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Everything Changes

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


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Depression sucks. Literally. It sucks the life right out of you. You can't function in a normal, everyday way. You can't get up and get going most days. And often you can't even get out of bed.

Life = sucked = out.

You don't feel like yourself. Your thinking gets foggy. And when it comes to motivation? Forget it!

Jesus came to give full life. KJV abundant life.

And when I stop to think about it, albeit through psychedelic eyes, I realize just how full my life is.

I have food to eat, a car to drive, clothes on my back and a warm place to sleep.

But my life is fuller than just that. I have family to love and friends that care about me. I live in a country untouched by war and an AIDS epidemic that allows me to worship freely. And I have clean water to drink.

But the fullest part of my life? God is the foundation of everything I am. And Jesus is my peace. And my light and my salvation.

So with all that is within me I will ARISE [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept me] and SHINE... for the Light has come.

God, let Your glory rise in me.

Don't be Facebook 'target,' Canadian soldiers warned

The Canadian Press
February 26, 2008

The Canadian military is warning its members to be careful about using Internet social-networking sites such as Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, CBC News reports.

The CBC says a Department of National Defence memo circulating through the ranks is advising soldiers not to appear in uniform online - or to disclose their military connection at all.

The department also says it is concerned about photos and information about events, such as a roadside bomb attack on a Canadian convoy, making its way onto the Net.

The reasoning is that computer-savvy insurgents such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are monitoring such sites for useful information.

Organic Church

Friday, February 15, 2008
[ From my journal | July 13, 2006 ]
I'm going through a, sort of, church crisis. No, this is not the same as a crisis of faith, which people often experience at various stages of life. This is more... structural.

The "Body of Christ" is a vivid description of an organic being, not an organized mechanism. Church consists, at the local level, of a multitude of extended spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network. Too much organization has, like a straitjacket, often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control; faith can trust. Today we need to develop regional and national networks based on trust, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism, for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge.

[ Wolfgang Simson ]

I'm sure that abuse and control resulting from the current North American church structure has something to do with the crisis I'm experiencing, but it even seems greater than all of that.
[ Fast forward to today | February 15, 2008 ]
The movement Jesus initiated was an organic people movement; it was never meant to be a religious institution.

[ Alan Hirsch | p.54 ]
"Systems story" - a.k.a. paradigm or mode of church - the continually repeated life story that determines the way an organization behaves; how an organization feels, thinks, and thus acts.
Ivan Illich was once asked what he thought was the most radical way to change society; was it through violent revolution or gradual reform? He gave a careful answer. Neither. Rather, he suggested that if one wanted to change society, then one must tell an alternative story. Illich is right; we need to reframe our understandings through a different lens, an alternative story, if we wish to move beyond the captivity of the predominantly institutional paradigm that clearly dominates our current approach to leadership and church.

[ Alan Hirsch | p.53 ]
Hirsch also explains that after 2000 years of the gospel, the "church" is on the decline in just about every Western cultural context. He says that even North America, which has been a bastion of a distinct and vigorous form of cultural Christendom, is now experiencing a society that is increasingly moving away from the church's sphere of influence and becoming genuinely neopagan. [ p.51 ]
In a bid to separate church and state – or, in this case, province – Premier Dalton McGuinty wants to end the practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer in the Ontario Legislature. McGuinty surprised observers at Queen's Park this morning by appealing for an all-party committee to replace the prayer.

"I believe it is time for Ontario's Legislature to better reflect Ontario's reality and celebrate our diversity," the premier wrote to the leaders of the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.

"It is time to move beyond the daily recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the Ontario Legislature to a more inclusive approach that reflects 21st century Ontario," he said, noting the prayer was last updated in 1969.

"Our counterparts in other provinces and the federal government have adjusted their customs to reflect the diversity of the population.

"The members of the Ontario Legislature reflect the diversity of Ontario – be it Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or agnostic. It is time for our practices to do the same. That is the Ontario way,"
McGuinty wrote.

[ The Star | February 13, 2008 ]
Bill Easum notes that following Jesus into the mission field is either impossible or extremely difficult for the vast majority of congregations in the Western world because of one thing: They have a systems story that will not allow them to take the first step out of the institution into the mission field, even though the mission field is just outside the door of the congregation.
It seems that the template of this highly institutional version of Christianity is so deeply embedded in our collective psyche that we have inadvertently put it beyond the pale of prophetic critique.

[ Alan Hirsch | p.51 ]
"This systems story determines how an organization feels, behaves, no matter how the organizational chart is drawn. It's the primary template that shapes all other things. Restructure the organization and leave the systems story in place, and nothing changes within the organization. It's futile trying to revitalize the church, or a denomination, without first changing the system."

[ Bill Easum | Unfreezing Moves: Following Jesus into the Mission Field ]
I can't impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don't ever quit. Just keep it simple.

You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant.

[ 2 Timothy 4:1-5 | The Message ]

Photo Frenzy

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some of you know that I spent 6 months in Brazil a few years ago. In order to keep in touch with my Brazilian friends they asked me to sign up for Orkut, which is Google's version of Facebook. Orkut seems to be primarily used by Brazilians and most of the profiles are in Portuguese (which I learned while in Brazil).

Up until now I've only been using Orkut to view my Brazilian friend's new pics and to get updates on the church I worked with while in Brazil. Today I decided to look around Orkut. So I started by viewing various friend's profiles, and then looking through some of THEIR friend's profiles, and so on, and so on. Unlike Facebook you can view people's profiles on Orkut even if you're not someone's "friend".

While looking through a bunch of profiles I discovered a profile pic I recognized - a picture of my Flickr friend's young boy from North Carolina! (Who knew he was on Orkut?!) So I clicked on the pic to view the profile and what I discovered made me sick to my stomach.

Let me backtrack. The same Flickr friend USED to post pictures of his two boys on Flickr - publicly. Just general pics of his kids. Hanging out at home, on school trips, at birthday parties. I remember emailing him about all the pics he was posting because I started to notice that he was getting a lot of "views". And I mean a LOT of views! In the email I encouraged him to be careful posting his kid's pictures publicly because there are a lot of strange people out there in Internet Land. He replied and thanked me for my concern but felt everything would be fine.

About six months later I noticed that all of his kid's pictures had been removed from his Flickr account. Apparently he discovered that people were stealing the pictures of his boys (which anyone can do by simply right clicking on the picture and "saving image as") and were posting them on very terrible websites.

So you could imagine the horror when I discovered that someone was doing the very same thing with his picture on Orkut!

I emailed my Flickr friend today to make him aware of this situation and sent him additional information on how to report abuse on Orkut. I also translated the profile description for him (from Portuguese to English), but WON'T do so here due to the sickening details.

Two weeks ago I found that someone had been linking a few of MY Flickr pics to inappropriate sites as well. I posted two beautiful baptism pictures that I took while in Brazil. The pictures included the pastor's wife, a small group leader and two young women that were being baptized - all wearing regular clothes standing in a swimming pool. I discovered that a website (for people that like to look at pictures of women in wet clothes) was providing the links to these two pictures!


And just yesterday I encouraged a friend to check the stats on HER Flickr pics, just in case someone was linking to her pictures. Yup. A parenting magazine posted a picture of her friend's son that she took on their site. Nothing sick or inappropriate, but stolen (without permission) nonetheless.

To this day I will not post people's pictures on Flickr publicly without their consent because of problems like this. In fact, if I don't know you personally (face to face friend or family) you cannot view my people pics on Flickr. Okay, there are a few generic people pics on my Flickr page mostly of people I DON'T know personally (taken at a public event, etc.) but generally speaking you won't see people pics on my Flickr page.

So, why am I writing about this? Because the world is a very different place these days. We hear the warnings about the dangers of the Internet all the time, but do we actually heed them? You know what? We probably should.

And for goodness sake, don't post kid's pictures online (publicly).

Bell Sucks

Up until recently Bell controlled the home telephone service monopoly. Now there are a few more players offering residential service. In Ontario Bell has been known for horrible customer service. A couple of years ago I endured "Bell hell" on behalf of my employer who was moving to a new location. As part of the communication nightmare with Bell's customer service department I began ended all of my phone conversations with, "... oh yeah, one more thing... Bell sucks!" I've been told that Bell has a wall where they display all the terrible things that people say to them over the phone while receiving customer service.

Today I received a voicemail from Bell asking me to call them regarding my telephone number. At first I suspected that it was a marketing call, trying to sell me additional Bell products. But after searching for information online I discovered this call was the real deal. Here's why:
Bell Canada revealed yesterday nearly 3.5 million customers in Ontario and Quebec have had some of their personal information swiped.

Acting on a tip received in mid-January, the country's largest phone company said its corporate security department and police searched two locations in Montreal yesterday morning, arresting a 30-year-old man and recovering the stolen data.

Bell said the information recovered included names, addresses, telephone numbers and a list of Bell's services for some 3.4 million of its customers.

About 5 per cent of the stolen records included unlisted phone numbers. Bell said it was in the process of contacting the affected subscribers.

[ The Star | Feb 13, 2008 ]
Yup. ME = affected subscriber.

They offered to change my phone number (for FREE) which is something I was planning to do at the end of this month anyhow. Why? Well, I've been receiving so many calls for Connie and Matthew (not to mention 10 - 20 hang ups a day) that I decided to get a new number. Now I don't have to pay for it!

p.s. I have no idea who Connie and Matthew are.

Reflecting The Sun/Son

Monday, February 11, 2008
PERFECT day to sit in the sun!! (Indoors, of course, especially since this morning was the coldest day this winter feeling like -30c!)

@ Tim's - almost sweating! Woo hoo! I just wish I had a short sleeved shirt on... maybe shorts... some sand!


Tried to take a pic of my reflection in the Tim's window.

Wow... sun is so therapeutic.

While I enjoyed the sunshine for an hour or so today I wrote the following words...
God, I'm ready to go, do, say, live, start, develop, create, encourage, teach, lead, sing, play... whatever, whenever, however... so, speak Lord. Cuz I'm ready to listen. I'm ready to hear and obey.

I'm also ready to... pray, drive, visit, care for, study, contact, treat, walk with, work for, partner with, buy, sell, give, help, remember, forget... whatever, whenever, however and with whomever.

...and to write, forgive, heal, restore, seek, eat, not eat, hire, invite, confront, move, watch, serve, avoid, be, read, grieve with, support, protest...

Late Day Sun

Thursday, February 07, 2008
Sunshine! Ahhh...

Okay, so it's 4PM, and I got out of bed just over an hour ago, but I'm grabbing the last hour of sunshine regardless.

And it feels so warm on my face... sitting in the window at Tim's. Yes, the sun is setting quickly, but I don't care. Twenty minutes of direct sunlight is all I need.

(Maybe it will be sunny again tomorrow!)