Saturday, December 31, 2005

Hill Giant!

Happy New Year folks!

My buddy Vince brought me a copy of PC Gamer so I can order the promo hill giant from Wizards of the Coast. Sweet!

Been picking away at my Christmas wish list (to do), still a bit crazy and classes start again this coming Wednesday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Crucified God

OK one of my to do items was finish this masterpiece. I was less far along than I thought. This struck a real chord with me, especially since I've been pondering the whole issue of solidarity with the outcast of Christian society. This is in a section on the mysticism of the cross.

"By becoming a 'friend of sinners and tax collectors', he made their enemies his enemies. By claiming that God himself was on the side of the godless, he incited the devout against him and was cast out into the godlessness of Golgotha. The more the mysticism of the cross recognizes this, the less it can accept Jesus as an example of patience and submission to fate." (p.51, J├╝rgen Moltmann, The Crucified God)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday Wish List (EDITED)

Ok, this is not what you think. I am not going to list all the 'stuff' I would like folks to buy me for Christmas. Rather I thought it would be fun to list the things I would like to get done over the holidays. Maybe I'll post a progress report later on!

1) Clean house from top to bottom (anyone else have kids?) (DONE, but not as well as I would like).
2) Clean up my office (DONE)
3) Have some quality lone time with my awesome wife (NOT ENOUGH OF THIS ONE)
4) Work on my stamp collection, it is seriously neglected this last year (DONE, had to sort out some Dutch stamps)
5) Buy some kindling so I can burn up the logs in my garage (DONE, BTW I want to do the actual burning in my fireplace, not the garage!)
6) Have a nice toasty time with a fire and my family on Christmas morning (DONE, it was toasty. Note to self, chocolate + infants = bad combination!!!)
7) Bake some muffins (DONE)
8) Work on my Kingdom of God I course material (why oh why don't they give you a deadline!)
9) Turn off water to hose in garage - can you believe I've only half winterized our house and there is already a decent amount of snow on the ground (DONE)
10) Finish reading "The Crucified God" (NOT DONE)
11) Read "Thinking Biblically" (deferred for another book, BTW I read 2 books over the holidays!)
12) Update the Freedom Vineyard website
13) Practice my guitar - I don't do this enough these days (BEEN DOING, BUT NOT ENOUGH)
14) Prepare the rest of the dungeon my players are currently in (DONE)
15) Win at least one decent league or team freeroll - those folks are good (PLACED 9th in our weekly Headhunter on Jetset!)
16) Host a friendly poker night - it has been far too long, I need to know if my home game has improved (SORTA, had our old neighbours over for Settlers of Catan)

Well, I could go on but this is enough to work on for now. It is good to look at what is on your plate. Now excuse me while I work on number one for a while and also prepare a prophetic training session for tomorrow (a local Wesleyan church asked me to do one for a small group they run).

[NOTE: This message is heavily edited to keep you up to date on what is DONE or abandoned]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Done like dinner

Wow what a big day it was. Took me 1 hour to drive to the school for my exam (first good snowstorm). I was up for prayer at 7AM, wrote my exam at 9AM. Looked after kids all afternoon. Played D&D with friends into the evening. By the time I wound down it was 2:30AM!!! Needless to say I am tired today.

It feels good to have that exam done, I chose to write on Teilhard de Chardin and on the Adamic Myth. I think I will do well. Chardin really rocks, "evolution saves Christ." Now there is a statement to get your blood pumping. You will either say to yourself - "how dare he blaspheme like that!" or you will ask the more honest question: "what the heck is he talking about?". For Chardin there is no evolution without involution - or something centering all the the creative potential in life. That centering force is clearly Christ, the same one who holds all things together! Chardin gives us lots to ponder, especially as we seek to understand faith in a scientific age. I've read a bit from him in the past and I am going to read more in the future.

Today is a day of rest.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What is a pastoral question?

OK so I am back to studying. I was working through this one day before yesterday - it is the first question. In what way is the question of humanity (anthropology)a pastoral question?

I thought it might be interesting to throw that up here and see what stirs up.

The way we think about our own humanity is quite complex. Historically you could say one has a soul or an ability to reason or even to develop reflexive language. But now we have to think more of what makes us human is what we do with these capacities. Hence the expression - how inhumane of that person. In fact we see a lot of behaviour in the world that we would want to disassociate with humanity - a young girl stabbed to death on campus just this week comes to mind.

So what is the pastoral dimension that is brought to bear here? I think that question needs to be turned inward to those who seek to be of help to the world. When we express our humanity are we not, in theory, expressing that which is best about us and genuinely longs to make this world a better place? I think that has to be part of how we answer the question of what it means to be a human.

So I put to you readers, drop me a comment. What is the pastoral dimension of the question of humanity?

Monster Flopper


So I've been playing online in a Poker League for a while now and just joined a team. Not crazy about the name but it is fun. I played my first tourney for this team and actually earned our team their first points! I know I should be studying, but I find a good poker tournament to be quite an exciting way to relax.

I play mostly on Absolute Poker, Jetset poker and Poker.com. Absolute (AP) has tonnes of freerolls, games that don't cost you anything to play but you can win money to play with, and I like the style of the players. Jetset is where some of my friends from around here play (Kartel and Mobius) and there are too many chasers at the tables for me to really enjoy playing there (chasers will play really crappy hands all the time) but I love the headhunter games - basically everyone has a bounty on their heads and if you eliminate them you get that much money in your account! Poker.com is a staple poker site, not so good for chatting (both AP and Jetset rock for chatting), but there is a decent quality of play there and my league has freerolls there every week. If you are there and see pomorev playing - please say hello (I might take it easy on ya). I only play freerolls and with the money I win so don't hold your breath on seeing me at a big money table anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Anne Rice and Jesus

OK some of you might be wondering what the connection is. I first heard of this from the Christian Gamers Guild. The infamous writer of Interview with a Vampire has gone and switched gears. My buddy Jamie wrote this review of her latest book - Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I am thinking this just might be the thing for the Christmas break. Plus it is way too cool to have such a fine author decide to do a treatment of the coolest dude to ever set foot on this here planet - Jesus! Welcome home Anne, welcome home.

One down, one to go

First exam is completed. I was not that happy with it, seems like my notes have more holes than I would like. I usually take verbose notes on my laptop - but my notes from that class were rather thin. One of the questions was really fun though - but hardly a 2 hour exam question (more like a 4 hours one). Basically you were given a quote about how the gospels were wrote the Last Supper account in light of the Eucharistic reality of the church. Now you had to deal with it as if you were addressing an adult education class with fundamentalist tendancies. The issue at stake is that it is saying that the gospel accounts are not necessarily literal history - which can be a stretch for some folks.

Well first off - I wouldn't touch something like that with a group of fundies. That is like asking someone to cut off your left nut without any painkillers! Yikes. I did agree with the statement though - Leverdiere says it much more eloquently than I could. It does get at the heart of the gospels being liturgical texts, even though I think Leverdiere is biased towards this. He sees liturgy everywhere when he reads the gospels. But this does help make some sense of the discrepancies in the Last Supper narratives (John drops us back a whole day even!). Oh did I say there were discrepencies, fundie please ignore I said that. :-)

I think I did ok. I pulled two A+ and an A on the papers. I do hope I keep at least an A for the class. Now on to the next one, by far the more beefy course. Exam is Friday after next - lots of studying to do yet.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Preparing for exams

OK so it starts next Wednesday. I am not too worried about that one, I only have 18 pages of class notes to cover and anyone who has taken a course with me knows I take very meticulous notes. I think I typed out a novel for the other course though! Elyssa was home Thursday and Friday from school and the kids just fought all the time. Today is Sharon's birthday but I'm afraid it was off to a rough start. She did seem pleased with the brilliant b-day cards me and the girls spent yesterday making (one of the moments when everyone got along). Chelsea's card was especially amusing to her, Chelsea is in the stage where big cribbly clouds are the order of the day - nice.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Taken - Holy Crap!

OK as if life is not complicated enough. Rememer the Aussie I mentioned. Yup, turned out he was scamming us. Left us with a $1200 hotel bill, took one of our people for $160 and just all around played on our generosity. Please keep an eye out for an Irish lad travelling in Canada (claimed to be heading to Vancouver next) from Australia. He did make calls to Australia so I am hoping to at least track it back to the last folks he scammed. He went by the name Robert Michaels, claimed his wallet (money, passport, credit cards) were stolen.

