but in June of this year he changed directions and released an album to Christian radio.  Like so many of the artists we play, Danny started singing in church and later became the music director.  Obviously music was always his passion.  

Here are a couple of things you probably didn't know about Danny:

  • He was a church music director while also driving a semi truck (18 wheeler) for a local logistics company for two years.
  • He was known for his many pairs of eyeglasses that he often wore on the show.  Danny always said he might start an eyewear line to help raise funds for his foundation (http://www.sophiasheart.org/) and Match Eyewear teamed with him for the Danny Gokey Eyewear collection.  Launched in March 2012, the collection has exceeded sales projections with over 1.7 million in net retail sales.
  • Gokey married his high school sweetheart, Sophia Martinez, on May 15, 2004.  The two had been together since 1997.  On July 9, 2008, four weeks before he auditioned for American Idol, Gokey's wife died from complications of a routine surgery for congenital heart disease.

The last point makes this song even more special.  If you have experienced some sort of tragedy in your life, now you know that this is more than a song for Danny too.






Friday, September 12, 2014

Whoah....Francesca

I remember listening to Katy Perry before she was Katy Perry.  I remember when she was played on Christian radio as Katy Hudson.  Later on in life she changed her music is is now one of the biggest pop stars in the world.  I honestly don't pay attention to her career that much but because she is such a big deal I often hear/see her songs on tv, videos, and in stores.

One Katy Perry song in particular caught my attention the other day, Roar.  Not because of anything she did,but because of a line in a Francesca Battistelli song, He Knows My Name.  

I'll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I've got
True to who You are
You saw my heart
and made
Something out of nothing

Wait a second...did Francesca just call out Katy Perry (I'll roar beyond a song)?  One day I would like to ask Francesca about the line...and maybe Katy too.  Roar, by Katy has a great message.  But it is like Francesca, as a Christian, is challenging her to do more than just sing a motivational song.  Maybe she is challenging her to take it a little bit deeper.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Wisdom

I was watching an interview with Condoleezza Rice, yes that Condoleezza.  She was the National Security Advisory in the United States when the twin towers went down on 9/11.  The interview was not about politics, thankfully, but more about the person behind the position.  Condoleezza talked about her faith in God and how her faith helped her make difficult decisions.  But she was quick to point out that she did not always hear an answer from God about a specific situation.  She said, and I am paraphrasing, "It's the prayer, Bible reading, seeking counsel from Godly people, that gives you the wisdom that you need at the right time to make a decision."

What a concept.  How many of us say, "God, what's next?" and wait to hear an answer.  Perhaps we are waiting for someone to say, "I have a house that I am trying to sell and God told me that you were looking."  Sure, God can work that way too.  But what if God just wants us to read the Bible over and over again until it becomes a part of us.  Then, when a situation comes up, we are ready to make the appropriate decision because of what we have learned.  Miracles do happen, but maybe another miracle happens when we finally learn that our relationship with God takes preparation and time.  Take step and show some...faith.  Only then, will God's wisdom be shown as what it truly is, a miracle.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Even Oprah Knows

Can you finish the sentence?   It you want something done right, do it _____...that's right, "yourself."  So many of us buy into that philosophy.  Much of the time it works.  But after days, weeks, and even years of doing everything under your own strength, you just can't do it anymore.  

Believe it not, that's what God is waiting for.  The Bible challenges us to cast our cares on him.  I think most of us make the mistake of casting our cares only during a crisis.  Make no mistake, God is there during the crisis.  But I believe his true plan for our life is complete surrender.  Surrender is when we truly give up and let him lead...everything.

Even Oprah knows what it means to surrender.  It takes a few minutes to watch, but to hear her heart, is worth it.



Maybe it's time for you to sing a few lines of that old hymn.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Karate Kid

This is going to age me, but The Karate Kid was the first movie I ever watched using a VCR.  My friend Michael and I must have watched it 5 or 6 times in a row.  I'm not sure if we liked the movie that much or just the fact that we could watch it as much as we wanted to.  You can only image how excited I was to watch Karate Kid Part II.


