Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Globes Are Made

I saw this today on Neatorama and found it all quite fascinating. How would someone make a globe, a spherical object with a one piece map on it? The answer is in the following video. See if you can figure out the basic idea before you watch:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do Hard Things: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

So I'm reading a book by two teenagers and getting kind of inspired. As I mentioned in my last post I'm reading Do Hard Things. The authors say that there are 5 main ways of fulfilling this. The first is "Taking The First Scary Step." It seems that as people we are totally geared to not doing hard things because we are scared. Scared of failing, scared of being uncomfortable, and scared of the effort it will take. The thing is that when we don't risk anything, we don't gain anything. It's like investing, you have to risk your money to make money. You can go through school (or life) without ever risking anything, but you won't really gain anything either. Until you realize how wasteful it is to go through life not gaining anything because you are too afraid, you won't be able to do what is the first (and most difficult) part of Doing Hard Things: you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to face your fears and step outside what feels safe, secure, and cozy. This is the hardest thing, but is almost always the most profitable.

It makes sense. In fact, for many years I was a big proponent of stepping out of your comfort zone (ask the students and camp staff from back then). I became convinced (through LiMiT training and other stuff) that stepping out of your comfort zone was the only way to grow and so I grabbed onto the idea with gusto. I began to ask it of my students, my staff, and even myself! At the best of times I'd say I even lived it. And I had a lot of people thank me for stretching them. Why? Because they were growing through the experience.

Unfortunately, for the past year or so I think I forgot this important life lesson. I'd say I've been avoiding discomfort as best as I can! My personal discipline has been low - just enough to get by. My risk tolerance has been extremely low. I've turned down several ministry opportunities that seemed scary or uncomfortable. I'd even say that I've been less afraid to step out of my comfort zone with those close to me and with God. It struck me as I read that somehow I had backslidden into exactly what I had strived so hard to avoid - lazy, selfish, and cowardly living. And I don't like it.

So today I decided to step out of my comfort zone once again - I said yes to preaching at my church. I've put them off for over three years but today I felt convicted enough about my lack of comfort-zone stretching that I agreed to it. Am I scared? Absolutely! That's why I'm doing it. Whether it goes poorly or well, I'll be stronger because of it. I encourage you, where do you need to step out of your comfort zone? If your like me, you find that staying all nice and "safe" doesn't make you feel any better (in fact I'd say it makes us eventually feel worse). Wouldn't it be ironic if we spent much of our lifes seeking comfort when it is exactly that comfort which will slowly destroy us? I believe God has so much more for us, but we need to take that first scary step. Do it today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

John Piper: God Is Better Then Sex

I'm reading "Do Hard Things" right now, a book about rebelling against low expectations. Its written by teenagers for teenagers (this in and of itself intrigued me) but it's convicting me. I checked out the authors website,, and saw a link for what's below:

Sex is good. Sex is great. God is better.

What do you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

What I Learned . . . From Producing A Play

I was looking over my old "Bards of Now" stuff today. The Bards of Now were a drama team that I was lucky enough as a youth pastor to lead several years ago. I was looking up info on them because one of it's members (Renee) passed away tragically less then a year ago and someone is writing a book about her. I was surprised how just going back through it all made me feel grief for her loss all over again. At the same time though I experienced a lot of good feelings as I remembered all the cool stuff this little drama team did. Our last big production was called "Morbidman Meets His Maker." After the last showing we did a team feedback/evaluation session and I had written down notes from it. Here is what I said I learned from the experience of producing a multi-act play:

