Wednesday, May 30, 2007

breaking through

a quick update on a previous post, for those of you who are praying:
  • school: we've exchanged letters with the high school over n's situation, and the home school legal defense association has been enlisted, so we have the help of an attorney. hard to believe they will actually want to pursue this, but we'll be ready if they do.
  • taxes: not a lot to say here, except that cross-border tax accountants are expensive.
  • home buying: our financing saga (at least chapter one) looks like it may be coming to a close, and that we will be able to sign for our first loan on today or tomorrow. if that happens, that'll provide the money for a down payment. we're looking at places in renton and kent; hopefully, we can find one that fits the bill (in our price range, accessible to renton, good school situation, big enough to host those of you who will come visit! that's not too much to ask, is it? :-).
after a long day of flying, we arrived here in washington yesterday. the flight out had a bit of drama, as we wondered if we were going to get stuck in DC. even though our flight arrived early and i was first in line at the gate, the connecting flight was oversold, and they would not or could not issue us boarding passes until after they had already started boarding the plane (nearly an hour after we had arrived). it was a reminder that while the enemy's resistance may be futile, he isn't just going to go away.

in Jesus, neither are we.

and they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb
and because of the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their life even when faced with death
revelation 12:11

Monday, May 28, 2007

the good with the bad

after my last post, i thought it was worth acknowledging that there are some wonderful things happening in our last days in montreal. for four days before we left for renton to do some house hunting, we enjoyed the company of our friend m, who was visiting from boston where she is doing a research project at mit. her visit is a reminder to us of God's faithfulness. we met m last year, when she was studying at mcgill for the year, and she quickly became a part of our family . when she went home to germany in april 2006, there were many tears. but we got to visit her in cambridge in april of this year, and she recently spent a long weekend with us — worshipping, eating, playing favourite board games, and even viewing the very disappointing pirates of the caribbean 3 (fwiw, the '3' on the end of any movie is a likely indicator of mediocrity — cf. spiderman 3). we'll get to see her at least one more time (God willing), on the road trip to washington.

on monday, my m (the one that's the mother of b and n — all of these initials get confusing sometimes!) had the privilege of baptizing e from singapore. what a joyous occasion! her family was there (visiting from singapore and hawaii for her graduation), and maybe 25-30 friends from the international bible discussion, interserve, impact church, and many other friends were able to join in the celebration. after a week of very warm days, e got baptized on the coldest, windiest day in recent memory; she and m looked chilly — but happy — as was the great throng on shore!

Friday, May 25, 2007


we're into our last month in montreal, and as we wrap up one ministry assignment and head toward another, it's predictable that we're encountering spiritual resistance. it's praying time…
  • the high school here is giving us a hard time about schooling n at home. after a year of very little learning at school, during which her motivation waned, and facing the prospect of a new school next year, n wanted to regain some ground before next year. given on-going problems at the school and some truly odd behaviour by teachers and administration, that seemed pretty reasonable to us. apparently not to them. in spite of the fact that we're planning on moving out of the country, it looks like they're going to try to bully us. thankfully, we have the law on our side in this one.
  • our tax situation finally got cleared up, but at a significant cost — over twice what i was expecting. i'm still trying to sort the final bill, but it won't be cheap, probably north of $4000. it is, as i mentioned in a recent prayer letter, better than going to prison. part of the cost of life in another country, i suppose.
  • our attempts to finance a new home in washington have hit numerous, unanticipated snags. apparently, the rules for certain kinds of mortgages have changed as recently as this past week, and we are getting caught in the crossfire. they're requesting all kinds of documentation, but the request came at 7pm on a friday, and we're leaving at about 4am on tuesday — not enough time to get the required docs. and since they've frozen our equity line, we are left without a way to make a down payment, just days before a cross-continent trip to go house hunting. this is a critical issue, obviously. i spent the better part of three hours today, collecting documents, scanning them, ordering other information from our bank here in canada, and sorting out things with the mortgage broker, who himself ended up at the hospital today with a serious family emergency; if that weren't trouble enough, his cell phone battery also died, when we were in mid-conversation.
  • a city-wide public transit strike has hobbled montreal and thrown a wrench into our current schedule and our future plans. with service only at 'essential' times (6:00-9:00, 15:30-18:30, 23:00-0:100), we've been forced to drive a lot more (especially to get the girls to their activities), but more importantly, it threatens our arrangements for b during the time we're away. how will she get to her various activities? how will the friend who was going to stay with her get to and from work if she lives at our place?
there are many loose ends to tie, and sometimes, it seems like i've barely gotten to one before the devil has created a few more. i think that, in my heart of hearts, i still expect victory to be easier than this. but i shouldn't be surprised. as the apostle paul says, we are not ignorant of satan's schemes, and we must stand firm against them. thankfully, i've got a wife who reminds me to pray, exhorts me to pray, and prays with me — especially helpful when i lose sight of the real battle.
for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (ephesians 6:12)
i hate the fact that someone is working against us, but i'm not cowed by it. as we say in the star trek universe, (the enemy's) resistance is futile.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