I was flipping through the channels last night and noticed that Karate Kid Part II was on tv.  It was fun to bring back some old memories of the show.  But it reminded me how disappointed we tend to be with a sequel.  Almost everyone agrees that the first movie is the best.  You can't blame the movie makers for trying to make lots of money off of a good thing.  Why wouldn't they make part 2, 3, 4, and 5 if they could.

As I sat on my couch thinking about it, I realized that we often live our lives that way.  Rather than break the mold and try something new, we change a couple of things in our routine and hope it turns out to be something bigger and better.  In reality, we become less interested, unfulfilled, and perhaps frustrated with our circumstance.

The hunger in us to try something different is not an accident.  Even the Bible encourages us to start over:

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

So enjoy the books and movies with sequels and trilogies, but don't forget that a new opportunity is right around the corner if we are willing to take a chance.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Devotional With Simon Cowell...What???

I know, I need to explain the title right away.  I was watching something called Master Class With Simon Cowell.  It is a show created by Oprah that lets successful people talk about what has helped them succeed, but they also share their failures.  It is fascinating because you get to know the person behind the celebrity.


Here are a couple of highlights from Simon:
  • Talk 10% of the time and listen 90% of the time
  • Every single negative can lead to a positive
I don't know where Simon stands in his relationship with God, but it's amazing how much of what he has learned is in the Bible.  Let's break it down:

Talk 10% of the time and listen 90% of the time 

  • Proverbs 18:13 ESV - If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
  • Proverbs 19:20 ESV  - Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Every single negative can lead to a positive

  • James 1:2-4 (NIV) - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We have more information available to us than ever before and it can all be incredibly resourceful.  We have books, videos, blogs, articles, twitter, Facebook, etc.  But don't overlook the original.  So many of us think of the Bible has a story book with verses we can highlight and memorize to help us through the dark times in our life.  It's too bad that we often forget that the Bible is our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).  It is a manual that never gets old with outdated information (Hebrews 4:12).

Next time you need some wisdom, don't forget to reach for the most important book on the shelf.  Chances are, a lot of what's mentioned in the other books was borrowed anyway.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Time

As parents we can spend much of our time thinking about cars, houses, schools, work, vacations, kids clubs, music lessons, church, and the list goes on and on.  You don't have to listen to shows like Focus On The Family for very long to realize that time is everything when it comes to family.  Perhaps you just rolled your eyes like so many of us do and decide to get back to doing what needs to be done.

Yesterday I saw a teaser for a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) called, Kidnapped By The Kids.  The premise is to have kids show up at their parent's workplace, and demand more time.  I'm not sure if the show is still around, but this trailer will help you understand it what it is about.


I know. People will do anything to be on tv, but I was humbled the other night while watching a kids's show with my son Aiden.  He is three.  As we were watching, he wanted to point something out at the exact same time as I received a text message on my phone.  Of course, my initial reaction was to look at my phone first to see if the message was important.  After reading the text I looked up and noticed Aiden looking directly at me.  He said, "Dad, are you watching?"  I know it is just a tv show, but I made the choice to look at a text message over time with my son.

I get it,  kids need to learn that sometimes we need to tend to important things.  But, it made me wonder, how often do I miss an opportunity with Aiden so I can look at my phone or check my email/Facebook?   This morning I was filling in for Tim & Todd on The All New Breakfast Club and played this song.  It is always a good remember to keep our priorities in order.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Happiness

I am a leech when it comes to twitter.  I basically use it to learn from everyone else.    I love it because each tweet is so short.  If I am interested in more, I can click on the links.

Today I began following Andy Stanley and someone had tweeted a picture of a page from his book, Visioneering.  Here are a few lines from that page:



You don't know what God is up to behind the scenes in your life.  You don't know how close you are to a breakthrough.  It is no accident you are where you are.

God is using your circumstances to prepare you to accomplish his vision for your life.  You are not wasting your time.  You are not spinning your wheels.  You are not wandering in the wilderness.  If you are "seeking first" his kingdom where you are, then you are is where he has positioned you.

Honestly, those few lines are incredibly encouraging.  How many of us have heard that we need to happy all the time?  If we are not happy with our friends, jobs, churches, etc, we should move on and find happiness elsewhere.  In reality, happiness was never promised to us.  But God did promise us that He is in control.  Through all of life's peaks and valleys, He is walking with us and as Andy says, "God is using your circumstances to prepare you to accomplish his vision for your life."  

No matter where you are in life right now, know that nothing is a mistake.  God has it all in control.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Songs That Never Get Old

The last time you cleaned out the garage or some boxes in the closet you may have found some old albums, cassettes or cd's.  Just for old times sake you gave them a quick listen, and I do mean quick and said, "that sounds so old now."  After your kids take a few minutes to make fun of you for ever liking that music, you throw it back in the box only to find it again in another couple of years.

But every once in awhile, a song brings back such great memories that you know that you could never forget a song or album like that and could never throw it away.  Anything come to mind?  I will share few of mine which may help you get back on the road headed straight for memory lane.

First up for me, Music Machine.  As a pastor's kid, Bullfrogs and Butterflies was big and so was this.  There would not be too many church kids from my generation that would not know the words to this song.


Next up, Steve Camp - Shake Me To Wake Me.  I always remember this because it was the first cassette my parents banned from our house.  Mom and dad have since changed their rules on music, but at the time, most of the Christian Rock bands were banned from the church because of their style of music.  If my parents couldn't understand the lyrics, and if the drums and guitars were too loud, it did not belong in our home.  Ha ha...still makes me laugh!


Carman - Radically Saved.  After my parents saw the error of their ways and realized that it is the lyrics that matter and not the style, this was the first cassette they bought for us.  I know, this is not exactly wild and crazy, but it was a HUGE step for my parents.


As a teenager, my youth pastor, Greg Janz, made our youth group a great place to hang out.  He and his wife Monique went out of their way to make sure everybody felt welcome.  We played lots of goofy games, went on retreats, youth conventions, youth camps, and he always had Christian music playing loud when we walked in, like this...


After such a strange start to Christian music, it is kind of ironic that I end up at a Christian radio station. August 11 will make it 11 years for me at LIFE.  But I was a listening even before I arrived.  The first song I ever heard on LIFE was this one by Geoff Moore.


Even though I have been involved in Christian radio for over 10 years, it is still fun to know that songs still catch my attention today.  It might be a catchy melody, or convicting lyric, or maybe it is just the excitement of knowing that by playing this music on LIFE, someone else may become a fan for the very first time and be writing their own Christian blog on music history 10 years from now.  Here's hoping!

P.S.  Here is a new one you might like...






 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Grace

The other day I was thinking about grace.  As Christians we talk about it, sing about it, hear sermons about it, and think about it.

A few years ago I started to look at how we treat the sinful people of this world, including fellow Christians.  This explanation might sound strange to you, but I think some sins are the "cool" kind to confess.  Perhaps we have told some lies, didn't honour our parents, coveted our neighbors nice car and house, and got angry when we should have shown restraint.  My purpose is not to diminish the importance of confession and forgiveness, but I have noticed that not all sins are created equal among Christians.  The sins I mentioned above are what we might call "acceptable," because they are easy for most of us to process, accept an apology, and move on.  But what about sins that lead to failed marriages or criminal records?  If you walk into a room full of Christians (let's call it a church) to confess one of "those" sins, it would make us feel uncomfortable (I know, understatement of the year).  In fact, when those sins are discovered (because they are too embarrassing to confess publicly for fear of how we will be treated), we push the sinner away, instruct them to clean things up, and then come back when you have everything together.

Of course, there are many wonderful people and churches who do the complete opposite and welcome everyone with open arms.  They truly are trying to be like Jesus by saying, "come as you are."

I could make a list of Christians who have lost their families, friends, and jobs because of sin.  But I won't. Instead I want to present a story of a life that was transformed.  I think we have all lost our way at some point in our walk with God.  Some repercussions are more serious than others.  It doesn't get more serious than this:



The result is this song.

I know it isn't always easy to accept each other the way we are.  But I once saw a sign in front of a church that said, "This church does not have any perfect people.  The only different between you and us, is that we have accepted the grace God offers as a free gift."  I love that.  I think if more people knew that we mess up just as much as they did, they would be more interested in knowing more about the God we serve.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What's In It For Me?

