Thursday, November 10, 2016

Banks Suck

I had to go into a bank today. I hate banks. I of course left all my rights as a human being at the door when I entered. It left me feeling very vulnerable – like someone was going to take advantage of me somehow. My feelings were justified.

I happen to have an eSavings account. Which means that I get bent over any time I want to do something. I have that type of account because it is the only thing I can get from them without having to pay a monthly fee.

So I went up to the teller to ask for my money and he reminded me it was going to cost me $5 to perform what I had asked. I said, “oh, I thought I had a certain number of free transactions per month”.

“Oh no sir. You have an eSavings account which gives you a higher interest rate but you have to pay for any transactions.”

Yeah, a higher interest rate currently sitting at 0.5%. Wow! Half of one whole entire percent! How do I not see how lucky I am with this ridiculously high interest rate?!

I must have twisted up my face when he said that as I tried to understand the logic. I believe that is when he took pity on me, this poor unenlightened person standing in front of him. You see, there is bank sense and then there is common sense. They do not mix. Bank employees are really to be applauded for their long-suffering patience as they are asked to explain bank sense to us uncivilized heathens.

Bank sense says: “Aww, you poor thing, I’ll try to lower myself to your level and explain it to you. We’re actually doing you a huge favour. You gave us your money and we keep it safe for you. This costs us a lot of money so you have to pay us billions to do this for you. You understand right?”

Billions? That’s right:
  • CIBC 2015 Net Revenue: $3.6 Billion
  • Royal Bank 2015 Net Revenue: $10.0 Billion
  • Bank of Montreal 2015 Net Revenue: $4.7 Billion
  • And so on…


Then there is common sense (I’ll let you in on a secret: it is far inferior to bank sense). Common sense says, “You’re renovating your branch again? Didn’t you just do that a couple years ago? Why are you charging me so much money every month and then spending it frivolously like this?” Ah, that is bank sense, us regular people are not to understand those higher concepts.


Banks are crooked. They don’t have to be accountable to their clients. What is your alternative? Keep all your money in a safe in your house? Bury it somewhere? You wouldn’t be able to operate in today’s society if you did that. Banks understand this and they exploit it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Employment Equity

I just received my first Employment Equity Program questionnaire at work.  Apparently since we are doing work for the Federal Government we MAY be subject to the requirements set out under the Federal Contractors Program.  I can hardly explain how furious this makes me.  It is discrimination!

Am I a woman – Nope
Am I an Aboriginal person – Nope
Do I have a disability – Nope
Am I a visible minority – Nope

So, what this means is that if a decision ever has to be made between me and one of the people who can answer Yes to one of the four questions above (all other things being equal) I don’t get the job/promotion/raise/etc.  And, heaven forbid we are far behind our quota in any of the four categories, because then even if all other things are not equal I still won’t get the job.

Do we want to do work for the Federal Government?  Then we’ve got a quota to fill.


…I am just shaking at work right now this makes me so mad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Choosing Christ

I sometimes have trouble coming to terms with the fact that I have to choose to follow Christ every day.  Over and over, every day.  Why can’t I just choose once and then it is decided?

Let’s say I go to get a coffee at a restaurant somewhere and the waiter asks me if I want sugar in it.  I answer yes.  30 seconds later he asks me if I want sugar in it….um, yes please.  25 seconds later he asks me again, do you want sugar in it?  Is this a trick question?  I said yes already.  10 seconds later…do you want sugar in your coffee?  Listen dude, do you have a hearing problem?  How many times do I have to say yes before you get the picture?!?

So why do I have to choose Christ over and over, day after day?  I get that we’re beings with free will.  And I get why that is important, I would have chosen to go that route as well if I were God.  (Haha, I’m sure God just breathed a sigh of relief – oh thank goodness, Jon agrees with what I have done, I guess I must be doing things right then….LOL)  But if I choose God today, why do I have to go through the sometimes agonizing decision again tomorrow, and then again the next day?  It is not always easy to make that choice – temptations come in so many different forms that the choice doesn’t even look the same from one time to the next.  In fact, often I don’t even recognize that is the choice I am making.

Some of you will say, you really only have to choose to follow Christ one time and then after that your name is written in the Book of Life and you’re good to go.  Ok, I am not going to go into the eternal security vs. conditional security debate here (but I will mention that if you ever have that debate with me I lean on the conditional security side of that fence).  Maybe I should say I have to choose to live for Christ daily.  Actually multiple times per day would be more accurate.

I get tired of failing.  I get tired of being tempted – often with the same things over and over.  I just want to choose once and be done with it.

I suppose the answer lies somewhere with the fact that time is linear and choices we make do not rule out the possibility that we will encounter similar branches in the path ahead of us…  Whatever.  That is not a very satisfying answer when I am frustrated about this.


On a good note, I was reading the other day and something clicked for me.  We will not be presented with these decisions in heaven.  The temptation to do wrong will be eliminated therefore the choice to follow Christ won’t need to be made.  It will already have been made.  So, in the face of eternity, choosing to follow Christ daily for 70 years isn’t all that long really.  After 50 bazillion years in heaven I will probably look back at those first 70 years and say it was really only one choice after all…

Friday, June 19, 2015

Religion is like a what?!?!

I found this picture on my Facebook news feed the other day and at first I was offended, but after I thought about it for a while I felt really sad.

This is the sort of thing we are dealing with in today’s culture.  It used to be that people were fighting against Christianity and persecuting Christians.  Now they just don’t care.  In the spiritual war we are fighting for every soul around us, how do you fight against this?

People think they are doing fine on their own.  Even though they worship all manner of different things, they believe they have no god, and they are managing just fine.  Why would they need to obey some mythical figure and follow a bunch of rules?


The world around us screams about a Creator.  And it demands an answer.  Yes or no.  Unfortunately, pretending you don’t have to make the choice is actually choosing no.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hose Clamp Skull Cap

I want to try to paint a picture of what it is like inside my head.  I find it a circle of struggles that I deal with on a regular basis.  I would assume that a lot of guys have these same struggles and I bet many use the same techniques I do to cope.  Anyway, here is the picture…

When my mind goes idle I often cast about trying to find things to think about.  This happens to me when I am driving, falling asleep, mowing the lawn, stuff like that.  I often think of this as the times I am hanging out with myself.  My internal monologue kicks in.  I am daydreaming about stuff.  I come up with arguments about things I am passionate about.  And my mind falls prey to all sorts of selfishness, greed, hurtfulness…..sin.

Ok, so the scene is set.  I just started mowing the lawn 3 minutes ago and I have about an hour and a half of mowing ahead of me.  My mind has shifted into neutral….

I start thinking about cars.  I love automobiles in general but I really love my car.  I have big plans for it like a supercharger at some point in the future (this won’t actually ever happen…), but in the interim, I would like to get a header-back exhaust on it.  That would be sweet and it is sort of inside the realm of possibility even though it would still cost quite a bit.  My thoughts never seem to just be content with the pure love of automobiles.  It always leads to me wishing I could get this for my car or do that to it.  I've got plans.  Always wanting something else.  Never content.  It is frustrating and I don’t think the discontent is biblical.  I think it is sin to always be wanting something more – never to be satisfied with what you have.  Alright fine!  I take a firm grip of my car thoughts and mentally push them over there and I hold them away from me with one of my mental arms.

Next…..

Sex.  That is something that’s pretty interesting to think about.  Problem is, it is such a slippery slope to keep sex thoughts pure and clean.  So that lasts for a lot less time than the car thoughts and I throw a super vice-grip onto those thoughts and mentally push them away.

Alright, now I’m holding those away.  I can do this.  Next…..

