Saturday, September 30, 2006


Throughout history various men and women have been saddled with the title, “hero”. Often we speak of them in such terms that places them upon a pedestal. Yet when we look at them, most if not all of these heroes have significant character flaws and at some point in their lives have made a terrible decision. Name someone and you will find a serious issue.

Even in Scripture the heroes of the faith are flawed individuals, and some with deep serious flaws. Least we dismiss the flaws as being a pre-faith state and loose perspective, Scripture makes it clear that their flaws and misjudgments take place while they are in a state of obedient faith. What we have is real people being used by God.

Many people who are heroes are ordinary people, people like me and you who find themselves at a junction where they are confronted with a demanding challenge, a challenge that they address and meet with perseverance and courage. They become reminders of the human potential and hope.

For those of faith, they have the Holy Spirit to enhance their courage and sustain them. Such individuals become examples to others of faith of how God grants abundant grace to us in such moments.

I have recently met a couple who are examples of this divine process. This couple are newly commissioned officers. Just over three weeks after arriving in their appointment their first child was born. They found the Corps’ cash flow was stretched to the point where in mid summer they looked at not being able to meet payroll. A few weeks later, he was told that he has cancer. While the prognosis of recovery, the surgery and 15 weeks of chemotherapy means his involvement at the Corps and assisting with the Christmas program (assisted over 1,800 children last year) is limited. Then into that mix add that their community service person is leaving mid October as she has just taken a position with the State.

Yes, DHQ is providing extra support and will do so well into the New Year. Though they are being assisted with the seasonal issues, our main concern is to help them as individuals. Watching and listening to them as they coolly, methodically and intentionally go about their duties and planning stirs my heart. While some would bemoan their situation and become lost, this couple’s faith and spirit of joy are high. Each day they are taking hold of each day and task with confidence. While like many of us, they would not consider themselves as heroes or want to be called such, they are being victorious in how they are handling the situation. They are an example to all of us in handling a confluence of difficulties.

May God’s grace and power continue to be with them in a mighty manner…may they have an extra portion of God’s love and grace.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Marching Band Pit Crews

Evie noted in her blog about the pit crews and her work with the back pit with the backdrop scoreboard and fence. Below are pitures of what she noted. The pit has three minutes max to set and take down all items. The second pic shows the scoreboard in back and one of the front dugouts set up by the front crew. This second pic also shows the band concluding their performance and moving off the field while the guard gives the finishing touch in front.

The third pic shows part of the front pit. This is a quarter of the front pit. On the right you will notice the three timps on a cart. We have four carts the hook-up together and once on the field the equipment remains on them and the wheels slide out. Various other items are on wheels.

Joanne asked how Josh's band did on Saturday. Though they were missing 3 ensemble/solist members and a drum major due to the Jewish holiday they won all their awards for the their class (AAAA). They were not grand champions as a class AA band slightly beat them in the overall scoring.

Bands are classified by size of the bands...the smallest are class A with the largest being AAAA. This way each band competes against bands of a similar size. Larger bands have a bigger sound, a more complicated program but with more marchers making mistakes.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Marching Band Uniforms

Yesterday on our way back from vacation we stopped at a marching band competition in Winchester (about 70 miles from home). Every school outfits its band with a uniform. Though the style may vary, each uniform reflects the school’s team colors. The auxiliary’s outfits changed each year to fit with the theme (the auxiliary are mostly young ladies who perform routines with flags and other items to enhance the music).

Following are some uniforms from yesterday’s competition. The first three of other bands. The fourth is the auxiliary for Josh's school. At the bottom is Josh in his uniform. For Josh’s school they have fitted out the whole band with uniforms to fit the baseball theme.

Yesterday I took many more pictures from the competition and the clinic from earlier in the day. In the coming week, a good number of the pictures will start to show up on the band website (link on the side)….most pictures being posted have been taken by myself or Evie.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gems - part 6

Here are five more divine gems that have blessed my life.

