July 31, 2003

priorities

"Between a few hundred and a few thousand people die every year from terrorist acts. More than 6 million children die every year from hunger-related causes. Where should our government's spending priorities be?"


-- James R. Adair, editor
ProgressiveTheology.org

Posted by mike at 02:16 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

the sign

Our good friend Robert is learning all about the perks and benefits of being identified as one of "the elected".

Here's the background: After conversing through various comments on this site Robert and my Dad met for lunch a while back. (It turns out they work about 2 blocks away from each other in downtown Toronto.) At that lunch Robert agreed to read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

In Robert's own words he is "reading the book because I want to and am open and anxious to learn new things. I am reading it, I think, in the proper spirit. Not out of obligation to you or your Dad. ." Whatever the reason, that little book has been Robert's ticket to the secret world that we have all tried so hard to keep hidden from the great unwashed mob out there.

"So I'm at the chiropractor yesterday and he sees my copy of "Mere Christianity" on the table. He says: "So, what do you think?" I say: "Don't know. I'm only 10 pages into it." So he says: "Well, I'm a Christian and if you want a REAL GOOD BOOK, you want something written by a true theologian, then you want to read blah blah blah by so & so..."

I think: "here we go... Dude, can you just fix my FREAKIN' BACK and worry about my eternal soul another DAY!"

But you can't say that because it's rude. So I just said: "well, that sounds good. Let me get through this one and I'll let you know..."

On the subway this morning, some guy nods at me and smiles! That's the problem with you people, give you an inch, you want a smile! I don't want this. I really don't like most people! Make it stop! Put out the word, Robert is not to be harassed!"

So I'm putting out the word. If you happen to be riding the subway in Toronto and you see a guy with one eye on his copy of Mere Christianity and the other suspiciously eyeing his fellow commuters, give him a wide berth.

And nobody... NOBODY tell him about the secret handshake!

Posted by mike at 09:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 30, 2003

now playing

Just to add to the already considerable confusion over my musical tastes, I pulled Fush Yu Mang by Smashmouth out of the ol' CD pile this morning. You know, the one with the Parental Advisory on the front.

Man, I like that stuff!

Posted by mike at 10:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 29, 2003

purpose

Oswald blew me away yesterday. I don't have time to explain why right now - why don't you read through it and see if it speaks to you...

God's Purpose or Mine?

He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side . . .
—Mark 6:45

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God's purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God's purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish—His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see "Him walking on the sea" with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see "Him walking on the sea" ( Mark 6:49 ). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God's training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God's purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.

Posted by mike at 10:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 28, 2003

the junkie

Well, look what I found - another conference! I started off looking for information on Spencer Burke's soon to be released book, Making Sense of Church, which led me to the conference, where Spencer will be facilitating a workshop.

Come to think of it, I've been to Spencerville! How many of you can say that?

Posted by mike at 05:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

peace?

You are Peace
You are Peace.

You are at peace with your self and the world
around you. You have balance in your life and
exude tranquility from every pore of your body.
People are constantly asking you "what is
your secret?"


What Emotion Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

If I am Peace, then the world is in a whole lot of trouble. (Link from Richard, who is also Peace - but isn't buying it either!)

Posted by mike at 01:55 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 27, 2003

mystery

We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.

~ Cardinal Hume


(True clarity comes in knowing that we do not know.

~ Me)

Posted by mike at 04:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 26, 2003

follow the string

I started out at Jordon's, who led me to AKMA. AKMA talked about an upcoming trip with St. Luke's Choir of Men and Boys, and invited us to listen in on the choir. That led to 6:52 of beauty.

Posted by mike at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2003

the storehouse

The insanity continues for John Campea. First, he up and decides to relocate to Hamilton. Now, he's suggesting that we decrease our tithe to organized churches and use the rest of our giving to "meet people's needs".

At first I didn't believe it either. See for yourself.

I'm starting to re-think the whole issue of tithing (I think I'm spelling that wrong). I'm just getting so sick and tired of all this money we as christians are giving, ending up paying for church buildings, new wing expansions, carpet cleanings ect. ect. ect. I did a quick survey of 3 churches financial reports. As it turns out, on average 83% of all church money goes to paying for church buildings, building costs, and salaries. On average, less than 4% of these churches annual budgets went to feeding hungry people, clothing naked people, fighting aids, helping drug addicts or alcoholics, paying the bills for low income families ect. ect. ect. The more I read the gospels, the more I'm realizing that the idea of "giving" as preached by Jesus was never about funding organizations or television ministries or even churches. The concept of giving was all about meeting peoples practical needs. I'm sadly discovering that giving to churches only meets the church building needs. Therefore, I'm thinking that from now on I'll only donate a much smaller portion of my income to an organized church, and use the rest of my giving to meeting peoples needs. Buying food for families or food banks, maybe paying some peoples bills who can't make ends meet, give more money to the aids crisis in Africa. Basically, I think I'm going to start using my money the way I think Jesus would use it today. You may now begin sending me hate mail. :)

Please, when will the lunacy stop?

John, all is forgiven. Return to the fold so we can get back to the Kingdom-critical issues of building bigger buildings (we're going to trust God to bring 'em so we need somewhere to put 'em), Buying new LCD projectors (higher resolution means more souls for Jesus), new robes for the choir (those old ones are so 20th century), new rugs (fuchsia? Really... what was the board thinking?), etc. If everyone took your advice John, we'd have to... to... find smaller buildings, trade in the LCD projectors for overheads, etc. It's too horrible to contemplate, and besides, I think I've built a rock-solid Biblical case for why such heresy shouldn't be considered.

