October 31, 2005

Nominal Faith

They wake up in the morning, get dressed in normal clothes, eat breakfast, say goodbye to their normal families, which they love. They go to work or school and do the normal work and school things. They have normal friends, who think like normal people. They have normal problems, that they try to solve in the normal way. They eat a normal lunch, and a normal supper. They go back home to their family (who is still normal). They watch normal TV. They talk in the normal way and about normal things; weather, religion, politics, and their families. Oh and they go to bed and sleep in the normal way (whatever that is). Who are these normal people? They are actually two types of normal people who are very more alike than they realize. In fact, they have more similarities than they do differences. They are the normal nominal Joe Christian and Rashad Muslim. (This is not true of all Islamic cultures, but I am speaking from my experience in this culture) Joe Christian is a good person, is a moral person…so is Rashad Muslim, in fact, Rashad might even be more moral than Joe (the western mind might find this hard to grasp). Rashad loves his family just as much as Joe does, in fact, Rashad probably has a higher respect for family. Joe does the whole Easter and Christmas ‘go to church’ thing, and Rashad likewise does his once or twice fast during Ramadan and reads the Koran about as much as Joe goes to Church. Joe is so ingrained with culture that it is hard for him to see the real God, Rashad is just as ingrained and it is hard for him to see the real God. Both need Jesus exactly the same. Both will spend an eternity void of the real God. In all reality, Joe and Rashad are the same person.

October 30, 2005

Public Transportation

One of the great benefits of public transportation here is that I can go just about anywhere in this three million large city for less than twenty cents. The bus is the second cheapest form of transportation, right behind the metro which is only 5 cents. (Gas only costs 45 cents a litre and Diesel is only 25 cents a litre. For you Americans that is about 1.70 for one gallon of gas and 94 cents for a gallon of Diesel). Anyhow, that being said, it seems that teh bus would be the way to. However, the bus is also the perfect place for pickpockets to make a living, which I am now helping them do. On Tuesday, I woke up late for my language class and I decided to go to the second half of the class. I took the bus, as usual, and it was jam packed, as usual. (When I say jam packed, I mean the doors don't shut and there is most likely someone hanging out the door. Oddly enough, that person hanging out was not me for a change. This time I actually got to sit down. But that is where the magic happened. I don't know how, or when, but my cell phone was stolen out of my front right pocket. Kudos to the man (or woman) who was stealthy enough to swipe it. I am thoroughly impressed. So much so, that if I was rich, I would purposely try to have things stolen just so I could see how they do it.

Apparently this happens to many people here. Of the twenty students that I teach English, ten of them have had their cell phone stolen on the bus. (That sort of makes me feel better). And among our team here, six cell phones have been stolen on the bus. So I am considering this my official initiation.

If you have any valuable items that you would like to donate to the underworld, you can send them to me and I will willingly place them in my pockets and ride the bus. It's kinda like donating to your favorite charity, except it's not a charity and it's stealing.

October 27, 2005

My Cell Phone

My Mobile Phone Number Is:
496 23 53
374 92 32
496 37 88
Oh wait, my mobile phone was stolen on the bus!!


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Light....or no light (as is the situation now)

I am sitting in my apartment right now, eating what is perhaps the best mandarin I have ever eaten (fruit here is 10 times better than the United States) and I am thanking God for light. Electricity here is as reliable as the Canadian Post Office! (For you Americans it would be like as reliable as a dead horse...you get the idea) Things change when the lights go off. This is what I realized tonight;

"I write this by the light of a single candle that is illuminating my living room in my apartment. It is incredible how much of life depends on light. The spiritual parallels are innumerable. Life slows down, or so it seems, when the power goes out. Maybe that is because we take light forgranted and it is only then that we appreciate and understand its value and importance. One dim light in a dark room is more important than one bright spotlight in a city of lights. One dim light in a dark room is being used to its full potential. One dim light in a dark room makes a difference, even if it doesn't light up the entire room.
Light also brings comfort. I believe that no one truly enjoys and loves the darkness. Some may say they do, but there is no comfort. When my lights went out, my first instinctive response was to go light a candle. Why....predominantly for comfort. We don't like what we can not see. The unknown is not comfortable. Sure it is an adventure and it is challenging, but isn't one of our goals in the adventure is to shed light upon the unknown or to act out the part light plays. To discover is like being light (in a way) This candle brings comfort, not because it is a candle but because of its effect."

When there is one light, it seems to bring things into perspective and simplify things.


The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. --Chinese Proverb

October 26, 2005


Have you ever played the game frogger? The idea for this game had to have come from the culture that I am living in now. I am a real life frog and everyday I must beat many many levels because my life depends on it. Driving here is atrocious. The rules for driving here are as follows: Be first, no matter what the consequences, even if it means driving on the sidewalk. Honk your horn and honk often. Hitting pedestrians is bonus points (so far while I've been living here, I've riden in two vehicles that have hit people). Try to make other people mad with your driving. Oh and be first, no matter what the consequences.

These unwritten rules have made for some interesting levels of frogger in my life. I've been stuck in the middle of the road with rearview mirrors just missing my torso while I've been strategically planning which gaps to jump at. However, unlike frogger where you receive multiple lives, I'm playing the extreme version where you have only one life. So far so good...

October 25, 2005

Hide and Go Seek

Do you remember playing hide and go seek when you were a child. It was one of my favorite games when I was young, and I still think I would love to play it, if I could play with the right people. (Most of the times when I was young, hide and seek involved toy guns and knives...oh well) One of the reasons I loved the game was because I was good at it. I could always find the best hiding spots where no one would ever look, and I had sniper skills when I was six. I would lay motionless for hours upon hours not moving a muscle. Actually, it was probably 15 minutes at the max, but I was still good. I was also good at finding, because I knew all of the good hiding spots. As a six year old, I had an iron will. I would never give up until I found them. In fact, I loved finding people more than I like hiding. I liked the anticipation of never knowing when I might find them. I loved the chase, and just desperately searching. You may think I'm glorifying hide and go seek, but maybe you just never played like we played.

-Pause- Sometimes life is hard, but it can be explained in very easy terms. I don't think we always need big words, or complicated theology. Sometimes those big words and complicated theologies are scapegoats for people who don't want to accept the simple, the things that are right in front of their face, the things that are hard to do, but simple to understand.

Right now, I feel as if God is saying to me, "Let's play hide and seek. Come find me!" But to be blunt and honest, I have not played with the same enthusiasm as when I was a kid. Yet everyday I feel like he is urging me to play. Even as I write this, I sense the Spirit prodding me to come and find him. To let everything go, and desperately and anxioulsy search for him. The thought keeps floating in my head, "Well, what if it takes a long time, or what if you never find him?" Both of them are possible (although the second one is only possible if I quit searching). Both of these were possible when I was a kid playing hide and seek too. Except, I never thought of them. I never analyzed the game and weighed the pros and cons. I just abandoned everything and jumped into the game. I realize as I type this that I've been putting this off for a few days now and if I were to continue to type, I would just be prolonging it even more. So I'm off to play hide and seek.

October 23, 2005

Love & Discipline, Faith and Law

Sometimes the balance in these issues is so hard to find. Sometimes there is not a balance. Sometimes both are exhibited to the full extent at the same time. Sometimes our theology is messed up and we don't know what is going on. Sometimes quick cute answers on these topics do not cut it. Sometimes one must just wrestle with them, like Jacob wrestled with God. I think part of our relationship with God is just questioning and questioning him. Now before you go jumping up and yelling heresy (because as Christians we like to do that a lot), look at the Scriptures.
DISCLAIMER: I don't mean questioning God when he asks us to do something. If we did that, Noah would have slept on the idea of building the Ark and probably been one day too late when the rains came and we all would have been up poop creek without a paddle

God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to him. God is asking Abraham to do something that seems to go against God himself. Sacrificing children is what other nations were doing at that time to their false Gods.

God tells Abraham to make a bronze Snake and put it on a pole. Then he commands the Israelites to look at the snake so they can be healed. Doesn't this seem odd. He is asking them to look at a man made image for healing. Perhaps there is more though?

There are other paradox's (don't get excited over that word, like most of you probably just did when you read it). You have to face it, there are paradoxs' in the Bible. God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitfull and multiply, yet he choses a barren woman, Sarah, to carry out his plan. And this follows with Rebekah and Rachel.

We top out wiht the paradox that Jesus is both fully man and fully God. Our minds can not understand this and we see it as a paradox.

Yet behind all of these I think God is trying to get us to look to the deeper issue. Faith?? What was God wanting the Israelites to see and do when they looked at the image. Believe that God could heal them?

And behind all of these trust is interwoven.

If God is the one who created everything and made this world, then certainly he is capable of defying human logic. In fact, I want him to defy human logic.

These things I don't understand and seem to oppose each other have only strengthed my faith.
Wow God!

A Word to the Stupid (Because the Wise don't need a word)

Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut!

October 21, 2005


I have come to the conclusion that when I was a child, too young to remember, or perhaps I don't remember for this reason, I must have had a lobotomy. The doctors must have thought it amusing to remove the part of my brain that is in charge of language learning. Because of this, I have never spoke real good English, and/or/but it is making learning a foreign language a lots very harder. Some peoples said that to learned a nother way to talk is like drinkings from a firehose. I am convniecd taht it is mroe likes Hruriacne Katrina. I am aslo cnonviecd taht it msut hvae been a wmoan taht ivnneted langguae. No man in his rgiht mnid wulod hvae eevr been albe to tihnk of soemtihng so cmopelx. We wuold sitll be uisng nioses, wihch is fnie wtih me. Gurnts and piontnig semeed to wrok fnie for the cveamen. If it wroked for tehm, why not for me.

October 20, 2005

Song Recommendation of the Week

Chris Rice: My Tree

Beautiful Lyrics of God's Love. At least listen to it once.


The culture that I am living in at this present time revolves around bribes. Growing up in America, we know the word bribe, but you can not really understand it until you have experienced it. Here, everyone knows and has probably used bribes many many times. In fact it is culturally accepted to give bribes, even when they are not asked for or demanded. How would that affect you growing up, knowing that if you wanted anything you would have to pay a bribe. Even to get your drivers license, you are expected to pay a bribe. Nothing is just straight up. Even if you lend something to someone, they don't understand that you are just being nice and require nothing in return. Free, does not exist. We joke in America that nothing is really free, and sometimes that is true. But here, I bet they even pay a bribe to get it to rain.

This is the good part. This is where contextualization of the Gospel comes into play. You can't imagine how difficult it is to grasp the free gift of salvation to a local person. But when they do, the good news becomes even...dare I use improper grammer and say gooder. If all you have known is bribes, and finally, you hear of something that is free. It is so foreign to your thought that it has to be explained again and again. How good is that! That could possibly be the best news you've ever heard. Oh what we have lost in our culture, and what is waiting for those of this culture!

October 16, 2005

The Preverbial 'First Post'

Our culture teaches us that first impressions are of utmost importance.

Commercials are always short and catchy. They want you to remember.

Last words are also usually short and sometimes sum up a persons life.

Kangaroo's can jump up to 30 feet in a single bound. (Seriously)

What else is there in life but writing thoughts and having friends and random people read them and find mild entertainment or minute brain stimulation. This is the secret to life.

On a serious note (I thought that sounded like a good thing to say), however confusing and complicated life gets. Or no matter what I face in life, the single most comforting words ever spoken are 'Immanuel.' God with us........