Max Feener – my connection with Max was only year. He was the CO at North York who attracted Evie and I to Downsview rather than us taking positions at the Harbor Light. Max's passion to see the Kingdom build through evangelism and social ministry was clearly evident and emulated. His joy on the platform is the same joy that you see in the office and as he drives a car. He tries to make every decision by consciously asking himself, where is Christ in this process or how does this advance the Kingdom of God?

One of the most last impacts, and a gem of an impact at that, was when we lost two brothers in a drowning in a local creek. It took days for the bodies to be found and it caught the media attention. I was asked to do the funeral. The evening before the funeral I went through an outline of the service with the family. When I noted that I would give a nine to twelve minute message (which in seminary I was taught should be the norm) that Jamaican parents insisted that I needed to preach at least an hour. I was bothered about having to go four to five times the norm and that onlookers would be aghast by a sermon of that length. Max quietly noted, that I was there to serve the family first, to help them through the grieving and healing process, that if an hour’s sermon is demanded by the family’s cultural expectations then do it and not worry about the cultural norms of others from the community. Those wise words have been lives out in an array of situations and communities in which I have found myself over the years….bring the gospel to the community within their cultural context. What is relevant or will work in one context will be relevant and fail in another.

Clarence Bradbury – I have meet Clarence in several capacities over the years, when he led a brigade of Cadets at the Downsview Corps (now Yorkwoods), our Section Leaders at CFOT, while COs of the Oshawa Corps and as Principle of CFOT St. Johns. He is one of the few individuals who not only has a Christ-like pastoral heart, who is pastoral by inner nature and is not just a profession. No matter what his appointment, his pastoral nature dominates. He is a true servant who accepts the painful arrows with grace and forgiveness. Yet at the same time possesses a sharp mind along with a gift for expository preaching. When you speak with him you find that he is focused upon you and your thoughts. In many ways he reminds me of Denise Kinlaw. Clarence’s is a divine gem for being that thoughtful pastor by inner nature and thereby challenging me to move as much as possible in the same direction.

Al and Karen Hoeft – this couple were Session Mates of Evie and I. Nearly every Friday evening they traveled downtown to assist the Toronto Temple Corps with their Street Patrol. Sacrificial passion for evangelism and service flowed liberally from them. They are always upbeat and encouraging of others. They will go anywhere and do anything to help others and to build the Kingdom of Christ which they clearly demonstrated by joyously having a very extended appointment in Yellowknife. When few Officers would be willing to remain in the artic for more than three or four years, they were there for over ten. Though we have not seen Al and Karen in many a long year, they are an example of what happens when a married couple share almost identical gifts. They are true gems and I have been blessed for having them pass through my life.

Dr. Paul Egan – is a Jesuit priest and professor of Patristic Studies at the Toronto School of Theology. I only had Dr. Egan for one year long class, but it was a powerful one indeed. The demanding class brought to life the richness of the writing of the Early Church Fathers that are ripe with profound theological and philosophical thoughts. The challenge of summarizing the prior week’s three hours of lectures into 50 words or less was daunting indeed.

Besides the exposure of the early scholars of the Church, one of the most significant moments was a forty-five minute conversation I had with Dr Egan following a thirty-minute oral exam (no written exams, only orals upon anything he chose at that moment to ask for an explanation and substantiated opinion). Knowing that I was a Salvationist he talked about the importance TSA plays within the body of Christ, the value it brings by helping to raise the social conscience of the Church regarding the local poor, and how we carry a towel in one hand while the Bible rests in the other. He also went on to note that TSA is can face an identify crisis if we loose track of how Wesley rightly blended evangelism and social ministry as part of one work. Though he never elaborated further on Wesley, later readings in Wesley helped me to understand exactly what he was talking about (a blog for another time). When I left his office I had renewed appreciation for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, and that in many ways they are more akin to the Army in spirit than are our many of our more fundamentalist brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

ACE Adventures

This is the fourth and last of my posting about our trip to West Virginia.

Following are some pictures from the ACE camp out of which we white watered on Monday. ACE (American Canadian Expeditions) has 1400 acres in their Beckley WV property. Though rafting is the focal point, they have a range of other activities from horseback riding to mountain biking, from caving to rock climbing. The facility has a numerous accommodation options, from kitchen equipped cabins with hot tubs to bunk houses to primitive camping ( ).

These pictures were taken Sunday afternoon just before we headed to the stables to take our horse ride. I love trying to catch action shots, and these along with a dozen others achieved my goal. Having a camera that can capture a dozen shots in as many seconds helps greatly to secure two or three action pregnant pictures out of one sequence.

These first four pictures show individuals using a zip line that ran from a four story tower. Other two pictures of are of people shooting off a plastic shout into the water. In the background of some shots is a water obstacle course.

We were impressed with the facility and the staff. The greatest difficulty was getting to this remote camp in our RV. As there is a bridge with a 10 ft clearance we had to take a back lane into the camp, a lane not much wider than our RV that was about 4 miles. Yes we will be going back, maybe for a longer stay...anyone want to join us?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunset Horseback Ride

The evening before we took our whitewater marathon Evie and I had a lovely sunset horseback trip, a trip which she noted in her blog. We could not have asked for better weather….warm but not hot, clear with just a few high thin clouds high above and a few puffy clouds to give the setting sun something upon which to paint with an orange glow. Taking pictures along the trail was next to impossible….taking pictures in a heavy forest would be difficult and demand a slow shutter speed even during the day. Adding the dying light pushes the camera further. Then adding to that troubling mix the shake caused by the gait of a horse and you have blurring pictures at the end. That said, I did get three clear shots from the horse, two of which are here. I was on the second horse and Evie was toward the end of the line (you can just make her out at the end of the line). The other was a quick shot of the New River Gorge from the Concho Overlook. The Gauley Gorge which we rafted is as deep but much more narrow and with high cliffs along most of its course.

The last picture is one I took of Evie just before she dismounted.

Going With the Flow part 2

If you have not looked at the blog posted earlier today, do so and then return to this one.

As promised, the other two dramatic pictures are below.

We are coming out of “Pillow Rock Rapids” and our line was a little off. The ramification of being off line can be dramatic. We nosed into a rock cut. I am in the front above the ACE sign and Evie is behind me. From the second you will see that gravity and momentum persuaded me to take my first swim of the day. The boat passed over me and picked me up about 45 seconds after my swim.

In the afternoon, four of us ended up in the river again, all three guys and Evie exited the raft as “Fuzzy Box of Kittens”. That exit was caught on video…yes we have the video of it.

Going With the Flow

Yesterday the expression “going with the flow” took on new meaning during our 24 mile trip down the Gauley River in West Virginia. This trip is ranked as the 7th most demanding trip in the world, only surpassed in North America by the 21 day trip down the Colorado (one full day is enough thank you, count me out for the 21 day trip). The Gauley is a class IV-VI river, with many Vs becoming VIs during the spring run off and during September when the draw down of the lake and hurricane rains increases the river flow three fold over summer levels and almost twice that of the spring levels. Today’s flow was nearly 2,800 gallons per second.

The trip was demanding, to say the least. We ran 100 rapids, of which 23 were class V or above. The trip included shooting a 14ft waterfall that then tumbles you into two hydraulics. There were several series where you crest over a swell only to plunge into a series of 5 to 9 ft troughs. There were 16 class IVs, 49 class IIIs, 7 class IIs and 2 class Is.

During the middle part of the trip, the river becomes gentle, which affords rafters to get out of the boat and swim in the cool water. At one part of this trip our raft pulled off to the side where four of us, Evie and I included, climbed up a 25ft cliff from which to jump into the river.

Along with the guide, our fellow rafters included extreme enthusiasts from Texas and an equally adventuresome couple (she is a therapist and he is retired from the airborne) from Michigan.

Below are some photos from the day. I will posting two more pic when I get a better connection in a few days.

The first photo is from the morning where we shot a class IV rapid that preceded the Pillow Rapids where I exited (pics to be posted in next blog).

In the afternoon, Evie traded places with a lady in the back who wanted to change positions. The last two are of us bracing for the first of shooting a cascade and the last of me bracing as we hit the first of three troughs. At this point I am trying to secure a leg into a hold as the nose of the boat and my feet go under the trough only to bounce back up again a moment later. We did not lose anyone here as other boats did.

It was a great day that started with breakfast at 5:45 and a 6:30 check-in. Evie and I have some sore muscles and, needless to say, when the lights went off we slept soundly.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Outback Bowl

Last Friday the Oakton football season started with the Outback Bowl. Each year Oakton High and Madison High, to larger high schools that are 1.2 miles apart start their season against each for a trophy and game sponsored by a major steak chain, Outback. Normally both teams are highly competitive and strong…Madison being district champs four times in the last eleven years, Oakton twice district champs and they are the current defending state champions.

The following pics are from the game. At the Outback Bowl, both marching bands perform, with the visiting band performing before the game. Unfortunately due to lightening in the area just before the scheduled start time, the game was delayed 75 minutes (it also rained for 15/20 minutes). This meant that Oakton’s pre-game performance was cancelled. The band played pep music to help the Oakton crowd to cheer their team to victory.

Oakton started the season in fine form. Going into the 4th quarter when they brought in their third string players they were up 41-6. They ended up winning 44-18.

The first picture is of Madison warming up. In the background is the Oakton band warming up for their performance. Shortly after the shot was taken the lightening was seen and everyone was moved into the school. The second pic is of Oakton’s first touchdown of the season. The third shot is the band celebrating the first touchdown. The last pic is on the touchdown that put Oakton up 28-0.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vacation's Coming

Friday is coming and with it another week's vacation. We are off to West Virginia. We have booked a pair of horses to travel to the mountain top to watch the sunset Sunday evening. All day Monday, we hit the Gully for a 23 mile white water trip. The Gully is rated as a class 5 and 6 in summer and with the rain of the last few weeks it will be even more demanding. The Gully is the only river (along with the Upper New River into which the Gully flows) in North America that has been used for international white water compititions.

Where we go after Monday night is unknown at this time. Other than being in Winchester Friday and Saturday night for Oakton's marching band compitition Evie and I have not had a chance to think about what is happening in between. With me being on the road for 2.5 days last week and 4 days this week we have not had much of a chance to connect on the days between (as I type this I am sitting in a computer lap in Georgia learning a they are going into batch enteries which my office does not do, I can zone out for an hour).

I am looking forward to Sunday and Monday. I hope we will to get some great pics to post when we can find a hot spot.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Leadership Character Flaws and Grace

One of the more troubling questions for my Wesleyan Theology students to handle is a question dealing John Wesley’s marriage to Molly. In his 40s John married Molly a widower. At first she traveled with him but soon became discontent not living in her own home.

The marriage was a disaster. He was on the road preaching for weeks and months at a time. Molly wanted her husband to become the minister of a local church and remain home. She was jealous when women would seek her husband for spiritual counsel and when he would visit women in their homes. Her discontent grew to the point where she spoke unguardedly to many of her complaints.

John later admitted that marriage had been a grave error. After the first few years they never saw one another again. When word came that she had died Wesley did not grieve.

Students have difficulty understanding how such a spiritual giant could have been such an uncaring husband. Clearly he neglected his wife and there was little effort to make his marriage work. Wesley’s marriage is an example of what a bad marriage, and should not be emulated.

I try to remind my students that the age in which Wesley lived marriage was understood in less romantic terms than today. We stand in an era affected by the commencement of Victorian romance novels that changed people’s thinking about romance and marriage. Back then, love was the secondary factor. Companionship, childrearing, keeping of the house and respect were the primary factors. Hence, many marriages were arranged or were part of business or political alliances. In the 1700s it was not uncommon for professional men to be away from home for months or even years at a time on business.

That all said, even by the standards and expectations of the day his marriage was poor. Divorce was not an easy option for anyone. Hence, separation was the equivalent. Functionally, the founder of the Wesleyan movement, the man used in a mighty manner by God, the man who is the founder of the modern discipleship and small group moment, was divorced.

Today, many evangelical churches would preclude such a man from being a spiritual leader, lay or otherwise. The common teachings within the holiness movement would seem to question whether a claim of spiritual vitality would be true for a minister who became divorce. It is little wonder that students have difficulty reconciling this part of Wesley’s life with his ministry and teachings.

While Wesley’s marriage is not to be emulated, I am comforted by this part of Wesley’s story. It reminds me that God uses a range of flawed men and women like me and those I know. Regardless of what we hear preached from our pulpits, God does not use only flawless people as such people are rare in life. Wesley’s marriage reminds us that failings, even significant failings, in one or two areas of a person’s life does not limit God’s use of us to impact others and to build his Kingdom. And at times He does use us in spit of ourselves. For that I am comforted.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

XM Radio

Friday evening as the rain poured down, Josh, Evie and I relaxed listening to jazz after catching up on the Canadian news on our radio. Saturday afternoon we listened to the Iowa Hawkeye football game broadcast and 60s music later. Shortly after XM was launched in 2003 I purchased my first XM receiver, I was in the first 350,000 subscribers…Bernie at the office was in the first 100,000. For Christmas in 2004 Jonathan was given a receiver for his car, and then when he bought his car he got one with it so his old XM went to Evie.

As it is not uncommon for me to take 400 mile round trips in the division XM is a blessing. I not longer need to find a new station every 20-30 minutes or wonder when I hear some static if I am driving closer or further way from the station. Now, and if I so wish, the same station follows me throughout the whole journey. Though I rarely do I listen to the same station, it is possible to do so even on a 1,000 mile trip.

The digital sound quality is crisp and clear. The variety of stations is greater than you could ever hope to find even in the largest market. Amongst the 160 stations are a range of interests for everyone. There are stations specializing in each decade from the 40s to the 90s. There are several contemporary channels as well as channels that mixes music from the late 50s to the mid 80s. You name it, it is there…three classical music stations, three comedy stations, jazz, country music, urban music CNN, FOX, Weather Channel, ESPN News, most MBL and NHL games broadcast live, Big Ten and Pac Ten football and basketball games, comedy, Christian music, talk shows (sports, women, conservative, liberal, Christian, Oprah this fall), local traffic reports in major markets, and a Canadian news channel.

Beside the quality of the sound, I like that many of the music channels are commercial free. I also love being able to catch up on Canadian news and weather by turning to channel 244 (Canada 360), for 15 to 20 minutes.

The signals for XM come from a satellite which means that there are times when you could loose a signal for a moment in some urban canyons or in tunnels. Last June I was surveyed regarding which local radio. I was not helpful on the questions as between the ipod and XM I rarely listen to terrestrial radio anymore.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Our Labor Day Weekend

Our Labor Day weekend trip was a pleasant one. The campground was only an hour away and was the site was one of quality. The site overlooked a ridge on one side and was well forested on the other two sides. Hence other than the site 20 yards from ours on the other side of the road, the next nearest site was about 40 yards. The only downside for the weekend was the rain continued until late Saturday morning.

Late yesterday afternoon we took in a Hagerstown Sun double header. Here are some pictures from the game. The first picture is the only homerun swing in either game. The second is a triple that went off the upper part of the center wall and shot back past the centerfielder. The third is of a player thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.

The last two are of the picture who took a perfect game into the last inning…the shot of the picture is the ball that ended the perfect game. The last picture is the swing that ended the no hit game (with two outs, two balls and two strikes).