Why I’m becoming anti-social

I deactivated my Facebook account a couple of months ago and yesterday I deactivated messenger and Instagram. I’m still on Twitter for the time being, because I have a particular need for it, but I’m hoping to be able to ditch that as well by year’s end. I’m keeping LinkedIn for professional reasons, at least for now.

Despite being a fairly early adopter of a lot of technology, I was one of the last to jump on the Facebook bandwagon. I was skeptical of the service and wondered why anyone would voluntarily put that much personal information out there for people to see. But, feeling like I was missing out, I joined. And was immediately sucked in. I posted pictures and statuses, hoping for the red like button to illuminate. I won’t say I was addicted by any clinical definition, because quitting wasn’t really that hard, but I was definitely a heavy user and loved getting the little hits of recognition (likes, comments).

After many years of indulging in various forms of social media, I came to realize that it was not having an overwhelming positive effect on my life. Indeed, I now believe that the positives did not outweigh the negatives.

So, here are some of the primary reasons, I decided to let go.

1 – It’s a time suck that prevents me from getting more meaningful things done. I recently finished reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. In it, he makes the case that most of what we find useful about Social Media has legible ROI on our lives, and should be eliminated in favour of pursuing more worthy work (note: work doesn’t necessarily mean our employment. It could be a hobby, etc.). I also recommend his other books, particularly, *So Good They Can’t Ignore You*

2 – I’ve read some research that indicates were only meant to have a small number of close friends and despite the rise of social media, most of us only have 2 or so close friends. Social media gives us the illusion of being closer to others and knowing more about them, then maybe we really do. Long before social media came around, we lost the concept of an acquaintance. Merriam-Webster defines this as: a person whom one knows but who is not a particularly close friend. We’re all supposed to be super friends, because we can share the most intimate (or close to it) parts of our lives online. It can be stressful to think you need to keep up with your feed, so you know what’s going on in other people lives. And, let’s face it, we all know social media is largely a lie. Or least, only a partial truth. We post the best of everything and rarely the worst. So, time to step away from it and get back to some reality.

Also, when I looked at my actually messaging, I realized that out of the 200-300 friends I have, I only message about 10 of them with any regularity. If I didn’t have their contact info, I sent them one last message asking for it. I can now phone, text, or email, when I feel I have something to say or ask, and not just because they pop up on my list and I think “Oh, I should message them, they’re online now”.

3 – I recently watched the movie Snowden and the documentary Citizen Four. Both recount the story of whistleblower Edward Snowden as he revealed the extent of the US Government’s surveillance programs. He also revealed details of the PRISM program, where it was revealed that the various spying agencies have virtually free access to the servers of multiple technology companies, including social media sites. So, my original unease with social media was correct, they really are watching us and more than perhaps we thought at first.

I’m not a paranoid person, I just believe in the rule of law and the concept of human rights. And while it is a common refrain to say, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about”, I think that misses the point. The government has no moral right to our information without our informed consent. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing anything “wrong”, they shouldn’t be looking in the first place. (But, seriously, if you do nothing else, cover up your webcam).

Jesus had 12 apostles, not 300. We weren’t biologically designed to manage this level of relationship with as many people as social media would want us to. When I emailed my friends and told them, many of them expressed support and a desire to do the same thing. There’s something that keeps us there and I don’t think it’s healthy when it can be that hard for people to quit. FOMO is a real cultural phenomenon and should be heavily scrutinized.

I am aware that this has implication for this blog. I can’t just publish it to all the various for the world to see, but that’s okay. I write this for me and whoever finds it.

So, those are some of my primary reasons for ditching social media (or most of it). My friends are still my friends and we will still email or phone or meet in person or whatever. But, the world doesn’t need access to children’s photos, or my every thought (no one really cares). Plus, I’ve got this blog, so if you want to know what I think, just stay here and you’ll get more than 140 characters of thought. Hopefully, that’s more worth reading.

Shopping backwards

Shopping

It was so backwards. It’s my birthday today, #36. I received some cash and cheques. I have a list I keep of things I might buy if and when I have cash that isn’t particularly assigned to anything. At point I realized I thought “Oh, I should just go to the Running Room or the local cycling shop and see what strikes my fancy.

