Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I have always enjoyed cheesy sitcoms when they have created an episode out of some of their greatest moments and blended them all together in a flash-back or dream mode. So, in honour of this idea, I thought I would look back on 2009 through the window of 80 blogs and choose some of my favourite high-lights. Truly, I have learned from the process and there is a part of me that hopes that others may also have learned. Going back to the first blog of 2009 I find that I am still wrestling with the same issues but I have learned a greater measure of trust. I still cannot see how God will provide for my needs, but with eyes of faith I trust that He will.

This has been a year where I learned of the moral failure of a friend and fellow church planter and prayed to God that He would protect me from my own weaknesses and tendencies toward sin. It was also a year when I retold stories of answered prayer; partly for the sake of others but largely to remember the grace of Jesus in my own life. I read about Columba (or Colum Cille) the first missionary to Scotland and marvelled at the life and prayers of this leader. I thought long and hard about the relationship between my faith and my love of science. And I found strength in God through His creation at times when God's message was being drowned out by the world. I also questioned why it is that God sometimes seems so distant. In all of this, I continue to recognize the great mystery of this life of following Jesus, studying the Bible, and living life in the 21st century.

As one blogs, it is hard to know who the audience might be. If you have read this blog even once or twice I thank you. Blogging is a public forum where the writer learns far more than the reader. As you read my blog, you are helping me to mature in my faith, my understanding of the world, and my craft as a writer. I look forward to 2010 and hope that you might read along with me in this new year and might even send me a comment or two. Thanks for reading along on this cheesy backward glance at 2009. May we all continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Beat

Past the derelict mattress
and the overgrown pavement
over the tracks
and through the hole in the fence
Past graffiti-bright buildings
and the junkyard alarm bell
and the screaming police cars
and it's all present tense
It's my beat
In my new town
Past the drunk woman reeling
with her bag of provisions
Down through the tunnel
with the stink-fuming bus
On to the bike path
where it's something like freedom
and the wind in my earring whispers
Trust what you must
It's my beat
In my new town
Ancient and always
The wheel's ever whirling
Today I'm riding
Tomorrow I walk
Step through forever
into this very moment
The heart is pumping
and the heart rocks
It's my beat
In my new town
Bruce Cockburn: For the most part it’s pretty literal. I moved to Montreal last March and it’s about me riding around Montreal on my bike. On another level it’s about being in the moment, appreciating the here and now. - from "Ready For "Anything" From Bruce Cockburn", Gavin, 11 December 2001.

Written about a town 5000 km away it still feels like "my beat" in Vancouver. I think I will go out and check my beat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Earth Crammed With Heaven

“Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Monday, December 21, 2009


The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. –Albert Einstein
I love to read of scientists with a sense of wonder; those who recognize the mystery of our universe. They inspire me to be moved by mystery and by this amazing universe that is so far beyond our comprehension. Scientists, after all, are dedicated to learning as much as they possibly can about the universe. They make it their daily mission to know more today than they knew yesterday; and yet, there is always more to know. I appreciate scientists who recognize their limitations and acknowledge that there will always be mystery.

The same is true of theologians and those of us who take the Bible seriously. Each day we seek to know more than we did yesterday while recognizing that there is always more to know. We must recognize our limitations and acknowledge that there will always be mystery. May we continue to have a sense of wonder and awe of this universe and of our God.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Serious Education

In Comment Magazine published by Cardus, Greg Veltman has written a review of the movie A Serious Man. I will quote a portion of it here. You can also see the entire review in its context here.
Joel and Ethan Coen's latest film, A Serious Man, feels like a loose adaptation of the story of Job to the American Midwest in 1967. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a university physics professor, married with two children, and up for tenure. Larry has lived the life expected of him by society; he has not deviated from the script. Unfortunately, his sickly and bungling brother has taken up residence on the couch; his wife is seeking a divorce so she can move in with Sy Ableman (a much more exciting family friend); and a disgruntled foreign student is threatening his chances for tenure. And that is just the beginning.

Larry's life is going downhill fast. What is a good Jewish man to do? He seeks the advice of three local rabbis. But wisdom cannot simply be gained by consulting the experts. . . . Larry is seeking meaning beyond merely passing the test and memorizing the rules. Larry's quest illuminates the need for education to be an active engagement with the world, not merely a passive acceptance of the status quo. Throughout the film, Larry insists that he hasn't done anything to deserve his suffering. The three rabbis' advice turns out to be too ambiguous and cryptic, and so Larry remains in a fog of confusion about why he is suffering.

The Coen brothers have a rare gift for making films that are serious enough to be tragic, yet absurd enough to be comedic. And while at times you want to laugh at Larry's existential crisis and the cliché and aphoristic words of advice offered to him by the rabbis, the film also has a tragic side. Larry has lost his ability to learn. He is educated, but has become an unreflective and uncritical man. He is unable to see that the life he has been chasing is an illusion, and now it may be too late to change course. While the film is wise not to attempt to offer a trite answer to the meaning of suffering, it seems to suggest that it is our response to suffering that matters most of all. The film illustrates that true education is our ability to think about meaning and critically question the way we have shaped society. To become a mensch (a human being or a serious man), Larry would have to see himself as a person with decisions to make, rather than simply going through the motions of life as others have selfishly recommended.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone. - Francis of Assisi

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self. - Francis of Assisi

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Contextual and Missional

"Church must be contextual and missional! Some church plants are in danger of disappearing into the culture. We must listen to the culture and listen to God. What are the signs that God is at work?" - Stuart Murray at Renov8 2009