\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Health

Rochester Rule of Life: Finding a Rhythm

Rule of Life

1. We acknowledge that God is our Father Who desires intimacy with His children and is the source of life and desires to impart life.

AND

We vow to welcome and receive intimacy with God by the practices of silence, solitude, simplicity, prayer, and scripture.

  •  I will practice the openness to recognizing whatever scripture I am in daily, that it will speak into the experiences, events, and life practices I partake in.
  • I will seek the invitation of God and His story in all people I meet while inviting them to be a part of my story.

2. We acknowledge that God’s Trinitarian nature reveals a mutual submission among His Persons.

AND

We vow to practice mutual submission as we live in the context of community.

  •  I will give myself in service to the needs of my wife, my tribe (church), and my community as they have need or desire for the work of the Kingdom.
  • I will pursue the understanding of my community’s needs by developing and fostering a relationship with community leaders and civil servants.

3. We acknowledge that God is a welcoming, gracious, merciful, lover of all people Who stands in solidarity with us and desires to be with us.*

AND

We vow to practice both giving and receiving hospitality and neighborliness.

  •  I will seize every opportunity to pursue a relationship with my neighbours while creating environments of connection by being personally visible on the street as much as possible.
  • We (Bonnie & I) continue to have an open house as we welcome any and all to out table over visiting and tribal gatherings.
  • I continue fostering relationships with the other amidst diversity in beliefs, understandings, and cultures.

4. We acknowledge that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is a redeeming God Who is in the process of restoring all things.

AND

We vow to participate in practices that actively restore shalom.

  •  I will continue serving at the Calgary Mustard Seed while developing friendships and relationships with the many homeless on Calgary’s streets.
  • I will seek every opportunity to speak out against injustice, prejudice, and worldly labels particularly in the issues of euthanasia, mental illness, and those considered “disabled”.

5. We acknowledge that God is the creator of this world and all things belong to Him and are for Him
AND
We vow to live as faithful stewards of God’s creation including our bodies and resources

  • I will seek to live a healthy life by educating and developing a greater understanding of the workings to a holistic life.
  • I will seek to train my body through exercise every week by weight training, wheeling, and healthy eating habits.
  • I will submit to the continued understanding that I am not my own person, I am a temple to the Holy Spirit, and therefore under the possessive communal dwelling of his continued eternal presence amidst my own.

Bridge Nets, Meaning and the Co-curricular By Ron Fraser

Bridge NettingThis fall tens of thousands of young people have begun studies after high school. They have worked hard for this. Having won the prize of admission reserved for those disciplined in study, they will enter rich academic environments, richer then they have ever known, to pursue the promise of a good job.

They will find courses devoted to every question under the sun. But there is one question for which they will search in vain: the question of life’s meaning, of what one should care about besides a job and why, of what life and living is for.

I’ve been thinking about this vacuum recently. Western public education began with the notion that life’s most important questions are appropriate subjects for students to explore. This has all but disappeared. It is perhaps truer to say that what is most important in life has been collapsed, within education itself, to economics. Economic globalization of the last three decades or so has been the final squeeze to push questions of value and meaning out of formal learning. The disciplines with the oldest, deepest connection with these questions, the humanities, including the study of religion, have been badly weakened, even within secular universities. Research, the capacity to produce “true value” for new economic opportunity, is now king. Education is about commodities and the quantifiable. The question “What is life for?” is homeless here.

The loss of the quest for meaning has come at a staggering price. The September 2012 Maclean’s headlined Canadian students  feel hopeless, depressed, even suicidal. Among other things it discussed the results of a 2011 survey of 1,600 University of Alberta students, where “about 51 percent reported that, within the past 12 months, they’d felt things were hopeless. Over half felt overwhelming anxiety. A shocking seven percent admitted they’d seriously considered suicide, and about one percent had attempted it.” Canadian universities don’t have a monopoly on these things. At Cornell University in New York, the solution for hopelessness and depression has been to install bridge netting under the seven bridges leading to campus to catch jumpers on their way to class. Sadly even the article itself reduced the problem to one of “mental health“. Mental health is serious stuff, and important to acknowledge and deal compassionately with. The issue though is complex. Hopelessness, depression, and anxiety has much to do with the conditions of life, like prior to a major assignment. There will, as the saying goes, “always be prayer in schools as long as there are exams.

