Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I highly recommend Spurgeon's Morning Devotional for today. I love his articulation on the effects of Grace. I also love his cake metaphor.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Facebook Break-Up

Things aren't working out so great between me and Facebook. What began as an exciting, interactive fling back in 2006 has dwindled down into a bi-weekly saunter through the cyber-doldrums. I thought at first it was just a faze, and then just a rough patch. But I'm like 97% convinced that we just aren't compatible any more. And if Facebook as taught me anything about breakups, its that it is always the other person's fault. This is a personal issue so please keep this information confidential, unless you don't feel like it.

1. Status Expectations
I think at one time, posting a new status a couple times a week felt pretty normal. But life isn't always as dynamic as Facebook wants it to be. I'm at a point in my life where I eat granola for breakfast, before working eight hours at a factory, and maybe homework in the evening if I'm feeling wild. But everyday Facebook is on my case to share more exciting things. Well, excuse me for liking routine! Facebook's incessant demand to know more about me is just the worst. The problem is communication. Too much of it. I'm changing my status to "over you"

2. Where have all the friends gone?
When we started out, Facebook is where I'd go to find out what's new with my friends. Now things are different. Now I find myself wondering who all these strange names belong to. Thanks to Facebook's scandalous history, half the people on there now go by middle names, fake names, and pet names. Not to mention that increasing wave of friends who have already signed off for good. Now I'm pretty sure half my news feed is consumed by distant, one-time acquaintances, friends-of-friends, and the profile that guy made for his dog that one time. I'm sure they're all nice people, but its always weird when Facebook knows all my "friends" better than I do. Facebook, consider yourself "unfriended".

3. Where have all the people gone?
Come to think of it, you don't even show me people's statuses any more. It's all about the links now. Just so you know, I have never liked these. Facebook, do you have any idea how weird this stuff sounds? Not to mention completely oversold? Let me bring it down to earth a little.

"This man enters a police station with a drum set. What happens next - Amazing! Predictable!"

"478 of the most adorable animal pictures ever. Number 267 had me rolling on the floor laughing! wondering why I ever thought this would be less tedious than counting my own arm hairs."

 "These children are about to sing the national anthem. By the time they finish, I was bawling! I had spent 3 minutes listening to these children sing the national anthem."

And then there's the quizzes. Since they are so important to you Facebook, I made one of my own. I call it, "Should I break up with Facebook"

Q1. Do you ever get really frustrated with Facebook and wonder if you're life would be better without it?
Image result for facebook memes
Yes                                       No

Test Results: If you selected yes, you should totally drop Facebook.

You just can't argue with research. The results are in FB. It's not me, it's you.

Your friend, one-time-acquaintance,

Jake Rivers

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Brawl

They often come in everyone's life, those formidable seasons in which you find yourself in a massive rumble against your heavyweight to-do list. Sure, you could hold yourself against a couple of opponents well enough, but now the ring is feeling a little crowded. Life has become one long tale of exertion as you tackle one obligation after another. Finished the long day at work? Now it's time for homework! Ten minutes to use the internet before dinner? Do you pay bills or get back to that person who emailed you a month ago... You know what it's like. It's reminiscent of those scenes from old cartoons, in which the protagonist finds himself at the bottom of a pile of thugs, getting the living daylights kicked out of him. Or, maybe it was just that giant dust cloud with random fists, legs, and "ker-pow!" signs leaping out. Either way, its hilarious out of context.

Much to my shame, in the "romp" that has spanned the past few months, I have left the goon representing "being a more diligent blogger" remain unharmed for far too long. It is now my intention to give him swift comeuppance in the form of a Norris-worthy, round-house-kick-of-a-blog to the face. A blog so fierce, it will make all the other brawlers weep. Here goes nothing...

The Contenders For My Time (in no particular order)

1. The Workplace
I suppose I can't complain too much, since the down season we're in has cut my hours down to almost part-time. But I am still not a morning person, and starting everyday at 6 AM has a way of compromising much of my daily productivity. Good News: Still a good job as far as general labor goes. Plus it's the only income we've had for a while now. Bad News: I still wear a dorky beard-net.

2. The Schoolwork
The Nostalgia of being back in school is still sweet, but the warm fuzzies of having homework last about as long as the bacon does on my plate. Good News: How sweet it is to be learning and equipping for ministry! It's a very tangible reminder that I have something to work for. Bad News: At my current rate of 1 course a semester, I will graduate Seminary roughly the same time my grandchildren graduate high school.

3. Relationships
To be honest I'm still riding the wave of getting caught up with everybody now that I'm back in Canada, so it's hard to look at this one like a burden. There aren't many people I'd be sad to have over for dinner more often. I think I honestly could work a full time job just spending time with my wife, my friends, my family, my acquaintances, strangers, etc...Good News: I'm trying to get into the habit of spending time with groups of friends instead of just individuals. Often, it maximizes both time and fun! Bad News: People have jobs and school and commitments and some live so far away from me. Jerks.

4. Misc. Life Stuff
Has anyone else noticed the tremendous need for a simplified way to transfer vehicle ownership? And what's with all the crazy fees? I'm sure I could understand it if I took the time into researching why it is the way it is, but my day is full so I choose embittered ignorance. High-speed internet finally arrived this weekend! Also, Visa bills need to go away for a few weeks. Good News: We're hoping to leave our apartment this Spring and rent a house! Bad News: I have a bad feeling that house acquisition may be slightly more complicated than it is for a used car.

5. Spiritual Discipline
Ya, its a struggle, but its the good kind of struggle. I'm getting more connected at the church, which is amazing, and am going to start teaching Sunday School in a few weeks, which is even cooler! Good News: As part of my "schoolwork" I'm able to sit under the wisdom of godly men and women such as John Newton and Katherine Parr, and be humbled by the grace of Christ demonstrated through their lives. Bad News: I have maintained the face-palm-inducing ability to read God's Word and close my heart to its message. Wow, I need Grace.

6. Personal Ambitions
I want to write a science-fiction novel. I'm OK if it doesn't happen before I'm 40, but I'd like to see it happen sooner, if possible. I'm also trying to stay healthy by exercising regularly. On this, I am convinced that you need to be very smart or very dumb to keep this up, because on your last day alive, you're still gonna die, no matter what. So, the way I see it, you either work-out in some degree of delusion, or you take care of that decaying piece of flesh because you know that it's what a good steward does. Good News: My wife is the greatest encourager. Bad News: people who write science-fiction are rarely interviewed in fitness magazines. I may have a conflict of interests.

So, now you have a guided tour through the jungle that is my to-do list. I hope you don't read this as a complaint or boast of how bad I've got it, or how important I feel. I'm sure most of you could make a list that eats this one for breakfast. I've never been the busiest person I know and I don't expect I ever will be. Really, in addition to articulating a concise list of what's going on in life for those I haven't had the chance to get caught up with in a while, I find writing stuff like this helps keep my mind a little more organized. Goodness knows I need it!


Jake Rivers

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Supper Reservations (John 6)

[Here's another older piece that you may find enjoyable. It's based upon a collection of notes from a sermon on John 6, which my pastor preached in the Fall of 2009. In this passage of scripture, Jesus has just miraculously fed over 5000 people, yet is faced with mass rejection because of the claims he makes about himself. The aim of these words is to contrast the worldviews of the Crowds, the Christ, the Disciples and the Reader. I hope you are blessed by them and are given a renewed appreciation for the glorious (to the point of offensive), Word of God.]

Am I here for bread?
It's kind of what you said,
Back by the lake if you recall, mister.
I must have missed your mastery of mystery pastry and scales!
(My pleasure!) On these scales, we'll measure your frail claims.

I really am hungry by the way...
Perhaps as we discourse,
a snack, pre-main course?
Just enough to keep me going!
(Heaven forbid your ministry slowing,
Over something so minor)
You want me as a loyal diner, right?
With devotion finer than even you could deserve!

Your awkward silence tells me you aren't going to serve...

Guess you weren't worth my time
I had my reservations,
Not in your revelation
You can keep your heavenly nation,
I was only here for salvation from my starvation

Everlasting bread!
He said I've been fasting when I should be feasting. 
Like the yeast, his kingdom's increasing, 
So fast I'm just not seeing!

He talks about his flesh and blood,
He talks of how he's meshed with God,
He looks to me as blessed and sought!
But my life's a mess, in case you forgot.

Conviction strikes like the cavalry's coming!
His summoning to Calvary is something he's already knowing!

They will mix him with bitter herbs,
Though this teacher spoke with the better words 

Throw the unleavened in the oven, after it's been flattened!
After three days this Christ is risen! 

Not like your stuffed-crust piety!
It's just 'cause you want a pie to eat, you're even talking to me!
While you are sitting, sniveling, 
You're forgetting you need delivering!

It's not just a one time delivery to save you from the Egyptians!
Are my words encrypted?
Or are your hearts decrepit?

Will you desert me too?
Before dessert is even served,
Will you choke on what you think you deserve?
This was never a joke,
Not these words I spoke!
This is my crescendo!
It's truth because I said so!

Master, to whom else could we go?
Fast or no fast, you have the words of life!
Though their offense cuts like a serrated knife!
Slice by slice, sometimes you aren't nice,
But we confess that you are right!

You water down nothing,
When my understanding's crumbling!
And I haven't yet seen you lifted on high!
It's hard to confess when my throat is dry...

My God save me from my treacherous cravings!
I need an extension on Grace Amazing
Even as my lips are talking,
My feet are pulled to begin walking

I am unknowing, my flesh unwilling!
I sometimes can't think past my stomach's filling
Yours was the blood, that is yours for the spilling

Christ, my flesh is unready for the walk and the fight
I rarely hunger for righteousness, like a true child of light
Have mercy and save me from my own apatite!


Jake Rivers

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bride of Christ

One of the great advantages to living in another country is the ability to gain a comparative look at how the church functions in a different culture. It's one of the reasons why cross cultural missions is so essential to the life and growth of the Church Universal. Sometimes an outsider is able to identify dangers that the home culture may be blind to. In a similar way, being part of a church here in Brasil has opened our eyes to areas that our own culture is weaker in (i.e. hospitality). As a major purpose of our mission to Brasil is evaluating our future ministry endeavors, it made sense to compile a short, comparative description of ministry strengths and weaknesses in here in Brasil and our home country of Canada. While in no way scholarly, the accounts are the sum of our first-hand observations, as well as the input given from those who have spent most of their lives in Brasil. (If you are of the more academic inclination, I will happily look into finding some accurate sources on the subject at your request.)

[Note: Jesus loves his Church and his followers are expected to do likewise. My reflections are written to be diagnostic, not demeaning. The implication throughout should be, "how can I best serve the church to meet this need?"] 

What is the future of the Brazilian Church?
Brasil is a country with an exceptionally high percentage of Christians. Churches are everywhere and seem to maintain a lot of reverence, even among non-Christians. One missionary told us that the Evangelical representation is around 20% of the population! However, it is a relatively shallow faith. While growth is common, the Brazilian church is very inward focused, with little concern for seeing the gospel reach other nations. (Brazilian in general has been described as mono-cultural) Brazilians don't mind signing up to be missionaries, provided they are able to do so within their own country. This is especially tragic considering how many professing Christians there are and how financially wealthy many of the churches are. Nevertheless, their passion is incredibly strong! Like any living organism, if the Brazilian church does not learn how to reproduce by planting churches globally, it may eventually grow cold, self-obsessed, and fade into history.

Summary: Brazilian church is passionate, extensive, and powerful, but the drive to use that influence to bring the Gospel to unreached nations is frail. The Church needs to be discipled to use the means given them to serve beyond themselves. The potential to see the nations reached through the faithfulness of the Brazilian church is great.

In contrast, ministry in Canada is a completely different world. Like Europe, Christianity is almost a thing of the past. In many circles, professing to be a Christian can be tantamount to admitting mental deficiency, (if not outright ideological terrorism). In many ways, Christianity has been dying in Canada and the church is abandoning it's mission. On a cultural note, the societal changes in our home country have expanded the demographic to include people groups and subcultures from around the whole world. This means there is a breakdown of cultural barriers already embedded into the Canadian conscious, a strategic advantage for ministry done in Canada. Although, the percentage of Christians seems far less in Canada then Brasil, the churches in Canada that do exist, are much more engaged in the practice of planting churches and sending missionaries to other nations.

Summary: Canada is riding the wave of change and the Church must remain firm in her theology and flexible in her methodology. Faithful preaching can (and is) seeing a ripple effect of influence across the globe. To be a faithful Christian in Canada demands an active love for people, locally and globally, but with a deep knowledge of scripture, lest the message be dismissed as irrelevant jargon.

If you have any further comments about how to pray for and strengthen the church in either of these countries, I'd love to hear them! Also, if you are from (or have spent considerable time within) another country, I'd love to hear your description of what God is doing there as well.

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,"
- Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

How can we best love and serve God's people?


Jake Rivers

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spiritual Fruit-Flies

[The following is taken from a reflection I wrote in the summer of 2009. The grace of God is as real today as it was then. Enjoy!]

It all started when I finally got around to cleaning the kitchen...

The tension between the fruit flies and myself over who had dominion over my kitchen was reaching the boiling point. It had happened a few times this summer, where we had let the kitchen go a week or so without cleaning and then the annoying little bugs would start to show up. Usually the method of retaliation just called for an hour of cleaning and then the fruit flies would (I assume) die of scurvy soon after. Lately however, the consequences of uncleanliness were becoming more severe. The days got hotter, the kitchen stayed dirtier longer, and the fruit flies began distributing war propaganda amongst their own kind. This called for more drastic means of subjugation. Why clean the mess when you can simply trap the fruit flies in a container with a piece of fruit, toss the whole thing in the freezer and watch them drop...like flies?

Well, sending 'em to the cooler was fun, but obviously the solution was a thorough and sustained cleaning. Actually, I love cleaning kitchens. I find there's something therapeutic, maybe even spiritual about it. It was during this long clean yesterday afternoon, listening to MC Hammer and scrubbin' away that I started to see the first parallels to the Christian experience. You can probably guess what I'm thinking. Before Christ, life is a mess and then when the Holy Spirit convicts us, we are driven to pursue that ongoing redeeming process, which some call progressive sanctification; the idea that we are not perfect but that we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit to be at work in us until we die, and then we shall be like our savior (1 John 3:2)! It's a great truth, one of my favorites!

But here's where I want to camp out for a bit before moving on, because I think there is another half to this truth, that doesn't get its fair share of air time. We as Christians love talking about progressive sanctification predominantly when we got our hands in the sink. When we have screwed up our courage, accepted conviction, (forwent lunch in my case), and got into the fray, we can talk about perfection in progress, cause we're seeing it and touching it as we speak. We step out in faith to take on a challenge and God is right there providing for our needs as we go. What a good day to be a Christian!

The reality is though, our perceptions of progression and perfection are often drastically different from those of the God we serve.

An hour later, I went back into the kitchen for a long anticipated supper in my clean kitchen. I had chicken ready to be grilled and taters, cheese, and veggies in abundance! When I stepped into the kitchen and turned on the lights I was unpleasantly surprised to find that the population of fruit flies that had contentedly been spread out in the apartment had amassed on the grill I was intending to use, doubtless hungry for whatever in the kitchen still had a trace of food smell on it.

It was in that moment that the realization and frustration prodded my mind that if I had let the mess remain, I wouldn't have had half as many flies in my way. Spread out they were bothersome, but when they descended like a cloud in the one area I wanted to make food, it reached the point of aggravation! There was nothing left that I could clean to make them go away. The ambition and the fervor of that afternoon was gone and I know that too many people know exactly what that feels like.

This is inevitable to all who seek to follow Christ, for as we strain for godliness and freedom from the entanglement of sin, there always comes that moment where we expect specific results and instead we get slapped up with a reminder of how far we still have to go. And I know a lot of people who are probably in a place like that right now in their spiritual walk. They've hit the ground running and they've stepped out in faith, and everyone's on board and life is being transformed, you turn a corner and suddenly,


We're in over our heads. My prayers aren't "working". Evil has taken the upper hand and I'm slipping.

And can I'll be honest with you, I wouldn't have even bothered with the first half of this post, if it wasn't for this part right here. Cause you probably don't need to hear that from me. You don't really need to be encouraged about progressive sanctification when you are seeing that transformation take place before your eyes. What I'm concerned for in my own life and in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters is the tendency we have to loose faith and to withdraw when the situation gets bleak, as if somehow God were ashamed of us and needed some space.

What a sick thought...

Remember when he saved you? Was it cause you were outstandingly clean or moral? Or was it in the moments of your greatest depravity that he dared called you lovable? And I'm not writing this to deny that we do have a responsibility to pursue Christ or to spell out how this valley and hill experience works, but my heart is aching for those of us who are entertaining the thought that maybe we somehow disqualified God's progressive sanctification.

And I know that this kind of issue is difficult to address on a wide scale so I'm not going to try, but my confidence is that Jesus Christ is our savior today as much as he has ever been. And I will encourage us to take greater stock in his word that he will never leave nor forsake us. We're going to make it!

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

And for the record, dinner last night (eventually) was incredible and with a small piece of peach, I was able to kill 75 fruit flies with one strike from my sandal! (I even took a picture on my phone!) Well, that's it for today's analogy. If you've been able to keep up, I thank you kindly!

Shalom until next time!

Jake Rivers
August 17, 2009

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Free Inside!

Something wonderful happened to me the other day. It was kind of moment you never quite see coming, but when it does, you wonder if you could ever forget it.

Brown is Chocolate, Red is...Power?
OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. Let's go back to Monday when I selected a new cereal at our local Brazilian supermarket. Now generally, I try to play it modest when it comes to hyper-sweet, kid's cereal. Heck, for a few years I was putting down bran cereal like it was my job! But to this day, I remain quite partial to the occasional "Start your day with a sugar rush!".

Living in Brasil has meant learning to adjust to a whole new world of brands and flavors. Typical Brazilians do not commonly eat cereal, which leads to a pretty lean selection, for a steeper price. Thus, I was quite pleased to discover a rising assortment of the "Sugar flake" variety, which, in agreement with corporate opinion, are not just good, but are indeed, "Grrrrrrrrreat! In fact, it appears Brasil is a few brands ahead of the Canadian market when it comes to these pseudo-corn confections.

Seriously, I can hear a Top Ten list forming
in my head, just looking at that bear...
This time around, I decided to forgo the beloved steroid-stricken tiger for for something new...In this case, what appears to be the answer to the riddle of what you'd get if you crossed an animated polar bear with Jay Leno.

Anyways, the real adventure came as I popped the box open yesterday morning and was met with a tsunami of nostalgia.

A "Free-Inside" Hot Wheels! (The kind that drives when you pull it back)

I know, right? Totally awesome! In one moment, I was transported right back to those moments of sweet vindication that make childhood worthwhile. [Now, I have to admit, the car was contained in a separate package from the cereal, which defeats the whole purpose of searching through the cereal to get the prize, but in that moment, it was nothing but pure thrill!]

Then came the cold dose of reality:

"I have no use for a Hot Wheels car! What am I going to do with this thing? I have enough clutter in my apartment back home...Oh well, I suppose I can always just give it away to some kid here in Brasil..."

But after I finished my hummingbird-worthy breakfast, I came upon a new discovery...This little guy comes with "Do-It-Yourself" stickers! You know what that means!

"Ashleigh! Cancel my appointments for the next five minutes, I have a ride to pimp!"

Let me tell you, man. I stuck those stickers. With precision enough to make an artist weep, I placed those 17 minute bad boys like a boss. Soon I was holding up my finished creation for the world to behold. She was a beauty. She was perfect. She was...mine?

Oh crud...

It wasn't just those black and orange stickers that found themselves attached to my little car. Like a sentimental fool, I'd gone and instilled value in something I was planning to just give away.


Well, I suppose I have a tough decision ahead of me...So, at this point, I'd like to put the question out there,

Q1: What would you do in my situation?

Q2: Have you ever found yourself outrageously attached to something ridiculously silly? If so, what is it?

Let me know your thoughts,


Jake Rivers