Friday, December 15, 2006

Nice play...

Last week I wondered about the Aitu core- Jonathan was a strange choice to send packing, and the rationale that appeasing the Raro leftovers by sending Jonathan home before them would earn votes on the jury was pretty dodgy to me.

This week I wondered if Ozzy was going to do something rash and whack one of the Aitu core to build some brownie points with Parvati. It's about this time in the game that the pecking order crystallizes and people start to realize what they have let unfold: the rest of Aitu, who really survived weeks of must win immunity challenges to lessen the huge numbers gap that had opened on the back of Ozzy's physical domination in the water, is now seeing that Ozzy's strength is now their greatest enemy.

No one is touching the guy in immunity challenges. It's not even close, and the only guy who has a remote shot at it is Yul, and for the rest of Aitu, that's a worse scenario because he would have both the immunity idol AND necklace, making everyone left game.

Momentarily I worried that Ozzy would let his foot off the gas and depart from the gameplan of the Aitu 4 to the final 4, but he was sharp. Don't stick your teammates in the eye before the game turns to an every person for themselves free for all where the only immunity that matters is the kind you have been kicking everyone's butt for for weeks.

If Yul makes the final two, which is highly doubtful given his overt leadership and deal-brokering, he will have a hard time overcoming the perception that he didn't manipulate the game like crazy, and an even harder time rebutting that view because he dislikes argument or controversy so much. If he goes to the final two with someone who is collected in their thoughts and can make a persuasive argument and pour gas on the Yul's fire, he would face a tough time winning.

Adam, once again, turns in an AWFUL showing in the immunity challenge. He won ONE, and despite being viewed as a physical threat, he has been useless, like an ice machine in the arctic. No strategy, no physical prowess, no game at all.

Sunday is the finale. My prediction? Ozzy, for the sole reason that his focus has been singular since the game started, and no one has remotely touched him in challenges in a long time. He dominates his way to the final two and takes Sundra or Becky and argues that no one has dominated the game physically like he has or carried a tribe like he has, and that Sundra or Becky were along on his coat tail and survived because he brought challenges and fish home in fistfulls. He's also lucid enough to make the tough decisions, and will whack Yul at the first possible opportunity and sidestep the emotional pitfalls the rest of Aitu wil conflict themselves with about voting each other out.

And Probst will leave the last Tribal Council in the Cook Islands on a giant leatherback turtle and ride it all the way to Burbank....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Home rev.2.01

Yep. We're homeowners! Lori and I closed our first home on December 11, 2006. My blog neglect can be traced directly to heading to our new place right after school daily to work on renovating the place.

This is the culmination of 5 long years in Halifax waiting and persisting. It's a dream come true, and getting the house is a reminder that we need to be careful not to put our dreams on such high pedestals, as in "when I get my first home, I'll be ecstatic. I can die happy." Not that I've ever said or thought that, but the reality of my dream of having a place for Lori, Jonah and Wozney #4 (due in 4 weeks or less) isn't all roses and giggles.

There's gobs of old wallpaper to scrape and steam off, loads of painting to do and two days worth of flooring to lay.

I'm really thankful that God has helped me to treat events as milestones on a journey instead of destinations. I love our new place, and it's going to look awesome when we're done all the stuff we want to do, but at the same time it's just a house. It can burn down or blow up or blow over or ANYTHING that can happen to a building.

The really important part about it is the home we build inside it and the light we let shine through it so that people see and feel Jesus when they visit.

Hope you can stop by sometime and enjoy God's faithfulness to us. (well, maybe AFTER we're done renovating...and having the baby...).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

with AND for...

Loving the arrangement of Jesus Paid It All on the new Passion CD. Got me thinking about what I believe God thinks about me.

There was a time in my life where I believed God was always with me- I knew he was there no matter what, but I didn't believe that he was for me. That was a lonely time, not because God wasn't for me, but I limited God- I never expected anything from him, and I closed doors in my life that God really wanted to break through for me in.

I come to see more and more all the time that God is totally for me. He's not just there, but in every circumstance and situation, he's contending for me, for the fullness of his purpose and best for my life, and I am growing in my trust in him that whether I feel it or not he's my biggest fan and backer.

He laid it all on the line for me, and he still does that everyday. Life is a lot easier, even when it feels impossible, walking in that knowledge- I can make it and overcome no matter what because he's for me. If you didn't know, he's totally FOR you too. Let that sink in...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holy traffic Batman....

Yesterday was our first snowfall of the season here in Halifax. We had an appointment with our lawyer yesterday at 4pm about the closing of our home next Monday. Getting there was no problem at all (there in less than 21 minutes, even with the snowy rotten roads).

Getting home? Another matter altogether. That same drive took over 3 hours and 35 minutes (even more if you count the 50 minutes we took to get out of traffic and eat dinner at East Side Mario's). At one point, we sat in the same spot for over 40 minutes and didn't move an inch....

I have driven in Montreal, Toronto and Boston, and I have never been in traffic for that long in either of those cities.

Thank God it's over, we got home safe and Halifax is due to return to its balmy ways soon. Safe driving all!

PS. Need snow tires? We got a great deal and fab service from the Halifax guys. Highly recommend them!

photo copyright Halifax Herald Ltd/Peter Parsons, Staff Photographer, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Incredible spouse outraged by muffin-snub....

My wife, Lori, asked me to post her comments on my muffin blog that were cut short due to a 300 character limit on comments. Being the dutiful husband, I will oblige. Here they are:
I tried to reply to your blog but was censored to a limit of 300 characters.. and you know I've never spoken using less than 300 characters in my life so I am sending this to you via email so I can be free to express myself!!! You have my permission to post this if you so chose:) Love you lots.

"I feel compelled to point out the egregious error you made whilst listing your top muffins. Whilst the carrot-oatmeal-berry-whole wheat-healthy-applesauce replacement tactics are a big part of our muffin regime, it is with great moral outrage that I say “WHAT ABOUT BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP!!!!!?”. I realize sweetheart that I tend to take more than my fair share so you don't get to enjoy them as much… but come on now… you know you love them! I feel you are perhaps ashamed of your white flour-chocolate-infused tasty treat and thus neglected to mention it…so I will air our dirty laundry in honor of the great banana chocolate chip muffin. We eat them... and we love them."
Moral outrage duly noted. I wish only to add this in response to these passionate thoughts:
1. There is no partiality in my list due to hidden shame about liking banana chocolate chip (although I suppose my recipe adaptions do smack a little nutritionally-elite). I actually PREFER the recipes I listed ahead of banana chocolate chip, mainly because I find them a little cakey (especially the recipe we use which uses a lot of butter). BUT, you are right that I do like them- just not quite enough to make my top 5.
2. When I bake the banana chocolate chip muffin, it is with 50% whole wheat flour. I can't replace the butter, because I find banana muffins burn easily without enough oil/fat in the mixture. So they are buttery, to be sure, but they ARE 50% whole wheat, in keeping with my equal opportunity approach to flour mixing.
3. My only beef over the disproportionate number of banana chocolate chip muffins consumed by you has to do with there sometimes being none left to defrost in the morning to eat on the way to work. Other than that, I have no problems with the general enjoyment of muffins, banana chocolate chip or otherwise.
4. If the top 5 muffin list were composed using a democratic process where all family members' votes were weighted equally, I agree that
the banana chocolate chip would trump some of my faves.

Whew. Muffins debated, democracy and free speech defended and my wife listened to and affirmed. :) A blog to be proud of! lol

That said, I guess I should pencil in a banana chocolate chip muffin baking session sometime soon.... :) I love you too Lori- you're the best. I'd share my muffins with you anyday....

Thursday, November 30, 2006

THAT'S how you play the game...

FINALLY someone understands how to play the game. After all the name-calling and mudslinging, kudos to the Aitu core for recognizing an opportunity to put a nail in the coffin of people you know will get rid of you at the drop of the hat.

Adam, Parvati and Candice neither saw the handwriting on the wall after Nate went home, nor saw that Jonathan, however much they dislike him, is a far more convenient and disposable carry-along for the Aitu core the longer the game goes. They failed to see that Aitu realizes that Jonathan is someone that the Aitu core can instantly polarize against and vote off at their convenience, and that no matter what Aitu does to the remaining Raro members and no matter what assurances Raro members give out that they will vote for Yul if Jonathan goes before they do, the Raro tribe members on the jury are going to have to pick between people on a tribe that just got it done and eradicated their huge numerical advantage, and, if Jonathan goes to the final two, a guy who everyone has reason to dislike and the number 1 player everyone is willing to throw over the side.

It never ceases to amaze me how people sprout righteous indignation in this game. Candice's diatribe about how arrogant Jonathan was and how elitist the Aitu core was for eating without them was classic tunnel vision. How quickly the Raro three forgot the times where their entire strategy was to gloat about superior numbers, and how they coasted through the first days after the merge secure in the woefully uniformed bliss that they could vote out Yul at will and dictate the terms of the game.

In addition, Adam might be the most over-estimated physical threat to play the game. Raro kept him because they felt he was a physical asset needed to win challenges, and he was useless in every one until he won the immunity challenge tonight. Does anyone remember the preaching during the compass challenge where the only guy who dug worth his salt was Jonathan and Adam and Candice waltzed and patty-caked the beach like they were guaranteed a victory? His entire strategy has been to cuddle the chesty/cutesy girls and let other players carry the workload for the tribe.

The Aitu core get the essence of the game- it's about winning and furthering your chance to win, and you do what it takes to accomplish that. What is Raro going to do from the jury- base their votes on who they like the best? Aitu gets that the jury, however much they dislike the players in the final two always look at who played the game the hardest. I refer to Brian, winner of survivor Thailand, who NO ONE on the jury liked. But he won in a landslide.

You put the hammer down and play your game. You don't win by caring about the hurt feelings of a tribe that based its whole game on assuming numbers would take them to the end. They have been resilient and blocked out the other team's strategy in getting to where they are, and they are staying true to that.

On a lighter note, gotta love Jonathan going for everything he could in the auction. No money left, three items won, and a pile of players left wishing they'd done the same. Never leave the auction with money in your pocket...Becky's play to send Candice and take her money was AWESOME. The irony was killer- Candice could have flopped instead of Jonathan and been a good guy for Aitu, but because she's too busy smooching Adam and trying to look strong, and Aitu just kept sticking it to her. Can't wait to hear Candice erupt with bitterness at the final tribal council for the four trips to exile- that should be some fun TV....

Until next week....

PS- didn't you love Probst's barb to Candice that if it was really love she'd be wearing the immunity necklace? What a pot-stirrer....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Increasingly I am carpooling to work with teacher pals so that Lori has the car to both transport herself around in the late stages of pregnancy and to make getting Jonah to preschool easier a couple mornings a week.

That means I have to get up early, and getting up earlier than I did when I drove to school means that I REALLY don't eat breakfast now. That is, unless I have something in the freezer to thaw and munch on my way to or when I get to school.

That something is muffins. I love baking them, and I love eating them. I have a few recipes that are standards that I make large batches of (Texas sized, of course) and keep on hand in the freezer. So, in the spirit of my Starbucks post not so long ago, I would like to offer my top muffin recipes:
1. Carrot Raisin muffins
Note: I always replace the oil with unsweetened applesauce in this recipe, and for a real walk on the wild side, substitute half the carrot with shredded zucchini. You MUST soak the raisins with this one. Always moist, always good. 5 m's out of 5.
2a. Cornmeal muffins with blueberries
This reminds me of johnnycake with my best friends Gary and Jackie, who are West Indian. Love the texture and colour of these muffins. Gotta try it- good fibre in this one too. 4.5 m's out of 5.
2b. Oatmeal muffins with blueberries, raspberries or cranberries
RIGHT ON. Oatmeal AND berries. I adapt this recipe- you guessed it. Substitute applesauce for oil and buttermilk for milk. I use a cup of berries to each cup of buttermilk, though it's not called for. Also, a tablespoon of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. 4.5 m's out of 5 (though it's climbing in my book).
4. Applesauce Oat Muffins
This recipe is great, although a little plain. I love that it uses whole wheat flour and buttermilk. 4 m's out of 5.
5. yogurt muffins with berries au choix
We sometimes have opened yogurt that sits in our fridge for a while before it goes bad. When there is a critical mass of two or three opened yogurt containers that leaves enough for a batch, these muffins have been known to emerge from our oven. You can't replace all the butter with applesauce or these ones burn too easily.

They are a little sticky and sweet, but yummy nonetheless, and ecologically responsible (hey, finding a better use forold unspoiled yogurt is better for the earth than a toilet flush)... 4 m's out of 5.

You know how I feel about oil in muffins, but I also always include 50% whole wheat flour (in addition to using unbleached white flour). I also only use fresh frozen local Nova Scotia blueberries. Those grape sized high bush ones are an abomination.

I will also post some of my least favourite muffins:
1. Meadow muffins... need I say more?
2. Love muffins. I wonder about people who call their loved ones "muffin." It's a baked good, not a person to have and to hold. You wouldn't call them "my little love quiche," so why devalue the muffin?
3. Any of the cakey things that pass for muffins at donut shops. Yuck.

4. Costco muffins...Too cakey, and way too much muffin for one person to eat in a sitting.
5. Muffins with nuts. Not a big fan.

Hit me back people. Let us dialogue about the culinary delight that is muffins. (Hey, if we blog about muffins, are we bluffin? EEEWWW... Sorry about that one...)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

and now....

...for your blog reading and vlog viewing pleasure, my first ever vlog.

My assignment? Set up the Sony HVR-Z1U on a tripod and shoot two minutes of footage using the skills taught in last week's class (those being pan, tilt and zoom).

(I wasn't supposed to EDIT the footage, but I couldn't contain myself...Forgive me Father James.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Great tune...

Loving See You Soon by Coldplay off their bonus CD Coldplay Live 2003- first heard this version while crafting my podcast last Saturday at JP2MI.

I'm also loving that I got the DVD/CD set on used and delivered to my door for $10.48 CDN- that even beats Itunes... Ecommerce is good!

Love this...

My son, Jonah, and I hung out tonight as Lori hit a local craft fair with my Mom and sister Rachel. We played trains, coloured a massive Superman picture and did some serious dinky racing on a track sloping off the couch in our living room.

He noshed a snack of granny smith apple chunks, clementine sections and fresh cherries (pits removed, of course).

We're sitting at the kitchen table munching and playing with a few trucks, and he grabs a cherry, pops it into his mouth and closes his eyes, tilts his curly-haired head back as if savouring a rare cabernet sauvignon and says "Mmmmm Daddy. This makes me so yummy."

Classic line, to which I responded silently in my heart "you don't even know how right you are son."

Thanks for such an amazing boy, Lord. He's a joy and a treasure for life. Oh- and thanks for the cherries...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Know when to hold'em...

