Monday, April 30, 2007

John Newton on "Three wonders in heaven..."

If ever I reach heaven I expect to find three wonders
there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there;
second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third--
the greatest wonder of all--to find myself there.
... John Newton (1725-1807)

John Newton was the one who wrote the famous hymn "Amazing Grace" after committing his life to Christ and leaving his work in the slave trade.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Canal to the Arabian Sea Passing through My Neighborhood!

I had heard rumors over the last year that a canal or water passageway was going to coming through our neighborhood. And the survey crews that have been spotted in the neighborhood over the last 6 months or so did seem suspicious.

Well, now we have confirmation. This Gulf News story confirms it. The canal is due to pass about 100 meters from my front door. I can throw a rock and hit the street which is set to be it's bank nearest our villa.

I have no idea what this means for our villa. I haven't called my landlord yet. But I'm leery that our villa's may be torn down to make way for 'waterfront property'. That would be shame. And we're not excited about the prospect of moving in Dubai. I'm sure where ever we go we'll get less space for more more money in a less convenient location.

But we know God will look out for us. He's been faithful before so he'll be faithful in the future.

From a city-planning perspective I can see why they would want to put this in. They are creating lots of docking areas back near Business Bay next to the Burj Dubai and those people would only have the creek as their outlet to the Sea. This extension to the Creek allows for two access points to the Sea. But it will make a further mess of traffic. The canal will necessitate a new bridge over Beach Road, Wasl Road, and Sheikh Zayed Road. These will be a mess during and after their construction. They will be 'pinch points' that will be the only ways for cars to pass over the canal. And they will install toll booths on Sheikh Zayed this summer so only two of the three will be toll free. I think it's a big mistake.

Tracing Your Family Tree... Online

I'm not very good at remembering family stories and histories. But I've always wanted to have it recorded so that I could look at it and learn anytime I wanted. That takes a lot of time though and now that I live on the other side of the planet from my family it seemed even more remote that I could make it happen.

Then I found

It's an amazing (and free) website where, after registering, you begin by putting in the most basic of your family tree. I started with myself, my wife, my kids, my parents, her parents, then my sister, and finally her sisters. Each time you enter someone in the tree you can invite them via email to join in the task of adding to the family tree. Everyone can add pictures and each person has a profile they can fill out too that others can view.

I set this up in December. No activity took place for a month or so. Then family members began to join up and started adding to the tree. In February the tree was up to maybe 100 members or so... and growing. By early April it was up to almost 250 family members in the tree. Then, in two days, the tree went to almost 500! Incredible.

Today I checked and the tree has 556 family members in it.

It's an novel use of the internet. Now and then I go into it and learn about distant family members who've uploaded pictures and information about themselves.

For my Muslim friends from Arabia and elsewhere, the staff at are trying to implement it in different languages and include features that take into account things like multiple wives. I encourage you all... give it a try!

Below is an example screenshot from my family tree.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Native Deen Interviewed on CBS in the U.S.

I noticed the other day that the Islamic rap group from the US that had come through Dubai was interviewed on CBS, one of the major US television networks. I had registered at the groups website to be notified of news about them. These are the guys that I had been invited to go hear here in Dubai back in the Fall. After the show we had about an hour of interesting conversation about Christianity and Islam; particularly with the groups lead singer Joshua. He's the first interviewed on the CBS special report. I had written him but haven't heard back. I'm busy too so I understand.

I'm really interested in guys like this and the blending of contemporary culture and religion... particularly with Islam and Christianity. In traditional Islam songs and singing are not allowed. I've not had much conversations with my Muslim friends about why it's allowed for groups to exist like this. What do the detractors point to in Qur'an to prohibit singing/music? And how would groups like Native Deen argue for the validity of their music from an Islamic perspective?

Here's the CBS interview if you're interested.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Easter Sunrise Gathering in Dubai

For several years now a big group of us have gathered on the beach beside Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab for an Easter morning sunrise celebration of Jesus' resurrection. What a joy! People from all different nations gathered this year. We sing songs, pray, and then have a fun breakfast together before most people have to leave for work. Easter is a normal work day in the UAE.

Enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

February Muslim Christian Dialogue - Complete video online

You may remember the Muslim-Christian Dialogue that my company sponsored in February. I've posted pictures before. Our Muslim friends brought someone in to video the event and they've edited and posted the entire dialogue on Google Video. Click below to watch (It's fascinating... but 2.5 hours long, so plan ahead!... even a 10 minute viewing will give you a good feel for the event even if you can't watch the whole thing).

Interesting Conversation on "Easter Trinkets..." post

I usually don't get a lot of comment "action" on my blog but Mohammed from Al Ain has engaged me in an interesting dialog in the comments of my previous post on Easter Trinkets in Dubai stores. Take a 'look-see'.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Out of Town until Friday April 5th

Hi friends, I'll be out of town on vacation until Friday April 5th. Tune back in then for more posts. Have a great week!