Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flu Season!

Flu season is upon us, again.  And, this year the feared H1N1 variety is particularly nasty and has even been responsible for killing otherwise healthy people.  We often dismiss the flu as something that you just have to go through once in a while...but it's actually a very serious illness that, in past years, has wiped out millions of people.  Even nowadays, anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 people from around the world will die from the flu. 

Flu, of course, is short for "influenza" (I opened the door and in flew Enza) and is not to be confused with gastroenteritis (like the norwalk virus that often shuts down our care centres).  There are 3 main types of the flu (A, B, and C), of which A is the most common and problematic. The H1N1 version of influenza A is the same variant that was the Spanish Flu (1918) and the Swine Flu (2009) but, as with all flu viruses, it has morphed a bit.   This year's version (which the flu shot does prevent, by the way) is hitting young adults especially hard, with the majority of deaths being people in the 20-40 range, which is unusual since most flu fatalities are the very young or very old. 

So, someone might ask "why did God invent viruses in the first place"?   That's a great question.  However, viruses turn out to be overall beneficial to our planet (and its inhabitants) by helping rain fall (viruses in the air allow water droplets to form around them and turn into rain drops), keep populations of creatures in check, and provide medical research avenues into gene therapy treatments (see reasons.org for more).

So, wash your hands, get your flu shot, and don't lick door knobs.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Now That's Service!

FairmontNext week Michelle and I are off again to our annual Pastor's Conference in Banff. It is always a restful and encouraging time and we both consider it a double blessing to be sent each year. We have to "suffer" by staying at the Banff Springs Hotel! For 3 of the supper time meals we all gather is a large room and are served delicious meals by the ever attentive staff. It is quite the production! First, the staff come bursting through the door carrying 5 or 6 covered trays (each tray has, I think, 5 or 6 plates of food on them) which they carefully set down on their serving tables... and then the staff grab the individual plates and distribute them to the masses and hungry pastors and spouses who are drooling while waiting at their tables. This process happens three separate times...for the appetizer, main course, and the dessert. Each step is carefully coordinated by the head waiter (he might be called the maitre d'.. but we're not sure) and, prior to that, the kitchen staff has managed to prepare the entire meal behind the scenes, prepping the food, organizing the special meals (for folks with allergies) and having each plate look....and taste like it was specially made for us. I'm hungry now.

At the heart of this whole experience is an attitude that has been drummed in to each member of the staff... that they are there to serve us. Frankly, for us pastors we get a little uncomfortable with all the fuss because, usually, we're the ones doing the serving. Real leadership is serving. That's what Jesus taught us. Each member of the hotel is, in fact, emulating Jesus when they serve us. They may not know it (yet), but they are! And each year we have our socks blessed off by the men and women who serve us. Many of them are young people working in Banff from around the country and around the globe. Many others of "lifers" who have made a career out of serving others. Regardless of their background or rank, their job is to serve.

Now, imagine for a minute if every church member decided to serve others each week? What would Sundays look like? What would the rest of the week look like? I'm pretty sure we'd have socks lying all over the place!

If you want to be great in God's kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.

PS. Bread plate is to the left. Water glass is to the right. Use utensils from the outside in. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Ah, stereotypes.   We love to use them on others and hate to have them used on us!  A way to find out what stereotypes are out there is to use google to let you see what others have asked it.  (See here). We all have stereotypes.  We often lump very large groups of people into "types" without realizing it.  Canadians do it to Americans.  Rider fans do it to Eskimos fans.  Baptists do it to Catholics.  Jews did it to Samaritans. 

On at least three different occasions, Jesus broke down the cultural stereotypes that the much hated Samaritans had for the Jews.  The woman at the well, the Good Samaritan, and the healed Samaritan leper.  The Good Samaritan was a parable which, no doubt, ruffled some Jewish feathers since the Samaritan was the hero of the story. The other two were real people, and Jesus treated them as...well... real people.  And that's the tip off of what's wrong with stereotypes.  They can paint someone with a broad brush that has nothing to do with them personally.  Jesus dealt with the real people as persons...and individuals... and cool stuff happened.

So, next time you cross paths with someone from "another group" of whatever kind it may be...get to know them as a person and place those stereotypes on the back burner where they belong.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Go Do Something For Christ's Sake (add your own commas)

"Don't get me started!"  This is what you will often hear right before someone not only already will have started, but will continue for some time!   It's a "throw away phrase" that really means "thanks for asking, and here's the details".   Of course English has many of these similar type phrases. Here are some more:

"Can I ask you a question?"   -  well, you just did and one is all I can handle right now.
"It goes without saying."  - but they are going to say it anyway.
"It literally...."  - there is a good chance that it actually isn't literal.
"I'm looking forward to ... "  - it's in the future....you have no choice but to look forward to it.  You could be looking forward to a colonoscopy for that matter.
"Like...."  - like we don't get like enough like likes already
"With all due respect."  - yes, you are about to hear something that shows they don't respect you or your view on something.

And finally, "For Christ's sake" -  You weren't expecting a swear, were you?!  But there it is....which usually means that someone thinks that what you just did or just said was stupid or unwelcomed.   But, what would actually be "for Christ's sake?"  I think if you were actually doing something for Christ's sake, it would be a good thing.  So, giving a cup of water, helping the sick and needy, being hospitable to strangers, sharing resources, giving of your time, talents, and income, telling people about Jesus.  All of these would be wonderful things to do and, each of them would qualify as being done for Christ's sake.

So, go do something for Christ's sake! 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soddy Teepee

I promised myself that I wasn't going to write about the weather again...for a very long time.  Then winter refused to go away.  My buddy Michael Thom (Pastor at Willow Lake Baptist in arghWinnipeg) posted this photo online.  The extreme difference from last year to this year is stark enough to get us wondering if global warming is misnamed!  Regardless, I often think about those who didn't have central heating, insulated homes, and thermostats to bless them.  Yes, I'm thinking about our forefathers who used to live in this land without electricity, natural gas, and heated car seats.  When they would wake up in the morning in their soddy or their teepee, their first order of business wasn't to have a hot shower or put the coffee pot on... it was to put wood on the fire (wood that they had gathered and split all summer) so that they wouldn't freeze to death!  Then they would have to head outside to milk the cow so they would have milk for breakfast...and then go out and cut ice out of the creek and bring it back to the ice house (a hole in the ground) to save for the summer!

