Monthly Archives: April 2015

From beginning to end

A clarinet choir is in town today.  One of my good friends is playing in this group based out of Brandon University.  They are at the beginning of their careers, and I expect will shine!  The concert is before a group of elementary students – who will be inspired to greater things in their own musical endevours.

Also today, a seminar on funeral planning.  This is the end of time.  Being ready to not “be”, at least physically.  This will have a sense of promotion, it is put on by a company that assists people in setting aside money for funerals.  At the same time, the information will be well worth it.

Off to the great expanse called today.  Who knows what else will come!

Finger test, crows and sparrows and open windows

The morning bike ride brought thoughts of life and living to mind.

I’m one who watches my weight fairly regularly – if every day can be counted.  The count happens on a digital scale, which appears to be fairly accurate.  I was considering today if I could watch my weight by just doing the finger test – placing both hands together at the first knuckle.  After a bit of practice I can tell when my hands are puffy or thin.  Much like the rest of my body.  Maybe a new test for weight loss”"?

I was watching an unfortunate occurrence from my bike.  Three large crows were sitting in the tree (maybe not KISSING but certainly cawing) – as song birds flew by.  Our neighbourhood last year was inhabited by a sparrow hawk – and no song birds to speak of.  I like song birds!

My bike sits stationary in our office.  I open the window curtains and view the new day.  I often pray.  And watch as the day goes by.  To God’s glory – there is night and day!

This is the day the Lord has made – I’m glad for that!

God in the midst, or God is the midst

We had a situation yesterday that my wife and I were praying over.

I mentioned that we should invite God to be in the midst of our situation.  My wife countered with, “Maybe God is the midst of our situation.”

If you know me, a good twist of phrase always gets me thinking.

Perhaps we are too wrapped up in our own plans.  We work away at things, scheme and develop strategies.  When the worst and best scenarios are considered, then we tend to ask God to superintend the rest. 

As though God wouldn’t be bothered with what was happening.  Or, if he was, we can take care of the details – He can hang on to the big picture.

What if we were to look at it a whole new way?  What if God is the midst of our situation?  What if this is God’s way to direct us, to train us, to raise us up in righteousness?  What if we were to switch the driver’s seat?  What if we humbly prayed that God would reveal what on earth he is doing?  What if we are really looking for God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven – where the throne/governing room seems to dominate everything else?

Just saying!!

I’m a Quaker

OK, I’m not quite a Quaker – but my ancestry reveals that direction.

Here is the story I was told by my aunt on Saturday:

In the war of 1812, a number of Americans were asked/conscripted into the army.  They had to fight their Canadian neighbours – kill them if necessary.

My relatives objected to such an approach.  They were pacifists.  By label they were “Quakers”.  So they emigrated to Canada.  A nice way to say they were basically pushed out of their country because of religious beliefs.  Canadians labelled them United Empire Loyalists (although technically there is some question as to whether that label would apply in this case). 

Now, that is interesting enough.  The real thing for me, though, is that for my lifetime I have always thought that my mother’s side was made up of staunch Anglicans – ever loyal to the throne, country and King/Queen.

My father’s side are Anabaptists – they ended up running all over the world to avoid persecution.  And now my mother’s side?  Quakers were not exactly the most loved religious sect. 

Both sides come from a heart perspective on religion.  For this heritage I am thankful.  Of course, the flip side of that coin is that they were rebels in the midst of the world in which they lived in (a little Beatles reference there).

And so, I guess I come by my stubborn streak and a bit of a rebellious attitude naturally!

Sunday Meditation

I have appreciated over the years my friend, Randall Friesen’s, meditations that populate his blog and other writings.  The flowing words and concise thoughts just arouse worship.

And so, this Sunday morning, here are some of my thoughts:

God, you have been the harvester of souls – constant in love and compassion, willing to forgive and to restore the years that have seen waste and needless want.

You have sown in our hearts the desire for more – more sense of you, more presence in this creation, and more love for others.  These urges cause us to seek greater heights.  You water those desires, provide the nutrients for growth and fill in the fruit of a life lived in harmony with you.

This is the day that you have made – we can examine the moments and contemplate eternity.  Joy spills from the trickles of momentary miracles and the enormity of abundant salvation you provide.

I awaken to this Sunday, reminded that you rested from your creative work and just enjoyed the day.  I wonder that you watch me today, and crave for me to experience your rest. 

May I live life to the full this day – resting in you.

Dreamers and sensitive men

Today is a work  (fix the church, refurbish the building) day at our church.  Men tend to appear.

I am not one to take the lead in construction.  I will put on gloves and tote and lift.  Although I love the result of well done construction, the expertise of construction is not in my court!  

I enjoy organizing a big project.  I love to dream what things will look like and dream them into existence.  I like to bring people together to become friends and neighbours.

In the last few decades men have been told they are wild at heart.  Somewhere inside we are told we would rather be out rescuing the damsel, building homes, playing sports and conquering the world.  All with our hands and our brawn.

Not everybody agrees.  In my own travels I have seen many sensitive men who love working on computers and conquering the space of the home.  I have seen dreamers whose dreams are about the world in general and not the dirt in particular.

