Wednesday, June 11, 2008

from the psalms

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a]

I will say [b] of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Global warming? You should visit Ottawa today!

While I do believe that global warming is an issue that concerns all humans on this planet because statistics show that it is happening, this fall/winter in Ottawa tells a different story.

For a month straight, we have had some pretty serious weather come through here and after the past 3 days with temperatures down to -15 like they used to be way back when before anybody gave any thought to climate change, it would make even the staunchest kyoto-friendly people like myself experience shivers of doubt about climate change. Heh!

About a year ago, an older gentleman jokingly said that he thought global warming was a joke that the world was playing on us damn Canucks to keep us living in some of the coldest parts of the world waiting for the day that things will get warmer.

Trying to shovel the driveway to create a way for me to get my car out of the mess this morning got me thinking about that conversation again. :)

now the real challenge shall be getting back home after the salted roads have had the chance to freeze over! yaay! :(

blackberry pearl

So... I got one last weekend!

After months - probably years - of lusting after every single blackberry pearl out there, I finally convinced the "powers that be" that I should get one for myself because it shall be good for my already extremely connected life. Truth be told, I was sotra arm-twisted (some willingness on my part) by the pushy cute asian sales lady that the "powers that be" absolutely hated... heh!

Now I await my first phone call in a public place or email in a public place that shall allow me to floss my new toy. Of course it's nothing like the iPhone, but then again, we in the great white North (and it is unbelievably white today) are going to be waiting a LOOOONG time for that Jesus phone.

Off to show make my boss jealous!

Monday, November 12, 2007

sicko... and other thoughts it has triggered

I'll have to admit that after watching Michael Moore's 2nd "documentary" (quotes purposely used), I figured that it would be a while before I picked up my copy of "bowling for colombine" or watched another movie of his again.

While I understand that Bush - and you all know who I am talking about - is an ASS, I felt that Michael Moore overestimated the power of a movie and was trying to use his unique position as a good movie maker to make a political statement. I go to the movies to willfully suspend disbelief... not to get depressed about the world situation. More to it, I am not able to do anything about the state of affairs in the US because I am proudly Ugandan, proudly Canadian and have no intention of adding "US citizen" to my long list of life achievements.

Like I said, I decided that it would be a while till I saw another michael moore movie... until I was standing at the video rental store earlier today and realized that the only recent release left for me to watch was his most recent movie - sicko.


So after 1 hour 58 minutes of horror at the US medical situation juxtaposed with smugness about the fact that my exorbitantly high tax pays for my semi-cushy medicare, I started to think about 2 things:

1. A British man with an accent and demeanor that made you respect him and take everything he said as the "gospel truth" said this (I'm paraphrasing here): Democracy is the most radical idea in history because it takes the power from the rich and places it in the hands of the poor. Whoa! Think of Uganda - a country that is officially on the list of the world's 25 least developed countries... imagine what kind of change the poor and so-called ignorant people could effect if they took democracy seriously. While I think Uganda's political situation and presidential aspirants offer a little less than smoke, dust and ashes in return for the vote of the people, theoretically if there was a person that truly cared for the country... cared that it succeeds in development... theoretically, couldnt such a person rally the poor and oppressed of such a country and make then an unstoppable force of change?

2. I realized that even though the development situation in Uganda is NIL except for the patches that they are putting on the capital city and international airport in preparation for CHOGM (non-ugandans will not understand this), WE HAD CHEAP MEDICATION! From now on, I am buying ALL prescribed medicine from third world countries - preferably those with access to Indian pharmaceutical companies. Heh!


this facebook thing

I finally gave in and opened a facebook account... OH NO!

I now have 56 friends and right now, all the people that are listed as friends within my profile are people that I have actually been "friends" with except for one guy whose guts I hated... don't get me started on that one!

It's funny because while I think of myself as a great conversationalist in person, I do not think that I am that great online. I have people asking me all sorts of questions like

How's ottawa?

I feel like answering, "How in the hell am I supposed to know? I'm too busy to notice!"

Or the other day... So, tell me about your wife...

Well, do you have all day? I am pretty sure that you do not, but if you would like me to ramble on and on about her every attribute, then go get a drink and some popcorn and be prepared to sit here for 2 days. Seriously! I think they're just making conversation.

But it got me thinking about the whole point of this facebook thing. It is supposedly a "social networking site" but all it has done up to this point is connect me to my family in one other way, and a whole bunch of people who I was too busy to get in touch with, or who I just gave up on being friends with because my life had moved on and they were no longer a part of it. My network has not grown, my social life has not improved (not that I want it to... I am married, remember?), and the only thing that has changed is that I am spending less time wasting "company hours" reading the news and more on facebook.

Growing up in a society that was extremely interconnected (meaning all-up-in-each-others-business), I can understand how a phenomenon like facebook is attractive. It allows us to be even more interconnected and make meaningless conversation just to keep the connection and have stories to tell... if you do not believe me, then you should look through my trash mail to find the number of invitations to facebook I have received from people living in a country with atrocious internet access. It is literally dumbfounding.

Now that I live in a society that desires to be as interconnected as the one I grew up in, but is unfortunately far more secluded and individualistic, I can see the other side of the benefit of such a website. It helps to create the facade of community and networking... but are we any closer than we were before? Aren't we still running off to our quiet secluded homes to "socialize"? Aren't we still just as lonely as we were before even as our "friends" multiply on the internet?

The other day I heard that facebook sold for $250 million. OMG! Reminds me of the days in the not too distant past when IT companies were valued at more than what they were really worth and it only took a little consumer discomfort to disclose how inflated their value was. I would know. I was an unemployed IT person. Facebook is not worth $250 million... NO WAY JOSE! Are we sure it's even making a profit? Feel free to educate me.

Alas, my time is up here and I must return like a faithfully brainwashed person to the confines of social networking and facebook and try to come up with a creative answer to the question:

So what's new with you?

Friday, October 19, 2007

i know... i know...

Taking my car in for the 16k checkup and servicing and all that was going through my head was how much it will cost and whether I will be left with any money to take care of bills and debt that I have racked up...

I cannot count the number of articles that I have read about "getting rid of debt" and yet when it gets down to it, the simple disciplines that are required to get out of it are somehow spectacularly lacking in me. I walk around wearing the exterior of somebody that has it together and yet finances are out of control and generally speaking, I do not feel like I have a handle on whats happening in my life or where it's going...

The news in the industry, banking and econ world is that North America has racked up debt that is unsustainable and with more and more people declaring bankrupcy banks need rescuing more and more because they are left holding the bag... of debt. We're borrowing more and more money from economies that are not known to be stable in order to sustain the standard of living that we have here and as banks and financing institutions start to get nervous, everybody is predicting a recession of some sort.

I guess that my financial situation is a microcosm of the larger picture - debt that is unmanageable - and so I have to borrow more and more to take care of a life that I have decided I need.

When I was in my last year at university, I stumbled across a concept that has been around for a long time... only this time instead of reading it in a book, I thought it up all by myself. We work because we need to eat, we eat because we need to live, and we live to work. I found that no matter which way you looked at it, I was bound to start the slippery slope down the path of working to sustain a life that I was acustomed to, but could not afford. I loved to have milk in my tea, but my salary would not be enough for me to have milk in my tea everyday... but I had become so accustomed to it that I could not fathom a day without it. And so I resigned myself to the vicious cycle of working to eat and knowing that my work could not pay for what I wanted to eat, so I had to keep on living in debt just to eat!

I know... I know...

I'm not the only person trapped in this... and somebody is going to try to lecture me about debt and put me on the path to get out of it... but...


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

we wooooorship you looooord!

Besides being extremely impressed at my sister's blog which every Ugandan (remotely patriotic and slightly cynical) should read..., I find myself asking questions about the work I do and the mundane sameness from week to week.

I'm a musician (at least I think I am) and my primary responsibility is to make sure that the worship experience of a large (1500) group of people is relatively meaningful and well put-together. Every week, 5 songs into the set, after the announcements and offering have rudely interrupted my flow and I am desperately attempting to bring everybody in the auditorium onto the same page in worship, somebody walks on stage and takes over my well-planned worship set and leads in a time of "spontaneous" worship in which I am given orders about what songs to sing and obediently play the piano as a backdrop to this time of spontaneous worship

It always starts with the individual stretching out his hands (stereotypical worship posture), asking the congregation to do the same and a phrase that I have come to loathe - not because of what it says, but because of the irritating fact that I KNOW it is coming...

"we woooooorship you looooord" - F#..... D..... for those of you that get it

I work in a worship community that likes to think of themselves as cutting edge, spirit filled, fresh, and charismatic and yet week after week, I find myself in a community that would rather be dull, stale and predictable; the above mentioned weekly episode being a prime example


If the general sentiment is that things are OK where they are, what in the world am I doing trying to create unique, different, and meaningful worship experiences? Why does my job exist here?

Because I am consumed with matters pertaining my faith, I find that I am also prone to looking at all the initiatives that I am involved in through a critical and sometimes negative lens.

In 2 weeks, I shall lead a worship and prayer event in the nations capital - an event that is supposed to bring together christians from all across the region for the sole purpose of worshipping and praying in unity and then watching what God does.

This year we have placed special emphasis on a service project as a way to tangibly show that we are not gathering together in unity just for the sake of it... we want to make this unity count.

I love the idea that we need to put hands and feet to all the talk that we do about loving our city and wanting to have a tangible impact in it... but the emphasis on this service project has birthed in my mind a nagging question about the whole initiative. The worship and prayer initiative was started with the sole purpose of bringing together people from all denominations and persuasions under the unifying banner of worship and prayer in the promise that is found in scripture; if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray... seek my face and turn from their wicked ways... then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.

Doesn't it seem a little wierd that the main focus of the event this year is not the worship and prayer, but the service project?

Does it mean that we have lost the childlike, naiive faith that praying about something can actually change it?

Isnt it extremely telling that in a society that emphasizes "results" a ministry whose results are going to be a long time in coming and relatively unmeasurable by conventional means would resort to a "simpler" way out?

What is most interesting is that there is no board of directors looking over our shoulders and asking why there have been no results since we started. I wonder if the enormity of the task of the ministry, coupled with the fact that it is a long-term initiative just dawned on my fellow leaders. The truth of the matter is that a worship and prayer initiative that sees any real results is going to take more than the 7 years that this ministry has been in existence. The truth of the matter is that "results" have already been seen - one of them being that annually, over 2000 christians gather in a city that is decidedly post-christian to worship and pray together in unity. The truth of the matter is that pastors all across the NCR (Except for fringe groups and denominations) will tell you that there is a growing sense of unity not only within denominations such as the fellowship baptist and the pentecostal assemblies, but even across denominations. The truth of the matter is that the process of turning the tide against culture and popular opinion is a long, hard road that the church here has to walk and subtly moving the focus from worship and prayer to doing service projects is an indication that the original ideal that the ministry had is too high a bar to scale... When you start to put yourself into the playing field of service projects, you realize that the field is crowded with giants making more of an impact than you, a fledgling ministry ever could... which is why it did not start out that way.

I contend that our real area of influence... the area - the playing field - in which we are supposed to see results is a spiritual one first. One that allows us to then see results in the physical... but the spiritual battle for turf in our city has not yet been won... and this battle has to be won before the hearts of people will be turned to God. Local churches across the city are SERIOUSLY reaching out to their neighborhoods in small and large service projects, but while they come to our events, eat our hot dogs, drink our pop and play on our bouncy castles, they still mock us, ridicule us, and call us hypocrites.

A worship and prayer initiative should take into account that the change starts INSIDE the church first before it flows out or else our dysfunction is put on display for all to see and our outreach events are mocked and despised. This is why the scripture talks about "my people" because the transformation has to be inward. If the change happens inside the church in such a powerful way that it cannot be contained and subsequently spills out in evangelism, service projects and outreach events, then it has happened naturally. However, if the change has not happened internally and churches are still fighting over geographical turf and disgruntled people are migrating from one church to another, even though we may engineer a giant service project, the impact that it is supposed to have in the hearts and minds of the people we hope to bring into the kingdom of God will be lost because the world can still see our dysfunction and the transformation we hope to see will not happen.

Oh well...

perhaps the next post will be more coherent.