Archive for June, 2014

Back again

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

A day at the beach is great.

I have a bit of red that was not there prior to sitting on the dock.  I slipped into the water enjoyed a short swim (emphasis on short!).  Campfire time and picnic lunch were included.

And then the time just to sit and talk with someone.  In the car, on the beach and in the cabin.

For those who regularly take a summer vacation, you know the advantage that this time gives.  I had wondered how one day would be.  Perhaps knowing it would only be one day heightened my awareness.

All in all, well worth the time.  And now, off to church service this morning, a manor service in the afternoon and then preparation to head out to Ottawa for a few days for our denominational conference.

To the beach

Friday, June 27th, 2014

OK, the water isn’t warm enough yet.

But for the next day or so, I’m off to the beach.  My wife’s sister has a cabin.  We are not sure what this will be like – we’ve both not been there before.

But family is a great opportunity.  And this is family.  Sleeping on air mattresses.  Eating camping food.  And enjoying each other.

Sound good to me!

My sermon for this Sunday

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

I have been having a lot of fun with a sermon series on the Psalms of Ascent.  These are songs that were sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.  Since they would walk together (there were no cars or buses), this would be group singing.  Sort of the sound you would hear from ardent fans as they entered into and watched FIFA soccer/football games in Brazilian stadiums over this past while!

Sunday’s psalm is the 127th (in our English Bibles).  This talks about building houses and guarding cities and being workaholics.  As a matter of fact, God has this thing about work – he would rather see us rest!  All of these are useless if God is not in it.  

The end of the Psalm is what intrigues me.  Most of us remember the King James Version thoughts on children – get a quiver full.  While most meditations on this passage focus on child bearing and raising, I would suggest the point is in the last verse.  As I translate the Hebrew words, this would not be an unusual paraphrase:  “When those who are hostile to you get together with the town’s people, let your children defend you.”

What a thought.  Not only is God our defender and provider in housing, the protection of a country and city, and even in our daily life – now our children are our protectors.  What an interesting position to be put in! 

Defending yourself is probably not going to work well! 

This being the case – make sure that you are right with both God and your children!!!

Family

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Yesterday was eight hours on the road.

Time was given to visit.  Both my daughter and Cynthia’s sister.  Of course, there was also time given to my grandchildren and to brother-in-law relations.

With my work schedule, funerals included, I had been without a day off for the last 12 days.  lA day off was due.  I realize that the immersion in a culture (a town) means that I am constantly reminded of my vocation, if not called to provide some ministry, even on my days off.  I needed to be out of town. 

Often “in town days off” have proved to be an encouragement as I meet, greet and provide care to my church and community family.  At the same time, nuclear family matters (and even home renovations) get aside for the moment – unless I head out of town.

So, off to Prince Albert and Birch Hills.  A good day of visiting (far less than I would have liked).  And now, I’m headed back to work related duties today and tomorrow as I prepare for Sunday – with family on my heart and in my prayers!

Resuming a resume

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

I was asked the other day what my resume would look like?

As one who is approaching my retirement, I’m a little less likely to talk about achievements (which is what most resumes are about), and rather to talk about what I have learned through my activities.

Although I may need a source of income as I look towards retirement, I’m not so sure I need a job.  For that reason, I am reviewing my life.

What fun!  One of my first thoughts is about a mousetrap I helped my brother build.  He was the creative one.  I was the one who took the plans and made it happen (grade eight).  Rather reflective of much of the rest of my life.

We often talk about spiritual gifts as though they were to help achieve something – and in reality a church thrives upon the activities of those who are gifted.  But this is a gift, not an activity.  The core of the nuclear reactor contains the essence of power.  What happens after that is an effect of the power and looks like activity.  But you can’t have the activity without first having the core.

So, I’ve been more inclined to think in terms of a profile than a resume.  When you look at my profile – when you see a picture of me, what is it that strikes you?  At funerals we talk about the love of a person – and then about the activity that shows that love.  Perhaps our profiles are more about our core than our activity.

Just some thoughts on resumes!