Work days for them are network times, times to be with others on a project that they will help finish, but which does not require them to conquer anything.  It’s just plain fun. 

So, let’s break stereotypes!  When you see a group of guys together swinging hammers and singing “yo-ho” songs, don’t look at them as just another bunch of “manly men”, sweaty and full of brawn and not much brains.  Consider that each one is their own man!

My three mothers

Not everyone is as blessed as I am!

I say that with all sincerity.  One of my mothers chose me.  The other two I chose!  And let no one say that when you got married, you didn’t choose your mothers-in-law.

Yes, you did!

The mother who chose me from birth is currently in the last breaths of her days.  She is the one who compassionately instructed me in God, grace and giving.  I love to find ways to serve others, because she was always a servant.

My first wife’s mother chose to live with a man who was godly – whose family background was messy but whose heart was pure.  She exhibits tenacious love for each of her children – yet with allowance for each of their giftings.  I am blessed that she has kept me in her thoughts and prayers for the many years I have known her. 

My second wife’s mother, from her earliest days chose to exhibit strength.  She was a career woman with a gifted husband, raising five unique children.  I walked into a family where my brothers and sisters include a community figure (though now dead, she still affects a wide circle), a lawyer, an accountant, a churchwoman/mother/community organizer, and a professional painter.  Those who are married brought with them a doctor, a successful business man, a retreat center organizer (besides being a marvelous cook, church secretary, and hostess) and a pastor.  She has let me be me, while not feeling shy about giving well meaning advice.

Now you know the rest of the story.  There is a reason I feel so blessed this morning as I reflect on each of my mothers.

BTW:  I am just starting to extol their virtues.  If you have a few hours, I’d be glad to sit down with you and regale you with the fortune I have found in my mothers.

As time draws near

The word has come that my mother is not doing well.  She has had some seizures and possible mini-strokes – and has now contracted pneumonia.  For those who have dealt with this type of situation, the prognosis for a long life is not good.

So today I have been making arrangements (I am the executor and am trying to get a step or two ahead of things). 

More than that, I have been remembering. 

The times around the kitchen early in the morning as I unloaded the dishwasher and my mother prepared lunches.  Those were chat times that were short but always worth the encouragement, or instruction or funny comments that make for shared memories.

There was the day that my mother took me out shopping (I was just finishing grade 12) and “forced” me to chose my own shirt.  I did ask her advice but she was helping me grow up.  I’m not sure I’m yet able to do a good job of coordinating clothes, but I do have something on whenever I step out the door in the morning.

More memories will come!  I’m thankful for my mom – her love for God and for her husband, and for each one of us kids!

What a great heritage.

Going our separate ways

As we head into the rest of the Easter break, my wife and I are headed out in different directions.  By the time the week is done she will have ventured four hours northeast and I will have headed four hours southeast.  Separately.  Apart. On missions.

No, not church missions!

My wife will continue her chosen profession, painting walls and beautifying a house in Prince Albert.  I will head to Gravelbourg to visit my mother who has recently had some mini-strokes in the nursing home she inhabits.

While this may seem counterintuitive during a break, for both of us this will be part of family.  My wife will take my step son, and they will work on the painting job together – and I understand some nephews and nieces may show up.  I will visit with my sister, and together we will visit my mother.

While we could selfishly spend all our time together (which is one definition of smothering another person), instead we will increase our family connections.

Who knows, maybe there will be this coming together of a huge family reunion in years to come just because we are willing to be apart.

Cultural apologetics

As a teen, I learned many evangelistic methods for telling others about Jesus.  Three that stand out are Evangelism Explosion, The Romans Road, and The Four Spiritual Laws.  A few years later I added Steps to Peace with God.

The interesting thing was that not all of my friends were as excited about these methods as I was (and we were an aggressive evangelistic group).  Their main concern was that these tools were too cut and dried – too stamped with “the man” and not open to The Man.

The Four Spiritual Laws, for all the truth contained therein, could often be used as a club to determine who was in or out, not to invite others into a warm and compassionate relationship with Jesus.

When the tool becomes a way to expose truth and not to hear the heart of the person sitting in front of you, I tend to think that you will have those who can understand your version of truth (con-version), and may even acquiesce to it, but will not be able to put this into practice in their own culture.

The author of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, Bill Bright, would often tell stories of his use of the booklet.  He worked on college campuses, he was outgoing and, in his own way, heard what people were saying.  Before he dropped the Four Spiritual Laws on them.

Recently I came across a term that is gaining in popularity.  Cultural apologetics, in many ways, deals with the culture a person lives in first, before proclaiming the “cure” of Jesus. 

I think nowadays we need to help people to see their culture in a Christianly way.  They need to aspire to become like Christ.  That effort will spur them on to love and good deeds.

My last few years have been a search and research into a return to winsome evangelistic methods.  The resources are scattered (you would expect this with the diversity that is required to just be relational with people, to listen to them and then to address the needs that would lead them to Jesus).  I haven’t found a single gold nugget that is the cure all.  I have found many shining examples.

What are you finding?