Sunday, July 31, 2005

More from the neighbourhood

On the way home tonight I wanted to cash a cheque, so we pulled into the local CIBC, located at Warden & Finch here in Scarborough. My first clue that I wouldn't be able to do my banking at this location was the 2 cop cars and police tape blocking the entrance. Not only is this the plaza where we do our banking, but it's also where our family doctor's office is. Now I had heard earlier that there was a shooting near Warden & Finch, which is the next intersection over from the chapel, but I didn't realize how close it was. As the article says:
Very little is being released about another shooting in Scarborough, but police say the Homicide Squad was called in after cops responded to a report of gunshots in the Warden and Finch area just after midnight.
As we drove to the next CIBC, Hayley and I were trying to figure out if this shooting was closer than a shooting in March, next to one of our youth group kids houses - here. I think this latest one is closest to home, as we can almost see this bank from our backyard. Pray that the day will never come when we are asked to take the funeral for some young person killed in one of these shootings.

More details in ->this article<- from this mornings Globe & Mail
2. This article from the Toronto Sun has more details on the family:
Toronto Police Staff-Insp. Jeff McGuire said officers found Thiyagarajah's bloodied and lifeless body lying on the well-lit pavement adjacent to 3420 Finch Ave E. after gunshots were heard in the area at 11:51 p.m.
Although Thiyagarajah had been shot near a CIBC branch, investigators weren't sure yesterday if robbery was a motive.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Who are the people in your neighbourhood?

Well it's 2 days until August, depending on wether this post counts as Friday or Saturday, and I've been reflecting alot on last July 30th - click here - and the year that has passed since then. Maybe it's the contrast between Matt Cook's group that is just coming back from Pakistan this weekend, or that we're not going on a trip to the Olympics this year, but whatever the case, it's been on my mind to reflect alot lately (see athensBlog one year contest) and God gave me a few moments today playing basketball to consider the people He has connected us to right in our neighbourhood. As I was bouncing and shooting, God showed me just how multicultural the area is and how He has brought many people to us.

The most obvious, and I'll repeat the link - here- was our Chinese/Jamaican neighbours down the street Tien, Mindy and Paula, who I wrote about last July 30th. Tien, who is 6, often drops by quite unexpectedly and even invites himself over for dinner. :) They are about 8 houses down from us, and we've had many good chats with them since meeting them last year. They are right across from our Chinese friends Sherri & Fung, the first neighbours we met on the street. Their house caught on fire the first week we moved in and through miraculous circumstances they ended up at our place filling out police reports while Hayley tried to watch their 2 kids, along with ours. A few times we have visited them with the Jesus video, books or other chinese Christians for meals (we even took Isaiah & Isabelle along once for the fish-heads :). In fact, just yesterday Hayley had a good chat with Sherri about putting her son in daycare.

Thinking about daycare now, I look over to about 5 houses in the other direction where Kip and his daughter Erika live. Erika is in the same class in daycare as Lukas. Come to think of it Lukas is the only white kid in the class...maybe even the daycare! Thank you Lord for this area! Next door to Erika is Stany and his two daughters Lydia and Cadia, from Somalia. Last year both girls came to the daycamp and they even came to church once! Hmmm...come to think of it Kamran & Anila and their family from Pakistan also only came to church once, for Christmas, even though we've had many good bible studies. A new girl who moved in down the street Katherine, and her mom came once. Rebecca, from the daycare, and her mom only came only once. Names flooded my mind - Quentine, Jamoy and now the latest person who only came once is Kimberly. Man, I thought, there have been alot of people over the past year who we have built relationships with, gotten on a spiritual level and then brought to church, but only came once. Why is that, I began to wonder as my lay-ups bounced off the rim. Is it only me? Do other full-time workers face this dillema?

It must be a good thing that these people are at least coming. Or is it? Why are they coming and not staying? Does everyone have this problem at their assembly? Does every assembly put so much effort into outreach, but make so little connection to "church on Sunday". Why are people so drawn to us and our outreaches, but won't come for the "main event" on Sunday? Why don't we talk about this more?

