Monday, October 31, 2005


Much of the Christian life is a balancing act. A spiritual and a mental experience. A relationship that involves the heart being connected to a knowable and mysterious savior. Emotions and thought. Personal experience and Biblical truth. This is highlighted in the following paragraph:
As Jonathan Edwards discovered during the First Great Awakening, the Christian life is like walking a tightrope: If we take one step to the left into undue emotionalism or one step to the right into sterile rationalism, we fall. We Baptists have a saying, that Christianity involves a relationship, not a religion. By that, we mean that we do not hold to the staid formalism or empty rituals that typify much of religious expression in our day. After all, even orthodox belief, devoid of a personal relationship with the risen Savior, is dead faith. On the other hand, revivalism is equally invalid. Spiritual ecstasy and mysticism may be exciting and psychologically fulfilling, but they are spiritual poison when devoid of Biblical content and truth. Accordingly, Edwards had it right when he insisted that true religious emotion must inexorably be linked to a sense of fear and trembling before a just and holy God and a fervent desire to repent of sins." link

Last night at a local gathering a guest speaker from Australia, Michael Frost, ruffled some feathers, and offended a few people. I agree with him in what he said. He was talking about the statement ‘God is Love’ and how his followers will be known by their love. To define what this love is and what it means to love God and love people, he defined what it’s not. Part of this involved a rather prophetic voice against what we’ve allowed ‘worship’ to become in many churches; emotional love songs. Songs about being ‘in love’ with Jesus, that could very easily be sung to a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/lover, by just removing the names ‘Lord’, ‘Jesus’, or ‘God’, and inserting the name of your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/lover. The ‘put on some candles, sit back and be intimate’ worship experience. (Back in university my friends and I called these ‘ambiguous Christian love songs’ and were convinced that if we sang such songs to an unsuspecting girl we could win her over...) Now don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus. I worship God, and sometimes even by singing. But I really think what Michael Frost spoke last night was a prophetic call to true worship. Loving God and loving others as a demonstration of that love. The two great commandments. Love God, love your neighbor. As a musician, and one who often is part of a band leading ‘worship’ at my church, they were hard words to hear, because they were challenging, but they needed to be said and needed to be heard. Frost could obviously articulate this better than me, which is why he was the one with the microphone last night, and this brief summary of just a small portion of what he said doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a lot easier to sing songs in an assembly or fellowship of believers, than to love my neighbor and sacrifice my time and energy and life for them. To be as Christ to them. He’s speaking again this Tuesday night, so come on out.

As a result, the ‘theology pub’ planned for this Tuesday will not be happening as scheduled. I’ll try to stir up an informal ‘Let’s go to the pub and discuss what Michael just said’ after the talk on Tuesday though...

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Violet Burning

If you've ever heard 'the violet burning' you're likely a fan. They're playing the following dates in November:

11.11 (Fri) Brampton, ON @ Bramalea Alliance Church
11.12 (Sat) Scarborough, ON @ St. Timothy's Anglican Church

I'm thinking of heading down, so let me know if you want to go to one of these...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Theology Pub

ok, after several months of hiatus, I'm reviving 'Theology Pub'. If you want to be a part of this, let me know. I'm thinking of starting again, next week, Tuesday night, St. Veronus, 8:30ish. Let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Random Reading

I've spent a bunch of time reading this morning. Various Engineering Newsletters, to educate myself and be a better engineer. I've skimmed over a couple of 'news' articles and commentaries too, to keep informed on the state of the world.

- Apparently CFL kickers, even the good ones, don't make a lot of cash. This guy might though. I'm pretty confident I could, if I were him.
- A couple of articles highlighting the 2000 milestone in Iraq.
- An article that Dave Garland sent me, about the 'slow crash'.
- And finally, an article from relevant magazine about life transition and loss.
- Oh, and if you care, here's some of the engineering articles....


I'm guilty of it, using a vocabulary from time to time that can't be understood by a good chunk of the population. Christianese.
I think that there's a lot of words that are used in Christian circles which have varied definitions, depending on your theology. I touched on this a bit yesterday. For example, what's the first thing you think of when you hear the following words 'worship', 'justification', 'communion', 'gifts of the Spirit', 'grace', 'revival'.
Revival is one of those words for me that has never really been well defined. Here's some more on that.. Link

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pot O'Gold

Having a kinda mellow day. I've got some 'weakerthans' and some 'violet burning' playing in the background, just taking a short break from my work...
I'm not sure where I got this picture, probably some email from one of my co-workers. It's kinda profound, actually. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow often turns out to be a shitter. That's the pessimist speaking. The optimist would say that we took a picture of the wrong side of the rainbow. Experience has been a blend of both for me. There's been times where the dream that I've been chasing has been realized, and dreams where when I get to the end of the rainbow, I find myself in a smelly shitter.
I've been thinking about experience a bit lately, in a different context. From a theological perspective. How much of my theology has been shaped by personal experience, and how much of my theology has been shaped from a study of God's word? How do the two fit together? There's certain theological positions/experiences that I've been raised in, that I'm quite ok with. But, there's friends of mine that have been raised in other traditions, with different experiences, whether it be a method of worship, or when to be baptized, or how to preach the gospel, or how to exercise spiritual gifts. How much room is there for both of us to be 'right'? I won't go into any more depth yet, on this one.
Lotto 6/49 is a whopping $40 Million tomorrow. I paid my $2 idiot tax to a coworker, to be part of the office pool. Time to start planning what to do with my take. The guy in the next cubicle put in $15, so his take will be significantly larger than mine. I haven't even won yet, and I'm already complaining about people with more than me. Wow.
Speaking of money. This blog is worth $2,822.70. That's according to this website. Well, that's what it was worth before I wrote this post. I'm not sure if it'll go up or down after...
Here's a fun quote to leave you with, from Al Franken's book, 'The Truth (with jokes)', which comes out today:
Moral values: From what I understand, if you cut out all the passages in the Bible where Jesus talks about the poor, about helping out the least among us, you'd have the perfect container to smuggle Rush Limbaugh's drugs in.

Monday, October 24, 2005


So, I just had my first visit to a GM plant, specifically the Truck Plant in Oshawa. Fun times. We're bidding on a job there, and today was the mandatory bidder's meeting. It'll be fun, if we get it.
There was a group of university students waiting in the lobby with us, for the rest of their people to show up... One guy was directing the last group to the parking lot on a cell phone, and as they pulled into the 'visitor's' spot, the security guy wouldn't let them park there. She wasn't driving a GM product. What a bunch of snobs.
When I bought my car a couple years ago, a few people questioned me for buying a 'foreign' car. They stopped talking pretty quickly when I told them that my 'foreign' car was built right here in Ontario. Yah, that's right. I'm supporting the local economy. It's always fun asking people what kind of stereo or TV they have in their home when they question you on your 'foreign' car. It's more than likely a Sony or Panasonic, or some other 'import'. How many of their possessions have been bought at Wal-Mart, but made in China? Economics is an interesting topic, especially when tied in with Sociology and Politics. If I were to go back to university, I'd try and take some courses in those areas, just out of interest. It didn't really fit in the Engineering curriculum when I was there the first time. Although, we took a fun little class called 'engineering economics', which was more about mortages and long term loans and credit than anything else. Or maybe, just maybe, I'd take film.

If you like Star Wars, check this out.

Friday, October 21, 2005

WAL-MART - The Movie

I'm looking forward to this. That's all I have to say.

Oh, and check this out, MS Paint Art.


