Category Archives: About Me

Don’t Forget Where You Come From

IMG_5851_2lowres.jpgLiving in a country and culture different from what you grew up in is an amazing experience. When you first arrive everything is new and exciting. There’s so much to explore and get to know. (That goes both ways, too. I can’t tell you how many times I had to explain that it actually does get as hot in Canada during the summer as it does in the South.) The thing is, as you spend more time there you start to pick up new habits, mannerisms, and whatnot and change or set aside some of the ones you used to have. And then, when you’ve been there long enough, you start to think that you’re approaching life now the same as those around you and it’s genuinely shocking to find out that you don’t.

If you follow immigration issues much you’ll probably have heard the sentiment that people marry Americans, or find other ways into this country, just to get a green card. The idea is that the U.S.A. is such an amazing place, especially when compared to the rest of the world, that people will do just about anything to get here and then be allowed to stay here when they arrive. And don’t get me wrong. The United States is, in my experience and despite what you may hear on the news, still a great place to live. People here in the South have proven to be some of the most welcoming I’ve ever met (and that includes Canadians). That being said, Canada is still a pretty amazing place, too. I didn’t move here just to get the hell out of there, you know?

Growing up in Ontario, and then living and travelling all around the country, made me who I am. That’s something special and yet it’s so easy to forget sometimes. As much as I have grown to love the people here I will probably never really, truly approach life the way they do, at least not with giving up too much of myself in the process. I will forever be just a little bit different (and that’s OK).

I’ll be so bold as to suggest that wanting to belong and fit in is pretty much a universal desire. Whether it’s just to have a certain group of people like us, or to become financially secure through gaining the respect of your boss, or just to have someone to relate to, belonging is something we all want to do. And there’s nothing wrong with that, at least to a point.

The problem comes when we try to change who we are just to fit in. I’ll give you another example from my own life. When I first got to the Royal Military College of Canada, I didn’t fit in much. I wasn’t much of an athlete and I hardly ever touched alcohol (not that there’s anything wrong with a drink every now and then; it just wasn’t a big deal for me at the time). While this set me apart, for the first couple of months it didn’t really bother me. When it did become too much for me I deliberately gave up just trying to be myself and I actively sought the acceptance of those around me. Did it work? No. I didn’t seem to really be any more accepted than I had been before, so I hadn’t gained anything by it, and at the same time I had lost something very special. Me. Finding my sense of self again after all that took a very long time.

We are, each of us, who we are. You are who you are for a reason and the same goes for me. That is something far too special and far too important just to give up for the acceptance of those around you. So don’t forget who you are or where you come from. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

And for those who don’t know just how special a place Canada is, here’s a song all about it.


Why Reach Out at All?

bf12cf208fe99c47d926428de6a91562So the question has come up several times in the last few weeks as to why I am so committed to reaching out as I do. Why reach out to the LGBTQ community at all, especially living in the South where being Baptist and talking to them at all virtually guarantees I’ll never have a pastorate of my own? I mean, am I gay myself? Do I plan on “becoming gay”? On the other hand, am I simply trying to get LGBTQ people to change, to “repent” of being gay (or lesbian or whatever) so they can go to heaven when they die? I wanted to take the time to clarify, both for myself and for others reading this, as to just why this ministry is so important. That first question is really the one I want to answer, but let me start with the others first.

Am I gay? No. I am happily married to a beautiful woman and quite content with that. Do I plan on “becoming gay”? No. Again, if you missed it the first time, I am happily married to a beautiful woman and quite content with that. So why reach like this? Am I trying to get LGBTQ people to “repent” so they can go to heaven when they die? Yet again, no. I am not. We get the idea that they even need to from passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which reads, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Seems pretty straightforward, right? If you’re gay, you don’t go to heaven unless you stop being gay. The problem with that interpretation comes when you look at the other categories listed in this passage. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus equates adultery with lust, meaning  if you’re guilty of the second you’re also guilty of the first. I’ve known a lot of Christian guys over the years who’ve struggled with that one, and if you apply the same logic to lust that we just applied to being gay, well, they’re not going to heaven, either. And that’s a problem, because in Hebrews 10:12 we’re also told that Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay the price for all sin. Period. End of sentence. You can’t add to that sacrifice, meaning nothing else is needed for eternal life. So in a roundabout way, no, I am not reaching out to the LGBTQ community because I believe that your sexuality is something that has to dramatically change in order for you to be acceptable in God’s sight. 

So why, then? If what the Bible says is true (and I understand that there are a lot of people reading this who disagree with that and that’s fine; just hear me out), then we as Christians have the hope within us that changes everything. The hope of life after death, the hope of a relationship with the one who made you and gave his life so that that relationship could be restored. You see Christianity isn’t just about being loving or accepting others as they are or even fighting for your civil rights (although it is all of those things). It’s about that relationship, and sharing that with you so that you can come home to the one who loves you as you are, whether you’re straight, trans, gay, lesbian, or whatever. He calls to us through our desires and our hopes and our dreams. He wants us back.  And if we as Christians treat you the way that we have historically, then you don’t see that. You don’t want anything to do with that. And for me, that’s a problem. You can read what I’ve written, you can examine the claims of Christianity, and you can think the whole thing is a crock and go on with your life and that’s fine. We all have free will. We all get to make that choice. However, if you can’t even look at what the Bible says because of our actions as Christians, well, that’s not so fine. That’s our fault. The only thing that keeps you out of heaven is what you decide to do with Jesus and what he offers (Matthew 7:23). So why do I do what I do? I want you as members of the LGBTQ community to have a fair shot at making that choice. You deserve it.

Great Expectations

13310471_10154176654699378_2405963628386265997_nSo I got my first ear piercing yesterday (a small cross in my left ear; see the pic at left). My wife got her third piercings done the day before, and as we were talking about me getting mine done (what I would get, whether or not it’s even a good idea, and so on), we hit upon the subject of people’s expectations. Southern culture in general has a lot of expectations about what a man does and does not look like, and things get even more complex when you throw in the fact that I’m a pastor as well. Being the pondering person that I am, this got me to thinking. There are a lot of expectations that we all have to deal with as we go through our lives, some of which are good and others not so much. For example, society expects that when we see the posted speed limit while out driving, we won’t exceed it. In return, we can expect to get a ticket if we’re caught by the police while exceeding it. Personally, I don’t have an issue with expectations like that one. There are, however, other expectations that we all face from time to time, expectations regarding far more personal aspects of our lives. We come up against expectations regarding who we’ll become, how we’ll look, who we’ll marry, where we’ll live, and so many more; expectations that, if we’re not careful in how we respond to them, can turn us into people we never wanted to become. How then do we respond to these expectations? Perhaps a better question is how should we respond to these expectations? While it may not be possible to live up to these expectations without losing ourselves in the process, those who hold these expectations can often be those closest to us, and the last thing we want to do is hurt them. How do we manage these expectations in a respectful way?

As a Christian, I find it useful to look at how Jesus handled similar issues. As Scripture shows us, Jesus dealt with expectations regarding all areas of His life. People had expectations of Him as Messiah, to be sure, but those closest to Him also had expectations of Him as well. In Mark 3, for example, we’re told in verses 31-35 of a time when Jesus’ mother and brothers showed up while He was preaching: “And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.'” The expectation, obviously enough, is that He will drop what He’s doing and come see what they want. (Skipping back to verse 21 tells us why they’re there; they think He’s nuts and they’ve come to take Him home.) His reaction, however, is not what we would expect: “And he answered them, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ Instead of meeting their expectation, He in essence redefines their relationship. (Now before you go thinking this is an excuse to hurt those closest to you, remember how Jesus cared for His mother during His crucifixion. As John 19:26 tells us, He was very much concerned for her welfare. In short, even though He did not meet their expectation on this occasion, He did not stop caring about His earthly family.) 

Another example of Jesus dealing with expectations of others comes in John 21. Here we read of Him appearing to His disciples following the resurrection, and what we read is not what we would expect (for me at least). There are no heavenly trumpets, no angels shouting in victory, no glorious appearing, just Jesus by the seashore with His friends. Neither does He come to them as King demanding worship; rather, He plays a prank on them, recreating a miracle while they do not realize it is Him. (He is so wondrously human here; this is one of my favourite Scripture stories.)

I could go on and on and on. The point is that Jesus is Himself. He is unfailingly, unflinchingly, gloriously and wholly Himself. As He tells us in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” His relationship with His Father defined everything about who He was, and, secure in that knowledge, He could be Himself. Furthermore, that relationship meant He could manage the expectations of those around Him without hurting them and without losing who He was. The scandalous truth of the Gospel is that we have that same relationship now. We get the same access Jesus has. If we are secure in that relationship, we get to be ourselves, too. We can respond to the expectations of others has He did, not breaking off the relationship but not giving in to the expectation, either.

I have had many people ask me why I got my ear pierced yesterday (and I expect I’ll get many more questions in the days to come). The truth is, this whole post is the reason why. I like the way I look with it pierced (and I don’t think Jesus minds one bit), and if me living in the freedom of that relationship allows you to do the same, then as a minister of the Gospel I’ve done my part. What freedom is He leading you into today?

Around the Campfire (Or the Reality Behind the Blog)

The wilderness, the “out there,” has always been for me the place where He is most real. Almost ten years ago now (it feels like another lifetime), I spent three summers working at a Christian wilderness camp in the Rocky Mountains south of Calgary, Alberta. For me, that has always been the place I remember encountering Jesus the most. That main photo was our backyard, the nearest town was two hours away, showers were hard to come by and we all smelled like smoke most days. Out there, away from civilization, away from all the distractions and noise of modern life, was the place for me where everything else just fell away and only the important things in life remained.

The other camp staff used to joke that we helped people learn to trust Jesus by putting them in situations where they had no choice but to trust Him, and it was true. I will never forget the first night I was asked to look after the site by myself. There’s something about being out in the mountains, 300 yards from the nearest neighbours (uphill through the bush in the dark), trying to sleep in a canvas-wall tent, that sobers one up in a hurry. I very quickly realized that if a bear did show up (and we’d seen them occasionally on the way in so I knew they were around), my odds of getting out of my sleeping bag and then getting out of the tent and making it to the neighbours’ trailer, baring divine intervention, were basically zero. I had to trust that He was there with me and the book of Mike wasn’t written to end with me as supper for a grizzly. That knowledge helped me to sleep that night (even if my fear did get the better of me the next night).

My hope in this blog is to bring a little of that reality to life.

Hello world!

My name is Mike Shewfelt. I am a pure-blooded Canadian who is settling in in the South with my beautiful wife, and I have a passion for ministering to the hearts of hurting people. God has blessed me with opportunities to preach in local churches, and I hope and pray He will use this site to minister to the hearts of people I might never meet otherwise. This site is intended for all, those who have been in church for years and know Him well and those who maybe have never set foot in a church. So feel free to browse around, and I hope you find what it is that He has here for you! Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing messages, devotional thoughts, and other little nuggets, so check back soon!