Monday, March 31, 2008

Ch - Ch - Changes

At the end of his sermon yesterday, our pastor resigned.

It was kind of shocking. I had glanced over at him during the singing time and noticed him getting quite emotional - I just thought it was great that he was really getting into the worship. Later he announced they were leaving. It was an excellent resignation speak, definitely one of the better ones I've heard. He managed to be quite honest without giving too much information. He used his sermon as a nice set up to normalize the idea of transition. He didn't try to sugarcoat it all yet he didn't use the "God's telling us we have to go" thing; he took personal responsibility and even used the word "choice." He let us in on some of his reasons for wanting something different and even gave us some of his ideas for what he's looking at next. He didn't blame the church, he showed sorrow, and he let us know how hard this was for him. He helped us to empathize with him by mentioning his previous time of burnout but not dwelling on it or using it as an excuse. It was exceptionally well done. At the end, the elders came up and prayed for him. There were hugs all around with the elders and I could tell it was emotionally difficult for many of them.

So how did it affect me? Basically, I reacted like I usually do (I have seen a few of these over my time): I feel a little bit sad, fairly excited, and extremely curious. We have only been at this church for a few years and I've been so busy during this time that I have had very little time or energy to connect with the pastor (or the church for that matter!). So for me there isn't a large personal loss. I am sad a little bit because our pastor's preaching when I first heard it was probably what made the decision on which church we were going to go to. I was in a pretty spiritually brittle spot when we first visited Cornerstone and I felt like God spoke and ministered to me through the pastor. I have been both challenged and annoyed by his sermons but rarely bored - a blessing I think. I will miss him. On the other hand I feel excited because, hey, change is coming! Our pastor will move on and experience exciting new challenges (I'm happy for him) and so will our church. If anything excites me in the world it is change. I love watching churches change! Whether it's by choice or by necessity, church change is one of the most fascinating things I know of. Transitions are when big challenge happens; the potential for growth and learning is amazing. I'm not going to lie, I look forward to it! Who will the next leader be? What will he look like? Will he bring the church up or down? Will the church choose someone the same as the previous pastor or someone different? Periods of change in a church are like Christmas to me - I can barely wait to see what we are going to get. During the transition people will be stretched and some challenged to use their gifts that they have never used before. All in all it should be a great time.

Yup, so I'm sad to our pastor leaving but excited at the same time. What is God going to do next with him and with us? Only He knows . . .

May Light increase!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Familarity with "Luxuries"

Jobina's parents drove out for a visit and we spent a nice evening with them catching up on life stuff. They do a lot of traveling and since we are going to Belize we were discussing accommodations. They mentioned something that I found quite interesting. Recently they did extensive renovations on most of their house. It was already a very nice home, but now it looks amazing. Granite in the kitchen bathroom, new hardwood floors, new paint, etc. It's quite beautiful; a pleasure to be in and rejuvenating for the mind, body, and soul.

The thing that's interesting is that they love their newly updated house so much that they find it difficult to adjust to staying in a hotel which is invariably not as nice. It's tough to spend money on a room that's actually a step down from what you already own and can stay in for free! At first I had trouble following them. I can see what they're saying, but is it really that difficult to take a step down? After all, hotel rooms (at least in the mid-high range) are usually pretty nice.

As we talked though I rolled this around in my mind and then finally I got it. I thought about how although our house is "super lived in" and "in need of repair," we have a king size bed. Had it since the first day we were married (a mentor of mine gave me the following advice when I got married "Buy a good bed!"). So every time (which is not often) we stay in a hotel and we "have" to stay on a mere queen size we feel slightly disappointed. Why? Because for us it's a step down. We have to get into a "small" queen size. Even though a queen size is certainly adequate for sleeping in, we wrinkle our noses at it. We may even not sleep as well in it.

This is the peril of familiarity with luxuries. Luxury is not easily defined, after all it's in the eye of the beholder. For the poorest or the richest man, there is always something they would look on as being luxurious - beyond their usual standard. It's easy to take a step up, terribly hard to take a step down. I'm not sure if one can protect oneself from this fact of human nature. Paul learned to be content with whether he was in want or had plenty, but how did he achieve this? Thankfulness? Practicing his faith? I suppose that when we get a luxury of any kind we must honestly remember that it can be both a blessing and a curse. How we handle it determines the outcome. I'm just not sure how to make sure it's always a blessing! And if I lose it I can still be content? Maybe others have some ideas about this.

May Light increase!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Random Thoughts on Wimber

"The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern."
- Proverbs 29:7.

I read the following quote by John Wimber on ysmarko a couple days ago and have been thinking about it alot. Actually, I try to forget about it and then it pops back into my consciousness at weird times (like when I'm waiting for clients, greeting a table at OG, or taking a bath). Here it is:

Years ago in New York City, I got into a taxi cab with an Iranian taxi driver, who could hardly speak English. I tried to explain to him where I wanted to go, and as he was pulling his car out of the parking place, he almost got hit by a van that on its side had a sign reading The Pentecostal Church. He got real upset and said, “That guy’s drunk.” I said, “No, he’s a Pentecostal. Drunk in the spirit, maybe, but not with wine.” He asked, “Do you know about church?” I said, “Well, I know a little bit about it; what do you know?” It was a long trip from one end of Manhattan to the other, and all the way down he told me one horror story after another that he’d heard about the church. He knew about the pastor that ran off with the choir master’s wife, the couple that had burned the church down and collected the insurance—every horrible thing you could imagine. We finally get to where we were going, I paid him, and as we’re standing there on the landing I gave him an extra-large tip. He got a suspicious look in his eyes—he’d been around, you know. I said, “Answer me this one question.” Now keep in mind, I’m planning on witnessing to him. “If there was a God and he had a church, what would it be like?” He sat there for awhile making up his mind to play or not. Finally he sighed and said, “Well, if there was a God and he had a church—they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn’t charge you money to teach you the Book.” I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest. “Oh, God.” I just cried, I couldn’t help it. I thought, “Oh Lord, they know. The world knows what it’s supposed to be like. The only ones that don’t know are the Church.”

