Lessons from the Cambodian Jesus Adventure, Part 1: The Prelude

Well. I知 not sure when I値l post this, but I知 beginning the writing of this half an hour before I leave to the bus stop, which will take me to downtown Toronto, where I値l use public transit to get to the airport, where I値l fly to Asia.

Uh, kinda freaking out.

But let痴 back up. To yesterday.

Yesterday was a good day. I finished up most of my packing, said my goodbyes to our hockey rink, and even got some work done.

However, somewhere during the day, or maybe during the past few days, some doubts began to gnaw on me about this trip.

的s this really God痴 will? Am I just doing this because I feel like it? Am I supposed to be doing something else?

I kinda kept shoving these feelings down, scared that it might actually be God telling me that I wasn稚 actually supposed to go on this trip after all.

So last night, before I went to bed, I had a chat with God to figure out what was going on. And I think I realized a couple things:

  1. God doesn稚 usually deal with vague uncertainties. If you池e out of His will, you will probably know exactly how and why

  2. satan loves to plant vague, ethereal doubts, and make you forget about everything God has done to bring you to this point in time.

See, on the surface, these doubts seemed like they had merit. All I really knew was that I was feeling a bit uneasy about the trip, but I didn稚 really know why. But when I had some time to stop and think about it, I knew it couldn稚 be God, for a lot of reasons.

First, like I said, I don稚 think God often makes people generally uneasy about something, and certainly not without cause.

But, far more important than that, I started to think about all of the different little pieces that fell just perfectly into place for me to go on this trip.

It started with a random thought sometime during my last semester that I壇 like to go on some sort of trip after school before I started full time work. That thought was quickly followed by what I know was God-inspired thought that a missions trip would be way better.

So from there, I basically said 徹k, God, if You want this to happen, You池e going to need to help me find a good trip. And He did. I found an awesome trip, which fits perfectly with the schedule I had in mind, and let痴 me fulfill my desire for adventure by placing me roughly on the opposite side of the globe. That痴 amazing.

Afterwards, there was the issue of raising funds. I felt like I should only try to raise half of the total cost, since, really, I知 going to be enjoying this trip a lot. It痴 almost like a bit of a vacation in that respect. So that meant that the maximum amount I wanted to raise was $2,000. I ended up about $60 short of that goal. To me, that痴 totally God. (To everyone who donated: THANK YOU!)

After that, there was the issue of getting all the appropriate shots and medication. I got pretty nervous over this one, because the trip was relatively short notice, and from what I heard, some of the necessary shots needed time before they were effective; more time than I had! But after going to a travel clinic, I got it all sorted out, and it even ended up being cheaper than what I was expecting.

And then there was the issue of actually getting transportation to and from the airport. All it took for that aspect was a Facebook post, where I got the tremendous idea of using the MegaBus service.

That is a lot of different things that I was forced to trust God for. He came through beautifully in every circumstance.

And then, suddenly, I知 having doubts about this trip. Without taking time to stop and think about it, I got really worried. But as soon as I remembered what God had already done to make this trip happen, I knew that any doubts couldn稚 be from God. I realize there may be times when God, outside of all human reason, God tells us not to do something. And we have trust that, completely. But I致e also realized that satan tries to prevent us from doing God things by planting these little doubts. The only method I know to determine which is which is prayer, and after a few minutes of that, everything fell back into clarity, and I knew that God had orchestrated this trip, from it痴 conception to it痴 completion.

So the next time you池e about to do something crazy for Jesus, and start to have doubts, remember that the God who brought you to the precipice will see you safely to the landing.

You heard my first heartbeat before I could breathe

Before my first cry, you knew me

You knit me together when I was conceived

When I was designed, you knew me

You know what I wonder before I can speak

Before my first thoughts, you know me

You see what I知 dreaming when I go to sleep

When I知 waking up, you know me

I'm going to Cambodia

Yes. Yes I am. I知 going to Cambodia.

This is kinda crazy, I realize. It値l be the farthest away from home I致e ever been, and my first time outside of Canada and the US.

It might be good to give some context to this trip. So here it goes:

A few months ago, I started to think about what I would do once I finished up with my schooling. Obviously, it壇 like to start working, earn some money, do that whole bit. But I realized that if I wanted to do any sort of crazy trip sometime in the near future, it would be ideal to do it in the gap between school and working full time.

When I first had the idea, I値l admit, I just wanted to go on some fun adventure somewhere. Hang out on some beach, go para-sailing, learn how to surf, something like that. However, since most people don稚 have the same kind of free time that having no responsibilities gives you, I壇 probably end up doing the trip alone. Seriously, what fun is a trip without someone to share it with?

