Tag Archive for: religion

Thank You

I was reminded of the joy of being part of God’s creation by my daughter. It has been a long time since I last read E.E. Cummings. And, although I sometimes find it hard to thank God for certain days, like returning to work on Monday, I never find it hard to thank Him for giving me such a wonderful daughter.

Thank you for highlighting this magnificent poem.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Barbara Walters presented a special program on Heaven last night. She and her team spent roughly a year to develop the program.

Her perspective on Heaven?

First of all, I think we’re all concerned about life on earth and if this is all there is. And because heaven has always been this wondrous, mystical place. Before we had airplanes and astronauts, we really thought that there was an actual place beyond the clouds, somewhere over the rainbow. There was an actual place, and we could go above the clouds and find it. There. Is there a place somewhere?

The program was fascinating to watch and the questions that she asked are the questions that many people struggle with during their lives. Is there something more to life? Is there a Heaven? What happens to me when I die?

Perhaps the most astute observation of the entire show is that Hollywood is a major player in the theology of the afterlife for people:

Many of us draw our most vivid impressions not by sitting in front of the pulpit, but by sitting in front of television and movie screens.

How sad.

Theological Worldview

As Christmas draws near I find myself reflecting on some of the more controversial aspects of the emerging church. If this reflects the dominant thinking of the emergent church, I am not a fan. Carson gives an interesting perspective on the emerging church here.

I tend to share Michael Lee’s view. I mean, who really wants to dress gothic or grunge these days.

Making a Difference

The meeting was taking place at the St. Andrew’s Club in a downtown office tower in Toronto. I made my way quite early in the morning. I did not want to be late.

It was early, still dark outside and very, very cold.

“Downtown Toronto is so much nicer than downtown Houston.” I thought. “Even in the bitter cold. Except for all these homeless people strewn on the sidewalks. I don’t remember seeing any homeless people on the streets of downtown Houston.”

I stopped.

In the middle of the sidewalk. In downtown Toronto. And I thought about how quickly and absolutely I dismissed the lives of the two homeless men directly across the street. They were huddled over the air vents. They were trying to keep warm and they were trying to sleep.

How could I be so uncaring?

What is the difference between those two men across the street, laying on a sidewalk, alone and in the freezing cold, and me? We were so close in distance and yet worlds apart in how we experience life. From the viewpoint of eternity, we are really no different at all.

As I stood there, thinking about fate and circumstance, I noticed a vehicle pull up beside the two men. A woman stepped out of the vehicle with blankets. She approached each man in turn and wrapped him in a thick blanket. And then she returned to her vehicle having made a difference to each one’s life.

“Thank God for the Salvation Army.” I thought. “I’d better get moving. I don’t want to be late for my meeting.”

I wonder who had their priorities straight that morning. Thank you, Salvation Army, for making a difference in the lives of those two men. I can, at least, give something to your work.

Salvation Army

Lakewood Visit

We arrived at Lakewood Church about an hour before the service started. And I really was not prepared for the incredible size of this church. The facility is remarkable. Imagine taking a large arena, like the Air Canada Centre, and converting it into a church.

As mentioned in a previous post here, Lakewood invested over $90 million in renovating the arena.

It shows.

The sound system was certainly the best that I have heard in any church and, for that matter, in any concert setting. I was amazed at the clarity and fidelity of the sound at various locations across the facility. I did not get up into the rafters however the main seating areas all presented the sound effectively.

We listened to the sound check and I have a brief video clip of the sound check here. I estimate the average SPL at roughly 95 – 100 dB. They were not afraid to let the music go loud.

The production environment was world-class and state-of-the-art. No doubt that the audio/visual environment is one of the best in the world.

Some interesting observations. The Yamaha concert grand piano was donated to the church by Yamaha. The piano was about $150,000. Sony donated over $200,000 in flat screens for the music stands. The platform for the musicians is on hydraulics. Their stage lowers when they are not playing and rises when they do play.

The church fields a vocal choir of roughly 100 people. The worship band consisted of drums, percussion, keyboard, grand piano, bassist, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and a horn section.

No monitor wedges. Everyone uses in ear monitors.

Best worship team I have ever heard. They were led by Cindy Ratcliff.

Joel Osteen spoke. I had heard that he teaches a prosperity gospel and that his teaching is pretty simple. His message confirmed what I had heard. However, he does have a lot of charisma. I left the church challenged and encouraged.

This would not be the kind of church that I would want to attend on a regular basis although it sure would be fun to be part of their worship team. Great musicians.

Here is the video of the soundcheck at Lakewood.


Patty Cake

When Pat Robertson does this I wonder about his understanding of the role of Christian leadership.

Barna had an interesting study a few years back on the strongest and weakest character traits of Christian leaders.

Churchgoers rely upon leaders to use their leadership role appropriately… the public expects leaders to treat their position as a means of serving people with godly wisdom, genuine love and with the understanding that leadership is about the privilege of serving, not about power, authority, perks or ego gratification. For the Church to be distinguished from other groups in our culture, and to have positive influence on the lives of people both within and outside of the local church, its leaders must model the difference that being a Christian leader represents.

Is That Really You?

The picture below has eight different perspectives. Spend a few moments and see how many you can make out.

It is a bit of a strange test. Some people will be able to see all eight perspectives and others will not. Even those who can see the different views will have trouble holding some in mind and getting them to come to mind when they want to evoke them.

In some ways, this picture, because of its multiple perspectives, provides the best example of personality. The personality of an individual person is based on the attitudes and behaviors that get conveyed to others in various situations.

Some attitudes and behaviors will only become apparent in certain situations, while others will be fairly obvious at all times.

The difference between this picture and life, is that the picture is much less complex. We create mental representations of almost everything we experience and these mental representations are combined and separated regularly.

Leo Tolstoy had this to say about perspective:

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

I spent several hours last night learning to see things from a different perspective.

It was very hard. Much harder than making out the different perspectives in the picture below.


Preaching More Than Words

After church yesterday I found myself thinking about preaching. I have heard some great preachers and I have heard some pretty bad ones.

Mark Twain made an interesting observation about preaching. When I read his words, they had far more impact to me than most of the sermons that I have heard over the past several months.

Our words and acts are not for ourselves but for others. They are like the tidal waves of the seas that encircle the earth. They are heard about us when they are uttered. We are preaching all the time, even if we do not know it. We forget that we carry influence. We ought to remember it, however, and make it a constant reminder. We had better see that our conduct is of a favorable nature.

Preaching and integrity of character must go hand in hand. You cannot do one without the other. And, as a layperson, I have to remember that my own words and actions do matter. Preaching is not about listening. It is about how we conduct ourselves every day.

Such a hard journey, life is.