Yes, we have it tough.  The previous tenants of this area of the world were troopers.  Hardy.  Tough.  Hard working.  

So, the next time you think you want to complain about the weather, be glad you weren't born 300 years ago...or 2000 years ago... which brings up to Easter... next week.

PS.  Happy Birthday to my beloved wife on Friday!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pleasure Can Lead to Pain

Ah, Christmas sweets.   I'm still wading through them as they lay waste to my waist!   Christmas chocolates, candies, cookies, nuts, chocolate covered nuts, tarts, poppycock, chocolate covered poppycock.... etc!  Clearly, I can't let these go to waste (waist), nor let my kids eat them so I've taken on the huge task of scarfing them down.  A British fellow named Michael Mosley was exploring the topic of pleasure and pain and took it upon himself to eat as much chocolate as possible thereby moving from experiencing pleasure in the sweetness of chocolate to the point of where it becomes painful.  (https://vimeo.com/19300888) Mosley makes an astute observation.  Pleasure, by it's very nature, is fleeting.  Transient.  And, just as eating too much chocolate (or sweets) can lead to revulsion and even to pain, so too it is with the pleasures of life. 

The Bible says that we are to seek God, first and foremost, and His right things for our life.  Since God created us He actually knows what is the best for us.  When we put the pursuit of pleasure (happiness) first in our lives we end up overdosing and causing problems.  However, people often get confused at this point and think that God actually doesn't want us to have pleasure at all....which is far from the truth.  God is the master of dispensing pleasure in just the right amounts so as to not sully it or cause it to cause us problems.  God designed pleasure to be experienced in all areas of life (physical, emotional, sexual, relational) within His boundaries so that we can get the most enjoyment and fulfillment possible out of it. 

My mom used to say "don't spoil your appetite" when we'd go for a snack just before a main meal.  But simply putting off my desire to snack I am able to anticipate and enjoy my special meal that much more!  Michelle and I were heading out to a Christmas party meal and I purposely avoided snacking all that afternoon so that I could enjoy my meal to it's fullest!  And it worked.  It is a disappointing thing to sit down for a wonderful meal only to discover that you aren't actually hungry for it.  Maybe that's why restaurants advertise like crazy around meal times.  They are hoping to catch you when you're hungry!

So, learn to trust God with your pleasures and He'll ensure they don't turn into pain!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Christian's response to The Oatmeal's "How to suck at religion"

The Oatmeal (by Peter Inman) is a super creative, funny, and very potty mouthed blog/cartoonist that I read religiously. :)  His current post is "How To Suck At Your Religion"... well... here's my response:

Pretty good start.  He starts strong by quoting Jesus!  Woo Hoo!... albeit it King James English (which makes it sound way more religious-sy).  Of course the more complete quote is from Matthew 7:1-2 which is really saying "if you judge, expect to be judged back the same way".  Fair enough. 

Here he's a wee bit off base.  Universities were all started as Christian institutions. Christianity and the pursuit of scientific truth have always gone hand in hand.  VERY often when a scientist comes up with a new discovery they run in to opposition from other scientists who disagree with them.  Back in the day the other scientist were priests and other religious dudes. Galileo was a religious dude. 

Today there are folks who don't believe in the Big Bang and they get called heretics by the scientific establishment all the time... and there isn't a church person in sight.  

Science cannot operate in a moral vacuum.  We now frown on experimenting on the mentally disabled even though, back in the day (see what I did there..oh, wait til later) "people of science" were using them like lab rats. Just because you're a scientist doesn't mean you can operate outside the rules of ethics.

 "IF" life actually begins at conception then we wouldn't want to be murdering a bunch of people even if they thought stem cells were really really awesome.  Now, having said that, adult stem cells are turning out to be just as good as fetal ones and all that was needed was someone to start looking elsewhere for answers. "IF" life doesn't begin at conception someone really needs to figure out where does... because even a moron can figure out that it has already been alive for some time when it get's out of mommy's vagina.

Truth is not relative (I can say that because it's true... try saying "truth is relative" and then think about it because you can't actually make it make sense). It's a real, concrete thing. Granted... we may not have a firm and 100% grip on it.. but it's out there.  Mathematics can prove stuff and call them facts. The rest of everything has to go on evidence and then discern the truth.  

Our parents are supposed to teach us the truth. Things like "I believe that if you run out in to traffic and get hit by a bus you will die" are pretty dogmatic.. but they are truth and value based statements.  If your parents are teaching you the truth... be thankful.  If they are teaching you to murder all cartoonists... run away.  Many Christians have this nifty little thing where they insist that people actually choose for themselves to be followers of Jesus.. and then do things like get baptized at that point to demonstrate their own, personal choice.  

As for those who thought dinosaurs were on the ark.... they'll figure it out soon enough that a day doesn't have to mean 24 hours.  Back in the day we understood that (see what I did there?).   The 6000 year old earth people are easy to make fun of... but they are fringey (except in the southern parts of the US of A).

Reincarnation doesn't work in a finite universe.  Don't even go there.  

If the message passed down for 2000 years is actually true... then jump up and down and cheer.  Put it to the test... of wait, you can't because it's about death!  Last time I checked the only authority on death is the one who beat it.  Of course when your kids ask what happens after you die you can either refer to the source of life or just tell your kid to make it up... which then ends up being reincarnation and they think they were Cleopatra...over and over again. Interestingly, they would never come up with "nothing".  

"Hey honey, what do you think happens when you jump in front of a bus?"

"I think it turns into a bunny rabbit and it carries me to the Calgary Stampede".  

Bad parenting.

Ah, the sex card.  Yah, the church has messed up with goofy thinking and teaching on this through the centuries.  But then again pretty much every culture came up with whacko stuff in this department.  However, the Bible wasn't the reason for goofball teaching. Read Song Of Songs and then tell me that sex and the Bible isn't fun.  Go ahead. Try it.   

