Archive for February, 2013

Lenten devotional #2

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Another “Lessons Learned Living with Jesus” devotional:

I  just heard another one of my friend’s struggles with cancer.  Struggling with chemo that has not worked.  Struggling with earthly attachments.  Struggling to rest in God’s hands.

I cried. 

She begins her latest thoughts with praise.  You cannot live a long life with God without a sense that the end is better than the beginning.  There is a soft landing when we fall into God’s hands.  The terror is in the fall.  

Constant pain is currently gripping my friend.  Releasing loved ones wrenches the heart. 

For almost four decades I launched my life daily with one whose life was always close to death.  I laughed, cried, walked with, sang with, was thankful for the days I spent with my loved one.  And in her mortal end came a true beginning. 

For heaven’s sake live life on this earth with pure abandon – keep a light touch on the things of this earth – grab hold of that which will not perish.   There is more to come!!

20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (Philippians 3:20-21) 

Leadership training insights

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The hour long drive was on roads that were not bad, but a bit icy.  The meal was fantastic, pulled beef.  And the training session had some pithy insights.

Imagine working in a country where you cannot be seen as the leader.  Everything you do must come from others.  You cannot assume any official titles.  How then shall you lead?

Our speaker came from that situation.  His thoughts were well grounded in Scripture and experience.

Prayer - start there!  Hear what God has to say.  Spend time in meetings praying!

Programs – the important thing is not the program, but the person.  Their life in Christ, and how they are passing that on to others is paramont.

Teach - Make your first teaching task to tell people about God – how to hear from God, how to live in God, how to be holy people.  Reporting on the progress of programs should begin with reporting on how the people are doing spiritually in their own lives.

Aim high – what if our goal was to have all people become mature in Christ, to be fully Christlike in all they say and do? 

That is just a start on some of my thoughts.  But a good start!

Heritage and heresy

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

On Sunday I preached on being crucified with Christ.

Now, for most people that phrase is totally foreign.  Crucifixion is a form of execution.  Not nice 2,000 years ago, still not nice today.  The idea is that we decide to be a follower of Jesus by giving up on ourselves and letting Jesus lead.

In the church, this practice is the orthodox view of Christianity.  Within that heritage there are a number of areas that are fairly well defined.  I mentioned some of these on Sunday, relating that in our society we will be “crucified” if we hold to these varying statements.

Over the years, even within the church, there have been those who have decided that they would like to widely vary from these time tested statements.  And so, we live in a society that has what I would call heretical views on various areas. 

The question for many of us is, how far away from our heritage do we go before we become heretical?  The councils of the churches over the years have helped to determine this (now I’m into a history lesson!!).  The straightforward meaning of Christian Scripture gives guidance.  And, I might add, for many who are exploring differing views, the Spirit of God pinches and pleads – until either a decision to return is made, or the voice is ignored.

Thoughts on meditating on my own sermon!  I guess if the preacher doesn’t listen, why should anyone else :)

Garage door openers, washers and phone calls

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Today is a day off.

Now, for the last few weeks I have had a number of “days off”.  Traveling here and there, visiting friends, family and fiance.  Accumulating hours of work to accommodate for the days off has been tiring.  Worthwhile, but tiring.

Today is the first day in quite awhile that I have stayed home, done “home” things and enjoyed the quiet.

I started the day changing out a washer on a tap.  I had set aside an hour or two – you never know.  Done in 15 minutes.  And wondering why I hadn’t worked on this weeks ago.

Then off to figure out the fixing of my garage door opener.  Yesterday some gears had been stripped and the door no longer opened.  A replacement would be easier in the long run – other things could start to go on a 20 year old motor and system. 

The local hardware store suggested a simple solution.  I brought the system home and looked it over.  Other than the brand name being different, everything else proved to merely be replacing old parts with new.  In a few hours the garage door is opening as it should!

And to finish off the early afternoon, my daughter phoned. 

How good a day is that!!

Coffee and Chocolate

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Not often do I have a combination day of coffee and chocolate.

Coffee is not my preferred beverage and I seldom drink it.  In the midst of the morning’s activities, I combined coffee with chocolate, not realizing what most people know.  Two shots of caffeine are better than one!  And one is more than enough for me.

By mid afternoon (the morning repast was in my blood system by then) I was well on the way to a day of busy-ness.  Not that there weren’t things to be done – there were. 

Every once in while I would look to see how the time was going.  Way too fast!  And so I ended up skimming past coffee break (good thing – didn’t need more coffee!), into the supper hour and past the nine o’clock hour without feeling a need for a break.

The operative word here is “need” for a break.  By 10:00 in the evening I was starting to yawn, and I sensed the caffeine had worn off. 

As unusual as this event was, I’m just not sure being artificially pumped up is the best way to complete all the tasks of a day.  Which makes me wonder how a Tim Horton’s society survives! 

At a fast pace, but at what price?

Tearless, fearless, wordless grief

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The days of mourning are never done.  Nor should they be.  Days of hopelessness, on the other hand, are devastating.

Soon after my wife, Jill’s, death, I determined to follow the injunction of Christian Scriptures – “we do not mourn as those who have no hope.”  I listened to a song by Michael W. Smith called “Welcome Home” and imbibed of the truth that Jill has a much better place where she now lives, and moves and has her being.  I thank God for that.

My tears are far fewer these days.  I do not fear the coming days.  I am excited to have a new relationship, which while different, has the sense of God written in bold letters over our togetherness.

But, yesterday I had tearless, fearless, wordless grief.  I was tired (and perhaps that was a catalyst).  More than that, I was returning to tasks that reflected the busyness of days spent with Jill.  Those were days where she provided a pillar of strength. 

I miss that. 

I did not cry – although my soul wept.  I did not fear the day – although my emotions were roiling within me.   I cannot explain what happened – this blog is a very feeble attempt.  All I know is that Jill was not there and I missed her.  And God was there and I was sustained.

Tearless, fearless, wordless grief directs me to God – where I know that I have complete and utter safety, security and satisfaction!  Thank you, Jesus!

Family Days

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The holiday weekend this year was well named.  Beginning with Valentine’s day until late yesterday, I have had quite the family adventure.

A few months ago none of this was planned.  OK, I started with some vague ideas in August, then more concrete ones as the days went on.

3,000 kms later, I visited with my fiance on Valentine’s Day, had some of her children accompany her to visit here in Kindersley over the weekend, visited with my daughter and her family in Edmonton, visited with Doug Smith and his family, had supper with some of Cynthia’s family.

And now I’m home.  Still with visions of white outs, and slippery patches and generally not the nicest weather.  On the other hand, with visions of family that I will cherish.

God plans our adventures, and this has been one of them!

Travels

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

I am on an adventure.   For basically a week’s time I have and will travel about 30 hours on the road.

Some of the roads were icy, and others are forecasted to have blowing snow.  For a prairie winter, that is not unusual but still requires focus. 

Some of the time will be with friends and family.  Others by myself.  I don’t mind the chatter of family, I don’t mind the solitude of driving solo.

In between the travels I will preach and be a part of a Board of Elders meeting.  Pleasure and work combined will make this week memorable.

So, if you do not see a lot of blog entries – you’ll know why.  Doesn’t mean I have nothing to report.  In fact, the opposite is probably true.

As some have told me in these past few days – may you have safe travels.  As some of you travel over this “Family Day” weekend, may you also have safe travels – and bring back great memories!!

For my farmer friends

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Sometimes commercials have a lot to say about other than the product they are marketing.  Here is Paul Harvey speech entitled “So God made a farmer” – with a touch of the hat by the commercial producers to Ram trucks.  You might enjoy this. 

I understand the talk by Paul Harvey actually ended with the following thought:  “and finish a hard week’s work with a five mile drive to church.”

Paul Harvey video – So God Made a Farmer”

Around pie

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Well, my pie turned out well.  One of my Sunday School students asked his mother to bring some home – not sure if he wanted to try it out, or to see how bad it was!! 

After our meeting, around the pie, we began to talk some politics.  I was reminded, as I returned home, that I had written but never published a thought on politics.  So, below is that thread – hopefully it will make sense!

The purpose of temporal tranquility, which well ordered policies establish and maintain, is to give opportunities for contemplating truth.  – Thomas Aquinas – Commentary on the Ethics.

I suppose over the past while I have enjoyed the arena that is often called politics. 

I recognize that there is real distrust of those who create policy and seek to order institutions.  Politics is found not only in the public realm, but the church also experiences this.  A recent letter from the President of our denomination indicates how that distrust can creep in and disturb tranquility.

What drives me to be committed to my community – whether that is the public square or the ecclesiastical structure?  I do want to see a time and place where people can, with civility, seek together the truth. 

Creating that foundation is not easy.  Robert’s Rules of Order is just one attempt to help us create that foundation.  Peacekeeping measures that help with conflict resolution is another.  And leadership that actually believes that they are “under God” seems to be another.

The seeking of truth in tranquility allows for love to flow.  Where there is strife we generate hatred, distrust and slander (which is “not truth”).  Let’s find ways to love one another so that we have opportunities to contemplate truth!