Saturday, December 27, 2008

The bald truth

As Joel was packing up his things this week, he came across a picture that we had taken several years ago of him and me at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, standing beside the Stanley Cup.  I was shocked by what I saw.

I had hair back then!!  A nice wavy set of hair!  As I look at the mirror now, I note that each day the grass seems to be getting thinner of this old roof. What the heck happened here?

Okay, I know, I know....aging, chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant,  life and all of that other stuff.

But I just wasn't prepared for the shock of seeing myself looking so much younger. It seems like it was only yesterday.

Man, I'm starting to sound as old as I look.

Empty nesters

Well, as of today, my wife and I are empty nesters. Joel and Rebecca (my oldest two) moved out today into their own apartment closer to downtown Mississauga.  It will be a change, for sure.   It will nice to have the extra room (I am typing this from my new office in David's old room.  Our youngest moved out in October).  Denita will find it hard, I know.  She poured so much of herself into the kids.  For the past couple of days whenever I asked how she was feeling, she simply said (without rancour), "I don't want to talk about  it." 

Now, as I look around the house and see the remnants of the move, the finality of it has come home to me.  My kids are grownup. 

I think we did a good job.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Convert or else....

Well, here is an interesting little piece of video dated November 27 and broadcast on Al-Nas TV in Egypt.  In it, Egyptian cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal calls on U.S. President-elect Obama to convert to Islam and threatens that, if he doesn't, "We have people who are eager for death."  Now, of course, for you conspiracy types who think that Obama is already as Muslim, the threats in this video are meaningless... right?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts from the ash heap redux

I have been going through some of my old blogs today back on the Persecuted Church Weblog and I came across one from July 2006 that I thought I would like to share again with some of you who are new to my blogs:

The past four years since I was diagnosed with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) have reinforced my long-held conviction that most western Christians do not know how to handle suffering from a biblical perspective. When fellow believers have learned that I have what is essentially an incurable disease, they have tended to respond in one or more of the following ways:

1. Hyper-faith: "Healing is always God's will. So don't accept what you have and claim God's promises."
2. Faithlessness: "How tragic! How can a good God allow such a thing! You must be angry with God, eh?"
3. Quick Fix: "I had a friend who went on this special diet and the cancer went away. You should try it!"
4. Denial: "Don't worry. Be happy! After all, the Bible says to rejoice in all things!"
5. Avoidance: "Let's not talk about this. I don't know what to say."
6. Resignation: "Well, I suppose your life and usefulness is winding down. Better start planning your legacy."

Now, I recognize that there are elements of truth in all of these responses. And I try hard not to get annoyed by the "friends of Job" that invariably arrive whenever one is going through trials. But lately, I am finding that I would rather sit on the ash heap (cf. Job 2:8) by myself. At least part of me does. Part of me would still like some company, but it is hard to find those who will sit and pray and accept that suffering often involves mystery that requires faith, not sight; trust, not explanations and solutions.

I am satisfied with the knowledge that God allows nothing to come into my life that does not first pass through his sovereign Hands. I trust that He is accomplishing His purposes in and through my life in a way today that He could not do if I were perfectly healthy. Living with a keener sense of mortality is not altogether a bad thing. It tends to bring an edge to your life than is often missing otherwise. You know that you have one shot at life in which to accomplish God's purposes and so you'd better make the best of it. Could this be why many Christians who live under the shadow of persecution are making a greater impact on the world today than those of us who live in relative freedom? We live with diminished sense of urgency.
Anyway, my biggest struggle right now is not retreating to the ash heap, seeking to escape the well-intentioned. I hope that someday they will join me, though, trying to listen to the voice in the whirlwind (Job 38:1).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So, how am I feeling?

It's been a while since I gave any kind of update on my health. I am pretty much finished with the cold I caught back in November.  For a fairly minor cold, it sure hung on for a long time.

Apart from that, I am feeling better than I have for a while. It is nice being off of most of the drugs that I have been on for so long, especially those that fogged my mind.   Of course, I am then tempted to start traveling or doing some other stupid thing, but I have to admit that my days of travel are pretty much over. It really does change your perspective to realize that you probably will be worse in a year from now than you are today.  That is the reality I live with.  It really changes everything.  I am so used to living like whatever setback I am presently experiencing will eventually be overcome.  Not this, unless God miraculously intervenes and I have no promise from Him that He will.  Faith is not claiming what God has not promised; that's presumption and putting the Lord to the test.  That, I will not do.  Do I believe He can heal?  Of course.  Do I know He will.  No.   Do I think He will?  I don't think so.  I think He has called me to to testify to His faithfulness in the midst of the fire.  This is probably the harder miracle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Maybe the Grinch was right

grinch1 As noted in an earlier blog, I am a big fan of The Grinch That Stole Christmas.  However, I hold some rather unconventional views on the main protagonist of the story.  It is simply this: I liked the Grinch better before he got "Who'd".  To my mind, he was a much more interesting character prior to his heart growing three sizes that day. And those Whos!!!  Am I the only one that really found them to be annoying with their constant smiling and insipid singing?  I say Amen to the Grinch's response, in the words of Dr. Suess:

And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!

In the debate over the real message of Christmas and whether Christmas has become too commercialized, it must be said that the Grinch had a point in his dislike of Christmas and all of its trappings.  The English Puritans certainly shared his desire to ban the whole thing. In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Oliver Cromwell considered all of the feasting and revelry on what was supposed to be a holy day quite immoral and anyone caught celebrating Christmas was arrested.  In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the observance of Christmas was once banned for 22 years. Even after it was legalized, public disapproval of Christmas celebrations lasted several years longer.  Just this year, the government of Croatia has banned Christmas and New Year parties in the public sector because of the global financial crisis.

Ah, but you will say, the Grinch later witnessed how Christmas came, despite all his efforts:

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"

And how, after he had puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. "Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Perhaps, but what that "little bit more" is, is never said and his response is simple capitulation, as the Grinch actually becomes a Who. Indeed, he even carves the roast beast, something he earlier said, he couldn't stand in the least!

So, is this Suess story one of a life changed by singing?  Or it a tale of a lonely old man who gives up his convictions and a good part of what actually made him interesting in order to get a good meal and some company on Christmas?

In conclusion, let me ask you.  Did you like the Grinch better before his Who experience or after it?

<a href=";BB_id=135966">Do you like the Grinch pre-Who or post-Who experience?</a> | <a href="">BuzzDash polls</a>

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Taking Christ out of Christmas?

christ-christmas Today I had the most pleasant privilege of chatting with a friend in Winkler, Manitoba where I pastored for a few years over 15 years ago (has it really been that long??).  Peter Wiebe was one of those men whose gentle spirit tended to pull people together; you just hated to disagree with Peter because he was always a gentleman, regardless of how heated a discussion got.    I have been so happy that we have been able to maintain contact from time to time in the past few years.

In our conversation, he mentioned an article that he wrote last year for his church and which he was hoping to get published in a local paper this year. He asked if I would like to see it.  Of course, I said. And so he emailed it to me this afternoon.  I got his permission to post it and so I am going to.  I think that it is an excellent reminder as we enter the Christmas season:

Taking Christ out of Christmas?

“They are taking Christ out of Christmas.” “They don’t even allow their employees to wish their customers a Merry Christmas”. These are concerns I have heard every Christmas for the past ten years or so.

Before we get all worried about the market place and shopping malls taking Christ out of Christmas let’s set the record straight. The word Christmas literally comes from the early church celebrating of the Mass of Christ, the sacrament of communion on the day we celebrate His birthday. This term, Christ mass is a term used long before we had the division of Catholics and Protestants. Although we celebrate it differently Christmas is an important day for both of these groups. Both Catholics and Protestants make an attempt to remind people that Christmas by definition is remembering the death of Christ at the time we celebrate His birthday. The early church had it right, the birth of Christ is only meaningful when we consider His sacrifice.

Recently Verna and I were doing some “Christmas shopping” in one of our fine large urban malls. Verna entered the stores while I window shopped from the benches kindly supplied by mall owners for the men in the crowd. An elderly lady tired of the shopping sat down beside me. We exchanged pleasantries. When she was rested she got up to get back to shopping and I wished her a merry Christmas. She looked back at me with large eyes. I thought she was going to bite my head off, but she said, “Thank you, that is the first time in many years that anyone has said those words to me”. I looked around that day and if memory serves me correctly I did not find one store using the word Christmas it was all, “Happy Holidays”.

Should the church be concerned about the marketplace taking the word Christmas out of the stores? My answer to that is both yes and no. The removal of the word Christmas tells us that our nation is sliding away from its Christian heritage. It does tell us that a spiritual battle is going on. Of course the marketplace is totally oblivious to that. I would like to think that finally the secular world realized the hypocrisy of using Christ to sell their products. I would hope they quit using the word Christmas because they realized that the birth and sacrifice of Christ is more than just a sales gimmick. But alas they were not aware of the hypocrisy. The light came into the world and the world knew Him not. No, they took Christ out of Christmas because it affected the bottom line.

The push to remove Christmas from the malls comes from customers who know what Christmas truly stands for and they can’t stand it. These people object and protest strongly… they want no part of this, get it out of the marketplace they say. They are offended by the gospel of Christ.

So what is a Christian to do about this… there are many opinions. I heard one Christian brother say we should boycott the stores that no longer use the word Christmas. Poor store owners, the non believers boycott you if you use the word Christmas and Christians boycott you it you don’t.

No let us not boycott, but let us spread the good news to all the marketplace. Let us wish those who do not know Christ a Merry Christmas, using the whole meaning of the word. If a store does not use word Christmas let us not avoid them, rather give them an opportunity to know the true meaning of Christmas. On the other hand if a store uses the word Christmas, remind them what Christmas is really about.

So yes, we can be a little offended when the marketplace does not allow its Christian employees to wish us a merry Christmas. But, we should be more than just a little offended when the marketplace uses the birth and suffering of Christ to make a sale.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 53:4 & 5 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

That is what Christmas was and is and always will be! There is nothing the marketplace can do about that!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dilbert widget gone

Sorry to the Dilbert fans, but I had to remove the Dilbert widget with its daily cartoon from the top of this webpage.  It hasn't been working right for about two weeks; you always have to refresh the page to get it operating.  And then it sometimes locks up your browser.  So, adios amigos.

If you're like you, and you still need your daily Dilbert fix, you can subscribe to the Dilbert Daily Strip RSS feed at

The Canadian version of the Axis of Evil

Not one of these guys has been given the mandate to run this country. And so they are trying to seize it, claiming that it is legal. Need we point out that both Lenin and Hitler also came to power constitutionally as leaders of minority parties? So that is hardly a valid argument. Just because something is legal, it does not make it ethical or right.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My song for the season

 Grinch I just love this song....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Latest update on Glenn's health

Here is the latest update sent out by my wife:

Another month has passed and another visit to the doctor has come and gone.  We saw the doctor yesterday and Glenn's blood work was still good - the platelets were more normal and the white count o.k.  It would appear from his blood that the CLL (his cancer) is not very active right now. That was a relief for us as Glenn has been battling a cold for at least 3 weeks now and hasn't been feeling very good.  Over the past week, though, he has been starting to feel better.  Probably the biggest symptom he struggles with right now is tiredness.  Since things are going fairly well right now and Christmas is always crazy busy at the clinics, the doctor felt we could wait until mid-January to see him again....almost a two month break!!!! 

As Glenn's condition has stabilized some, we have been wondering again if it might be possible to transfer back to Credit Valley.  Yesterday we asked the doctor if we could revisit that option, and if he wouldn't mind contacting Credit Valley for us again.  Being closer to home would be so much easier, especially when Glenn has to be hospitalized.  The doctor completely agreed with us, but suggested we wait until the busy Christmas season is over.  Please pray that Credit Valley will reconsider taking Glenn and in the new year we will be able to make that switch.

Thank you for all the's been quite a ride.  As it's not likely I will send out another update this year (Lord willing), I trust you will know the Peace and Joy of the Lord at this Christmas season.  May your family times be special and may God's grace be poured out on you as you celebrate the birth of His Son.  God Bless you!!



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Frustrated by Man United

Watched the game yesterday between Aston Villa and Manchester United and was frustrated by the inability of United to put the ball in the goal.  The sloppy passing in the offensive end made the second half made a concentrated attack almost impossible.

United is having a tougher year, for sure, than in the past couple. Part of the problem seems to be their inability to put their entire talent on the field at the same time.  Between Berbatov, Ronaldo or Rooney, someone always seems to be off nursing an injury. I am concerned that they do not seems destined to repeat last year's success in either the Champion's League or the Premiership.

Update on Glenn's father

Well, Dad was finally admitted into the hospital a few days ago after spending the best part of a couple days in emergency. He isn't enjoying himself much apparently, but they did determine that the problems he was having was due to medication he was taking.  We were relieved that it wasn't any more serious than that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New laptop policy at the mission

I have actually been at some meetings where it might have been a good idea to have this policy in place. Everyone was so busy answering their emails that no one was actually paying action to what was being said.

Update on Dad Penner

Last night, Twyla, my sister-in-law, sent me this email updating us on the condition of my father:

Hi, Glenn,

I'm not sure what your sleep schedule is, so thought I'd send an email knowing that you check it often. I just heard from Mom; she's been in to see Dad this evening. He's still in emerg because they don't have a bed on the neuro floor. At this point, he's having difficulty speaking, writing and putting his thoughts together. Jim and I are hoping that she's able to talk to his doctor so she can get the full story. She did find out that he's going in for a test (an EEG she thinks...) tomorrow. If we have more updates we'll let you know right away.