Kenny Rogers had it right folks- if you're going to play the game, know when to make the move that brings you the win.

Kudos to Jonathan for realizing that he had already made his bed when he mutinied against Aitu, and that someone had to be the one to shift the momentum of the game.

I have to say that the player that I am most disappointed in is Nate. He was a sharp guy, but he never seized the day and made the moves that would have put him in a position to win it all. Not seeing that Aitu needed a 5th after the merge was a major gaffe, and a missed opportunity to split the trio of Adam, Candice and Parvati OR send Jonathan, everyone's top choice as a liability, packing. Leaving Jonathan as the guy to flop was a bad call- he knew he was the swing vote. So YOU become the swing vote and let people believe Jonathan was the rogue agent.

I often wonder why more people don't make more bold moves like this and shake the game up. Making unpredictable moves keeps everyone on their toes and potential allies. It also leaves people scrambling to unite against you- broken plans take a long time to put right. Improvisation leads to errors...

Now the game has shifted- if Adam, Parvati and Candice want to stay alive, they have to change their plan and reach out and shift the alliances in Aitu, and they aren't that smart.

Jonathan also can spill Yul's beans about the immunity idol at his convenience to the Raro leftovers. He is now free to play the game without scruples, which no one else can do. That's a great ace in the hole, because who won't take a guy who sold out two tribes to the final two?

Jonathan comes up with a couple of immunity challenge wins and orchestrates a couple of votes, and he has as compelling a case to win as anyone who was loyal...

The game become more interesting tonight- love the turn of the screw, and we see again that the smart players who hesitate get whacked instead of deciding who gets whacked.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Merry Starbucks...

Jonah and I had a little father-son date at Starbucks tonite. He ordered his usual, and we shared a raspberry muffin (he insisted on spreading the butter though).

I went with the Christmas blend (grande black, with a teaspoon of honey), but I didn't love it.

I have come to appreciate good coffee, though I am not ready to log my coffee-talk weekly (check out my man Peter's coffeenerdness for that). However, I got to thinking about my fave blends, and I will share them with you here (#1 being my most highly enjoyed):
1. Komodo Dragon blend
2. Verona
3. Sumatra
4. House blend

Coffees that do not make my list are Ethiopian Sidomo (very stark and harsh) and the aforementioned Christmas blend (very flat tasting- has a hint of cardboard to it).

Perhaps I will be viewed as a coffee snob and/or un-Canadian for not including Tim Horton's coffee here, but I cannot endorse a coffee that is simply not worth drinking black.

I drink about once a week, and usually at Starbucks. That's my drink list- so how do you Starbuck? Hit me back with a grande comment blend... Cream and sugar can be found here.

My only other recommendation? Sip with someone you love (the love of your life or your favourite three year old both serve to enhance the experience significantly)....

Coffee on y'all!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do you know...

Whether your first name is becoming more or less popular?

What with baby#2 on the way in January, Lori and I are heavy into figuring out names.

We like names that aren't totally commonplace, but finding information about what's very trendy and what has staying power has been tough to come by (other than the plethora of top 10 most popular baby names by year lists that are on the web in droves).

That is, until we found this.

Gotta love people creating wacky stuff in Java script. Check out your own name and see how it stacks up in current trends and take a look at how prevalent it has been over the last 100 years or so.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cooking with gas....

Check out my first podcast EVER.

Gotta say that being part of JP2MI has been a real breath of fresh air for me so far. It's not just learning technology stuff. More than once working on assignments has been really impactful. Making this podcast was really moving for me- had a moment with Jesus in the editing lab putting this together...

Let me know what you think. I think I just might do this again.

Audi 5000.

Friday, November 17, 2006


If you didn't catch this week's episode of Survivor, then you missed an awesome show.

Lori, my friend Tim and I have talked at length about how the game needs more wrinkles more often. Tonight, we got one, and what a doozy it was.

Lesson learned from tonight's show: always be ready to give your best effort, like Aitu has been, and don't think that because you have more of something than somebody else that it gives you a definitive advantage.

Hats off to the creative team at Survivor for keeping the game fresh and exciting- nice wrinkle. Hope to see a couple more before it's over.

Personal Rant: Shame on Raro for not seeing the rising power of the 4 caucausian members. Nate, I thought you were smarter than that. Now it's you against the man- spark up the Tupac my friend. Hope you can navigate that and make the merge....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When your dreams attack like a ninja....

I remember hearing a story told by a grandson of Dutch grandparents about the liberation of Holland. His grandparents told him how they survived awful conditions and treatment under the Nazi occupation, subsisting on tulip bulbs for months sometimes.

They told him how the one thing that kept them alive was the hope that they would one day be free again, and they hung on to life so hard because of that hope.

The challenging part of the story came when they described how on the day that they were liberated by Canadian troops, exhausted, sick and emaciated Dutchmen and women streamed out of their homes as the troops filed by, realizing they were free. Some erupted for joy and danced and wept and embraced the liberating forces and celebrated that freedom, their great hope, had come unexpected to their door, and they were ready to live again.

What broke my heart was the description of many Dutchmen and women, who, when freedom found its way to their doors as they had prayed and fought for every day, fell down and died from massive heart failures because they couldn't handle the reality that freedom was finally there. They had existed for so long in captivity and conditioned themselves to just survive that when freedom, their wildest dream, arrived, their hearts couldn't deal with it and they keeled over dead.

That's a pretty weighty story, but I was reminded of it this summer when I wondered if I was ever going to get a job with the school board, or if I was ever going to be able to afford to buy a home for my wife and family. It was pretty desperate, but I really felt God challenge me to keep my dream alive, no matter what it took.

Mere weeks later I had a full time job with the school board, finally earning a salary on par with my teaching peers instead of living on sub poverty wages as a substitute teacher.

We started to talk about buying a home about a month later. Last week we went to see our first batch of houses. We wrote an offer on one last Saturday, not really expecting anything to come together.

I learned my lesson. Sometimes God answers your prayer after years, but you have to be so careful not to let yourself box God into a space where you only believe he can do something if it takes years to accomplish it.

The offer we put in was accepted by noon the next day, and pending an inspection and estimate from an electrician tomorrow afternoon, we will be homeowners on December 11, 2006, in time for us to fully renovate all the things we want to complete and move in before baby #2 comes in January.

It's been almost 6 years since we moved home from Montreal to Halifax, and sometimes it seemed like none of this would ever happen. But this last two months is a reminder to me that just because it looks like nothing is happening doesn't mean God isn't at work and contending for you, and that the things you hold on to God for are never far from his heart.

So, if you're holding on for something, don't give up and don't let go of your dream. You never know when it will drop out of the air and bushwack you like a herd of ninjas....

Friday, November 10, 2006

How do I get off this crazy train...

How do you slow down when life is loopy? The last three weeks have been nutso for me- something happening every night. I feel like I haven't had a meaningful chat with my wife or son in about month (although that's not true), and I just feel numb or zoned out most of the time.

My biggest worry is about what's going to happen when our second baby comes, probably sometime 6 to 8 weeks from now. I'm really jazzed about the baby- I'm excited to find out what that little person is like, to see their face and smell their head (one of the little publicized joys of parenthood, although Bono did tip off the world about it- check out line 10).

I'm just concerned about the transition and making sure that life doesn't get out of control. I know Lori and I made the transition with Jonah just fine, and we made a rhythm that worked after he got here, and I know that we'll be OK when baby comes, it's just that I wonder how it will all shake down.

I'm not mourning the loss of "normal." A wise man once told me this about parenthood:

When you think things are changed forever and you look back and think about what normal used to be like, take a deep breath, smile and relax; welcome yourself to your new normal.

I guess I am just so thankful for the fullness Lori and I have been able to find since Jonah's birth. Our lives didn't end- they got much richer, and I think that our marriage and our life has been more amazing since Jonah than either ever was before.

I'm not worried about life not being amazing either- just that we've worked so hard to come to where we are, and adding a new person means going back to work.

And maybe that's why I am stressed. I'm really tired right now- not just from three weeks, but from a stretch of life where I have carried a lot, and I don't want to cheap the effort needed to build a new "amazing" because I am weary. If I cheat, it won't be my family that gets shorted, but that means something else does.

My problem is that I am a 100% guy- whatever I do gets that much, because if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Only now some of those things I can only afford 60% on, and some things don't work with that kind of effort.

So something has to go! If there are wiser and more learned people out there who have walked this line before, I am your grasshopper. Throw me a bone here. :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Right on...

Lori Boucher wrote an awesome entry today about being passionate about being who you are (check it out here).

Her thoughts are something that I have come to terms with since I moved back to Halifax five years ago.

At the time, I really wrestled with being recognized or appreciated (or at least needing that, or needing people to see me and my value as a person and a part of the body of Christ). I struggled because I was engaged in things I was passionate about, which was amazing, but conflicted about not rising to prominence through that.

God really challenged me on that- about both striving to be someone "big", and about making others "bigger" than myself in order to rise to their level somehow.

I finally came to a place where I found rest- I had to make up my mind about two things:
1. That if what I was doing was really for God- the audience of one- and that if it pleased him, then affirmation from elsewhere was irrelevant. Was I going to be satsified and fulfilled with the pleasure of God, or was I going to be selfish and require people to fawn over me to meet my needs for signficance?
2. Whether or not I would allow myself to find my identity in who God says I am instead of my value to others in what I can do, and what I contribute to others. Would I accept God at face value when he says that I am fearfully made, that I am no more or less significant or important to the work of the church than the newest Christian or the most famous pastor?

Talk about dying to self. It's one thing to say that you are going to make up your mind about stuff life this- it's another to live out your decision.

But, with God's help, I did. I stopped looking at my role in ministry as a vehicle to esteem, honour and even notoriety. I started seeing it as my opportunity to bless God's heart in a way that only I could. When I did, it was like a whale was lifted off my back and spirit, and I felt less burdened and more effective, confident and connected to others than ever. I was able to say things like "This is important to me, but it doesn't matter if it's me that accomplishes it- my passion is to see it happen. If I can be part of it in any way at, especially if it's an invisible role- it would be joy to my heart to see it come together," and really mean it.

I also stopped feeling inferior and superior to people. I totally respect figures within the church who have found a place of esteem- Billy Graham, TD Jakes, David Demian- they are gifted and important, and I would be remiss not to honour them for their service to the church. But where I used to feel second class and intimidated to talk with people on what I perceived to be a higher level, I found myself discovering that they are people just like me- their underwear gets dirty, they get tired and cranky, they have bad habits they struggle with- and that their part of body isn't more critical than mine. If I don't fulfill my role, they suffer like I would if they abdicated their role.

I could approach serving with a confidence that what I was doing really did matter, and that as much as I could learn from them, I had something that could bless them too.

And I stopped finding my significance in function. I'm not valuable because of everything I do- I am valuable because I am me, because God created me because he wanted to and felt I was needed in the world. I am a masterpiece in progress, something beautiful underway, and there is no one of whom this is not true.

So when I say that I refuse to be "small" anymore, I mean that I refuse to belittle, devalue and constrain myself to destiny that is far lesser than the destiny God intends. I approach everything I do as if I am a critical factor in its success, and work to achieve that success knowing that in doing so I have a ready made opportunity to point people to Christ when it comes time to acknowledge contribution and hand out honour, because anything I can do stems directly from how much God has invested in me and enabled me to do.

So Lori, RIGHT ON. Well put, and to all of you out there- remember this little song I learned when I was a little boy if you feel like shrinking back from being who God made you to be:
I'm someone special
I'm the only one of my kind
God gave me a body
and a bright and healthy mind
He has a special purpose
That He wants me to find
That's why I'm someone special
I'm the only one of my kind..

As we like to say here in Nova Scotia when considering whether to go for it or not, just give'er.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Catching the fallen

We had a very interesting discussion in class last week about the increased presence of religious content and theme in the media, particularly over the last two years (buoyed in large part by Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ and the death of Pope John Paul II). Part of our discussion centered around the prevalence of religious "content" in many programs that paint a slanted portrait of people of faith. One of our instructors remarked that several recent episodes of CSI have featured priests (one as the victim in a homicide, one as an adulterer entwined in the murder of his pregnant lover), and we asked whether these representations are good because the provide some foundation for discussion and clarification with those who don't believe, or whether they are bad because they add to the negative picture of Christianity and faith already entrenched in our culture.

Then this past Friday, details of Ted Haggard's resignation/removal from his church due to moral failing surfaced. The spin around this was flying, what with the American midterm election campaigning at full throttle, and I heard several pundits refer to Haggard merely as an "influential right-wing evangelical."

Coming from the secular media, I understand their label, because to them he's a political figure first, seeking to influence election outcomes. Still, I found it unnerving to see a man reduced to a political factor- there is so much more at stake in the outcome of this for Haggard and the church than how it affects a "rightist" turnout in the midterms.

As difficult as this news was for Christians and the Church, I feel that it offers us the opportunity to show the world how Christ mandated we should deal with the fallen and turn what could be a black mark into a testimony of grace at work and demonstrate that the church operates differently than the world does.

I found myself reflecting back to a time where my favourite worship leader, Kevin Prosch, told the world about moral failing that required him to step away from public ministry. Now Prosch never has exerted an influence as significant as Haggard's, but the reaction to the news fell divided.

One one hand, some believed that Prosch was totally done in ministry- that his failing (and the resulting failure of his marriage) disqualified him from ever holding any position in the church again.

This was really out of touch with how God asks us to deal with those who have fallen:
1 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. 2 Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. 3 If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 4 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. (Galatians 6:1-4, The Message)
Thankfully, some gathered around Prosch and prayed for his restoration and provided a place of safety in which to deal with his failing, re-establish credibility and allow healing and development of personal character to help ensure there was no repeat.

The first group was far, far louder than the second. Thankfully, the second group was far more persistent and effective.

In 2002, Kevin made a return to the world of worship with his CD Palanquin, and to a place of ministry in the church.

I was glad to see Kevin back. Whenever I hear scripture about how all believers make up one body, and that we all have a meaningful place of belonging and purpose, I think of how much I missed Kevin Prosch in worship. He is a uniquely gifted songsmith, and some of his songs have become life-anthems of sorts for me, so when he was restored to ministry it was like a part that was missing was found.

One thing I do note though, is that even with restoration, there will always be a need for people who love Kevin to surround him and love him enough to help him guard against the temptation to which he fell before. Being restored doesn't mean that no one remembers or is required to forget the fall altogether- it means that despite the fall, grace and mercy are applied and a place is made for the fallen to come back to the table, and that one must be ever vigilant, with the help of community, to walk in a way that seeks to cut off opportunity to fall again.

That's my prayer for Ted Haggard. He's a real guy with a real family- he's not just a factor in an election. I pray that he will find people ready to love him, pray and walk with him and restore him, and a place in the body where he can still fulfill the destiny that God intended for him. I'm in no position to throw stones at him, and I pray for the body of Christ that we will remember that Jesus saved us from sins no less grievous than his before we speak in anything but love.

Mercy, grace and love to you Ted. May you fall into the hands of Christ and the arms of loving brothers and sisters to rise again and find your place in the body.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Basking in goodness...

One of the joys I have at my local church is to lead in worship and to worship with other lead worshippers, and over the last year I have noticed a real deepening in our worship. Not that we were a shallow lot before this, but I know that I have learned to worship from a place of lack and need just as passionately as I have from a place of fulfillment.

One of the things I love about this shift is how our songs have really moved away from a theme of what we receive from God to songs about who God is, about his nature and how he is always faithful and good to us in all things. I usually lead once every four weeks in rotation with other leaders, and I find myself increasingly lost in God's confounding goodness in worship. I am so overcome that often all I can do is play my guitar because I am unable to sing or I am a sobbing mess and couldn't blubber a chorus to save the world.

I wanted to share some of the songs I keep coming back to in worship that keep that sense of overwhelming goodness fresh in my heart with you, so without further ado:

His Banner Over Me Is Love, by Kevin Prosch (with a nod to Capstone's rendition on Jesus Lifted High)

Your Love, by Eoghan Heaslip
Faithful, by Eoghan Heaslip

O Taste and See, by Brian and Jenn Johnson

How Can I Keep From Singing, by Chris Tomlin

You Are There (Psalm 139), by Joel Engle

Friend of God, by Lakewood Church

Worthy, by Matt Redman

Sometimes I wonder if people are tired of singing these songs as often as we do, but I inevitably can't escape that these songs are voices to what's gushing out of my heart towards God, and that I am better off worshipping through songs that reflect what's really in my heart than pumping out tunes that sound good but aren't coming from a genuine place in my spirit...

Wondering what songs you are worshipping to that are stroking the gotta-sing-about-how-good-God-is bone... Drop me a note and let me know- I'd love to hear what's moving you to move God's heart.

Rock on y'all- rock on....

Gripping stuff...

I watched this program

the other night on PBS and was incredibly moved.

It chronicles one man's efforts to uncover his African roots (as well has his efforts to help several prominent black people's roots simultaneously), delving through geneaological resources, documents in archives across the US and using some cutting edge DNA techniques to ascertain the genetic breakdown of his ancestry.

It was amazing to see people's reactions to the discovery of various things: the shared ancestry with both white and black slaveholders, the shared ancestry with really amazing individuals who made a difference in their time, and the discovery of shared genetic history with real peoples in Africa and other places in the world.

Perhaps the most moving part of the story was seeing Chris Tucker's journey to Africa to visit the villages of a people he shares a definitive portion of his genetic code with. You could see how overwhelmed he was to be amongst people who were his family, despite never knowing them. The discovery of this bond immediately impacted him and changed his life, having an anchor in a place where once there were only questions.

It got me thinking about how amazing God is, and how transforming his love is. Not everyone has the resources to pursue the kind of self-discovery that the host of the show or Chris Tucker did, but God provides us with a center in our identity that's unshakeable. He gives us identity and worth from the moment we are conceived, and never loses sight of who we are. He cares for us down to the most minute details, and gives us a future and a hope.

The thing I love the most about this aspect of God is that I don't have to go all the way across the world to find it- he is reaching, straining with every fibre of his being across the breach of eternity to me in every moment to make himself real and flood my life with goodness, love and mercy. It's why self-definition happens most profoundly when in the midst and context of learning what God believes, says and loves about us- your whole life is changed.

Thanks God- you do all things well....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Go me... It's my birthday....

Just finished having dinner with my wife, our boss and my folks and Lori is on the way to the airport to drop our boss off, so I thought I would stream (read: let my mind run onto paper) for a couple minutes.

I turned 31 today, and while I am not one of those people for whom milestone birthdays (30th, 40th, 50th, etc) inspire fits of despair and loathing of life, I will admit that birthdays and the times leading up to them have offered greater reason for reflection as of late.

If you read this blog, you know that I am taking the John Paul II Media Institute course on media production. At class the other night I realized that I am the only person in the group who has a child. It was kind of interesting, because part of what I was talking about really doesn't make full sense unless you have kids.

I love the perspective that comes with getting older. I'm no old fart by any stretch (and I do not intend to ever fall into that category), but I do see that time and life lived really helps crystallize things to a state that you can appreciate them and decide what you are going to hang onto in life and what you let go of.

The last 5-7 years have been really amazing for me because God has really done a work in my life to break me out of my self-imposed pressure to either grow up or get over things. I was always in such a rush to get through things that were difficult or needed me to take a look at myself and then invest in the process of growth; I saw areas I needed to grow in as indicators of weakness, poor character or laziness, and I dealt with them ruthlessly and mercilessly, like I was rubbing out hostile rebel forces in my life.

Over that time, I have learned to not have to drive myself at impractical and unhelpful pacing. I have learned that there's healing in walking in your brokeness before God and letting people into your life to help you where you are weak. I have learned that God's goodness is at work in my life whether I am hurting or hooray-ing, and to center myself in that goodness at all times regardless of what's going on in life.

I enjoy life more than I used to. I strive less, and I am at rest about who God made me to be and what he's doing in my life to help me become everything he intended. I don't have points to make or axes to grind- I just want to live honestly and give God my best in everything, and I am learning to love giving my best in something I really am poor at as much as I love giving my best in the things that I am fantastic in.

As a Dad, I love Jonah more than I ever did, and I enjoy him every bit as much now as I ever did when he was just born- I don't pine for other times or stages of development, because I love him for who he is, and no matter how old he gets, he'll always be who he is, and I'll love and value him just as much then as now.

God is helping me to have that kind of grace for myself- to love me for who I am, and for where I am in God's plan and purpose for my life, and to believe the best about me and hope and trust for an amazing life.

I used to hate my birthday- it reminded me of all the things that were wrong with me. I secretly called it the worst day of the year because I saw all the things that I hadn't changed or grown past, and how far and how hard I could work and never realize the kind of change in my life that I was really longing for.

Now birthdays are days of appreciation- for the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout the year just finishing- and they are days of anticipation- for greater grace, growth and fulfillment of promise for another year.

Can't tell you how amazing it feels to write this- to look back and see how God has changed my heart and helped me grow more tender and beautiful instead of hard and angry. It's pretty overwhelming, and I'm fairly bursting with hope for what God can do in my heart this year.

Thanks for celebrating with me. I'll try and post some dinner pics from my party tomorrow so you can savor the amazing grub from afar. Let me know if you're ever in Halifax so you can come by and commiserate- TTFN. :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Redemptoris Missio nos. 37-38

Not being a Catholic, I am thoroughly enjoying the readings taken from texts by John Paul II. I have always appreciated him (in part because he is a fellow Pole), yet I find myself increasingly taken with his accurate reading of the state of the church, its role and needs for change and adaptation. It's amazing to learn more about him and his passion for the church as we move along.

In particular, sections of the reading that spoke to me included:

Today the image of mission ad gentes is perhaps changing: efforts should be concentrated on the big cities, where new customs and styles of living arise together with new forms of culture and communication, which then influence the wider population. It is true that the "option for the neediest" means that we should not overlook the most abandoned and isolated human groups, but it is also true that individual or small groups cannot be evangelized if we neglect the centers where a new humanity, so to speak, is emerging, and where new models of development are taking shape. The future of the younger nations is being shaped in the cities.

Speaking of the future, we cannot forget the young, who in many countries comprise more than half the population. How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people. This is a field where modern ecclesial movements have ample room for involvement.

Among the great changes taking place in the contemporary world, migration has produced a new phenomenon: non-Christians are becoming very numerous in traditionally Christian countries, creating fresh opportunities for contacts and cultural exchanges, and calling the Church to hospitality, dialogue, assistance and, in a word, fraternity...

As in the reading from week 2, John Paul's identification of the need for the church to achieve both fluency and fraternity in the culture and language of the emerging generations is another reminder that old wineskins and old wine cannot quench the thirst of the world- that requires Christ's new wine, and we must allow ourselves to be transformed and become new wineskins.

This requires us to meet the world where it is, like Christ did, and not be afraid to be in the world, and demonstrate a genuine compassion for the lost that is primarily expressed by consistent presence in the everyday lives of people, immersed in the way that they are while shining, living a hope and way that draws people to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.

After preaching in a number of places, St. Paul arrived in Athens, where he went to the Areopagus and proclaimed the Gospel in language appropriate to and understandable in those surroundings (cf. Acts 17:22-31)...There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the "new culture" created by modern communications. This is a complex issue, since the "new culture" originates not just from whatever content is eventually expressed, but from the very fact that there exist new ways of communicating, with new languages, new techniques and a new psychology. Pope Paul VI said that "the split between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly the tragedy of our time,"62 and the field of communications fully confirms this judgment.

This further confirms our mission as disciples that we not only have a call to evangelize individuals (which we do!), but we are also called to redeem cultures for the sake of the gospel. To simply use a culture as a conduit to pipeline a message demonstrates a contempt for that culture, and those who live within it. If we love the people, we will also learn to love their culture, and allow Christ to walk with us, reach into an entire people and create transformation on a social level. This reminds me of how Hudson Taylor approached his missions work, loving and living his way into Chinese communities.

Our times are both momentous and fascinating.

I love that John Paul II refuses to see our times as anything other than an incredible opportunity unlike any yet seen in history, as a frontier to be pioneered, explored and connected to the gospel like the missions to the new world in the times of Cartier and Columbus. I think it's critical that we approach our call with this kind of zeal and perspective; instead of living under a crushing weight of impossibility and defeatism, we stride boldly into the unknown, trusting God to lead us and empower us with a message and a medium that can and will redeem our time and culture. He did it with the early church under Roman rule without mass media- how much more can we achieve with equal zeal and a host of strategies and tools that have never before existed?

Thanks for the reading- looking forward to discussing this tomorrow.

updating last week's homework

I wanted to post another photo for consideration, as the one I posted last week wasn't actually taken by me. This one was taken in an effort to use the elements of composition covered in our session with Dan on Digital Photography.

(O Dan, where art the notes for thine lesson, within which are contained learnings and knowledge I long to recall and review for the betterment of mine application of the principles thou has expounded unto us? Missio Basiatio Adulatio Magister, Paulus Wozney I, 2006)

Without further ado or butchering of latin, here it is for your consideration:

Monday, October 23, 2006

little things make a big difference

I am working on a Thomas the Tank Engine mock-up that fits in my son's wagon so he can have a steam engine to conduct for Halloween when he goes trick-or-treating as an engineer. He's pretty nuts about trains, so it's a lot of fun to be working on something he's so excited about.

I'm building this thing out of plywood, so I am spending some good time in my Dad's garage using his tools. Jonah loves being in the workshop, and he tries to help with whatever I am doing.

One thing I have made up my mind about as a dad is that I want Jonah to know not just how special he is to me, but also that I need him as much as he needs me. Because of that, I always try to make space in whatever I am doing for Jonah to be involved.

If we're baking cookies, I let him turn on the kitchenaid and dump in the dry ingredients and unwrap the blocks of margarine (and sneak tastes of the batter...don't tell mom though...). When we're in the workshop, I let him help me mark pencil lines for measurements, sand wood with a sanding block, or let him paint wood scraps with the same paint I am using for our Thomas project.

It might not be teaching him rocket science, but what Jonah is learning is that we will do things together, and that we will help each other. It's a little thing, but I already see Jonah jumping into action without being asked to help when we start something new, and it's because he believes that he's capable and that he's needed. He's not even three yet, and he already is proactive about helping and working together.

If you are a parent, or anyone who works with kids or youth, make time in your life for little things like this. They pay huge dividends down the road, and it's amazing to see kids blossom with some personal investment and encouragement. They never turn out perfect, but lessons learned well when you're little or young end up lessons lived well when you're old.

I will post a picture of our Thomas mock-up next week in time for Halloween. He's looking more like a train every day!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

going low...

Lori and I were talking today about friends that live in another town in Nova Scotia who have decided to start a church together. She asked me how I felt about it, and got thinking about it.

These friends are wonderful people who truly love God and have a heart to win people and disciple them, and I would never presume to have an accurate read on the motivation of their hearts for starting a new church. So my answer ended up being a question: are they called to serve in the church, or to separate themselves from the existing church and start something completely new?

One of my heartaches for the church is how so few people see the call to ministry simply as a call to serve willingly in a church where they can be a blessing to a shepherd and establish themselves as a pillar of that church without seeking honour or acclaim for themselves, and how so many need for that call to result in a full-time ministry position (often of prominence and recognition) in order to follow it faithfully and passionately.

This is not to say that I resent or don't respect those who serve in paid ministry positions- the only job I've ever known my Dad to have is as a pastor of a local congregation. What really bothers me is that so many automatically assume a call to ministry decrees that they should become a pastor (or more specifically, paid clergy).

This kind of thinking demonstrates a real lack of understanding about "pastoring." Pastoring is a spiritual gift and a five-fold office established by the Holy Spirit; it is not a job title or an position of employment that validates a passion or confirms someone's gifting. Graham Cooke did some amazing teaching on this that has stayed with me ever since, and the longer I live in community with other believers, the more accurate his teaching is.

What's more problematic for me is that the church tends to validate and perpetuate this understanding of serving and leading within the church. I get invitations to attend amazing conferences all the time, yet I can count the number of times the main speaker (or even a second tier keynote speaker) has been anything other than paid clergy (and typically paid clergy from churches that are huge and famous) on one hand.

I am not closed in the least to sitting under the ministry of people like this- I have learned some life changing things this way.

I simply cringe at the divorce between the message often spoken about the need to walk in humility and selflessness, to let your giftings speak for themselves instead of seeking self-promotion, to prefer others above yourself and love with Christ's love that seeks to see those you minister to exceed you and accomplish far greater things than you ever did and the silently conveyed message that far too often seems to trump the one just described: that the people really worth listening or opening your heart to are those who are famous or popular or leading large churches or reaching huge audiences.

What this unspoken message serves to do is perpetuate the myth that the people speaking at these events are somehow more gifted or capable of greater impact than you or I. People see this dynamic, coupled with the revolving door cycle that pastoring has become in the evangelical church, and see that "ministry" is for really amazing people, not for the everyday person.

I remember as a teen wrestling with the very clear call I felt to ministry and the passion I had to become a teacher, feeling as if these things were mutually exclusive and that I would have to pick one or the other. So many youth pastors and leaders in my area that I approached for counsel laid it on thick that if I really loved God and felt a call that the only God-honouring course should be bible college immediately after school.

Thank God my Dad had the good sense to make sure that I got real counsel. He was so sensitive to what I felt in my heart, and never did anything to pressure me one way or the other. In fact, I will always remember how he challenged me to listen to God for myself and follow what I felt God saying. The icing has been that my Dad, to this day, has not only verbalized his support, but has consistently put his money(as in hard earned paycheck), house, car, time and help where his mouth was.

Now, after 5 years of secular education at Dalhousie and McGill universities and nearly 8 years of work experience with three different secular school boards, I have never been more sure of or secure in the call I felt all those years ago or my pursuit of a career as a teacher. Not only do I shine every day in a workplace where there are few believers and have an opportunity to serve and be a blessing to people that have never seen or heard of Jesus, but I also serve in leadership at my church and minister in many facets- sunday school teacher and organizer, lead worshipper and helper to other leaders in worship, board member, webmaster and tech leader, and sometime speaker and teacher when my Dad is away or visiting his second congregation.

I have more opportunity to minister where I am than many pastors do in "ministry" positions with specific (and sometimes restrictive) portfolios, and I'm more in love with the church than I have ever been. It's a crime that we herd people to theological schools with such gusto (often to find few or no opportunities to work as a pastor) and do so little to affirm them in following their God-given dreams in the career of their heart and help them discover their giftings and ministry strengths in the context of relationship and commitment to a local church, pastor and congregation.

SO (after such a gargantuan entry), one of my hopes in pursuing "ministry" through my life's work and involvement with my local church is to demonstrate that every life is a platform to minister from, and that we rob ourselves of untold heart-wealth by ignoring the riches nearest ourselves in each other in favour of hearing the latest DVD series from Pastor Amazing from the Incredible Intergalactic Church (ok, so I'm being sarcastic here...).

Along with that, my prayer is that we will see the heart of Christians shift from propping up the cult of pastor-hero-celebrities that is such a huge part of the 20-80 problem (20% of the people in the church do 80% of the work, with a startling chunk of that 20% on the payroll...) to esteeming one another and giving place and honour to the people in our midst and tapping the Jesus in each other.

Whew... I feel better. Thanks for listening. Y'all come again, y'hear? Loads of love...

Friday, October 20, 2006


It's surreal how accurately my son has captured our likeness as a family..... What a great kid!

feel the music...

Had a crying-in-the-car-on-the-way-to-work moment with Jesus this morning while rocking out to this song:

I want to live like there's no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one's around
I want to sing like nobody's listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I'm not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made

Made in Your likeness, made with Your hands
Made to discover who You are and who I am
All I've forgotten help me to find
All that You've promised let it be in my life
~Chris Tomlin, The Way I Was Made, from the album Arriving

In the words of Phil Hartman, playing an acting coach in a SNL sketch, live that that way...

I'm filthy rich....

Not that I don't daily take time to return thanks to God for my incredibly full life- you know, the one where I enjoy amazing health, am surrounded by incredible people who love me and believe in me, live in an unbelievable home, eat and drink as much nutritious and delicious food and safe, clean water as I can handle, dress in seasonally appropriate clothing that is clean and fashionable, and enjoy the freedom to worship, participate in democracy and express my opinion and write freely- but sometimes you just GOTTA take a moment to savour the riches God pours into you unceasingly. (Props to J-Boucher for sharing this)

After a full day at school, I had an evening professional development session to attend until 6pm and then a curriculum night back at school from 6:30-7:30pm. It was a long day, and I was glad to get home at about 8:10 pm.

I opened the door and got tackled (almost jacked up) by my son, who just about blew out his vocal chords screaming "DADDY! YOU'RE HOME!". He nearly hugged my left knee into a condition requiring surgery, and then I got to hug and kiss my otherworldly wife and savour the aroma of her hair and skin while she told me I was missed and loved.

I don't want for a thing Lord. You're good to me beyond any measure of reason, and all I can do is say how grateful I am and celebrate your kindness, generosity and faithfulness to me. My life is the jackpot, and I know all of it comes straight from your heart to me.

(***Longlasting dumbfounding inner silence and an overwhelming realization of how amazing God has commenced. Stand by.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well put...

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."
St. Francis of Assisi

Me too Chris....

The bridge in Chris Tomlin's opening track How Can I Keep From Singing Your Praise? on his new album See The Morning.

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And I fall down again

I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer

I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

Amen to that.

Homework: A Picture of Passion

I got to spend some awesome family time with my wife and son at the Maritime Fall Fair last Saturday morning. It's always a blast, and mainly because I love seeing Jonah so excited about seeing new things.

I picked this photo as an example of passion for a few reasons:
  • because the donkey is TOTALLY into the treats he's nibbling
  • Jonah is electric at the experience of being around farm animals and feeling the big, fuzzy lips against his hand
  • I can't think of many things better in life than sharing incredible moments with my family. I'm loopy about my son, and I might be more excited about the whole experience than he was. Seeing him smile and laugh and enjoy life is surreal- everything "serious" disappears when that happens.
If you have kids, you know what I mean. If you don't, you'll have to wait until you have at least one, a handful of feed and a hungry donkey in a petting zoo to really feel this one...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Be careful about what you think is cool....

Covering for a colleague away for a sports tournament today, I had the task of supervising three grade 9 classes. Two were fine, with most students doing what was asked of them and without much, if any grief.

One class took every opportunity to be as rude and defiant as possible. I asked the group if they were for real- that what I was seeing was an accurate picture of who they were and what they thought was important. One kid jeered that she wasn't doing anything she didn't normally do or that wasn't something she was absolutely proud of. A bunch of her classmates ate it up and cheered her on as she wasted hers and everyone else's time. I thanked her for her input and ended the conversation.

Meanwhile, there were about a half dozen students making every effort to do what their teacher had left for them to do in an unbelievably noisy and distracting environment, paying little heed to the silliness surrounding them.

I thought about it after school and was amazed at the difference in the two groups. One group not only thought school was important for them, but they showed that it was by the way they acted and worked regardless of who was in the room and responsible for the class.

The other group showed they thought that peer approval and getting their own way was important, and they were prepared to do whatever it took to achieve what they valued.

Just showed me again how critical it is to watch what you think and dwell on in your mind, what you give air time to in your own thoughts and imagination. If you fill the space with foolishness, then you end up spending your life foolishly and having little to show for it. If you fill it with wisdom, truth or character, you end up paying the price and seeing things develop in your life that bear long lasting and beneficial dividends.

It got me thinking about what I fill my mindspace with regularly, and how that translates into how I am spending my time. I might not think about how to make people look silly, but that doesn't mean everything I am dwelling on is worthwhile or true or beautiful.

Maybe it's because I'm 30, or because I have a son now, or just because I've lived enough to understand, but I see now that time is either spent on things that will last and have value or on things that are ultimately without worth or a waste- there is no middle ground. It either matters in the long run, or it doesn't.

Help me, Jesus, to spend my life investing instead of spending, to give my thoughts to things that pay back benefits for life instead of things that cost me time, life and effort. Help me to be fruitful in all things, regardless of whether it's an easy time to be fruitful or not. I want my life to matter like yours did.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Right? Feels right...

I happen to serve on the church board at Alive Christian Church. I'm coming up to the end of my first year as an elected board member. It's been an interesting one. You already know how I feel about being a person with concerns who does nothing to help resolve them (see the Edmund Burke quote from my October 4 blog), so I have been very challenged in this role to be even more on guard about being the solution myself as opposed to one who recognizes issues.

One of the things that is coming to the center of our shared faith is that as much as we have an individual walk with Christ, it's linked intrisically to the walk of faith we share as a local church community. We have had some revelatory moments about how true that is in the past couple years, both good and bad, and it struck me again this week how critical it is for us to allow God to build in us the kind of love and commitment for one another that he has for us.

One of the reasons we haven't seen the kind of growth and progress we expected is that we really had a much lower level of care and commitment to one another than we cared to admit. We are now seeing that changing that lower level involves growing through things that people have been reluctant to work through in the past, including resolving conflict, repenting and asking forgiveness, restoring broken relationships and seeking understanding with one another to eliminate places for division to creep in.

This past week I needed to make contact with three people in our congregation, two I needed to apologize to and one I needed to go and resolve an offense with.

While I realize that the devil is never thrilled with people making relationships work, I continue to be amazed at how we let outselves get pscyhed out by seeking resolution, either by overblowing things or simply poo-pooing (can you say that in a blog?) them as unimportant. Hey, I get that working things out holds about the same amount of sex appeal as taking out the trash or scrubbing the toilet, but the benefits of taking care of relationships is a lot like enjoying a clean home or bathroom- the longer you leave things, the more you hate being there, the less likely you are to clean it and the more costly (and distressing) it gets to clean it when it gets to a point where you just can't take it anymore. Clean bathrooms are a treat, and it's easy to relax and live in a clean house- right relationships are like that too.

So I made the three calls I needed to make, and instead of having three headaches I ended up having three really positive and beneficial conversations that left me with three improved relationships.

When you approach resolution from a heart like Christ, it has nothing to do with how correct you or the other person are. It has everything to do with how right your relationship is, and, all of a sudden, who's correct becomes immaterial; what needs to be done to make sure that right relationship continues to flourish takes center stage and God gives you grace to put your best foot forward regardless of what anyone else is doing.

You'll take it on the chin, demonstrating forbearance and love for someone, and they see your true motivation and are willing to find a place of commonality in Christ and work things out. What I love most is that instead of having an ugly bruise that reminds you of a sore spot, your wear a mark that reminds you that love conquers all and provides you with hope and courage to nurture that relationship again and again.
Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
So who cares who's right? When you (the collective you) are right, then it feels right and you begin to nurture a habit of right living that bears lifechanging fruit in every season you walk through.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Life never gets easier...

I recently began a new job as a literacy coordinator and support teacher at Ross Road School. This is a welcome change from 3 years of substitute teaching and one year of teaching for a non-profit group where I worked with very troubled youth living in group care. Not that either of those jobs was without merit or its own sense of fulfillment, but knowing where I will work and having some expectation of stability about who I will work with and how they will behave is a very valuable thing when you have existed without either for nearly 5 years.

Getting a term contract was a HUGE answer to prayer, so my relief in finding full-time work was enormous.

All of that said, I found myself at work today feeling rather lost and of little consequence, and it hit me again that life never gets easier or more simple.

Lori, Jonah and I (as well as a myriad of family and friends) prayed for so long to have this opportunity, and now that we have come to the place where we enjoy its fulfillment, I see again that a prayer answered or a goal achieved doesn't lead to total satisfaction.

Not that I assumed this, but simply getting the job wasn't the end of 5 years of really deep, personal testing and struggle. It just marked the end of one struggle and the beginning of a new one.

I'm learning that the real gold in life comes from gleaning every ounce of learning and wisdom you can out of the trials and problems you go through. I can't recall the last time I didn't have some trial facing me in life. Thank God he's helping me to enjoy his process in my life as I grow through them instead of dreading life and the challenges it brings every day.

"But he knows where I am and what I've done. He can cross-examine me all
he wants, and I'll pass the test with honors." Job 23:10

I've learned from my last 5 years to celebrate how good God is when life isn't. Figuring out how to do this new job and carve out a niche where I can make a difference and be a joy in peoples' lives won't be agony- I intend to savour it and enjoy as many moments as God gives me grace for.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blog Pals....

Part of my homework for the John Paul II Media Institute this week is to create a blog entry that links to a video or podcast that I enjoyed.

I will do that, AND MORE... lol

Some good friends pastor in Ottawa, Ontario at a great church called the Life Centre ( They are making the sharing of the teaching that happens at their church with others via the web a regular priority, and they have some excellent resources available for people.

There are a couple that I would like to share with you.

The church I attend, Alive Christian Church ( is currently nearing the end of year 1 of a nearly 3 year long process designed to help us rekindle the passion for disciplemaking and shift the focus and efforts of our church to align with the great command and commission that Christ left for his church.

One of the things I am particularly challenged by and am thoroughly enjoying is examining our beliefs and attitudes about what a disciple is against the backdrop of scripture. Barry Boucher, team leader at the Life Centre, recently spoke about the process of making disciples, providing clarity about what's involved and demystifying it. I highly recommend you check it out. The video is 37MB- enjoy!

One of the other things that is emerging from this process for me is the need for believers to throw off the modern concept of individualized faith and recognize that the faith we have is not just about connecting vertically with God through experience and prayer, but it is equally about the journey of walking with Christ that we share with others who are following Christ. The richness and fibre of our faith is enhanced by commitment, interdependence and relationship with others. This podcast about community hilights some of these elements...

Since we're linking, Jason and Lori Boucher, who are the current associate pastors at the Life Centre, have recently begun individual blogs in an effort to communicate with their people and provide insight and wisdom about what it means to follow Christ and live in community with others. You can find Jason's blog here (, and Lori's blog here ( They are two of my favourite people, and I can't express the amount of esteem I hold them in as leaders in the church. I hope you enjoy the resources I have mentioned above, and visit J and Lori's blogs often. They are refreshing and real people with a dedicated love for Christ.

Thanks! Check in with you again soon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The first trickle....

This, my first blog, is an assignment for a media class I am taking as part of the John Paul II Media Institute in Halifax, NS.

The goal of the institute?

The immediate goal of the institute is to train and equip young people who have
an interest in and skills for digital media creation... Those who complete
the institute would make themselves available to the local church for the
creation of media that would advance the Kingdom of God.

I have a history of involvement with media and technology of various types, and am participating in this course as a result of the realization that the church has as much to do with the state of the media as the media does. Namely, the church has walled itself off from the media, deeming it secular and treating it like the plague.

Consequently, the church has no real meaningful presence in the world of the media, and sees only periodic forays into media territory (see Mel Gibson's the Passion of the Christ).

The English philosopher Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This is one of my favourite quotations, and it spurs me to be proactive about my faith, representing Christ credibly in my work and life, and to engage in affecting change in areas in which I see injustice, inequity or imbalance.

I believe media, or the means of communication, is amoral, or that it has no intrinsic roots in good or evil. It merely exists, and can be leverage by anyone, regardless of their motive. I am weary of hearing Christians bemoan the absence of media that celebrates truth, goodness and beauty, yet are unwilling to make any moves to influence the world of media.

In participating in this course, I am hoping to become conversant in the language and thinking of media and competent with its essential tools and structures, so that I have a shared platform with those who work in and with media to share my faith in meaningful relationship and dialogue.

I'm tired of having to lob intellectual and theological hand grenades over dividing walls at people who I can't really see for who they are (and vice versa). I'm not afraid of questions, or of being around people who don't share my faith or passions. How can questions be answered or people become familiar with the real face of faith, believers who are daily following Christ, if we aren't front and center in their lives in authentic relationships and speaking in ways that are accessible and meaningful to them?

Romans 10:14 But how can they call on him to save them unless
they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never
heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

This is a small first step on a journey to increased personal relevance in sharing my faith with people and making Jesus known through people seeing him at work in my life, work and creativity.

Watch out world of media. We're coming, and we're ready to hug you....