The Battle and the Hope

August 19, 2015
bearfacedcow

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:31

I had a blog post that I was typing before, but somehow it got messed up. It doesn’t surprise me, because it seems all part of the battle that I am going through right now. All of my fears, anxiety and sadness regarding Joelle’s cancer has taken its toll. I find myself not wanting to play any music and I find myself going to bed at 9pm only to wake up the next morning like I didn’t have any sleep. At times, I don’t even feel like singing in the car. That’s a big thing for me. Am I depressed? Probably. Have I lost hope? NO!

I have hope in the God will come and pull me out of this. My hope is strong in this because I know that Jesus was in similar states on the night of his betrayal. Anxious, fearful and sad. Yet, he walked that road all the way up to the cross. I believe that Jesus is waiting for me on the other side of this battle, ready to help me press on. I know that he will help me up and run this race again.

I may be down, but I know that God is near and listening to my cries. I would have to be foolish to believe otherwise. He’s taken care of my needs up to this point and He has never failed to deliver. He will deliver me from this battle victorious. I will look at the scars that this battle has given me and I will smile because those scars make me stronger in the Lord. Just as I look at the scar on my knee and know how God has made me better than before, I will look at these scars and know that God is making me better.

And in the end, I will sing a brand new song.

Making this Blind Man See

March 28, 2015
bearfacedcow

Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;

– Isaiah 38:4 – 6 via www.bible.com

It has been almost a month since my knee injury on the winter ice. That one heartbeat of a moment that robbed me of my independence, to which I now I have been fighting to get back. No, it’s not a battle against anyone and it certainly is not a lashing out towards God. I don’t have to ask why this happened to me because I know that everything always happens for a good reason. It isn’t like God said, “Take that and suffer with it…” or anything like that. It’s more like, “I have something to share with you and I need your attention”. I know that God is helping me clean up some of the sins in my life and sometimes the cure feels worse than the disease.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “How the heck can ripping the muscle off your knee be a cure for sin?”. Well, let’s start with the sin itself. It definitely goes deeper than this in levels one God could explain, but let’s just say that I haven’t been totally appreciative of the people that surround me in my everyday life. People like Joelle and Joshua, who are with me day in and day out. One could say that I have been taking their presence for granted and perhaps have not been treating them as a loving husband and father should be. In short, I was blind.

Enter the injury…

It’s amazing how one little… okay, not so little… muscle could leave me in a state of immobility and dependency. That muscle has disrupted the body. That muscle has interrupted a way of life. In fact, it not only interrupted a way of life for me, but it has also interrupted a way of life for Joelle and for Joshua. All of a sudden, their lives have been burdened with my injury. Heck, even Margot put her life on hold to fly out to help take care of me for the first couple of weeks of my injury. For our marriage, the “For Better and For Worse” wound up invoked.

So, where’s the cure?

It’s simple, really. Just as most things God does for us humans, He’s laid this one out right before my eyes as plain to see. God has made me realize just how strong Joelle’s and my marriage to each other is. When everyone else in life has left me wounded for dead, Joelle is the only person standing right by my side. She is taking care of me. She is feeding me. She’s helping me fight to regain my independence. She’s doing things for me that she never bargained for. She’s there for me throughout all of this. If that’s not love, then what is? Joshua has also been there and I know that it is hardest for him. He’s been helping to care of me and assist me with my physio exercises. Maybe God is preparing him as well.

Sometimes, it takes something like this to make your heart realize what love really is. Someone once told me that love is not a feeling, but an action. Love makes us do many things, and in many cases things we never wanted to do. And when things feel like they are at their worse, love brings out the best in those around them. And when you take your eyes off your injury, and affliction, you notice it and you really begin to appreciate it from that moment onward.

When you think about it, this injury is helping this blind man to see once again.

No Greater Love

November 12, 2014
bearfacedcow

As someone who is considered fortunate enough to live in the western world, I take a lot of things for granted. I have to freedom to decide many things for myself, go to church and pray to God for saving me, as a Jew, through the blood of Jesus Christ, and I get to write and post songs about it, among everything else I try to write about.

