The discussion around the table focused on many things. Family, life, fun, church, decor and much more.
One topic hit home to me. I brought up the question. We were a group gathered because one of us is deathly sick. Not dead – not even dying in the sense of confined to bed and one respirators and life giving support.
But the cancer is there and symptoms were there – and a next stage might be approaching.
When we begin our lives after high school, when we marry and have a family, when a new career arises . . . our inclination is to plan ahead for adventure. We want to achieve something. We want to make a mark. We want to have security.
When end of life becomes a focus, the priorities change. We are now planning for another adventure. We want to find a way to be peaceful with our lives. We want a way to surrender control that we have gained in our adventure of life so far. We want a way to step into the next days where our worth is no longer based on our achievement.
In one sense the end of life issues are just the upside-down of the beginning of life issues. God’s answers are sprinkled in the Bible and seen in those who follow him. This is something I want to explore more over this next while.
Today is a road day.
Headed to Saskatoon to visit my sister-in-law who has cancer. Going along with other relatives.
These are good times of fellowship around rotten times of health. May God give strength and wisdom, fun and future in the midst of all that happens!
What fun to hang out with others.
In the midst of much that has needed to be done lately, the opportunity (less often than I would like) does arise to spend time with different people all in one day.
Yesterday was a five visit day. I find I come home with the most interesting comments from these visits.
One person commented that they were not going to die yet. Another that they felt like they were sixteen. Another that my sermon had pushed them to make a tough decision. Another that town politics is part of the life of a small town. Another that Kindersley is still monocultural.
What a variety of comments. They are not unusual comments. In fact, they could have come from any number of people. You could name someone who would have made similar comments.
The difference is that each comment comes from a very specific context. Each person lives in their own world, and my opportunity is to enter that world and encourage them. Towards godliness. Towards hope. Towards a true sense and understanding of God revealed in Jesus and enlivened through the Holy Spirit.
There are many things that Christians do in this world. One is just that – in our one on one times with others we share life as fellow human travelers and we share our hope in Jesus. That is a sacred calling. Found in the mundane of life!
I’m sure we have a new name for such ventures. If I were to revise the nomenclature I would call them “Get to know, see what’s happening, on you r way” meetings.
We attended a session today where we met with five teachers in less than an hours time. On higher volume days, the meeting areas would have been fuller – I think we just hit the right time. We didn’t even have to wait to interview each teacher!
Most of the teachers were new to us. We shook hands, exchanged names and listened to thoughts from the teacher. Partially the design is to let us know what curricular matters will be addressed in the next while. Partially the design is to let us know how our teen is doing.
On the count of our teen – good news! He is doing well. He fits in well socially, is considerate of his teachers and gets good grades.
This is welcome news. I’ve had other PTI days that were not so good. Those kids have turned out well. But in the midst of the teen years, life is not always so easy.
And so, I turn to pray. For my children and step-children who are continuing through their lives. May God grant peace for the day and wisdom therein. May they have radical gratitude and marathon strength to complete their lives with a focus on God and his goodness.
Nothing forces change like a lack of continued service.
On the computer side, that means that soon my Windows version will be obsolete. In past years, I have appreciated what a particular version of Windows could do for me. Since I’m not a MAC user, I realize that there are often great threats to the system that I use.
At the same time, I become used to what my programs can do for me. I tend to exploit them to the extreme. I know what I can do, and what more could be done. Unfortunately, there are those who use that exploring spirit to find ways to be malicious.
So, Windows XP is about to lose its support system to keep that malicious threat at bay. I can stay away from those who create problems by not using the internet. In our current communications state, that is going to be next to impossible.
The alternatives are costly. Some exploration shows that I could maintain my current state for awhile, but eventually . . .
I guess that’s how many of us live our lives. We are warned of upcoming disaster. We are even told how to avoid that disaster. And we continue on, thinking what we are doing will be just fine. Until . . .
Yesterday was a beautiful day. Our church service was buoyed in spirit by the sunshine. Indeed, this was the day that the Lord made, we rejoiced and were glad in it.
At the same time, the difference in temperature meant that water began to flow. The end of our street is notorious for plugging up the drains. And so the water grew down a block or two.
Well, actually the water did not grow. It accumulated. In such a manner that trucks were dispatched to suck up the overflow. I’m sure the pumping station was examined. The road was blocked off.
I’m interested to see the results this morning. If nothing else, I can rejoice as I see the ice glistening in these temperatures that are just below zero!
Anyone who has worked in a Board governed organization will know how much a Board can make a difference. Particularly in churches, the tenor and direction of a Board gives direction for ministry.
Yesterday I met with our new Board of Elders. To call them elder is a misnomer – particularly as I age! There is one who is half my age, another who is one third my age, and another who is a little older than I. Not a bad mix.
And mix we did. This was really a get to know each other time. The minutes reflect that we did set up things like officers and read minutes. But the real benefit was coming together, listening to each other, agreeing and disagreeing and walking away with a sense of anticipation.
How a Board will function depends over time. But when the time begins with a sense of hope, you are in a good place.
And we are in a good place.
As we have moved into our marriage, things have settled.
Enough that we are now able to feel like patterns are emerging. One area of patterning is our finances.
We came together with a good sense of budgeting and the worth of money. For the first few months the spending patterns were a bit out of whack. A wedding ceremony was paid for, moving costs expended and even new items for the house were bought.
These are not usual expenses.
But now we are into a few patterns. Life is much easier, in some senses, when you can plug a few numbers into an EXCEL spreadsheet and see some patterns.
So, that is what is emerging. Another day or two of inputting and analysis . . . and we shall see what we shall see!!
On Monday I received a phone call. Another pastor in town is unable to provide the devotional for a seniors home. He will be away on Wednesday. Can I take the devotional?
We switched and today I have a morning time together with a number of my friends. We will examine favorite verses and look at a thread of thought that talks of God’s care and his saving grace. Thoughts were running to these areas in the last few days.
As the morning dawned, I also turned to other thoughts. One area that I am so thankful for is comfort and sustaining strength. Another is family. My sister is headed in for hip surgery in May.
There is a certain sense in which my thoughts stray more often to ending well as compared to pushing into the future. Where vision and mission consumed much of my early years of work and marriage, now I am concerned to have clarity (fixing my eyes on Jesus) and to find what it means to rest.
These are not easy topics, and I’m not sure I am finding the road easy to travel. But I sense that this is the way that God directs. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him. And he will direct your paths!”
One of the trends that church watchers are seeing: The solo preacher is being replaced by the team of teachers.
I sort of see this in the way of retail.
The preacher is like the sales person. In many ways they have a product. The application at the end of a sermon is always towards buying into the product. That might be salvation, morality, spirituality, wholeness, . . . whatever. We used to say the altar call was the end of the sermon.
The teacher is like the service technician. When all is said and done, they come along and make sure that all gets said and done. In a day and age when discipleship is being featured in churches, there is no wonder that teachers are becoming more prominent in church services than preachers. We now would say the climax of understanding is the end of the sermon.
Of course, as my younger brother would dispute: Is there really a difference between the preacher and the teacher?
Yes, if you take my definitions.
How would you see the changing face of “preaching” in the church?