Saturday, April 29, 2006

Home Work

If I keep it up, I’m bound to be fit by the end of the summer! (Ironic use of the passive voice is intentional)

We have a tonne of work to do. Gardens to build, topsoil to lay down, ground to grade, and the list goes on. This year we are doing major work on the outside of our home. We had an awesome flagstone patio and stairs installed last year. The gardens will give that a bit of privacy, but we already eat meals out there. I love watching people walking up the street. Just me and my girls enjoying the house God has blessed us with.

I spent all morning raking our lawn. I have a great thatching rake, which is easier in some ways, but harder in others. The hill in my backyard did not get a last mowing so it was rather long – like combing incredibly tangled hair! Boy are my legs tired – still.

We have a great concert coming up tomorrow. Andrew Smith! There are still tickets if you want to come (and are nearby). Just email me. I’ll post a report tomorrow after the concert. Maybe even a picture of the gardens when they are done later this month.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Awesome Daughter

Sometimes kids do amazing things. My oldest daughter just blew us away with a spontaneous act of generosity. One of her classmates, she is in Senior Kindergarten, had lost his pencil box. That is pretty important for a six year old. She was asked to share hers with him at school which it sounded like she enjoyed doing. When she got home she asked if she could use her money to buy him a new one. I came into the kitchen as her mom was helping her count out the change. This little plastic box would cost almost all of the $5 she counted out. We went to the store after swimming lessons, she was insistent, and bought one with a blue top – she knew this was his favourite colour. I bought a pack of coloured pencils and we put them and a sharpener into the box. The next morning her mom helped her rubber stamp a nice label with his name on it, and off she went to school.

We sent along a note, one for the teacher and one for the parents of this boy. But in her excitement my daughter forgot to give the notes to her teacher. But boy was the little boy happy. Sharon was going into the school to read to the kids that afternoon and when she got there the teacher thanked her, but my wife was quick to point out this was my daughter’s initiative. My little girl told us that she just wanted to show the boy that she was a really good friend. I am so proud she has such a generous heart.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Exam is done!

I am heading to the school in a few minutes. So good to be finished. My wife might do a quick edit of my last piece, but it is only a single page on what I got out of the course. Questions like that are there to give you free points. I'll blog more properly about the American Revolution piece because it seems to have generated a lot of interest. But I also looked at the impact of the Enlightenment on Christianity as well as the legacy of the Contemporary Church history period on my own tradition - the Vineyard. That is a bit of a challenge because our movement is rather young. But I basically traced the values of the Vineyard through the period talking about the traditions that they either reacted to or were influenced by. The Vineyard is interesting as it both embraces and resists aspects of the reasonable Enlightenment church and the Pietist affective Church. In any case it is really good to be done.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

America the Bad Idea

I’m in the home stretch for my final exam. It is due Monday, but I really run out of time today! Did a piece on the relationship between Christianity and the American Revolution. I am now convinced that America is a screwed up idea from the beginning. Unfortunately the actions of Bush now make perfect sense, which is anything but comforting. I would really recommend the work of Mark Noll, very insightful. I read a fair chunk of Christians and the American Revolution. I’m sure I’ll have much to blog about once my exam is submitted.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My second DDM scenario is up!

Had to check before I hit the sack. Yup, it is up! Looks great too. I wrote the basilisk lair scenario quite awhile ago, in fact I had to update it from tiles and to the newer sets. It was the original scenario I pitched to WotC. I have a bunch more scenarios brewing, but just no time to write them up. The next one I'll submit is a two person challenge - we'll see if they like it. I think that Wizard's wants more solo type adventures. Those take longer because you need to balance them out. I have one I'm still tweaking each time I playtest, especially since some of the new pieces came out. Would love to hear from any of you DDMers who try this one.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

One Exam down

Johannine Literature exam done! I think I did pretty well on it too. Now the big Contemporary Church History take-home exam. I’ve been working on it, but it is hard to work on a large project with just snippets of time. My wife is insisting that next semester I take a full course load, which should be interesting. At least my oldest daughter will be in school full days. There is a lot of stuff going on in the next two weeks, as well as my exam that is due on the 24th. Holy Week celebrations, we are having our regular Wednesday kinship as well as a special Easter vigil on Saturday night. We have family coming into town, always fun but more days lost. I have some writing to finish up and I really need to send some stamps off to a friend in Holland. I’ll get through it, always do. But boy am I going to be tired at the end of this stretch.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Jesus and Money

Sometimes my mind drifts in funny ways when I'm trying to get to sleep. Last night I had just got home from preparing for my Johannine Literature exam and somehow I synapsed onto Jesus and money. I think the spark was Judas, but in anycase I started wondering exactly how did Jesus view money? And as I thought through all the pericopes that seemed relevant I was quite challenged.

Starting with Judas, the thief Jesus chose to keep the community purse??? Now how many of us are willing to let a known thief take care of our finances? I don't suspect many of us. But Jesus did! Alarming as that seems it gets worse. Asked about taxes - Jesus pulls coins out of his, uhhh fish - yeah that's right a fish??? Of course there is the famous render unto Caesar speach and the instructions to a certain rich man to give all he has away and come follow Jesus. I don't seem to be getting warm and fuzzy feelings from Jesus about money.

But then again, maybe Jesus has it right! (Yeah I know, novel idea.) Maybe our attitudes about money should be loose and full of grace. Maybe we shouldn't get upset when people rip us off? Maybe we shouldn't hold onto money like it is our saviour. This kind of thinking betrays conventional wisdom - and strikes me as unbalanced. But maybe what is unbalanced is my heart about money.

I am pretty loose with the coin. We were taken for about a grand by a con man last year and it didn't even register as a real loss - except the loss of what felt like a friend. I love to give, even sacrificially. And though I've had lots of fine scrapes, I've yet to go hungry or even to be that needy. I guess I take that for granted.

My wife, on the otherhand, bless her, she is the money watcher. She is the one that gets stressed about finances. I'm sure I'm hard on her that way. She is the one that goes item by item through every credit card bill. She's the one that notices that they overcharged us fifty cents on an obscure item and triumphantly gets the refund (spending more than that in gas on the way). Yup, we are opposites in this regard.

Conventional wisdom would look for a balance between the two of us. But does that sound like what Jesus was like with money? Even I wouldn't trust my money to a crook - although we tend to think of our previous financial advisor that way. Maybe we should have just not worried about that one - after all the stocks are still performing well??? Maybe that is the key here - not to worry. Consider the lily, consider the grass of the field, consider the crazy life of Jesus. A good friend of mine tells me that money is a test - if that is true then Jesus' life shows us how to pass it, and it doesn't look anything like what I expected.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Back and Forth, from Side to Side

Yup. For anyone who has ever had someone take them aside to "help" them out with their ministry - this is for you!

Listen to the whole thing!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

It is up!

My article is up on the Christian Week site as well! This is super exciting.

BTW I did pretty good on my two papers this semester. I think I deserved the A on my Johannine paper, that was a lot of work. But I am pretty sure I didn't deserve the A- on my history paper, Maybe a B+. I left out a lot of context that I should have put in there. I am pretty sure I over researched it (it is only a 3rd year course) and didn't feel I had enough time to write it. But I learned the very valuable lesson: with numerous texts the research strategy I had sucks! I really need to take good notes as I am reading and not just buy the book so I can highlight it. Bought a few books and made numerous margin notes, but at the end of the day I probably read my sources at least twice each! That is too much for the amount of sources I had. I do appreciate the mark though, I would have been very sad to get the mark I felt I deserved.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

An Evening with Steve Bell

Ok many of you know already that I am not a big fan of "Christian" music. So even though I had heard a lot about Steve Bell from good friends I haven't gone out of my way to hear him and I wouldn't really think of going to a concert of his. My friend Doug came into town this week and dropped two tickets for Steve's Dinner with Bruce tour (I had no idea what that meant). It just happened to be a night that worked out for us! So not wanting to miss an opportunity to take my wife somewheres nice (without the kids, much as I love em) we got a sitter and headed out to the concert.

Let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised. Steve is an excellent musician and his band was really, really good. So as a musician I was happy right there. But it got better. The Bruce turned out to be Bruce Cockburn! He did a lot of excellent covers that night – man that was awesome. And even better Steve was a great storyteller, and he wasn’t doing some weird expected Christianese preaching crap – he was just talking about his life and relating to us in song. Part of what I don’t like about Christian concerts are folks that are so utilitarian in their presentation that it is painful and there is no way I would want to submit a non-Christian to that – but you know I’d take a non-Christian to see Steve any day now!

Don’t get me wrong, we love having artists who are Christian come and share their gifts with us. We’ve run quite a few livingroom concerts (in fact we have Andrew Smith (Smith, Funk & Strauss fame) coming April 30th, only $10/person if you want to come!) and they are awesome. Steve was very much like the livingroom experiences we’ve had. Down to earth and real.

Thanks Steve, we had a great night with you. BTW Sharon picked up Diana Pops album, Diana really touched her.