Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Moving

I started this blog way back in 2005 as a means to force myself to write, connect with other thinkers, and dialogue some of our burning questions. The first couple of years were spent debating, commenting, and agitating each other to a fuller, deeper, more authentic faith. It was very common, through the years 2005-2007, to have many many comments on a single, poorly written post. I believe the record amount of comments for any one post was 109.

Anyhow, if you are a regular follower of this blog, I appreciate the many years you have read and learned with me. I would invite you to update your RSS feed, reader, or subscription service over to my new home on the web. You can find my new home here.

The contents of this blog are protected by the creative commons. All Rights Reserved. Protected under Creative Commons (Noncommercial-No Derivative Works-Use With Permission) © 2005 - 2010 (CANADA/USA) 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Ten Best of 2010

1. Best Movie – Jonah Hex, another graphic novel film adaption that made little to no money at the box-office. I’m a sucker for westerns.

2. Best Sporting Event – The Vancouver Olympics. Of course, the best moment was Sidney Crosby’s goal that is burned into every Canadians memory. The most entertaining, though, was Shaun White’s winning half-pipe run.

3. Best AlbumRise Against, Appeal to Reason. In came out in 2008 but my iTunes shows it has the most plays.

4. Best Book – Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Steven King, published in 1983. Just happened to be the best book I read in 2010.

5. Best Video Game – Angry Birds.

6. Best New Website Addiction – Twitter. I finally joined and, after a couple months tweeting, realized that the only people on Twitter are egomaniacs and PR people. I’m not sure which I am. Either way, you can follow me here.

7. Best TV Show – The Office takes the cake again. I know exactly what character I would be if I was on the show.

8. Best Life Change – Quitting coffee. Except, I seem to drink more coffee now that I’ve quit.

9. Best Trip – Dominican Republic with my wife for our 10 year wedding anniversary! So good.

10. Best Photo – My ankle 11 days after falling while rock climbing. This is after the stitches came out.

What are your Top Ten Best?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Christian Christmas Party

It is coming to that time of year when people from all different walks of life come together to enjoy a dizzying amount of Christmas parties. Some of these parties are good and some of them, well, should never have happened. For those of you fretting about your staff Christmas party, you would do well to Google something along the lines of “work Christmas party etiquette” and remember to mind your toos. Your skirt shouldn’t be too high or your neck line too low. Don’t be too flirty, too hairy, or too late, and definitely don’t drink too much. Remember, your boss is there.   

Anyhow, the remainder of this post will deal with another beast altogether: The Christian Christmas Party.

There are two characters that make up the Christian Christmas party guest list; the Christian party-goer and the reluctant non-Christian. Meanwhile the host, who generously opens the doors of their home to their Christian friends, cautiously hides any incriminating evidence that may call their Christianity into question. This may include R-rated movies, an empty bottle of wine or two, or a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

The first on the guest list are usually friends from church. These Christian party-goers usually plan to show up late and arrive extra hungry. In fact, since receiving their invitation to the party, they’ve probably stopped eating altogether. These people know that the host has spent the last month baking and preparing tasty little finger foods. As long as they’re not later than everyone else, they’ll feast like kings. Gluttony, of course, is only a minor sin. Right?

The other guest, much rarer to find at a Christian Christmas party, is probably nervous about the whole ordeal. They’re likely a neighbour or a friend from work who has been a targeted evangelism project. They’ve Googled “Christian Christmas party etiquette” and still don’t know what to expect. If this is you, pay attention! I’ll answer a few questions for you:

1. Yes, as is your custom, bring a bottle of wine as a gift for the host. As long as you arrive on time, they will have ample time to hide it.
2. No, you will not need to plan for a DD. *Note to Christians: “DD” is short for designated driver.
3. Yes, feel free to speak as you normally do. For extra fun, add some color to your conversation if the hosts’ pastor is there.
4. When you are offered a “cider,” don’t be surprised when you are given a “hot apple cider.” These are also good.
5. Yes, dress the same way you would for your office party and mind your toos. Remember, Jesus is there. 
6. If the host advertises ugly Christmas sweater party or white elephant gift exchange, any reason not to go would be fine.

Well, now that we’ve got that all straight, go out and enjoy the Christmas holiday season! It is a great time to get together with friends and family, to tell stories and laugh together, to share good food and drink, and to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas & Traditions

For most people, I think, Christmas is not really Christmas unless the right traditions are observed year after year with a dedication rivalling Santa Clauses’ devotion to cookies and mall appearances. Of course by “right traditions” I don’t mean “right for everyone.” Each person and family have their own traditions, twists on popular traditions, and traditions that make the rest of us wonder how much rum was in the egg nog.

Traditions get funny around the holidays. It is one thing to have your morning coffee tradition (or is it addiction?) and an entirely different thing to have a giant tree slowly dying inside your home. One friend of mine decorates their family tree with sour soother candies. Given the choice, I’d decorate it with bottles of maple syrup, but that’s just me.

Perhaps one of my favourite Christmas traditions, providing many opportunities over the years, has been the mistletoe. It stands to reason that anything that stays green during winter and produces fruit, should be celebrated with a kiss! And though I can’t prove it or find it anywhere in history, this might be the reason men started bringing trees inside the house. The reasoning? The bigger the green plant, the bigger the kiss.

While the Christmas tree first shows up in 16th century literature, most believe its origins date back to 8th century Germany when a missionary with a chainsaw cut down a sacred oak on Christmas Eve. The outraged locals, understandably ticked, were eventually calmed by the planting of a young fir tree and disaster was averted. Eventually, German settlers brought the Christmas tree to Pennsylvania where it sprang to life as a good ol’AmeriCanadiana tradition.

Even earlier, in 4th century Britain, evergreens were given as gifts to each other during the week of Winter Solstice. Interestingly, during this gift giving time, slaves and masters would exchange positions making speech free and, theoretically, unhindered. I imagine this to be like a modern day office Christmas party where cubicle dwellers tip a few back with the boss but can’t and shouldn’t say what they really think.  

The great thing about traditions is that, while you and I may have the exact same tradition, each of us gets to inject our own meaning into the tradition. We are free to adopt and borrow traditions from other ages and cultures and make them uniquely our own. Traditions act as symbols and guideposts that generally point people and communities to something larger.

Christians have been doing this for centuries, and it’s not wrong. Traditions change, they morph, they pick up new meanings and discard old ones, and people carry on. If a Christian wants to decorate an evergreen tree to be reminded of Jesus, fine. Others in history have held that evergreen trees increase sexual potency. Obviously, symbols and traditions mean different things to different people.

As Christians, our hope is that people would come to know the reason behind some of our kooky traditions. Christmas is a celebration of the life of Jesus and we’ve adopted certain cultural things to be reminded of this. What will our Christmas traditions of the future look like? Who knows, but for Christians, it will always include Jesus.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jesus told stories. So do we.

Some version of this hits news stands this weekend. Enjoy.
If there is a universal currency that seems to have transcended country and culture across the ages of time, it certainly would not be the Canadian dollar, the English language, or a gift card to Starbucks. The currency of the ages is story.

I remember passing by an Aldo store full of people, shoes, and people buying shoes, which, at the outset, is totally normal. The giant advertisement in the window was, however, odd. Everything was in its right place; model in a short skirt, long legs, trendy shoes, and cool photography. The only odd part was the question on the advertisement: “What is your story?”

Is Aldo selling shoes or stories? I think the Aldo execs in Montreal know something that the church has sometimes forgotten: our stories are important.

Humans love to tell stories; they are somehow attached to our very nature. Every inspiring story develops out of mundane details of simple day to day living. It’s not extravagance or heroism that tell the miracle of life so much as it is the ordinary moments that all add up to something. The sound a humming bird makes when it hovers in front of a flower, the feel of rain hitting your forehead after a hard day of work, your child’s first words, an old friend emailing to say hi. These are the scenes life is made of; these are the ordinary moments translated into the extra-ordinary. 

We are storied creatures. Right from a very young age we learn to think, believe, and even process the world around us through the context of story and narrative. Not only that, we like to turn life experience into story. For example, a significant experience, a trauma, a close call, a surprise – whatever the experience – we tend to remember as narrative. We don’t necessarily recall the details or get them all right, but that’s not the point. What matters is that we have this story and it somehow shapes how we view the world around us. 

It’s no wonder then that Jesus spent much of his time telling stories. He spent his time wandering around with a vagabond crowd of blue collar workers, terrorists, drunks, sex trade workers, the religious elite who he continually made fun of, and even a few normal folks, telling them stories.  

Story and narrative was the centerpiece of Jesus’ preaching and teaching style. His stories weren’t cute little side dishes of garnish to augment or transition weightier matters. No. They were the epicenter of Jesus’ communication. Jesus hardly said a word to the crowds unless it was framed in story. 

Jesus told stories. Aldo gets it. Why shouldn’t we, the Church? I’m not sure when or how proposition, water-tight logic, and long winded homily took center stage, but it certainly hasn’t proven to be all that inspiring or compelling. I wonder what would happen if preachers spoke in the language of story? I wonder what would happen if preachers narrated, spoke in metaphor, and created images for people? Is it possible for Scripture to become self-evident to people through the stories that are told rather than it being explained point-by-point, proposition-by-proposition? Jesus thought it was possible; imagine if we did.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Confession Booth in the Media

Two weeks ago the UCM crew at UFV hosted a confession booth at the school wide party: Dis-O. The confession booth made it into three separate articles in The Cascade; the university newspaper. Here is my favourite quote re: the Confession Booth from The Cascade.  

