February 23, 2003

no you don't

I found Steve Thompson via Jordon and John... and so on, and so on...

I like what Steve has to say here.

"You are as close to God as you chose to be!"

That's another one of things things at the bottom of the box of stuff we'd rather not think about. Oh, one day something miraculous, beyond my current control will happen, and I'll be closer to God. I don't think so. That's one thing in this world we DO have control over, in fact we have RESPONSIBILITY for.

A friend recently attended a week-long retreat for pastors. The teacher was an incredible Bible scholar. For a solid week he walked into the room with just his Bible under his arm, and taught all day, everyday on the Psalms.

In conversation with the group he shared how often people come up to him and say something like "I wish I knew my Bible as well as you do." His standard response? "No you don't, because if you did... you would. It didn't happen by accident. All it takes is work."

Nah - must be some other reason.

Posted by mike at 10:13 AM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2003

true liberty

The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for until the cord be broken, the bird cannot fly.

- Saint John of the Cross

Posted by mike at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

the war prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way...

Read The War Prayer by Mark Twain in it's entirety.

Posted by mike at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

picture peace

Images of peace rallies around the globe, from David Weinberger.

(Thanks for the link, Jordan.)

UPDATE: Here's a flash movie on the same subject. Warning - this one is from the U.S. Green party and is very political. Don't come crying to me...

Posted by mike at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

hockey hair

On a lighter note...

You probably have to be Canadian to appreciate the concept of "hockey hair". I read this article yesterday and laughed for an hour.

For those unfamiliar with the mullet, the look is close-cropped on the sides and top, flowing in the back. Otherwise known as "the short-long" or the "10-90" (10% on top, 90% in the back), in Canada the most famous euphemism is "hockey hair."

For reasons unknown and never rationally explained, it's been at times de rigeur for the shinny set, cascading out of the backs of countless helmets and over innumerable shoulder pads in arenas and rinks across Canada...

Posted by mike at 01:34 PM | Comments (6)

You're not allowed to kill civilians

The slacktivist writes eloquently on a horrible topic.

You're simply not allowed to do that. It's wrong. It's illegal. It's immoral. The United States, the United Nations, the United Parcel Service -- it doesn't matter who you are or how saintly your motivation. You're not allowed to kill civilians.

Posted by mike at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2003

love & surrender

Here's an eMail I received from Lynne today...

Both Henri and Oswald are about love (& surrender) today, I particularly liked this part...

"There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. "... but perfect love casts out fear ..." once we are surrendered to God ( 1 John 4:18 ). We should quit asking ourselves, "Am I of any use?" and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time."

I don't know about you, but I think sometimes those small gifts of surrender are the hardest ones to give up!

Ain't it the truth! Thanks Lynne.

Posted by mike at 06:07 PM | Comments (1)

our role

From Ginkworld, via Len H. and John J.

As a Mennonite church, we have a history of being a peace church. What exactly that means is expressed in different ways, even in our own church. I've found myself torn in recent weeks in knowing how to understand Jesus' call to our lives and apply it to the situation today.

There are two dangers I want to address. The first is the aligning ourselves and God's call with the anti-war movement. As I look at many people who are involved in this movement today, the vast majority come from one side of the political spectrum. To illustrate, more bombs were dropped on Iraq in 1998 than during the entire Gulf War in the early '90's. Yet we did not see and hear about massive peace marches and rallies. Much of the rhetoric against the war is situational: the US and the President are imperialistic, the danger is not as strong as is portrayed, the US is going alone. The danger for us as a peace church is that our stance against war is not situational. It is unconditional. When we begin picking up the anti-war rhetoric, we risk painting ourselves in a corner if proven wrong. What if the war starts, there are limited casualties, and convincing evidence of terrorist plans is uncovered? Does that then mean we were wrong to oppose the war? If the situation is why we oppose it, then the situation can prove us wrong. That is why it becomes key to clarify that our stance is not to oppose or support war, but rather to clear identify that the role of one who claims Christ's name is not to participate in it.

The second danger is to align oneself and God's call with support of the war. God's agent and force of redemption in the world today is the local church. Jesus Christ, working through the church, is the most powerful force in the world, including smart bombs and terrorist acts. While God does sometimes use the violent acts of others to accomplish His purposes, the call to the church by Jesus Christ is clear and uncompromising. Our project here is not to garner safety and security for ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation. In fact, Jesus gives a clear and direct call to everyone who follows Him to abandon such notions and be willing to give everything up for His name.

So what is our role? What does it mean to abandon all for the sake of Jesus? How is the church a powerful force of redemption? We can get some indications of our role by looking at the life of Jesus and the early church. Their political situation was even more treacherous than ours today. They had the Zealots who wanted to fight for independence from Rome. They had an imperialist Roman government that plundered and conquered other nations. Yet the focus of Jesus is clear: bring healing to sick, welcome the stranger, offer salvation to those who believe. These acts of service are acts of power, far more powerful in history than any bomb or weapon of mass destruction has ever been. Jesus calls us as Christians to reject the use of force and to reject participation in its implementation. He calls us to join up in His army, fighting with unconventional spiritual weapons to form communities that bring redemption and transformation to our townships, towns and cities.

So I do not spend my time supporting or opposing the war. My attempts to influence the direction of war policy is of small political consequence compared to the political consequence of subordinating my natural desires and working in God's kingdom. And the truth is, when I write this I realize how little I've done, how little I've sacrificed. I am called to action.

John T Royer

Posted by mike at 10:04 AM | Comments (4)

the gospel

Darren is asking an interesting question in The Living Room.

Rachel's latest post about a Christian Billboard with the reference to John 3:16 got me thinking about the whole John 3:16 phenomena. Yep - the verse that was drummed into all of us who went to church from year dot that we were told sums up the whole gospel in a nutshell. I can remember saying it over and over again before Sunday School one week in the hope that I'd be chosen to resite it for the class and get my reward (chocolate)!

Recently someone asked me why this verse was so popular - why it was chosen to sum up the whole gospel? Does it sum up the whole gospel? The more I began to think about it the more I began to wonder if perhaps we've got it all wrong! What single verse would Jesus leave with us to sum up the gospel message if he had a say in it?

I've been thinking about that the whole way into work today (my last day here). I think I'll post on it later, but I wanted to point you to the discussion right now.


Posted by mike at 08:39 AM | Comments (3)

February 20, 2003

don't play small

I was speaking with a friend at Fidelity Investments today (my previous employer) who had caught wind of the fact that Sue and I were packing up and moving to Vancouver. We were talking about how tough business was right now with the stock market the way it is. He hit me with a quote they've been sharing around the office, which he attributed to Nelson Mandela's 1994 inauguration speech:

"Your playing small does not serve the world."

That struck me as being pretty applicable to the conversation we've been having around the questions.

I googled the quote and it turns out the Mandela reference is incorrect. But here's the entire paragraph:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our Deepest Fear
by Marianne Williamson
from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

While that may strike some of you as a little "new age-ish", there's something in there for us. Funny how it came on the same day as the eMail from Lynne pointing out the quote in the post below.

Hmmm.


Posted by mike at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

as much as we will

From today's daily dose of Streams in the Desert:

We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a bank, and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor? Whose fault is it that Christian people generally have such scanty portions of the free riches of God? --McLaren.

Well, that's straight to the point. Thanks to Lynne for pointing it out.

Posted by mike at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2003

true faith

True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant --

It clothes the naked
it feeds the hungry
it comforts the sorrowful
it shelters the destitute
it serves those that harm it
it binds up that which is wounded

It has become all things to all.

Menno Simons (1539) via the slacktivist.

Posted by mike at 07:34 PM | Comments (2)

He said what?

OK, John's self imposed exile ended while I was in Peru, so I've got some catching up to do.

Listen to this gem he's written...

It all comes down to the question of whether Christ meant what he said or not. Each person who claims the label of "Christian" needs to decide if that means they really follow the lifestyle and teaching of the man who said he was God, or if they identify with the institutions and traditions that choose to de-emphasize what he said very clearly.

Although he wrote it in an anti-war context, it strikes me that it fits in well with the questions we've been discussing.

Check out the post here, or his original in the form of a comment at Rachel's. The usual comment debate has broken out there.

Posted by mike at 07:06 PM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2003

no question III

Well, I still haven't found the time to sit down and think about the great comments on No Question II, which was really just a front for No Question. And to be honest I don't think it's going to happen today either.

It's been a busy week. I'm trying to tie up my loose ends at work before my last day (Friday February 21), and to complicate matters further I'm off to Peru tomorrow for 3 days. We're in the final negotiations on a major corporate donation, and it calls for some face to face time with the donor - a Canadian firm operating in Peru.

Any other time I'd be all over this. I love to travel. I was in Peru in September and it was a very profound experience for me. It's an incredible country. The picture-book beauty of the Andes, where we'll be on Monday, countered with the unbelievable dirt, grime, noise and depression of Lima. But this is my last week at World Vision. And on top of that we're trying to get this move to Vancouver put together quickly. Looks like I'm dumping a lot of the work onto Sue (again). She's incredible.

Anyway... the question. I believe we are all called to give it all up. Or, more to the point, I believe Jesus would take us if we volunteered. Maybe, while we're sitting here waiting for "the call", He's waiting for us to offer first. I don't doubt that some feel a very strong, specific call. We've experienced that ourselves. But I also think that as we die a little more to ourselves, and offer a little more to God, He will take it and use it. I can't see Him say, "No, really... that's enough. You stay in your comfortable life and I'll call someone else to do this particular job."

Can't see it.

I'll be "offline" for a couple of days while I'm away. Talk among yourselves until I get back.

Peace.

Posted by mike at 05:36 PM | Comments (15)

February 13, 2003

embarrassed

In the interests of full disclosure I should point out that I'm playing a bit of a role in a "comments fight" going on over in The Living Room. Drop by and have a look. Just don't say anything stupid (I already did...)

UPDATE: I'm stepping off that train before it derails...

I can't help but be drawn back to the Brian McLaren Sermon for President Bush we've talked about before. It's interesting how we can subtly go from discussing an issue to defending a position. And when we defend a position we tend to remake Jesus into the image of our political party, or position.

I encourage you again to read the entire sermon, but let me pick out his major points, because I certainly need to revisit them...

Jesus also said, though, that in our serpentine cleverness, we must remain as guileless as a dove, pure in heart as peacemakers, because the God who is real is a God of peace. Whatever clever tactics we must use to seek to prevent war, however we must bare our teeth and expose our claws to dissuade our attackers, we must reverence the harmless dove (God's Spirit) who flies among us, within us. I have been asking myself what it means to be a true Christian in a time like this, facing war yet loving and seeking peace, wise as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove. So here are four reflections that have been resonant within me in recent days that I wish to share with you.

1. For the follower of Jesus, war must always be seen as a defeat, before the first shot is fired or the last body is buried.

2. Whenever we talk of war, and if we must go to war, we must do so with sadness for all concerned. Jesus said we are to love our enemies, and if we love people, to see beloved enemies as the targets of bullets and bombs is a tragic thing.

3. It's important to remember that one doesn't get a military exemption from the teachings of Christ. So, in light of Jesus' words, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12) it should never be easy to drop a bomb on them. In light of Jesus' words, "Love your enemies..." (Matthew 5:44) should never be easy to load a machine gun with a belt of bullets. But if these things must be done (again, with a heavy heart, with a sense of defeat even before we begin), we must ask, "What do we wish others would do for us if they attacked us and made war against us?"

4. Finally, Mr. President, even if we must prepare for war, up until the very, very, very last minute, I would hope that you would keep asking (and praying), "Can we wait another day? Can we pursue another option? Can we see any other way ahead? Can this cup pass from us?"

Man, those are powerful thoughts.

Posted by mike at 04:38 PM | Comments (2)

good literature

"You Christians have in your keeping a document with enough dynamite in it to blow the whole of civilization to bits; to turn society upside down; to bring peace to this war-torn world. But you read it as if it were just good literature and nothing else."

Mahatma Ghandi

Posted by mike at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

new saints

"The world is waiting... for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order."

Henri Nouwen

UPDATE: Think Big!

Posted by mike at 08:40 AM | Comments (2)

no question comments

Thanks for the great comments on No Question and No Question II. I'm looking forward to responding... just haven't had the time yet. Maybe tonight?

Meanwhile, keep them coming!

Posted by mike at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2003

no question II

Well, here's a first - putting in a plug for a post I've already written.

Somebody comment on No Question. Do you think I'm right, wrong, crazy or all of the above?

Posted by mike at 05:37 PM | Comments (9)

labels

Pretty soon I think I'm going to ban the e-word just like the c-word.

Evangelicals Are Ready to Re-Elect Bush, But Other Americans Are Not So Sure

Thank you, George Barna.

Posted by mike at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2003

the door

Thanks to Darren for the link to The Door.

The door is magnificent. One might almost consider that the whole building has been designed with the door in mind. The door is the centre-piece of the church façade. It is directly below the cross – which just as it points upwards towards the sky also points downwards towards the door, underlining its importance in the life of the church.

The door is perfectly symmetrical and constructed of heavy wood. Some days the door stands wide open, welcoming all that might enter. The observer is left under no illusions – clearly the best and most appropriate way to enter this church is through the door.

However, there are some for whom the door is a barrier. One has had bad experiences with doors in the past and is distrustful of them. One has never had much to do with doors but has the general impression that they are old-fashioned and passe. For one, the door holds no interest at all – he is sure that lots of people like the door but it is just not for him. Some have had the experience of the door being closed to them. Some have seen the ugly side of the door and have vowed never to pass through it again. Some, despite its prominent position, don't even seem to notice the door at all...

A modern-day parable. I particularly like it because it demonstrates that there is no point in holding any opinion of the door itself, other than as a mechanism for getting people inside the church. Sometimes we either like or dislike the door because, well, we like it or dislike it. The discussion, or debate, or argument becomes about the door for the door's sake, and we lose sight of it's purpose.

Don't fall in love with the door... fall in love with what can be found inside.

Posted by mike at 10:53 PM | Comments (2)

the way

(It's going to be a late night - Sue's flight doesn't get in until 1:20 am.)

Here's some more deep stuff from E. Stanley Jones.

First, three questions:

1. There ought to be a God back of, in, and through the universe...

2. This God, if he is to be a good God and trustable, must be like Jesus Christ...

3. If the very nature of God is Christlike, then we would expect that God has acted and still acts in a Christlike way, not only in the revelation in the Scriptures, but in creation as well...

In other words, when He made all things, He made them to work in a certain way, and that way would be according to Christ, for Christ is the revelation of God's nature. Is the Christian way, then, the Way? And is this Way not only written in the Scriptures, but written in the nature of reality as well?

If Jesus is a moralist imposing a moral code on humanity, then of course we can question that code and His authority. But suppose Jesus is the revealer of the nature of reality, then that makes Him different. He is not only revealing the nature of God – He is revealing the nature of life. Life then works in His way and only in His way. Then the Christian Way becomes not a side issue but the central issue of life – the one issue of life.

I like that. The Way is synonymous with creation, with life. If you try, you can see it everywhere. I believe that. If it was all made by Him, for Him, then it stands to reason that it reflects Him.

God, give me eyes to see.

Posted by mike at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2003

homerism II

The most profound thing I heard all night:

"I'm sorry, Ned. It looks like God has packed up and left Springfield."

Posted by mike at 09:50 PM | Comments (2)

no question

Funny - even as I write this I have the strange feeling I've linked to this before. No matter. Thanks to Debi (who got it from Josh, and so on, and so on) for the link.

Check out a conversation from calvin, hobbes and Jesus.

the question has been asked if jesus asked, would i be able to follow him? would i be able to leave behind everything i had, everything i was, everything that was near to me? to follow jesus?

my answer was often yes.

the question, though, is not if jesus asked..?

simply. there is no question. there is no if. there is only this: jesus is asking, follow.. leave those you love. mother and father. brothers and sisters. good friends. so near your heart. leave your education. career. aspirations. leave your expectations and your pride. leave your hopes. your dreams. leave your passions and loves behind. leave the life. the one you have worked so hard to preserve. the one that is comfortable. the one that is safe. the one that shelters from poverty. the one that secures the years to come. leave. and come.. follow.

This is exactly what I was trying to process through with Question III.

I have to be very careful that I don't sound all high and mighty and holier than thou because of the step that Sue and I are taking. So with that disclaimer let me repeat my assertion that radical discipleship is not a calling for some but not others.

"If God calls me to leave it all behind I will. Oh, I guess He hasn't... I guess that's not my calling."

I believe that God calls all believers to give it all up, to die to self and live for Him. Having done that He may send us out to do something new. Or, He may place us back exactly where we were, but with a completely different purpose, motivation and mindset.

Either way the old self must die.

Posted by mike at 12:01 PM | Comments (2)

living metaphor

I'm sitting here watching a living example of the gospel unfold right outside my window. Literally.

Sue doesn't get home from Vancouver until late tomorrow night, so I'm still on my own. I miss my wife, by the way. I get kind of weird when she's not here. Weird is a relative state, however, so I guess I should say I get weirder when she's not here. I find myself talking out loud (and there's nobody else here but me), and yesterday I vacuumed out the microwave oven.

Sorry about that - back to the gospel outside my window.

My good friend Chris from up the street came to church with me this morning. We just started a new series on Love, Romance and Relationships. It was awesome, and he wants to come back next week. Anyway, I dropped him off at home and assumed my usual position in my office, where I can look out the window and at this monitor without moving my head!

Chris just took the girls (two chocolate labs named Merlin and Jester) and his 2 year old son Justus out for some fresh air. He brought the whole gang down the street for a quick visit at my back door. It's frickin' cold here, so Justus was dressed up like a miniature Michelin tire man. Chris had him by the hand as he waddled down the sidewalk. We had a fresh dusting of snow last night, so Chris was feeling with his feet to see if there was any ice under the snow that Justus might slip on. That's how they made their way down the street.

Chris is an incredible father, and it made me think of our Heavenly Father. Whether we know it or not, He's "checking for ice" with us. We may still slip occasionally, but he's right there to pick us up and dust us off.

Overly simple, perhaps, but that's what I thought of as I watched. Oh yeah, as they were coming down the street this song was playing on the stereo:

Child of God

With every breath, with every thought
From what is seen to the deepest part
I offer all that I've come to be
To know your love fathering me

Father You're all I need
My soul's sufficiency
My strength when I am weak
The love that carries me
Your arms enfold me, till I am only
A child of God

With every step on this journey's walk
And wisdom's songs that the soul has sought
I give myself unreservedly
To know Your love fathering me

Father You're all I need
My soul's sufficiency
My strength when I am weak
The love that carries me
Your arms enfold me, till I am only
A child of God

Kathryn Scott

Posted by mike at 11:03 AM | Comments (3)

homerism

Churchianity. Christianity. Whatever.
At least God gets a mention.

The Gospel According to Homer Simpson

(Link from the tallskinnykiwi)

Posted by mike at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

exhaustion

Some great words from our friend Ozzie today (Chambers, not Osborne.)

Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep," but He gave him nothing with which to feed them ( John 21:17 ). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people's souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely—to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.

Posted by mike at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2003

state of the gospel II

Jordon has posted a link to the Brian McLaren sermon I wrote about a while ago. A couple of people have told me they listened to it. For those who haven't I implore you to read it.

(Hah. Got through that whole post without mentioning what's-his-name.)

Posted by mike at 07:21 PM | Comments (2)

confession is good for the soul...

... or so they say.

Is this a blog? Is it a journal? I'm not sure. It's definitely a journey, and that's the important part. Either way, I haven't been totally up front. But now that the word is "out", it's time to come clean.

Friday February 21 will be my last day at World Vision. Sue and I are moving to North Vancouver sometime in March, where we will both be serving with a new ministry based in British Columbia.

Some of you have been serving in ministry for a long time, so it's no big deal. It's been quite a transition for us. I've shared a little of our journey up to this point before. In one way I see this as the end of a process – from the Bay Street suit and tie guy to serving God full time. But in another way I think this is just the beginning for us, and we are so excited!

There are a lot of practical considerations a well. Financially it's a real faith walk. Those of you who have experience raising your own support feel free to advise! There's also the issue of purging. Moving from a 3700 square foot house to a 726 square foot condo is a logistical challenge. How do you do it? By getting rid of most of your stuff!

Now you know why I've been focused on the whole faith issue of late. It's been more than an academic exercise for us. I could tell you many stories of how patient God has been with us; He has clearly guided and provided wisdom. Sometimes I shake my head in wonder that He bothers. Wow.

Oh yeah – the other woman in the convertible was our real estate agent!

There. I feel better getting that off my chest.

Posted by mike at 05:08 PM | Comments (1)

prepare ye the way

The Word of the Lord came one evening
Concerning His bride's great sin
He'd send down His Word to renew her
To prepare for the Bridegroom again

The Word said repent
From seeking vain glories
While the gifts in the Lord's name you give
Repent of all the first stones cast to kill
While your own self-righteousness lives

Prepare ye the way for the Lord
Prepare ye the way for the kingdom
Prepare ye the way
Prepare ye the way for the Lord

The Word said repent and turn from your strivings
Repent and turn from your hatred
Repent from the doctrines of men that divide
And tear like the wedding gown rent

Walk in His love like newborn children
Walk in His love, let the wedding gown mend
Walk in His love, with humility come with pure hearts
And cast all your cares to the wind

The Word of the Lord came one evening
Concerning His bride's sin
He assured me we will be forgiven
And then let the marriages begin

John Michael Talbot/Caedmons Call

Posted by mike at 04:48 PM | Comments (1)

get on with it

Last night was cathartic in a way. No more Bush crap today; I think I've got it out of my system.

That, and my sister just called and told me to move on.

(As usual though, no promises.)


Posted by mike at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2003

i long for the day

I wanted to write something constructive tonight. Really, I did. I even had an idea floating around in my head. I want to get back the question of discipleship and explore it further. I want to talk about the cost of discipleship. And why it's "Christians" (or should I say Churchians) that give you the hardest time when you step out in faith.

Then I read this from The Slacktivist.

I'm not having much luck today. Darren got me started this morning, and Fred is ending off my day nicely.)

Sigh. I wonder what's on TV...

Posted by mike at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

notorious sinners

I've just been doing a little blog surfing and came across one worth repeating. Palmer asks one of those questions that sounds so simple, yet knocks you right on your butt.

Apparently I'm not smart enough to figure out how to link to the specific post (January 31), so with apologies to Palmer I'm repeating it here for you...

"I've always really liked the story of Jesus calling Matthew to follow him (in Matthew 9). This morning I rediscovered Mark's account of it. It includes something that Matthew doesn't, a little parenthetical statement that adds so much (at least for me). Mark says "That night (of the day that Jesus called him) Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.)

So my question is, if there were many of "these kind of people" following Jesus then, shouldn't there be many of "those kind of people" hanging out with the Body of Christ now?"

Ouch.

Posted by mike at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

example

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things - now do them! That is the path of blessing.

John 13:12-17 (NLT)

Posted by mike at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

wag the dog

For some reason this makes me want to scream.

1,200 US citizens were asked: "To the best of your knowledge, how many of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens?"

Of those surveyed, only 17 percent knew the correct answer: that none of the hijackers were Iraqi. Forty-four percent of Americans believe that most or some of the hijackers were Iraqi; another 6 percent believe that one of the hijackers was a citizen of that most notorious node in the axis of evil. That leaves 33 percent who did not know enough to offer an answer.

Salon who originally posted these results comments: "The Bush propaganda machine has convinced Americans that Saddam and the no-longer-mentioned Osama are the same person -- and the polls prove it."

This stuff makes me ask the question again... What is wrong with people?

(Thanks to Darren for getting me all upset .)

Posted by mike at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)

February 06, 2003

losing patience

Terry Jones of Monty Python fame weighs in...

I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I!

For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.

As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.

Check out the whole piece.

Posted by mike at 10:29 AM | Comments (6)

February 05, 2003

untamed faith

A friend gave me tapes of the sermon series Untamed Faith (September/October 2002), from Crossroads Community Church in Georgia. (Listen here.)

Fantastic! They have a real "John Eldredge" feel, and you know I'm a fan.

Listen to the summary:

Could it be that while the world has been under-tamed in moral matters, we/the church have over-tamed on the adventure side of life? Have we so tamed our faith and Christianity that we have missed the real quest of a "not to be ignored" new territory-taking people with reckless abandon?

Do we tame the voice/ask of God in our lives? Tame His power? Tame His promises? Tame our prayers and expectations? Tame our risk/investment to advance the Kingdom? Tame our faith? Tame the church so as to be isolated and irrelevant? Have we become docile and domesticated doormats in a world of untamed adventure?

Generally speaking, yes.

Could it be that the Church - launched by Jesus Christ, was BORN TO BE WILD? To "get your motor running - head out on His highway, looking for adventure in whatever comes my way"... that we were launched to unleash the heart of untamed faith?

Takes me back to Question III.

Could it be? Yup - I believe that.

Posted by mike at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

wind

Last night we had a terrible windstorm in our area. I thought the roof was going to blow off. And you know how newer houses have all these vents that flap open and shut? well, it sounded like a full house at Roy Thomson Hall breaking out into applause all night long.

It was so windy it took the cable out in our area.

No cable.

No cable means no internet.

No internet means no blogging.

I didn't know what to do with myself last night. I need to get a hobby.

I missed you people. First, Jordon takes a couple of days off, then my cable goes out. I'm not sure I can handle the emotional roller coaster.

Posted by mike at 08:49 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2003

wrong number

If Jordon can do less punditry and more living, then I can do less punditry and more complaining.

I was at the office today (Mississauga, Ontario) looking out the window at a blinding snow storm when the phone rang.

It was my wife Sue calling from North Vancouver (She's in BC for a week visiting friends). She called just to tell me she was driving along in the convertible with the top down.

Isn't she special?!

Sue - I know you're reading this (I hope!) I miss you!

Posted by mike at 07:43 PM | Comments (2)

back in a jiffy

Welcome back Coop.

Posted by mike at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

what is wrong with people?

Or... why is this woman smiling???

(Link from snarky malarkey.)

Posted by mike at 08:16 AM | Comments (1)

in my head (hang on!)

Here's my Enneagram type - thanks to Darren for the link... I think!

Enneagram
free enneagram test

Posted by mike at 08:02 AM | Comments (6)

February 03, 2003

energy

I'm sitting here working through the Wild at Heart Field Manual. (Steve will be here in 30 minutes for our weekly get-together, and I haven't finished this week's questions yet!)

Here's a couple of questions that jumped off the page at me. See if they resonate with you...

Where does most of the energy of your life get spent in a normal week?

And why are you spending it there?

Posted by mike at 07:04 PM | Comments (1)

a million stories II

See - THIS is what I'm talking about.

Faith of Two Astronauts Shines from Beyond Shuttle Wreckage

As people across the United States, India and Israel mourn the loss of seven lives, members of Grace Community Church in Houston will be remembering two of their own. Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Col. Rick Husband and Payload Commander Lt. Col. Michael Anderson were members of Grace Community - and men whose lives reflected the Lord they loved.

"Rick Husband is probably the godliest man I've ever met," Pastor Steve O' Donohoe of Grace Community Church told Crosswalk.com during a phone interview Saturday afternoon. "He was such a lover of God and a worker for God, a kind person to everyone else. He's the type of person everyone wants to be like. His wife is the same way."

Sitting on the couch watching CNN with a lump in my throat doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't make the world a better place. It doesn't even honor the dead. But hearing more of their story - that I can be blessed and inspired by. It all makes up part of the fabric of creation, and each of us is better for knowing a little more of it.

There are zillions of such stories out there, about people who we will never know - never even hear of. Back to my point yesterday... every life is precious in this sense. Not just the ones that make the headlines.

Still don't know what to do with that, but that's what I'm thinking about.

Posted by mike at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

integrity

Wow.

Posted by mike at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2003

a million stories

What a privilege to read Richard and Shannon's story! Thank you for sharing it with us. I have no doubt that we are all enriched and blessed as we learn more about each other. Everybody has a story.

I think that's part of why I've been troubled over the last 24 hours or so. Owen touched on it, and so did Darren.

I will be the first to admit that I can be guilty of hero worship. (I believe that stems from the deep desire in each of us to be a hero.)Throw in the fact that I'm a space shuttle "fan", and yesterday's tragedy was made to order for an emotional response from me. And there was one. And yet I ask the question, with others it seems, why do some stories, tragedies and yes, even lives touch us more than others?

Rick Husband was a "strong Christian" in the words of Miles O'Brien at CNN. I would have liked to have known him. That wont happen, but I would like to know more about him. I think I would be enriched by that knowledge. But I ask again, how many people who died on this earth yesterday, and their stories, would enrich us similarly if we just knew them?

I'm not sure where this is going... maybe nowhere. It's just what I'm thinking about today.

UPDATE - at the risk of bogging this down completely...

I just read Richard's comment of Darren's post I refered to earlier.

... some of it has to do with the intersection of "death" and "dream".

I think you're on to something here, Richard, Could it be that the heroic, high profile tragedies hit closer to home because secretly we wish we were living those lives? Again, I think back to my earlier comment about us all wanting to be heroes.

I'm getting way to deep into my head tonight. I wonder what's on TV? (Sorry Owen, I still have one. Two, actually.)

Posted by mike at 09:07 PM | Comments (1)

decisions

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.

Thomas Sowell

(Quote taken from Leadership Matters put out by my new friend Phil Wall at Signify)

Posted by mike at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

the door

I heard something this morning at church for the first time.

So I Stay Near The Door
By the Reverend Canon Samuel Moor Shoemaker, Jr., D.D., S.T.D.

I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There's no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.

And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it - - -
So I stay near the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.

Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter -
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it - because they have found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him - - -
So I stay near the door.

Go in, great saints, go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics -
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, or sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms,
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening - - -
So I stay near the door.

There is another reason why I stay there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great, and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia.
And want to get out. "Let me out!" they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.

Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled
For the old life, they have seen too much;
Once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stay near the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay too long,
And forget the people outside the door.

As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there, too.
Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
For those I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
"I had rather be a door-keeper . . . "
So I stay near the door

I'm still not sure if my "place" is near the door, deep inside or somewhere in between. Regardless, my prayer is that I never forget those outside the door.

Posted by mike at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)

February 01, 2003

the inner confusion

After hearing E. Stanley Jones quoted repeatedly I thought it was time I read some of his work. I decided on The Way published in 1946, and tracked down a copy from Munnbooks in the UK, who I found through abebooks.com. And it's a first edition!

For those of you not familiar with this book I'll let the author describe it to you:

The arrangement of the book makes possible a threefold use: (1) as a book of daily devotions, a page a day; (2) as a study book for classes and groups, for the subjects are arranged on a weekly basis; (3) as an ordinary book - it can be read straight through, since it is a developing whole; the Way is treated throughout.

I'm not sure how I'm going to read it, but I didn't get past the first page without feeling I had to run to the computer to share this. See if the circumstances he describes sound familiar.

An inner breakdown has taken place. Said an international thinker: "It is manifest that the breakdown in international comity is not solely due to economic and political causes." The breakdown is due to a breakdown in something back behind the economic and the political - a breakdown in the spiritual. Something has collapsed there, and the outer collapse is simply an outer expression of a more serious inner collapse. The outer arrangements of men are awry because the inner arrangements of men are awry. For the whole of the outer arrangements of life rests upon the inner. Men cannot get along with each other because they cannot get along with themselves, and they cannot get along with themselves because they cannot get along with God.


Does that sound like any planet you're familiar with?

What an interesting choice of words - "because they cannot get along with God." I actually typed it wrong the first time because I assumed he said "they cannot get along without God", but he didn't.

And he's right. When are we truly without God? We can choose to ignore Him, reject Him, hate Him, or any other variation on "not getting along" with Him, but we are never without Him.

Posted by mike at 05:44 PM | Comments (2)

columbia tragedy

Seven astronauts died today today when space shuttle Columbia broke up over central Texas as it streaked through the skies toward Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Flags at the White House and outside NASA headquarters were lowered to half staff in tribute to the crew.

A very sad day.

UPDATE: Tune into Spaceflight Now for the latest news on this horrible accident.

Thanks to Bene Diction for the link.

Posted by mike at 02:18 PM | Comments (2)

the way of love

John links to and expands on Len's consideration of the way of love as an alternative to war.

I can't think of a better way to follow up my previous post. Thanks guys.

Posted by mike at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)