Thursday, September 28, 2006

New Grocery Store

A new grocery store opened in Kanata yesterday. I went today, and it was pretty much a zoo. This is Loblaws attempt to compete with Walmart and Costco. Yes, it does have groceries (although it is not much better as a grocery store than the grocery store it is replacing), but it also has sections selling housewares, appliances, linens, and electronics. There is also a photo lab, a portrait studio, a wine store, a fitness club, a medical clinic, etc. The one thing I didn't see was PC Financial. Anyway, it was a zoo despite the presence of a dozen security guards and a police car standing by.

One amusing moment. The guy who was in line before me came back to the cashier. "Yo dude. How come my total before taxes was $213 and my total after taxes was $290? That's a lot of taxes!" The cashier looked at it, called over a Manager, and the Manager then realized he had a problem he needed to manage. Evidently there is a little problem with their computer. I checked and I had no taxable items on my bill.

Legal System vs Justice System

Today a 21 year old woman had charges against her dropped by a Judge. She was behind the wheel of a car that crashed, killing one of the passengers. She admitted to drinking that night, saying she had only drank one beer. The Crown had two failed breathalyzer tests against her but the Judge ruled them inadmissible because the police officers did not have sufficient grounds for administering the test. Insufficient grounds. A wrecked car, a dead passenger, admission of drinking, but according to our legal system insufficient grounds. Once again I state that we have a legal system, but we do not have a justice system.

A radio commentator was talking the other day with one of the City Councilors, about a murder on one of the city buses. The Councilor said that very soon plainclothes police officers would be riding some of the buses. The commentator asked what the point would be in arresting people because the courts would just turn them lose, and the Councilor wholeheartedly agreed. I wonder if the Judges in our legal system are aware that we the people have lost confidence in them? Do our politicians understand that we want criminals arrested and doing serious time in unpleasant jails?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday Afternoon Tea

This afternoon we were invited out for English Tea. A friend of ours lives way out in the country down a dirt road and down a long driveway to the large log house he built himself. The house itself has a Great Room which is about 30x20 with 16 foot ceilings and a large picture window that overlooks the Carp Escarpment, the Gatineau Hills and the Ottawa River. There was an amazing view and it was amazingly quiet and peaceful.

The home contained artifacts, pottery and furniture from all over the world. I looked and one plate was filled with ancient coins (and I don’t just mean old. I think some of the coins were a couple thousand years old).

In addition to tea (after all it was a tea) we had a cake made with dates, a cake made with mandarin oranges, a gingerbread made with Lyles Golden Syrup from England, and for dessert(!) fresh raspberries picked last night with ice cream.

But as wonderful as the meal was, the best part was just having the chance to chat with some friends. My mother-in-law looked after the children for us and so we were able to just spend a couple of hours in very pleasant company and very pleasant conversation.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stephen Harper at the UN

Stephen Harper addressed the United Nations today. Predictably the various opposition parties demonstrated their need to insult our intelligence by looking for a cheap sound bite. Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc, said Harper should have addressed trade, climate change and cultural diversity. Liberal MP Keith Martin said Harper should have addressed Darfur and AIDS, and indeed should have made a plea for intervention in Darfur. Ignoring the fact that intervention in Darfur would certainly involve our troops in another shooting war, we should remember the fact that Harper was given 15 minutes to speak. Yes, in addition to talking about our major foreign policy issue (Afghanistan) Harper should have addressed trade, climate change, cultural diversity, AIDS and Darfur in a meaningful way in the 15 minutes he was allowed. And then of course the very same complainers would be saying Harper showed no leadership, had too many agendas and dealt with problems in a superficial manner. Now it doesn't surprise me when politicians look for a cheap sound bite. My scorn is reserved for those who stick a microphone in the face of these people and then pretend that what they say is really newsworthy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Disclaimer: I can’t claim all the following thoughts are original. Some come from “Renewing Your Mind in a Mindless World” by James Montgomery Boice. Some are found in other books and blogs. And a few of these ideas are my original embellishments.

As Christians we do ourselves a disservice when we view worldliness as a set of sinful , unholy or unsanctified actions. For example, some denominations have made dancing or movie theatres an issue of fellowship. If you participate in “the dance” or “the theatre” you are considered carnal and are put out of fellowship. And this is too bad, not because dancing or theatres are necessarily helpful for the Christian, but because this uses legalism to attack the manifestations of worldliness. Legalism always seems like the quickest path to spirituality, but it never accomplishes anything of real spiritual worth. Furthermore we distract ourselves from the real issue when we attack the manifestations of worldliness rather than attacking worldliness itself.

Worldliness is best understood as a world view. It is a world view based on secularism, and it uses materialism, pragmatism, humanism, relativism, pluralism and hedonism as the means to accomplish a secular goal. Worldliness seeks to advance a secularist agenda, which means that we are to understand the world, live in the world, use the world and relate to the world in a manner that pretends that God does not exist or is not relevant to everyday life.

Because worldliness is a world view, a specific set of actions that a church bans cannot attack the root of worldliness. And it doesn’t matter if you are using rank legalism to attack the manifestations, or whether you are attacking the manifestations from the purest of spiritual motives. Attacking the manifestations is like swinging your sword through smoke. It accomplishes nothing.

It is only when we start to think like Christians that we have a hope of slaying the root of worldliness, for when we think like Christians about everyday life we banish the influence of secularism. Rather than pretending that God doesn’t exist or is not relevant to everyday life, we start to see God at the center of everyday life. And then we start to think about everyday objects, everyday events and everyday activities in a Christian manner. At that point a new world opens up to us. It is a world filled with real spirituality, not the mere semblance of spirituality that legalism provides. Finally we are unshackled to achieve Christian liberty, not the rules and chains of legalism.

Perhaps the most striking thing to notice about this freedom is that those who are bound by legalism will think that you have cast off spirituality in favour of worldliness. But they have it all wrong. You have cast off worldliness as a worldview and so have freedom in Christ. When you are thinking like a Christian and relating to the world like a Christian, the occasional visit to a movie theatre or sporting event or afternoon spent talking to the neighbour about your lawn will have no affect on your spiritual state.

The corollary of trying to use legalism to achieve victory over worldliness is found in the attempts by Christians to achieve spiritual goals and meet spiritual objectives through secular means. Take for example homeschooling. Christians can homeschool in a secular manner (even while using Christian curriculum) and try to achieve goals that only true spirituality can achieve. Homeschooling can be seen as a goal in and of itself. Or homeschooling can be seen as the primary means of building families or making our children useful to the Lord. I’m personally convinced that when done properly (if we are really approaching homeschooling as Christians and thinking about it like Christians) homeschooling can be a means of blessing from God. But this will only happen if our hope is in Christ and not on homeschooling.

This tendency of Christians to try to achieve spiritual goals and meet spiritual objectives through secular means can also be seen in churches. For many, spiritual achievement is measured by the 3 B’s (budgets, baptisms and buildings); all of which are easy to measure but none of which define real spirituality. The fact is real spirituality cannot be measured. It can be seen. It can be experienced. It can be recognized. But it CANNOT be measured. And if you are trying to measure spirituality you will be driving all the wrong behaviours. Call me foolish or prideful, but I know enough about human nature to be able to build the biggest “3 B” church around, if I did not care about encouraging real spirituality. In fact, anyone who sits down and thinks about it for 5 minutes could also create a “3 B” mega-church.