When you joined the kingdom, you expected to be used of God. I’ve talked to thousands of people, and almost everybody has said, “When I signed up, I knew that caring for the poor was part of it—I just kind of got weaned off of it, because no one else was doing it.” Folks, I’m not saying, “Do some-thing heroic.” I’m not saying, “Take on some high standard, sell everything you have and go.” Now, if Jesus tells you that, that’s different. But I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, participate. Give some portion of what you have—time, energy, money, on a regular basis—to this purpose, to redeeming people, to caring for people. Share your heart and life with somebody that’s not easy to sit in the same car with. Are you hearing me? That’s where you’ll really see the kingdom of God.

For some reason this story and Wimber's words hits me hard. Something is sparked in me, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Like many evangelicals I have divorced myself from the everyday life of the poor and needy. I am in the top 5 percent of the richest people in the world yet a mile or two away from me people live on the street. Helping the poor seems like such an impossible task (there are so many!) yet we are clearly called to do it. The message of Scripture is really very simple: help the needy. It's not hard to understand; it's just hard to do.

I also was hit by the taxi driver's comments about "not charging you money to teach the Book." Even though there are some good reasons for Christian authors, etc., to get paid for what they do, it always leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth. Would Paul do the same if he had the chance today? I'm not so sure. Also, as a counselor I want to help people but (unless I work in a church) I will most likely have to charge people for my services. A man has to feed his family after all and its been found that clients work harder and faster in therapy if they have to pay something. But still, it feels strange to think about charging. I wish I could do it for free. Anyway, these are just my random thoughts for the day.

May Light increase!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Iron Man, The Boy, and Me

Last night Jobina surprised me with a nice little gift. I came home from counseling and she had lit a nice warm fire (ambiance) and then gave me two presents: a chocolate egg filled with mini Cadbury Easter Creme Eggs and an Iron Man comic book. This was totally unexpected, usually we just watch Survivor on Thursday nights and have a nice evening at home but Jobina made this night special. I love Easter Creme Eggs and was a little skeptical about the "mini" version but they tasted absolutely delicious. And the comic was so enjoyable to read - I just love Iron Man - and it's been years since I've read a comic book cover to cover. Reading the comic whetted my appetite for the movie to an almost fever pitch. Have you seen the latest trailer? It is so awesome!

This morning Riker was all over the comic book and we spent some time together using the comic cover as a model and using plasticine to make little Iron Man figures. Lots of fun! I thought that both our figures took different but are distinct and contemporary takes on this classic B list (soon to be A list after the movie comes out) superhero. It's also just a lot of fun working with plasticine, on comic book figures, with your son! Definitely I feel blessed. Makes me feel almost young again. Here's Riker's version:

Here's mine:

And here's both of them together:

Mine's pretty sad (for a guy in his 30's) but I think the Boy has potential.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Kind of People Become Counselors?

I post this for the encouragement of my fellow counselors out there (we now know the truth about you)! It's a postsecret from a week or two ago. I saw it and immediately smiled:

Here's another counseling-related one from the good folks at despair which also made me laugh (although one could argue the good taste of it):

P.S. Counseling humor is more then a little morbid, but hey, it's necessary to cope!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's The Process, Silly

"Relativity applies to physics, not ethics." - Albert Einstein

Jobina and I went out to my parents farm for Easter and we had a great time hanging out with friends and family. As usual our kids were the stars of the show, impressing everyone with their general sense of "cuteness" which is always entertaining. After dinner, the men sat around a talked and eventually we got into a discussion about church, politics, and marriage.

A common thing about problems in these three areas often boiled down to abandoning the ethics during the process of resolving them. First we talked about politics. Stephen Harper talked big when he was in opposition about ethics, honesty, accountability and how too much power was in the PMO's office. And now that he is prime minister? Well, all that talk is gone and though he's better then those he preceded, power has begun to corrupt members of the party. What happens (to everyone in power I think) is that we begin to believe the lie that the end justifies the means. Once you believe this, you are tempted and eventually compromise your morality and ethics. Example: you believe in telling the truth. But what if it would really hurt the government to be honest? Thus, for the good of the government (and the country) in your mind, you choose to be dishonest. An example of this is Canada handing over POW's to the Afghan government, knowing they could face torture. Lies were told to protect the government ("we didn't know!"), the mission in Afghanistan, and the Tories grip on power. Ethics were abandoned for "the greater good." Then people found out. Trust in our leaders is shaken.

It is the same with churches. For the "good of the church" a pastor, board, or elder will abandon their sincere Christian ethics. What does this look like? Dishonesty, gossip, cruelty, manipulation, etc. Happens all the time. How has your church done it? Maybe it's by covering something up (like abuse or sin). Maybe the pastor lied to protect the unity of the church. Whenever the crap hits the fan in a church it's usually not because of an initial event, but the unethical process of how it's handled. Even the most difficult situation can be handled in a civil and forthright way if people don't abandon Christian ethics. Unfortunately we often do.

How do we change these things? I think it's by being ethical in our processes and challenging the irrational belief; the end does not justify the means. The means is just as important (and sometimes more so). When our government, our churches, and spouses begin to live this out, then we will see health, hope, and trust return. What process have you recently been involved in where you chose to go against your own ethics? How did you justify it to yourself? Most importantly, what can you do now to make up for things and insure it doesn't happen again? Are you willing to commit to doing it?

May Light increase!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Jobina!

The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.

(English Proverb)

I just wanted to wish a Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife Jobina! She is the most amazing woman and I love her dearly. Please visit her blog (. . . Think Noisy and Colorfully . . .) and wish her well!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And the Blind Shall See (Kind of)

This video shows the amazing (and inspiring) power of attitude. This young boy, his eyes taken by cancer at the age of two, has developed the amazing ability to see even though he has no eyes. Oh to have a mom that could build into him not helplessness, but the ability to believe that anything is possible! Instead of wallowing in what he can't do, he focuses on what he can. Truly amazing.

(H.T. to Aneta at Lifelines)

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hey folk, on this Resurrection Sunday I just want to wish all of you a great Easter! He is risen! (He is risen indeed!) May God's peace and joy be with you today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Book Review: The Happy Isles of Oceania

Book Review: The Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux

What would you do if you were a world famous travel writer who’s marriage was in the final stages of death and you were an emotional wreck? If you were Paul Theroux, you would set out on along adventure to find places that are beautiful and happy - like the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Starting in Australia, Theroux takes his portable kayak to over 51 islands exploring the lands, culture, and people he meets along the way. Aa he journeys you get to delve deep into the personality of such an interesting man; his wit, biases, religious views, insecurities, and his search for peace and paradise. The author shares his unique experience of each place highlighting both the weaknesses and strengths of the people he runs into. The book falls strongly into the travel genre but is quite readable and should appeal to everyone.

The best part of this book is its uniqueness. It is a kayaking book, a travel book, a book about culture, a book about divorce, a book about happiness, and a book about history - all wrapped up into one. Sometimes Theroux villifies some of the people he meets quite harshly (like the Australians and missionaries) and you get a sense that is some deep insecurity in him. Strangely I found this trait somewhat endearing. His descriptions of the islands themselves are quite fetching and if anyone was thinking about taking an extended vactation (or even relocating) to the Pacific this would be a great resource as Theroux often compares the islands (pros and cons) to each other as he paddles. Maps of the island show most of the places he visits and are quite handy for following his journey.

If you are a serious paddler, this book is a must add to your library. Though not strictly a “paddling” book, there is enough exotic locales to keep even the most serious paddler engaged in that aspect of his adventure. It would also be a great read if you were going on vacation somewhere tropical or if you are stuck at home experiencing cabin fever in a long, cold winter. I’ve read this book three times so far and have it enjoyed it immensely every time. I found that I connected with his discontent with life and his desire for solitude and paradise. His joy at finding such places is never fully realized as he reflects on being alone and wondering if the next island is better then the one he's on. Eventually he does find a near perfect place and that is where the story ends. Where is it? You'll have to read the book to find out. My rating for this book is 4.5 ninja stars out of 5.

"Good" Friday

When I woke up early yesterday morning I noticed that it was gloomy and kind of dark outside. This seemed strangely fitting as it was Good Friday, the day of the year set aside to remember Christ's death on the cross. It was kind of a strange day for me as I didn't go to church. Jobina was singing in the worship band and told me that she thought that the kids might find the service difficult to sit through (and maybe a little too intense and disturbing). So I stayed home with the kids and she went to church. I read three chapters of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" to my offspring and we basically just hung out.

I often feel a kind of tension or maybe even a low level anxiousness on Good Friday, not knowing how to approach this solemn day. Perhaps these feelings are natural, it's a reminder of our natural condition and what was needed to save us from it. I'm glad Christ died for us - at the same time, I'm very unhappy that he had to die. Often on this day I feel a internal pressure to go and spend time in reflection and prayer but usually I don't get around to it. Instead, I accomplish very little, spiritually or otherwise. Perhaps this too is fitting - I'm guessing the disciples didn't spend their Good Friday deep in pious pursuits! Later I felt relief and was just glad when the day was over.

(By the way, the painting is "Stations of the Cross (X): Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments" from Chris Gollin's "Stations of the Cross." I chose it because I felt it captured the honest look of someone who had been tortured and was facing his death.)

May Light increase!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Enjoying the Bible Part 2: The Guilt We Feel

Hmmm . . . I was expecting more of response for Part 1 of this series. Why did not more people comment? There are many reasons of course. Some are too shy, some find the post uninteresting, some probably don't like the pressure to comment, and others are just dedicated lurkers. There is at least one other possibility though: some of us have no favorite books of the Bible. Some of us don't like reading the Bible at all but don't want to admit it publicly.

This of course is a terrible thing! What, you don't like reading the Bible??? What is wrong with you? And you call yourself a Christian?!!! These are the responses that many of us imagine in our heads (or worse have actually heard from someone) if we are honest and admit the truth. In the evangelical tradition that I come from, Scripture is king. From a very young age we are taught the importance of the Word of God. Read it! Memorize it! Study it! Know it! Obey it! "Read your Bible, pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow" goes an old kids song. Evangelicals continue the tradition of the Protestant reformers; Scripture is our authority and thus you need to embrace and love it.

Here's the thing though; some of us try . . . but can't.

