Friday, March 31, 2006

Still On Vacation

Beth and I just got in from a nice walk in the Lake Forest Park neighborhood. This vacation has been really good except for my youngest daughter, Micah-el, getting a tooth infection. It's been a long one though. Both kids miss Ottawa badly. They've been asking when we will go back home.

I was surprised when I measured my blood sugar level after our walk. It's 4 times higher than it should be. It really is a pain to have Type II Diabetes. I hate it. But the real question is, "Do I hate it enough to do what it takes not only to control it but also deal with it once and for all?" I've heard of people with Type II who were able to basically revert to normal and discard all medication. God, grant me the will to do the thing I know I ought to do!

In spite of that, it sure is nice to get out in nature and breathe clean air. Maybe tapping into that love for nature can help with this blood sugar thing?

Call for Topics

Please send me any topics you might want me to cover here. I need to know what you want to know.
I might not know everything on everything but I do know somethings about a few things. I'm trying to narrow the topics I should write about here (though I will always include updates on me and my family and book recommendations) so I need your help.

Just hit the comment button below and suggest away...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Starbucks c. 1971

While in Seattle, we took an hour long walk through the downtown area and through the historic Pike Place Market. Near the north end of the market we discovered the very first Starbucks that opened in 1971. This gold post certifies for all customers that this is where it all began. Very nostalgic for me as many of you know that I am a big fan of Starbucks for both its coffee and it's business philosophy. Though I did forget my digital camera in the van (!) I was able to snag a pic. I can truly verify that this is what we saw today.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mt. Rainier, Washington State

Here we are at Mt. Rainier. We didn't get all the way to the top but it was so beautiful up here. It was already the first day of spring but at this height, snow stays cold. You can't see it too well from the angle but the snow caps were blue when we took this shot. The peaks shot through the clouds and reflected the azure sky off the snow. Wow!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Encounter @ Ronald UMC, Seattle 2006.03.18

I conducted an Encounter Weekend at Ronald United Methodist Church in Seattle. The event started on Friday night and ended Saturday night. I taught all 6 sessions. It went very well. Participants from another church (Beacon UMC) want to hold an Encounter for their congregation. Here's what it looked like...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Everyday Spirituality

It's possible to learn to recognize the myriad ways that God touches us outside of that which is openly spiritual and we can share these moments with others. God touches us through painful growth experiences of loss and grief, through moments of creative and athletic excellence, through moments of victory over our problems and through the tenderness of relationships. God's grace falls on the just and unjust alike. All humanity experiences God's hand. These moments when we touch something eternal and noble and good are God's footprints in our lives---His prevenient grace. People need to realize that the God they feel they do not know has, in fact, been at work already in their lives in many ways. -Chris Harding quoted in THE SHAPING OF THINGS TO COME by Frost and Hirsch

Our approach to spirituality has been highjacked by Greek dualism where life is divided into two part: the material or natural part and the spiritual part. Generally, the material part of life is looked down upon and considered something to be conquered not redeemed. The spiritual is looked upon as the better part or the good part that only matters.

This dualism is what makes those of us seeking to live more spiritual lives seem schizophrenic. What we need to understand is that God doesn't look at life in that way. Life is much more complexly and messily integrated. This is the message of the Incarnation. God sees the material as essential to existence. We act and live through our bodies. I used to admire the saying, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience." I realize now that this only promotes the kind of dualism that causes so much consternation in Christian discipleship.

What we need is a spirituality of incarnation. Mike Slaughter once wrote that, "Incarnation is where the sacred and the secular meet." Incarnational spirituality creates a vibrant spirituality. One that can embrace all of life and does not compartmentalize spirit from everything else. This kind of spirituality embraces all of our God-created passions like nobility, love, sex, ambition, dreams, hope, etc.

We feel God when we feel the excitement of the underdog beating the favorite team. We feel God when we are moved to tears by a powerful scene in a movie. We feel God when we come alive when we fall in love. These are all ordinary moments. But these moments are very compelling. Moments when God touches our soul in the ordinary things in life.

People who live in this way make spirituality something real, tangible and attainable. Jesus was just like this. He lived in such a way that he embraced all of life. He saw the Spirit in everything and not just in "spiritual things."

Followers of Christ who embrace life in this way can draw people into God's unfolding story in the following ways:

1. Appreciate everyday moments.

2. Nurture a sense of wonder and awe.

3. Be extraordinarily loving.

4. Connect to God's presence in all creation.

5. Embrace life!

Vive-le! (French)
L'chaim! (Hebrew)
Mabuhay! (Filipino)

Seattle 2006.03.14

Tomorrow, we fly out to Seattle. The home of the Sonics, Bill Gates, Frasier, Mt. Rainier and where I had my close encounter of the God kind. It's been several years since I've been back to Seattle. But the place always stirs up a sense of nostalgia whenever I think about it. I'm really looking forward to bringing Beth and the kids to Mt. Rainier. Beautiful up there!

I've noticed lately that I've been reconnecting to all things nature. Crisp cold air. Bright clear sky. The smell of melting snow. These things are all around us and are easily taken for granted. It's good for my soul to see these things as if for the first time.

Seattle will have me busy. I'll be conducting an Encounter this weekend. I'm speaking at Ronald United Methodist Church on Sunday. Then the next Sunday, I'll be speaking at Beacon UMC. We're in Seattle for a total of 4 weeks. The remaining weekends may have me speak at churches outside Washington State.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Tom Peters posted this on his website. Click the title above to go to the link.

