In the beginning, God created lamb poutine

My wife and I had a getaway this past weekend and it was inspiring. We enjoyed great food and drinks prepared by artists. It’s amazing to see the imagination and creativity of the chefs. From the menu to the plating and the cocktail glass. The words chosen to describe the dishes and drinks are meant to stimulate your imagination so that you can foresee that which is yet to come. The arrangements on the plate and the glass are a beautiful canvas and a feast for the eyes. The ingredients selected to make them are fresh and delicious so as to awaken your taste buds and increase sensations throughout your entire body. An experience that comes together as you read, see, taste and savour. Each plate and each drink is a creation brought into existence by its creator and meant to capture all your senses. It is good.

None of these were put together in a rush nor were they put together at random. They began in the mind of a genius. Someone not afraid to try new things. Someone put ideas to paper and then put ingredients to the ideas. Someone created and re-created until the perfect plate and the perfect drink were formed. Words are limited in the way they can describe someone else’s art. As close as I got to those plates and those drinks, my words can’t appropriately capture the creator and his work. They are an oversimplified breakdown of what actually happened, a limited description conveying truth but not meant to be accurate. The best I can do is describe what I see and taste using words and concepts that I’m familiar with. Someone with a culinary background could use a completely different set of words to describe to you the same experience.

As I was enjoying a Lamb Poutine at the Andaz’s Feast & Revel, it got me thinking.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Maybe it began with a spark, or as some have called it, a bang! A big bang. How could it be otherwise? Life in the hands of creative genius. Free from the limits of time and not confined by due dates or someone else’s timeline, God began shaping his canvas. With no one telling him his project needed to be completed within a certain number of days, he began his endless work of art. One day as one thousand and one thousand days as one. Stroke after stroke. Breath after breath. Movement after movement. Attempt after attempt. Color after color. Each step slowly shaped into its next form like a potter shapes her clay. Declaring as good every step, every detail, every addition, every change.

As we ate, I was sharing why I think, for example, that reading Genesis 1 and concluding that God created the entire universe in a literal 6 days just a few thousand years ago lacks imagination, understanding and, I would add, robs and discredits God. If God is eternal, why is it so difficult to imagine he could have been busy shaping the universe for millions and even billions of years. He’s always been there, and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so why the rush? Our growing understanding of how the world works at the very least makes it plausible even if we don’t have all the pieces and are just scratching the surface. Why couldn’t he be slowly shaping and designing the world we know? Given the quantity of galaxies currently identified in the universe and all those our telescopes have likely not yet reached, it stands to reason that there might be much more going on out there than we can grasp. The chef is capable of much more than words can describe. Not grasping it all is not an excuse for not dreaming. Not fully comprehending is not an excuse for rejecting ideas simply because they don’t line up with what we had previously believed to be the truth. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to grow in our understanding of the world and universe we live in as we discover new facts. Just as we are limited in our ability to describe what we now know, so were the authors who wrote texts like Genesis 1. They communicated the reality of a world desired and created by a loving God. They did not claim to know how it had come to be but simply that it had.

When my lamb poutine was brought to me I had little idea how it had come to be but there it was. If I tried to describe it, you would literally think I was describing a cake and I would not be lying. Yet, it was a poutine. Just not the traditional kind.


failure post

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook brought back this picture we had posted back in the fall of 2013. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was an exciting day. We were at the restaurant drawing out plans and next steps for our new adventure called church planting.

When I saw the picture on my Facebook feed, it got me thinking about failure.

Failure. No one likes it. There are always well meaning people who will be quick to say that it’s not failure, it’s a growing opportunity.

Sure. I know. You know.

When it happens it still feels like failure and still needs to be processed for what it seems to be. Whatever it was you were trying to do did not work. You set out for something and didn’t make it. You failed. Technically.

Continue reading “Failure”

Sorry, missed it. Was gazing into my awesome phone

gazing into my phoneRecently I have become more sensitive to the sad reality of how technology, while providing me with much appreciated advantages, is also robbing me of much more than what I get in return.

I am certainly not the first to bring this up and I know it can spark much worthy debate. I love technology as much as the next person and I do appreciate having it on hand.

We could discuss the upside of holding mini computers giving us instant access to pretty much anyone and anything, but this is not about that. It’s mostly just a conversation starter about something else.

While our smart phones and tablets allow us to be instantly aware of what is going on in the world, not to mention who is eating what and where, they are also stripping us of our ability to be connected with what is going on around us, right here and right now.

I’m not saying we should stop using our phones and various screens but I am convinced that many of us are in need of some serious re-assessment of how much and for what purpose we use them. Mostly though, we need to take a step back and have an honest look at everything we are missing out on while we’re busy looking at the latest text, tweet, Instagram, snapchat, Facebook, email, sports update, news report, ect. And for what exactly?

How much have I really gained reading the Facebook status update of a long lost friend (God bless them) when in the process I miss what is taking place right in front of my eyes in the lives of those with whom I actually am doing life with!

“Sorry son, I missed that great move you made. I was reading what one of my college buddies I haven’t seen in 16 years was having for lunch.”

“Yes. Hmm.” I say, nodding my head, half listening, while my daughter tells me about her day.

“Yes honey, I know you’ve got a lot going on right now but if you could just let me get to this text message and I’ll be right with you,” I tell my wife hoping I’ll also have time to squeeze in a short clash royale battle.

I’m not suggesting we get rid of Facebook or stop following long lost friends. No. I think it’s pretty cool that we can stay ‘in touch’ that way and I have discovered some pretty good eating spots thanks to Facebook updates. But let’s face it, while it’s great to be informed about what our friends are doing and what is going on in the world, it is not always very significant information for us in the moment.

We’re addicted and we can’t stop. It’s like our screens are mini masters holding us with an invisible chain. We’re their slaves. It’s almost as though we can here our screens talking to us : “Look at me. Touch me. Don’t put me down. Bring me with you. Don’t look up. Just one more minute. Never mind them, look at everything I can do for you. Please hold me. Take me with you. Don’t let me go.”

It’s a challenge. It’s hard enough to set limits and clear guidelines for our own use as adults. Multiply that by 100 when trying to set limits for kids who think their screens are the best thing in the world.

If there’s ever to be a zombie apocalypse, I would say this is pretty darn close to being it. Maybe we need Daryl to put an arrow through some of our screens.

I’m generalizing and exaggerating but some re-thinking needs to happen. If my smartphone or any other screen is a thief robbing me of precious moments in my day to day life, I want to keep it in check.

Here are a few simple steps I have taken to help myself: 1) at home I leave my phone somewhere I can’t see it all the time or be drawn to it every second; 2) I don’t feel obligated to reply to text messages and emails right away; 3) I’ve started reading real books (the paper kind) again; 4) on the bus ride home, if I’m using my phone it is to listen to something and I keep it in my pocket to reduce screen staring.

What about your screen time? What precious moments are you being robbed of? What limits have you set in order to avoid the trap of excessive screen gazing at the expense of true connectedness? Is there something worth thinking about here or am I just rambling?


Chaos On the Toilette

toiletteHave you been to the toilette in a public washroom? The ones with the sensors that flush after you move away from the toilette? Have you ever been occupying one of these when suddenly the toilette flushes while you’re still going? The loud flush, the high intensity water twirling around and rising in the bowl. Meanwhile, you are still sitting there in the middle of your business. In that second you find yourself inconveniently forced to make a decision. Stand up in a moment of panic or stay seated and risk the water rising high enough to touch your butt. Either way, you risk getting dirty. Not fun. The other day I experienced this ordeal (not for the first time) and it got me thinking about how life doesn’t always flush when it’s convenient.

Yes, as much as we like to live under the illusion that we can schedule and control everything, the reality is that at any moment the toilette of life can randomly flush and destabilize you. Life’s sensor is totally off. One moment you’re quietly taking care of business and the next you’re thrown a curve ball and left scrambling. The sensor is supposed to detect when I move away from the toilette therefore signalling to the toilette that it is time to flush. When I sit on that toilette seat I trust the sensor to do what sensors do. But life is much more random than that.

It’s a good thing to realize. Too much of what we buy into, whether it be via religion or the latest self-help book, tries to sell us a vain attempt at fleeing the randomness, the chaos and the pain of life. As though we could somehow actually escape those things and create for ourselves a life where the sensor never fails. We try and we try hard. Sometimes we even manage to fool ourselves with the illusion; until the toilet flushes unexpectedly and the water rises.

Happiness, deep abiding joy and peace, are actually found when we embrace the randomness and chaos of our lives. Whether it be the chaos around us or the one within us. Rejoice during the days when the sensor is working well but it’s when the sensor malfunctions that we can actually go into the darker corners of our existence, face what is there and own it, learn from it, grow into or out of it and find peace.

I’m reminded of Jesus when he says “I have come that you may have life to the full.” Interestingly enough, this life to the full, according to what Jesus says elsewhere, requires a certain taking up of our cross and following him. The notion of taking up a cross doesn’t sound very pleasant. It actually even sounds like death. Yet, if we are to take Jesus’ word for it, it is in some way the path to abundant life.

Today when you sit on the toilette, whether it has a sensor or not, think about that.

(bonus random thought : have you ever looked at one of those sensors and asked yourself if they have cameras in there?)


EpistemophobiaRemember when Galileo insisted the earth was not at the centre of the universe (a.k.a. Heliocentrism vs Geocentrism)? Maybe you missed it. It was a little while ago after all. What I find interesting about that little piece of history is the pushback Galileo received from the people of his time. Not only did some people within his own field react strongly but so did the Church. Of course, as we know very well today, Galileo was right. At the time people weren’t in much of a hurry to accept this ‘new’ knowledge as true.

The Church, for example, had this to say about it. They concluded that heliocentrism was:

foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture. (Source: Galileo Galilei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Why is it difficult to accept that something we think is true may not be? Or that something we believe is true may be slightly different than we think? The Church figured that Galileo must be wrong because there are verses in the Bible that seem to suggest the earth is a the centre of the universe and doesn’t move (Psalm 93:1; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 104:5; 1 Chronicles 16:30). How can the earth revolve around the sun? After all, Ecclesiastes 1:5 clearly says that it is the sun that “rises and sets and hurries around to rise again.”

It reminds me of a saying that you’ll sometimes hear in christian settings:

The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.

Did the Bible get it wrong? In Galileo’s day they certainly didn’t think so and Galileo was treated harshly for it. But today, even the most dedicated christian has to admit that on this side of history, knowing what we know about our solar system, those verses are to be understood as expressing the human experience within the limits of the author’s knowledge of the world in his or her day.

So back to the question, why is it so difficult to accept that something we thought was true may not be? It’s unsettling sometimes. Especially in regards to issues that are more fundamental to our particular worldview. If I got that wrong, what else could I be mistaken about?

I was listening to a podcast on my way home from work this week and it got me thinking about this. Trey Pearson, the lead singer of Everyday Sunday, was being interviewed and he said something about knowledge that stood out to me.

That is the interesting thing about knowledge. We are so scared of it sometimes ‘cause it might mean something is different than how we thought it was.

Are you Epistemophobic? Can you remember moments when you realized some fundamental things you had always believed were in fact incorrect? How did you feel? Was it a positive or negative experience?

Imagine Life Without Mirrors

I think it’s safe to say that among the things we take for granted, mirrors would make the top of our list. Just think about it for a second. What would you do without a mirror? How would you know what you look like? Ya, you could run to a puddle on a rainy day or take a walk to the nearest pond but work with me here. Just imagine a world with nothing we could look into to provide a reflexion of ourselves. Your face, the only one you have. The one you carry around with you everywhere you go. The one anyone but yourself can see clearly. The one you are touching right now. Yes, that one.

Without someone or something to provide you with a reflexion of your face you simply wouldn’t know what people see when they are looking at you. Even if you were to ask someone to describe you facial features you would still be left to ponder. What did they mean by that? When he said my nose is big, how big was he talking about?

There is really romantic book in the Bible where a young man and a young woman go back and forth telling of their love for one another. On one occasion the young man ventures into a description of the young woman’s face. Here is what he says :

Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats frisking down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are as white as sheep, newly shorn and washed. They are perfectly matched; not one is missing. Your lips are like a ribbon of scarlet. Oh, how beautiful your mouth! Your cheeks behind your  veil are like pomegranate halves – lovely and delicious. (Song of Songs 4:1-3, New Living Translation)

I can imagine the young woman thinking, “oh honey, that is so sweet! Wait a minute. What do you mean a flock of goats? I don’t even like pomegranates!” She gets so caught up trying to figure out what her face looks like in light of that description, she totally misses the next part when he says her neck is like a tower and her breasts are like the twin fawns of a gazelle.

So you see, without mirrors, even with your loved ones best intentions, you are still somewhat at a loss as far as knowing what your face really looks like. In other words, mirrors are quite useful.

We’ve all looked into one at least once today. If you haven’t yet, maybe you should take it into consideration. Just to be on the safe side.

The main reason why we’ve all taken a moment today to glance at a mirror is because we are aware of our inability to see what is going on with our face and hair unless we have the mirror to reflect our image back at us. Interestingly enough, rarely will we argue with the mirror’s assessment. If the mirror reveals left over Nutella on the tip of my nose I’ll immediately do something about it. If my tongue can’t reach it, I’ll wipe it off with something else. One thing is certain, at least I hope it is, I will not leave the house without having obeyed the mirror which is telling me, “look Georges, you’re not quite ready to go out there yet. You need to take care of the smudge on your face.”

If I didn’t have the mirror I would ask my wife and she would most certainly, and lovingly of course, point out the Nutella still hanging around. Then I, being the good husband that I am, would immediately take her word for it and wipe it away.

We need others and we need a reflexion of ourselves in order to know what we look like.

I wonder what else about myself, my personality, my character and my habits I am unable to clearly see without the help of someone or something else? Or is it just my face?