You know the money doesn't matter. Sure it sucks, but it is only money. What hurts is that we spent a lot of time (something we don't have a lot of) with him this week. Drove him all over. Shared our lives. Introduced him to our trusting community. And then this. I feel like I lost a friend. I feel deeply sad. (I would understand feeling angry, but anger is the furthest emotion from me). I feel like if he came here I'd want to just hold him and ask why? I want to understand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One Down, one to go

Wow! What a wild week. I met this crazy Aussie (actually a displaced Irish lad) and we've been on a roller coaster ride. Gotta love divine encounters. Looks like I might actually end up at the U2 concert this weekend - sweetness! Let you know how it goes ;-)

I am busy working on my second paper (taking a break actually), should have it done tonight. I eneded up working on the whole notion of freedom in Paul Ricoeur's work (dropped the theme of seperation). It was a hard one to write because pulling out what I wanted in a manner that made sense was the equivelant of sorting spaghetti. The one I am working on deals with sacramentalism in the emergent movement. I am trying to get to the roots of this rather than just comment on the practices. My question is this: Why is there such an interest in sacramental life in the emergent church? I am having fun with that but it is hard to avoid complex subjects like meta-narratives and incarnationality. I am finging a lot of great resources tracking back the references in A Generous Orthodoxy as well as Scot McKnights articles.

The funnest part is that I get to present this so I've already lined up my slide show, just need to populate it with lots of images swiped from my emergent friend's sites. Thanks guys and gals!

Hopefully I'll have more time for verbosity next week. Until then, blessings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yup, it is true, I am a Moltmannian!


You scored as Jurgen Moltmann. The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.

Jurgen Moltmann 80%
Martin Luther 53%
Karl Barth 53%
John Calvin 40%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 40%
Charles Finney 33%
Paul Tillich 33%
Anselm 20%
Jonathan Edwards 13%
Augustine 7%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Trajectory of Freedom in the Adamic Myth

Hope I don't scare too many people away with the title. I am re-reading Paul Ricoeur's analysis of what he calls the myth par excellance - Gen 2 and 3. It is brilliant and insightful, and I need to write a paper on it (hopefully today). I have pulled out one theme that of a trajectory of seperation as a way of speaking of the anthropology of sin. But one other thing that is spinning around in my head is this whole notion of freedom.

As you might know freedom is a topic I enjoy musing upon. I think we have some pretty screwed up notions of freedom operating in our society - and the Adamic Myth, to borrow Ricoeur's term, gives us a sense of how the gift of freedom has become for humanity something completely other than it was intended.

Freedom is a big part of the theology of hope in Christianity. If freedom isn't part of what we are moving towards, then what is it? And just maybe that freedom, the gift of God, is still held out to us awaiting for our embrace of it. For freedom's sake Christ has set us free.

Freedom from what? I think the root of the problem lies in an inability to seperate freedom from bondage. Meaning that if there is a trajectory of freedom, then logic demands a current state of bondage. But freedom, as seen in the Adamic Myth, pre-exists bondage.

Freedom as what? Well freedom doesn't exist in the absence of limitations. You shall eat of every tree in the garden except..." The notion of freedom as anarchy is not a biblical notion of freedom. The command was not meant to enslave humanity in a state of limitation even though that is what the serpent made it out to be. Limitations are only limitations when we percieve them as a threat to our freedom. Therein lies the conundrum of the Adamaic Myth, and the crack in the wall, Andre LeCocque's term, for the wedge of fear to be placed.

So how do we envision freedom?

I think this is the challenge for modern barstool theologians - the ones actually talking to the masses. If Christianity is a story of freedom, then we will have to understand the vision of freedom that God has for us. We will have to offer hope, inspite of the fear of limitations that is still woven into the metanarrative of our society. To stave off anarchy we will have to envision something more than a tree and a command. I think we can only do it in light of a tree and a Saviour.

Who shall deliver me from this body of sin? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Things that make you go hmmmmm

Ok, don't download this unless you want to convince yourself that all gamers are complete freaks of nature.

Unicorns L. A.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Emergent DTS

OK now a buddy of mine is running a very cool YWAM DTS and they are looking for a few more people. This is going to be a bit different as it is an Emergent DTS focusing on the missional and I bet it will have a bit more theological depth to it. I did a DTS type programme almost 20 years ago and it really changed my life - for the good. So if you know someone who this might be good for - let em know asap. Click on YWAM DTS to get the details.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Paper crunch

My last two papers are looming so I won't be posting as much until they are out of the way. One is on the sacramental thrust within the Emergent church movement - I have a couple of books I'm dissecting for that one. And the second is on a re-reading of the second creation narrative by Paul Ricoeur - I have three papers that I am working with on this one and two of them are quite packed. If you have any great stories about sacramental encounters or awakenings please leave them in the comments - you might even make my footnotes!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Random Stuff

I have been making little tiny model trees. It is very therapeutic. I am not that good at fine detail work, but it is fun to at least give it a try. I bought some flock (clumped stuff too) and got some twigs as well as wires to wrap around and around. This is in preperation for our D&D game tomorrow night - silly players set fire to the woods - the woods isn't going to like that. At the very least Smokey the bear needs to show up ;-)

I am also waiting for some new books to come: Thinking Biblically, Ancient-Future Faith and Streams of Living Water. These are the books for my two final papers, I am excited about Thinking Biblically because there is a Paul Ricoeur article in there. And my case of Underdark miniatures. I was hoping that one would arrive today and the other tomorrow, but it looks like both will arrive tomorrow. My oldest wants to open the minis with me so I will likely not get to see them until she gets home from school.

BTW my friends are doing something very cool in the UK. It is the Vineyard School of Discipleship. You should check them out.

I'll let you know when my packages arrive. And remember, don't set fire to a forest!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Slogans are for the Initiate

Driving back from the bank this morning I couldn't help notice the slogan board of a local ELC church* - one that often has slogans that leave me upset or puzzled. This time I came away thinking "what the heck does that mean?" The slogan said: "Christians must come apart and rest or they just plain come apart". At first it sounds like it might be ok, but it doesn't weather any amount of thought. "Come apart" how? Do you mean go to church? I know lots of really screwed up people who go to church. And what about the people who don't seem to ever stop and are healthy and sound? I think I know what they are getting at - but it doesn't work on the outside.

I am not Mr. Antislogan. I think slogans can be helpful in a community. But they belong to the community. I bet that slogan is just packed full of good insights for the creator and maybe his/her community. But it means squat to the average person driving by. We have developed slogans to help communicate our purpose and vision, for example we often talk about drawing people "one step closer to the Father". Imagine that on the billboard? It only works in the context of a community that qualifies all the parts of the slogan. We often talk about the steps or movement or journey towards God in our community. We share our own stories and encourage everyone to look for those opportunities to partner with God in this process. See already there is a depth to this slogan that the uninitiated cannot appreciate. Now I will use this slogan with new people in our community - but I do so when I have the opportunity to unpack it.

This mornings musings left me convinced that slogans are for the initiate. I would encourage good sloganeering, but please, I beg your mercy, don't inflict your catchy sayings on the greater community. Most won't have a clue what you are saying and many of the rest will derive a meaning you might not have intended. If you must have a slogan - make it something we can all understand like, "God loves you" or "have a great day" or even "If you have a need let us know, we might be able to help." It'll just make the world a whole lot saner.

Thanks.

*To be completely fair there is a PAOC church in the other end of town that has a similar collection of inane thoughts displayed on its front lawn. And I am sure I can find representation from every denomination including my own.

[EDIT] OK so tonight I passed a BCOQ (Baptist, I used to be a lay minister in this denomination) church that had this sign :"To know the truth is to be set free". Think about that for a minute. Say I'm an addict, I can know quite clearly I'm an addict and still be bound by my addiction. I know what they are trying to say but the average person isn't going to be able to cut through the Christianese.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Starting to see the light...but keep praying

Man we have had some very frustrating financial developments. Our financial advisor started making promises she never kept. Our taxes were in her hands and never got done, took us 5 months to get them back and we had to go to HR Block. We had a string of babysitters steal from us. And the cost of gas and living totally messed up our budget. Talk about frustrating.

But now, thanks to lots of friends praying and a bit of badgering, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our taxes are finally filed and we are expecting a decent return - should just about cover our new debts. One of the babysitters has been returning some of our stuff, including a 100$ Ikea gift card and our electric label maker. And Sharon got more hours.

But we are not out of the woods yet. We issued a complaint to WFG Securities about our advisor and not surprisingly they sided with her. I don't get why she would be lying about us to them? I just can't fathom it. Especially since she knows we are ministers and she claims to be an active Christian herself attending a solid PAOC church in the city? Even though we have gotten stuff back from that one babysitter, I know she has a good Christian family and we really wanted reconciliation more than the stuff back. We keep praying for that. And Sharon's new work is a nightmare. They merged two pharmacies and it is no longer an enjoyable place to work. She comes home all frustrated telling me who else is thinking of quiting, not good.

Can you folks keep praying? We have actually been praying blessings on our financial advisor. Pray that God will bring a reconciliation there. Maybe we did something at some point to offend here, I can't think of anything, but even still her lack of respect for us is just horrible. Pray for this young girl to get her life straightened out. She has had some hard knocks in life, but with God's help she can overcome anything. And pray for Sharon's work. Pray that God will open a new door or better yet let the corporate management see how their aggessive work schedule is not allowing the pharmacists to give adequate (let alone good) care.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Regional Gathering

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, that was nice.