Seriously John, thanks for the second ass-kicking of the day. Not mine - I'm with you on this one, but I'm sure a nice bruise is coming out on more than a couple of backsides right now.

I have to laugh when I think about how far I've come on this issue. (Laugh and cringe, actually.) As the former Director of Stewardship (a "lay" position) in a previous church, I once espoused the view that the "storehouse" (Malachi 3:10) was my local church, and the whole tithe had to go there before any other giving. Venturing a little further out along the curve I also believed that it was a church member's responsibility to "be obedient" and give without concern for how the funds were allocated. That wasn't a flippant belief on my part; I felt the responsibility and burden of being one of those "in authority" who would be held accountable for how the money was spent.

The impact of this type of thinking on our current models of "doing church" is not lost on me. In fact, given our current "situation", I haven't been able to avoid thinking about it. Sue and I are "between churches", and while this may be a temporary condition there doesn't appear to be a remedy in sight. (The good news is there's no income either, so I don't have to wrestle with the tithing issue for a while!)

Don't get me wrong - I still crave good teaching... more than ever, in fact. I can listen here, or here, or I can drop in on a church close by where the pastor there rounds out my top 3 preachers. It's strange though. When I do go I'm not there for the "community" (that's a whole other post on its own). I hope to enter into a real spirit of worship, but that's not a given. I'm there for the teaching. It's not a whole lot different than listening in on the net, but sometimes its nice to have other people around.

Here's the kicker - when I do go I throw $10 in the plate. You could say I'm supporting the ministry (which I am), but in a perverse sort of way I'm paying for the service provided, in this case the teaching. (In yet another ironic twist it looks like I'm advocating a form of spiritual consumerism, which I despise. That post too is for another day.)

I realize that John and I are probably talking about 2 different circumstances. We're dropping in periodically for a Sunday service, and it sounds like John is still planning on fully engaging in church life. Either way, the results are the same. If more than a few of us in the pew on any given Sunday morning are thinking this way, then the church as we know it is in financial trouble.

As I read this over it occurs to me that maybe this is an inevitable outcome of deconstructing our current model of church into its components. If we break it down into its parts (if we can agree on its parts!) then it follows that we may want to access teaching here, worship there, and heck, we're developing a sense of community right on our street. I'm not saying this is right, but its possible.

To me this is further proof that simply tweaking church is not going to address the issues of this postmodern age.


Posted by mike at 08:18 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

steel-toed boots

Alan Creech has gone hard-core on us this morning:

"No one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor." —1 Corinthians 10:24

I suppose if you choose to think about that for more than 2 seconds and don't just skim on past it to something more flowery, it will necessarily kick - your - ass. There's no getting around an ass-kicking with that one. "Do not seek your own advantage.." What the hell!? "But, you see, it's really not talking about NOT not - it's just saying be nice." OK, you just keep thinking that. As long as we significantly move in that direction, we will never see the actualized Life of Jesus flow out of us. Never. This kind of thought and motive are at the root of what He came to tear out of us. This is what He is trying desperately to replace with something else - with His own nature. Well, that only happens in so much as we recognize, open, respond, allow. Excuses are road blocks. Rationalizations are lead shoes. We must travel more and more lightly down this road - until perhaps, we are naked and barefoot - the compass pulling us true North from deep in our hearts.

Thanks a lot Alan... I may not be able to sit down for a week after that one.

Posted by mike at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2003

the rich 100

A site dedicated to Canada's 100 richest citizens.

What will they think of next?

Posted by mike at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

coasters

I must be turning into a West Coaster because I can answer "Yes" to a lot of these.

You might be from the West Coast if:

+ You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
+ You use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.
+ You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.
+ You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.
+ You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.
+ You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" Signal.
+ You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain.
+ You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Second Cup and Veneto's.
+ You know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon.
+ You know how to pronounce Tsawwassen, Esquimalt, Ucluelet, Nanaimo and Sooke.
+ You consider swimming an indoor sport.
+ You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.
+ In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, while only working eight hour days.
+ You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.
+ You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."
+ You cannot wait for a day with "showers and sunny breaks".
+ You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
+ You notice "the mountain is out" when it is a nice day and you can actually see it.
+ You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 15 degrees, but still wear your hiking boots and fleecy jacket.
+ You switch to your sandals when it gets to about 12 degrees, but keep the socks on.
+ You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.
+ You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
+ You buy new sunglasses every year, because you can't find the old ones after such a long time.
+ You measure distance in hours.
+ You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.
+ You use a down comforter in the summer.
+ You carry jumper cables in your car and your whole family knows how to use them.
+ You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.
+ You know all the important seasons: Damp, Rainy, Still Raining,&Construction.
+ You have driven your convertible to fetch your Christmas tree with the roof down & only the tourists were surprised.
+ You actually understand these jokes

Thanks Lisa!

Posted by mike at 05:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

evangelism II

In keeping with the theme of Evangelism, my good friend Glenn had a great comment on Messy which deserves pointing out.