What I’ve learned: -If you don’t think you’ll have enough time to pray; MAKE TIME! Pray about everything! -Even the narrator must go over his lines! -Use tapes for sound effects, not CD’s. -Promotion is HUGE. Do lots of it, and way in advance. With different mediums and medias types. Also, teach the churches about invitational evangelism before doing it. -Find creative people for backdrops/costumes/makeup months before the drama is scheduled. -Practice every scene thoroughly and double practice fight scenes/dance scenes. -Do at least 1 sound/lights practice before the dress rehearsal. -Get a backstage manager again; it’s awesome! (but get him in early) -Making memorization tapes should be done immediately after starting to work on the drama. -Confirm dates/places/details WAY ahead of time. -Have a backstage crew, lights crew, sound crew that is apart from the actors, so the actors aren’t as stressed when we have limited time for set up/take down. -Longer practices are better! -Ask around for sponsors early. -Get sound system reserved early. -At performances, don’t swap the batteries before your sound check! -Have extra mics. -Have a decent “team time” before every performance. Unless absolutely necessary, all actors should arrive/leave together to keep up the “team feeling.” -Have a prompter and get them in early! (maybe one of the stage people)

Ah, memories! I really felt blessed by my time with the Bards. Have you ever been a part of something that you felt was just . . . special? That's how this ministry team felt to me, like I was lucky enough to be a part of something extraordinary. If you too have had such an experience, take some time to reflect on it. And if you haven't had that experience . . . I encourage you to ask God for it and then search for it. Life is too short not to be part of something special.

May Light increase!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What Would You Do With An Extra $300 A Month?

Jobina was talking to one of our neighbors the other day. They were talking about "life" stuff and Jobina asked the person how their attempt to quit smoking was going. Apparently, it was not very good. The neighbor mentioned that the disappointment of not being able to go cold turkey was bad, but what was more depressing was that they were still spending over $300 a month on smokes. This neighbor smokes about a pack a day.

$300 a month on cigarettes! Oi Vey! This was shocking to me, how could anyone spend that much a month on something that is hurting you? Jobina and I were talking about it this morning; what would we do with an extra $300 a month? I was thinking that with that much money I could afford premium cable, date nights with my wife, books, etc. Just so you know that would be $3600 for a year - which would be enough to buy a used car, go on a nice tropical vacation, or buy yourself new living room and dining room furniture. It gets worse though; imagine that you smoked for 10 years, you'd be out $36o00! That's enough for a downpayment on a home, a new SUV, or much of your kids college. Of course if both you and your mate smoke a pack a day you are looking at $600 a month, $7200 a year, and $72000 over a decade. Ouch!

I have never tried smoking and thus have never experienced having to find the motivation to quit what is arguably a terribly addicting habit. But for $300 a month extra in my pocket I would quit! After I started thinking about all the things I could buy (and this may sound weird) I found myself jealous that I did not smoke (and thus could not quit and save myself a couple of hundred dollars every month)! Sure it would be tough, but for me I think the motivation of the money would be enough to quit. What would you do with an extra $300 a month?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Warm Feelings

It's not every day that I get fond memories from Wal-Mart, but today I had a great experience there. We were looking at some frames to put my newly arrived degree certificate in and I had wandered away from Trinity and Jobina. A few minutes later I noticed they weren't with me and then I glanced and saw them coming down one of those wide, long aisles, several yards away. As I looked at Trinity (my cute 3 year old girl), our eyes locked and somehow emotions and thoughts passed between us. Instinctively I crouched down and held my arms out wide and she bolted down the aisle and jumped into my arms. Then there was some intense daddy/daughter hugging going on. While she hugged me she said "You got lost Daddy!" and I whispered into ear "Thanks for finding me." I let her down and she turned around, took a few paces and then ran at me again, jumping into my arms for more hugs. Definitely the best part of my day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Old Movie Review: Air Force One (1997)

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing movie "reviews" - for older movies instead of newly released ones, so here goes!

After last night's group meeting Jobina went down to our old movie vault and came back with Air Force One (Harrison Ford, Glenn Close). “I just didn’t feel like a romantic movie tonight,” she explained. I silently gave thanks.

Honestly the premise of Air Force One doesn’t seem like it should (on paper) keep my attention. After all it’s simply that the president of the USA is hijacked on his own big plane. Somehow though with a mix of action, patriotism, bravery, and the excellent acting of Harrison Ford, the movie actually ends up being quite good. I had planned to go to bed early but couldn’t bring myself to leave the living room. I rate it 4.4 ninja stars out of 5.

The movie is about a principled, strong president who in the words of his daughter is “a great man.” As I watched I thought about this idea; the ideal of an incorruptible, inspiring leader. Do we have any such great men today? Honestly, I don’t think so. We have (pardon the pun) a few good men in leadership, but that is it. So what makes a great man? I think he is one who (like Ford’s character) is a man of the correct ideals who sticks to them, never wavering. Unfortunately us regular, real people all waver. As I put myself into the position of a man who could save thousands of lives or save his families I found myself wavering. But the best men, the great men, do not waver and that is why they are so rare. In the Bible there were a few; Daniel comes to mind. David was good, but David compromised. Daniel didn’t. Daniel was truly what I would consider a great man.

People will follow a man of passion and ideals and in this we must be careful. The movie reminded me that following a great man unquestioningly is tantamount to idolatry. We put our trust in the leader instead of God. We long to find The Great Commander in Chief to put our faith in. For Christ followers, there can be only one - Christ himself. I am glad for the good men and the ultra rare great man and I want to be inspired and challenged to be like them. But only in Christ will I find The Great Commander who is worthy of my full loyalty, submission, and honor. Anyway, these are just some of my random thoughts after watching this great older flick!

Update: Harrison Ford chosen in poll as best movie President!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Only Money

Sometimes, when I'm feeling stressed about money I try a little trick to calm myself. I smile and slowly say "Mark, it's only money." In other words, me not having enough money (or losing money) is stressful but it's not the end of the world. There are much more worse things that could happen to me or to those who I love. Coincidentally the Bank of Canada just lowered it's prime rate again (by a quarter of a point) and they expect to do so again in September meaning that my next mortgage is going to be even cheaper! Yay Bank of Canada. Combine dropping rates with dropping property prices and there is definitely a silver lining on this whole financial "meltdown" thing. The world's richest people usually make their fortunes during times of uncertainty and panic. Don't be paralyzed by fear. Opportunities are out there - take advantage of them! And remember . . . it's only money! (It's only half the truth, but sometimes necessary to help us get through the day. . .)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Evangelizing the Hungry

Last night Jobina and I went to a Harvest Dinner at our church. Seeing as it is an annual event, and we've missed it the past few years I guess it was time we go. The banquet is a fundraiser for Union Gospel Mission, a Winnipeg ministry that reaches out to the Point Douglas area of the city, one of the top 3 disadvantaged urban areas in Canada. They do awesome work.

Anyway, before we got to eat, we had a powerpoint presentation by one of their leaders. The leader narrated as they showed pictures of all the things they do. UGM has many ministries including a men's shelter/addiction treatment center, women's center, private school, kids ministries, vacation Bible School, local evangelism, adult education, counseling, drop in center, Bible camp sponsorships, as well as providing food and clothing to those in need. They do a lot! When I was a youth pastor, we brought a group of students out and volunteered in their men's center where we helped sort clothes and feed over a hundred people. Good memories.

Anyway, while listening/watching the presentation last night the presenter mentioned that when people come to get meals at the drop in center, they first must attend a short evangelism service. Spiritual food first. He said they make no apologies for this, they didn't think those entering hell would care too much about the food they got at UGM, thus the primacy of preaching the Gospel. Ironically, the presentation (although good) meant that we were eating over an hour later then I usually do and I felt distracted by my hunger! It brought back memories too of our visit with our students: when the speaker finishes speaking at those evangelism services, the people practically run out to the eating area. I've spoken to a couple speakers (mostly youth pastors) who feel like choosing to feed the people after the service severely detracts from the message. I lean toward their opinion myself. Something just doesn't feel right about it . . . like it's not a loving act (causing people to wait until after they've heard the message) because of the control issues involved. Am I treating them how I would want to be treated (the golden rule)? It's a tough decision - mission organizations wrestle with it all the time: food or evangelism first? What do you think?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Wish List

Yesterday I had some fun by adding an Amazon Wish List button to my blog (check it out on the right). Not only is it a place to quickly add books, movies, and music I'd like to get (and where I won't forget them), but if anyone would like to encourage me (or help fuel my growth) they have a easy way to do it. Some people like flowers, I like books! I would describe my reading tastes as pretty diverse. I like everything from fiction, to graphic novels, theology, philosophy, economics, psychology, history, outdoor adventure, inspiring biographies, and humor. I find that grappling with ideas and hearing the stories of others makes me a better person and books are the way that works best for me. I plan to update it quite often. Check it out!

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Influential Sermon

Before Jobina and I first got married, we had no plan. Well, not true, actually the plan was to get married, go on our honeymoon and not worry about anything else until we were man and wife! We rented an apartment, threw our stuff in there, and got married. When we got back from our honeymoon we set up our new home and began to look for jobs. Luckily people were generous at our wedding ("Presentation preferred!") and eventually we both found work. We lived in the East corner of Winnipeg; unfortunately Jobina worked in the West corner and I worked in the South corner. With one vehicle this made for lots of driving and our life became quite busy. Like many young married we quickly found ourselves without a lot of extra time. Also, I often had to work Sundays. Church fell by the wayside.

Eventually, after a month or two we began to feel guilty about not finding a church. So we began to look. It seemed to us that we needed a church that was flexible (time wise) and contemporary. Jobina's Aunt Stacey told us about the church her and her husband went to called "The Meeting Place" that seemed to fit our criteria and so we decided to check it out. We liked it very much and ended up going whenever we could.

The first time we stepped in I was a little shocked. Pink Floyd's "Money" was blasting over the speakers and at the front of the stage was a large "idol" to money. They were in the middle of doing a series on money and money management. I remember that sermon because there were two practical insights that the pastor suggested. First, give a percentage of your income. He suggested 10 percent but said more or less might fit you better. The other thing he said was that you should save 10 percent of your income, to use for unforseen needs. This struck Jobina and I as sensible as we had no financial plan to speak of. To find out our percentages, we had to find out our income which naturally lead to the idea of budgeting (a painful experience). For the past 11 years we have been giving and saving. Several times our savings account has saved us from financial doom. And it has been awesome to have money set aside to give freely. Thanks Meeting Place for that timely sermon! I can't imagine what we would have done without it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Well, we sold our first property! Our cute little house in Niverville is now the starter home for a very nice engaged couple. Mostly I am happy as we will use the proceeds to overhaul the exterior of our house and pay off a few small debts. Yup, so I guess this real estate thing has worked well so far. Of course I had wanted to hold onto the house and realize a much bigger profit in the future but events (like the meltdown of the financial markets and the softening of the real estate market) conspired against us. So . . . we take a modest profit and move on.

Am I afraid to buy more real estate? Not really. As long as you are buying a property that brings in more then it costs monthly (positive cashflow), I think that there will be a lot of opportunity over the next couple of months. After all, here in Winnipeg, rental vacancies are still less then 1%! Would I buy a house if I was renting and wanted to move up to a place of our own? I have thought about this a lot lately and I think I would. I would wait until the end of November though. November is traditionally a slow time on the market with house prices usually dipping slightly and staying longer on the market. In my humble opinion it will be the best time of the year to find deals with motivated sellers.

Just a quick note: I learned this morning a really cool way to fund real estate investments. It's called RRSP mortgages. You can use OPM (other people's money) by getting family, friends, or investors to convert some of their RRSP money into a mortgage for a property. The great thing about this is that you don't have to go through the all the hoops that you would with a bank. Once you have someone on board with you, you can use their RRSP mortgage to buy property by reducing or eliminating the need for bank financing or as a substitute for a downpayment.

So lets say you find a property that will cashflow nicely when you buy it (and appreciate) but a bank won't give you financing. You show the numbers to your sister (who has lots of money in RRSP's which aren't making her any money). She agrees to provide you mortgage for 100% of the property. She gets 1/2 of the cashflow (you get the rest) and you agree to sell the home in 5 years where you'll both split the profit (or maybe you hold onto it until it's payed off in 20 years). Either way, it's win-win for both of you. She gets to invest in a deal that will help her to make a modest monthly profit, profit on the mortgage interest, and will free her from poorly performing investments (as she currently has her money in mutual funds - yuck!) and you get modest montly income and eventual appreciation profit without putting down any of your own money - it's all profit for you! Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, this idea of using other people's RRSP money seems like a no brainer. Unlike stocks, real estate will not lose 30% of it's value over night. As long as your real estate is cashflowing, it won't matter if you have small dips in the property's value, you can always wait it out as you let your tenants pay off your investment. As I told someone the other day, this stuff is pretty easy to implement once you've done your homework. Anyway, if you are interested in partnering with me to invest in real estate, or if you have any questions about how to get started, let me know! I'm certainly not an expert but I can point you in the right direction. . .

May Light increase!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fun Medical Myths

It used to really annoys me sometimes when Jobina was on this water drinking kick. "I have to get in my 8 glasses of water a day" she would say passionately and I would just shake my head. I tried telling her that that whole 8 glasses thing was just a myth but to no avail. It seems that sometimes these myths get into our heads so deeply that even hard evidence won't dissuade us. It made me smile to read this study (published in the British Medical Journal) that showed that even doctors believe many of these medical myths! In case you don't read the journal, here are the seven myths:

1. People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
2. We use only 10% of our brains.
3. Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.
4. Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster,darker, or coarser.
5. Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.
6. Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy.
7. Mobile phones create considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals.

So how many of these did you believe? Remember: you may say you don't believe it but if you take actions that would confirm the belief, then you believe it. Or, think it about it on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being don't believe and 10 being believe) - if you are at a 5 or more, you believe it! Do the poll below (choose all that apply) and feel free to expound more in the comments section if you wish.

May Light increase!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Boundaries: 2 for 1 deal

Hey, for anyone considering Riverbend's Boundaries group course, we've decided to do a last minute deal: bring a friend, spouse, or a stranger and you both can take the course for one regular fee ($90 for both instead of one). At 50% off the regular price (if you bring a friend), how can you go wrong? The course starts tomorrow although we may push it up one week as we found out our updated version is only 8 weeks as opposed to nine. Contact me for me details!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Skippy and "le chien"

Note: I have full permission from a friend of mine to tell this story but as to spare him undue attention, I have elected not to share his true name. Instead I shall call him . . . "Skippy". . .

Several years ago a good friend (named Skippy) came up to me one day and asked to talk to me privately. He confessed to me that the night before he had accidentally hit and killed a neighbors dog with his car. What was worse is that Skippy and the family of the dog were quite close and he knew that they were devastated by the loss. He had asked a deacon in the church what to do and the deacon told him not to confess it - why make the pain worse for himself and the family? Obviously feeling guilty he asked me what I thought he should do. I took a deep breath and gave him my thoughts:

"Skippy," I said compassionately but firmly, "You've got to tell them the truth. The thing is that while it will be painful to do so, waiting until they find out about it later will make it much painful. The longer you wait to confess, the worse it gets. They will feel deceived and eventually they will find out - this is a small town after all. I know you are terrified of ruining your relationship with these people but it was an accident and putting off telling them will turn a bad thing into a terrible thing. You've got to tell them.

Skippy thanked me for my counsel but I could tell I had not given him the answer he was looking for. He agreed that my advice was good, but he wasn't sure if he could do it it. Sure enough when I asked him a week later he still hadn't confessed. And then it became a month. Often I would inquire about it by asking how things were going with "le chien" (my little code word for the incident). This was always sure to get a bad reaction out of him. One time the words le chien had just left my mouth and he told me to shut up! Obviously the stress of his unconfessed actions was getting to him. After a while I decided our friendship was more important so I stopped torturing him in this way and mostly forgot about it. Eventually the family did find out about Skippy's dog killing, but not in the way I had thought they would - Skippy himself confessed to them. Finally, after three years, he finally couldn't take it any more. The guilt was killing him to be sure, but the worse part was the loss of relationship.

I ran into Skippy recently and he related to me the whole story again. For three years he had hardly connected at all with these friends that had been very dear to them. He avoided them - and his need to confess. Finally when he told them, some were quite angry. Not as much for the act of vehicular canine homicide, but for the fact that he had essentially deceived them and then ignored them for three years. It took awhile but they finally forgave him. Although he can laugh about it now, the whole thing really did traumatize Skippy. He admitted to me that while telling me the story, many years later, he was shaking.

I stand by my advice - tell people the truth after you mess up. Maybe you've lied to someone, maybe you've cheated on your partner, maybe you've stolen something. When we do these things we can think of a million reasons not to to tell the person we've harmed. "I'm different now," "it will only make things worse," "it will hurt them to much," or even "it would do too much damage to my church/marriage/company/friendship, etc." But secrets like these are poison to relationships and eventually they will come out. In fact, I hope they do - a lifetime of relationship with such secrets is just a charade, and it is terribly unsatisfying and guilt-producing. Jesus said the truth will set us free - so take some courage pills and go tell that person the secret you've been holding onto. Even if they react poorly, you've done the right thing and the relief to your conscience will be beautiful indeed. Just ask Skippy.

May Light increase!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Abuse Policy!

From Naked Pastor today:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Boundaries, Dating, and "We have very few differences"

I'm preparing for our Boundaries Group Course at Riverbend (starting next week Thursday) and came across this great quote from the book:

1. Setting Limits in Romance Is Necessary. Individuals with mature boundaries sometimes suspend them in the initial stages of a dating relationship in order to please the other person. However truth-telling in romance helps define the relationship. It helps each person to know where he starts and the other person stops. Ignorance of one another's boundaries is one of the most blatant red flags of the poor health of a dating relationship. We'll ask a couple in premarital counseling, "Where do you disagree? Where do you lock horns?" When the answer is, "It so amazing, we're so compatible, we have very few differences," we'll give the couple homework: Find out what you've been lying about to each other. If the relationship has any hope, that assignment will generally help.

I love it, "Find out what you've been lying about to each other." I so often hear couples tell me how they have little conflict and agree about almost everything - they are so deluded! Difference of opinion and the ability to strongly disagree with each other does not show compatibility weakness; it shows the level of truth telling, honesty, and "realness" of a relationship. Yet so often in dating one person will ignore there own boundaries "for the sake of the relationship" and then get burned in the end. I did this with my first few dating experiences. This boundaries stuff is genius . . .

May Light increase!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Panic!

In the words of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy: "Don’t panic!"

I love this advice. Some people are panic prone but panic is never the best way to deal with a crisis. Check that, panic is never a good way to respond to anything! Whether the stock market is tanking, you receive bad news about a friend, you are lost in the woods, or you can't find your keys and are late for work . . . panicking won't do you one iota of good. So stop it. Just stop it!

Think about it, all of the effects of panic are bad ones. You mind get's overwhelmed and you can't think clearly. Your panic upsets those around you. Paralysis sets in or you make rash decisions that often make the situation worse. Worse of all, panic hinders wisdom and discretion, the two things most needed in a crisis situation. So the question then is, if panic doesn't seem to ever help us, why do we do it? I have a few theories:

  • 1. We panic because that's what we've be "taught" to do. Our role models (parents, siblings, friends, movies, etc) included panickers and we unconsciously picked up on it. Are you a panicker? Look at your role models, any of them panickers too?
  • 2. We panic because of unhelpful beliefs we hold onto. Albert Ellis, the founder of rational emotive behavior therapy talks about how our unhelpful or irrational beliefs determine our emotions and actions. Examples of beliefs that would promote panic include "panicking is the only thing to do when I can't think of a solution," "the fact that this crisis has happened is a catastrophe (what Ellis calls 'catastrophizing')," "I can't stand my present circumstances," or even "The world isn't supposed to work like this." None of these are rational (or true) but once internalized and believed they easily lead to panic. This is why panic seems uncontrollable - you can't just change bad feelings unless you change the unhelpful beliefs they are based on.
  • 3. We panic because panicking feels good. Panicking is kind of an emotional rush, a surrender to intense feelings. For some it's a pleasant state to be in and much more appealing then the hard work of calming oneself, challenging beliefs, and looking for solutions.
  • 4. We panic because we want to avoid reality. Panicking is often just avoiding; an escape from the reality presently before you. For many, panic is pure escapism. Adios crisis, hello panic!
  • 5. We panic because we don't want to take responsibility. Many crisis are the direct result of our choices. Accepting this is sometimes seen as too difficult so we choose to panic instead of accepting the results of our choices and our responsiblity to look for solutions.
  • 6. We panic because others are panicking. Panic is contagious. (See point 1). The more people that are panicking (say like 10 thousand people in a stadium that is on fire) the more pressure there is on us to panic as well.
  • 7. We panic because we doubt (or forget) God's sovereignty. God is good and in control we say, until someone close to us ends up in the hospital/divorces/is molested/etc. We forget that the world is a beautiful but also a place of suffering and sudden reminders of this challenge our beliefs about God (see #2), sending us into a panic.

There is hope even for the most addicted panickers among us. Irrational thoughts can be challenged. Habits can be changed. People can be weaned off of panic-induced emotional rushes. Men and women can learn to stop escaping reality and choose to accept responsibility for what they've gotten themselves into (and to finding solutions). All of will fall into panic at some point in our lives . . . it's pretty much inevitable. But the more we remind ourselves of it's futility, the more we fix those ornery beliefs that get us there . . . the more useful we can be in the crises that will eventually come our way.

May Light increase!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Tao of Small Groups

Yesterday in church I did a brief promo to hype our small group programs (Jobina and I are leading one this year). Here is what I said:

Anyone remember the 80's? All the weird music and crazy big hair? Well there were a few notable things that came out of the 80's and one was some classic TV. Anyone remember "Cheers?" Cheers took place at a small Boston pub where the main characters gathered every day after work to share in each others lives. The theme song has a few lines that I think express some of our deepest human needs (don’t worry I won’t sing it):
* Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name,
* and they're always glad you came.
* You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same
* You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”

You see, all of us know, deep down that we really weren’t mean to do life alone. We long to connect with others, to be real with someone! I know I do. We need other people. God is a relational God – he himself is a fellowship, three persons in community for eternity. And God made us to be in FELLOWSHIP with one another. The word translated fellowship in the New Testament means “common” or “sharing.” So what exactly is fellowship? Fellowship quite simply is doing life together.

I’m pumped about small groups, because small groups are probably the best way I know to really experience the power of fellowship and just “do life together” like the Bible describes. Small groups may not actually always be a good option for everyone at every time – you may be super busy with important life stuff or maybe you are experiencing fellowship somewhere else. And that’s OK. Eventually though if you are missing out on true fellowship, your heart will start to feel it – it’s a need that can be put on hold for awhile, but not forever. I don’t want to put any pressure on anyone (don’t we have enough of that in our lives?) but I would like to invite you. If you feel like you would like a group of people to connect with, to be real with, to learn with, to share with . . . a place to know others and be known . . . a place to go where everybody knows your name . . . then I invite you to consider joining a small group at Cornerstone. There is an insert in your bulletin if you'd like more information.

There is a verse that sums up what fellowship in the church is supposed to look like:
1 Thess 2:8 says “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Romantic . . .

Last night Jobina and I were talking about romance and our relationship. In bed. In the middle of the conversation we both actually fell asleep. What does this say about our relationship I wonder?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Last Lecture

If you were a professor and you were dieing and you were about to deliver your last lecture, what would you say? Randy Pausch was in that situation . . . and he decided to make the best of it. If you have some time (and high speed), here is his famous last lecture entitled ""Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." It's a little long (an hour and sixteen minutes ) but hey, it was his last lecture:

If you want a shorter snippet (six minutes) of this amazing man's thoughts, check out his surprise address to the Carnegie Mellon University graduation class of 2008: