Thursday, April 1, 2010

the one who inspires.

Following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 82nd Academy Awards, one word has really stuck out to me these past two months. The word that has been on my mind and on my heart is: inspiration.

Watching the heart-warming clip of Alexandre Bilodeau’s Olympic journey for the very first time was certainly one of the moments I remember most from this year’s Winter Games. The gold medal winner got his inspiration from his older brother, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. Even though doctors told him that he’d lose his ability to walk before he reached his teens, Frederic Bilodeau continues to walk at the age of 28. That, my friends, is inspiring. And then you have characters like Jon Montgomery who openly encourages mothers across the nation to allow their children to pick up the sport of skeleton. Perhaps he will be the inspiration of future athletes. At the Academy Awards, as Sandra Bullock gripped the first golden statue of her career, she applauded fellow nominee Meryl Streep for being the actress she looked up to all these years. In the same hour, we witnessed for the very first time, a female winner for the category of best director. Kathryn Bigelow has now put into place the launching pad for up and coming female directors.

It seems like wherever you find accomplishment, there you will also find inspiration. Whether you’re an Olympic athlete, movie star, or simply a student, we always remember the person or people that helped us “get there.”

Who is your inspiration?

I’m quite sure that I’m not the only who has ever stood in front of the bathroom mirror with a toothbrush or comb and tried to recite my very own acceptance speech. I think that sometimes it’s a good idea to really take the time and recall the people in your life that have inspired you.

I think it’s a funny thing how a lot of individuals thank God in their acceptance speeches. In no way am I saying that I wouldn’t thank God. It just seems that whenever people thank God, it’s almost as if it was to satisfy some form of hidden religious agenda. Being the cynical person that I am, I will now choose not to judge. Instead, I will now get to the core of this post.

There are numerous people that we look up to, numerous people that we aspire to be. Maybe it’s a favourite actor or athlete, an accomplished family member, or a devoted Christian. But as Christians, I wonder how often we look to Christ as our inspiration – as someone who has paved the way for us to be successful. How often do we desire to be just like him? How often do we look at his life, the way he lived it, and truly have the desire to live just like he did – flawlessly, excellently, lovingly, sacrificially, humbly?

[Philippians 2:5-11]
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I believe that this passage provides a very accurate description of the life that Jesus lived. It also provides the necessary blueprints for us as Christians to follow in His footsteps. How many of us can truly “make ourselves nothing?” Perhaps this is a challenge that we should consider taking up.

Who are you inspiring?

I’m guessing that Frederic Bilodeau didn’t inspire his brother at one specific moment, but rather he inspired his brother throughout the course of his life. He inspires him every day. And that’s what inspiration is all about. It’s not about one flashy moment, but about consistency.

Matthew 5:14 remarks that “we are the light of the world.” As Christians, part of our role is to bring the light of Christ to the areas of darkness in this word. And this is not for us. We’re not seeking to bring glory to ourselves, but to Christ. When others look at us, what do they see? Do we, as Christians, live like we’re inspired by our Creator, by our King, by our Lord and Saviour? Or do they simply see Dan, the kinesiology student at Waterloo? As Christians, we have the ability to inspire the world. We have the ability to inspire a generation of young Christians. But this process cannot merely be accomplished within a moment of glory and fame. It cannot simply be remarked during some acceptance speech. We must live it. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.

Focus your gaze heavenward. Seek Christ and you will find Him. And then live a life inspired by Jesus.

Monday, March 1, 2010

true north, strong and free.

As gold as it gets.
When the Canadian Olympic Committee boldly predicted that Canada would be sitting atop the medal standings at the end of the games, it was an optimistic statement for an optimistic country. With the total medal count rising every year for the red and white, home soil just might be the extra boost that we needed to shoot to the top. Canada didn't burst out of the gates like they had hoped. Sure, Bilodeau's gold medal was worth a cheer or two, but in the big picture, the first week of competition must have been disappointing for the nation as a whole. The results (or lack there of) prompted the COC to admit that the initial prediction would not be realized, bursting the hopeful balloons everywhere, and once again making the host nation look vulnerable and ill-prepared.

One week later, Canada does indeed sit at the top of the standings. Sure, we got beat by our arrogant neighbours in the overall medal count. But boy oh boy do those 14 Canadian gold medals stand out. And they should. You've never seen that number before at any Winter Olympics. Canada got down to business during the home stretch taking 5 combined gold medals during Days 15 and 16. And on Day 17, Canada won its record-breaking, country-unifying, American-owning 14th gold medal with an epic victory in Men's Hockey. Not just the most golds at the games this year, but the most goals ever at a Winter Games. Way to end it with a BANG! The crowns of the hockey world have finally been returned to it's proper place. And much like the games in 2002 at Salt Lake City, Canada showed the world why "it's our game," winning both the men's and women's hockey in truly patriotic fashion. And its not just for hockey. For the next four years, the Olympics belong to us!

Friday, January 29, 2010

do you know? do they know?

I've heard this question asked over and over again in the past few months:

"Do you KNOW who He is?"

The first few times I heard this question, I completely dismissed the question. "Do you KNOW who He is?" In my head, this question seemed rather childish, rhetorical, and insignificant. Thus, I didn't really put much thought into it. Personally, I KNOW who He is. And for me, that was enough. I know that I'm saved. I know that one day I'll go to heaven.

As we often do, we tend to focus on our personal lives. But these past three weeks have really showed me that this question wasn't for me. Sure, it's always a good thing to re-evaluate your relationship with God. It's always a good thing to ask yourself whether or not you truly KNOW who He is. Two weeks ago at a soup kitchen downtown, I had a conversation with this one fellow. It was through this conversation that I realized that the aforementioned question was for Him.

The conversation was lengthy, but in short I simply asked him whether or not he went to church. He said yes. I asked him if he was a Christian. Affirmative. I asked him if he believed in Jesus. Once again his reply was yes. And then I asked him, "why?" And his answer was "because it's what I was thought." This response struck me and it's stuck with me to this date. Upon further conversing, I realized that this man claimed to be a follower simply because of his upbringing. He even confessed, "who knows what's true? we could all be wrong, but this is what I was taught, so this is what I believe." I'm sure he knows who Jesus is. The stories, the miracles, the teaching. He even claims to know. But does he really?

This episode reminded me of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Ten virgins wait outside the groom's door. But the groom replies that he doesn't KNOW five of them. Thus the five aren't welcomed in. This story suggests that there are people, perhaps in our churches, in our schools, in our lives, that claim they know. But the truth is, knowledge isn't enough. James 2:19 states that even the devil believes in God. Truly KNOWING Jesus involves more than just head knowledge. When you truly KNOW God, you come into the light and you separate yourself from darkness.

This whole situation really caused me to think about the Christian community. It makes me wonder how many are out there that believe simply based on "what they were taught." These people also need to be reached.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

too old to drive?

Yesterday, a 28 year-old mother was struck and killed at the intersection of Eglinton Ave. and Martin Grove Rd. while pushing her child in a stroller. The driver, an 83 year-old woman allegedly ran a red light, begging us to ask the question: at what point does someone become too old to drive?

Once a driver reaches the age of 80, they are required to renew their license by completing a vision and knowledge test. However, one can argue that these methods are not sufficient in diagnosing the driving ability of an individual. Reaction time, judgment, and coordination are all necessary components required to operate a motor vehicle. These components, however, cannot be tested simply using pen and paper.

So should the elderly be removed from the roads? One can argue that restricting the elderly from driving is considered age discrimination. In response to that, there's a good reason why individuals under the age of 16 are prohibited from obtaining a driver's license. Is that considered age discrimination as well? Obviously not, right? The rules and regulations are put in place in order to protect the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. So when the presence of the elderly on the roads puts the safety of others at risk, shouldn't their licenses be revoked?

I believe so. I don't think it should take a couple more incidents to occur before concrete changes to driving regulations are changed. Sure we want to allow the elderly the be independent, but to what lengths are we willing to go in order to fulfill their desire of independence?


To view the story above, click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

urbana pt. iii - the incarnation

Pronunciation: \ˌin-(ˌ)kär-ˈnā-shən\
(1) : the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form
(2) : the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ

So of all the things i could possibly talk about, why the incarnation? I mean, isn't this something that we're all familiar with already? The idea of Jesus coming down to earth in the form of a man, born to a virgin nonetheless, is something that is practically universally understood by believers and unbelievers alike. Though the message seems rather simple, there is a lot that we can learn from this.
John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
First and foremost, this is a story of redemption. The incarnation did not occur for amusement or for some form of twisted pleasure - the incarnation occurred because we, his creation, were fallen. This is a story about a world that was designed for good, but damaged by evil; a planet ravaged by sin and on a one-way path towards eternal destruction. Yet this is a story of undeserved grace. This is a story about a Father willing to send his son to rescue a world that despised, denied, and disobeyed him. But it was the only way. It was the only way to restore the world for better. And now we live in victory. We have been reconciled back to God through the blood of Jesus.

Christ chose to dwell among us. He left his throne in heaven, he set aside all the glory and honor that was attributed to him. He left an area of comfort and instead made himself small, humble, and vulnerable. In the same way, we ought to get off these thrones of comfort that we've built for ourselves. We cannot continue to live as Christians expecting everything to come to us. The great commission doesn't say "wait for the nations to come to you and then..." In the same way that God came to us, we must go to others. God also sent his son knowing the response that the world was going to have. Jesus did not come to be admired, respected, loved by the world. There were obviously those who followed and loved him, but seriously...the man was crucified. But he came regardless. In the same way, we must go regardless of the response we receive. We seek not to please others, but we seek only to please God.

Christ was a reflection of God. Through him, the glory of God was revealed to humanity. In John 3, it speaks about light coming into the world. Light came down to earth to conquer a world of darkness. His light, however, is not accepted by everyone. There are those who choose to remain in darkness. But when we choose to step into the light, salvation comes. We give Christ the irresistible right to rule over our lives. As children of light, we are a reflection of the true, original source of light. And as we are made aware through the sermon on the mount, a light is useless when it is hidden underneath a bowl. Light, however, was made to be mounted high so that it's purpose can be maximized. Light stands out from darkness. Light is separated from darkness. In the same way, we are separated from the world.

We are bearers of good news. When good things happen to us, we share it! When we've seen a good movie or when we hear of a good sale, we share it! Why don't we keep it to ourselves? The answer is clear - whenever something good happens, we are even more joyful when we share it! It's as if we were programmed to share good news.

Therefore we must go! We must follow this example that has been given to us. As Jesus was sent to us, we must be sent out to others.

My challenge to you is simple. Are you living a life that is too comfortable? If so, are you willing to step out into the world and make yourself vulnerable? Are you practicing a life of evangelism that is too focused on results? Do you often find yourself worrying about the response you will receive from others? If so, are you willing to deny your pride and your ego, and instead focus on the mission that was assigned to you from above?

Friday, January 1, 2010

urbana pt. ii

I offer my most sincerest apologies to those who were actually checking for updates. it wasn't till i got to my hotel that i realized that internet there was crawling speed (similar to the speed that you get in waterloo rez once you go over the bandwidth limit repeatedly within the same week).

so i have just returned back to Toronto and the comfort of a high-speed internet connection. my urbana wrap-up post will be coming!