31 May 2010

International Indy 500

The Indianapolis Speedway was the first track built in the United States especially for auto racing. The businessmen who put up the money for the track intended it to be more of a testing ground to help improve American made cars, especially cars built in Indiana.

The Indianapolis Speedway was built in 1909, and at that time was 500 miles of racetrack built with 3.2 million bricks!

In 1911, the first race was held and called "International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race" and quickly became an overnight tradition, drawing more than 90,000 spectators. A driver named Ray Harroun, won the race. He is also the man who invented the rear view mirror! Fortunately, he was driving a car called a Marmon, which is made in Indianapolis (just across town). Therefore, the hometown made car won the hometown race!

I personally cheer for Scott Dixon, a very nice New Zealander who now calls Indianapolis home.

While the name of the race has changed a few times over the years, the international flavour of the race is obvious, especially this year. It may be the only genuine World Series Americans pay much attention to.

Church-to-Church Partnerships to Rebuild in Haiti

Shortly after the Haitian earthquake, it became clear to that the only indigenous infrastructure left in the entire country is the Haitian church. In order to be involved in community development and rebuilding that doesn't promote dependency or colonialism, AIM is working through local church leaders in Haiti to reach and rebuild their communities.

We have developed a network and database of Haitian pastors that will partner with churches in America, and around the world, for prayer, encouragement, resources, and teams who will travel to provide hands-on help.

In order to do this effectively, we are working through a handful of indigenous leaders with whom we've been building a relationship over the months since the earthquake. These leaders will be the "front line" of the Church-to-Church Program, bringing coordination, administration, accountability and oversight.

An initial goal of 200 dynamic church partnerships is both feasible and realistic. These partnerships will include prayer, donations, mutual communication, and mission trips to facilitate relational growth and tangible rebuilding assistance. In fact, one of our early American partners has already scheduled a mission trip of 20 participants to visit their sponsored Haitian church. What began as a vision is now making a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of Haitians, and those supporting the effort are also being transformed.


American churches have the opportunity to spiritually and physically support a sister church in Haiti. Adventures In Missions is connected to more than 1000 churches (and their surrounding communities), many of which are still awaiting relief.

Local pastors have reported thousands of lives being transformed in the wake of the disaster. Each personal tragedy they hear is followed by a story of profound hope and resiliency. There is a revival that supersedes institutions happening in this land, and we want to partner you with Haitian church leaders in their effort to rebuild their country.

FISH! It's a way of life.

My grandpa told fish stories. Usually he was more excited about telling of my catches than of his own, bragging to his friends and the guys in the bait shop that I had caught one that nearly snapped the pole! There are fish stories, and then there are fish stories.

Can you imagine going to a smelly fish market as
part of your holiday plans, actually marking it on your list of places to visit? What if it was the most inspiring place around, a testament to a healthy organisational culture and authentic community? Comic though it may be, while fish are getting from deck to dinner, some guys in a smelly job are having fun and successfully selling fish. Read on . . . .

A Fish Story By: Rekha Balu, Fast Company

Think you've got problems with motivating workers?
Imagine trying to keep a fishmonger happy.

It's 9 AM on a Saturday in Seattle, and, as usual, a big crowd is watching the show at the Pike Place Fish Market. Bear, a boom box of a man clad in fluorescent-orange scrubs, is hurling a 6-pound Copper River sockeye salmon to fellow fishmonger Andy Frigulietti, who snags the fish with one hand, much to the crowd's delight, and delivers it into the arms of a waiting customer. "Sockeye for delivery!" Bear bellows. "Sockeye for delivery!" Frigulietti answers back.

The flying fish are clearly a hit with customers -- and with tourists, who flock to the market to experience the show. Lately, though, Pike Place has attracted other visitors as well -- from companies such as Alaska Airlines, Marriott, and Sprint. Why the interest from the big-name companies? Because the fishmongers love their jobs. Pike Place has established a reputation for having a creative environment that fosters intense employee loyalty as well as customer satisfaction. Pike Place even inspired "Fish!," a best-selling corporate-training video made by ChartHouse International Learning Corp. two years ago that has since spawned several additional resources. Now, besieged by requests from managers, Pike Place owner John Yokoyama has spun off a new venture, Pike Place Biz Futures Consulting LLC, so that he can pass along some of his fish wisdom.

Not that the market's formula for success is very complicated: "We want to give employees and customers the best experience they've ever had," says Yokoyama, 60, who has owned Pike Place for 35 years. Over the years, the self-described "former tyrant" has learned that a company comes to life when it treats its staff as peers rather than as peons. And when a company comes to life, the customers will follow.
I've often wanted to write a FISH prescription for individuals, companies and teams.

Check out the books and resources and see if it might
not help morale in your company, family or church!

What is the FISH! Philosophy?
The FISH! Philosophy includes four simple, interconnected practices:

Be There is being emotionally present for people. It’s a powerful message of respect that improves communication and strengthens relationships.

Play taps into your natural way of being creative, enthusiastic and having fun. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” It’s a mindset you can bring to everything you do.

Make Their Day is finding simple ways to serve or delight people in a meaningful, memorable way. It’s about contributing to someone else’s life, not because you want something out of it, but because that’s the person you want to be.

Choose Your Attitude means taking responsibility for how you respond to what life throws at you. Once you are aware that your choice impacts everyone around you, you can ask yourself, “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?”

Through The FISH! Philosophy, we build stronger relationships with the team members we work with, the customers we serve, the students we teach and the people we love.

30 May 2010

Centering Prayer: Like Being With a Friend

Thomas Keating advocates 'centering prayer' as a prayer of the heart. He recommends one or two daily periods in which we wait quietly in God's presence, perhaps repeating a 'sacred word,' and let go of our thoughts, neither holding on to them nor struggling with them.

As a student at Yale in the early 1940's, Keating experienced a religious conversion while reading Thomas Aquinas's Catena Aurea, a line-by-line exposition of the four gospels. He realized that union with the divine is not only possible but available to all.

"That insight," says the 74-year-old Trappist monk, "was the seed that has continued to grow all through my life."

"Centering prayer is not so much an exercise of attention as intention...
Releasing any distractions caused by thoughts or emotions, the practitioner simply "waits for God." Beyond words, emotions, and thoughts, centering prayer is, says Keating, like "two friends sitting in silence, just being in each other's presence."

Centering prayer helps non-monastics achieve that very same goal through the discipline of quieting thoughts and feelings in order to experience the presence of God.

Centering prayer is not a way of turning on the presence of God.
Rather it is a way of saying, 'Here I am'...

I have found it helpful both at the beginning and at the ending of
a day to spend a few minutes in this find of quietness, saying
"My soul waits for the Lord," or "Be still and know that I am God."
I suppose it is like a gentle knocking on God's door to say, "I am here, waiting."
---Leighton Ford, The Attentive Life

Do you prefer a firm or soft mattress?

The lucky ones have collected enough stones so they don't have to sleep in the mud.

This is Haiti, where multitudes still have not even received a tarp to keep the rain off!

Tent cities are the upper middle class suburbs!

Seth Barnes reports on his blog.

29 May 2010

Courage: In Haiti today: Tash McGill

This is what courage looks like in Haiti today.

Click for pic or roll cursor over the link for those viewing via Blogger.

Picture yourself there.

What would you be doing?

Tash writes:

A half-deflated soccerball is just about as precious as food. Boys are still boys and a game of soccer in a corner of tent city is almost a relief to watch. That something normal remains.

As we drive past the airport and past the enormous UN presence, it's easy to understand why the people have such animosity towards them, the great towering fences and serious faces.

Through the market area, amidst garbage piles and mud there are clothes, shoes and produce for sale, sometimes it's hard to tell where the garbage pile and the market line cross over.

Driving past a building with a second storey pane of glass hanging by a corner over a busy street below, I think it's just like a raindrop at the end of a leaf. Hard to catch and hard to know when it will fall.

In the ominous heat that signals the rain will arrive at some point today, the smell of decay and dust sits all the way back in my throat. ...

Follow Tash's journey through her camera lens on Twitter or her blog.

Social Media Management Tip

Facebook enthusiasts can now view, comment, and like Facebook news feed items directly from Yahoo Mail, actions that will sync with your activity on Facebook.com.

"Facebook activity from your friends will now appear in your Updates section, alongside your friends' activity on Yahoo, Twitter, Flickr and so on. Now you can get all your Updates in one place, right when you log in to Yahoo Mail," Yahoo wrote in a blog post.

"So there you have it – one-stop updates from across Yahoo! and Facebook, right on Yahoo! Mail, with more to come across the broader Yahoo! network soon. We hope this feature helps you easily stay in touch with the people who matter most to you. Please let us know what you think!"

Tony Cheng

Tony Cheng
Front End Engineer
Yahoo! Mail

* = (To activate all Facebook features, you first must link your Facebook account if you have not done so already. It’s super simple! Here’s how).

Stay tuned for Gmail tips and integrated apps so you can have all your info in one window!


"Anyone who God uses significantly is always deeply wounded.." -Brennan Manning

Our woundedness is usually our best qualification for serving others.

28 May 2010

Auckland Weather Bomb

Personal Stages of Response in Aftermath of Disaster

Have you ever been involved in a crisis, whether a horrible accident, natural disaster or whatever comes to mind?

What do you reckon the common stages are in the face of the aftermath of disaster?

I'm thinking:
Stages: Exposure - emotion - evaluate - engage - empower.

What do ya reckon?

What'd I miss?

Influence. Inspiration.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. (Anonymous)

What thought does this spark?

27 May 2010

Tea Quotes

Tea...is a religion of the art of life.

Top off the tea... it lubricates the grey matter.
~Good Neighbors,

Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings!
~Author Unknown

Tea is instant wisdom - just add water!
~Astrid Alauda

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.
~Billy Connolly

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
~C.S. Lewis

Posture, oft the source of Tension and Pain

Old “Doc” Plume, the local hardware store owner, who was known for his miraculous cures for arthritis, had a long line of “patients” waiting outside the door when a little old lady, completely bent over, shuffled in slowly, leaning on her cane. When her turn came, she went into the back room of the store and, amazingly, emerged within half an hour, walking completely erect with her head held high. A woman waiting in the line said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking erect. What did Doc do?” She answered, “He gave me a longer cane.”

I had the same trouble, only I wasn't walking with a cane or stooped over.
I was feeling pain in my shoulders, back, neck . . . .
and when I went to the physio therapist, the first thing she had me work on was my posture.
Humpf. "Sit up straight!" sounded like my mother! But it is so true. Being mindful of how I sit or
stand or lie down, paying attention to my spine, means it does not cry for attention when I've neglected it.
Hmmm . . . Read on. I got this article off of StepCase: Lifehack and it is written by Jamie Nischan.
I copy it here because it has helped me heaps and might benefit you. Check out more of Jamie's stuff
at the link below so i haven't copied it for our benefit and not to his benefit.
Jamie owns and runs a successful fitness coaching business in Stamford CT.
Through the use of posture correction and exercise he treats pain often associated with
excessive use of computers. More about Jamie can be found at www.thebuffgeek.com.

571591_slouch"It’s funny; most of the people with bad posture or pain syndrome I run into want to know a miracle exercise that will cure their dysfunction. Sure, exercise can help and be a big part of a program designed to deal with pain and posture. But more often than not, it is the little things in our everyday lives that could use some adjusting. With that, here is a short list of activities to be mindful of.

Driving: Do you slouch, lean to one side more than the other? Maybe you keep one hand high on the steering wheel and the other low, causing you to shrug one shoulder more than the other. The point: try to shift and change positions often if you spend lots of time in the car. The best position will always be hands at 10 and 2. And holding your back tall and flat against the seat.

Desk: You should know by now that posture at the desk is important. You’re in this position for several hours at a time and it can have BIG repercussions on your health. Get up often and be aware of any favoritism to any particular positions you might find yourself in. Reaching and twisting from a seated position is a big no-no. Try to organize your desk to be more spine friendly by putting often-used folders and materials within arm’s reach.

Sleeping: Our sleep posture is one of the most overlooked aspects of our life. You spend 8 hours (hopefully) a night in either one or various positions that could have a large impact on your posture during the day. Do you pile the pillows high? This leads to excess stretching of the extensors in the neck, possibly contributing to a forward head posture. Do you pull the bed sheets tight over your feet, pulling your toes into a pointed position? This can lead to limited ankle mobility, which then affects your entire body mechanics, from walking to sitting. Do you sleep on your side with one leg bent and across your body? This can lead to an imbalance between your left and right spinal erectors, which then could be contributing to your back pain. This is can be even worse if you’re a woman with generous hips. Paranoid yet? I didn’t even mention how sleeping on your stomach can contribute to an excessive lordodic curve ,which then may lead to extra compressive forces for your lumbar spine to handle. So which is the best position to sleep in? On your side, knees bent, pillow between the knees and your head resting on a single pillow. Or if you prefer, on your back with a pillow under your knees, sheets loose, and again, a single pillow for the head.

The point I’m trying to drive home here is that we need to pay more attention to our bodies when they’re NOT in motion. It’s the little things like these that add up and contribute to a life of constant and nagging pains. Practice a technique known as mindfulness. Every once in awhile turn your attention inwards and ask yourself; have I been in this position for too long? Could I do something to make my current posture or situation more comfortable and back friendly? Before you know it, the pain that once prevented you from doing normal everyday tasks will have disappeared and become a thing of the past."

Some of Jamie's other topics include:

26 May 2010

Spiritual Formation Titles

  • Have You Read Any of these? If so, give some feedback as to what gem or kernel you collected.
  • What other sources of spiritual formation have you mined? Tell us and share the wealth. Thanks.

  • SACRED COMPANIONS by David G. Benner
  • HOW PEOPLE GROW by Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend
  • RENOVATION of the Heart by Dallas Willard
  • PRACTICAL PRAYING by Linette Martin
  • SOULTALK by Larry Crabb
  • THE CLOISTER WALK by Kathleen Norris
  • WHEN THE HEART WAITS by Sue Monk Kidd
  • THE WAY OF THE HEART by Henri Nouwen
  • WAKING THE DEAD by John Eldredge
  • These are a few titles I've borrowed from In The Life of a Busy Woman. Add to the list, thanks.

A Thing is a That and a Person is a Who, usually.

The hair on the back of my neck goes stiff when I hear you and that mixed inappropriately. I know, I need to calm down. The one thing about the English language that is consistent is that it is inconsistent, but really!

generally speaking, use who when you are talking about a person and that when you are talking about an object. It's that simple really.

To be transparent, American Heritage Dictionary says,

It is entirely acceptable to write either the man that wanted to talk to you, or the man who wanted to talk to you.

Grammar Girl says, "My guess is that most people who use who and that interchangeably do it because they don't know the difference. I don't consider myself a grammar snob, but in this case, I have to take the side of the people who prefer the strict rule. To me, using that when you are talking about a person makes them seem less than human. I always think of my friend who would only refer to his new stepmother as the woman that married my father. He was clearly trying to indicate his animosity and you wouldn't want to do that accidentally.

Finally, even if you accept the conventional wisdom, there are some gray areas and strange exceptions. For example, what do you do when you are talking about something animate that isn't human? I would never refer to my dog as anything less than who, but my fish could probably be a that."

Grammar Girl goes on to elucidate an exception, "You can use whose, which is the possessive form of who, to refer to both people and things (5,6,7,8) because English doesn't have a possessive form of that. So it's fine to say, "The desk whose top is cluttered with grammar books," even though it is obviously ridiculous to say, "The desk who is made of cherry wood."

Remember, who goes with people and that goes with things.

Oddities do not strike odd people.

Orthodoxy by G.K.Chesterton was one of Rich Mullins favourite books. This excerpt struck me tonight and I include it in honour of my Sci Fi loving friends:

"In short, oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people. This is why ordinary people have a much more exciting time; while odd people are always complaining of the dulness of life. This is also why the new novels die so quickly, and why the old fairy tales endure for ever. The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the centre is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons. The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world.

Read Orthodoxy online.

25 May 2010

Theology: A Window rather than a Wall

More from Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What

What I came to understand, then, is Christian conversion is relational. It is not theological or intellectual any more than marriage is theological or intellectual. In other words, a child could become a Christian if they had a mysterious encounter with Jesus, and a simple thinker could become a Christian if they had a mysterious encounter with Christ, and even a person who was a Muslim or a Buddhist could become a Christian if they had a mysterious relational encounter with Christ. This is the only answer at which I could arrive that matched the reality in which we live, the complexity of scripture, and the mysterious invitation offered to us by Jesus.

I hear the masses saying, “But no! A person cannot believe in multiple Gods and be a Christian.” Let me counter with some questions:

Can a person have bad theology and be a Christian?

Has your theology ever been corrected, and were you really a Christian before?

Is your theology all worked out now so you have no more reason to study, and if not, are you a Christian?

If you believe a person’s theology has to be right to be qualified for Christian conversion, then you are saying a person comes to know God, in part, because he has right ideas, and I respectfully disagree. Do I think right theology is important? Absolutely, but I do not believe it has any agency to convert anymore than directions to the doctor’s office has the power to heal.

I have a friend who countered, adamantly, that unless a person understood and agreed with the theological idea of total depravity, he could not be a Christian. I asked my friend when it was that he understood the idea himself, and he answered his sophomore year in seminary. I asked him, then, when he had become a Christian, and he told me when he was in the third grade. His reasoning was obviously insane, and I don’t think he is alone. I believe that God wants us to engage with and be transformed by His Word. So does that mean someone from another faith who encounters Jesus might have their ideology corrected? Maybe. What I’m saying, though, is that God doesn’t exclude someone from his saving grace because they don’t have the correct theological checklist. And for those of us who judge and condemn them, why would we stand in opposition when the God we love and serve is himself so adamant about being in relationship with them just as He is with us?

Would you do me a favor as you read this book? Would you be willing to grow and expand your understanding of God and how He works? If your understanding of Christianity is relatively conservative, it may surprise you that our theology is remarkably similar. It’s just that I am going to continue to pull power and beauty away from facts about God and give them to God himself. To the degree your right theology is your false God, this is going to disturb you. You are going to revolt, inside, because the thing you have been placing your security in (namely your ability to come up with and defend right ideas) is going to be threatened. But make no mistake, I am not attacking right theology, I am simply making theology a window rather than a wall.

On this journey, you may travel through the same dark night of the soul through which I have come. But on the other side, I assure you, is Christ, and you will love him for what He has done. You will stand bloodied from the battle, kneeling before Him, knowing He is all the hope you had, and hopefully, in a delightful moment of freedom, realize He is always the only hope you need.

If you’d like to read the entire book, you can find it at your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Borders or Amazon.

Check out Don's blog.

Who or Whom? When to use which form?

While many have recently graduated, exams loom for others. I'll run a random series on grammar and language pet peeves I have. The thing is, find out the pet peeves of the person marking or grading your assignments or exams. While it is good to master a language, it's expedient to know the preferences of those in authority nearest to you! One rule is to be very careful of how and when you use conjunctions. I'd avoid them if I was you.

Also, to choose correctly between who and whom, re-phrase the sentence so you choose between he and him. If you want him, write whom; if you want he, write who. Some examples I found online:

The number of people who use "whom" and "who" wrongly is appalling. The problem is a difficult one and it is complicated by the importance of tone, or taste. Take the common expression, "Whom are you, anyways?" That is of course, strictly speaking, correct - and yet how formal, how stilted! The usage to be preferred in ordinary speech and writing is "Who are you, anyways?" "Whom" should be used in the nominative case only when a note of dignity or austerity is desired. For example, if a writer is dealing with a meeting of, say, the British Cabinet, it would be better to have the Premier greet a new arrival, such as an under-secretary, with a "Whom are you, anyways?" rather than a "Who are you, anyways?" - always granted that the Premier is sincerely unaware of the man's identity. To address a person one knows by a "Whom are you?" is a mark either of incredible lapse of memory or inexcusable arrogance. "How are you?" is a much kindlier salutation.

The Buried Whom, as it is called, forms a special problem. That is where the word occurs deep in a sentence. For a ready example, take the common expression: "He did not know whether he knew her or not because he had not heard whom the other had said she was until too late to see her." The simplest way out of this is to abandon the "whom" altogether and substitute "where" (a reading of the sentence that way will show how much better it is). Unfortunately, it is only in rare cases that "where" can be used in place of "whom." Nothing could be more flagrantly bad, for instance, than to say "Where are you?" in demanding a person's identity. The only conceivable answer is "Here I am," which would give no hint at all as to whom the person was. Thus the conversation, or piece of writing, would, from being built upon a false foundation, fall of its own weight.

A common rule for determining whether "who" or "whom" is right is to substitute "she" for "who," and "her" for "whom," and see which sounds the better. Take the sentence, "He met a woman who they said was an actress." Now if "who" is correct then "she" can be used in its place. Let us try it. "He met a woman she they said was an actress." That instantly rings false. It can't be right. Hence the proper usage is "whom."

In certain cases grammatical correctness must often be subordinated to a consideration of taste. For instance, suppose that the same person had met a man whom they said was a street cleaner. The word "whom" is too austere to use in connection with a lowly worker, like a street-cleaner, and its use in this form is known as False Administration or Pathetic Fallacy.

You might say: "There is, then, no hard and fast rule?" ("was then" would be better, since "then" refers to what is past). You might better say (or have said): "There was then (or is now) no hard and fast rule?" Only this, that it is better to use "whom" when in doubt, and even better to re-word the statement, and leave out all the relative pronouns, except ad, ante, con, in , inter, ob, post, prae, pro, sub, and super.