Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!?

The Saturday Edition of the Winnipeg Fress Press glowed..."Spend, Spend, Spend."

Here is the article (edited a bit by moi)

"VISA Canada spokeswoman Tania Freedman said the credit card company predicted 300 VISA transactions would take place every second between 2 and 4 p.m. Friday across Canada. Managers of Winnipeg's two largest malls endorsed that scenario.

"We had line-ups for gift cards at 9:30 (Friday) morning, and with many people getting off work earlier, we expect it to be busier (Friday) afternoon," said Deborah Green, manager of Polo Park.

"Typically, the 23rd is the busiest shopping day, but when Christmas falls on a Monday, we found that the 22nd is the busiest," Freedman said.

Retailers across the city were scrambling to serve shoppers Friday.

Scotiabank predicted that individual Manitobans will spend an average of $825 for the Christmas season, slightly above the Canadian average of $822 per person. The Scotiabank Holiday Spending study found Canadians on the whole will spend less this year than last year.
The Scotiabank study found that the biggest spenders will be in Atlantic Canada, where per person spending is expected to be $1,049; the lowest individual spending is expected to be in Quebec, with an average of $626.

Robinson and other retailers said Winnipeggers are spending more this season than they have in the past. Robinson said December sales generally account for 15 to 20 per cent of the year's gross receipts.

"Last year was our best season and we're up over last year," Robinson said.
Green said Polo Park merchants told her that they were expecting sales to be higher this year compared to last year.

Tineke Buiskool-Leeuwma, marketing director at St. Vital Centre, said retailers at the south-end mall have been busy since November. Business has picked up every day as Christmas approached. "People started shopping earlier this year," Buiskool-Leeuwma said, adding that malls were open to 11 p.m. Friday and will be open to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Green said Polo Park merchants said they haven't seen any panic buying this year, with their customers also starting shopping earlier.

"Our stores have been reporting fantastic sales, but there's no panic in shoppers like in previous years," Green said. "Maybe it's the weather ... There's little snow and driving conditions are good and it's not freezing out ... but all the shoppers seem happy. They're in a good mood and everyone's spending money."

Freedman said VISA Canada's annual Christmas shopping survey found that shoppers expect to spend $20 billion this year, up from the $19.5 billion predicted last year. She said that post-Christmas surveys historically found shoppers underestimate how much they'll spend by 10 to 15 per cent.

Freedman said plastic is the most common form of payment: 44 per cent of Canadians will use their debit cards; 30 per cent will use credit cards. She said 24 per cent of Canadian shoppers will use cash.

This was a great article by Aldo! But when it comes to Christmas, I ask a simple question....what for? What is all this for? I do not want to sound like a scrooge....maybe I do.....wait, I guess I must only be happy if I am spending money on something that no one really needs or wants.

What for? I guess this is what Christmas is all about!?!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


So, I think this image says it all!
I had a crash last Friday and I am still in the process of getting the thing fixed....I hate computers....but I love them too.
So, I really don't have anything deep to say other than my post about coffee is really amazing! I mean the responses are...I never for a moment thought that you would respond the way you all are. It is as if something that 'trite' (in my eyes at the time) hit a nerve for many. How about we shed the mug and coffee image and talk about reality?


Monday, December 04, 2006


This was sent to me and is too good not to share with you all!

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us." God brews the coffee, not the cups..... Enjoy your coffee! "The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything."

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
You are the miracle, my friend,
Your life either shines a light - or casts a shadow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Death of Jesus

Last week I talked about John 19 and the death of Jesus. Here a medical doctor provides a physical description:

The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought iron nail through the wrist deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement.

The cross is then lifted into place. The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed.

The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain - the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet.

Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them deep relentless, throbbing pain.

With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.

Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint wrenching cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against rough timber.

Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level-the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues and the tortured lungs are making frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues...Finally, he can allow his body to die...

All this the Bible records with the simple words, "and they crucified Him", (Mark 15:24).

What wondrous love is this? Many people don't know all the pain and suffering Jesus Christ went through for us...because of the brutality, crucifixion was given as a sentence to only its worst offenders of the law. Thieves, murderers, and rapists would be the types who got crucified. Yet, here Jesus is being crucified between two hardened criminals...What did Jesus do? Did he murder anyone? Did he steal anything? The answer as we all know is NO!! Jesus did nothing to deserve this type of death, yet he went willing to die, in between 2 thieves, so that we might be saved. And there, in between the sinners, was our slain savior for our sins.


Monday, November 20, 2006

99 and a half years old!

EVA MURIEL (BLANK) SCHWAB was born in Morden MB on May 19, 1907. She was the third oldest in a family of nine children. Now think about that for a moment. Imagine all the history that she has lived through. I had the opportunity and privilege to share many lunches and scrabble games with this special lady. During our times together Auntie Eva would tell me of the different events in her life. I heard her story and even encouraged her one day to have someone write it out.

Eva had to leave school after grade 8 in order to help provide for her family. After moving to Winnipeg in 1930, she worked as a housekeeper in a nursing home. On January 7, 1938, she married Ralph Schwab and they lived happily until his death in 1966. She remained at home for a number of years raising her family, before working as a chef at the Happy Vinyard, until her retirement in 1972. Eva told me how important it was for her to focus on her family and not think about getting remarried. WOW! Not one to gather moss, she began working part-time at Lange's Pastry Shop for several years. From the time that she was a young woman, Eva's Christian faith and values were the foundation of her life. She enthusiastically participated in the life of her church, Calvary Temple, which she attended faithfully for over 69 years. During the 1970s, Aunty Eva served as the head cook for the boys' and girls' camps at Calvary Temple Youth Camp at Red Rock Lake in Whiteshell. Many stories of her feisty spirit and prankster nature stem from those summers at camp.

It was an honour for me to be a pallbearer at her funeral last Friday. At the funeral many stories and tidbits were told about this great grandmother, grandmother and mom. Stories like how mischievous she was when she was not only young but ALL the time. She was considered a real prankster by all who knew her. When she was young she captured 12 mice and put them in the top drawer of the teacher’s desk at the school. Needless to say we would have all loved to see that response. Numerous times she pretended to be a bear at camp…and scared people silly. She even encountered a real bear on a path, and lost!

Here was an interesting story…how many knew that this little woman saved a family of 6 from a house fire and was recognized for her act of bravery? According to her son David he only really heard her complain once and she said…..”Why could I have been born rich instead of good looking?”

Eva had a remarkable gift for hospitality, and enjoyed entertaining friends in her home. She excelled at knitting afghans, sweaters, and baby shawls, which she gave away at weddings and baby showers. Auntie Eva was famous for her pies and jams and marmalade and kept our fridge full and my boys were always thrilled when I came back from lunch with Auntie Eva, never mind how thoughtful she was at Christmas time for each of my boys. I was just one of her many “boys” and that was a badge that I wear with honour.

One thing sticks out however with Eva. My wife remembers a phone call from her, shortly after one of my boys had major surgery on his arm to correct a bone defect. Eva told Sharon how she wished that she could bear his pain. Man, that meant so much to our family simply because we knew that Eva meant it.

Peacefully, on November 12, 2006, Eva Schwab passed away at the Grace Hospital following a brief illness. She is survived by one daughter Hazel (Jack) Hyde; one son David (Dorothy Regehr); seven grandchildren, Keith, Kari (Greg) Renner, Sharla (Dean) Kojima, Dayna, Tracey (Robert) Brandt, Sarah Jane, Rebeccah; four great-grandchildren, Jaysen, Brayden, Alex, and Madison Eva; one sister Hilda Cann of Kelowna; one brother Jack Blank of Penticton, BC, a very special sister-in-law, Rosemary Blank of Portland, OR and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband, Ralph (1966); her daughter Darlene (1986); brothers, Austin, Lawrence, Floyd; sisters, Linda, Frieda and Eileen.

May I end with what was said in a letter from the funeral…..
“Many will rise up and call her blessed and her works will follow her!”

Aunite Eva….Enjoy your new home!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What is GOD Like?

'What is God like?' is the most important question you can ask, because your understanding of God has everything to do with your understanding of self. It is a matter of identity. It all comes down to one thing. Here it is:

Psalm 100:3. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Everything in life comes down to this:
Know who you are by understanding whose you are.
Understanding whose you are has everything to do with the decisions you make in your life. When you're tempted, do you give in to your temptations and become a cheat and a liar? Or do you keep your promises?

