Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quote(s) of the Day

"Out of necessity, the black church rarely had the luxury of separating individual salvation from collective salvation. It had to serve as the center of the community's political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life; it understood in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities. In the history of these struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world. In the day-to-day work of the men and women I met in church each day, in their ability to 'make a way out of no way' and maintain hope and dignity in the direst of circumstances, I could see the Word made manifest. (Pg. 207)

It was because of these newfound understandings - that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved - that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth. (Pg. 208)

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness - the desire among those at the top of the social ladder to maintain their wealth and status whatever the cost, as well as the despair and self-destructiveness among those at the bottom of the social ladder. Solving these problems will require changes in government policy; it will also require changes in hearts and minds. (Pg. 215)

From: The Audacity Of Hope, Barack Obama.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Last night we spent three hours sorting through boxes that had been donated to Operation Christmas Child for distribution to children in need around the world. As I inspected the litany of dolls and balls, clothes and crayons, toys and toothbrushes, I was struck by two things: the amount of care that went into purchasing and packing some of the boxes, and secondly, the absolute lack of thought that went into others.

Some boxes contained notes with greetings such as, "My Dear Little Boy..." or "Precious Daughter of God...", often including family photos of smiling mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and the occasional family pet. It quickly became obvious that these were packed with much care as a family project to help another family in a less fortunate part of the world. More than likely a lesson about the importance of giving to the needy was included as part of the process. My heart was warmed as I thought of the child in Senegal, El Salvador, etc. receiving their package with such sincere Canadian greetings inside not to mention the valuable lesson that would be learned about giving from our abundance.

And then there were the other boxes...

There weren't many of them, but I did come across boxes filled with used toys and ancient, half-used notepads, not to mention the stuffed animals with grey, dirty ears. In my indignation I pulled the toys out of the box and showed them to my work partner. We just shook our heads and groused about how anyone could do such a thing and that it would be better if they'd sent nothing at all. I can be awfully good at righteous indignation.

It wasn't until the drive home that the thought occurred to me that it's possible these boxes were packed with every bit as much love as the pristine, new boxes, but that they came from families who had nothing else to give. I certainly don't know this for a fact, but maybe, just maybe, that well-loved rabbit with the dirty ears or the chipped toy cars were the last toys that a child had to give. And just maybe, in giving those toys away, he or she gave away something far more valuable than the dollar store finds in the other boxes.

We so often give from our abundance but not many of us are required to truly sacrifice in our giving. But isn't that what Christmas is all about? Jesus was born in a stable under filthy, stinking conditions. It was no place for a baby to be born, let alone the Son of God. But God gave everything, in a shoddy package no less, for us all. It was a sacrifice not made from abundance, this was after all His "only begotten Son," but from His immense love. And every day, if we will only take the time to slow down and listen, we can still hear the words:

My Dear Little Boy...

Precious Daughter of God...

This Christmas, won't you take the time to listen?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seven Shores Cafe

I had one of those Eureka! moments today when we stopped into the Seven Shores Cafe & Market in Waterloo for a coffee this afternoon. Anyone who knows me well is aware of my efforts to buy fair-trade coffee as often as possible as well as my absolute love of the Eggnog Latte that Starbucks serves at this time of year. Well Starbucks, there's a new kid in town...

This was, bar none, the very best eggnog latte I've ever tasted! Not only that, but it was made with fair-trade, organically grown coffee from Costa Rica and Guatemala. As if that wasn't enough, they serve the coffee in eco-friendly bio-degradable cups, and serve hand-made food using ingredients from local producers. There is also a small market area with fair-trade products from around the world and a cozy sitting area to relax in. These guys are doing everything right!

So if you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, give these guys your business. Whether you want to endorse their fair-trade efforts, you want to support a local business, or you just want one of the best cups of coffee in the area, you can't go wrong at Seven Shores on Regina street.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Come And Have Breakfast

The following excerpt is from An Alien at St. Wilfred's by Adrian Plass. Read this passage from John first: John 21:4-14

'I have read,' said Nunc, 'how this Peter leaped from his fishing boat and ran through the water when he saw his master on the shore. He did not understand at that time why his master had lived or died or come back to life again, did he?'

'He did not'. I agreed.

'And he had no understanding or knowledge of what the future might hold for him or his companions. Is that not true?'

I nodded.

'Was it not also the case that his three denials had not yet been discussed between himself and the one that he denied?'

'It was the case, Nunc. There was unfinished business between them.'

'Why, then, did he run with such abandon towards his master on that day, do you suppose?'

For several seconds Nunc's question seemed to hang in the air between us, something fragile and essential, as Dick put it afterwards. Hartley and I answered with exactly the same words at exactly the same time.

'Because he loved him.'

'And what was this man whom he loved?'

'He was the son of God,' said Dot.

'He was the saviour of mankind,' said Dick.

'He was the one who made everything,' said Hartley.

Nunc shone like Christmas as he asked his next question. 'And this son of God, this saviour of mankind, this one who made everything - what was he doing when Peter arrived, breathless and dripping wet, on the shore? What solemn and majestic task was Peter's risen Lord engaged in?'

My voice broke just a little as I replied.

'He was cooking breakfast for his friends.'

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The white man has the watch, but the African has the time."

Courtesy of Ken Creech, missionary in Senegal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Theo Fleury

The sad case of Theoren Fleury has been well documented over the years...

Too small to play in the NHL, he defied the critics and became an offensive force for the Calgary Flames in the 90's, scoring 455 goals in 19 seasons in the big leagues, as well as a gold medal with Team Canada in 2002. Sadly, Fleury's life spiraled out of control as a result of his addiction to alcohol and in the end, was forced out of the league by suspension after suspension.

It seems that Fleury has turned his life around and is well on his way to recovery, giving thanks to God, his wife, and a 12-step program that saved his life. You can read the full article here. Thanks to Bill for passing this along.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

In honour of Remembrance Day and my dad who served in the British Navy in World War II...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Crime So Monstrous

A Crime So Monstrous by Benjamin Skinner is a disturbing, motivating book that provides a first-hand account of modern-day slavery around the world. A well researched book that recounts stories of tragedy and triumph about an issue that is not taken seriously enough by governments of the western world, the very ones who can make a difference in the lives of millions of victims.

Get Involved...

Anti-Slavery International
Call + Response
Free The Slaves
International Justice Mission Canada
Made By Survivors
Not For Sale
Stop The Traffik

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

For reasons previously stated, I do my best to remain apolitical on Glory Rumours, however, I have to comment on Barack Obama's win in the U.S. presidential election.

It seems to me that Americans have voted with intentionality tonight, seeking the hope that has been missing in the nation and the world for the past eight years. America, as a concept, a dream, has taken a beating in the last decade. No longer the land of the free and the home of the brave, America has been poisoned by war, terror, suspicion, division, anger, poverty, and a loss of hope for the future. The fallout from which has been felt around the world.

Tonight, there is a nation filled with hope...the audacity of hope...that this change in administration can bring. Barack Obama has a long, difficult task ahead of him to fulfill the aspirations of the people, but for one shining night at least, the hopes and dreams of the nation have been renewed. I wish him, I wish them, the very best as the process of healing the past by looking towards the future begins.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Our Daily Bread


I can think of no other word more appropriate for how I felt after church yesterday.

Studying the Lord's Prayer has been far more challenging than I ever expected. This week we looked at "Give us this day our daily bread," and the implications this has for us as individuals and as a faith community. Note that we are to pray not just for our own needs (Give me this day my daily bread), but for our brothers and sisters as well. Give us...

What does us look like when I have a fridge full of food, a freezer nearly packed full, and the ability to go to a restaurant anytime I want? Furthermore, can I pray with integrity for those who don't know where their next meal is coming from if I am not willing to share from my excess? And what about those two empty beds in the spare room that could give someone shelter for a night? Tough questions.

Our pastor received a letter this week from the director of an orphanage in Zimbabwe that we support. In the letter, the director says:

"We are safe but very much starved as a nation. Today as I came to the office I met ****** ****** ****** (BICC Zimbabwe) standing in a queue of more than 50 people to draw Zimbabwe$50000 that can not buy him a loaf of bread. Jokingly I said to him "****** you need not be here” He retorted "this where the people are I shall be here until my turn come”, of course until the next 49 or so people are cleared before him". I tell you it is not easy here.

Exchange rate : 1US$ = Z$95 000 a loaf of bread cost Z$100 000.

At the bank you can only draw per day Z$50 000.

Salaries of most civil servants is + or - Z$100 000 per month.

God is great you still see people going to work with the hope that one day things will change."

Wow. How am I to respond to that when there is food in my fridge rotting because we bought more than we can use? Acts 2:42-47 talks about how the community of believers sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need...and shared their meals with great joy and generosity. Verses like this leave me with more questions than answers. Questions that keep me up at night. Questions that prevented me from singing I Surrender All at the end of the service.

There are no easy answers to these questions, but then, Jesus never said following him would be easy.

You can hear the entire message here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John Bul Dau

If you don't think refugees need or deserve our help, just watch this video of John Bul Dau on The Hour last night.

You can also read this interview with National Geographic.

The Will Of God

I hear a lot of people these days talking about the will of God, as in...

"You lost your job? Well, just pray for God to show you His will for a new direction."

Sounds great doesn't it? Just sit tight because God has a specific new direction He's taking you in and you don't want to miss out on it. I've had a hard time responding to this kind of statement but have been unable to really put into words as to why until today. Our church has been going through a series on the Lord's Prayer; this week we are up to "Your will be done..."

The message our lead pastor gave on Sunday (listen here) confirmed something I had been thinking about for quite some time: God may not have a specific will for each and every person on the planet. In fact, I would argue that the will of God is perhaps far more broad than we realize and has far less to do with our personal happiness than we realize too.

I do believe particular people are called to a specific life (can you imagine Billy Graham working in an accounting office?), however, most of us can be "in the will of God" regardless of where we live or what career path we are in.

And what is that will? To be the hands of feet of Jesus wherever I am...proactively love my neighbours, help new Canadians learn english, support an orphanage in Africa, speak out on behalf of the oppressed...the list is endless. Ultimately, I can do God's will no matter where I am. Sure, I'd like to find a job where I am happy, where I can pursue my passions and find fulfillment, but in reality, that has very little to do with the will of God. I can still do the will of God working in a marketing office or on an assembly line, scrubbing floors or marking term papers...or even being unemployed.

So while my job hunt continues, my anxiety at making the right decision to ensure I am in God's will is gone. I'll find the right job soon enough, but in the meantime, I'll just keep on striving to do God's will regardless of where I am.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ride For Refugees

We had a great time on Saturday volunteering for the Kitchener-Waterloo Ride for Refugees at one of the rest stops along the route. Over 1600 people participated across the country with 920 of those on the K-W ride. Over $600,000 was raised to support refugee and immigrant services provided through International Teams!

Watch this year's promo video:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things To Do In Denver

Last time I was in Denver (my favorite American city), I took a whack of photos and posted them to Flickr. Out of the blue I received an email last month saying I was a finalist for the Denver edition of Schmap, an interactive online guide to some of the world's biggest and brightest cities. Well, the results are in and I'm a winner! I don't consider it a great photo, but if it's good enough for the Schmap folks, it's good enough for me. Click here to see my photo of the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Denver.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I Am A Christian

I saw the following poem attributed to Maya Angelou posted on someone's desk at church the other day. As it turnes out, the poem is not actually written by Maya Angelou but by Carol Wimmer (see Snopes for more info) but the sentiment it communicates is bang on. Being a Christian does not mean I am strong or better than other people but that I am weak and need God to see me through.

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not shouting, "I've been saved!"
I'm whispering, "I get lost! That's why I chose this way"

When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble-needing God to be my guide

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I'm worth it

When I say, "I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

When I say, "I am a Christian," I do not wish to judge
I have no authority--I only know I'm loved

Copyright 1988 Carol Wimmer

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Not Fair!

Love, love, love this video from tonight's Rick Mercer Report! Election fever has begun!

Quote of the Day

I'm reading The Rabbi's Heartbeat by Brennan Manning and just had to share this amazing quote:

Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where others weep. (pg. 55)

Wow. As always, Manning says far more eloquently than I ever could how important it is to put ourselves in someone else's shoes before casting the first stone.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We Are Not Doing Enough

I've been reading quite a bit today on how the world is doing in meeting the UN's Millenium Development Goals that were established in 2000. If you are not familiar with them, the goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria, and other disease.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.

As we have now reached the half-way point, various reports have been issued examining just how successful we have been in meeting these goals. Great strides have been made in reducing child mortality, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced by 130 million, overall incomes have increased as has life expectancy. While there has been some very encouraging progress made, it would appear that the progress has been far from uniform as the growth in some countries has far outweighed the growth in others (See the UN Millennium Project website for more information.)

More troubling is the failure of the G8 nations to live up to their commitment to double their aid to struggling nations by 2010. According to World Vision's ChildView Magazine, the world's richest countries are only 14% of the way toward meeting that goal. With the recent economic turbulence around the globe, it is unlikely that we'll see much progress made until world markets stabilize again.

As I read an article on global poverty in The Link & Visitor, a Canadian Baptist Women's magazine, one line in particular jumped out at me: "Clearly, we are not doing enough." Will we ever do enough? Can we ever meet even one of the millennium development goals? Will we ever see a day when no man, woman, or child has to beg for food? It would seem to me that the human race has been dedicating itself to these issues for a very long time, and while the MDG's have made a significant impact, as has the work of everyone from field workers "in the trenches" to celebrity spokespeople, I don't know that it is "enough" or that we will ever do "enough." All of our efforts, all of our awareness campaigns, all of our pleas to feed the world will fall short without a fundamental change in the human heart.

Frankly, we cannot force people to care about their neighbours, to share from their own wealth, to do all they can to improve the lives of others, without mercy and compassion being planted deep in the heart. And I know of no other way to do that then to introduce people to Jesus and the love that He offers. All of our human efforts will eventually fail, but with a heart full of compassion, those who ask the question "who is my neighbour" will eventually be led to the answer found in the parable of the good samaritan:

"Now which of these three would you say was a neighbour to the man who was attacked by bandits?" The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." (Luke 10: 36-37)

May we who call ourselves Jesus followers not fail to demonstrate what it means to be good neighbours, whether they are next door or on the other side of the globe.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jesus Is My Friend

Sure, this video seems to be making the rounds of late, but it's the funniest thing I've seen in a long, long time. Zap!

And if you're really a fan, you can download the whole Sonseed album here.

Monday, September 08, 2008


A few quick thoughts I just posted at Christianity Today...

As I read the comments on here, a great deal of them remind me of why I question the level of involvement Christians should have in politics.

By their very nature, political campaigns are divisive, pulling apart families, communities, and the church. Yes, it is important to vote for the candidate and party which you feel most aligns with your personal convictions, but it is MORE important to maintain unity within the body of Christ and within the community at large. For this very reason I do not ever put a political campaign sign on my lawn for fear it will isolate me from my non-Christian neighbours. It's more important that they know Christ than that they vote for the 'right' party. And if my support of one side or the other becomes a stumbling block, then I have put my politics ahead of my faith instead of being all things to all people.

I've wanted to blog about this for a while and hope to delve into the question more deeply very soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

An Intuitive Sense of Reality

Reading an online post today by Philip Yancey describing how he was drawn "kicking and screaming" into the Kingdom of God by reading C.S. Lewis, much in the same way Lewis himself was. What I found particularly fascinating was this quote from William James that Yancey cited:

"… in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion."

As Yancey then goes on to state, "In other words, we rarely accept a logical argument unless it fits an intuitive sense of reality."

An intuitive sense of reality...that's a phrase I've been searching for, for a very long time. Despite periods of doubt or questioning, my intuitive sense is that there is more. More than just here, more than just now, more to call "home" than what we now know. In a sense, I think we are all longing for home. Not just a nice house in the suburbs, but our real home where we will be loved unconditionally, and all of our fighting against the darkness of the world around us and the world within us will cease.

I'm looking forward to being home.

Home... I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home...that's where the heart is. (U2, Walk On)

To read the complete article, click HERE.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Great Emergence

I just started reading The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. Quite frankly, I believe this may be one of the most important books written in the last number of years, particularly for anyone who is an observer of the changing times we live in, both within and outside the church. I'm only four pages in and am already astounded. Check this quote:

"When we become agitated - and agitate each other - about how we are drowning in information overload, in correspondence, and in the stress of unending "TO-DO" lists, we are talking about the Great Emergence, or at least about one small part of its presence as a new time in human history. When, for example, we discover we can no longer do so simple a thing as running sums in our heads, but instead have to turn to our calulators, we are recognizing that we are storing more and more of our "selves" outside of ourselves and thereby creating a dependency that is, at very least, unsetteling." (italics mine)

Tickle is not the first to identify this "self outside of self" concept, but she has a way of saying profound things in simple ways that make me look forward to where she is heading with this observation and the rest of the book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shop Talk: Christian Books in Canada

Just a small, but I thought significant observation in this weekend's Globe & Mail Books section.

The number one book in the hardcover fiction list is The Shack by William Young...a Christian book that is selling by the boatload right now. And why, dear reader, is this one showing up when The Purpose Driven Life, Left Behind, and the Prayer of Jabez never did? Because a mainstream publisher just picked up the rights to the book.

That's right, when a Christian book is published by a Christian publisher, it will not appear on a bestseller list in Canada even though it would in the U.S. That's why the Purpose Driven Life, one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time did not show up on any lists in Canada.

If any of you are feeling that the Christian community in Canada is insignificantly small, The Shack hitting the #1 position tells me that there's more of us than we are led to believe.

Shop Talk: NLT Study Bible

Tyndale House is releasing the NLT Study Bible in September and now that the first sample editions are out, the buzz in the blogospehere has been intense. It seems that the Study Bible and the NLT in particular is becoming the translation of choice for a lot of people as discussed in detail by Rick over at This Lamp. See his post Rise of the New Living Translation for all the commentary.

I obviously have a biased interest in the translation discussion, but putting all biases aside, I do find my NLT is the Bible I use most often at home or to carry to church. I have one of the sample editions of the Study Bible and can't wait to really dig into it.

For all of you eager beavers there's also a new NLT blog that the translation editors regularly contribute to. Great insights and insider info to be found here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Call For Sanctions

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, the CBC is reporting that western nations from Britain to France to the U.S. are calling for sanctions against Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. My question though, is about the effectiveness of sanctions in this instance. More specifically, who will really suffer under these sanctions?

I highly doubt that Mugabe and his supporters are going to feel any ill effects of sanctions just as they are not suffering from the 100,000% inflation rate. Rather, it will be the ordinary Zimbabwean who will feel the sting as their already bare shelves become even more empty and the rate of inflation continues to skyrocket.

I have no solutions to the tragedy that is taking place in Zimbabwe, but I do know that sanctions are not the answer. They are nothing more than a way for western governments to say they are doing something about the situation when in fact, they are doing nothing at all.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Africa's Unjust Deserts

An excellent and thought provoking article by Stephanie Nolan in Saturday's Globe questions the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court arguing that the threat of prosecution for crimes against humanity is actually assisting despots to stay in power. The fear of going to trial in the Hague is in fact causing them to hold on tightly to power rather than negotiating a peaceful transition to democracy. If you have an interest in what is happening in Zimbabwe right now, you need to read this article.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Very Sad News

Steven and Mary Beth Chapman’s 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue Chapman, died Wednesday evening after being struck by an SUV driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Franklin, TN, home.

Laura McPherson, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said, “It appears to be a terrible accident,’’ as the teen did not see Maria, and no charges are expected.

John W. Styll, Gospel Music Assoc. president, said of Steven Curtis: “I don’t know of anybody who loves his children more than he does and is so committed to the adoption concept, and to lose one, no matter what the circumstances, is heartbreaking beyond all comprehension. He talks about his kids all the time. That’s his life. His kids are more important to him than music, that’s for sure.”

In addition to winning five GRAMMYs and 54 Dove awards and selling more than 10 million albums throughout his career, Chapman earlier this year released a book about the blessings of fatherhood, Cinderella: The Love of Daddy and his Princess (Thomas Nelson). Plus, Steven and Mary Beth founded Shaohannah’s Hope after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. Maria is the youngest of their three adopted daughters.

“Steven and Mary Beth Chapman and their family have consistently modeled a very real and very strong faith in the Lord no matter what the circumstances,” LifeWay Christian Stores President Mark Scott told CBA Retailers+Resources. “In seeing them briefly after the accident, their loss of precious Maria is as painful to them as it would be for any family. However, their faith in the Lord remains strong. I was reminded once again of the glorious hope God gives believers in times like these.”

In memory of Maria, Jim Houser, Steven Curtis’ manager, set up a blog. Visitors can watch a video of her and Steven and send condolences to the family. Houser said, “Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many. Just hours before, this close-knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter, Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out five candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago. And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this, and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in Him we will see Maria again.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

World Vision to cut aid to 1.5 million

This is just the latest in a slew of articles I've seen this week about the rising cost of food and the effect it is having on developing nations.

TORONTO — World Vision, one of the world's biggest humanitarian organizations, says it can no longer provide food to 1.5 million of the 7.5 million poor it fed last year.

The organization blames the soaring cost of food and countries not living up to their donor commitments for the decision. World Vision Canada president Dave Toycen says about 572,000 of those who won't receive its aid are children "who urgently need enough food to thrive."

Toycen predicts it will likely take at least two years for "this pricing crisis" to stabilize.

He says that's "far too long" for the millions of children under the age of five who need sufficient nutrition right now to develop properly.

Toycen adds countries around the world must ensure that "preventing child hunger and malnutrition is the top priority in the search for a solution to the current food pricing crisis."

The World Bank estimates the recent rise in food prices could push another 100 million people deeper into poverty.

The announcement by World Vision comes as experts gather in England for a summit on the world food aid crisis.

From: The Canadian Press

What are you and I willing to do to alleviate the situation? Why isn't Canada (and other countries) living up to its commitment to the Millenium Development Goals?

Shaking our heads and murmuring tsk-tsk before changing the channel back to the hockey game is not acceptable. A good start is writing to the Prime Minister or your Member of Parliament. But that is only the first step. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Made It!

Well, I survied the 30-Hour Famine without too much distress. By the time I was able to eat at 6pm Sunday night I was actually not feeling all that hungry...until I dug into a nice big plate of spagehetti with homemade meat sauce that is!

I raised a total of $780 that will provide food in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Ecuador, and fund clean water projects in Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

Thanks to everyone for your amazing generosity!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

30-Hour Famine

Greetings blogfriends!

I start my 30-Hour Famine tomorrow at noon and I'm still about $350 bucks short of my goal of $1080 which is enough to feed three families for a full year.

Thanks to everyone who has donated so far!

If you'd still like to kick in a few bucks, click HERE and fill in the online form.

Thank you!!

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

The title of this post is taken from chapter 11 of Nancy Ortberg's book, Looking For God. I try not to flog books on here too often because I don't want Glory Rumours to become just another marketing tool. That being said, Nancy's book is most definitely worth picking up. I've been touched by several chapters, but chapter 11 in particular has really stopped me in my tracks.