There are some rules around sex... get over it.  We still don't like adults having sex with kids, however, in some places that isn't a taboo and that's nutbar crazy. There are rules around sex (I'm repeating myself). Society will come up with goofy ones... they always will. Wanna play soccer? (just pretend).  A rule book and a ref is used to help prevent chaos on the field turning a wrestling match or mud wrestling (not that either of those is bad but soccer was intended) .  Great sex has boundaries.   Sexual dysfunction breeds more dysfunction... and then people have to try and cope with it. Coping sucks and can really hurt... and helping people to cope is cool.... and the Christian church has sucked at that.  For that I apologize.

Getting others to believe what you believe does make you feel better.  Ask an Amway salesman.  However, if you know the truth, getting others to see the truth is good...regardless of whether it's in line with your beliefs or not. Like... "there is a tidal wave coming"!  If it's true then "thanks for sharing".  If it's not true then you're a jerk looking for attention. Christ profoundly disagreed with the religious people of his day... even called them names... but never wavered from treating them with love.   It's the Christian way... other faiths...not so much.

OK.. I'm pretty sure this cartoon is all about making fun of others for their beliefs...call me crazy.  Moving along.

Everybody votes on their religious beliefs... everybody!  It's called your worldview and, regardless of what you believe or not believe, it dictates things like how you will vote.  

OK... I'll give him credit for even doing this much.  Stick to poking fun at Christians (like everybody else)... at least you know that, if they are actually following their own rules, you are perfectly safe.

So, remember all those people who were murdered for their faith?  I don't remember it looking anything like this.  Like... nothing.  Maybe people do this... but that's because they are off their very heavy doses of medication!  People dying for their faith are often doing so because they refuse to be violent back... or because they are protecting someone else... or because the other person refuses to hear a different opinion.  People die, normally, for what they believe.  Whether it's a DNR order after a stroke or because they believed a bunny rabbit on the road is more important than staying on the road. Perhaps a better question is "is what you believe worth dying for?". If it ain't... then don't.

And here we find the rub.  Murdering is anti-Christian.  Killing in the name of Jesus is... anathema.  Christ was pretty clear on the "love your enemies" stuff. Period. All other religions are, well, fair game.  

And the extremely religious statement "the fact you are a bag of meat" is, well, telling.  Telling that the author's religion is the wonderfully affirming form of non-religion called atheism/agnosticism.  It's not a fact (facts only belong in mathematics) that we are just a bag of meat.  Not even close to a fact. It's a religious statement based upon, what I hope is his evaluation of the evidence (but I doubt it... but I hope).

What if Christianity is true?  Doesn't that change everything?  Doesn't that mean that the universe isn't a cold, non-personal, hell hole that didn't magically appear out of nothing (impossible, by the way, even with a Higgs boson in your back pocket) but rather was designed by a deity that put us on the only blue speck of dust in the only spot in the universe that could support our sorry butts.  By a deity that actually does care?  

And if it is true... why the heck not share it?

The truth will set you free.

Oh, his next to last point that one's religion should be a benefit to the world is spot on.  The biggest benefit the world can, and will, ever gain... is Jesus.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My mother, soon to be 80 years old, is on facebook, checks her email, listens to her son's sermons each week on the internet, takes no (last time I checked) medication, puts up with Miles, prays for her children (and their spouses), grandchildren (and spouses), and great grandchildren every day, yells at the TV during football games, asks too many questions during movies, makes fabulous meals, loves to go for walks but is frustrated that she really can't anymore, couldn't speak English until she got to elementary school, often went without enough grocery money but managed to make end meet, secretly would buy a lottery or raffle ticket or 2 each year, survived cancer, mourns the loss of her 5th child everyday, has more hair on her head than all over her sons - combined, took in a little girl and made her as her own even though she couldn't afford it, hates Swedish hockey players, and wonders where those 80 years went. Well, on this last point I can safely say that those 80 years have gone straight to the hearts of us who have benefited from your love!

Thanks for the wonderful investment Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salt in Mouth

Rush Limbaugh has been in hot water lately for his comments about Sandra Fluke.  Now, I'm not a Rush fan, but I am a fan of free speech, which can include, at times, criticizing others.  That's freedom of the press.   However, it wasn't so much an opinion or a criticism that is the issue here, but rather a simple case of "name calling".  Thankfully, Rush is being held accountable for this... however, how often do we do similar and think nothing of it?  

One of my favourite TV characters is Oscar Leroy of Corner Gas fame.  Oscar had a habit of calling, well, pretty much everyone, a jackass.  While that particular phrase would be characterized as a "mild" curse word... it still is a curse word and, is so, because it demeans the other person.  Pretty much all the words/phrases that society considers taboo are words that either degrade a beautiful thing and/or degrade the person the word is directed at.  And a word doesn't have to be an official "swear" to be damaging.  Limbaugh used the word "prostitute", which isn't an offensive word by itself; but he was using it in such a way as to demean and belittle a person. 

So, here's the rub.   The Bible instructs us to watch our mouths and let our speech be seasoned with salt. We need more respectful speech with everyone, including our enemies!  Explosive and abusive language has no valid reason to exist in our world today...however, it seems that the media thinks just the opposite!  TV shows, movies, and music are all pulling us to the potty mouth instead of the salt mouth.  Invectives are now common place on prime time TV, somehow making a show "edgy" or "hip" but, in reality, they are making it like a Jr. High locker room.  My mom always said that a mature person can control his/her tongue.

By the way, many people attempt to enforce the "taking the Lord's name in vain" commandment with this stuff... but any biblical scholar will tell you that it doesn't actually apply here.  The third commandment is more about swearing an oath than curse words.

Would it be too much to ask to have this whole Limbaugh/Fluke issue result in people respecting others with their words?
Is it too much to ask our Parliament to not hurl insults while others are talking?
Is it too much to ask TV/Movies/Music to tone it down? 
Is it too much?  

I actually don't think it is!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stiff Necked

I’m stiff necked... well, today anyway.   A couple nights ago I somehow slept wrong and woke up with a twinge in my neck that I knew was going to progress into a full blown case of stiff neckedness (invented word).  When this happens, I have a few options to help me get back to normal; but the most effective thing is being able to stretch those muscles that are in spasm.  By so doing, the muscles will eventually relax, and the pain will subside.  The only real problem is that there are approximately 8 million muscles in the average human neck (OK, it’s more like 18), and the trick is finding a way to move your head that will actually stretch the right muscle.  This leads to odd looks from people as I rotate my head in various odd ways to get that odd muscle to just let it go!