Being Rememberance Day, I started to thing how many soldiers bravely fought and gave their lives for the ability for people like me to do what I am able to do. These soldiers laid their lives down not only for friends, but for people they will never know. People like me. Christian or not, to me they fulfilled the scripture:

John 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This has become huge to me this day. I will never know these people, but they would be willing to put their life on the line so that I could write about it. Perhaps, even sing about it. It takes me to right back to how Jesus died on the cross so that I could write about how He set me free from sin. Did Jesus know me then? I don’t know. I do know that God did know me two thousand years ago, and that I would be put on this earth to receive His love through Jesus Christ. I wasn’t there when Jesus died on the cross, but he laid down his life for me. Who could love me greater?

I’ve been set free in almost every which way possible. That freedom wasn’t free. The price for my freedom had to be paid with blood. You are reading this because I am free. Not only was I freed from the bondage of sin. I was freed from the threat of various forms of tyranny on this earth so that I could write about it. More importantly, I could sing about my freedom and share my songs with everyone who wants to listen.

For this, there is indeed no greater love for me than those who laid their life down for me.

What Christmas Means to Me

December 25, 2012
bearfacedcow

Sometimes, I think we don’t realize just how good we have Christmas. We stuff our bellies with turkey and all the stuffing and then we rush around the tree and open the presents that are stuffed under it. We then sit around drinking Egg Nog and Hot Chocolate. There’s one thing in common with all of this. It’s the “WE”. It’s about the people we gather with. For me, the best part about Christmas was about the people we celebrated it with. Having friends and family over was the best part about Christmas. It isn’t about the stuff. It isn’t about the food. It is about friends, and it is about family. It’s about worshipping a Saviour that came down from Heaven to save us from the things of this world. The things that have lead us into sin.

Heck, we live in a world of consumerism on demand. We can shop 24/7 and buy anything from anywhere. Heck, if that’s what Christmas was really all about, then we should be happy 365 days a year. Well, we’re not happy, and this unhappiness get exemplified at Christmas. Despite all we have, we always notice that one thing that’s missing. We then deny it by burying it in more stuff. If anything, I was happy just having a couple of kids and
my grandson with me, along with a few friends. We didn’t talk about the latest sales at Wal-Mart, or stuff like that. We talked about Christmas. It was such a great time, we lost track of when church would start their Christmas service would start as we just kept talking about Christmas.

Joelle hosted a Christmas trivia game dealt with all of the Biblical aspects around Christmas. The questions were fun and entertaining, and I also learned a few things about Christmas that couldn’t be found in a store. We all had a great time. Sure, the food was fantastic, but listening to my grandson start to recite the blessings was far more
priceless. You can’t buy moments like these.

That, to me, is what Christmas is all aboutŠ celebrating Christ with those you love. I hope your Christmas is filled with love, peace, and joy with the friends and family. Most of all, I hope your Christmas is filled with Christ.

The Crowing Rooster

October 9, 2011
bearfacedcow

As I stated yesterday, I decided to spend Yom Kippur at home so I can dig into myself and learn what I needed to do to move forward. So, what did I learn from my Yom Kippur day of introspection? To sum it all up in one sentence: I’m a bad person.

So many times I had the chance to be like Paul but wound up acting like Peter. I think I finally heard the rooster crow yesterday, and it was crowing all day, reminding me of all the ways that I denied Christ.

Let’s start with the basic form of denial: identity. If anything, I love to call myself a Messianic Jew because I feel that I have gained something precious. I feel like I have received a new inheritance, rather than lost something. However, when people ask me what religion I am, I just say “Jewish”. That doesn’t say much about me. If anything, it shrouds Christ behind a curtain and people think that I am just a “go to synagogue Saturday, not eating pork kind of guy (although I will admit that I still do like my shellfish)”. They don’t get to hear the joy that I have from being saved. In fact, what they perceive is that I am one of “them”: someone who they imagined would never accept Christ. That’s not true.

Another way I have denied Christ was when I was asked at work what kind of music I listened to on my BlackBerry. The first things that blurted out of my mouth were all of my “guitar heroes”. Where the heck were the “Jesus freaks” when I was talking? They remained hidden in my BlackBerry. They were the ones that I should have mentioned first. They are the ones I will more than likely listen to in the car. Heck, why should I mention Yngwie Malmsteen when I only like his instrumentals. His lyrics are all dark and demonic and don’t really make me want to scream and sing them, like Kutless, Seventh Day Slumber, and Decyfer Down make me want to do: scream out the joy that Christ gives me and, for lack of a better term, shouting at the devil telling him to BEGONE! I should have mentioned them, along with Jeremy Camp and Skillet. Those are often my first choice. Then should come the Andy James, Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert stuff. Why should I be afraid of telling people of the music I listen to. Other people are listening to that death metal crap with all the screamos. They should be embarrassed… not me.

I think this whole act of denial has been punishing myself on the inside. I haven’t been very musical, and I haven’t shown very many signs of motivation. I felt like this was the clog in my system.

I have many more, but I think the point has been carried across. There is a shining ray of hope that did occur within the 10 days of awe:

Earlier this week, I did finally stand up for Christ in the face of opposition. Not that I was ever really wanting to hide Christ, but when I was finally asked by Joelle’s brother-in-law (who is a classic Pharisee in my books), I stood up in the name of Christ. I got the usual garbage from him, about turning my back and betraying Judaism. I knew how to shut that up: I told him to show me any piece in the Torah that explicitly states Christ is not the Son of God and that I have done betrayed my faith, because I knew that I had so many pieces of scripture that points otherwise. I remembered the feeling that I got out of it: total gain. Total freedom… I mean talk about the Truth setting me free. It’s like that nasty clog in the drainpipe just got released. I also got total realization that I did not do this in the past. This is what really led me up to yesterday. It opened my eyes up and I needed to look into this.

Now that I have woken up and heard the rooster, I know what I need to do. I need to put Christ first. When someone asks what I believe, I need to put the term Messianic in front of Jew. It might prompt them to ask, to which I can tell them of my love for Christ. That is who I am. When someone asks me what I listen to, I should talk about all of the bands I am first to listen to in the car: the Christian ones. When they ask who they are, I can tell them. If they get turned off by it, that’s their loss. Saying anything else for my own gain would be considered loss. I should not express any fear of who’s watching me when I pray in the car when I get to work. It just might inspire them to do the same. This is how I believe that treasures in Heaven are built. I need to set my sights more on those treasures in Heaven.

After all, it has been stated that where your treasure is, so is your heart…

Introspection without Distractions

October 8, 2011
bearfacedcow

Today is Yom Kippur. If anything, I was brought up learning only two things about Yom Kippur: fasting and going to synagogue to pray. The fasting part is relatively simple to grasp: don’t eat. It was often the prayers that I found rather difficult to fathom. Here we are supposed to be praying for forgiveness; we’re supposed to be looking into our own selves; introspection, if you will. We’re supposed to see what we’ve done, and what we haven’t done. We should be seeing how we can improve; how we can turn away from the awfulness that we became in the past year, and for lack of a better term, turn towards aweful-ness…. the aweful-ness that is our God.
How can I though? I find the prayers in the synagogue distracting. I find that they get in the way of me trying to establish my connection with my God and my Saviour that I find I can’t pray them. They feel like chatter to me. Perhaps, they were okay when I was trying to find my voice, but now it feels like I have a voice and it needs to reach out. The chatter in the prayerbooks seem to get in my way. I know that I have done many things wrong and I need to confess them. I also know that God can see all of the wrongful things I have done that I don’t know about. The problem is that I feel like I can no longer confess them by just reading them out of a book. Like I said, it feels like chatter, and not prayer. I feel more real just praying two simple words than I do paragraphs of stuff that I didn’t come up with.
Playing guitar was nice in the synagogue, but there was a part that seemed to come alive when I could just hear my own voice between me and God. Something in the silence was drawing me closer than I ever had been. Almost like I felt a calling.
If anything, I’ve sort of chosen to stay at home, free from the distractions. I’m finding that I can better deal with what is inside of me rather than trying to read it out of me. I feel like I am using my own voice for prayer than someone else’s. I need to speak what is in my heart, rather than what is in the pages of a book. This week I experienced both a lot of joy and a lot of pain in it and that is the stuff that I cannot get from a prayer book. I can’t just read out my pain through printed words. And, I cannot express joy that wasn’t mine. I need to look at what got me to where I am and where I am going. If I am going to introspect myself, then I need to do it myself. No prayer book can tell me where I am going and what I am doing. Only my heart can do that. Only one book can tell me where I need to go, and that is the Bible and if we read more of that in the synagogue, then it may have been different. Instead, we focus on the same two passages every year, which I really don’t get in relation to my own life. There are plenty of other passages that I can relate to today. I want to read them.
God knows who I am and He knows where I will be and He knows where He wants me to be. As this new year comes to a start, I want to take today to get to know me and where I am and where I am going. As well, I want to get to know God and where He wants me to go. And, I want to do this distraction free. If there is a passage to be read, let it be one that God has placed before me. If there is a song to be sung, let it be one that God has placed upon my heart.

The God I STILL Know…

July 27, 2011
bearfacedcow

By now, I’m sure that it is not news that Research In Motion, the company I work at, is in the process of laying off 2,000 people. If anyone following my blog posts read how God was leading me over to RIM, and how he stepped in and made things happen in ways that I never could have imagined (you’ll find it at The God I Know), the situation would almost make one wonder if God just dropped me off at RIM and drove off to leave me on my own to fend for myself.

Well, guess what… God is not only here, but God has went before me. He has, and still is, preparing me for whatever is to come. How do I know this? Well, how else could one explain being assigned to read Isaiah 55 the day before the press release?

Verses 8-9 read:
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God has bigger plans. He is in control and I gotta leave it all up to Him. Basically, what He said to me through scripture was, “I know what you will be going through next week, and I want you to know that I am still here and I am in charge. You had the faith for Me to lead you to RIM, so you should have no less faith that I will lead you through this and will walk with you”

Does it mean that I will still be working at RIM? Only God knows!
Does it mean that I may be laid off? Only God knows!

Am I afraid? I’d be lying if I said no. Am I going to worry about it? Not this time… God has shown me that He’s here. God is leading the way. I refuse to let worry consume me, like I did 20 years ago when I worked for Apple and found myself in the same situation. All worry did was make me sick to my stomach and couldn’t function at work for the week that it was happening. When it was all over, I was still at Apple, but I was functionally useless.

So, what I am going to do tomorrow, when I go to work?

I’m going to go to my desk and give it one of the best days I have. I am going to write code with no less passion than when I first started. After all, I still love what I do, and I love where I do it, and nothing in the past few weeks has diminished this. Even more so, I am going to be encouraging and supportive to my fellow team mates. I will do what I must to keep our team functional and productive, because we have a fantastic team. If our team gets affected, I will do what I can to help our team heal quickly so that we can move forward even greater than before. And, most of all, I will praise God for walking with me through this and allowing me to work in what I still believe is one of the best places to work. I will praise God for being with me every step of the way. Even if I can’t talk about it at work, I can still demonstrate it. And, as always, I will be grateful to God.

And if the unfortunate does happen and I get laid off, I will still set an example, even if I will be sad. I will be sure to thank them for giving me the opportunity, however short it may have been. Most of all, I will still praise God and know that He is still going before me, just like He did last Sunday, and have faith that He has a larger plan than I could ever imagine. Most of all, I will be grateful to God because this is still the furthest I have ever gone within RIM than ever before, and that is a huge accomplishment!

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