So that sparked another idea. What if, instead of just going on some trip for the sake of having an adventure, I went on a trip to actually accomplish something? And, better yet, accomplish something for Jesus? Sure, I壇 still be going without anyone else I know, but I壇 have the opportunity to connect with other Christians, which I figure is always a plus.

Hence, a missions trip.

And that sent me on a quest to find an appropriate trip. I didn稚 want to do the trip immediately after school was finished, since that would probably get in the way of the Christmas season. I also didn稚 want to do it in the very distant future, because I wanted to start working relatively soon.

So, trusting that God would figure out a trip that fit my timetable if this was indeed something He wanted me to do, I went searching. And I found one.

I値l be leaving January 16th, and be back January 28th. And I値l be helping to install a water filtration system. That痴 basically all I know about it.

So I知 jumping with both feet to something I know very little about. And I知 pretty pumped about this. Jesus adventures are always the best kind. As long as He knows how this trip is gonna go, it値l be good.

It makes me wonder what God might have in mind for an adventure like this. Of course, I expect it to be challenging, exciting, stretching, and also quite a bit of fun (traveling is awesome!). But what else could this inspire? What kind of connections will I make, both with the rest of the missions team, and the people that I値l interact with in Cambodia? What kind of experiences will I have that will shape who I am, and how I see the world?

So yeah. That痴 what痴 going on my life. I知 pumped for it.

I壇 appreciate some prayer for the trip, if you feel so inclined. Safety in travels, expanding the kingdom, all that good stuff.

And, if you feel like it, you can always contribute to the cause monetarily via That would be awesome too.

Thanks for reading, yo!

"Steady heart that keeps on going

Steady love that keeps on hoping

Lead me on,

Lead me on"

Overwhelming Gratitude

So I致e been doing some thinking lately. About the past, present and future. I think it痴 really good to reflect back on the places God痴 brought me through.

Roughly four years ago, I was paralyzed and I do mean paralyzed with fear over the future. I really didn稚 have a clue what I wanted to do, and somehow had the notion that making the 努rong choice would ruin me for life. It was probably good that I took a gap year to work, but at the time, I made the decision mostly because I was just terrified of making the choice of what I was going to do as a career.

My parents eventually all but forced me to apply for some courses, and I applied for some pretty random ones. Carpentry. Nursing. And Computer Science. Because those things are totally related, right?

I got an offer of admission from Algonquin for Computer Science, and accepted it on April 29th, 2010.

I think I was still pretty terrified.

I grew up homeschooled. I really had no idea what regular high school was like, much less college. I didn稚 know what to expect, and worse yet, I didn稚 know what was expected of me. I was stressed about the whole thing.

And yet here I am, 4 years, 6 semesters, and 2 co-op terms later, and 2 and a half weeks from being done. The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming increasingly brilliant. That痴 kinda insane.

And really, I could probably try to convince myself that my own hard work and determination got me here. But seriously, there was plenty of times when I was stressed, freaking out, and the only way out of it was to take a couple minutes with Jesus to remind myself that if He got me this far, He値l get me the rest of the way. Without the stress-reliever (not to mention constant help) of Him, there痴 no way I壇 have made it. Period. Of this, I have no doubt.

So at the moment, I知 having a moment of overwhelming gratitude. To the One who took this little kid who was terrified of ruining his life by making the wrong choice, and somehow put him through a college program that I have totally loved. God is so good. And all of that stress and worry I致e felt over the past few years feels so silly and wasteful now. It seems ridiculous to think that God wouldn稚 bring me through every obstacle without missing a beat. He痴 my dad, after all!

I think the single most important thing that I致e learned from these 3 and a half years of school has nothing to do with programming or assignments. It痴 about trust. And I know that might seem like some little cliche Christian thing to say, but it痴 true.

When I look back on what God has brought me through, it just amazes me. Every time that I doubt, every time I freak out, He痴 never left my side. He痴 always brought me through anything I知 facing, and I always look back with a feeling of awe. And that sense of awe leaves me with no choice but to trust Him more, especially the next time I知 faced with a situation that tempts me to freak out and start worrying. I have to take a breath, and remind myself that God has brought me through plenty of times like this, and He痴 not about to abandon me now. That痴 way more valuable than knowing how many IP addresses IPv6 supports. (By the way, it痴 340 undecillion. Yes, undecillion).

It痴 like when David volunteered to fight Goliath. He wasn稚 just some arrogant, obnoxious kid who thought 的 can take this guy! He had already been through battles, and knew that the only way to fight them was to rely on God. He痴 confidence wasn稚 in his fighting ability; it was in God. Likewise, when I face school-related issues, I have to remind myself that my confidence needs to rest in God, not whatever programming or technical skills I may have. I知 literally nothing without Him.

As a side note, I mentioned that I assumed that my post-secondary decision would make or break my life. I have no idea where this thought came from, but I remember holding fast to it for a long time. In my head, I think I knew that 妬t痴 not what you do, but who you are, but it never really stuck with me until I actually started school, and realized I loved it. I also realized that if I had chosen something else, I probably would致e loved that too. While there痴 certainly some jobs that I壇 be better suited compared with others, it痴 not like my entire life would致e come crashing down to shambles if I had gone into carpentry. Probably, I壇 be a carpenter, enjoying it, and trying to figure out how to walk out my Faith in that environment. I very much doubt the idea that there痴 one magic formula for each person, and missing that will somehow destroy their life.

I think God really is way more concerned about who we are than what we do. He needs Jesus-followers everywhere to represent Him, so our occupation is really more of a means to an ends than an ends in itself. I知 a Jesus-follower first, and being a software developer comes after that.

Anyways, all that to say, Jesus is amazing. I知 amazed at what He can do in a life like mine. It makes me trust Him more. It makes me excited about my future.

Incredibly, it even makes me look at new, unknown things differently. Yes, there痴 a bit of residual fear there, but I now know that there痴 nothing the team of Jesus and I cannot conquer, so I look at new challenges with excitement. Instead of looking with trepidation, wondering 滴ow in the world can I possibly do this?, I look with wonder and excitement, wondering 滴ow in the world are You gonna help me do this?

If you値l excuse a moment of cheesy imagery:

As I look back at the mountain of my post-secondary education, and think about how God has brought me through it all, I can稚 help but trust Him, and get excited about what mountains of adventure and growth lay ahead.

I am filled with overwhelming gratitude for the past, and unquenchable excitement for the future.

典his life, this love, was always meant to be

A wild, crazy adventure, discovering

The thrill, the rush, the more of You I see

The more it leaves me wanting

More than a Feeling - On Chasing the Divine

Worship. Yeah, that痴 something I致e been doing for awhile. Worshipping God is I think one of the most natural acts a human can do. It痴 also, as far as I can tell, one of the only things we do on this side of heaven that we will continue to do on the other side.


I致e loved worship for about as long as I can remember. I have many fond memories over the years of sitting in my room with some worship music on, just soaking it up, or strumming my guitar in my parents basement late into the night, just totally lost in God.

I致e had a lot of what I値l call 兎ncounters with God through worship. These are times when I致e especially felt God痴 presence, Spiritually, but also, at times, physically. There痴 nothing quite like it, and I think it痴 safe to say that those are some of my favourite times of life.

Lately, however, I致e found it hard to focus on God, even during times of worship. I play drums at my church twice most weeks, and every time I try to worship with it. To not just spend 25 minutes slamming animal skins with pieces of wood, but to actually use it in worship, and encounter Jesus through it.

But sometimes, I just don稚 feel it.

I don稚 feel His presence. I don稚 feel like I致e found 典he River.

I haven稚 felt that ethereal, inexplainable sense that God痴 in the room.

It痴 amazing when it happens. But it can be frustrating when it doesn稚.

Lately I致e found that, more often than not, I will finish drumming for a service without having any real moments where I feel like I enter in, and can feel God, and am truly worshipping. When I can just focus on God, and lose myself in worship through my instrument.

So I致e been questioning myself. Is this a problem? Am I doing something wrong? Am I not preparing properly to truly worship when I知 drumming? Do I need to take a break, to do something different to re-awaken whatever has apparently died in my ability to worship through drumming?

I brought up some of these questions with our newly-ordinated pastor, Dick D誕lessio. As usual, he had some amazing wisdom.

Basically, he reminded me that worship is not exclusive to the musical, touchy-feely, emotional experience type stuff.

Our giving of tithes and offerings should be worship.

Our serving around church should be worship.

In reality, our every day should be worship. That doesn稚 mean we池e necessarily overwhelmed with His presence all the time.

What he said was that I致e been given a gift for drumming. If I take that gift, and use it for God in the best way I know how (creating an environment for the church to enter in to worship), that is worship. Even if I I don稚 get a Spiritual or emotional high out of it, if I知 simply offering my skills for His use, that is worship.

That makes a ton of sense to me.

Ironically, while implementing this new mindset to drumming this morning, I had some of the most freeing, sold-out worship moments that I致e ever had while behind a drum set. God痴 funny like that.

I had another thought this evening that I think ties in nicely.

One of my favourite songs of late is 鼎hasing You from Bethel Church. It痴 just so clear in it痴 message:

典his life, this love,

Was always meant to be,

A wild crazy adventure

Discovering, the thrill, the rush

The more of you I see,

The more it leaves me wanting

You池e everything

You池e everything

I知 chasing you, I知 so in love

Captivated, I just can稚 get enough

I値l spend my days, running after Your heart

I just love it. 的知 chasing You.

But I had a thought this evening. I知 chasing Him. I知 not chasing a feeling. I知 not chasing an emotional or Spiritual high. I知 chasing the person, not how He makes me feel.

When I pick up a guitar to sing out a worship song, or drum on a Sunday morning, it shouldn稚 be motivated by a desire to find some sort of presence. Yeah, we love that, and it痴 amazing to feel His presence. But I don稚 want that to be my focus. I want HIM. I want to find Him. He brings the blessing of His presence with Him, but that痴 just extra. I want the source. I want the God behind all of the goodness. Or at least, that痴 what I want to want.

I want any skills and gifts I have to be used for His glory. I want my drumming to lift Him up, even if I don稚 necessarily feel a crazy sense of His presence when it happens.

So I want to keep chasing Him. Through the mountain top experiences, where He feels closer than my skin, to the valleys, where He feels further than the moon. At the end of the day, it痴 about Him. It痴 about worshipping a God that痴 totally worthy, regardless of how I might feel on that particular day.

的 can hear You breathing,

I can hear You leading

More than just a feeling

More than just a feeling

I can feel You reaching

Pushing through the ceiling

稚il the final healing

I知 looking for You

I am restless.

I am restless.

I am restless.

Looking for You. - Switchfoot, Restless

The end, and the beginning of the end.

I gotta admit, I spent a bit of time coming up with that snazzy title up there.

So, what痴 happening in my life since the last blog? Well, today marked the last day of my co-op work term at Power to Change (hence, the end). It was fantastic. It痴 pretty cool when you get to work for a company committed to Jesus, and have your brother as a boss. I知 not sure if the future will afford me more opportunities to do something like this, so I知 glad I could take a summer and do it.

Next week marks the beginning of the end. It marks the start of my last semester of college. Crazy.

I may someday go back to school for further education, but for the foreseeable future, next week will be the last time I start school. That痴 a little insane to think about. But I知 excited for it. I知 excited to finish off this adventure of college, and move on to the next adventure of finding a full time job and trying to figure out where I fit out there in the real world. The future is full of possibilities, and when God痴 planning it out, it replaces any stress with pure anticipation. I can稚 wait to see what God痴 plans for me are.

The summer痴 also like, done. What痴 up with that? I mean, don稚 get me wrong, this summer was awesome: it involved a sweet trip to BC, countless hours of volleyball, a nighttime run, paintball, camping, and so many other moments that made me feel fully alive. It just seems like life is rapidly gaining speed, and sometimes it痴 hard to slow it down. But hey, hockey season is just around the corner, so that痴 awesome!

Now then. Let痴 get into the meat of any worthwhile blog post from me:

What am I learning from God lately?

Well, let痴 talk about the Bible. The basis of what we, as Christians, believe. It is of the utmost importance, and is one of the main method痴 Jesus uses to communicate with humans.

And sometimes, I can稚 really get into it.

I致e been in those sermons, where it痴 all about how important the Bible is. At the end, the speaker gives a challenge that goes something like this:

的 challenge you to commit to reading your Bible every day for at least 15 minutes.

And, because I truly want to follow Jesus, I stand up, or raise my hand, or do whatever to signal that I知 on board with this. I知 committed. This is going to happen.

And it does. For awhile. I faithfully set a mental timer for 15 minutes, and dive in.

Generally, this starts well. I feel like I知 getting something out of it, and I feel like I知 getting closer to Jesus.

But eventually, the whole thing starts to crumble. It turns into a chore. I get home late, and chide myself for forgetting to read my Bible earlier in the day as I mindlessly read lifeless words on a page for 15 minutes, trying admirably to convince myself that this discipline is drawing me closer to God.

Now let me pause and state this: I think Spiritual disciplines are awesome. Don稚 give up on me just yet. Keep reading.

I was in the state that I described above awhile ago, where I was still reading my Bible every day, but getting about as much Spiritual food out of it as I do reading the back of a cereal box. And I was frustrated.

I knew in my head that, somewhere, contained in this book I have 8 copies of (seriously? 8? I mean, some of those are just New Testaments, but 8? That痴 crazy) is life. There痴 so many verses within the Bible speaking to it痴 significance in a Christian痴 walk (John 1, Psalm 138:2, Psalm 119:11, and etc), and yet here I was, trying to get something out of it, and failing miserably. I knew that I was missing something, but I couldn稚 quite figure where I was getting tripped up.

I brought up the issue with an elder in our church, Dick D誕lessio. Dick has probably known me longer than I have been conscious enough to know him, and I致e recently started trying to make a habit of meeting with him over a cup of Tim Hortons and trying to glean from his wisdom. Every time I do, I come away overwhelmed with what he says. It just blows my mind all of the God-given wisdom this guy has.

But getting back to this meeting. I explained that I was feeling like my Bible reading times were dry, and I wasn稚 really getting much out of it. He then said some stuff that completely shattered my idea of what a mature Christian needs to do with their Bible.

He said sometimes he would go for days, even weeks without reading the Bible.

Say what? But here I was, committed to this challenge to read my Bible every day for 15 minutes, because I wanted to mature in Christ and become more like Him. And he would purposefully skip out on it?

He explained that sometimes, when his Bible reading went dry, he would take the time usually spent reading the Bible, and instead just spend it with Jesus. Just totally focused on talking to Him, hearing from Him, and drawing closer.

This realization changed some thinking patterns for me. Here was a man who knew God very well, and who I looked up to, and he was saying that sometimes he took breaks from reading the Bible. This was kinda freeing, to know that I shouldn稚 feel bound to continue to read my Bible even when I wasn稚 getting anything out of it. But then Dick went another step further.

He advised me that, if I didn稚 feel like I was getting much out of the Bible, to talk to the Author. To just be straight up with God and tell Him that I needed help understanding the book He wrote.

That makes so much sense! Maybe it痴 obvious to all of you out there, but it was a fresh revelation for me. If you don稚 understand something someone wrote, why not talk to the person who wrote it?

I can稚 actually remember if my next point was directly from Dick, or if the thought was just inspired by my meeting with him, but this is kind of a guide I知 trying to live by lately:

When, as a Christian, you do anything remotely Spiritual, be it praying, worshipping, reading your Bible, or attending church, there are two possible reasons for it. You are doing it out of religious duty, or you are doing it to draw closer to Jesus. The first reason really has no value, except that it makes us feel like we池e doing God a favour, and elevates our sense of religious pride. God isn稚 really dependent on our reading our Bible, or worshipping, or praying. Obviously, He designed us for relationship, so He wants to deepen His relationship with us, but reading the Bible on it痴 own doesn稚 do much for that.

Really, I believe that any Spiritual discipline only has purpose, only has meaning, when it痴 for the sole propose of drawing closer to Jesus. Anything else really isn稚 worth our time.

So when I pull out my Bible, I need to ask myself a question: is this time going to be spent drawing closer to God, or is it going to be spent elevating my sense of self-righteousness? There痴 only one right answer,

I realize that this mindset could be dangerous. It can inspire laziness in us, because we can think 釘ah, I知 not gonna get anything out of reading my Bible tonight, so let痴 just forget it. I also realize that there is a lot of worth in pushing ourselves to worship, or pray, or do whatever, especially when we don稚 feel like it. But I think it痴 more dangerous to continue to mindlessly pour over pages in a book, while never getting closer to the Author. If my time spent alone with a Hillsong CD isn稚 with the intent to get closer to Jesus, there isn稚 worth in it.

So I知 trying to change the way I do things. I知 trying to be willing to sacrifice reading my Bible if I feel Jesus calling me to just sit and rest in His presence. I知 trying to make every time I read my Bible worthwhile because I知 trying to see what Jesus is speaking to me through it. I知 trying to ignore the clamouring voices of self-righteousness that tell me to just put in my time for the day, and instead I知 trying to chase Christ with everything I do.

Because really, it all comes down to Jesus. The things most worth doing in this life will draw me closer to the King of the next life.

And the next time I hear a challenge to commit to reading my Bible for 15 minutes every day, I知 going to politely decline, and instead try to ask Jesus on a daily basis how long He wants me to read my Bible for.

Chase Him