Only have time for some highlights. It was great to see so many folks who have become dear to me over the last 4+ years I've been going to the Summits. It was a special joy to see Brad and Mary, Brad always greets you with a holy kiss - there is something so special about them. Thanks for the Stellas guys! Tom and Sherry came and Tom backed me up on djembe. I love having them in my family. George teased me constantly - this was three days of rejuvinating George love. George you are the funkiest man in the Vineyard!

It was great to have a heart to heart with George and Janet on the first night. And to be asked to meals with so many dear friends who wanted to hear how we were really doing up here in Ottawa. And Ahren, man you blessed me this week! I forgot to add one other gift you and your church offer to our region - encouragement. You always make me feel valued and important even. I love you man.

I don't know how else to highlight the two days I spent there. I had the awesome priviledge of putting a band together for the worship. I so miss having those opportunities. But really it was cool because God showed up. The evening session I was sure I wasn't going to be able to keep playing God's presence was so thick. And when we watched Ruth Rousu's interview about the kiss I was reduced to tears as God drew near and began whispering in my ear. I get emotional just thinking of it.

What a great time. You know what? Expect great things from our little rag tag tribe. I think God was drawing near for a reason. God is getting us ready for something special. I don't know what, but Lord I for one say come!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Off to the Regional Gathering

Don't you hate it when you are typing in a post and you go to look up a link and accidentaly switch pages in your blogging browser! Doh!!!! I have done it a few times now and the last time was a super cool message that I lost. Guess it was never meant to be.

Few things coming up - I have my fictional paper back (for a liturgical theology course) and got an A+ so I am going to post it here for your enjoyment. I don't write a lot of fiction, but I did at one time. In fact at one point in my life I had ambitions of being a novelist - ah the romance of youth. It was fun to get to dip into that in the midst of an academic programme, who knows maybe one day I'll write some more. I do love story.

So in a little over an hour I am off to the Regional Gathering of Vineyard Pastors and I am excited. I am going to be doing some of the worship (wasn't clear on how much, but I am happy even to just play along, I do usually get a set or so though). My dear friend Brad is bringing his Mandolin and George is bringing his keys (George Esser, let me say it here and now, is the funkiest man in the Vineyard!). I'm travelling with some good friends from Hosanna Christian Fellowship - a church in the process of discerning their identity and likely going to be adopted into the Vineyard. Sharon and I have been hanging out there on Sundays - well not that often, but we do try. They are a great bunch, pretty standard stuff but the love Jesus and that's good enough for us. I'm sure we stretch the heck out of them - I know they renounce Dungeons and Dragons in their baptismal formula and as you likey know I am an avid D&Der. Ah but this is to be expected as D&D got a bad rap from the get go - too bad much of it was lies propogated by fearful Chirstians. But such is life. Personally I hope the issue doesn't come up with anyone but the pastor - I made sure they knew because I like to have my cards on the table. Just the way I am.

I am so looking forward to seeing old friends again. So many that I miss. We have a small cluster of Vineyards growing here in the Ottawa Valley but all of us are planting and busy. Anyway, got to say my goodbyes to the kids, my dear wife will be back from work soon and we'll be off to the races. If they have wifi I'll check in, maybe post a few things, if not see you all later in the week.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Game Rules

I was thinking the last couple of days about rules in games. I love playing games, as you might have noticed. All kinds of games too. I love the community it brings, the excitement and the tests of skill. But without rules games just wouldn't be that fun.

Rules make games fun for everyone.

I know it is sometimes frustrating learning a new game or having your understanding of the rules of a game challenged. But rules play a very important role. They let everyone know that this is not a free for all, anything goes and whoever can assert themselves the best wins situation. Rules also give a structure so that we know what to expect from the game and from other players. If someone doesn't play by the rules we call that cheating, and cheating (sorry Paul) is not often welcomed in games.

Some games have very flexible rules, and need to. But this is known when one starts such a game - so you know what to expect. Some games have very strict and ordered rules, again you know what you are getting into. I like both kinds of games, but games without any rules are just plain frustrating.

While I was thinking about this my thoughts strayed into the ecclesial. Not that church is a game, at least I hope and pray we don't think so. But it does help us enjoy ourselves more when we know the rules. I watched a Tridentine Mass on video yesterday and the whole thing was in Latin, priest mostly with his back to the congregation. And you know I had trouble appreciating it. (And even if I did know the rules I might not choose to play that one.) But everyone who was part of it knew the rules - and they seemed to enjoy themselves. (Heck I like a lot of games but some I just don't find fun - like Risk for example, I could take it or leave it, I prefer the post Vatican II masses by far.) All that to say that liturgy is like the rules to a game. If you know them then you can fully participate in the service, feel free to explore your boundaries and be free to have a genuine encounter with God.

Funny where some thoughts take you.

Be blessed and as I say on the poker tables - Play Well!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Post Modernity?

Is post-modernity a true paradigm shift or is it really just the actualization of the Newtonian shift to modernity?

This is what I am wrestling with in a paper I am about to write. I understand the shift towards modernity from an aristotelian worldview - but what I have discovered is that this shift was not all-inclusive. In fact, especially in the realm of faith, this shift has been fought against all the way along. Now as we see a surge of post-modern approaches to ministry, is this finally the church catching up with society?

There is a shift for sure between modernity and post-modernity. But rather than a paradigm shift, indicating a monolithic change in the way we know and tell, perhaps it is more a realization that the headiness of the paradigm shift into modernity was overly optimistic - especially in the area of human potential.

I would characterize post-modernity with a sense of distrust. The markers we held on to are all put into question - and for the post-modern person this is not a bad thing. For the modernist, who works in the realm of scientific probabilities rather than trying to build equations that prove the proven, isn't this exactly what Newton ushered in? Isn't the ability to question everything the hallmark of modern science?

Now with this ability to question also comes the perception that we are in control. And this is really the sticking point for much of the resistance in the world of faith - an Aristotelian world was a very controlled and predictable world. The modern world is a wildly unpredictable beast, and we are but ticks on its back hoping that the paws of history don't just scratch us off.

At first when thinkers began to embrace the shift to modernity they chose as their touchstone human potential. They placed man, with his intellect and bravado, right at the center of the universe. But this veritable tower of Babel has once again been struck by God and we are left with a multitude of voices throughout the land trying to pick up the pieces - this is what I call post-modernity.

Post-modernity is not a leaving off of modernity, but an attempt to go back and recheck our assumptions. Maybe this time we'll not place ourselves at the center of the universe.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dangerous Romance

I really like the cult of religion, the nitty gritty details of historical liturgy and spiritualities. I have a strong affinity for things Celtic. I love the primitive Christian church. But all of these things have an inherent danger in them. They can easily be romantacised and elevated above a relevant religion in the here and now.

If Christianity isn't immanently relevant and practical then frankly we are wasting our time. Fortunately my experience has always revealed a relevant and personal faith (religion) and my heart is in making that accessible for others. There are many places where my fascination with the ancient has made aspects of modern faith accessible. But the danger is seeing those points a being faithful recapturing of something that existed long ago. There might be lots of similar markers - but we fool ourselves with the romantic notion that we can have a Acts church or an authentic Celtic spirituality.

That doesn't make it less authentic. It is just recognizing that we have quite a bit of history through which all historical content is coloured. Like one of my professors says about the Newtonian shift - "we can't go back." It is so true. But we can go forward, and we can bring these insights forward.

God chasers can easily get caught up in a similar romanticism. Thinking that they specific brand/type of manifestation somehow equates with an authentic Christian experience. The problems with that is, these same people are going to miss the God experiences all around them. Ironically, the historical records are full of God encounters in the midst of normal life. I'm all for chasing God and having an experiential faith. But that has to start in the here and now with me. A personal and relevant faith.

Part of that is a longing for signs, for the gifts as some would call it. There is no real separation between gift and giver. Seeking God in the imminent is just as powerful as heading off to the latest retreat or "revival"*. I love a great retreat, I love a good Celtic gathering, I love a visible move of God's spirit. But I really love seeing God working in my non-Christian friends, hearing about how something small (but extremely significant to the recipient) just works out, meeting God in the daily lectional reading. The funny thing is that when we look for God in everything we suddenly see that God is already there - and what is better the gifts are there as well.

So wanting to encourage discovery, I urge you to read, take in retreats and courses and lecture and conferences. Yeah, do all that. But don't mistake that for the real imminent stuff. If it excites you then bring it forward, don't live back there with it. If you see something profound about perigrenatio - then walk it out here and now. If you are touched in a conference, then reach out and touch others in your own community, if something about the church in Acts melts your heart - see how it can be resituated in the here and now. This whole thing we call church was experimental from the get go. We have lots of guidelines about what we are - but not so much about how we do it. Be free from the need to recreate something that is impossible to recreate. Don't be the church of Acts, be the church of the Living and imminent God.

*Don't get me going on revivalism.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I hate being sick...

Been fighting a cold since the weekend, today it won. I was almost falling asleep in class. Slept most of the afternoon - hope I can get some work done tonight.

Two papers coming up. One that is a bit of a creative exercise where we take what we know of one of the early Christian communities (Markan, Athenian, Matthean, Johannine, Community of the Didache, etc.) and write up a reflection on the Eucharistic event. If it goes well I'll post it. I am planning on doing something in the mode of fiction, it is only 6 pages so I'll have to pick and choose what to do. Should be fun, Ray Brown gimme some background!

The second is on the effects of the age of modernity on the question of humanity. I am stoked about this one. The class is brilliant. We are using Guadium et Spes as our starting point, but there are a lot of different avenues I could branch out into. The focus is on the shift in science (Newton) and history (Voltaire). Fun, fun, fun. I won't post this but I might let you read it if you ask me.

Oh and next week I have scheduled an interview with Friar Chris, the Franciscan monk I know. Hoping to have something to submit to the next Resonate Journal.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The vilification of things

Paul tells us to even avoid the appearance of evil, good advise, one would be wise to follow it. However, there is a bit of a problem in our post-Christian North American culture. Christians have vilified nearly everything at one point or another. What makes this really confusing is that many of these things that have been called 'evil' turned out to simply be things. Rock and Roll, alcohol, playing cards, role playing games, and the list goes on. Sure some people have done some really screwed up things with these - but hell we've done some really screwed things with the bible.

So how is a Christian to avoid evil when it is so hard to figure out what is evil and what is just mundane? I think it is easy to have a list of taboo things - but really this is just part of the malaise of Christiandom. Wouldn't it be much more honouring to people to help them to walk through the morass of societal values on their own? Wouldn't it go a long way in helping each other to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling and spur us on towards love and good works? I think it just might.

I don't think there is an easy answer to a lot of things Christians write off as 'evil'. I know that my experience hasn't mapped too well to the Christian expectation. Harry Potter, for example, has not encouraged me to take up Satanism or witchcraft. Quite the contrary, Harry has encouraged decent Christian morality and encouraged me to make the right choices, not the easy ones. Maybe I am just able to find good in evil things - but just maybe the things aren't as evil as we had been led to believe.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Still here...

Not a lot of time to post. I haven't forgotten the Jesus in History series. It is just percolating.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Unless God Shows Up...

I had this realization in church this weekend. We were visiting a friends church, it is what would call liturgically sparse (they accidentally had a sanctus in there which tickled my soul). Not that that is bad mind you, most mainline evangelical churches are the same way. So there I was thinking about the structure and all the barriers I was having to overcome to encounter God - when I have this insight.

It doesn't matter how rich or poor your liturgy, if God doesn't show up it is all really just a waste of time.

Yeah, brutal I know. But there is truth in there. I have been studying liturgy intently for a number of years now and I am always amazed at the potential for encounter that is soaked into liturgical structures. That is what it is all about. When God shows up even the liturgy itself is transformed.

I've also experienced a broad variety of liturgical settings. About the only kind I haven't experienced is a quietist liturgy and by definition it too is a waste of time without God showing up - in fact I think they are the most honest about this fact. IN all those settings I've seen God show up and I've seen people squander all the point of encounter that their liturgy was made for. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. It all comes down to us and God, and if you take God out of the equation then you are better off staying home and reading your email.

I did enjoy myself at church this weekend. I did long for more liturgical richness, but heck I'm just spoiled. My friend who pastors this confessed that talk about liturgy leaves him cold - lack of liturgical consideration does the same for me. But one thing is for sure I'm glad shows up even in sparse liturgy.

[edit - just to clarify what I am saying here, koinonia is one of those encounter points that is squandered by some liturgicist. When community happens - God is always in the midst of it. It is where Jesus loves to be, "whenever two or three...".]

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Online Poker

So I don't know how many of you play poker online but it is a lot of fun. Over in the Christian Gamers Guild we have been debating the moral aspect of games - that is can a game have no redeeming value. Actually it goes a bit further because for some a game can be considered sinful. This all came up when one of the members said what do you do with these games, where one was a card version of Russian Roulette and the other was a game that simulated getting drunk and stoned (even glamourized it). Can games like that have any redeeming value? It is a really good question.

The issue of black and white areas comes up a lot in the ongoing debate. My big beef here is that I am not sure these games fall into the black and whiteness that some want to pin on them. While I haven't seen the games, I have a hard time imagining what mental leap is required to go from a chance cardgame to actually sticking a loaded gun to your temple and pulling the trigger. And even if someone were to make that leap - does that imply the "game" was evil and made him do it? It is a weak argument to say that a game did it anymore than to say Ozzy is responsible.

Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't promote these games. I don't really see a draw to them myself. But the scenario presented with them is what do you do if you find a believer playing one of these games and (heaven forbid) enjoying it? It is also a great question.

While some would want to make sure they pointed out that these games were sinful and innappropriate for a Christian, I have argued for an approach of grace. Just because I can't envision enjoying these games or finding them edifying, that doesn't mean someone else couldn't. What I really want to say is that I don't want to be quick to judge. If it came up for sure I would voice my discomfort, but that is not an excuse to jump on someone. At least that is the way I see it.

For example, I didn't qualify my enjoyment of online poker. I play in freerolls, but I am not willing to put any of my own money at risk. I play for fun and you know what I even had an opportunity to pray for someone at the table one night. God can even work through that - imagine.

So next time you log onto your favourite poker site - look for pomorev (Post Modern Reverend), that is most likely me. Having a great time. Meeting new people. Hoping to win some money without spending a dime. And all the while loving Jesus.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

God's Justice - Matt 20:1-16a

What happens when God's sense of justice is in conflict with our own? This is something that Christians have wrestled with down through the ages. Some come up with elaborate schemes of election to appease their uneasiness with God's justice. Others go to great lengths to explain why God's hands are off the situations entirely. I don't really want to debate any of this, but suffice it to say that this has been a problem for us throughout history.

Our story from Sunday is the epitome of this. A rich landowner calls workers at various points in the day, then he deliberately pays them all the exact same wage. In fact he starts with the ones that worked the shortest amount of time which seems to build an expectation in the rest that they might get a bonus. When they all end up with the same wage, well what would you do in that situation?

This story challenges our sense of fairness and justice. Why are we so fixated on "fairness". Actually I would dare say we are fixated, at least in North America, on ensuring we get what is due us. I say this because all across the world there is incredible disparity between the haves and have nots - and if we were really concerned about equity then we'd do something about it. (Please don't be offended if you already do, because I know many give sacrificially to the third world, but this comment is more for those of us who don't think about it often enough).

So what is fair? What do we deserve?

I know most of us are realistic enough about our lives to recognize that we don't really deserve God's mercy - yet thankfully God thought we were worthwhile to extend it to us. But what this verse really hits home on is those times in life where it is just not fair. We step out in faith, or we decide to invest in a person or an idea and in the end there seems to be no real benefit.

The problem is one of focus. It is God's justice, not ours. It is God's generosity not ours. Our culture teaches us that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. It is a nice sentiment but hardly an accurate reflection of reality. So when we are convinced life isn't fair, it is true. Life isn't fair - that is part of the problem. But it is also the point where God steps in with His justice. However, because what we are looking for is a sense of "fairness" we can easily miss the sense of God's generosity.

A good friend of mine asked me once why he seemed to be more blessed than other people. (BTW this guy has many challenges in life that would leave most people bitter.) I told him that it wasn't a matter of him being more blessed, but that his eyes were open to seeing that blessing. Our own persuit of our sense of justice can often overshadow our ability to see the tremendous blessings God pours out on us all.

Stop to think about the workers that came in at the end of the day. They have families too. They missed a whole day of work. They were going to have to go home in failure, likely to a stressed out spouse and hungry kids. They might not have laboured the same, but were they any less deserving? This story seems to say that God's answer is one of generosity.

I would encourage you to look for the blessings, look for God's extravogant generosity. Don't let your own sense of "fairness" rob you from that blessing.

love,
Frank Emanuel
Pastor Freedom Vineyard

Rest in Peace Jennifer


I was going to write about this a few days back. But we have been shaken by it, the news yesterday shook us even further. My heart and prayers go out to Jennifer's parents and brothers. Lord, bring the murderer to justice.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Montreal DDM Sealed Championships

Lots on the go. Went to Montreal last weekend for the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Championship (Sealed). In 6 rounds I went 3-3 which is not bad for my crappy pulls (rares were Copper Dragon and Ogre Mage). Hey I got great RPG pieces but nothing special for the battlemat. So all in all I did rather well. Human Blackguard has pics up here - see me geeking out with the best of them.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jesus - Today

This is the second in a Series that began with Jesus - Yesterday. Enjoy.

It might sound like an incredible no-brainer to talk about Jesus in relationship to the now of history, at least for the believer. But thinking that this relationship is so obvious means we tend to not think about it enough. In fact it is so easy to live our lives in such a way that we completely miss the fact that Christianity is not a religion relegated to another time in history - but a religion that is immenently realized in the here and now. If it were not so, then much of what Jesus did was nothing but a sideshow to somehow tie us over for the "main event". Jesus is the main event in history! This is realized as much today as it was during the incarnation and as it will be during the consummation of the Kingdom in Christ's return.

So what does Jesus have to do with me, here and now, today? Well, everything!

