Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kung Fu Trinity

"The Sword of Heroes! Said to be so sharp you can get cut just by looking at - Ow!"
-Po, Kung Fu Panda

Today our family went to see a movie together: Kung Fu Panda. I wasn't expecting anything really impressive (as Rotten Tomatoes had rated it as mediocre) but I was pleasantly surprised. It was fantastic! If you like Asian movie fare, martial arts, and physical comedy (people in pain makes you snicker), you are almost guaranteed to like this movie. I rate it 4.4 ninja starts out of 5. Seriously, it made me smile, and it had some good psychological/inspirational stuff to make me think (although not too deeply). Here's the trailer if you haven't seen it yet:

On the way home we were discussing the movie. We asked Trinity what she thought.

Trinity: Mommy, you know what? I know I'm good at kung fu!
Jobina: Really, how?
Trinity: When I hit myself it really, really hurts!

Another proud Westman moment. My favorite quote from the movie was near the beginning. Po the Panda (Jack Black) has a dream that he is a martial arts master who rescues a town from some bad guys. After beating them up, some of the locals remark in awe that he is so awesome (and so attractive). They ask how they can repay him:

Po: "There is no charge for awesomeness... or attractiveness."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thank God For Sex

I just read 400 pages on premarital counseling this morning (OK, I skimmed part of it). In one of my books I found this old prayer/poem by Harry Hollis, Jr. I like it because it presents a different view from that which we get bombarded with in the media. Hope you like it:

Lord, it's hard to know what sex really is -
Is it some demon put here to torment me?
Or some delicious seducer from reality?
It is neither of these, Lord.

I know what sex is -
It is body and spirit,
It is passion and tenderness,
It is strong embrace and gentle hand-holding,
It is open nakedness and hidden mystery,
It is joyful tears on honeymoon faces, and
It is tears on wrinkled faces at a golden
wedding anniversary.

Sex is a quiet look across the room,
a love note on a pillow,
a rose laid on a breakfast plate,
laughter in the night.

Sex is life - not all of life -
but wrapped up in the meaning of life.

Sex is your good gift, O God,
To enrich life,
To continue this race,
To communicate,
To show me who I am,
To reveal my mate,
To cleanse through "one flesh."

Lord, some people say
sex and religion don't mix;
But your Word says sex is good.
Help me to keep it good in my life.
Help me to be open about sex
And still protect its mystery.
Help me to see that sex
Is neither demon nor deity.
Help me not climb into a fantasy world
Of imaginary sexual partners;
Keep me in the real world
To love the people you have created.

Teach me that my soul does not have to frown at sex
for me to be a Christian.
It's hard for many people to say, "Thank God for sex!"
Because for them sex is more a problem then a gift.
They need to know that sex and gospel can be linked together again.
They need to hear the good news about sex.
Show me how I can help them.

Thank you Lord for making me a sexual being.
Thank you for showing me how to treat others
with trust and love.
Thank you for letting me talk to you about sex.
Thank you that I feel free to say:
"Thank God for sex!"


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Skeleton At The Feast Is You

Anger is so bad for us. It's bad for our health, our relationships, and our feelings of self-worth. Need some incentive to deal with your anger problem? Or maybe a little inspiration? Here's a few of my favorite anger quotes and proverbs:

"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow."
-Chinese Proverb

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
-Proverbs 16:32

"Men are like steel: when they lose their temper, they lose their worth."
-Chuck Norris

"Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved."
-Marcus Antonius

"He who angers you conquers you."
-Elizabeth Kenny

"Two things a man should never be angry at: what he can help, and what he cannot help."
-Thomas Fuller

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
-Thomas a Kempis

"If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size?"
-Sydney J. Harris

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
-Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why Do You Let It Stick To You?

Yesterday in the kitchen at Olive Garden, someone made some snarky comment to me (and a joke) which was at my expense. Linda, one of the servers saw and said to me "Poor Mark, always taking people's crap! How do you handle it so well?" I thought for a moment and then said to her "Maybe it's because I don't believe that people's crap has to stick to me."

It was kind of said off the cuff, but as I thought about it later I thought that it's probably the coolest thing I said all day. Why do we get so mad when people are rude or disrespectful to us? Maybe it's because we believe that it's so important what they think, say, or do. But is it? People don't make us mad, we make us mad. Every time I get angry with someone, it's because I'm allowing them to do so. I'm choosing to believe something that is mostly unhelpful. Solomon says “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” (Proverbs 14:29, ESV). Slow to anger people aren't magic, they simply believe different things about everyday annoyances and stresses then angry people do. They don't let the crap stick to them.

