in between bites & sips ...

thanks for stopping by! here's where i put various thought, quotes or stories. most will be brief, some may be extended - but all will be somehow connected to my world. enjoy your stay!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Garbage Update

I can't believe it ... for the 2nd Wednesday in a row - I forgot to put out the trash!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Proud ... then embarrassed

It's so exciting for fans of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team to finally have a team to be proud of again. Sure, we always talk a big talk, but this year the Habs are backing it up for us fans.

After finishing the season as the top team in the Eastern Conference of the NHL, and then beating the Boston Teddy Bears in round 1 - things are looking up for the most storied franchise in hockey history as they persue a record 25th Stanley Cup championship.

But then this morning I heard news that is embarrassing as a former Montrealer - some individuals opted to celebrate their beloved hockey team's victory by torching 16 vehicles and damaging 10 buildings as they left the game last night.

Back in the late 80s and 90s championship teams' fans would riot after the series clinching game. I think it started in Chicago when the Bulls were in the midst of their dynasty in the NBA. Then, it seemed to be en vogue for other cities to copy this ridiculous activity.

"HOORAY! We just won the championship!!! Let's go break some windows!!!" How stupid.

If I could say anything to the looters I'd tell them 2 things ---

1. IT'S 2008! Championship riots are YESTERDAY. GET WITH THE TIMES

2. IT'S ONLY THE FIRST ROUND! There are 3 more rounds to go. Don't act like we've won anything yet, cuz we haven't. There are no banners hanging in the Bell Centre for 1st round victories. Anything less than a Stanley Cup isn't worth celebrating. Toronto Maples fans may be happy to celebrate winning round 1 ... but fans of the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge? I don't think so.

Well, I for 1 hope that every one of those hoodlums get caught. I understand they have video surveillance that caught much of the riot. I learned many years ago that my actions, whether positive or negative, have reprocussions. Seems to me there are some people in Montreal that need to learn that lesson.

I'm proud of my Montreal Canadiens. I love the city of Montreal. There are a few Montrealers who have embarrassed the city & team that I love.

For the full story, read

Lesson from the grocery store

Last Friday night, I thought it would be nice to pick up a few basic groceries that I knew Mary Jo needed for the home so that we would be set for the weekend. Of course, I can't JUST get the basics! I'm finding cookies and soda and potato chips and everything else that shouldn't be consumed by any in the human species.

None-the-less, I end up with about 5 plastic bags (which, btw you can hardly call 'bags' since they fail to contain anything heavier than 2 lbs for more than 10 seconds!).

When I got home, of course, I start looking for the cookies. NO COOKIES!!!! ARGH!!!!!

How can this be? I check the pantry, in case I had a senior moment and put them away without remembering to. I check the hallway, in case I put down the back upon entering the house. I check the car, in case I missed it when coming inside. No where.

I then check the receipt - perhaps I never actually bought the cookies. Sure enough, I bought cookies (& lemonade & hotdogs & juicy juice ... but ... clearly the cookies are the staple item in this list and the object of my desire, so, hence-to-for I'll only refer to the cookies, but you'll know that I mean the full contents of the missing bag).

Now what. I call the Giant Eagle (local grocery store). Amazingly, I remember that I went to checkout lane 8 and the cashier's name was Michelle (I have NO idea why I remembered that information ... but I did!). Sure enough, I left the bag with the cashier.

I'd like to be able to blame Michelle for not passing me my 6th and final bag of groceries, but, I packed the bag myself - unfortunately, I remember that too.

I'm told that if I come back to the store in the morning and bring the receipt with me, that I will be able to collect my forgotten items.

So, that's exactly what I did. The next morning, receipt in hand, I wander through the store picking up the 4 items and I take them to customer service. Because they had a note which stated they should be expecting me, and because I had a receipt that told them that those items had been paid for by me - they let me walk out without having to see a cashier.

Later, I couldn't help but realize that the Devil has a note that informs him that someone is coming to collect what is rightfully theirs. The note is the Bible. And, Jesus through the Holy Spirit is today collecting His people from their various aisles of life. And best of all, one day Jesus is going to stand before His Father and show him the receipt of His shed blood that announces that everyone who is with Him is entitled to remain with Him because the price for their redemption has already been paid for.

When I reclaimed those grocery items, I wasn't stealing - I was taking things for which I had already paid the price. I didn't have to go back and get them. I could have said, "nevermind, it's only a couple of things worth very little" - but - I'd paid for them, so I wanted them, so I went and found them again and proved to the store that they were mine.

Jesus has paid for you the price to forgive your sins. Not only that, but He doesn't expect you to jump off the shelves and figure out how to get to His home, He's come to find you because He loves you and wants you to be with Him forever.

Don't hide from Him.

You've been bought - you're free to go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My trip to Parkside

On Tuesday, Mary Jo & I decided to take a road trip. We drove to Cleveland (about 1 hour away) to visit a Parkside Church.

We first heard about the church because of its pastor, Alistair Begg, who has a radio program we used to listen to while living in Toronto called 'Truth for Life'. Pastor Begg is an incredible preacher with a gift for exposing the truth in scripture.

The weather was nice and we were in the mood for an adventure. We were hoping just to spot the church, perhaps peer through a window and return for home.

We got MUCH more than that!

As we pulled into the church parking lot, we noticed they had a bookstore and coffeeshop. Without saying a word, Mary Jo and I both thought 'We're in! We can get in the building!'

Entering the building, a man held the door open for us and noticed quickly that we were strangers to these parts. We told him we were just visiting and attended a church in the Youngstown area. He then offered to give us a tour of the church. Little did we know how great a tour he could give, since he was the custodian! Our first stop ... the back entrance to the SANCTUARY PLATFORM!

The sanctuary seats about 1,700 and was amazing to see, especially from the platform POV. We went to the prayer room and saw classroom after classroom. They don't only separate the children by grade for Sunday, they separate them within the grade by last names A-L, M-Z!!!

We then met the 'Truth for Life' staff and the room they use for recording the post-production for the radio program.

Continuing the tour, we met the Children's Ministries director who was so helpful. I was amazed that she would tell us so much about their program when they knew I was a Pastor and certainly would never be attending their church. She even said that if we were planning to visit some Sunday night that we should email her first so that she could tell us exactly where to bring our children that night! Amazing.

The church receptionist was speed-walking around the sanctuary's outer corridor. She stopped to talk to us and went on and on about how much she loved working there. Again, it's not like we were potential converts to their church! We were SO impressed.

Although I don't have a goal for our church to reach a certain size - I do have a goal that our church be as warm and welcoming as Parkside Church.

In case anyone is interested, I would recommend checking out to hear Pastor Begg preach, or check out the church website at .

Off to Bolivia ... again!

Well, it's official ... I'm going back to Bolivia!

I'm very excited that 2 men from our church will be joining me as we partner with another church in Tennessee to go back to Bolivia to continue work at the Bolivian Hope Center (BHC).

We will be leaving May 22 and returning May 31. This time, I'll try not only to blog about the trip, but also add videoblogs! Cool, eh?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Throws a Curve

First off - I can't claim to be an American Idol (AI) junkie. I don't rearrange my schedule so that I can watch the program, I rarely get to hear all of the singers each week, I don't watch the elimination show very often, and even when I am watching AI, I'm often playing games on my laptop and only listening to the singers.

But something happened last night that got me to stop playing mindjolt and start paying attention.

It started when Mariah Carey was singing. At first, the song just seemed to have a gospel theme to it, especially when the choir robed backup singers appeared. Then, as the song neared its end, I noticed the words weren't merely 'moral' or 'gospel' ... she actually said 'Jesus' a couple of times. Now, I know extremely little about Mariah Carey. I have no idea if she is a Christian or proclaims to be a Christian or simply wants to appear to be a Christian ... but it sure did make me take notice.

While Mary Jo and I were still talking about Mariah, a familiar tune began to play ... the AI singers sang 'Shout to the Lord'! I realize Shout to the Lord is the most popular chorus in our churches today, but I didn't realize that it would be so popular of a song to not only be sung on AI, but to serve as the grand finale piece of the special 'American Idol Gives Back' episode that featured a whole lot of Hollywood and Nashville star-power.

I wasn't expecting the show to be so Christian. THAT is a curveball.

In baseball, if someone throws the batter a curve, the batter has a few options: take a swing at it, let it go because you think it's out of the strike zone.

Of course the cynics would suggest that the ending had more to do with getting the Christians to give to the cause or perhaps because the producers of AI have realized that a number of the top vocalists in their competitions this year and in years past have been Christians and therefore a large portion of their viewership are Christians so AI is simply catering to their market.

But I don't really care what the producers of AI's agenda was. I don't care what FOX's rationale for ending the show that way was. JESUS CHRIST WAS PRAISED! That's what I care about. Someone, somewhere heard that song and was encouraged. Someone, somewhere was challenged. Someone, somewhere was reminded that they need to get back to God. It wasn't a song about Allah. It wasn't a song about falling in love with a guy/girl. It wasn't about money or fame or self. It was a song that proclaimed that the whole earth should recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord.

It may have only been for a moment at around 10PM, but last night AI & FOX did it right.