Last night I'm watching a hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers.  I'm not a fan of either team, but ever since I was a kid, I would cheer against the Montreal Canadians whenever I could.  Last night was no exception.



In the end, the Rangers won and the Montreal Canadiens were officially eliminated from the NHL playoffs.  Sure, I was ecstatic for a few seconds and then had an epiphany.  The game had absolutely no bearing on my life.   The Rangers were excited because they moved onto the finals and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.  But what's in it for me?

As I was laying in bed later at night, I let my mind wander and started to imagine how often I say, "what's in it for me?"


  • If I help you replace your roof, will you replace mine?
  • If I give you a ride to work, can I ride with you next time?
  • If I cook, will you do the dishes?
  • If I give you gift for your birthday, you'll get me something nice for mine...right?


I know you never give conditionally so this is mostly for me.  As expected, the Bible has the answer.  It says conditional gifts are not really giving at all.

Luke 6:35 says, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

 What?  Do things without expecting to get anything back?   I know it isn't easy.  But I believe the promises of God of true.  When He says, your reward will be great, I believe Him.  So give, give, and then give some more.  Then, make sure you invite me over in heaven.  I'm guessing your swimming pool will be very nice :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ripley's Aquarium

Last week on vacation my wife and I took our 4 month old and 3-year-old to the new aquarium in downtown Toronto.  Here are a few things I learned that may be helpful to you:


  • Parking your car and taking the subway is a better idea than you think.  To a 3-year-old, a ride on the subway is as exciting as a ride at Wonderland
  • Don't be surprised if your child finds the moving sidewalk more exciting than a shark swimming overhead.
  • While a giant mechanical shark is cool to many of us, it can also be the most intimidating thing ever to a 3-year-old.
  • Petting a stingray is not as fun as going down the slide in the playground.
  • Oh yes, and the soothing music and special lighting will help a four-month-old sleep.
Have fun!





Friday, May 2, 2014

The Book Of Answers

I don't know too many people who are not fans of the movie, Back To The Future.  Imagine how many kids in the 80's were inspired to play guitar because of this scene:


I along with the rest of the world was shocked when I learned that Michael J. Fox, star of Back To The Future and Family Ties, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease back in 1991.  Everyone said the same thing at the time, "but he is so young."

Rather than disappear and deal with his struggles privately, Michael has been very public in his search to find a cure for the disease (www.michaeljfox.org).  I'm sure he has had his share of difficult days.  In fact, I know he has.  But through it all, he still remains steadfast in his fight.


I honestly don't know what kind of relationship Michael has with God.  But I can only guess that as a married man with kids, he has called out to God for help, maybe in frustration or anger, at least a few times since the diagnosis.  I think all of us would do the same, or have done the same.

I am inspired by Michael's courage and determination, but also by his zest for life.  As we flip through the pages of the Bible we see stories of people who are sold out for God in spite of their circumstances.  David was forced to live in a cave because Saul was trying to kill him (I Samuel 24).  Job was tortured because he was blameless before God...that's crazy (Book of Job).  Paul was thrown in jail for sharing his faith (Acts 16).

I remember Geoff Moore sharing a family story with us on LIFE.  Whenever his boys would come to him with a problem, he would say, let's go to the Bible for the answers.  Because no matter what we go through in life, someone has gone through something similar before us and we can learn from them.

Michael J. Fox has to be one of the most courageous, determined, and passionate people around.  But you and I can be too, no matter what we are going through.  The most important thing to remember is, we are not alone.  Go to the book of answers.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Sickness

Sickness is such a difficult thing to understand.  It amazes me how you can be healthy for so many years and then be hit with an illness so fast.  A few years ago I was diagnosed with a hernia.  It was very painful, required surgery, and I was able to make a full recovery.

Last summer I was was diagnosed with a kidney stone.  In case you're wondering, the pain is as bad as everyone says it is.  I never once thought I'd be lying on the floor groaning in pain.  But, once again, the kidney stone passed (enough said), and my life has been normal ever since.

While both situations caused extreme discomfort, they were treatable.  The sicknesses that are much more difficult must be the diseases with no cure.  I had a friend who watched his grandfather's mental state completely deteriorate because of Alzheimer's disease.

While the bible never promises us a healthy life, it does say that He, "works for our good... (Romans 8:28).  I know, not an easy verse to hold onto when you are in severe pain or even watching a loved one in pain.

It is interesting to see how God works though.  Laura Story certainly tried to help us understand through her song Blessings


Sure, God can use a song.  He can use people and I think he can use other means too to encourage.  After all, He is God. Keep a Kleenex nearby if you watch this next video.



 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stop Stewing

As I watch my three-year-old grow up, it refreshing to see how he handles life on a day to day basis.  He does not see it as a series of stressful events to, "make it to the weekend," as I hear so many people say.  Instead, he lives life from one moment to the next.  Now, before you say, "I wish I was young again, life was so easy back then," remember that life isn't as easy as you remember it to be.  You ate what mom and dad gave you, lived by their rules, could not eat chocolate for breakfast, etc.  To a child, those events can be catastrophic...for at least a few minutes.  Then, in some miraculous way, they move on.

You would think by we would have figured out that stressful situations are a fact of life.  But instead so many of us stew about day to day events and hang onto them.  With each day, the burden gets heavier and heavier.  God did not intend for us to live that way.  Everyday I seem to meet with people who are tied up in a ball of stress.  Hopefully this song will help!




Friday, April 11, 2014

Retro

This weekend I get to fill in for Scott Jackson on the Retro Show.  It's hard to believe that songs I grew up with are now considered Retro.  I remember seeing Whiteheart on The Freedom Tour, Geoff Moore & The Distance On The Home Run Tour (Big Tent Revival was just starting out and opened on that show), and Allies seem to make an annual trip to Saskatoon (where I lived) to put on a show.

I can still remember Rick Florian of Whiteheart wearing his ripped jeans, cowboy boots, and purple silk shirt up on stage.  But I also remember that each of the bands took time to share a message, almost a sermon for part of the show.  Life has a band was more than touring and a wardrobe, it was a calling.

I have a four month old and a three year old.  It will be fun to hear what bands they'll be listening to in a few years.  In the meantime, they are stuck listening to MY favourite "retro" tunes...ha ha!  Do you remember these?

Whiteheart - Sing Your Freedom


Geoff Moore & The Distance - The Vow


Big Tent Revival - What Would Jesus Do?



Friday, April 4, 2014

What I Learned From Michael W Smith

From a listener's perspective, the world of radio might seem like a place where all you do is listen to music, go to concerts, and meet superstars.  Well...you're right :)

Earlier this week, Evan Duran and I attended a press conference with some Toronto area pastors, Christian bookstore owners, and some media.  I guess there were about 30-40 people all together.  It was very intimate.  Michael was around to promote the release of his upcoming worship album called Sovereign.  It will feature a studio cd and live DVD.  He took a few minutes to talk about the album (coming out May 15) and also took some questions from the audience.  One of the guests asked him about his definition of success.  Here is what he has accomplished in the last 30 years:

A three-time Grammy Award winner, has earned 40 Dove Awards. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than 13 million albums and recorded 29 No. 1 Hit songs.  He is an American Music Award recipient; he was also named one of People magazine's "Most Beautiful People."

Needless to say, I was curious to hear what he had to say.  He reflected on an early point in his career when he had not yet been signed to a record label.  He was tired, dejected, and discouraged.  He prayed a prayer that basically said, God, if you don't want me to do music, I am ready to do something else.  It was at that point of surrender when Michael's career began to change.  He and Kathy Troccoli were the first two artists signed to Reunion Records, and the rest is history.

Over the past 30 years Michael believes that God has taught him to view success in a unique way.  Here it is:

1) God's Grace - By definition, grace is the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done.  Michael doesn't know why God picked him to travel the world and sing, but he is grateful for the opportunity.

2) Humility - James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves and He will lift you up."  Michael said he has enough stuff.  He doesn't want anymore.  He wants to give away as much as he can and let God use him as He sees fit.  (Side note: Michael said you if you went to his house it would be tough to find his 40 Dove Awards.  Most of them are hidden away in a cabinet).

3) Isaiah 58 - His new calling is to serve the poor.  He has worked with Bono to try to eradicate AIDS in Africa, he is heavily involved with Compassion International, and started Rocketown in Nashville, (www.rocketown.com).  It is essentially a drop-in centre for youth.  He visits often and knows many of the regulars by name.  He told the story of one teenage girl whose mom is a drug addict and her father is in jail.  Michael's exact words were, "Who is going to take care of her?  You don't have to go across the pond to find the mission field.  It is where you live."


What a great challenge.  For a guy who could probably retire and just play golf everyday for the next 40 years, I was inspired to learn that his work is not finished.  In fact in many ways, it has just begun.

  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sharathon 15

Sharathon 15 is over.  It is an intense couple of days but seems to come and go so fast.  I have been at LIFE 100.3 for over 10 years and the feelings of thankfulness seem to grow with each year. Most of us (I mean all of us) have day to day and month to month financial responsibilities.  We have families to look after, cars to buy and fix, houses to upkeep, and the odd crisis along the way to manage.

We also know that our LIFE listeners are strong supporters of their local church and other important ministries too.  Our general manager, Scott Jackson, has always told me that people give to causes they believe in.  To think that someone appreciates a radio station so much that they give money to it, is amazing.

I am also humbled by the greatness of God.  When you are a part of something special, it can be easy to believe that without "me or my role," it may not work.  Instead, I have come to learn that God doesn't need me to further His work on LIFE, but He is willing to use me if I am willing.  Praise God for that!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Playing Along

Did you or do you watch game shows?  I'm typically not a big fan, but for some reason I used to always play along with Wheel Of Fortune.  Strangely enough, I was pretty good.  I could often get puzzles with only a couple of letters.  That being said, it's much easier to sit on the couch at home and solve puzzles than it is in a tv studio in front of a live audience.  When I heard about this guy on Wheel Of Furtune who solved a seemingly impossible puzzle, I had to try it.  Unfortunately, I could not.  But I do have to admit, it was impressive.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Do Something

I have learned that I am very good at pointing out problems.  In fact, it comes naturally.  I am very good at pointing out what is wrong with our government.  I could make a list of everything I would change at my church too.  I could even tell you what's wrong with the Leafs and what is keeping them from their first Stanley Cup victory since 1967!  You probably can't relate because you are more interested in finding out solutions to the problems.  You don't bring up what's wrong with the world unless you are willing to do something about it.

Ok, maybe we are all guilty of complaining every once in a while.  Matthew West would include himself in that category and wrote the song, Do Something.  I'm guessing we can all learn something from it.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bad Days

Most of the time, bad days are not really that bad.  It is simply a series of events that drive you crazy.  Your alarm doesn't go off.  Then you run out of coffee.  The car won't start and your hands are dirty after opening the hood (even though you have no idea how to fix a car).  After work you need to go grocery shopping and even though the cart looks, "new," it has that one bad wheel that makes you feel like you're pushing a cart on skis through the store instead of on wheels.



I wonder if the Bible has anything to say about bad days.  How about James 1:2-7

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I think the purpose of the verse is to remind us that God is with us everyday, even in the little things.  That's why the verse says, trials of many kinds.  He is waiting, and I think hoping, for us to put our complete trust in Him.  If we don't, we are tossed around like that wave in the sea.  But as we trust, forget about the circumstance, and increase our faith, those trials of many kinds will no longer be top of mind.  Those generous gifts from God will be that positive distraction we need.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Broken Hallelujah

I'm typically not a lyrics guy...at first.  I hear a melody and then I listen to what the singer is actually singing about.  But every once in awhile I get hooked by a title or the lyrics of a song right away.

That is the case with The Afters - Broken Hallelujah.  Have you ever been at a time in your life when you can't do anything to help a situation.  There are times in life when a little bit of hard work and a good attitude and get you through some tough times.

