Monday, September 24, 2012

Last week I was received by the Canadian government as a Permanent Resident. This process has consumed 2.5 of the 3 years we've lived here. My card is in the mail and as soon as it arrives, I'm going to visit America. I haven't even seen her soil since February 25th, 2010.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Update on Life

Hello folks. I don't often say much about what's going on in life, so I thought, "Hey, why not?".

After finally getting my Work Visa in January, and job hunting for 2 months, I landed a decent job at a locally owned upscale furniture store here in Kelowna. After a month on the job I can honestly say it's mostly very enjoyable. It's fairly stress-free, I was a really quick study into the furniture field, and I seem to have an acceptable knack for sales at this level. I say "this level" because it's quite a far-cry from even the priciest stuff at Toys R Us. I'm hoping after the next month or two to re-evaluate my current compensation and maybe add a little commission. That would be nice.

I had the joy of working with a genius retail consultant my first 3 weeks here. He and I got along really well and  he was pretty successful in convincing me that I could be more ambitious in my work-life. It was encouraging and humbling at the same time to hear that I was really bright, creative, personable, etc. but that I perhaps have not challenged myself enough. Those 3 weeks with Geoff the consultant-turned-career-coach were really inspiring. I'm thankful to be able to maintain that friendship.

Last night Carly and I made it out to a movie (thanks to Elizabeth's Canadian Grandparents). We saw The King's Speech. I thought it was a pretty good movie, but my perspective on it is different than some because I grew up a "stutter-er" (it still challenges me to this day, however slightly). I guess maybe I wanted the film to shed light on some old-fashioned-but-effective cure for stuttering, but it didn't. It was the same ol' "healthy, confident, people with no emotional problems don't stutter, but people who do stutter have Daddy-issues and blah blah. I'm over-simplifying it, I know, and the King may have had a tough time with his family, but I didn't. ANYWAY...This isn't supposed to be about stuttering.

It was an excellent movie. I highly recommend it.

Speaking of Elizabeth (parenthetically at least), she is doing great. I believe she's verging on teeth, so that's really the only challenge other than keeping up with the black-hole known as laundry. Carly and I are enjoying being parents. I love just working a regular ol' job, and Carly is enjoying being at home and taking care of the family. We're so domesticated. But to keep the creative juices flowing...

Barnett Photography (name subject to change) is coming along. We purchased some equipment this spring, and we've booked some couples, some children, and a wedding...It's a good start and we're really enjoying it.

Anyway, that's about it. Sorry I didn't get all theologically long-winded or politically esoteric, or blah blah...Sometimes your own life is enough to deal with.

See ya' next time.

OH, and I re-designed my blog a bit. It's more of an update. But here it is. The picture at the top was taken at my work. I sincerely believe we sell the coolest couches.
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Barnett Photography

A photograph is like the recipe - a memory the finished dish.  ~Carrie Latet

My wife and I have begun a small business over the last few months. Barnett Photography has been building itself slowly through a little work here and there. I'm really proud of what we've accomplished lately and I feel like it's getting a bit of a groove. Anyway, our blog launched this weekend, so we're promoting it through the various and sundry outlets available on the internets. I thought I'd spread the word to you, the blog readers. I know things have been slow here, but it's because things have been happening elsewhere. So with that...Go enjoy the fruits of our labor, and email us if you're interested in some work being done for you or your family....or your friends...or your know...whatever.

This is our blog.

This is our facebook.

This is our twitter. 

Add us. Follow us. Be our friend. Spread the word. Thank you. I am in your debt.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bubble Creek Canyon

I saw this floating around the interwebz today.

I think I've met people who think this would be a good idea.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wikileak this!

"In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble." -Ron Paul
"They're closing in on the wikileaks guy, but not Osama Bin Laden. That's really all you need to know." -Blaine Capatch
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein
I'm somewhat fascinated with this Wikileaks drama. I'll say from the outset that as it stands now, I'm supportive of Julian Assange and what he's trying to do. But, I can be swayed. So if you disagree, please, sway me. But I think there are some questions this drama brings up. I'd like to ask those questions.
Will the increase of information available on the internet force openness within governments? Or will governments just go to greater lengths to hide their actions?
What if a government could no longer "cover-up" because the accurate information would be readily available soon enough anyway?
How long before the internet becomes so tightly controlled by governments that it becomes useless for anything other than propaganda? Is Wikileaks moving us in that direction?
Could the internet be regulated in that way even if they tried? Wikileaks is a good example of the proliferation of information despite opposition. Just check out how many servers are now hosting Wikileaks.
 I'm not just talking about America. But I do think America should be an example of openness and honesty in governance. The sad truth is that American history is rife with examples of secrets, deception, covert operations all over the world. Just doing our share, really. Every developed nation is partaking in the fun.
 But what if more and more, our knowledge is increased because someone wasn't afraid to tell us what's going on? I guess, all government operations could be done word-of-mouth with no incriminating documents. But perhaps not. And if not, would that force honesty within world governments?
I understand that some people are upset. Bill O' Reilly has called for Julian Assange to be executed. But I also understand that exposing what's done in the dark is the only way to hold the "doer" accountable. Governments aren't accountable to the people at all. Because we can't know what it is that they do. Until now.
Right now, I couldn't care less about enemies and wars and terrorists. What Americans don't seem to understand, is that terrorists do not have to kill anybody do their job. We just have to live in terror. If we live in terror, the terrorists win. Every time we let another one of our rights be subverted in the name of safety, the terrorist wins. Airport body scanners. TSA employees feeling you up. Color-coded terror alert systems. The Patriot Act. Homeland Security. It's as though the terrorists have employed these measures themselves. What do they do? They keep us afraid.
We live in terror.
(I live in Canada. Substantially less terror here. I ask myself why? Canada is free. Canada has bikinis and Baby Gap and rock n roll. Why don't they hate Canada?)
Where was I? I've heard it said that information made available through Wikileaks puts us in danger. To much openness puts us in danger of losing military advantage. Losing lives. That remains to be seen. I can tell you that we've lost 5,644 military lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's more than 9/11, The U.S. Embassy Bombings, and the USS Cole attack put together (Osama Bin Laden is believed responsible for all those attacks).
I am more interested in honesty. Openness. Information. Not just in the U.S. In the world. I'm ready for a disgruntled Brit to unlock the U.K. A smart Jew to expose Israel. I want the information on Iraq, Russia, Canada, Sweden, China, Greenland... If you can't hide anything, then there is nothing to hide. What would happen if documents from all over the world were released? World War 3? Perhaps. I certainly wouldn't want that. But, I can't stand government secrecy. Maybe if they did what I voted them in to do, but by-and-large...they don't. So I want to know what it is that they do...Do.

Until they can tell me, I'll keep perusing the Wikileaks files. 
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Are Not David!

From 1 Samuel 17
"And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled."

When I was in Jr. high and high school, I used to go nearly every year to a Christian week-end retreat camp called Sky Ranch. It happened every March. I have many fond memories of this place. Water slides, canoeing, rope was pretty fun.
 Of course, this Christian camp was not all fun and games, right? We had "services" in the afternoon and at night. And after the Saturday night service (the last one), we would all walk down to this big fire pit and sit around discussing our weekend.
 One year, the Saturday service must have had a sermon on 1 Samuel 17. I don't remember the sermon at all. Not a word. I don't even remember if 1 Samuel 17 was the text. What I do remember is that when we all walked down to the fire pit, we walked with a piece of paper in our hands that contained a word or two about some "giant" we were facing. In a word or two, we wrote down some thing, some Goliath in our lives, some situation or sin that was causing us to have a difficult time at home or at school. Once around the fire, we were given the chance to get up in front of everybody (if we wanted to, or better yet, if we "felt led" to) and (tastefully) talk about our "giant" and how, with God's help, we would slay the mighty beast. For a bunch of ninth and tenth graders, this type of thing is generally a mention of a boyfriend/girlfriend we needed to dump for God's Glory, or how we needed to be a better Christian at school, or how we needed better friends because bad character corrupts badly (or something). Of course there were some truly heart breaking stories of abuse, illness, busted families. I do not want to make light of sad situations so I'll move on...
 The point was that in this story, we play the part of David and our troubles play the part of a formidable foe named Goliath.

That story is not this story.

About a month ago I read a wonderfully titled article in a favorite magazine of mine called, "You're So Vain You Probably Think This Text Is About You". That idea was the theme of the issue. I read it and was reminded of a sermon I heard (and remembered!) from 2007. This sermon came fully 10 years after the Camp experience. My pastor was preaching through 1 Samuel. When he got to chapter 17, we all got to hear another sermon about David and Goliath. But what he said was quite the opposite of what we learned(?) at camp. I can summarize in 4 words.


This was a mind blower for me. He said if we must compare ourselves to anyone in this passage we must compare ourselves to the fearful and unable Israelites. I learned that the story of David and Goliath is a story of rescue and redemption. David plays the part of Christ who fights and wins for us. We do nothing to contribute to the victory. Christ alone is victorious. Goliath doesn't represent a promotion we seek, or a brake job we can't afford, or even a broken family. He played a part in a story that demonstrates the power and effectiveness of our Lord's salvation for His people. If a lesson must be found, let it be this lesson.

When we read old testament narratives we are tempted to look for the "moral lesson". What can we learn from this? How can we apply this to our lives in a modern way? Keith Mathison said,

"However well intentioned such preachers may be, handling the Scriptures in this manner conditions people to treat the stories of the Bible in a way not unlike Aesop's Fables."

To be sure, there are "moral lessons" to be learned from Scripture and I don't mean to take away from that. But injecting life application where it isn't takes away from the greater purpose of Scripture. That purpose is to teach Christ and Him crucified. The salvation for God's people.
 Sometimes God is not saying "Here's a lesson for you." Sometimes God is showing His great love for for us that while we were still sinners He sent His son to die for us.

P.S. If you've never read the old testament looking for the types and shadows of Christ, I encourage you to do that. For example, Abraham and his son Isaac is less about how we need to be faithful to God even to the point of killing our own children. Abraham learned that God provides the sacrifice our sins. Abraham's son would never be able to pay the debt. The story is a shadow of Christ. How God sends His own Son, a spotless Lamb to die in our place. Try  reading the Bible this way. I think you'll like it.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Child Raising

I will be the first person in my family (at least in the last couple hundred years) to raise my children in a solidly Reformed Christian home. I realized this a few weeks ago. It got me excited. I was raised in a good Christian home. I love my parents and we've always had (and enjoy even more to this day) a good relationship. I'm thankful for all their sacrifices and hard work put into raising three boys. But by the providence of God, our house, growing up, was not reformed. We just weren't aware of solid orthodox Christianity. We are now, as adults, just not when I was growing up.
 So I have a unique opportunity to begin a great and Godly tradition. A tradition with solid reformed principles, of Soteriology, Eschatology, Apologetics, Biblical interpretation, Corporate Worship, Family Worship, and the myriad of ways that Reformed Theology can influence a home and a person.

 Our Gracious God and Father,

     I pray that even as You form my child in the womb, You would be pleased to perform a saving work in that child's heart and mind. I pray that when my child is born, You would convict them of their sin, show them their unrighteousness and their need of Christ as the substitutionary atonement of their sin. I pray that You would help Carly and I to raise them in fear and admonition of You. I pray that they would obey Your commands and that their obedience would be wrought of love for You and Your law. I thank You, our Father, for the covenant You have instituted with Your people. I pray You would honor Your covenant and draw us nigh to Your throne, be it at our death, or Your return.

 In Christ's name I pray.


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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life, The Bible, and Zach Payne

"You can take wretch and make it beautiful, can You take a wretch like me? You can take whore and make her white as snow, can You take a whore like me? Write Your name on my heart so I cannot forget." 
-Zach Payne

There's this record by a guy named Zach Payne. I don't know many people that know of Zach Payne, and if I hadn't been at the right place (Oklahoma) at the right time (March 2007) I wouldn't know who he is either. I was playing drums for a band in Oklahoma at the time and our guitar player's brother was working on this record for a guy named Zach Payne.

Commuting back and forth between Beaumont, Tx and Oklahoma City, Ok was terrible. I spent too much money on gas, too much on car repairs, and there was often too much downtime while I was there, so I wasn't playing shows, but I couldn't be home working either. But I had a great time. Played a ton of shows throughout the United States and met some really spectacular people who I'm proud to call my friends.

View Larger Map

Highlights include the first show I played for them. We were the opening act of a decent sized festival. We were on the bill with bands like, Reliant K, Grits, Remedy Drive (<--ok not that big of a deal), etc. I had only learned the songs at home to a cd. Then I drove the 8 hours so the band could practice twice, then we left for Iowa for the festival. Our singer got super sick and basically lost all that makes his voice good, I barely knew the songs, I was nervous of course...then I walked on stage to play at 11am in the morning to see three thousand people looking at the stage.

Looking at us.

Expecting us to be...well...good.

To say we were good would be generous. Poor singer was really sporting a raspyness reminiscent of Kathrine Hepburn, so we had to cut a couple songs, which meant to fill the time spot we would have to jam on a couple songs for longer than we'd practiced. I gooyed only one part of the entire set. And it was one of those "musician's mistakes" so regular folks wouldn't have caught it anyway. For that I'm proud. ANYWAY....

So I got myself a copy of Zach Payne's first record. Before it was "released", though that would be a generous term considering there would be no record label, no promotion, no CD's in would pretty well have to know someone who knew someone to get it anyway. I knew someone, who knew someone, who knew Zach Payne, so I burned myself a copy of it (later I got it again, only this time on Itunes).

The album (titled simply, Zach Payne) kinda blew me away. It wasn't quite modern worship music (for that I was thankful), but it was certainly thematically "Christian". Musically, the record shifted easily between indie rock, acoustic, indie whatever...There are as many real instruments used as there are programmed sounds. From anthemic U2 esque sounds to simple acoustic numbers, to elements of a drum & bass sound. Vocally, Zach Payne sounds like kinda like a broken, dirty, indie Leeland Mooring. This is a complement. There is a lo-fi quality in his singing and it's entirely refreshing.

Each song stands well enough alone, but (like most albums) the songs sounds best in context of each other.

Theologically, I have zero issue with entire record. There isn't a line in it that I couldn't sing with conviction. He takes the subject of our Christian life and breathes honesty into it without reserve.

So yesterday, I turned on this record and was reminded of all the reasons I love it. I listened to it at least 3 times yesterday and once far (listening right now).

"Who can restrain the voice of Justice? Who can deny His mighty deeds? Who can bring about a charge against Him? Who will set us free from sin and death? Who will turn our shame to righteousness? Who will turn our mourning into dance?"

The themes throughout the record are close to my heart. He tackles the Sovereignty of God and his own inability do good. But it's the daily struggle I think he hits right on the head. One song he energetically sings, "I will not be silent, till praise goes before You." and on another singing, "When I'm drowning, lift my head above the wave so I can breathe."

And this is honestly, how we feel. My Christianity is certainly a roller-coaster. I get bad attitudes I lose my temper. I do selfish things. I say mean things. I think mean things. My own depravity surprises me sometimes. Truly each of us is perfectly capable of committing even the most heinous acts.

Except for one thing that prevents complete and utter hell in our hearts. And that is the faithfulness of our Lord. 

I have heard one-too-many sermons in my youth dealing with the unfaithfulness of humans. This is a given. Up and down is the way it is. It is the grace of God that we ever experience "up".

In one or two hundred (feels like) of these sermons I was told, I needed to "make a commitment...Summer camp is over and it seems some of you aren't as 'on fire' for God as you were at Summer camp!"

To which I reply, DUH. That was Summer camp. It's easy to be faithful when there's a thousand of you there for a week, all trying to see who can glorify God the most. Never, growing up, (at least not until 11th grade) did I hear a youth pastor say, "Hey guys, let's look the apostle Paul for an accurate account of what to expect from from us and from God."

So hey guys, let's look at the apostle Paul.

When Paul said in Romans, "Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?" I don't think he was at summer camp. I don't think Paul ever went to summer camp. 

Prison, yes. Summer camp, No.

What I think, is that Paul understood that humans, even himself, are not faithful. We are not faithful to God nor each other. But God is faithful to us. Paul said,

 "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."

Our lives are a roller coaster because our hearts are a roller coaster. There is sanctification, and God does wonderful things to our hearts when He puts His Holy Spirit in our hearts. But like the hymn writer said, "Prone to wonder Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."

But God is rich in mercy. God is faithful. God is good.

P.S. Summer camps are awesome. I look forward to the day I can send my children to a wonderful, solidly reformed, summer camp.

P.S.S. You can buy Zach's album here on ITUNES. He has a new record out, that's not available online (that I know of). You can write him and request a copy. Zach says every dollar he makes goes to Missions to further the Gospel and into his music fund to make more records.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The "Heart" of Worship

" Relevance is not achieved by conformance to the world, it is achieved by conformance to God's Word."
-Gabriel H

There is a very funny and convicting video that is circulating the web "viral style" among Christians. It's called Sunday Morning.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

I saw this exactly a week ago, I think, from a Presbyterian friend of mine. If I were a good blogger I would've commented on it then. But I'm a little slow on the trigger sometimes so here I am.

Anyone who knows me, knows I do not attend a church even remotely like this. My opinion is that this type of service comes across as vapid and hollow no matter what the heart's intention.

Don't get mad.

Just my opinion.

It's not "my style".

But I do think a video like this can remind us that Church can so easily become about the church goer exclusively. We say what we want, how we want, when we want (Saturday night service for the weekend late sleeper). The completely un-ironic earnestness of this attempt at relevancy is not in question. We know that these people truly desire to have their "heart" in the "right place" when it comes to the worship service.

But is the question of the heart's motive the only question?

Is God concerned with both the ends and the means?

We are required to worship God.

Does God require us to worship Him a certain way?

It's not in question that this was true for the Israelites. I've been reading Exodus and God has been instructing the construction and design of His temple.

God was very precise.

The size, shape and materials were all dictated. Later I'll be reading precisely what was expected to take place and how the people were to approach a Holy God.

How do you think Church should look today?

Do you think God has instruction for the Christian believer?

Does only the "heart" of the worshiper matter?

Do the means by which we worship God matter as well?

I have my thoughts. But I'm asking you.