Monday, April 30, 2007


I've been looking for a really good article on the faith of Barack Obama for a while. I've seen a couple that were either too generic or too clearly slanted to be of much use. I don't have time to read his books (my reading pile is so large I won't be finished it by next year's elections), but I was interested in the faith that he mentions. Is it "of course I'm a Christian" cultural faith? Is it "I'm running for office and therefore need to go to church" political faith? Is it the real deal?

This article in the New York Times is the most balanced thing I've seen so far. It's still hard to know what's going on in his heart, but at least this article pulls together different snippets from other articles and addresses some of the issues.

I highly recommend reading it.

In reading the article I thought of the article in Newsweek last fall that traced the relationship between the evangelical church and politics. The pattern of groups gaining favor with the evangelical church, getting in bed with politicians to advance their agenda and then having a harsh fall is pretty well documented in the article.

Now we see Obama moving towards power and preaching at Saddleback Church, working with Jim Wallis and speaking at his own super church. I'm all for a truly dedicated man of God being in power, but I think we have to look long and hard at the man, determining if this is really "of God" and then look at what the costs are of getting that close to power. History indicates that those who get close to power get burned.

If you haven't read the NYT or Newsweek articles, I strongly encourage you to take a look. I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the faith of the 2008 candidates.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Not Bad for a Canadian

You Are Not a Dumb American

You got 8/10 correct.
You know a good deal about American history, but there's some basic facts you have wrong.
Time to go back to history class!

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

What to do...

While I'm feeling slightly better, it seems as soon as I have any energy, something comes up to take all that extra energy. It feels like a losing battle.

In the midst of this, something has come up that would be an amazing opportunity for this summer. I know I should be excited and jump at it. However, it's hard to be excited when I don't know where I'm going to get the energy to get through the day. Is it a matter of faith that I will be healthy by the summer?

There's also the issue of money. Not exactly sure where the money to do this will come from, but I guess it's a matter of taking the leap knowing that the details will work out.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Last night at the Dove Awards Chris Tomlin won 6 awards (the highest of the night), including Male Vocalist of the Year and Artist of the Year.

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Last night I watched the Idols Give Back special. In a previous life I have watched way too much of American Idol, so what's two more hours? And this one is supposed to be about Africa, so that's good, right? And Bono will be on, right?

First - the negative.

The show was an interlacing of a usual cheesy elimination show, a concert and clips from charities around the world. Interesting mix.
- In the clips of children it seemed like the kids were coached when to start crying. I was suspicious the first time, but the little girl in LA seriously can't act.
- Also, I thought this was about Africa. Since when are LA, New Orleans and Kentucky in Africa?
- Since when is anywhere in the US considered "extreme poverty" on the level with some of the African conditions?
- Why did Ryan have to follow every clip of the horrors in Africa with a comment about half the money staying in America to help American kids? What's wrong with helping African kids?
- Watching Simon Cowell in an African hut telling the family that their "home" was unacceptable was pretty hard to take. I get that the conditions are deplorable, but it seemed uncomfortable to here a rich Brit say that to the family.
- What exactly are Simon, Ryan, Randy and Paula doing on these issues? When Ryan asked Simon that he quickly deflected the question.
- The Quincy Jones song was awful. In a "this is a horrible song" awful, and also in a "love isn't going to fix everything" awful.
- Having Exxon executives pretending to care about Africa turned my stomach.
- How can you cut from the clips of children in poverty to the AI elimination? It was way too jarring.
- Paula, showing us cleavage within millimeters of getting censored is not what I would consider "Idol gives back". Just sayin.

So, having said all that and having steeled myself for the cheesefest that is AI...
yes, I ended up crying. The brother and sister living in a single room because their parents were dead. The "family" of fourteen children (mostly AIDS orphans) living in a room. Carrie Underwood singing to those kids.

Yes, I went through lots of kleenex. Even I'm not cold enough to stay dry eyed during it.

And, I guess if all the AI watchers gained a greater understanding of the poverty issues in our country and the crisis in Africa, then the sacrifice of two hours of my life is worth is. Kudos to Ellen Degeneres for pledging $100,000 on air and challenging the rich friends she watches AI with to do the same. I hope lots of people are really bothered by the show (in the good way) and follow up by asking lots of questions. I know was down most of the night because it's servers were swamped. I also hope those 6 finalists on the show were impacted and when one (or more) of them gets famous they remember what their fame and money can do.

$30 million is nothing to sneeze at. I hope the money makes it's way swiftly to buy malaria medication, nets, ARV medication and all the other things they promised last night.

As much as the cheesy stuff made me snicker and some of the "edge of tasteful" stuff made me wince, mostly the show made me want to go to Africa with suitcases of malaria medication and support those communities torn apart by AIDS however I can.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just So Wrong

This ad showed up in my Google ads:
Purpose Driven Software

Eady-to-use church management soft- ware for Purpose Driven Churches.


A) Please stop with the "purpose driven" everything! I'm begging you.

B) The phrase "Eady-to-use" made me laugh and laugh. Perhaps they can ad a spellchecker to their very easy software.

C) In the layout of the ad, there was no line break between "soft-" and "ware". Seriously.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bono Sighting

Though it pains me to promote American Idol, according to the press releases (and the emails I've gotten from the ONE Campaign, Bono will be on American Idol tomorrow night. It's supposed to be a relief show for Africa, so he's there to talk to the contestants about the ONE campaign. Though it's sure to be cheesy, it is bringing attention to the issues in Africa. Tune in, but be prepared with the mute or fast forward button for when you hit your limit of cheese!

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For those who love worship music and/or want to support all those hurting at VT, check out this link. You won't regret it.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Cute Shoes

I take a lot of flack for my large shoe collection and for the fact that I love cute shoes. The problem with cute shoes is that often aren't super comfortable. So, if I know I won't have to walk too far, I'll wear cute shoes. However, there are very few times when I know for certain I won't have to walk anywhere, so there are very few occasions to pull out the cute shoes.

I've now found a new use for cute shoes.

Yesterday I managed to drag myself to church despite feeling awful and hoping I could manage not to over exert myself.

Rather than slip on the comfortable shoes, I put on cute shoes. Not only did I look cuter, but I had a real incentive not to overdo it. I stopped for an errand on the way home and I quickly realized my feet weren't going to let me go too far. For once this was a really good thing and helped keep me from over exerting myself.

Score one for cute shoes!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Keeper of Hearts

I'm continuing to read (and take copious notes on) Ministries of Mercy by Timothy Keller. It's an outstanding book and I can't even tell you how much I've learned from this book.

I came upon this quote last night:
The person should remember that God is the keeper of hearts. If you have a burden, then God put it there; it is not the result of your innate goodness and love.
This really speaks to something that's been bothering me for some time. Is this interest in Africa just a passing thing with me? Is this just something that caught my eye? How do I know that this is just from God and not just a good idea?

Then I read this quote and got hit with some perspective. It's hard to accept that nothing good could be coming just from me. It's just a matter of my motivation in approaching the good things that are from God. God is the keeper of my heart.

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How Can I Keep From Singing

Chris Tomlin from Passion '07

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Change of Scenery

I'm hanging out at my friends B-squared's house and hanging out on their couch. Nice to have a change of scenery and just lie low for the day. As an added bonus, they won't let me do anything strenuous. Nice to have accountability in your laziness.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Evidently I'm Not "Just Lazy"

So, I went to the doctor's this morning and she thinks I have mono. They took an awful lot of my blood and she put me on all kinds of medications "just in case". Evidently I'm much sicker than I thought I was. That's the problem with fatigue. You may be really sick, but you just don't care. All you want to do is sleep.

If I haven't been calling you back, returning your emails or responding fast enough - sorry. Hopefully I'll be feeling better in a few weeks.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prayer for VT

Campus Crusade for Christ is calling all students and campuses to prayer tomorrow (April 19th) for the students of Virginia Tech. From their website:
"How You Can Pray

The staff team invites the watching world to join with them in prayer. Specifically, they ask people to pray for:

  1. families and friends of the students who were killed, including the 4 students involved with Campus Crusade.
  2. students who were injured during the shooting and are still in the hospital.
  3. survivors of the shootings who witnessed the horrors of that day.
  4. wisdom for the Campus Crusade staff members and other campus ministers and pastors as they seek to counsel and love the hurting students."

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Getting to the Bottom of This

Judging from my past blog entries, my current issues with fatigue started March 8th and have been around in varying levels since then. Right now the varying level is high. I'm exhausted and am having a hard time sitting up at work.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my doctor to try to get to the bottom of this. Hopefully she'll do some blood tests and I'll find out what's causing the problem. More importantly - how to fix the problem. My parents are arriving for a visit in a week and I have a major work event at the end of next week. I simply HAVE to get energy back. Right now there's no way I can have house guests. Don't know quite what to do with the situation.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Thousand Words

Though in a crisis moment everyone tends to turn on the tv to see video of events and hear the latest information, I've always felt that still photos do a better job of capturing emotion and creating the lasting image of events. When I think of 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, it's the still photos that I remember. Video conveys the immediacy, but it's usually franetic and often comes with audio commentary that later proves to be wrong or caught up in the emotion of the moment.

I may be biased because of my own love for photography, but I think it's the photojournalists who really preserve history for us and help us understand tragedy. The talking heads on television end up becoming a blur. As usual, it's the photographs coming out today that have made me cry. The best photo essay I've found is from Time. I think the photos express what even 1000 words could not capture.

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The Day After

I was off yesterday and so I managed to miss what was happening until mid-afternoon. It was hard to take in and hit close to home. I was still grappling with everything when I found something that helped make some sense of the display of evil I was seeing on my television:
Though the darkness closes in, I believe that God is on His throne, and that He is good beyond our wildest dreams. He is the Savior of the whole wide world. Yet we are living in shattered days, a faint image of what He hoped and dreamed for us all. And today, the weight of our fallen race seems too heavy to bear.
There's so much in the world that I don't understand. Days like today I'm afraid that I do understand, and it becomes hard to handle living in the world.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Sheep Stealing

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how different church would look if we really thought we were working for the Kingdom of God, rather than the Small Principality of __________ (insert the name of your church here). What if we gave to missionaries that weren't just our denomination if they were undertaking strategic work that we felt called to be a part of? What if we supported other Bible-believing/Bible-preaching/Bible-living churches in our area as brothers and sisters?

This came up in a church meeting a few weeks ago when we were talking about stewardship and the radical idea came up to send a chunk of our young families to the church up the road that is doing great things with college students, but is struggling because it doesn't have families as a foundation for the church. What if we did that? What if we blessed people that left our churches because they were called to other ministries (instead of cursing them)? What if we were committed to church planting, rather than growing mega churches?

Last night I was reading Dave Sliker's blog and was surprised to hear him hitting on a lot of these topics. I was especially struck by the following paragraph:
If seeker-sensitive churches are content to play their role on the “team” rather than build the biggest, most successful ode to their giftedness on the block, then everyone wins in the end. If other pastors can come to terms with the fact that “sheep stealing” is a farcical notion birthed from insecurity and sinful ambition rather than the word of God, they would then be fine with people shifting to different expressions of the the body reflected in the different corporate gatherings throughout their cities. Different seasons of growth, maturity, and development demand that believers run with different groups that best fit those seasons. Pastors that are willing to serve, launch, and recognize their limitations can be free of heart and pleased to have played a role in loving a member of the broader body of Christ that is valuable to Jesus. Pastors that seek to be “all things to all men” in a vain effort to gather all peoples to themselves will be sorely disillusioned and frustrated with the passage of time.
If we saw different churches having different roles in the community, things would look quite different. If we stopped trying to create the perfect mega-church on every corner and learned how to be a really good hand or a really good foot (in the body of Christ), how awesome would that be.