You can always tell when a person has a stiff neck because when he needs to turn to look to either side, he turns his entire body instead of just his head.  It hurts too much so he turns everything...or, better yet, doesn't turn at all.  I can remember driving with a stiff neck and not wanting to do my shoulder check when changing lanes... I just wanted to look forward and not see what was beside me.

If you are leading an ox team, having them be “stiff necked” means you can’t direct them very easily... they just want to go where they want to go. 

When the term “stiff necked” is used in the Bible, it’s not actually talking about a stiff neck... but rather stubbornness.  The kind of bull (or ox) headedness that prevents someone from paying attention to God.  The prophets used the term often in the Old Testament, referring to the stubbornness of the Israelites; and the apostolic martyr Stephen used it in Acts 7:51 saying, ““You stiff-necked people!.....You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”  It’s pretty clear from this usage that being stiff necked isn’t a good thing.  When we ignore the Holy Spirit, we are being spiritually stiff necked.

I couldn’t agree more!   I hate being stiff necked!   Yes, I don’t like the physical kind, but I also don’t like it when I’m stiff necked spiritually.  The Holy Spirit is constantly guiding and directing through His Word, prayer, fellowship, and conviction.  Here’s hoping I can avoid both kinds in the future! 


Monday, June 20, 2011

Count Them!

Well, as much as I want to talk about the Canucks/Bruins game that will be over by the time you read this... I'm not going to. Whatever has happened has happened. The world continues to turn, and the sun continues to shine (I think). It would be nice if it turned and shined on the Canucks' Stanley Cup parade... but, I'm not talking about that.

Being worried about a hockey game is such a trivial thing. I got a wonderful story from the my Mom's cousin (my first cousin once removed for those who are keeping track) of her teenage years living through, and after, WWII as a German speaking person living in Poland. I found myself up past 1am reading the amazing story of her plight, flight, and rescue through those terrible years in Eastern Europe. I hope to have a link to the story soon... but having her share about needing to worry about getting food, water, avoidiing bombs and rapes, losing and trying to find her family... makes any stress that we feel nowadays seems trivial, at best. We really are a blessed people living in a blessed nation at a blessed time! Count them!!

So even if my team loses (not that I'm talking about that)... I'm blessed!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lottie's Story

This is the story written by my Grandma's niece (making her my Mom's cousin... and my first cousin once removed). Most of the spelling and grammar is as she wrote it.

Lottie’s Story

The beginning: First of all I want to say that my family and I are German, born in Poland. We not for a moment thought of ourselves other than German. We had our own churches, all denominations, Lutherans, Baptists, Mennonites, what have you. The government of course was Polish, and Poles held high-ranking offices, like president etc. The main language was Polish of course, but we in the village spoke German all the time. My grandmother understood Polish but never learned the language, and pretty well those in our village that spoke Polish, did so with an accent, at least my relatives. In our nearest little town, Gombin, business was done in both languages, and the business people were mostly Jewish, also Polish or German. To that little town the farmers took their stuff to the market and also that was where you bought larger items like clothing etc. In school we were taught Polish and German and we kids spoke our language among ourselves. We had two Polish families living near us, they were for hire, when some farmer needed help, they were called on.
They spoke German as well as we did. Their kids went to school with us and there never was any trouble between us all. The Polish government was very satisfied with the German farmers. They paid their taxes on time, and the farms were very well looked after. First of all the earth was very rich, and the German people had everything in order, in other words they prospered. We also had many orchards. My family grew all the fruit possible. What we could not use ourselves was sold.
We lived very close to the largest river in Poland, called Vistula. In German Weichsel. Large boats and barges went up and down to larger cities, including the Polish capital Warsaw. There my father would take the fruit, mostly apples and plums for sale. We lived about 80 km from Warsaw. On two occasions my Dad took me along. I remember on the large market you could see all kinds if things that we did not grow. One man was selling something that looked so good, so I asked my Dad to get me some. It was watermelon. I sure did not like it. But with my Dad, you ate it, even if you hated it, so I did. My Dad also took me on a streetcar in Warsaw, we went to a zoo. For a kid seven years old or so, that was really something . None, absolutely none of my friends had ever been to Warsaw, never mind to a zoo. There I remember mostly big beautiful birds that talked. That impressed me the most, of course all the other animals like lions elephants etc. did too. One other thing I remember on that trip was that we got lost, and my dad was worried we’d miss the boat, and I was very very worried, probably cried. However, we made it home safely.
I also remember going on a school trip on the boat to another larger city called Plock, about 30 km from home. My parents gave me one zloty to spend for the day. That was a fortune in my eyes, but I blew the wad. That was were I tasted ice cream for the first time. Imagine that I was probably 8 or 9 years old and had an ice cream cone for the first time. How times have changed.
Our school was a typical country school. One teacher, one room, and the teacher had taught my uncles, so you can see, he was pretty old. But I was his pet. I was asked to do all the neat things, got to sing a solo in school plays, all kinds of neat things that happen in school. When the weather was bad, like snowy or raining, he asked me to stay over. The teacher and his family lived in the same building as the school, and the church was very close, just a few feet away. The teacher was also a very close friend of my grandfather. When we visited Poland in 1991 we stopped by the school, and after not seeing the place for 50 some years, there was hardly any change. It was not a school anymore, a family lived there, the kids were bussed to some other place, but the building had not changed and the church was used for Catholic services. Mind you it was very very run down. It brought tears to my eyes.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Tribute to the Uncle I Never Knew

by Kev Haug on Monday, 06 June 2011 at 18:00

According to my Dad, it is James Haugan's 42nd birthday today. I never knew much about my Uncle Jim, other than that he was hilarious, good-looking, and died in a car accident at the age of 20. I have seen home video's of him making people laugh, and there's a picture burned into my memory of him sitting with Curtis and Dean on a couch with huge manly man-thighs, and golden hair. Looked like a Hollywood Star if I ever saw one. He was dearly loved by all who knew him, a brother, a son, a friend, a fiance, an uncle. My Dad loved his little brother, I know this for many reasons, one of which happened two days ago, which I will explain later. When I visited Uncle Leroy, or Great-uncle Leroy, I was sitting in the basement with him watching some CFL football during this past summer of 2010. We got to talking about life, school, and whatnot, and we ended up on the topic of Uncle Jim. Leroy was living life away from the Lord, and he was sent to live with my Grandpa Miles and was straightened out. He came to know God, repented, and began his life on a new road. Years later, it was his turn to return the favor. Grandpa Miles sent young Jim, 20 years old, or around there, to live with Leroy at Peace River. Uncle Leroy went on to tell me about how wonderful a young man Jim was, how he had a quality about him that could only be described as "angelic", and how he turned his life over to the Lord during his time there in Peace River. There came an evening when they were eating out in Peace River and Jim had his first filet mignon. He, according to Leroy, turned to him and said, "I want to stay 20 forever." Uncle Leroy went on to tell me that he didn't know it at the time, but what he said was prophetic. Jim left shortly thereafter, but stopped in to say goodbye to Leroy and Shirley. Leroy told me that when he came to say goodbye he was glowing. Once again that word came up, angelic. Shortly after that evening, he died in a car crash. I left that conversation feeling that I came to knew my Uncle a little more.

Fast forward to this year, 2011. At a point during my school year I felt the need to see pictures and videos of my Uncle, and to show them to my girlfriend Sheila. I called upon Uncle Joell to hook a nephew up. In a matter of minutes I was in contact of a wealth of photos and a few videos of Jim. I told Sheila about how my Uncle was a movie star, how funny he was and how good he was at hockey. Once again a few blanks were filled.

My father and I watch hockey together. I should clarify, we watch a lot of Canucks together. My dad and his little brother Jim used to watch the Canucks together. It was a point of bonding for them, and it was one of many things that brought them very close. Hockey was one thing, in the very least, that the two had in common. I know for a fact that when my Dad watches the Canucks that he is cheering enough for two people, himself and his little brother.

It all came together during the last game, where the Canucks moved up 2-0 with a Burrows OT winner. The day was June 4th, two days before Jim's birthday. When the puck went in we both let out a holler, one that Richard Phillips would be proud of. We watched Alex Burrows fire an arrow up to the rafters for his late friend Luc Bourdon. I took a peek over to my Dad, normally a stoic Norwegian. His eyes were wet, my old man was getting choked up. Why? It was just game 2, wasn't it? It was much more.

I realized that whenever I watched hockey with my father, over these years, I was taking a spot. This spot was my Uncle Jim's. As brothers they would watch the Canucks, in 82 they lost out in the finals. 22 years after his brothers death, a son turning 20 this year had the privilege of sitting at his father's side finishing something that should have been accomplished a long time ago. When the Canucks score a goal, when they win a game, somehow, in some way, I know that the high-fives exchanged are not only between father and son, but between father and brother. I know that when my dad sees Burrows fire an arrow into the rafters for his late friend, he fires an arrow of his own into heaven for his little brother. Tonight in the Haugan house, as the Canucks attempt to go up 3-0, there will be three Haugan boys watching the game, one from a better seat than the other two.

In the end I can say this to all of those who have been separated from someone they love, from the book of Samuel. In David's own words comes our comfort. "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." We shall go to him. Jim has left us, but all our family will be back together again, where many high-fives will be exchanged over a good many things, including the Stanley Cup we are all hoping the Canucks win this year.

Here's to you, the Uncle I never knew.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


We got some sample pens at the church office today. This got me to thinking (yes, it does happen occasionally). How many pens have I had in my lifetime? How many pens do I have now (either in my home or in my office)? I just pulled out 15 pens from the top drawer of my desk (not counting the pencils, highlighters, and crayons). 15. There are days that go by that I never even pick up a pen...let alone use 15 of them. At home, I know we have many pens scattered around the house. Probably hundreds. I can't remember buying any of them (my wife may have bought a few for the kids' school supplies) but do pick up all the free ones I can at hotels/conferences/promotions/stores/jail. Nowadays, I type on a keyboard almost every day, but often go days without using a pen.

Throughout my life I remember a few very important pens. I got one for being in the wedding party at Ron and Carrie Stare's wedding (I don't know where it is now). I remember that I used a pen to sign my marriage license, but I don't remember what it looked like. I remember the many pens I used to write exams in high school and college. I remember I used a pen when I wrote a cheque for my first car (a yellow Ford Fiesta). I remember I used a pen when I wrote the names of our children on the government forms after their birth.

As many pens as I have... it seems that when I really need one, I can't find one... or, if I do, it refuses to write.

Pens are now commonplace in our world. Even as little as 100 years ago, pens were hard to find, expensive, and delicate. A family would have only one or two pens for the entire household, and they were kept in special places to protect them. Writing letters was the only way to communicate over great distance so people developed their penmanship and used fancy lettering to impart their emotion and feeling into their writing. Today, people use emoticons :) . Pens, like so many things that had great value and importance in the past, are now so commonplace that we don't even value them anymore (unless we can't find one).

There are more Bibles around than at any time in history. In fact, there are probably only a handful of houses in Canada that don't have one or more of them. Is your Bible (paper and/or electronic versions) becoming so commonplace that you don't value it anymore? You see it lying around the house but never use it? Pick it up, crack it open, read the words in ink (or e-ink), and let this everyday book change your life.

Typed... not handwritten... by Joell

Friday, May 27, 2011

Great Save!

"Great save Luongo!" Jim Hughson is the play-by-play announcer for the CBC broadcasts of the Vancouver Canucks' games this year. In previous years he was the radio announcer for the Canucks... and years before that, he started in radio in my home town of Fort St John, BC on CKNL radio (CFNL in Fort Nelson). Now, to be honest, I actually don't remember him on the radio...although I'm pretty sure I listened to him call a few Flyers' games (that's the Fort St John Flyers) that I wasn't able to attend. (Most of the time, at least one of my older brothers would be going to the game, and I'd beg my brothers to take me with me with them. Usually, that didn't work. So I'd go and cry to my mother, who would call the siblings on the carpet and force them to take me. That still didn't always work though, and I'd take the radio into my bedroom and listen on the radio.)

Hughson went from Fort St John to Kelowna and then to Vancouver, where he became the understudy of my all-time favourite hockey announcer, and Saskatchewan native, Jim Robson. He eventually replaced Robson as the official CKNW Canucks' announcer 1994, and then went on to work TV games for Sportsnet and now for CBC.

Hughson's "calling card" call is saying "great save (insert goalie's name here)", and he does so with great vigour. And, as a Canucks' fan, it gives great comfort to hear those three words "great save, Luongo" time after time as they now head to the Stanley Cup finals against either Boston or Tampa Bay.

Now, as comforting as it is to hear those three words... I have to admit that inserting another name into that catch phrase actually makes a world of difference. "Great save, Jesus", while sounding a little sacrilegious, actually provides comfort to anyone on the planet who simply decides to join "God's team". Of course, Jesus doesn't stop pucks for us, but rather stops the wages of sin... and saves all of us players on the team...not for just one season, but for eternity.

Oh, and by the way, He'd love to have you join his team. Where else can you join a team that is guaranteed to win?

PS Go Canucks. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jesus is not coming back on Saturday - I promise.

According to a radio preacher in the US (http://www.familyradio.com/), the rapture is going to happen on Saturday. Yes, this Saturday. Let me go out on the limb here and unequivocally predict that it won't happen on that day. I'll be here next week writing another ComBap Update, Lord willing. Yes, I think Jesus will come back again... but, as you've heard in my sermons, we really don't know what that will look like, if there is a "rapture" at the beginning of a "tribulation" or in the middle..or at the end... or even at all. Theologians have been arguing about this for centuries, and they can't come to consensus so how's a lowly preacher like me supposed to come to an infallible conclusion about it?

And then there's this little verse in the Bible that says "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36). It's not every day that you can drag out one little verse to win a slam dunk on a big theological debate... but this is one of them! Jesus is speaking here, and he unequivocally states that nobody will know the moment of his return... not even himself! Now, does any preacher think he knows more than Jesus? Well, apparently this one does. He has bad theology and he's a bad testimony!

Biblical prophecy is amazingly accurate. The most startling example of recent prophetic predictions coming true was the reformation of Israel as a nation-state. The Bible clearly identified Israel being a nation again in the "end times", which was the source of much mocking and derision prior to 1947. As far as I know... not a single preacher/theologian predicted the way Israel would return (after a 1900 year absence). An amazing resurrection of the nation-state of Israel through the power of the United Nations... and on the heels of the holocaust. Nobody predicted it would happen that way and, yet, it happened....just as the Bible said it would. It's just way easier on the other side of the event. That's the way God designed it.

Today, yes, we can anticipate Christ's return...in whatever form or timeline it takes. I'm still looking for a few more prophesies to become reality (like the temple rebuilt) but I won't be making any predictions...except for that it won't be on Saturday...mostly because I know that God has a sense of humour and keen sense of irony.

I wonder it that guy wouldn't mind donating some of his "soon to be unneeded" cash to our building fund. Hmmm.

Friday, May 06, 2011

To celebrate or not to celebrate...that is the question.

What a week it has been already...and it's only Tuesday! We've got a new majority government. The Canucks are still playing in the NHL playoffs. And, Osama is dead.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very pleased that Osama Bin Laden has been found and killed. I am, however, uneasy with celebrating it. For the most part, the various gatherings around the world have been fairly muted. Thankful people displaying their gratitude that justice has prevailed. Some of the celebrating has been a tad too celebratory, in my humble opinion. We often watch the news of people jumping up and down, chanting slogans, and praising the death of an enemy (or calling for the death of an enemy...often the President of the US). We think to ourselves, "those people are nuts", as we watch them celebrate violence.

For the followers of Jesus, we have two very clear instructions that pertain to this situation. One is to love our enemies. The other is to love justice. There is no denying that OBL was directly involved in terrorist acts that murdered many people around the globe. To state that a just judgment on him would have been the death penalty is accurate. (Some who are not in favour of the death penalty, myself included, may wince at this...but the statement still holds.) In this case, due process and a trial would have been expensive but worth the effort. Nevertheless, we can take comfort in the fact that he has met the end that his lifelong violence deserved. However, it's sad. Very sad. How much better it would have been had he come to his senses and renounced his actions and accepted his due discipline. He would have been better off for it.

We are better off for it when we come to our senses. We also remember that it any of us could have become depraved and murderous. We all have it in us. So, we remember the oft quoted phrase "but for the grace of God, go I", which reminds us to love everyone, even our enemies, because we could, very easily, be them if the table were turned.

God loves it when people come to their senses. We should too.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Overtime Edition

I'm sure glad life isn't like hockey. Last night I was on an emotional roller coaster as my beloved Vancouver Canucks ended up in a sudden death (or sudden life for the optimists out there) game with last year's Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. To add even more suspense to an already heart stopping game... it ended up in overtime. Both teams' entire season rested on "next goal wins". Thankfully, there was "the big play" where the hero of the game intercepted a pass and shot it top corner over the goalie to win it for the Canucks. My heart remains unbroken (for now), but they have to win three more series in order to capture the Cup.

Alex Burrows celebrates his winning goal in overtime Tuesday at Rogers Arena.
Photograph by:
Mark Van Manen, The Province

There are 30 teams in the NHL... and for every team that doesn't win, there is the label "failure" awaiting. Sure, some of them did better than they did the previous year...and that's an encouraging sign... but for many others, the early season expectations ended up being disappointments. Out of all those teams, only one will end up with the label "winner". I'm sure glad God doesn't work that way!

In God's system, all who take the gift of grace end up being winners. We humans are not in competition with each other but, rather, our adversary is simply trying to keep us from hearing about "the big play". We just celebrated the greatest overtime winning shot that was heard around the world! Christ's death on the cross put the game of life into overtime... and the adversary thought he had the game won but, hallelujah, Christ arose, defeating the power of sin and death forever. It was sudden life for all of us!

So, regardless of which NHL team you cheer for (if any)... remember, that winning in life is possible for everyone when we put our faith in the "the big play" of the resurrection!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why The Vancouver Canucks Will Make It To The Finals

Twitter is a wonderful place to watch the homers and the haters go at it. Here's a quick summary of their oft-repeated rants.

  • The Canucks will not get past their nemesis - Chicago Blackhawks
  • Luongo isn't that good in the playoffs
  • The Sedins will disappear
  • Manny Malholtra is out
  • They feasted on the lesser teams to get so many points
  • They have dominated all year ever with the most injuries of any NHL team
  • Luongo is having a season year and Schneider is ready to go if needed
  • The defence has been vastly improved from last year
  • Their penalty kills and power plays have been awesome all year

And so it goes back and forth with even Theoren Fluery getting in to the mix on the haters side and suffering the wrath of Canucks Nation.

Still, Canucks fans were pretty excited last year and, frankly, they had a pretty good team. Had Chicago not knocked them off, they may have gone all the way. However, make no mistake about it, this is a very different team. Here's my list of why they will, at the very least, make the Stanley Cup Finals.
  1. Defence. The revolving door on the blue line this season has exposed the amazing depth that the Canucks ...and the Manitoba Moose...have developed. The extras in the cast coupled with bona fide stars of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, and Sami Salo (for as long as he lasts) will mean that Vancouver has a solid back end... that can even take an injury, or two... or three.
  2. Luongo. Last year he was overplayed, overstressed (thanks to being the captain) and undersupported by the defence. This year none of these are the case and, oh, there's that gold medal hanging around his neck which, in my books, gets any monkey off his back...and then some.
  3. Faceoffs. Granted, a month ago this was a much stronger point but the loss of Manny Malhotra has dampened the impact a tad. Still, last year, especially against Chicago, they couldn't win a faceoff if their playoffs lives depended on it... and it did. Kesler has been schooled by Manny (#2 in the NHL) and is almost dominant with the 7th best percentage in the league. Henrik is now a respectable 38th in the league. Incidentally, Chicago has Jonathan Toews (8th) but nobody else about 50%.
  4. Ryan Kesler. Perhaps more important than his strong faceoffs, if Ryan's newfound discipline and wrist shot. Both he and Burrows and taken their emotional tirades down by, what I figure, at least 75%. If Kes can retain his cool and his focus... he will provide the Nucks with the solid 2nd line that has brought them much success this season. Oh, and toss Maxim Lapierre into this mix too. Alain Vigneault must have some special sauce to keep him from going off the deep end... and it's helping.
  5. Special Teams. Again, last year the team was not that special in this department. 1st in PP percentage and 3rd on the PK (yes, some say they would have probably finished in first here too had it not been for the string of no-purpose games at the end). Last season, the PK was 18th and the PP was as respectable 6th. They have obviously learned some good tricks and avoided some bad habits.
  6. Goals for... and against. Yes, we've all seen high powered offensive teams hit the wall time and time again in the playoffs (Washington, last year being the most recent). Last season, who was right behind the Capitals in goals for? Yes, the Vancouver Canucks. Goals against last year? Canucks 12th. Capitals 16th. This year? You guessed it. Vancouver is #1 in both goals for and goals against. A dynamic 1-2 punch that will allow them to win in a horse race or a marathon. Incidentally, only Boston and San Jose were in the top 10 in both categories.
What can derail the Canucks?
  1. Kesler getting hurt. By itself, not enough... but a serious blow.
  2. Kesler-Burrows-Lapierre losing their cool.
  3. Chicago getting Dustin Byfuglien back.... :)
  4. The Sedins get zero goals.
To me, these 6 factors move the Canucks from "contenders" (like last year) to "serious contenders"... or a "really really gonna have a hard time beating them in a seven game series" team.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What a Gull-A-Bull

Thomas J. Watson was quoted as saying "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers," somewhere around 1943 when he was the head of IBM. This quote has lived in infamy for the past couple decades as computers pop up in every household (and now pockets and purses as well) around the world. The only problem with this quote is: he probably never said it. Researchers have tried, in vain, to find a document that supports that he said that phrase but there isn't even one.

The world has always been a safe place for bad information. Wars have been fought over events that never took place (anyone have a WMD lying around?). People have been imprisoned and even killed for saying things that they didn't say ("Let them eat cake"). Boycotts have been organized against companies that were not associated with whom people thought they were (Proctor and Gamble). Bad news has always travelled fast... and now, with the internet and satellite TV, it travels at the speed of light.

Last week, reports on the internet were that the rebels in Libya had taken the town of Sirt which, at that time, was essentially the last town before Tripoli. People were celebrating all over the world that Gadaffi's days were numbered. Turns out, it wasn't true. Today, the Colonel has almost taken back all of the cities and is tightening his grip on the holdouts.

Christians should be the least gullible people on the planet. The Bible tells us to be champions of the truth and to test everything before accepting it. This means that it's even kosher to question our pastors and teachers if we find some disagreement between them and the Bible (by the way, if you meet a pastor/teacher that isn't open to being corrected...or at least hearing a different perspective... run away). The head of the Church is Christ.. not the pastor, bishop, or some committee that meets in secret in New York... or Melville. The Word of God is Jesus as revealed in the Bible... therefore we use it as our "rule of faith and practice". The job of a pastor/teacher is to translate the truth of the Bible into today's language and culture (can you say "hermeneutics"). Not an easy task... I might add.

So, the next time you hear some newfangled idea, regardless of what sphere it happens to come from (health, theology, economics, politics, sociology, technology, etc) decide to take that information "under advisement" and then test it from the truth of the Bible... and your own common sense...before jumping in with both feet.

PS. Thomas Watson may have ended up being right by saying the thing he didn't say. We may end up with just 5 computers in the world.... 1. Facebook. 2. Google. 3-5... to be announced. Just some food for thought.

PPS. The Bible has been burned many times in many places around the world. While, it's a tad sad when it happens, there is no reason to be bothered because the book itself isn't sacred. The Word isn't a book...or 66 books (as in the Bible) rather Jesus is the Word... and the Bible reveals to us what/who that Word is. That Word can't be damaged by fire... or any other means of destruction.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Democracy Anyone?

Unrest continues throughout the Arab world today. Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and Algeria are all dealing with mass demonstrations as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Of course, Libya has ended up in civil war after the demonstrations were attempted to be put down by Gadaffi. Israel is also facing new unrest in Gaza and the West Bank. Do continue to pray that peace and freedom will prevail. However, both peace and freedom come with a cost and with risks.

So, what makes for a good democracy? Here are a few things off the top of my head:

  1. Regular elections. Yes, we kind of hate them when they come too regularly (like here in Canada over the past decade) but, obviously, we need them. The best way to keep our leaders accountable is a free and fair election every so often.
  2. Free press. Often criticized by politicians for being biased, the free press is crucial for letting the regular people know what the politicians are doing. Time and time again, a journalist breaks a story that exposes graft and corruption. Time and time again, too, the politicians try to suppress them in order to keep their jobs. The battle over Wikileaks is a prime example of this. Make no mistake about it: having the "truth" exposed may be uncomfortable at times, but it's crucial. Thankfully, most people have video cameras in their hands now (in their phones) which can, and does, expose abuse on a regular basis!
  3. Strong judiciary. Everybody jokes about lawyers (see the joke below) but, without a well thought out legal system, those who abuse their power may go unchecked. The court doesn't have power to make the rules...but they have the power to enforce the rules (theoretically).
  4. Honest police. In some places in the US, it's illegal to video record the police! That's a very bad sign! The ability to trust that the police have the country's best interest at their core is crucial in building a strong democracy. Most countries trying to become democratic often find the police subverting the people under the direction of corrupt politicians.
  5. People who vote. Yes, if nobody actually votes (or very few do), the whole process becomes moot. If you don't vote, you really shouldn't complain about those who end up running the country!
  6. A constitution. Yes, as boring as it sounds, every country needs a document that outlines the basic rules. And, in my humble opinion, those based on a judeo-Christian foundation are the most fair and stable. The rules have to come from somewhere... might as well get them from the One who made the rules of the universe!

There. Now don't forget to vote!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Do the Calgary Stampeders have a legitimate beef with the refs for todays loss?

Let's examine the questionable calls:

1. Illegal contact on an eligible receiver (3 times). Two times the Stamps player practically layed out the receiver. Thrid time he grabbed his jersey. Right calls... all three. Oh, and by the way. In the post game interviews the Stamps players kept saying "pass interference". They were clearly not.

2. Intentional grounding: Wrong call. There was clearly a Stamp receiver nearby... just because the ball didn't cross the line of scrimmage shouldn't matter.

3. Taunting: Good call. If he just does the flex thing as he walks by the Rider DB... then all it good. But he gets right into his face and does it... blatant and correct.

4. Fumble recovery, by the Riders, in the end zone. Correct call. A Stamp player (who should have just jumped on it instead of try to pick it up) kicked the ball into the end zone (the fact that it was kicked inadvertently is the same as if it had been knocked in any other way) . Since they put the ball into goal... there is no points awarded when the Riders recover.

5. Cate's fumble. Overturned and correct. Both his elbow and then his knee were clearly down.

Oh... and a couple more things. Just like the Riders did in the Grey Cup last year, Calgary took their time out early in the 2nd half. Turned out to be a huge factor at the end. And, Calgary missed a chance to challenge the Cate's touch down. I don't think he was in before his knee hit.

6. One call I forgot about. After the TD to Cary Koch, there was an unnecessary roughness penalty as the players rushed to congratulate each other. Dwight Anderson gave Dressler (I think) a wee shove as he ran past... which caused Dressler to slip and wipe out. On a regular field nothing happens and nobody notices. Still, the extra little shot was unnecessary and, actually, unlucky.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eve - the Older Woman

Our buddies, the scientists, are continuing to come up with really neat discoveries that are not only pointing to a creator, but are constantly proving the historical records of the Bible. I've talked about how archaeology has, time and time again, confirmed the geographical details of the Bible (i.e., towns, locations, political leaders, etc.). Now, geneticists are discovering that "Eve" is older than "Adam".

Oh, wait a minute! What?

Well, it turns out that, through the discovering and mapping of DNA, you can backtrace who's related to who by the different markers that we all have in our DNA. As they have being doing this, they have come to the conclusion that all of us come from one female ancestor. They call her "mitochondrial Eve". However, as they backtrack the male line... they come up with a noticeably younger date, meaning, the "Adam" that we all descend from came along much later than "Eve". Now, on the surface, this is puzzling unless you read your Bible. It turns out that "Adam" is actually Noah! The Bible clearly states that Noah and his four sons were the only males that survived the flood. However, each of the sons had a wife who each came from different mothers (probably). Therefore, the female lineage would continue back to the real Eve... but the male lineage would "bottleneck" at Noah.

Now, how could the writers of the Bible (in this case Moses) not only know the universe came into existence out of nothing (the Big Bang) but also know that we humans came about from Adam and Eve, bottlenecking through Noah? This information would have been impossible for a writer to make up...and then just happen to be found to be accurate thousands of years later, unless it were coming from God himself.

So very cool. Read more about it here: http://www.reasons.org/blogs/take-two/happy-mothersdna


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dear Soup to Nuts fans

OK. I'm sorry. My blog has been neglected (don't bother counting all the "I haven't blogged enough lately" blog posts out there... there are millions) and I have nobody to blame but myself and that guy sitting over there. I am still posting but mostly to Twitter (please, don't hate me). Check it out here: http://twitter.com/jhaugan

I'll get back to here soon...my 8 years of sporadic blogging shall not be in vain!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Haugan Christmas Letter 2008-ish

Yes, at long last, it is here! This year's edition of the Haugan Christmas/New Years-ish letter for your enjoyment.

First if you want a hard copy mailed to you instead of this newfangled interweb pdf thingy then just email me and we'll mail it off (feel free to include an optional cheque for $500 to cover postage, ink, paper, copying, mocha cappacino's for the next 3 years).

We've got two versions for you to download... the high quality one is 8mb of goodness and the low quality one is 135k of goodness with grainy graphics (for those on dial up).

Christmas 2008

High quality version click here

Low quality version (for the bandwidth impaired) click here

If you can't get them to open then try right clicking on the link and selecting "save as" or "save target as" and save it to your desktop... then open it from there.

If you still can't get it to work then click here.

If you still can't get it to work then call someone to take your computer away from you and replace it with a fish tank.

If you want to read older ones (and why on earth would you want to do that) then please click here

Friday, September 19, 2008

How to treat your enemies

The gang at xxxchurch.com show us how to treat those who are, technically, our enemies!