Wait, what?

I’m going to go and see if there’s something I can give my money away for?

I shook my head and realized the insanity of the proposition. How backwards that seems to me now. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t NEED pretty much anything I’m going to buy with my birthday money, so I’m not against want-based spending if you can afford it and if you are helping others as well, but this just seemed over the top to me – to actually go and LOOK for ways to spend the money. Man, no wonder we don’t have savings in our society.

It’s an old pattern that I am now more aware of because of the financial hardships my wife and have endured over the last 3+ years. It has made me more cognizant of how, when, and on what I spend the money God has given me to steward.

Shopping just to spend… so bizarre!

Being Un-Ready and Okay with that

This is a Seinfeld post. You know, it’s about nothing and everything.

I’m so not ready.

I wasn’t ready to start my new job.

I wasn’t ready for my duathlon.

And I am most certainly not ready to become a Father sometime in the next 54 days.

This is compounded by the fact that I hate being new at anything because I hate not being perfect at something from the start. Yes, I know it’s illogical, thanks for pointing that out.

I have a lot of fear around becoming a father; all of which is perfectly normal, which is somewhat comforting.

So, I’m doing what I can to get ready: “Ready or not, here I come”, says the child.

Pre-natal classes are over and I don’t remember much, lol… thank God for my wife who does.

One thing I am scared about is gaining back the 50lbs I’ve worked so hard to loose. I didn’t gain the Freshman 15 when I went back to University in 2009, I didn’t gain weight when I got married and I don’t want to gain the Fatherhood 50 (or whatever). So, I have about 8 weeks to get into the best shape I can so that I can best take care of my son and my wife. 

Oh well… My son is coming and I’m super excited to meet him, hug him, kiss him and tell him how awesome he is.

Focus

Focus little thing scrabble game reflect tile think life simple

Starting a new job has emphasized the need to find a focus for my energy. My lack of focus is symbolized by my two blogs (the one you’re reading and this one). I can’t do both justice and I can’t keep both as an equal focus in my life. So, what direction to go in? Theology or Fitness and trying to inspire others towards health?

Searching for redemption… I mean a job.

 

Job hunting ways methods

I’m currently looking for full time employment. I’ve been thinking about the connection between the redemptive part of our faith as Christians and how they reflect the job search process. Here’s what I mean (and this isn’t meant as an exact allegory, so don’t chew me up too fast):

Stage 1: Loss (Kicked out of the garden)
Whether you lose your job through a firing, you’ve reached the end of your contract, or you leave, there can be a sense of loss. We depend on our jobs to provide the means by which we pay for the roof over our head, the food on our table, the clothes on our backs and a myriad of other bills. If we leave of our own volition or don’t really care about being fired, maybe we’re not that stressed, at least for a while. Eventually though, most of us will need to find a job. Eventually, panic may sent in, realizing that you need to cut back on your lifestyle. Maybe it starts out being a bit fun; a challenge. But then as months go by, you start realizing that you’re going to run out of money and are worried how you will eat. If you have others who depend on you this feeling is intensified.

Stage 2: Despair (Sin enters the world)
The longer the time goes on and the pressure increases you start to feel down about yourself. Your confidence suffers, you don’t feel like you have a plan,. or the plan your have isn’t working. Maybe you don’t even know what kind of job you’re qualified for and what your skills even are. You start to get up later in the morning and going to bed later, feeling crappy. You stop caring about yourself because your self image is destroyed or seriously damaged. You start loosing or gaining weight, you have less energy and can’t look people in the eye anymore. You scan the want ads online and in the paper, send out resume after resume, but heard nary a peep back. Once in a while you might get a call for an interview, but are hardly in a mental state to perform properly so after what you assume to be a poor performance, you beat yourself up even more, hence continuing the cycle.