So what are we going to do? Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch and pretend we have achieved a superior spirituality? Crack down on those who dare violate the dictates of legalism, all the while relating to this world in a secular manner? Or will we recognize worldliness for what it is; a world view based on secularism that tries to get us to relate to the world in a manner that pretends that God does not exist or that God is not relevant? This alone will not accomplish real spirituality within us, but it is one step on the path to real spirituality.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thought on Homeschooling

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

To me, homeschooling is not about a technique, but about an outcome (and no, this doesn't have anything to do with what is popularly known as outcome based "education"). The fact that we school at a table that has taken over our dining room is not inherently more virtuous than a classroom. By homeschooling we have the freedom to teach our children what's really important in a way that best reaches each individual child. Yesterday, my 2 year old said "Daddy?". I asked her what she wanted. She said, "I love you." What a wonderful moment. And what parent wouldn't like to keep moments like that alive. But we are keeping those moments alive, because my 10 year old daughter said the exact same thing last night. She had some problems and she came to me and we talked them out and she told me she loved me. I'm thankful that I have less competition from her peers (I'm glad she has peers, but I don't want my child getting all her sympathy and understanding from her peers. I want a lot of that to come from me.). And I'm thankful I'm not in competition with a teacher (who believes who knows what) in an attempt to define what is true and meaningful. And I'm glad I have control over the curriculum and make sure my children get lots of reading time with good books, and with introductions to logical thinking, etc. Lots of prayer is required, but we are seeing an outcome we want in our children's lives.

Casting About, Looking for a Thread

It is interesting to watch people grasping for threads. They will desperately cling to any thread they can find no matter how improbable or illogical, because the alternatives are too horrible to contemplate. For years I’ve been hearing about young people engaging in a variety of criminal acts. Theft, vandalism and worse. And for years I’ve been reading impassioned letters to the editor asking “where are the parents.” Indeed that is an important question, and one I plan to address in a future posting.

One of the standard explanations is that young people are bored and we need to find activities for them. Yes, it sounds reasonable, but this is just one more thread for people to grasp as they try to come to grips with the problems of our society. But let’s be honest. There has never been a society that has had more activities and opportunities available for young people. The range of clubs and teams and events and activities is mind-boggling. If young people want to be busy every night of the week, they certainly have that option. And it is no longer the best and brightest who receive educations, but almost any young person with a desire for higher education will receive the opportunity – and largely at the taxpayers expense.

What is different about young people today is the amount of free time available to them. True, there are some who are incredibly busy with school, part time jobs and various activities and community commitments. But these aren’t the ones who are out torching play structures in the playgrounds or stealing people’s cars. It’s the ones who have incredible amounts of free time because their parents and their society have no expectations of them. A previous generation didn’t fret because their city only had one skateboard park, because there was plenty of work to do around the house, around the farm, or just trying to make ends meet. As parents we should make sure our children have time to be children. But we’re not doing them any favours by extending their childhood into their teens and giving them everything they want without the need for them to work.

That’s what’s different about the young people today. But young people today share some things in common with young people of a previous generation, and that is the inclination to get into trouble. A previous generation may have been too busy to get into as much trouble. And a previous generation was blessed by the opportunity to learn what a dollar was worth in effort. But make no mistake, the propensity for getting into trouble has been there in each generation. And that is where the moral dimension comes in. While many in our society would cling to various threads such as education or activities for reaching our children, we will fail unless we consider the moral side. The Bible is clear that all mankind are sinners (Romans 3:23). We have not sinners because we sin. No, that is putting the cart before the horse. The fact is we sin because we are sinners. And any attempt to reach young people, teach self-worth and self-respect or to help young people achieve their potential will fail unless it comes with a realization that there is a moral problem with all mankind, and it is the kind of problem that requires divine intervention. Yes, young people should have the opportunity to have fun. And they should be given increasing levels of responsibility. They should have the opportunity to learn the value of work. But moral problems require moral solutions, and that’s where God comes in. People can cast around desperately looking for some other solution, but no other solution exists.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon I picked a whole bunch of tomatos. My friends Dave and Lois Shepherd had a bumper crop, so they let me come over and pick as many as I wanted. Karen is going to make another big batch of salsa, and hopefully we'll have enough to last the winter.

As a special treat, tonight I took the family to Dairy Queen for supper. I know this is a bit unusual, but it just seemed like a good idea. The children had hamburgers, and then we let them pick their own desserts. Bethany picked a Banana Split, Joel had a Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard, and Hannah had a chocolate sundae. Hopefully this will be a good memory they can carry with them for years to come.

Friday, September 15, 2006

From a comment on another blog...

I left this comment on another blog, but as a thought it is capable of standing on its own:

It is certainly helpful for Christians in our society to consciously ask themselves if they are imposing a Western cultural lens on their understanding of the Bible, or whether they are truly understanding and living Biblical Christianity (which can be very different than our culture and even sometimes different than what the church is comfortable with).

This was really brought home to me when I read about the Year of Jubilee in the Old Testament. It seemed to be saying that every 50 years land which had been sold reverted back to the original owner. If that was the case, land was never really sold but was essentially just rented. And yet I reasoned, it couldn't mean that. It was just too different than my own cultural experience. And yet in the end I came to understand that the Scripture really meant what it said.

True, this example isn't very practical in my everyday life, but it's a good reminder that the Bible really does mean what it says. And it doesn't matter if it runs contrary to our culture. It doesn't matter if it runs contrary to the practice of other Christians and churches. If the Bible says it, we have to do it.

One caveat. I have met people who are in churches which by and large ignore our present culture and seek to live Biblical Christianity. But because of unhealthy obsessions, extremist tendencies, an unstable personality, a lack of Biblical understanding, an inability to find Biblical balances, or an unteachable spirit, these people go off on a tangent that wrecks themselves (all the while thinking that they are the only ones who care about obeying the Bible). By their fruit you shall know them. These people have no fruit but a wrecked life and wrecked lives in those who follow them.

Aftermath of the Montreal Shooting

About 48 hours after the horrific shootings at Dawson College in Montreal, a student at the University of Ottawa was charged after shooting a pellet gun from a car on the busy campus. He fled the scene but was eventually arrested and charged with a variety of firearms offences. What goes through a person's mind to do something like this? But now the incredible part... he was charged and then released, pending a court appearance on October 16th! Now tell me why Canadians should have any confidence in our criminal "justice" system. What is going through the minds of the Judges in this country? Don't they understand that average Canadians like myself have little confidence in them or the system?

Liberal Leadership

Carolyn Bennett has withdrawn from the Liberal leadership contest, and has thrown her support behind Bob Rae (the former NDP Premier of Ontario). In her own words, Bob Rae "has the experience to lead our party, bring us all together, and to do the most important thing - stop Stephen Harper's Republican agenda." Well, there we have it folks. The ultimate fear and ultimate goal of the political left (including retread socialists like Bob Rae and those who would support him)... to stop Harper's Republican agenda. It seems this is the ultimate accusation. Whether they actually understand that Stephen Harper has a different vision than they do of what is best for Canada, or whether they actually believe their own rhetoric, I can't say. But they seem to have an unlimited capacity for anti-American scare mongering.

Resolved: in any political discussions, to get in a first strike by mindlessly comparing Liberal and NDP policies and leaders to Cuba and Castro. (E.g. "The most important thing is to stop Bob Rae because he just wants to turn Canada into another Cuba.") If challenged, roll my eyes and dismiss the challenger as hopelessly and dangerously befuddled. True, I actually understand that the Liberals and the NDP honestly have a different vision of what is best for Canada. But if I'm going to act like them I can't admit it.

On the other hand, I do honestly believe that the vision the Left has for Canada is dangerous. They have lots of compassion, but not too many decent ideas for what the country needs or how to bring about peace, justice and prosperity for the nation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Decision to Make - Your Opinion Solicited

I planned to take this Friday off work to get some things done around the house. A chair needs fixing, a propane tank needs filling, the van needs an oil change, and (most importantly) I had planned to upgrade the hard drive in my computer and mount 2nd hard drives in each of our computers for easy backup purposes.

However... I just received an invitation to attend the Conservative Party Parliamentary Kick-Off. It will be held at the Chateau Laurier, and the Prime Minister and the whole Conservative Caucus will be in attendance. I might get a chance to shake hands with the PM, or I might not. And I hate going downtown with a passion. But it is kind of exciting.

Karen is all for me attending. I'm undecided. Do I be Mr. Practical, or do I throw the smallest amount of caution to the wind? I know lots of people drop by my blog, but few leave comments. But this is your chance to have your say. Please let me know by 10:00pm on Wednesday because I need to RSVP if I'm going.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Not Quite a Usual Saturday

While I did my usual Saturday "take the children to the library" routine, something different was happening at home. Karen made a triple batch of home-made salsa. Once you have tasted the home-made, you will never want store-bought salsa again. In the end she canned 8.5 liters. Yum!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Patent Ideas

I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I submitted two more ideas for potential patents. I should find out in a couple of weeks whether Alcatel will file on these ideas, and even if they do it could be 5 years before the actual patents are granted. I can't go into details, but they are ideas for reducing the jitter in IPTV networks.


I'm really busy at work, but I took a couple of hours today to do some online reading about network protocols. I'm trying to figure out what test gear we need when I don't even understand what the protocols are and what they do. I went to Wikipedia and started with the articles on "Ethernet" and "PPPoE". Quite fascinating stuff. My knowledge of ethernet and TCP/IP is about a decade and a half out of date! Who would have thought that collisions in CDMA/CD ethernet networks is no longer a major problem. No wonder 10GigE networks are a reality and work is starting on 100 GigE networks in the standards bodies. Hopefully I'll get a little more time to read tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Promise is a Promise

I would be remiss if I did not follow through on my promise to my son to mention the fact that he ate 45 shrimp for supper while visiting his grandparents house last weekend. He was quite proud of himself, and insisted we could count the tails if we didn't believe him. We believed him.

New Michael Card Album

Karen bought the new Michael Card album the other day. "The Hidden Face of God" contains a number of lament type songs, but frankly on a first listen I really didn't like the album... until I hit the last song. "I Will Not Walk Away" touched me in a way few songs ever have. I listened to it about 20 times today. If ever there was a song to help strip away the pride of self, this is it. Do yourself a favour and buy this album. Maybe you'll enjoy a number of the songs on the album. Maybe I will too after I listen to them a couple of times. But the last song on the album is worth the price all by itself.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


We spent the weekend at my parents house in Sudbury. It's been a while since we visited, due to the problems associated with traveling with a small child. Well, the problems still exist. Hannah didn't sleep much, and as a result, neither did we. But that aside, we had a great trip. It was great seeing my parents again (although they do travel to come visit us a couple of times a year), and my Aunt Betty and Uncle Clayton were able to come by for lunch on Saturday. Saturday night my parents did a “Surf and Turf” dinner with a huge pile of barbecued T-Bone steaks and crab legs. I was still feeling a bit sick from the lack of sleep, so I only ate one and a half steaks, but there was another one there I really wished I could have dug my teeth into. Karen is the seafood lover, and had quite a feed of Alaskan King Crab legs. Sunday we were at Sudbury Bible Fellowship, and got to see a lot of old friends. I had been asked to speak in the morning and evening, and hope some of what I said was profitable. Anyway, it was a good trip. By the third night there, Hannah was sleeping better, and we've all slept great since coming home.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Little Bit Lighter

I've been doing some studying about dispensationalism, and frankly it's been pretty heavy going. I have everything I need to present in a couple of sermons on this topic, but I want to make sure I have all the technical details (the ones I will not be presenting during a Sunday sermon) fully understood and integrated into my system of theology.

So, it was time for a bit of a breather. For a dollar, I was able to pick up a discard book from the local library entitled, "Military Errors of World War Two" by Kenneth Macksey. After buying it, I found out it is considered somewhat of a classic. As a former armour officer in World War Two, Macksey is most interesting when he discusses the errors committed in North Africa, as well as by Guderian. In these areas he has more detail, whereas his discussion of some of the other types of warfare (e.g. failures in the U-Boat campaigns) are also good but have much of the same material and emphasis as other books. For example, Macksey is quite clear about the errors made by Rommel, whereas many historians leave you with the impression that Rommel was an armoured genius who never made any mistakes.

Compared to dispensational theology, it was pretty light. And a steady diet of such would profit little. But as a short break, it was a good read. Particularly for a dollar.