I love video games.  I wish I could somehow be a professional video game player (that or a race car driver of some sort).  I would love to make my living that way.  Yeah right…  So I start analyzing my latest session playing Destiny.  “Last time I went into the big room I headed left and tried sniping the guy from there but I wonder if it would work better to head to the right and climb up to the balcony.  There is better cover there and I could duck and hide if need be……”  How much of my life gets poured into video games?  How much of my time and mental energy is spent on this COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS PURSUIT?  You know what, video games in and of themselves are not the problem.  Sure they don’t promote anything good and usually they do promote stuff that is unhealthy, but I see the problem as the time they take from my life.  I think the enemy is very supportive of the video game industry as it pulls me out of basically everything.  Volunteer activities, building meaningful relationships, studying God’s Word, building into my relationship with my wife, praying, and on and on…  Ok, grab that with a firm grip and push it away and hold it there.  (Something you may not know about me is that I have quite a few mental arms – not just two.  I kind of need that many because my mental landscape all slopes toward me.  I can’t just push thoughts away and leave them there because they all roll back to me as soon as I let go of them.  Mental arms people – you can never have enough of them).

You know what it feels like to have all those mental arms holding stuff away? Imagine a hose clamp that fits onto your skull. 
Now tighten it down REALLY tight!  There, that should do it.  Ok (through gritted teeth) the breach is contained; I’m good to go now.  And so I move forward one painful step after another on the path of life.  Guess what happens to me every now and then (in fact quite often) – the hose clamp bursts open.  Everything comes apart and I fail.

Over and over and over and over and over and over………

Every time I fail I beat the stuffing out of myself.  I cry out, “God!  Why is this so hard all the time?!”  I can’t do it on my own.  I already know that – which makes it really hard to even motivate myself to grip those thoughts and push them away in the first place.  What is the point?  I have never succeeded at this in the past.  What makes me think I can do it now?

God stands at the door and knocks.  Give it to me my boy, that is the only way you can make this work.  Crazy thing is I don’t even own these struggles any more.  A story Boyd Hopkins used to explain it to me once goes like this:  Boyd bought a property once in BC.  It was a nice large property with foliage all around.  He went and checked the place out, he liked it, he bought it.  It wasn’t until the next year when he was standing on his back deck and he notices something out back in the bushes that he hadn’t ever seen before.  Sort of looks like a chimney or something out back there.  Turns out there was an old structure back there that was full of the previous owners old junk!  Old bicycles, lawn mowers, rusted patio furniture, broken windows, probably an old clothes dryer – you know the sort of stuff I’m talking about.  So, now what?  Call up the previous owner and get him to come clean this trash up?  Nope, Boyd had purchased it with the property.  Well God purchased our property on the cross.  He owns it!  All of it.  It is His because he bought it.  Haha, what a sucker God is right?!  Nope.  Difference is He knew it was there when he bought the property but He knew we would never be able to clean all that up.

So here’s the key: I have to stop fighting and say, “God, I’m gonna need you to come clean this up because you bought it on the cross and I actually can’t even lift it.”  I need to surrender it to God, not keep fighting.  I need to walk away from the fight.

How hard is that to do?  I haven’t managed to successfully do it yet.  I’m pretty sure it is harder than doing the Crota’s End raid on Hard in Destiny.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Children

I have a couple children. I love them quite a bit. I try to reason with them all the time just because that is what I do. In my world things are supposed to make sense. So I try to explain that to them and I expect them to right away see that daddy knows what he is talking about, what he is asking of me is quite reasonable, I don't see why I didn't see it from his perspective right from the beginning. Yeah right...  I don't suppose I have gotten that reaction from them yet, but they're 4 years old so maybe I am expecting a bit too much from them.

I am often surprised though how many adults can't see reason either. They also respond like children. Tit for tat. You did this to me so I'm not talking to you any more until you say sorry. I'm not saying sorry first - it's your fault, you say sorry first. I'm gonna block you from my Facebook account. You hurt my feelings, now I'm gonna be mad at you.

Children.

I have a situation with my extended family right now where exactly this is happening. There is some sort of a perceived slight and then all of a sudden the bottom lip starts to stick out and it is all about me and my feelings and how could you do this to me, now I'm not talking to you any more. Grow up people! And I have to say, it's kind of funny for me to say this since these people are all my elders LOL.

I had an issue that came up between my cousin and I a couple years back. We definitely saw the issue from opposing sides and we had quite a falling out about it. The issue involved several thousand dollars so it was quite serious for both of us. We don't live near each other and we rarely see each other so that could have spelled the end of that relationship and we could have just written each other off completely. No big loss right? Just some very infrequent awkward moments at family gatherings right? No, not right!

I would then be living with that in my heart. I would have poison in my heart! Yes, poison! How can you be whole when you have a section of your heart that is black with poison? God speaks to this in Matthew 5:23-24. He is not interested in any gift we have for Him if we have got a feud going on with our brother (or sister or parent or child or friend or co-worker or......). How can we think that we can offer up good things to God on the one hand and deal dirty with people around us on the other hand? Nope. There is a crucial disconnect there.

I want to tell you something that I found interesting. Your motivations for forgiving people can be completely selfish. Stop the Presses! What?!?! Alright let's hear this, I think this might be something that could maybe work for all of us. I know I am as selfish as they come. I believe God wants us to forgive each other out of a spirit of love and compassion for each other, however, let's just explore this other side of the coin for a minute. Do you really want to live your life holding on to your precious pain? Wouldn't it be liberating to let it go? Just for a second imagine what your life would be like if you didn't have to nurture that pain in your heart. You don't need to say the other person was right in order to let go of the pain and the anger. Conversly you don't need to convince the other person that you were right in order to forgive them for the pain their actions caused you.  You don't even need the other person to want to forgive you in order for you to forgive them. See where I'm going with this? Forgiveness is your choice and your choice alone. Nobody can take that away from you. You don't require anything at all from the other person in order to forgive them. You don't even require them to be alive.

Here's the rub - if they are alive, you need to tell them that you forgive them. Crap. It would be a lot easier if we could just forgive the jerks and never talk to them again. Right, it would, and that sentence shows why that just won't work. If we've forgiven them then they can no longer be addressed as "the jerks", and we need to resume relationship with them. If we've forgiven them what reason do we now have to not invite them into our home? Jesus does not call us to "forgive and forget". That is a saying that we made up, not something Jesus asks of us. We are unable to forget. What this means is that we are not required to put ourselves back into a position to be hurt from "the jerks" again, but we do have to stop calling them that and we do need to resume relationship with them.
Guess what? This is a happy ending. My cousin and I contacted each other and worked it out. How did we do that? We both decided that we didn't need to live holding on so tightly to our pain. Our pain was not that precious to us. Our relationship was more precious to us than our pain. We both gave the pain to God, because after all, it belongs to Him. He bought it from us on the cross. This does not mean we are best friends. This does not mean that it does not still hurt for us to see each other. It means that we have forgiven each other for whatever wrongs we percieve were committed against us. We still don't see the issue from the same perspective, but that is not important to us anymore. Now I don't have that weight hanging around my neck and neither does he. My respect for him went through the roof after we worked this out. He is a man who is working to be closer to his Saviour just like me.

However, the situation with my extended family continues. It is sad that these people just want to hold on to their pain. I believe it has become part of them. For them to give it up at this point would be to admit defeat. It would show weakness. That kind of thinking is soooooo flawed. True strength of character is shown in forgiveness. It takes immense strength and it is the path to victory, not defeat.

When I was a young boy my Uncle Dave said something to me I will never forget. I had acted out against him for something or other, I can't remember what it was, and that is not the point of this story. I was standing on the stairs in our house on Neil Avenue in Winnipeg, Uncle Dave was standing at the bottom of the stairs.  I had just apologized to him.  He very graciously said, "It takes a big man to say sorry". So true. I have never forgotten that moment.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I give you everything I've got:

My house,
My car,
My children,
My pride,
My reputation,
My time,
My comfort
My job,
My body,
My wife,
My health,
My safety,
Even all my failures.

It is all yours now.

Every praise, every word of worship, is to my God.