Stage 3: Hope (Christ enters the world)
Eventually you realize that what you’re doing isn’t working. You realize that you need to treat yourself better, you need to work on you, if you’re going to have any hope of getting a decent job to pay the bills. You shave for the first time in weeks, you start wearing nicer clothes everyday, and you start doing actual research into how to get a job. Maybe you enlist the help of a career counsellor, find a good book, start talking to some friends. You start to feel better about who you are on the inside and start to figure out all the various skills that God has given you. For the first time in a long time you start to feel a sense of hope.

Stage 4: Balance (Christ ascends)
Eventually you realize that finding a job, particularly a well paying one, is a process, and a long one at that. You start to realize that you can’t just expect to walk into the perfect job right away and that this is largely a numbers game. A precision targeted numbers game, but a numbers game all the same. So, you settle into a realistic view of hope that says there will be trials and strife and difficulties, but that is not a reflection on who God made you to be, but simply part of the redemptive process at work. It’s not an event, it’s a process.

Stage 5: Final redemption (Christ returns)
One glorious day you get the phone call, go in the for the interview, you’re on top of your game and you get the job. You go from a weeks worth of money left to being Mr (or Mrs/Miss/Ms) middle class moneybags. Your spirits soar and you feel like you can take on the world.

For me, I’m somewhere between stage 2 and 3 at the moment. I’m slowly starting to feel the hope, but trying to keep it balance with the reality that I need a job in the 120 days or so, or we will start feeling the financial pinch.

Looking forward to reaching stage 5 as soon as possible.

Burnt

Comic 9 27 burnout

I’m burnt out… I think.

After I finished my time as preaching pastor this past Easter Sunday, I took two weeks off from going to any church. A sensible move I thought since it had been along time since a weekend wasn’t marked by anxiety and stress. I went last week but not this morning. I’m just burned out. There is another factor though, which is that my current church is not necessarily the place I want to be right now. I love the people and the community of friends I’ve developed over the years, but they meet in a movie theatre and it just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. Ryan over at the Emerging Anabaptist, who attends the same church (but a different site, we’ve unfortunately yet to meet in person), wrote a bit about the pitfalls of meeting in a movie theatre. One of his points certainly holds true for me:

No Sense of Sacred Space

There is something to be said for liturgy of presence. Where you are definitely changes the vibe of a worship gathering. In some ways it can be good, especially for those who aren’t used to churches, as I mentioned above, to be in a non-traditional building. At the same time, though, I definitely think there is a degree to which people approach going to church in the same way that they approach going to see a movie because that is what the setting is obviously reminding us of.

Let me be clear: like other Anabaptists, I do not believe that any space is actually more sacred than any other. What I do believe is that we inevitably bring all our senses into worship with us and that is a good thing. When our sensory perceptions are saying “this is a setting where you kick back and be entertained,” it is harder on a subconscious level to be focused, to be open to hearing in what ways you need to work hard at in following Jesus, and in general to be in a worshipful state.

This effect really shouldn’t be ignored, even in the unchurched generation. If you’re doing worship gatherings in a theatre or other non-traditional venue, do what you can to still make sure it feels different, as a place of spiritual growth and strong community rather than individual entertainment.

If I were to sum it up in one word, I would say there is simply a lack of reverence in the services. I don’t mean they don’t love God; they absolutely do. But as far as liturgies go, it’s as low as you can get. It feels almost more like a university lecture than a worship service. This works for some people; a lot of people in fact (their current attendance across their sites is about 6-7000 people), but I find liturgical services in a traditional church building more beautiful and worshipful. There is something about a space where everything is designed to point you to God and teach you something about Him before a word is read or a song is sung.

Preaching every week is tough and frankly right now I feel like what I don’t need is too feel like I’m back in the classroom. I need to see God’s love expressed through beauty and silence. I don’t get either of these in a movie theatre setting, at least not how our church structures their services.

So, I’m trying to think of how I can recover and be ministered too in a church I don’t really feel attracted to. We will see.

Cultivating a talent

writing

I have a friend who discovered last year that he could paint. I don’t mean he can draw cute stick figures, I mean the dude can paint beautiful, awe inspiring paintings. I admit to being a bit envious. I have other friends who are beautiful singers and musicians, as well as talented and successful music producers. I know others who are wonderful designers and craftsmen.

Creatives are fascinating to me. Whether they are painters, musicians, actors, dancers, singers, or writers, I am in awe of anyone who discovers their talent, hones it through sacrificial practice and increases the beauty in the world.

I wish I had such a talent. In my teens I was a dancer and a magician. Later I was an actor and eventually discovered I was a decent writer (my first college diploma is in Corporate Communication). If I had one creative talent, it might be writing. I’m told I’m decent at it, but I don’t know. If I have any skill it’s because I’ve learned by ear. Until I took Koiné Greek last year, I barely knew a verb from a noun and almost always need to look up what an adverb is). The problem is that writing takes time to read and therefore it takes time to have an impact. You can hear music without effort, or see a painting without needing much time (except perhaps to absorb it fully). You can see a beautiful dance in as short as a few minutes or as long as a few hours; the same for acting.

Writing takes more effort to consume. Yes, there are beautiful short poems, or even wonderfully written blog posts (though very few I think are written with beautiful writing being on the list of priorities), but truly excellent writing is difficult. I don’t just mean the message being conveyed, but the words chosen. I’ve read inspiring tales of old school newspaper editorialists agonizing for an afternoon over one word and still not being satisfied). Most blogs, including mine, have a tendency to devolve into depositories for mental dumps. You don’t always see careful planning and execution like you would (or should) expect from a long form essay. Listening to bloggers on podcasts they simply deal with this reality by not caring. Since blogging is a more immediate medium, they think typ-o’s and grammar matter less.

But it does. I hate reading through a post and finding a typ-o, it can ruin the whole flow of the piece. Worse yet, sometimes you can’t tell if it’s a typ-o because it actually is a word – just not the word you intended!!! (In a church bulletin once, I typed Jesus’ Pubic Ministry, instead of public).

So, instead of wishing I was a musician, a painter, or an actor, I’m trying to focus on becoming a better writer. The prevailing wisdom these days says we have to practice for 10 000 hours to really master a skill. I don’t know if this is true and I’m not about to keep track of hours, but it seems reasonable. Mind you, practice doesn’t make perfect, imperfect practice simply reinforces imperfection. You need to know what “perfect” looks like, or at least have an example of what “better than me” looks like. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote that “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line”. While he was discussing apologetics, the concept holds true for cultivating talents.

So, over the next many months there are a few books I want to read or re-read. Top of the list of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Zinsser’s On Writing Well, Trenga’s The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, Adler’s How to Read a Book, Booth’s The Craft of Research and WIlson’s Wordsmithy . Also, as boring as it sounds, I’d like to read Turbian’s A Manual for Writers (I love style guides). I also want to keep reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction across multiple genres to keep me fresh and to broaden my exposure to different styles of writing.

Some of these books are focussed on writing as a whole, while others are focussed on properly formatting a single sentence. I want to be really good at writing. I want to be able to point to something and say that’s mine and be able to see how’s it’s improved over what I did the month or year before.

Good writing matters and just because my primary outlet is a blog, is no excuse not to steadily improve the quality of the writing.

What talent are you cultivating in your life? What are you doing to practice and improve as time goes on?

On Rob Bell

I see Rob Bell is in the news again with a new book and a new position in favour of gay marriage. I typically delete anything out of my RSS feed that has anything to do with Rob Bell. Not because I hate him or like him, but because I don’t have an opinion and I don’t really care to.

The only product’s of Rob’s I’ve interacted with are some of his Nooma videos, which I really like. I started to read Love Wins but it didn’t capture my attention so I stopped reading it. I own a DVD presentation of his, but haven’t watched it all the way through – one day I hope too. We also own a copy of Sex God which people tell me is a great book.

My position on Rob Bell is that first and foremost Rob is my brother in Christ and a sinner made in the image of God. I don’t know if he has a huge ego as some suggest (proclaim!) or if he really is a humble sojourner on his way to God trying to figure things out. I don’t know and I don’t care. He is clearly someone that much of the church is unable to dialog with intelligently. Some try to understand him and some others agree with him.

