Friday, January 30, 2009

Concert of Prayer

On Thursday, January 29th members of Calvin gathered together in the fellowship hall for a Concert of Prayer. Driven by a desire to be more united as prayer groups, by Council's desire to take time this year to seek God's leading for Calvin, and by some to honor that with a prayer concert, the evening became a reality. Different members of the prayer groups led different sections. Sheila Balmer's praise team lead us in songs of praise and worship to start the evening out. Bea VanderMeer shared with us the reasons why we were present and James Hall shared some Biblical texts related to prayer. Jodi Hall called on God to bless the evening and called on the Holy Spirit to be present amongst us. After a quiet hymn, Cathy VanArragon led us through a time of prayer using different topics. We prayed in clusters of 2 or 3, and as entire tables. We covered such things as Personal Prayer issues, Prayer for our church leadership, Prayers for our involvement in Calvin church, Outreach in our lives and in the lives of others. We ended with a time where we all prayed out loud, together, at the same time. After this wonderful time of praying together we ended with the Lord's Prayer and another song. Annette Brinkman then spent some time teaching us about soaking prayer with a brief practical application. She continued with teachings on hearing God's voice, the Prophetic, and Treasure Hunting (ask her about that sometime). It was a great time to hear Annette's heart and learn new things about the different gifts evident, present, and being practiced within the Calvin community of faith. After James shared his thoughts about the evening we allowed for a brief time of sharing. Our evening ended with a closing song with hands held together in a circle uplifted to our Father in Heaven. This was a wonderful night of prayer and praise. The thing that I really enjoyed was praying together, out loud, at the same time. It really brought home for me the picture of the body of Christ and how we each function simultaneously in that body, and God sees it all at once. Thanks to all who helped out. Thanks to all who came. If you couldn't join us this time, there will be other times in the near future to participate in prayer for Calvin and each other. Stay Tuned !! : )

Outreach Seminar in Georgetown CRC

On Friday, January 23rd James, Jodi, Annet, Joanne, Shawn, Ron K (not me but the Pastor at Living Hope CRC) and myself piled into my van and headed for Georgetown to attend a Home Missions Evangelism Conference. As you can see from the picture below, my van's back seat is made for people with slightly narrower hips. I think James is hoping he won't be back there the whole trip. In actual fact, everyone rotated so all got to experience the "coziness" of the back {except for Jodi who is pregnant and I wouldn't let her go back there, nor was she going to anyway.) : ) We enjoyed great fellowship together. Talking and looking out the window. Talking and listening to three grown men in the back seat talk about the strangest things. We took a pit stop to sleep at my parent's home in Whitby, arriving at about 10:30 pm. Seven cramped and stiff people rumbling into my parents home was a sight to see. We put some of us in our basement, some in our large room, and I of course, got my old bed. We awoke at 6:30 am. A quick wash of the face, brushing of the teeth, and out into the VERY cold, but clear morning. Breakfast and coffee was on everyone's mind, and since I'm such a nice guy, I stopped at McDonald's AND Tim's. Below you see Joanne ordering. James and Jodi are the coupon wizards. They had all sorts of coupon's for McDonald's. We then went to Tim's, but no breakfast Sandwiches. Eggs were still being made. So it was just coffee and a bagel. Then about an hour's drive to Georgetown CRC and we began our Conference adventure. Below you see Sheila and others helping us to register. This is the third Conference and it keep growing in size. I've been to all three, and was pleased to be able to bring some from Calvin this time. Below is our worship time just before we heard from our main speaker. Dwanye Cline was our main speaker. A good reformed Baptist preacher who is living out his missional calling in the world. A powerful, uncomfortable, and energizing time for all of us. I got a copy of his talk, so if you'd like to hear it sometime, drop me a line. After Dwayne's talk it was time for snack, and then we fanned out to take in several different workshops. Some we took in were: Prayer walking - learning by doing Youth and Young Adults From stranger to neighbor Evangelism 101: Missional Lifestyle Rhythms Then it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a great meal. I got to meet some people from my Sarnia days, and from my home church in Whitby. Here Ron K and Shawn enjoy a time of relaxing after, well, relaxing in a seminar. I think Shawn took a long walk to work off the calories. It was then back to another set of workshops. I took one on Getting to know your community. A very good seminar on how to figure out the needs of the community you find your church in. Below are the two speakers who led that workshop. Here is the group that was in that workshop. Other workshops were attended by the rest of the group and will be writing down our findings and then meeting together soon to talk about things we learned, and any next steps. Then it was time to close things out and by 3:30 pm we were back in the van and headed for home. Below Shawn and Annet enjoy the evening meal. (Annet it thinking right now that it would be nice if RON would let someone else have the camera so HE would be in a picture. NOT) : ) James is REALLY enjoying his. I didn't think they made hamburgers THAT big. Just kidding James. : ) We arrived home around 9:30 pm and parted ways. We had lots of fun together. Great fellowship and got to know each other better through our times of sharing. I'm thankful we all could go. I'm thankful so many other churches were present at this Conference. I noticed a lot of seniors this time around. Nice to know that they don't feel like they are finished with spreading the good news to all nations. We now take what we've learned and will process it. You will probably hear more about it in the coming months, so stay tuned. : )

Thursday, January 22, 2009

House Call

Our church has a variety of people with a variety of gifts and talents. There are those who are very good at administration, and others who are gifted Pastoral Elders and Deacons. We have people who have the gift of hospitality, and those who show much compassion to others around them. We also have an active prayer ministry in Calvin. There are several different groups that meet. One every Thursday AM at 6:30 in the Church. Another every other Monday night. There's also a Wednesday night soaking group, as well as something that is called House Call Ministries (HCM). It's that one I'd like to focus on for a moment. This group is headed up by Annette. There are several others who assist her in this group too. This prayer ministry if focused on praying for healing in people's lives. I've heard many wonderful stories from Annette as to how people in our congregation have been blessed by HCM. I've often wondered how this group worked, what they did, etc. Low and behold, yesterday I got a call from Annette asking about my arm, and if HCM could come over and pray with/for me. I jumped at the opportunity. Jodi, James, and Annette arrived last night. We settled down in our basement, Joycegina joining us. Annette asked about my fall, and the pain in my arm. All then laid their hands on me and began to pray. Now, this ministry isn't only about physical healing. It delves into the spiritual and personal as well. Annette asked if I'd forgiven myself for my act of what I called "stupidity". I was very angry with myself for not thinking things through when I fell, so I had to admit that I probably hadn't really done that yet. So Annette led me through a pray of forgiveness. Very cool! Then they concentrated on my arm and my spirit. They encouraged me in the ministry I do at Calvin and just wanted me to receive for a while. I gladly did. After some time in prayer, Annette asked how my arm was feeling. To my amazement, I was able to move it much more than before. The pain was dramatically reduced, and motion was much more evident. There was still stiffness and pressure, but things were much better. Annette, James and Jodi continued on in prayer. We covered other topics as the three felt led to pray and all the while my arm continued to loosen up. By the end of our prayer time, I was almost able to fully extend it. My fingers didn't hurt using the typing motion (They don't hurt now as I'm typing either), which was really cool. As time moved on, we moved on to some family issues needing prayer, and then the group concentrated on Joycegina and prayed for her, her knee pain, and other personal issues. We ended by praying for the couple who came to install our satellite dish. That was nice to do as well. All in all, we prayed for almost 2 hours. The time flew by. My arm is not completely better, but it is greatly improved. PTL. It was truly a blessing to receive from others. That doesn't happen much in my line of work. Thank you HCM for the work that you do. Thank you for letting me in on what you do. Thank you for using your gifts of healing, both physical, emotional, and spiritual. May God continue to use you mightily in our congregation, and beyond. If you would like to have HCM come to your home and pray with/for you, you may simply let me know, or Pastor Ken know, and we'll be sure to make that happen. I highly recommend them.

A second opinion

Well, it never hurts to get a second opinion, eh. !! After ETM, my arm was still pretty bad, so I figured I'd take the adventure of going to the Queensway Carleton Hospital for another look see. It's under construction, and the insides look very nice. I was greeted by a triage person who assessed me. Took my BP and Temp. Examined the arm. Then it's off to the waiting room. About 15 minutes later, I'm called up to a registration booth and they double check the information. Then back to the waiting room. About 45 minutes later, I was called into the ER. Not bad waiting from what I've heard. As you walk through the large wooden double doors you are greeted to a warm atmosphere. All kinds of rooms and a large nurses station set off to one side. I was very impressed. Then it's change into a top gown time and wait. Took about 15 minutes for the Dr. to come, and I overheard lots of interesting nurse conversations. The female Dr. was very kind and thorough (she didn't even laugh when I told her what happened). She checked out my arm for a good 7 - 8 minutes. The end result - an x-ray. I made my way to the x-ray room and waited for only 3 minutes or so. Then the fun began. In order to get the x-rays they wanted, I had to turn and twist my elbow and wrist in ways that I was not able to do. I haven't been in that much forced pain in years.....even brought tears to my eyes (but I'm good now:) : ) The end result. A RECONFIRMATION that nothing is broken, just very badly bruised in the joints. I guess I'll trust the second opinion. P.S. The next day the satellite installers came. Turns out I didn't have to clear the roof after all. arrggghhhhh. The satellite isn't working yet - technical difficulties. On Monday they will come to resolve them..... I was able to have some great conversations with the installers however. A husband and wife team. A good time to just get to know them and learn about their lives and share what I do and why. That in itself was worth the injury and the issues with the satellite.

ETM - With Harold & Bea

This past Tuesday we held another of our ETM nights. I pushed through the pain of the arm (see earlier post) and we came together to hear from Harold and Bea. They shared the work that they were doing both inside, and outside the walls of Calvin CRC. Harold shared with us his experiences growing up, and how they have influenced him now with the things he is doing. At present he is retired and volunteering at Redeemer Christian High School. Helping to keep the computers going. He's there a couple of times a week. On Tuesday mornings, you will find him helping out in the kitchen of "The Ottawa Mission." He helps clean up from breakfast, and then prepares for lunch with many other volunteers. Many questions came after Harold talked. We all wonder about the homeless. Harold was able to give us more insight, yet we all still had questions left unanswered as well. If you want to see Harold in a short video that talks about the kitchen and other things, go to
Harold sharing of himself.
Next we heard from Bea. She's been a long time teacher at Ottawa Christian School, but is now retired. She too wanted to follow God's leading as she entered into her retirement days. She went to Peru on a mission trip, is and elder in our church, but also wanted to do something that was in the community and ministry oriented. Through a series of events, she now finds herself assisting at the Crisis Pregnancy Centre. Not an easy thing to do at times, but she enjoys it very much. Thank you Harold and Bea for sharing a bit of your lives with us. For helping us to see that following God's call can lead to many different places. Whether you are 13, 17, or 67, there is always a place where God wants us to be. Have you found your place of calling with God? Be that inside of Calvin CRC's community, or beyond it? Oh, and yes, they are all grabbing at the food that was a pack of wolves at times. : )

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Fall - a.k.a. stupidity 101

I was contemplating what I would use for a blog entry this week, and low and behold, my own life story will now become one. I don't recommend anyone try this at home. So, you know when you have plans for the day, and you hope to get them done, and then, well, things happen. That happened to me today. Let me begin by telling you about a fall my son took a couple of weeks ago. He was playing hockey at our nearby rink and took a spill. Landed on his wrist. I took him to the clinic, but nothing was broken. He's pretty much recovered from that now. I guess I must have felt sorry for him or something, because, today, I smashed up my wrist and elbow. My claim to fame is that it was simply an act of sheer stupidity. : ( We are going to enter into the realm of satelite TV tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. I entered into this reluctantly, but my son wants to watch the leafs, and we just can't get them here in Ottawa, so he's paying part of the tab. Well, tomorrow morning the installer comes, and he needs to get on the roof to put the dish up. I went on the roof to clear a path for him, so he would not slip and fall. I didn't slip or fall while on the roof, just so you know. No, it was that dumb ladder thingy. I should have known better and had my son spot for me, but no, I can do all things through ME who well, can do all things, of course! : ) On the way DOWN the ladder, it came unhinged somehow, and I ended up falling about 7 feet. Landed on my feet, but I'm getting older, and not able to absorb the impact as well, so I also took some of the force on my right wrist and elbow, my outer right knee, and my hip. I was scared going down, let me tell you. By God's grace, I stayed upright, landed on my feet, and well, then the pain in the wrist and elbow reminded me that I didn't get off "scott free" (where does that term come from anyway? ) My son came running to the front door, as did my wife, wondering if I was ok. I told them I was (LIAR that I am). Well, about 10 minutes after cleaning up the ladder and looking at my bent eavestrough (? spelling), which I'll fix later on, I decided it might be a good idea to go to a clinic, just in case. I drove to the clinic in CentrePointe. Not an easy feat, in that I own a stick shift. I was able to shift with my left hand, using my knees to steer. Not recommended on your driving test. I ended up waiting for about 45 minutes, which was pretty good I thought. The doctor examined my elbow and wrist, and wanted x-rays. He wanted to avoid me having to wait hours at the hospital, so he called the x-ray clinic to see if they could be examined right away. I was fortunate again. The x-ray clinic was about 1/2 km down the road. I decided to walk it, to save parking fees. Once there, I waited only 10 minutes. Bonus I thought. Then came 9 x-rays of the wrist and elbow. They showed nothing broken. (I'm still doubtful because I can barely move my arm, but I'll give it one night to see). I walked back to the doctor's office. He wanted me to wait until the x-ray clinic phoned. I waited 3o minutes and then asked them to call me if they wanted me to go to the hospital. All the while, my wrist and elbow have gotten progressively stiffer. My outer knee will have a bruise, and my hip will too. As I waited in the waiting room, I just kept thinking, "You are pretty stupid Ronny boy!" I was also very thankful, because things could have turned out much worse. So, I'm now at home, typing with great pain, but trying to keep my arm moving to see if things improve. I have youth group tonight, so they'll all get a good laugh out of this. When your life is public you might as well let everyone know right away to get things over with. : ) It brought home for me the fact that life is very fragile. One moment all seems fine, the next, something can happen that changes everything. So John, I feel REALLY fallible today, FYI : ) Note to self, always get a spotter for that stupid ladder. I just hope satelite will be worth it. . . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Trip to Faith Alive Publishing in Grand Rapids

On Monday, January 12th, I attended a meeting in Grand Rapids at FaithAlive Publishing. It was held at the Christian Reformed Church Denominational office. I was part of a Youth Advisory Board comprised of 12 or so individuals who were asked to give advice to the youth publishing division [I was on a similar advisory board back in my Sarnia ministry days].
Most attendees were from around the Grand Rapids area, but two of us were from Canada. Karen from Kitchener, and myself.
In order to attend this event, I had to fly out Sunday afternoon, January 11th. That happened to be Joycegina's birthday, so I had to do some sucking up to be able to go. (We celebrated on Saturday AND part of Sunday).
I figure I'd give you a chronological time line this time around, just to change things up. So, read on and enjoy.
January 11th 1:30 pm - Leave home with family and go to airport. 2:30 pm - Passed through security and customs and took a seat at my gate to await my plane's departure.
2:45 pm - Took out my computer to do some work and realized, to my amazement, that I put the wrong power cord in my computer bag. I was not impressed with myself to say the least (computer battery was almost dead too). Oh well. I took it as a sign that I was to relax a bit.
2:55 pm - I decided to use the old fashioned method of pen and paper (Sorry John) to jot some notes down and realized that I had also forgotten a pen. Two for two. I wasn't going to buy one for $2.50 so I just chuckled to myself and pulled out a book I'd brought along.
3:30 pm - I boarded a tin can of a plane for my trip to Detroit via NorthWest Airlines. Two seats, aisle and two seats. VERY small.
4:00 pm - Plane took off and I observed my home from the air. I also noticed all the cookie-cutter homes in Kanata. I settled down, closed my eyes and rested for the 1 hour flight.
5:15 pm. Arrived in Detroit airport and transferred from terminal "C" to terminal "A" via the underground tunnel (see picture below). A long tunnel with calming music.
5:30 pm - Ate supper @ National Coney Island Diner. A nice retro 60's diner with some great food. Every waitress calls you "honey" or "sweetie." I took that time to review the work assigned to me for the meeting the next day.
7:15 pm - Board a much larger plane for the 22 minute flight from Detroit to Grand Rapids. The plane was only 2/3 full and three flight attendants were on board. One for 1st class, the other two for us commoners.
7: 45 pm We pushed off from the gate to de-ice the plane due to snow that was gently falling.
8:15 pm - The plane was de-iced. I love watching all that stuff go on. I'm like a little boy in a toy store.
8:55 pm. - FINALLY take off for Grand Rapids. (We spent almost 2 hours in the plane for a 22 minute flight). As we turned to take off, it was beautiful to see the runway all lit up like a long Christmas tree.
8:55 - 9:15 pm - Once we were airborne I watched as two flight attendants did the 50 yard dash in the plane to try to give everyone water or orange juice in 10 minutes. They finished JUST before we touched down - literally. A site to watch.
9:25 pm - Touched down and taxied to our gate. A light snowfall in Grand Rapids. Beautiful to see out the plane window.
9:45 pm - Waited for the shuttle for the hotel I would be staying in.
10:00 pm - Shuttle arrived and myself and a female stepped in. We ended up having to wait for another flight to come in because that flight crew was using the same hotel. I met Karen in the van, (the other Canadian in our meeting) and we began to get to know each other.
10:30 pm. - Checked in to Grand Plaza Hotel. The room was HUGE as you can see from the pictures below. : )
Bathroom - for those interested : )
I could have fit my whole family in this room, and then some.
A small TV with a desk.
A king sized bed. I could have slept either way on this bed.
10:35 pm - Called Joycegina to let her know I arrived ok (and to make sure she had a good rest of her birthday day).
10:45 pm - Logged the days events on PAPER (yes John, I used paper).
10:55 pm - Did a quick channel surf and discovered once again that with all the TV channels out there, there isn't much on TV.
11:15 pm. Set my alarm for 7:00 am (yes, you read correctly Ken) and then off to sleep. Monday, January 12th
7:00 am - Woke up to the alarm and decided to sleep for another hour (I can hear all those who know I'm not a morning person laughing right now).
8:00 am - Got up and dressed for Breakfast. Picked up the USA today and walked down to the breakfast location (see below).
I was the ONLY one in the room for breakfast. It was a slow week apparently. A nice young man made me a delicious omelet and I ate as I read the paper.
8:30 am - Back to my room to change and take a morning swim.
The pool wasn't very big, and the water slide was closed, but the water was nice and warm.
It was a good sized water slide too.
Here's the hot tub I spent some time in as well. I came out and my pores were singing!! : )
9:15 am - Back to the room to take a shower and wash off all that chlorine.
9:45 am - Sat down and watched Discovery Channel for a while. Saw "How it's Made" and watched how you make Dryers, chewing gum and fireworks. It was cool!!!
10:15 am - Devotion time
A picture of the hotel lobby. VERY comfortable.
11:30 - Checked out and Lynne came to pick me up for the meeting. It's been about 7 years since I've been in our denominational head office. Renovations are being done now. It has changed inside a great deal, but looks nice.
This used to be where the printing presses were for the publications. Now it's office space. Nicely done.
Here is the book store. It used to be in a separate room. I like the open air concept.
The always recognizable flags from Home Missions.
Some rooms are still under construction.
12 noon - 3:30 pm. This was our meeting room. Set up and ready to go.
This was a youth meeting, so, of course, Pizza is the order of the day. It was GOOOOODDDDD. Here Karen is ready to grab 3 or 4 slices : ) Just kidding Karen.
Here we are getting to know each other over lunch. I only knew Jolene from other meetings. The rest were new acquaintances.
Here we are reflecting, and of course laughing. What's a meeting without a bit of humour?
Some of the many things we talked about were:
  • What kinds of approaches work in youth groups.....what don't?
  • What are the most important features of courses for youth?
Draws from current culture? Reformed? Includes video, music, fun games, etc.
  • If you could create the ideal curriculum for youth/church ed, youth group, what would it look like? ETC.
We did a walk through of the FaithAlive catalogue, youth section. There's some good stuff in there. The catalogue as a whole has many things I never even saw before. You should take a look online at their store sometime.
3:30 pm - Left the denominational office and travelled to the airport (making one stop at a mall for Karen to exchange, shopping, shopping...enough said : ) )
4:00 pm - I was scheduled to leave Grand Rapids at 7:00 pm, but wanted out earlier due to snow coming, so I tried to change my flight. The ticket counter wanted $50 to just change a flight. I didn't want to do that, but when I went to the actual gate, they changed it at no cost. I then spent some time talking with Karen, as she was taking this flight too.
4:30 pm - Boarded the LARGE plane. I lucked out and got seat 5A. Right behind 1st class. Extra room for the legs. Got to remember to get that row again.
5:09 pm. Taxied off the gate and took off. Again watched the mad dash to give us OJ and water.
5:39 pm - Landed in Detroit and taxied to gate. 5:30 - 6:39 pm - I walked all the terminals to get some exercise before eating. I find airports fascinating. Even though people are busy trying to get somewhere, it's almost like time stands still while you are in an airport. Waiting is the name of the game. If it's not for your plane, then it's for a meal. People walking side by side, each with a cell phone in their ear talking to someone on the outside; not talking to each other. A sense of quiet, yet panic as people scramble to meet connecting flights, find departure gates, or change flight plans.
6:39 pm - Sat down for a meal and watched the people walking by. 7:15 pm - Walked to my gate, sat down, and read. 9:07 pm - Boarded my plane and taxied off the gate. As I looked out the window I saw this large piece of luggage sitting on the tarmac. No one seemed to notice it, or care it was there. Interesting. Our sole flight attendant ran through the emergency procedures (her heart wasn't in it). After that was done, she demonstrated the latching and unlatching of the seatbelt, and deployment of the oxygen masks - in complete silence. I found that humourous. 10:35 pm - Landed in Ottawa and made a mad dash for customs only to find a long lineup. Only three customs agents too. 11:05 pm. - FINALLY through customs and out the gate. As I walked out, who do I see waiting for his wife? The bodyshop man from Arnprior Chrysler (I don't know his name). It's a small world. I then took a taxi home and arrived home at 11:35 pm. A whirlwind tour, but a good one. I give FaithAlive credit for hosting these focus groups, and trying to get a variety of opinions from people who use their curriculum. They don't have an easy road as they plan to produce products that hopefully I, and other youth workers, will purchase. Their marketing targets move fast, and sometimes they succeed, other times they don't. We may not often think about what goes on in our Denominational Head offices, but lots does. There are many people there who desire to serve our denomination. I can forget that at times. This was another reminder that they are doing their best to do just that. Pray for them often. I hope you enjoyed this chronology. I was fun to reflect on it. Blessings to you.
Ron Hosmar.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pastor Ron's Canadian Youth Worker Experience

Back in early December, 2008, I had the privilege of attending the Canadian National Youth Workers Convention. A smaller scale version of the National YWC that is held in the U.S. and which I've attended about 7 times now.
I left for the convention on Wednesday, December 3rd, travelling to Whitby where I visited with my Brother and sister-in-law. VERY early in the morning [and I'm no morning person] I got up to travel to the Toronto Airport to pick up Rick, a good friend and fellow Youth Pastor from Alberta.
We spent the morning getting reacquainted at a McDonald's near our hotel. That was sure nice. Rick is a great guy. Full of life. Takes life as it comes. He's also wise : ) The time flew by very quickly.
Near noonish we traveled to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel to check in. A very nice hotel on the waterfront of Lake Ontario.
Parking is at a premium downtown, of course. I chose the self parking option, but the lot was full at the time, so I was forced to park my car in a precarious spot until the evening.
Here are a couple of pictures of our hotel room. Very nice. Clean. Somewhat spacious.
Here's Rick, modelling for me as I get some room pictures.
The rooms don't come cheap, and we Youth Pastors don't always have the funds to go to these kinds of events, so I tried to double up with others. It turned out that I ended up sharing a room with three others.
Now here's the dilemma that guys run into. Four grown men sharing a room with two double beds. For girls there is no issue. For guys there sure is. Knowing this, I offered to sleep on the floor, as did Reuben, another Youth Pastor from Alberta. Here he is just before lights out. A precarious place to be if you ask me : ).
Oh, yeah. Back to our Thursday. Once we checked in, we headed over to one of the many banquet halls in the hotel to gather together with about 75 other Christian Reformed Youth Pastor/Workers/Leaders for a four hour time of networking and training. We covered topics like Intergenerational Ministry, Mission Trips, Youth Pastor Sabbaticals (or Extended Professional Development Leave as mine is called), and Young Adult Ministries. It was good to meet some new people, reacquaint myself with those I hadn't seen in a while, and see the CRC's Canadian contingent of Youth Workers all expressing their hearts and sharing their dreams.
After all that hard work, well, it was time for something to eat. That can prove to be difficult at conventions like this. Not always eateries that are close by. Several of us took a VERY cold walk down the street and found a Quizno's where we sat down for a bite. It looks like Reuben is trying a new way to drink his pop.....hmmmm. : ) Once back in the hotel, I made my way to the bookstore. I always try to browse through the bookstore at the beginning of a convention and let God lead me to books/topics that are pertinent to me at that time. This proved fruitful once again.
As we walked home, we noticed a nice small breakfast place nearer the hotel. This became our morning hang out. Not busy [funny with over 700 other youth workers at the conference] and good food.
Here is rick and Brian getting ready to eat.
This was Rick's breakfast EVERY morning. A creature of habit, but only in certain things.
We also took advantage of the restaurant in the hotel on evening. All you could eat buffet. Yummy.
After all the seminars, main sessions, and late night entertainment concluded, many of us would travel to the hotel bar and continue our networking. Lots of great discussions and learning moments. The place is always busy. People coming and going. Seems like all the sports teams that play the Toronto Maple Leafs stay here too.
We saw the Washington Capitals being ushered up the elevators to their rooms one night. On another, Rick and I met two members of the New York Rangers [I think that was the team] in the elevator. Very nice people.
We also saw the two NFL teams that were playing at the Roger's Centre [a.k.a. Sky Dome]. People everywhere. I wondered how many of them were truly happy with their lives, their money, their fame. . .
Here's a picture of the main hall in which we held our main sessions. These sessions consisted of some awesome Praise Bands that led us through some amazing worship times. A main speaker would also challenge us. There would be some comic relief through several Christian Comedian groups.
Here is a group called "Lost and Found" that I really like. I learned about them about 8 years ago. Funny as anything, but GREAT songs with some potent messages attached to them. Other songs are just sheer fun.
Here is the lead singer from Starfield. We got to see them up close and personal. An amazing worship band. Full of God's Spirit as they led us through some wild times, and very worshipful times as well.
Here is a picture of "The Skit Guys". Yep, Hannah and Joy, I got to see them LIVE. Even got to shake their hands. They are one of the funniest Christian comedy acts I've ever seen. ADHD for sure. Powerful messages though.
Those are just some pictures of the time I spent at the convention. Gives you a flavour of where I was. There was much more that pictures don't do justice too.
Many different seminars and main speakers challenged me on many different fronts. Some that I took were 1. How to Minister to Unchurched Youth 2. Youth Pastor/Senior Pastor relations (they can always be better) 3. Finding Funding for outside the box ideas. 4. Junior High Ministries. 5. The Scandal of Grace Then there were the main session speakers that stuck out for me:
1. Shane Claiborne - founder of the Simple Way and author of the "The Irresistible Revolution." He was amazing to listen to. His walk with God is close, practical, and challenging. I also went to a late night session in which he spoke about his work.
2. Tony Campolo - up close and personal. We were in the front row and almost got spit on by him : ). He, as usual, challenged us all in our youth ministries. He's always amazing to listen to.
3. An interview with William Young, author of THE SHACK. That was wonderful to hear. The most humble man I've ever heard speak. Having read the book, it was neat to hear him explain it further.
4. Listening to an interview with Brian, a Christian Youth Specialist who ministers to teens with same-gender attraction. He also struggles with same gender issues himself. This was a very interesting time. You could feel the uncomfortableness in the room rising as Brian shared his life and struggles. He was VERY nervous speaking to us, but I gave him credit for doing it. It allowed for some lively late night debate with our group later in the evening.
5. Another session with Mike Pilavachi. I've heard Mike speak a couple of times before and he's always very funny. He makes the Bible come alive in ways I've not experienced from anyone else. His humor has made me see the Scriptures in very human terms, something which I really appreciate.
Some other highlights of the Conference:
  1. Meeting former Toronto Maple Leafs player Borje Salming [well, not personally, but he walked by me].
  2. The worship times with the various worship bands. Amazing!
  3. Meeting many new people in Youth Ministry
  4. Having Rick call me from our room while I was in the bathroom of our room. (It was hilarious...ask me about it sometime if you want to.)
  5. Rick deciding to get autographs from common folk as others were trying to get autographs from some of the NHL and NFL players. It was a hoot to watch.
  6. Meeting my Aunte Mary at the convention.
  7. Meeting a young person from my Sarnia days who is now a Youth Pastor! Cool.
Some notable quotes I picked up:
  1. Jesus ate with all the "wrong" people.
  2. We need to change before we can lead.
  3. None of us are Christ alone, all of us are Christ together
  4. Many young people leave our churches with wings, but without roots!
  5. We need to cultivate danger in our Youth Ministries.
All in all, a great time to get away, rejuvenate and reflect on my work as a Youth Pastor/Pastor of Congregational Life. I thank Calvin CRC for giving me the opportunity to go, and trust that this time will benefit both myself, and our church as I continue to minister in and through it. And Finally, I wish to share with you my Ode to Rick. I hope you like it man! Rick, Rick, he's the man. He can meet people like no one can. With that infectious smile, And boisterous greeting all the while. You can't help but feel comfortable around Rick. You taught me a great deal during our time together. To take life as it comes no matter the weather. When an opportunity presents itself, You grab it off the shelf. Rick, Rick. A thoughtful sort. Yet he loves a good hockey game and many others sports. I enjoyed our challenging conversations which often times felt like oblations. You are a free spirit, Rick, that is right. Thanks for allowing me to once again see you in that light. It was a privilege. Ron. : )