Thursday, 29 December 2011

My Resolutions

It all started in a festive game of Scattergories.  We play a lot of games around Christmas in the Shantz house.  But this game turned out to be a little bit of a special one -- and no i didn't win.... not even close. (me win Scattergories? Funny)  If you don't know how to play Scattergories then I'll give you a briefer.  You roll a big dice with all the letters on it, then you go through a list of things and you have to make an answer for each of them all starting with the letter on the dice that landed facing up.  Sorry, I'm bad at explaining (that's why the Milton Bros haven't asked me to write game instructions for them yet).

I'm getting distracted.

So the letter was "G" and the question was, "Things you are afraid of" so I thought I was going to be really smart and sneaky and so I put "God"!  Of course thinking of the verse that says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..."  Well when we went through our answers at the end of the round and it came my turn to say my answer to the thing that I was afraid of, I tipped back my head and proudly said, "God".

Blank stares all around.

Then someone said, "You are afraid of God?"
So I proudly cleared my throat and quoted the verse about the fear of the Lord.  Then ensued a healthy disagreement, not at all uncommon in our house.  But here folks is where I needed an extra dose of humility.

I was wrong.

I hate to admit it, but yes, I was wrong.  To fear God and to be afraid of God are two completely different things.  The only reason we can have to be afraid of God is if we are not right with him.  But to fear God is more of an act of worship, a deep respect, an awe, epic admiration of God.  Simply because he is God!

But that leads me to a verse that I have found myself quoting a lot lately. A verse that I think a lot about when I think of the coming year, especially when I get scared about the plans of Nicaragua.  It was so awesome, I was listen to audio Bible while I was in my room this evening and this verse, The Verse, came on: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

God doesn't give us fear! No way, he has way better things to give us, Power, Love and.... wait a minute, Self-control?  God gives the spirit of self control?

But if I call myself a Christian, and God gives the spirit of self control, then I should be a very self-disciplined and controlled man.  But I am not!

I thought back over the year 2011.  What I learned, what I did, what I didn't do.  And one thing resounds clearly, God had a teaching theme for me in 2011!  He was saying, "Lead Jason, lead! Learn to lead!"  Of course I learned other things, but it seems that all those other things got wrapped up in learning to be a leader.  Leading in the youth group, leading at work -- basically just learning how to lead everywhere.

Then I got thinking about the year before 2011, 2010.  What was the big thing that I learned that year?  Do you know what it was?  God was saying it again, "Work Jason, work! Learn to work and work hard!"  That was the year I finished up the very busy Gr. 12 and started my first full time job.  It was a lot of hard work.

Then what about 2009?  What did I learn there?  Learn to learn, Jason!  Learn to learn and learn to love to learn!  That was Gr. 11 and 12.  So there I had it, the Big Learns of the past several years.

2009 - Learn to Learn
2010 - Learn to Work
2011 - Learn to Lead

As I peer ahead, through the mist of uncertainty for what this new year, 2012, will bring, I feel like I'm recklessly running over a the edge of a cliff.  Flipping and falling, spinning and swirling, entirely out of control.  That's really how I feel!  What will God teach me?  What will I learn?  The answer...

I really don't know.  I can't tell the future.

But I have this inkling, this tiny little feeling the answer is wrapped up in that verse, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

I think I can hear him whispering, "Learn to claim power Jason, not your own power, you don't have any anyway, but claim mine!  Learn to love Jason, love your neighbors, the Nicaraguans, as yourself! Learn to be self-controlled Jason, be disciplined!"

I don't do New Year's Resolutions.  But I do, however, do Life Resolutions.

Happy, almost, New Years!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Know It and Live It

This Christmas season something new has struck me.  Something different, perhaps not the most important, or most celebrated part of the Christmas story but still, definitely an integral part in the awesome account of Christ`s birth.  I was impressed by Mary.  Not a worshipful sort of impression, (no, I`m not Catholic) more a deep respect or admiration. 

The angel called Mary “highly favoured” and that she was – called to be the mother of perfection, to teach and train, to protect and provide for.  What other being of our human race has been called to do such? Teach and train the omniscient?  Provide and protect the omnipotent and omnipresent? 


Mother the Son of God!

After the angel left, reality set in.  Doubt arose.  Fear.  Insecurity.  The angel’s appearance felt dream-like and distant.  Mother the Son of God?  She must tell someone.  Someone she could trust – confide in.  But who, who would believe her?


She must tell him. 

Joseph?  Tell him she was pregnant?  Of course he trusted her, but to tell him she was pregnant was to sign her own death sentence, quite literal.  In Jewish practice of this time a woman caught in adultery could be publically stoned. 

But who else could she tell? Who else would believe?  Of course there was cousin Elisabeth.  But really, Joseph was going to have to know eventually, it was only fair that he be told. 
Imagine, friend, to be Joseph.  To have your sweetheart, your wife-to-be, your soul mate, tell you that she was pregnant, and on top of that, to claim innocence.  The mixture of pain, anger, hurt, rejection and oh so many other emotions tumbled through his head.  Yet he loved her.  No matter how hard Mary must have pleaded her innocence with him, he could find no rational answer except, Guilty. 


He hated to believe it, no, he feared to believe it.

Yet he loved her.  He didn’t seek revenge, if he had, he would have had her stoned.  Disappointed? Yes.  Revengeful? No.  So Joseph decided he must break their marriage plans.  He must break his heart.

An Angel.  The melodious message of God’s servant, “She is innocent!”

But like Mary, reality must set in.  For Joseph to defend Mary`s innocence, to the public eye, was to plead guilty with her.  He was signing their fate to public scorn and ridicule.

But somehow, these two young souls knew the truth, and then lived the truth.  Reckless and careless to what others thought.  That's my challenge, KNOW TRUTH AND LIVE TRUTH.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Parable of a Tractor, a Cow, and a Space Heater

This is a short skit I wrote for our youth christmas banquet.  My brother Jamie and friend, Mose Clemmer acted, adding their own one liners in for fun! They did excellent!  Although intended to be humourous, the script addresses a serious topic. "By their fruit will you know them..."
5 min.
Can be performed with nearly no props.  Or can be done with minimal props such as clothing for farmers; hats, boots, coveralls etc., table and chairs
Two farmers: Billy and Jonny
One waitress: Not necessary, but adds effect


Two farmers enter a diner and take seats.

Billy – Well, Jonny, I gotta tell you, my tractor just up and quit last night. 
Jonny – O no!                                      
Billy – Yup, I was half way up from the flats with a load full of firewood and the old tractor just up and quit.  I was all out of firewood too, so last night the wife and the kids got a little chilly.  
Jonny – That’s terrible!  What was wrong with the tractor?
Billy – Well it died.
Jonny – I know, Billy, but why?
Billy – I guess I’m not sure... I didn’t have a chance to diagnose the problem yet.
Jonny - Well how did it quit? Did it slowly just turn off? Or was it not running smoothly? Maybe something is wrong with the transmission?
Billy – It just kind of jerked a couple of times and then was fine for a bit and then it kind of coughed and just quit!  There I was, half a mile from the house with a tractor that didn’t work, a load full of firewood and kids freezing at home.  It really was depressing!  I tell you, is a tractor really worthy to be called a tractor if it’s not doing tractorish things?
Jonny (thoughtfully) Billy, the tractor did have fuel in the tank didn’t it?
Billy – Like I said Jonny, I haven’t had an opportunity to diagnose the problem yet,(pause) (sheepishly)but, I’ve got a feeling that’s where the problem is.
Jonny – Billy! How can a tractor do tractorish things if it doesn’t have any fuel to run on?!
Billy – Well I changed the oil, cleaned the filters, washed the tractor, why, I even waxed the tractor!  And you’re telling me that that isn’t good enough?
Jonny – Think Billy, if I took your best cow, Gertrude, she is an Excellent, correct?
Billy(proudly) Yup, Gertrude is the best.
Jonny – Ok, so if I gave Gertrude the cleanest stall, the softest straw, a rub down every night and soft music to listen to, would she produce a lot of milk?
Billy(smiling) Yup, as long as you’re not the one singing the soft music.  (Seriously)Yup, Gertrude would be the most productive cow this side of the 86!
Jonny – No she wouldn’t.
Billy (Taken aback) Do you think your cows are better? Is that right Jonny?!  You think that you have better cows than I do?
Jonny – That’s not it at all Billy.  I’m just wondering how Gertrude will produce milk, without any feed.
Billy – Well, yes of course, Gertrude would also need the highest quality feed also.
Jonny(Grinning and pointing to a Floradale hat on his head) Perhaps Floradale feed.  The point is, if there is no input, than there can be no output.  Cows or tractors
Billy(thoughtfully) I guess you’re right.
Jonny – Kind of like this space heater (points to a space heater, plugged in and sitting on a table).  If it is not plugged in then there will be no heat (unplugs heater).  But look here (leaves heater plugged in but turns off heat) See the light is still on, the heater is still receiving power but it is not giving heat.  Is this heater really worthy to be called a heater if it is not doing heaterish things? Like heating?
(Both farmers pause, thinking about it, then Billy looks at Jonny and says:)
Billy – Kind of reminds me of life.  If I’m not accepting what God has given me then I can’t really give to others.  But if I accept God’s gift to me and then not just keep it to myself but give it to those around me that’s when I have success.  If there is no input, then there can be no output.  Tractors, cows, and Christians.
Jonny – I think your right Billy.  And is a Christian really worthy to be called a Christian unless a Christian is doing Christianish things?