We nominate Albert Roffey…

So here is what Randy & I submitted, to nominate Dad for the Chris Beer Award, at the “Champions Challenge”, and what Randy used for his speech at the dinner:

The whole story can be found in myriad photos, blog posts, Facebook events, etc. The first photo that comes to mind is from 2008, of Dad with his son and grandson, who had done the Meech Lake Triathlon as a relay with him—his very first time, at 73, to do any race. We drove our Facebook friends crazy, being over-the-top proud.

The next year he did the “Try-a-Tri” in September, and the memorable photos are of his kids, grandkids and great grandkids surprising him by joining him over the finish line. Of course he was hooked, and each year he has been doing the Champion’s Challenge, involving at least three triathlons over the season.

So many photos! There’s one of Dad wearing a funny “No Passing” sign on his back, and one of him pointing his finger as if to say “YOU can do it too!” There are a few of him stopping before the finish to greet his cheerleaders, especially the little ones who ran up to him for a hug and kiss. From the beginning, he has been totally thrilled to hear of others being inspired by his stamina.

On his wall behind his lazy boy, he proudly hangs dozens of 1st place banners, each with their own story of hard work and training, such as the year he had a knee replaced in the winter but decided to sign up for the early bird anyway to help motivate his recovery. Interestingly enough, in all these years racing I don’t think once there has been another participant in his division. Even dad might question what is a First if you are the only competitor. But when you stop and think about it, he showed up at the start line and finished every time. Dad will always be first place to his family.

It takes a special kind of person to train all winter and summer for 3 races each year at his age! Like any triathlete he is a competitive guy, always wanting to be a little faster, and try not to finish last. He challenges anyone to not let him catch them.  Over the years he and his bright red/green race shirt have made a lot of friends on the course. I love hearing them, “wow did you see that… that guy is 80!!” Or they cheer him on. For dad though, it’s never been about winning. It’s about encouraging his family. Often he will say “if I can do it you can do it”. We have seen him inspire even mom to start swimming in her 70’s, right down to inspiring so many family members to race this past summer. For him that has made it all worth it.

And if you’ve ever watched him race, you know it’s not easy for him. You can feel his agony, along with the great relief when it’s finally all over. Just ask his “favourite cheerleader”, with whom he celebrated his 60th year of marriage, this past August. Then, each year after the May triathlon, he goes home and barbecues for all his beloved cheerleaders!

Dad has always had a desire to see people be active and healthy, and for several years he had us run a “100 Day Family Challenge” at the beginning of the year, to get everyone to exercise, in any way that was best for them. This year he turned 80, and how could we refuse his request for as much family as possible, to join him at the Early Bird Triathlon in May? Altogether, he inspired three relay teams, and three other individuals to sign up, including his sister, some nieces, his kids, grandkids, and even one of his great-grandsons! Whoever couldn’t actually race, was there to cheer us on!

Dad has always been so thrilled to have his family come out and cheer him on, but I know that having them actually participate this year, was worth more to him then ANY Gold! And that says a whole lot about who he is, and why he inspires us.

Randy may say he just did some “tweaking”, but he also did two large paragraphs. I think we worked well as a team! Of course, it was great “subject matter”… :D

meech-lake

This is what started it all: Jon, Dad, and Randy, the “Three Generations” triathlon.

The first time everyone joined him across the Finish Line, he was surprised--now he just expects it! :D

The first time everyone joined him across the Finish Line.

he-stops-for-them

Stopping for kisses from the great-grandkids

(See my post: He Stops for Them)

melissa-and-sharon-collage

Fun to look back on some history, and compare to this year.

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Multiplication not Addition

There have been a lot of great articles to read lately, and some are just calling me to make notes on them!

One by Mike Breen shows how humans can be such creatures of overreaction, “choosing polarities rather than living in tension”. It seems like not long ago that Christian leaders were saying how we were becoming too “inward”, constantly singing songs about our own personal relationship with Jesus. Apparently, the opposite is now true in some places, with a movement to have “missional communities”, where people neglect their personal development as disciples–being “obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with no idea how to be with the King”. It’s the old thing of “Be-ing” vs “Do-ing”.

We usually think of discipleship as “doing” things, but the “long obedience in the same direction” includes other things: as Mike Breen explains, discipleship is “the boot camp training for front lines, the hospital when people are wounded, and the off-duty time needed to rest and recuperate”. The key words he uses are Character and Competency; remembering, humbly, that “apart from [Jesus] we can do nothing”. If you send people out without those things, it’s a recipe for burnout.

If we look at it objectively, we see churches with discipling cultures (that focus mainly on the transformation of individual self) and churches with missional cultures (which focus on the transformation of the world/people around us) and we often see tensions between these two camps.

One has a clue, but no cause. The other has a cause, but no clue. High mission/low discipleship church cultures have issues with Biblical literacy, theological reflection and deficiencies in character and Creed that, in the end, sabotage the very mission they’re about.

…High discipleship/low mission church cultures have a strength in the previous issues, but lack the adventurous spirit/heart of compassion and Kingdom compulsion that so stirred the Father into action that he sent his only Son to a world he so loved.”

Obviously, his argument is that BOTH are important, and goes on to explore more about discipleship… which does not mean addition, but multiplication. In other words, you make disciples who make disciples. And it’s obvious to me, that you do this with small groups.

I’m so thankful that, not only does our church have a strong missions emphasis, but they are very good at small groups!

 

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Blessed to be a blessing

Yikes, I’ve signed up for yet another email feed! Not sure how often this one updates, but it was recommended by our church plant, and has some really good articles/resources. Plus, it’s all about being missional.

For example, an article about the question of celebrating Hallowe’en: “For most of us, Halloween isn’t a time where we celebrate the dead and go and skin a goat and sacrifice it to Satan…. It has become just part of our culture in the West and has very little to do with the “darkness”…it’s not good, it’s not evil…it’s just something we celebrate…” He (Seth McBee) suggests that lots of evil things happen on other holidays that we celebrate without question (drinking too much, etc.), and that God wants to redeem all things back to himself.

You see, there is no holiday like Hallowe’en, for its opportunity to meet people and befriend them, which is where missioning begins. Jesus went to parties and was accused of spending time with “drunkards”. The thing is, you can alienate yourself from those new friends in two ways: 1) by not opening your home to them on Hallowe’en (this author even suggests that church “harvest parties” are bad, because they take everyone away from their community, and your neighbours get to know you as the mean people who don’t hand out); or 2) by handing out apples wrapped in tracts, or dressing your child like Martin Luther. Two extremes, two ways to scare people away.

Jesus always pursued the sinner, meeting them where they were, engaging them in ways that they’d understand who God is and how he loves us. “Jesus used the everyday celebrations as a way to build relationships so he could speak into the lives of those around him.  He was continually at parties.” So, this author says that we should “be THAT house”–the one that gives out the best candy, and is the most welcoming. One of his ideas I saw put into practise by a good friend in Toronto: have hot cider/hot chocolate etc., available for the parents.

Maybe it’s an excuse, but I’m always cautious about acting in ways that would be out of character for myself. Yes, I love to entertain, but I’m not really an extrovert type of person. If I was to overdo this kind of thing, it would only end up awkward and embarrassing. Nevertheless, I love these ideas!

One other thing he talks about that was a lesson to me: you know how Paul talks about eating meat sacrificed to idols, and how it might be okay for us, but we shouldn’t cause our brother to stumble? Paul was talking about new Christians who actually used to do that–eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Here’s how to contextualize for Halloween:

If you have a brother who used to worship Satan and they used to sacrifice goats and drink its blood, then it might be a good idea to work through Halloween with them and whether or not it would make that brother stumble.  This does NOT mean, if you have a brother who thinks it’s merely wrong to celebrate Halloween then you should put it to the side.

Because, shouldn’t we educate our brothers on this great missional opportunity? Just remember: “Don’t use this holiday to make a point.  Use this holiday to point to the true reason we all get to celebrate and bless…Jesus… He was about parties because that’s where people were and that’s where people connect and share stories and start and continue relationships…. Christians shouldn’t be the ones avoided for parties, but should be the ones that people are most excited to have come around because they bring the “better wine.”

I should have just shared the whole article with you, haha! If you do want to read it, you have to sign up for a (free) membership at “Vergenetwork”. The title of this one is “3 Practical Ways to be Missional This Halloween; Or, Why Jesus Wouldn’t Attend the Harvest Party at Your Church”.

 

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Baseball Lessons

Do you sometimes feel like a failure? You’ve been trying and trying, honed your skills, done everything in the best way that you know, and still nothing has come through?

Well, it’s a statistical reality that home-run hitters tend to be strike out leaders, and: “people who are called to attempt the greatest achievements tend to experience the most embarrassing failures”. Just think of all the failures that baseball players have to deal with! Every time they strike out, or are in a slump, lose a game, lose a series… It’s heartbreaking for them, I’m sure! But they have to learn to deal with it, or they’d never survive. Perhaps you too, are going through a rigorous training process, becoming one of those called to something great… “unless those folks learn to how to deal with failure, they are never going to fulfill their destiny.”

“Too many people are sitting in the stands, watching the game (of life), because they are too afraid of failure.”

Baseball has such great lessons for life! The guy who wrote this article I’m quoting from, is actually working on a book all about it. He is the Chaplain for the Ottawa Champions, and was one of the students that I marked for Perspectives. I’m looking forward to that book!

The article was written awhile ago, and I assure you, I did not come to it this morning on purpose. ;)

 

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Stand Up

During our small group Bible study last night, my husband’s response to one of the questions (I forget what the question was), was that we should decorate our homes in such a way (subtle, not blatant) that when people enter, they know that you’re a Christian. As I sat there amazed that he should have such a neat idea, he proceeded to suggest an example, “like my wife does”! Thinking to myself that he must have in mind an incident from many years ago, my eyes fell to the autumn basket on my coffee table, beside which was a bulletin cover that says “We thank you our Creator, for all things bright and good”.

Funny how I really liked the idea, and had forgotten that it’s already what I like to do (though I’m hesitant to say that everyone should do it). The fact that it’s now done without thinking, is not so good! The memories finally came back to me, of just wanting so much to give praise to God in every way possible.

The discussion continued, about not wanting to turn people off, or having the effect of making them avoid you at all costs. I grew up in the “Jesus Freak” days, when you wore buttons that said “I Belong to Jesus”… and little feet the same size as an aborted fetus’… pins and bumper stickers of “Jesus Loves You”, etc. etc. Perhaps it worked well for an extremely shy teenager such as I, to ward people away from me, haha!

We always seem to go from one extreme to the other though, don’t we? Our (excellent new) pastor bravely told us a couple of weeks ago, that Christians in Canada are going to have to stand firm in the coming days, about unpopular Biblical truths. As he said, when you change what the Bible calls sin, you change what we are to repent of, and you actually change the Gospel. Because the Gospel is not just “believe”, but “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15). And it’s when we stand firm and united, that others will get the idea that we’ve got hold of something that might be true. (Philippians 1:27-28)

And what will give us the ability to stand firm? To live as we should, to serve sacrificially and be joyful even in suffering, and do it humbly? We are inspired by our Model, who has done it before us. You see, it’s not all about what we can do for Him. It’s all about what He has done for us!

 

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If we care enough

Here is a quote from something I just read, that shows why “showing love” to people does not always mean doing whatever makes them happy.

The quote is from one of my Perspectives students, who writes a regular piece on the Torah (called Torahbybtes). This one is on some verses from Deuteronomy 7, where it talks about God destroying “those who hate him”. As Alan says, “we ignore true negatives to our peril”.

God doesn’t take our total disregard for him lightly. He actually loves us too much to do otherwise. I know that this is not how contemporary society regards love. But it is contemporary society that has redefined love to mean allowing everyone around us to do whatever they want, however they want, and whenever they want. But as any loving parent knows (if they care to admit it), permissiveness undermines maturity. If we care enough about our children, we will instill in them a sense of responsibility that can only come about through their understanding that actions have consequences. To let them get away with anything and everything will result in much harm to them and to others.

Contrary to popular thinking, this is not hard to understand. If you mishandle fire, you get burned. Ignoring God’s ways, you will unnecessarily get sick and injured. You can count on it… Because people ignore some of the most basic of God’s principles, they prematurely die. And that’s what God through Moses is emphasizing here. To hate God is to disregard him. We cannot flagrantly turn our backs on how he designed creation and expect good results. It does not work that way!

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How to define “ordinary”?

At Small Group last night, someone reminded us how God gives us gifts/abilities, not to use for ourselves, but for others. He gave the example of how you don’t, if you have the gift of preaching, preach to yourself.

For some reason, it came to my mind how I enjoy myself right here. I have several tabs open for reading this blog–one for reading the post on this day two years ago, one for reading the tag “quotes” (all my posts where I included interesting quotes), one for reading my tag on “notes” (including sermon notes, etc.)… and so on. And I haven’t been posting at all, just reading myself. :S  I figure I’m making good use of all that blogging and note-making, but…

In fact, I used to say that “I’m doing this for me”. That doesn’t sound quite right, somehow. Not that anyone needs more stuff to read!

Back to the Small Group study, which is actually done on each week’s sermon. Pastor Tim shared several Life Principles with us, and my favourite was about God using the ordinary to do extraordinary things. He asked Moses what was in his hands–a staff. The very staff that was used in so many miracles in the Exodus story. It started with something that Moses used every day, in his particular profession, looking after sheep.

We discussed in our group how it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t base our own experience on someone else’s–just because Peter walked on water, doesn’t mean that we can do it every time we try. It was Jesus who called Peter to come, and we need to follow God’s leading about those things. Also, Tim included the fact that things like housewife & mother are also a “high and holy calling”. So often we miss the fact that miracles and extraordinary things are happening around us all the time.

Like my parents’ 60th anniversary this weekend!! :)

60th Anniversary

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thirty-two

Praise you Lord, that I can put myself in your hands and count on you from morning to night. I can be confident that you’ll answer when I cry for help. Nothing I might obsess about, compares to you and your works. All the nations will one day honour you and “parade your greatness”!

You are known for forgiveness, you are tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love! You never, never quit. You snatch us from the brink of disaster, and gently and powerfully put us back on our feet.

(from Psalm 86)

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Slactivate?

If you don’t want to miss new posts from this blog, you’d better click on my “Home” tab at the top, and then scroll way down to the bottom and enter your email address, then click “subscribe”. Because I’m pretty sure most people are like me: when they see that “so and so shared” something, they just flick right by it, hit delete, whatever. It’s impossible to read everything, that’s for sure, or even to read all the headlines.

Speaking of this “modern-day water cooler” (social media), how about some notes on an excellent Compassion article about How to be an Effective Social Media Slactivist?

Slactivism, hashtag activism, vanity activitism–these are a few different terms for the same thing: expressing support for a cause solely through social media. Sometimes it has little impact (e.g. #Kony2012 and #BringBackOurGirls); and sometimes it gets people to take action and actually can raise a significant amount of money (e.g. #BlackLivesMatter and ALSIceBucketChallenge).

So here are the hints Compassion gives, if you want to get on the positive side of it:

  1. Of course, as Christians we always want to start everything with prayer. And as Compassion says “meditate on your motives”, and ask yourself a few questions. It seems to be natural to just do things to look good, and social media certainly encourages that.
  2. Inform yourself. I try to not even click “Like” unless I’ve actually read the article. Did that once, learned my lesson! Being educated about what you’re advocating, goes a long way towards success at motivating others.
  3. Not all opinions need to be shared. There is someone on my newsfeed who always has a lot to say–I’ve learned to skim by her. On the other hand, there are friends who hardly ever Share something, and don’t really update their status that often: when they do, of course it grabs my attention! As Compassion says, sharing “opinions about everything and anything is a sure-fire way to lose credibility”. There are SO many good causes! Pick something you’re passionate about, and research it.
  4. “Don’t be an alarmist. [this point copied complete] Speak intelligently, not angrily. Speak with passion, not with vitriol. Speak with compassion, not hatred. Point people to accurate information to support your passion.”
  5. Share your story. This is where you can be personal, and vulnerable. Adds weight to the issue.
  6. Pray again. Double check what you’ve written, before hitting that “post” or “send” button!
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#threadmyoneword

My One Word isn’t being updated as often as I’d originally planned, but good enough that it gets done as often as I can find something, or come across something that fits. “Done” usually means a Facebook status update, sometimes with a photo. Now that there are “memories”, you know you’ll always come across them again.

However, one wants to be careful about those updates–I’m always stopped with the thought: “Do I really want to read this again next year? Or in ten years?”

My hashtag for the One Word is kind of weird, but that’s to make it only show up the things I’ve tagged, since other versions are things other people have used as well (#oneword, #myoneword, etc.).

The “thread” I’m noticing this morning, is something that’s running through my morning readings, the Sunday sermon series, and what I’ve been teaching these days to the three-year-olds: “obedience”.

  • The kids’ stories are examples of obedience from various Old Testament characters;
  • the sermon series is based on Malachi, where God is “fed up” with ritual obedience, but wants worship that comes from the heart;
  • of course the Old Testament is full of obedience stories, and I’m using some summary-videos that are excellent in helping one understand the Torah, as well as following along with a ministry of one of my students, who is a Jewish Christian (also chaplain to the Ottawa Champions) and writes a short narrative about the week’s Torah readings (“Torahbytes”). The one I read this morning (I’m way behind on these), talked specifically about obedience.

You really should check out those videos!

EDIT Later: I watched the last video that they have, Deuteronomy, “the epic conclusion to the Torah”, and just need to add some notes here! This is where the “shemah” (sp?) is, “Listen oh Israel… love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength” (“shemah” means “listen”). It’s all about obedience, starting with listening, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to teach the kids lately.

The key words are “listen” and “love”; the Hebrew for “listen” including the idea of responding–obeying. And of course, “love” should always be the true motive for obeying, which is exactly what we’ve been talking about in Small Group. “Israel won’t obey without love, and they don’t truly love if they don’t obey.” Of course, they don’t seem able to obey, which speaks of the human condition, and the need for a Saviour to transform our hearts.

 

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