But there are also moments when you have no control.  Maybe you have a child that is walking away from God.  Maybe you have some sort of illness.  Maybe your marriage is struggling.  What do you do then?  You can't do anything...right?  

If you are there right now, listen to these words...they are for you.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Sochi 2014

I can't believe how wrong I was.  When I heard that the Olympics were going to be in Sochi, Russia, I thought they would be mostly ignored by Canadians.  I know, it sounds harsh, but let me explain.

When the Olympics were in Vancouver, the gold medal matches, runs, races, etc, were after 6pm.  Most of us would get home from work or school and be able to watch everything live.  But with Russia being something like 8 hours ahead of us, most of the great  events would air in the middle of the afternoon.  How would we watch that?

I was proven wrong yesterday at my doctor's appointment.  You see the women's hockey team was playing for a gold medal.  I wanted to watch it...but had to go to my appointment.  When I arrived in the waiting room, I knew something was different.  A tv was on showing the game. It was late in the third period with Canada down two goals.  It was obviously tense in the room...until Canada scored to make it 2-1.  Now you could feel everyone in the room start to believe...not to mention the Canadian women's hockey team.   They eventually tied the game and then won it in overtime!

I later discovered that banks, schools, workplaces, and homes were also showing the game.  No one was working...for at least 30 minutes so they could watch the game.

It felt like Vancouver all over again.  When Canada scored to win the game in overtime, it felt like the entire country was cheering.

Big thanks to the Canadian women's team for making us proud...again!


Friday, February 14, 2014

All Request Run Til Midnight

Radio is such a fun medium.  Today we opened up the LIFElines to allow listeners to pick the music all day. It's funny how even me, a LIFE dj, can be entertained by the requests of others.  Even though it wasn't my request, I still find myself enjoying the pick because it brought the song to life again.  Here are some of my favourite requests from today:

Encouragement to help us through the storms of life.  Natalie Grant - Hurricane


Needtobreathe - Lay Em Down


Even this one...apparently my 3 year old son was a big fan...ha!


Thanks for the fun!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Class

One of the most frustrating things in life has to be when someone causes damage to your car, when you are not around, and doesn't leave a phone number or any follow up information.  

A couple of weeks ago I was parked at the radio station.  I came out at the end of a snowy day and saw a note on my car.  Someone had accidentally bumped into it in the parking lot, apologized, and left a note with contact information.



When I contacted my insurance company, they were shocked.  They say only 5% of people ever leave a note when they damage a parked car.  Now I was shocked.  In fact, they said one person left a note that said, "I hit your car but I wanted to leave a note to say that I won't be leaving my contact information.  Go fix it yourself."  Can you believe it???

Needless to say, I am very thankful they took responsibility and everything is fixed.   There are still very good people in the world! 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Grammy Awards

Last Sunday the Grammy Awards were handed out.  I caught a few minutes of the show hoping to hear them present the "Gospel" awards but quickly learned that those were handed out on the pre-show.  Every year there seems to be something controversial on the show that has everyone talking the next day.  But this year, it felt as though almost everything was controversial, at least from my perspective.  The choice of clothes, lyrical content, and individual performances really started to bug me.

The next day I learned that Natalie Grant (nominated for two Grammy Awards that night), walked out of the show for the same reason.  She didn't throw any stones, but made it clear she didn't approve of at least some of what she saw.  This was her facebook status:

 “We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head.  But I'll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen.” 

Of course, Natalie's status drew comments from Christians everywhere.  Some were pleased with what she did.  Some frustrated because they think Christian artists like Natalie need to be a light in a dark place.  By walking out, she lost that opportunity.   Others thought she should have been more specific and list everything she didn't like to expose everything wrong with the show.

I didn't get to speak with Natalie, but I might know where she is coming from.  Rather than pick apart everything that we didn't like, maybe we should just put even more energy into presenting what we believe.  
When I read about Jesus walking the earth, he did not spend his days talking about everything everyone was doing wrong.  Instead, he spent most of his time spreading a message of healing, hope, and forgiveness.

After spending a few days thinking about what I saw on the Grammy telecast, I agree with Natalie and would say something similar:

"I've never been more honored to be a part of a Christian radio station that plays songs about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen."