CTI 14:21 2015-2016
Birthday: August 8th, 1993
Hometown: Stouffville, Ontario
Favorite Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Favorite Music: Snarky Puppy, Lake Street Dive, James Jamerson
Favorite Hobby/Pastime: Cooking for friends and family, learning about and analyzing food
Favorite Movie: Star Wars (yes, even the prequels)
Previous Life Work: Architecture student
Sam likes eating spicy foods, believes that 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) is still shorts weather, and is equally adept at typically ‘feminine’ things like interior decorating or helping girls pick out shoes, as well as typically ‘manly’ things like cars, grilling, and gutting a fish. “On a more serious note, I’m really excited for the opportunity to grow in my knowledge of the Gospel, grow together with my team, and to serve our ministry partners effectively and with love!”
Sam’s Blog Posts
Being asked to write a ‘last blog post’ is kind of a daunting task. As you may have gotten a glimpse of through our blog posts this year, we as the full-time team have seen a lot, experienced a lot, grown a lot, served in a variety of ways, shared the gospel in many ways, laughed, cried, wondered, been encouraged, challenged, and been humbled over many things. There is just way too much to summarize in one blog post, so I hope that you understand this blog post only captures a fraction of what God has been doing and teaching us this year!
One of the things that we’ve been learning on the team is to practice the art of gratitude and giving thanks to God. We definitely cannot ignore the ways in which we’ve sinned, the regrets we have, or the ways we can be challenged to grow. However, in the midst of it all, God is still good. God has always been good. God will be good tomorrow and the day after. It is wise AND God-honouring therefore, for us to step back from ourselves and to thank God for all that he is and all that he has done this year. Through the Gospel of his son, we can experience true goodness in life. The treasure of union with Christ and God is made possible. And so it is good for us to think of God’s goodness in our lives.
So in light of this reality, I’ve asked our team this question: “What are you thankful for?“; “What’s one way you seen God’s goodness manifested this year?” (more…)
“7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith […]”
(Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
I think as Christians, we will struggle with this truth all of our lives. I think it’s a beautiful struggle though. Don’t get me wrong, to count ‘all things as rubbish’ is a hard thing, but in the process of doing so, we get to experience the releasing of worldly things and the consequent filling up of God’s presence, truth, peace, and hope in our lives.
I have been praying to God to help increase my faith in this way for the whole year, but God has put it on my heart more deeply recently, through some conversations I’ve had, and some other things I’ve had to lose too.
This past week, I’ve had two really meaningful conversations that have impacted me in this way. One of these was God giving me the opportunity to talk to and pray over a homeless street artist in Portland. He shared his heart to me about the loss he’s encountered in his life, but through it all, still having a faith rooted in God’s promise to provide for his people. This man learned to treasure all he was given through his loss. In a similar way, an older couple I stayed with recently, shared about the loss they had experienced in their lives and their declining physical health, but through it all, still holding onto the joy that comes from faithfully serving the Lord and walking in a relationship with Him. Through these conversations, I was humbled and broken at my lack of true trust in my sonship of the Most High God.
I myself have been convicted of the things I have consciously and subconsciously put my hope in over Christ. Whether it is in whatever certainty I have of plans after CTI, relationships with friends, my desire to be married and start a family, my knowledge, my health, my personality, my personal insecurities, or the pleasure I get from serving myself in sin. These things rob me of the joy I can have in walking with Christ and seeing every aspect of my life through the lens of the gospel.
Please pray for me and my team that we would learn to behold Christ as the ultimate treasure. Not only to know it as knowledge, but that the Spirit would work within us so that we grow to understand this beautiful truth. The song ‘All I Have is Christ’ (that was on the full-time repertoire last year) has really been ministering to me these past few weeks:
“Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way you choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You”
I’ve recently been reading a book called “The Will of God as a Way of Life” by Jerry Sittser and it’s been a really encouraging read. It’s reminded me of a lot of things I knew before, given me new insight into understanding this concept of ‘following God’s will’, pointed to what the Bible says about God’s will, and has shown examples of people following God’s will.
With three-quarters of our year being done, the question of what we will do after this year has become more pressing to the team. We all want to seek out God’s will for us in our lives – but many times, the ‘will of God’ seems like such an abstract concept; sometimes a catchphrase that is thrown around in Christian circles. Through the book, I’ve been reminded that most of God’s revealed will to mankind is found in the Bible. His revelation to us through the narrative of the gospel is what we should set our minds on. The Bible says a whole lot more about what God’s will for us is now than to worry about finding a ‘special path’ and living out some kind of extraordinary journey. Don’t get me wrong, taking seriously Jesus’ call to take up our crosses and follow him and to make disciples of all nations can lead us into some crazy life situations, but many times I find that I idolize the journey over the simple command to love the LORD with all I am right now. I idolize the gifts of the journey rather than the One who is the author and end goal of the journey.
In fact, Jesus specifically teaches us to not worry about the future and to not let it become a thing of distraction, doubt, and insecurity that interferes with our obedience to his commands in the present time. Seeking the glory of God in all things now (even the mundane things of life), humbling ourselves to the work of the Spirit to change us, and enjoying Him daily is God’s will for us right now. As he works within us, we will be made known of opportunities and opened doors that we can take. But, the book even suggests that even when we are confronted to make big life decisions (who will marry, what job we should take, where we should move, etc), we may never know if it is the exactly what we should be doing – there is a mysterious aspect of life that we must entrust to faith. All we can do is to prayerfully seek God, discern if things line up with Scripture, and be faithful to obey the commands God has already given us. If we trust in God’s sovereignty in his plan for salvation in sending Jesus, may we also trust him in his sovereignty over the details of our lives!
As we push on with the remaining 5 weeks of tour, pray for us that we would continue to put our hope in Christ alone, that the gospel would become even more precious to us as our source of joy, and that we would preach gospel boldly wherever we go, not being distracted by what may be in the future.
Greetings from Canada! Our team has had great few days of ministry and of rest in Canada so far. We’re approaching the final stretch of winter tour and we could not have done it if not for God’s grace and your prayers.
Recently, I’ve been learning more about the sufficiency of Christ – obviously in his sufficiency to save us, but also his sufficiency for our lives here on earth. I’ve been convicted in that many times I put more hope for the future in worldly things, albeit ‘good things’, but not God the Father. It’s easy to fall into the sin of thinking that the gospel is to make us ‘feel better’ or to make us ‘better people’, but that is missing the point of the gospel. The gospel is about the extravagant and scandalous grace and love of GOD to save us – his creation, from our depravity, so that we can be in his presence.
Two of the songs that we sing really hit on this point, and I am so glad that we get to play them, not only for those that we minister to, but ourselves. “Our Only Boast” talks about how our only boast should be in the cross and the work that was accomplished there by Christ – not in any work that we could do. “Christ is Enough” also makes this same point – Christ is enough for us and everything that we would ever NEED and WANT is in him.
God’s been teaching me through a variety of ways (like His Word, sermons, a John Piper book) and has been convicting me of areas in my life that I have not fully surrendered to Christ. I find many times that I will puff myself up with how good I am, or how I put my trust in my personality, my education, and my hopes for the future. I look forward to becoming a husband and father because I think it will bring me happiness – these things are good things, but I catch myself finding the same happiness if God were not in the picture as well. What I, and all of us fail to do is understanding that all we have is Christ. There is nothing truly good in and of ourselves – Christ is the source of all that is good.
As Christians, we obviously will struggle with this all throughout our lives, but in a way, it’s a beautiful struggle because as the Holy Spirit works within us through God’s grace, we will be made more and more free from the things of this world so that we can be made more like Jesus. We are free to struggle to joyfully submit our lives to the Father. In doing so, we will be freed to become who we were created to be – worshipers of the one true living God.
On an unrelated note, here’s a picture of the best host dog Kia, who is a Husky and German Shepherd mix.
One of the major themes for our team this tour is the one of trust. The hope is that trust will lead to a greater team unity. The vision of unity is a lofty goal for any church, ministry, or gathering of Christians, especially unity as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12. Our team has made strides in achieving this goal, by God’s grace – but there still is a lot of work to be done.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book called ‘Sound Doctrine’ by Bobby Jamieson, as part of the 9Marks Series (pardon my product placement). A passage I came across recently was very relevant to this theme of team unity. Not only does it speak to me about our fulltime team, who come from all sorts of backgrounds and have all kinds of preferences, it speaks to Christian living in general. Here’s what it says:
“Church unity is often fragile because it’s built from the wrong stuff. Unity around cultural customs and personal preferences is brittle; put a little pressure on it and it will shatter. But unity around sound doctrine is strong and flexible, like a sturdy wood-frame house built on a good foundation […]. Through the gospel – and only the gospel – our churches can display a unity that baffles the world. That unity, therefore, witnesses to the power of the gospel. […] The unity of the church displays God’s wisdom to all creation, including heavenly powers.”
Not only is the gospel for our salvation and our personal walks with God, but the living-out of our faith with other believers must also be seen through the lens of the gospel. Once we realise that we are all depraved sinners that have been saved by God’s grace alone, our preferences, personalities, and styles don’t seem to matter as much anymore. These things fade in comparison to the unifying basic truths of the gospel that we share and our biblical call to bear with one another in grace and forgiveness, as Christ does with us.
Please be praying for our team to grow and persevere as we dive deeper into this long winter tour! In the meantime, here are some pictures from our road stop in Utah on the way to New Mexico!