Thursday, February 28, 2008

Under Construction

(YouTube Link)

I am attempting to make some changes to my blog and update the look a little. Hopefully it will look ship shape pretty soon. In the meantime, check out this video I found of what it looks like to karate chop a brick in slow motion. Hint: It's not quite as pretty when you slow down the camera!

May Light increase!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reality Check

I was surfing through people's blogs the other day and found this thoughtful account of a Winnipeg Pastor's experiment. He decided to go to a downtown Winnipeg mission for lunch (incognito) to try and understand what that is like to be a patron of such a place. All I can say is "wow, what a great idea." Someday I'd like to try it myself . . .

May Light increase!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rest In Peace Renee

My heart hurts today because a dear friend and one of my former youth ministry students has passed away. This was Renee's second battle with cancer. I got word early this morning that things were not going well and she has been on my mind and in my prayers all day. I checked her father's blog and when I saw that she was gone I felt numb. I will miss her very much.

Renee Dueck was a young teenager when Jobina and I became youth pastors up in Mennville, MB. I remember her back then as being quirky, kind, and very creative. When we decided to start up a drama team (the Bard's of Now) she was the first to sign up! Renee was one of the best actors I've ever worked with, she could handle any part I threw at her and was extremely dedicated. When she was younger she was a typical young teenage girl, but as she got older she matured. She went through Leadership Development Camp at BCBC. I remember very clearly addressing the LDC group that she was in and asking each one what they were afraid of about coming to LDC (all LDC's were a little nervous and if they weren't they should have been). Her response was silence, I could tell she was nervous but she wouldn't let it show! She had a great week and I saw huge changes in her.

Renee was a lot of fun to have on your ministry team and whether it was doing a drama or counseling a cabin of girls at camp, she was dependable and honest. I never worried about anything I had delegated to her. She touched many people's lives. I remember going for a walk with her after she had come back from YWAM and her telling me stories about what it was like and wondering what she should do next. I remember her as someone who was learning and growing, always interested in new possibilities. She could be quite emotional. And she never lost her quirkiness, a trait in her that still makes me smile. I was proud of her growth and what she accomplished.

Without sounding trite or weird or anything, I can honestly say that my world seems a little darker to know that Renee isn't in it anymore. It hurts to think of it. I will grieve for her even as I know she is in a better place. Please pray for her friends and family. I cannot imagine what they are going through.

P.S. The image is David Hayward's "No Words." I thought of it as soon as Renee died because that is the image I have of Jesus beside us as we grieve for her.

Monday, February 25, 2008

You'd Better Belize It!

Whoo hoo! Jobina and decided to go to Belize for our big Anniversary Trip! I'm very pumped and excited! We bid on this vacation package via eBay and actually got it. It was a little more expensive then we had originally planned but that's OK. We are still getting a great deal and Cotton Tree Lodge is supposed to be one of the most amazing eco-lodges in the world. I'm thinking that it will be the trip of a lifetime filled with adventure and romance. We are thinking of staying 8 or 9 nights in May with 7 nights in the jungle at the lodge at 1 or 2 nights in a small village on the coast in a beachfront cabana (maybe here). Second Honeymoon, here we come! P.S. Can't you just see Jobina diving into the pool at the base of a waterfall, 15 feet down?

I'm not sure what I'm going to enjoy the most: being alone with the woman of my dreams, snorkeling in the Caribbean , seeing exotic animals (iguanas, parrots, howler monkeys, etc), eating fresh fruit in the morning taken from the on site orchard, exploring caves, kayaking, exploring ancient ruins, or hanging out in my cabana. For someone who has never been further then North America, I think I'll be easy to impress. Belize is a very interesting country. Did you know that the entire population of the country is less then that of Winnipeg? Or that over 40% of the country is designated as protected reserve? For a person like me who loves the outdoors Belize is perfect. And for Jobina who likes some adventure but not at the expense of creature comforts, she will get the best of both worlds. Belize, here we come!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Slight Tension In The Air . . .

Last night I worked at Olive Garden and had a really good night. The only small hiccup was that early in the evening I was double sat and my 3 table section was full when the hostess came up and told me they were giving me another table. "What?!!" I cried incredulously. "My section is full and you just double sat me!" Courtney the hard-nosed hostess said "Sorry, they requested you and said they didn't mind waiting for awhile to get service from you." I wondered who such patient guests could be. With no time to ponder it more I ran out drinks to my other demanding tables. While doing this I took a peek and saw that it was my good friends Jay and Sarah. Yes! Because I was busy, I let them sit there another few minutes while I got my other tables started. Then I went over to greet them. Greeting tables at Olive Garden means saying hi and dropping off drink coasters on the table. Coasters are the universal sign to other servers that "this table is taken - back off." However when I got to the table ...

