Archive for March, 2012

Grief and Loss

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Today’s opportunity was helping with a grief and loss session.  One of the participants was too raw to the death of a loved one.  An hour or so of time together was about all she could take.

Another came with issues related more to the aftermath of family relationships than the direct personal impact on the participant.  Another is working on emotions that rage in out of control at some times.

The thing that reigns supreme in these sessions – what often we think is abnormal is really quite normal.  As we completed the day, I was reminded. 

My own grief and loss – parents, sibling – doesn’t have to capture my life.  The thing that provides hope in the midst of all this is that God is in control.  Faith grabs a hold and won’t let go.  And soon God’s love captures our hearts.

Grief and loss can be a stepping stone to something greater.  We don’t have to medicate – we can go through and come out on the other side brighter, stronger and a better person.

The cynic and the servant

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The other day I heard someone proclaim that the cynic is one who throws the towel in.  Life is never as good as we might want, people disappoint, and clouds overshadow the sun.  No wonder the cynic throws the towel in!

Then I got to thinking.

A servant also throws the towel in.  Jesus, in the last hours of his life threw the towel in.  Into the lives of those he was working with.  Washing their feet.  Serving them.  Caring for them.

I guess I would like to be known as one who throws the towel in.

On spirituality and religion

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I’ve run across a number of people lately who talk about religion being a dusty set of rules and spirituality being freeing.  Christians talk about knowing Christ and leaving dead religion behind. 

I can understand those thoughts that do turn following Christ into a matter of mere rules – following the letter of the law and not the Spirit.

At the same time our society has looked favourably on the term spirituality – as though this were the cure all.  Unfortunately this has meant a whole approach which sounds good but seems less than expected.  Here are a few thoughts/quotes I’ve also been hearing lately:

Spirituality lacks discipline.

Spirituality is merely living for one’s self in such a way that God becomes me, and life is lived on my set of rules.  Ruled based religion in reverse??

Marbles that roll around in my head

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Here is a guest post by Cheryl Glass:

Hi.  I’ve been thinking about mothers of the Bible lately.  For example, if David’s mom had been on the hill of battle when Goliath came out to challenge the Israelites, and David stepped out to answer the challenge, do you think she would have grabbed him and told him to sit down and be quiet?  Or buried her face in her hands and just stood there wondering where she went wrong?  When John the Baptist started wandering the wilderness in camel hair and eating locusts and honey, do you think Elizabeth tried explaining to her friends that he’d always been just a little bit odd, or that it was just a stage?  Did Moses’ mom blame herself after he murdered the Egyptian, thinking that if she could have raised him, things would have turned out differently?  Do you think Rachel wanted to step up and tell the other others to stop picking on her boy just because he was different than their sons?  This couldn’t really be a Bible study, because there is no where to find the answers, but it’s something I wonder about….

Peeling and chopping

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Knives a wielding and peelers a peeling.  That was this afternoons engagement!

As Jill and I prepare for a day off tomorrow, we worked on preparations for our Tuesday seniors luncheon.  That means St. Patrick’s day stew!

Carrots, potatoes, celery and turnips.  All needed to be cleaned and peeled.  The meat needed to be browned.  And all of that done in three hours.  Not a record time, but not too shabby.

I’ve almost gotten a blister out of it.  Had I listened well, I would have used a different peeler.  Nevertheless, there is a certain satisfaction in a job well done.

Now we just have to wait until Tuesday to see who agrees with us!

Short – and sweet

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

For some years the church has been trying to speak to people.  Trying to impress them with truth.  Trying to persuade them.

Unfortunately this has evolved to the point where a preacher is expected to speak the truth, and others are invited to just listen in. 

But things are changing.

More and more of those who have brought people to listen are becoming the ones who walk with others, talk with them, live with them moment by moment as living examples of Jesus.  Intentionally using this as the platform from which people hear about Jesus.  Not that a preacher is a bad thing (I’m one!).  But the preaching is done on the street as much as on the platform.

So, here is the saying I heard recently.  We are no longer looking for “a sage on the stage,  but a guide by my side.”

Not a bad thought.

The demise of the Sword Drill

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

When I was a youngster, one of the great competitions was the sword drill.

Deriving from the idea that the Bible is the sword of the Lord, we would then drill into the Bible in competition to see who could find a verse first.  Favourites like John 3:16 could be found in a matter of seconds.

So, when asked to lead a sword drill for our Grades 4-7 class, I was will to lead the drill.

Except some of our students had brought their ipads and Blackberries – with the Bible on them.  Now, the smartest and quickest of the paper Bible crowd was the one who wanted the sword drill.  He thought he could match those with electronica!

So, I started with a fairly hard verse – in the middle nowhere as far as  Bible verses are concerned.  The studious one found it fairly quickly.  But not quickly enough.  The electronica gang had merely to click three times and in a matter of a second the verse was found.  Attempting an easier verse fared no better.

And so, the sword drill may become a dinosaur!  Perhaps we can now ask the students not only to find the verse quickly (which will not take much), but now, because they will have no problem finding the verse, we can ask them to explain the verse in their own words.  Competition and content – not a bad idea!!

Darkness – a sign of the times

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

You may have been told that you need to be quiet as a way of knowing God.  Usually that meant shutting out noise and not being noisy yourself.  Works well in a worship service to shut off all the instruments, quiet the vocals and let silence reign. 

Very uncomfortable for people who live in a busy world.

Today I was reading about our shifting culture.  In a day and age when worship services were mostly done through reading and music, this was an easy thing to accomplish.

Now, in a day and age when media is king, the newest concern is to be dark and know who God is.  We have been so overcrowded with images and visual noise that we need to include darkness in our services.

At first I was adverse to the thought that we, the people of the light, would seek God in darkness.  And I still struggle with this being a fad.

But, at the same time, I wonder how many of us close our eyes when we pray.  If you have ever prayed with your eyes open, you know that there is a different feel to your prayers.  When you go to the dark in prayer, there is a certain meditation and concentration that happens.

So, maybe there is something to this idea that in darkness we know God.  What do you think?

Over the rainbow

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The temperature rose to such a height that things were melting.  As the evaporated H20 rose to the sky, I would have thought a rainbow would appear.

Well, maybe it didn’t.  But this winter has been one of those rainbow events.  Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds sing – or maybe crows caw and green growth appears.

All of this year seems like a dream of rainbow proportion.  Not that winter is over – the past decades show that the vast majority of records indicate snow will fall after spring comes on March 21st.  But the snow will melt quickly and the rivers of cold water will wash our streets clean.

All that to say – I still can’t believe it.  Here in Saskatchewan today, one town was up to 17 degrees Celcius.  My thermometer showed at least 9 degrees Celcius.  Not bad for a winter day!!

On reading John’s gospel

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

These last few days my daily Bible readings have taken me into the Gospel of John.

Now, I’ve always found this an interesting story book.  Not in the sense of fiction – this is true non-fiction!  Rather, in the sense of narratives that are purposeful in their intent – like an Aesop’s fable only better!!

I’d also have to say that the stories themselves leave me hanging.  I remember the first time I read some of the narratives of Jesus around the supper table of his final meal.  I finally just picked out the verses that I could understand and left the rest for later.

Which is now.

So, here’s one of those interesting thoughts.  I’ve been concentrating on Sabbathing.  In other words, finding time to rest and relax – at least once a day.  And to putter at least some time in each day.

Imagine, then, coming to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath.  The religious leaders figured Jesus shouldn’t have told the man he healed to carry his mat – that was working (John 5:10).  These Jews then persecuted Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

Hear his reply!  “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father works constantly up until this very point of time, and I also am working.” (RJB version).   And that is about what Jesus does on the Sabbath.  He never stops working.  On a day of rest.

How does that work?