As I thought of these questions, our neighbours 2 doors down came outside (which is rare, the husband is a limo-taxi driver and is barely home) to drape an Iraqi flag over their car. It seemed like after a while they were trying to attach it on the antenna, but took it inside when they were unsuccessful. I haven't made much contact with them at all, and wondered what would happen if I did? Would they also just come for one Sunday?

It made me wonder if I should put my efforts into making more contacts, or instead seek ways to connect the existing contacts to "church on Sunday". It also made me wonder if I'm alone in this dillema, or if others are experiencing this "disconnection"?

So I thought I'd blog and ask all of you - How do you connect people with church? Maybe others have ideas? What has worked for you? What has your church done? Do you find there is a "disconnect"? Am I crazy here?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The sayings of Lukas v7 - The wisdom of Solomon

Alright, while we wait to see if anyone will attempt the impossible athensBlog one year anniversay contest - here, I thought I'd post another edition of "The sayings of Lukas". Soon we may also be having "The sayings of Sylas" as he is beginning to string together words like "no poop", "me daddy" and my favorite so far "luka head", while preparing to pour a pail of water over Luke's head :)

This edition focuses on Lukas' growing biblical understanding:

Daddy: So God chose a king for Isreal. His name was Saul...
Lukas: Daddy, what is Saul's last name?
Daddy: uh....

Later on...

Daddy: One night God asked Solomon "What would you like to have Solomon?". Solomon said "I just want to be wise". What would you say if God said to you "what would you like to have Lukas"?
Lukas: (excitedly!) A bear!!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The little blog that grew. Enter the athensBlog one year contest!!

Well folks, it's been one year since the first post here on the athensBlog way back on July 21st, 2004.

To commemorate this one-year anniversary, we'd like to celebrate the way we usually do...with a contest!! Since this contest will only come around once, we made it extra hard for you to win. But we also made it extra sweet for whoever gets the prize!! Here's how it's gonna work. The first person who can:

1. Correctly identify every member of the AthensBlog team by first, middle and last name,

2. Since team members might know that info, we have another way for them to enter. Folks that went on the trip to Athens can tell us how many total posts there are on the athensBlog. All of them. You can either guess, or spend a good couple hours counting them all. Think of it as the "count the jelly-beans-in-the-jar" way to enter :)

And the prize???!?!?????

If you're successful....and the first person to get the right answer, YOU get an email from US with the gender of our 3rd child!!!!!!....that's right, we do know!! And so can you!! Be the first to complete the task and you could know if we're having a boy or girl!! Enter in the comments below, or on the discussion forum. Enter once, enter often. Help us celebrate! There's no harm in trying, even if you're completely wrong! :)

Disclaimer: One condition for the winner of this contest, is that you will not be allowed to tell anyone the gender of our child after finding out yourself! No one! Before receiving your prize, you will take an athensBlog oath, in Greek, under a bottle of olive oil promising the wrath of the Greek gods will come upon you if you leak the gender info to anyone! Be warned, Mary knew what gender she was having and only an angel could reveal it to her! Don't forget her example. Once she found out she "kept all these things in her heart" :)

Don Welborn with the Lord

The brethren world suffered a great loss yesterday when preacher Don Welborn died in a plane crash in Northern Texas.
...the pilot was Don Welborn, 74, of North Richland Hills. The single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames Wednesday afternoon, killing all three people aboard, authorities said.
We'll miss you Don. For more updates and news on the discussion forum - click here

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The NHL lockout and church discipline

Well folks, this post has been brewing for quite a while, waiting for the day when the NHL lockout ends. Forgive me if this is the longest post my blog has ever seen, but it seems like the NHL owners and players finally resolved the hockey lockout!! Hooray!! If all goes well and the agreement gets ratified, we could actually see a hockey season this fall. And with Sydney Crosby being touted as the best player to come along since Wayne Gretzky, we might even see the game of hockey recover fairly well from this dispute! Good times for us Canadians!! (My apologies to the Americans, Aussies, Brits, Scots and others who are reading this, it does have a point besides a rant about our beloved passtime :)

Throughout this whole "labour dispute" (even Wikipedia is getting in on the action) I couldn't help but draw the parallel between the hockey lockout and church discipline. What do I mean, you ask? Well stick around for a not-so-brief summary. For those who are not familiar with what went down in the NHL hockey lockout, here's a brief synopsis:

1. Summer 2004: After the end of the 2003-2004 season, the "collective bargaining agreement" (CBA) between the NHL (league/owners) and the NHL players association (ie: union) was set to expire on September 16th, before the next season.

2. Like any labour dispute, both sides mainly thought of their own interests and so no progress was made on a new deal over the summer of 2004

3. Sept 16,2004: When the CBA expired, the league "locked out" the players (as opposed to most disputes where the players/union "go on strike", basically in this case the management went on strike)

4. Feb 16,2005: Because of a lack of an agreement between the two sides, the entire 2004-2005 NHL hockey season was cancelled by the NHL league/owners. The first time this has happened in any major sport.

5. June 13, 2005: After an entire year of "negotiations", the NHL owners and players finally resolved the hockey lockout.

Now, it is easy to see how this "dispute" has effected the league, players and the game of hockey itself. The league, who initiated the lockout, racked up some serious losses:

1. CBC reported that: "the league lost out on $2 billion worth of revenue"
2. The fans themselves are quite upset and some may never watch hockey again.
3. The league lost it's network deal with ESPN! Ouch! 70 million

What am I getting at here? Well let me generalize a bit. First let's look at the big picture in the hockey dispute and then see if we can learn something about church discipline in the process.

All of the "losses" that the league suffered are simply "short-term" losses. They will get the fans back eventually, they will get the TV deals back. Sure it might take a while, but none of those "losses" are what I call "league threatening". Compare those short term losses, with the ongoing "long-term" losses that the league was facing before the lockout - namely deficits of between 100-200 million per year. The main issue then came down to players salaries being too high. I know I'm generalizing and there were other issues, but basically big name players were not willing to take pay-cuts so that the game of hockey could continue. I mean, as if going from 10 million per year to 8 million is really going to affect your lifestyle. In my humble opinion these big shots felt they were more important than the game. The long term situation for the league/owners was simply this: We cannot afford to keep paying these guys, so either they take a pay cut or else we're stopping the game.

Think of how the players must have felt (again I'm generalizing): The nerve! How could the league think that the game is not about us. Who do they think they are telling Jaromir Jagr, Mats Naslund or Brad Richards (had to throw him in their for all you Islanders) that they are not important. Doesn't the league realize that without us, the players, they don't have a game at all?

Maybe some would sympathize with their side, but when we look at the big picture, it's not about those players, as important as they may think they are, it's about the game of hockey. It's about hockey being around for generations. That type of arrogance from the players (spoken or otherwise) was exactly what the league was trying to combat. They sent a message loud and clear when they locked out the players. We don't need you. The game is more important than you. Get over yourselves and start thinking about the good of the sport, instead of your own ego and paycheck.

Pretty harsh, but pretty true.

While I was watching this all unfold over the past year, I couldn't help but draw the comparison to the local church, as far as discipline is concerned. I'm not sure about you, but I have been on the receiving end of church discipline. That's right folks, I was kicked out of "fellowship" for one summer. If you want the details you can email me, but basically the elders at my church put the best interest of the congregation above me and my little ego. And good for them. Looking back I'm glad they did it. Their church is still around, and so am I, and much more humble because of it.

Sadly, I had a discussion with a pastor recently who was unable to follow through on church discipline. A highly respected member of the congregation (chairman of the board) was cheating on his wife, and other members of the board knew about it. This had gone on for some time, but when our pastor friend confronted him, and the board, tragically, they buckled under pressure from the adulterer and did not kick him off the board, or out of the church. To make a long story short, there was no discipline, the church no longer exists and the pastor is going to employement training for the first time in his life.