I talk a big game in terms of having impact on the world and the importance of social justice as a fundamental element of my faith, but when the rubber hits the road, how often do my words remain just that...only words? Despite all of my good intentions and brainstorm of ideas, more often than not, my intentions don't move beyond words in a blog or in my journal. Read the rather lengthy excerpt from Nancy's book below and you'll understand where I'm coming from. First let me set up the excerpt:

Nancy used to work part-time at a home health care agency in Chicago. On one particular occasion, she visited the home of a Mexican woman whose husband had just left her and whose seven-year-old had been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (the topic of the move Lorenzo's Oil) two years earlier. After meeting with this woman and her dying son, Nancy left the house with great intentions. I'll let her take over from here...

"Almost on autopilot I started the car and drove just around the block, out of view of the house. Then I pulled over to the curb, shut off the engine, and just sat. And slowly the tears came. No sobs, although that would certainly have been understandable, just tears and a deep ache in my chest.

After a few minutes, my 'thinker' kicked in, and I wiped my face with the back of my hand. I fumbled through my files and paperwork looking for a blank piece of paper. Then I started writing. I had ideas. I could help. Others could too, and I know a lot of people who would be more than willing. Beyond tears I knew there were things that could be done, things that could make a difference. I was beginning to connect God in my thinking to what was going on in this situation. I could be a part of sharing the burden that the mother had been shouldering..."

"It felt great to connect compassion and action. The presence of God in this world, in the face of so much pain, has to mean something. It could be a powerful force in the darkness of this mother's world. the deep ache in my chest began to lessen just a bit as I filled the paper. If there was one thing I was good at, it was mobilizing people to get behind a cause. This was definitely a cause, and I became filled with hope as I imagined God's people in action in the life of this woman.

Now, before I go on, I want to ask you something, because this is important. Of all the things that I wrote down on that piece of paper, what do you think was the very first things that I did...

I'll tell you. I did absolutely nothing. I don't mean that I did absolutely nothing, and then I got started. I mean I did absolutely nothing.


Kind of disappointing and even shocking that this is the end of the story, isn't it...

I am not proud of the way I responded. But I tell you this because maybe, just maybe, you might recognize yourself in this story. Maybe there has been a time in your life when you saw a need, were deeply affected by it, and meant to do something.

Intentions are wonderful things. They are the starting points, the defining moments of our lives. But in and of themselves, intentions are wholly inadequate.

As a Christ follower, it's easy to mistake intention for action and stirrings for solutions. I sometimes give myself credit for being a pretty remarkable human being just because I feel angry about injustice, pain over suffering, or empathy in the face of hurt. But even the strength of my intentions is not an accurate indicator of whether or not I will take the time to act, to put my faith to work, to be the difference that Christ has empowered me to be.

Defining moments are only as good as the lifestyles they translate into...

So what was it? Was it selfishness? Busyness? Was I paralyzed by the scope of the need? The answer is probably yes - to all of the above. But now, years after the event, my best thinking on it is this: it matters how you live."

With apologies to Nancy and Tyndale House for the large excerpt, I have to say thank you for the brutal honesty. Thanks for sharing that same sense I get so often when my very best intentions all go for naught. I've cried real tears over the situation some people find themselves in, but rarely am I motivated enough to act. I want those tears to translate into action. To let others know that God is here, now, in the midst of pain and heartache, and He's crying too.

Nancy closes the chapter with this: "I have gotten to the point in my life where I am rarely surprised by my sin, just saddened by it. Surprise indicates that I did not think myself capable of such wrongdoing. I now know that is rarely the case.

Sadness helps me understand my need for Jesus. Sadness at my thoughts, behaviors, actions - or lack thereof.

Sadness helps me understand that without Him, I am lost."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Throwing Pigs to Pearls

At first I thought I misread the headline...

Ottawa to Pay Struggling Pork Producers $50 Million to Kill 150,000 Pigs by Fall

Sadly, I hadn't.

There are 2 billion starving people in the world and our government has decided to essentially waste 150,000 pigs in order to drive up the price of the hog market. Granted, some of the pork will go to Canadian food banks, but what about the hungry around the world who need food so desperately? Try telling some African grandmother looking after 3 or 4 kids that Canada has such an excess of pigs that it is going to slaughter them and then make pet food in order to drive up the price around the rest of the world. Sick.