Mike, a great topic - Mission. One that has been on my mind for sometime now. This is truly where it is at for today's church. Not from an organizational standpoint but rather from real Christ followers who just happen to go to church. There is a radical movement afoot that is even now driving (maybe "drawing" is a better word) true believers out from the comfort of the "church" to where people are dying for relationships, not churches. In fact, they don't even know that they are looking for Jesus or that Jesus is looking for them, but they are seeking and are open to relationships. And what better relationship to offer them than one grounded in Christ and ultimately one with Christ. One on one relationships is where the "messy", time consuming, yet beautiful work of the gospel gets done and where in fact the true church will grow. Once you get your hands dirty outside the walls you begin to understand why Jesus was so excited and committed to building relationships with those who were off the radar screen of the traditional church of his day. Gems for the kingdom were found in this way. In fact, did he not build his ministry team and the Christian church around such "messy" souls?

The other related issue I wanted to note and have had to deal with this week concerns the competition and challenge we face from other disciples running around out there proclaiming a wide variety of gospels other than that of Jesus Christ. This week it has been Jesus versus Jagger if I can put it into that context. As you may be aware The Rolling Stones and Friends are putting on the concert to end all concerts in Toronto on July 30th out at the Downsview Airport and the Jagger disciples have been relentless in preaching his coming and in fact have taken some of our best evangelical material to spread the good news to everyone they meet. As much as any Boomer has "turn back the clock" memories of Rolling Stones tunes, I, being not much of a concert goer have been approached this week by five different Jagger disciples saying;

- "this is the chance of a lifetime"

- "at $21, it's practically free"

- "there may not be another opportunity for you to have this kind of experience"

- "how can you pass up an experience that you could cherish forever?"

- "he may not be by this way again"

- "do you realize what you will be missing?"

I missed Woodstock and unfortunately I will probably miss this one too, but the dedication and enthusiam I was pelted with by the Jagger disciples was impressive and very eye-opening in terms of what non-Christ followers are willing to do to further the gospel of their lord - in this case Mick. Next week it will be someone or something else but the challenge is out there for me, for us. How excited am I to let people know that a relationship with Jesus is free and not only the experience of a lifetime but for eternity? Can I catch the feverish urgency of the Jagger disciples in their promotion of the diminutive mere human Mick for his last Toronto concert when I serve and claim to represent the Lord of all heaven and earth who has the power to save and judge all mankind in whose presence I will not be able to lift my eyes let alone stand before?

Powerful words, Glenn. Thanks. I know from other conversations we have had that Glenn has done some deep thinking on this subject, and sees himself as a Missionary to his neighbourhood these days.

Doing life in front of, and alongside other people - that's the key. The misguided ones are paired up in Tim Horton's right across this land, berating people with Bible in one hand and a cruller in the other.

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

be the bread

Read this.

And then this.

There's nothing I can say that would add to that story.
Thanks Preacher.

Posted by mike at 09:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2003

work in progress II

Robert's Mother has written an eMail in response to his apology. He's explained the blog to her, and she has given permission for her reply to be posted.

I read your emails over and over. It is priceless that you recognize mistakes and are able to bare your soul. Only a well rounded person can do that. Occasional glitches in our behaviour confirm that we are all a work in progress. (your words)

I watched my parents at their age they are still a work in progress... on Thursday sitting on their balcony with them hanging on my every word like I was sent from heaven, I could see how proud they were to be sharing my thoughts and thinking wow, she is smart... I told them anecdotes about my trip to Halifax and they seemed so thrilled, they were laughing so hard... I said oh, my God, they have changed so much; my mother no longer makes snide remarks, my father even wrote something in my birthday card (usually it it just h.b. from m and d) even they are a work in progress... I will miss them.

It all boils down to one thing that keeps all this worthwhile... we love one another faults and all. I love you more than you'll ever know.

Mom

Posted by mike at 05:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 20, 2003

self portrait

Vision Limited.jpg

Posted by mike at 10:26 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

evangelism

The other day on the ferry I had a bit of a "deconstructionist moment". I've been thinking a lot about "evangelism" lately. Part of it was brought about by this recent post from Richard. (I'll reproduce it in it's entirety, but be sure to swing by and give Richard your feedback if you feel so inclined.)

I took some time to wander around town this morning. Found myself at Tim Horton's. (Readers not knowledgable of this glorious Canadian institution might want to check this out.)

I sat, watching two people "tag team" evangalize a young couple sitting a couple of tables away. "Tag team" is a good term for it, because it seemed to me that every move was designed to put pressure on the couple to realize that Jee-sus was the best way, the only way, the right way, the... etc. etc. etc.

I found myself getting angrier and angrier. So, I took a deep breath - and intervened.

Yep, that's right, I put a stop to the bashing that was going on. I had a wonderful discussion with the evangelists, taking the heat off of the couple. After leaving their tracts with me and the couple, they headed out to continue their ministry.

I spent some time talking with the couple. They were angry. They felt browbeaten. They felt threatened. One of the couple said, "Its no wonder that Christianity is a dying religion, with crap like that." We talked for nearly an hour about a whole bunch of things - including the faith stances of these two people. We talked about where their faith understandings fit with what our "tag team" had been saying, and where they didn't. In their articulations, they talked about their understandings of God, of Christ, of Spirit. We talked about creeeds and faith statements and living faith and a whole bunch of stuff.

Strange. They easily fit within my understanding of followers of Christ.

It was interesting. I could see in their faces that they were a bit shocked when, as we were getting ready to go on with our mornings, one of them asked me what I did for a living. When I explained, one of the two said, "Would you mind if we checked out some of the things happening at your church?"

Part of me wants to go and thank the "tag team" for doing what they do.

Wow. A few thoughts come immediately to mind:

1. Richard "Timbit" Bott, you are the man!

2. Good things happen when you worship at Our Lady of the Brown Coffee Cup!

This incident got me thinking about "evangelism" in a postmodern culture. In the modern context, what was evangelism, anyway? In simple terms I believe we were selling a "product", that being Christianity. When we pulled out the old features & benefits sheet we found forgiveness of sins, a belief statement, a ticket to Heaven. In other words, we were selling the atonement.

People either signed on or they didn't.

(The truth is I sucked at "evangelism". I was always vaguely embarrassed of my faith, and lived in fear of questions that I couldn't answer. And what about all the inconsistencies in the Bible? They didn't faze me, but how could I respond to questions from those who didn't share my "faith"? So mostly I just kept quiet and hoped nobody would ask too much.)

The old way seemed to work for some. But what happens when people reject the product... or even worse, when those selling it start to question it?

People don't want a belief system - they want a way of life.
They don't want an alternative to death - they want a reason to live.

The tangible product becomes intangible. But how do you sell an intangible? It becomes a conversation, not a conversion. It's about modeling.

Under the old way people became "converted", and then were introduced to the church/Christian community. Now, people will experience community and be exposed to the lifestyle before they know Jesus.

Are we ready for that?

Posted by mike at 08:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

new names

I've added Leighton Tebay (The Heresy - Saskatoon, CANADA) and Andrew Hamilton (Backyard Missionaries - Perth, AUSTRALIA) to the Fellow Travelers roll this morning. Drop by and say hello.

Posted by mike at 11:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

from the edges not the centre

I've seen this quoted all over the blogosphere. In reading it again (eMailed to me by a friend) I think it's worth repeating.

In all kinds of places, the traditional system of church as we know it is working. It's just that we are increasingly aware of the contexts where it simply isn't capable of making an impact, where something has to grow out of it or alongside it, not as a rival ( why do we cast so much of our Christian life in terms of competition? ) but as an attempt to answer questions that the parish system was never meant to answer....

At present, we stand at a watershed in the life of the Church - not primarily because of the controversies that have been racking us, but because we have to ask whether we are capable of moving towards a more 'mixed economy' - recognising church where it appears and having the willingness and the skill to work with it. Mission, it's been said, is finding out what God is doing and joining in. And at present there is actually an extraordinary amount going on in terms of the creation of new styles of church life. We can call it church planting, 'new ways of being church' or various other things; but the point is that more and more patterns of worship and shared life are appearing on the edge of mainstream church life that cry out for our support, our understanding and our nurture if they are not to get isolated and unaccountable. These may vary from the classic church models - a new congregation generated by an older one - to the Thursday night meeting for young people once a fortnight, the Sunday evening Songs of Praise in the pub, the irregular but persistent networking with the people you met at Greenbelt or Spring Harvest, the mums and toddlers event on Tuesday morning or the big school Eucharist once a term which is the only contact many parents and friends will have with real worshipping life. All of these are church in the sense that they are what happens when the invitation of Jesus is received and people recognise it in each other....

Can we live with this and make it work? This is where the unexpected growth happens, where the unlikely contacts are often made; where the Church is renewed ( as it so often is ) from the edges, not the centre. We need a positive willingness to see and understand all this - and to find the patterns and rhythms and means of communication that will let everyone share the benefits. That's to say we need ordained leadership which is capable of making and servicing connections between lots of different styles of 'church' - leadership which is therefore very clear about theological priorities, not protective of its status, skilled in listening and in interpreting what may seem very different language groups to each other...

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted by mike at 10:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 18, 2003

the grind

I'm there 3 times a week, rain or shine. Still, this makes you stop and consider your own mortality. (The Grind rises 964 m over 2.9 km)

Man dies on Grouse Grind

Jane Seyd jseyd@nsnews.com

A Sunday morning's outing turned to tragedy for one couple Sunday after a 60-year-old man collapsed of a heart attack on North Vancouver's Grouse Grind trail.

The Vancouver man was hiking with his wife on the popular trail and had made it past the halfway mark when he collapsed of a cardiac arrest around noon.

Passing hikers started CPR, while both Grouse Mountain Resort personnel and local emergency crews raced to unload life-support equipment from the tram, with help from the public.

Efforts by paramedics to resuscitate the man were not successful.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tim Jones, of North Shore Rescue, declined to release the name of the dead man.

Jones said that as far as he knew the man had no indication of health problems earlier in the hike.

But Jones warned, "The Grind is an extreme StairMaster.

"Anyone who has any kind of medical condition would be well-advised this is not the best place to be."

Jones said there have been half a dozen people collapse on the Grind so far this year and "I've personally responded to three cardiac arrests" in the past.

Jones advised anyone with medical concerns to visit their doctor before attempting the hike.

Halfway up the trail is an especially difficult place for emergency help to reach quickly, said Jones.

"If you have any kind of problems, that 9-1-1 support isn't coming as soon as you want," he said.

From the North Shore News

Posted by mike at 01:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

work in progress

Many of you have indicated how much you have appreciated the comments of my good friend Robert. As someone who does not share our beliefs he has a great deal of insight into faith, church and other "Christian" issues. I'm always challenged by what he has to say.

I thought I would challenge him by inviting him to write his own post. No holds barred, no editing - whatever was on his mind.

Yesterday Robert did not have a good day, and he wrote about it.


Here is an email I sent my mother, brother and sister this afternoon:

I am such a hypocrite.

For the past few weeks, Mom and I have been having a conversation via email. Over and over, I kept talking to Mom about not hanging on to her anger, choosing her words carefully, avoiding outbursts and having a positive outlook on life. My life, I insisted, is a joyous existence because I focus on the positive and disregard any past problems and pain. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home and I am glad that I was able to make a life for myself that is as good as it is today.

This morning, I lost it. I freaked out on Mom in a way that was so ugly and mean-spirited, I exposed myself as a pure hypocrite. We were not even talking about me but about an issue totally un-related to me. I have no quarrel with Mom and yet I blew up and said horrible, hurtful things. I don't know why. I am sick about it but my regret doesn't and can't erase the pain she is feeling. She was subjected to a barrage of anger that came from someplace I try to deny exists. Without being responsible for it, Mom bore the brunt of my anger. I'm so sorry Mom.

You didn't deserve that and I wish I could un-say those things.

To her credit, Mom immediately accepted my apology, even though she was still devastated by my words. She taught me a lesson in unconditional love. Instead of telling me to get lost, Mom accepted my apology while the harsh words I had spoken still rang in her ears. That must have been tough to swallow. Thank you for showing me what unconditional means. I will remember the next time Someone I love hurts me. I will try to forgive even when I really don't want to do so.

The irony is that I have been pushing Mom to be more careful in choosing her words and not being mean-spirited in expressing her anger or disappointment. What a hypocrite I am.

Last week, I sent you all an email expressing how well we all have done for ourselves considering the harshness of our upbringing. We all have wonderful spouses, children and careers. Today, Mom and I got a vivid reminder that, though we may have survived and manage to hide it, we still carry the baggage from that time in our lives. That outburst did not come from a place in my life today. It came from an ugly place that I suppose only exists in my memory. But exist it does. I was expressing my delight of all the joy in my life to a friend a day ago. Today, the ugliness of my past highlighted to me why I am so grateful. Grateful that I don't live in the past.

I am sick that I blew up today. Sick that it happened at Mom's expense, in my home where Denise and the children could hear. That wasn't me. I don't know who it was but it wasn't the me I want to be. We try to deny our past, our pain, but it finds a way of bubbling up. I may have a wonderful life today, but the past doesn't disappear as easily as we would wish sometimes. I am so sorry, Mom. I love you.

Robert

Posted by mike at 06:27 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 16, 2003

messy

Something Erwin McManus said during the interview the other day just popped into my head (paraphrasing... with a bad memory):

There are two things you'll find in healthy, effective churches: immorality and heresy! Just look at Paul's letters - those are the issues he spent a lot of time dealing with, all the while thanking God for and encouraging the "perpetrators".

Morality and theology don't make a church effective - mission does. Community is messy.

What do we do when we encounter one of these issues in our churches? We bring everything to a crashing halt while we "deal" with it.

Encourage and correct, yes. But get on with mission - that's what its all about. ("Effective" is my word. I can't recall how he phrased it, but his words were better.)

Posted by mike at 04:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

more passion

Mel Gibson looks right for movie on Jesus
By Julia Duin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Filmmaker Mel Gibson, whose upcoming movie on the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus has drawn charges of anti-Semitism from Jewish and Catholic scholars, is shopping his film to a more receptive audience: evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics and Orthodox Jews.

On June 26, he surprised a group of 900 evangelical pastors meeting at the 9,200-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs with a four-minute trailer from "The Passion."

That afternoon he also showed the entire film to about 30 Christian leaders at Focus on the Family, one of the nation's largest evangelical ministries...

Things are heating up for Mel and The Passion.

Posted by mike at 02:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Indie Allies II

OK, so the July Indie Allies meeting in Vancouver was cancelled (along with a lot of other cities) because we didn't have enough people RSVP. No sweat - it's a monthly gig! Why not sign up for your city?



find out more at indieallies.meetup.com

Posted by mike at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

help wanted

pic09894.jpg

Posted by mike at 01:12 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

quitting time

Chad Hall has written an article for church "leaders" titled Six Ways I Quit Church. There's some good advice in there.

(Link from Fred Peatross.)

Posted by mike at 07:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2003

chicken

It looks like Roger Ebert's got more guts than John Maxwell.

(Unlike John and Darryl I've actually enjoyed one or two of Maxwell's books... but this clinches it. He IS a pansy!)

UPDATE: ... And to quote Jordon:

"It is safe enough for Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the Molson Indy, WWE, the World Health Organization, the Rolling Stones (and they are barely alive anyways), the federal Liberal cabinet, Avril Lavigne, and John Campea but not safe enough for the self professed "greatest leader you will ever meet", Johnny Maxwell."

Posted by mike at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

the quilt

Rachael has a great idea for a digital quilt. Stop by and consider your own contribution.

Posted by mike at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

mosaic

Sue and I were flipping around TV last night and happened to catch Erwin McManus being interviewed on a Canadian "Christian TV" show. (I'm glad I heard them mention his name as I flipped... otherwise I wouldn't have stopped on that channel.)

For those who haven't heard of him Erwin is the lead pastor at Mosaic in Los Angeles. (I've purposely avoided calling Mosaic a "church", because they do too.) Erwin is the author of An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind" and Seizing Your Divine Moment: Dare to Live a Life of Adventure", neither of which I've read, but they're next on the list!

The interview itself was a bit of a disappointment: the interviewer hadn't read either of the books, but was wise enough to let Erwin do most of the talking. Almost as interesting was what was NOT said. I did not hear the words Modern or Postmodern.

And I have to tell you that was very refreshing.

Don't kid yourself: What I saw was clearly an interaction between a modern and postmodern mind. And yet, because neither "side" was identified and labeled as such, there was no sense of "us" and "them". Instead, the "modern" interviewer was clearly fascinated with and excited by much of what the "postmodern" interviewee (is that a word?) had to say.

A good lesson for all of us.

Posted by mike at 10:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 13, 2003

the passion

I'm almost afraid to post this.

My original post on Mel Gibson's movie The Passion (from December of last year) still gets periodic comments, and some of them are, well, a little "out there".

Given that fact, I'm almost afraid to provide this link for the movie's trailer.

Almost.

(A word of caution: Be prepared for much more blood than the flannelgraphs ever depicted.)

UPDATE: For those of you who said you couldn't get in. Be patient, it seems to take forever to open the first time.

Posted by mike at 10:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

neo ping pong

I am in awe of the amount of work this took.

Link via Richard.

Posted by mike at 08:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

urban onramps

Rudy Carrasco is back to blogging again. I've updated the link (and removed the "* on sabbatical" tag!)

Posted by mike at 08:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

mistakes

Mistakes Of NASA Toted Up
Issue of Individual Responsibility to Be Left to Agency

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 13, 2003; Page A01


Five days after the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, the managers of the flight met in Houston to discuss its progress and weigh the risk posed by the impact of a chunk of insulating foam that crashed into the left wing during ascent. It was a critical moment, because -- as experts would later determine -- any serious crew rescue effort would have had to start by the fifth day.

But Linda Ham, the head of the mission management team, told about a dozen of her colleagues that day that she saw no need for a crash effort to obtain better imagery of the damage, repair a breach in the wing or try to rescue the astronauts. "I don't think there is much we can do," she said in remarks not previously disclosed.

Members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board -- who stumbled across Ham's comments when they listened to tape recordings of the mission management meetings -- privately describe them as "chilling" or "outrageous" in light of what the board concluded was NASA's missed opportunity to try to save the crew...

A chilling account of the mistakes made immediately and long after the Columbia accident.

(The Post has compiled several photo galleries of shuttle history.)

Posted by mike at 07:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2003

the autonomous rebel

rebel

Environics Canada has developed a survey that "assesses human social values by asking questions about your view of the world, and about your personal goals, wishes, hopes, dreams, and expectations".

It turns out I'm an autonomous rebel... but so was Martin Luther King Jr., so I'm in good company. You can take the survey here, but you'll need a Canadian address. You can check out the attributes of rebels like me here.

"Higher than average income". Well, I guess these tests can't be perfect!

Posted by mike at 10:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

mountain biking is grace

Here's a man after my own heart:

Mountain biking is a metaphor for my faith journey. Community—my small group buddies—are grace to me. They are a chain link for me to respond to the Spirit, to keep going and to persevere even when I have no idea what God is doing. They are the friends who lower this paralytic through the roof into the presence of Jesus. And, Scripture says, "When He saw their faith," the paralytic was forgiven and healed. Their faith. Community is grace. Mountain biking is grace, too, thank God. And, here, at the bottom of the hill, as we get back on our bikes to crunch down the rest of the trail, I pray the story of the paralytic remains only a spiritual application for me today. Mountain biking is grace.

Kyle W. White

Read the whole article here. From Relevant Magazine online.

Posted by mike at 03:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

God's canvas

Today I'm blogging from Roberts Creek. Sue's Mom is here from Toronto for a visit, so we brought her up to give her a peek at the ministry we're involved with. The ferries were insane yesterday afternoon (it was a sunny Friday - that's all it takes) so it took us 4 hours to get here!

It feels like an appropriate location from which to blog a little about my day this past Tuesday.

I spent the day working in Whistler. My good friend Rob builds custom homes, and I'm now spending about a day a week working for him. He has 2 projects on the go right now, one in Whistler and one right here in Roberts Creek. And he doesn't let the fact that I don't know what I'm doing bother him, so it works out well for everybody.

Whistler is about 1.5 hours from North Vancouver (home), so it was an early start Tuesday morning. It's absolutely incredible. The development that has taken place since I was last there (over 2 years ago) is huge, and the pace will only increase with the Olympics coming in 2010. The lot we were working on is right on Alta Lake. The new place next door is being "offered" by Christies Great Estates at $8 million, so you get the idea of the type of real estate we're talking about!

Rob's 2 dogs were tied up at the bottom of the lot, and shortly after we arrived the dogs started to go completely crazy. In the bush that's a warning sign! Sure enough, barely 20 feet way we saw a black bear peering out at us from the trees. We managed to drag the dogs away, and after considering it's options the bear climbed the nearest tree and kept an eye on us from 30 feet up. Minutes later we saw movement from a nearby tree... and the smallest bear cub I've ever seen shimmied on down, bolted across the lot and climbed up the same tree as Momma Bear. When cubs are involved that raises the stakes. The dogs were put back in the truck, and after about 15 minutes Momma Bear climbed down with not one but two cubs, and cleared out.

What a great morning we had! The concrete pumper and trucks showed up and we spent the morning pouring the forms that will eventually support the walls. I think I missed my calling. For a guy who spent 12 years in the investment business I feel the most alive working outside. Some of the myriad of leadership and psych tests I've taken over the years have identified "outdoors" and "mechanical" as areas of interest. Apparently those tests are accurate!

That afternoon we drove north of Whistler several miles to a remote logging yard, where we had to mill some timbers.

It was there that I had a "God moment".

Standing in this beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, I suddenly said out loud, "God, you LOVE this place!" I could almost see His Spirit flying around the trees and over the mounatins. It was as if I was seeing God "at play", like a little child running around the playground.

And why not? If you believe that God created it all, it stands to reason that He created scenes that please Him. On Tuesday I think I caught a glimpse of that.

2110_PanoramaRidge.jpg

Posted by mike at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 11, 2003

lost and found

The Preacher contemplates the existence of his lost Ray-Bans and of God.

raybans2.jpg

Posted by mike at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

fatblueman

Our old friend (in blog years) JJ has a photo blog up and running, giving us a glimpse at the life of a Winnipeger (is there 2 "g"'s in Winnipegger?) in Japan.

Posted by mike at 10:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 10, 2003

there

You can be sure that wherever the right place, the appointed place, is, it is forward, one step ahead, where you can't see, out in the deep water. There. See? Of course not. You won't see until you go.

Renita J. Weems

Posted by mike at 08:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

strange bird

I think I'm becoming a strange bird (except for that part about Wisconsin).

Thanks to Len for the link.

Posted by mike at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

they know

Rachel has posted some haunting stuff from John Wimber which is worth repeating:

Years ago in New York City, I got into a taxicab with an Iranian taxi driver, who could hardly speak English. I tried to explain to him where I wanted to go, and as he was pulling his car out of the parking place, he almost got hit by a van that on its side had a sign reading: The Pentecostal Church. He got real upset and said, "That guy's drunk." I said, "No, he's a Pentecostal. Drunk in the spirit, maybe, but not with wine." He asked, "Do you know about church?" I said, "Well, I know a little bit about it; what do you know?" It was a long trip from one end of Manhattan to the other, and all the way down he told me one horror story after another that he'd heard about the church. He knew about the pastor that ran off with the choirmaster's wife, the couple that had burned the church down and collected the insurance - every horrible thing you could imagine.

We finally get to where I am going, I paid him, and as we're standing there on the landing I gave him an extra large tip. He got a suspicious look in his eyes - he'd been around you know. I said, "Answer me this one question." Now keep in mind, I'm planning on witnessing to him. "If there was a God and he had a church, what would it be like?" He sat there for a while making up his mind to play or not.

Finally he sighed and said, "Well, if there was a God and he had a church - they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn't charge you money to teach you the Book." I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest. "Oh, God," I just cried out, I couldn't help it. I thought, "Oh Lord, they know. The world knows what it's supposed to be like. The only ones that don't know is the Church."

When you joined the kingdom, you expected to be used of God. I've talked to thousands of people, and almost everybody has said, "When I signed up, I knew that caring for the poor was part of it - I just kind of got weaned off of it, because no one else was doing it."

Folks, I'm not saying, "Do something heroic." I'm not saying, "Take on some high standard, sell everything you have and go." Now, if Jesus tells you that, that's different. But I'm not saying that. I'm just saying, participate. Give some portion of what you have - time, energy, and money, on a regular basis - to this purpose, to redeem people, to care for people. Share your heart and life with somebody that's not easy to sit in the same car with. Are you hearing me? That's where you'll really see the kingdom of God.

John Wimber, Cutting Edge, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2003, p16.


Posted by mike at 08:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

no such address

We have the makings of a great conversation going on in the comments section of The Almighty. Stop by and contribute!

Posted by mike at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2003

waving or drowning II

On the way home tonight from Grouse Mountain (more on that later, perhaps) I was listening to Clumsy from Our Lady Peace.

And out of that came another "Why Waving Or Drowning" moment:

Throw away the radio suitcase
that keeps you awake
hide the telephone in case, you
realize that sometimes you're not okay
you level off but its not all right now
you need to understand
there's nothing strange about this
you need to know your friends

I'll be waving my hand watching you drown
watching you scream
quiet or loud

Maybe you should sleep
maybe you just need a friend
as clumsy as you've been
there's no one laughing
you will be safe in here

Throw away this very old shoelace
that tripped you again
try and shrug it off
it's only skin now
you need to understand
there's nothing fake about this
you need to let me in
I'm watching you

I'll be waving my hand watching you drown
watching you scream
quiet or loud

They're appropriate lyrics, too. I have no idea what they intended, but I can see the church in there. "Sometimes you're not OK", and the church needs to become that safe place where "you will be safe in here".

Bad grammar, but you get my point.


Posted by mike at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

all things lewis

If you hang around here for more than a week or so you can't help but pick up on the fact that I'm a big fan of C.S. Lewis. He had a perspective on his faith that I find challenging and stretching, and the Daily Dose rarely fails to get me thinking.

Today I came across a couple of items worth mentioning.

This morning I started following links and ended up at the C.S. Lewis Institute, which looks like it has some good resources. I just had a quick scan through the latest edition of Knowing & Doing (their quarterly publication) and there seems to be several articles worth reading. And - dare I say it - it looks like they have some good conferences! (Some of you are shaking your heads right now. If not - don't worry about it.)

The second item is this article talking about the possibility of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe being filmed in New Zealand later on this year.

Narnia may deliver Rings-like riches
30 June 2003
By TOM CARDY

New Zealand's doubling as the fantasy world of Narnia would boost our film industry and tourism in the way that The Lord of the Rings has, its director says.

Andrew Adamson, a New Zealander who won the best animated film Oscar for Shrek, which he co-directed, wants to shoot some of his next film in New Zealand.

Apparently the film's backers would like to follow on the success of The Lord of the Rings, much of which was also filmed in New Zealand. (I didn't know that.)

Having just finished The Chronicles of Narnia I think this is a great idea.

Posted by mike at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

the fog is lifting

(It's not easy writing a post while sucking on a popsicle, but I'm going to do my best!)

I think the rut I've been in for the last week or so, blog-wise, is starting to go away. The blog fog is lifting!

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

WMD 404

Searching for weapons of mass destruction?

Click here.

Posted by mike at 06:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 08, 2003

the Almighty

"We also want to thank so many people for their prayers - whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim - everyone had been praying for the twins and we are grateful because as doctors we know there's only so much we can do, and the rest we have to leave it to the Almighty."

Dr. Loo Choon Yong, surgeon who operated on the Iranian conjoined twins

Here is a statement that will cement my recent reputation with some as a liberal: I am a Christ-follower, but I believe God heard all of those prayers.

Your thoughts?


Posted by mike at 10:03 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

July 07, 2003

tour

Those of you still not convinced about this bicycle racing thing should check out this video.

Pick your speed:
56K
100K
300K

These guys rock.

Posted by mike at 04:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 05, 2003

whale rider

I'm looking forward to seeing this.

UPDATE: Andrew the BackYard Missionary has already seen it - here are his thoughts. We'll compare notes after I've seen it. Thanks Hamo!

Posted by mike at 09:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

le tour

McGee takes Tour prologue

JULY 05 - Australian Bradley McGee (fdjeux.com) won a drama-filled prologue, a 6.5km time trial held around the Eiffel Tower, to claim the first yellow jersey of the 90th edition of the Tour de France in Paris Saturday.

That should get my Australian friends excited (where some idiot has decided that bicycles are vehicles and therefore road racing is now banned!)

And so begins the greatest sporting event known to mankind, le Tour de France. (Great coverage here as well).


Posted by mike at 12:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

happy belated birthday robert

birthfriend.gif

Yesterday was our good friend Robert's birthday... and I neglected to mark the occassion. He was, as the saying goes, "Born On The Fourth Of July". Due to the frequency of his commenting Robert is the unofficial co-author of this blog, and I'm sorry I didn't wish him a Happy Birthday on time.

Happy Belated, Robert!

Posted by mike at 12:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 03, 2003

harmless

I'm about half way through Waking the Dead, and I think it's Eldredge's best yet. I love his story and the way he tells it.

Listen to this:

Yes, we have all been wounded in this battle. And we will be wounded again. But something deeper has happened to us than mere wounds.

I expect that all of us at one point or another have said, "Well, part of me wants to, and another part of me doesn't." You know the feeling – part of you pulled in one direction, part of you the other. Part of me loves writing and genuinely looks forward to a day at my desk. But not all of me. Sometimes I'm also afraid of it. Part of me fears that I will fail – that I am simply stating what is painfully obvious, or saying something vital but incoherent. I'm drawn to it, and I also feel ambivalent about it. Come to think of it, I feel that way about a lot of things. Part of me wants to go ahead and dive into friendship, take the risk. I'm tired of living alone. Another part says, Stay away – you'll get hurt. Nobody really cares anyway. Part of me says, Wow! Maybe God really is going to come through for me. Another voice rises up and says, You are on your own.

Don't you sometimes feel like a house divided?

(Waking the Dead, Pg. 129)

Wow. Where do you start with something like this? First of all, I think I'm developing blogger's eyes. That's a little known and rare disease that causes you to see life as a collection of posts, comments and even names.

What do you think of these as blog names?

The Painfully Obvious

Vital But Incoherent

Those are fantastic!

Because it's an interest of mine I love what he has to say about writing. And yes, I feel that way about a lot of things too!

More to the point I'm a believer in the battle for our hearts that Eldredge talks about. We were meant to be so much more - God is in us! Somewhere along the line we lost our sense of the magnitude of that statement. There was a time when God showing up meant routed armies, manna from Heaven, wrestling matches with angels, miraculous healings, and herds of pigs running into the sea - just to mention a few of the reported disturbances.

That may also explain why I'm such a C.S. Lewis fan:

"Aslan a man? Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion-- the Lion, the great Lion."

"Ooh!" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

(The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)

Perhaps we've "dumbed-down" the gospel sufficiently so that our god is now safe. Who wants a safe god? Pets are supposed to be safe. Gods are supposed to be much more than that. That is the enemy's greatest victory – when we have sufficiently neutered God so as to make Him harmless.

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

(Uncle Screwtape to Wormwood,
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis)

Posted by mike at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 02, 2003

There goes the neighborhood!

vancouver2010_wins.jpg

And before anybody asks... we have a pull-out couch, but that's it!

Posted by mike at 08:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 01, 2003

oh canada

promo63_canflag01.jpg

Happy Canada Day!

Posted by mike at 10:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack