poitu varam

THE CHRONICLES OF A FLEDGLING MISSIONARY CALLED JOLLYBEGGAR "i still gaze fondly at all of the pictures, drink ginger beer, bunch my food, listen to punjabi dj tunes, play my dholki, wear my sarong (around the house only because in canada it is still really uncommon for a man to wear a wraparound skirt in public) and speak way too much of the differences between east and west..."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


here are the blogs that were rolling along, chronicling the faith/decision-making process as i tried to figure out what to do with a phonecall from God... aren't all conversations with God epic?:

-->post: "at a table for three"
*note: originally posted on april 27, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

"scientist, poets, painters and writers are all members of the same family of people whose gift it is by nature to take those things which we call commonplace and re-present them to us in such ways that our self-imposed limitations are expanded...

the wu li master dances with his student. the wu li master does not teach, but the student learns. the wu li master always begins at the centre, at the heart of the matter."
(gary zukav- the dancing wu li masters)

life is a dance toward God
(don miller- prayer and the art of volkswagen maintenance)

i just got back from breakfast with a wild-eyed missionary friend who is in his tent-making phase before launching into another six-months of God-busy which will take him from june until Christmas. although i did not feel that there was a human agenda being brought to the table, it became very clear that today was one of those 'you and me at a table for three' moments because God pulled up a chair.

i kinda wonder what Jesus would have been like to have breakfast with, because often when God pulls up a chair strange things start happening to the conversation.

anyway, before i get to that, i need to share something that i read on the same day as my eventful breakfast, posted by a sincerely insane friend of mine that i've always called 'bignose' since we watched monty python's life of brian together. why share it rather than link it? just because i know how many links i click on...
from grantley morris:
Our Leader's behavior shocked the religious establishment.

Christ partied with crooks, drunks and sluts. A prostitute kissed his feet. He did things on the Sabbath he wasn't supposed to. He insulted dignitaries, calling them vipers, blind fools, whitewashed tombs and other endearing names.

Those closest to him usually had no idea what he was talking about - he's warning them about the Pharisees and they think he's complaining about leaving the bread behind - but to those outside his inner circle, Christ wasn't nearly so intelligible.

He was acknowledged by demons and rejected by theologians.

He spoke to a fever, a tree, even a storm.

Before long, Jesus' sanity was called into question and at one stage his family came to take charge of him. He was forever messing up funerals, wrecking beggars' only source of income - their infirmities - and outraging religious leaders.

He made goo with spit and smeared it on a beggar's eyes. He stuck his fingers in a man's ears, spat, and grabbed the man's tongue.

How many churches would tolerate such ludicrous behavior? He took a short-cut across the lake - without a boat. He sent two thousand swine hurtling to their death. He physically assaulted temple workers.

No one - whether friends, family, admirers; devout, legalistic or lax - could agree with him for long.

Where are the creative, madcap warriors today? Are we patterning ourselves after a bunch of straight laced marshmallows who repel the creative and outlandish?

we were talking pleasantly when the nature of our conversation suddenly changed from to regular to revolutionary. the following ideas poured into my ears and then back out onto the paper through the mechanical pencil clutched in my soft middle class hand.

"the congregation uses leaders as an excuse to NOT do, to NOT give, to NOT..."

"as a church, why don't we do something in the world? why don't we step out of the land of ideas?"

"be able to challenge people from a deeper place to a deeper place..."

i believe that i was in the presence of a wu li master- one who has mastered the patterns of organic energy. dancing by my side, my friend invited me into a place that i had been before, only this time i was here inside out, and therefore my insides were able to take note of what God was saying without all the self-imposed limitations that my outsides tend to impose.

now i have to decide what to do with the learning.

--->post: "metallica, monty, napoleon and ozzy"
*note: originally posted may 4, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

...and with dust in throat I crave
only knowledge will I save
to the game you stay a slave
rover wanderer
nomad vagabond
call me what you will

but I'll take my time anywhere
free to speak my mind anywhere
and I'll redefine anywhere
anywhere I may roam
where I lay my head is home
(wherever i may roam- hetfield/metallica, '91)

as i walked in the sun this morning i was thinking about freedom.

freedom is one of those things that we cherish, although our limited experience with big picture perspective and life in general renders our understanding of it a bit shallow.

one of the things that results in a knee-deep comprehension of what it means to be free is the preoccupation with ourselves. as navel-gazers, we fixate upon the things that we value and fight for our freedom to continue to enjoy them, good or bad- it's just the way we are as a species. by our fallen nature, we are habitual and therefore arrested in our ability to see beyond where we are and what we are unhappy with far enough to embrace the mind of God.

to make it worse, the pious ones that are earnest in their pursuit of personal holiness and the realization of God's will for them can be so fearfully preoccupied with themselves that they continually do all this faithless back-peddling whenever their prayers come close to approximating the kind of conversation which touches the heart of God.

at least it is that way with me-
pious or pompous (depends on the day, really.)

'if it is your will...'
'if it will bring you honour'
'if you see fit to grant...'
'if it pleases you...'

these phrases ring through our prayers like verbal shock absorbers, putting big fluffy mittens on hands that are called to action and big fluffy scarves over lips that were made to speak truth. it's as if we are so careful to not speak our own(?) ideas for fear of somehow being selfish or pushy that we become intollerably (and vainly) vague when we speak with God.

this must drive God crazy.

'just spit it out!' he probably longs to thunder from the heavens. if God wasn't so loving and patient he would no doubt become that brusque king in the clouds portrayed in monty python and the holy grail: (www.intriguing.com/mp/_scripts/grail.asp )

GOD: Arthur! Arthur, King of the Britons! Oh, don't grovel! One thing I can't stand, it's people groveling.
ARTHUR: Sorry.
GOD: And don't apologize. Every time I try to talk to someone it's 'sorry this' and 'forgive me that' and 'I'm not worthy'. What are you doing now?!
ARTHUR: I'm averting my eyes, O Lord.
GOD: Well, don't...

i mean, reverence is one thing, but this is like we apologize for even trying to exercise the freedom of relationship that Jesus died to set up between us. israel's king david, called a man after God's own heart, was painfully honest in his prayers, many of which were published in the hebrew hymnal called psalms. the prophets of the old testament communicated the messages of God to an unbelieving or spiritually aloof people through harsh words and wild actions, unencumbered by whether this was going too far or that was too seeker-hostile.

but many of us know all of this already, yet continue to live lives, not of quiet desperation but of cautious distemper- so afraid are we of either negatively affecting the sensibilities of God or making God look bad in the eyes of the people with whom we come in contact.

so we default on our freedom to be used of God to somehow change the world for the better.

the idea that arrived in my head this morning, walking in the sun, was that ultimately freedom doesn't mean simply quoting napoleon dynamite and saying "i'll do whatever i WANT- geez!" (which is, in essence, where the lyrics of 'wherever i may roam' by metallica take me) in our heart and in our actions, if not in our words. it means being of the mind of God, free of all the distractions that bog us down to the point where we are simply existing in a cage built of our own misconceptions and fears, masquerading as convictions and concern for others.

it means knowing that God's ideas have become ours... not simply holding to some super-spiritual claim that our ideas are God's.

oswald chambers put it this way
(i read this after having my epiphanal walk)
'we do not identify with God's interests in others, we get petulant with God; we are always ready with our own ideas, and intercession becomes the glorification of our own natural sympathies... vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God's in others for our natural sympathy with them..."

i think that true spiritual freedom comes when we can actually hear the voice of God and be secure enough in our relationship with him that we recognize what he is saying and are eager to carry out the plans that he is sharing with us because we know that our ultimate happiness and complete self-actualization lies in doing that for which we were created...

it doesn't mean not having free will, it means being free enough of all the external crap that we can use the will as a holy fire which drives us to see the world draw closer to what God desired for all of us when he placed us in the garden all those years ago.

--->post: "barney rubble"
*note: originally posted on may 26 , 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

"unless God specifically tells you to stay, then he's already told you to go."
(keith green)
it all started with this picture depicting a man sitting amidst tsunami rubble, crying out to God for help... i realized that the help he was begging God for was to come from the western world: from us- no, that's too general... from me.

there are two ways to listen for the voice of God:

one- goes about trying to discern the will of God in a given situation by looking for an answer from God: a ‘yes’ from him. that is the most common. that is how I’ve been listening until now.

the other- the alternative, if you will- goes about the same task by listening for what God doesn’t say… it is essentially listening for a ‘no’ from God. if there is no 'no', then the ‘yes’ already exists in the form of the great commission and the newly-stirred heart.

five years ago, as i sat under a tree at university of waterloo where i was attending a worship conference, i experienced some 'automatic writing' as the spirit of God took hold of my hand while i was journalling:

now that you’ve heard me say ‘I love you’
I want you to let go of everything
now that you’ve heard me say ‘just trust me’
just leave me with your fear and begin again

there’s nothing you can do
there’s nothing you need to say
there’s nowhere left to run so don’t hide yourself away
I will just find you again

just take me at my word
I told you you could lean on me
I’ve set my people free
but you must lead them from captivity

and I will go with you…

to this day i find these words impossible to argue with, whether it means going across the street or across the world.

--->post: "uncommon sense"
*note: originally posted on may 31, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

He who always hopes for the best becomes old, deceived by life, and he who is always prepared for the worst becomes old prematurely; be he who has faith retains eternal youth.

Oswald Chambers said:
Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense. What are you going to do? Hang back?
...Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worthwhile, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what he says... At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ's statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God.

here's what i read here: faith is not common sensical. in fact, one could even say that faith is an 'uncommon sense' or a sixth sense, if you will. it is something that defies other senses while qualifying them. it is the 'third eye' that somehow sees beyond the physical and into the spiritual realm- a bridge from concrete and temporal to abstract and eternal.

when we act upon the things that we perceive through our faith, we are engaging in the work of God- the stuff for which we were called into eternal existence in the first place. as we try to outrun father time, could it be that we are losing that footrace because we are breaking the number one rule... looking at your oponent rather than the track and the finish line in the distance? perhaps eternal youthfulness is found in embracing the eternal at the expense of the temporal. just living the adventure rather than calculating whether the next one carries with it only reasonable and manageable risks?

since when is adventure reasonable? it occurs to me that living by faith takes one to the very edge of the chasm and then invites one more step... whether you die or fly depends entirely upon that in which you have placed your faith.

---> post: "gun shy"
*note: originally posted on june 2, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

i was talking with an older friend of mine whom i admire greatly. we always seem to bump into each other when i am in the middle of a new adventure, and so i always sound like i lead a more interesting life than i really do. our little secret...

anyway, i was sharing with him this odyssey that has been upon me over the last month or so.

the idea of missions trips has always been out there and it's always been, in my narrow personal view, somebody else's job (in sad spite of what Jesus says in matthew 28 about 'going out into all the world.') however, of late there has been something stirring that takes me into unfamiliar territory. i have found myself thinking 'missionally,' realizing that missions doesn't necessarily mean going to 'bongobongoland' (a favourite term used by another friend of mine who has made global ministries his lifeswork) to read the bible to people with bones through their noses while dodging their poisoned arrows. it seems to me that being missional simply means accepting a mission.

so when i was sharing this with my friend, he made me his unwitting confessor:
'i used to go hard after everything, but now i'm just too lazy. nothing gets past thinking about it...'

this stuck because of all the thought i've been entertaining on moving outside the land of ideas

'... but you, man. you're actually pulling the trigger.'

no, i'm not pulling the trigger. i think i'm just one of the bullets in the gun.
then i heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'whom shall i send? and who will go for us?'
and i said 'here am i, send me!' (isaiah 6.8)

---> post: "adventure"
*note: originally posted on july 4, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs

here's a (modified) letter that i have been distributing to my friends and potential partners in ministry. there have been little hints and things on this blog since may that God was up to something in my heart. i just thought that i'd post this for your consideration (NOT as a solicitation- please don't get the wrong idea!)

if you pray, join me in praying for this 'adventure.'
if you don't pray, but are wondering what this is all about, feel free to either leave comments below or email me at

in any event, this is what's going on!

God has been moving within my heart in the last while. Whether you know me well or not-so-well, you probably already know that my heart’s desire has always been to lead others, both familiar and unfamiliar into life-changing encounters with God through music, the spoken word and God-honouring relationships. Recently God has called me into a new interpretation of this personal mission, as he has invited me to faithfully follow him overseas to facilitate relationships between the local church in Canada and the local church in Sri Lanka for August 10-22, 2005.

Growing up in the Free Methodist church, I believe that I have probably heard at least one thousand missionary presentations over the years. However, until now I have always felt that God was aiming them at someone else. While meeting informally with a friend in early May of this year, however, God spoke to me about a mission that he had for me to fulfill. My role in this project is essentially to blaze a trail towards the adventures that God is setting up for Canadian Free Methodists from local churches to become involved in Sri Lanka and the world. Although I was pretty sure that God had the wrong guy, it became apparent through numerous affirming prayer times, readings of the bible and conversations with others that God was serious about calling me.

I am excited about this adventure because it invites me to apply more directly the instruction of Jesus found in Acts 1.8 to my own life. Although I deeply believe that God has in no way concluded his work through me here in Canada, I also believe that he is making it clear how I can bear witness to the life-changing work of God ‘to the ends of the earth.’ This trip is an ‘Exploratory Visit’- part of the Free Methodist Church in Canada’s process for local churches to become involved in a Gateway City outreach. The primary objective is learning and building relationships, but I have been asked by the Global Ministries coordinator for the Free Methodist Church in Canada to be prepared to ‘preach, pray or die (with hopefully a couple minutes notice!)’ Although he was joking about the last one, I don’t need to tell you how I covet your prayers in this time.

There are numerous ways that you can join me in this adventure- the first has already been mentioned: fervent prayer. As we seek to glorify God in all things, he often requires us to serve out of our weakness, or at least out of our comfort zones! Please pray for health, peace, and spiritual protection for me and the other members of our team, even in the weeks leading up to the trip of August 10-22, 2005.

The second way to join me and my church in this adventure is to help with the costs. The cost of this trip will be approximately $2500. This will mainly cover my airfare and transportation costs- living expenses will be approximately $300. I know that God is faithful and He will provide what is needed for me to go. Any financial aid, great or small, that you can provide for this trip will be gratefully accepted because it all adds up. My church is authorized to provide tax-deductable receipts for any financial gift.

Thank you for taking time to prayerfully consider how to take part in this adventure that will take us to the ends of the earth.


---> post: "paranoia and our strange little world"
*note: originally posted on july 15, 2005 by jollybeggar on northVUs*

But that's how religion is spread, through paranoia....
paranoia and the sword.

It's a strange, strange little world.............bigbro

my world is about to expand drastically, as i will be travelling to sri lanka to do some missions work there in august. even now my arms hurt from the assorted immunization measures that i have undertaken in preparation.

funny thing, though. a younger friend of mine who recognized his call to world missions earlier and has done this a lot already was telling me that fear would masquerade as reason, and that i would become nervous about various things pertaining to the 'stepping outside of my tidy little canadian box.' as i sat the other day at the travel doctor, watching a video underscoring the health risks and possible maltreatments of them in third world (?) countries, i began to grow fearful, imagining all sorts of elaborate scenarios and asking myself 'is this really gonna be worth it?'

then came clarity: Jesus stepped into and back out of death and the grave for me, yet my greatest fears can be lain to rest by some responsible premedication and some good bug spray.

anyway, i say all this to say that paranoia is not a God thing, although sometimes people misinterpret it as something else attributable to God or whatever. when the bible talks about fear (isaiah 8.11-15, for example) it is in the sense of acknowledging the sovereignty and power of God... not cowering before the 'almighty smiter' (ie 'bruce almighty'- how do you suppose that word is spelt in the script?)

in my case, paranoia was being 'applied' to waylay the spreading of the news that God loves people in the east and wants to express that love (in one sense) through the efforts of people from the west to bring aid and resource, not spread religion.

i guess there is always the gorge of eternal peril that exists between one person's faith and another person's spin on 'religion.'

perhaps the peril lies in the idea that faith and religion are the same thing, for who in their right mind would choose religion the way they picture it before experiencing faith?

--->post: "funny"
*note: originally posted on august 9, 2005 by jollybeggar on both northVUs and jollybeggar e-pistles*

funny how God works sometimes...

when i enroled in bible school during the fall of '83, i thought that i was basically signing on for a year of camp- that and the hope of meeting other musicians withwhom i would launch my big recording career. not exactly the best reasons to go, but whatever.

i remember telling my girlfriend at the time to quit fretting because it's not like i was going off to find a wife or something.

we never kissed again.

in fact, i was basically dead wrong on all counts. funny how God works sometimes.

yet, after a year and a half of it with limited academic success i realized that, although i had met a beautiful girl and fallen in love, i was not going to be a preacher or a missionary or a youth pastor and so any further time there would be wasted. i enroled in university in the faculty of education and got on with life. married in 85 and graduated in 88... been married and teaching ever since.

funny how God works sometimes.

about five years ago, God said 'okay, you've had your fun- now let's try this again.' i found myself once again taking classes and asking myself 'if God were to call you here, could you move here?' on holidays. mrs jollybeggar was thinking the same things at the same time.

this and that happened and today i sit in my office at the church, reflecting upon having just finished doing the youth pastor thing at a camp, and suffering a bit of anxiety on the eve of a missionary trip to sri lanka. the only real bummer on this one is that mrs jollybeggar won't be able to accompany me on this trip. however, i know that there will be others...

funny how God works sometimes.


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