For instance when a "quick to anger" waiter experiences rudeness at a table, they might think something like:
1. I don't deserve this!
2. This person is rude/ignorant/bad.
3. They shouldn't be like that.
4. I must not let them get away with that!
5. I can't stand it! This guest is rude!
6. Getting angry will help me feel better about myself.

When people are ignorant to a "slow to anger" server they think things like:

1. It's too bad they are being rude but it's not the end of the world.
2. These things happen. Sometimes your guest are good, sometimes they act rude.
3. Maybe they are having a bad day - I don't know that they are going through.
4. I shouldn't be treated like this, but it won't kill me either.
5. I can stand it. It's just a guest being rude.
6. Getting angry won't do me any good. What can I do instead?

If you are quick to anger, the trick to beating it is to change your thinking (which is way easier then trying to change your emotions!). And the first step is to realize how anger doesn't help you. I'm not a Buddhist but I do like this quote attributed to the founder:

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

May Light increase!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A New Experience

Today I did something I've never done before: I visited a women's shelter. It was very interesting. My class on domestic violence is wrapping up and interviewing someone at a shelter was one of my assignments. I can't say which shelter it was as confidentiality is huge at these places. When I was contacted back by someone from the shelter they wouldn't even email me the location: I had to call as they didn't want any written records of it. Safety is key at these places.

I was told the address and when I found it, it was a totally non-descript building with no outside markings. I buzzed to get in and then I was in a small entrance area where the people at the main desk could see me. Then they unlocked that door and let me in. As I was shown around there were locks and intercoms all over the facility. I wasn't allowed to see the dorm rooms where the women and the children live but I saw enough to convince me that this was a place where safety of the clients was taken very, very seriously.

I interviewed a lady for about an hour and a half who has held many different jobs at the facility. The tales she told me were heartbreaking. The work they do is extensive including providing safety, therapy, legal assistance, crisis phone lines, community outreach, and follow-up. She talked about experiencing vicarious trauma and how all the workers there experience this as they work with these women and children. I don't know if I could do it. So much pain and hurt. When I left the lady I interviewed gave me a cool souvenir that hopefully I will be able to give to someone in need someday. It is a lipstick stick, but inside instead of lipstick is a rolled up piece of paper. The paper is a safety plan for women who are being abused. They can keep in there purse and look at it whenever they need to. . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pictures That Changed Canada

The Beaver, Canada's history magazine recently had a montage of pictures showing famous Canadian photos. Here are a couple of my favorites:

"Henderson!" I can hear the TV announcer in my head as I see this photo. On September 28, 1972 hockey player Paul Henderson reacts to scoring the game-winning goal, with 34 seconds left on the clock, during the final game of the Summit Series at Moscow's Luzhniki Sports Palace. One of Canada's greatest moments.
Photographer: Frank Lennon.

Railway employees look on as Canada Pacific Railway director Donald A. Smith (the man with the white beard) center, drives the final iron spike railway at a British Columbia stop called Craigellachie, between Salmon Arm and Revelstoke. Truly the CPR was one of the great unifiers of Canada.
Photographer: Alexander J. Ross.

Terry Fox, this guy was a true Canadian hero. Such perseverance! This photo was taken in the early morning as Terry Fox resumed his Marathon of Hope run in southern Ontario. Photographer: Peter Martin.

Oct. 1, 1940: Chased by his mother, a young boy (Warren Bernard) reaches for his father's hand as the troops of The British Columbia Regiment parade down Eighth Street in New Westminster B.C. A touching photo showing patriotism, with a touch of foreboding. Photographer: Claude Detloff.

Shaney Komulainen’s emblematic photograph of the standoff between the Canadian military and First Nations militants at the Kanesatake reserve near Oka, Que., in the summer of 1990 is included in that group. I remember seeing this picture in Macleans during the Oka crisis. The young soldier and the native protester staring each other down. I think the soldier looks scared, strong, and noble. Great picture.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

from nakedpastor

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cashflow: Part 2

"The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get."
Proverbs 21:20 (NLT)

In my mind there are two things necessary to be "wealthy." First you need cashflow (income). How much are you bringing in a month, a year? Every one needs cashflow. But cashflow is not everything. After all, I know lots of people who make double, triple, or even quadruple my sad monthly cashflow but yet they lack wealth. Why? Because they either spend more then they make (negative cashflow) and/or they don't have any of the second part to wealth; assets. Here's my amateur formula for wealth:

Positive Cashflow + Assets = Wealth

Assets. To become what I consider wealthy you need to get assets. The easiest way is to buy them is with your cashflow. It takes a lot of discipline to take some of your hard earned cashflow and buy assets. But they are essential so that you have something to fall back on in case your cashflow someday is interrupted. And the best assets appreciate in value and actually add to your cashflow. For instance some stocks pay dividends and some real estate pays monthly rents.

Most people focus on increasing cashflow. Cashflow is sexy. But assets are just as important. Eventually some day you won't have any cashflow (or the reduced cashflow of a pension). What do you depend on then? Easy, you sell some of you assets. That is if you have any. It's best to start getting assets when you are young and when you have lots of disposable income. It's never too early to start of course.

For the past two years Team Westman has focused on getting some assets. We bought two properties and bought and sold a small business (a candy route) for a small profit. Luckily we did this with mostly my bank's money. I figured that if I was going to be a poor (in terms of cashflow) student we might as well use the equity in our home to buy some more assets. But lest you think I'm boasting I actually have a pretty serious problem right now: low cashflow. Several years of neglecting this area is now catching up with us. Just as a business can't live without cashflow, neither can a family! As I move from waitering/being a student into counseling thing are getting super tight. It's time to increase the cashflow quickly. . . or else. It's tempting to just sell all of one's assets, but hopefully we won't have to do that. Here's hoping I can build up a clientele quickly!

The stress of cashflow problems is enormous. If you are in a negative cashflow situation, you know what I'm talking about! Just the thought of being there causes me stress. My sleep is not as good, I worry, and I think it even affects my health and my relationships. With credit cards and lines of credit people think they can live a negative cashflow life - but they can't. Eventually it will catch up to you. Being in negative cashflow situations is bad also for your spiritual life. Does God judge us according to our cashflow? I think not. But the stress of not making as much as we are spending will usually do something to us as it relates to God. Some people think that a spiritual person does not discuss money, that such talk is "worldly." If this is true then Jesus was a worldly person. The Gospels are full of Jesus teaching on it. Money should not be our master, but we need to use it wisely and generously. To do this, you're going to need some . . . money that is . . .

May Light increase!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cashflow: Part 1

If you were to be open and vulnerable with someone, what would it be more difficult to discuss: your sex life or your finances? Amazingly (to me) finances are sometimes the more difficult topic for many people. Being honest about what you make, your debts, your spending habits, your financial planning, your tax honesty (or lack thereof) can be pretty uncomfortable for a lot of folks out there.

When I became a youth pastor/camp director I was put in the curious position of having my wages put up on an overhead once a year at each organization's annual meeting. Thus, everyone knew exactly how much I was being payed. This was quite unsettling the first time, but later I got used to it, and eventually found it kind of liberating. I was forced to be open about my finances. When I do premarital counseling, I often give the couples a copy of our monthly budget (to aid them in coming up with their own budget). Sometimes when I show it to them, they get embarrassed - like they shouldn't be seeing this kind of personal stuff from their counselor (also they may be shocked to see how little a student makes)! I try to reassure them that's it OK, we've chosen to be vulnerable in this area as it can be helpful and instructive to others. Somewhere we North Americans have got this idea that our finances are our own business and should never be shared with others. Choosing to be open about it does have some benefits though.

For instance, being open about where you're at means that others can offer you assistance. Too many people get into terrible financial positions because they don't know what to do and they don't tell anyone about their situation until it's too late. Secondly, you're financial situation might be able to help someone by being instructive. For instance I tell alot of people about real estate investing because when done right its an excellent investment that can help people improve their financial situations, save for retirement, or even get out of debt. Some people have listened to me and have started investing in real estate themselves - way to go people! Thirdly, hearing about how other people handle their money can keep us accountable to how we handle ours. I need to be reminded to give, to save, and to spend less than I make. Maybe you do too. I don't think you should be transparent about your finances with everyone, but if you aren't with anyone, maybe you should. Find someone you trust and open up to a little bit. Test the waters. It won't be as bad as you think.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Demotivators Make Me Smile

Sometimes I like to go to the website and look at all the "demotivators" they have there. Although I would never recommend someone study them on a regular basis, I find that some make me laugh, some make me sad, and some make me think. Here's a few of my favorites:

I wanted to be an astronaut. Ouch!

Don't get me started on propaganda. This one is way too true.

(snicker). Yup, the truth in this one is devastating.


This one has a Solomon-like wisdom feel to it. I like it.

Know anyone who should get this one? I had a friend in high school who chased a girl for 2 years after she broke up with him.

May Light increase!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dirty Secrets About Domestic Violence

“I believe that we should look at all violence as equally bad. It really doesn’t matter who ends up with more damage. I get real nervous when we try to say one is more important than the other, or one needs more attention than the other.” - Susan Steinmetz

I finished up a paper today on male victims of domestic violence. That's right, men who get attacked, battered, or beaten up by their female partners. Before you laugh (as most people do when they consider the idea), think - would you laugh if we were discussing it the other way around (women being attacked, battered or beaten up)? I didn't think so.

Allow me to blow your mind. First of all, anywhere 25-30% of all families have violence as a regular part of the relationship. Statistics show that about 50% of all domestic abuse is bilateral, which means that both man and woman attack each other physically. Not how we usually see domestic violence (both parties as attackers), is it? Of the violent relationships that aren't bilateral, about 27 percent of the time men attack their women and about 23 percent of the time women attack their men in the relationship. You see, women are just as violent as women. The gentler sex? Not really. If you don't believe these, check out this link which gives summaries of over 200 studies showing women's violence against men to be as high (or higher) then that of men's violence against women. From my paper:

Why do women hit men? The conclusions of Gelles (1997, p. 133) are telling: ”Women hit men because they can.” There does not seem to be any support in the available data for the feminist proposition that women only use violence against men in self defense. The most-common reasons the women in a study by Fiebert and Gonzales (1997) gave for assaulting their male partners included: “My partner wasn’t sensitive to my needs”, “I wished to gain my partner s attention”, and “my partner was not listening to me.” The factor of the male being abusive to the woman was one of the less-frequently stated reasons reasons for the female’s assault.

Fiebert and Gonzales (1997) also asked for more profound reasons as to why the women had assaulted there male partners. The five leading reasons the women gave to that query were “I believe that men can readily protect themselves so I don t worry when I become physically
aggressive” (24%), “I have found that most men have been trained not to hit a woman and therefore I am not fearful of retaliation from my partner” (19%), “I believe if women truly are equal to men then women should be able to physically express anger at men” (13%), “I learned when growing up that I could be physically aggressive toward my brother and he would not fight back” (12%), and “I sometimes find when I express my anger physically I become turned on sexually (8%).”

The idea that domestic violence refers exclusively to wife abuse or to violence against women is deeply ingrained in Western thought. Most of us consciously or unconsciously believe that masculine power is the fountainhead of private, as well as public, violence. It is difficult to acknowledge a problem that contradicts one of our deepest beliefs about the world and how it works. We laugh at the idea of women beating up men because if we didn't we'd have to change our sexist views about women and men and what they are capable of.

For men who are battered, they have fewer resources (battered men's shelters?) and a sexist system that can't imagine their victimhood. Violence against women is terrible but so is that against men. Domestic violence is a human problem, not a gender issue.

May Light increase

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blogger's New Blog List

I really like the new Blog List gadget on Blogger. It really has changed the way I read blogs. Now I just quickly refresh my page to see who has updated - no more wasted time loading blogs that haven't had a new post since the Chretien era. I also like going to other people's sites who have it and seeing that my blog is near the top of their lists. I feel like I'm being rewarded for updating often.

The thing about my blog list is that it's kind of like Santa; it knows who's been naughty (hasn't posted in a while) and nice (posted recently). On my list, it only shows the ten most updated blogs, so if you haven't updated in a while you are dropped from being visible on the list. Is this not poetic justice? There is a kind of peer pressure that this new gadget creates; blog or be forgotten. Of course that is not what blogging is supposed to be about, but that's besides the point. In blogging the new Blog list is Darwinian economics in motion - survival of the fittest, or um, bloggiest. You know what I mean. Right?

I have no idea if this makes sense or not, but to sum up . . . I really like the new Blog List.

May Light increase!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Fool's Errand: Part 4 (The Ride)

Well, I ended up biking by myself.

Jason, my good friend (the best man at my wedding actually) didn't show up. In fact he didn't even call. Instead he texted me to say "it didn't work out." Yup, so here I was attempting a ride of idiotic magnitude by myself. Needless to say I didn't sleep very well the night before. This was made worse by the fact that not one person a) wanted me to do it and b) thought I could do it. My own mother told me "please don't do this" and threatened to steal my bike. Honestly I was tempted not to do it. I had lots of great excuses. But in the end I think it was my sense of adventure (and my own stubbornness) that made me start. Here's a picture of me about to begin:

The first 7 km to Gimli wasn't bad except that there were no paved shoulders and cars kept passing rather close to me. You wince everytime they pass and it takes quite a bit of faith to not pull off the road when you can hear possible death approaching at 80-100 km/hour behind you. When I hit Gimli's paved shoulders I was overjoyed. Here's picture of the high school I went to (Gimli's my home town):

A little past Gimli, Jobina caught up to me. I found out later she was hoping I would "have gotten it out of my system" and come home with her. But I was feeling pretty good and told her I'd call her if I had any problems. I included this pic because Jobina thought she looked good in it (I agree):

Here's me reaching Sandy Hook and attempting to take a picture of myself:

In Sandy Hook I came across a sign saying "Free Stuff" so I stopped and looked through it. I picked up a book of Bible stories for the kids (which later turned out to be JW stories so I ended up carrying them to Winnipeg for nothing):

Here's Salty's, a famous drive in that I planned to eat from the moment I started planning this little bike ride. Unfortunately it was only 11:30 when I stopped in and I wasn't hungry yet:

Just past Winnpeg Beach I got a rude surprise. The beautiful paved shoulders ended! This I was not prepared for. It was Sunday and there was lots of traffic and I had expected the paved shoulders to go all the way to Winnipeg. Silly me. Unfortunately there was nothing else to do but risk riding the edge of the pavement again. This was scarier then you might think. Some cars pass you with only a foot or two of distance between you and them. Here's a picture of the road which seemed to go on forever . . .

I saw lots of these rural mailboxes out by the sides of the road:

By the way when you are drinking so much water (it was 31 degrees Celsius) you have to go to the bathroom alot. I became adept at spotting bush that was not too far off the road to use as my personal latrines. The worst injuries I had were cuts that I got in the bush trying to maintain some sort of modesty as I went pee!

Around 2:00pm I stopped at the Lily Pad restaurant in Petersfield for some lunch. Just before I discovered that one of my brake pads had been rubbing against my tire the whole time (doh)! So I did the logical thing and disconnected it. At the restaurant (below) I had the largest chicken quesidilla that I've ever seen. Delicious. In my sweaty/wide eyed state I think I freaked out my waitress a little bit when I stumbled through the door.

An hour later I stopped at my favorite resting stop: an old Anglican church/cemetery which had lots of shade. Here I called Jobina to let her know I was still alive. This seemed to please her:

Interestingly this church had a miniature of the church right beside it:

In Clandeboye I stopped in and bought Gatorade. The thing about Gatorade is that it only tastes good if you are working very, very hard. Let's just say that Gatorade was absolutely delicious:
On my way to Selkirk I was in a heat induced trance when suddenly I heard my name being called. At first I thought it was just the imaginary people in my head again ("Shoo imaginary people") but then I looked up and who did I see but my buddy Jason who had abandoned me. Apparently he was going camping! The irony of this situation was not lost on me but I couldn't be bitter with him because 1. he was my friend and 2. I was relieved to see someone I knew. He attempted to give me some excuses but I wasn't too hard on him (well, just a little). He offered me ice to put in my drinks but I didn't want to shock my system too much.

Here's the view as I approached Selkirk. It's hard to see but the paved shoulders begin here. I was so excited about this I started shouting. Imagine my dismay when they ended after about 50 meters. Noooooooo!

Taking the "perimeter" of Selkirk turned out to be exhausting work and I started to worry about sunstroke. When I got to Lower Fort Garry I saw a large ditch in front of the main site with shade in it and so I drove over and collapsed there:

Just after I had lay down I got a call from my good friend Jay on my cell and I invited him to come hang out for a bit while I rested (I wasn't going anywhere for awhile). It was nice to hang out with him, see his wedding pictures, and chat. Also, he was able to take some photos. Thanks for stopping by Jay!

