Friday, March 31, 2006

Early DTS

The first couple of weeks in YWAM have been extremely busy, but really exciting for us as a family. Our schedule is absolutely NUTS -- YWAM is full-time, and I'm still working at St. Arbucks about 25-30 hours a week, plus all the kids' extra-curricular pursuits (think: "Dad's Taxi"), and you probably get the idea...

A few quick things about our YWAM base:
  1. I absolutely love how incredibly international and multicultural our base is, from staff to students. There's about 70 people at the base, and over a dozen languages. This week, the DTS that Wendy & I are a part of (second floor) joined with the Korean DTS (main floor) for our lectures, and it was cool to be part of an English/Korean (via an interpreter) week of classes.
  2. Praying with Koreans is a blast. When they say, "let's all pray", they all do -- at the same time. Loudly. Our own DTS class is smaller, about fifteen people, but six language groups: English, Korean, Swiss, German, Dutch, and Japanese. So, prayer times are wonderfully international and multi-cultural as well.
  3. The only weird thing so far was our school leader's infamous temper tantrum when he couldn't get everyone doing jumping jacks during class. He went off on a tirade about "when a leader gives you an order, it's the same as God giving you an order". (Classic Shepherding Movement mentality, which was ironic considering I  published the Post-Charismatic project on this blog just last month!)
I spoke with our Western Canada director about it, and he assured me that YWAM Canada rejects the Shepherding Movement's spiritually abusive teachings, so we aren't losing sleep over what was probably a one-off event.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Road to YWAM: The Sequel

My first ever exposure to YWAM came about when I was still a kid. My father's roomie while at the University of Toronto was Earl Pitts, who for many years was the director of YWAM Canada. Earl was also at the Performing Arts base that Wendy & I connected with in the late 80's.

Our daughter Jo loved going there as a one-year-old because, unlike church, she could toddle up to the band and dance her little feet off, or at least until her diaper caused her to overbalance.
Wendy & I have had various copies of the "Go Manual" (directory of YWAM ministries and training bases) over the years, and we've often looked through them, wondering when & where we would be involved.
When I was given the left foot of disfellowship from my denominational job last March, Wendy and I both had a very strong sense that, after over sixteen years, the time to join YWAM "officially" was now. So, after much prayer, we felt that we should move 2300 miles west to BC, and we arrived here last August, taking jobs wherever we could (St. Arbucks for me) to pay the bills until our DTS (Discipleship Training School) starts. Tomorrow.

So now we're back in the familiar territory of living by faith and praying for finances to come in. And we're really excited that the YWAM dream is finally starting to unfold for us; we've always been kinda nomadic and occasionally even risk-takers, so we're eager to see what God is going to have for us through this next transitional season at YWAM.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Road to YWAM

Prayer requests really tell you a lot about what's occupying your thoughts and day-to-day life, don't they?

When I worked at Hope Manor Detention Centre, just after I finished seminary, our prayer requests often included things like asking for opportunities to share our faith with some of the teenaged inmates residents, for peace in the facility's dorms and school program, and -- not infrequently -- that we wouldn't be killed during a shift at work. 

As a Christian-run correctional facility, we often found ourselves paddling upstream with parole officers, court officials, and the residents themselves, who were generally not impressed with having Christians on staff.

The level of community that the staff developed through working in such a situation was quite raw and real. Because of our rotating work schedule, we could only attend church once every six weeks, so a house church in our apartment became our main gathering every Thursday evening.

We were connected with the local YWAM Performing Arts base, and YWAM students would spend one night per week volunteering at our facility as a part of their DTS. Through the YWAM staff, we discovered that there was a worship time every Thursday morning at 8:00AM that we were welcome to participate in. From that time on, Thursday became our "Sabbath", as we would join YWAM for early morning worship, then go out for breakfast as a staff together, and meet in Wendy's and my apartment in the evening for a Bible study and more hangin' out together. And, once every six weeks, we'd join the local Vineyard church for worship.

By the spring of 1990, Wendy & I were seriously considering three possible future options: joining YWAM (we'd been invited to be staff at the base), or perhaps Jesus People USA (we'd visited their inner-city place in Chicago twice to explore the possibility), or accepting an offer from a church in Victoria to be their youth pastor. Although we ended up moving to Victoria, Wendy & I both had a strong sense that, at some point in our future, YWAM would play a bigger role in our lives.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cover Story: Post-Charismatic?

Charlie Wear, editor of the Next-Wave e-zine, invited me to submit an article for an upcoming issue of the e-zine. A former Vineyard pastor, Charlie was very interested in hearing my thoughts on the growing number of people who would self-identify as post-charismatic.

I had already been published a few times previously with Next-Wave, so I was looking forward to writing another article on a topic that had so consumed my thinking that I had just posted a huge, sprawling book-length screed as a subsection of my blog.

Little did I know that Charlie would end up featuring my article as the cover story of the newest edition of Next-Wave.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Taming the Teacher

There seems to be a lot of schooling metaphors and slang going around these days. My daughter Jo tells me that at her high school, if you verbally outwit or physically out-manouvre somebody, you can triumphantly claim that you "schooled" them.

One of Jo's friends recently whupped her backside in an online game, and proudly emailed her, "Paint me yellow and call me a bus, 'cuz I took you to SCHOOL!"

Even our good friend Jules brought a teaching-based bit of slang from Victoria when she visited here in December: if somebody is proving to be difficult, obstinant, or argumentative, Jules refers to him/her as "all hard to teach".
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)
I don't know how many times I've heard this verse read -- solemnly, passionately, accusingly, admonishingly (oops -- think I just made that word up). It's a sobering bit of Scripture, any way you look at it.

What I find surprising is that it took me so long to realize that St. James is not starting a whole new line of thought for the remainder of James 3; the famous teaching on "taming the tongue" isn't a separate topic, with the first verse being somehow stuck in there, maybe because it didn't fit in chapter two or something.

I'd like to suggest that the verse written to teachers is the introduction to the teaching on taming the tongue. While this passage is definitely applicable to everybody, it's a special lesson for those who open their mouths to teach.

Many would (correctly) assume that the warning to teachers is about their content -- the "what" that they teach -- and "correctly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) is definitely of highest priority.

But according to St. James, the manner in which we present truth is equally important. Try re-reading the entire chapter (James 3) with teachers -- writers, bloggers -- in mind. The character of the teacher, and how his/her teachings are delivered, is very important to God.

St. Paul corroborates this when he wrote to the Corinthians: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Is our content important -- without question, yes. Is the manner in which we speak -- taming our tongues, showing love and compassion -- equally important? According to Scripture -- without question, yes.

That's probably why the teaching on taming our tongues is introduced by the admonition to teachers, and concluded with this:
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18)