This just smacks of a lack of ethics and perhaps even racism. Are our pets in North America worth more than a human life in an impoverished nation? If I may quote Bono, "Where you live should not determine whether you live."

It's just sick.

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Finding Balance

I was reading Nancy Ortberg's book Looking For God and came across this quote:

"A number of years ago, my husband went with a group from our church to Ethiopia. At the time we had two children, ages three years and eighteen months. I am sure those two little girls were on John's mind when he was serving in that greatly underresourced country.

I'll never forget his greeting when he got off the plane after being gone for two weeks. He grabbed me and the girls like he would never let us go. Then when we got in the car, as he was rehashing what they saw and did, he said, 'You know, when an Ethiopian mother who's wondering where her child's next meal is going to come from thinks of American Christians, I doubt that she is hoping we'll learn to lead balanced lives.'"

Hmmmm...puts our pursuit of comfort in perspective doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Of Boards & Budgets

It's been a long time since I last posted any really personal thoughts here, but an encounter with some old friends has left my heart very heavy tonight. We met to do our annual NHL playoff draft, which is always good for some laughs and some good-natured mocking of each other's picks. After our drafting was done however, the conversation turned serious as each of my friends expressed their joys and frustrations with their respective churches.

One friend is an associate pastor who was sharing how happy he is at his church and how well things are going for the staff and the congregation. My other two friends (both members of their church boards) were not quite so positive has they shared their frustrations with power struggles, mismanagement of church funds, conflict in leadership, etc.

While I understand their frustrations - each of them were making reasonable points - I sat there without saying very much, as all I could do was grieve for what I was hearing about their church situations. I'm sure the issues they are facing are not unique or isolated to their particular faith communities, but if these problems are as widespread as I expect they are, then God forgive us for turning away from the core message of the gospel. If those who call themselves Jesus followers cannot even get along without arguing and infighting, why should those outside the church walls have any reason to believe our message about the love of God? And why would they ever want to join a movement that sings "they will know we are Christians by our love" but whose actions are the exact opposite of love? While ministry may continue to take place in these situations, I have to question the effectiveness of that ministry.

Why is it that so much energy can be invested in arguments over budgets and buildings when there are people in spiritual and physical need just outside the walls of our church buildings? How can we fight over our religious structures when there are people, people whom God created and loves deeply, who need to be introduced to Jesus and invited to participate in God's kingdom? Who will care for the refugee and the widow, the homeless and the lost, the oppressed and the prisoner? I'm so saddened by it all.

Pray for my friends. Pray for your church leadership. And pray that we would all "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

The Message puts it this way: "Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."

Forgive us o God for our self-centeredness and for letting our religion get in the way of your message. Forgive us for building our kingdoms instead of yours.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shocking Stats

Some disturbing stats about the richest nation on earth...

In America, roughly 12.9 million children live in poverty, with about 5 million living in extreme poverty (their families have incomes of less than half the federal poverty level.)

1) One-third of black children live in poverty.

2) 28 percent of Hispanic youngsters living in poor households.

3) 35 percent of all children living in poverty are white, making them the largest group of youngsters in poverty.

These stats are according to information being used in Hillary Clinton's electoral bid so there may be some spin involved (no offense intended towards Clinton specifically, that's just the way of politics) but they are similar to numbers I've heard from other sources as well.

Has anyone seen Canadian numbers anywhere? I'm guessing we are only slightly better.

See for full the complete article.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Philosophy of Schultz

No, not the loveable but dimwitted guard on Hogan's Heroes. This is from an email I received from a former co-worker with some questions attributed to Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Just read these straight through (no need to struggle for the answers) and you'll get the point:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners .
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Makes you think doesn't it? All of the time I spend watching Superbowls and Stanley Cups or noting the winners of the Oscars and Grammys is, in the end, unimportant and entirely forgettable. It's the ordinary heroes who influence my world that really matter. So go change the life at a time.