Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Dusty Cover: A Great Way to Minister in the Community

Jamie Arpin-Ricci and his wife are opening a little used bookstore and coffee shop called The Dusty Cover. It’s in Winnipeg, so I don’t imagine I’ll be dropping by any time soon, especially since he told me they’re hovering in the -40 degree zone of late.

However, I’m really interested in seeing what develops out of this. He’s partnering with community groups and working on making it more than just a book store. He just sent a message on Facebook with the following info:

The bookstore will be open Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to 5:30pm. On Friday we are open until 6pm. We hope to expand hour once summer hits.

Also, we will be doing a Grand Opening week later in the Spring, once we’ve worked out the kinks and the weather improves. Thanks all!

Be sure to drop by his web site or if you’re an intrepid soul, drop in this Tuesday for the grand opening.

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Who Wrote Giuliani’s Book on Leadership?

Remember that book Rudy Giuliani published called Leadership after 9-11? It was a hot seller. I noticed that quite a few people were reading it from my own circles.

I can’t help saying that I was suspicious. Did Giuliani really write that book? If he did, then he forgot it all really, really fast.

On NPR’s All Things Considered, Robert Smith provided a bitterly ironic commentary on Giuliani’s campaign by using Leadership to contrast Rudy the book with Rudy the candidate. It’s well worth listening.

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I Am Not the Poster Child for Compassion

Can I just say that it’s hard to have compassion sometimes?

Compassion is more than just feeling sorry for someone. There are two movements to compassion: shared sorrow and then shared action.

It’s defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Even if the action we take to alleviate suffering goes no further than prayer, sometimes it is really hard to have compassion. People get under our skin, rankle us, offend us, inconvenience us… And thus the compassion runs dry.

Perhaps my kind of compassion is circumstantial compassion: I’ll have compassion if I deem it appropriate, if you haven’t annoyed me too much, if I think you’re worth it.

Did I just say all of that?

Sometimes I think I’m a lost cause.

Of course the universal human problem is navel gazing, a kind of near-sighted view of the world where the only things that matter are right in front of me, close to me, and within my realm of concern. What a horribly crippling, useless way to live, but there you have it. I’m so focused on my needs, my feelings, my reactions that I forget people out there really need me to pray, to act, to care, to forget about myself for just…one…minute.

But I’m SO important!!!

And if that is my line of thinking, existence becomes hardly bearable. Misery swoops in like a cold pelting rain. Everything is perceived as an attack on my happiness and position, everything ruins MY life, and everything revolves around me to the point that death seems like the worst possible thing because I will be removed from this world that is so deeply invested in me.

Suddenly, compassion doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Does Evangelism Miss the Point of Scripture?

A while back I read Newbigin’s excellent book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. It’s a heavyweight book, one that is digested slowly and refuses to be rushed.

I happened to be reading through a review of it on and read the following review by Patrick Oden. Apparently I wasn’t reading Newbigin close enough. Oden says,

He [Newbigin] points out that the New Testament epistles are virtually devoid of references, exhortations, or instructions to evangelism and missions. This is an unusual observation in respect to the modern emphasis on such activities. Newbiggin points out that these were not referred to for one main reason. It is that the role of evangelism was never thought of as the responsibility for the believer. Rather, evangelism was a result of the power of the Holy Spirit acting in such a way that people were drawn to see and inquire what this new power was. “The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.” Thus, we understand why Paul exhorted his churches to mature, growing in their faith and understanding of the Triune God. It would be through this maturity that the Spirit would naturally move in the lives of believers to reach out to the community around them. When a church loses this focus, ministry becomes difficult and impossible, especially in an age of pluralism.

Wow. I think I’ve been going about this Evangelism thing all wrong, though I have known somewhere within myself that the driving force behind any kind of evangelism is a vibrant life with the Holy Spirit.

Leave it to Newbigin to capture a modern metaphor for destruction and turn it into a life-giving concept.

The Pure in Heart are Bad for the Economy

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to keep an eye on your checking account before paying rent or your mortgage, fixing your car, or even buying food? Have you ever envied the people who are wealthy enough to spend lavishly, give freely, and never worry about finances?

This is a typical situation in America today if you ask me. Our entire economy of late is riding on consumer spending, which means we are expected to be dissatisfied, accumulating possessions and trying to live like the wealthy. Can you imagine an economist or politician at this particular juncture suggesting that everyone settle for what they have, remain content, and carefully save what they have, unless they want to share it with a charity?

Political suicide.

Economic suicide.

The story is: You don’t have enough. You want to become like the wealthy, and the wealthy spend their money. In fact, the stock shares of the wealthy depend on YOU spending your money because you aren’t satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you have.

Scripture presents an alternative picture. Envying those who have it all in this world is viewed as slipping away from a focus on God. What does God value? A pure heart. That doesn’t really help the market.

With these thoughts in mind, have a look at Psalm 73.

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