Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thorncliffe Park Public School - up to 1667

I've been telling people that Thorncliffe Park Public School has 1500 students from Kindergarten to Grade 5, 93% of which English is not their first language. These stats came from a Toronto Sun article. However, upon checking the school's newsletter (click here for PDF) it looks like that number is actually 1667 students (K-5) with 94% 'primary language other than English'. No wonder there are all those new portables up in the soccer field!

Lego Bible updates

The Lego Bible has some recent updates from the story of David & Saul, including David becoming King!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Triple Letters - the triplet blog

My good friends Josh & Colleen MacFadyen found out recently that they are pregnant with TRIPLETS!!! As Hayley put it 'This is the most exciting thing that's ever happened to someone I know!". These triplets are due some time in December and Josh has started a blog called Triple Letters to document the journey. His latest entry has some great ultrasound pics. Check it out!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More Driscoll

A friend of mine, Lon, just happened to post today about Driscoll and his emerging breakdown of 3 categories - here.

Lon also posted an audio clip - here - of Driscoll telling the story of how he became a Christian through the awesome ministry called 'missionary-dating' (which also produced yours truly). Three cheers for Driscoll! Three cheers for Christian girls who date non-christian guys!!

Video of the week - Emerging church breakdown

There's alot of discussion in Christian circles about a relatively new movement called the 'Emerging church'. The folks in this movement are mostly 30-something pastors & leaders trying to deal with life in a post-Christian society. Gone are the days of praying in school and reverence for scripture in public domain. These new young leaders engage with the culture and are rethinking the way we 'do church' to see if there are things that we can do better so we can make the important message about Jesus the most important thing we do.

Watch Pastor Mark Driscoll explain what it is:

Now, there has been some criticism about this movement from those who are often referred to as 'fundamentalists'. Folks who perhaps believe that the form of church is fine and doesn't need changing. I disagree with them because if the church was doing it's job it wouldn't be losing young people at such a staggering rate.

Driscoll also has a paper on the Emerging church that helps calm some fears about the changes that us young leaders are proposing to the way we do church. It's worth a read - click here:
First, the Emerging church is a broad category that encompasses a wide variety of churches and Christians who are seeking to be effective missionaries wherever they live. This includes Europeans and Australians who are having the same conversation as their American counterparts. The Emerging church includes three distinct types of Christians. In a conversation with Dr. Ed Stetzer, a noted missiologist, he classified them as the Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists...
Take a look and post your thoughts in the comments about what you think of this 'Emerging' trend. Are you a 'relevant'? A 'reconstructionist'? A 'revisionist'? Is this emerging conversation a good thing? Bad thing? Heresy? Blessings? What are your experiences with this 'emerging church' generation?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Incarnational ministry - Save money and the Environment!

A while ago I posted my thoughts on what we call Incarnational ministry. For those who haven't heard, Incarnational ministry is where you actually worship/serve/go to church as well as work, live, play and go to school all in the same geographic location. In our case that means Thorncliffe Park.

Incarnational is great for community building, meaningful relationships and loving you neighbours but there's something I hadn't considered - Icarnational is good for the environment and the pocket book!!

You see I have a speed pass with Esso. Handy little things they are. I just swipe and go, giving no thought for tomorrow, until the bill appears at the end of each month. The average month's worth of gas, since we got the speed pass, has been anywhere from 250-350 dollars depending on how much driving we've had to do. But think about all the driving you don't have to do when you're Incarnational! No driving to school, just walk to the school in your community. No driving to work, just walk to work/church in your community. No driving to friends houses, just walk down the hall in your apartment building.

So today when I got my gas bill I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised that it was a mere 92 dollars! That's all the gas I used. 3 fill ups. Not only am I saving money, I'm cutting down on harmful exhaust fumes. I wonder if being Incarnational is part of the election platform from the Green Party? Come on everybody, get your Incarnational on!

Grampy's 100th

Here are some pictures from the 100th birthday party of Daniel MacLeod
Grampy & Nanny all spiffed up

And yes that is Olivia on Nanny's knee. It's tough being the favorite great-grandchild, but somebody's gotta do it :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's the population of Pakistan Mr. McGuinty?

Last night Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was a guest on Global TV's 'Focus Ontario' program with Sean Mallen. Mallen asked McGuinty wether he should at least consider having the conversation about faith-based schools in the future. McGunity's response was a flat out no and to support his stand he said:
It's not going to happen on my watch and I'll tell you why, because we're up against 1.3 billion Chinese, 1.1 billion Indians, 280 million Pakistanis...
280 million Pakistanis?? This guy doesn't even know the population of Pakistan (currently 164 million). I wonder if anyone here in the 75% Pakistani riding of Thorncliffe Park noticed that.

Monday's hot topics - The Athiest's dilemma

Forum member Paul Blackmore recently posted about his experience with those who have turned away from Christ and are now atheists. Blackmore states:
Here then are my observations for what they are worth re: this modern-day trend away from the Christian faith by those who formerly professed it...The athiest is first sold a "christian bill of goods" that turns out in the end to be riddled with falsehood. Upon discovering such untruths within the bill of goods that he has been sold; he abandons and rejects the faith
Blackmore lists 4 or 5 reasons why he believes folks chose to turn away, laying much of the blame for this on Calvinistic teaching.

What is your experience with those who have turned away? Is Calvinism at the root of the problem? Post your thoughts in the comments below of on the forum

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Need a title v34 - Church

Recently I moved all my online pictures from Yahoo to Flickr. Thankfully this was an easy process and Flickr's online photo storage is far superior. I was looking through some old pictures and found this picture which I took in Israel.

Can anyone think of a good title?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thorncliffe Park - more Muslims than any other provincial riding

For the upcoming Ontario provincial election, Thorncliffe Park is stationed in the riding of Don Valley West. Liberal incumbent Kathleen Wynne is in the fight of her life against Ontario Conservative leader John Tory. Both candidates have had many events here, trying to sway undecided voters, but currently only John Tory signs are up on Thorncliffe Park Drive. One clue as to why Tory has such momentum in this area could be the faith based school concept.

An article from National Post gives some insight into the demographics of Thorncliffe Park:
Don Valley West is a diverse riding. Down the road from Leaside, where soccer moms raise children in spacious brick homes, is Thorncliffe Park, where recent immigrants crowd into high-rise apartments.

It is home to more Muslims than any other provincial riding — 13.6% of the population is Muslim, more than 15,500 people.
The article doesn't give a source for this data, but I'm guessing it's from the 6-year-old Canadian Census? We are still waiting for the 2006 census data which will probably show a much higher Muslim population. Or perhaps these stats are for the entire electoral district, which would include all of Don Valley West (Leaside, etc)? Whatever the case this Muslim demographic here in Thorncliffe will make the election topic of 'faith based schools' quite a hot local matter for both John and Kathleen.

Video of the week - "Be a man" with Mark Driscoll

In honour of a real Christian man like Daniel "century iron man" MacLeod, this week's video features Pastor Mark Driscoll talking about being a real Christian man, not just a chick-i-fied church boy in a sweater vest:

Driscoll's got it right though, you get the young men you win the war. He has other good thoughts - here on church planting and people in the Bible that were 'pretty rough dudes'.
'Most churches' Driscoll says 'don't know what to do with young entrepreneurial type leaders. Most of the time they think they're trouble makers...but I got a feeling if you got around Paul when he was a young guy or you got around John the Baptist or Elijah...these dudes seem pretty rough to me"
So come on guys, get on out there, be a man, plant a church, punch a heretic in the nose, win the war, be a dude!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The sayings of Sylas v7 - Outer space

In the spring Lukas brought home a morning glory shoot from school. We planted it on the balcony and every day when we wake up we look out to see if there are any blossoms. The other day when we looked out there were 11 in total! A new record! Sylas however wasn't so excited.

Me: Look at the blossoms on the morning glory
Sy: Daddy, I'm sad
Me: Why?
Sy: Because my morning glory didn't grow
Me: Your morning glory?
Sy: Ya, I left it on the planet I came from
Me: Pardon?
Sy: You know the planet that I came from in outer space

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daniel MacLeod's 100th birthday!!! Sept 18, 1907-Sept 18, 2007

I'm at home with the kids while Hayley flies to PEI today. Her grandfather, Daniel MacLeod, turns 100 years old today!! It's quite an amazing feat to live to 100 and it takes someone like Grampy MacLeod to pull it off! When we got married 7 years ago he was a mere 93 years old, but was still walking about 5k each day. Can you imagine how much the world has changed since he was born?? This past Christmas we were talking about hangings (Saddam) and new fuel efficient cars when it came up in the conversation that hangings were still legal and cars hadn't been invented when Grampy was born!

The only good picture I have on me is this one, where he is holding baby Sylas in 2003. Hopefully Hayley will get some good shots of his century party tonight!

It's not everyday that someone turns 100 so to show Grampy how special he is please take a minute and LEAVE A BIRTHDAY GREETING in the comments below and we'll make sure Grampy gets to read them!! Have a great birthday Grampy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nerds who shook the world v2 - Chester Donaldson

This is the second in a series I've called 'Nerds who shook the world'. Looking back on people who were very influential and how they got started. May this be an encouragement to all of us, wether young or nerdy, to trust God and do amazing things.

Ever heard of Bowsman, Manitoba? Neither had I until I saw the 1945 Emmaus Bible College Yearbook. That year a young man from Bowsman named Chester Donaldson was just a young fresh-faced student. As you can see from the picture he wasn't even...let's say the most proficient in the hair brushing department.

But don't write Chester off just yet. After graduating from Emmaus, this 19 year old went on to start many of the brethren assemblies up north as well as Northland Bible Camp in Timmins! I'm not sure exactly how many churches he planted, but I have read his autobiography titled 'A Kernel of Wheat' where he talks about driving up Yonge Street to Timmins, back when it was a dirt road! Fresh faced Chester, a pioneer church-planter? Zits and all!? If God can do amazing things through Chester, imagine what he can do through you!! Our history has not yet been written. What can we do if we simply trust God and go for it!? Here's to you Chester!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The 5 Support Steps

We are really thankful for the many people who are asking us 'How can we support you guys'. Seems God is at work and we're happy to simply be involved and watch Him do it! For those interested in helping out practically we've developed a little system to help:

1. Visit - See for yourself what God is doing! You are always welcome to visit the neighbourhood.

2. Pray - Please pray for us at 6:14AM and 6:14PM

3. Donate - if you'd like to support us financially there is information on the left margin of this blog. These arrangements are temporary until we have our own charitable number and can issue receipts. Furniture, clothes and other practical items are also helpful as we encounter many new Canadians that have just moved in.

4. Partner - at this step you've seen, tasted, prayed and given. Now consider partnering with us. Examples would be helping teaching english once a week, helping at outreaches, kids clubs, delivering welcome packs, bibles, knitting, etc. Also if you're part of an organization that you think would be interested in helping out please let us know.

5. Move in - The highest level of support would be to actually move into the neighbourhood and love the people all around us. Some have already done this. It's our 'incarnational imperative' that drives us to actually model the style of ministry Jesus used and 'dwell among us'. It's a big step but it's worth it.

We're really thankful to God for how everything is working out and how all of you amazing people are being moved with the same heart of compassion as we are! May God bless you!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We've spotted another Hayley Cuthill out there!! Watch your back little lady, this Hayley is not impressed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday prayer requests - Ramadan

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Muslim month of fasting known as Ramadan - click here. During this month Muslims fast from sun up to sundown and food is given to the poor. It is a great month, one which will hopefully spark more prayer among Christians. Think about taking at least one day during this month to fast all day and pray. Jesus said 'when you fast', not 'if you fast'.

At the same time, a group of young Muslim 'apostates' has launched a campaign to make it easier to renounce Islam.
The provocative move reflects a growing rift between traditionalists and a younger generation raised on a diet of...tolerance.

The Committee for Ex-Muslims promises to campaign for freedom of religion but has already upset the Islamic and political Establishments...“Sharia schools say that they will kill the ones who leave Islam. In the West people get threatened, thrown out of their family, beaten up,” Mr Jami said. “In Islam you are born Muslim. You do not even choose to be Muslim. We want that to change, so that people are free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.”
As Ramadan starts please pray for our Muslim friends as they sort out the complexities their religion is facing here in the West. Complexities like freedom of religion, secularism and conversion to Christianity. Pray specifically that Muslims would have dreams and visions of Jesus during this month of Ramadan. Salam alaikum.

Need a title v33

Here's Sylas all ready for his first day of school! Can you think of a good title for this picture?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

Today we remember those who lost their lives on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. One such person was Kevin Cosgrove.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Thorncliffe Park - one of the most multicultural places pound for pound on the planet "

Considering the number of high rise apartments here in Thorncliffe Park, it's no wonder an upcoming movie about 'falling' was inspired by it's balconies. 'A short film about falling' is showing at the Toronto International Film Festival and a recent Globe & Mail article mentions the directors upbringing:
I grew up in high-rises," Lynch recalls, remembering the Thorncliffe Park tower where he spent his childhood. "I remember how seductive those high balconies were. The urge to jump."
Yikes, I hope nobody gets that urge any time soon. In another interview the director describes where he grew up:
A Short Film About Falling
1. Where do you come from?
Peter: Some where between Planet X and Bedrock- East York The son of British immigrants in Thorncliffe Park one of the most multicultural places pound for pound on the planet Mostly spent somewhere between hirise rooftops, TV-land and the mighty Don Valley
While I have not developed an urge to jump, I now have an urge to find out how Lynch got onto the 'hirise rooftops'

Monday's hot topics: Jabe/Uplook says - We need pastors??!!

GASP!! BIFF!! ACK!!BOOM!! ____ (insert other batman sounds)

I just finished reading the latest Uplook magazine. On page 13 Jabe Nicholson really shocked me with his article entitled We need more biblical pastors. MORE PASTORS in the assemblies? This is a first!! Wow.

Nicholson hits the nail on the head when he writes:
"So concerned that we not have the unbiblical version of pastors (which is what??), have we neglected training those obviously gifted to be the biblical kind? (absolutely!). Often in our minds we replace the 'pastors' in Ephesians 4 with assembly elders. But that is not the idea at all...Ephesians 4 pastors are men whose gift is to be utilized in extending the word of God beyond existing assemblies
Neglected? I'd say they've been down right chased out of town. Everywhere I go I meet people who 'grew up brethren' but ended up as pastors in denominational churches.

Although Nicholson puts 'quotations' around the word 'pastors' at times in the article, I couldn't agree more! Assemblies are dying from lack of leadership and vision and the best young people are heading out the door. I'm not completely sure if Jabe is advocating having pastors in 'existing' assemblies or simply having apostolic pastors who can start new ones? If the latter is the case I think the word 'apostole' is a better word, but I'll take pastor any day! I may be a bit biased, but I really feel that this is the biggest issue in assemblies today and I'm giving Jabe props for even bringing the topic up.

So what do you think about the big bad P word? I thought the P word was outlawed among the brethren because of one-man ministry and our anti-clergy stance. Maybe the tide is turning? Do you have a pastor at your assembly? What do you think about pastors? Post your thoughts below in the comments or on the forum - here

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Race and poverty

A recent Toronto Star article gave details about the launching of a new project called 'Colour of Poverty'. The group chose Thorncliffe Park to kick off it's awareness campaign and a quote from a separate article, found in the East York Mirror, caught my attention:
The federally funded network, a coalition of grassroots agencies representing African, Chinese, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Spanish-speaking communities, deliberately selected the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office to launch its Colour of Poverty Campaign.

"We have chosen this neighbourhood because it is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Toronto," Go said. "The needs in this neighbourhood are great."
Later on in the article the group showed statistics on immigrant poverty
At the same time, the traditional pattern of new immigrants initially struggling before finding success is collapsing. Poverty among people of colour now extends for generations after they settle in Canada, Shakir said...
- Thirty-seven per cent of Toronto families come from non-European backgrounds, but make up 59 per cent of the city's poor families;
- In Toronto, the number of immigrants who are poor grew by 125 per cent between 1981 and 2001;
- Thirty-two per cent of children in "racialized" families and 47 per cent of children of recent immigrants live in poverty
I wondered as I read this what churches are doing to help those who are new to our country. How about your church? Are there visible minorities represented? Is your church making an effort to reach out, help with English, settlement and simple friendship. Does your church have programs to help new immigrants? Or has your church ignored these people? Are people in your church moving farther and farther away from areas where new immigrants live? I pray that more and more people would move down into areas like Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Scarborough, etc. As the article states "The needs in this neighbourhood are great."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lego Bible updates

Click here for new Lego Bible stories, uploaded August 31st. This time - David & Saul! Includes David acting insane!

Bomber watch

Still more, as people try to figure out who this bomber was - click here. It's an interesting article, but quite long.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First pics from the first day!!

Today was Lukas' first day of Grade 1 so I did the typical parent thing and took a million pictures of my cute little boy!! Here are a few pictures of the chaos!:

Ready to go out the door!

The walk (video):

The crowd at 8:30 (half hour early)

The crowd at 8:45 (eek!)

Lukas finds his teacher (video):

Where's Waldo:

Lukas with his class & the crowd by 9AM!! Wow, lots of kids!! (video):

Off to school (Lukas got to be the line leader, which he was sooo proud of):

Thankfully we didn't loose him in the crowd and he had a good first day. There were quite a number of kids and parents from the neighbourhood which we knew, and that helped alot. It should be interesting when Sylas goes for his first day of JK on Thursday. You read that right, kindergarten has it's own first day of school. All the kids in these pictures where only grades 1 to 3!!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

First day of school in Thorncliffe park

With the massive influx of new immigrants to the Thorncliffe Park area it's no wonder a program like 'Newcomer Orientation Week' has been set up to help students adjust to our school system. You may remember that the below-mentioned-proud-papa Dave teaches at the local highschool Marc Garneau. Here's a clip from the Toronto Star article about 'Newcomer Orientation Week' at Marc Garneau:
At Marc Garneau, about one in four students has come to Canada within the past five years. Diego, who will be in Grade 9, took his turn to share his hobbies, favourite subjects and the excitement of a new life in Canada.

After mingling, the group toured the nearby Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office to learn about available youth programs and settlement services for their families.

Mariam Spanos, 18, who arrived from Iraq in March with sister Alis, 16, said being greeted by an Arabic-speaking peer immediately put them at ease.

"Now, I know some people in the school, so it won't be a total shock when I come on my first day. Hopefully, I won't get lost," she said with a chuckle.
Tomorrow Lukas and Sylas start at Thorncliffe Park public school, which was mentioned in a February Toronto Sun article - here as the largest elementary school in North America. Sylas is in one of 32 kindergarten classes. 93% of the kids do not claim English as their first language. This summer the soccer field was paved over to make way for 10 new portables to accommodate the continuing growth. When we registered our kids back in spring, we commented on how well they are doing at handling the 1500 children. The lady looked at Hayley and said 'oh those are old statistics, it's 1700 kids now'! Should be a fun first day of school here in Thorncliffe Park!!

The sayings of Lukas v37 - First loose tooth

Check this out!! On Sunday Lukas lost his first tooth!! Sadly it got stuck in his lunch and was swallowed :( We asked him what he was going to do and how the tooth fairy was going to find the tooth. Without skipping a beat Lukas looked at us and said:

Guys, the tooth fairy is not real!! You're grown ups you should know that!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sutherland son!

Just got the good news that Dave & Amy Sutherland welcomed a brand new baby boy into the world tonight!! We got a call around 5PM that they were going to the hospital and then at 7PM we got a short message from Dave saying 'it's a boy!'. More details to follow!

**UPDATE** The 7lb 8oz baby boy was given the name Caleb Jonathan Sutherland

**UPDATE2** Pictures now online - click here

Praying for a bomber

There's alot of discussion in the blogsphere about this Lebanese bomber that caused all the commotion Friday and wether or not he's a terrorist. I haven't really thought much about this because...well who cares. People are evil by nature and will do bad things. Is this somehow news? Or is it just news because it's one of 'those people' (read: Muslims)

On Friday we continued with church as usual here in Thorncliffe Park. Every Friday we meet at our apartment for church, a communal meal, prayer and visiting friends in the neighbourhood. Every week people come to visit, share, eat and start to love this area that is filled with 'those people'. We prayed on Friday night for the bomber. I hope that is our reaction when we see things like this happening. I hope we don't find ourselves whining and complaining about 'these people'.

Let's not see this as a curse, but a blessing! God is bringing these people here so we and our super-wonderful western christianity (we think that way don't we?) can help them...right? We're not running away to the suburbs to make sure 'these people' don't get near us...right? How can we say we are following Jesus' example if we remove ourselves from danger, suffering and anything that looks like 'taking up our cross'?

Let me encourage all of you who are following Jesus to move closer to danger. Closer to a terrorist. Closer to suffering. Closer to a place where people will hurt you. That's what Jesus did. He was motivated by love for his enemies and that's why he uttered 'Father forgive them' as they were brutally murdering him. Jesus did not mutter 'Father could you please strike 'these people' down!', as some are muttering under their breaths about 'these people' that are flooding our country.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lots of news stories popping up today about Thorncliffe Park. Hopefully there are just as many prayers going up!