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

Inspirational

Living for Potential (Audio) – My Message at CCCF

Potentiality

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship on Sunday January 2nd, 2011 about Living for Potential while focusing on Matthew 5:48. Although feeling a little rusty, here is what I shared…


Broken

Broken

I starred blankly at the news screen as they described the story of a stranger who was listening and after hearing the faint cries of a baby, leapt into a garbage bin. After peeling away the layers of garbage they took off their shirt and wrapped it around a new born boy who with its umbilical cord still attached was rescued from the clutches of death. It wasn’t until later that the stranger would find out that he was not a stranger at all but the unexpecting father of the child.

Let’s face it; it’s a story we have all heard so many times before. We cry out in frustration, “What’s wrong with that person!” “How can they just not know…?”

A Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces is arrested and charged with sexual deviance, rape, murder, and other horrific charges. Teenagers are found gang raping teenagers in the school yard. And prostitution is legalized in certain states and provinces. It all seems so wrong, so decayed, so grotesque, so… Broken.

I was four years old when I was exposed to the realities of a broken world. My mother worked long days and would leave me at a day home behind our condo in SW Calgary. I remember the lady running the home would keep us locked in the basement all day exclaiming, “That’s where children belong.” Usually with a few “F” words in the mix.

It was here that the eldest daughter of the lady who ran the home began taking me with her to the darker corners of the basement. I don’t remember much, but I remember that I spent most of my childhood trying to hide it and make sure no one ever found out. Most importantly, I tried to make myself forget it ever happened because I thought it was my fault. I was Broken.

I was broken and because I was broken the world will never look the same to me again. The world has become a place of overt violence with battlefields in every marketing advertisement plastered on the billboards and storefronts in shopping malls and road ways; in snippets of film, movies, television, and commercials as they provocatively  exploit the psyche of human relational conjecture; in the one liner jokes we so innocently speak to one another with; and in the headlines of news media leading to social judgements based upon the bias of social and personal exclusion from the stories context.

My Brokenness has caused me to become angry. Why can we not see the exploitation of human sexuality and relational identity as the violence which it truly is? Why has it become normal to treat human sexuality as a consumer product and individual right rather then a relational identity and spousal gift? I suppose the reality to which I found is that I am broken, just as everyone is has been broken. The world is Broken.

Jesus’ brother James gives us something we can use in our brokenness. He wrote and called us to, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” and promised us that, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16-17)

I don’t have all the solutions to the broken realities of our world but I do believe James is right. We need to first recognize our own Brokenness; and once we’ve accepted that we need to expose it, confess it to those around us, and talk about it. When we can be open and real with one another about the struggles we have, the challenges and fears that are a part of our lives; we can be honest in the midst of communal grace and truly seek to transform those realities. Then we can see the real beauty, the real gifts God has placed in our lives.

Secondly, we need to pray for one another as well as ourselves. Speaking to God about our need for healing and openly asking for his hand in our broken reality brings an internal connectivity which reaches to the very depth of our created being as it was meant to be. In Jeremiah God speaks to us saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Lastly, we must live with grace for one another; accepting that we are all Broken in a reality to which none of us can ever fully understand, experience, or comprehend. Forgiveness is not always easy to work out but, judgment is never ours to make lest our own judgments come upon our own brokenness.

This world will never be the same to me as it will never be the same for you. I will pray for you though just as I pray for the Broken people which I wrote of in the beginning of this post. I hope you would do the same for me.


To Save a Life – Youth Event

To Save a Life


Who am I?

Who am I

Who am I?

I am a man of Authenticity,
What you see is what you get;
More so I am the same in public as I am alone,
And visa versa.

Who am I?

I am a man of Honesty,
So much so it can get me in trouble;
My life is an open book,
One which I freely share in the hopes to inspire.

Who am I?

I am a man of Integrity,
My word is my bond;
Even greater to me are the words of action,
Everything I do is meant with purpose and a sense of personal moral ethic.

Who am I?

I am a man of Justice,
I seek it in everyone and in everything;
My heart breaks to the point of physical pain and tears,
At the smallest witnessing of prejudice, bias, or inequality to our relationship with truth.

