Archive for November, 2008

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Speed-visiting Churches

November 28, 2008

In the “Would this work?” category: You remember speed-dating? That is where a large group of men and women sit down for 3 minutes in front of various members of the opposite sex and try to determine in a small amount of time who might be the best match.

People tell me they don’t like spending months visiting churches when they move into a new area. If a dozen pastors got together and had five minutes to present their churches to 100 or so people, would this be enough time for said people to narrow their visits to two or three?

I think it would be worth trying. What do you think?

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How to Evaluate a Great Chinese Restaurant

November 25, 2008

Beloved wife of mine (and newly skinny at that) loves Chinese food. We have eaten good Chinese, bad Chinese, outrageous Chinese, make-you-sick Chinese and unbelievable Chinese. We have eaten Chinese in Canada, U.S., France, Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, China, Philippines, Vancouver and San Francisco. We have eaten in Chinese places where no menus were in English and no one spoke any English. I have eaten 60 won-ton soup for 3 hours with my brother-in-law Glen, and had hot oil on duck that almost caused me to pass out by the heat.

To quote Monty Python, “I like Chinese”.

So, in honor of my semi-annual pilgrimage into San Francisco to eat and shop, here are my six tips for choosing a great Chinese Restaurant.

1. The Clientele: Are they mostly Chinese? If they are, you are in the right place. This would be true of almost any expatriate cuisine anywhere in the world, but never more so than with Japanese and Chinese food. Food preparation and tastes are art forms in Asian countries (much more so than here) and they know what makes good food according to their standards. The Expat Chinese always pick the best Chinese restaurants.

2. The Look: If it looks expensive, the food probably is lousy or at least second-rate. I have yet to eat great Chinese food in a place that spends much money on the architectural design. If the waiters and waitresses barely acknowledge you and if you are allowed to sit wherever you want, it probably is a fantastic restaurant. If the waiting staff is about to kill each other, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime find. Just ask the men who went down to House of Nanking last month.

3. The Menu: If there is no emergence of the words “Sweet and Sour” on the menu, it is good Chinese. In Guangzhou, a restauranteur told me that the words “Sweet and Sour” in Chinese translate as “White Men’s Food”. In fact, thick sauces (and MSG) are usually put on Chinese food to cover up the taste of inferior food. Light sauces combined with lots of vegetables in the dish (not overcooked) make the food fantastic.

4. The Chopsticks: Wood only! Yes, I know it is less sanitary, but Chinese food with plastic Chopsticks tastes like wine from a paper cup (or so I have been told). Also, there should be no forks and knives on the tables if it is a good Chinese place.

5. The Tea: They should be serving it as they give you the menu. If you have to ask for it, they don’t know their business. All great Chinese restaurants know that tea is like water when a customer comes in. Tea makes the meal.

6. The Order: If they bring all the dishes at once, they don’t know the palate or their business. They are just trying to get you out the door to serve others. Each dish should be brought in the order that your digestion can take it. I told you, Chinese cooking is an art form and all great cooks know this.

And Craig, you were right…House of Nanking is the best in San Francisco.

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Talking Points on Homosexual Marriage

November 18, 2008

After reading yet another debate on the newspaper website (with over 300 comments so far and no end in sight) I had the following reactions. First, I noticed how often proponents of Gay marriage think that Christians are hateful, spiteful and bigoted. They also call us narrow-minded, hide-bound and fanatics. Since none of those adjectives describes me or most Christians I know, I am intrigued at why the so-called “No on 8” crowd has come to these conclusions about us. Second, I am annoyed at how poorly some Christians are debating this issue with those who are not believers in God or the Bible. We need to explain ourselves reasonably and with a good attitude.

Thus, I want to suggest some talking points that Christians can use which may help the “No on 8” crowd at least listen to us instead of throwing epithets at our psyches.

Not About Rights: To us, this debate on homosexual marriage is not about rights. I personally do not object to permanent homosexual relationships having the same legal and inheritance rights as married couples. And this is what we need to emphasize. If it is just about equal rights and not about what we call a homosexual relationship, then everyone should be happy, no? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Get a Zeal to Learn

November 12, 2008

Leo Buscaglia, in his book “Loving Each Other” talks about the mealtime ritual as he grew up. All the kids would sit down at the table, grace was offered, and then his dad would ask the same question: “What is one thing you learned today?” It didn’t matter what it was: they may have learned that white cars don’t go faster than black ones or that frogs don’t taste good when licked or that differential calculus helps us get from one side of the room to the other. But if one of his kids said “Nothing”, he would receive the same punishment. Dad would give his child a long, baleful stare along with a groan and say, “Then you wasted this day.

He must have been related to my dad. Many weekends my dad would bring home an armload of books from the library to read. Many times they would all be read by the next weekend. Then he would do it all again. He was fascinated with a plethora of topics, but his favorites were history, geography, crime novels and famous sporting figures. I remember sitting in his study one Saturday afternoon watching him read. I know; you’re thinking that this explains so much about my geekness. But I liked to watch my dad when he didn’t know I was looking. His facial expressions said so much about what was happening in his heart.

At one point, he looked at me and a frown came over his face. “Mike” he started, Read the rest of this entry ?

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How Christians Can Vote “Less”

November 4, 2008

It is time for a little less in this election rather than more. There are ways that Christians can be less than other people, ways that we can actually lose what others have. And these things are worth living without.

Wouldn’t you expect that someone who has a worldview that differs from the mainstream would vote with a viewpoint that is different? You could expect it, but I don’t think it is often the case. As far as I’m concerned, who you vote for (or what) cannot be as important as the worldview with which you vote. Here are five less things that a follower of Jesus can have while voting today:

1. Hypeless: One thing the Bible clearly tells us is “man looks on the outward appearance and God looks at the heart”. Though we can’t see into the heart of every candidate, we can look past the outward appearance. A Christian should be able to put the hype and hoopla of every candidate aside and look at the deeper things of their life.

2. Soundless: The prayer instructions in Matthew’s Gospel apply here too. Don’t be like the pagans that just like to hear themselves pray. (As I write this in the Islands, I can hear a guy with a loudspeaker outside who is loudly proclaiming who to vote for). We are instructed to go into our closets to pray. A believer in Jesus Christ might want to spend the voting day asking God about his opinions and listen with a receiving heart and with a mind wide open. It doesn’t matter who the pastor is voting for. Who is God supporting? That is who is going to be in power (by God’s allowance).

3. Stressless: We don’t need to cheer if the person (or proposition) we voted for prevails. Neither do we have to moan if they don’t. We believe that God knows all things and knows how to handle anyone in power. He did a good job with Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar, didn’t he? Therefore, don’t stress the results. Our God reigns.

4. Partyless: You may be a member of a particular party but, (and this may come as a shock) God isn’t. He has followers in every party and there are those who are godless in every party. A believer doesn’t tote any line unless it is God’s line. The question, as Joshua discovered, is not “whose side is God on” but rather “who is on the Lord’s side”?

5. Distractionless: Hopefully, a believer in Jesus Christ does the civic duty of voting and then goes on to other affairs in life. Don’t spend days or weeks discussing all the pros and cons of each decision. Let the election season come to an end and move on with life. In fact, move on with life even before you vote. All living is local…you can’t live internationally. You have to live your life now, where you live, with those people you know. You don’t live in Washington (unless you do) and you certainly don’t live in the White house (unless you live in a white house, but that doesn’t count). Wherever you are, be all there.

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