I was astonished when reading Brian McLaren's "A Generous Orthodoxy" (a rocking book BTW) and come across a very familiar landscape. I too taught a number of weeks in Santa Clara. I loved hanging out at the Vineyard kinship, but just down the road from the office I was teach at (this was IT BTW) was a huge metal statue of Mary. There was a grove with a smaller statue and a pathway around in front of the big statue. So I'd go there to pray. It was cool because I had made a bunch of good Roman Catholic friends and so I was always reminded to pray for them. One night I decided to sit in the grove and pray, I had just sat down and closed my eyes when I felt like there were people all around me. I opened my eyes and there was no one visible around. But just then a scripture reference dropped into my head (that happens a lot with me, it is kinda odd I know, but I like it). The reference was familiar - "no one comes to the Father except through the Son". A passage that even I had misused in the past to speak out against my precious brothers and sisters in the Roman Church. Yet here am I at a Marian shrine with my bible opened to this. Immediately Jesus began to remind me of how I had seen the undeniable presence of the God in my dear Roman friends - and then I knew that Jesus was actively drawing folks to the Father is so many ways I had never even thought of. I understood that verse different from that day on (note this is a devotional interpretation), if something is drawing people to the Father, then chances are that Jesus is in it.

Jesus once said that He didn't do anything except what He saw the Father doing. There is something incredible about this. Especially when we meditate on the next thought. We are the body of Christ.

I think we are so concerned about the end of all things, heaven, and even our less than well defined ideas of "salvation". That we miss the fact that we are called to be Jesus to this world. We are called to draw people to the Father. This isn't fire insurance, this is a deepening and widening of their relationship with God. This is a ministry of reconciliation that restores the intentions of God in the lives of everyone around us. It isn't necessarily calling them to Christianity - it is sharing the same invitiation that Jesus made to us. The Kingdom of God is near. Turn from those things that are destroying you and receive life in the arms of the Father.

This invitation should extend through us to all of the world that God so loved. It calls us to be responsible for the welfare of our neighbours. It beckons us to respond with mercy to the poor. It compels us to pray for the sick. It motivates us to ecological responsibility. And the list goes on. When we see these things, we are seeing Jesus here and now.

I'll leave you with this to meditate on. And close with a prayer:

Father show us Jesus.
Spirit reveal Christ to us.
Jesus dwell in us richly.
May we be your body, your love, your bride.
Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Back at St. Paul

It is soooo goood to be in class again. Today was my first day of classes. I started this journey at St. Paul in 2000, and I am only halfway done the first leg! Today was my all-time favourite professor - James Pambrun. In a course on Systematic Theology, Humanity: Creature and Creator. We are examining the question of humanity in a time of wide horizons - expanding universe, narratives that go well beyond traditional Salvation History and include things such as evolution and ecological irresponsibility. Should be an awesome course. The other course I am taking is Susan Roll - The Eucharist, I've met her a few times and heard good things about her sensitivity to Christian pluralism in the classroom. Should rock! Now to scurry through McLaren's "Generous Orthodoxy" so I will only have Moltmann's "The Crucified God" on the go on the side.

When Christians should just shut up

Why oh why would Ron Gray write this? Read this article to see why I am really getting sick of restorationists trying to get into public office. To be blut I just don't trust them. (NB this was edited slightly to better convey my feelings)

BTW incase they delete it, this was my response:

This Is Dangerous Ground
Frank Emanuel :: 2005/09/12 :: 119 words
RE Katrina's Warning to America by R Gray

Frank Emanuel writes, "Attributing natural catastrophes to God's wrath against political decisions - especially when doing so trivializes the deaths of so many is just plain irresponsible. I would expect this sort of fatalistic worldview from a fundamentalist muslim sect, not a Christian expecting to lead in a country like Canada. It reminds me of a similar event during the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Even hinting that God finds the poor of New Orleans a disposable commodity, useful only for sending a message to a nation that already twists God's Word to its own political ends, not only violates God's revealed Character in the Bible, but it sends an anti-Christian message to all who would read it.

Frank Emanuel
Pastor Freedom Vineyard

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jesus - Yesterday

I started out in ministry in the Foursquare, a Pentecostal denomination founded by an Ontario girl named Aimee Semple McPherson (Her Bio is a fascinating read). The mantra verse for the Foursquare was from Hebrews - Jesus the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Now for them it was a justification for the continuation of the spiritual gifts - I'm no cessationalist so I don't need convincing. But I have been meditating a lot lately on Jesus and history. So I thought this would be as good a place to start.

First of all let me say that I am not going to use history the way some of you will expect. When I talk about history I am referring to the story that unfolds for humanity in creation. This is a story that has a beginning and an end in God. It is also a story that we are very much a part of. In fact it is a story that God is writing (unfolding) in which we are often like these free radical paint bits that when thrown onto the canvas go in unpredictable directions to paint something beautiful that has never before been seen. Only God could effectively paint with such a medium.

Ok so we have a bit of common ground to work with. Jesus is related to history in some really profound ways. 2000 years ago Jesus danced onto the scene as God stepping into history, and He did some pretty profound things. He preached a radical message that even most of the Church ignores today. He willingly submitted to the most scandelous of deaths, that of a common nothing criminal (remember this is the same God who created the universe). He proved God's victory over death by raising from the dead. He sent His Spirit on the Church to empower it to complete the mission He gave to it before leaving. And there is more to come.

But what I want to talk about in this series of reflections is Jesus in relationship to our yesterday. I think we tend to focus a lot on the completed works of Christ and on the future hope of Christ. But a lot of the relevance to who we are today tends to get glossed over. I think part of it is that this stuff really demands a response (action) on our part, but also I think it is because we have lost a lot of the Jesus message in the church. Can you blame us we have had other agendas.

So what does Jesus have to do with my past?

How about everything.

The past sets the perspective for the present (we shall see that the future does the same as is illustrated in next Sundays reading from Sirach). How Jesus sees and deals with our past sets the trajectory for living in the now. Let us pull that assumption apart a bit.

When I first heard about Jesus I was told that He will forgive all my sins and wrong doings. I didn't really understand that at first, but one day driving down the road listening to Warnke's depiction of the crucifixion (Yes I know he was defrocked but that was what hit home) and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I had to pull over and bawl because I realized that it was what God was willing to do for me. Later on I was struggling a lot with the sin that so easily besets men (at least most of the guys I know will know what I am talking about) and I went out into a field (there is a Loblaws there now). There the opening chapter of Ephesians bubbled out of me (I had been memorizing it) and I bawled my head off at the notion that in all wisdom and understanding Jesus died for me. It has been many, many years since those days and I still find that immensly helpful to remember.

Jesus sets a trajectory of forgiveness on two fronts in our lives. First with regard to ourselves. Because like it or not we are bound to screw up a lot in our lives. Sharon comes to me with the phone earlier today, the kids are screaming and I lost it and yelled at them. I immediately knew I screwed up and was going to regret that later. Yup, you betcha, when I was off the phone Sharon called me to account. So I apologized. But God had already begun working on me. I was on a trajectory of forgiveness. I didn't need to kill myself over it but I did need to deal with why I flew off the handle. So having the confidence of forgiveness allows me to actually face and deal with the issues within me.

Without this trajectory of forgiveness we are literally crippled to deal with the roots of our own sinfulness. When I refuse to live in forgiveness the problems never get better, only worse. But within the confidence of forgiveness is a promise of presence to continue the work of perfection (sanctification) in my life. In otherwords if Jesus was there for me when I didn't deserve it, while I was caught in my sin, then Jesus will be there for me when I need to overcome the roots that keep me bound in sin. Jesus sets a precident for an active participation in our lives drawing us ever closer to wholeness.

This trajectory also makes possible reconciliation. Sin hurts. It hurts us and often it hurts those around us. Yelling today hurt my wife. When I don't live in forgiveness (grace) I get even more defensive and try to justify my sin in order to "live" with it. But Jesus sets us free to make things right.

Which leads us to the second trajectory, forgiveness with regard to others.

Just as likley as it is we will sin, it is also that likely others will sin against us. I am struck over and over by how strongly Jesus preaches that we need to forgive. Todays reading in Luke 6 was all about how you need to live in the face of those who would sin against you. It is tough reading. Turn your other cheek, bless, give to those who steal from you. This is not easy stuff. (The funny part is we often extract "Do unto others" from here and miss the context completely). But that is the trajectory set by God's radical act of forgiveness to us. If God would go to the cross for a sin sick world, how can I live any less radically?

Well that is enough to reflect on for now. Next installment: Jesus - Today.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Generous Orthodoxy

I finally got my hands on Brian McLaren's "Generous Orthodoxy". It is hard to put down - which is why I haven't posted much. In fact I have been neglecting other readings I am supposed to be doing. He says things in there that I've been saying for a long time - and he articulates them much better than I could. What is really cool is that maybe a week before I got it Sharon and I were chatting about what does being "saved" really mean. We agreed that much of Christiandom had missed the mark on that one, but it was hard to put into words what it should be. The chapter called "Jesus: Saviour of What?" is a great articulation of this. I have been saying forever that Christianity is more about life here and now than it is about life in the hereafter. In "In the End - The Beginning" Jurgen Moltmann proposes that the language of the hereafter is for the living more than the dead, then the focus on the hereafter in the Church has not been overly helpful in speaking life to the living. There is too much fear in Christianity which is supposed to be about Jesus' perfect love, something that casts out fear. Also I love the idea that there is another way other than exclusivism, inclusivism and universalism. I have leaned towards what I called radical inclusivism, but it doesn't completely satisfy naming my thinking on that because I am convinced that there is something special and unique about the claims of Christ. I'm excited about that - even if it isn't named yet, the fact that other people are unsatisfied with the current categories gives me a lot of hope.

I am going to attempt a series here in the next few days talking about Jesus in relationship with history. I call it Jesus: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Watch for it. In the meantime I have been musing about an Invitational faith in the Freedom Vineyard group, enjoy.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Took Dan Wilt Jogging

There comes a time when you realize you are getting fat. It might have been when my dear wife calls home and tells you according to this chart at work I'm obese. Or maybe it comes when you realize all the guys sitting around the gaming table are fatter than you - but not by that much. It could be when I go home for vacation and remember that my dad has adult onset diabetes. Maybe it is when you get sick of always making excuses when the folks you love point out your growing girth. Anyway, the realization has hit and I've finally decided to do something about it.

So a while ago I started jogging. It is about the only physical activity I ever really enjoyed. Well I do enjoy playing other running sports (soccer and one-on-one basketball) but last time I tried soccer I nearly had a coronary. One of the things I am longing for is the day I can shoot some hoops with my girls - the way I'm headed I'd last one game and have to be hospitalized. Maybe I'm exaggerating but the first real go at running and I didn't warm up, made it a quarter of my block and thought my heart was going to come out my mouth. The next time I ran into a wiser friend and Mari shared with me how you should gradually build up your running versus walking ratio. I've a lot to learn - especially since I am an all or nothing type of guy. Please ask me in a year if I am still running, I mean that I need the encouragement.

Anyway, I did run a few times on vacation. Not near as often as I would have liked. The bugs got bad at dusk and that was pretty much the only time I could do it. So here we are back and I have just been wanting to get back at it. I'm not running far, trying to build up the muscles and endurance. I haven't done any regular physical exercise since I don't know when - so likely before I was married, a long while before I was married. Tonight, it was dark but I said I to myself, "self, you need to do it!" So off I went.

Oh yeah Dan came with me. Not phsycally - but on my minidisc player. He got me going at just the right pace and even inspired me to worship as I jogged around my block. I almost made it halfway before I stopped to walk my heartrate down. Thanks Dan.

You know when I was younger I had it easy. I had one of those blessings that turns curse. An overactive metabolism. I could eat anything and remained a skinny beanpole. It was wonderful. But just like my folks 30 hit and so did the need for a new wardrobe. Maybe it was God's way of telling me to take responsibility for my life. If so it is still taking me a long time to get that lesson. I'm not far from 40 and God is still working on me. It is high time I joined Him in His efforts.

I want my CBC


You know I don't really care what the lockout is about. All I know is that I don't have a single radio station to listen to.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Happy Birthday Resonate



Resonate turns one today. What a great group of Canadians!
Today we launch our very first issue of the Resonate Journal in which I have an article on the Liminality of the Eucharist. Let me know what you think of my article. Hope to resonate with many of you soon!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gros cafe avec lait

OK so I walked into a Tim Hortons (yeah I know, horrible coffee but what are you going to do when you are travelling through some of the coffee deserts of Canada) and asked for a coffee with lots of milk. The polite clerk didn't understand me so I tried french for the first time in seriousness. Pardon moi mon francais est terrible, in fact I was almost sure it was non-existant. But as we were driving Sharon and I were trying to stumble through some French. I really need to learn French so this was a boost to my confidence when I clarified me order with "gross cafe avec lait". She smiled wide and said my french was very good - which obviously means you really suck but I appreciate your effort. Hey I felt good anyway.

[note I have even less clue as to how to spell anything in French, please excuse my butchering of the French language]

19 hours on the road...

Wow, that was a crazy drive. Overall emotions stayed under control. I am the worst for travelling - when I get hungry and tired I can easily get angry. We tried some of those energy drinks - Red Bull I think - tastes like cough medicine (yuch!) and you are forever burping up vitamin B6! (gross!). It was some nice to walk into my own house and collapse in my own bed. The kids are grumpy bears today - so please offer up a prayer for peace on our home while we recover.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Going home...

Back to the land of constant Internet access. Back to my own bed. Back to my friends and community. We are all rather homesick at the end of this vacation. We are just packing up the van for an early departure. See you all online when we arrive in Ottawa.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

IP Scarcity...

Only getting scraps of time online. We are all enjoying ourselves. Lots of stuff to do as a family. I'm not sure if I'll get any pics up until we are back in Ottawa.

We spent the day Sunday in Halifax hanging out with Larry and Karen (Metro Vineyard) and then with Joe and Colleen (old friends). Last night we got together with my Buddy Smurf and his wife Lisa and taught them Texas Hold'em. It was lots of fun, everyone played really conservatively and I was the first out (after a long time playing). Today I saw my old friend Ellen, she has a framing store in Truro. It is great to see old friends as well as my family.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Travelling man...

Made it to Grand Falls, NB today. We left home at 5:30AM, made lots of stops and had a pretty good journey so far. Now if only Chelsea will go to sleep. Gotta love free wireless access in hotels though!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For my friends at kinship...

Here are my girls. Enjoy, see you when I get back.

Getting ready for the big family trip

Hey all, I'll have to post some pics from our trip as we go. We are leaving tomorrow morning at 5AM! I am excited and anxious. Chelsea has been pushing her boundaries a lot lately, and complaining loudly when she can't get her way. That does not bode well, but I am struggling to remain optimistic. Look forward to highlights and reflections as often as we find HOTSPOTS to connect with.

One of Freedom!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Professional Freezie Eater Here...


So the other day I've got my little girls over at a friends house for some outdoor fun and Mari brings out a fist full of huge freezies for us to eat. I watch her cut them open and realize that not everyone is a professional freezie eater like me. Maybe some of you could use a few pointers on the skill of pro-freezie eating.

1. You can tell a pro right away by how they open the freezie. Anyone with real freezie mileage does not need scissors at all. Just bite the edge of the end of the freezie, grasp the plastic end and pull away from the bite with your teeth. Voila a perfectly opened freezie every time - well you will need to practice to get it perfect. I recommend a handful of freezies each day until you master this one.

2. No self-respecting freezie eater needs to smush the freezie before eating. A freezie is by definition frozen. Simply push the frozen part up from the bottom with your thumb and opposed middle finger then simply bite off a bit of sugary goodness. You will need to practice this a lot so as to not bite off too much giving yourself an "ice cream headache" and enough that you do not end up with too much liquid at the end (see point 4 for dealing effectively with the liquid).

3. Professionals do not suck. Sucking takes the flavour out of the freezie and leaves less than flavoured ice - boring. If you need to suck, bite larger chunks and suckle them in your mouth.

4. Sucking out the last of the juice just doesn't work. The middle of the freezie plastic collapses and you end up with more wastage than you need to. Remember this is sugary goodness and must be treated with respect! Rather than suck (see point 3) simply inflate the freezie plastic by blowing into it, and then tip the juice into your awaiting mouth. Just like a pro. This takes a bit of practice, especially if you are in the aweful habit of sucking. Also try not to contact the plastic with your mouth during the tipping process - the sure sign of a novice.

Hope this helps you enjoy one of my favourite summer time treats.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Life in the fastlane...

One of the things I look forward to the most about going Down East for a vacation is the pace of life. Granted it will take pretty much the whole vacation for me to actually slow down, but it is a great exercise. Life in the city is quite a bit different than life in a small town - heck even Halifax is a lot more sane of a pace of life. It seems like everything wants to happen at once in Ottawa.

Now this is really odd because it typically takes at least 30 minutes+ to commute anywhere, but the 45 minute drive to Halifax from Truro was only reserved for special occasions??? But as far as getting things done, when it happens it happens is almost the maritime feel where as in Ottawa everything seems to have an urgent tag attached to it. I do my best to not get caught up in it but the moment I step into my parents house it is like I arrive in a time distortion field. Everything gets done - but it is like time is stretched out there somehow.

When we started to plant Freedom Vineyard, one of our mandates was to create church for busy people. We recognize that there are so many demands on peoples time that church should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. That is why we are not really programme oriented and do a lot of spontaneous community gatherings. We fully expect sporadic attendance and try not to pressure anyone to make every single meeting. Also this is probably why a regular (traditional) Sunday gathering does not serve our community well. Folks who have embraced our community life have expressed how much they appreciate having that extra time on Sunday to just spend with their family - hey if we can do anything to strengthen the bonds of family I think we are doing something worthwhile.

To help this out we gather in two modes. First as a Christian body seeking to unabashedly worship Jesus - which happens in prayer meetings, kinships (small groups), celebrations. And secondly in just being a community that loves hanging out together - poker nights, scrapbooking, tea parties, going to the beach, road trips, RPGs. In both of these settings we attract both Christians and non-Christians. One of my hopes is that our desire to not overwhelm them with more time commitments will make us a safe refuge for folks already overwhelmed by the demands of city life. In fact it seems to be working because when we gather, however we gather, people come because they want to.

OK, got to run and practice slowing down for my vacation.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Planning our vacation...

We are heading to Nova Scotia in a few weeks. Gonna visit my family. The drive to Truro is about 14 hours without kids - we are hoping to make it in two days. There was a great show on CBC this afternoon on how to travel with kids. Lots of wonderful suggestions. We are planning a travelling album - gotta get some film for the old polaroid camera. Also our first day is only to Riviere-du-Loup (about 7 hours driving time) where we plan to relax in a hotel with a pool! Should be lots of fun.

I was busy this afternoon, after the show, making lists of food to take, stuff to pack goodie bags with, items essential to travelling with kids. I warned you I like obsessive compulsive AR stuff. Finding a nice hotel (still have to book it - $135CDN is a bit more than I expected, oh well). Oh and I told the girls that they can each choose a new DVD for the trip but they can't watch it until we get underway. I am hoping though that some of the suggestions will mean less DVD play this time. Movies are better at night when there isn't so much to see and do.

What are some of the things you've done to entertain your young ones on long trips? Leave me a comment, it is exciting to think that this just might be our best family trip yet. Don't worry I'm sure I can find a hotspot down there to keep up on my blogging.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Consider yourself warned......

You know there are a lot of things in my life, a lot that are important to me. My faith and my family are at the top - I have two great kids, a loving wife and an amazing Saviour. But there are other things that occupy my head and heart.

For instance there is the church I am planting - Freedom Vineyard. Especially the community that has gathered in an effort to get closer to God. I love those guys and gals. They encourage me, challenge me, sometimes frustrate me, love me and even at times take care of me. This is another thing in my heart.

I also love friends, I have a lot of friends. Lots at various level of friendship too. Some whom I've only just begun to get to know. Some whom I've known and loved for years. But I love hanging out with my friends.

I love music - well playing music more than listening to it. There is something I find very relaxing to grab my guitar and begin strumming the songs in my heart. I revel in the opportunities I've had, and sometimes still have, to play in bands or perform on stages. I love leading intimate worship in our church. Music is great in my life.

I like games and strategy. I love stories and movies. I like reading and thinking deeply. I love theology and even at times history. I like languages - even though I am not good at them. I love collecting things - but try to limit it for my wife's sanity. But still I have books and stamps and CDs and you name it to organize and enjoy. Oh did I mention I love organizing things (not so much people it is more AR than that). These are things that make up me, things in my head and heart.

OK so you are wondering the point of this post? Well all these things are me and all these things are part of my life story. It is hard for me to spend anytime with anyone and not talk about any and all of these things. Maybe I am just a really public kinda guy - maybe I am not cautious enough with my pearls. Whatever the case - consider yourself warned, this is my blog and I'm apt to shift gears wildly here. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Anemnesis

I got to thinking about this word. It is not the easiest concept to get your head around. So I thought it might be fun to explore a bit in my blog. Hope you agree.

The word literally translates from the Greek as memory raised up. So perhaps we could think of it as ubermemory. Or memory that is brought up into focus. But the sense of that word goes beyond simply focusing - but into something more immersive.

One of the ways anemnesis has been explained to me is through the results of an experience of anemnesis. We know it has occurred when the memory we are focusing on has become a part of our own memories. So when you are recounting the story of Jesus feeding 5000, it is told with phrases like, "remember when Jesus had all those hungry people?" We tell it like this because the story is part of our story.

When we use such phrases we are announcing our own conviction that the event actually occurred and that the event had an impact on us even if we were not among those initially impacted by the event. This can happen with any of the narratives we take into our own story of life, but it has a particular place in Christian tradition. The liturgical forms are built to invoke an experience of anemnesis.

The liturgy of the Word is not just a bible exposition, but the retelling of the God story as the story of the people of God. We are drawn into that story and it becomes our story as well. Which is why the primary focus on the epistles in most Protestant churches is disturbing. Not that Paul and the others are not important - but their teaching is all grounded in the story of God, and it is all too easy to miss that story in our search for knowledge.

The liturgy of the Eucharist, and especially the Mass, is so blatantly anemnesis invoking that it should also disturb us when it is paid so little attention in many of our churches. Here our story mingles with the story of Christ in a way that we literally take the story (narrative if you will) into our bodies and are subsumed into the body of Christ. We become what we eat.

I am excited to find movements in the Church today that are restoring the centrality of the gospels in their liturgies. It is so important, even though sometimes it is so hard. We have been following Matthew as of late (Roman Lectionary) and our Wednesday service has fallen on some incredibly difficult narratives. But they are part of the gospel, part of the story, and meant to be part of our story as well. In wrestling through them I have found great reward, and I am sure you will as well.

Just one more note - story is the most powerful means of communication. As a preacher you soon find out that all your brilliant insights are lost, but that goofy story about the washing machine breaking down sticks. You can either be frustrated at this. Or you can recognize the brilliance of God's design. We are built for story. We are built to be part of an unfolding narrative - the History of Salvation. We respond to story. We bring stories into our own narrative (I love the stories of the Kingdom breaking into peoples lives and they all want to bubble right back out of me when I speak). God has made us this way so that we would respond to His invitation into the God Story unfolding through history and drawing us all towards the Son.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Becoming Part of the Christ Event

I was pondering the mystical connection between the communion of the Saints and the revelation of Christ in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I had written recently about the anemnesis of the Eucharist (an article for the upcoming Resonate ezine), making present through action and memory the Christ event - from the Last Supper to the Return of King Jesus. That we participate with this memory taking it on as our own and also being subsumed into that memory as a member of the Body of Christ.

Part of what fuels this thought is my readings in The Crucified God where Jurgen Moltmann tries to help us see that an exclusive communion denies the very mission of Christ. If the Eucharist makes Christ real to those who participate, then it should also make Christ present for the world. So when we bring forth the presence, through anemnesis, of the Cross in the Mass - we are displaying it for the world to see, to make known the extent of God's love to even endure the absolute scandal of the cross.

It is through our participation that we become part of the mystical body of Christ. Jesus Himself said unless you eat and drink - there is a call then to experience this connection and to even loose ourselves in Christ so that we may become Christ to the world, just as Jesus became Christ for our salvation. In fact this is the life Jesus modeled - He layed down His identity (God of all) not to become one of us (Lost in sin), but rather to become our salvation (Christ died for the ungodly). In turn we too are called to lay down our identity, not to become the other - but to risk being changed by the encounter so that Christ will be displayed through us for our salvation and the salvation of the world. In other words Jesus set the example, we follow.

What we become is not what we expect. In losing ourselves, we actually find ourselves. One of my favorite points in Pauline thought is Romans 12:1-2 where Paul calls us to lay down our whole lives in a sacrifice offering to God - after all is this not what Jesus did? But the results of that are what always excite me - "then you will know what is the will of God, He perfect and pleasing will." It is in our participation that we too join with the sacrifice of God (once for all) to lose ourselves in Him and become the body of Christ.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Not much time to blog these last few days...


Been looking after the kids and trying to get work done at the same time. The kids like making art for me when I am in the office - here is a sample.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

They Came!!!!

12 boxes of miniatures in one sitting. My little girl helped me open them and oogle the dragons, ogres, skeletons, elves and other suprises. My favourites are the Efreeti, Ogre Mage, Troll, Large Copper Dragon, Thorn, Direguard and Orc Wolf Shaman. Great set WotC dudes! Now to get Bifur updated!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

That's better

I almost missed it, but there was an article on Travis last Thursday in the Citizen. A more sane judge has determined that no anti-American sentiment was involved, also that there were not enough materials to make a bomb, but that he was clearly an angry young man. So off too a wilderness camp for a month. Wow, that is great. I am plugging for you Travis Beihn, and praying for you too.

Braving Ordination

Much as I think ordination is a part of the problem of patriarchical church governmental structures. I do have to applaud the bravery of the women who braved Roman Ordination yesterday. I do know what it is like to be in a place where you don't feel able to minister as you believe God would have you - that is not a fun place to be in. Especially when the reason you are being held back is other people's fears. I pray that God will lead and bless your ministry to Him and the Body of Christ. I join with you in your desire to see the Church become more like Christ.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Waiting.....

My first case of Angelfire D&D Miniatures should arrive Wednesday.
I can't wait!!!!!

[edit July 26] UPS website says it is on the truck for delivery....... can't wait, can't wait!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Eucharistic Blood Bath

Exodus 24:6-8
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, "All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do."
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
"This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his."

Imagine this. You show up for the next Eucharistic service and at the front of the room are two big jugs of wine, four large bowls sitting on a fresh white linen tablecloth. As worship swirls through the air the seals are broken and the wine poured into the bowls. Thanksgiving arises from the hearts of everyone as the smell of wine permeates the air. The presiders survey the gathered and invite the Holy Spirit to come. Anticipation fills you as you wait to see what will happen next.