Who am I?

I am a man of Love,
In the eternal agape sense anyways;
I love life, people, animals, adventure,
And the wonder of all miraculous moments when this amazing gift returns!

Who am I?

I am a man of Faith,
Convicted strongly in my relationship with God;
Through the Truth of Jesus’ eternal presence,
In my heart, soul, and wellbeing.

Who am I?

I am a man of creativity,
I let my imagination drift with the realities around me;
So as to bring life to grips with Truth,
And freedom of expression to redemption in righteous relationships with God, my wife, and those who journey with me.

Who am I?

I am a Husband,
Married to my wife as one flesh;
I can do nothing apart from her blessing,
As she becomes the greatest of blessings throughout my life.

Who am I?

I am a Pastor,
Not one by earthly titles, status, or appointment;
But by example, presence, and character,
Which only the Holy Spirit might bless and sustain.

Who am I?

I am Incomplete,
Journeying through my destiny in search of my fate;
One which only God can complete,
And measure by standards of his grace, love, and acceptance.


Searching for the Real Avatar – “I See You!”

Last Friday evening I had the opportunity to sit in a packed theater and watch the film Avatar for the first time. I was blown away by the amazing effects and swept into the story line by the many cultural connections with our world today. Like so many other films have done in past, Avatar grappled in its undertones with real issues such as environmental concerns, native relations, and military movements with stunning pictures of wildlife and language uses such as words like “Shock and Awe” and subtitles for native speech.

I must admit though that this is not what toke my heart away during the course of the film. What really got to me was the central storyline with the character of Jake and his questions behind identity as a paralyzed marine. Sitting in my own wheelchair I began struggling with the same uncertainties he was facing in the light of a new world.

Who is my Avatar? What would it be like to have a new body? Or as Col. Miles Quaritch said to Jake; to have my real legs back? Who is the real me?

Being a gen X’er, the word avatar always seemed to me to be an image you put on your facebook page or blog address to which people identify you as. It surprised me to realize after looking it up in a dictionary that the word avatar actually means “the embodiment of something: somebody who embodies, personifies, or is the manifestation of an idea or concept.

In that sense really think about it for a moment and ask yourself; Am I the same person at work that I am at home? Are you the same person on Sunday at church? How about when you are standing with the other parents outside the school while waiting to pick up your kids? How many Avatars do you have? Which one is the real one?

There is this moment in the film when Jake and his new found friend Neytiri are arguing over the fact that she does not see him as being authentic. In a sense she is saying, “I do not know who or what you are!” It is during this moment that the spirits of Ey’wa, the Na’vi’s understanding of God, descend around Jake and it becomes a sign to Neytiri that even if she cannot see the real Jake, Ey’wa could see him.

It is easy for me to conceal who I truly am in character as a husband, son, pastor, or follower of Jesus behind shadows of personal conception and agenda. In some sense it seems as though I can get lost in these avatars myself and forget who the real me is. No matter how hard I try though it doesn’t seem to change the fact that God still seems to know me as he whispers the words of Jeremiah 1:5; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” It is a mystery I still wonder about today.

Jesus himself became an avatar in the sense that he was God incarnate. I guess you could say he was the real avatar. One day he went fishing with a group of fishermen. He spent the entire day with them while learning who they were, speaking their language, and seeing who they truly are. It was then that he turned to them and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) Jesus in becoming one of them saw right through them to their hearts; he saw their real avatars!

Throughout Jake’s journey he was offered healing but it came in two forms. On the one hand Col. Miles Quaritch offered him purpose in being used as a marine and in doing so he would be “given his legs back”. On the other hand Jake could choose to submit his entire being to the wonder and care of Ey’wa in the awakening of a body given through love and the mystery of recreation.

Without giving anything away I admit to struggling with this in the personal sense. It might be easy to expect God to heal me as a paralyzed man on my terms with my own expectations of time, appearance, and significance. But is healing meant to be easy and solely about me or is it really about the relationship which I have with my creator?

It seemed a question to which I might wrestle with for many years to come until I heard a comment William Young, author of ‘The Shack’, stated in an interview the other day. He said, “I do not believe God heals people so that he can use them. I believe God heals people because he loves them; and then he invites them to play.” It was in this moment that the questions seemed to disappear and the visionary wonder of healing and recreation coalesced with the trust that God would find the balance (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

Is the movie Avatar a Christian film? I do not think James Cameron intended it to be so when he first developed it but; like most created things, if we are willing to extend a listening ear we just my catch the faded whispers of truth from a loving creator who is saying, “I see you.”


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


Chaos Theory and the Significance of Being

My friend Aaron made a post titled Wisdom Required not long ago and I felt led to leave a comment. These thoughts are still resonating in my heart and mind so I thought I would share them here also as they connect with the magic of Christmas.

I’ve been thinking about your friend and praying for him since we last talked over coffee Aaron. I realized I might have touched on something deeper when I said I wondered if there was something in behind his struggle of faith. Namely the painful struggle of questioning insignificance.

I ask this as I too myself struggle with this question of identity. Why should God care for me? Why should he care for the little insignificant actions I take in life whether they are good or bad? But then I think of the reverse; why should I care for God? Perhaps God thinks that what we consider to be insignificant he sees more as the greater significances. Perhaps what we see as ordinarily unimportant he sees as extraordinarily miraculous!

Have you ever heard of the “Chaos Theory”? (See Here) It is this idea that when a butterfly flaps its wings in South America, the wind created by these motions has the potential of becoming a Hurricane out in the ocean which in turn makes North American land fall. Perhaps this is how God sees us; not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual as well. Why should God care and love each one of us? Because each and every one of us has the potential of creating and experiencing great historical and eternal events, moments, and changes to His Kingdom!

Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree in Luke 21:29-33 that just as we witness the blooming of its leaves on its branches, we also can know that the Kingdom of God is near. God is not far off and he is deeply connected and close to all that we do. The question to choose then is, “What kind of hurricane do you want to create?”

In a sense I suppose that is the message of Christmas. From the insignificance of a baby born in Bethlehem came the Savior for all man kind. In another paraphrase by an unknown author, “The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world.


Returning to a State of Just Wondering…

It seems like forever since I’ve been writing here on Just Wondering… In the same sense my time of sharing my thoughts on SE Calgary News over the last three months came and flew by. During that time a friend of mine asked if I would share some of my articles here on Just Wondering so I thought I would return to my reflections on Ecclesiastes as well as interjecting them with some of the articles I wrote for SE News.

Life has been busy here not only with work but with our involvements in our Expressions Community. Anyways, as an opener I thought I would just share some musings which have poked my life as of late!

I have been reading this. – It seems an odd choice I know for my Missional friends but has offered me an argument to wrestle with; if for nothing else the willingness to let the “other side be heard”.

I have been listing to this. – I have come to love this band and would welcome the opportunity to go and hear them live anytime!

I think this is the most incredible thing I have ever seen and only hope I might get to take the great leap myself one day… oh’ya, one day!

I am going to this.

I can’t wait for this.

I am Just Wondering… what is God going to do next?!


For Such A Time As This… I Have Arrived

TimeCheck it out for yourself: Ecclesiastes 3

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Time. It is a perplexity of life and something which we seem to never escape. In honesty, I had thought of many things I might want to share with regards to my thoughts of time and the way in which we treat it. Ways which seem to treat time as though we poses it and have the right to use it as we see fit to our own desires. I think often of the statement “Don’t waste my time!”

Likewise, we never seem to exist in the moment of time which we are currently in. When we are at church we are thinking about what we will do when we get home. When we are at home we are thinking about what we will do when we are at work. When we are at work we are thinking about what it will be like to be on vacation. The dichotomy we create between what our bodies are doing and what our minds are doing develops such a rift that I wonder if we ever really truly arrive in the moment to which we are presently in.

It was when I was in this thought pattern that a friend of Bonnie’s and mine wrote an email to us that just seemed to strike right at this thought of time and our inability to see the whole picture to which God was present and aware of. We met Katie about five years ago as she lived in a group home here in the SE side of Calgary while adjusting to living with MS. She has since become a good friend of ours and in many ways an inspiration to following Jesus. A part of the Center Street Church community, Katie is greatly involved with social activism and fights for many of the rights for the disabled community here in Calgary and Alberta. She also is a very talented creative arts painter and promotes her work on her website www.oralart.ca/.

In any sense I felt moved by the timing of her email and wanted to share it with you as part of my devotional to Ecclesiastes 3 and For Such A Time As This… I Have Arrived.

When do you know that you have arrived? Have you arrived when you get married and move into the house of your dreams? Have you arrived when you have your first child? Have you arrived when you get the perfect career and have assured your security? When you have grown old and actualized all of your goals?

I started taking my trip on a bright red, reliable and strong bicycle to get to the ends of the earth and find adventure. I soon came across a Village of Fatigue and crossed over a bridge of Uncertainty. I came upon a dirt road that led to many scary turns and frightening hills. I had to get off my bicycle and I had to stop in a worrisome and unpredictable city called Exacerbation.

My tires started to go flat and I had to lay my bicycle down since my kickstand broke off while navigating around a rock of Depression. While momentarily stationary, I found a place to live, found some work, got a cat, and found love but I never found rest or a sense of direction.

Overnight, my bicycle was stolen, my house burned down, the business went into receivership, my cat died and my boyfriend left me. In desperation, I caught a bus that ended up on the road that was muddied and impassable. It eventually crashed in Suicide Gulch and I became broken. I was lost.

While in the hospital, I was introduced to a wonderful Man [Jesus] who tried to comfort me and heal my wounds. He became my new Map Reader. The road continued to be long and hard and my pain continued. We were unable to find a place to convalesce. There was an Apartment of Despair, a Townhouse of Inequity, and finally a House of Horrors.

We continued to reach dead ends but I think that my misplaced self-reliance kept grabbing the map out of the Man’s hands. I needed to follow. His acute navigational skills found me in a House of Care with a backyard that stretched out for miles. The old house still needs some major renovations but I was safe. In the backyard, I was planted in enriched soil, grew strong roots, and was sheltered from unpredictable storms. My many gardeners fed, watered and pruned me and soon I was able to learn some gardening skills of my own.

I was able to plant bright, sweet smelling flowers of fun, excitement, confidence, perseverance and gratitude. I spread grass seeds of hope that grows lush and green every year, provides comfort when I lie down and its fragrance reassures me. At times though, I still feel sad and grievous when some of the blooms fail to open but I am optimistic some will thrive in the next season.

I grew trees that scattered pollen of awareness that attached themselves to anyone who was willing to listen. I started to paint fences of isolation, with my art, to inspire and motivate those who were weary.

With a convicted spirit, I took the harvest of my garden and shared it with others who were able to change the landscape, pave roads that were once unsafe, to find those lost on their journey and to relieve them of their heavy loads.

I have a new bicycle now. It sits in a sturdy bike rack called trust and I take side trips to build my character. It’s a bicycle built for two because my Map Reader needs a comfortable place to sit. My journey is over and I am now on a mission. I have finally found a new Place — in my heart — called Joy and Contentment. I have arrived.


ESL Ministries in Calgary – Open Doors

Something I’d like us at MTC to look at in the coming months.


Re:Genesis – Finding New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges

regenesis-designDo you face physical challenges in your life? Emotional or psychological challenges? Or are you connected to anyone who does?

It is said that, “Adversity is the foundation of virtue” and together that virtue can lead us to new life and a community of friends which can support and lift us up. We will find friendship, inspiration, acceptance, spirituality, purpose, and transformation as we hear encouraging words and engage with one another.

Join us in gathering once a month for an Engaging Speaker, Dinner, and time to find fellowship with one another. Together we can Find New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges.


Where Life Begins…

My friend Perry sends me a monthly quote which she calls Power Thoughts from Perry A. every so often. Anyways, I found myself reflecting on her latest and the connection to Liminality and so I thought I would post it here too.

“Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone. You don’t know what you can do until you do it; what you can be until you become it; or what you can have until you have it. The Comfort Zone is always expanding and leading to new treasures of discovery.”