Ok, I'm quoting Len, again:
I have been worried that I associate too readily with those who are just like me.. they look like me (culture), they think like me (education, same books and blogs), they agree with me (see the first two points) and they live like me (insular, tribal). This is a good setup for group think, and it wasn't the way Jesus lived.
Indicting words. It's 'natural' to live like that. It's 'supernatural' to live like Christ.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I got talking with Carlo last night about some weighty issues, like “If God owned a house and someone came up to the front door and said ‘Where’s your kids, I’m going to kill them’, and the kids were in the living room, would God lie and say they were in the garage?”.
So, we talked about sin, what defines it, what is a lie, the letter of the law vs. the intent of the law and all that good stuff.
We moved from that to a discussion of choices. Our generation has been raised with so many choices, so many opportunities to choose from. I can go into a store and find 10's of brands of deodorant, with many different flavors for each brand. I can go to a grocery store and stand there looking at an entire aisle of breakfast cereals, and finally make up my mind to get the same one I always get... (which doesn’t explain the 6 or 7 boxes on top of my fridge). There’s big cars, small cars, fuel efficient cars, gas guzzlers. There’s different styles I can ‘choose’ to be, or dress like. There’s an incredible number of career options to sort through and decide upon. There’s religions and gods and beliefs and philosophies. Sports teams, sports, politics, issues.
Now, some of these things are really important, and some require firm choices and stances, and that’s part of what defines who we are. I’m a Christian, but I’m not like those Christians, and certainly not like the ones of there.
Anyway, our choice discussion migrated towards relationships, and how for both of us there are girls that we know (have known) that we’ve been interested in, but just not enough to really decide to pursue. But, if we were stranded on an island with 10 other people, yah, we’d probably go for it with that girl. So, what’s stopping us now. Choices. And, it’s not a ‘what if she’s not the one’, cuz frankly, “the one” is bullshit. It’s more of a, ‘what if there’s someone else who’s a better match for me’, or ‘she’s just not ____ enough’. Sure, that’s a bit shallow, but who wants to settle, right? Or, are we just afraid of making the wrong choice? I’ll be the first to admit that if we both worked at it and were committed to it, me and any one of my ex-girlfriends could have had a great life together (OK, maybe not every one of them...), but ultimately, for one reason or another, one of us always ended the relationship before getting to that stage. I look at my parent’s generation, and for the most part, people my parent’s age, (that I know), got married in their early 20's to either their highschool sweetheart, or someone they met at college. I think my mom was my dad’s first girlfriend. It’s not that they didn’t have as many choices or options as I do, in terms of finding a life partner, I just don’t think they had the philosophy of choice ingrained in them that I do. They made their decision, stuck with it, and have been married (happily and other, but committed, and mostly happily) ever since. Maybe that’s what people refer to as the ‘good old days’.

For a completely unrelated and hilarious article about zombie-preparedness, read this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car

You're a precious stone
You're out on your own
You know everyone in the world
But you feel alone
Daddy won't let you weep
Daddy won't let you ache
Daddy gives you as much as you can take
A-ha sha-la, a-ha sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

A little uptight
You're a baby's fist
Butterfly kisses up and down your wrist
When you see daddy coming
You're licking your lip
Nails bitten down to the quick
A-ha sha-la, a-ha sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

You've got a head full of traffic
You're a siren's song
You cry for mama
And daddy's right along
He gives you the keys to a flamin' car
Daddy's with you wherever you are
Daddy's a comfort
Daddy's your best friend
Daddy'll hold your hand right up to the end
A-ha sha-la, a-ha sha-la
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car
Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday's
-lyrics by U2

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


So, we've got a problem in Ontario. We generate piles of garbage. We ship tons of it to the states every day, and they put it in their landfills for us. I'm pretty sure we spend more on fuel to deliver the waste to it's final resting place than we pay for dumping fees. Especially lately, the way fuel costs have been going. One problem with this system (NIMBY) is that the people who's backyard we are dumping our waste into are fed up with it and are working on some laws to prevent Canadian waste from entering Michigan landfills. So, what are we to do with all the garbage?
We've got another problem in Ontario. It's called power generation. We use colossal amounts of electricity per household, per office space, per manufacturing plant. So much, in fact, that we need to import it at times.

So, here's my idea. It doesn't solve both of these problems completely, but it's a step. The idea, which is entirely unoriginal, is 'Power Generation from Garbage Incineration'. Now, before you get all 'but burning garbage causes crazy pollution...' on me, read this. I haven't seen a study on it, but I would be willing to bet that the amount of pollutants generated by burning our garbage in specially designed incineration plants would be less than the pollutants generated by trucking it to Michigan daily.


I'm not a sociologist (I can't even spell the word properly), but I possess some ability at studying people and situations, and making observations and developing hypothesis around those observations.
Case in point, last night. A bunch of 'the boys' got together to help with the construction of a basement apartment. There was some insulating to be done, some vapor barriers to be installed, and some drywall to be hung. And well hung it was.
There's something about getting a bunch of guys together, working with hammers, staple guns, screw guns, knives, etc, that is just the perfect fuel for toilet humour. Words and phrases like 'on the stud', 'wood', 'screw', are all just comedy that writes itself. Throw in a few measurement jokes, a few good farts and burps, and you're left in amazement at this creature called Man. Capable of such extremes. Able to stand up and defend justice and the cause of the less fortunate, to weep over the loss of a loved one, to write romantic poetry for the one his heart desires, to enjoy the beauty of a sunset or the changing autumn colours, or to honour a friend with recognition and awe for the horrible stench that he has just released from his ass with a mix of hearty laughter and near vomit inducing disgust.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Theological Issues for the Church

Len over at has been doing a series recently on 'Theological Issues for the Church'. He posted the sixth installment today. Check them out.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Matt is a guy I met in University, but he didn't officially attend Queen's. He just had a lot of connections with people there. I've lost contact with him lately, but still check his blog from time to time. He's a musician, a song writer, and an honest man who wrote an honest post about sex and intimacy. If you're a guy, read it. Heck, if you're a girl read it.

- If your name is "Jim Bob Duggar", you may be the father of 16 kids, whose names all start with the letter "J".
- A solar powered house seems a bit more practical than a solar powered car. Here's the university contest...


I get a kick out of numbers, and stats. I know that stats can be abused, and used to prove nearly anything. Hold that thought. A 40-something year old lady across the parking lot just did the thumb on nose, fingers up, wiggling, tongue sticking out hand gesture. Awesome. She's got a mullet too. I can't tell who it was directed at, because the only other person in the parking lot is an old man, who didn't seem to react at all. Wow.
Anyway, stats. Yah, they're fun. Monthly, our good friends at Harper's Magazine publish the 'Harper's Index'. I think I've posted highlights from it before. The most recent index is great. Here's a small sampling:
Increase in the total value of U.S. residential property since 2000, expressed as a percentage of 1. GDP : 60[Federal Reserve Board (Washington)/Bureau of Economic Analysis (Washington)]

Increase in the value of all U.S. stocks between 1995 and 2000, as a percentage of GDP : 59[U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission/Bureau of Economic Analysis (Washington)]

Chances that a U.S. job created since 2001 has been in a housing-related field : 2 in 5[ (West Chester, Pa.)]

Number of consecutive years that the value of housing in Japan has dropped since its housing bubble burst : 14[Japan Real Estate Institute (Tokyo)]

Average number of $75 anal bleachings that an L.A.-area salon performs each day : 5[Pink Cheeks Salon (Los Angeles)]

Number of chickens trained by European scientists to choose between photos of human faces by pecking : 6[Stefano Ghirlanda, Universita di Bologna (Bologna)]

Chances that college students select as "most desirable" the same face chosen by the chickens : 49 in 50[Stefano Ghirlanda, Universita di Bologna (Bologna)]

Numeral whose underlying concept has been partially understood by a Massachusetts parrot, according to scientists : 0