There were already coasters! Nooooooooo!

"Hey guys, nice to see you. Has someone already come by the table?" Jay and Sarah looking slightly awkward. "Linda already came by and we weren't sure if you were too busy or not so . . ." "No worries," I said "I'll talk it over with Linda and see which one of us is serving you." I fully intended to diplomatically point out to Linda that my friends had asked for me and was sure it would be no problem to take back my table.

"Hey," I said to Linda, one of the feisty veteran servers who also served when Jay was a server here many moons ago. She's also a single mom. "Are you taking table 8? I believe they asked for me." "Oh really?" she said innocently. "They were seated in my section so I just went over and greeted them." I waited for her to offer the table back to me. She said nothing. Like in sales, the first person to talk usually loses. Silence ensued. Finally I said, "So what do you think we should we do about this?" Well done Mark, a solution focused question with the emphasis put on her personal choice - nice!

"Well, I guess you should take them since they asked for you," she said after awhile. I gave a sign of relief - the sweet sigh of victory! "Here's there drink order. It's too bad because they just gave away one of my other tables so now I'll be down to just one. And you'll have four." Her intense eyes bored into me powerfully. "I could give you table thirteen when they leave," I offered weakly. "Um, sure," she said in a way that betrayed that surely that was not OK . I walked away quickly with the drink order before she could say anything else.

I'd won the standoff! That's when my conscience got to me. I thought of Linda with her one table just sitting there while I worked four of them - on a Saturday night no less. Also, Jay and Sarah wouldn't have the best service from me since I'd be so busy and they couldn't stick around forever as they were going out afterwards. Also, I wondered if Linda the single mom would key my car later on - I believed she was capable of it!

I just couldn't do it. I went back to her. "Linda, why don't you take it," I said, "I already have four tables and you know Jay as well." "Really? I couldn't do that," she said in way that said that absolutely she would do that - in a heartbeat! "Yeah, you take em," I said sadly. "OK!" she said and walked away.

I think I made the right decision (even under duress) and although I didn't get to talk to my friends as much as I wanted, I did help them get better service and I helped out a single mom. Also, I saved my car from violent attack and that's a good thing too, right?

May Light increase!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Habits (Kind of) and Cheat Days

“Do or do not... there is no try.” -Yoda

At the beginning of this year I took a long hard look at some things I wanted to change. First of all, there was the problem of being tired all the time. I decided that for I was going to be in bed by 11:00pm (when I don't work late). Secondly there was the issue of my extremely poor nutritional habits. I decided no sugar cereals in the morning, no junk food, no desserts, and no unhealthy snacks in the evening. Thirdly, there is the issue of never exercising. I decided to do my routine of push up/sit ups three times a week and running/jogging several times a week as a bare minimum.

So how successful have I been? Well, the exercising one has been the least successful. With the cold snap we've had here in Winnipeg, I haven't been motivated to do anything at all. We'll see if that starts up again now that it's tolerable outside. The sleeping thing has been better. Until last week I'd been adhering to that one fairly well. And the results were good: Instead of falling asleep in class all the time, I'm much more awake.

The best results of all have been with the eating thing (which I thought would be the most difficult). After two weeks of adhering to my altered diet (which was tough, no word of a lie), I now find that I have established a "habit" of eating healthier. What seems to make it work for me is that once a week I let myself have a "cheat day." On this day I can eat whatever I want and I don't feel guilty at all. Even with my cheat days I have lost about 7 pounds and actually feel better as well. Cheat day can be whatever day I want but usually it is Sundays which works out nice. Ironically when I get to my cheat day I no longer feel the need to pig out on the bad stuff (OK, there was one time) and instead just enjoy in moderation some of the "naughty" food that I usually withhold myself from.

Also, I think that for some reason I just decided to make the food change. I was motivated. There was no try, only do. Yoda was right.

May Light increase!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crane Prank

It's Friday so that means another prank by the folks at Just for Laugh's. Enjoy!

I thought the paint brush floating to the surface was a nice dramatic touch.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Relationship Tip: "I" not "You" Statements

Often couples get into conflict. Some couples though get into conflict way more then others. One way to help couples not get "flooded" (that is get to state where they are so emotionally charged up that they are thinking objectively anymore) is stop using "You" statements when bringing up issues and replace them with something better. Here are some examples:

"You make me so frustrated when you spend so much time on the internet!"
"You aren't doing your share of the housework anymore."
"You are always making us late and that's getting me mad."
"You don't follow through on your commitments!"