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


Re:Genesis Project

O.K. So I have been preparing for a new group which I am hoping will meet once a month starting on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. My thoughts are that it would be a support and social group for local people who face great challenges in their daily lives. I am thinking that it would be mainly for those who have physical challenges but I would like it to be open and inclusive to those who face other challenges too whether they are psychological, emotional, physical, or spiritual in nature.

To start it off in January I planned on us gathering for dinner followed by my friend Brad sharing his thoughts on how we can “Find New Life in the Midst of the Greatest Challenges.” Something which I thought could be a bit of a catch phrase and theme to the group. Anyways, I was designing some logo images to share with the community and was unsure which would be the best one and I wanted to share them here and see what you thought of them.

Which image do you think is the best fit?

regenesis-ii

regenesis-iii

regenesis


Wisdom (Video)

What is wisdom to you?


Possessive Vs. Submissive: Random Thoughts of Life and Immortality

Immortality. I can’t help feel as though most people, if not all, subconsciously believe that they possess some sort of immortality. Or at least they desire it and feel they can obtain it through some sort of great work. Even in the personal sense I would agree that immortality or eternal life is deeply engrained within my own faith and has a great roll in the lifestyle and beliefs to which I live. I suppose in many ways you might say it can become more about who we are rather then what we do.

That’s why I seem to puzzle over two questions which seem to point at the way we view this immortality and the how in viewing it this way it seems to have more of an effect to paralyze it then to catalyze it.

  • Why is it that we always view immortality as being more of a suspension to the way things are here and now in the present rather then in the mystery of the unknown?
  • Why do we always seem to look for that immortality in something we can possess as though it was materialistic, gnostic, understandable, or objective in reality?

In short I’m not sure I am able to answer those questions in the here and now. I think they are more something which we each can wrestle with over conversation and friendship. I might say though that I think immortality has less to do with a possessive nature and more to be about a relational submission (Luke 9:24-25).

In truth, this thought stream has all stemmed from an experience I had in the local Cyclepath which I went to this past week to pick up some new gloves for wheeling. I confessed to the gentleman behind the counter that I was extremely hard on my wheelchair with regards to the distances to which I pushed it. Upon questioning me as to why I didn’t buy another more “suitable” wheelchair I blurted out in a spontaneous remark:

“What is the point in living if you can’t out-live the wheelchair you’re in while doing it?!”

I suppose it wasn’t until later that I realized the effect the remark may have had on those who do not live in the same lifestyle that I am accustomed too. In brief, I have been finding great inspiration from the current Olympics and as my conversation with the gentlemen in the store was centered on the anticipation for the upcoming Paralympics I give great due to those athletes who are competing this year. But… let’s give great due to the source of all original inspiration as I thank my heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to live that statement out while looking forward to a future immortality which only he can define and I can submit to through my relationship with him.

“We would rather be ruined than changed.”

W.H. Auden

“The whole law of human existence lies in this: that man be able to bow down before the infinitely great.”

Fydor Dostoevski


Lost: Are You a Worker of the Harvest?

Norm, the Lead Pastor at McKenzie Towne Church had an incredible message this past Sunday morning centered on what it means to be sent as workers into the harvest. Speaking from the passage in Luke 10 it carried a heavy call to what it means to be missional in our community. Here it is for you to listen to and I would “enjoy” hearing your responses and comments!

 


Expressions Movie Night: Music Within

Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston) begins his life as a fighter, and his life’s work becomes a process of fighting for the rights of others.

Rising up from a childhood in a dysfunctional family, armed with a talent for public speaking and a winning personality, the young man makes his way to a Northwestern college, confident that he will ace his try-out for his idol Dr. Ben Padrow (Hector Elizondo), the coach of the winningest team in the history of the College Bowl.

But Dr. Padrow shatters his dream when he rejects him. Richard’s immediate reaction is to enlist in the army for a tour of duty in Vietnam. During combat, the young recruit loses his hearing to a bomb blast, and has to deal with this newfound disability on his return to civilian life in Oregon.

Richard discovers that his disability and the struggle to transcend it is a defining moment in his fight for what he believes in. When he tries to help his friends, vets like himself and others with disabilities, to get work in an environment that treats them with pity at best and disdain as a matter of course, he realizes that he can make a difference. The friends who make up his close-knit clique are: Art Honneyman (Michael Sheen), a student wheel chair user with cerebral palsy who uses his rapier wit to deflect the prejudice that greets his disturbing appearance; Mike Stoltz (Yul Vázquez), a fellow veteran with a lot of rage and nowhere to put it; and then there is Christine (Melissa George), the passionate libertine who strokes Richard’s ego and initiates him into the world of free love.

Together, the friends experience the currents of those turbulent times, and the wild, joyful energy of winning through confrontation and humor. Without his hearing Richard is all the more prepared to listen to the message deep within himself, and to carry that message to the thousands of people whose lives are improved by the movement he helps to organize.

Expressions will be hosting a screening of the movie ‘Music Within’ upon invitation due to the limited amount of space. Thank you for your interest.

When: Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

For more information on the movie please visit: http://www.musicwithinmovie.com/


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


40 Years Ago Today

Martin Luther King Jr.For many years I have found great inspiration to the life and words of Martin Luther King. Today my friend Steve posted his reflections to the events of April 4th, 1968 and I thought that I would share them here also:

Last night I watched Citizen King, a documentary on Martin Luther King Jr. 40 years ago today at 6:10 PM he was shot and killed in Memphis.  Here is how Wikipedia describes the events,

King was booked in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, owned by Walter Bailey, in Memphis. The Reverend Ralph Abernathy, King’s close friend and colleague who was present at the assassination, swore under oath to the HSCA that King and his entourage stayed at room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often it was known as the ‘King-Abernathy suite.’ While King was standing on the motel’s 2nd floor balcony, James Earl Ray shot him at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968. The bullet entered through his right cheek smashing his jaw and then traveling down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s last words on the balcony were to musician Ben Branch (no relation to Taylor Branch) who was scheduled to perform that night at an event King was attending: “Ben, make sure you play Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” Abernathy was inside the motel room heard the shot and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor. Local Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, whose house King was on his way to visit, remembers that upon seeing King go down he ran into a hotel room to call an ambulance. Nobody was on the switchboard, so Kyles ran back out and yelled to the police to get one on their radios. It was later revealed that the hotel switchboard operator, upon seeing King shot, had had a fatal heart attack and could not operate the phones. King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities.

As part of the documentary they showed a troubled, sick and stressed out man delivering his final speech.  I got shivers listening to him speak these words the night before he was murdered:

“I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say that threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Sojourners has some reflections on his life as well as an opportunity to encourage major news networks to focus on his legacy rather than demean the prophetic tradition of the black church.  I signed up.


Thoughts of Rebirth from the Tree of Life

I used to spend my summers out in Cilliwack with my grandfather. Actually, he was the caretaker for the local girl guides camp and what teenage boy could refuse going out and helping his grandfather in such an adventurous endeavor but to look after those who would stay in such beautiful places!!

Hollow TreeI can remember many times heading into Vancouver and hanging out in Stanley Park with my uncles and grandfather after a day in the fish markets. These are memories which will always stay with me for the rest of my life. One of these memories is climbing around and inside this hollow old tree! I still remember what blew my mind the most was to fathom that this tree actually was just a little seedling trying to grow on the shores of BC during the time that Jesus walked the earth!!! Did you know that?

Recently the provincial authorities have been discussing the need to bring the tree down. It’s not that they do not recognize its beauty or the many that have personal memories of great significance which are centered around this tree. It simply is becoming too dangerous for it to remain in such a public position. It has saddened many in the communityto see this and some have attempted to petition the government to maintain the tree as a national landmark.

When things die, it is a time for mourning and emotions always take us back to the memories of old. The sad state to this tree’s standing is not so much the case of BC’s government not being willing to spend the funds necessary to brace it. Truth is, it is already being held by a number of guide lines and support structures which the parks department has put in place. The sadness comes when we reflect on the community’s unwillingness to find the beauty in God’s plan for natural creative rebirth within nature!

Metaphorically I have heard many pastors reflect on the hollow nature of this tree as being reflective to the dangers of the individual following Jesus with an outer appearance at the neglect of a truthful heart. But, what does this look like in the sense of community and corporate placements? What does the metaphor look like when considering the gathering of the church?

I think in some senses it is dangerous to consider the ideologically accepted norm to be eternally sustainable. Beauty IS what is in the heart – the memories, the community and social movements, the moment (space & time) – in the truest sense… the SPIRIT! That is something that cannot be replaced however nor is it something which can be eternally prolonged. Things change and social dynamics die.

We have something else though to fall back on which is promised through Jesus. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25). We have the promise of rebirth. We have the promise of… Resurrection!!!

What are some of the resurrection stories or metaphors to which you have in your life?


Don’t Give Up!

Probably one of my favorite Musicians: Eagle Eye Cherry!


Whispers from the Cross

The Shadow of the CrossSeveral weeks ago a good friend asked me about Jesus’ final question from the cross. “Why would Jesus have any doubts in God if he believed he would be raised from the dead?” Together we looked at the cross connections this quotation has with Psalm 22 and explored how the Jewish culture and traditions may have influenced why Jesus would recite it before the crowd on Golgotha Hill. Still… this conversation stuck closely to my heart as I contemplated Jesus’ final few whispers to those who would listen.

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” – Hope in Times of Desperation (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

Perhaps the most well known whisper from the cross comes from the depths of his desperation. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Is this doubt? Has Jesus lost his faith? Has the darkness and bleakness of death set in so far that he can no longer sense the very presence which he saw as his own personal identity and as his own Father (John 10:7-18)?

Coming to the CrossIt seems too easy to dismiss Jesus’ cry as simply being a recital of Psalm 22 in an effort for reflection to the Jews who would gather its meaning from memory recall. Jesus must have had a deeper meaning which embraced the very holistic Incarnality of his human existence. Jesus felt the heavy weight of carrying the cross up the steep embankment of Golgotha hill, the sting of the pointed nails piercing his wrists and feet, the trickling blood flowing down his forehead from the crown of thorns around his brow, and the coarseness of the wooden cross as it scrapped his back every time he went to take a breath. By the very definition of excruciating pain the cross becomes dehumanizing in nature.

Several years ago I can remember writing a paper on the medical effects of crucifixion and the researched understanding of how Jesus died. It was without a doubt one of the hardest papers which I have had to write throughout my college years. I spent many nights up contemplating the horrors of what those who stood on Golgotha would have bared witness too. There would be times that I had to take a break from writing as the tears which were streaming down my face would make it impossible to focus on what I was trying to communicate. Even now I feel the pressures of a burdened heart as I ponder that memory. Without a doubt in my heart it was then that I felt the furthest from God! In truth, I wanted it that way. Yes, I confess it. I wanted it this way because I could not bear the thought of another human being, let alone Jesus, paying that kind of sacrifice for the sins which I have committed.

Yet I am still… slow to respond…and perhaps that is the way God wants us to be. Still and slow, so that we might catch the promise of hope to which Jesus has in his whispers from the cross.

But you, O LORD, do not be far off!The Cross in White
   O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
   my precious life from the power of the dog!
   Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
   in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
   All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
   and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
   the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
   but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
   my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
   May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
   and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
   shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
   and he rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
   before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
   even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
   it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
   that he has done it.

Psalm 22


Shaw TV Interview with the Calgary Aikikai Dojo

A couple of days ago my friend Todd contacted me about an interview which he was setting up at the dojo with Shaw TV. Of course I agreed to be part of it despite dealing with an on going shoulder injury making it difficult to use my right arm. To tell you the truth, with little time to practice I felt as though I did pretty poorly. I gave it a go though and thankfully the TV crew did not spend too much time focusing in on my techniques. As a slight correction to the commentary however I might say that prior to being in a wheelchair I spent 3 years studying Karate. Following my car accident in 1994 I studied 9 years of Kung Fu and for the last 2 years I have been involved here at Calgary Aikikai Dojo with Aikido.

Anyways, take a look and let me know what you think of the video!

My Apologies as the video has now been taken down by Shaw and I was unable to attain a copy!


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