Psalm 134 in a workaday context

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

These past few days I have been working on a scripture passage for my sermon this morning.  Psalm 134 is the last in what are called the Psalms of Ascent.  Pilgrims (actually those headed up for a festival or party) sang this as they got very close to their destination.  I kind of see this as the climax of their singing.

But as I read it, I found myself saying, “this is more about the party than about some vague great psalm of praise.” 

The Psalm begins saying we should bless the LORD.  As I studied “bless”, I began to see the word as relating to doing!  The word for bless in this particular context is BARAK.  The picture is of someone bowing down – in Deuteronomy 24 this is camels bowing down to drink water.

So we bless by being obedient.  The next verse in the psalm tells us that the particular people (those who minister/work in the temple) are asked to lift up (which means get active) their hands (in the Old Testament your hands were used in work, in helping others and protecting them) in the “holy” (which seems to refer to the temple where the night shift was working). 

So the Psalm is really party-ers telling the people who are preparing the parade ground to get to work.  And they say that God will bless them – that will be their reward.

So, stick to the work God asks you to do. 

Simple psalm, not so simple to do!

Providence and garage packages

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The phone called arrived at 11:45 am.  Just before lunch.  Just as I am about to leave, but with other projects in mind.

A friend, whom I haven’t seen in a few years, was on the line. He’s currently trucking.

I’m here unloading a garage package.  There was a mixup in the dates and no one is able to give me a hand.  Can you find some people to help me out?

I immediately phoned another friend to help and off we went.  The delivery sight was just a few blocks from our homes.  As it happened, the one receiving the garage package had just spent a banquet meal with my helper friend. 

Afterwards we sat over lunch at a local restaurant.  I was encouraged both by the testimony my helper friend as he talked of his recent life journey in Christ, and by the encouragement of my trucker friend.

My plan had been to eat lunch alone.  Rather, I spent time with others whose lives encouraged me. 

How good is that!  God knows!!

Coming off the past week

Monday, June 9th, 2014

When two deaths in a congregation happen within a week. 

When various peace officers are in our congregation and are affected by the death of officers in Moncton.  W

hen time rolls along at a pace faster than the previous week.

I am tired.  The tug of war of ministry, the desire to maintain family relations, and even the want to have spare time pull upon me.

I learned as a child to back up the boat when I am tired.  Of course, I never knew quite what that picture meant.  We didn’t have enough water in the area to float a boat, let alone back it up.

But, if I were to back up the boat, that would mean taking some time before making decisions.  As well it means giving yourself space before heading into the ocean!

Hopefully heading into this week will provide some rest.  I look forward to continued renovations being done on our kitchen (backsplash tiles to be put in today!).  There is a  grad banquet with our high school grads the end of the week.  And in between and afterwards time to gaze on God!

May God grant us all a week of peace – not necessarily extracting us from our circumstances but providing us peace in God in those circumstances.

As younger brothers become seniors

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I gave my youngest brother a birthday greeting yesterday.

I remember the days when he came home to live with us.  His older sister wanted to dress him in girl’s clothing – he was supposed to be a girl!  As he grew, it became obvious that he had intellectual smarts.  He competed on reach for the top and received various scholarships to university.

Then he somehow grew up, pastored a church, served as a missionary, completed a doctorate in Theology.  This past year he performed our wedding ceremony!

My remembrances tend to still be back in the old days.  But then I realize that he can get seniors discount at various restaurants.  And he can pretend to be part of the freedom 55 generation.

And so, he responded that he is learning to live into his age.  And now he is a day into that age!

A very happy birthday to my brother Murray!!

5 whys journal

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

People are curious.

As am I.

The journal I began a short while ago is intriguing.  For others and for myself.

I begin with a question (usually starting with “why”) that raises conflict.  Quite often the question is personal and the conflict is within myself.  Others are related to friends, vocation, and life in general.

I ask why, then jot down an answer.  I do the same five times.  At that point I am probably getting to the actual answer, or at least to a root of the problem.

This may be something you would like to try.  The exercise is not easy, and usually by the time I hit the third “why”, I’m having to confront the real me!  And that is not always easy, because I know I will probably have to rethink how I live my life as I go deeper – and have to repent of attitudes and actions that have become ingrained in my life.

Is it worth it?  I think so – and so I continue!