Two of the bowls are poured over the altar as an offering. Spilled out just like the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Wine pools on the floor in the most scandalous of wastes, just as the precious blood of Jesus flowed onto the ground only to be soaked into the rubble where it mingles with the blood of sinners. "Our lives are poured out before You Lord" rings out as the presiders turn to the people. Reaching into the bowls with ladles they begin to throw the remaining wine onto the crowd. No regard for decorum is maintained as tears and wine mingle. Hands lifted to the sky as the words ring out, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his."

Let the image in your imagination embrace you. Let the scandal of the cross offend you. Let the utter sacrifice of God ruin you. Give yourself to God - as He has given Himself for you.

Friday, July 22, 2005

RISK IT?

Ok so this is wierd. I get the girls some fruit gummies - Sunkist makes a letter shaped one with no trans fats. So I grab a pack for me - sit down and munch away. Then I get the idea to see what word might be there. I have 6 letters. I see risk and it right away. Now all I need to figure out is what I need to risk ;-)

Yeah, don't worry. I'm just funning with you all. It did say that though. The mighty Sunkist gummies have spoken. ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hindi Janta Hai?

Ok so that is like the worst transliteration, but it is the best I can do being 10 years away from trying to learn a language on my own.

I love that our new group is so international in flavour. Last night a new guy showed up, a guy from India - a hindu! I think at first our host was a bit concerned how this might work - but you know we are a group of believers meeting together to worship and interact with God. I often say we are seeker insensitive - so that was put to the test. We worshipped Jesus and there was a nice presence of the Lord in the room. Our new friend followed along and seemed to enjoy himself. The reading was the parable of the sower from Matthew - so someone volunteered their bible so our guest could follow along. We talked about the seeds and I literally planted some seeds in some soil, watered it and we decided to wait until the end of kinship to see what had grown.

Then we talked about the seeds from Matthew - in chapter 13 there are three seeds: the message of the Kingdom, good people, and faith. So we began sharing what God has been doing in our lives. I had received a healing on Sunday so my choice was easy. But the testimonies were great - God is indeed directing and loving His people. When our guest had his turn he was quite concerned with letting us know he had a different concept of God and then affirming that God does direct us (he called it a supernatural force of nature). It was just part of the God talk for the night, I think he was a bit uncomfortable that we named God in our service. But the fact that no one jumped on him made him comfortable enough to stay and fellowship with just about everyone of us.

So at the end we picked up the container of planted soil. Now this was rich earth. But as you imagine - there was no growth in that short a time. So we talked about surrounding ourselves with the seeds of the Kingdom message (God's story and our story), seeds of positive faithful friends and seeds of faith put into practice. That the fruit often takes time to appear in our lives - but it will come. It will yield a bountiful harvest in our lives.

Just one other note - juring our time of fellowship (we didn't break up to pray just because I didn't want to overwhelm our guest) my friend had been hit in a drive-by egging and had a welt on her arm that hurt to touch. So we prayed, exercised our faith, and she was quite astounded when the pain left. Praise God.

Welcome the strangers in your midst, for by doing so some have found they were entertaining angels.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lots of work...

I went to the library at St. Paul's yesterday. Got lost in Bradshaw's "In Search of the Origins of Christian Worship". Wrote an article for the new Resonate online mag. Basically had a whole morning with no kids screaming and the ability to hear my own inner thoughts. What a great morning! I came back centered, able to deal with my sometimes emotional kids and ready to be productive around the house.

Today it is just me and Chelsea - hanging out and watching some Dora the Explorer. Got to run, that is important business. Peace.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Boy is it hot!!!

It is like soup out there. I haven't cut my lawn in forever because of the weather. I now have mushrooms on my lawn. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mushrooms. Probably won't chance them though.

OK so I just got another one of those annoying calls where they tell you you've won some meal or vacation. Why are they always astounded when you tell them you don't want to participate? What is up with that? So he asks me why and I say there is always a catch - he denies it so I politely refuse to cooperate when he asks me my salary range. He expected me to believe it wasn't market research. Anyway, those calls are just annoying.

I'll have something constructive to say soon - I am working on a bloggage, but wanted to let you all know I'm still kicking in all the heat.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Joy Jam

What a day! Actually all in all it was a good day. But I wish I were more prepared. Oh well, that's life - you take it on the chin sometimes.

Joy Jam in the brainchild of Matthew from Capital City Mission. He has a vision to create a Cornerstone North - I've gotten in on the ground floor. He books Christian musicians from around the city to come play all day in a park while they give out food, drink, ice cream, towels (this year), face painting, snow cones, etc. Stuff to just bless the community. I love CCM, they aren't preachy - but they aren't shy either. But most imporantly they are in their mission field day in and day out showing the love of Jesus to the lost and poor of Ottawa.

I was asked again to play for a half hour set. I did some Niel Young, Tom Petty, Adam Cohen and then some Christian stuff. OK OK. So the Christian stuff was some Rik Leaf, Yvonne Parks, David Ruis, Me, Andrew Horrwicks, etc. Vineyardy worship stuff. I did tell a few stories, bit I wasn't having the best day for playing. It didn't help that I was in direct sun at a sweltering 35 degrees! My hands were sweaty. My strings going out of tune. I forget more than one line - not sure if anyone else noticed but I sure did. All in all not one of my finer performances. I did pull off Amazing (Adam Cohen) rather well - IMHO, I should have ended there like my original plan. But nooooooo I had to go on and take on a picking intense song - one I do well but hadn't practiced (yikes). So with nowheres to go but up I finished with a classic Tom Petty "Won't Back Down!".

Even though I wasn't too happy with the set, I did get some positive feedback. My wife gave me some honest feedback saying I let my lack preperation show (I'm usually better at plowing through - but this has been a heck of a week). But one guy told Timoty (the director of CCM) that he was really touched by my message and songs. Was it worth it - for that yes.

Boy are my dogs tired!!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Days like yesterday leave me...

I don't know about you but it takes me a few days to recover from a day of frustration like yesterday. I mean I get the grace thing, I really do. But there is still the lingering self-frustration. Take that and add a daughter that got us up around 5:30AM and you get the makings for a lazy day. Actually I've gotten a fair bit accomplished today, I even got out and made a few new friends (thanks Paul). But every crisis* at home leaves me in a slight shaken state.

Tried to get a bit of rest in there. Lots of cleaning yet to do. And tomorrow I play a concert in a park that I am definitely not ready to do. I love playing, so I hope that carrys me. So far everytime I've picked up my guitar to practice today my youngest starts screaming at me. Not good. She's over tired, cranky. So that leaves me in a funk. Well we have D&D tonight, that should brighten my mood.

*crisis - ask a parent what constitutes a crisis for a 2 year old.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Overflowing....but not in a good way!

Oh man. The day was going tickity-boo until I hear the sound of heavy rain falling. What? No rain outside. Holy Crap!!!! My worst nightmare, the toilet is overflowing and the rain is pouring down in my messy, messy workshop. Arrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Ok so I've mopped up the bulk of it, changed one poopy diaper, and am just waiting for the floor to dry up a bit to walk around in there.

Have you ever noticed that when you have really profound encounters with God - all your crap gets stirred up. Last night was a mountain height spiritually and this unfortunate event seems to be pulling all the crap from the bottom out of me. I was stomping around in my basement, mad, frustrated and swearing. I even took a shot at my wall (not too hard - I have a funny story about that sometime). Frustrated that my first thought was to yell at my little girl when this happened. Mad that I didn't keep my workshop cleaner. Frustrated that in my anger I'm not being careful enough and have spilled several boxes of nails. The bible says be angry and sin not - well, not doing so well on that one.

So then Chelsea comes to me with a poopy diaper and all of a sudden I realize what is going on. I drop everything and take her up to help her out. I get her all situated and she is soooo cooperative this morning. I think God is sending me a message... excuse me while I run to Abba and get my diaper changed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Communion

We held an Eucharistic celebration tonight at Kinship. It was really cool. That's the service I was having so much fun putting together. There is something about doing liturgy well that is so satisfying. The goal of good liturgy is always to foster God encounters among the participants. To create a space where we can encounter the Living Word and be transformed.

Judging by the reactions I think that is just what happened. I even had my own moment of epiphany. Earlier in the day I was reading "The Crucified God" where Moltmann is unpacking the scandle of the cross. In the midst of recieving the elements I noticed that all around me were crumbs and wine had sloshed on the table because my decanter only looks pretty. Looking around I noticed the Catholics that hang with us had no crumbs, they were carefully cupping the bread. I was uncomfortable. It was scandalous. Then I remembered the cross. The cross was scandelous. The very God of the universe stepped into humanity and submitted not just to death - but the most degrading of deaths! This should make us all uncomfortable. It was a moment when the roses were stripped from the cross and all of a sudden I am realizing just how much God was willing to give up for me. Kinda puts things into perspective.