I don’t like, that I like it, so I like to try not to like it, too often. That’s how I would explain how I feel about American Idol.

It’s funny, yes. They have talented singers, yes. But why do we laugh so much at it? Why do we call in family members or friends to rush into the room to look at the current person attempting to sing? Why can we not contain our kicks and giggles when Simon casts sarcastic belittling remarks in the direction of a young adult trying their hardest to gain some recognition to what they believe to be a great voice? Is it safe to assume that we have all laughed one of the people on this show, whether they are for real or are purposely doing their best to resemble Napoleon Dynamite or his one-screw-too-loose sidekick Pedro?

If you agree with an older blog of mine, which I don’t expect everyone to, regarding Our Representation of God, and do your best not to mock, talk behind someone’s back, or belittle someone else to make yourself seem more superior, intelligent, or talented; then why do we find ourselves so quick to burst into laughter at a ‘loser’ on the television. They brought it upon themselves when they signed up for the show. They’re definitely faking it, they aren’t really that ridiculous. Just listen to his voice when he talks, you can’t help but laugh. Did you hear Simon’s smart remark to that, he’s so quick. Have you said these things in defence when watching? Is that what you’re saying in your head right now? What example are we setting for those around us? We are meant to live a life striving to resemble Christ, but how do we expect to even come close to accomplishing this by laughing hysterically at someone else’s expense? One contestant begins speaking but is wearing tight clothes and has a high-pitched lisp, suddenly someone yells out, ‘This guy is so gay, you have to come watch this, he’s hilarious!’ Are you kidding me? Another contestant walks in, states that he was recommended to come on the show by some friends who saw some potential in him, but he doesn’t sing too well and Simon calls out, ‘That was the worst performance I’ve ever seen. That didn’t even sound human, you should have never come here. This was such a waste of time.’ And we laugh. What the heck? Is this what we’ve become? Is this entertainment? Are we supporting this? This guys dreams of accomplishing anything musical has been crushed by one man, while supported by millions of viewers. Next time you turn on your television for American Idol, think about what you’re watching. Watch it if you feel fine watching it, but please, be mindful of how you react and respond to some of the contestants. I am equally as guilty, I still laugh at times too, but try not to belittle them any much more then they’ve already been, or at least choose your words wisely when verbalizing your opinions and constructively criticize them. And encourage and support those you see potential in, as well as those who don’t seem to have a chance at any kind of singing career. Think about it.


I use to watch a lot of television. I must admit, my sister and I would always argue over who got to hold the remote, what shows we would watch, what shows to skip to during the commercials of three other shows we were already in to. Between comedies, cartoons, and soaps. My favourites during elementary school were Family Matters, Home Improvement and Student Bodies; she loved those talk shows like Rosie O’Donnell, and also loved the evil Passions soap. As we grew up however, our interests shifted and we would watch the later shows of celebrity shows like ET, sitcoms like Friends, and reality shows like the oh so popular Survivor.

About two years ago, I really began to pass off watching television. I was too focused on my homework and student council work that I didn’t have time for meaningless shows, although I wish I could just sit and indulge in the all that entertainment. I spent my last year without almost any television because all I had was a TV with a built-in VCR and Playstation that could play DVD’s. So this became my entertainment. Work would be over and I would go home and watch movies. I spent a lot of money on previously viewed Blockbuster films. I bought around 40-50 movies in one year! But I’m getting a bit off topic here.

What I want to tell you, is that all I really watch on television now is Prison Break. The family that I’m living with likes NCIS and The Unit. So I’ve begun to watch these shows off and on as well, but that’s about it. I can’t stand reality shows like Survivor, those Celebrity Dancing shows, Deal or No Deal… hmm… to be honest, I was about to write a big list of similar shows, but I really have no idea what other big money-spending shows are out there now.

First of all, I find them all pretty cheesy. But second, I look at the elaborate set of Deal or No Deal. I look at ol’ Howie Mandel and all his gorgeous female helpers and the cash that they probably rake in each episode. I look at all the money that is represented by all those silver brief cases. And in turn, all the money that is forked out to contestants every night that the show is aired. Think about all that cash. And where is it going? Who is it going to? Are we not helping to pay them by watching the show? For that hour, they are told how many viewers they had, and that determines how much money is printed on the TV stars pay checks.

Am I naïve or too cliché to raise your attention to all the people that don’t have anything close to that much money. People over-seas, people without homes, people in your own community, in your neighbourhood? I know we hear this all the time, ‘how can you spend your money on that while there are children dying in Africa?’ And it is just as applicable in this circumstance. To answer the question of who the cash is going out to each night on the game shows; to someone who probably doesn’t really need it. Did they pull the contestants off the streets, from a destroyed home in New Orleans, from a house fire that took all their possessions including their dear family members? Probably not. I don’t want to generalize, but I can only assume that if you can get on a show like Deal or No Deal, you’re probably already doing fairly well financially. I am still guilty though. I switch on the tube and watch some shows that may not be as bad as some like Amazing Race, Miami Ink, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or like I said, Prison Break. But still, a lot of unnecessary money has been invested into these shows, and we just make entertainment out of it. But I’m doing my best to limit myself to what I support on the television. Think about the shows you watch… are they worthwhile? Do they challenge you with how you live your life? Do you gain anything positive from them? Are you supporting a show you probably shouldn’t? And don't just try to cover it up to impress me, be honest with yourself, seriously ask yourself these questions when you're deciding what to watch on the television. Are you really just wasting hours each evening? The O.C.? 24? Prison Break? Laguna Beach? MTV? Simpson’s? Deal or No Deal? American Idol? Think about what you are filling your mind with, and what you are supporting.


I hate getting zits. Some people have really bad acne and I feel bad for them, because that is one of the only physical things I am really self conscious about. I don’t get many, and I don’t have these ‘atomic burst on the mirror type’ zits. I get them, and they are usually pretty small, but they can get red if I irritate them too much. They are embarrassing and I try as hard as I can to cover them up with a hand on my face, with hair, or whatever else I can find. I hope you realize this is a big step for me. To come out and share something this personal with you. For everyone to read on the big world wide web. It may not seem like a big deal to you though… what, a couple zits is a big deal to this guy. He’s got it made compared to me. Well yeah, you know what! It is a big deal to me. Zits are a crack in this little clay pot that God put together. It is a blemish in my life. It is a scar, it is something I’m not proud of, something that I don’t like about myself. And definitely there are greater things in my life that are cause much greater cracks. What do you hate about yourself? What makes your friends not be able to stand you at times?

Your hair. Your big nose. Your ears. Your big glasses. Your eyes. Your tiny chin. Your facial hair. Your lack of facial hair. Your baby face[guilty]. Your chest. Your abs. Your butt. Your muscle. Your skin on bones figure. Your wide hips. Your thick ankles. Your big feet. Your deep voice. Your high pitch voice. Your bad breathe. Your instant sweat stains. Your body odour. Your stutter. Your lisp. Your quick to judge attitude. Your anger. Your shyness. Your bitterness. Your lack of confidence. Your independence. Your dependence. Your crude humour. Your fowl mouth. Your inconsiderate comments. Your hollow encouragements filled with sarcasm. Your talking behind others backs. Your constant arguments with parents or siblings. Your pushing the boundaries with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Your cheating on them with someone else. Your homosexual thoughts. Your depression. Your suicidal thoughts. Your anorexia. Your cutting. Your porn addiction. Your drug use. Your drinks that go a bit too far.

Are you getting the picture?
With His hands, God made all of us as clay pots. As we go through our life, we get scratched, we get marked up, we get cracks, we may even fall off the counter a few times and it feels like we’ve shattered into a million pieces. Whether it be physical characteristics, attitude and temperamental things, or things we’ve done or felt. These are all cracks in us.

I’m reminded of a story I heard about a little boy who was in a church service and after he approached his mother because of something the pastor said. First he clarified that God created the whole world, that He is bigger than anything and everything, that He was so huge that he could in fact hold the world in His hands. His mother confirmed that what he was saying was truth. He then posed his second question about God being able to fit inside each and every one of us, that He lives in us when we accept Him into our heart. His mother confirmed this point as well with her curious son. He then made the bold statement, ‘Well if God is that huge, and is inside of us, shouldn’t people be able to see Him through us?’

Isn’t that the truth? Take the analogy of a clay pot, if we stick it in darkness, much like the world that we live in, nothing changes, everything is just as dark. We blend in with the darkness, with our scars and cracks, no one sees anything different in us. But when even the smallest tea light is lit inside that clay pot, it will shine. But through what? That little light will shine through our cracks, it will be seen through our sorrows, our blemishes, our heartaches, our sins. God wants to shine through these cracks. These cracks can be used for good. Why do we see tough situations and problems in our lives as such a horrible thing. Something to be forgotten in the past, something to hide in the closet. It’s when we are real with people, pull off the layers, be vulnerable with one another, and allow them to see us for what we really are, that they see Christ in us. They can see that they are not alone with what they are dealing with, they see you, they see you have cracks too, and they can see the life of Christ living inside of you.
And in a room of darkness, it’s hard to difficult to overlook such a bright light, even if it is being seen through cracks in a dirty old clay pot.


I mentioned in my last blog that I have faced many new experiences and challenges throughout the last few months. One of which, I brought upon myself. I attended a Baptist church my entire life. For 18 years I walked through the doors of Faith Baptist Church in Huntsville and it was a great place to be; a good church family and great friendships and memories were had there. Mind you, this was the only church I ever went to for a service, for youth, for anything.

So when it came to finding a new church to go to while living here in Newcastle, it would make sense to just attend Josh’s family’s church. It was a Pentecostal church, and although I have nothing against Pentecostal’s, I didn’t want to make that church my new home. In fact, I didn’t want to make any church my new home.

Everyone seems to have opinions about different denominations, church buildings, and their people. They’re too traditional. They’re all too old. They’re all too young. They only sing hymns. Their worship has too many electric guitars. They are trying too many new ideas. They don’t reach the youth with programs. They have nothing for seniors. Their pastor/reverend/priest is boring. He spits when he speaks. All he talks about is wealth. All he talks about is classic bible characters. He doesn’t speak on anything that relates to me. Their pastor/reverend/priest is a woman. They baptize only adults. They baptize only babies. They drink wine for communion. They all drink from the same cup. They eat crackers instead of bread. They wear robes. They wear casual clothes. Their’s has a choir. Their’s has a gym. Their’s has stain glass windows. They speak in tongues. They raise their hands. They just stand there. They cry out in the service. There’s no one there I know. They have homeless people who attend. They are all rich. They have a balcony. They are all rude. They are too cheery. They don’t care at all. They don’t tithe. They have pews.

You see, we hear these things all the time. I’ve heard them all my life about different churches, and had no choice but to just take peoples word for it because I had never experienced these places. For this reason, when I moved here, I wanted to challenge myself. Every week I would attend a different church. Not so that I could be the one to pass judgement and try to alter other peoples views of churches, but rather so that I could create opinions and views of my own and be open minded. I don’t want to just pass off so many denominations just because of what others have said about them, I want to experience them for myself. And I’m not saying that I go to one church and then generalize everything they do as to categorize all of that denomination together. Every church functions differently, and I want to witness and experience these different ways. So far I’ve gone to an Anglican, Pentecostal, Christian Reform, Free Methodist, Presbyterian, United and many other churches.

It’s been really interesting to visit them all. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t make any of them a new church home for myself, but just experiencing all these different ways churches function have opened up my eyes and have taught me a lot. I am in no way trying to show off what I’m doing, but I do want you to think about your views on other denominations. How did you come up with these views? Were they passed down to you, are they reliable or biased? Have you ever thought about other denominations, or have you just stayed where you are comfortable in your church? Do you even have opinions about other denominations? If not, why not look into some others, do some research and find out what differentiates those denominations from yours. Or do something similar to what I’m doing and just explore. Just go for a drive Sunday morning and when you see a steeple, head in that direction and go to that church. You might be very surprised.


This is a time of new experiences and challenges for me.

For those of you who don't know, I moved from my home for the past 18 years in beautiful Muskoka, to live in what I consider the city, in the small town of Newcastle, Ontario.

I spent my first year out of high school living at working at camp as a full time year-round instructor hosting guest groups. I did Spring Crew in May and June, and then was there for all last summer also. By the end of the summer however, I still hadn’t decided what I should do in the fall. My options were limited as I could either commit to a second year working at camp, or I could work elsewhere from home. Through many conversations, I ended up talking with a guy, Josh Linkletter, who was in the same position as I was in not knowing what to do for the following year. In what began as a simple joke, became our plan for September. He invited me to live with him and his family here in Newcastle. I thought about it, talked about it with family and friends, and prayed about, and it seemed like it could be a pretty fun and new experience for me. It would be a big change in pace and environment for me, but I was ready for it.

I moved in on the 9th of September to be with my new family for the next few months. Josh, his younger brother and sister, his parents, two foster girls, and one out-of-control golden retriever. This would be a challenge. Little sheltered Ben Pavey from the boonies living with his parents and sister, was stepping it up. Josh and I quickly got to work trying to find a job so we could begin making our big cash. Well, we thought the best way to wait for this great job would be to suffer through some factory work. Bad idea. This place was a mistake. We worked on windshields for vehicles, 8am-4pm with one half hour lunch. It was torture! But they loved me; they saw some great potential in me because I was learning so fast, so they decided to begin training me on everything so that I could be on staff for a long time as one of these hoppers that relieved others for breaks. Word quickly travelled however that I wasn’t planning on being there for much longer so they sat me down in an office and tried to convince me to stay and even offered me some a financial incentive. I turned it down, said there was nothing they could do to make me want to stay there, and that I was essentially just taking advantage of them till I found something better. That, along with calling in the next day and lying to them saying we had no ride cost us our job. We received a call the next day telling us that they no longer required our help. What a glorious day! What a joyous time to celebrate! Things were good again. We weren’t making money… we got fired after only working one week… but it sure felt nice.

Luckily for me though, I had an interview lined up at The Brick in Whitby and I scored a full-time position as a merchandiser just a couple days later. A few days after that, Josh got a job at Good Life Fitness and after much training he is now a personal trainer there.

We all have journeys. We all have stories. What is yours right now? What’s been going on in your life lately that can make a story? Just tell it how it is, it doesn’t have to be inspirational, it doesn’t have to have a captivating underlying message.

To conclude, I’ll tell you one last short story from within the first few months I was living here. Josh and I were leaving a friends place and as I was getting in to the passenger side of the smart car… yes, a smart car… Josh was asked to pull the vehicle up for people to take a closer look. The thing was however, that he failed to wait for me to get completely into the car; I had one foot safely in the car but still had the other outside on the ground. Now with a regular size vehicle, you often have plenty of time to react to such a situation by jumping in to the car before it’s too late. Unfortunately, being a smart car, the back tire is directly behind the door. And without another second I tried pulling my leg in to the car, but it was too late. The car jetted forward sucking my right foot under the car. Perhaps not as heavy a car as most, but the way it yanked my foot under on its side, caused it to twist my knee in the wrong direction and I was whipped to the ground before I knew it. I rested there for a moment wondering if my ankle was broken. All I could think was, Is it broken? I’ve never broken anything before… this is kind of cool… And it doesn’t even hurt that much… Hmm, I would’ve thought breaking a bone would hurt a bit more… Well, it turned out I didn’t break anything, however it had lasting effect on me and my future career with NBA basketball. Either way, I wasn’t angry with Josh, he apologized, and we kept going, although my knee hasn’t completely healed yet. I couldn’t believe my friend just ran me over… but like I said, it makes for a good story, and adds a little bit more to my journey.


Some of you might remember my old quicksilver hat. Mesh backing, grass front and beak. I loved that hat, and it fit just perfectly. Well, over time the grass began to tear and fall apart, and eventually my hat had no more grass, and it looked ridiculous. But I still wore it because it was all that I had. During the summer, I spent many of my days off trying to find a replacement, but had no luck. I almost gave up hope after looking on all sorts of websites because I just couldn’t find one that I liked. In my hat searching travels, I discovered how many hats now are made all hippity-hop-like. They have this trucker style crown that goes up way too high, and the beaks are huge and flat, and you’re suppose to wear them all crooked to the side without bending the beak to your desires arch, because then you’re really cool. Well, you know what? I don’t want one of those hats. And it didn't seem like I was ever going to be the proud owner of another hat because a Ben Pavey hat was way too hard to find, for all I knew, they were extinct. It was a bittersweet ending.
Until last night.

My parents returned from a well-deserved vacation to Florida and cruise to the Bahama’s. Well, I had the privilege of seeing them as they returned to Toronto last night and they came bearing gifts and to my dismay, one of these gifts was a new hat. I was nervous even pulling it out of the bag because I anticipated this to be another lost cause hat. I pulled it out, and sure enough it didn’t look that bad… In fact, this hat appeared to have some great potential. I stood up, held this new accessory in my hands, and tightly closed my eyes. I sure hope this fits and I like it. I really don’t want to be disappointed with a gift from my parents. I want to like it.. please, please, please. I stared down at the floor as I placed the hat on my head, a nice fit… now the determining moment… Sweaty palms, a panic-stricken face, biting my bottom lip so hard I could’ve sworn it burst with blood. Like a slow-motion film, as the handsome main character leans in for the first kiss under the dimly lit porch light with the girl of his dreams, I slowly raised my head to peer into my reflection in the mirror…

Thank you mom and dad. you did good. you did real good.


This one is not of my own.
I want to share with you the story of a man named Jamie Tworkowski. This is taken from his website regarding his movement title, To Write Love On Her Arms. TWLOHA's mission is to communicate hope and love to broken people. They also aim to invite and inspire lives of compassion. They believe that "rescue is possible", that we can be rescued and we are called to live as rescuers. In the same way, they believe that all people are loved and called to love others. This [long] excerpt is taken from http://www.twloha.com/ on ‘the story’ page. Definitely check out the site after reading this, and grab yourself a T-shirt to support their cause.

Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won't see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she'd say if her story had an audience. She smiles. "Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars."

I would rather write her a song, because songs don't wait to resolve, and because songs mean so much to her. Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness. These words, like most words, will be written next to midnight, between hurricane and harbor, as both claim to save her.

Renee is 19. When I meet her, cocaine is fresh in her system. She hasn't slept in 36 hours and she won't for another 24. It is a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills and alcohol. She has agreed to meet us, to listen and to let us pray. We ask Renee to come with us, to leave this broken night.

She says she'll go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. We pray and say goodbye and it is hard to leave without her. She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. Six hours after I meet her, she is feeling trapped, two groups of "friends" offering opposite ideas. Everyone is asleep. The sun is rising. She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm.

The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center has no detox, names her too great a risk, and does not accept her. For the next five days, she is ours to love. We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life. It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.

She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known, like a Johnny Cash song or some theatre star. She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. I sit privileged but breaking as she shares. Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words, and on consecutive evenings, I watch the prettiest girls in the room tell her that she's beautiful. I think it's God reminding her.

I've never walked this road, but I decide that if we're going to run a five-day rehab, it is going to be the coolest in the country. It is going to be rock and roll. We start with the basics; lots of fun, too much Starbucks and way too many cigarettes.

Thursday night she is in the balcony for Band Marino, Orlando's finest. They are indie-folk-fabulous, a movement disguised as a circus. She loves them and she smiles when I point out the A&R man from Atlantic Europe, in town from London just to catch this show.

She is in good seats when the Magic beat the Sonics the next night, screaming like a lifelong fan with every Dwight Howard dunk. On the way home, we stop for more coffee and books, Blue Like Jazz and (Anne Lamott's) Travelling Mercies.

On Saturday, the Taste of Chaos tour is in town and I'm not even sure we can get in, but doors do open and minutes after parking, we are on stage for Thrice, one of her favorite bands. She stands ten feet from the drummer, smiling constantly. It is a bright moment there in the music, as light and rain collide above the stage. It feels like healing. It is certainly hope.

Sunday night is church and many gather after the service to pray for Renee, this her last night before entering rehab. Some are strangers but all are friends tonight. The prayers move from broken to bold, all encouraging. We're talking to God but I think as much, we're talking to her, telling her she's loved, saying she does not go alone. One among us knows her best. Ryan sits in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar, singing songs she's inspired.

After church our house fills with friends, there for a few more moments before goodbye. Everyone has some gift for her, some note or hug or piece of encouragement. She pulls me aside and tells me she would like to give me something. I smile surprised, wondering what it could be. We walk through the crowded living room, to the garage and her stuff.

She hands me her last razor blade, tells me it is the one she used to cut her arm and her last lines of cocaine five nights before. She's had it with her ever since, shares that tonight will be the hardest night and she shouldn't have it. I hold it carefully, thank her and know instantly that this moment, this gift, will stay with me.It hits me to wonder if this great feeling is what Christ knows when we surrender our broken hearts, when we trade death for life.

As we arrive at the treatment center, she finishes: "The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope."

I have watched life come back to her, and it has been a privilege. When our time with her began, someone suggested shifts but that is the language of business. Love is something better. I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions. Don Miller says we're called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly.

We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she's known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.

I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember.



A couple of months ago I parked outside a bank waiting to pick someone up there. While I was waiting in this nice heated vehicle in the presence of friends with the music going, I took a quick glance outside the car door window. And right there, in what seemed to be a parallel universe divided from me by a piece of glass, stood a man with his hands cupped out in front of him. I only had to think for a second before I opened my door, and took a minute from my oh-so-busy schedule of sitting and waiting in a car to stand with this man. His name was Eric and he was asking for some change to grab a coffee. I asked him how long he was intending to stay there on the sidewalk for, because I had to take these people back home. He said he could wait, so I asked what kind of coffee he liked, which I fail to remember now, and I promised him that I would be back in about 20 minutes with his coffee and a dutchie doughnut. I later returned to meet with him on the street bench. We had a good long conversation about who knows what. He really didn’t make much sense at all to me, he did do most of the talking, but I didn’t mind. I just sat and listened and watched as he drank his coffee with one hand, smoked a cigarette with the other and grabbed a bite of his doughnut between each.

Today, leaving the comfort of a warm church, I hurried outside into an early snowy afternoon to return to my car, hoping to soon be back to my heated house of entertainment and friendly faces. I wasn’t in much of a mood to make any stops, but as I drive the main street, I always seem to take a second to look at that same bench where I sat with Eric. Often I don’t see him there, but today there he was. Huddled in a closed ball with hands rubbing vigorously together to keep himself warm, as the cold snow found its place sticking to his old articles of clothing and knitted winter toque. I kept driving, suddenly with thoughts racing through my mind. I know I should stop, but I really don’t feel like it today. But I haven’t seen him for a while. I’ll stop next time I see him. But look at how cold he must be. It wouldn’t take much to buy him another coffee. But no, I don’t remember what kind he likes, I don’t want to just get him a doughnut, how will that warm him up. Right as I decided to keep driving and forget about Eric, I tried to distract myself from the dilemma by singing along with the music I had playing in the car. The convicting words seemed to be jumping right from the speakers as if God were saying, ‘Ben, you know you don’t have anywhere to be. There’s no harm in picking up something for Eric. He could use the warmth and company. You know this Ben, be smart.’ The lyrics were from a familiar song by Jars of Clay claimed,

“I’m gonna show you love in every language”

How was I showing Eric love by driving past? How could I sing these words when I just drove by a needing person that I could help? I kept driving, went to the nearest coffee shop, had to take out some money at the ATM, and bought him a hot chocolate and doughnut. I figured the hot chocolate would be the next best thing. Unfortunately, by the time I returned to that bench, Eric was gone. I walked the streets looking for him, then drove around, still not finding him. I became pretty discouraged. Why would God convict me of such a thing, just to leave me wandering around for this guy with a hot chocolate in my hands that was quickly losing its heat? It didn’t make any sense to me. I kept driving a little bit longer, and came across another man. He appeared to be in a similar situation as Eric, and I figured he could probably use a nice hot drink and snack. I quickly parked the car and ran up to him. As I was doing this he was gripping the outside rim of a garbage can and peering into it looking for who knows what. I called out to him and introduced myself. He told me his name was Peter. I replied, ‘Well Peter, I have a nice warm hot chocolate and dutchie doughnut here for you if you want it.’ You should have seen the surprised look on his face. He eagerly accepted the gift and gave me a brief update on how things weren’t going too well at his place with just a few scraps lying around, and how he had gotten into an argument with his landowner earlier. I suggested that we could take a seat on the bench beside us, ironically being the same one I sat on with Eric. He declined the invitation, said his thank you’s and goodbye’s, and he was off.

I just want to make you think. How often do you sit in the warmth of your own comfort while others are right outside your window seeking help, food, clothing, someone to talk with. I can’t say how crazy it was to have Eric talk to me that day almost without a breath for half an hour. I wonder how many people he talks to in a day, how much interaction does he get beside people giving him the cold shoulder as they pass him by? Often, people love to just have someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. I’m definitely not trying to say that I have it all together, there are still people I drive past or try to pretend I don’t notice because I'm just not in the mood to talk with strangers, even though it could mean the world to them. I still surround myself with materialistic valuables; I still work a job to make money so that I can move up. I still think it’s a great deal when a sandwich meal costs under $10 when there are so many people who don’t even live off that in one day. I’m no different than you. We always have to push ourselves to go beyond the human nature of allowing your heart to testify to its true love which is darkness as Donald Miller explains in Blue Like Jazz.

Maybe in my journey to finding Eric, God was trying to teach me something. Often, when we get on these highs of helping others, we look for what we want to find. We want to help people and show the love that God calls us to show, but stay within our comfort levels. Go to where we are familiar; push the envelope a little bit, but not too far. Perhaps, when we open our eyes to everything, without focusing on what we want exactly, God will show us so much more. When we pin-point what we feel God is calling us to, we are limiting Him to what He can do through us. We can’t fit God into a little box, He is everywhere, and everyone needs to see Him. I was looking for Eric specifically, but when I couldn’t find Him, I decided to see the streets as they really were. I saw so many other people who needed help, Eric wasn’t the only one. Your friends at school are not the only ones. Your parents are not the only ones. There are always more people to show love to. Peter taught me this. He is just another one of the many who could use a nice hot chocolate and dutchie every once and a while, and a friendly conversation to remind him that there are people who care.


This one is long, I won’t lie. And it will hopefully make you think. It might make you happy, if so post a comment and let me know. It might make you angry, and if that’s the case I’ll remember to steer clear of you. No, feel free to post your thoughts on anything I write. Here we go.

It all began after a youth retreat that I was a leader at. What began you ask? My defined perspective on prayer.
You have to know, I’ve gone to a Baptist church my whole life, and now I’m involved with a Pentecostal church. Now before any judgemental ideas are cast let me just say that hasn’t been too tough to get used to, it’s a great church, with great people and youth. They speak in tongues, yes, and that’s a big things that they are recognized for and usually judged for. And that’s the first point, why do we judge their speaking in tongues? It may be foreign to some; others may think it’s a powerful expression of God working in His children; while others think it’s all a bunch of hooey that doesn’t make sense and just flat-out gets them angry. It was suggested to me that people speaking in tongues might need a translator, otherwise it isn’t real. But I don’t really believe a translator is necessary. Is there really much need for one? Speaking in tongues seems to be a personal way to express one’s self and speak with God. There is no need for me or anyone else to understand what they are saying. In the beginning, whenever I heard people speaking in tongues, I often asked myself ‘I wonder if they’re for real.. or if they are just playing a part because they feel they have to in order to fit in. Do they think that must not be getting anything out of the message unless they raise their hands, or cry, or speak in tongues. Are they really saying intentional words, or just yelling gibberish?’ These were my pre-conceived thoughts, probably much like many of yours. But what it came down to was that I knew fully and completely that it was none of my business. It’s between them and God. They know if they are just playing a part and yelling gibberish, or if they are really speaking to God in their own language. I don’t need to know, it’s so easy to judge.

It’s a beautiful thing to witness; seeing people crying out to God, laying their burdens out in front of them yelling ‘I’m a sinner, I know I don’t have it all together, but I know you still love me no matter what and I want to continue to try and live for you as best as I can.’ But if it’s all for show, if it’s not real at all, can it really influence you. No one should feel they have to act a certain way toward God just in order to meet someone’s expectations, they should just be real however that might look for them at that point.

Personally, I’m not really one to express myself in situations like most Pentecostals. Maybe that reflects a cold-heart, or that I’m trying to keep my cool, I don’t know. Either way, I know it doesn’t mean I don’t get anything from the messages or that God isn’t speaking to me, because I definitely do, I just deal with it in a different way.

This leads me to the idea of prayer. As a youth leader, I was expected to go around and pray with the students who were lying face down, or crying with hands raised high, or speaking in tongues. I felt pressured and out of place. Why should I conform to a certain way to speak with God if that’s not how I connect with Him. I didn’t want to walk around, put my hands on the students and pray out loud… to me, this would just be playing a role I was expected to play, I wouldn’t have been real. Personally, having people walk up and place a hand on my shoulders and pray out loud has no effect on me, I feel no different. Others may appreciate it, and I respect that… people are just different from one another.

The same thing falls into place when praying out loud in a group. I don’t like doing it, not out of nervousness, but purpose. It must be a very specific situation in order for it to be alright for me. It’s the concept of trying to impress others with your words, it feels too much like a show rather than being real and it is a distraction from where your own focus should be… on God and speaking with Him. I know you know what I’m talking about when people speak out loud while you are praying with yes God's and mmhmm's, and if you don’t get any of these ‘gold star stickers’ but the person beside you does, then he's done a better job of praying than you. I just don’t feel like I’m real with prayers, and I find it difficult to know how genuine many prayers can be when people pray in groups.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I disagree with praying in groups because I know that the bible encourages it, but it’s the idea of speaking aloud. This is why, in a group, I prefer suggesting to pray for the person on your left in silence. Then it’s just you and God but with the support of those around you. And that’s powerful as well.

Some may feel that praying out loud is an audible way for someone to know you're praying for them, showing that you actually understood and listened to what they told you, and I suppose that can mean a lot too. But I don’t see why it can’t mean just as much to just 'know' that someone is praying for you. They can rest their hands on you and say 'can I pray for you' and then sit silently with you, can’t they?
A suggestion to avoid putting on a show for the person you are praying for, would be to avoid offering advise to them through your prayer. Like, ‘God, I pray for Bill and that you will help him with ­­­­______ and that he will take time to ­­­______, and be nice to people, and please remind him of ...blah, blah, blah.' I believe that those things can be expressed aloud to the person in conversation prior to the prayer, and then the prayer itself can be more intimate between just you and God.

One last thing to cover is telling someone that you’ll pray for them, but never follow through. Some may not open up to people because they fear that they don’t sincerely care because they won’t actually pray for them when they say they will, or won’t follow a couple weeks later to make sure they’re doing alright.

But again, I raise the question, who am I to be concerned about whether they are praying for me all the time, if at all. Is it selfish of me to have this wishful thinking? Can I not be appreciative enough that they listened to me in the first place and let me share with them? And if they pray for me once, isn’t that great! Shouldn't I feel so blessed just for that? Besides, God is outside of time, so it shouldn’t matter when I’m prayed for. All you really need is just one, don’t you? I’m impartial about praying for the same things over and over though. Because it helps you to stay in touch with god, remembering people to pray for ignites opportunity for you to spend in conversation with God.

It’s all very personal. There’s no one right way. Different strokes for different folks right? It’s important to think about it and decide for yourself about these things we’ve discussed, because if you ignore the issue of how you pray, you could be doing it wrong… for you. Do you feel you are real in your prayer, or are you putting on a show?


I’m going to display a lighter side here, I hope that this one doesn’t contradict too much with the comment Amanda posted on my last blog. So, let’s take a look at those nasty little squares that appear on one’s face… sparkles. How do they get there? I was working my evening shift tonight, and as I took a moment from the busyness of customer pick-ups, I washed my hands and looked at myself in the mirror. And to my dismay, there appeared this sparkle, on my face, directly beneath my right eye. How the heck did that get there!? How did that stupid little shiny object make its way onto my face? How long has that been there? Were the girls talking to me a minute ago, while laughing hysterically inside? How embarrassing.

I know you know the sparkles I’m talking about. It may be a little more understandable if you are a female and wear this make-up full of colours and sparkles everyday… those are intentional, and I get that these things can spread throughout the day. But unless you’re a guy getting more in touch with your feminine side on your own time and forget to clean up completely, I don’t know how else they get there. And what are they exactly? And how is it that they show up at some of the most inopportune moments? And how come they are so difficult to remove? How do they stick so well, causing you to have to rub your cheek for minutes, only for you to discover an hour later that it was never completely removed and is now located on your chin?

Sparkles… just another one of life’s great mysteries.


We’re in to the new year of 2007, but this one is about Christmas two weeks ago. For the first time in a long time, my family of four spent this Christmas in the company of my grandparents. My dad thought it would be a good idea to have them join us, and it was. It was great to spend that time with them. When Christmas morning came, this is how our typical routine went:
-My sister and I wake each other up and sit in front of the fireplace to open stockings.
-Once those festivities conclude, we indulge in a delicious breakfast that was prepared the night before.
-We eat, take things slow and enjoy the company of our family.
-We move ourselves back to the living room, take our seats, and read the Christmas story.
-Finally, one of us (usually my sister) shuffles out one gift to each person, once we all have one, we have at it and shred the paper to pieces. Express surprise and gratitude, and then pass out another gift to each person, continuing until all the gifts are safely moved from under the tree into the appropriate person’s possession.
…Familiar to some, foreign to others. Either way, that’s how we do things.
My grandparents however, who are use to having stockings for each other and usually one gift each because ‘it’s all we really need’ claims my Granny. Needless to say, the amount of gifts they received was almost too much for them to handle. They couldn’t believe everyone was getting as many gifts as they did; them especially. Overall, the weekend was great. As we drove back to the city to take my grandparents back, they continued to show their appreciation for the hospitality and gifts. We arrived back at their place in the evening. The lights out, the heat off, just the way they had left it. Until into the shadows my granny squinted to clear her vision as she detected something that wasn’t there before. A large red bow stretched across the front of a brand new television sitting in the place of where there old-school tube sat. She gasped and hollered to her husband ‘George! We have a new TV! We have a new TV!’ it must have been repeated 8 times. She just couldn’t believe it. We all joined the two of them in their family room, as they tried to figure out how this foreign object made its way into their house. To let you in the loop, my dad and uncle had been planning it for a while and got it installed while they were at our place for the Christmas weekend.

What’s the point, besides telling you a detailed story of my Christmas? Well, you really had to see them. You have to try and imagine their reaction. Two 80+ grandparents who are use to watching only the news, golf, and children’s shows on their 3-channel TV that had lines scrolling up the static-filled screen. They just dealt with it; they had no reason to spend money on a new TV and definitely no desire to purchase cable. To walk in to their home and be greeted by a gift such as this left them speechless. And to tell you the truth, this TV is not a 60” top of the line Sony. It was a flat screen, clear enough to watch their shows, and just big enough so that they could see the image easily. My grandparents were overwhelmed with this gift. They were so thankful, grateful, appreciative, and any other word that means the same thing. I admired the way they just couldn’t contain their... well... appreciation, for lack of another word. I don’t think I could ever be that happy with a gift. I think I take so much for granted, and fail to recognize the beauty of everything and everyone’s importance in my life. How do we develop the same mindset as my grandparents right now? How do we get passed everything available to us right outside our front door and see what is true, real, and right here. What do you appreciate? Who are you thankful everyday for? Where do your priorities lie? What blessings in your life leave you overwhelmed?


Earlier I shared about the impact we are having on the ones around us, if any at all. Today, we're going to look at our representation. Our representation as students, brothers, sisters, parents, teachers, employees, co-workers, and most importantly as ambassador's of Christ.
I'm going to take a look at our tongue and how we use it. How it can be used to set a good example and how it can be used to tear down someone who seems they've already lost it all. Everything we say has a result. You cannot speak without your words having an influence on those who hear.

If you have an opinion about someone and you share that biased view with someone else, your opinion will affect their view on that person. But it depends on how you say it. If you speak about a person in harsh, brutal words to someone else, how are they not expected to take on a bit of the anger you feel upon themselves? All of a sudden your opinionated view of a person has been passed on to someone else who is just trusting your word. Even still, why do they need to hear it, what is your purpose for talking about this person behind their back? Should there ever be a good reason for that?
Maybe you need to just get it off your chest, but maybe consider telling someone who doesn't know this person directly so that they can offer non-biased advice and won't be directly affected by the information you tell them. Either way, the words that you use to describe this person that you're angry at are a representation of Christ. If they know you are a Christian, what kind of example are you setting? Something to think about.

Why do we feel like we have to yell at people or get angry? Can we not control ourselves enough that we have to lash out and flip at someone? If someone does something or says something to you, or you simply don’t get along well with them, is there no better way to deal with it than by taking it all out on them, making fun of them, putting them in their place, complain about them to others. The next time you get ticked off, first ask yourself if they really intended on ticking you off. The thing that is bothering you might be second nature to them and they have no idea that they are frustrating or angering you. Even if they purposely do things to set you off though, is flipping out at them the right way to deal with your anger. Is telling them that they’re stupid, to shut up, or doing equal or greater damage to them as they did to you representing Christ. As cliché as it may be, how about that over-played wristband asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ There’s got to be a better way to handle tough situations and controlling your temper.

How about referring to something or someone as 'Gay' 'Retarded' or other words used to degrade them. What about claiming hatred toward someone or something. All of these things affect the people around you. It's so important to think about what you're saying before you say it because you never know how it will influence those who hear you.
If you and I are studying for an exam and it is 2am in the morning and it seems like we're only half way through our notes, let’s say you get angry and yell 'this is so retarded; I just want to get to bed.' Your choice of words may have no effect on you but what about me. Maybe there's something you don't know about me, maybe I haven’t told you about something. Hypothetically speaking, I had a brother who was clinically mentally challenged. He spent his first two years of his life in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and needles that were keeping him alive. I would come home from school and wait countless nights for my mom to come home at 10pm because she was trying to work enough hours at the local burger joint trying to get enough money to pay for my brothers health care as well as put food on the table because my father ran out on us after a year of not being able to face the challenges that came along with my brother. I spent my weekends working like crazy to help my mom out, and the only thing that kept us going was the thought that we might be able to someday have a full conversation with my brother who still couldn't even spell his own name at age 15. And finally three years ago, the doctors found an incurable problem in the right side of his brain and my brother passed away.
...no one can predict the type of impact their words might have on a person.

Hypothetically speaking again, I have been involved with the Big Brothers community and this older guy has taken me under his wing to play basketball with and just hang out and talk. We're really getting along well and I feel I could tell him almost anything. I look up to him, admire him, and our friendship means a lot because I feel he would never forget about me or hurt me in any way. There was something on my mind that I really needed to talk about, and I knew I could share it with him so I went early one day before our afternoon of basketball and stood with him waiting as he was in the middle of a story that he was telling his buddies. He was talking about this guy he saw in the grocery store who walked a bit different, wore tight clothing and had a voice that was a bit distracting... in his words "this dude was so gay, what a fag." Wait, wait, hold on. Did I hear him right? All of a sudden, the thing I wanted to talk the most about is now the last thing I could ever discuss with him. I was dealing with homosexual thoughts myself but how could I ever talk to him about this now. I respected this guy, I trusted him, but I now know I could never trust him with everything. He'll think I’m a huge queer and talk about me behind my back like he was talking about this other guy he saw. He'll never want to help me out, he won't listen, he’ll just laugh and then back up and away from me as if I had some deadly, contagious disease. I thought I knew this guy, but I was wrong. I’ll never be able to share anything with him now.

Whether we like it or not, whether we mean to or not... our words can either build a man up or tear him apart. We represent something greater than a student, employee or family member. We represent God in everything we say. Do the people around you see you as a gossiper, someone who flips out on the smallest of things, a person who swears his mouth off, a person who insults when thinking it's just a joke? Or do they see you as a listener, someone who cares, someone who is honest, trustworthy and watches their tongue. Who are you? How do you represent God?


I have spent many conversations hearing about how my co-workers hate their job.
They get up at the crack of dawn, work sales on commission for 12 hours straight, and head home maybe to spend an hour in front of the TV and relax, and then head to bed, only to wake up the next morning to the same thing all over again.

This has led me to thinking of what kind of impact we have. How do you want to be living your life? If one of these sales people were to pass away tomorrow and had the chance to look back on their life... their last few years... their last couple months... their last day... how would they answer to the question of what type of impact they were having. Did they serve a purpose, or were they just running in neutral?
Would they look back on their last day and say that they were just going through the motions, trying to make those payments, hating their job, co-workers, boss, family situations. Would they have an answer as to what type of impact they were having?
How would you answer that? As you have gone through your day today, what have you done? Anything worth while? Fill your mind with knowledge that you'll never use, argue with family, tell someone you loved them, tell someone you hated them, cared about the things your professor was trying to teach you, walk past a weeping woman, be a kind ear to listen, smile and say hello to passers-by? Everything we do has an impact, what kind of impact have you had today?
I then put myself in a sales person's situation. If I worked a 12 hour day with angry customers who want their product right away even though it's been back-ordered for another three months. How would I answer the question of what kind of impact I was having? I'm not suggesting that the impact we should be having is to convert everyone we meet to Christianity. But is that such a bad goal to reach toward? Maybe having an impact, what gives you meaning to your day, is to be a nice, caring person who does smile and try to be the most polite person you can be.
I'm not talking about the fake smile you pull to make people feel warm inside, when really all you're thinking about is how that other guy cut you off on the road five minutes ago. I'm not talking about the personality you portray to someone to make yourself look good to them, but as soon as they're gone you talk about them to others as if they were the dog's breakfast, again to make yourself look good. Are these the things that give you a meaning to your day?

This will lead into Part Two which will be posted in a couple days, but I just want to make you think. Are you running in neutral and going through the motions, or do you make conscious efforts toward impacting the world around you. If so, what kind of impact are you having, because we all know there are two sides of this coin. Are you impacting your school, friendships, family, and work with your best attempted portrayal of Christ. Or are you setting a bad rep for how God calls His followers to be loving individuals to anyone and everyone... Come back for the continuation on this, 'Your Representation.'


This one is about a conversation. I was talking with a co-worker the other day and the topic of me being a Christian came up. He shook his head and asked ‘man Ben. When are you going to open up your eyes? How can you box yourself into something like that?

The dialogue was a good distraction from having to do any work for about fifteen minutes as we stood there talking while the other guys did all the work. It was really interesting, and surprisingly draining on my part. I won’t go into too much detail, but he did raise many good points. Remarkably I had some answers for him, and oddly enough for questions that I had never really thought about. Questions that I had never even asked myself. Questions that I bypassed because there’s something inside of me that simply says ‘I just believe it.’
There are many wonders and mysteries of God and faith and the bible and everything that I haven’t the faintest clue about, but I’m reassured that that is alright. I don’t have to have all the answers. Inside, I simply believe in God, and even though there are things that don’t make sense to me, it doesn’t alter the way I feel. And this was my answer for many of his questions, a simple ‘I don’t know, there’s just something inside of me that causes me to have faith and believe it to be true.' He stated he finds it easier to believe that we evolved from tiny particles than to believe God created Adam and then Eve from his rib. He believes in the possibility of God, heaven and hell, but he also believes in the possibility of reincarnation. He asked how I can believe in something I can’t see. I told him to look around and up into the sunset and asked him how he can believe that wind exists if you cannot see it. He gave the right answer, that he can see the effects of the wind but cannot see the wind itself. It made him think. He asked how I would feel if I found out when I die that God doesn’t exist, wont I feel like I missed out on a lot of things. I asked him how he would feel if He stood face to face with God when he died and God asked him why he didn’t believe in Him. If you believe your two options are choosing to believe in God, or believe in Reincarnation then here is my theory:
-If you believe in God, die and find out that it’s all a hoax and you just get reincarnated, then go ahead and do everything you didn’t before, because who really cares now.
-If you believe in reincarnation however, you die and it turns out to be the hoax, there’s no turning back.

One of his final questions was if God really loves him and made him in His image, then if he dies and stands face to face with God, as a person who didn’t believe in God his whole life, then God should welcome him in to heaven no matter what… if He really loves him. ‘Why would God want to punish something that he created and loves’ he asked, ‘What if He doesn’t show himself to me, I never hear about Him, a missed opportunity and I never get the chance to accept Him, do I become a write-off in God’s eyes when I’m standing there in front of Him?’

‘I’m telling you right now man. This is your opportunity,’ I answered.
I've been following around some interesting organizations lately. I heard a statistic the other week referring to the many organizations that are being created and sending group members on mini mission trip-type expeditions to particular places in Canada that need help the most. Not to my surprise, the top two locations where teams are being sent are Vancouver, BC and Hamilton, ON.
I simply want to make you aware of a couple organizations that are on the rise that are doing some great work all over.

The first is MissionYear. It is designed for young adults, age 17-29, to go live and work for a year in a poor, urban American neighbourhood, partnering with a local church, volunteering at a social service agency, and spending time with neighbours. They spend an entire year eating, sleeping, and working with the same 6+ team members. You can check out this commitment to drop everything and serve with whole-hearted love at www.missionyear.org.

The second is Starving Jesus. This is a movement headed up by two founders of XXXChurch.com [an anti-porn website designed to help people with their addiction to pornography] urging Christians to get up out of the church pew and do something. It began as a book, which turned into a 40-day tour of fasting and travelling to a different city each day, which has been recorded and is expected to become a documentary in the Spring of 2007. Learn about the movement that will challenge to stand up and walk the walk at www.starvingjesus.com and www.xxxchurch.com.

The third is NieuCommunities. This organization is for people who are ready to go beyond where they’ve been and change the trajectory of their lives. They set out communities, similar to the above MissionYear, every year to pursue God relentlessly, to allow their faith and character to be transformed in the crucible of community, and to submerge into the cultures around them and make a difference in people’s lives. They also offer 1-2 week mission trips which they prefer to call 'Road Trips,' and here's why:
~On a missions trip you go to help people. On a road trip you come to be with people.
~On a missions trip you go to speak. On a road trip you come to listen.
~On a missions trip you go to see the world. On a road trip you come to better understand the world.
~On a missions trip you go to accomplish something. On a road trip you come to be transformed.
Learn more about NieuCommunities on www.nieucommunities.org.

And the last organization to inform you about is Invisible Children. This was headed up by three young guys who knew nothing but felt a calling to learn about the children in Uganda. These invisible children travel in the night, hide in the shadows and risk their lives each and every day just to survive. These guys have some amazing things to share with you. A documentary DVD, bracelets made by children in Uganda, and a movement that will rock you. Learn about their incredible stories at www.invisiblechildren.com.

And that's it for now, I hope you can take some time out of your busy schedule of surfing, msn chatting, illegal music downloading, and facebook viewing to check out and support these fantastic organizations.