Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Good News -- it's free; The Bad News -- it's free.

Further to "It Takes A Village" (below) ... I've really been wondering about the editorial philosophy of one of the freebie papers that get handed out at SkyTrain stations in the morning. 24 Hours ran in-depth pieces on the Pickton victims throughout the trial, and even ran profiles of Pickton himself. The idea was to make "human beings" out of his victims, get into Pickton's head and, in general, make people think (I surmise) about the whole sorry case.

OK so far. The same paper has also run stories about how hard and dangerous it is to be a prostitute.

So far, so good. A little social conscience. Not bad.

The same paper produced a two-page section on How To Make Your Own Porn Movie, and promotes something called "Taboo - the naughty but nice sex show".

Is it just me, or is there something glaringly inconsistent here?

Or are they just trying to boost readership?


But Who Raises the Villages?

This has been on my mind for quite a while, so I'd better write something about it and deal with it.

Item: Robert Pickton is convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (As of this writing, the Crown is pursuing an appeal, wanting the conviction upped to Murder 1.) Family members rejoiced outside the courthouse, declaring a victory for justice and recompense for their deceased loved ones.

Item: the mother of a little girl, and the mother's live-in boyfriend, demand additional compensation from WestJet because the little girl was left unattended and was helped by a stranger to make her flight connection at Winnipeg and then to meet her father in Montreal. WestJet offered a service, in which a child could travel alone and be taken care of, and something evidently went wrong with that service.

Item: a known mobster is rubbed out in a hit outside a steak house in downtown Vancouver. His grieving mother demands police do something about gang violence.

What's the connection? A really harsh saying, to wit: Where were you when the kids needed you?

The Pickton case is the most egregious. His victims were largely prostitutes, who were addicted to drugs, and whose lives were turned to garbage by the drugs and the society that failed them. Why were those girls on the streets in the first place? Who wasn't there when they needed someone, way back when? Who turned their back? Who offered them that first joint, the first drink, the first hit? And who didn't train them up in the way they should go, so that they would know enough to say, "no"?

The jubilation after the Pickton verdict was so explosive, it was as if the people were saying, "Thank God! Someone else is being held responsible!"

The police are taking a lot of heat for not being faster off the mark to investigate the first of the disappearances, and while there may be something to allegations of racism and giving preferential non-treatment to a certain sector of people, it's too easy to point fingers at The Man. The time to keep a child from following the same fate as the Pickton victims is when they're still alive, and preferably before they fall.

How does this connect with the little girl on the airplane? Because here we have a little girl whose mom and dad were unable to make a go of their relationship, decided to go separate ways, and -- quite frankly -- went about their own lives and tried to make the little girl fit in. So when mommy (with boyfriend) moved to Edmonton and daddy stayed in Montreal, the solution to the question of custody and access was to dump the little girl onto an airplane, pay extra so that total strangers would watch over her, and go about their merry lives without her underfoot for a few days.

Then, when that "system" broke down, don't blame the fact that this little girl has been turned into a piece of cargo for the convenience of the parents: blame the airline.

But more importantly, with a child being treated as a piece of cargo, shuttled between two parents a couple of times a year (and daddy can't be that awful if he's allowed to have her over all by herself when he's living more than 2,000 miles away), what does that do to the child's sense of who she is? Isn't she worth the parents' staying together in the first place? Isn't she worth mommy actually spending the time and the money to travel with her? Who knows the reasons behind breakups (says he, who's gone through two of them, both with children involved), but the victim is the innocent one -- the child.

How many of Pickton's victims were in similar circumstances: treated as the "inconvenience" rather than the precious child?

The inclusion of the "known mobster" is for a similar reason: the time to be concerned about gang violence is before the child gets involved. Where were the parents? Where were the teachers?

In short, where is the sense of right and wrong that should pervade the way our kids are brought up? Oh, I know: that doggone Book, with all its answers ... that big ol' killjoy that says we shouldn't lie to people, or cheat, or steal, or have sex with people we shouldn't ... so judgmental ... so incriminating ... so un-cool, because it tells us we are responsible to one another and we are required to love others and love the One who created everything and that there is only one Way to achieve that. That set of absolutes, that don't take "personal circumstances" into account, as though "personal circumstances" can't be fixed by following that same set of absolutes.

Yeah, that doggone Book.

"It takes a village to raise a child," is the lovely piece of New Age claptrap that comes to mind.

But in these cases, what happened to the village?

This just in: it takes Jesus to raise the village.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wanna Buy A Book? - 2

The title of this blog is "Convenient Truth", and while that's a good general title, it has a very specific meaning. This past week, my new book arrived from the printer: A Very Convenient Truth - Real Hope Amid Climate Change Fears.

The book essentially says, Look: there's nothing new about environmental concerns and it's not like people have been doing nothing about it; but after almost 50 years of activism, organizing, protests and generally scaring the livinbejabbers out of people about global warming, pollution, toxic waste and so forth, we still have the problems and they keep getting worse. Maybe it's time to try something else?

And the "something else" is to look into the Word of God and find what He has to say. After all, He created this -- it and the fulness thereof belong to Him; yet how often have you heard environmentalists say anything about God or Jesus or what the Bible says? Indeed, the Elizabeth Greys of the world have some pretty screwy ideas about Christians in general -- I believe she's the one who said Christians must love global warming because they believe it's a sign Jesus is about to return. A little unclear on the concept, sweetheart!

WHATEVER ... my own belief about this book is that it will turn the environmental issue not on its ear, but right side up. Once we stop obsessing about the environment and obsess about God instead, we'll see some big changes. His Word guarantees that He will take care of our land so long as we keep looking to Him.

Of course, if I told you more about the book, you wouldn't buy it ... so to order, email me -- It's $20.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wanna buy a book?

OK ... very exciting time ...
My new book arrives from the printer's on Tuesday.
A Very Convenient Truth.
Watch this space for more details.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Renewing our minds

Yesterday's post -- "Lighten Up" -- leads to a serious issue a lot of us have: we have a hard time grasping Victory. We keep fighting the same old battles, long after they're over, because we feel more comfortable doing that, than we do walking in Victory. Walking in Victory is such an easy yoke, such a light burden, that we can't believe the old burden is actually gone; and so we tend to slide back into our "comfort zone".

But God and Jesus are all about making us do uncomfortable things. The lame man at the Beautiful Gate must have been fully expecting his legs to give out -- or hurt like blazes -- when Peter reached out his hand to lift him up. Much more "comfortable", to stay sitting on the steps, constantly broke, begging others for change. "You want change?" Peter might have said in today's vernacular. "I'll give you 'change': in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, RISE UP AND WALK!"

Abram had to move out of his comfort zone to go to the land God promised him. Many of the Israelites were so uncomfortable with going into that land after the Egypt Experience -- even though refusing to would make God out to be a liar -- that they were doomed to spend the rest of their days wandering in the wilderness: sad, bedraggled, hopeless ... but it was what they knew.

It's sad that that same fate might await people who continuously try to fight battles against Satan. Doomed to wander around a spiritualwilderness, never really cashing in on God's promise to them, because they can't believe it's for real.

(Indeed, a lot of capital-R "Religion" has managed to drum that out of people's heads. Even though health and prosperity and length of days and total blessing are PROMISED us in the Word of God, the idea of actually claiming that inheritance still seems foreign to a lot of us -- and I really can't understand why.)

When Paul tells us we must not be conformed to the world, but transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), that's partly what he means. Battling the physical manifestations of Satan are all "of the world", and if we obsess about those, we are allowing ourselves to be conformed to that. But allowing us to be transformed in Christ allows us to step out of the old comfort zone and into something that is gloriously uncomfortable -- namely, blessing.

Walking in the blessing brings the light ... living the blessing shines that light ever brighter ... and it is shining that light, rather than cursing the darkness, that attracts others to Jesus, and helps us carry on what He started 2000 years ago.


Monday, January 14, 2008

My Fellow Christians: LIGHTEN UP!

Just before Christmas, I went to a prayer meeting at Westpointe, billed as "Push" -- praying for the city and various sectors of Vancouver.

There were a lot of high-powered evangelical types there and a lot of loud and power-packed praying going on ... but (to cut through the chase) there were two things glaringly absent from the evening, and both begin with the letter "J".



The prayers and exhortations focused on images of war -- one said that she saw a spear, with Westwood (the church in Coquitlam where the first meeting was held) at one end and Westpointe (our church) at the other -- and another wanted everyone to move in together like some kind of Roman army marching position. There was talk about emulating the prophets and the great OT warriors and raising up "armies" of praying Christians to take back the city from the grip of Satan. People were "travailing" for the state of righteousness in the city and the country -- a lot of pained expressions and entreaties for God to send us the anointing and the mantle of the prophets of old.

And through it all, all I could hear was: "The battle is already won!"

Isn't that what Jesus did, 2000 years ago at Calvary? Didn't He win the battle, beating death and shoving His victory right in Satan's face?

Why are we still trying to fight a war that's already over? We've scored the touchdown. We should be doing one of those embarrassing end-zone displays that cost you 15 yards in the NFL. We should be spraying champagne all over one another and dumping Gatorade over our pastors. We should be riding in a ticker-tape parade down Georgia Street. Instead, people are acting as though they want to put the ball back on the 50 yard line* and run the same plays again. The only "army" we should be raising up is one filled with faith-fuelled Christians, walking in radical health, radical love, and radical (dare I say it?) prosperity (yes! I used the "P" word!); proclaiming Jesus to this generation and showing everybody that the light of Christ is far greater than any darkness Satan tries to spread.

You can't snuff out darkness. But you can overpower it with light.

We have to make that light burn so brightly that Satan doesn't have a chance. If we focus on the things that are wrong with the world, Satan will never run out of things to throw at us. There's no shortage of things that can cause offense. But if we focus on Jesus and His glory, we focus on a single thing and everything else fades to black.

Once we Christians get that message, we'll find unrighteousness will catch the next train westward, and sooner or later plunge into the ocean.

*For Canadians, that would be OUR OWN 50 yard line!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fear not those who can kill the body -- or tax it, either!

Today's "No Apologies" website includes one of the MULTITUDINOUS reasons why I'm leery of Christians' getting uptight about politics: we tend to get so fixated on the machinations of the enemy and the ways of the world that we forget what we're supposed to be doing and that we have a very powerful Partner helping us.

Al Siebring's column raises the spectre of a civic government re-defining what a "place of worship" is, for the purposes of levying property taxes. The idea, contained in a draft report floating around City Hall in Brampton, ON, is that the city would go around calculating how much space is actually being used for worship -- preaching, prayer, etc. -- and then tax the rest of the property. The draft report also discusses limiting the "frequency" of places of worship to one per 10,000 people -- not shutting them down, but, Al's article suggests, not approving any new applications so the ratio is reached through attrition. The draft report also talks about limiting home groups to no more than 20 -- children included -- although Al's article doesn't spell out what the "or else" might be.

You can read the entire article here:

My comments? First off, Brampton's town elders should be glad the notion of tax-exempt status for places of worship isn't taken to its logical extension by worshippers. For many Christians, EVERYPLACE is a place of worship! Can you imagine if we started claiming exemptions for our bus seats, sidewalks, "quiet time" in our offices, or favorite seats at Starbucks?

But there's a red herring that Satan is dragging over the path -- another of what I call the "alligators" that distract us from draining the swamp.

When you get right down to it, all that the city of Brampton can really do, is force churches to pay property taxes. If there is a sinister motive behind this to prevent the masses from taking large doses of the Karl Marx Opiate (and that hasn't been established, only hinted-at, darkly, in the commentary), those behind it will be in for a big surprise -- like the Grinch thinking he could shut down Christmas by stealing all the presents and decorations. Anyone thinking that a re-worked taxation system will stop me from preaching the Gospel is sorely mistaken. You want to tax me and my church? Bring it on! My God will supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory! Remember that the Pharisees tried to hit Jesus up for tax money, and Jesus brassed-up right away -- with enough to cover Peter's taxes, too. And remember where the money came from: the mouth of a fish.

This actually relates to the Shower Saga (read the previous posts on that below and in the 2007 archive), one of the things we have to do in installing the showers is navigate the City of Vancouver's regulations. Watching Barry and our two plumbers (count 'em: the Lord has provided us with TWO plumbers who were saved off the streets and who are now giving of their time and expertise for this project!), they're approaching the regulatory process as a series of must-do activities, not something to be seen as either roadblocks or something that we can avoid if we just don't mention it to the city. It's going to cost us about $175.00 for the permit -- and the Lord has already provided it, praise Him, so that's not a worry. And if the city decided we'd have to pay $1000, the Lord would see it got there, too. So if the Lord is building the house, He'll make sure city regulations are adhered-to, as well.

But to get back to Brampton, something I've learned over the past couple of years is that, when faced with an apparent setback, we need to ask God, "Where are You?" Al started to hit on something when he suggested the money from taxing the kitchen areas and feeding program spaces would go towards government-run feeding programs -- a concept he sneers at, and, in fact, so do I. But if the taxes have the effect of shutting down feeding programs, then the government wouldn't get that money anyway.

But we could take Al's point a step further. What if the city is trying to find new sources of revenue for other needs? What if it were to make the difference, that heads off a transit fare increase that might have prevented some lower-income people from getting to church.

And what if God is letting this happen to see how much we're willing to trust in Him to provide?

So let's not allow fear of what a city government "might" do, to distract us from whatever job the Lord has given us. If the Lord has purposed it, who shall disannul it? If we have the Lord's work to do and He's building the house, He'll provide the money for taxes, just as He provides for everything else we need. And if He doesn't provide, maybe we have to re-think what we're doing in His Name.