Archive for March, 2014

Off

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Days off tend to be flexible.

At least in the job which I do.

This past week, and for a few weeks previous, I had taken Thursday off.  This week I have booked in an appointment that works best on Thursday.

So today, I took the day off. 

To find out that I was not feeling that well.  Well enough to be up and about.  But not well enough to skip a morning and afternoon rest.

Somehow not being able to be active on a day off seems to be a disappointment.  At the same time, I’ve spent time with my wife and hopefully have recharged for the coming week. 

Tip the glass upside down, look through the bottom of the glass and that lens can give some needed perspective.

Watch Lists

Friday, March 28th, 2014

All because of who you are.

You are put on watch lists.  For cancer.  For high blood pressure.  For diabetes.  For many more dis-eases that are hereditary.

Both my wife and I are on watch lists.  If we never had to attend funerals – if our close relatives never died, I suppose we would be watching our pensions funds more closely!  I’m not sure how much money you would need if you death was not imminent for centuries and not just decades!

I have had a brother who died of cancer, a sister who has battled cancer, a brother who had a stroke.  I have had double knee surgery, my sister is off for double hip surgery.  And the oldest of us just passed 60 a year or two ago. 

My wife has had various relatives die of cancer, and some still battling cancer.  Diabetes and high blood pressure seem to run (not just walk) in her family.

Recently both of us have gone through testings.  These are not simple multiple answer questions.  A new test for cancer through the use of stool samples has meant not have to have an colonoscopy.  And an examination in the doctor’s office looked at prostrate cancer possibilities.  My wife has been in for her doctor’s examinations and in for imaging tests. 

So far we both have a fairly clean bill of health.  Both of us need to watch our weight and exercise our hearts (we can tip too closely into bad health territories as we watch a movie lounging on a couch and eat a snack that is more fat than healthy nutrients). 

What do watch lists do?  On the one hand, they quickly allow you to prepare.  On the other hand they can provide tension as the examination approaches.  What could appear may have nothing to do with what you are doing.  The results may be purely based on your heredity.

Some things you have no control over their inception.  The best you may have is a lingering ability to manage your life.  I say with joy – the best place to be is in a place where you are willing to accept the future as people of hope.  I do not sorrow for my life as some do.  I enjoy this life and the next.  For in them I have one who rescues me by giving me both a past, a present and a future. 

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ. 

A statement derived from a watch list that is mine to bear or to bless.

The joy

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

I remember the camp fire song – I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay.

I am working on a sermon on Romans 14:17 which talks of three markers of a Christian.  One of those markers is joy. 

I’d like to say that joy stays all the time in my heart.  And maybe the song writer recognized that joy often times is way down in our hearts and has to be brought up from the depths.

I imagine this is your experience.  While you pursue being a good person, and long after righteousness and God, sometimes peace escapes you.  At those times joy seems to die out.

Often the joy escapes because of relational problems.  I suppose that is why we are told that our primary rule for life is to Love God and then to Love Others.  When that is done, peace and joy seem to follow.

Our fight is often to gaze on God enough that we don’t become biased against others, become bitter or even move to pure hatred of others.  Unfortunately, our approach is often to begin with others, to see their pettiness and hurt they have caused us.  Then we lose our joy. 

But if we begin with seeing God as one who absorbed our hatred, took our outbursts and even died for our sins, then we can begin to overlook wrongs, be persistent in grace towards another and even allow others to abuse us.

I would like to add all sorts of caveats – exceptions to the rule.  But I guess I first need to absorb the rule into my life more fully.  And hopefully the exceptions will become fewer than my selfish nature would like!

The size of change

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

There is a constant in life that looms alongside other things that remain.

All is flux, is how one person describes this constant.

Of course, when I was younger, flux was used to solder metals together.  It was not the solder.  The flux went with the solder and made the weld strong by cleaning out and preparing the place where the joint would fit.

I suppose change is that flux.  You can put your foot in a stream and think you know all about the water.  But in a moment’s time, new water passes by, the stream may overflow and a new path be formed. 

A few years ago I put this poster on the side of a filing cabinet.

Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape.

I suppose that was a reminder to me.  I am one who likes to have things in place.  As my mother used to say, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Following that advice is very helpful, but every once in a while things shift and your plans fall off the shelf.  And we are left to pick things up, perhaps rearrange them differently, and joyfully view a new sight.

Last night I was asked to rearrange a schedule that I thought was set in place.  The new schedule is helpful to others (and probably to myself) – while possible for me to accommodate.  And so, looking at the change, I can decide to be bent out of shape or be flexible. 

I’m going to chose to be flexible!!

Crying Out

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The sermon I preached yesterday morning was on Psalm 126.  Crying out.

As the afternoon progressed into evening, I was seeking to understand a bit of what that means. 

I continue to hear people wonder about my grieving process after my first wife’s death almost two years ago.  I am crying out to God to help me understand.  I have a peace that I don’t understand.  At the same time I look at others who were friends and relatives of Jill.  Some are still stuck.

One relied heavily on Jill.  They still despair at times – I am crying out that they would find new friends.  Another has seemingly lost contact with me – I am crying out that our friendship would be rekindled.  Another is still working through my remarriage – I am crying out that a warmth of relationship would return.

And for myself – I spent part of the weekend in reminiscence.  I must admit that every day things remind me of my first wife.  The heaviness of those remembrances has almost disappeared.  Now there is more joy and desire to move into the future.  I cry out for understanding – in no small part so that I can comfort others.

Not how I had imagined applying my sermon a week ago!

Writing a sermon

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

As I awoke early this morning, I was in a “get going” state of mind.  Throughout the week I had been working on a sermon.  I just needed to take some concentrated time to write it.

So from 6:00 – 9:00 I sat down. 

In a desire to remain concentrated, I didn’t look at my emails, check the clock or stray into other areas of thought. 

I loved it.  The sermon starter came easily.  And then the body of the sermon just followed, with a conclusion that will lead into our final song of the morning.

And just because I was having so much fun, here’s a thought from my sermon.

I have been an outdoor camper since I was a child and our parents whisked us across this country in a tent. 

I have found that there are three types of campers.  One just passes through – lightly touching down on the campsite overnight.  Other campers come for a few days with activities and things to do in mind.  And other campers come for the scenery. 

Most of us who have camped for some time, have experienced all three approaches!

I think Bible reading is the same.  The daily Bible reading schedules are a good way to get an overview of the country of the Bible.  The activity times of examining themes and systematic outlines let us pull together a picture of God in bite size chunks.  And, just camping on a short passage lets us spend time looking at the scenery of who God is in ways that we would otherwise miss.

Use all three approaches to Bible reading and you will be better for it!

Rethinking

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The raised eyebrows did it.  Of course, pointing out that the eyebrows were raised didn’t hurt either.

I had just answered a question with a straightforward “no.”  The other person, without asking but just raising the eyebrows, wondered where that had come from. 

I proceeded to give a variety of reasons.  All of which I thought were very straightforward as well. 

Until the evening wore on and I contemplated what I had said. 

Was I being fair?  Was my answer merely one of emotion?  Was I looking back on the past and coloring the future with that brush?  What would it look like to consider how Jesus would have answered? 

By the end of the evening, I was ready to rethink my answer.  I realize that the answer may not change.  That is not the question – or the answer.  The answer is in being willing to be wrong, to own up to that, and to change.

Not an easy road.  But no one ever said the road would be easy.

Shifting Stats forum

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon was spent in Saskatoon.  World Vision sponsored a forum on Shifting Stats – the changing face of the religious landscape in Canada.

What stood out?

Well, three areas were addressed.  The first was immigration.  The second was family and youth.  And finally the whole area of finances and technology.  A final address was given on the Gospel and reaching out.

I was reminded of much that I have seen in the last while.  Even in small town Kindersley there are a number of new immigrants.  They are looking for a place to belong – and the church can provide that.

Families are very different from the past.  The two parent, single income home is almost obsolete.  Well, not quite, but it has become less the norm!  Youth need to be given leadership. 

Finances – we have more debt than income (163 %) on average.  Technology means that our communications need to adapt.

In all, there is much change and yet much encouragement to go ahead!  God is not dead – he has great things planned.  We just need to continue to seek His Kingdom!

Early days

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

This week has proven to be one that will be busy.

I began the week realizing that our music festival is on.  I would love to take in all the sessions – there are children and teens I know who are involved.  I will take in a few sessions.  In between, I also have other appointments.  There is the seminar and hopefully hospital visits in Saskatoon.  On the weekend my wife will be away to a ladies retreat.  In between I have an afternoon appointment with a couple and various appointments with individuals.  Staff meeting will be sandwiched in between preparing a sermon and Sunday School class.

So, I’m up this morning, as yesterday morning, and trying to get a good bit of work done before the 9:00 hour rolls around!  That is the usual time that I would begin my work day.

The sky is not yet lit with light – I will be able to watch the sunrise later in the morning.  Soon I’ll have a soothing shower and head off to my office at the church.  On the way I will care for such mundane things as banking and filling the car with gas.

The end of the day I am planning to arrive home in the early to mid part of the evening.  I’ll spend time with family and head to bed to rest before another day begins. 

All of that to say:  I have become suspicious of the plans that we manufacture.  Within minutes or hours plans could change – and have!  God directs – my part is to be sure I stay on the path he sets. 

So the best thing I need to do is to be consciously living in the presence of God as the activities of the day unfold.  That way the unfolding will not crush me, but rather allow me to see what God is doing (and enjoy it!!).  I guess that is what the ancients would have called giving glory to God.

Lent project

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Lent is engaging me this year.

I began preaching a sermon on Lent the first Sunday of this Christian calendar season.  The sermon was a beginning – encouraging us to get invested in a Lenten project. 

I personally said that I give up worrying.  Sounds like a high goal.  Abstract.  My wife chose a goal where she could write on a list each day whether she had accomplished something.

At first I brushed off whether there was a way to achieve my goal.  The idea was good, and over the years I have seen how worry has taken over my life.  With the great stressors of these past years, I could predict that anxiety would increase. 

Yesterday my wife asked me how I was doing with my Lent goal.  I stopped to consider.  I had actually set aside a particular worry in the past few days.  I had done so, in part, because I had determined to do so – at least at the back of my mind.  With that prompting, I have now moved my intentionality further forward.  I am consciously asking myself how worry is being set aside in my life!

A little prompting can go a long way!