I've been there. And although I'm not there anymore, I was and remember what it was like. And I know lots of people who are in the same boat. Actually, I know lots of Christians who don't like any kind of reading. But they think that since their tradition ties spirituality and growth as a Christian to reading the Bible that something is wrong with them. They feel extremely guilty. They want to spend an hour reading and enjoying the Bible every day . . . and they try . . . but they can't. And so they feel more guilty, more discouraged, and more hopeless about it. They condemn them self, fake it, or both. The idea of reading the Bible becomes a curse to them because they don't enjoy it (or not enough of it anyway) and the mere idea of reading it becomes a chore at best or a painful experience at worst.

It is my opinion (and that of Sacred Pathways author Gary Thomas) that God has actually designed all of us quite differently in how we connect with and experience Him. Every church tradition has its own ideas on how best to do this (prayer, Scripture, worship experience, obedience, etc) but we need to find out what works best for us and spend the lion's share of our "Godtime" doing that. For some, it is reading Scripture and praying. For other's it's helping those in need. For other's it may be listening/singing to worship music, being with God outdoors, living simply, etc. We need to stop feeling guilty about how we are not connecting to God and focus on what is most helpful to us. This is not to say that we should just give up on reading Scripture if we find it very difficult. But maybe we can spend most of our time with God doing things that really help us connect to Him and challenge ourselves to spend a smaller amount of time reading Scripture.

If we don't give ourselves permission not to like reading parts (or all) of Scripture we may be setting ourselves up for a lot of guilt and pain. We may even end up teaching ourselves to not enjoy the Word of God at all. I say enjoy the Scripture that you enjoy, even if that is only a few verses or a book or two. Celebrate that and don't feel guilty that you are not a big fan of the entire canon of Scripture. I'm sure the God who designed you and knows you can accept that. It's possible that by being more real with yourself and others about what you like/find difficult about the Bible will actually help you to grow in appreciating Scripture more. There is a place for discipline in reading the Bible, but I think God is much more interested in us loving Him and connecting with Him honestly and sincerely - whatever that looks like for us.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Enjoying the Bible Part 1: The Books We Like

Have you ever asked someone what their favorite verse in the Bible is? If they are a Christian, this is usually a tough question. Most people I've asked find it difficult to choose just one. "Um, let me think about it . . ." they say awkwardly. But if you ask someone what their favorite books are in the Bible (and what makes them special), many people seem to relish the inquiry. I love hearing about why a person likes certain books - they are not just sharing their opinion but their heart and uniqueness as well.

For myself, if I was stuck on a desert island (although for me "stuck" should probably be replaced by "blessed") with only a few books of the Bible to keep me company, I would probably choose Proverbs, James, Ecclesiastes, and Matthew. I like other books of the Bible, but these are the ones that I am drawn to the most. James was the first book of the Bible that I ever had a real emotional experience with. I remember reading James alone in my room one night during my first summer away from Briercrest. The challenge to honor God with my actions hit me so hard that I literally wept. I hardly ever get bored with James. His "just do it!" attitude resonates with my desires and weaknesses in such a way that I approach the book with both anticipation and fear every time I open it up.

Proverbs and Ecclessiastes are books that whenever I read them I am always learning something new. Unlike other books, the truth in wisdom literature is situational - proverbs are not true in every situation - the context and timing matter (this is why some Proverbs appear to contradict each other). This makes them even more intriguing to me! The wisdom literature is so practical and cuts through my apathy and excuses like a knife. Some day I want to be a wise like the sages of Israel, sitting on a hill learning and dispensing wisdom to others.

And then there's Matthew. I first really read the book of Matthew in my Gospels class at Briercrest. I had the most amazing teacher, Carl Hinderager, who was in my opinion the wisest and Spirit-sensitive teacher at the school. We went through that book verse by verse and savoured and reflected upon each one. The story of Jesus came alive to me that semester, and I met Jesus in a whole new way. Coincidentally I was going through a bit of faith crisis at the time (doubting the deity of Christ) and Carl's thoughtful exploration of the book helped me to resolve my doubts during a particularly difficult time.

So here's a question for you Christ-followers out there: what are you favorite book(s) of the Bible? Why do you like them? Or do none of them "turn your crank" (honesty please)? Come on lurkers, time to come out of the closet!

May light increase!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jesus Saves

I found this video very encouraging. This sweet old lady was a great example of what it means to be salt and light. She showed courage, humility, wisdom, love, and faith. Basically, she's my hero. Link from Evangelical Outpost.

May Light increase!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Enjoying Each Stage While You Are In It

Often when I am counseling couples I will encourage them to enjoy the stage that they are in, because once it is passed they will never get to enjoy it again. If they are dating, I try to ask them what is that they have now that they won't have when they are engaged (or married). These might include things like experiencing longing, clumsy awkwardness, mystery, anticipation, they joy of wooing/being wooed, dreaming of a great future, romantic obsession, etc. Often couples will squander and miss all the pluses of the stage they are in because they are thinking about/desiring the next stage. When you are going out, you want to be engaged. When you are engaged, you want to be married. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence. "Thing will be better when . . ." I often hear.

It is good to have goals and look excitedly towards the future, but we need to enjoy the journey as well. Enjoying the stage you are in is not just about relationships, but could be about lots of other stuff as well. Maybe it's your job. Maybe (like me) it's about school. If you are an adolescent it might be about waiting for your body to grow, fill in, or "get coordinated." If you are a senior it might be about retirement. My theory is that every stage of life, no matter what realm, has some pretty interesting and memorable parts to it. It seems like a much better use of our time to focus on what's good about the stage we're in as opposed to everything we're missing out on. By the way, I'm writing this mostly as reminder to myself but maybe my words are applicable to you as well . . .

May Light increase!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finnish Love Vacation

It makes me jealous that while our Canadian parliament is barely functioning, the Finnish parliament is debating some very important issues that could change the entire makeup of their country. For instance, this last Thursday they debated a proposal by MP Tommy Tabermann (SDP) to grant all employees a paid 7-day "love vacation" once a year. The purpose of the "love vacation" would be that during the seven days, couples could devote themselves to each other at ”both at an erotic and emotional level” and "find their way back to the path of love in order to find the wellspring of love again”.


Canadian government, listen up! The Finns are again showing us up when it comes to relational progressiveness. The only way to save our dignity is to immediately institute a 2 week love vacation as soon as possible. Also, each couple will get $1000 to help them with expenses. Stephen Harper, are you listening to the will of the people?

May Light increase!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Book Review: On Island Time - Kayaking the Caribbean

Book Review: On Island Time - Kayaking the Caribbean (Scott B. Williams)

Scott B. Williams is not the best author, nor does he have the greatest story. What he does have is an authentic kayaking voyage to share and that is what this book is about. On Island Time chronicles his somewhat foolhardy attempt to paddle by kayak from Florida south through the West Caribbean islands. Early on Williams writes "a mere vacation would not be enough . . . I wanted to savor the experience, to absorb the places I longed to visit at the average speed of three miles an hour. Why not paddle for a year . . . two years?" Williams saves up for and plans his great journey. Along the way he almost drowns, is attacked by sharks, meets highly unusual people, and discovers tropical paradise like he has never dreamed of.

What I really liked about this book is the author's focus on the places he goes to and his honest way of chronicling his own thoughts and feelings about his trip. He never hides the fact that he makes some foolish choices and often doesn't really know what he is doing. If you are like me, you will salivate over the descriptions of some of the beautiful places he visit and be filled with more then a little jealousy. Williams ability to drop everything for his trip, to focus so completely on the present of his journey - this is remarkable ability. Best of all his authenticity convinces you that you too could embark on such a trip. He makes it sound possible . . . for anyone. What I really wished for in this book though was maps. It was difficult to really understand where he was a lot of the time and maps would have helped alot. Some sort of map is pretty standard in this genre but sadly they weren't there.

Kayaking the Caribbean is a great book for any paddler who dreams of paddling through solitary islands in paradise. For those who aren't paddlers, it's an OK read but you may find yourself finding it difficult to engage. I rate this book 3.1 ninja stars out of 5.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Choosing To Give People Their Free Will

I've posted about control before, but I'm thinking about it alot more now that I'm reading the book "Choice Theory" by William Glasser and using it with my clients. Glasser talks about how we try to control those who are close to us. Ironically, we do this to those who we need and care about the most. Glasser believes that we should live by the Golden Rule; do unto others as we would have them to unto us. They way to live this way is to not try to control other people's behavior, instead we offer them freedom to choose their own destiny. When we try to control them, that's when relationship problems come arise. NO ONE likes to be controlled.

What does controlling people look like? Lot of things. The nagging wife. The critical mother. The threatening father. The manipulative brother. All of these behaviors are chosen ways of trying to get others to do what we want them to do. What's missing in all of these behaviors is free will. Instead of offering people the freedom to choose not to do what we want them to do, we try to take it away. Parents do this all the time with their kids. Spouses become experts at it.

Every time we choose to control or manipulate someone, we are choosing a few things:
1. To not respect the other person's free will to choose their own behavior.
2. To damage what could be a healthy, free relationship.
3. To create bad feelings in the other person towards us.

Glasser says that for some reason we try to control those closest to us, yet we aren't totally shmucks at this. There are two main relationships where people actually do try not to control the other person. The first area is close friendship. Most of us do not try to control our friends very much because we realize that friendship doesn't work by trying to get our friends to do what we want. We expect our friends not to manipulate us and we try not to manipulate them. The second group of people who are low in control is grandparents. Grandparents in general seldom try to control their grandkids. Why? Because they don't want to risk the relationship. They offer freedom and aren't ticked off when the kids occasionally make poor choices.

What if we would treat our wives, husbands, children like we treat our good friends? What if instead of punishing children (for not choosing what we want them to do) we simply would give our kids the freedom to choose to obey (or disobey)? What if instead of punishment we calmly gave consequences for misbehavior? Glasser believes that when we put aside a control philosophy and replace it with philosophy of choice and freedom, our relationships will improve. When we pair this with taking responsibility for our actions and letting other people worry about theirs - we become psychologically more healthy.

Once I realize that I can't control people, that I can only control myself, then I can offer freedom to others. It doesn't mean that I have to be a pushover. But it does mean that I will honor the human right of others to choose or not choose what I think is best. This is how I want to be treated. Perhaps we need to start offering this freedom to others. How would that transform your marriage, your parenting, your relationship with co-workers? There's only one way to find out . . .

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ninja Sympathy Pain

A weird thing happened to me the other day. I was watching this movie on a DVD set called "Master Ninja! 9 Movies on 3 DVD's - Over 12 Hours" that my friend Jay got me. In the middle of the first movie "Breathing Fire" (which ironically has no ninjas of any kind in it) one of the main characters got kicked in his right knee, savagely. I remember wincing as I felt empathy. The movie ended and we went to bed.

The next day when I woke up, I could hardly walk. My right knee was hurting badly (and still isn't back to normal). I was sitting around trying to figure out what had happened to it but I couldn't think of where I possibly could have injured it. Suddenly, it hit me! My knee hurt because I, as a ninja, was feeling sympathy pain for the "ninja" who got his knee kicked in the movie! Ninja sympathy pain! Now I just need to watch a movie where a ninja gets his knee healed and I should be back to normal. . .

May Light increase!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spontaneous Food Court Musical

(Warning: If you don't like showtunes, you won't like this video. Just move along.)

Although I'm not musical by any means, I liked this video because of the awkwardness that some members of the "audience" obviously felt. Especially when the security guard asks what's happening! Such creativity to come up with this stuff.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Air Miles Rant, Financial Stress, and Learning

I’m bitter with Airmiles. For 10 years I have been saving up airmiles to use toward our 10th Anniversary trip. We checked and it looked like we would be able to cover a trip to Belize no problem, based on the number of airmiles we had accumulated. Cool! Actually there is a problem and that is that Airmiles pays just for the ticket, not taxes or fees. How much could that be we thought and went ahead and bought our travel voucher trip for Belize off of eBay. Yesterday we found out how much those taxes and fees would be to go; $910.

Yes, you heard me right. For our supposedly “free” tickets. I don’t get really mad (seriously, ask my wife) very often, but when Jobina told me how much it would cost I became enraged. When they say that you can earn “free travel” that is a brazen lie. Actually what they will do is pass on any fees and taxes onto you and then you end up paying almost more for your flight then if you would have just kept your eyes open for a good deal. So yeah, travelling is costing WAY more then I thought it would. On top of our money (already spent) for our travel voucher for a week at Cottontree Lodge ($1700), we are paying:

$910 in taxes and fees on our free tickets.
$400 for shots/medication
$200 for passports (including pics)
$220 for flights within Belize

Add to this two extra nights lodging/meals, travel insurance, and miscellaneous and you can see that our initial budget of $2000 is being doubled to close to $4000. This kind of money problems is causing me intense financial stress. Usually I don’t get stressed about money stuff, but I’m feeling it right now. And even though I say I’m angry at Airmiles, really, I’m angry at myself. I should have figured out how much the taxes and fees would be for airline tickets before even considering buying our vacation. I should have done my due diligence and found out about how much shots, passports, etc. would cost. But I didn't.

The only part of this that gives me any peace is that I can chalk this up as a learning lesson. Experience is such an effective teacher! And of course I'll be going on the trip of lifetime with my beautiful wife. And maybe the fact that I will have to utilize some good creativity to find ways to pay off this trip. Anyway, learn from us people and do your homework!

May Light increase!

(P.S. This is the second time writing out this post as the first time my browser suddenly hung up for no reason after it was done. Oh, the anger (and then depression) I felt as I retyped it!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Theological Pain

(I found this great cartoon on Chez Gavin the other day and couldn't resist posting it)

Today I spent most of my day laboring over a 5 page theology paper on the Holy Spirit. Theology is the study of God and I find it amazing how often I struggle with understanding and applying theological subjects. In class, I like the discussions, but doing a theology paper is always a painful experience. I wonder why. Is it me? Is it the subject? Is it the professor?

It's probably me.

Studying God is a necessary evil. Really though, I just want to enjoy Him. Is that so much to ask? I wish I could get my heart more into it, but I can't. Theology is most of the time just boring (to me). There I said it. I wonder how many other people feel the way I do?

May Light increase!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Our "Mortal Coil" is Pretty Strange

I really liked this article entitled "100 Weird Facts About the Human Body" and have been meaning to post it for some time. A few I found quite interesting:

45. The three things pregnant women dream most of during their first trimester are frogs, worms and potted plants. Pregnancy hormones can cause mood swings, cravings and many other unexpected changes. Oddly enough, hormones can often affect the types of dreams women have and their vividness. The most common are these three types, but many women also dream of water, giving birth or even have violent or sexually charged dreams.

62. By the age of 60, most people will have lost about half their taste buds. Perhaps you shouldn’t trust your grandma’s cooking as much as you do. Older individuals tend to lose their ability to taste, and many find that they need much more intense flavoring in order to be able to fully appreciate a dish.

73. We are about 1 cm taller in the morning than in the evening. The cartilage between our bones gets compressed by standing, sitting and other daily activities as the day goes on, making us just a little shorter at the end of the day than at the beginning.

God has truly made the human body in an amazing way. Even my unkempt and extremely out of shape body. This kind of article makes me a bit more thankful for it. Also, parts of this article kind of gross me out.

May Light increase!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chicken Parm Theory

I was thinking today about how much you can learn about someone by watching what they order at a restaurant. Some people find something they like and then order it every time they go out to eat. For instance, at Olive Garden some people just love the chicken parmiginia. So everytime they come in, they look over the menu and then choose the chicken parm. Often this really bugs the other people who know them well. "Why," they groan, "do you always get the same thing? Why don't you try something different?" Usually the person responds with something like "I don't want to try something else, I know what I like!" Maybe you are this kind of person.

So here's my theory. Just like people with high sensation seeking impulses are usually more prone to relational break up, I wonder if people who eat the same thing every time they eat out are more prone to relational loyalty? Think about it, they find something they like and they stick to it. This could be one helpful litmus test for loyalty in a potential mate! If your boyfriend/girlfriend gets the same thing everytime you eat . . . they're probably a keeper. Because if they really like you, they'll stick to you and be loyal to you (just like their dinner). If they show this same unwavering loyalty in several areas (cars, chocolate bars, political parties, etc) then their propensity for loyalty should be even higher.

I must be tired to be thinking of stuff like this.

May Light increase!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Steak Date

(Thanks to Jay for filling in for me yesterday. I am not nearly "better" yet, but I'm doing better. Thanks to anyone who prayed for me).

Tonight Jobina and I went on a date to The Keg. Someone had given us a gift card for Christmas and we decided that we finally needed to put it to use! Wow, can they do steak right. Seriously, my 12 ounce, medium rare "baseball sirloin" was incredible. We even shared a dessert (Billy Miner Pie) which was nice and light but with both subtle and intense flavors. We got there at a little after 6pm and it was already packed and we had to wait for 30 minutes. Nice atmosphere there and unlike some of the other trendy restaurants ( cough, cough, Moxie's, Earls?) the female waitresses don't dress like women of the night. We had a great time.

Like usual, I had a very difficult time choosing what I would eat. When it comes to ordering at a restaurant I often get analysis paralysis. Will I like that? Does it justify the cost? What am I really craving? Am I being daring enough? Yeah it's sad. Sometimes an analytical nature is not a good thing. It's the same with deciding where we should spend the final two days of our vacation in Belize. I need to know everything! And even then, I can't decide. I don't know how Jobina has patience with me. Yet she just smiles and pretends that it's not really that maddening. Basically, I'm just lucky.

Speaking of restaurants I saw an Argentinian restaurant just off of St. Mary's today, anyone tried that place (or had Argentinian food in general)?

May Light increase!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

JBo Knows: Pre-Marital Counseling, Part 1

Good day, gentle blogger. As you may recall, after Mark wrote a post about pre-marital counseling, I offered to write about my experiences in pre-marital counseling since I was about to undergo the program. He also told me that when I was ready to post about it, I was to log in and post away. So if you want to take the day off to keep healing from your recent sickness Mark, I've got you covered!

Last night was actually the second time Sarah (my fiance, naturally) and I had met with our counselor. I didn't write an article about the first meeting as it was pretty uneventful; in truth, it was more of a fact-finding mission for the therapist, which makes sense since she needs to know what to talk about!

So yesterday evening we drove into the city and, after a stop-off to see Sarah's recently-returned-from-Phoenix parents, we went to our session. We waited a few minutes for our therapist to come and get us, which is normal. When she came out front she looked at us with a rather confused look; it seems that when she called me to book the appointment, she didn't write it down, or erased it somehow. Considering we had just driven over an hour and a half on a work night to come in, we weren't pleased. Our options were to reschedule, or wait until 9:15 and finish around 10:45 (remember the hour and a half drive home). We decided we were already there so we may as well just do the session late.

So after killing some time at McDonald's, we went back to find the exterior doors locked. No big, the therapist said she'd come get us if we got locked out. While we were waiting some people were leaving the building, so we thought "Great, we can get in". The woman exiting the building would not let us in and it took some convincing to make her stand aside (I had a fleeting thought that if I really wanted to get in she really couldn't stop me, but that would be a much bigger can of worms!). Once we were inside we discovered she had alerted security to our presence, so he came in to check with the therapist that we actually had an appointment. I know he was just doing his job, but I was getting a little annoyed at everyone looking at me like I was a criminal!

Anyway, we finally got our session started at 9:30. Our therapist, I'm not going to give out her real name but let's call her Aretha, cause I like that name, brought out copies of our Prepare exam results. For those unaware, the Prepare exam is a multiple choice quiz we had to do before our second counseling session; we had to do the quiz separately. The point is for the couple to answer honestly separately from each other, and then discuss the results in the session.

Anyway, Aretha pulls out our results, and she gets a very surprised looked on her face, and makes several surpised noises as she quickly flips through. Naturally, our first reaction was "Uh-oh, that's not good!" It turned out that Aretha was shocked at how postive our results were; on a graph charting different marriage types and the percentage of typical answers, we were literally off the chart in one or two aspects.

Now, you at home may be thinking that we cheated, that's why our answers matched up so well. I can't really blame you for thinking that, because we had almost considered answering together, but we decided that no, if we were going to do pre-marital counseling, we may as well do it right.

So we went through the survey results, painfully slow at some points. Aretha went over every answer very thoroughly, seeing how we matched up. We kind of felt that she could have spent a little less time telling us how old we were and that we were both caucasion, but whatever.

We went through 10 different areas of a marriage (thinks like communication, conflict resolution, marriage expectations, etc) and picked a few to discuss. We also picked some to discuss next time. The process is pretty logical.

What did we get out of it? Honestly, not very much. Why? Because we've already talked about all of the issues that were in the Prepare, most of them before we even took the test. Sarah and I are both pretty logical people, and we know things aren't always going to be rainbows and skittles. I knew within 2 months of dating Sarah that I wanted to marry her, but I made myself wait to propose because I wanted a stronger relationship first, and I'm glad I did.

For those who haven't discussed things ahead of time, I think the Prepare system is pretty good, and the counseling would be very beneficial. We have one more session to go yet, so we'll see what we take home from that. I really hope I'm in bed before 1:30 next time though.

Keep your stick on the ice!

-- Jay Boaz

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Sick

Last night I didn't sleep at all, instead I battled a fever that seemed to come out of nowhere. Also, I feel nauseous and have a terrible headache. Please pray for me! Thanks!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Reparative Therapy?

I was at school today and dropped off some assignment stuff in one of my professor's offices. He happened to be in and was reading about the unfortunate case of a counselor who was recently found guilty of sexually abusing his client while engaged in reparative therapy. Reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy) can mean mean several things but usually it is referred to as a formal attempt to change a person's sexual orientation -- typically from homosexual to heterosexual. Usually a client will come in claiming they are gay, but don't want to be and ask the counselor to help change them.

Here is where the proble
m lies. Many conservative Christians individuals, therapists, ministries, and groups believe that homosexual behavior is abnormal, unnatural, chosen and sinful. They promote reparative therapies as helpful and safe techniques to "cure" homosexuality. Homosexuality is seen as an behavior/action and a choice.

On the other side almost all secular mental health professionals, human sexuality researchers and religious liberals accept that a homosexual orientation is normal and natural for a minority of people. They believe that sexual orientation cannot be changed, that is an orientation. They generally believe that both heterosexual and homosexual behavior can be either sinful or not, depending upon the circumstances. They regard these therapies to be non-productive, unethical, and potentially dangerous.

As you could guess there is strong enmity between these two groups! My professor was telling me his opinion, he believes that reparative therapy is unethical and ineffective. Since research has shown that it is pretty much impossible to change someone's sexual orientation, he instead focuses Christian homosexuals on first accepting their orientation and then he helps them to get rid of their homosexual behavior (become celibate/not practicing). Yet, he also prays for them that there would be a miracle and be "healing." He believes this is the most Christian response we can have to this difficult issue. It was a very interesting conversation.

I am not sure where I am on the topic. I agree with the research; besides the occasional "case study" there is pretty much no clinical evidence of being able to change people's basic sexual attraction once it is established. This is not just for homosexuality but for other sexual preferences (paedophilia for example). On the other hand it is difficult to accept that the dark reality that God has made some people with a genetic predisposition to homosexuality. Why would God do that (although why would he do it with other mental illnesses that lead a person to break ethical commandments)? I want to believe that there is some way to help those with homosexual desires but desperately not want them. I want to believe that there is way to help them. The church has so far been very good at condemning homosexual behavior/desires, but done horribly at ministering to those who are experiencing it. The question isn't whether or not people change their sexual preferences (or some would say; orientation) because the evidence is obvious that they do. The question is whether reparative therapy can bring about that change.

If you are interested in this subject, I suggest you try the links above to get more information on the topic (especially the one on reparative therapy as it does a good job of presenting the issue from a mostly non-judgmental viewpoint. After that, feel free to weigh in! Just please be respectful . . .

May Light increase!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wedding Vows

I'm kind of a romantic and I like weddings. Weddings inspire me. The vows at a wedding are always kind of a holy moment and I found this video showing some pretty cool ones. What do you think; beautiful, cheezy, insincere, idealistic? You may have to turn up the volume on your computer, but if you have a few minutes, maybe it will inspire you in your own marriage (or your future one).

(Here's the Video Link if you have problems viewing it)

May Light increase!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Love and Helplessness

Our little girl Trinity is sick. Last night she coughed for much of the night and it was my turn to get up with her when she called out. For any of you who are parents out there, seeing your child ill and not being able to do anything about it has to be one of the most heart-wrenching things in the world. You feel so helpless and frantic to help them and yet . . . there is almost nothing you can do. You can try to give them medication, encourage them, pray for them, cry . . . but mostly you just feel ineffective. Last night was really tough because whenever Trinity would cough (this intense, harsh, grating cough) I would wake up and feel my heart breaking for her. Then I would think of how my friends Ray and Martha must have felt as their daughter Renee slowly fell victim to leukemia. Actually I tried to imagine it, but I couldn't. Mostly because I have never had to face such a thing but also because I wouldn't let myself fully imagine it. Too painful to seriously consider. Their pain at watching their little girl . . . well, it must have been off the charts. I know one thing; it feels like a father's job to protect his child from all harm. But sometimes there is nothing we can do - and it's devastating. You'd do anything to help them get better - but it's not in your hands. And so you sit there. Useless and hurting.

In Trinity's case, the illness will just have to run it's course, Ray and Martha were not so fortunate. I wonder what God the Father must have felt as he watched his Son slowly die on the cross? In the Father's case, he could have done something, but he chose not to. For the greater good. He was not helpless. Again, I could not imagine what it was like. God the Father is a spiritual being and I know he doesn't have a body, but I wonder if you can have a spiritual lump in your throat. Or a spiritual sick feeling in your stomach. What does anguish feel like for the creator of the universe?

Tonight, I'm sleeping the basement so I can hopefully get some sleep. I can still hear her, but at least it's not so loud. Renee was buried today and I am praying for some sleep and peace for the Dueck's this week. Please pray for them as well.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Going To Renee's Memorial

Tonight Jobina and I went to a memorial service in Winnipeg for Renee, our 24 year old friend who recently died of leukemia. I must say that it was tough. I went in feeling kind of numb but quickly I got pretty emotional. Some miscellaneous highlights for me:

-This really cool slideshow that Kara made of Renee's photography to song by Mindy Smith called "Come To Jesus." The song is amazing and paired with Renee's photos it was (in my mind) a kind of holy space.

-"The Prayer of St. Patrick" (one of my favorite of all prayers) was in an abridged form in the bulletin. If I had to choose only one prayer to pray again, this would be it.

-Listening to people tell stories of Renee's artistic abilities and what she accomplished in just 23 years of life was astounding. She's done over seas missions, written and produced several plays, toured with a drama team in the U.S., taken a semester of Bible College, etc, etc. Though her life was short, it was jam packed with making a difference and exploring her many gifts and abilities.

-I don't know how they did it, but Renee's parents (Ray and Martha) were somehow able to pull it together. I would have been a complete mess. Their strength and faith astounded me.

-The speakers from YWAM challenged me powerfully about several things, but I am still processing them and can't really discuss them right now.

I'm emotionally and physically spent. And I'm so sad about this beautiful person I was lucky enough to know and how her life was cut so short. As a Dad, I can't image what it would be like but it makes me want to spend all the time I can with my kids. You never know how long anyone has . . . we need to reach out to them while we can. Funerals are like that for me, they remind me what is really important. I just wish I didn't always forget again afterwards.

May Light increase!