Whoah. I've got a big head.
Just trying to figure out how to do images. Starting with a family one...
My friend from Ontario, Andre, is giving this blogging thing a go. Check it out.
Toronto is out of the playoffs (hockey), last Canadian team with a shot. I am anxious about my Canadian-ness though, because I don't really care. I guess I have been bitter towards hockey since the Jets left. But oh, we were passionate then, lemme tell ya. Once some guys in college decided that, in the spirit of being young and dumb, they would play buck naked, in the middle of winter, on an outdoor rink (at about 3 am). Truth is, I chickened out on that one; just didn't love the game enough I guess. We thought at the time about calling the newspaper to get a photographer out there, and looking back I kinda wish I had. That woulda been a great headline. Might have gone round the world.
I have been really taken by the Lord's prayer lately, and think I am just beginning to figure out why. For a "worship leader", I have had a pretty extreme aversion to calling the singing we do on a Sunday morning "worship". Somehow to me it compartmentalizes worship far too much. When I see it's usage in scripture, worship is so broad. It is about an entire life given over to living a different way, a life changed completely by Love and acting upon it. So then a song is worship, a prayer is worship, taking a homeless guy out for a hamburger is worship, being kind to your kids is worship, being crazy generous with your money is worship. But we tend to use the word interchangeably with 35 minutes of singing on a Sunday morning. Think about it. Someone says, "she loves to worship". In my culture, most people take that to mean, "she loves to sing songs to God." It should probably mean, "she really is diligent about being like Jesus."

Yeah, yeah, so what does this have to do with the Lord's prayer?

Well, it is changing my thinking about what my "worship leading" really is. It is prayer. I realize that my definition of prayer is poor. I tend to think of prayer as asking God for stuff. It is that, but that too is narrow. Christ starts off with "worship". "Father in heaven, holy is your name". Then asking (macro), "Let your kingdom come!" Then more asking (micro), "Give us enough to eat today..." Repentance, "forgive us as we forgive.." Asking for deliverance, and then finishes off with more praise and worship, "The kingdom, the power and the glory is all yours, forever!!!"

So when we sing together, I am approaching it as prayer, as a part of worship. Because through prayer, the spirit leads us into action (I hope), and into the fullness of what it means to worship God. For some people, I know this seems a little irrelevant, but it sure helps me. I guess it is something to do with a passion for "true worship", which can't be centered on only music...


Whoah. I liked this plenty.

The fundamental issue for me is that Christ called us to lay down our lives for one another. People as individuals are often willing to do that, but people as institutions, by definition, are unwilling to do that. In fact as institutions we are always prepared to sacrifice individuals for the sake of the institution. That is the problem with any institutionalised approach.

The kind of radical, non-violent, sacrificial spirituality I'm advocating will always subvert the institution because it is calling for people to lay down their lives for one another, rather than sacrifice individuals for the sake of the institution.

From a book by Dave Andrews. Get more here.
Well, there you have it. It would seem that God is a Laker fan. If you saw the game, you know what I mean. Or maybe they are all Dark Lords of the Sith or something. Why do I cheer against them. Give in to the Dark side....


Ok. I figured out how to make available the rough (but great) version of The Water I Breathe, the song I blogged about on May 13. I'll put it up for a while here. Again, great, great song Andrew (least I think so)...


Oh, and I thought of another one of those things I talked about in the Friday, May 17 blog:

What's this thing called love?
What's this thing called, Love?

I was watching the Cosby today and I noticed how cynical our culture is now as compared to then. These days the "Theo moment" that ended just about every Cosby show would likely be mocked off the screen. I admit I find it corny too, but I wonder if that is good thing. Cynicism is so easy. But the critic who is nothing more is uninspiring. It is a pretty safe and unchallenging thing to knock down, but way more risky, and impressive, to build up.

But I guess often our cynicism has been aimed at easy answers that most of us know to be false. Good Ideas have too often proven hypocritical and empty, and it leaves us feeling burned. So if you are a seeker of Truth, what's the response?

My hunch is that for both the believer and unbeliever the answer begins with brutal honesty. To approach our relationships, with people and God, being up front about what we are certain about, and what is still only grey. Really, a staunch athiest is being as dishonest as an unquestioning fundamentalist. Both attitudes leave you stranded far from what is true because they assume they already have the complete answers.

I think this is why I am so captured by the idea of being "real". Being real means being honest. And honesty means you sincerely want to know what is True; you're not satisfied with what you know may be comfortable illusions. Honesty in your spirit leads you to become a seeker of Truth. Jesus said that these days God is looking for worshippers who worship in spirit and truth. Is this what he meant?


I am thinking about the tendency most people have (well, me anyway) to make whatever they are doing the thing that other people should do. It is a hard thing to embrace diversity. But the hardest thing is to live in the tension between embracing everything and only liking your own thing...

Yeah, I know, that is not making much sense. But here's something of what I mean. I think the poor, the people whom society finds undesirable, the rejects, whatever name you want to use, are vital to the understanding of what Christ was trying to communicate to us. There's a part of me that says every follower of Christ should be embracing the poor, identifying themselves with the "losers" of the earth. But, there are those in the Christian realm who don't share that value. How to handle that?

I guess you just get to a place where the only thing you really can do is live out the passion that God gives you. Show what is true by how you live. Speak loudly what you think, but don't deny another their voice in the conversation. But ultimately and finally, you've got to figure out the things that are absolutely true for you, and then act on them. For most people, that is much more convincing than a loud argument.

I think that is what I see in Jesus. He "embraced the other" in his actions, though sometimes he vehemently opposed their ideas (so embracing diversity can't just mean agreeing with everyone and not opposing anything). A lot of things he was vague and shrouded in communicating. But if there is one thing you can nail him down on, it is the importance of being born again into Love; experiencing a heart change that brings about kindness, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, etc. So for me that is absolutely True. Those things I can pursue with passion. But this all gets tricky when you translate it into action. Knowing how to interpret these values into an appropriate action is where the guesswork begins.

Convoluted, eh? Gimme grace, I am just guessing my way through life!


I know I am a little late, but I "finally" saw Star Wars: Attack of the Clones tonight. I was getting confused by the time the bad guys started fighting the bad guys, but I guess that is pretty much the whole history of war. I liked it, but it loses something when you're not twelve years old. Seemed somewhat more profound 20 years ago.


A friend just emailed me some profundity today. A guy named John Shea who wrote The Spirit Master. I've never heard of him before, but i will be looking into him. Here are some of the best parts:


With the possible exception of 'Son of Man' there is no evidence that
the earthly Jesus ever used these titles of himself.

His reality shattered categories imposed on him. The person of Jesus
absorbed every title applied to him, changed its meaning, and
transcended it.

There is something fascinating about a man whose importance is so secure
he has no need of establishing it by arrogating titles to himself.

Authority is known because new life is being 'authored' not because
titles are being claimed.

IT seems that the greater a man is, the less he claims for himself.

Jesus relies on what he does to convey who he is. Man relies on what he
says to convey who he is.

The spirituality of Jesus holds to two insights:

1. Revenge breaks the spiral of forgiveness and contributes to the
spiral of violence. Who is my neighbour and How many times should I
forgive-both presupposes limits to the extension of love, and therefore
predict a future situation where forgiveness will give way to
retribution. At that moment the spiral of forgiveness gives way to the
spiral of violence.

2. Forgiven people extending forgiveness is a matter of enacting their
identity. The foundation of their selfhood is an experience of
forgiveness. If they are to be faithful to that self, they must allow
that expression.

Grace may be free but it is not cheap. It will cost us our life as we
express it to others.


Tried to go to Star Wars tonight. One hour wait in a line that was so long it went outside. not that interested. Now I'm here at home paying tribute to Will Ferrell's last SNL instead. Here's to the loving memory of the Spartans Cheerleaders.


Ok, another language thing I thought of. I used to have a goofy friend in college who would think up these phrases whose meanings totally change when you change the pauses or emPHAsis on how you say them. Her name was Leza. We'll call them Leza-isms. I used to use them while teaching ESL to show the importance of intonation. For example:

What's that in the road ahead?
What's that in the road, a head?


Let's eat, Grandma.
Let's eat Grandma.

Hahahahahaha. Well, they crack me up anyway. If you're not laughing, maybe you just have to hear it. Or maybe I'm an easy crowd...

If you have any more like this, please send them to me.


I was a teacher in Japan for awhile. What a crazy, cute, strange, awesome place. I found a site that reminded me of that. Check out www.engrish.com. If any of you have lived in foreign countries, I suppose we could go on and on trading "bad english" stories, but here are a couple of my favorites (actually, send me your best stories!!).

One occurred when my wife and I walked into quite a large worship conference and looked up at the overhead. The people were intensely worshipping to the Kevin Prosch standard Shout to the Road. Yes, Shout to the R-O-A-D. You see, the word "Lord" contains both an "L" and and "r", letters whose pronounciation provide no small challenge for the Japanese. I can just picture the poor frustrated guy who transliterated the song, hopelessly trying to sound out the word.

By far the oddest thing I saw kept me laughing for weeks at just the thought of it. I was at a ceramics festival and I saw a conservative-looking, middle-aged woman wearing this t-shirt, white letters on blue, boldly declaring:


Really. Wow.