Despite globalization, the quest for meaning persists. At one level it helps us cope. With a “why“, Victor Frankl observed, we can deal with any “how“. For Christians though, our longing for transcendence empowers us to invest in riches that can be enjoyed forever. The scriptures call it “hope in Christ” (1 Cor. 15).”Hoping in Christ” helps us to endure too. It also gives us the Model for living, a Christ shaped character, and a horizon far past the hollow promises of consumer culture, a reason to spend life for the sake of others.

Since questions for meaning are always questions of the spirit, and the right and proper subject of Christian education, it would be easy to say here “Hooray for Christian education!

However, life’s meaning is far more than “a question” of the spirit. It is rather a quest, a hunger of the spirit. That’s why not all churches or even places like ABC are automatically places of authentic spiritual food. Sometimes Christian institutions  bear a strange similarity to religious studies classrooms where information about God or belief systems is passed off as sufficient for Christian discipleship. Information however, while important and necessary, is hardly sufficient for becoming a follower of Jesus.

At the heart for our quest for meaning is Jesus who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He didn’t say, “I’ve come to tell you ‘Ten steps to walk in the Way.‘” He didn’t say, “I’ve come to tell you the Truth.” He said, “I am the Truth.” He offers Himself. This of course matches our yearnings precisely. They are for Love Himself. Information is not enough for the quest!

Jesus knew all of this! He knew that what disciple-learners needed more than anything in their quest was a model of loving surrender to the Father. This was a lengthy process, even under the master Teacher! Along the way there were questions, doubts, fears, denials, prejudices, jealousies, and a host of other distractions. Their enemy was ours too: they thought that the “Way” was the way of privilege and power. All of them desert Him at one point. After three years of instructions they still think that (Acts 1:8). Throughout this jagged journey to learn Him, every moment was a teachable one. He never gives up on them.

Regardless of how that quest unfolded in particular cases, the common thread was that Jesus was always with them, entering life with them, challenging, encouraging, whittling away their self-preoccupation. All this to say that for Jesus curriculum was not enough. He longed for them to experience His inner life. His presence was key!

Dallas Willard puts it this way: “…spiritual formation rests on the indispensable foundation of death to self and cannot proceed except in so far as that foundation is being laid and sustained. You cannot follow Jesus from a distance. You do life with Him.” (Renovation of the Heart, Page 64)

The quest for meaning is satisfied through the challenging conversation and encounters where life’s big questions are faced honestly. In fact, our gospels are both declaration and a “working through” of the conversations about what it means to live for Someone else. Without those conversations, they wouldn’t exist! Peter Berger is correct: “Worldview hangs on the thin thread of conversation.

As they walked with him, Life seeped in. Jesus’ own dreams of a new, Other-oriented life took shape. They learned to serve by serving. They learned to love by loving. They learned to be loved, by being loved. Meaning arrived not by armchair philosophizing, but through fresh encounters with Life Himself. Jesus knew that the transformative turning points of life are already in the journey, not just in the synagogue.

It is easy, and so tempting, to think of what is done outside the classroom as unimportant. It is not. The stakes are too high, the consequences too stark, the possibilities for Others too rich, and the horizons of meaning to beautiful, to abandon the co-curricular.


Unconditional Gratitude – An Open Letter to Brian McLaren

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS 1I tend to like the dark. Truth is, I spend most of my best reading time in the dark; staying up late into the night in bed with my book in front of me and my small little reading light curled over the top of it as I envision the author standing before me speaking the words I’m reading as though we were engaged in a deep conversation. I’m not sure why but I feel like my mind is just more focused that way, more willing to engage in what the text is saying.

It was a few nights ago though that after starting Brian McLaren’s new book ‘Naked Spirituality‘ that I came across a conversation he expressed having about gratitude that deeply disturbed me. I usually am greatly inspired by his writing which is why it took me back so much when reading it. Try as I might, the discontent would not leave so I thought it best to put pen to paper and express my thoughts in an open letter here. Will McLaren every read it? I do not know but, I hope by verbalizing it we might all grow to find a deeper, more unconditional spirit of gratitude.

Dear Brian McLaren,

I remember the first time I ever picked up one of your books. I was in  a Chapters book store here in SW Calgary looking for something different and came across your writing of ‘A New Kind of Christian‘. Like most other times in book stores, I began reading it in one of the aisles and found I could not put it down. Most often I like to read apologetics or theology books and it is my wife who reads the narratives and biographies but your thoughts in this book where mesmerizing! Needless to say I was finished it in 3 days and on to find the 2 follow ups after it.

Since then I have gone on to read a number of your other books including starting most recently your latest work in ‘Naked Spirituality‘. After hearing so many of your thoughts in your other books though I must admit to being a bit distressed in a story you speak of regarding a spirit of gratitude. You say,

When I was still a teenager, my friend Mary asked me, “How much money would you give to keep your eyesight if you knew you were going blind?”

“A lot,” I answered. “Everything.”

Then she asked, “What if it was your ability to walk – if you had a disease that would leave you wheelchair-bound unless you could pay for a cure. How much would you spend?”

“Everything,” I said. “I’d liquidate everything I own and go as far into debt as I could to save my mobility.”

“How about your hearing?”

“The same,” I answered.

“How about your sanity – your mental health, your intelligence?”

Finally I asked, “What’s your point?”

“I’m just trying to save you from BYTS – the Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome,” she said, evoking the newly released Joni Mitchell song. “If you were to loose any one of these abilities, you would pay millions of dollars to recover it, so each one is worth millions of dollars to you. You would rather have the ability to see or hear or move or think then tens of millions of dollars in the bank. Well,” she smiled and gave me a little shove, “you have them! Which means you’re better off than a multimillionaire! You have to know what you’ve got before it’s gone.”

Box FramingI realize that we live in a world that likes to box frame such things as success, richness, blessings, normality, and capability but in honesty I can’t help but feel personally towards this story. In open truth, here I am, in a wheelchair, paralyzed as a quadriplegic after a car accident 18 years ago, reading this story, and what I’m hearing is you would rather do anything, including go as far into debt as possible, then become like me!

Why? What is wrong with me? What am I lacking that makes your abilities more valuable then my own? Should I then go and do “everything” to not be this person in a wheelchair?

Let me share a story with you which comes from an experience I had prior to the car accident that has placed me in this wheelchair and is strangely similar to your encounter under the stars. It was about a year before my life would change in such a dramatic way and like most days I was found dribbling a basketball down the street. I was always athletic competing in just about everything and being a 6 foot 210 pound 15 year old I was as invincible as you could be!

Growing up in the church I understood the concept of God but I really didn’t take the conversation seriously. Anyways, there I was, dribbling down the street towards the courts and I distinctly remember an inner voice speaking to me. It said, “How would you like to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life?

Now my mother had worked with people in the health care industry before who had been in wheelchairs and so it wasn’t like I wasn’t aware of some of the challenges these people face in life. Still, without really taking notice of who I was talking with and the implications of what I would say, I shot back, “Sure, I could do that! It would make me cool, unique, and I’d be some what revered!

Let’s be honest here; I had no idea what I was talking about. More to the point, I had no idea who I was talking too! Looking back now I can honestly say that I know I was talking with God that day and he was preparing me for what was going to become very shortly, a new projection to the pilgrimage of my life. Still, what was I looking for here? What was the deeper desire? Maybe even, what would make me grateful to be who God created me to be?!

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the secret vision of Jesus. (Thought you might like that term ;) ) Jesus’ disciples loved asking questions and they were constantly asking him about the “why’s” in life. One time they were walking on the streets of Jerusalem and they came across a blind man begging on the side of the street. His followers turned to him and said, “Teacher, why is this man born blind and disabled since birth? Is it because he himself has displeased God or did his parents offend God?” (John 9:2)

Jesus looked at them and answered, “It is neither because God is displeased in this man or offended by his parents. It is so that he can do the incredible works of God through being who he was created to be!” (John 9:3) Blindness was seen by Jesus not as a lacking or deficiency  but rather a personification of God given character and identity. This man was special, unique, and cool because of who God made him to be!

I have been in a wheelchair for many years now and gained much more wisdom and appreciation for the gifts God has placed in my life because of the wheelchair I live in. As such I must admit to recognizing that you probably are writing this false understanding of gratitude without realizing the danger nor damage this sense of false gratitude can create. But, we must see beyond the world’s sense of segregationalized and marginalized gratitude. Our eyes must be blinded by the glory of the cross which drives gratitude straight to the hearts of the segregated and marginalized!

I have been around some incredible people who face incredible physical and mental challenges in life and one thing that has been greatly impressed upon me is the real spirit of being able to accomplish all things through Christ’s inspiration and guidance. (Phil. 4:13) Perhaps something I am most grateful for is the encountering of Christ’s presence through such relationships and events!

We have met one time before a few years back when you came to Calgary to speak with Bob Goudzwaard on your book ‘Everything Must Change‘. After your talk I came up and shook your hand while you signed my copy of ‘A Generous Orthodoxy‘. Perhaps this is something else that must become more generous in recognition and must change in our society’s understanding of appreciation. A real spirit of gratitude is not an appreciation for what we quantify as the justifiable right in our life; but rather the physical, mental, and spiritual diversity and beauty God has placed in each one of our lives both individually and communally. Sharing those things together as equals and sharing full equity between each other despite differences; those moments are truly miraculous and filled with the glorious spirit of eternal gratitude!


Pro-Life, Protests, and the Hopes for the Proliferation of the Truth Through Grace and Love

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s not the easiest discussion to have and yet a few days ago, when a friend posted THIS article, I felt compelled to begin a conversation and explore what it means to rightfully stand for a Pro-Life agenda while not compromising a Christ like mindedness and nonviolent mission. I do agree and understand standing for pro life values. Yet, the judgmental exploitation of graphic images can cause greater harm to those who have been through abortional issues. I ask the question; is this how Christ would respond to the “woman at the well“? (John 4:1-26) My hope is that as Christ’s followers we can learn to respond to these issues with more a Spirit of love!

The Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform has for several years protested against the practice of abortion for several years here in Calgary by posting graphic images to bill boards, and protest signs openly on street corners and in front of clinic buildings. Any unsuspecting passer by from the age of 50 down to 5 would be instantly subjected to the violence of aborted fetuses and gruesome death. Is this really how we should protest against the tragic loss of life due to these issues? Must we force everyone from senior citizens to children to be visually aware of this grotesque misrepresentation of choice?

It is argued that if the sexually explicit images of naked bodies and such could be used to promote sexuality in media, television, and promotional ads; then these graphic images to which the CCBR are using could also be used in the protest against abortion issues. It is true that our culture and society are deeply affected by sexual immorality and we cannot ignore the misuse of such advertising and should likewise protest against such images. Yet, sin is not graded nor quantified. You cannot compare graphics from abortions to sexuality. Nor do I think the acceptance or use of one cancels out or excuses the use of the other.

We as followers of Jesus need to embody a message of protest which lovingly takes the discussion of abortion into the public with a practice of grace and not judgement. But, we must be willing to ask how and who does this also. Statistics may advocate for a faster more immediate response but are always a poor base for Christian social activism otherwise, one man’s death would count for nothing! With regards to who… Perhaps only one percent of those who struggle with the contemplation of abortion are reached by the Crises Pregnancy Center but, who’s fault is that? We need to have a community which not only embraces the truth but builds a community of openness and interdependence upon one another. One which builds relationships in the practices of grace! Proper Christian activism spends less reliance upon the movement of para-church organization and instead takes the message of truth directly to the heart of the formation of community and church.

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Several years ago I remember reading a book by Philip Yancey where he described an art exhibit called something like the Cadaver Museum. In it you would find everything from the preserved lungs of a smoker, the heart of an obese man, bodies riddled with cancer, and even aborted fetuses. It was meant to promote an awareness to the many health issues and effects they have on the human body. A small portion of it I believe came through the Glenbow Museum here in Calgary maybe a year or so ago. The city was shocked and in an uproar as to the ethical issues this placed on them and yet the display was not public nor visible unless you actually went into the exhibit yourself.

Do I think graphic and violent images can be shared in the Spirit of love? the short answer is yes, but not in the way the CCBR chooses to do so under their understanding of love. Yes, the CCBR does have the freedom to protest and yet true freedom is not the ability to do what you want to do. Freedom is not the ability, the right, to do what I want to do. Freedom is the power to do what we should do. I do not protest the CCBR’s RIGHT to protest; I protest the WAY they choose to protest!

It is true that many war memorials and Holocaust Museums have horrible graphic images as to the atrocities the Jews and others have been through. Yet, these images are not paraded and displayed on the street corners for any and all to see. They are shared in places and environments which build bridges of relationship and foster healing and not deconstructive separations between absolute rights and wrongs.

King David had committed a horrible sin; he had committed adultery and after it was discovered he would be exposed, he then committed murder to cover it up. The prophet Nathan rather then convicting him the the public courtyards then took him aside, and he told him a story of a a rich man who stole a poor man’s lamb. David was enraged by this sin and it was only after this that Nathan told him that it was him and David repented remorsefully for he knew that God was the one speaking to him. (2 Sam. 12:1-15)

I ponder whether the outcome of this story would have been different should Nathan had forcibly convicted David in the public eye. If we have learned anything as followers of Jesus, it’s that we should not scare at the images of violence in this world. Were it not so then the cross would have no meaning. Jesus promised us, “In this world you will have tribulation.” Yet we cannot allow those images to be used outside of a Christ like manner. We cannot dismiss that it is not us who will overcome but the amazing graces of Jesus who has “overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” – John 21:20-22


Re:Genesis With Dr. Jeff Koep – Finding Health in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges

Last November we had the honor of my friend and chiropractor Dr. Jeff Koep coming and sharing his faith with our Re:Genesis group. He had quite the testimony and spirit for encouraging holistic faith and health while we spoke for about 1 1/2 hours! Jeff offered five practices of holistic health which when applied with our faith can give a real representation of what it means to find health in the midst of the greatest challenges. Here is a letter which he offered at his practice of South Trail Chiropractic Family Wellness Center in the following weeks.

To see a write up on our January Re:Genesis gathering Click Here.

Believe it or not, my goal in last week’s newsletter was not to depress you! In fact, it was meant to a) honor an incredible woman and b) to get you thinking about who in your life might be taken from you prematurely if they keep living the way they are living. You see, that man who died in the gym could have been anyone; even someone you know right now. It could happen to someone you know tomorrow or 20 years from now if they don’t change. I also wanted you to think about what YOU need to change so that you can live life fully right now and for many years to come; so that you can fully enjoy your family, your work, your passions, and your purpose. It is our mission to help you and your families achieve that.

The “part two” of this is that there absolutely IS a better way to live that will ensure a long healthy life. But most people do not live that way. We here at South Trail Chiropractic are dedicated to teaching you this way of living, which we call Maximized Living. There are Five Essentials to Maximized Living and all are extremely important if you are planning on living a full and healthy life and raise the healthiest children on the planet! The 5 Essentials are:

1) Maximized Mind – includes time/stress management, sleep, spirituality, and positive relationships.
2) Maximized Nerve Supply – the power to heal and be healthy is in the spinal cord. When the nerves are interfered with (subluxation), the body cannot function or heal properly.
3) Maximized Quality Nutrition – food provides the fuel and building blocks that your body needs to continue to power and heal itself on a daily basis; you are what you eat!
4) Maximized Oxygen and Lean Muscle – Exercise allows your body to take in higher levels of oxygen and creates lean muscle that keeps both your body and mind healthy.
5) Minimize Toxins – toxins affect our bodies in a negative way and inhibit us from functioning at optimal levels eventually leading to illness and disease.

The 5 Essentials are the core foundation of Maximized Living. Without any of these Essentials, you are unable to live the long, healthy and fulfilled life that you are meant to live. Each of these Essentials work together to keep your cells in optimal shape and your body functioning at its highest levels. If you only focus on one of these essentials, such as exercise, you are leaving out other core elements that keep your body healthy. Of course, your adjustments and spinal correction exercises are taking care of Essential #2, which makes sure that the brain-body connection is fully functional, but what about the other four? Again, we are dedicated to teaching you about them! Starting in January, we will be holding bi-monthly advanced health workshops teaching you the Five Essentials of Maximized Living. As well, we will be holding a one day Maximized Living Makeover to teach you how to regain your health in 40 days.

The exciting part of this is that you CAN regain your health; and you CAN save a life by sharing this information with your friends and family. The North American lifestyle is literally killing people and many don’t see it happening until it’s too late. We will be asking you to bring guests to our events to make sure that we are all reaching out to those who need us. Again, I ask you, what if you gave a dying person the information they need to LIVE? You CAN save a life.

Maximized Blessings, Dr. Jeff


Exhaustion and Need for Prayer

As many of you know Bonnie and I have the dream of one day planting Expressions as a church plant here in the Calgary area. As such, much of our activities, energy, finances, and home space are vital to the model which we see Expressions functioning under. However, we both have faced a number of great challenges over the past few months which have made these things extremely challenging; leaving us exhausted a drained physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is for this reason I would like to reach out to you for prayer in the following ways:

Our van lift has broken down to the point that it needs replacing. This is deeply affecting our ability to transport both for health needs but also the many trips we make in coordinating gatherings, connecting with leadership, food providers, and pastoral visits/services. We have a make shift fix which can finally get us back on the road after using Calgary Handi-bus for the last month as of today (thank you Jesus). However, in order to replace the lift we are applying for funding through DRES as we are unable to do so ourselves.

  • Please pray for safety for Bonnie and I as we use the make shift lift!!
  • Also please pray for DRES to recognize our van requirements as being “work related” even though I’m not officially on staff in a church and in so doing granting us funds for the replacement of the lift.

We both have been experiencing a number of health issues. I have had a “lump” on the right side of my chest for a couple months which has been giving me grief with sweats, pain, discomfort, and tingly sensations on my right side. You might say my “thorn in the flesh”. We are not sure if I broke something or what it is however the doctors are in pursuit! Bonnie has been getting severe pain and weakness in her right arm which she broke back in 2000. She has been unable to use it as well as she did before as well as the back pain she deals with due to Osteoporosis. She has been dealing with a sore which is not healing and the doctors are doing a biopsy later in April too. Transportation in those pursuits is and issue again.

  • Please pray for health and healing for us both, wisdom for the doctors, and wisdom for us to take the right course of action.

Last night after arriving home from work (at Home Depot) Bonnie and I discovered that our washing machine had broken down leaking water all over the upstairs laundry room, draining down the vent and flooding our dinning room ceiling, table, and floor. We have phoned our home insurance and they came over right away to assess the damages and we are relieved that they will be helping us through this process. As you know, we are deeply reliant on our passion for hospitality and this hits us hard in our ability to have an open home.

  • Please pray that Bonnie and I do not need to leave our home in order for the contractors to do the repairs. This was brought up last night and is a great fear we have due to our physical needs in accessibility.
  • Please pray that the repair work goes quickly and that the damages are not too extensive. Also, that it does not affect the events we hoped to host over the next month. We had planned for a couple movie nights, Re:Genesis, and the possibility of Forge Canada’s Pilot Groups to be hosted here. We are greatly excited by what we are planning for Expressions in the next year as well as the possibilities of working with Forge Canada.
  • Please pray for Bonnie’s and my peace of mind. The amount of change in the last few months has hit us very hard both in security and accumulative breakdowns/damages whether it has been the markets, our elevator, van, lifts, house, and health.

Lastly I’d like to ask if you would please pray for the community of Expressions. Many of you have participated with the many activities we have been involved with in this community whether it was a movie night, Sunday Night Expressions gathering, Grey Cup’ of Coffee, Re:Genesis, Mustard Seed Visits, or something else. We have not articulated its definition too greatly as we believe it to be more about just doing life together in the hope you and others might find Jesus in Life and Community. You are all a great blessing to us and an inspiration to our faith, hopes, and dreams. If you would like to know more about Expressions please invite us to meet with you over coffee or check out our website at www.expressionscommunity.org. Please pray for:

  • Leadership and people who would like to come along side with us in Expressions Journey.
  • Clear communication and vision partnership with our home church McKenzie Towne Church and others who would like to come along on the journey.
  • Continuing leadership development, Networking, and partnership with Forge Canada’s Missional Training Network through their Pilot programs. (www.forgecanada.ca/).

I thank you all for being willing to pray with us and for us along these lines. You are all good friends and we cannot show enough appreciation for the ways in which you are a part of who we are. Thank You!

“There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”

George Adams

“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”

Isaiah 58:7


In Thought of the Social Justice Movement

A few days ago Bonnie and I sat in our living room with our coffee in hand as we watched the Inauguration of Barack Obama into the 44th Presidential office. I must admit that even as a Canadian I may not have always agreed with Obama’s policies but, my heart leapt at the thought of the American people electing an African American into office for the first time. What a huge step of honesty, integrity, and commitment for the social justice movement which started sixty years ago!

In the same breath and moment I felt convicted as a follower of Jesus while listening to Rick Warren’s Invocation and prayer. I have always been inspired by the stories and lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Malcolm X. People who stood for social rights, justice, freedom, and the strength of integrity through social integration and diversity. But, here is where my conviction came. Where is our Social Justice Movement today? What are the oppressive natures which create division and segregation within our nation’s society and communities? Who are our leaders in such movements and why do they not stand out as strongly as they once seemed to back in the 50’s and 60’s?

I’m not trying to say that the Social Justice Movement does not exist today. I still hear echoes from musicians like Lenny Kravitz ‘s “We’re Back in Vietnam” and John Cougar Melloncamp’s “Nooses in Tree’s” as a symbolism to artistic freedoms along with people like Rick Warren and his wife who take the needs of addressing such issues as AIDS, Abortion, Orphans, Religious Persecution, and Human Trafficking through interviews and articles like that as the one in last February’s issue of Reader’s Digest. But, are we as individuals willing to still march the streets for such causes? Are we as holistic beings created with spiritual, psychological, and physical integrity free and willing to accept the possibility of imprisonment, oppression, and even death for such radical needs for social transformation?

I end up asking myself the question, “As a follower of Jesus; what bus am I willing to sit on in the hopes of Jesus showing up?” In part, I think I began trying to answer this question while sitting in an office last Wednesday afternoon with my friends Tim Schmidt and Ron Fraser. Tim who lives with Cerebral Palsy; myself who lives with a spinal cord injury; and Ron who with his brother has been involved with the disabled community for several years began to ask the question of, “What are the ways in which the city of Calgary has reached out to the individuals who face disabilities with the hopes of offering a sense of belonging and support?” Perhaps in a secondary sense we were also asking as individuals who follow Jesus; “In what ways does the Church offer support and belonging to those who face challenges in life?”

AdventureWe spent the next hour and a half mapping out just how we might approach these issues and what our major focuses might be over the coming few months. I’m not sure where this might take us and in truth I am continuing to push myself as to how committed I am and if Jesus might be calling us to something more within this movement. That said I realize that sometimes God takes the momentum of such journeys and catapults them into the stratosphere. Who am I to deny my creator a Lord? Perhaps we just might find ourselves saying, “I have a Dream…”

“When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, ‘Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me.’ But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive. For love to be possible we need the courage to create space between us and to trust that this space allows us to dance together.”

Henri Nouwen

Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”

Isaiah 56:1-8


Simple Acts of Kindness

This has quit possible been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I feel completely and absolutely exhausted; not only physically but emotionally too. My wife Bonnie has dealt for several years with chronic infections and has been treated with so many antibiotics that her body now can no longer respond to these treatments. As such the doctors pursued surgery on Tuesday with the hopes of stopping the constant attacks of infection.

The follow up was appalling as she was discharged that day with the instructions that we were to contact Home Care for assistance. On the other side was Home Care stating that the hospital can only make the contact. And so the political burocratic circle begins. “No, it’s not our responsibility. It is their’s!” “No, I’m really sorry but, it’s not our responsibility either. It’s theirs!” Why does political paper work take more concern over the health and welfare of the human being? Does no one care for others anymore? Does no one care about my wife and I?!

It was a difficult moment and in truthfulness I was prepared to remove some heads. That is when some close friends of ours responded to our call. Geraldine is what I would call a 70 + year old marathon runner. No word of a lie she showed up on our door step with a box of freshly baked breads, home made soups, and a tin of cookies which were still warm from the oven. With tears coming down her checks she hugged us and said she was praying and felt a calling from Jesus to contact Anne who was a Home Care nurse in our church. Anne would be visiting us that afternoon (Thursday). Following Anne’s visit, Bonnie felt waves of relief as she promised to return this coming Sunday. It was the greatest news and blessing we could ever have received this past week!

The week has yet to finish out and Bonnie and I are still waiting to hear the results of some biopsies which they took during the procedure. However, I can honestly say that I have felt Jesus with us throughout this week. At times it has been extremely difficult but it is then that we have felt the simple acts of kindness which only faith could have provided us. The many emails we’ve been sent – Jesus wrote. The many phone calls we’ve answered – Jesus spoke. The simple acts of kindness which we have received – Jesus was there!!!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!”

Psalm 105


What’s Eating You?

This afternoon I walked… opps!… wheeled into my good friend and chiropractor’s office and was blown away by an article which he had written and handed to me. Jeff’s faith and devotion to God, his family, and his patients are always an inspiration to me which is why I asked if he would share his story with Expressions next month.

All that said, I thought I would give a short taste into that faith by sharing this weeks message from The Good Doctor:

We all know that what you eat has a direct impact on your health. It is true that you are what you eat! The food that is made by God (fresh whole food in its original form) is what we were meant to eat. The processed, refined, chemical-laden food that is made by man will actually cause illness and disease. Unfortunately, we in North America, are over-fed (we get plenty of calories) BUT extremely under-nourished (processed food lacks the nutrients needed for good health). This is one reason why we are getting sicker and sicker as a society.

But the fact of the matter is that, when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, what you are eating is less important than WHAT’S EATING YOU! That is, how much stress you have in your life has an enormous affect on your health. Stress can literally kill you. If you are under a lot of stress, your body tends to shut down its healing and restorative abilities just so that it can cope with the stress. Let me explain. When an animal is faced with a stressful situation or a stressor (a deer comes face to face with a cougar), it reacts in a very predictable manner. Its blood pressure rises pushing the blood away from the internal organs and towards the peripheral limb muscles. These help the animal move fast and have the power necessary to either fight or flee. This is why the stress response is called the fight or flight response. Less blood to the organs means that digestion, detoxification, and normal organ activity stops, immune organs are less efficient, and healing is almost non-existent. For the moment, this response can save the animals life. But as soon as the stressor is gone (i.e. the cougar leaves), the deer quickly returns to a normal state and its body resumes normal function and healing.

We too have this fight or flight response. Any time that we are stressed or worry about something, the same exact reactions take place in our body. Our blood pressure rises, blood flows away from our organs, our immune system slows, digestion stops, and normal organ function stops (to name a few). So you get into your car to go to work and…it won’t start! You have an important meeting to get to and you only have 15 minutes to get there. STRESS!!! Enter fight or flight response. You manage to catch a ride to work with your neighbor and arrive at the meeting a half hour late. Your boss is not happy. STRESS!!! Now in the animal world, when the stressor is gone (your car is fixed and your meeting is over), your body should resume normal function. But humans tend to “hold on to” their stress; we worry. We have big brains that can remember and rehash stressful situations. And as soon as we rehash the stressor in our mind, our body reacts as if it is the real thing. The result is that most of us are in a constant state of fight or flight! Our digestion, our healing, our normal organ function are affected on a massive scale. Blood pressure is through the roof, immunity is low, digestion is slow and painful, sleep is interrupted, irritability is common, and we tend to store energy in the form of fat (stress makes you fat)! No wonder there are so many sick and depressed people (it is estimated that 1/3 of North American adults are on antidepressants).

So the question is: WHAT’S EATING YOU? More importantly, how are you dealing with it? Chiropractic will absolutely help you deal with your stress better by allowing the nerve system (the system that was designed to help you manage stress in your body) to function properly. Chiropractic will also allow your organs to function more effectively. However, we must all make an effort to create more peace in our lives. Set your priorities; take control of your time; spend time with loved ones; do what you love and love what you do. It is not always how much stress we have but how we react to the stress that leads to ill health. A very wise man once said:

“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – Matthew 6:25-27

So less worry and more peace, Dr. Jeff


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