Monday, November 30, 2015

Church History

Above is a picture of my church.  It's Bradford Community Church.  It's great.

I have been going to Bradford for about a year and a half.  What happened on the way there is the subject of my blog for this week...

Let's start with a joke...

There was a man who was stranded on a desert island for many, many years. One day, while strolling along the beach, he spotted a ship in the distance. This had never happened in all the time he was on the island, so he was very excited about the chance of being rescued.

Immediately, he built a fire on the beach and generated as much smoke as possible. It worked! Soon, the ship was heading his way. When the ship was close enough to the island, a dinghy was dispatched to investigate the situation. The man on the island was overjoyed with the chance to be rescued and met his saviors as they landed.

After some preliminary conversation the man in charge asked the man on the island how he had survived for so many years.

The man replied by telling of his exploits for food and how he was able to make a fine house to live in. In fact, the man said, "You can see my home from here. It's up there on the ridge."

He pointed the men in the direction of his home. They looked up and saw three buildings. They inquired about the building next to the man's house and he replied, "That's my church - I go there to worship on Sundays."

When asked about the third building, the man replied, "That's where I used to go to church."

Maybe you can relate.

I was raised in the Catholic tradition.  My parents were catholic and that's just what we did.  Mass was on Sunday morning and we three brothers tried to sit still through it all.  We had almost the whole ceremony memorized, because it did not change much from week to week.  

Our church was Holy Family Catholic Church on Murray Street in Wallaceburg.

When I reached an age where I made a decision that Catholic church was just not for me, it caused quite an uproar in our household.  I felt bad about it but, when you're a teenager, you are starting to make life decisions on your own, and for me that was one of them.  If I had to turn back the clock, I would have done things differently and been more respectful to my parents, but it is what it is.

I went to several different churches in Wallaceburg, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal, United.  I never really settled into just one.

When I left the small town for the big city of North Bay to go to Canadore College, I was supposed to go back to Catholic Church because I lived with my Aunt and Uncle and they were Catholic.  It was respectful thing to do since I was under their roof.  It lasted for a while, but again my young and foolish ways caused a big stink.  I found another church I wanted to go to and made my decision known.  A line was drawn and I ended up moving out on my own!  Oh the memories!  My mom on the phone, begging me to stay put, me "making a stand".  It was not fun.

The church I went to in North Bay after that, was to me, the best thing ever!  The people were friendly and really loved the Lord.  Their music was lively and exciting.  We would pray every morning.  Church was Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night to!  There were home groups, outreach nights on the streets and even a Saturday night coffee house!  Church activity soon took over all my spare time and my studies suffered.  I left the dream of working in Christian television and instead threw myself into whatever the church had going on.

This part of the story is a cautionary tale about church and church stuff.  Some things that are good can turn bad.  This is what happened to me.  In my eagerness to be the best Christian I could be, I surrendered certain areas of my life over to a very strong and narcissistic form of leadership within the church and the larger fellowship it was a part of.  It was only after I began to question the things I was a part of, that I realized there was a lot of manipulation going on and not much Christian ministry.  Sadly these things happen out there and the more you do your homework, the more protected you will be from going through anything like this.  That's a whole other blog topic for another day...

My family and I eventually left that organization and were without a church for a bit.  We DID have a home bible study in our home with a few of the other families who were also hurting from spiritual abuse.  That bible study grew into another church in North Bay.  Our building was a movie theater downtown!  It was fun times!  

Eventually (and I am skipping a lot here) we ended up in Sudbury, where I began to attend another great Church called All Nations!

The All Nations Dome

The pastor is Jeremy Mahood, who has an amazing story and a rich heritage within the community.

Pastor Jeremy Mahood

All Nations is currently building an amazing domed church!  All Nations has a great congregation and does so much for the city.  Every year they put on the Living Nativity on the grounds of Science North, with the final performance on Christmas Eve, complete with fireworks as the angels sing Hallelujah!

And now that we are in Barrie, I am blessed to be part of Bradford Community Church where some wonderful friends of ours go.  It's a church that values relationships and reaches out to the city in unique ways!

I pray you find a caring group of believers to link up with!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Geek Awakens!

I have a bunch of stuff in my man-cave.

Most of it is science fiction stuff.

It just sits on a shelf and I admire it.  I guess that's the point of collecting isn't it?

The other day, I thought, each of these things tells a story.  Two stories really.

First there is a story behind why it exists, then there is story about why I like it and want it in my home.

I collect things because I personally feel drawn to them, not just because I have to have every little thing.

If there is no emotional connection to something, why waste time and money on it?

I decided to make a video about a few of my items and share the stories behind them.

This one is about a lightsaber that I bought for my son!

If you like it let me know!

Monday, November 16, 2015

When Church Is Different!

Church this Sunday was...different.

First off, our worship team is expanding so more room on the stage is needed.  In order to accommodate this, the drums were moved to the baptismal tank!  It was my turn to play and it was my first time drumming inside what is essentially an empty tub!

But that wasn't the most surprising thing about the service...

Usually a church service runs according to a set agenda.  Music, announcements, offering, more music, preaching, prayer and then dismissal.

Sunday was a day where not much of that mattered because God took care of what He wanted to do outside our set plans.

We sang a song called "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel Music.  In light of the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris recently, it just seemed that the song lyrics connected in a very specific way.

The goal of church, I believe is to make a "God Connection".  This can happen at any time during the week of course but when we get together on Sunday, there is that extra dynamic of corporate faith that makes church what it is.

During the service, Pastor Shane Fitch recognized that God was doing something out of the ordinary, and we as a worship team just stayed on the platform and played.  He did not preach a message.  He simply allowed God to move and we all stayed in that place for a while!

I believe many people who were there experienced a new level of freedom from fear.

Here is the song, I hope it does the same for you!

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Blessed Anniversary!

My wife of 28 years, Rose Gale!

It's been 28 years since Rose and I said "I do".

The story of our marriage is unusual and is still being told.  I will bring you up to date if I can.

We met in church, in North Bay.  I was in college and she was working for an insulation company.

I was a skinny brokenhearted person who wanted to throw my whole life into this thing called Christianity.  She was just as enthusiastic about God, and it caught my eye.  She was so bold about her faith, it was attractive!  She was stunningly beautiful.  Wow, did I have a shot?

We began to date (with the official sanction of our and I knew I should scoop her up before anyone else figured out how awesome she was!

I took her out for Italian food and then we took a walk to the North Bay waterfront, where we braved the rocks to sit on the very edge of break-wall of the harbor next to a guiding light for the boats.  (A fitting description of marriage now that I think about it!)  There I opened a ring box and popped the question.  She said "Yes"!

All I knew about marriage could have fit into a tube of chap stick.  I was so clueless.  It's embarrassing now to think about how much I did not know before jumping into it!  I have apologized to Rose many times for not being more prepared and less selfish, but we have lived and learned!

In our 28 years we have had three wonderful kids, we've moved 19 times, had 14 vehicles, recovered from injuries and surgeries, had plenty and had little.

We are now empty nesters and are off on our new adventures together.  It's a new stage of life and I am blessed to have Rose with me as we walk the road together!  We support each other in our weaknesses, encourage each other to chase our dreams and trust God for the future!

Happy anniversary, Rose!  I love you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lest We Forget

My mom and her dad sharing a laugh at the Legion. 
Today we thank and honor those who serve in our military.

My grandpa, Charles Benn was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion.  If you don't understand what the Legion is, they are an organization that supports Canada's war veterans.  They also are involved in communities and do tons of service work.

My grandpa was a fixture at the local branch in Wallaceburg.  It was his second home you could say.

The Legion is situated downtown where the river forks.

Grandpa loved to make the property look amazing.  He was an avid gardener and his green thumb was evident in the summer as beautiful flowers adorned the building and the grass was neatly trimmed.  When he passed away, a memorial garden was planted there in his honor, with a stone monument that has his name on it.

The Legion building in Wallaceburg.
My memories of the Legion include having fun catching carp in the Sydenham River during the annual summer fishing derby, and a tug-of-war competition where the rope was strung across the river.

Because Grandpa Benn was part of the Legion, I learned about the wars.  During Remembrance Day he would march with other members at the cenotaph during ceremonies.  He did not go overseas to see action, he participated by staying here as part of the forces, none the less, he was proud of his service.

This Remembrance Day, think about those that served.  Think about what it would have been like.  It was a very different world during the world wars.  People thought differently and were perhaps more engaged in world events.  I hope we can do the same in the times we live in and then years from now, our veterans will still have the honor they deserve.