good night, cinderella

here's to those who love not too wisely,
know not wisely, but too well

to the girl who sighs with envy when she hears that wedding bell
to the guy who'd throw a party if he knew someone to call
here's to the losers, bless them all

mr. don's wild ride finally ends, as the warriors go down 4-1 in their nba conference semifinal. they were beaten — and beaten up — by a bigger, tougher, more disciplined utah squad. congrats to the jazz and their fans.

for long-suffering warrior fans, this has been a great ride, going back to the last month of the season, and for that, i thank the warrior players and management. kudos for playing your hearts out and giving us something to cheer about in may. i'll leave the analysis to others who've done it better; for those who are interested in just re-living some of the great moments from this season, take a look at this post from adam lauridsen's fan blog.

here's the last toast of the evening, here's to those who still believe
all the losers will be winners, all the givers shall receive
here's to trouble-free tomorrows, may your sorrows all be small
here's to the losers, here's to the losers, here's to the losers
bless them all!

as i've suggested before, i believe that the passion around sports is rooted in a deeper longing of our hearts, one that also finds resonance in art, literature, and even things as mundane as popular music and soap operas. here's to the day when cinderella will marry her prince, and the two of them will live happily ever after.

then i saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. and i saw the holy city, new jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. and i heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
revelation 21:1-4

Sunday, May 13, 2007

making a statement

a little context. the warriors lost the first two games of this conference semi-final series in utah; — both winnable games. andrei kirilenko, the jazz defender in this video, blocked 13 shots in those two games; his defense was changing the warriors' offense, as they simply could not get to the rim.

this third game was largely decided in the second quarter, where the warriors opened up about a 20 point lead. but late in the game, there was still something that baron davis wanted to say — emphatically — to kirilenko and the jazz. and that was the last of several assaults on ak, who seemed to have basketballs raining down on his head in the warriors 125-105 victory in game 3.

ouch. that's going to leave a mark…

Monday, May 07, 2007

stepping up

last thursday, the golden state warriors defeated the top-seeded dallas mavericks 111-86 in front of a frenzied home crowd, to cap an improbable 4-2 series victory in the nba conference quarterfinals. it was, in the estimation of many, the biggest upset in the history of the nba playoffs.

not surprisingly, there were some amazing individual performances. team leader baron davis injured a hamstring early in the game, yet managed to continue to impose his will on the heavily favoured mavs, even on one leg. much-maligned stephen jackson scored a playoff career high 33 points (including a cool 4-4 from the 3 point line in the pivotal 3rd quarter); equally important, his defense neutralized presumptive mvp dirk nowitski, effectively taking him out of the game. camp walk-on and 'spare part' matt barnes, also playing on a bad leg, brought an all-around game (16 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, great defense) and a bit of swagger, driving the lane and delivering a hard dunk in the face of the cowed nowitski (posterizing him, as they say) as the warriors pulled away.

in sports, there is a time when a player has to rise to the occasion, to meet a critical challenge or overcome an unforeseen obstacle, if his team is going to have a chance to win. they call it "stepping up." a star player is expected to take over a game at crunch time and lead his teammates to victory. a role player has to take on more responsibility because a starter has been injured or isn't playing well. it often happens when championships are on the line. and in this series, the mavericks only had one player (josh howard) who elevated his game, while for the warriors, player after player stepped up.

in october, during inter-varsity's emerging leaders training, i felt that God was calling me to step up, to take on a role with greater leadership responsibility. in the months that followed, i sought to respond to that call by weighing a couple of key ministry opportunities, either of which would require a move from montreal. this past thursday (coincidentally, the same day warriors davis, jackson, and barnes were stepping up) — after much deliberation, consultation, and prayer — i finally accepted the invitation to become a church planting pastor in the seattle area.

the timing on this move is not what i was expecting or planning for; i fully expected to be here until the summer of 2009, when n would graduate from high school. so this move will require that she start over mid-stream. it will also mean that our international student ministry volunteers and student leaders will have to step up, to rise to the challenge of welcoming and caring for incoming internationals in the coming year without us. we have spent some emotional days meeting with them, doing some training, praying with different ones, trying to give them the best of what we have in the time that is left. we are deeply invested in these folks — and very proud of how they are responding so far. i know that the year ahead will have its ups and downs, and i invite you to join me in praying for them as they offer themselves in faith to God. some of them probably feel like the little boy who offered his lunch of five loaves and two fish to Jesus — but perhaps they will be encouraged by how that turned out!

please pray for us as well, as there are many arrangements to be made, loose ends to tie, and new challenges to be met. more details to follow.

whose woods these are i think i know.
his house is in the village, though;
he will not see me stopping here
to watch his woods fill up with snow.
my little horse must think it queer
to stop without a farmhouse near
between the woods and frozen lake
the darkest evening of the year.

he gives his harness bells a shake
to ask if there is some mistake.
the only other sound's the sweep
of easy wind and downy flake.
the woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but i have promises to keep,
and miles to go before i sleep,
and miles to go before i sleep.

robert frost, "stopping by woods on a snowy evening"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


one of the remnants of my many years of living in california is that i'm a huge golden state warriors basketball fan. those of you who follow the nba know that's been a pretty hard road for over a decade; they've been through coach after coach, franchise saviour after franchise saviour, and for their trouble, they haven't seen the playoffs since bill clinton was still in his first term as president.

until this year. after a big mid-season trade netted four new players, and a couple of key contributors finally got healthy, the warriors went on an incredible run at the end of the season and just squeaked into the playoffs. unfortunately (or so it seemed), that left them paired with the dallas mavericks, the team with the best record in the league this year. experts figured that it would be a quick ending for the warriors, a team that should just be happy to have gotten to the post-season.

but lo and behold, the warriors came to play. they took the first game of the series at dallas — a very hard thing to do, winning a playoff game on the road — and have since taken a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series at 3-1. if the warriors take the series, it'll be the first time in league history that a number 8 seed has beaten a number 1 seed in a seven game playoff.

bay area basketball fans are elated. the largest basketball crowds in california history cheered the team to victory at the oracle arena in oakland, and regionally, more people watched the most recent game than desperate housewives. the national media is suddenly covering the story in a big way.

i know — it's only sports. but i wonder if there's also something else at work here, some deeper part of us that resonates with the story of someone (especially a team of relative little guys) who overcomes incredible odds to be victorious…

when goliath the philistine looked and saw david,
he disdained him
for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance.
the philistine said to david, “am i a dog, that you come to me with sticks?”
and the philistine cursed david by his gods…

then david said to the philistine,

“you come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin,

but i come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel,
whom you have taunted.

this day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands…
that all the earth may know that there is a God in israel,

and that all this assembly may know
that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear;

for the battle is the LORD’S

and He will give you into our hands.”
1 samuel 17:42-47

finally, be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of His might.
put on the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
for our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the powers,

against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

therefore, take up the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to resist in the evil day,
and having done everything, to stand firm.
ephesians 6:10-13