Thursday, August 30, 2007

Disturbing Similarities - Neo-Nazism and the Religious Right

Interesting (and shocking) comparison between two [should be opposite] works: a monologue by a neo-nazi from a film, and an article from a popular Christian Magazine.

Take a look : Dinner Table Don'ts.

A New Brand?

I love this! Someone who isn't afraid to be real!

Kanye West - Jesus Walks

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Healing Grace

I love the healing power of Jesus. Now before you roll your eyes and flip to another blog, let me show you what I did a while back. I was reading through Matthew (love it!), and I noticed a few similar instances where Jesus would simply heal everyone. There is a lot of teaching out there about pursuing physical healing, wanting it bad enough, having enough faith, spending enough, giving enough, and on the other spectrum exhausting every other possibility first, then asking for healing. But if you lump all these verses together, it begins to speak for itself. He is love, and out of that love is grace. That’s who He is – it’s beautiful to ‘watch Him work’ here. It talks about how He is willing to cure things, and how in large crowds He would heal them all before dismissing them. I am particularly highlighting the absolute nature of a lot of the writing below (words like "every" and "all"). This is in Matthew alone:

8:2-4 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

8:15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

12:15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.

14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15:30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

19:2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And I love the grandfathering of the power, exampled here, to His disciples in Acts 5:16: Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

I guess I’ll label this a meditation. We’ve lost this Jesus.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Calling All Jordanian Missionaries!

Racquel, if you're out there (I know you check in from time to time), email me. I've been trying to get a hold of you but nothing is working :s Can't say I'm not a little worried being in Jordan and all ...

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Legislating Gluttony

I am always bothered by the imposition by some Christians of their beliefs and values on everyone around them by political means. Mostly, it bothers me because it seems to be selfish. For example, Christians may lobby against legalizing gay marriage, but gay marriage is of little or no consequence to them. It seems the underlying motivation for this is purism; they want nothing more than a "Christian nation" if there can be such a thing, meaning anything that is perceived as sin to them must go, or must be made illegal.

This is contrary to what the Bible has to say on the very issue of homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it says: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I think this is very clear that any of the above “sinners” (yet we are all still sinners), only limits themselves from entering the Kingdom, they don’t limit the Kingdom. And this is absent from the minds of many as they parade and protest, lobby, and vote. The sins of others are sins against themselves.

I am not one who believes you can legislate someone into salvation, how about you? If you make a person’s sins illegal, does it make them a non-sinner? Is a non-practicing homosexual not a homosexual? To make another point on that statement, wasn’t it Jesus who said that to even entertain the thought of committing adultery is the same sin as committing adultery? I'm trying to say that to ban a certain sin wouldn't get rid of the sin, dare I say, even if it went unpracticed on back streets and in dark rooms.

It also bothers me that these people are out there (defaming our good name mind you) judging for themselves which sins are worse than others. It always seems that homosexuality is the worst of all - the "triple X-rated sin" as my friend puts it. I could think of a million other sins to attack before homosexuality. In the Catholic tradition, there are the Seven Deadly Sins, which are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

How about legislating lust? How about pornography, which is a $10 Billion (yes billion!) industry in the US alone, and growing every year. Pornography not only works its black magic on those involved in its creation, but the end user also gains the potential for serious relationship problems (whether they have a relationship or not!).

How about legislating gluttony, which, as we all know, is an absolute epidemic in our society. Why not limit the marketing power of fast food companies? Why not restrict morbidly-sugared soft drink companies from gaining contracts with school districts? All these things are actually physically killing people – giving them diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. There's a cause worth fighting for!

What about greed? Why doesn’t the Christian-Right lobby for restrictions on what you can own, or how much you can shop, or how late stores are open? It sounds ridiculous to us in our psycho-consumer society!

To all of the above, we can object and say, “It’s up to the individual person to make those choices! It comes down to your choice whether or not to be greedy or slothful or gluttonous or proud. The government shouldn’t interfere with that!” Well hello! How does that not apply to homosexuality? Who is it hurting? IMO, the above are worse and are actually destroying lives and bodies!

I would hate to live in a society where all wrongs were outlawed, quite frankly. There would be no real people, including myself. We would all walk around with a face on like nothing’s wrong and we didn’t do anything wrong, hoping no one catches on. In fact, that’s how people have lived for centuries in the church and under the reign of the church, or under the religious regimes of Israel (I’m speaking historically here), or under past and present Islamic regimes. In fact, in many of our present churches it’s the same; we all walk around like nothing is wrong, smile on our face. How horrendous to have no freedom of choice! How prideful of a government to take up the responsibility of legislating salvation.

I am so bothered by this; it turns people off of us, and could in fact be keeping people out of the church. How ironic – trying to legislate for the salvation of everyone is actually keeping people away from salvation. I guess our method is contrary to God's design (the same argument they use about homosexuality).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Life Finally Explained...

On the first day, God created the dog and said: "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said: "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said:"You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family For this, I will give you a life span of sixty Years."

The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

(Author unknown)

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I’ve long wanted to write about goodness, but could never really find a great context for it, or a good way to explain what I’ve learnt about the word “good”. I used to think of “good” in the context of behavior, and to some degree this is correct, but there’s so much more to “being good” and what “being good” actually is.

Good is an absolute. Good is what God is. As the originator of all things – all things – his nature, his character, his essence is what “good” is. Good is synonymous with His name. From the present, we have to subtract all that is, all that has been created, whether visible or invisible, from the tiniest speck of dust to the furthest spinning planet, to every single angel and unknown spiritual force. All subtracted, there is God, alone, in nothingness. This is how it was. Try to undefine good and evil, and apply these words to this context. God, because He is the originator, the being from which all else flows, is the great standard. His nature is called “good”. Therefore, anything that falls outside of that, or that is contrary to it is called “evil”, or to better define it, “not good”.

To create a visualization, let’s say good is light. Light is the thing that is, and in the simple absence of it there is a contradiction, darkness. In fact, there would be no darkness if there was no light.

I read a great explanation of this concept in the Tao Te Ching, which follows:

Beauty and ugliness have one origin.
Name beauty, and ugliness is.
Recognizing virtue recognizes evil.
‘Is’ and ‘Is not’ produce one another.
The difficult is born in the easy,
Long is defined by short, the high by the low.

(Ch. 1, Tao Te Ching)

When God began creating, after each thing He would say “It is good”, meaning it is of Him, through Him, in Him, according to design and purpose. Essentially, perfect. And man, created in His image and likeness, designed in the very nature of God, was also said to be “good”. (As a side note, after a while alone on earth, something had changed in Adam, and for the first time God said about him, “it is not good”. But that’s another story.)

Being good then, with this in mind, is not a list of things you should do or not do, but a nature. And we see this play out every day in ourselves, and in our churches, and our world. There is so much effort given to attainment, but really “being good” is a given thing, an indwelling of God by the Holy Spirit. It’s of no trying whatsoever. This is grace versus religion, Jesus versus the Pharisees.

It’s a fine, sticky line though. The nature of God in us produces works that mirror the works of God – that which He does naturally, out of His nature. The works of a “good” person would cover all of “the Law” and then some. It was Jesus who said that unless your righteousness surpsasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20). This, we know, is an impossibility without righteousness being offered as a gift. And that, we know, is what salvation is.

A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” (Luke 18:18-20)

He admits it – there is no one good. Only God is good – as the great Origin of all that is.

So we can rest easy. We can sleep at night. We can rid ourselves of guilt and shame and condemnation. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt 11:29) As a newly married husband and wife become one person, living together, sharing life together, having children, they gradually become two parts of one whole, knowing each other fully, and perfecting each other. So it is with this, the Christian journey - to know Him is the final answer. And in knowing Him, we become like Him (1 John 3:2)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Believe In Me...

My entire existence has been shut down and brought back up again by the belief in God’s love for me. And this morning I was thinking about the “righteous” of the past – those unexpected choices of His. We’ve all heard about what we may call the ‘sins of the fathers’. Whether it’s Noah’s drunken episodes, Abraham’s fathering of a child through his wife’s assistant, Jacob’s deceptive ways, Moses murderous past, and so on. We tend to fluff over the stories of our forefathers – that would set a bad example (ha!). People might start to think they can’t get away from God’s love – we don’t want that!

In every case, God considered these people righteous. Since that doesn’t really mean much to us in 2007, let’s say He counted them as His own. I had these men in mind when the short video clip I posted a few weeks ago by Brennan Manning was also recalled. In it Brennan says, “I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question: Did you believe that I loved you?”.

I then thought of Jesus' words, that whoever believes in Him will be saved. What does that mean? Who is He that to believe in Him is salvation? Well, the obvious answer is that He is the absolute and final word of God’s love for us. It’s undeniable.

I remember quitting my job with the intention of making the pursuit of God my full-time job. It was the best thing I ever did, it was the start of a beautiful thing. I remember the hours and hours of studying and pondering, and reading, and prayer, begging for God to love me so that all my problems would be solved. I always told Him that if I knew that I knew that I knew He loved me, then I would be absolutely ok, that nothing would ever be wrong again. Little did I know that He already did love me. My mind had been conditioned to believe that God would only love a complete me, a perfected me. But the truth I was missing was that He loves me now, as I am, no less than when I’m “better”. Yet I was told that, and I head-knew it, but it didn’t make any difference until it was real knowledge, until I believed it.

I remember learning about Adam, how God told Adam not to eat from the tree because it was not good for him, not just because. If Adam had only maintained the belief that God told him not to because He didn’t want Adam to die, because He loved Adam, then Adam wouldn’t have done it. Our disobedience is rooted in our insecurity about His love for us. Everything that we aren’t supposed to do is a protection for us. The choice is because He wants to be loved in return. The serpent challenged God’s motives to Adam, virtually saying that God didn’t want them to eat from the tree because He’s afraid He'd have equals.

And now today, our belief in His love for us is assaulted daily, not only in the world, but in the church as well. Why do you think Jesus gave the Pharisees the worst treatment out of any group – in fact, they were the only group He challenged. These were the ones who tied up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, who “strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel”, who were “like white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean”, those who “appear to people as righteous but on the inside [you] are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”, those He called “sons of hell” (Mt 23). These were the only people He challenged, and His words to them were harsh to say the least.

On the one hand, we have those things that God has said we shouldn’t do, and that is because He loves us and doesn’t want us to have to deal with the consequences of them. On the other hand, His love isn’t so short as our disobedience. He meets us on the other side with forgiveness and help. The great hall of famers (ie. Noah, Moses, etc.) were sinners – big ones! But they understood their God loved them. They believed His promises to them because they trusted that He loved them, not because they simply took Him at His word.

I’m babbling, not making much sense. I’m drowning in love today I guess. Finally getting the realization that He loves me right now in all His fullness and completeness (nothing withheld), has been the cause of the greatest transformation of my life. Everything changed. I got happy and free. My God is just reminding me of that today.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8 : 38 - 39

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Desperate Times

In about a 5-minute drive from my home in North Burnaby, I arrive at the scene of a recent oil explosion. A pipeline was ruptured by the claw of a tractor, and Texas Tea erupted out of the earth like it had been caged for millions of years, drenching homes in the goop, and running into Burrard Inlet through the storm drain system, effectively destroying everything it touched.

I took a drive down Texaco Drive(weeks later), which is near the scene of the accident, and strolled along closed beach-front walkways at dusk. They seem to have mopped up most of the fool’s gold, yet thin shiny circles can be seen riding the ebbs and flows of the sea.

Yeah, I wasn't kidding. It's Texaco Drive.

In other news, there’s a new thick of tension stirring between my country and Russia over arctic sovereignty. It would seem there is an energy-rich hunk of sea-floor land being disputed. In fact, the CBC reports that Russia arrived on site last week, and dropped a capsule containing a Russian flag into the ocean with the intention of staking their claim. While Canada makes plans to “beef up” our northern presence and prepares to make a case for its sovereignty, it seems Russia and Canada aren’t the only two nations vying. Denmark is also out there trying to prove that Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Danish territory (of Greenland), instead of Russia. The US Congress is considering a boost to the US Coast Guard fleet of 3 polar icebreakers. And on a sidenote, there is also some speculation that global warming may also grace us with a new shipping passageway in as little as 15 years with the melting of the polar ice caps. The arctic is abuzz!

There is a lot happening with energy exploration right now; from the pillage of the Alaskan frontier, to the pipeline-intending Middle East invasions. And this will not stop until the last drop has been sucked out of the earth’s belly. In fact, it is said that the explosion of China’s economy is strongly dependent on the supply of oil. And they are indicative of a world-wide increase for the demand of oil, both in emerging markets and in first-class societies. The way of the present/future requires energy, but unfortunately every type of energy we have created is just so non-renewable and unsustainable. Many analysts predict we’ve peaked in our production of oil, and that from now on, we’ll pump less and less out of the earth every year.

Image how society in North America would function without cheap oil. In fact, it would come to a grinding halt. We are a society whose infrastructure is based on access to cheap oil. There’s not a thing in the room I’m sitting in right now that doesn’t have connection to oil (by things like transport, manufacturing, etc.). We, unfortunately, are not to live this way forever, and knowing how our governments have acted in the past to gain access to more oil (as the demand increases every year), I’m afraid we’ll not see the end of war until there’s a big, final blow-out.

I’d say the dwindling oil supplies would be the cause of a massive world war – worse and more involved than any wars past. The US would be after the last reserves, the Russians would be after it, the Chinese would be after it, the Europeans would be after it, the Africans would be after it, Japan, Korea, Australia, India, Pakistan, Israel, maybe even some South American countries. It’d be the true world war.

I’ve been thinking recently about how our species has never before held in its possession the power to utterly and completely destroy itself and its planet. Not since the bomb. In the future, I can see nothing but devastation, in the truest sense of the word. It’s sad; I used to think we lived in the best era mankind has known with all our medicines and democracy and enlightenment. Our enlightened people, however, have probably made the biggest blunder in history building their entire existence around energy consumption.

We must wean ourselves off oil. It’ll kill us all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Good Recruit

We have a new hire in the office, and he is passionate about mutual funds. I wish I was kidding! No, he's great. He loves to help people, he's enthusiastic about life and living and saving money, and doesn't waste time telling everyone around him how best to invest (whether or not they ask for it! ha).

I guess old habits die hard. When I got a glimpse of his enthusiasm and charisma, I thought that at a church I attended in the UK, this man would be a target by all the evangelists there. He'd make an awesome Christ-advocate. He'd be so enthusiastic, and would tell every person he saw about Christ without fear; he'd have that sanctuary full in no time! What a good recruit!

I remember being in that atmosphere, before I knew anything. We used to sing a song called "Souls and Cells", and there was a dance to it. The air was completely filled with numbers-theology, and how to best get the numbers up. People like my new co-worker, with natural charisma and charm and excitedness, were targets. It was more an object of recruitment than pure evangelism.

But now I know a thing or two (I like to think so anyway). Now I know that God often uses the foolish things to shame the wise, the Davids to fight the Goliaths, Gideon and his small regiment to route a large army, Paul the Pharisee, the Christian-hunter to create new Christians. He never seems to choose the things we think are obvious answers. In fact, He tends to go for the opposite of our expectations. It is said that while we humans look at the outward appearance and make judgment calls based on what we see, God looks at the heart, at what is unseen.

I wonder why it always seems that those with the hearts most ripe for His impartation and work always seem to have an outward appearance which says they are the last person He'd select for the job. One of God's mysteries I presume...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


[Then] the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you have me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
They will also answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Matthew 25 : 37-45

I have never understood this, and I am making it my goal to get to the bottom of it. How is it that doing all these good works is doing them to Christ? If I could get that, maybe I'd capture the motivation to spend time on the streets, or in prisons, or at hospitals. I want so badly to find that motivation. I always feel I must do these things, but I am prevented by excuses, fear, and business.

How easy to do these things if I knew to do them would be to speak with you, and be near you, and touch you! How easy if I could grab hold of what you mean here! How are you these people? How is it that I do these things to you?

I need your help (not you-God, you-YOU!); any thoughts on these words? Any past experience with them? Any revelation? Any stories? Anything at all. I just can't get it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Finally Free!

After church yesterday, my friend and I went to Davie Street to watch the Pride Parade – we thought it might be interesting (we didn't tell anyone at church where we were going ... shhh!!). And it was indeed interesting; it was quite a show! There were floats and goodies and loud music, and thousands of spectators – all the normal parade stuff. However, as all the rainbow-drenched scenery strolled by, I couldn’t help but be happy for these people, and sad that more Christians wouldn’t attend. We have been this people's biggest persecutor over the last millennia, as the Church, imprisoning and even putting them to death for being who they are. I was happy for these people, that the church had been stripped of its power to kill or castrate and mangle them, but sad that the thoughts to do these things are still in the minds of some. Also sad that though the power to do this has been stripped, the power to shun still prevails, the power to mangle with words and implications still prevails, the power to hate lives on. (As the worst example of this, take a look at an interview with Shirley Phelps.)

But I was mostly happy; they can sing and dance in the streets and tell the whole world they are gay and not worry (much) about being beat up for it, or thrown in prison, or worse. In my opinion, to be chastised for being gay is the same as being chastised for being black instead of white, or for being a woman instead of a man, or for being guilty of any item in the list of un-chosen and unchangeable things.
One float was by the Rainbow Community Church, on whose sign was written: “Everyone Welcome, and we mean it!” It’s sad that their implication about our churches is so correct.

Come on people, get out there. Love them! They want nothing else from us! If you heard some of the life stories of these people, you’d know that, if given the choice before their life began, they never would have chosen to be gay – ever! It’s a very difficult path in almost every case, and a lot of the time it's difficult because of the church's view and the church's past influence on present day society. Because of their difficulties they need their community, and they also need our understanding and love. They need us to stop perpetuating the cycle of hate and unacceptance.

I think I might get in trouble for this… ah well :-)

Brennan Manning

Good Points by Mike Yaconelli

You must watch this video montage of Mike Yaconelli, who recently passed away. He has some very good things to say. My favourite line: "I happen to think, that if we gave up a bunch of our programs, and just started getting kids serving, that maybe Jesus would show up in a way we never thought possible".

Take a look: