10 April 2010

Upcoming Sermon Series a bit "out of the box"

I guess the term "out of the box" is what most people use to describe something a bit risky or out of the ordinary. I'm taking a chance with our new sermon series at The Pearl. I've title it "Church Ink: Stories on Skin", it's going to be a walk through the tattoos of our church members...mostly me but a few others as well. Of course not just any tattoos but ones with Christian significance. I've wanted to do this for some time now. I continue to add to my tattoo collection and many of them represent Christian themes in my life. I know that this series will be a stretch for some as the subject of tattoos can still be a bit controversial. Then again when have I been known to stay away from the controversial. We all express our faith in different ways...many people wear chains, crosses, t-shirts, wristbands etc. to declare their allegiance to the world and some of us do it with our ink. Each week the plan is to use the imagery to springboard a sermon topic. It's a great chance to also get creative exploring the connections of art and pop culture with the world of Christian faith. I'm excited by this risk and look forward to sharing my story of faith through the pictures I carry with me everyday.

Check out the poster I made:

21 December 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas (Remix)

I reworked this classic poem and shared it at our Christmas service last night:
Twas the night before Christmas and all through Taipei,
Every office was stirring, it’s still a work day.

The stockings were hung in markets with care,
In hope that the cops were neither here nor there,

The children were nestled at their buxibans 補習班, (English cram schools)
With visions of phonics, for the nus 女 and the nans 男, (nu=girl, nan=boy)

Mama 媽媽 in the lobby and dad on the scoot,
It was time to go home to unwrap the loot,

When out in the lane arose such a noise,
No big deal just the garbage truck boys,

Away to the window a building blocking my sight,
Drizzling rain, no snow on this night.

This poem is usually about a man and his sleigh,
But as we know that isn’t really the point of this day.

Reindeer are cute, especially Rudolph,
But if that is your focus than you’re a little bit off.

This story is a baby lying in a manger,
With shepherds, and wisemen who were but strangers.

God did a great thing to show us his love,
He sent us his son from heaven above.

It’s nice to get gifts, on this we agree,
The greatest gift of all is for you and for me

We deserve nothing because of our sin,
But God’s gift of Grace let’s us all in,

Let us reflect in this season on Jesus as king,
As we eat candy canes and listen to Bing

He may have no beard and no jelly belly,
And the barn where he lay was probably smelly

But the earth was changed on that special day,
That is why we celebrate even today.

So decorate with Santas, say your HO, HO, HOS
But don’t forget the real gift, a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

29 October 2009

Diet Pop

One of the things that they don't really do here in Taiwan is diet pop. They have Diet Coke & Coke Zero but no diet flavors and Pepsi doesn't offer any diet products. I love drinking pop, always have and probably always will but a few years ago I did start to come to terms with it's negative effects on my waistline. I started to look into the calorie contents of food/drink and surprise surprise pop & beer were bad for me. Ever since then I basically only drink diet pop...i know some of you will have the inclination to share your thoughts on the negative health effects of diet pop but don't bother commenting on that, for me it's about the extra weight. I'll take Splenda/Aspertame over straight sugar any day.

So...when i'm in N.America I love drinking diet pop especially Diet Dr.Pepper and Diet Root Beer. During our annual summer vacation in Saskatchewan there is always a supply of diet pop wherever you find me. On a similar note I'm also a fan of some of these new lite beers at home, like Bud Lite Lime. I'm in trouble if they come up with Sleeman's Honey Brown Lite. I like these diet pops so much that the last few times we've returned to Taiwan I've packed up our suitcases with a couple dozen cans. Some would say, and have said, that it's a crazy use of luggage weight but I see it as a very valuable import. On my recent trip to Atlanta I came across an amazing drink that I could probably drink through I.V. for the rest of my life (alternating with bags of Starbucks coffee of course)...CHERRY COKE ZERO. I had a sample at the World of Coke Museum and made sure to pick one up every time we were near a convenient store. I managed to bring back a 12 pack of cans. They lasted for two weeks, and were good to the last drop each time....however, the sad day has come. Last night I drank the last one. :( Who knows how long it'll be until my next batch of diet pop but i'll remember all the good times Cherry Coke Zero and I had.

The Last Can

04 September 2009

Website update (update)

I was informed that the videos weren't working...I've made the adjustments and they are now up and running.

03 September 2009

Website update

If you aren't reading this on our website it's time for you to check it out. I've linked all of our family blogs there and there are photos and videos galore.

I've spent some time in the last couple days updating some stuff. So check out the photos page and the videos page. The videos have some golden moments with the kids. I also made some superficial changes, our blog headers are all new and pretty.

Here's the link: http://web.me.com/chrismckenzie/themckenzies/Home.html

09 August 2009

Dreading next week

If you've talked to me in the last couple months you've no doubt heard me talk about the struggles of having two kids. I don't know how people raise more than two kids, it's been so stressful, tiring, frustrating. I love both of my kids and they still melt my heart daily but it's no easy task. I have an incredible wife who has allowed me to have a lot of free time this summer as she has taken on much of the day to day parenting. She goes back to work this upcoming Monday and so begins my return to at home parenting. I'm petrified. With one kid it was a difficult but manageable role...Gemma and I would usually sleep in a bit, watch some TV, eat breakfast, do one activity or outing then Nevada would come home for lunch, we would nap for almost two hours after lunch and then kill off one more hour with a snack and activity. It was a busy day but worked out well. Gemma now is a lot busier and needs much more stimulation which is exhausting and now there's a second one with a routine of his own and very different needs. I have complete respect and admiration for at home parents who do this job with their whole heart and whole energy. When I began in the role of stay at home parent my focus was to make up for where my father failed. Growing up without a dad has had it's effects on my life and I wanted a chance to out-do him as well as right the ship moving forward. I believe i started strong but almost 3 years in I'm struggling. I've also gained an appreciate for my role in the workplace and have had a change of heart, I now want to be able to work hard at my job and provide for my family. This is not the reality of our situation here in Taiwan. I work at a small church that pays me what it can but it isn't head of household kind of money. So with that being said I maintain one foot in the door at home and one in the workplace. We have had wonderful friends who have babysat for me in the past years so that I could get away from the house to work or to destress a little. This year we're trying something new by hiring our friend Annabelle to babysit consistently 4 afternoons a week. She's an amazing woman who has a gift with little kids. Gemma loves her and has so much fun when they are together. I know she will do a good job. I'm still parenting in the mornings and one full day a week. Please pray for me as I'm totally overwhelmed and feel like I won't make it. I want to be a great dad for my kids but somedays I just don't feel like I can do it.

26 July 2009

Communication gap

Well, we're back in Taiwan after 6 weeks in Canada and it feels great. This is home for now and as everyone knows if feels good to be at home. Vacations are great but it's tough to live out of a suitcase for too long.

Today I shaved off my summer beard. It's a sad thing as I like to have a beard but my beard just doesn't come in that great and makes me look older and fatter. Not to mention the heat of having a squirrel's worth of hair on your face. The next step was to get a haircut. I had grown my hair all summer and was looking forward to growing it out a bit longer. However it needed a trim because it was bushy and shapeless. So I went to my normal place, Yellow Ted, where they give me decent haircuts for a good price. I sat down and gave my usual instructions, "I want it a little shorter here and here, and leave this part long". This is the extent of my haircut Chinese. For the most part it usually works out...today was not like that. The first couple passes of the scissors through my hair took off a whole lot more than I expected. And before I knew it it was too late. She cut and cut and buzzed and buzzed...and all of a sudden I basically had a mohawk. Now I dig a unique haircut as much as anyone, in fact I've been known to experiment a lot with my hair but as a grown up with a public role i can't mess around too much. It's not the best move to look like a punk teenager. Luckily my hair grows quickly and this hairdo will see recovery in about a month but for now I'm looking a little funny. This is yet another reason why I need to bone up on my Chinese skills. God has been speaking to me about my life here in Taiwan. If I'm going to be here, living here as my home, I need to work at immersing myself more. Eat the food, speak the language etc. It's ok to be an outsider with a genuine interest in the place but to be effective and really connect with people here I need to jump in with both feet. My hope is to work on my Chinese and take some bolder steps in connecting with the community around me. It'll be tough but the rewards will be worth it. God is faithful.

09 July 2009


As a church leader I've been bombarded with questions about VISION. What is the vision for your church? What is your vision for ministry? I've struggled a bit to answer these questions and I realize that it's probably because I've always maintained a broad, generic, generalized vision of wanted to see people come to Christ, join the church and be strengthened in their faith. These are all fair goals but sort of explain the general vision of all churches. Most people want to know where I'm going in ministry (what is my goal?) and where is the church (the Pearl) going. So I bought a book to help learn about this whole topic: Visioneering, by Andy Stanley. I'm only two chapters in but it's been helpful so far. One of the things that has simplified the whole thing is the idea that one's vision comes out of having a burden for a certain group of people or certain issue. He says that most of us see something and want it to be different. We see how it could be and want to take action to change it. That's where our vision begins. I have some strong indicators of what it is I care about and how I want to see it changed but as I work through what my vision for ministry is it leads me to another question. As a pastor/church leader is my personal burden the one that is supposed to shape the vision of the church I'm leading or am I supposed to have a personal vision and a different corporate vision to unleash? I guess the reason I'm working through this question is that in the fall our church needs to clarify it's vision/focus/goal and I'm not sure if, as the leader, I'm supposed to explain my passion and have others join in or is it more of a democratic process where we try to find a vision that captivates the majority of the congregation. Does our church follow my vision lead or do we come up with a group vision. It's obviously easier to just say "here's my vision, this is what WE are going to be about at the Pearl." That way the goal is set immediately and we can begin to work at it together. The other way can be a major challenge. We all know of scenarios where coming up with consensus decisions is a real pain. Too many cooks in the kitchen, if you will. And then there is the issue of my personal vision not co-inciding with the consensus ideas. What then?

You're thoughts on personal/corporate vision would be appreciated? Leave a comment...(and if you can't leave a comment...some people have expressed difficulties...please email me your thoughts chrismckenzie@thepearlintaipei.com)

26 June 2009

I need to blog...

I used to view blogging as an outlet for things on my mind and felt like it was a safe place to share knowing that the core of my readers were close and supportive. Through the years though I've scaled back, to the point that many of you are probably surprised that I'm actually writing a post right now. I think that as live goes on I get more guarded about sharing too openly, seems to be too much flack that can be taken. I hate that feeling. The feeling that if I say what's really on my mind people won't like me or respect me. So I'm going to do my best to revert back to my old ways of honesty and openness. I hope you will appreciate that and join in the conversation of my life.

02 May 2009

Great night!

Back in the day in Saskatoon I was involved with a group called the Worship Freehouse. It was a collective of Christians that met to explore doing community/worship/church in a different way. Something that I really enjoyed were the theological discussions had over a cold pint at the Black Duck. It was an excellent casual environment to share life with each other.

With that in mind I decided to start something similar at the Pearl. We call it, quite simply, Theology Pub. Since we are an international non-denominational church it's a great place to discuss our different upbringings and viewpoints. One of my goals is to bring us on to a similar page, so that the unity in our community can strengthen. As we share around the table I believe we all learn something and come closer to understanding each others viewpoint. The goal is not to come up with solid answers or discover who's right but moreso to open the channels of communication that sometimes stay blocked and limit our ability to develop relationships.

Tonight we had the best Theology Pub yet. There were about 10 people there representing many different backgrounds and streams of thought. We debated about the Charismatic Spiritual Gifts and their place in the church. Some personal stories were shared, some Bible passages explored and there were some heated moments. I left feeling encouraged that everyone was given a chance to share and that we all have a new spin on things that needs to be chewed on. It's such an amazing thing to see so much diversity in one room coming together in the name of God and building relationship through an unorthodox church activity.

The body of Christ embodied in the church is a concept I'm in love with and look forward to many more nights of arms fighting with legs and eyes trying to be ears all in the name of working it out together to be a functioning body.