Starting out a conversation about something you care about using these kind of "you" statements are almost always guaranteed to put someone on the defensive. It feels like an attack and most people, especially if there is lots of conflict already in the relationship, will attack back. Instead, learn to stop criticizing and start sharing complaints that begin with "I" statements. I statements state the information in a way that puts the starting emphasis on oneself:

"I'm feeling frustrated when you spend lots of time on the internet!"
"I would really like it if you could do the housework you agreed to do, I feel like I'm doing my share and some of yours."
"I'm getting frustrated and angry when we don't leave early enough, can you help me with this?
"When I don't see you follow through on your commitments, I get really upset!

As you can see, the statements still bring forth the core complaint, but comes across less critically to the person. It's a subtle shift, but makes a difference to the receiver who usually finds it easier to accept and then deal with. Changing your habit of saying "you" to "I" may take some time but if you can do it, you will see a positive change in your relationship.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When Pigs Fly . . .

It's official. Steinbach, Manitoba has approved a developer's proposal which would see the town get it's first liquor store (on Main Street nonetheless). Is this the beginning of the apocalypse? Now that Steinbach is going full steam ahead into debauchery, anything is possible. Who's next, Winkler?

On Unity

My friend Dylan and I were talking about idealism vs. pragmatism yesterday. Dylan leans more towards being an idealist and I lean more towards being a pragmatist. For instance Dylan believes that we should never go to war, that war is almost always wrong. I am a pragmatist, I believe that was is never desired but sometimes a necessary option. Dylan and I disagree on almost everything but because we are not that far off from each other we have awesome conversations and our friendship is never threatened by it. Also, we learn a lot from each other!

Anyway, we were talking about idealism/pragmatism as applied to church unity. The topic came up because our professor for the course we are both taking is an Anglican. The Anglican church is is the midst of schism as they splinter over the issue of homosexuality. Dylan is of the mind that we should almost always stay together with those we disagree with. He sees the wisdom and love of sitting in the tension of disagreement and upholding unity over agreement. He believes that Jesus never rejected anyone, instead those people chose to reject him. Thus, we should not reject others, even in the church. Why has the church split, then split again, and continued splintering? Because Christians aren't doing the hard work of getting along. They can't stand the tension of being with those they disagree with.

I on the other hand believe that disunity is not the end of the world. Although painful, sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree. Does God desire this? No. But sometimes it has to happen. Church discipline is sometimes necessary. Sometimes people need to take a stand in what they believe, stand up against injustice, or remove those who are tearing apart the community. How long should a congregation put up with a church bully or an abusive person? The bullied/abused person needs defending as much or more as the unity of the church. When is enough, enough? Paul talks about putting people outside of the church as way of discipline and in rejecting false prophets in being necessary sometimes. I agree with him.

Church leadership teams often both have pragmatists and idealists on them. This leads to tension when disagreement and disunity surface in the life of the community. I think that such tension is healthy. Both views are needed to insure that unity is neither upheld to the detriment of all or sacrificed too easily. If you look at yourself you will probably find that you lean more towards one then the other. Just don't lean so much one way that you can't recognize and appreciate the other side.

May Light increase!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Forgiveness, Certainty, and "ER"

I'm dedicating this post to my friend Jacquie, a nurse and ER fan:

YouTube Link

Two things from this video:

1. As Reformed Chicks Blogging (the place where I first saw this video) point out, "What can a chaplain, who believes in a Christ who was never resurrected, really say about forgiveness and atonement?" I have been thinking about the idea of sin a lot lately and have realized that its something that many in Christendom don't talk anywhere. Is it just me or do people either overdo it with sin (it's all about sin) or ignore it completely? The idea of needing atonement for sin is powerful and for some people it's still important. Sometimes I find myself forgetting about sin (or not feeling anything about it) and it scares me. This video reminded me how important it really is.

2. As I watched the video I was unnerved to hear what the chaplain was saying because it sounded alot like what I'm being trained to say as a counselor. Well, at least some of it. Counselors in general don't usually offer certainty to clients, instead they usually work from the framework of the client. Honestly, there is a sometimes tension between the core principles of counseling and one's principles as a Christ-follower. This video reminded me about that tension and the difficulties it can produce. As a Christian, counselor I have the opportunity to be able to offer certainty to clients and not be ashamed of it. The benefits of counseling is helping people to find answers to their problems. The benefit of Christian counseling? When people are looking for bigger answers and solutions, I have the ability to go deeper by enlightening them to what Christ desires and hopes for them. I believe the best counselor is a Christian one; well versed in psychology and well versed in theology. The best of both worlds.

May Light increase!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Raising Your Own Support: Vice or Virtue?

I'm doing my counseling practicum at Turning Point, a ministry of Youth For Christ here in Winnipeg. So far it is a good experience and lately I've been imagining what it would be like to work for YFC. I think they do a lot of good work. The problem in my mind is that (as far as I know) all Youth For Christ workers have to raise their own support. It seems like a lot of time and energy are expelled by the staff to find, maintain, and keep in contact with donors. I can see the benefit of having people who are praying for you and deeply "invested" in your ministry. You're also somewhat accountable to them.

And yet, I have misgivings. I have spoken with several YFC'ers from the past and present about this raise-your-own-support thing and I usually get a sense of "it's really tough." The superstars get more support then they need and the introverted types struggle to get enough to live on. I wonder if such a support model is outdated or even cruel to do to staff. Or am I just lazy or lacking in faith?

May Light increase!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sex Challenge From Pastor

Earlier this year I did a post exploring the idea of the application in a sermon - is it OK for a pastor to tell you how to apply Scripture? Is it dangerous, acceptable, or a blessing? Is it Biblical? I'm still mulling this over.

Yesterday I read this article. It's all about how a church in Tampa, Relevant Church, has a pastor who is doing a series on sex. This is not all that difficult to fathom (although few churches are brave enough to tackle this taboo subject). What makes this case stand out is that he is challenging his congregation to a 30 day "Sex Challenge." Unmarried attendees are encouraged to abstain from sex for 30 days. Married attendees are encouraged to have sex every day for 30 days.

I was trying to imagine what it would be like if my pastor (Will) got up in church and delivered this kind of challenge. Here are some things I guess might happen among the married listeners in our church (in no particular order):

1. Some listeners would simply stop moving; paralysis would set in with them not being able to breathe, blink, or move all muscles. Some may require medical assistance afterward.
2. Some listeners would subtly smile and think "Thank you. Thank you, pastor Will. I love you!"
3. Outright spontaneous laughter . . . followed by awkward silence and intense feelings of humiliation.
4. Panic! "My husband/wife is going to be on my case everyday saying things like "You heard what the pastor said. . ."
5. Some couples might steal a glance at each other and share a knowing look, the kind that says "I accept your challenge."
6. Fainting.
7. Some may instantly decide to skip their usual over lunch "So kids, what did you think of the sermon today?" talk.
8. Quiet ride home. Very quiet.
9. Unforeseen and awkward questions from the floor: Ex/"Pastor, what do I do when it's 'that time of the month?'"
10. Spontaneous singing of either the "Hallelujah Chorus" or "It Is Well With My Soul."

May Light increase!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Hate Plumbing!

I really, really hate plumbing. A couple of days ago we dropped $1000 for a new hot water tank for our rental property. Yesterday my tenants called to tell me that they have almost no water pressure in there shower and tub. Hmmm, I think, maybe the plumber messed something up and now I can hopefully get them to go back there and fix it - at no cost to me since it was there fault. Tentatively I called the plumbing company and they agreed to go out there right away and didn't even mention charging me for it. Warm feelings of satisfaction enveloped me.

A few hours later the plumber called me. Apparently, the pain was to continue. The lack of pressure was not due to the last plumber but due to debris in the valves. They have to cut into the wall and replace the blocked valve (at a cost of over $600). Arghhh! Still reeling he told me he had some more bad news. "What?" I whispered hoarsely. "Well, when we went to turn off the water at the meter we found out that the cut off valve was leaking." This, he informed me, meant that it had to be replaced (and the city of Winnipeg has to come and turn off the water) which hits me for another $200! Of course I can't do anything but "take it like a man" since this work all has to be done.

This won't destroy us but it certainly hurts savagely. We had just built up a bit of a cushion for ourselves with the property and now we have almost $2000 in unforeseen costs. We planned to use that money to do some other less-time sensitive repairs and now that is pushed back. This is why it is so important to make sure that money for a reserve/maintenance is built into your cashflow projections on a property. Every month we putting aside a percentage of rents for vacancy, maintenance, and reserve. It still sucks though.

Must stay the course. Must focus on appreciation. Rage . . . decreasing . . .

Friday, February 15, 2008

Memories: The Bards of Now

“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” - Konstantin Stanislavisky

Today I was thinking about one of my favorite memories of being a youth pastor and that was forming and leading our youth's drama team; the Bard's of Now (logo above). I believe that the name came from Justin (where he got it from I have no idea, but I like the Celtic sound to it). We did a lot of youth group and church skits and a couple of full length productions ("Aliens" and "Mordbidman Meets His Maker" being the most notable.

Working with students and drama was hugely rewarding. Especially tying abilities into ministry; using the power of drama to turn people's hearts and minds toward God. I really miss it! I really enjoyed directing; managing my sometimes moody and opinionated young actors was challenging and fun.

Some of my favorite memories include:

-Our first real performance: Bayview Church's Mission Conference in their old building. Our actors were amazing (Jobina was actually in it that year and did a superb "McJesus") and I felt that my speak after was inspired.
-Practicing for "Aliens," Julie would always punch me (Goliath the Space Giant) 10 times as hard as necessary "to make it look real" she said. My arm still hurts from that.
-An older lady demanding we stop playing "rock music" at an outreach performance of Morbidman at the Gimli High School. Ironically it was Christian music rock music but apparently it was evil so she left.
-Eric hitting himself almost unconscious with a large book during "An Annoying Little Sin." Also, I got to wear my custom made Jesus costume.
-Melissa, the quietest voiced actor I have ever worked with, learning to project loudly!
-Renee and Dayna discovering their masculine sides as the henchman in "Morbidman." Also notable was our performance of the same at Riverton Elementary where during the break Jay stayed in character as Dr. Insidious and recruited the children in the audience! I was worried they might kill him, but he held them off long enough for Act 2.

There are so many more, that I cannot possibly list them. Suffice it to say that Bards, I miss every one of you and it was an honor serving with performing "no-cheese" drama with you. It truly was an honor and I was blessed by it. Perhaps we should have a reunion?

May Light increase!

Public Bathroom Prank

There is something beautiful (and somewhat therapeutic) about seeing other people in awkward situations. Enjoy this week's "Just for Laugh's" Video!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philosophy of Valentine's Day

Ever heard this from someone: "I don't believe in Valentine's Day." I have, several times actually. Usually it's a guy and they are railing against the tyranny of Valentine's. "Why should I have to act romantic just because it's Valentine's Day? Shouldn't I be romantic all year round? Why should I suddenly start doing it on February 14th? I'm fighting the system! Too much pressure - it's not right! I hate flowers and chocolates - I'm going to rebel! Valentine's is a commercial holiday, nothing more." I've heard these and many more.

There are lots of guys out there who absolutely despise Valentine's Day (probably there are girls who do as well, but I can't thing of any right now). For the guy who is spoken for, Valentine's can be stressful! There is pressure to perform and in a "Valentines-ish" way pervades the day. No wonder some rebel. Viva la revolution!

So some guys just don't "do" it. They ignore the holiday and usually sit down and explain to their woman in a rational way why they aren't going to celebrate it. Occasionally some women agree. Most however don't. I find that for every 1 woman who is OK with her man not celebrating Valentine's, there are 9 who are disappointed. Big time.

My opinion is that it's a cultural thing and it's very difficult to fight or reject culture because culture is shared ideas. You might reject a mainstream idea but that doesn't mean the woman in your life will! Like tipping, you pretty much look like a jerk if you don't do it (no matter what your excellent argument against it is). Like most men, I struggled with this manufactured day of commercial excess and impossible to live up to expectations. I even briefly rebelled against it myself. One day though I noticed that when I talked about it how sad and disappointed my wife looked and I realized I was deluding myself. Whether my reasons were good or not, I could tell that my wife thought it was special and by rejecting it she kind of felt like I was rejecting her. So finally I just gave up my ideals and embraced what little of Valentine's day I could find that was good (and there is good in it) . . . for her. I celebrate Valentines wholeheartedly . . . because I love her. Romance is all what you make of it.

Have a great Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Temptation To Sell

Today I got a call from my tenants: "The hot water tank is leaking all over the basement." I was looking forward to a quiet night at home, doing some work and getting an early night's sleep. Doh! Now I have to handle a minor crisis. In the past, when we first began property managing, I would have had a small stroke. Now, I just get annoyed. Whenever these situations hit (the house requires some repair) my first thought is always "Maybe I should sell this thing." When you own investment property this is always the temptation. Somehow you calm yourself down and look at the numbers: every month I don't sell it, I gain at least a thousand in appreciated value. Every year I don't sell it I gain an extra $12,000 - $15,000 in appreciated value. I can hold onto it a little longer! Wisdom says "stay the course."

Although I'm often tempted to sell, I realize that I shouldn't. I'm not making much money on it right now, but someday when we really need it, it will pay off in spades. Also, since we are using the bank's money, we might as well be poor but own property then be poor without property! In fact, I'm looking at getting at least one more rental property this year. I'm also looking at a fully managed condo/vacation property in Quebec City which would be an excellent long term investment. If you are interested in going in with us halfers on it, let me know! It's very little cashflow, but it's also fully managed and a very safe investment. And if you are thinking about investing in real estate yourself, what's holding you back? Take action!

May Light increase!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Very Model Of A Modern Psychopharmacologist

I dedicate this to my good professor, Mervin VanderSpuy, who is the greatest psychopharmacologist I know. Actually he's the only one I know, but he's good. Seriously.

Does anyone outside of a psychology background even know what a psychopharmacologist is?

Three Interesting Thoughts

Short Sprints are Better For You. It's true! Research shows that so called "Tabata Intervals" increased both anaerobic capacity and aerobic capacity more than an hour a day of more moderate exercise, and that a short bout of sprints was effective at burning fat or at increasing glucose transport (particularly helpful for diabetics).

Five Reasons The Emerging Church is Receeding. Do you attend an emerging church? Or maybe you find them heretical or something worse? This article explores one's author's theory on what's happening to this postmodern take on the church.

The Real Purpose of Bookshelves. Think that bookshelves are simply receptacles for organizing and displaying the books you own? Think again! Rather, the books on your shelves are there to convey the type of person you would like to be.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anniversary Trip: Maybe Belize?

Jobina and I are still agonizing over where we should go (and how much we should spend) on our 10 year anniversary trip. Personally I have an aversion to Mexico (although a conversation with our friends Terry and Eloa yesterday may have convinced me to give up this prejudice) but we still want to go somewhere warm. I'd like to do something where there is adventure, relaxation, beauty, and culture. Oh yes, and for not too much money. Recently I was surfing and found a discount voucher for sale for this place:

Cotton Tree Lodge

This unique eco-resort sounded way too "exotic" for Jobina but seeing as I could get travel vouchers that would give both of us a week there for around $1500 (a substantial discount) I thought I'd show it to her. Much to my surprise she was quite interested! So now we have to decide: Belize or not Belize. The cool thing about this place is that day trips to Mayan ruins, caves, Mayan chocolate making demonstrations, kayaking, hiking, etc are all included (as well as food). This could be the unique trip of a lifetime. So now we need to think about it (but we only have 3 more days). Also cool: the travel vouchers don't have an expiry date . . .

May Light increase!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Women Who Are OK With Their Men Watching Porn

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.

- (Proverbs 5:18-19)

Warning: Reality-Based Discussion of Sexual Ethics below

Today I was listening to one of our 16/17 year old bussers describing a problem she had. Her 18 year old boyfriend was going to a strip club with some of his friends. The girl was upset. I thought it was because, well. . . he'd be seeing naked women. Actually this wasn't the case at all. She was upset because sometimes the strippers (who sometimes come in contact with the men) can pass on certain sexual diseases/infection (I don't want to get into the specific of how she believed this could happen) and she was worried he could pick it up. "So you're OK with the fact that he's going to watch naked women?" I asked. She said she didn't care, she just didn't want him "getting" anything. Another waitress walked by and said, "I wouldn't care if my boyfriend went to a strip club. As long as he wouldn't have sex with anyone. After all he watches porn." "You're OK with your boyfriend watching porn?" I asked incredulously. "Sure, why not?"

Apparently both of these girls were OK with their boyfriends watching porn! I didn't get a chance to ask them more about this, but if occurred to me that maybe this is a lot more common then I thought. Some women have just accepted the fact (and say they are OK with) their men watching this. Do they accept this because they are just giving up the battle (he's going to do it anyway, why fight it?) Are they afraid that they lose the guy if she says something? Or is it because they think so little of themselves that they don't believe that they are worth enough to say "No, you can't do that"? Or maybe, based on their ethics, they really believe it: "Hey, as long as he remains faithful to me (sexually), what's the harm?" Perhaps they believe this is something that men just "do"?

This is really scary stuff on so many different levels. I wasn't sure what to say to these girls (and we were pretty busy) but the conversation made me very sad.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Insights Into A Former Pro-Choicer

I don't think I've written anything about abortion before. I could attempt to wax eloquently on it, but I found this blog post that instead helps pro-lifers to see a little bit of what the other side might be thinking. Very insightful and emotional. I appreciated how she described her slow change of heart and mind. By the way, the image is a picture of a baby in the womb - at 11 weeks!

May Light increase!

Book Review: 10 Great Dates Before You Say "I Do"

10 Great Dates Before You Say I Do (David and Claudia Arp, Curtis and Natelle Brown)

I had never picked up this book before but previewed it because my counseling supervisor suggested it as a resource. Although I haven't used it extensively yet, I thought I'd write a quick review. The book is written to help two kinds of couples: those who haven't decided if they should get married yet but are thinking about marriage, and for couples who are already engaged as a way to confirm their decision and build confidence/skills in their relationship as they prepare for marriage. Overall, I think the book is very good in a general sense. It can be used as a "do-it-yourself" approach to premarital counseling or is a great tool to use alongside of traditional counseling. What really stands out in this book is the idea of doing the exercises on dates. Pairing communication, fun, and dating together is an excellent idea (I wish I'd thought of it). By framing the counseling as "going on dates" hang-ups are reduced. It also makes discussing relationship issues something that can be done in a normal environment, not just a counseling office. Also, the book frontloads the couple to the importance of dating before and after marriage. The exercises for each date are non-threatening but practical. I would rate them low on the "cheeziness" scale which should make them doable for guys and girls. There is a chapter for each date and then the exercises at the back. Training couples to date and to talk is a really good thing. For counselors, this book would be good for couples who seem divergent on many things, who don't seem to know each other very well, or who really aren't sure if they should get married or not. I like the low-key vibe that goes through the book and the simplistic approach that is guaranteed not to lose your couple in psycho-babble and confusing topics. My rating? 4.4 ninja stars out of five.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Surival/Cannibalism Test


This might seem kind of morbid, what would you do if you were starving to death? Click the widget to take the test.

Grand Central Station Prank

A good prank is a thing of genius and this one is most impressive! Over 200 people freeze in place on cue in Grand Central Station in New York. Kudos to whoever thought this one up.
This is one of over 70 different missions Improv Everywhere has executed over the past six years in New York City. Others include the No Pants Subway Ride, the Best Buy uniform prank, and the famous U2 Rooftop Hoax, to name a few. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


For those readers who attend a Christian church, you are certainly familiar with the practice of "the offering." Essentially it is a time in the service where people can give their financial gifts to the church. Giving to one's church is more then just a way of funding facilities, staff, and various ministries. Christ-followers also believe that giving to one's church is a form or worship and obedience. The taking of the offering is a way of incorporating this into a service and making it a communal worship experience.

I was reflecting on this in church this Sunday as the offering baskets were going around. I always get this strange feeling in my gut during the offering and I was sitting there and trying to become aware of why this was so. I think there are a few reasons. First of all, Jobina and I give regularly but to make things easier on us (and we think on the church treasurer) we only give once a month. However in our church the basket goes by every Sunday. Thus, 75% of the time I pass the basket on without contributing. Even though I know that I do all of my giving at once, I still feel like I'm "slacking" or something. I know it shouldn't bother me, but sometimes it does. Sometimes I even catch myself wondering what my neighbor thinks of me! It's sad, I know. I could give a quarter of our giving every month, but then I'd feel like I was doing it for others and that wouldn't be cool either. Thus I'm stuck in this slightly awkward position.

The second reason I feel weird about offering is that, well, shouldn't giving be private? I remember our church board struggling with this issue when we were in Mennville. At one time, if you visited on a Sunday you'd think that giving never happened at all as giving was done by putting your money in a nondescript slot in the wall at the back of the church. This you could do anytime and if you wanted to, quite privately. Some people on the board wanted to make giving more a part of the worship service so eventually baskets were passed around as well. Not sure what they do now, I know they experimented with a few things.

A third reason some people might feel uncomfortable is because they don't give (or they do but not as much as they think they ought to). Perhaps they feel they just don't have enough to give right now, they have been hurt in the past by a legalistic church and they're reacting against it, or they are putting their giving money to other causes.

What are my conclusions here? Probably that one's preferences and perceptions about giving are going to affect one's experience about giving in church. I'm wondering what others think about this issue. Are there any churches that have the perfect system; one which allows for anonymity and yet a public sharing? Maybe we should do random passing of the plate (ushers flip a coin before every service)? Or maybe do it in the dark so one's neighbor can't see (and you don't worry about them)? By the way, the powerful photo at the top is by photographer Laci Adkins. P.S Check out my poll on the topic!