In St. Andrews I saw a sign for some sort of heritage site and since I'm a sucker for heritage sites I took a little detour and found myself looking at the oldest stone church in Western Canada. Definitely worth going off the beaten track a little bit. This was one of my goals for this trip: to have the freedom to stop and explore at will. Here's some pics of it:

After St. Andrews two beautiful things happened. The wind (which had been against me since I started) switched and was now with me. Also, the paved shoulders began again. I reached the perimeter and called Jobina again. I think she was shocked I had made it so far and wasn't calling for a pick up:
Here's the view looking down on the #9 overpass overlooking the perimeter highway. I have always looked a the cloverleafs over the perimeter and thought it would be fun to bike down them. Today I got to!

I went west on the perimeter over the bridge and then down the cloverleaf hill (wheeee!) and south onto Henderson Highway. Here's me on the bridge looking over the mighty Red River:

Going through the city took me about an hour and half. I stopped at Turning Point on Talbot and then took Archibald to Fermor and then to St. Anne's. I really wanted to make it home before 8 so I could say goodnight to the kids before they went to sleep. Here's the view as I pulled up at 7:55 pm:

Jobina saw me and said something which she repeated several times that evening "I can't believe you did it!" I was thirsty, hungry, and a little sore but amazingly not in too bad of shape. Here's a picture of me kissing my bike goodnight and thanking it for getting me home:

Yup, so I did it. Amazing. I believe it was God, answering the prayers of my concerned family who got me through it. I think the key for me was just treating it like I was going for a bike ride, just a longer one. I stopped alot and explored along the way. One thing's for sure: If I can do it, anyone can!

Total Distance ridden: 111.84 km.
Time Taken: Just under 10 hours.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Fool's Errand: Part 3

Mission accomplished! Photos and story to follow tomorrow . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fool's Errand: Part 2

"Deeds not words."
- SAS (British version of the Navy Seals) official motto

Whenever one is preparing to embark on a fool's errand (see details here), one always has some second thoughts. These are also known as "logic" or "common sense" or even "the voice of reason." It takes a lot of discipline to make it through this stage. I have been fighting it all morning. Logistics and reality question the wisdom of the ride and tell me not to do it. As the enormity of my ambition strikes I'm finding it to stay true to my vision. Luckily, I have a friend who called me last night and wants to join me. An old friend who is no stranger to stupidity (we went to Bible College together) who's bike (and body) are in just as bad condition as mine. Perfect.

I'm thinking now we'll leave the Camp Morton Wilderness site at 10:00am on Sunday. If you happen to be heading into on Sunday (and you are from Gimli or North) let me know as we may be looking for someone to take Jason's car back to the city. And if you are crazy enough to join us, you may. Call me at 6122588. Also, if you're not busy that day please feel free to say a prayer for us!

May Light increase!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Divorce and Remarriage

The widespread experience of remarriage is so common now in the United States that 30% of all weddings produce a step family and approximately one quarter of all American children will see at least one parent divorce twice (Deal, 2007).

I'm doing a paper right now on Divorce and Marriage from a Christian and psychological perspective. Wow, it is really heavy. This is kind of a sensitive topic and since my thoughts are evolving on as I look at Scripture and various interpretations, I'm not even going to state where I am on this right now. I am learning alot though and have been especially enlightened by interviewing divorcees on their experience. Wow, definitely heart wrenching stuff. I'm sure pretty much all of us have been affected by some way as either ourselves, family, friends, or colleagues have gone through it.

There are many competing views on this subject but I found it helpful to read a paper that said that most views fall within these four:

(1) No divorce or remarriage.
(2) Divorce but not remarriage.
(3) Divorce and remarriage for adultery or desertion.
(4) Divorce and remarriage under a variety of circumstances.

I'm curious to know where other people stand on these things:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shocking Teen Fashion Trend

What's the latest shocking teen trend in clothing? According to this article it's . . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Decline of the North American Bible Colleges

I was talking with a friend of mine a week ago about the Bible College he works for (he's a dean of men). I asked him how enrollment was doing. He said it was down. In fact, pretty much all of the Bible Colleges (according to him) in Canada are down in their numbers, including my old ala mater Briercrest and my current school, Providence. Things don't look good for the classic Bible school of late.

But not all Bible "schools" are decreasing, some are actually increasing. These are mostly one year (or less) discipleship schools like those of YWAM, Capenwray, and the various outdoor adventure schools. CMU here in Winnipeg has a successful program called Outtatown that is part discipleship, part missions trip, and part spiritual retreat. Unlike the academic based schools, these one are doing quite well.

This does not surprise me. Years ago I hypothesized that people were looking for more of an experiential discipleship experience then academics. From my experience lots of students still want to do a year of Bible College, but not the Bible College of old. They are no longer willing to take courses that cover all of the books of the Bible - instead they want to experience God, community, and fellowship. They are looking for experience, not academics.

Can the old schools adapt? Some are trying but it's difficult for a school to uphold the old values and the new ones at the same time. I predict that school attendence will drop even more as more potential students realize they don't want to really be a missionary or a minister and skip Bible College all together. Instead they'll either go to a Christian university, do a discipleship experience, or both. The Bible Colleges will exist as long as there is a need to train pastors, theologians, and missionaries but there numbers will keep receeding.

In many ways this makes me sad.

I loved my Bible College experience. I grew a ton, learned a lot about the Bible, met my wife, and experienced deep and wonderful Christian community. Honestly though I think I was one of the lucky ones. Most of my friends who went to school with me feel like it was a bit of a waste of time (at the best) or actually hurt them (at the worst). Are they just whiners, complaining because Bible College couldn't fix all their problems? It's possible. But it didn't really help me in my goal of becoming a counselor (A BA in Counseling from Briercrest will not get you a counseling job) and I remember wishing back then (1997 or 1998) that I had done a year of discipleship school first. And my spiritual growth there was more thanks to God's intervention in my life (and my friends) then anything the school implemented.

My thinking is that of course you can't please everyone but maybe the Bible Colleges and Seminaries should leave the discipleship to the discipleship schools and the discipleship schools should leave the academics to the Colleges and Seminaries. Let everyone do what they do best. As soon as you start to try to everything, you start to do nothing well. Thank God for the Bible Colleges and seminaries that have trained and equipped our leaders for the past few decades. I hope they can adapt and stick around for a few more.

P.S. The image is of Hildebrand Chapel at Briercrest, one of my favorite places to just sit quietly with God. Also, to sleep. I figured God was OK with either.

May Light increase!

House For Sale (or Rent)

Are you or someone you know looking for a house for sale outside Winnipeg? We've got one, check it out:

"This cute 3 bedroom (2 up, 1 down) house is for sale in the town of Niverville, 25 minutes from Winnipeg. This home is a little over 800 square feet and features hardwood floors, maintenance free exterior, nice eat in kitchen, large lot, garage, patio, garden, and is and within walking distance to shopping and amenities. Includes all appliances. Available September 1st. We will also consider renting the home property if not sold by September. Please call 257-6377 for details or to arrange a showing."

Here's some pics:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Directions

A lot of people have been asking me what I'm going to be up to in the fall now that I will have finished my degree at Providence (MA in Counseling Psychology). For now we are staying put in the city. I have recently accepted a position at a small start up counseling center on Henderson called Riverbend Counselling. I will be one of 3 counselors there and look forward to working as part of a team. Much appeals to me in this new endeavor including the fact that I will get to meet weekly with a mentor, have regular case consultation, and get to be part of a "start up" where I can see what it looks like to start a counseling ministry. Please pray for me that I will learn quickly and use my gifts and abilities to help those in need.

Another interesting thing I am doing is teaching a small course at Providence College. Entitled "College Success Skills," it is a basic course designed to help those with academic problems improve their marks. As many of my students will be "low" on the motivation scale I anticipate it will be very challenging. On the other hand, half of the class is meeting one on one with students and I'm looking very forward to that part of it. Again, feel free to pray for me!

Lastly, I plan to work in a limited capacity at Olive Garden in the fall, eventually phasing out of this job as I gain enough clients at Riverbend to do so. I have mixed feelings about leaving OG behind; it was a great job for someone in my position and I have really enjoyed the challenge and humility of serving people on a weekly basis. Also, the things I learned about human nature are priceless. On the other hand it will feel good to dedicate more time to my passion for helping people with their relationship issues and it's time to get out of my comfort zone.