Anyhow, I was very excited to hear someone from IHOP saying this as it directly addresses some of my recent concerns about them vacuuming up all the "serious" Christians and holding them in the only "true" church. Kudos Dave. Good points and a good message. I think IHOP has a really important role to play in the North American church. I'm looking forward to seeing them engage more with other churches in the "team ministry" that Dave talks about.

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I love having random days off. Especially when going into work would have meant building an ark!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Life in the Center

Growing up in Canada I always felt a little outside the center. It was always clear that the US was the center of Western culture. From a global view all of the US, Canada and Western Europe are the center.

I read a great article the other night. I was going through my old magazines as part of spring cleaning and stumbled on this article in a Christianity Today from last summer. It's exactly what I've been looking for.

Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye talks about the dangers of being at the center. He explains that throughout scripture God was always outside the center. Jesus came to earth far out of the center.

As North American Christians he says we are at a disadvantage in understanding Jesus because we don't have that experience of being at the margins. His suggestion is that all North American Christians spend time globally at the margins - not to "fix" the rest of the world or to "bring God" to the rest of the world, but to realize that the margin is where God is and if we want to be with God, that's where we need to be.

I've been trying to explain to my church that sending people to Africa isn't to try to evangelize Africa (the church there is growing much faster than the church in my area), it's to transform our people by stepping outside our comfortable world and seeing God working in other parts of the world.
"One of the gravest threats to the North American church is the deception of power - the deception of power - the deception of being at the center. Those at the center tend to think, 'The future belongs to us. We are the shapers of tomorrow. The process of gospel transmission, the process of mission - all of it is on our terms, because we are powerful, because we are established. We have a track record of success, after all.'"
How often do we the US as shaping the world? How often do we say things like "the future belongs to us"?

If God is working far from the center, let's go be with Him.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Signs of New England Spring

This morning I saw a beautiful robin on my lawn. It was running around trying to dodge the falling ice pellets.



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small Friend


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sugar Sweet Sugar

Is sugar really worthy of it's own blog entry? YES.

I'm sitting here at Panera working (okay - taking a break) and munching on a caramel pecan brownie. Totally yummy. These things have mocked me from the counter when I went up to order my sugarless food. Now the brownie is mine. Mine I say!

So, what's with the sugar? Well, I was thinking on what I learned over Lent (aka - those horrible weeks when I had no sugar).

1. I'm a little too dependent on sugar. I use it as a stimulant. I use it as a pick-me-up. I use it as a reward. Not a good thing

2. This year I went with the tradition of taking the Sabbath off from giving things up for Lent. More simply stated, I ate sugar on Sundays. I didn't run out and eat 3 candy bars each Sunday, but I also didn't avoid sugar like I did for the rest of the week. This had the result of making me look forward to Sundays and be a little sad when the sun started going down on Sunday. It's a really cool thing to anticipate the Sabbath.

3. Giving up something for Lent isn't nearly as effective if you just substitute something else just as bad. As in "okay I won't eat that cookie because it's Lent - I'll have some potato chips instead".

4. Giving up something for Lent isn't as effective as fasting.

5. Fruit is yummy and very sweet. Perhaps I should eat more of it.

One of my favorite memories from Lent will be me and my friend Trish (who had also given up sugar) at her window on Saturday asking each other if we thought the sun had officially set yet (making it the Sabbath). Too funny!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

When I Count My Blessings...

at this time of year, I always count Clariton twice. This is a bad year for allergies and I'm almost thankful when it rains hard or gets cold because I get a break from the itching and sniffling.

Yesterday was especially fun with the pollen, Easter lilies and the perfumy people at church.

Another blessing? I wasn't in Halifax for the Easter Blizzard of '07. That really sucks.

Had a nice relaxing afternoon with friends eating Easter Dinner (and Easter dessert - no more Lent - yay). After dinner I got to see a whole new side of my friend Bert as he put the smack-down (literally) on my friend Jen's huge teddybear Snuggles. It was like a WWF show. Poor Snuggles just laid there and took it.

Got more books and resources for the justice study. It's going to be a spring of reading for me. I have to head out tomorrow and look at buying another bookcase. Or, buy a table cloth to drape over the piles of books and start using them as furniture.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Life

One of the great thing about this justice project has been the new authors I've been reading and seeing the questions they are asking.

One of these new authors is Timothy Keller. His Ministries of Mercy has this great quote that is perfect for Easter:
"The kingdom of God is the means for the renewal of the entire world and all the dimensions of life. From the throne of Jesus Christ flows new life and power such that no disease, decay, poverty, blemish, or pain can stand before it."

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

The official leak (is that an oxymoron?) on the 268 blog this morning is that Passion is coming to Boston October 12-13th (Chicago October 19-20). A Passion conference within driving distace of me - I can't wait.

So, mark your calendars now. Great preaching and worship is coming to New England.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

A New Voice on Africa

Living in my little Protestant bubble, I had no idea Pope Benedict was interested in the development issues of Africa. Evidently he has a new book coming out April 16th that includes the following quote on the application of the parable of the Good Samaritan to the issues of Africa:
"If we apply [the story] to the dimensions of globalised society we see how the peoples of Africa, who have been plundered and sacked, see us from close-up," he wrote. "Our style of life [and] the history in which we are involved has stripped them and continues to strip them."

The Pope wrote that the damage was not just material. "We have wounded them spiritually too," he said. "Instead of giving them God - and thereby welcoming in from their traditions all that is precious and great - we have brought them the cynicism of a world without God in which only power and profit count."

In the book he also discusses human trafficking, sex tourism and consumerism. Good to see these issues being discussed openly.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Maundy Thursday

No, not Monday Thursday. Maundy Thursday. It's an event I had never heard of until I went to Park Street Church in Boston. A celebration of the Last Supper and the beginning of the final events leading to the Crucifixion. I've always thought it's a great way to prepare for Good Friday.

For all the people who have been asking me what Maundy means, this description from wikipedia:
The word Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" (A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John(13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


CCM magazine has an interesting article on beauty and image in the Christian music industry. She interviewed many top artists on how they feel about the push for beauty in a sector that claims that beauty is on the inside. It's a worthwhile read.

When I got home last night the hard copy of the magazine was waiting for me and the article had an extra sidebar that wasn't available in the online edition. The title was "Made to Worship Who?" and the subject was, of course, Chris Tomlin. He tells the story of flying to his first photo shoot and the letter Louie Giglio gave him to read on the plane. It read, in part:
"Everyone was coming to John the Baptist in John 3 and saying, 'You're it. You're the deal... You're getting quite popular here.' And he responded, 'I am not... there's One that's coming. I can't even tie His shoes. That's the One you need to go to. And when you see Him, you're going to know that He must increase and I must decrease.' And as they're taking your pictures today, I just want you to hold that in your heart.... 'you don't even tie this guy's shoes'."
Just one more reason to love John the Baptist and to apply him to a modern context.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

White Almost Pink

Whatever you think of Bono's methods, you can't help but be inspired by the last minute of his speech at the NAACP last month. Clearly he was born to preach.

His truth IS marching on.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's April!!

I'm sure that doesn't mean much to most of you, but in the last few years when I've endured a March full of pain and fatigue (from fibromyalgia), the arrival of April is always something to celebrate. Hope for recovery.

This year it's something to celebrate because I had no big flair ups of my fibromyalgia. My fatigue came from overwork and skimping on sleep - not the usual causes - and was remedied with some down time. Little to no pain this year.

It's definitely something to celebrate!

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