I guess it's no different than when we wear Chinese characters on our clothes or tatoo them on our bodies having no idea what they mean. I have this hunch with Evian Natural Spring Water. Have you noticed that spelled backward, "Evian" is "naive"? I just know there are some French guys somewhere laughing, "zey can get eet from za tap for naseeng, baht we will pud it in a plastic boddle, and charge zem a dolleur fifty, he he he..."


I have to point you to another song by a friend here in the city. The song is Soul by Colleen Kwade. She has a soothing folky voice that I love. And it's a great song too. Lyrical sampling:

You seem austere but in the sky
I see the color of my children's eyes
In everything that might be plain or commonplace
Your spirit lies

Oh, and another local guy whose CD hasn't left my player since I got it is Greg Macpherson. Go to the media section of his page (www.gregmacpherson.com) and listen to Slow Stroke, but go quick because I think he changes it all the time. Watch to see if he puts up Numbers because that one is the best one. Or buy his CD. Yeah, buy his CD... and mine too... and Colleen's... go on a Winnipeg music shopping binge.

Ok, I know, enough shameless self-promotion...


You know that weird hard-to-put-into-words feeling you get when you stare into your own eyes in a mirror? If you've had the feeling, you'll definitely know what I am talking about. Has anyone ever written about that anywhere? What is that about anyway?
Do you have kids? Around the age of one? Then you likely know about it already, or I shouldn't be telling you if you don't. It may mean a serious reduction in your internet time. It may mean you'll start walking around the house singing silly songs to yourself in an english accent (against your will!! it's like an addiction!). It may be the reason why kids nowadays understand the internet from so early on. Anyway, it's the Teletubbies online, and already my boy pulls me away from all the "important" things I am doing online, and demands, "dubbie dubbie dub??" As if watching it on TV wasn't bad enough.


I hate when the Lakers win. I wanna see those proud ones get humbled. But Kobe's head just keeps getting bigger (maybe rightly so). Tim Duncan needs some teammates. Sheesh...
Sometimes I wish I had more html ability. Two friends of mine recently wrote the most brilliant song, and I can't figure out how to make it downloadable without waiting the three weeks it takes to make it available on mp3.com. Anyway, it's an Andrew Smith song, with lyrics by his wife, Tami. It is a metaphor of the mental/spiritual struggle you go through when saying yes to God means walking through a barren desert. I have never heard it communicated better. But you can't hear the scratchy version I have until i can figure how to post it. Until then, here is a sampling of the lyrics:

For a moment feels so good, I'm floating free
But the current and these clothes are against me
Body weakens, mind races; I'm far at sea
Nobody hears me

Now I fight to find the surface
Will my lungs explode
Heavy water pushing into me
Your hand reaches in rescue
Then melts away
Now I'm drowning...

Ah! You really have to hear it. In the meantime, Andrew has another amazing song called Dance of Falling Down. It's at his site (in my links). Give it a listen.


Woohoo! Kansas City was a good time. Best because we missed a snowstorm while we were down there. Of course, a tornado warning is a bit of a fresh cultural experience, but I think it beats frostbite.

Americans aren't so scary after all. Actually, I felt a strange kind of kinship. I am not too sold on the extreme patriotism stuff, but I got that feeling that I get everytime I am in a new country. Rich Mullins finds the best balance between feelings for our country and God:

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you'll come to love it and how you'll never belong here
So I'll call you my country, but I'll be lonely for my home
And I wish that I could take you there with me


Ok, here we are at the beginning. I can't figure out if this is a cool idea or a dumb one, but i will give it a try. I guess it is what you make it. I am going to the states tomorrow, Kansas City. What did David Bowie mean when he sang, "I'm afraid of Americans"? Should I be too??
Yesterday I was teaching ballads. I made my students write a ballad, but they demanded that I give them an example. So I did. Here it is: (read with a piratey accent... it just sounds better)

The Ballad of the Spotty Dog

I'll tell a scary story now
So throw another log
A tale to make yer eyes roll back
About a spotty dog

The spotty dog was wee enough
And sure he did look kind
But he wore a grinning crazy look
That got into yer mind

I'd heard these dogs in days gone past
But nothing like it now
And they say it got that crazy look
From the flesh of a mad cow

You'd think the cow was mad from hanging
With other cows of that ilk
But truth be known she's mad because
We stole and drink her milk

So anyway, the spotty dog
Went nuts and killed a town
And he'll kill again because he killed
The ones who'd hunt him down

Some say we do deserve the terror
The spotty dog has brought us
But oh! The scourge!! The reason why:
Our lust for dairy products...