My position is that I don’t care. You’re welcome to your opinion, if it’s actually based on something, but for me, I’ve got others to read and others to listen to whose opinions I know I care about. Rob Bell simply isn’t on my radar of interest. I’m not being dismissive, I may read/watch him again one day, but right now others have my attention.

So, if you like Rob Bell, great. If you don’t like him, who cares. Go find someone you do like and blog about that, because if you have really read what Rob writes (I mean, REALLY read it) and you already know you don’t like him – why are you wasting your time? I’m all for reading people you disagree with, it is one of my 2013 reading goals. But do it with charity and a desire to be challenged. Don’t do it to catch the other guy out and prove how smart you are.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in declaring error and heresy that is dangerous to the believer and for all I know Rob Bell may be spouting it, but there is a way to approach it and way not too.

Remember the words of our Lord, and the motto of this site “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

I’m Exhausted: my story right now

The poor aren’t lazy . . . they are exhausted.

This quote from a Toronto Star article on a UN report exposing Canada’s less than stellar achievements on fighting poverty and food deprivation. I can relate somewhat. I’m tired. Exhausted, worn out… tired.

Starting out
In 2009 I quite my job of 9 years with the City of Toronto. I was an Emergency Medical Dispatcher for the city’s EMS service and I was pretty good at my job. I made $83k a year as a training officer, plus benefits, pension, etc. I had come to Christ about 4 years before and was feeling called to “something else”. I was also loosing my patience for the politics around the job, the negative attitudes (that I was certainly a contributor too), and the cynicism that comes from numerous promises that things will get better but they don’t – they just get worse. The rotating shift work was having a detrimental effect on my health and I would routinely go days without sleeping, even after seeking medical help. I once stayed up 4 days in a row without sleep, because I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I came to Christ shortly after my Dad passed away at age 63. He worked for the same service, though in a different job. At the age of 31 I realized that if I only live as long as my Dad, I was effectively middle aged. I didn’t want to spend the majority of my life doing the same job day in and day out, no matter how important to society it was. I was also in a good financial position having received some money through a couple of inheritances. I had already been accepted to Tyndale University, so after I came back from a trip to the UK in the fall of 2008, I decided to submit my resignation effective Jan 1, 2009.

It’s hard to leave that kind of security behind, but I knew in my spirit one way or the other I’d make it ok. 2009 was a year of lots of change: I left my job, started University, was evacuated from my condo for three months and lived in my mom’s basement, moved into residence and sold my condominium. Oh, and I started dating a great girl and got engaged on Dec 23, 2009.

Danté’s apartment
When we got married in August 2010 our first apartment was designed by Danté, it was terrible. Beyond the cockroaches that got into our food and living spaces, we also lived in fear of bed bugs (though we thankfully avoided those). We didn’t have screens on our windows for the longest time, so it was next to impossible to regulate temperature or flying things. I don’t know how we missed the warning signs, but we did. I was struggling to finish school and started working 10/hrs a week to preach at a local church. We were busy and scared but we just kept telling each other we just had to push through. The problem is, we keep telling ourselves that. Just keeping pushing and we’ll get some down time. Keep pushing, keep pushing. In 2012 we sold my car and took my wife’s car off the road to save money on insurance, gas, etc. We’ve suffered many personal tragedies in 2012, including the loss of my wife’s mother to cancer.

I graduated from my BA in Nov 2012 and have started my Master of Divinity. My wife works full-time at a Theological Bookstore and I work part-time at the same bookstore and pastor part-time. We intentionally took a break from school this semester so we could have more time together. It hasn’t happened. Instead, I end up working almost 7 days a week and of course, because I’m a Pastor we rarely get a full weekend off together.

Pushing through: when does it end?
I started realizing a while back that I can’t just keep pushing through. I’m exhausted. I’m going to collapse at the pulpit one day because I’m so tired. On the one hand, I need both jobs because we rely on the income from all three jobs to get through the month. On the other hand, if I work myself into exhaustion and end up needing to take a week off to recover, we’d be worse off.

If you visited our apartment you wouldn’t suspect we made as little as do. We have a nice TV, a Mac Mini, MacBook Air, iPad, and we both have iPhones. We also have bookshelves overflowing with almost 800 books, which is actually a pretty small library for two academics. We always have money for food and eat out once or twice a month. Thankfully, we do not have to use credit, we pay cash for everything and are on a budget and very careful with our money. And, yes, we manage to tithe. What you wouldn’t know though is that the TV is almost 8 years old and was bought when I made a lot more money. The Mac Mini was a gift when my old iMac died so we could get our schoolwork done and the MacBook Air was a graduation gift. Most of the “nice” things we get are in one way or another gifted to us or just not that new. We don’t have a cable subscription, instead we use iTunes and AppleTV. We’re going to the spa tomorrow, but we aren’t paying for it, family is.

We are blessed with amazing family and friends. I know that no matter what financial tragedy may or may not befall us, we will always have a place to sleep and food in our stomachs; or at the very least, I would ensure my wife ate regularly. Everything else may disappear but we won’t be living under a bridge. Many can’t say that. So, for that alone, I am eternally grateful to God for His provision.

Low pay, high hours
We are tired though. The problem with low paying jobs isn’t that the people who work them are lazy, it’s that we often have to work more hours just to make ends meet. When I made a lot more money, taking a day off was no big deal. Even I didn’t have sick benefits, missing a week of work wouldn’t have destroyed me (mind you, I worked with plenty of people who lived far above their means).

When I made a lot of money, I certainly didn’t look down on the those with less (I don’t think), but I never thought about the concept of needing to work longer to make more. The job with the city was my first “real” job, so I never really understood how much I made and how secure it made me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully support my civil servant friends. They work hard, most of the time, and do important work under ridiculous resource restraints.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted and I need a break. My wife needs a break.

Underemployed and minimum wage
The technical term for us “under employed”. We’re smart, educated and motivated. We don’t ever expect to make a lot of money, not in ministry. I don’t expect I will ever see the sweet deal I had at the city ever again. I just know that where we are is unsustainable. My church is not a rich one and I know the Lord has provided for the funds to employ me, so I don’t feel ripped off. Same with the bookstore. We sell theological books at 20% off reatil, so our profit margins are razor thin. So, when I hear people say they need to raise the minimum wage, I really don’t think that’s the answer. I’m not trying to be political, just realistic. I make $11/hr at the bookstore and $15/hr preaching. Minimum wage in Ontario, Canada is $10.25 so my wife and I don’t even get paid MW anyway. If however MW is raised to $17/hr as some have suggested (that is supposedly the living wage in Canada), I simply wouldn’t have my bookstore job and neither would any of my co-workers. My boss isn’t cheap, she simply doesn’t have the cash flow. We could raise our prices but then that would make it harder to compete with the likes of Chapters and Amazon. So, given the choice between a temporary job at $11/hr or no job at all, I’ll take the $11/hr, thanks.

I’m young, I’m educated, I’m willing to work and more importantly, I want to serve God. So, I have to trust the He will provide for our needs.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted and I need a break. My wife needs a break.

Need a break
I’m looking forward to my job at the church ending. Not because I’m going to be happy to leave, I’m really not. I’m just looking forward to a bit of a break. We’ve saved enough money that we can replace my income for a couple of months so I pray that God will provide a replacement position, preferably a single full-time job, during that time. I am thankful for a wife who supports my decision to step down from preaching and my desire not to collapse from exhaustion. If I don’t find a position in that time, we still have room to cut. We can suspend our cellphones and reduce our internet to a cheap-o plan for e-mail and our MagicJack. If things got really bad, we could fire sale our Mac Mini and MacBook Air.

“The poor aren’t lazy,” said Norman, 52, “they are exhausted.”

For the vast majority, this is true. I haven’t done our taxes for last year, but I know we live just above the poverty line in Ontario. I don’t make this statement looking for pity, it’s just an observation. I don’t feel poor. I don’t think I have a “poor” mindset. I’ve heard it said that poor is a state of mind and a lack of cash is called “broke”. We are grateful beyond measure for God’s provisions, but our physical, mental, and spiritual capacity to continue is quickly draining away.

Who’s to blame?
I do want to make it clear, my financial situation is a result of our choices to return to school and I’m not blaming anyone else but me. I could have kept my high paying and secure job, but I wanted something different and decided to take a risk. Yes, most of the time I’m happy I did it. If for no other reason than my marriage. I love my wife and I’m happy to go through this refiner’s fire as long as we can go through it together.

True, some of the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in would be terrible regardless of how much money we have, i.e., a mother-in-law dying of cancer, but this is our life and we are responsible for us. It is not the governments jobs to save me, though it would be great if they didn’t do anything to make life more difficult. This isn’t to say the government can’t have a role, particularly for those who are much worse off and/or suffering from mental illness for instance, but thankfully we are not in a position to have to consider using food banks, welfare, or anything else like that. I’ve volunteered at them though and my current church runs a dinner that feeds 150 people every Wednesday. Those are the people I want to help and maybe this experience is enabling me to see their world a bit better, to understand them more. As I already mentioned, we are blessed with amazing family and friends and we will never go hungry or without adequate shelter.

There is perhaps no real point to telling you this story, other than I thought I should write it down. If you’ve stuck it out until the end, thanks for reading. We would certainly appreciate your prayers.

God Bless.

What podcasts I listen too

Here’s a list of the podcasts I listen to on my iPhone. I use Instacast for most of them and the built-in music app for one of them.  I’ve listed them in alphabetical order. They cover a range of topics including faith, technology, prayer, and finances.

Note: The links do not take you to the actual podcasts feed, but to the websites, so you can find out more. You should be able to find the podcast feed link there.

What do you listen too? Let me know in the comments.

70 Decibels
www.70decibels.com
A great network of shows dealing with technology. I subscribe to the master feed, though I routinely only have time to listen to one show a week. My favourite show is Cmd-Space.

Catholic Answers Live
http://www.catholic.com/radio
A three hour daily call in show (M-F) out of the US. It’s a pretty incredible ministry and a model for the church at large. Even those who disagree with the Catholic Church will find something edifying I think. I particularly find the approach the apologists take instructive and formative. They take the command to explain the faith with gentleness and respect, very seriously.

Homebrewed Christianity
http://homebrewedchristianity.com
This is a very popular show, or so it seems from my twitter feed. I’m trying it out, but I must admit, it’s not quite working for me just yet.

Mac Power Users
http://5by5.tv/mpu
I love Apple and all things Mac, and this is a great show that goes in-depth on a particular topic as well interviewing successful people on how they use Apple’s products in their workflows. They belong to a larger network called 5by5, but I don’t have time to listen to any of the other shows.

Pray as You Go
http://www.pray-as-you-go.org
Daily podcasts from the Irish Jesuits. I sometimes use it to help get me centered and as part of my larger prayer life. They also include teaching sections for seasons such as lent; sort of a mini-workshop.

Tapestry
http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/
A CBC program discussing matters of faith (not just Christianity)

Dave Ramsey Show
http://www.daveramsey.com/category/show/
A financial show that really grounds me and reminds me who’s money it is and why I was given it.

The God Whisperers
http://godwhisperers.org
One of the funniest hours on podcasting I’ve ever heard. Two Lutheran Pastors discussing everything from the value of confirmation to Baconaise (that’s bacon flavoured mayonnaise).

The Gospel Coalition
http://thegospelcoalition.org
I’m sure you know these guys. I don’t agree with a lot that is said, but opposing viewpoints are always good to hear.

The Meeting House Roundtable
http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/podcasts/
A podcast recorded largely for the leadership team at The Meeting House but anyone can listen. Dealing with all matters of faith from an Anabaptist perspective. Episodes are sporadic.

Tyndale Chapel
http://tyndale.ca/podcasts/chapel
Chapel podcasts from my alma mater.

Unbelievable
http://www.premierradio.org.uk/shows/saturday/unbelievable.aspx
A great Christian apologetics show out of England. Well worth a listen.