Category Archives: Jesus Freakz

My place to talk about God, Jesus, Judaism, religion, relationship and all the stuff that I would probably get shunned by my family and maybe even a few friends. But hey, if you don’t like it, make your own blog site and talk about whatever you want.

What Christmas Means to Me

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

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

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

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

The Crowing Rooster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introspection without Distractions

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

The God I STILL Know…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lose this life…

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 16:25
King James Version (KJV)

I can take a line out of Michael Tait’s song, “Lose this life”, and relate to it right now (actually, I can relate to the entire song): Like a raging sea, fear want to swallow me…

I can try to swim in a sea of uncertainty right now and buy into the fear of things happening. Or, I can trust God and find peace in knowing that regardless of what happens in life. Rather than fight the waters, I can let the waters take me to where God will be waiting for me.

Nothing is certain in life, and nothing in this life has any guarantees. I’ve had good times and and I have bad times. The past while, I will admit, have been good times. It’s no secret that God brought me to these
good times and has done so in many ways. I couldn’t have gone half this far on my own and it’s no question that God has been gracious and merciful and brought us through both the storms into prosperous moments. There’s no question that times are changing and along with those
changing times, situations change.

However, does God change? Not at all. God has been the same loving, gracious and merciful God in all of our good times as well as in our bad. God was there in some of the worst storms I had every faced, and yet through it all, I never stopped believing. If times change, and I’m sure they will, I am going to hold on, not to whatever things my hands can reach out to, but to God as God will ultimately pull me through. It’s more than an worldly generosity, which is not only finite, but very short lived.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that things are going to change. In fact, that’s where the uncertainty is. I don’t have answers and I have no idea as to what tomorrow will bring. Do I stop and worry about it? For once, I don’t want to. If anything, I want to be the best person that I can be. If anything, I always seem to pray in the morning God will shine His light through me. If anything, it’s pretty easy to be a lighthouse on a clear and starry night. I think that God is about to give me a situation that answers the prayers I have been asking for. There may be water crashing up on the rocks and there may be foggy outcomes… this is where a lighthouse is needed. In this uncertainty, God may very well shine His light through me for everyone to see.

So, I have a choice: I can either live in the uncertainty of this world and try fight the waters OR I can simply give it all over and trust God in that He has something better planned.

The “magic” words

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? [2] My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

These seem to be my words of the week. I remember reading a post on facebook from Casting Crowns of this miraculously fixed to a tree after a hurricane, giving new meaning to their song, “Praise You In The Storm”. I also remember a Hebrew version of this psalm that we sing on Yom Kippur.

Funny enough, I found myself turning to these verses out of instinct, last night going through my own storm. I had an overwhelming two days as there was a problem with my son’s medication and Joelle is not around to fix it. I was starting to panic a bit because one cannot play with these types of medications. Honestly, I felt powerless and helpless.

I also knew that God doesn’t disappoint and always comes through in some way or another when one has “faith as small as a mustard seed”.

I believe God was waiting for me to display my faith in Him. He wanted me to take that one tiny step. That’s when both the psalm and that song started coming out of my lips. It was at that moment only did everything come together. Not only was the problem straightened out, but they got delivered right to our door. I think that God wanted me to display my faith because he knew that the eyes of my heart would be open so I could see Him at work. One might say that He was waiting for me to say the magic words. Perhaps, I should say them more often when I find myself in these situations.

The God I Know…

It’s no secret that I am starting a new job soon. What people may not realize is how it came about and what prompted my decision to take this job. After all, I had no dissatisfaction with my current job. So what made this different? The answer, at least to me, is rather simple: God was in the decision. In fact, He was in this whole situation every step of the way. Here is my testimony:

The fact that I had applied to this place back in 2003 and consistently tried for about 5 years only to give up, having met up time after time with repeated computerized form letters telling me thanks but I am not qualified for the position and so on and so on, showed that I was doing this under my own power and was amounting to nothing of my own account.

The difference all started when they reached out to me, in an email, asking “if I knew anyone that was interested in such a position”. Of course I knew someone… me! I was like, “God, can this be true? A human being from this company is actually contact me?” So, I sent back the response along with my resume indicating my interest and stated to God, thanking Him that even if I got no further, I got further than I ever did in this company.

I then received a second email from this person asking me to answer a few questions before we proceeded. I was amazed because this never happened before. I answered the questions as honestly as I could. Funny enough, it got to the part where they asked why I want to leave my current job. I stated on it that I had no reason to leave. I even told them about my current boss. I had nothing but positive things to say. In fact, I was giving them more reasons why I didn’t really need this new job. However, I was honest and kept it that way. Before I sent it off, I once again said a prayer giving my thanks to God that even if I got no further than this, I have gotten even further than I ever did in this company.

Then came a request for a phone interview.

Again, I ask God if this can be true. Is this from Him? Is it by God’s will? Has God seen a certain discouragement in my heart that He would go, “It’s time!”? So many questions that I can think of, and many more that I cannot even express. Of course, I said YES! to the phone interview and tried to set it up so that I would not be late going into work. Sure enough, we started at our scheduled time and we talked… and talked… and talked. It was great. It seemed the both of us had a lot to say about this and I thought we had a great interview. Already, they were starting to feel like a company that I wanted to be a part of. I lost track of time but I didn’t care because I felt that if this was from God, I was going to give it all that I had. Sure enough, God must have met me half way because when I looked up from my car, situated in the parking lot of my current job, the entire building had been evacuated and everyone was outside. What happened was that the men’s toilet upstairs suffered a broken pipe which shorted out a light circuit, probably causing sparks. No one hurt, but bought time as I wasn’t considered late. As I hung up the phone, I once again thanked God heavily because this was the most I ever got with this company and even if it got no further, I was totally grateful.

Then came a request for a face-to-face interview.

You can bet I was asking God again those same questions. After all, I had to know. I had to know if this was from Him. Of course, I said YES! I did the face-to-face interview with their team lead and a couple of their senior developers and we were talking almost everything technical about Flash. I showed them how I managed to solve certain problems. Heck, I was even drawing things out on their whiteboard. I left feeling great about the interview. Before I drove off, I prayed in my car. I thanked God again because even if I got no further, I have NEVER made it further than this!

About an hour later, I get a phone call. They phoned wanting to schedule an interview. I told them sheepishly, “I… just… had an interview?” They were like, “I know… they want a second interview”. How could I refuse. God must has have been at work here because they were kind enough to set up a very early morning interview, so I wouldn’t be losing any real time from work. But, of course, I still had to know if it was from Him. Let’s face it… 5 years of nothing, and this is happening faster than a could ever have imagined. I spoke with the manager this time. It didn’t go as well as the tech, in my opinion. I stumbled. Despite my own disappointment in myself, I was still totally grateful once again. God brought me further than I ever was. I was not going to be disappointed in the least.

Then came the wait…

Joelle would ask me anxiously if I heard anything. At that time, I was certain that if this was to come from God, then He would deliver it in His time and in His way. I kept telling Joelle that either way, I will be grateful and if it doesn’t happen, I am still very happy at my current job and am not going to look any further. This would happen a few times and Joelle agreed with me. I think she knew that I would only do this if God were in it. In the meantime, I would have exchanged a few e-mails with their HR expressing my thanks again for the opportunities to meet with them. I told them that it was a real pleasure regardless of the outcome. However, I knew not to ask about the status because I was just going to let it go and leave it in God’s hands. I was sure that He knew what was going on and if it was not in His will at this time, I still made it further than I could have on my own power.

Four days before we were to go on vacation, I got a phone call. It was a job offer there. I was totally excited. I was standing outside talking on my phone freezing but I DIDN’T CARE! We talked for about 30 minutes and they could see my excitement. It wasn’t just for the job and the tremendous possibilities that it carries. It was because it was from God. I was sure of it. How? Well, I had to take care of some formalities within those four days before I was to go on vacation. Once again, I tried on my own power and hit road blocks right up to the last day, despite not only my efforts, but HR’s attempts to help.

However, I was certain that God would deliver! At this point I had no doubt that it was from God because I knew that if it was from God, He would ride in at the last minute with trumpets blaring. I even told Joelle this. I was so certain because this is the God that I know. He set everything up so that He could show me how He works. Sure, it’s probably a small thing for Him, but it was huge to me. Sure enough, God did just that. I needed an official signature and God delivered one hours before we were to go away. I got everything off and once again, was to wait until after my vacation.

After wrapping up a few more details when I got back from my vacation. I got a phone call about a week later confirming my start date. After giving huge thanks to God once again as I hung up my phone, I also prayed that I do things right in preparing to say good-bye to my current place of work. Knowing that God was leading me every step of the way, I don’t want Him to stop leading as the time comes to leave to go to my new job. In fact, I know He won’t stop leading because He brought me this far…

… and I have NEVER been able to go this far on my own!

Invited, but uninvited…

Have you ever been invited to a “friend’s” house with a group of your other friends? It sounds okay at first until the host invites everyone to play your favourite game… that is, everyone but you. The worst part is all your invited friends know that it is your favourite game, and they really can’t do anything about it because they don’t really want to upset the host and lose them as a friend. So, of course, you go away from the party feeling empty and slightly rejected. What’s worse at times is the fact that you accept an invitation to the host’s next party in hopes you’ll gain their acceptance, and sometimes you feel like this is your only friend, even though there are other friends out there waiting to accept you. Even worse is doing this repeatedly, only to get the same result and feelings over and over again.

Discouraging, isn’t it…

That’s how I feel about church right now… at least the church I’m going to.

The one thing that I love to do is be a part of a worship team. I feel that I am filling out my role and serving the church when do this. It makes me passionate about serving God, sharing His love through music. In fact, I get so wild with passion doing it that at times I will almost swear that it is not me. I can’t help it… that’s how I understand the love of God and the passion of Christ. There are some people that will go as far as to say that this is my ministry. All I know is that it is my passion to share God’s love through music.

However, this church doesn’t seem to want to me to share my passion. They would rather have me get lost in the crowd. They’re rather closed to anyone joining or creating a worship team and the pastor doesn’t want to say anything because he doesn’t want to upset anyone. For me, this is rather discouraging not to let anyone else take part in a church that claims to be a community based church. There are people that want to share their passion and are being suppressed, while those who make it seem more like a religion go up and attempt to lead the congregation.

It’s got to a point where I don’t want to go anymore and be a part of a place that doesn’t really want me to be a part of. It breaks my heart to feel like this to feel suppressed. I know that I don’t really have to go back, but it also feels like at times that I don’t have any other place to go that I know I can be a part of. At this point in time, I’m unsure of what to do and only God can guide me. I definitely feel as if I’m in the middle of nowhere.

Too Perfect to be Random

In everything I have seen in my life, I truly find it extremely difficult to believe in pure coincidence or random acts, or, worst of all, luck. I have been in way too many situations that many would just resign to say “what were the chances of that happening?” Even worse is hearing, “that was lucky!”

I just don’t believe in random or coincidental acts. They happen just too perfectly to be random. They’re at just the right time and place.

Let’s take the songs on my iPhone for example. I can put it on shuffle and yet the right song comes up at just the right time, when I need it most. Whether I need to be encouraged, consoled, motivated, or just to be still, it’s done at the most perfect time. I find it hard to believe in a random number generator that knows which song I need to hear. The song just didn’t pop up by coincidence.

Or what about my recent gallstone examinations. Were it not for them, they wouldn’t be finding other things that may require dealing with, that may have tried to slip by undetected.

I can name other examples in my life but there are way to many to name.

It’s these kinds of thing in my life that point to the existence of God! There really is no other explanation. Everything that I have seen happen in my life is just way too perfect to be random.

— Posted from my iPhone… because I can