Sunday, December 19, 2010

Transitional Blog (With Commentary!)

Fact: It's been almost four months since my last blog.
Fact: A lot worth blogging about has taken place in the past four months.
Fact: I'm the type who feels that if I go this long without posting, my next blog should be totally worth the wait and unparalleled in profoundity.
Fact: I can't think of anything particularly profound at the moment.
Fact: I think a quick recap (plus commentary) is the best I can do for now
Fact: The following facts are, in fact, all factual

1. Job/apartment search (Early August): Lots of time on the internet sending out mass resumes and cover letters. End result is a one bedroom apartment over Ernie's in downtown Hespeler and a job at Boehmer Box in Kitchener. Lessons learned: This would have been a REALLY good time to have voice mail/caller ID. Also remember to double check you're sending the right cover letters to the right jobs...

2. The new apartment (End of August): After 5 years, I finally move out of dorm. Top five things I took for granted during these years:
a) shower curtains
b) toilet seats
c) roommates to borrow from
d) bedroom curtains
e) halls that don't smell like marijuana/dog poo/cat pee/leprosy

Perks = a nice view, a new fridge, and a visit from the toilet seat fairy*

*The one who sneaks in while you're sleeping and installs a new toilet seat in your bathroom without giving any notice. Creepy has never been so convenient!

3. New Job (End of August): Box factory. I start the day picking up boxes and putting them on skids. Repeat for 12 hours. What's in the boxes? More smaller boxes. What happens to those boxes? Probably just get thrown out as soon as you get home. I can't see TV dinner packaging having very long longevity.

4. Marriage (End of October): Amazing. Started amazing and keeps getting better. Wedding was the best, dance was awesome, my guys were great and Ash is a total babe who makes the best eggnog ever. Much more on the awesomeness of marriage can be said and can be expected in future posts.

5. Honeymoon in the DR (Early November): Banana Colada's are amazing. Beaches were closed most of the time and you need to check frequently when the 24/7 snack bars are open or you'll end up coming when they're closed a lot. Great Lasagna, great waves, great lizards, great wife, great memories.

6. Since then... : Lot's of unpacking, eating, errand running, and DEFINITELY lots of learning. I love being married to Ashleigh. Apart from coming to know Christ, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us next!

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me!



Friday, July 30, 2010

Robots in Disguise!

Today, while at work I experienced on of the most terrifying moments of my life. Don't ask me how I came to it, but I actually feared for a full 3 seconds that I might genuinely be a robot designed to imitate human emotions and feelings. Fortunately my fears were quickly calmed by the immense unlikelihood of the notion. Yet I'm still left with that lose-lose situation afterthought that I'm either stuck with possession of a brain that actually take a full 3 seconds to debunk a self-robotic-hypothesis,...or just perhaps...

(3 seconds later)

No, never mind...

However unrelated, this whole bit of nonsense reminds of me of some very good sense!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is; His good, pleasing, and perfect will." Romans 12:2




Thursday, July 29, 2010

Selling Out Ft. Dragonflies

Dragonfly Fact: A dragonfly nymph begins life as a water dwelling creature, completely incapable of life outside of the pond. Yet inescapably, it must at some point in its adolescence, climb a branch, out of the water, dry its aquatic body out in the sun, and crawl out of its old skin, let its newfound wings expand, and from then on, embrace life as a creature of the sky.

Ok, so maybe it sounds a bit lame, but can I be completely honest and make an open confession? I love grocery shopping! Actually it runs worse than that! I love that I get to plan out meals ahead of time and scan flyers for the best deals in order to make the most of my time. It then goes without saying that I love having an amazing brand-used '97 Chev Cavalier in which I can do my grocery shopping and drive to work in. Furthermore, I love the responsibility of keeping my car clean, cared for and kept. Even though work itself is frustratingly boring some days, I can't deny that I am so grateful to God for the Opportunity to work and make a little money! I love that I can sit at my desk for several hours a month, tracking and budgeting every penny, cause I'm counting on each one. I love that I will be moving soon (hopefully) to a new apartment, which will later become the first home for myself and my beloved bride-to-be! I love that even after 14 months of being together, the thought of making dinner, doing dishes or reading together still bestows upon me Excitement!

And I can't explain why these otherwise completely ordinary, day-to-day changes captivate me to such a degree, but I strongly suspect the continual joy of knowing HIM for whom I labour, might have something to do with it! I really did wonder a lot when I was younger and observing these transitioning dragonflies, how in the name of God did these creatures attempt to grasp the metamorphosis before them? To become to completely OTHER, yet still maintain those traces of sameness. At the same time of observing dragonflies, I would find myself wondering how on earth I would face transition of responsibility when the time came. Maybe most of us wonder. Well, here I go now!

It's definitely scarier than I could have imagined!

Plus, it's more of an ongoing change than I anticipated.

And I have far more questions than I ever have before.

Well, I don't know if this means I'm "selling out", but if embracing the adult world of work and responsibility with anticipation and joy labels me as such, I will happily bare the title. Life is short. And ALL of it is precious!

Whether underwater,

in the air,

or anywhere In Between...



Friday, July 16, 2010

Carpe Diem

He didn't need to of course. It certainly was not to imply that I was any more deserving than others. But God decided to bless me today. When I finished work at 3:00 PM this afternoon, and stepped out into the hot sunshine to walk to my car, I realized I had been blessed. For exactly where my car was parked, at that exact time, a tall narrow ventilation shaft was casting a perfect shadow across my drivers seat. Almost every other car was roasting in direct sunlight. The rising sun still had trapped heat within my small car, but as I took the wheel, there was no denying that a little shade goes a long way! Barely a meter long, probably with only a half hour lifespan, but that shadow was a sweet gesture from a loving Father. Along with everything else in all creation, it was made, so that God would be glorified. Just one of the thousands of blessings I'm sure I overlook everyday. So, here's one blessing that, even though small, deserves some worshipful gratitude!
So I will praise Him!


Jake Rivers

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Birthday Party

I don't know that I've ever been the "birthday type", despite my regular practice. It's almost as if there was a missing vital piece of information that is needed for the celebratory implications of a birthday to make practical sense. With variations ranging from anxiousness to full fledged mortification at the fleetingness of life, I still maintain that core perspective on birthdays that suggests a deer caught in headlights. This brings to mind the little joke that birthdays are worse than cigarettes because it's easier to get hooked and it doesn't take as many to kill you.

In all honesty I have fears about entering into each new year. There is so much hurt that comes in life and I sometimes feel like I haven't finished healing from the previous before heading into the next. The hope in opportunity is a double edged sword.

The time in between birthdays is when people die. It's when they fall away. It's when they make simple, hurtful mistakes like I did today when I said simple, hurtful things. In exile, we still remain.

But wonder of wonders, our God and Judge calls us to be a people of celebration. Even in jail cells, even in mountain caves, even in the midst of this present evil age. Because He still gifts lavishly. Not just breath, sunshine, love, and food, but His own presence and infinite grace. His calling us to celebrate, causes us to demonstrates how we view Him in our hearts. For to truly celebrate ANYTHING authentically in this life, is to declare that He is greater than any of powers in this world that can take it away. It is no waste for my to celebrate another blessed year of life, even during that year of my life in which death and suffering will makes its painful interruption for me. Through the cross of Christ, I am able to claim victory over death. How futile the forces of evil that think they can match the mercies of our Lord! No, this is only one day out of many, in which we defiantly celebrate our total victory, mid-battle!

Because He lives,
I can face tomorrow!
Because He lives,
All Fear is gone!

Because I know,
He Holds the future,
And life is worth a living,
Just because He lives!

Oh, yes we celebrate! The Party is our eternal destination. And good parties, you don't wait until you get there to be excited for them!


Jake (25 years young!) Rivers

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Salt and Pepper

For quite some time Ashleigh has been tantalizing me with tales of the Brazilian table. Meat, beans, rice, and so many other wonderful ingredients...I finally had the privilege of enjoying my first Brazilian meal today thanks to the aforementioned, ever-talented finacee! She was definitely right about one thing: They don't go easy on the salt and pepper!

We followed our late lunch with a beautiful afternoon-evening of rest, walking, loving, and talking. The wonderful thing about Ash is we can talk about anything. Sometimes simple, sometimes serious. There are some days where it just feels so good to be alive. Other days the weight and messiness of this broken world seems to turn even the warmest summer day cold. Its not just a weight of the past. There's the confusion of today and the fear of the future to further complicate this crazy life.

Today wasn't a hard day, but it definitely had some hard moments.

Just like it had some beautiful, amazing, heart-stirring moments.

All in the same day.

The subsequent angst reminds me of when I was younger, and how I would eat all my veggies first, so I could enjoy the meat for last! I think if I had my choice, I would want to reapply that tactic: Just deal with all the hard days in life first, and then kick back let the good times roll! However, here I am, picking at the messy parts of life, like they were intrusive vestiges of egg shell in my fry pan.

It is hard today. And there are many more hard days I'm already seeing on the horizon. I'm not trying to discredit all the blessing, but in Christ's name, I am looking forward to the day when He finally does away completely with the power of sin.

But for now, as I continue this heart-breaking, heart-melting, beautiful journey with my beautiful bride-to-be, I will resolve again to treasure every step we are given together. After all, I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with, as we face the ceaseless spate that falls from the heavens. Sometimes, cascading, sometimes dribbling. In this rain we shall party, as life drops upon us good days and bad days; life and death. A little salt, and a little pepper.

The Master Chef is knows what he is doing. He always does.

After all, He made Ashleigh. And a scrumptious dish like that, does not happen by accident!


Jake Rivers (who is "hooked" on his Ash for life!)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Love-Train of Thought

The choices! The options! The unceasingly overwhelming selection! A young engaged couple stood in the midst of the Cambridge Sears, scan gun in hand and shower and wedding gifts on their minds. How long did it take before the confusion began to erode communication, and subsequently cohesion? Who would have guessed planning a wedding/life together would reveal so much about my own sinfulness?

But praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ for display furniture, on which couples may escape to, to be honest about their feelings!

How fitting it is that among a thousand and one gifts, I'm marrying the best one. Whether she sees or not, God has given her so much patience and so much grace to give. Not that she always feels it, but there is no question that God has given her the discipline to bear with a confusing and frustrating sinner named Jake and to do so with love.

I don't think I'll ever know why for sure, but she loves me enough to desire my last name to be her own, even though I've forced it into Santa's naughty list irrevocably a thousand times over. She runs through my mind, despite its contamination. She feels safe in my arms despite the blood on my hands. She believes grace can win.

How great are you God, who plants seeds of love in sinful soil! Thank you for the gift of Ashleigh; for being able to spend one more amazing day with her today.



Jake Rivers

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holla for a Dolla

Oh dear,

I spent far too much of this afternoon fretting over income, rent, gas money, and other unforeseen expenses. It's as if I'm on my way to becoming a typical Canadian "grown-up". Why we ever decided to synonym worry with maturity, I'll never know...

Sure it's fine to trust God with childish fears and adolescent battles, but heaven forbid I let God come between me and my coveted grown up worries!


God, watch over my life and provide for my needs.

God, protect me from the temptation to worry.

Father God, please save me from the folly that mistakes worry for wisdom!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!


Jake Rivers

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nomadic Rearrangements

For the 3rd time in the past 6 months I have had my room situation altered, and subsequently rearranged. I spent about 4 hours moving around furniture in my room and loved every minute of it! You see, for the sake of irony, the interior design genius of my mother and sister has taken hold within me as well!

For those who have lived with me in dorm, I don't feel I'm out of place, saying my room setups always look pretty dang tasty! After 5 years in dorm, I know how to work the angles in these ever-so-versatile apartments. Of course before I can toot my own horn any further, it is worth recalling that I will be moving out in less than two months and the joy of my current setting shall be lost again...

It really seems there is a lot of change going on (and in particular), change with a lot of uncertainty! Where will I be living? Where will I be working? Where am I getting married? Which Mission organization do we join? Which country are we serving long term?

...I really don't know. But would you believe that living a life of devotion and obedience to Christ sometimes gets a little nomadic? name a few...

Even with the strong, soul rendering instruction from the Most High God may leave the day-to-day details up to faith. He called Abraham to leave his home and travel to a new land, but as far as I know, that may have been the extent of the details for such a complex trip. But that "silence" does not mean He was unconcerned. For He does not remain silent if He is still providing day by day; revealing Himself little by little. Ask me what questions He HAS answered over the past few weeks and then try telling me I'm lost in a desert!

Lost? Definitely not. Even though I have no idea where I am most days.

I'm following.


Jake Rivers

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cross-Centered Authenticity

I sometimes really like seeing what I look like in the mirror.
Some days not so much.
I have a healthy body, a good beard and an obnoxious collarbone.
I sometimes feel like I'm all legs.
On the unseen side of my green eyes come deep and intricate thoughts.
I am complicated.
There is so much I want to learn and experience.
I'm really smart too.
More than I ever thought I would be growing up.
I hurt really easily too and I sometimes find it hard to control my emotions.
I cry too easily.
I love my sense of humour and I am so good at making myself laugh!
Sometimes I think a thousand years would not be enough time to accomplish all that I want to experience.
Some days I hate being alive.
I'm slow at making decisions.
I love eating exotic foods and traveling to exotic places.
I want to be a husband and a father.
I am quick to judge other people because they are different.
I give good hugs.
I love stories.
I still struggle with a lot of guilt from my past.
I let people down.
I put myself first most of the time.
I put myself down too often.
I need to lighten up.
I need to have more dance parties.
I love analogies.
I hate my lack of self-control.
I love my friends.
I love the blessing of accountability.
I don't trust me.
I am interesting.

I really like me.


I'm really broken.


I am precious and depraved.

I am a sinner saved by grace.
I am purchased by God.
This is who I am.

Nothing overshadows the significance of the cross. The horrific, physical death of the Son of God is the crossroad where the depth of my sin and offense was met and conquered by the unfathomably great power of God Almighty. Where is there reason to have fear or guilt? Where is the room for boasting? Without the cross I would be forced to reside on one of two wrong sides in my understanding of who I am.

The wickedness of Jake Rivers was so great and so real that the slaughter of the Son of God himself was the only way I could be saved.

But He really did die for all those things.
Even __________!
Paid in full.

And his resurrection proved that my sin and the sin of the whole world was stripped of its power to condemn me.

I can't be me without the cross.
I can't embrace goodness of who God made me to be without confronting the hellish reprobation that is just as truly "Jake" as anything else is.
And vice versa.
The catholicity of who I am comes down to a Christ imputed righteousness.

And that that makes me happy!

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor 2:2)



Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Is there a theology to feeling yucky? C.S. Lewis once likened the fundamental human dissatisfaction in God, to a child playing in the mud, refusing to enjoy a venture to the ocean. We are quick to overlook the great things of God, as we are too easily amused with ordinary, temporal things. Well, as it goes without saying that even the redeemed are prone to discontentment, a change does take place in regards to the delights we now find misplaced. Sin just doesn't satisfy the way it used to!

I once described a spiritually dry period as being less enjoyable than eating a bag of raw flour. Today was like drinking day-old oatmeal through a straw. Ew! One of the best and worst things about being a Christian is that it takes almost all the fun out of sin.

On a related note, today is a special day because it marks 9 years since the day God saved me and brought me into his family. The part I couldn't figure out (among others) is how exactly (if at all) does one celebrate that on each anniversary? Well, I never really got to far with that question because the day has now ended and the end result was that I opted (through my actions) to aim low for godliness. I just really dropped the ball on this one...

Don't you hate it though, when the regret precedes the retrospect?

Am I still so human that I can spend a day, aware that I'm missing out on my figurative ocean adventure, yet all the while resigning myself to the mud pile? I do selfish thoughts like its my job, all the while knowing how great the freedom that is in Christ! And yes, some days it is almost impossible for us to raise up out heads to praise God in the face of the brokenness of this world, but I am not in that boat! I have it so good right now! I am blessed so deeply with a beautiful fiancée, a college degree, a new full time job (as of today!) and a thousands more blessing! But even the presence of gifts as wonderful as these, is not going to make me impervious to a wallowing tendency.

I sit when I should stand; wallow, when I ought to run away. I think part of me still practices avoidance to any semblance of the concept, that Jesus Christ needed to die on the cross because there is no other way in all creation to pay for offense of my laziness and disinterest. It was obviously pretty serious to God...

I have a lot to think over for tonight...starting with how to get the imprint of a fence off my butt!



Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Crux

Unlike the vast, unparalleled majority of unnoticed sea creatures that have ever lived, my recently acquired Betta Fish, dubbed Jean-Jacques Rousseau (AKA Raisin) is unique in that he has a name. It makes me wonder at what the odds must be against a fish receiving a name. With over 31,500 species of fish filling the, over two thirds of our planet, comprised of water, I can't help but wonder if it ever seems a bit remarkable that this fish in particular now finds himself on a shelf in a third story apartment in Canada and not in a shallow rice paddy in Vietnam, from where his ancestry is traced. The interesting thing about Betta's is that they are bottom dwellers, or rather, they inhabit shallow waters and can survive in cramped conditions in which other fish cannot.

I finally got around to cleaning Rousseau's tank this afternoon. It was certainly in need of it, particularly the dangerously low water level, which made it very difficult for me to remove Rousseau from the tank without causing him a great deal of stress. There is no question that the move was for his own good. But how do you really communicate that to a fish? It descends into its filthy, shallow water like it was heaven... he is, after all, simply a fish. A creature of astonishing frailty, no understanding, and limited memory.

Later on this evening, Rousseau and I were listening to a John Piper sermon that reiterated that crucial question of whether we find our joy in God making much of us, or in God, through the life and death of his son, freeing us to be able to find our joy in glorifying him.

I don't suppose it's much good denying that I have been seriously struggling with that as of late. Life is so full of loud, beautiful, exciting things. It is so easy to view God as a means to making much of my life rather than the other way around. The crux is however, that's not just something I can do mentally. There are so many times like right now, when submission and delight for God seem as favourable as a fishnet. It's so subtle, but over time, the more I immerse myself in the love of Jake, the less I want to let God in.

This is the difference between me and Rousseau, for I can consciously understand that JESUS is BETTER; the GOSPEL is BETTER; and HOLINESS is BETTER, but I am not in the slightest any further ahead than he when it comes to perfect control over my desires. I can think of ways to get myself more into the word, more time in prayer, and more time journaling or blogging, but none of that IS the POWER to refine my desires. I see enslavement where I want to see freedom.

How precious are the words of Christ in John 15, that He is leaving us the Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever we ask! For this is the crux upon which everything rests! If my savior has NOT the power to transform the most foundational hungers in my being, so that everything in my being cries out YES to his glorification ahead of my own, than He saves nothing!

Unlike Rousseau, I probably need this cleansing far more frequently. And that being in the understanding that it will continue as long as I draw breath. But know this, oh my soul. Know these words of Christ: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is to my Father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8-9)

The one who speaks these words is faithful and true. He is the savior of the bottom dwellers. He grants a deeper, holier hunger to the fixated and frustrated. Like Rousseau, today I have been rocked by routine transformation.