So what am I saying? Well, I'm glad that the league locked out the players. I'm glad they put the interests of the game of hockey above certain big shots. If they hadn't, and kept on in the financial situation they were in, the NHL could very well have ended up like my friends church. Like I said I'm generalizing but like Alcoholics Anonymous says "principles before personalities". It doesn't matter that the league lost an entire season, what matters is that the game of hockey lives on.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Leavin on a jet plane

Luke Bruce
+ 48 hours = Ecuador!! Way to go buddy! Have a great trip! Keep us updated when you can, we're praying for you!

The sayings of Lukas v6 - Jesus doesn't love me

Lukas: Yes, Jesus doesn't love me
Yes, Jesus doesn't love me...

Daddy: Why are you singing it that way?
Lukas: Well some days Jesus doesn't like us
Daddy: So does he still love us when he doesn't like us?
Lukas: Yes, Jesus loves us but some days he doesn't like us.
Daddy: Oh really, which days does he not like us
Lukas: Saturdays and Thursdays

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The sayings of Lukas v5

Lukas: Daddy, can we put the tent up?
Daddy: Just wait please
Lukas: Mommy....he said no :(
Mommy: No Lukas, daddy said wait

This conversation really made me think about how often we do this to God. We pray for something, God wants us to wait upon him and so he does not do what we've asked immediately. Our next response is usually whining and thinking God has forgotten us. Well, at least that's what I do :)
We forget that we need to "wait upon the Lord", really seek him, maybe fast and pray a bit. I remember seeing a video of a Gospel For Asia missionary fasting (at least 2 days a week) and praying for 2 year for the village he was trying to reach. Only after that type of intense "waiting on the Lord",and "fervent prayer" did God break through and save the city. What a rebuke. James says that God gives us trials to develop patience, man do we need patience. Thank you Lukas for that wonderful example.

Monday, July 11, 2005

53% think we are having a girl

Just over 4 months left until baby #3 makes an appearance and so far, in the Cuthill baby pool 53% say it's a girl, 47% say it's a boy. click here and enter to win big baby prizes! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Kimberly - A stranger on the road to salvation

This morning at church I met a lady named Kimberly. She just walked in off the street. While this is fairly common at our church to see new people, Kimberly just moved in across the street last month from China. Her englihsh is still developing. She told me that there are no churches in China and so this was her first time ever in a church! Ever. She came this morning because she "wanted to learn more and believe in God." Sweet.

After introducing her to a few people at the chapel I went upstairs and got her a childrens bible and sat her with Gloria, an ESL teacher, who was seated with a few other Chinese new-comers getting ready for the service.

Think about this setting for a second. How successful do you think Kimberly was in getting to know God? How well do you think we did at bridging cultural, language and spiritual boundaries? Do we feel it is her responsibility to learn, or our resonsibility to explain things to her? What is the purpose of our "service" anyway?

I guess the only measure of success in our North American churches, the only way to possibly know if she got the message, is if she comes back next week. We really have no other mechanisms to connect with her. It's sad really. Many churches I know are like this, we're stuck between thinking we are seeker-sensitive (because we have a one hour gospel service Sunday at 11) and at the same time thinking we are building up the believers. Which is it? I really wonder what Jesus would do if he met Kimberly, and which church he would direct her to? Or if He would direct her to church at all? What would you say to Kimberly? Is church supposed to be an outreach, or to minister to believers?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cuthills Q2 report online

Hi everyone,every quarter we produce a prayer letter to keep supporters updated on what we've been doing. Here is a list of previous reports:

Here is our latest, the second quarter 2005 report:

It opens in Microsoft Word. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Doctrinal Goon-fest?

Saw this strange article on CBC about a hockey "goon" competition and it made me laugh.
Hockey goon competition given green light
Tue, 28 Jun 2005 15:31:30 EDT

Fearful of a legal reprisal, officials in a northern B.C. community have backed down and will allow a controversial hockey fight competition to take place after all.

On Monday, Prince George's city council gave the green light to the "Battle of the Hockey Enforcers." The competition will feature hockey "goons" fighting on ice in a series of one-minute bouts without any hockey being played.
What a strange event. I had to laugh at the last line "without any hockey being played". It made me think that sometimes we can be like this as Christians. We get so caught up fighting one another and seeing who is smartest, or quickest with a bible verse, or has the best doctrines that we miss the whole point and spend our time trying to win fights with each other instead of "playing the game" that God has for us. He has a comission for us, and it's been such a contrast this past week seeing Matt & Ruth Cook, and their team, actually getting on with "playing the game".

Let's get on with it, and not spend all our time on these petty doctrinal goon-fests. As Rey says:
Drop the name calling. Drop the charges against each other. Drop the mindless repeated proof-texting. In these conversations weve seen the same thing, over and over and over and over again. Its the same junk and it merely illustrates our vanity that we think we have it (or dont have it).
We have a world to reach, we have a life to live, let's put down our gloves, pick up our sticks and play like a team.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Ruth speaks

Ruth updated us on the situation at their blog: Check it out, and keep praying.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

July loggin in - Q3

25July05-Mon - Reformat laptop
24July05-Sun - BofB, FBH daycamp sunday, Pucci comes, Lunch, evening service
23July05-Sat - GTA crux youth leaders meeting
22July05-Fri - Daycamp
20July05-Wed - Prayer, elders meet, Daycamp, prayer meeting
19July05-Tues- Daycamp
17July05-Sun - BofB, FBH,
16July05-Sat - MC for Eid at Multicultural music
15July05-Fri -
13July05-Wed - daycamp, KW, stay at Josh & Colleens
12July05-Tues- elders meeting, pack for KW
11July05-Mon - Daycamp
10July05-Sun - BofB, FBH, Kimberly from China, pick up kids at parents
09July05-Sat - Jason & Joy's wedidng
08July05-Fri - Speak at daycamp, meet with Eid, Amy Sutherland
07July05-Thurs- Read to daycare kids. Bill Gothaard seminar
06July05-Wed-Bill Gothaar seminar
05July05-Tues- Jake & Catherines
04July05-Mon- Jake drops off van, paperwork
03July05-Sun-4AM drive Joe to Airport, 10AM Joan picked up, BofB, FBH, Lukas scarlet fever, to after-hours clinic
02July05-Sat- AA conference, dinner with Ruth
01July05-Fri- AA conference, fireworks with Kamran & Anila

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pray for Ruth

Got to have dinner tonight with Ruth Cook and hear about her adventure. If all goes well she is flying out Wednesday. Keep praying!

A good atti-todd

Todd Anderson is on the trip with Matt & Ruth Cook. On his blog, he has a pretty funny story about his first experience with a subway, while staying with us here in Toronto. Todd has a great attitude through it all, but let's pray for the folks who are going with Matt & Ruth on the trip, that everyone would keep this positive outlook no matter what crazy things happen along the way! :) I'm excited to hear all their stories of how they adjusted to strange situations. As Tim Rogers used to say: There's joy in the journey.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Pray for Matt & Ruth

*Update* Ruth will be in Toronto until Tuesday because of documentation. Thank you all for appreciating that there are no details that we can share. Keep checking Matt's blog for details. Pray for Matt as he will be arriving without Ruth and will have difficulty communicating. Ruth will still need to purchase a whole new ticket (at least a few thousand) so give that donation link a look over :)

Just got off the phone with Matt Cook's Aunt who asked us to pray for Matt & Ruth. Ruth was denied access to their flight because it went through the UK. Everyone else went on ahead without her, and so now she is stuck here in Toronto with the baby without a flight. She will have to pay for another flight so pray for them and if you would like to help them out you can donate online via MSC. More soon.