Of the various booths set up around the green I believe two specifically deserve attention….The second booth was more mysterious: it was a plywood hut reminiscent of a rural outhouse bearing the title ‘Confession Booth.’ When I saw it, I was immediately intrigued, and I marched up to a helpful volunteer outside to demand an explanation.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“A confession booth,” he explained helpfully, “a reverse confession booth. You see, we are going to confess to you.”

It turned out that “we” was the University Christian Ministries student group, and the “confession” was an apology for most of the boneheaded things Christians have done throughout the ages. Whatever one’s views on religion, a heartfelt apology is a powerful thing, and I look forward to more creativity from UCM in the future.

You can also check out my article on the Confession Booth for the Abbotsford Times.
Grace and Peace,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thrice:: Come All You Weary

I love this song! Performed live by Dustin Kensrue, the lead singer and guitarist for Thrice. Take a moment to listen and enjoy...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What are the Rules of Brainstorming?

I’ve had the privilege of working and brainstorming with a lot of incredibly talented people over the years; daring people, risk taking people, entrepreneurial types with creative appetites that never fill. These are artists, film makers, business people, preachers, musicians, graphic designers, internerds, super-shreds, and even a few random strangers who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I love dreaming and scheming with creatives and have enjoyed seeing the product of some of these sessions when they hit the street.

My experience with these people has helped form a set of guidelines that I use in leading and shaping creative spaces to brainstorm. I don’t hold to these with a tight-fisted rigidity, however, brainstorm sessions are markedly different when I ignore any of the guidelines. Sometimes these guidelines are explicitly expressed so that everybody knows and understands the “rules,” other times – with seasoned creatives – the guidelines are implicit and embedded into the conversation; everybody just knows.

  1. Be Careful Who You Brainstorm With
There are certain people who have a tendency to stir creativity, give life to a thought or concept, and who are ok with wide-open reckless imagining. There are other people, often calling themselves realists, who are especially gifted at putting out the fires of the creative process. At some point, these realists do come in handy offering valuable insights; however, they are rarely helpful in the beginning stages of brainstorming. Make sure that the people you invite into your dialogue are generous with their imagination.  
  1. The Environment is Important
Simply, get out of the boardroom*. A bunch of suits sitting around a big board table trying to drum up the next slick marketing campaign, initiative, or whatever, does produce results; but maybe not the best. The environment does influence how we think and live – the study of human geography clearly shows this. I’ve found that getting out of places that encourage systematic, top-down, and structured cultures and into places that are more fluid, relational, experimental, and playful generates a culture of creativity that far surpasses the boardroom. Some of my favourite places to brainstorm and imagine are brewpubs, apr├Ęs-shred patios, the forest, crowded public spaces, and in my living room with people that I like.

*One other note re: leaving the boardroom: turn your mobile device off and stop worrying about your twitter account, noisy emails, and text messages. Give your attention to being present with your thoughts and where they might lead.
  1. Practice Imagination
Once you’ve got the people and the place nailed down, begin with some exercises in imagination. Don’t link these warm-ups to the project. Make them fun and eccentric, and go out of your way to show how an idea can blossom into something never imagined just moments before. This helps people to loosen up and begin thinking wildly without the controls and limitations that so often ambush a brainstorm session.
  1. Mix and Match Opposites
Mixing and matching opposites, experimenting with apparent contradictions, messing around with the taboo and the prude, turning propositions into metaphors, and using unconventional mediums go a long way in helping ideas develop and form. Plus, it’s a Canadian metric ton of fun to peer around corners and feel out nuances and subtle connections. If we look hard enough, we begin seeing that everything seems to be connected to everything else. This requires creatives to have good eyes, listen with attentive ears, and delve into seemingly unrelated disciplines of thought and practice. When the curious brainstormer pokes and prods around with ambiguities, new ideas are likely to be unleashed.        
  1. Where There is Smoke, There is Fire
If a thought or an idea sparks an interest, follow the idea and flesh it out until the thought becomes ridiculous…and then follow it a little further. Over and over, I have found that out of some of the very weirdest, wackiest, and worst ideas come the very best. The endurance to follow these ideas from horrible-to-great requires some creative hop-scotching and a singular dedication to this: Do not prematurely evaluate ideas. Leave that to the realists (aka CFO’s and accountants) and wait for a good level-headed strategy session later on. Critical evaluation of ideas is important, but it is for a later time.
  1. Have a Safe Word
Finally, build into the brainstorm a place of refuge for anyone who feels like their idea is being unfairly attacked. Make it fun, light, add an action to it, but whatever you do, make sure that your creative team feels safe to explore. The safe word or action should be decided on beforehand and respected when it is used. Safe words provide a moment of pause that helps everyone to recalibrate and begin moving forward again.

Brainstorming with daring creatives is a tremendous amount of fun, tends to look more like fun than work, and is likely to produce more results at a consistently higher quality more often. Happy brainstorming!

Friday, September 10, 2010

If the the entire world lived in a village of 100 people...

A number of years ago, a credible organization endeavored to build a profile of the planets' population by shrinking the population from 5.7 billion people down to a village of 100 people. In the years since, the world population has grown to about 6.8 billion, however, my guess is that the village profile would look very similar. This village of 100 people would look like this:
  • Fifty-seven Asians, twenty-one Europeans, fourteen North and South Americans, and eight Africans.
  • Seventy would be non-white.
  • Seventy would be non-Christian.
  • Fifty percent of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of six people.
  • Those six people would be citizens of the United States.
  • Seventy would be unable to read.
  • Fifty would suffer from malnutrition.
  • Eighty would live in substandard housing.
  • Only one would be college educated.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Leading from Collaborative Spaces

Most who have visited the office space of Christian Life Community Church have uttered comments of surprise as to how chaotic and unordered it seems to be. In fact, most visiting and out-of-town pastors who come through our office usually make a comment very similar to… “Interesting, you guys actually get work done here?”

What makes our office space unique to many offices spaces – whether they are church, business, or other social sector office spaces – is that we don’t actually have offices. Rather, we have what some might call a “team room” or a “commons area” where all of us – lead pastor right through to our yearly apprentices – share a common working space with no walls, doors, sound proofing, or cubicles. Our desks are open, side by side, and within elbow space of everyone else in the office.

Admittedly, this does cause some tension from time to time when one person needs some quiet and another feels like whistling or, for example, when some mysterious team member keeps ‘borrowing’ all the best pens. However, the benefits of our shared work space are amazing. Let me share just three of those benefits with you.

1. Shared Space is Collaborative Space

A major benefit of the shared space at CLCC has been the weekly, daily, hourly times of collaboration with other team members. As pastors we are constantly trying to solve problems, find solutions, and innovate new forms of community and communication. So often, the solutions we are looking for are needed in “real-time” meaning that we need real conversations with real people, right now. The simple proximity of having other people around allows for many impromptu meetings through-out the day without having to leave your desk. Not only that, it is not uncommon for a team member to overhear a conversation in another part of the room and quickly pipe in with a thought or an idea that shapes the rest of the conversation and informs the decision. We believe that decisions and innovations are better in community than they are alone. Our space allows for it to happen.

2. Collaborative Space is Casual Space
Not only does our office function as a work space, it doubles as a place where real friendships, conversations, and familiarities develop. This means that it’s not uncommon for our children to be running around the office exploring its nooks and crannies, that I can proudly wear my stinky bike commuter clothes all day long, and that hundreds of non-work related jokes, stories, and conversations happen all the time. The effect has been that our team has a sense of safety and freedom to express real concerns and have real opinions without the guardedness found in organizations where people don’t really know each other. Collaborative space – especially for lead leaders – takes the concept of the “Walk Around Manager” and evolves it to an “Every Moment Manager” where casual interactions with the rest of the team happen all the time.

3. Collaborative Space is Creative Space
One of the best parts of collaborative space is that it is a breeding ground for creative ideas and innovative solutions. For any organization, the ability to create, dream, and innovate together should be very close to the core of its organizational values. Collaborative spaces jump-start the creative space and inspire people to imagine. This happens for a number of reasons: (1) A diversity of people with their widely different worldview and opinion force us into seeing, thinking, and even believing differently, (2) Mixing and matching seemingly opposite ideas have regularly produced breakthroughs in science, music, education, film, etc., teaching us how to live with duality, and (3) These spaces tend to breakdown the “hierarchy of imagination” opening the doors to ideas not found in the board room. These creative spaces are especially important for Christians whose belief is in a God who, not only is creative, but who has imaged us to be co-creators with Him. Creativity is a natural result of a maturing spirituality. The church, of all people and places, should be among the most creative entities on the planet.

Finally, collaborative spaces are not just open spaces with a bunch of people crammed into them. Collaborative spaces are intentional spaces that motivate a culture of shared learning, shared discovery, communal accountability, and a deep driving commitment to a common mission or cause. I believe that collaborative spaces are part of what is going to be commonly known as “best practices” in team leadership. Here, we applaud differences, honour the curious nonconformist, respect the odd and quirky, allow opposites to live side-by-side, and embrace a collective imagination as a means to lead us forward. Who are the people in your collaborative space?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

VOTE: Embers Logos

With the changing of the seasons, summer to fall, comes the inception of a new weekly gathering of twenty-somethings for worship, teaching, and discussion. You are warmly invited to Embers.

Embers, its name derived from an ancient church tradition, was a time that Christians came together at the changing of each season to reflect and be thankful of the season they just came through and to look forward in prayer, feasting, and fasting in preparation for the season to come. It was a time to slow down and pause, marking the transitions of their year with thankfulness, reflection, and joy.

Wednesday nights at Embers, you are invited to abandon the rush and business of life and to find some rest in a community of worship. Every approaching season, each new journey or project, whether it is a move, schooling, or a relationship, they all come with unforeseen promise and peril. Embers is meant to be a time of rest and reflection for these transitions of your life, my life, and our churches life. Join us as we move from season to season.

That said, we are eager to know what your favourite Embers logo is. Please take a couple of minutes to browse them, decide what your top two logos are, and then post your vote on my Facebook page. Thanks for your participation!

Logo #1: The City

Logo #2: Press Play

Logo #3: The Tree

Logo #4: Ink Blot


Beginning Wednesday, September 29th, Christian Life Community Church will be hosting a weekly gathering of worship, teaching, and discussion geared primarily to the twenty-something crowd but open to all ages.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lonely Everybody?

I quickly pounded this article out for tomorrow mornings' deadline. It hits news stands sometime this week...Enjoy.

In the course of the next few hundred words I’d like to make a small confession that I suspect isn’t all that unique to me. In fact, my guess - and credible research bares it out - is that many of the readers of this little column will feel right at home with me. I’d guess that if you are honest with yourself, even for a very brief moment, that you’d nod your head, see what I see, and feel what I feel.

And here it is; I’m lonely.

To be true, my loneliness is not the deep searing loneliness of Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway or the desperate howling loneliness of the neighbors’ left-at-home flee bag. No, I have an amazing community of people around me who I roadtrip, camp, rockclimb, bike, snowboard, eat, work, and worship with. These are amazing individuals who add a mosaic of value, spice, and color to my life that, when brought all together, cause me to be incredibly thankful for these important relationships.

Yet, from time to time, I still feel this nagging little space in my life that causes me to agree with the Bible’s first indication that everything is not all that it should be. God, in observing all that He had created, sees mankind in isolation and declares, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And He is right; anyone who has felt aloneness, isolation, or has had nobody to call to help them move houses in the city they’ve lived their whole life, knows this. Deeply.

Somewhere along the way, either by our actions, the actions of others, or a combination of the two, the bits and pieces of life have conspired together to devastate our relationships. Dads stop being good dads to their sons and daughters, employers begin treating their employees like this seasons’ BC Lions are playing football, and spouses’ consign themselves to living on different floors of the house just to stay out of each others’ hair.

This is not good.

I’ve found that it is in these seasons of aloneness that I also feel a sense of disorientation and a stumbling stupor to some of the big questions in life. Questions like, “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the point of all this?” Not that big questions are bad questions, they’re just difficult questions, especially when I’m alone. Commenting on these questions, author Steven Pressfield says, “These are not easy questions. They’re not easy because the human being isn’t wired to function as an individual. We’re wired tribally, to act as part of a group.”

This is what I long for; a tribe of my own, people to tell stories with, an ordeal to conquer with someone, and a memory that is shared with them. I guess you could call this community. But it seems deeper than what is often programmed and marketed by organizations, including the church.

However, my experience has shown time-and-time again that when I slow my pace of life, make myself vulnerable to friendship and connection, and intentionally engage in the life of a community - meaningful connection with other people follows. I find these places in my church, my rockclimbing community, and the surprise of all places - my actual neighbors, dog and all. This, people connected with other people desipte their differences and distinctions, is what I think God might call, “Very good.”

Jeremy Postal pastors in Abbotsford and is an introvert who must be forced or bribed out of his garage and into the real world where there are real people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congo Microfinancing Project: Mike & Amy Boomer

Former CLCC Apprentice, Mike Boomer, and his wife Amy are departing for the Democratic Republic of Congo Sept. 19 to continue their new work coordinating a microfinancing project. The aim of this project is to to abolishing poverty in developing nations by giving small business loans to impoverished individuals. Please watch the video below and spend a few minutes looking through their website.

Congo Microfinance Project from Mike Boomer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Artist God

The following mess of words will appear this Friday in my monthly Abbotsford Times column. Happy innovating!

One of my favorite expressions and descriptions of the Christian God is that He is Creator God. This particular name of God has led to all kinds of opposition, argument, in-fighting, good science, bad science, and crazy speculations by Christians and evolutionists alike. And, while the creation-evolution debate rages on, a couple of key concepts about this Creator God get missed.

First, if this God is real and He did in fact create the world around us, then Christians should take seriously God’s command to care for and tend to the earth. Unfortunately, we Christians have been up in arms for years over the creation/evolution debate, dumping time, energy, and resources into defending our claim for a Creator God while largely ignoring to care for His creation like He asked. Many bridges could be built and many walls broken down when we recognize that, though there is disagreement on the origins of our blue planet, there is wide scale agreement that we must care for it.

Second, if we can believe the Bible, which says that humankind was made in the image and likeness of Creator God, then we will also come to understand that part of what it means to be human is to create. We are creative creatures wired in such a way that we love to make music, paint and write, dance and sing, sculpt, dream, and enjoy the beauty of artistic expression found all around us.

Artists are funny people; easily stereotyped as being slightly off-centre, nocturnal, (w)mildly moody, on the bizarre edge of fashion and taste with quirky intelligence, poor grammar, even worse math skills, and ideals that would make the 60’s blush.

The reality, however, is that our very humanness means that every one of us is a creative artist and innovator in some way. An artist isn’t a special type of person with quirky habits so much as every person is a special type of artist. This means that desk jockies in their cubicles wearing beige khaki pants and sweater vests are creative genius’ at something and that the people you least expect to create and innovate will astound you with something.

Sadly, part of the brokenness and incompleteness of the human nature has been the wide-scale loss or suppression of the artist within. For the Christian, this affects our faith in a profound way. One artist said it this way, “An unimagined faith is as undesirable as an unreasoned faith. Without imagination, all hearts are closed, all desires unknown.” When we are able to imagine and envision a God that is beautiful, we begin to feel and experience a faith that is vibrant; our hearts are opened, and we begin to come alive in all that we do. Color, rhythm, experimentation, invention, and curiosity spurs on our faith, often causing us to creatively respond to injustice, innovate new forms of worship and community, and imagine a way for the church to move forward in a culture that thinks we’re backwards.

The church, of all places, should be the most creative place on earth as we strive to be like Artist God who made us in his image and likeness, co-creators in the world he made. Can you imagine that?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Come You Weary

The following article will appear in my monthly Abbotsford Times column. Enjoy.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have been laid up at home with my leg in the air while Facebooking, watching movies, and drifting in and out of sleep like Homer Simpson at church. This lazy sounding existence is not something I have chosen for myself, rather, it was imposed on me by a nasty rockclimbing fall that’s going to leave a mean scar and make for a great war story. And, as much as I would like The Times to run a photo of the open wound on my ankle, most of the readership of this little column would probably pass out or tap out before reading the rest of the piece. Please feel free to direct thank-you letters to the editor.

Another part of my routine has been a twice daily trip the Abbotsford hospital for IV therapy to treat the wounds’ ensuing infection. There are also multiple visits to my family doctor and the occasional hobble into Emergency. These daily little trips to the hospital and away from the gloom of my bedroom have begun to be what I look forward to and even enjoy. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the pain, infection, injury, and line-ups, hospitals would be a desirable place to go. There is a Starbucks, a comfortable atrium, friendly staff who care and seem to know a lot about you, and a reasonable amount of parking! Why don’t people just simply hangout at the hospital? It’s a great place.

Jesus, in one of his defensives against critics who called him a glutton and drunk for eating with sinners, simply stated, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Now imagine for a moment if hospitals didn’t serve the sick and needy of Abbotsford, but rather the healthy. What would they look and feel like? I imagine that our Westcoast doctors’ would trade in their drab green scrubs in favour of khaki’s, socks, and sandals. Nurses’ would drink non-fat no-whip triple-shot mocha’s before, during, and after everything. Technicians would keep ogling new technology and custodians would gather empty coffee cups while the volunteers ogle the five dollar drinks. That, and there would be a sign out front that reads, “Taking care of each other, no room for the sick.”

Hospitals were imagined, designed, built, and are administrated for the purposes of bringing hope, health, and recovery to the broken, sick, and hurting of our communities. In so many ways, the Church was too, and it is both saddening and sickening when I see churches with signs out front that read, “Taking care of each other, no room for the sick.”

As Christians, we must take seriously Jesus’ cause and mission of bringing hope to the hopeless, refuge to the refugee, health to the sick, and comfort to the dying. The followers of Jesus, whom he called the Church, have the mandate of loving the lonely, bringing joy to the broken-hearted, and offering peace to the troubled. Can you imagine a church designed, built, and administrated for these purposes? Imagine what our community would look and feel like if the followers of Jesus devoted its energies to these purposes? Imagine if the sign out front read, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I can, others have, can you?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Big Wild Canada!

Hey yo - I just thought I would pass on a website of a great Canadian organization that works very hard to conserve and protect Canada's wild spaces. Wild spaces are becoming more and more rare as industry and development continually encroach on forests and wetland. Anyways, here is a great picture from a recent Big Wild newsletter that I thought was interesting. To see a larger version, make sure to go and check out the website and, if you're feeling earthy, join the newsletter and keep yourself informed. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hope Bouldering: New Bouldering Guide

Hope and the eastern Fraser Valley have been a playground of bouldering for local boulderers for the last ten years. Areas are scrubbed, climbed and developed, new areas are found, and then old areas forgotten. This seems to be the case with scores of really cool boulder fields around Hope, BC. To combat this, we've decided to produce some mini-select guidebooks to a few of the areas. The first mini-guidebook will cover just over 100 select problems at Hunter Creek with topo's, photo's, descriptions, and the all-mighty tick box. The Hunter Creek Select is nearly complete and will be made available early summer in a very limited print run. If you would like to get your hands on a copy, they will be for sale at Project Climbing Centre in Abbotsford or you can email
Happy sending.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Every Member a Minister

The following short article appears in this Friday's Abbotsford-Mission Times. Enjoy.

A simple drive through our beautiful little city in the country should confirm in you the suspicion that there are a lot of churches in town. The Abbotsford Bible-belt is full of them and, as a result, there are a lot of pastors who live here. It seems that I can’t go anywhere in this town without running into some pastor from some church just down the block. We’re everywhere. At your coffee shop. At the gym. Wondering if the traffic at Sumas will ever move. We are here.

Locally, there seems to be two popular and opposing perceptions of the value and worth of a pastor. The first perception is antagonistic. Often, those who hold this perception have been burned, hurt, or disenfranchised with church leadership and have decided that church leadership is synonymous with bad leadership. There are, no doubt, examples of church leadership that have been terribly destructive and should not be respected, trusted, or tolerated. However, to conclude that if one pastor is not to be trusted than all pastors should not be trusted is like saying that if country music is bad (which it is), than all music is bad. It’s bad logic.

The second view that I’ve come across in Abbotsford is that pastors can do no wrong. We hover in unattainable spiritual heights listening to praise music while conjugating Greek verbs and living a perfect and sinless life. We never drive like you do. We don’t curse, we’ve never had a fight with our spouse, and we certainly have never thought about skipping church. Business owners who hold this view often give us free coffee, cheap green fees, and discounts like you wouldn’t believe. Needless to say, my Dutch pastor friends and I really like this. And, while there is Biblical support for honoring and respecting spiritual leadership, the idea of pastor-on-a-pedestal has caused some serious dysfunction in the church.

The dysfunction is this: pastors are not the only ministers in the church. In fact, Scripture clearly outlines the idea that each person has unique gifts and abilities and has a significant part to play in the overall ministry of the church. And while the recognized pastor in your church has a unique role to play in the church, he doesn’t play all the roles. This would be like asking Roberto Luongo to single-handedly defeat the Chicago Blackhawks. It obviously doesn’t work!

Considering this, I’d like to make three affirmations about Christian ministry. First, all Christians have a unique call to some kind of Christian ministry. Each one of us follows Jesus’ example to feed the poor, preach the Good News, build inclusive communities, stand up for justice, comfort the hurting, and serve the needy. Each Christian, and not just the pastor, has the responsibility to follow Jesus into Christian ministry.

Second, there is a huge variety of ministries that you can be involved with. Changing the oil in a single moms’ car or moping up the mess that the pastors’ kid makes are not inferior to the more public ministries of teaching or leading. One is not superior to the other; they all work together for the common good, cause, and function of the church.

Finally, the type of ministry that you find yourself in will likely be centered around how God has wired and designed you. Your unique gifts and abilities combined with the hobbies, work, people, geography, or whatever that you’re passionate about should give you some indication as to what, where, how, and who you’ll serve in Christian ministry.

Simply, each Christian of the church is a minister, called into ministry, and has an important and unique role to play. And though us pastor types do enjoy what we do, we would be much more satisfied seeing each one of you finding your role and place in ministry along side of us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Newfoundland Bouldering Vid

This bouldering video looks pretty sick...I may finally have a reason to check out the right coast!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wildest Dream: Mt. Everest, George Mallory, & Conrad Anker

Earlier this year I read a book about Conrad Anker's expedition to summit Mt. Everest and find the body of George Mallory. George Mallory is thought by some to be the first person to have ever summited the world's tallest peak, some 30 years before Sir Edmund Hillary claimed the first ascent. The National Geographic trailer for the upcoming film looks awesome! Check it out.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Faces of Jesus

The following short article recently appeared in the Abbotsford-Mission Times which resulted in a flurry of emails to my inbox. I thought I'd post it here for the world of blog to enjoy.

Maybe you have noticed, or maybe you haven’t, but there seems to be an over-abundance of “Jesuses” that have taken over the modern landscape of Christian thought. The attempt to modernize and make contemporary the Biblical and historical Jesus has given us some humorous and, admittedly, some embarrassing modern depictions of Jesus. Some of these pictures of Jesus, however, have proven to be quite loyal to the person, work, and divinity of Jesus while others have been about as successful as a miracle diet pill.

While the Bible is quite clear on who Jesus is, it is also quite clear in its warnings to avoid teaching that presents a Jesus other than the Jesus presented in Scripture. I am continually amazed at how creatively we tend to read our own culture back into the portrait of Jesus. I’ll give you a few examples.

To begin with, there is the always popular single, white, North American and totally employable Jesus who drives a mini-van and lives in the suburbs. This Jesus often pops up in paintings with blue eyes and boyish good looks.

The 1960’s step-cousin to this Jesus is the VW hippie Jesus who wandered Palestine as a homeless peasant with some quasy-intellectual thoughts and a few witty stories to entertain the people. Hippie-Jesus was non-confrontational, totally tolerant, and staged a few sit-ins just to show how tolerant and non-confrontational he was.

The opposite of Hippie-Jesus is UFC-cage-fighter-Jesus currently being made popular by a preacher in Seattle. This Jesus can take a beating, drinks beer, eats red meat, curses, worked a construction job, and will – in this round or the next – kick some tail.

And while Moralist-Jesus disapproves of UFC-Jesus drinking beer, he definitely agrees with Political-Lobbyist-Jesus that they need to put someone in a headlock.

Of course there is also Capitalist-Jesus, Che Guevera-Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar-Jesus, Environmentalist-Jesus, and Oprah Winfrey-Jesus. There is Jesus the Economist, Jesus MD, Houdini-Jesus, the Great Therapist in the Sky Jesus, and the unforgettable eight pound six ounce Will Ferrell baby Jesus. To name a few.

With so many versions of Jesus, it is understandable why the identity of Jesus is vague, lost, confused, misrepresented, or abused by so many. This is especially true in the Abbotsford Bible belt where, though our theology may present Jesus as both King and Saviour, often our lives present him as anything but. Largely, the picture and image of Jesus that your spouse, classmates, co-workers, and neighbours see, is the picture and image of your life. What image are you presenting? What is the picture and portrait of Jesus you are painting for the people around you?

Our claim that Jesus is “King” and “Saviour” is our claim that we organize our lives around the obedience to his teaching. If this is our claim, we arrange our lifestyle, finances, schedules, sex lives, and our eating and drinking around the unique call and commission of Jesus Christ. If this is our claim, we have the deep and ongoing responsibility of seeking out and following the Biblical picture of Jesus. Which Jesus do you represent?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Faith & Doubt

Recently I was asked to write a short piece for Pastor Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living magazine. The Canadian edition is called Insights and is available nationally by subscription. My article deals with snowboarding, rockclimbing, uncertainty, faith, and doubt and appears this month in both print and online formats. Check it out HERE.

PHOTO: Yours truly. North Shore. Circa Old School.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Marginal Living

The following article hit news stands today. Ironically, though the piece is about a slower pace of life and living, I wrote it last minute before deadline and my editor fixed it up while in the early stages of child labor. Enjoy!

The day, as it where, is broken down into many different little segments of time. Some call these segments seconds, minutes, and hours while others prefer to use more general terms such as dawn, morning, afternoon, evening, night, and bed to describe their day. Either way, these various parts of the day have a tendency to fill up very quickly with things like commutes, appointments, errands, home renovations, a second job, night school, and even the rare visit to the gym. There just never seems to be enough time!

I do most of my living in the balanced part of the day; nothing extreme. I rarely stay up when the schedule says bed and I even more rarely get up when the schedule says dawn. My mornings generally belong to breakfast and newspapers, afternoons belong to noise and appointments, and evenings belong to wrestling with my son, Seinfeld re-runs, rock climbing with friends, and reading books with few pages, large print, and even larger margins.

Actually, if you were to browse through my library you would find that the margins of most of my books are written in, drawn or doodled on, in order to highlight the noteworthy bits of the book; I use the margins of my books to highlight the content.

I love margins. They are the spaces around the content which, when re-read, generally contain the most significant parts. Likewise, I’ve found that the slower I live and the more margins I build into my day and life, the more likely it is that I am able to really notice what the content of life is saying. I am more attuned to my wife and son; I am more productive at work; I respond more honestly to injustice; I am able to notice things like a sad face in the coffee shop or a co-worker who’s had a difficult week at home. Instead of merely tasking my way through life at a frantic and unsustainable pace, I am able to slowly explore and discover what life looks like at a slower pace, in rhythm, and with margins.

In fact, I think that as one reads Scripture, there is a theme of “margins” that pops up time and again and which should orient the way we live, know, and see. Psalms 46:10 reminds us, “Be still and know that I am God.” We are to have a perspective of living biblically called “Sabbath”; the ability to find rest even amidst the commotion and busyness of life. Further, while this orientation of slow living certainly includes rest and refreshment, it is also intricately connected to a rhythmic lifestyle of working, feasting, and partying. Sabbath is much more than a particular day or time; it is a way of living.

How do you live? Are you living slow enough to care about the things you care about? Are you tuned in to the people around you; your family, friends, and strangers? Have you allowed for the time and space in your life – the margins – where you are able to truly, honestly, and significantly live? What are the margins in your life highlighting?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome to Vancouver! Winter Olympics 2010

If you've ever wanted to see Vancouver from the air without leaving the captains seat at your desk, this is the way to do it!! Check it out, very cool.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Saints Are Coming

The Green Day and U2 collaboration of "The Saints are Coming" at the re-opening of the Superdome in New Orleans. It kind of reminds me of what the party might have been like at the end of Ezra 3. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fraser Valley Bouldering:: Hunter Creek Access Issues

Please follow this link for a quick update about access issues at the Fraser Valley's premiere bouldering area: Hunter Creek. Thanks for doing your part in keeping this area clean and accessible.

Nate Woods on Prawn V6

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cash Money

JC is still tingling my earbuds...