May Light increase!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Romantic Getaway: C'mon Inn

Hey, I thought I'd just pass this along. If you read my blog you probably know that I'm a big proponent of getting away for a night or two (alone)with your spouse. My friend Evan was over a few weeks ago and passed on this hidden gem to me which he found by accident on his honeymoon. It's the Grand Forks at the C'mon Inn - Grand Forks, ND. It may not look like anything special from the outside, but the rates are $114 for a Jacuzzi suite that includes:

-large room
-Jacuzzi (nice size)
-42 inch plasma TV (viewable from the hot tub)
-big, comfy bed
-sofa and recliner
-microwave, fridge, coffee maker
-free continental breakfast

In case you venture outside your room, the hotel also includes such amenities as 5 hot tubs, large pool, expansive courtyard, 24 hr exercise room, and video game room. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and big box stores if you want to do some shopping. For the price (which you might be able to get cheaper depending on your negotiating skills), you can beat what you get. If you have other ideas of hot little romantic getaways in Manitoba, share the wealth, eh?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Mystery of the Incarnation

I'm reading a book called "Jesus The Savior" by William C. Placher for my Theology class. After looking at some houses today I was sitting at McDonald's, reading, and killing time before going to work. I have to admit that theology is not something that usually turns my crank, but I liked one thing I read today. It was Placher attempting to describe the mystery of how Christ could be fully human and fully God at the same time. People always resort to analogies and maybe it was because I hadn't heard this one before that it kind of struck me. All analogies for explaining God break down, but I liked how this one made me think:

"In the Broadway musical Camelot, King Arthur gives a speech after he discovers that his queen and Sir Lancelot have fallen in love. "I am a man," he says, and therefore angry and jealous, and ready to go out and challenge Lancelot to the death. But, "I am also a king," he says and therefore he needs the help of his finest knight to defend the land, and he can't afford afford the risk of dividing the knights of the round table. His problem is that he is both a king and a man, yet there is never any doubt that he is just one Arthur. One who, two whats. In Christ, the whats - being a human and being God - are much more radically different than in any other example, and so understanding how they can be united is more difficult. But Christ doesn't have Arthur's problem, and the reason goes back to one of the categories that defines his humanity - obedience. Christ's humanity manifests itself in his full obedience to God, so that, while the differences between humanity and divinity are immeasurably greater than those between Arthur's manhood and kingship, they never come into conflict. We do not a have a way of imagining how the unity operates, but we see it enacted in what this one person does."

May Light increase!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Confession: I'm STILL not on Facebook.

For some reason (I'm not sure why), I just can't bring myself to join Facebook. It just feels . . . wrong. What does this mean? I invite your wrath, pity, interpretations, etc?

Recruiting Wisdom: "The Three C's"

Ever needed to find staff for your group, organization, church, board, committee, business, etc? So how do you go about it? I've noticed that many organizations do well at this and others fail miserably. The best advice for recruiting team member I've heard is from Bill Hybels, found in his book "Courageous Leadership." He calls his philosophy "The Three C's of Team Selection:"

1. Character (first). Hybels needs to have confidence in a person's personal walk with Jesus Christ. They are committed to spiritual disciplines. He needs to see evidence of honesty, teachability, humility, reliability, a healthy work ethic, and willingness to be entreated. People lacking in character tend to breed distrust and alienate team members. They also de-motivate the team leader who must spend time dealing with them. Every time Hybels hired someone who was extremely competent but a little shaky on character, it ended in disaster. Now it's always character first. Always!

2. Competence. Get the best. Sometimes we are so motivated to fill a spot that we will take anyone! But really, you should be looking for the absolute best there is. When I was a camp director I would pray not just for staff, but "excellent staff." The way to team success is to surround yourself with people who are outstanding. Even if it takes longer to find them. Even if they already work somewhere else! The kind of people you are looking for are probably making huge contributions or setting records somewhere. So get character first, and then shoot for the moon when it comes to competence.

3. Chemistry. Hybels mentions how Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager counseled him to never invite a person onto his team who doesn't have an positive emotional affect on him the moment he/she steps into his office. At first he thought this was extreme, but not any more! Mostly because he spends so much time working with his team. If two candidates for a position both have high character and competence, he'll give the one with whom she shares more chemistry the job every time. That's why he's having so much fun!

Create a team with sky-high character, off-the-chart competence, and extra-ordinary chemistry and watch how God will bless your team, ministry, or business. Good luck.

May Light increase!