Please remember Mom and Dad Penner in your prayers today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Glenn's father hospitalized

Please pray for my father who was taken into emergency yesterday and at last report is still waiting for admittance into the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.  Some of the symptoms that Dad is exhibiting appear like he has had a minor stroke, but we are still waiting for find out for sure what is wrong.  I know that my family would appreciate your prayers at this time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My name is Glenn and I am a librophiliac

I have a confession to make.  I love books.  I mean, I really love them.  One glance at my office can tell you that, as three of the four walls have bookshelves on them.  And not just any books, mind you.  Good ones (at least I think so).  I have culled my herd at least three times in the past decade and I am still running out of bookshelf space. I have books everywhere; on the stand beside my bed, you will find Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  As I stumble to the washroom each morning, I grab it and read a page on two.  The same goes on every night before I go to sleep.  I simply cannot go to sleep if I don't read first.  I do wonder what people would think of me, however, if they were to learn that lately I have started and ended each day reading about Adolf Hitler. But such is the life of the librophiliac. I cannot always control what grabs my interest at a particular time. Downstairs on the couch, you will find the equally massive tome, Christopher JH Wright's The Mission of God. I haven't read much of it in the past couple of weeks though. It's a good book, but my mood hasn't been right for such reading. Besides, that is one of my downfalls; I like to start books - I don't always finish them.  I feel guilty about that, but I probably shouldn't.  Why waste time on something that can't keep my attention?  But I am one of those guys who likes to finish what they start and so my life (and desk) is stacked up with half read books.  On my desk at work, I have 2-3 others stacked up beckoning out to me.  I hear their cries but resist.  How many can I read at a time?

Calvin Miller, in his 1985 article “Confessions of a Librophiliac” in Christianity Today (January 18, 1985, page 32) said, quite correctly, "Readers, on the other hand, have at least 7.5 books going all the time. Actually, the number of books a reader takes on is usually directly related to the number of bathrooms he has in his home and office. I am working on a survey that will show that, over a lifetime, readers are in bathrooms seven years and three months longer than nonreaders."

Is the term "honour killing" racist?

A fascinating article in the National Post today addresses the question as to whether the term "honour killing" is racist and Islamophobic. The article begins:

It is the grizzled face on a Wanted poster that usually catches the eye, but as the FBI realized late last month, the words matter, too.

In its initial poster seeking fugitive Texas cab driver Yasser Abdel Said – sought for the double homicide of his teenaged daughters – the bureau said he disapproved of their dating non-Muslim boys and stated that they were murdered "due to an ‘Honour Killing.'"

Though family members speculated that the father's Islamic belief motivated the crime, the use of the phrase "honour killing" incensed the local Muslim-American community, who argued that the accused's religion should not be linked to the double homicide, which left his two daughters dead in the back of his taxi.

After a public outcry, the FBI struck the offending words three weeks ago.

A Bureau spokesman explained that unlike a hate crime, there is no legal definition of an honour killing. "It's not our job to label this case anything other than what it is, what is from a criminal perspective," he said, apologizing that the writer did not see "the misunderstanding" the wording would create.

The girls' great aunt, however, was not satisfied." Everyone knows this is an honour killing," she told "But even our law enforcement and the FBI succumb to the pressure?"

Whether these kinds of crimes take place in Texas, Europe or even in Mississauga, Ontario – where the father and brother of teenager Aqsa Parvez will soon appear in court charged with killing her last December – the term itself is already on trial, a topic that speaks to the extreme hair-trigger sensitivities of multicultural balance.

(Read the rest of the article by clicking here.)

The issue in debate is whether these killings are solely examples of domestic abuse in which religion had no role, or whether they were influenced or even motivated by the killer's religious beliefs. It seems to me, however, that how one answers that question is influenced very little by the actual facts. It is clear that these are cases where religion played a major role in justifying abusive behaviour that resulted in these girl's death. To say otherwise is to close one's eyes and pretend that something doesn't exist because you don't want it to exist.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Silence speaks

The other day one of my coworkers asked me how I really was doing.  The fact that I had been rather silent in my blogs lately was an indication that all was not well.  An astute observation.  As I am getting older and the longer that I have been on this journey with cancer, the less I share when things aren't going well.  The last week has been a bit of a struggle.  While this cold has been hanging on longer than I expected, it never became really serious.  Still, I feel "off." I am shorter of breath than usual, find myself extremely worn out at the end of each day, and feeling nauseous in the mornings.  And I am not even taking any chemo at the present time!

I spoke twice yesterday morning at my home church here in Mississauga for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  The second message went better than the first, largely because during the second one, I finally swallowed my pride and sat on a stool while I was preaching.  It was great being in the pulpit again though.  But it is very tiring. I just don't have much stamina.

Add to that the disappointment of having recently been let down by someone I trusted for a long time.  His actions have impacted me more than I want to admit and given one of my most valued projects a body blow that I am not sure is recoverable.  This is the third time this kind of thing has happened in the last four months, where someone I trusted acted in a way that violated this trust.  Trust is important to me, as anyone who knows me well can attest.

I don't know how all of this will work out.  I am committed, however, to continue, by God's grace, to walk with integrity and faith even if short of breath and heavy of heart.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I caught a virus! (no, not that kind)

virus_cartoonWell, it's official. I have another cold!  A week ago, I knew that I was coming down with something (it's funny how you get to know your body when your health becomes one of your main priorities, like mine has for the past 6 years).  Feeling sapped throughout the week, as my body tried to fight it off, I cancelled a trip I was to go on, knowing that the extra stress would likely make it worse.  But this morning, as I was ready to head out the door for church, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Coughing, runny nose, sinus pain and chest congestion. Oh the joy of it all!  Lucky for you, I can't pass this virus on through the Internet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just like Jesus....

Now, here's a new twist from one of my favorite cartoonists:


Latest update on Glenn's health

Here's the latest update from Denita sent out to our friends and family:

Hi!  It's been quite a while since I sent an update, so here goes....  About a month ago we met with the doctor and Glenn's platelets and lymphocytes were low so the doctor told Glenn to quit the chemo to see if that would help his blood counts.  Glenn was happy to comply as the chemo drug was making him feel awful in the morning.  After that doctor's visit we went away for 2 1/2 weeks for vacation and we had a wonderful, relaxing and fun time.  Both of us got lots of rest.  We returned from our vacation last Thursday and on Monday we saw the doctor again.  Glenn's platelet count has come up a bit, but his lymphocytes are still below normal so the doctor suggested he stay off the chemo for now and we don't have to go back until the end of November (YEAH!!!).  All in all, Glenn is feeling quite good.  He continues to put in a full week of work.  He does feel like he is coming down with a cold/flu right now, though.  I think our biggest challenge will be getting him past the flu season without getting really sick. 

Besides that, life goes on.  It is nice to settle into a more normal routine right now.  We can almost pretend nothing is wrong.  Thank you for your love and concern.

Till next time...


Friday, October 24, 2008

As the birdies fly away

emptynest My wife and I are starting to experience the "empty nest" syndrome.  Well, more accurately, my wife is.  I, being a typically male, am pumping my arm going, "Yes!  Now I can finally get that office I have been wanting.  And no more having to see if the car is still in the driveway!  Freedom!  Finances! Go kid go!  Best of luck and good flying!"