Robert Altman
Mr Altman won the lifetime achievement award at the Oscars last night. I loved this from his acceptance remarks, and I paraphrase: "The role of the Director is to create a space where the actor or actress can become more than they've ever been before." (Or, maybe: "dreamed of being." Better yet. I'll have to find a transcript.)

To me that's the essence of leadership—in any context.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


It's a gorgeous Sunday. Right now. Right here. We went to TLC's early church service then had family time at Tim Horton's, picked up some fruits at Food Basics, window shopped at Henry's Electronics, Sport Mart and Dollar Blitz. When we came home, we sat down to watch Nemo with the kids but caught a good portion of Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS. Wow!

Here is this guy speaking with passion, energy, and life talking about being inspired. He described how living an inspired life awakens dormant senses within you. Living an inspired life elevates your life causing you to live with a greater awareness of connection and spirit.

Family Circle magazine interviewed him. Here was the opening question and Dyer's response:

FC: What is intention?

Dyer: It's the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don't let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse - when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you're no longer in charge, that there's a driving force inside you that can't be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musician, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.

FC: What is that source?

Dyer: Some call that source God or soul or spirit or consciousness.

Now, mind you, Dyer is definitely connected to New Age philosophy. But he was speaking a language that tapped into the inner passion of every human being. He was defintely inspiring.

And I contrasted that with our experience at TLC this morning and most people's experience with the church. I exclaimed to Beth, "Now why couldn't church be that inspiring!?" I thought of our spiritual community's monthly Fuel gathering and said, "Fuel should be this inspiring!"

Much of what Dyer taught aligns with Biblical truth and the teachings of Jesus. This validated what Scripture teaches in Romans 1:19-21 in the New Living Translation:

19For the truth about God is known to them instinctively.[a] God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. 21Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused.

Wayne Dyer and motivational teachers like him are defintely tapping into something harmonious with The Divine Character. Though they do not acknowledge God as a personal and holy God, they've touched on something the church has missed. It's time the church start speaking to the longings of people's souls. To tap into those things that inspire us; that call us upward towards a higher level of living.

Inspire and be inspired.

Hidden Jesus

Beth and I just finished 5 days of acupuncture treatments with Dr. Tran at the behest of my mom. I must admit that I was skeptical at first. I didn't know much about acupuncture except that it is alternative medicine and that it is an ancient Chinese practice. The most I had ever seen of acupuncture was an old Steven Segal movie where he healed himself using Chinese needles. But it seems to be working! Everyone says that my face and stomach have gotten smaller. Anything that can do that is worth a good shake! But I didn't want to talk about the validity or merits of acupuncture here. I want to tell you about our experience at Dr. Tran's clinic.

The New Acupuncture clinic is run out of the home of Dr. Tran and his wife. They are from Vietnam. When you walk in, you will usually find the house filled with people. It is not uncommon to wait for at least 30 minutes before 1 of 20 or so beds is free for you to be treated on. Treatment consists of a consultation and then two rounds of needles (front and back). We spend an average of around 2 hours there everyday.

From the very first day, we noticed that many of the patients knew each other. They talked and laughed and shared freely with one another. "They must be long term patients under Dr. Tran's care," we thought. On our second day, we met Eve and Arun. Eve is a pretty, 30-year old, French Canadian whom we instantly bonded with while waiting for our beds to free up. Arun was there to accompany his friend Anne. He is from India and was having some kind of problem with his shoulder. He got a consultation with Dr. Tran, and returned the next day for his own treatment.

Eve said something very significant and it got me thinking. She said that when she first started going to Dr. Tran, she was really shy. Apparently, Eve's right leg had some kind of skin problem that makes it look like her thigh was burned. There was no pain though. At first she was embarrassed to talk about it. But after some time, she realized, "Everyone is here with some kind of problem. You wouldn't even be here if you didn't have a problem." Then Eve proceeded to lift up her right pant leg to show us why she was at Dr. Tran's. She's come a long way.

When Dr. Tran consults with you, he doesn't do it in the privacy of an office. His consultations are right in front of everyone for everyone to hear. He is direct and to the point. He often anticipates what your problem is and begins to advise you immediately to change your diet. He once spoke to a man about his unbalanced testicles in front of everyone! The benefit of this "open" consultation is that you can learn something new everyday.

And I thought...this must've been how it was in Jesus' day when the Healer from Nazareth would go to a home and begin healing and teaching people:

1. Healing happened in a very natural and non-laboratory place.
2. There was a sense of community which revolved around the Healer.
3. Everyone was open about their problems.
4. The Healer spoke to each person publicly and truthfully.
5. Everytime you went to Jesus, you always learned something new.

What would simple churches be like if these charactersitics were evident in them? Imagine a network of people who met in homes not cathedrals. Imagine what it would be like when each of the people present came because of their relationship to Jesus and not because of their religious obligation. Imagine each person expecting to get touched by Jesus every time the group met. What kind of church would this be if the people were very open about their problems because they all admitted that the reason why they need Jesus is because they are damaged? Imagine this kind of church where Jesus spoke through the people in truth and love. And then imagine what it would be like where every time you attended this group, you learned something new that you could use in your life. Wow.

Dr. Tran has a full "clinic" due to word of mouth. He doesn't need advetising for his business. I calculated that he must make about $400,000 per year. And none of that is spent on commercials, posters, flyers or anything. He doesn't need to promote his clinic because each of his patients have become evangelists. Word of mouth fills his house with those seeking healing.

What can the church learn from that? Somewhere in that full house on Wellington Street in Ottawa is a hidden Jesus.