Let me ask you a question. How do you personally make the decision of what is right and wrong? Here is how most people in our culture do it? They say “well, by my experience, I just kind of go by my past experience and if it seems right to me or feels right to me, I do it.” Now think about that for a minute. If I am my highest force of authority in determining the standard of what is right, then I'm making myself out to be God. And that is a pretty shaky foundation to base my life on. Right?

It is a matter of ownership. The Lord is God. It is He who made us. You know, God, our Creator, has a right to make a claim upon our lives. Would you agree? Think about it for a minute. The Creator, He made all the stars. Do you know how many stars there are? I don't even know how to say this number, maybe you mathematicians can pronounce this number, but it is 250 million times 250 million. I can't even say what that is but that's how many stars there are. And do you know that our sun is a small one. Everything else in the universe is bigger than this. Now turn around the other way - take one handful of dirt and put that one handful under an electro-microscope and there are literally millions of micro-organisms in one handful of dirt. And then He made you and I in the middle of all of that.

You know I like the way David put it. He wrote a psalm about identity: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” You know what that means. Maybe here's how you'd say it today. “The Lord is my owner.” David knew it is a matter of identity. You understand who you are because you know whose you are. The Lord is my shepherd.

We don't like that word 'owner' today, do we? We resent being owned. I don't like that idea of ownership. You know what our generation is known for? We're known as the 'addicted generation.' We are addicted to everything from sex to chocolate. We don't like to be owned, yet we are.

We are the sheep of His pasture, and then Jesus says: "I am the good shepherd."
What is God like? Good.
Now get this. This amazes me. That God, 250 million stars times 250 million stars, a handful of dirt, millions of micro-organisms, the God who did all of that, said, "I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."

A God who lays down his life for me? A God who lays down his life for you? We can trust Him, that God, to bear our weights. It's a matter of identity. The Lord is God. He has made you. You are His. You are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fear and Anger

This last Sunday we dealt with the topic of fear and anger and I have received some very interesting responses from people. So I ask you out there in cyber space…What are you afraid of? How do you deal with fear? What difference does faith make?

For me, one fear I had was vampires. When I was young I watched a vampire movie on TV – I got so scared that I put a homemade cross under my pillow. My Mom would find it and throw it out and then she said that I would go out and make a new one… other fears I had was not getting married before Jesus Christ would return(hey, stop laughing); dying before I saw 30; roller coasters.

Some people say they have no fears. That may be true on the outside but when they go to bed at night I think that they may have fears that they don’t publicly acknowledge.

Stuff like…Fear of bats, of pain either physical or emotional, of loss and grief, of violent crime and criminals. What about the fear of failure. That you will not succeed. Fear that you will not be able to provide for family. Fear of not being able to change. Fear that we will not able to meet a special someone. Fear of loosing those who are close to us. Fear of rejection, Not fitting in. Growing old. That we won’t ever be known.

Have you ever thought that our fears lead to anger? What gets you angry? Anger is an emotion that controls you and consumes you. Anger is a part of a lot of people’s journey and it becomes part of people’s spiritual journey as well. The thing about anger is that it can distort things. When you are trapped in the emotion of anger you sometimes don’t see things as they really are. Things just get fuzzy. There are subtleties to anger. In the midst of fuzziness and distortion, it is imperative that we hear truth. That we hear the voice of truth. Face it when we are in anger, it takes over and we cannot hear clearly. And when you are upset there are different ways of dealing with anger. Some people say release it … problem with that most of the time when we lash out, it is the people around that suffer and though we might feel better they are the ones left with the damage. While we are releasing this anger we are pushing those away that we care about the most. We lash out with our anger and then we are left feeling alone. Have you been to the place where you are filled with anger and lash out at somebody or a group of people then all of a sudden you feel alone?

Now, you feel that you can’t be around these people anymore or that you crossed a line and you cannot come back to them. Then the voices pop into your head and say “That is right, you cannot go back. They will not accept you.”

Now there another side of anger that happens inside of us. We start to nurse the anger that you feel. You start to listen to those voices that justify how you feel and that you have been offended and that you are right to feel this way and that you want justice. And you start letting this thing simmer and then bitterness comes in and it gives birth to decay that starts happening in our soul and we find ourselves alone. The sad thing about this is that we choose. We choose to distance our selves from people. From the hurts and the things that we have been wronged. We choose then to put ourselves into solitary confinement. We choose to be alone. We choose a painful existence.

Notice how both lead to isolation?

Some of us take our anger and project it onto GOD. Maybe that is your story. Why do you have so much angst? Why do we have all this anger in us? Have you ever retraced that? Is it broken relationships that you found yourself? And you asked “Is there a GOD why is this stuff happening to me?” Or maybe you would see stuff on the news or real life that is full of injustice and we ask…if there is a GOD how can this happen?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Who?

Ok, a few weeks ago The Who came to town and I had the opportunity to go and hear them. (Thank you Mr. B!!!!!) What a great experience!
There was Roger Daltrey on lead vocals…and of course Pete Townshend on guitar, not too mention John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keys and piano. Then there was Ringo Star’s son Zak Starkey on drums and then Pete’s brother Simon Townshend on rhythm guitar, and vocals and then an incredible bass player named Pino Palladino. Over all it was a great show….however…There were a number of things that I noticed.

First, my expectations were not really met. I expected a punk show, screaming and the breaking of 'stuff,' I expected some mayhem, some arrests, some serious craziness. I was surprised that other than the occasional fan, the screaming was in time with the music. As for stuff breaking, the only thing that broke was Pete's guitar; prior to the second song, and then he had some techies fix it and move on.

Besides the expectations I noticed that the audience was older than me; and I thought I was going to be the old guy going that night. Growing up in church circles I always thought that "old peoples" hated loud rock music. That was not the case this night. The ‘homes’ must have emptied out and filled the MTS Centre. Just kidding!!! Come ON!!!! Ok I am not, but what I saw was all these people dancing and screaming and having a great time......but they had gray hair! This cannot be right.

Not only where they dancing and yelling, they their hands in the air....why? Was it praise and worship time? Did I miss something? Many people moved into the aisle and danced. Actually one hippie castaway was dancing as if on LSD for the entire show...a throw back to Woodstock for sure. What happened? Gray hair, loud music, cheering, dancing, and waving their hands in the air…..not to mention the occasion “purple cloud” that went up from the floor zone.

But wait, there were young people there as well, but they probably only heard of The Who after CSI came out. So, what am I getting at? Good question….

I observed a cultural phenomena. I watched as music affected a variety of generations.
Bill Kinnon in his blog did an interesting post regarding music in the church. And I would agree whole heartedly with both Bill and Martin Luther that music has incredible power to affect us.

But why is music such an issue in churches. I know this is an old argument, and I walked through that in my previous ministries. I guess I am still in wonder as I reflect on what I saw and how I saw people respond. What about you? What music moves you and why?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Prayer Posture #6

The Roman Catholic Church invented pews during the Middle Ages, right before the Protestant Reformation. Since the Protestant Reformation was essentially a Christian education movement with very long sermons, the Protestants kept the pews even though they rejected just about everything else they regarded as a ‘Roman invention.’ As a result, sitting has become the normal posture for prayer for many western congregations.

In 2 Samuel 7:18, David sat to pray. However, sitting for prayer was not prevalent until after the invention of pews.

But does it matter whether we sit, stand, or kneel to pray?
When it comes to prayer and worship, bodily posture makes no difference at all. You can pray anywhere, any time, and in any position. But in another sense, posture is of utmost importance. It is important to realize that the body and soul, physical and spiritual and the prayer and the posture that we take impact each other in profound ways. Our bodies can tell us a lot about how we are praying and worshipping. Not only does outward posture reflect an inward state, it also helps to nurture an inner attitude.

So today we will sit, but before we pray, Joshua Michalski wrote a poem and this will be our prelude into prayer.

A Spiritual Struggle
-Joshua Michalski

Here I am, stuck in the middle
Helpless, I have to choose
But which one?

One promises life,
One promises fun,
How do I choose, which one?

I like the sound of fun.....naturally
So I tried it
It WAS fun, easy and exciting, getting drunk and cigs
I liked it then...but I hate it now
How do I choose? Which One?

I didn't like my last decision, I lived it so long
I refuse to be like this, I've seen a better way
I need to choose, Which One?

I want that one
The Lord

I get down on my knees and start to talk to Him
"Some call you Father
Maybe you can set me free
I've been so troubled
And you've still done so much for me."

I've been in this dark room for so long
Not letting myself out
Trapped now
I can't get out

I cry out...silently
I'm worthless

I see outside these bars
The light promises so much
But can I trust it?
Am I stuck here forever?

No, I choose not too
I beg you GOd, set me free!
I choose You!
I've chosen right
Now the doors have opened
I Choose Him

'Now, I will know what it means to live for someone else
To give up myself
Thinngs will change
And times will get kind of strange
Still your love remains the same.' (POD)

POSTURE: Sitting, head down, eyes averted or closed, and hands clasped.

Father, a careless word from our mouths can ruin someone's day. It can throuw mud on a reputation and turn harmony into chaos. Help us to thinkbefore we speak, GOD. Make us the kind of people who understand the power of words. Give us hearts of love so that we may reflect to the world what is inside us. We can't stick a cup into a pool of mud and come up with clear water. Make us clean on the inside GOD, so that when we tell te world about your love, they don't run away. Make us worthy. Sit beside us. Wrap your arm around us. Show us the way. Create clean hearts in us GOD and as your children we will honor you! Amen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Prayer Posture #5

A Prayer for Connectedness, Community and Friendship

Because all creation is the work of GOD all creation is connected. What I find comforting that it was GOD who said that it is 'not good' for man to be alone. That reassures me that no matter where I am or how I feel that there are people in my life that GOD has put there to support me in numerous ways.

But there are those times when I wished that GOD was right here in front of me with skin on….and in some ways he is. He has placed his ambassadors around me who come along side in my times of need, weakness, joy and sorrow and celebration.

Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

This morning we are going to “lay hands” on one another as a symbol of connectedness and a reminder that we are not on this journey alone.

So place your hands on the shoulders of those around you and pray with me.

"Father I thank you for the person on my left, and the person on my right
I thank you that you have brought them into my life today!
I pray a blessing on them and ask that they will sense your presence in a powerful way. Father there are those days where we hurt inside and our faith is weak…maybe it is today. We hide our faces behind masks so that people will not see the hurt. Give us the courage to remove the masks, and give us the ability to be honest and transparent with those that you have placed in our lives. May we learn to carry each other’s burdens with joy, love and tenderness….and this we ask in Jesus name….Amen."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Prayer Posture #4

Standing with hands clasped at the waist, head bowed, and eyes averted or closed.

This is the traditional posture of a shackled prisoner of war who is brought before the conquering king. The hands are clasped at the waist as if they were shackled in chains. The eyes are averted—in ancient times, since looking directly at one’s captor was insolent and a good way to get killed on the spot. This posture is for submissive petitions or for intercessory or penitential prayer, as we see in Luke 18:10-13.

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I want to thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

This is your day GOD
I will use it to honor you
I will stand here and inhale your air
I will feel the sunlight and the wind on my face
I will sing your songs
I will praise your name
I will remember you in all things GOD
When the sun goes down today I will remember you
I will thank you for the gift of living another week
I will thank you for getting me through the last one
Thank you for my family and my friends
Thank you for your patience
Thank you for the faith you put in me even when I let you down
Thank you for your kindness
Thank you for your peace that is beyond my understanding
Thank you for your forgiveness
Thank you for the Joy that You’ve given me
Thank you for your love GOD
I am your servant

Monday, October 02, 2006

Prayer Posture #3

Kneeling is the third posture; either with the head up, eyes open, hands open, or with head down, eyes closed, and hands clasped.

This is the traditional posture for requesting favors from a king, and so it became the traditional posture for prayers of repentance or supplication. The position itself is strengthened by the imagery of a person approaching a king to make a request. When doing this in prayer, we are putting ourselves at the mercy of the King by exposing our neck, which is an act that show complete vulnerability to the king’s power.

The Council of Nicea in AD 325 forbade kneeling on Sundays(GO FIGURE), because penitential prayer is not appropriate during a celebration of the Resurrection. In western Christianity, kneeling came to mean simple humility and submission, and so kneeling became the normal posture for most prayers in the west. However, to eastern Christians, kneeling still means repentance or supplication.

Matthew 18:26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

Luke 22:41He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Confession is an act of worship. We confess our sin out of reverence for GOD so that he might continue to claim more and more of our lives. Confession is worship that frees us. So today, kneel and in the quietness of your heart, Confess to GOD.

Before we are to take communion we are told to examine ourselves:
Even before we worship we are encouraged to....
Matthew 5 23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Psalm 66 says:
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Father GOD
For all the hurtful things that we have said to people that we love and care about. FORGIVE US. For all those things that we should have said but didn’t we ask that you would forgive us.
For ignoring the lonely or changing ourselves just to be accepted or for going along with the crowd and for listening to those who didn’t have our best interests at heart, Forgive us GOD.
Father forgive us for ignoring you, for asking for worthless things, for wanting what we do not need, and for taking what we do not want. And for taking for grant all the good gifts that you have blessed us with. GOD, our list can go on, but you are the GOD of second chances. We rely on the forgiveness and grace promised to us by Jesus Christ your son. May we come to the table this morning as new creations and may we sit with one another as forgiven people for we know that if we confess our sins You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Amen

Monday, September 25, 2006

Prayer Posture #2

Sorry for not being to post regularly. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time and so please be patient. So I would like to continue with the prayer postures and today look at the raising of hands. People singing, raising hands, kneeling, clapping, or even weeping during the music can be new to some, especially in a church setting. But if we think about it, it happens in the music world as well. Remember the British Invasion with the Beatles? It is interesting to see people singing and raising their hands. We see it at concerts and in church gatherings, but what does it mean?

In the context of a church gathering together for worship and prayer these and other activities are simply the natural reaction to God's presence, and are documented throughout the scriptures.

Nehemiah 8 describes the reading of the Law before the Israelites upon rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Verse 6) Such was a show of humility before God.

Standing with hands uplifted and open, head up, and eyes open is one of the oldest postures for prayer. It is called the ‘orans’ position, from the Latin word for praying. By praying this way, the worshiper acknowledges God as external and transcendent. This posture is for thanksgiving, praises, blessings, benedictions, and general prayers. This is still the normal position for prayers in eastern churches and in Jewish synagogues, and it is still used in the western church, particularly when the ministers/priests bless the bread and wine prior to the sharing of the Lord’s Supper.

As one either worships or enters into prayer and the Holy Spirit moves upon our hearts, thankfulness and surrender sometimes cause us to lift our hands. The Hebrew word which is translated ‘praise’ in many areas of the scripture is ‘Yadah.’
‘Yadah’ is a verb and it means to “extend the hand, to revere/worship. It implies the concept of an open hand in/ or to throw out the hand.
2 Chronicles 20:21
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks (Yadah) to the LORD, for his love endures forever."

Psalm 9:1 I will praise (Yadah) you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.
As one begins to worship or prayer, and the Holy Spirit touches hearts, thankfulness and surrender sometimes cause us to lift our hands. So, as you go into prayer today extend your hands. Lift your eyes toward heaven and begin to pray.

GOD, we are your children. If only the rest of the world could know what an amazing idea that is! We are the creations of the ultimate Creator! We are the loved ones of a power so far beyond our comprehension that we can’t begin to understand it ourselves. But we have faith. We have the faith that if we live by the light of your Word, then we will see Jesus. It is easy to get confused, GOD, it is easy to get it all backwards. It is not enough to know the way that You want us to live. We must be able to live that way. GOD, help us not to be lead astray by people with more toys than us. Help us to live right and in that right living, we shall be right with You. Amen

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Prayer Posture #1

" If you wish to live in peace and harmony with others, you must learn to discipline yourself in many ways." Thomas a Kempis

When it comes to prayer and worship, bodily posture makes no difference at all. You can pray anywhere, any time, and in any position. In another sense, posture is of utmost importance. It is important to realize that the body and soul, physical and spiritual and the prayer and the posture that we take impact each other in profound ways. Our bodies can tell us a lot about how we are praying and worshipping. Not only does outward posture reflect an inward state, it also helps to nurture an inner attitude.

One caution…we can do all the postures and movements etc, but we really need to understand that they in themselves do not produce grace!!!! They are only effective as the person is open to receiving the touch of GOD. A quick mindless posture is a worthless as saying the Lord’s Prayer in boredom. But it is a humble and contrite heart coupled with bodily expressing ourselves before GOD where we begin to experience GOD in a wonderful way.

The concept of the body being involved in prayer and worship is an ancient practice that is documented throughout scripture. From the beginning of time until today there has been a great variety of expressions of Jewish and Christian spirituality around the world. And it is this faith in GOD that is lived OUT through the human body. In other words our faith is not just intellectual, it manifests itself in numerous physical ways. Physical faith is an integrated faith, which honors both the body and the soul.

Let me ask you this…what happens when you get cut off, or when things are not going right, or the kids are driving you crazy or the boss is driving you nuts….what happens?
You get worked up. What is working you up this week? Anger, fear, anxiety, frustration, hate? Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you. Take all that and imagine that it is in your hand. Take your tight fisted hands and do a simple exercise of palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns that you over to GOD. As you do that, pray “GOD I give you my anger, hurt (name your issues)” and when you are done, open your hands (palms downs, as if those things that you are releasing will fall.)

Now turn your palms up towards heaven. This represents the receiving of healing of GOD. Then ask GOD to begin to fill those areas of hurt with His presence and healing.
When you are finished asking GOD to move in those areas of your life, simply spend a moment in silence. End the time thanking GOD for who He is.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Getting back to basics!

Thanks for all the emails, prayers and support to our family during the loss of mom Hintz. As a family we took some time away and just decided to totally unplug. This surprised me personally, in that I did not want to even open my lap top to study. I can actually say that I opened my laptop only once to finish a course that I will be teaching this fall at Soul.

We had a great time of rest and just spending time together as a family. It got to the point where I am now ready to get back, actually eager! So, starting next week I will begin posting on prayer postures and I encourage you all to practice them and give us feedback. It is good to be back in the saddle again! I missed my spiritual community and even this electronic community!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Sorry it has been a while since the last post. Things have been NUTS this summer. But the reason for this post is to honor a very special person who has now gone to be in the presence of the Lord! My mother-in-law, Susanne Hintz.

On October 5, 1934, Susanne Schmidt was born into the loving home of Friedrich and Katherina Schmidt. She was the second of three sisters who along with their two younger brothers were a close and affectionate family. The Schmidt family immigrated from Germany to Winnipeg Canada in 1951 where they began attending Immanuel Pentecostal Church. There she met the love of her life, Bruno, and was married to him on July 18, 1953.

Susanne had a love for her Lord and for the things of the church and was active as a volunteer of several of the ladies ministries.

Soon (1956) she became a mom and devoted the rest of her life to raising her 4 children and their 13 grandchildren. How proud she was during this time of nurturing her children and seeing them accept faith in their lives, even leading her daughter Sharon to faith at ten years of age.

How prayerful and supportive she was, as they grew and dated, later marrying and having their own children. She never differentiated between her children and their spouses. Her latest joys were to see two of her granddaughters marry and extend her grandchildren’s count to 15.

Left to mourn her loss, are her husband of 53 years, Bruno, daughter Elaine Studensky (husband Garry,) son Gerald Hintz (wife Doris,), daughter Sharon Michalski (husband Gerry,) daughter Debbie Hall (husband Ted) and 15 grandchildren, Jason Studensky, Jennifer Hiebert (husband Chad,) Jaquiline Boone (husband Kevin), Justin, Melissa and Sarah Hintz, Joshua, Jordan, James and Jessee Michalski, Jaret, Jacob and Rachel Hall.

She was predecieced by her parents and one sister Amalia.

What an awesome example of faithfulness Susanne displayed as she demonstrated Gods love in action and brought a whole new meaning to the word HOSPITALITY. Her home was her stage and she treasured every guest and visitor who entered, showing love and bestowing kindness on everyone she came in contact with.

Simply put, ‘mom’ was a godly woman whose faith was strong and firm. The most important thing to her was her family. I know that each family has different memories of grandma and my kids have tonnes. So this week…we say “thank you God for our mom/Grandma for the memories, the kindness, the prayers, the patience, the example and the love.”

She is truly resting in peace! She will be missed but never forgotten.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Prayer Postures

I love this picture anyway I was the camp pastor at a local camp this past week. Part of my duties was to lead worship with my wife (who we all know is the real worship leader). Anyway, I thought I would experiment with the relatively conservative audience. In the morning worship gatherings I took the people through a journey of prayer postures.
I have been influenced by numerous authors and books, including scripture!!!!

So not knowing if this was going to work, I closed my eyes and went for it…boy was I surprised…I thought that most people would think that this was “New Agey” or just a gimmick. I was wrong many people loved it. I was especially surprised to see how many people participated in the posture of kneeling, even head to the ground posture. It got me thinking….maybe the charismatic, evangelical culture is desiring something more rich in their faith?

So my plan is to post on this blog a seven day session of prayer postures, scripture readings followed by a prayer. These can be used in any gathering of believers. What I discovered was the richness of both the postures, the reading of scripture and the heart felt prayer.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

At the Lake

Need a break? I do! So I will post next week.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


What a weekend. After our gatherings were over on Sunday, the fam and I went to the lake. Yes, there was a lot to do, but we had a blast. Great weather, great friends and a great time. We just got off the water and had to come back to the city. I love Manitoba summers!

I also had the opportunity to spend time with some long lost friends. It is really cool to run into people who had made influential impact in my life, only to have them say the same to me. I love the fact that there are people who GOD brings across our paths in a point in time and they continue to bless you, even when you have not seen them for a while.

Who have been the people who had been a tremendous influence in your life? What is your story?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Bother With Church?

Before I start this morning, I am reminded that I can be speaking to myself! As one who was frustrated with the established church within my context…I moved out with what I felt GOD was calling me to do and planted a church…BUT…

We live in a culture which many Christians are dropping out of the community church setting and creating their own little environments (house churches). The reasons for this are numerous, but for the most part it is because they have been hurt in a variety of fashions OR it is because they have become frustrated with the institutional or established church. I do not have a problem with house churches per say (they are one of the places people met in the scriptures {Acts 5:42}) what I am addressing is some of the ‘attitude’ that is resonating from some of the believers who have found themselves in this situation.

Some believers feel that church in North America is spiraling out of control with the mega church ethos, the professional feel and the list can go on. It has got to the point where many believers spend a lot of their time critiquing other churches, while trying to build some sort of biblical community of their own…(somehow that seems to be a bit counter productive). These groups of believers however, have created the very thing that they reacted against. They have big names that they follow, have created a sense of exclusivity in that they have looked at others in the Kingdom and think themselves better or more informed, not too mention there is a hunger for recognition in that everyone wants to be published. (Ok, that is a paintbrush statement, but it works for this post!)

For those who wonder what the church is doing, and those on the outside who criticize the church for not doing better, I would recommend that they read Philip Yancey’s book Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage. In his musings, Yancey is insightfully aware of the shortcomings of the church in all of it's humanness, yet he also declares that the church is the means God has chosen to be in the world today. As he wrote in "What's So Amazing About Grace," "I left the church because I found so little grace there. I came back because I found grace nowhere else."

In the first chapter Yancey starts with this quote from J.F. Powers' Wheat That Springeth Green that summarizes the whole conundrum of the church:
"This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she's going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you."

Having grown up in a racist, fundamentalist church in the Deep South, Yancey has every reason to abandon the church. But he's found that the Christian faith can only be lived in community. "Perhaps for this reason, I have never given up on church. At a deep level I sense that church contains something I desperately need."

Yancey goes on to conclude that the church is the way God has chosen to be present on earth, as imperfect as it may be:
"Yes, the church fails in its mission and makes serious blunders precisely because the church comprises human beings who will always fall short of the glory of God. That is the risk God took. Anyone who enters the church expecting perfection does not understand the nature of that risk or the nature of humanity. Just as every romantic eventually learns that marriage is the beginning, not the end, of the struggle to make love work, every Christian must learn that church is also only a beginning."

Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church, posts on his blog that they just finished a teaching series where they talked about "church" being people and not a building. As part of the series, they had little blank white post cards in every bulletin and asked the question of everyone "What do you dream this church could be?" and then had them fill in the black on the card, "I Dream Of A Church....." and then whatever they might dream of.
Here are some of the responses…

- that reaches the broken world to bring a healing that can only come from Jesus Christ
- that does not get caught up in technicalities and politics but stays focused on the Lord
- that helps me understand
- that is more about helping others than about us
- that listens to the Holy Spirit and is bigger than man's efforts
- is honest and open-minded rather than self-righteous and dogmatic OR has donuts. I will be OK with either.
- who is loving and unafraid
- accepts people where they are in life and not just when they have achieved a level of "spiritualness"
- grows in the knowledge of God and His love for the world
- lifts up Jesus and redeems things like the environment, stewardship, the arts and philosophy
- that prays for one another
- that serves others, feeds the hungry, visits the sick and imprisoned
- lives a diversity of thoughts, opinions, ages, worship expressions and celebrates the differences
- is a soft place to fall; that is a daily part of my life; that doesn't feel like a wall; that is the heartbeat of Christ
- that knows me and loves me anyway
- impacts the community around them so that it can be a light for Jesus in people's lives
- that gets lost in worshiping Jesus and lingers in His presence
- that is the church throughout the week and not just on Sunday
- that is real and where people are not fake and has a passion to serve those in need
- acts like a family, reaches out to community, accepts all people
- that Jesus would be proud of
- that changes lives by drawing people to Christ
- whose whole heart is consumed with Christ and flows to others
- that is completely outward focused and selfless
- that will challenge our minds to learn God's Word and support each other in our walks with God
- that doesn't isolate and separate ourselves from "this bad world"
- that is my family and my home
- that has a love for the untouchables of our era

Those responses are so cool! So why bother with church?
Yancey summarizes evangelist Luis Palau: "The church, he said, is like manure. Pile it together and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out and it enriches the world."


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Great Dad

Why is Father’s Day held in June? The answer lies in the origins of the day designed to honor fathers everywhere: June 19 was the birthday of William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran who raised his six motherless children alone. When his eldest daughter, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, grew up, she realized the sacrifices he had made as a single father. To pay him tribute, she proposed the idea of a “father’s day” similar to Mother’s Day, which began in 1872.

The first Father’s Day was held June 19, 1910, on Smart’s birthday in Dodd’s hometown, Spokane, Washington. By 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was a supporter of the idea of a day honoring fathers, but it wasn’t until 1966 that the third Sunday in June was officially set aside as Father’s Day. President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation.

There is the history! Now, what about today? Why do some people cringe at Father’s Day? I realize that not all people have had great role models for fathers, but what about those who do? If we are to hold scripture to heart when it says “mourn with those who mourn” there is also the part that precedes this that says “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12). So, in the same way I wish that many people had good role models for fathers, this week I ask you to rejoice with me in the fact that I have a great father.

I never want to give tribute to my dad, when it is too late, after he is gone, but rather people need to know what makes this man tick. My dad is a huge support for me, my brothers and our family. He is there to listen, to give advice and to just cheer me on. He has worked hard all of his life. He served as a pastor and as management at City Hall (at the same time). My dad is the fastest human being alive. When he worked with the city he was off work at 4:30 and home by 4:00. No, that is just a joke, he is a man of integrity, and honesty. He provided and cared for his family. He gave his all and still giving to this day. Dad is a Godly man, given without compromise. I recall many times that he stood by my side, at graduation and even when we began to plant a new church he prodded me on with great vigor and pride.

Dad is confident, firm and yet fair, and when we talk he is always speaking with patience, tenderness and care and providing insight that few others could. He has laid the foundation that has kept me upright. In my opinion, he's the grandest of men to have lived on this earth. He's a man of great dignity, honor and strength. His merits are noble, and of admirable length. He's far greater than all other men that I know, He's my Dad, he's my mentor, my friend and hero.

What are the positive aspects of your father?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Post

New Post coming soon.....
please be patient!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Dying Church?

On the Christian Post there is an extremely interesting article by Dr. Thom Rainer who is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Rainer writes…

"The Dying American Church

I am by nature an optimist. I have seen the hand of God too often in my life to live in a state of despair and defeatism. But the state of evangelism in the American Church is such that I do have my moments when I wonder if the Church is headed down the path of many European congregations: decline and death.

The facts of a 2004 research project I led are sobering. It takes 86 church members in America one year to reach a person for Christ. Now I realize that such statistical studies are imperfect, and I make no claims of omniscience, especially in matters such as the regenerate population. But if the research is even close to accurate, the reality is that the Church is not reproducing herself. In just one or two generations, Christianity could be so marginalized that it will be deemed irrelevant by most observers.

Why has the American Church become evangelistically anemic? The research points to several possible factors. First, the Church and many of the Christians who serve in the churches have become doctrinally ineffective. Repentance is often avoided as a key truth of the gospel. Hell is rarely mentioned, despite its abundance of references in Scripture. And regenerate church membership and church discipline are sometimes perceived as relics of an old and irrelevant era. When these and other key issues are avoided or even watered down, the Church loses her power, and the gospel is no longer the gospel.

Second, church leaders are becoming less evangelistic. A survey of pastors I led in 2005 surprised the research team. Over one-half (53 percent) of pastors have made no evangelistic efforts at all in the past six months. They have not shared the gospel. They have not attempted to engage a lost and unchurched person at any level. They have become busy doing many things, but they have chosen through their lack of actions to be disobedient to Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19, and many other clear passages of evangelistic mandates.

Third, Christians in churches often get caught up in the minor issues and fail to become passionate about the major issue of evangelism. I served as pastor of a church that spent two hours in a business meeting debating over a 5 percent differential in the cost of two similar pieces of furniture. I wish I had seen such passion for the lost and the unchurched in our community.

The numerical evidence seems clear. The American Church is dying. We are not reproducing Christians. American Church growth is typically the transfer of members from one congregation to another, rather than the conversion of the lost. I guess I could blame the churches, her leaders, and stubborn church members. But I must confess that I too often fall short in my own evangelistic zeal. Sometimes I get so busy that I fail to do the main thing. Perhaps the first step for all of us is the confession of our own sins of disobedience, our own failures to take the evangelistic mandate seriously. Perhaps if we determine that the problem begins with me, then we can be a part of the solution.

Will you join me in a personal evangelistic renewal? The results of our evangelistic efforts are in the hands of a Sovereign God. But we can be His instruments for this renewal. Perhaps then the American Church will see new life and new hope. Such is my prayer. I hope it is yours."

This article originally appeared on March 23, 2006.

So, What are your thoughts in regards to this article…but looking through a local lens?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Myth of Quality Time

Working parents spend too little time with their children!?

This was an article I have kept for quite a while, and I think it is time that I bring it out to share again. Read it and share your thoughts. It is a little dated, but that is OK!

by Laura Shapiro Newsweek May 12 1997, v129, n19, p62(7) COPYRIGHT 1997 Newsweek Inc.

Kids don't do meetings. You can't raise them in short, scheduled bursts. They need lots of attention, and experts warn that working Parents may be shortchanging them
FOR THE NEW YORK LAWYER, IT ALL HIT HOME in the grocery store. She had stopped in with her 6-year-old to pick up a few things, but since the babysitter normally did the shopping, she was unprepared for what was about to happen. Suddenly there was her son, whooping and tearing around the store, skidding the length of the aisles on his knees. "This can't be my child," she thought in horror. Then the cashier gave a final twist to the knife. "Oh," she remarked. "So you're the mother." That was the moment when the lawyer was forced to admit that spending "quality time" with the kids didn't seem to be working. She and her husband, a journalist, had subscribed in good faith to the careerists' most treasured nile of parenting: it isn't how much time you spend with your kids, it's how you spend the time. But despite those carefully scheduled hours of parental attention between dinner and bed, their two kids were in danger of turning into little brats. "I don't want to come home and find my kids watching cartoons and demanding every new product Disney put out this week," she says. "It's not that sitters do a bad job, but sitters don't raise kids. Parents do." Next month the family is moving to a suburb, and she'll go to work part-time.

Not every family can, or wants to, make a life change on that scale. But many are starting to question whether time devoted to theft children really can be efficiently penciled into the day's calendar, like a business appointment with a couple of short, excitable clients. No wonder a growing number of psychologists and educators who work with children would like to get rid of the whole idea of quality time. "I think quality time is just a way of deluding ourselves into shortchanging our children," says Ronald Levant, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. "Children need vast amounts of parental time and attention. It's an illusion to think they're going to be on your timetable, and that you can say 'OK, we've got a half hour, let's get on with it'." For parents who love their kids and also love their work, there's no more insistent wake-up eau than Arlie Hochschild's new book, "The Time Bind," just published and already hovering in the nightmares of anyone who has ever sung a lullaby over the phone. Hochschild's most chilling insight is our complicity in depriving our children. "Many working families," she writes, "are both prisoners and architects of the time bind in which they find themselves."

Quality time arrived on the scene in the early'70s, featured in a wave of research including a now famous study by Alison Clarke-Stewart of the University of California, Irvine. She found (and recent brain research backs her up) that the more actively mothers were involved with their babies, talking and cooing and so forth, the better it was for the babies' cognitive and social development. Babies who spent time with their mothers but didn't get as much of the goo-gooing and eye contact did less well. "But to be able to have that high-quality time, you have to invest a certain amount of pure time," says ClarkeStewart. "It's not just 10 minutes a week." Such nuances quickly dropped away as baby-boomer couples found quality time an immense help in juggling two careers and a potty chair. Today it's not even clear what most people mean when they use the term--is playing patty-cake supposed to be a higher-quality activity than driving to ballet lessons? Does family dinner count if the TV is on? Very softly? All we reliably know is that whenever time with kids is in short supply, calling it "quality time" makes parents feelbetter.

Experts say that many of the most important elements in children's lives--regular routines and domestic rituals, consistency, the sense that their parents know and care about them--are exactly what's jettisoned when quality time substitutes for quantity time. "Mom is working until 4:80 and has to get the groceries and do the laundry and the chores and pick somebody up from soccer and drop somebody off at ice skating," says Chicago psychologist Vicki Curran. "The structure of the day disappears. But the structure, and the availability to one another, provide the safe arena we know as home." Nor do kids shed their need for parental time when they get to be teenagers. "One of the functions of parents is monitoring--you monitor their homework, their friends, what they're really doing in their spare time," says Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a developmental psychologist at Columbia University. "I don't think we've said enough to parents about how the demands on them change when early adolescence hits, and kids may start to engage in drugs or sex. Monitoring is critical."

Parents who race in the door at 7:80 p.m. and head straight for the fax machine are making it perfectly clear where their loyalties lie, and the kids are showing the scars. "I see apathy, depression--alack of the spunkiness I associate with being a kid," says Levant. "These kids don't have the self-esteem that comes from knowing your parents are really interested in you, really behind you." Kevin Dwyer, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists, says teachers are reporting increases in discipline problems and classroom disruptions. "One of our concerns is that parents are not spending enough time with their kids," he says. "Most of the parents we see are really drained at the end of the day." The result is inconsistent discipline and all the problems it spawns. "There's a tremendous amount of research showing that inconsistency leads to kids' being more aggressive, more deviant and more oppositional," says Dwyer.

In "The Time Bind," Hochschild analyzes in depth a large corporation she calls "Amerco." She spent months interviewing employees, from the CEO to the factory shift workers, and found many who complained about long workdays and hectic home lives. But few of the employees were taking any steps to carve out more time with their families-they weren't taking unpaid family leave even if they could afford it, and they weren't applying for flextime or job sharing. Hochschild's startling conclusion was that for many workers, home and office have changed places. Home is a frantic exercise in beat-the-clock, while work, by comparison, seems: a haven of grown-up sociability, competence and relative freedom. Quality time has been a crucial component of this transformation. "Instead of nine hours a day with a child, we declare ourselves capable of getting the 'same result' with one, more intensely focused, total quality hour," she writes. Hochschild describes some of the Amerco kids as essentially on strike against their assembly-line lives. "They sulk. They ask for gifts. They tell their parents by action or word, 'I don't like this'."

Not all researchers agree with Hochschild's analysis or her view of its consequences for kids. "What she's describing is a class phenomenon," says Rosalind Barnett, a psychologist and senior scholar at Radcliffe College. "I don't think most ordinary Joes confuse work with family. Work is work." Barnett and journalist Caryl Rivers are the authors of "She Works/He Works," which describes the results of a four-year, $1 million study of 300 two-earner couples in the Boston area. The authors and their team of interviewers found that both men and women in this random sample reported high levels of satisfaction with their lives, despite the stress, and warm, close relationships with their children. "Most see their families as the center of their emotional lives," they write. Barnett says their study jibes with many others-- for instance, a 1995 survey of more than 6,000 employees at DuPont, showing that nearly half the women, and almost as many men, had traded career advancement to remain in jobs that gave them more family time. Fran Rodgers, CEO of Work/Family Directions in Boston, agrees that national surveys give results different from Hochschild's focus on one company. "What people really want is both to be good parents and good at work," she says.

Underlying at least some of the criticism of Hochschild's work is the fear that to acknowledge problems with our kids is to invite a backlash against women's working. That's mighty unlikely to change. Not only do women work for the same reason men do--they need the money--but surveys have also consistently shown that employed women are happier, healthier and feel more valued, even at home, than women who are full-time homemakers. "Even if women did go home, it wouldn't be the best solution," says Stephanie Coontz, author of "The Way We Never Were," an examination of the real, as opposed to the mythic, world of the '50s. Her new book, "The Way We Really Are," takes a similarly unblinkered look at the present. "Suppose the wife quits work for a year when the kids are little," she says. "She becomes the specialist in child nurturing, and the man never catches up. He doesn't have the initial skills, and she's got a year's head start. Research shows that men do more and better child care when their wives aren't home." Studies also clearly indicate that children whose fathers are thoroughly involved in their care do better socially and cognitively than kids whose fathers play a more marginal role. What's more, the involved fathers are happier than the marginal ones--you know, the daddies talking intently into cell phones during the entire Little League game.

In light of this data, one way to start solving the problems posed by quality time seems obvious: guys, go home. It's 5 p.m. Women may feel guiltier than men about working, women may choose to cut back their careers, but if our kids are hurting for lack of family time, it's not a women's issue, it's a family issue. And studies overwhelmingly show that men's contribution to housework and child care ranges from a third to a half of what women do (chart), though the numbers have been inching closer in recent years. Then there was the 1993 survey by the Families and Work Institute that asked dual-earner couples how they divided responsibility for child care. "We share it 50-50" was the response of 43 percent of the men--and 19 percent of the women.
James Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work Institute, says change is happening slowly, but it's happening. Time with their children is increasingly important to men, he says, but some are unwilling to confront a corporate culture that values long hours and face time above all. "I find guys doing all kinds of strange things to avoid publicly acknowledging that they have parental responsibilities," says Levine. "They'll sneak out to pick up their kids at day care, or wait just a few minutes after their boss leaves to go themselves. People need to break this pattern and start taking responsibility."

Some men do break the pattern, though it's easier at the high end of the pay scale. New York attorney Franz Paasche tried hard to keep weekends with his family sacrosanct. But he found that work was lasting later and later on Fridays, and starting up earlier on Sundays. So he hanged to a new job with more flexible hours. Now, he says, he never misses walking his daughter to the school bus and buckling her seat belt; and even if he has to work at night, he has dinner with the family and reads bedtime stories first. "These days are not replaceable," he says. "My children are different every day. That maybe the myth of quality time--that time is interchangeable."

The family-friendly policies introduced by some companies with much fanfare-- job sharing, flexible hours and the like--often don't hold up in practice. "The easiest thing for the corporate world to do is fall back on family-friendly benefits," says Lotte Bailyn, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management. "They're wonderful, but they're underutilized. Men hardly ask for them, and if they do they're seen as wimps. If women take them, they're put on the mommy track." Bailyn heads a research team that develops new organizational structures designed to help companies become more productive while eating up less of their employees' time. "We're reversing the idea of quality time," she says. "Quality time belongs at work. Quantity time belongs with the family."

Unfortunately, there's little in the current business climate that encourages most employees to do anything about their long hours except cling desperately to their jobs as colleagues disappear around them. Now more than ever, people have powerful financial incentives to resist making more time for families. And men, who still tend to make more money than their wives--and work about eight more hours per week -- are caught in a special time bind: if they do cut back for the family's sake, the family suffers financially. But Elizabeth Perle McKenna, whose book "When Work Doesn't Work Anymore" will be published in September, says corporate downsizing might well prompt some men to look harder at theft values. "When motherhood hit the babyboomer women, we were forced to stop and really look at work for the first time, and ask "Is this worth it to me?'" she says. "I think all the downsizing in business, and its effect on men's lives, could make them do the same thing." She also believes that younger workers, men and women starting their careers now, will have a major impact on how corporations treat families. "I interviewed young women who have no intention of sacrificing their lives for their jobs," she says. "If you're company X and you're trolling for the best people, you won't be able to ignore those issues anymore."

Corporate utopia may be a long way off, but men and women can change their own lives right now. Cutting back on work hours--and income--might seem an impossible dream; but Seattle psychologist Laura Kastner often reminds her clients that they do have choices. Maybe they can move to a cheaper neighborhood; maybe they can move closer to work and cut their commuting time. Marlene and Keith Winsten, who live outside Providence, R.I., with their two kids, are up and running by 5:00 a.m.; most of their family time is on the weekend. So they're cutting back on the hikes and museums that used to jam Saturday and Sunday; sometimes they all just hang out. "We've been trying hard to calm things down," says Marlene. "Quality time is going at their pace."

Want to hear about some people who don't have to "juggle" work and family because it's so easy for them to carry both? They work in the state attorney general's office in Bismarck, N.D. "Most of the workers go home at noon--they get in their cars and drive home and have lunch with their kids," says Jean Mullen, who moved to Bismarck after working in Washington, D.C., for two decades. "If you look at the computer bulletin board, where the attorneys sign out when they're going someplace, you'll see people have written down things like 'car pool.' They leave at 3 p.m. to pick up their kids from school and take them home. The building generally empties out at 5.

"The men are eligible for the same family leave as the women, and they take it. They take time as much as the women. There's total acceptance of the fact that you'll take off time to go to your child's school conference. It's not free time--they expect you to make it up--but you can openly say that's where you're going." Mullen talks on and on-about taking her kids to the dentist, about receiving phone calls from them during a staff meeting, about being taken seriously as a professional woman, family and all. Maybe utopia does exist. Or maybe the attorney general's office in Bismarck, N.D., is just the way real life runs, when people acknowledge what's important to them--and live that way.

Attention Deficit
Even for the most essential child-care responsibilities--bathing, feeding, reading and playing--parents' time is scarce.
Women Employed 6.6
Nonemployed 12.9
Men Employed 2.5
Nonemployed 2.6
Taking Care of Family Business

Child care is the biggest job at home for both men and women, but women spend more than three times as many hours tending the kids. Though men cook and shop more than they did a decade ago, they still lag behind in those chores, too. With CLAUDIA KALB in Boston, PAT WINGERT in Washington, D.C., ROBINA RICCITIELLO in Chicago, PATRICIA KING in San Francisco and ANNE UNDERWOOD in New York

Another viewpoint
Published Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Study: Moms spending as much time with kids as in past
Washington Post
Some good news for 21st-century moms: A University of Maryland study has found that today's mothers spend just as much time with their children as mothers did in 1965. The study, released Saturday by sociologist Suzanne Bianchi, reported that mothers said they spent 5.8 waking hours a day with their children in 1998, compared with 5.6 hours in 1965 -- which Bianchi found striking, considering that three-fourths of women with kids younger than 18 are in the work force.

Bianchi said her research shows that "today's employed moms are just as committed" to their families as the housewives of yore. Where are working mothers getting the time to spend with their children? They steal it from themselves, said Bianchi, sleeping five or six hours less each week than non-employed moms, with 12 fewer hours of free time, according to another study in 1995. And "things they would have done in the past, maybe, around their home, they don't do; or sleep they would have gotten, they don't get," she said. In other words, said Kathleen Christensen, who directs the program on working families at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a New York philanthropy, working mothers are scraping together time for their children by "taking it out of their own hide."

Lisa Sarbach, a corporate executive and single mother from Rockville, Md., said she gets by on 5½ to six hours of sleep and runs errands during her lunch hour in order to have more time with her son, Jonathan, 5. There's no time for hobbies or socializing. She said she knows "I also can't totally neglect myself -- even though I do at times. I can't tell you the last time I went out."
Bianchi's research is based on the responses of 300 mothers nationwide who were asked in a 1998 survey how they had spent the previous 24 hours. The findings are part of a 40-year research project directed by John Robinson, a Maryland sociology professor, taking an in-depth look at how Americans usetheir time now, compared with years ago. Although earlier studies found that today's parents spend as much one-on-one time with their children as their own parents' generation did, Bianchi's analysis went further, finding that today's moms spend the same amount of "indirect" time -- doing things while accompanied by their children -- as moms did in 1965. Despite this, 70 percent of employed parents surveyed by the Families and Work Institute a few years ago said they did not have enough time with their children.

Some researchers speculate that's because middle-class parents often are busy rushing their children from one event to another, with little quiet time as a family. Another reason the amount of time mothers spend with their children hasn't changed much is that, contrary to our childhood recollections, it was never that high to begin with, Bianchi said. Years ago, at-home moms were loaded down with chores, and they often relied on their older children to take care of the little ones. "Quality time" wasn't a priority. As technology lessened the time women spent doing household chores, many women occupied themselves with volunteering in addition to child rearing.

© Copyright 2000 Washington Post. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

need i say more?

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Duh Veenchi Kode

I have been quiet on the Da Vinci thing for a reason…… is fiction, enough said? I guess not.

Not too long ago I get this phone call from a reporter asking me. “As a pastor what are you going to do with this whole Da Vinci Code in your church? Are you going to use it as a tool for outreach/evangelism?” “What?” I asked. He replies, “The book, the movie…” I responded, “IT IS FICTION!” Enough said. I think he was truly disappointed with the fact that we were not jumping on the Da Vinci bandwagon and thus I made for another lousy story.

All the branding and marketing reminds me of the Purpose Driven or the Passion, and I wonder what really drives the western church? Anyway, I have other thoughts right now that I will keep to myself. It is my blog and I am entitled to that!

Back to Duh Vinchi. For those who need an answer:
There are a number of Christian authors who have released books critiquing The Da Vinci Code. They include:
Lee Strobel, Exploring the Da Vinci Code (co-authored with Gary Poole)
Josh McDowell, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers
Darrell Bock, Breaking the Da Vinci Code
James Garlow and Peter Jones, Cracking Da Vinci’s Code

Even Sony Pictures found a way to walk the public relations tightrope between not refuting any of Brown’s story and not alienating Christians. They have launched a website ( that allows critics of the book and film to speak freely about their concerns and attempt to correct what they believe are inaccuracies in both. In one sense, I see Sony’s website seems like a meager offering to appease offended Christians who are annoyed by the film with the hope that they will not likely go as nuts as some Muslims recently did over a cartoon. (OH RELAX, I KNOW THE HISTORY)

The Christian establishment worked itself into a frenzy over the book and now the movie. Both the book and the movie are a mess. Sermons have been preached about it and ministries have put out treatises debunking it. All of which is fine - if things are bad, get the alarm bells ringing. But when the movie came out…it came out with a resounding thud. Here was a typical review: “ The Da Vinci Code is a terrible movie. It’s a movie that’s too stupid to appreciate it’s own stupid origins, and so it takes itself completely seriously.” Four out of five reviewers thought it was a bad movie. Just thought you should know: the sky isn’t falling. Everybody can go back to watching all the other nonheretical Hollywood movies in the theatres.

BTW check out Jamie’s review at

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More on Prayer...

I have had this prayer of St. Francis for a while. I invite you to read it, to ruminate on it and then to comment…

You are holy, Lord, the only God,and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,Lord God, living and true.
You are love.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are endurance.
You are rest.
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage.
You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord,God Almighty, Merciful Saviour.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer Part 1

Someone asked me about prayer…so here are some quick ramblings….

What is prayer? Prayer is an effort to communicate verbally with GOD. In prayer we offer praise, make requests, or simply express one's thoughts and emotions.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus explains: "For me, prayer is an uplifting of the heart, a glance toward heaven, a cry of gratitude and of love in times of sorrow as well as of joy"

The Christian seeks to raise the mind as well as the heart to God. Prayer, as discourse with a friend, is not constrained, but rather should be spontaneous. Certain prayer events are organized, of course, as in the case of church gatherings, yet even during such events the specific discourse between the soul and God may be spontaneous. A Psalm, for example, may offer different meanings depending on the mood of the person praying. For the Christian, prayer is love, and to "Pray always" (Luke 18:1) is to love always. The Christian grows spiritually through the life of prayer. Someone once said: “as air is to the body, so prayer is to the soul.”

Since the early church was made up of many with a Jewish lineage and history, a large part of the private prayers of its members followed typical Hebrew format. Praying three times a day became the daily practice of the person, though, instead of a community encouraged practice. This adaptation was largely due to the problem that Christianity had not yet become a country-endorsed religion. While the Jews were able to communally close shops and trade for the sake of their Sabbath, the ability to maintain such a discipline among Jewish and Gentile Christians wasn't met with the same enthusiasm. This private practice would later develop into family devotions and personal "quiet times." In the gatherings of the early church prayer was offered frequently throughout the worship service with the Lord's Prayer taking its place as the anchor - a common ritual in each gathering.

Prayer is done in a variety of ways. There is ‘vocal prayer’ or ‘praying out loud.’ Vocal prayer may be prayer of petition, perhaps the simplest form of prayer. Some have termed it the "social approach" to prayer. In this view, a person asks GOD for a need to be fulfilled; GOD is thought to listen to prayer and to be free to grant the request or not. Vocal prayer may also include words of adoration, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and communion.

There is also ‘meditative prayer.’ This is prayer of a more interior character than vocal prayer would tend to imply. Christian theology, e.g. St. John of the Cross, teaches that this type of prayer is intended to help "obtain some knowledge and love of God" (Ascent of Mount Carmel).
In this prayer the person will pray internally. The person may form sentences mentally, or may simply bask in what the Christian would consider the love of God. Then there is what some call ‘contemplative prayer.’ The progression from vocal, to meditative, to contemplative prayer is not a straight road, nor does the Christian travel in one direction. Some teach that after one reads/meditates on scripture (Lectio divina) they contemplate what they have read and in that process ask GOD to speak to them through His words.

What about our physical posture? Certain physical gestures often accompany prayer, including standing, bowing, sitting laying flat, kneeling. Sometimes hands are placed together, or arms wide open or palms up… There are of course many different ways of praying, and many forms of expression of the same words and ideas. And although communication with God is good, there is a danger that prayer can sometimes be reduced to the trivial or nonsensical. “GOD is great, GOD is good…”

When we pray I believe we need to be aware of what we are saying and communicating to both GOD and, if in a corporate setting, what others are listening to. In other words, I hope that when someone hears us pray, they will not say that all we are saying is just 'a set of words'. We have to guard that our prayer does not descend to meaningless repetition of words, does not sink to saying things without some thought or reflection about what it is we are saying. In my experience many people who pray in a corporate setting slip in “Lord GOD” and “Jesus” as every fourth word. Is this wrong? No, but we need to realize that our prayers are communicating to those who are in ear shot. Even though we may not fall into the trap of meaningless or mindless repetition of words when we pray, there are occasions when perhaps we put less thought or effort into our communications with God than we ought.

Fortunately the remedy is a simple one. We can ask God to help us pray! We may not feel that we are then praying as we can, we may not feel anything out of the ordinary, but it is a first step in the right direction, a first or further step into entering into a more meaningful dialogue with God our Creator on whom we depend for everything. Such a dialogue forms part of the relationship that we share with God, and is fundamental to our whole being.

If we can just let this most fundamental relationship with God occupy first place in our lives, then whatever we do and say in prayer, or however we pray, will never be a meaningless set or pack of words. Instead, real communication will occur, and it will take us further in our relationship with God, and so flow out into our own lives and the lives of those whom we encounter. So, just give it a try…daily….

Monday, May 01, 2006


Someone asked me to write on depression…so today I will. Depressed, have you been there? Have you ever been in a real dark hole? I have. That may surprise some of you. After all, many people think that Christians shouldn’t feel depressed, and if they do, they must be failures! This certainly is a big stick with which I have seen many Christians beat themselves with. It made them feel worse and made the dark hole they were in feel even darker and deeper. Yet I can not find any example of such action in the Bible, even though it deals with many people who were depressed. Rather than beating people up, God dealt with individuals in loving ways.

It is important to remember this when dealing with people who are depressed, as what appears a trivial stimulus to you, may in fact be ‘the last straw’ for them.
How did I deal with my situation? I covered it up to those around me, for fear of losing face and making myself vulnerable. I kept telling myself I wasn’t supposed to feel this way. Every morning when I went out to work I put on my mask of ‘all is well in the world’. To everyone else I seemed my usual self, but inside I felt thoroughly miserable and as soon as I got home again the mask came off and I could stop the pretence. I remember sitting in church on some occasions wanting to scream out.

What were the main things that brought me out of this? Well, firstly I tried to assess my feelings and reactions to situations. This is not easy when on occasions you feel yourself spiraling down and find it difficult to remember what made you start feeling low in the first place. Secondly, I never stopped reading my Bible. It’s important to keep reading God’s word and meeting with his people, even though you don’t feel like it, because these are very often the means of keeping yourself sane and allowing God to speak to you. No matter how bad you feel, don’t spite yourself by cutting off some of your routes to recovery. For me it was a process. I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and feel on top of the world. It took time. If you’re feeling low you need to allow God and time to restore you. Similarly, if you know of someone who’s feeling low be patient with them.

Depression is not a particularly modern phenomenon. The psalmist who wrote Psalms 42 and 43 knew what real anguish was. However, he also knew where his help lay. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah hit rock bottom and asked God if he might not die. However, God dealt graciously with him and met his needs. Even Moses hit rock bottom when the burden of leading the Israelites was too great for him (Nu 11:10-15). He wanted to die as well, because he couldn’t take the strain any longer. Does this sound familiar? Even this great hero of the faith was so depressed that he wanted to die. Yet later in the passage we see how God lovingly dealt with him. God didn’t make him feel worse or give him a hard time. Instead he gave Moses exactly what he needed - more men to help and share the burden. These are the actions of a loving and understanding God. We would do well to learn from the example of the great Master and Healer.

BUT we need to use the Bible with sensitivity. I would warn against being tempted to ‘throw’ glib verses at people, just to make them (and yourself, for that matter) feel better. I think this can be one of the most uncaring and hurtful actions that you can take. For example, I remember dealing with a Christian man who was really quite depressed and had been for some months. But what made his depression worse were his Christian friends and his church. No-one had a grasp of how he felt, rather they thought that he shouldn’t feel like that. So week after week they would give him ‘a wee verse’ to cheer him up. These ill-thought actions only made his depression worse. The book of Job may teach us how to avoid being an unhelpful ‘comforter’. There is a time and place for using God’s word, but it must be in a caring manner. Often a hurting person just needs to know there is someone there for them.

Many prominent Christians in history have also been dogged with feelings of depression or anxiety. They include Martin Luther, John Bunyan, William Cowper (hymn writer), Lord Shaftesbury (the great human rights reformer), Gerard Manley Hopkins (poet), Christina Rossetti (poet and hymn writer-check the name under some of the well known Christmas carols!), Amy Carmichael (missionary), JB Phillips (theologian) and CS Lewis. I urge you to read their stories in the book ‘Genius and Grace’.

Why do people get depressed? It’s probably a multifactor thing.
Genetics. Identical twins reared apart show 60% more concordance for depression than dizygotic twins.
Biochemistry. There are excesses of 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors in the frontal cortex of brains taken from suicide victims.
Endocrinology. Approximately one third of depressed people do not have normal cortisol suppression in the dexamethasone suppression test.
Biography. Adverse life events are important (eg job loss, divorce).
Psychodynamic reasons. Freud said that depression mirrors bereavement, but the loss is of a valued object and not a person. Others support the idea of learned helplessness.
Vulnerability factors. Physical illness, pain, lack of intimate relationships.
Spiritual factors.

Depression and its associated feelings are very common. Each year, it is estimated that 40% of the population have feelings of depressed mood, unhappiness and disappointment. Of these 20% will experience a clinical depressive syndrome, in which low mood is accompanied by sleep difficulty, change in appetite, hopelessness, pessimism, or thoughts of suicide.