Denita, however, is less enthusiastic.  David (our youngest) moved into his own place while we were on vacation.  I know it's hard for her.  Denita loved being being a mom.  She still does.  Early in the New Year, our oldest two will be moving out. Then it will only be the two of us.  A new stage for both of us, I expect, but more so for my beloved wife.

Now, to scope out David's room to see where my desk will best fit....

As we face the coming storm

As the worldwide economic storm seems to grow ever darker, it seems to me that there are two, equally wrong, options that I could take as the CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs.

First, is to panic and act as if God does not exist.  Yes, we may have to face some cost-cutting measures.  Yes, we will need to expand our supporter base.  But decisions will be made carefully and with considerable prayer and deliberation.  We will not violate our values of integrity and faithfulness to God in the face of economic hardships and uncertainty.

The second danger would be to act as if it were "business as usual"  or crying "full steam ahead" and calling it faith. As I mentioned, keeping costs down and finding ways of increasing the number of those who receive our monthly newsletter will need to be priorities in the coming months or longer.  The way of wisdom is to know the times and act accordingly.  Acting in faith, yes.  But faith does not mean claiming promises that God has not made. 

One approach you will not see me take is the one exemplified in this cartoon.


As we look ahead, what can you do to stand with us? The needs of the persecuted will not stop and we will need to continue to stand with them in their time of need.  First, you can pray that we will have the wisdom to know God's priorities for us and how He wants to direct us in the days to come.  Second, if you have friends and neighbours whom you think might be interested in our ministry, let us know or encourage them to sign up for our free monthly newsletter.  Let them know that we will never pressure them to give to our mission, telephone them or send fundraising letters to them.  We simply let people know what is going on around the world with God's persecuted church.  We then show how Canadians are already getting involved in showing their love for their suffering family and their passion to see the world won for Christ regardless of the cost.  We leave it to God to do the rest.  God has honoured this approach in the past and as we all face an uncertain future, I am confident that He will continue to honour it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Off on vacation

Starting tomorrow, I am heading off on vacation until October 24th. Most importantly (to my wife I'm sure) I will not be taking my laptop with us (which is really the only way to get me to really relax).  Hence, I will not be blogging or checking emails until I get back. 

So, take care and see you in a few weeks.



Today I voted in an advance poll as I am not going to be home on election day.  As I was waiting to cast my vote, I was reminded of something I read in a recent biography of John A. MacDonald how voting by secret ballot was not always how Canadian elections were held.  I am not sure when it changed, but in the 19th century, the "manly" way to vote was to stand and shout out the name of your preferred candidate.

Of course, this led to some rather heated and less than civil elections. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some weeks

There have been some days lately when I have certainly felt like this:


I need a break

It took a while, but I am finally looking forward to my vacation that starts next week.  I will be away for just shy of three weeks and really feel the need for a break. The last few weeks have been quite taxing at the mission; many quite difficult decisions and it has taken its toll.  I am so thankful that my colleagues talked me into it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Light the Night

 lightI am really excited that members of my family are getting involved in Light the NIght, a fund-raising event for the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society of Canada that features participants carrying illuminated balloons on a 5 km twilight walk to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by cancer.  The families of my niece, Alicia and my cousin Tracy are walking in my honour, which touches my heart very deeply.  I am so proud to be part of such a family. 

May I encourage you to join them as they seek to raise money for lymphoma and leukemia research?  You can make your pledge online for either Team Brown or Fox Trot

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a week!

This has been a brutal week. Meetings, dealing with conflicts (none staff related, praise God), having to turn down requests that I simply don't have time to deal with, working through some very difficult issues with one of our overseas partners (which ended up with our eventually deciding that we had to drop all future work with them). These are some of the inevitable duties of a CEO, but wow, do I feel tired out by the end of the week. Tomorrow I go out for brunch with 3 members of our team who work outside of our head office and while there is a part of me that would like to cancel it tonight, I know that I will enjoy it tomorrow. Some of these guys I haven't seen in months; in one case, well over a year.

I am starting to really look forward to my holidays in a couple of weeks (as is my wife). Now if I can just get through the next week (which also promises to be full of meetings, staff training and strategy meetings for our international work. I know that they will be fun, but I also know I will probably be wrecked a week from now.

I'm not complaining. This work is my calling and my love. It's just a statement of fact. So bring it on!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Church of England to apologize to Darwin

In a website to be launched tomorrow, the Church of England is planning to apologize to Charles Darwin for being over-defensive and over-emotional in dismissing Darwin's ideas and will call "anti-evolutionary fervour" an "indictment" on the Church".

According to the Telegraph, the apology, which has been written by the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, the Church's director of mission and public affairs, says that Christians, in their response to Darwin's theory of natural selection, repeated the mistakes they made in doubting Galileo's astronomy in the 17th century.

darwin"The statement will read: Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practise the old virtues of 'faith seeking understanding' and hope that makes some amends."

One blogger responded to the news with the comment, "One gets the idea that the folks who run the Church of England have nothing better to do — say, feed the hungry, clothes the naked, visit prisoners, heal the sick, and preach the Good News, all priorities valued by Jesus Christ — then come up with goofball ideas."  I would add that is just plan weird giving an apology to a dead person using the second person. making it seem like the recipient can actually hear what is being said; unless the Church of England thinks that Darwin has evolved into a non-corporeal being.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Slowly moving out again

I am gradually starting to get my courage up again to try traveling.  My experience last May admittedly spooked me.  Having to fly home from Europe in the middle of a trip, being taken right from the airport to the hospital and taking two months to recuperate from a severe case of shingles is enough to make travelanyone anyone swear off leaving home for a while.  And it did do that to me.  I cancelled plans to attend two meetings in London (one last week and another scheduled for a month from now).  Given the uncertainty of my treatment and health, this was probably the wise thing to do, but I feel restless.  And so I am planning on going on vacation next month and have booked a flight to a meeting in Cyprus in November. 

The challenge is to know how to discern between proper and undue caution given my condition.  Sometimes my family, friends and co-workers are helpful; sometimes not.  I do sense that I am doing the right thing in the decisions that I have made as to which trips to go to and which to miss.  I would appreciate your prayers as I try to discern what traveling I should and should not do.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The top 19 ways to annoy people

I am an oldest child.  This means that, among other things, I tend to be an incurable tease (I tyrannized my younger brothers) and have this urge from time-to-time to do things just to get a reaction.  Hence, lists like this are the stuff of life to me:

The top 19 ways to annoy people:

1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 150%, dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.

2. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sensual massage.”

3. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go”

4. Insist on keeping your windshield wipers running in all weather conditions “to keep them tuned up”

5. Reply to everything someone says with “that’s what you think”

6. Practice making fax and modem noises

7. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and “cc” them to your boss.

8. Finish all of your sentences with “in accordance with prophecy”

9. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green and insist to others that you like it that way.

10. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

11. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: “Do you hear that?” “What?” “Never mind, it’s gone now.”

12. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.

13. Ask people what gender they are.

14. While making a presentation, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

15. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

16. Sing along at the opera.

17. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn’t rhyme.

18. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about “psychological profiles.”

19. Send this list to everyone in your email address book even if they sent it to you or ask you not to send things like this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Before you click on that "send & receive" button

emailstorm In a study last year, Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University, England, found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email. People who check their email every five minutes (which is about 35% of all users) waste 81/2 hours a week figuring out what they were doing moments before.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"I am offended"

easily_offended Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.”

It is fashionable today to get offended. A recent search on Google of the phrase “I am offended” produced 185,000 results. It’s a powerful statement. Say to someone, “I am offended by what you did” and automatically your problem becomes their problem, regardless of whether the offence was intended or not. It is as if we feel that we have a right not to be offended and we hold the entire world hostage to this expectation.

Christians and non-Christians are equally guilty of this. As the CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs, I hear more than my share of concerns and complaints from those who read our newsletter, website, email news service, or watch our videos. Sometimes what we write and present is offensive to certain people. Some do not appreciate the nature of our ministry and what we stand for and we can make no apology for that.  Sometimes we offend people due to carelessness or oversight.  Other times, we did not anticipate that something might be taken in a certain way.  Many of those who contact us with concerns are godly, well-intentioned people; many give their concerns respectfully and courteously. I value their comments and we are a better organization for having listened to them. Others are less courteous and nothing you say or do will satisfy them. I confess to being especially stymied by those who preface their complaint with, “I found this offensive” or “I was offended by this.” Behind the statement is the expectation that I will admit that they are absolutely right and promise that we will never make this error again. The problem is, sometimes the offence is of such a nature that it would have been difficult or impossible to anticipate; you just can’t always guess what will set someone off.

We need to keep in mind that when a comment seems offensive that it may not have been intentional or aimed specifically at us or our group. We need to consider the context that things are being said or done. Many times, we may have misunderstood and taken wrongly what the other person intended to communicate. Give the person the benefit of the doubt and avoid jumping to conclusions that automatically assumes the worst or plays into our own fears, insecurities or, alternately, our own convictions and pet peeves.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Denita's latest update

Here's a quick update.  We saw the doctor today after spending 4 1/2 mind numbing hours waiting to get into the room.  Glenn's blood work is looking good.  His platelets were up, his hemoglobin was about the same, and his lymphocytes were in the normal range, so it looks like we are on the right track with treatment.  The doctor wants Glenn to stay on the chemo pills for another couple of months and then he'll have scans done to see where things are at.  Glenn has been feeling fairly good aside from the cold he caught about a week and a half ago.  That seems to be going away and the doctor is giving him some antibiotics to make sure it does go away.  Aside from feeling a bit nauseous at times and quite tired, Glenn is managing to put in a full week at work.  Thank you for all your prayers and concern. As long as everything stays about the same, our next appointment to see the doctor is Oct. 6. 

Till then...

Love, Denita

Friday, September 5, 2008

Attention to details

As an obsessive-compulsive, I can really appreciate this cartoon.  While being a perfectionist can be a good thing in that it helps organizations reach a high level of excellence, it can also drive co-workers a little crazy; just ask those who work with me.  Sorry team!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling Better

I picked a good time to get a cold (if such a thing were possible). Having a long weekend to rest up, sleep, and take it easy has got me feeling really quite well. Ready to take on next week at the office.  Just have to be careful not to overdo it.  Thankfully, I have a good staff to help me with that.

Feeling better about Man United now too, as they have signed Berbatov.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you probably call football, soccer :-).  Check out my widget below on the Manchester United Football Club; only the best football team in the world.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My favourite view

One of the things I truly love about my home is the front patio-style window that faces out of the front of the house onto the street. We are fortunate to live in a neighbourhood that is old enough to have some mature trees on it and tends to be rather quiet in the morning.  It is the view from this window that comes to my mind whenever I am away on a trip and I think of home. 

I think of my wife sitting on the loveseat in front of the window every morning, curled up under a blanket, drinking coffee and reading her Bible.  Our grey and white cat is typically stretched out on her lap and our little black dog is sleeping beside her, rolled up in a little dark ball.  When I am overseas and missing Denita, it is this picture that I see.

Outside, black squirrels run around or jump from branch to branch, performing acrobatic feats that never cease to amaze me.  We have one squirrel across the road who seems determined to have the biggest and most elaborate nest in the neighbourhood.  We have witnessing him dragging entire pieces of newspapers and oversized plastic sheets up to his nest which easily exceeds any other nest on the street.

Across the street, lives a Tamil family from Sri Lanka.  Every morning, the grandfather goes out, dressed in his traditional garb, and has a cigarette.  Sometimes, he sits on the chair by the door but usually he stands out in front of the house, puffing away, hardly inhaling. I can tell that he enjoys it, which is probably why I like watching him smoke.  Or perhaps it is because it is because he is entirely predictable.  Every morning, only one cigarette, and dressed in the same clothes. At this time in my life when things are so unpredictable, I tend to gravitate towards things I can count on.  Regardless of why I enjoy watching him, I would be rather disappointed if he ever quit smoking.

Another constant in my universe is the tree in our front yard that I see every morning. It is a rather lazy tree. In our neighbourhood, it is the last tree in the spring to get its leaves and the first in the fall to drop them.  No idea why it acts this way, but every year it is the same. Endearing, annoying and entirely predictable. 

It's these little things that add colour to our life.  They are the things that make us long for home when away and make us glad to be home when we wish we were away. Over my life, I have seen many things in many countries.  But my favourite view is still the view from my front window.  

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fighting a cold

Pretty much slept the day away, trying to recuperate from a cold that I came down with a couple of days ago. One thing about being immuno suppressed; even the common cold hits you harder and differently than before.  They tend to go straight to my lungs (my weak spot now) and hang on for a long time. Add this to the chemo I am taking and I really wake up in the morning feeling like road kill. 

The thing is, I know that what will likely take me out is not the cancer; it will be pneumonia or something like that. As such, I tend to get concerned about every little sniffle.  Sometimes, I get hard on myself for feeling that way but it is life nowadays for me. There's no hiding from it or pretending that it is not what it is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Greg's new office

Greg Musselman is my good friend and colleague based in Edmonton. We at the head office have decided that Greg needs to downsize his office in Edmonton and make it a little more cost effective and environmentally friendly. Hence, this is the office we have decided to set up for him before he returns from vacation next week.  I hope he likes it.  Only the best for my buddy.










Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Office Policy at The Voice of the Martyrs

From: Glenn Penner (CEO)

Dress Code:
You are advised to come to work dressed according to your salary.

1) If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we will assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise.

2) If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise.

3) If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

Sick Days:
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days:
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturdays & Sundays.

Bereavement Leave:
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend the funeral arrangements in your place. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

Bathroom Breaks:
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the washrooms. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the washroom door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your second offense, your picture will be posted on Sherry's bulletin board under the 'Chronic Offenders' category. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be considered a possible violator of our ethical conduct policy.

Lunch Break:
1) Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need to eat more, so that they can look healthy.

2) Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure.

3) Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.

Thank you for your loyalty to our organization. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation and input should be directed elsewhere.

The Management

Monday, August 25, 2008

My church

Sometimes people ask where I go to church. Probably part of the reason is an attempt to classify me somehow (good luck with that!). If you want to know where I fit in theologically, take a look at my doctrinal statement . I am, without apology, a conservative evangelical. As for where my wife and I go to church, we have been members for the past 10+ years at City Centre Baptist Church (which is a Fellowship Baptist Church). We never attended Baptist churches before moving to Mississauga and neither of us grew up as Baptists (both my wife and I grew up in the same Evangelical Missionary Church back in Didsbury, Alberta) but when we moved here in 1997, we found that there was not a great choice on churches here (which was surprising for a city of 700,000). Anyway, we fit in here at City Centre now, despite a couple of rough patches. We love our new pastor and are encouraged by some of the changes that we have seen. We have friends here who pray for us and have really stood behind us during the past few years. And that, to my mind, is a big part of what church is. We may not see eye to eye about election, predestination, and eternal security (I am more Arminian that the typical Fellowship Baptist is) but we pray and worship together even when things are rough.

Saturday, August 23, 2008



Woke up this morning with a headache, much as I do almost every morning since I started this round of chemo (every evening I take four tablets of a drug called Leukeran). Usually, it goes away with a cup of two of coffee and maybe a couple of Tylenol , but not today. Been feeling a but nauseous, with a headache all day. Read the newspapers this morning, had brunch and then went back to bed where I napped and read until a few minutes ago when I decided to check my email.

In a nutshell, I feel "bleccchh". I suspect that I will have more days like this. I am grateful that most days I can function fairly normally, but the last 2-3 days have not been so good. Hope that this chemo will do some good so that I don't have to keep on it for too long. It does tend to wear you down little by little

Friday, August 22, 2008

A quote of a quote of a quote of a quote

You've got to wonder about the future of Christian journalism when, in press release today, a journalist in a rather well-known Christian news service quoted a journalist who quoted another journalist who quoted me in an interview on Wednesday.  As Todd Nettleton, my friend at VOM-USA wrote to me, "Apparently original sources are passé." 


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Actually, it is really easy in Zimbabwe, where the inflation rate rocketed to 11 million percent in June. 


Olympic disciple


Must be a Canadian. Satisfied to settle for third best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I have to admit that I have been a little down for the past couple of days. Probably a result of coming off of the very powerful steroids that I was on (I was operating like I was on jet fuel for the past few weeks) and the decision we made on Monday (see below). I am still convinced that we made the right decision. Prior to my stem cell transplant, I had pretty much accepted that there was no cure for my cancer. And I was at peace with it. Then the stem cell transplant provided a seed of hope and after a year and a half to be told that there was no trace of it... well, despite my best efforts to restrain my enthusiasm, I had begun to hope that perhaps I would have a reasonably normal life again (at least healthwise).

Now those hopes have been put to rest for good. There is no aggressive treatment left that probably won't either make make me an invalid or kill me off for good. The best I can hope for is remission if the less aggressive chemo I will take from time to time is effective. I will be starting a round of treatments tomorrow (just some pills on a daily basis for now).

Don't get me wrong; I haven't ruled out God. I do believe that He could heal me. But I have never been convinced that this is His plan for me. Some will accuse me of a lack of faith undoubtedly for even saying that. But the truth is, my walk with God has never been stronger than it has been the last few years and I believe that His call on my life had been to trust Him in the midst of this affliction, not despite it or in hopes of deliverance. In the midst of it.

One of my hopes in taking this approach is my hope that it will be easier on Denita. It is hard on her having to care for me when I am so sick or trying to be with me when I am in the hospital. Those days will be coming again, I know. But perhaps we can put them off for a while. Being a caregiver, I think, really is as hard or harder than being the one in need of being cared for. The last few years have been hard on my love.

Continue to uphold us in your prayers. Facing one's mortality or the mortality of one's loved one is never easy. I have no idea how much time I have. Could be a few years. Could be many. But I want them to count. This is why I decided not to spend them fighting to stay alive. There is more to life than fighting for life.

Monday, August 11, 2008

As normal as possible for as long as possible

Over the past six years, I have learned that my wife often explains my health situation far better than I do. Besides, I am not really sure what to write right now; as Denita says below, we are still "processing" what we learned today. Anyway, here is Denita's email to our friends and family updating them (and you) on our consulation with our oncologist today, as we seek a way forward: was the day we saw the doctor and got some answers. We're not really sure if it was good news or not so good news - we're still processing all that. Let me back up a bit. When Credit Valley said they didn't want to take Glenn on, we were referred to another hematology clinic in Princess Margaret. The doctor who will be in charge of Glenn's care there is a doctor we have seen on occasion in the transplant clinic, and we liked him, so we were happy about that. Today when he talked with us, he told us that to him the results of the tests are irrevelant. The fact that Glenn's cancer came back even after transplant means that it is stubborn and aggressive. What he wanted to find out is how aggressive we wanted to be in dealing with it. He pointed out that over the last 6 years the doctors have basically tried all the chemo drugs that are used to treat CLL and either they weren't effective, or Glenn developed a serious side effect that meant the chemo had to be stopped. He told us that if we got really aggressive Glenn could look forward to being very sick and possibly dying from complications of the treatment. Then he asked Glenn what he wanted, and Glenn said he wanted to "live as normal of a life as I can for as long as I can." When Glenn said that, the doctor agreed and told us that would be his preferred approach too. So....we have basically decided we will manage Glenn's cancer and deal with issues as they arise. That means another transplant is out. For now Glenn will be taking a chemo drug in pill form every day for the next month. We will then see the doctor again in a month and assess the situation. At that time we will decide further what else to do. Just another reminder that we need to live a day at a time and thank God for the strength he gives along the way.

This has been a tough day for us. We were really hoping we could beat this monster. Instead we will have to continue on in the battle. We covet your prayers as all of us are battle weary. The road ahead doesn't look rosy, but I'm confident that God walks with us and he will continue to strengthen us and use us in our weakness. Thank you for standing with us.

Love, Denita

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What is chronic lymphocytic leukemia?

chronic_lymphocytic_leukemia When people hear that I have cancer, I typically get one of two responses: 1) shock and an assumption that I must be virtually an invalid, living in pain (and staying home in bed), and 2) a testimony of some herbal remedy or treatment that really worked in someone they knew who had a different kind of cancer. I have yet to hear of one that worked on CLL.

While CLL is a rather common kind of cancer, most people know virtually nothing about it.  Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a condition characterized by an accumulation of abnormal lymphocytes in the blood and the bone marrow.  These lymphocytes do not perform their functions as normal ones would and interfere with the production of other blood cells necessary for the normal functioning of the blood.  This leads to complications like deficiency of the immune system, coagulation problems, swollen lymph nodes, and a number of other conditions.  There is no known cure for CLL.  It mostly occurs in people over 50 years old (I was diagnosed at 40; I am 46 now).

May I add that while it is not the most virulent form of cancer out there, CLL is not a "good" kind of cancer to have, as some well-meaning people have sometimes put it.  Perhaps they would like to take it out for a spin?  Bruises, foot and leg cramps, bleeding, anemia, night sweats, lethargy, tiredness, swelling of the neck, concerns over nodes in the abdomen interfering with vital organs....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's raining again...

This has been the wettest summer on record here in Mississauga. Every day, rain, rain, and more rain.  As I write this, we are experiencing our third torrential rainfall today.  And this song came to mind....

Thank you for praying

sleeping I want to thank those of you who have been praying that I would sleep better (see my blog from earlier this week).  I am glad to report that the last two nights have been the most restful that I have had for a while.  I even slept in until after 8:00 am this morning.

On Monday I go into Princess Margaret for our first consultation regarding treatment to take on the cancer again.  I would ask that you pray for wisdom for the oncologist.  I would also ask that you pray that I would be able to go to a meeting that I am supposed to go to in London, England in mid-September. I would really like to go, but if I start treatments before then, it is unlikely.  Not that I want to delay treatment if this is the best course of action.  But that is my desire; to be able to go.  I will also need to know whether it is safe to fly given my diaphragm/lung issues.  What a pain this body of death is sometimes!  I look forward to my new, glorified one.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Glenn's Interview on CBC Edmonton

cbcYesterday I was interviewed on CBC Edmonton regarding the situation facing Christians in China.  Take a listen if you like.

Be careful what you pray for


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Trinitarian Praying

In Eccles. 5:1-2, we read, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

These words came home to roost for me during my first year of seminary. Sitting in a theology class taught by William Eichorst, the seminary president at the time, he mentioned that one of the school’s Board members had complained to him about how one of seminary’s students had recently preached at his church and had proceeded to thank God the Father for dying on the cross. The concern was then raised that we needed to be sure that we did not simply go on autopilot when we pray but conscious of what we were saying and to Whom we were praying. Keeping the members of the Trinity straight was the very least that we could do.

As I sat there, I was inwardly embarrassed because I knew that I had likely been that student since I had been providing pulpit supply for this church rather regularly as they were looking for a new pastor. It’s been 20 years since that took place and I still remember the lesson that I learned that day. Prayer is first and foremost communication with the Triune God. It behooves us to pray with both our mind and our heart.

I have since learned that I am not the only one who makes this mistake, of course. Like me, I have heard numbers of sincere believers - men and women, leadership and laity, old and young – thank the Father for coming to earth, suffering and dying on the cross for us or praising the Spirit for sending His Son. I have also heard the Father referred to in a way that, from my research, has no biblical and little historical precedent.

It probably began in the 1980’s when the Fatherhood of God or the “Father heart of God” gained prominence in many circles. Recognizing the need that many believers have for a loving father figure, Christians began referring to God the Father as “Father God.” The phrase always struck me as peculiar, but I didn’t give it much thought until it dawned on me one day as to why. Imagine referring to Jesus as “Son God” or the Holy Spirit as “Spirit God.” It just doesn’t sound right, does it? Nowhere in Scripture and rarely in church history is such phraseology used for any member of the Trinity and I think for good reason. As well intentioned as the phrase may be, it suggests that there is a father god, a son god and a spirit god, inadvertently suggesting division in the Trinity. By referring, however, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, it is more obvious that we are referring to one God in three persons.

Some might say, as my wife did when we were chatting over lunch one Sunday a while back, “I don’t think that anyone who prays ‘Father God’ is even thinking about that.”

Which is my (and the author of Ecclesiastes’) point exactly! We are not supposed to be praying without thinking about what we are saying, even with the very best of intentions. As a final note, it is interesting to observe that the phrase “Father God” is quite popular with some modern day Gnostics like Sylvia Browne who suggest that God is also a Mother.

Of course, even carefully referring to God as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can still lead to error. Some Christians come alarmingly close to modalism which probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God. Modalism denies the Trinity by stating that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Recently I read a doctrinal statement by an Indian church leader whose doctrinal statement said that he believed that the one true God reveals himself in three persons; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in three eternal coexistent persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is not biblical Christianity.

I am often reminded of John Stott’s observation in his book Knowing God that we are not free to think of God any way that we like, but only to the extent that He has revealed Himself to be. Only God can reveal God. I would suggest that in our prayer to God, that perhaps it might be wisest to address Him as we find God’s people doing so in His revelation to us, the Bible. We may happily and with confidence refer to our heavenly Father as “Father” knowing that this is exactly what the Son commanded us to do under the inspiration of the Spirit (see Matthew 6:8 and Luke 11:2). And when we do, we are sure to thank Him for sending His Son to die for us and for sending the Spirit to guide us into all truth and to conform us into the image of His Son. Trinitarian prayer is a privilege for the child of God; one that can be emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually transforming as we enter into fellowship with the triune God.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pray that I can sleep

I have a rather specific prayer request. Please pray that I can sleep. The steroids that I have been taking over the past few weeks have a rather nasty side effect of disrupting sleep patterns. I sometimes have difficulty getting to sleep and once I am asleep, I have a tough time staying asleep. I tend to wake up around 3:00 a.m. and then wake up every 45 minutes or so. Makes for very early mornings often times. As result, I am really rather tired out and in real need of a solid night's sleep. If you could pray to that end, I would sure be grateful.

Winnipeg health officials to admit mistakes and apologize

Having been an active medical patient on a rather regular basis over the past several years, I was amazed to read a recent report that said that Winnipeg health officials, in what is billed as the first of its kind in Canada, have been instructed to acknowledge mistakes openly, tell injured patients they are sorry and have the authority pay for its errors when appropriate.  These apologizes cannot be used in court, but apparently this abandoning of the medical community's age-old tendency to shut up and refuse to admit fault when blunders occur, is a growing trend in both Canada and the US and proving to very successful.  In the States, hospitals that are doing this have actually reporting a decline in malpractice suits.

It just goes to show that if you treat people decently, they tend to reciprocate similarly.  Of course, there are exceptions, but I really think that what makes people angry about the medical profession is the perception that it is growing more and more impersonal and that people need to fight for decent care.  Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

You can read the full article here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The day without a name

civichol Today is the oddest day off in Ontario and perhaps in Canada. It is day off for almost everyone (though not officially a statutory holiday). The VOMC staff, for instance, is taking today off. But what really surprised when I first moved here from Alberta 11 years ago was how no one in Ontario really knows what to call the day.

Most everywhere in Ontario (including Mississauga), it is given the wonderfully creative name of Civic Holiday (and no, it is not the celebration of the best-selling Honda compact, even though it is a very fine car; I am on my second one). But in Toronto (and a few other communities) it is called Simcoe Day, named after was the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. But that is not the only name this day goes by. It is called Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Founders' Day in Brantford, McLaughlin Day in Oshawa, Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia, James Cockburn Day in Cobourg, and John Galt Day in Guelph.

Whatever it is called, it is a welcome break in the summer.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Duties of Being a Citizen of Canada

It isn't often that I agree with much that is opined about in the Toronto Star. But in today's paper there an excellent opinion article written by Angelo Persechilli in which he asks if Canadians have neglected the duties of citizenship in our emphasis on our rights and freedoms. He notes:

We have treaties signed with aboriginals that we rarely respect. We have natives living on reserves in conditions worse than those in Third-World countries, despite Ottawa's annual expenditure of more than $12 billion.

We had Canadian Omar Khadr in Afghanistan fighting against principles that Canadian soldiers are now dying for, and we have Canadians permanently living in the Middle East asking us to bail them out in case of problems. We have more than 250,000 Canadian citizens permanently living in Hong Kong, hoping that nothing happens to the former British colony. We also have Canadian citizens in the Italian Parliament in Rome elected by Canadian residents in Canada, and we have Canadians raising money for terrorist organizations that have nothing to do with our country.

All of us enjoy the protection of the Charter whenever we need it and wherever we are and wherever we are....

And then he drops the axe:

but now we also need a new set of rules establishing, for example, a direct relationship between citizenship and permanent residence, or addressing activities of criminal or terrorist nature when Canadian citizenship is clearly used as a cover.

From John A. Macdonald on, our leaders have done a good job defining a geographic area called Canada, but were not very successful with the definition of Canadian citizenship. They were too busy protecting the rights of the "distinct societies" or "celebrating the differences," believing that the geographic boundaries were enough protection for their rights.

For more than a century it was Canada that protected its citizens. Now, with globalization crushing geographic boundaries, it is Canada that is in need of its citizens.

He is absolutely right. This fuzziness did start from the very beginning of this country, as John A. desperately wanted to keep Canada within the British fold. This led to Canada not truly developing its own sense of nationhood until the 1960's and even since then, there remains a confusion as to just how much we can expect from those who call themselves "Canadian" (again a legacy of confederation as the protection of minority language and cultural rights were protected right from the start).

Persichilli's suggestions of starting with a new set of rules establishing a direct relationship between citizenship and permanent residence and addressing activities of criminal or terrorist nature when Canadian citizenship is clearly used as a cover are good places to start.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Over $10 for a coffee?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid coffee lover. However, the next time I visit Moscow, I may take a rain check or a cup of tea instead. According to a new survey by the London office of U.S. consulting firm Mercer, the average cup of joe in Moscow is now US$10.19!! Mind you this is the same city that boasts having 74 billionaires, the most in the world.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A black eye for the IOC

I don't know about you, but I am entirely disgusted by the very thought of the Beijing Olympics.  The behaviour of China and the International Olympic Committee has been reprehensible from the start and recent days have only revealed just how rotten to the core the whole thing is. I have decided that I am simply not going to watch the Olympics this time around.  The only hope is that these Games will be such a mess that the world will see the real China rather than the one the communist government wants to protray on television; edited, scripted, controlled and censored. This editorial published in the National Post really says it well, I think.

A black eye for the IOC

National Post  Published: Friday, August 01, 2008

Kevan Gosper, an Olympic si lver medallist with Australia's 4x400 track relay team in the 1956 Summer Games, was forced to whack the panic button yesterday. Mr. Gosper is the top press liaison for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is the man who had assured the international media for months that the Chinese government had agreed not to impose censorship on foreign reporters covering the Beijing Olympics. Naturally, it was pretty awkward for Mr. Gosper when China announced earlier this week that it would do exactly that.

Just two weeks ago, IOC president Jacques Rogge had repeated assurances that "there will be no censorship of the Internet" in sections of Olympics venues used by foreign reporters. The issue had been considered an important one, not because foreign reporters will have any trouble evading the so-called "Great Firewall of China," but because it was China's chance to demonstrate to the world that it understands Western free speech norms, recognizes them to some degree as an ideal and is capable of letting foreigners report on its country without the restrictions that it still chooses to impose on its own media.

Mr. Gosper had to admit to the world press that China was not stabbing the IOC in the back by changing tack on censorship with just over a week to go before the opening ceremonies. In fact, unidentified IOC members had reached a behind-the-scenes accord permitting censorship several months ago, yet allowed Mr. Gosper and his boss, Mr. Rogge, to go on making asses of themselves. (Hein Verbruggen, the head of a "co-ordination commission" to whom Mr. Gosper reports, has attracted suspicion by virtue of both his position and his reaction to the news; he calmly told an Olympic house newspaper that no promises of "full access" had ever been made by China, suggesting that he saw no reason for fuss.)

"I regret," a visibly angry Mr. Gosper was forced to acknowledge in a press conference, "that it now appears [the Beijing organizing committee] has announced that there will be limitations on Web site access during Games time … I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games-related." The "sensitive sites" turned out to include some belonging to the BBC and Deutsche Welle, as well as Wikipedia, which has quietly become a staple resource for journalists over the years.

The black eye is one of the greatest ever for the IOC, which has, to put it mildly, not always covered itself in glory in the past. It appears that the organization was content to let lies be spread by its representatives in order to attract the world press to China under false pretenses. The IOC's business depends on our continued appetite for the myth of the Olympics as a place for fair play and the pursuit of excellence. In the long run, if it pays no attention to these norms as an institution, it cannot dream of being respected as a peddler of them.

Increasingly, the Beijing Games appear to be a trainwreck in the making; the censorship controversy has been compounded by fears that efforts to guarantee outdoor competitors a breathable atmosphere will fail; by a last-minute algae invasion of an aquatic venue; and by accusations that Chinese selectors may have violated age limits for gymnasts. At this moment, one would surely have trouble finding an Olympics viewer, an athlete or a national official who does not consider the awarding of the Games to Beijing to be a mistake.

The good news, if any is to be found, is that a series of humiliations may do more to create real pressure for openness in China than a squeaky-clean, smooth-running Games ever could. It is possible that the Leninist maxim "The worse, the better" applies. China has invested enormous national prestige in the Olympics -- there must be those in officialdom whose lives are (literally) at stake -- but has apparently decided to proceed using the Communist tools of central planning, deception and state-imposed "harmony" of thought and action.

Very well: Let's see whether a Western commercial spectacle can be successfully staged under such circumstances. Like the old division of West and East Berlin, it has become a rare laboratory experiment in comparing ways of life. And, as with Berlin, the existing Chinese government may not be fully prepared for the implications of the result.

Latest Email Update from Denita

Here is the latest email update from Denita (that's my wife, for those who don't know. My hero...)

Well...we found out today that Credit Valley won't be able to accomodate Glenn, so we'll be going back to Princess Maragret. Glenn has an appointment on Aug. 11, so hopefully we'll be able to give you a more detailed update then. On Wednesday we went to Toronto General to get Glenn started on the blood thinner shots. He is giving himself 2 shots each day and will have to continue that for six months. We are thankful that we have extended health insurance. Without it, we would have to pay over $1500 each month. As it is, it is costing us a bundle. Oh well...that's life.

By the way, Glenn has set up a blog sight to record his thoughts on this journey he is on. If any of you are interested in reading his blogs, you can find them at

More to come in a couple of weeks....