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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008
It's shortly after 2AM and I can't sleep. Well, that's not totally true. I CAN sleep, but just not during "normal" sleeping hours. I haven't experienced depression like this for about 10 years. Back then it lasted for about a month. And it, too, affected me throughout the month of January.

According to Psychology Information Online:
Each year over 17 million American adults experience a period of clinical depression. The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression.
The first time I experienced depression I didn't know what it was. Apparently this is common and often people who experience symptoms of depression think they are caused by other things. It wasn't until someone helped me understand what I was going through that I realized I was depressed. Once I put a name to what I was experiencing I did some research and basically pulled myself out of the depression.

So this time it is different, mostly because I recognize the symptoms. Unfortunately the deliberate course of action that got me out of my last bout of depression doesn't seem to be working this time. That has led me to think I'm experiencing something different.

Hear me out. I don't recommend self-diagnosis when it comes to these things, and I have visited my naturopathic doctor in this regards. Mostly because I wanted some help getting out of this slump and I didn't want to take anti-depressants - unless they were in the form of a natural supplement, etc.

But even the supplements don't seem to be working. They help, but it is the reversed sleeping schedule that I can't seem to break free from. Perhaps I just need to change my "stance" like Charlie Brown.


Then there is the S.A.D. element - Seasonal Affective Disorder - a new name for a depression specifier. Unlike depression, S.A.D. is not yet considered a psychological disorder, rather a mood disorder that appears to vary according to the seasons of the year.
The primary feature of seasonal affective disorder is a pattern of depressive or manic episodes that occurs with the onset of the winter months. As the days become shorter, and the weather colder, there is an increase in vegetative depressive symptoms. Individuals eat more, crave carbohydrates, sleep more, experience chronic fatigue and gain weight.
Researchers are still hesitant to confirm the existence of seasonal factors in some depression. In the meantime, some people have found that a short winter vacation to a warmer climate helps...

That would be nice.

The Fringes

Thursday, January 17, 2008
"In the study of the history of missions, one can be formulaic about asserting that all great missionary movements begin at the fringes of the church, among the poor and the marginalized, and seldom, if ever, at the center. It seems that when the church engages at the fringes, it almost always brings life to the center."

[ Alan Hirsch | The Forgotten Ways ]
I can't help but think about about all the people I know outside the walls of my church. People I interact with on a regular basis. Is it my goal to get them to come inside? Or simply for Jesus to become their Lord, whether they come to church or not.

Andrew (not his real name) thanks me all the time for the things I've done for him and his family, and then apologizes for not coming to my church! Am I making him feel pressure to come?

Lately I've been trying to teach Andrew that he can reach out to God anywhere - whenever he needs God to help him. He still doesn't "get it" but I believe one day he will.

And then what?! Should he start attending a church? Or... should I disciple him... in the context of his own world?

Wow. Just thinking about it. I know a LOT of "Andrews" in my city. Perhaps as many as the number of "attenders" at my church!
At this point I began writing down the names of people that I know outside the walls of my church. Non-Christian friends, acquaintances, business associates. People that I visit or see on a regular basis. I stopped writing at 65 names. After reviewing the list, I began to remember other people that I know, also unchurched. My God. There are a LOT.
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."

[ Matthew 9:36-38 | New Living Translation ]

Saved, Forgiven And Sanctified

Saturday, January 12, 2008
My Utmost For His Highest has always been one of my favorite devotional books. The wisdom and understanding that Oswald Chambers had never ceases to amaze me.

A couple of days ago I received some clarification from Oswald. You see, I have always wondered how "Christians" could turn their backs on God, or make simple decisions to stop living for Him. In my life, God is the foundation of who I am. I could never imagine myself walking away from my relationship with God no matter what!

And Oswald helped me understand why. Because, not only am I saved and forgiven, but I have taken a second step and allowed God to sanctify me too.
God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, ". . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . ." When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion-only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.

This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: ". . . an inheritance among those who are sanctified . . . ." In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.

The following program contains...

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Okay. So I sort of did an experiment tonight.Mostly because I have been getting SO ANNOYED at all the commercials on TV! I decided to sit down and watch TWO full hours of TV, (something I almost never do), and keep track of the commercials that come on.

Do you have ANY IDEA how many commercials are shown during 2 hours of TV?! Holy advertising Batman!

No, really. Guess. How many 15 or 30 second commercial spots do you think you will take in (because you ARE taking them in, you know) within an hour of CSI and an hour of Grey's Anatomy?

Okay, so that's EXACTLY what I did. I watched two hours of television and wrote down the name of each advertiser and the amount of times each commercial came on during the shows. Too much time on my hands, you say? Well, maybe... but I'm gonna scratch this one off as... research.
I've heard it said that the average person watches 6 hours of TV per day. WHO DOES THAT?! And who has TIME to watch SIX HOURS of television?!

(Be right back - gotta grab a snack. Blogging is making me hungry. Plus I'm feeling a bit bloated...)
Okay, where was I...

Right! The amount of commercial advertising contained within a two hour period of prime time television. (Which, I might add, costs the advertisers MILLIONS of dollars.)

Okay. I've teased you long enough. If you are still reading this blog you probably REALLY want to know what my sort-of scientific research came up with during my recent study on the commercial time displayed during a regular Thursday night in TV Land - and no, I'm not referring to the TV Land Network, just regular 'ol broadcast television.

Yes. I counted them. And I'm even going to share the breakdown near the conclusion of this email. (And the end is near, honest. Thank you for sticking around to the end of this simple, yet extreme waste of jpegs and glue.)

Still there? Did you really wait for all these annoying logos to load? (My bandwidth must be in pain!) Thanks. You just proved that advertising works! (And that I didn't waste my time grabbing all the logos off Google Images. I wonder if I'll get extra AdSense cash for all the free promotion! Or maybe some FREE STUFF! Yeah. Who doesn't like free stuff!)

Okay. Here's the run down, for those who care. What I REALLY want to know is, why the heck do we put up with this crap?!

(In order of appearance + number of times shown)

Zellars - 2
Tim Hortons - 2
Ford Truck - 1
Tetley Green Tea - 3
CNIB Lottery - 1
Corner Gas Promo - 3
Local News Promo - 4
Comedy Central Promo - 2
Sears - 1
Chevy Truck - 1
American Idol Promo - 2
Thrive Gum - 1
Gas X - 2
Various Movie Trailers - 9
Philadelphia Cream Cheese - 1
Hockey Canada - 1
Grey's Anatomy Promo - 2
President's Choice Organics - 3
Campbell's Soup - 3
Air Miles - 1
Bell - 3
Pearl Vision - 2
Fabreeze - 1
Ford Focus - 1
Diet Pepsi - 2
KFC - 2
Tic Tac - 1
New Orleans Pizza - 1
Walmart - 4
Mott's Garden Cocktail - 1
Expedia.ca - 1
Jiffy Lube - 1
NFL Playoffs Promo - 2
Nolitours - 2
Degrassi Promo - 1
Local Community Events Promo - 3
Advil - 1
Lean Cuisine - 2
Best Buy - 1
Weight Watchers - 2
Ontario Lottery - 1
Heart and Stroke Lottery - 1
NeoCitrin - 2
Cadillac - 1
Coffee Crisp Singles - 1
Aero Bar Singles - 1
Benylin - 1
Robitussin - 2
Pantene - 1
Moonlight Promo - 1
Ghost Whisperer Promo - 1
"Advertising is of the very essence of democracy. An election goes on every minute of the business day across the counters of hundreds of thousands of stores and shops where the customers state their preferences and determine which manufacturer and which product shall be the leader today, and which shall lead tomorrow."

- Bruce Barton, chairman of BBDO

"Advertising is the poetry of Capitalism."

- Michael Maynard, Chair of the Department of Advertising at Temple University

Advertising is the principal reason why the business man has come to inherit the earth."

- James Randolph Adams
Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal.

But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

[ Matthew 6:19-21 | Amplified Bible ]

Don't Be So Silly!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (AP) — The Huntington Town Council is getting serious about Silly String. The issue: a claim that the plastic goo mars the finish on fire trucks during parades.

Town spokeswoman Fran Evans said a public hearing will be scheduled to air a proposal to ban Silly String and similar substances during "parades, processions, fairs and expositions."

Rob Oram, product marketing manager for manufacturer Just for Kicks, said that while he's not familiar with the fire truck claim, the label includes cleaning instructions. Oram said Silly String shouldn't be allowed to dry in the summer heat for more than a few minutes, but it's easily removed from clothing.

The stuff also has been used by the military to detect trip wires for booby traps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Resolve To Love

Thursday, January 03, 2008
I am not into making New Year's resolutions, in fact, I don't think I have ever personally made one. It's easier that way. Cuz if you don't make a New Year's resolution, then there is no chance of going back on a high-pressure promise you made to yourself.

On the other hand, I AM into daily resolutions.
Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord.

The Psalmist resolved that his mouth would not sin.

And Paul resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Good daily resolutions.

But recently God has been speaking to me about some of the OTHER basics - love, kindness, gentleness; treating others with respect; and trusting God with my whole heart - which can be challenging, to say the least.
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). Trust in God; trust also in me." [ John 14:1 ]
Easier said than done. Especially when your bills are piling up, or your family is faced with illness, or you're unemployed, or there is no food in your cupboards, or crisis is staring you in the face, or unexpected hardship comes your way, or, (worse yet), God asks you to do something you don't want to do!

Been there. Didn't do what He asked. Wrestled with God (not recommended). Finally surrendered to His request.

So while God was asking me to trust Him the other day, He also gently gave me these reminders:
Love is kind, sweet.

Love is never exasperated with people.

Love protects; would rather quietly mend things than publicly display them.

Love always believes the best about other people.
And then I heard God say:
Hang tight, don't figure this out, watch and be amazed at how I take care of you.

In the meantime... whatever is lovely, pure, noble, etc., think about those things and make them the center of your life.

Again, I will encourage you...
trust me.

And resolve to love, (because love conquers all - even fear).