Friday, August 31, 2007

Thorncliffe bomb scare

The past few mornings we've been doing practice runs with our kids, getting them ready for school. They brush their teeth, put on their shoes, get their backpacks and we try to get to the school by the 8:50AM starting time. This worked wonderfully this morning and we arrived at least 10 minutes early. Lukas had to use the washroom so we found an open door and the teachers let us in.

While inside an announcement came over the PA system : "PLEASE EXIT THE BUILDING. EVERYONE MUST LEAVE THE BUILDING"

We thought this was strange and wondered what the commotion was, only to find out the police were at the local Esso station trying to contain a bomb.

Right now I'm sitting here in Dave's apartment looking at 3 helicopters circling the neighbourhood. More details soon. I've seen CTV, CBC and City so perhaps all of you know more than us.

So if you're planning on coming tonight to break bread with us you might have to get past some police tape. Thorncliffe Park Drive and Overlea blvd are currently blocked off. We'll keep you posted!

**UPDATE** 12:21PM

Looks like this is the lead story on every news station. CTV, 680news etc. The police have removed the bomb from the Esso here in our area and are taking it downtown to detonate or defuse it. All southbound lanes of the Don Valley Parkway are closed as the bomb is transported to an area on the shore of Lake Ontario.

**UPDATE 2** 12:31PM

I've uploaded a picture from the CTV website of the robot that was sent in to grab the bombs out of the car

**UPDATE 3** 1:21PM

I think this is all over now, they have re-opened our street and the bomb is on down the DVP. The Toronto Star has a report, as well as The Globe and Mail, The National Post as well as the Terrosim Research Center?? and a local Canadian blogger who claims the accused letter-bomber is a Lebanese immigrant

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thorncliffe Park - Canada's highest concentration of Muslims

Before the city of Toronto was a big huge mega-city it was divided up into various little 'boroughs' which all had their own mayor. East York is the 'borough' in which Thorncliffe Park is located. Recently I stumbled across this interview with the former Mayor of East York Michael Prue. His comments about Thorncliffe Park are very interesting:
We also talked about the Thorncliffe Park area, for which Michael was responsible when he was Mayor of East York. This area has Canadas largest concentration of Muslim immigrants
The largest concentration of Muslims in Canada - sweet!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday prayer requests - Greece fires

Seeing as the title of my blog is the "athensBLOG" it would be appropriate to encourage prayer for Greece! Most of you are aware of the deadly fires that have killed 64 people in Greece. Today I saw an article in the Scarborough Mirror about a meeting here in Thorncliffe Park to help the suffering:

The Greek Community of Toronto has opened an account that can receive donations through any Scotiabank branch. The group is meeting at the Thorncliffe Park Community Centre tonight at 6:30 p.m. to plan other forms of relief.

Please pray for these fires, which are still burning all over Greece and on the Island of Evia - the island where we distributed Bibles during the Olympics!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday's hot topic - Eternal security

Forum member Adrian posted on the forum some thoughts on Psalm 103 recently. These thoughts have lead to a discussion on eternal security, since Psalm 103 states:
verse 12 - He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
The idea being that if God removes someone's sins, there's no way for them to bring those sins back. God has graciously removed all sin and guilt and an individual is free to live a life devoted to God.

Considering this thought I posed the question:
If we say 'once saved, always saved' then what happens in God's eyes when someone 'denies the Lord with cursing'? Are they still saved? Is there a clause in our eternal security doctrine that states that someone is eternally secure until they reject Christ? If so then it isn't eternal security...right?
What are your thoughts on 'eternal security'? Is it eternal? What does it depend on? If someone is a Christian and then turns back what happens to them? Are their sins still forgiven? Post your thoughts in the comments below, or on the forum - click here

Friday, August 24, 2007

Muslim Girl Magazine!!

Those of you who went out and purchased the Burqini, after my post last Thursday, might also want to consider subscribing to Muslim Girl Magazine!!.

The magazine offers modesty-centered fashion tips, profiles of interesting North American Muslim teens, moral and worldwide issues as well as featuring the Muslim girl of the month! I wonder if Hirsi Ali or Irshad Manji will be featured any time soon??

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thorncliffe Murderer turns himself in

A number of news stories are circulating this morning about yesterdays incident.

First City TV is reporting the name of the victim and that the suspect has turned himself in to police:
Relatives of the deceased declined to speak on camera but they said the victim came to Canada from Turkey four years ago and lived in the apartment building. His identity hasn't been confirmed, but neighbours claim the victim was 35-year-old Engin Yilmaz. Later Wednesday Hikmet Dasmedir, also 35, surrendered to police at 53 Division. He's been charged with second degree murder
The Toronto Star has some interesting interviews with residents in our neighbourhood:
""This is the only thing that's happened on our street," said Hannah, a 25-year resident of the Thorncliffe Park Dr.-Overlea Blvd. area"
Later in the article another resident states:
"There are a lot of people who are screaming here all the time – once, twice, three or four times a week," said another resident. "But we never think that something horrible happens. It's (usually) just kids screaming. ... Not grownups."
Please continue to pray for the family and the residents of the building, including our interns & friends who were questioned by police.

The sayings of Sylas v6 - Birds

Tonight I was tucking Sylas into bed when he asked me an interesting question:

Daddy, why do turtles eat flies? (Franklin the Turtles favorite food is fly pie)
Daddy: Well everything has to eat something. Some animals eat plants, some animals eat bugs
Sylas: Birds eat bugs don't they dad?
Daddy: That's right Sylas, birds eat bugs...and plants...
Sylas: ..and scientists!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday prayer requests - Thorncliffe murder

This morning I was walking to Tim Hortons to meet Alan Beattie for breakfast around 7:30 when I noticed a large number of police vehicles down the street from our building. Sadly it turns out there was a murder just after 7AM this morning at the very building where our interns live.

More on this story from the City TV and 680 news websites. Please let this motivate you to pray more for this area!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday's hot topics - Public vs. Private church

Most of us in the West are used to public church meetings, buildings and freedom to gather as we like. There are big churches, little churches and even The church of elvis. So many churches that it's tough to remember a time when church wasn't public.

In early Christianity however public church was all but impossible without imprisonment, beatings and martyrdom. The Roman Empire tried to snuff out the light any way it could. Back then church had to be underground, secret and could cost you your life. There are modern day examples, like China, where the underground church is growing at tremendous cost.

Seeing this, how do we in the West who have the freedom balance public vs private church meetings? Should we go back to early Christianity and go underground? Or should we use our freedom and meet only in public?

On the forum pherwxristosposted his thoughts on the matter:
Having spent some years in the house church movement and appreciating the advantages of an intimate venue, I'm trying to figure out a way to balance out the emphasis on meeting "in public" (which here i mean at the chapel building) and "from house to house." I think the early church in Jerusalem met in public (various courts at the Temple) and also met to break bread in their homes. I think the earliest church(es) in Ephesus also clearly (from Acts) met in public (lecture hall of Tyranus?) and "from house to house."
So what do you think? How do we strike the balance? Should we go back to house church only? Should we go underground? Or use our freedom to have public meetings and buildings? Post your thoughts in the comments below or on the forum - here

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Burqua + Bikini = The Burqini!!

Wikipedia definition: A burqini or burkini is a type of swimsuit designed by Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti. The suit covers enough to preserve Muslim modesty, whilst being light enough to enable swimming. It was described as the perfect solution for Muslim women who want to swim but are uncomfortable about "revealing" bathing suits. The name "burqini" is a portmanteau of burqa and bikini.

From the official Burqini website:
My name is Aheda Zanetti, the woman behind the Ahiida label, migrated to Australia from Lebanon at age of 2. Now 38, married with 4 children. I remember growing up in Australia , posted a lot of challenges for a young Muslim / Arab girl. As an active person who liked to participate in community activities and sport, I found myself restricted due to cultural and religious beliefs. As years went by, I noticed there are younger girls and women that are embracing Islam and obeying their Islamic belief in dressing modestly, in turn, having to miss out on opportunities, and taking part in any sporting activities that Australia has to offer. By facing this on a daily basis and seeing girls struggle with what is around presently, we at Ahiida have found a need to make specialized sportswear to suit the Muslim female.
Get yours today!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday prayer requests - Thorncliffe Park stats

We appreciate those of you who have been praying for our new neighbourhood. To help you pray more intelligently please take a minute to read the City of Toronto neighbourhood profile for Thorncliffe Park - click here. Keep in mind these are stats from 2001. The 2006 census data should be very interesting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy Pakistani Independence day!!

Matt Cook reminds us all to have a Happy Pakistani Independence Day!!
"With Pakistan's Independence Day just around the corner I find myself thinking about this neat country I'm a part of and wondering which thing about Pakistan I appreciate or enjoy the most. As I was walking down the street to day I asked myself, "What is your favorite Pakistani thing?"
Find out what Matt's answer is on his blog - here

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday's hot topics - How do you know??

On the discussion forum our friend cole has asked the age old question:
how did you know that the person you are married to is the person you were supposed to marry? and what if they took off from God for a while before you were married, would you have waited for them?
How did you know? What would you do? Help cole out by posting your answer in the comments below, or on the forum - here

Friday, August 10, 2007

Video of the Week - Christian and Christ-follower

This week's video is a parody of the PC/MAC commercials, replacing PC with 'Christian' and MAC with 'Christ-follower'. See what you think!:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday prayer requests - Adam House, Toronto

Recently I've been in touch with an amazing little place called Adam House. It helps refugees get on their feet in Canada. I hope to visit them soon to see their work, but judging from all the good stuff I've heard this is a place that needs our prayers and support

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thorncliffe Park Beckham?

Musing about David Beckham's potential MLS debut appearance yesterday, writer Pat Walsh wondered what would have happened if Becks notched his first point in Toronto:
If Beckham scores a goal or notches an assist -- the latter scenario much more likely after he watched his teammates drop a six-spot on the Hoops -- ask if he plans to name his next child Thorncliffe Park to commemorate his first MLS point.
Sadly for all Thorncliffe Park fans, Beckham neither played nor scored a goal

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday's hot topics - 'God's standards are actually quite low"

On the forum a good friend of mine posted a sermon he preached recently. At the very end he quotes Desmond Tutu as saying “You may be surprised who you find in heaven, God has a soft spot for sinners, his standards are actually quite low.” Post your thoughts on this statement in the comments below or on the forum - here

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The athensBLOG :: fun family entertainment

Those who may have objected over the years to the edgy candor of the athensBLOG will be pleased to read the following public service announcement:

You can now return to your Canadian holiday weekend content in the knowledge that reading this blog is as safe and harmless as watching Bambi

Friday, August 03, 2007

John Tory loves Thorncliffe!

Can you smell it? It's in the air. Burgers and hot dogs in Thorncliffe Park! That means it's election time soon! Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory is running in *our* riding and I've been fairly impressed that he gives two hoots about Thorncliffe Park. On John's blog he states:
Saturday afternoon saw a huge picnic in Thorncliffe Park, perhaps one of the most multicultural, multilingual neighbourhoods in all of Ontario, at the very heart of my new riding of Don Valley West
Johnny not only made an appearance at the Neighbours Night out, he actually went to the back of one of the apartment buildings (#65) to put on this barbeque. Hopefully through this election Mr. Tory will be able to shine more light on this forgotten area of the city. Jerry Bolton was there and took some pics. :

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wednesday Prayer requests : Ron Bates, August 10th, 1939 - July 31st, 2007

7 years ago, in August of 2000, Hayley and I went on a trip to help at an orphanage in Romania. This orphanage was run by a missionary couple named Ron & Sue Bates. It was quite an eye-opening trip as we saw the terrible orphan epidemic in Romania. The Bates were an older couple, coming to Romania after their retirement. They where compelled by the great needs in Romania and began feeding street children and helping the blind. Eventually mothers would bring their babies to the Bates to take care of and they were moved with compassion to open up their home to these children. Eventually so many children where living with them that they decided to buy land and start a children's home called 'Inasmuch' - click here.

A vivid memory I have from our trip is feeding the street children soup downtown Bucharest, in the shadow of Nicolae Ceau┼čescu's palace. Orphans and street children invited Hayley down into the sewers to see where they slept. I was a bit nervous but Hayley climbed down to get a first hand look at the horrible conditions. It's something I will never forget. I'm very thankful for my time in Romania and for the Bates' ministry.

Yesterday I received word that Ron Bates had passed away. In the letter sent by Sue she mentions his work with the street children but also his work and love for the Gypsies of Romania:
His greatest ministry was with the gypsies. Ron’s gift was preaching the gospel and expounding God's word, he loved God's word and always appreciated the hungry, open heart of the gypsy Christians. He frequented the village of Goloshei and because of his great love for them and their common love for the Lord Jesus he wants to be buried in that village, so Thursday we will celebrate his home going.
Please pray for Sue, their ministry, the orphans and Romania

My new favorite song - "In the Living years"

I've had the song 'Living years' running through my head the past little while. Pardon the 'subtitulada' but it was the only version of the real video I could find. Somehow neither the Kids Incorporated, nor the Sims version seemed appropriate: