Archive for November, 2006

Voip with Webcall

Voip with Webcall


Welllll, it has taken a long time but Saskatoon phone numbers have arrived with a reasonably priced Voip service.  With Webcall you get unlimited local calling, and unlimited calling to all Webcall cities (Abbotsford, Kamloops, Edmonton, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Prince Albert, Vancouver, Prince George, Victoria).  Long distance is 4 cents a minute.  Of course you get a slew of calling features like voice mail and caller id.  All this for $15.95 a month!

In an odd twist the Webcall service is provided by Navigata, a Sasktel subsidury.   They have offered Saskatoon numbers for awhile but didn’t offer the cheapest plan for Saskatchewan phone numbers.  Not until the Harper government shut down a crtc ruling regulating the phone companies.

After one day of use I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed.  The system works just like a phone should.

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The Agenda : A great TV Show Podcast

The Agenda : A great TV Show/Podcast


Remember Steve Paiken?  He was the guy that did such a great job asking the questions at the last Federal debate.  He hosts a great politics and social issues program on the TVO channel.  If you haven’t heard of TVO you aren’t alone.  TVO is short for TV Ontario and last time I checked it is only available on Bell Expressvu. 

The Agenda has a great website with blogs, streaming media and a podcast.  The podcast is the audio of the show which works well because the Agenda is mostly debate and dialogue.  You can listen to the show everyday.  I have trouble getting my Yahoo Music Engine to download the files but I can still listen to them.  iTunes seems to work well though.  (I dearly hope someone can come up with software on Windows that works well with Podcasts and will sync with something other than a iPod.)

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Nipple Confusion: The Unpardonable Sin


Nipple Confusion: The Unpardonable Sin


There is one group of fundamentalists that has earned near universal disdain
from many a young mother and father.  These women, the lieutenants of
lactation, the nipple Nazis, the breastfeeding mongrels lurk waiting to prey on
innocent young mothers.  For them there is but one formula for sin, and
that is formula itself.  In their self-righteous crusade to maximize
mothers milk they do themselves a disservice by placing undue pressure on women
who cannot or because compelling circumstances choose not to breastfeed their
child.  With a bedside manner somewhat akin to Attila The Hun they leverage
the delicate emotional state of new mothers to accomplish their fiendish task.

A cursory amount of research will reveal that the nipple Nazis are on the right
track.  Breast milk does give an infant child helpful antibodies absent
from anything manufactured.  It is easier to digest than formula.  No
doubt it is the best a baby can get.  However what they neglect to mention
is that millions of children have been raised with formula with no sign of a
post-partum apocalypse.  In a world largely devoid of moral absolutes the
lieutenants of lactation seem like an aberration.  I’m confounded at our
society’s inconsistency in this arena.  For the first nine months of a
baby’s existence the mothers choice on specific issues is heralded as sacred
ground.  Post-pregnancy a woman’s circumstances and opinions are largely
irrelevant.  All convenience and sometimes logic must be sacrificed for
the highest virtue of mammarian bliss. 

My advice for all those taking a parental leave of their mind over this issue:
get educated.  It may be convenient to swim in the pools of ignorance that
collect in our social circles but they will leave you unsatisfied.  Consult
quality resources online and off as well as medical professionals.  Be
prepared for conflicting opinions.  Never blindly follow any
directions.  You, your baby and your situation are different.  Think
through your options and find the best course of action for your little
one.  Don’t be intimidated and don’t think you’ve tragically failed your
child if you can’t live up to the ideal situation.  Chances are your baby
will be just fine.

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Reconsidering Revival

Reconsidering Revival


In the last few years one of the most
significant changes in my theology has occurred in the area of revival.  In
charismatic circles the solution to most if not all of the church’s woes is
revival.  While it might be difficult to find a consistent approach to
encountering revival or even a theology of revival there are a few common
themes.  It is thought that if we pray the right way, or have the right
anointed leader, or have attained enough spiritual authority revival will come.

Spiritual authority is a concept that shifts from group to group.  Some
believe that there is a hierarchical governing authority to everything flowing
down from apostles to prophets to pastors to elders to men to women and finally
children.  Others also believe that through a spiritual process individuals
or groups gain more authority to break down oppressive spiritual
strongholds.  For revival to come they must go through a continual process
of empowerment and refinement.  Leaders must strive to achieve a level of
prophetic clarity so they can hear God accurately and speak powerful
words.  When they reach a certain level they will be able to pull down the
spiritual strongholds that hold a particular geographic area captive.  The
strategy employed to do this is called
spiritual
mapping
.  When this is successful the spiritual bonds that keep people
from Christ are broken, the Holy Spirit floods out and people flood back in to
the church.

How this looks in the real world is sometimes far from the ideal.  In all
my years of observing such groups the spiritual breakthrough has never
arrived.  Some maintain that it is still coming.  There have been
times
and
places
where spiritual activity seems to explode and gains widespread attention. 
I was part of church that was heavily influenced by the “laughing revival” that
ended abruptly amidst allegations that the pastor was dishonest and speaking
maliciously of people who left the group.  However there has been no
appreciable difference in church life as one would expect to see in a revival
like the
Second
Great Awakening
.

Most outside observers question the authenticity of groups who pursue revival,
or claim they are participating in one because there are often strange things
happening commonly called manifestations.  Some of these strange things
include spontaneous laughing, falling down, barking, mooing, roaring and yes
even
crowing
like a rooster
.(You really need to check out the previous link to get the
full force.)  To be fair these manifestations are controversial and aren’t
embraced by everyone. 

As one who was once neck deep in these groups I can say they are often spiritual
elitists.  A popular belief is that God is restoring truths back to the
church through each great revival or reformation.  They would say Luther
restored the gospel, the Anabaptists restored something else, the Methodists
another, the Pentecostals another and so and so on.  Their group is
naturally the vanguard of the church going boldly forward while other
denominations are stuck refusing to embrace the truths that other movements
restored after them.

Many of those who consider themselves to be on the vanguard form independent
ministries that focus on specific issues like national reconciliation, spiritual
warfare, or intercession.

I started to lose my interest in these groups because of the following:

Every group was convinced that their city/leader/movement has some sort of
prophetic destiny to play a special role in the great worldwide revival that
happens just before the tribulation of the end times.

Spiritual mapping has scattered support in scripture and is inconsistent with
the recorded practices of the New Testament church.  Paul clearly maintains
that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  There is no record he
organized prayer vigils in cities with prophetic destinies in order to bind the
strongman before he came to preach the gospel.  He proclaimed the cross of
Christ and tangible displays of God’s divine power accompanied him.  Today
many of the people that walk in supernatural power keep it captive in small
enclaves of Christians. 

The most powerful movements in the church that resulted in tangible change in
the lives of the people involved grew slow and steady.  The early church
had a revival type of experience in the very beginning but after that the early
church would have to have grown about 8-12% a year to grow as large as it was
when Constantine came in to power.  The church in China grew from 2 million
to 60 million in 30 years.  A growth rate just above 10%.  Revival as
it is commonly experienced may inspire some Christians to a deeper more fruitful
life but by themselves they don’t change the world.

These groups are literally buffeted by every wind of doctrine.  There is
way too much focus in coming out with the newest divine revelation and so little
on being biblically and theologically grounded.  Some resist theological
grounding because they are afraid to quench the Spirit.  There seems to be
an unquestioned assumption that if someone can speak an accurate prophetic word
that God would naturally inform their theology.  Sadly this is not the
case.  Ask any 10 of these types of leaders to define apostle and you’ll
end up with many different definitions.  Solid teachers are listed along
with prophets in scripture but they are in short supply in these groups. 

I think the overwhelming message of the Spirit these days  is “clean up
your act and get your show on the road”.  It is a terrible mistake to hide
behind safe walls in sheltered enclaves waiting for something to happen.  I
think the impetus behind an obsessive focus on intercession and spiritual
warfare could be a terrible deception designed to keep spiritually empowered
Christians away from the rest of the world.

I believe the most powerful vehicle for building the kingdom of God that we can
employ is the local church.  As a simple church advocate I’d say the local
church can be something very small and relatively unstructured and still be a
church.  I’ve lost a lot of faith in independent ministries and para-church
organizations.  It feels odd for me to say this because the best influences
in the first 10 years of my Christian life were para-church ministries.  I
really think all these smart gifted people that are frustrated with the inaction
of the church need to find their way back.  Things like evangelism,
teaching and discipleship work best in a community of believers that are
actually committed to each other. 

Some might think I would oppose a revival if one actually occurred.  I’m
not against it because a true revival will be the work of God.  I believe
it has become an idol in some elements of the Christian church.  Our focus
on what we want God to do (through us usually) has distracted us from stepping
out in faith and doing what we know we are supposed to do.  I don’t believe
God would bring a flood of people in to a church that is already full of people
indistinguishable from the world.

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Darryl Dash: Something is wrong

Darryl Dash: Something is wrong


It was a proud moment. The church had just welcomed eighty-three new members. The pastor began his sermon. “This is great, isn’t it?” he began. “But before we get too giddy about new members, let me ask you a question: Why should we bring eighty-three new people into something that isn’t working?”

The pastor, Bill Hull, describes this as the first time he had unmasked himself in thirty years of ministry. “Something his wrong,” he said. “All the formulas, strategic planning, mission statements, and visionary sermons are not making disciples.” In his book, Choose the Life, Hull comments, “We were stuck in the same rut in which so many churches find themselves – religious activity without transformation.”

Read the rest here.

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So I'm a dad, again

So I’m a dad, again


I haven’t really had the time to reflect on what just happened to me in the last few days. I generally dread the seemingly endless string of of clichéd conversations that surround major events in our lives. I do have a few observations. Some of which would be obvious to most.

10lb babies feel heavy after awhile. I’m very impressed at how Carol functioned with this big batch of sweetness inside her.

The little wiggles and chirps Lynae makes when she is sleeping are really cool.

Because I’m 6 feet 6 inches tall I can sit in a recliner, cuddle with Lynae and blog all at the same time.

I love listening to her breathe when she is sleeping peacefully on me.

I know that not all husbands feel much of a connection to a new born. After all it doesn’t do much other than eat, cry, sleep, poop and wiggle a little bit. Regardless I feel a lot of love for Lynae. I really love cuddling with her.

Some of my online friends think Lynae rhymes with Tebay…but it doesn’t because I pronounce my last name Tee-Bee, not Teh-Bay or Tee-Bay. Don’t as me why, the reasons I’ve heard don’t make sense to me.

Carol impressed me even more through this process. I really think she is a wonderful woman.

Bring on the Stephen Harper baby bonus. The beer and popcorn levels are a little low around here.

I won the bet. I won’t go in to too many details, but I made a bet with Carol to prove her wrong about something. When I was taking her and Lynae home Carol told me “thank you oh wonderful husband for showing me the error of my ways. You were right and I was wrong. I’m so happy to have such an intelligent and wise husband to graciously show me the truth.” That is rough paraphrase. I’m not sure if it was exactly what she said, but it was what I heard.

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Sister

Sister


A paraphrased conversation between myself and the boys.

Dad (to boys): Give yourself to the Flame side. It is the only way you can save face. Yes, your feelings for the Oilers are strong. Especially for…

Boys: We’ll never join you dad. The Flames are the dark side.

Dad: Sister! But now you have a sister. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will.

Boys: Neverrrrrrr!

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It's a girl!

It’s a girl!


Lynae Inara Tebay was born at 5:35pm weighing in at 9lbs and 13 ounces. You should have seen the look Carol gave me when she found out how big this baby was. She is going to remind me of this for a looooooooong time.null

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I picked up Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience

I picked up Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience


Carol wanted to buy a book but it didn’t cost enough to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping. Soooo, I got add a couple of books to the order to put us over the top. I’ve been talking and thinking a lot about Ronald Sider’s conclusions in his book “the scandal of the evangelical conscience.” I also picked up “The Great Giveaway” by David Fitch.

While I’ve been waiting for Carol to “pop” I read Sider’s book. It isn’t long and it is takes one down a predictable path. He nails us with a diagnosis that should make any evangelical leader wince. I’ve blogged about it before so I’d rather not go in to detail. In summarizing the data from several surveys Sider concludes that evangelicals live just like the rest of the world. In chapter two he makes it clear that the authors of the New Testament believed very strongly in a divine life transformation.

Sider’s passion for the church and strong disdain for status quo evangelicalism comes through. Unlike Barna who has essentially given up on standard evangelical congregational churches, Sider offers a whole host of course corrections.

Sider believes a “one-sided, unbiblical, reductionistic understanding of the gospel and salvation” is the heart of our problem. We have written sanctification out of our theology dropping the expectation that Christians should become more like Christ over time. He doesn’t stop there. In addressing the church he says:

If we grasp the New Testament understanding of the church, then we realize that the modern, evangelical reduction of Christianity to some personal, privatized affair that only affects my personal relationship with God and perhaps my personal family life is blatant heresy.

He offers many ideas to solve the crisis in evangelicalism. This is where I think the whole conversation about the church can get derailed. It is easier to agree on the problem than the solution. More often than not I’ve seen leaders fall back to old assumptions to fix persistent problems.

Some of Siders ideas are

  • Become a counter culture community
  • Move away from the isolation and individualism of private faith
  • Local churches must be interconnected through networks
  • Practice church discipline
  • Dethrone the idols of wealth and materialism

There are some in the list I like more than others but they all have merit. I can see how joe Christian can excited about some of these changes and try to implement them. They have some momentum for a little while and are lost. Some of my questions in response would be

  • How do you facilitate a deeper community of faith when your main meeting has you isolated from each other?
  • Regardless of whether churches are networked true accountability eludes us because church leaders can’t be honest because they are in competition with each other.
  • How you discipline people you don’t really know?
  • What kind of small groups actually facilitate community? The church currently has lots of them but without the desired result.
  • How can you tell when someone is truly transformed?
  • How would you know when you’ve become a church full of people that aren’t like the rest of the world?

After reading the book I’d say the diagnoses is the best part. The bulk of which is freely available in articles online. I really appreciated his deconstruction of the evangelical gospel message and its deficiencies. I’ve heard Christian leaders decry those who want revisit the question of the gospel. Perhaps because they’ve grown tired of what appears to be futile theological navel gazing. My question is, if the message we share transforms so very few do we really want to find better ways to deliver it?

In short I think this book is really valuable because it forces us to face our failure a church. It does noting more than hold up a mirror. What we see there should deeply concern us. I’ve been wrestling with the ramifications of Sider’s conclusions for a while. I think more people should.

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Still waiting

Still waiting


I’m not sure what to say. This kid is taking his/her sweet time.

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