Archive for March, 2008

Read Ryan’s blog on the Station 20 West Debacle

Ryan is right.  With the SaskParty we get all the spending of the NDP and none of the heart!

The Sask Party has shown a few of its true colours with the Station 20 West debacle. Day two of the story, and at least now the Sask Party has figured out how much the project actually costs. So I guess they get a big gold star for that.

The two key arguments advanced in support of the decision to pull the funding, the first by Health Minister Don McMorris and the second by Premier Brad Wall, are quite enlightening in so far as their absurdity underscores that this decision is clearly about politics, not about good public policy.

Read the rest here.

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Grand Devine Part 2

Saskatchewan’s new government tabled their first budget today.  They increased spending 9% and out of a $1.5 billion dollar surplus they spend a paltry 250 million on debt reduction.  They are spending a boat load of cash on infrastructure.  I imagine they assume we are the next Alberta and we should learn from their mistakes by ensuring the infrastructure keeps up with the growth.  As much as I like Saskatchewan and our commodity driven boom I think it is foolish to assume it will continue as long as Alberta’s boom.  There is a very good chance the bottom is about to fall out of the American economy.  With that goes our commodity boom.  The Fed has chosen inflation over recession which will continue to devalue to US currency.  With that goes demand for Canadian good priced in Canadian dollars. 

The Americans can’t continue to juice their economy with cheap credit without reaping the consequences.    Eventually the mountain of consumer and government debt will have to be paid and it when does it means a lot of people will have a lot less cash to spend on personal consumption.  No one seems to want to let that happen so they keep handing out cheap credit to keep people spending.  It just delays the inevitable.  If opec starts selling oil in Euros and a handful of Asian countries like China and South Korea decide to dump their massive reserves of US currency the US dollar will quickly become North America’s new Peso.

What do I think the Saskatchewan government should have done?  Pay down more of the debt.  Prepare our economy for very expensive oil and natural gas.  I’m not sure why we need to invest so much in roads when the cost of transportation will increase so much it will force people to car pool or take public transit.   In 10 years there will be less cars on the road.  Invest in renewable energy now so we can eventually transition from coal and natural gas.  Shift the property tax burden on to the provincial government given the cities and municipalities more room raise the revenue they need. 

I’m really disappointed in this budget because it is essentially a modified NDP budget.  They take a massive surplus and blow almost all of it.

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Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness

Here is another story that will certain raise the temperature of a few.  I don’t know a lot of political issues that can make people completely irrational like this one.

Women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions, a medical royal college has warned. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health.

This overturns the consensus that has stood for decades that the risk to mental health of continuing with an unwanted pregnancy outweighs the risks of living with the possible regrets of having an abortion.

Read the rest here.

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On the turning away

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won’t understand
"Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away"
It’s a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it’s shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It’s not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
No more turning away?

Pink Floyd

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

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The heart of ministry

The most effective life changing ministry happens when two people who genuinely care for one another connect.  The best situation is when both will serve each other sacrificially. This isn’t always the case.  Often sacrifice goes more one way than the other.  This is normal because one has to take the time to earn trust through sincere acts of service.  Jesus is our example.  The willingness to love as Jesus loved, to lay down ones life for a friend, to risk in order to help is the mark of true ministry.

This kind of ministry happens best in a sincere community.  In a place where people have an opportunity to be real, to grow in grace together, to discover their gifts and talents and use them to care for one another.  To be the body as Paul describes in 1Cor 12.

This kind of ministry is the hardest because it requires that your life be put on call.  It doesn’t require excessive demands on your time and resources but it goes far deeper than a commitment to attend a meeting or two.  It requires that one open up their home, not just their wallet.  It means going out of your way to show you care and deliberating passing up the things of this world that distract us from one another.

People change when they know they are loved.  It is in the trials of life that we find the best opportunities to help people understand truth and grace.  If we have no one we really trust, no one we can talk through our failures with then we are truly alone.  It doesn’t matter what level of commitment we have to a group or organization. 

One of the dangers of conventional church ministry is that in the minds of many singing some songs, listening to a sermon and attending a small group is the majority of church.  While there is some value in doing all these things they don’t get you to the point where you can feel real love and encounter life changing ministry.  It is almost impossible to be honest about the deepest issues in your life in a large group. A small group is better but people still find it difficult to open up in sensitive areas of their life.

Many small groups are just another event which at their very core function much like Sunday service.  They are primarily leader led with only modest participation from the group .  People find it very difficult to be transparent and open.  The best small groups go beyond this, embrace broad participation where people are given freedom to use spiritual gifts.  These groups touch people on relevant issues in their lives.  These types of groups do all a small group can do but we need more than what a small group can deliver.

We need connections with people that are forged with a deep level of trust and commitment.  Relationships that can endure flaws and mistakes and even hurt feelings.  Relationships with people that can extend grace and unconditional love when we reveal the dark corners of our soul.

One of the reasons why so many people find their way out of conventional churches is that they are lonely and disconnected in a sea of activity.  For a long time they believed that sitting and listening was participating in community.  They believed that being in a small group was being supported and loved.  They come to sense a huge disconnect. 

I’m in a community but I’m all alone.  I’m in a small group but I’m going through the motions.  I recognize there is more I could do, more I could try but I have tried for 20 years and I realize that so much of what I do is empty.  I know I’m supposed to be committed and be a part of the church but I am surrounded by church and I don’t know if I’m a part of anything of substance. 

So they leave.  Some people leave and give up on faith altogether.  Others start looking for those connections they longed for and find them.  While they aren’t part of any formal organization they discover an essential aspect of church life they have only had small tastes of up until now.  It can be rightly said that these folks are missing out on other essential aspects of church life. However they are getting the an element of church life that is no less essential and powerfully transformational. 

It is sad that these people are trashed from the pulpit so often.  I’ve seen it.  So many of the people who filter out the back door of churches are not seeking to leave the church but to find it.  So many of those who sit the pews cheering on those preachers don’t realize they are missing it.

The heart of ministry is to be Jesus to one another.  Too often we overload ourselves with activities that have value but have so captured our attention that they insulate us from each other.  We avoid the heart of ministry because it is too hard.  We can’t flee from commitment to each other, we must give grace when we are harmed, and we must love when it is inconvenient.  Becoming like Jesus is a sacrifice that most of us are unwilling to make and that is why we lack so much.