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mega Church

It seems like every year we (the church I attend) send a few people to a leadership conference run by a 'mega-church' from the Chicago area. Every year I cringe when this is announced. Why? I'm sure that those attending will be receiving some good instruction on what it means to be a leader, what it means to lead within a church setting, etc. My concern is that the mentality of the 'Mega-Church' will infect us. How big is too big? If you need to buy a sports stadium in order to fit your congregation, I think you're too big. That's the extreme, of course. But if the leadership in my church is attending these things with those sorts of dreams in mind then we have a problem.
I had a conversation with someone I respect greatly recently, about leadership, specifically within the church. Here's what I wrote to him:
I am always concerned that 'the institutional church' often gets it's ideas of success from the world (bigger is better, popular is good). We think that a successful leader in the world would be a good candidate for a leadership position in the church. I don't doubt that, I just know that there's more to it, and I know that you know that too, such as spiritual giftings, annointing, etc.

I know one of the reasons smaller 'emergent type churhces' are needed is because most mainstream evangelical churches, whether they realize it or not, are pretty good at presenting a certain image of what 'joe church' should look like, how he should act, what opinions he should have, what language he should use, how he should dress, how his money should be spent, etc. It's pretty middle-class, not too radical, nothing to rock the boat. I know I'm speaking in generalizations and I don't mean to offend, but what if that 'joe church' isn't who we should be aspiring to? What if 'joe church' doesn't drive a nice car, he rides a bike everywhere, what if 'joe church' makes money doing odd jobs, and supports his family that way? What if 'joe church' lives in a small house, without many toys or fancy dishes, or the latest digital camera, and no cable (not because TV's evil and he's protecting his kids from it, but because he's got better things to be doing that watching it, like reading or talking to his neighbors or painting). What if 'joe church' is concerned about social justice and the enviroment, and doesn't vote for the obvious 'conservative' candidate in his riding because he isn't a single issue voter? What if 'joe church' started looking more like Jesus, or Peter, or Steven, and less like a normal western middle class success story? I'm not sure who I look more like, but I know who I want to be. I also know that most books on leadership in the church wouldn't identify the person I just described as anyone of significance, even though I'd rather follow them as they lived a genuine life. It's a hard decision, following Jesus.

The conversation continued, and we challenged each other, but haven't talked about it in a couple of months. Thoughts?

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Spider and the Fly

Saturday afternoon while helping Joel run wiring in his basement we were alerted to a housefly struggling to free himself (herself, itself??) from a spider’s web. The buzzing of it’s wing was unmistakable. We ventured over for a closer look, and just sat in silence observing what was happening for a couple minutes.
The spider, now an inch or so away from the fly, was spinning a new web around him. The fly had one wing free and several legs (appendages) as well, which he was using to keep his face clear of the new web. The buzzing of the one free wing was nearly constant. The fly was obviously tiring, as every 30 seconds or so, he would stop struggling briefly, only to go at it with more vigor. His fate was inevitable.
At one point Joel said what I was thinking, “We’ve got the power of God in this situation.” We could step in and rescue the struggling fly from his terrible predicament. We could squash the spider, or pull of it’s legs. We could kill them both, the foul creatures that they are. Or we could allow nature to run its course, which is of course what we did. It’s not that we didn’t have the power to step in, we just didn’t.
Sometimes that’s how life goes. God is aware of our struggle, and just allows the events to progress. Sometimes he steps in and spares us from certain doom. He is a loving God after all. He probably cares about me a lot more than I cared about the little housefly. Actually, I know he does. I wonder how many webs he’s rescued me from without me even noticing or being aware of his involvement. It’s a mystery, the extent of His involvement in our lives.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Funday.

I'm having one of the better Friday's at work in a while. I managed to have some successful dialogue with an architect this morning on a project that I've gotta finish up for Tuesday, I got a hefty expense check covering mileage and stuff like that for the past few months (new digital camera here I come) and I just had a two hour lunch with Todd Stelmach. I came back to the office for a couple of minutes, to pick up a couple things to work on this weekend at home, and then I'm off. We stopped in at chumleighs after lunch and Todd bought '28 days Later', so we're gonna go watch that... Fun times. No one else is around in my office anyway, so it just makes sense to not be here, especially since it's a long weekend!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Eat lots.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Prayer - What's the point??

I read a fascinating essay last night about prayer, called "Does prayer change God?", written by Philip Yancey. I've actually never read any of his books, though many of them have been recommened by various people that I respect (one of these days I'll get around to reading his book on Jesus). Anyway, as I was reading the essay last night, in which he talks about the Changelessness of God vs. the eternity/timelessness of God, he said the following:
Prayer brings together Creator and creature, eternity and time, in all the fathomless mystery implied by that convergence.
I find that an incredibly beautiful, humbling and terrifying thought. I can talk to God. God exists. Unbounded by time or space. Yet somehow, through some mystery, through Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I can talk with God. And not only can I talk with God, but it has effect. Have you ever stopped to actually think about how incredibly cool that is?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What came first?

One of my all time, top five favorite movies has to be 'High Fidelity', staring John Cusack, Jack Black, and many others.
"It's a great film. It's so funny, and violent, and it kicks effing ass!"
Anyway, the opening lines of the movie are Cusack's character, Rob Gordon, talking into the camera, mere moments after his relationship with his live-in girlfriend has ended. He utters the following words:
What came first? The music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns and watching violent videos, we're scared that some sort of culture of violence is taking them over...But nobody worries about kids listening to thousands -- literally thousands -- of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.
Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

I have a sadistic friend named Chuck, who once when I was visiting him mere days after a break-up subjected me to song after sappy pop song, laments about failed relationships, and such. I recall a certain Sarah Harmer song about a John Deere tractor or something like that. That was pretty much the straw that nearly caused me to break Chuck's back.
Probably the worst album in the world to listen to, post break-up, is 'Wish', by the Cure. The combination of Robert Smith's vocals, with lyrics like 'A letter to Elise' is almost too much for any human being to take.
Any other nominations?


Finally, after much long waiting and anticipation, the NHL season begins tonight! I nearly got my timing right with my homebrew. It'll be ready for consumption on Friday. Almost in time for hockey, but certainly ready for Thanksgiving.
I was at a wedding on Saturday, and there was an open bar, which is rare for a Dutch CRC wedding. However, the only "beer" they had was Canadian and Coors Light. I drank rye and ginger and half a bottle of white wine.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I started reading a book on the weekend called 'No more Christian nice guy'. I must confess that I'm a bit sceptical of the book, and assume it'll be just another 'fad' in the Christian literature department. Probably one of those books that could have been condensed quite well, eliminated fluff, and just saying it as it is... Anyway, Dave.T. bought it for me, and read a paragraph to me last week. This is the paragraph he read to me:
A woman likes her Christian boyfriend, but can't deny the lack of some necessary spark. She feels horrible, perhaps even ashamed that it's not there; wonders if there's something wrong with her, not him. She practices in her mind those dreaded words to say and hear: "Can't we just be friends?" or "You have a great personality, but..." The christian nice guy thinks to himself, 'Dogs have personalities too.' He secretly loathes that this always happens to him, and he blames God (though he tries to be nice about it). 'How come Nice Guys don't get the girl?' he asks himself in smoldering resentment.

That doesn't ring any bells at all. I'll be honest, in the whole post breakup analysis that I've been going through lately, me being a 'nice guy' and that being the source of my demise never really occured to me. I'm sure there's a certain element of that to it, but to say things didn't work out because I'm a nice guy would be too simplistic. It's a way more complicated situation than that, obviously. There was a girl involved. 'nuff said...
So, as I read this book, I'm being rather cautious with it, wearing my 'critical thinking cap'. The book goes on to describe the not so nice guy qualities of Jesus, the stuff that doesn't usually make it to Sunday school. Sure he had children come up to him and sit on his knee while he told them stories, but he also called people names, made wine, hung out with 'sinners', turned over tables, etc. He had balance though, which was the key.