Archive for March, 2016

Prophets and Consultants

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

I’m reading through the Old Testament Prophets.  In respect for the religion I practise, and in love with the God I follow, I have a desire to read these books.

Now, reading these books is not a thing you would just take up on your own.  A few pages in, and you are wondering who on earth this God is.  And why in heaven these people do the things they do.

Actually, it’s probably just the opposite.  God is in heaven and is not one of us (oops, the story of the New Testament kind of changes that).  People live here on earth and act like it (oops, the story of the New Testament kind of changes that).

So, back to the Prophets.

For the most part, the Old Testament prophets are like politicians at election time.  They carefully lay out their policies (given by God) and then denounce the other side (the false prophets).  Although the people get to vote on who they like (which is most often the false prophets), the outcome is still that which is laid out by the OT Prophets.

In our daily lives in the 21st Century we don’t walk around calling people prophets.  As I was reading one of the OT Prophets I wondered to myself who are the prophets of today. 

The answer was fairly quick to come.  The 21st Century prophets call themselves consultants.  A consultant is brought in to asses the current situation and to strategize a future.  Not all consultants are bad, not all are good.

So, as with the OT Prophets and their nemesises (what a great way to write out the bad guys), we need to be discerning.  In our day and age we roll too easily with what would give us the good life – prosperity, success and comfort.   And we tend to crucify the consultants who cause us: to think new thoughts; to spend our time reflecting on the past; and to change our ways in order to see a better day!

I’m almost up to Daniel, the prophet who played with lions.  “The big cat plays with the big cats.”  That could be another interesting blog! 

The business card

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Yesterday I was passing on address and contact information to a contractor.  In the tradition of doing business, I had a business card that I gave to him.  There was no business listed.

“So what do you do.”  The contractor was most interested in what I did and  not just the personal information on the card.

I was taken up short.  Something I have sensed over the years was staring me in the face.  We relate best to people in relation to their productivity. 

OK, a business card is a “business” card.  You can expect that someone looking at one would expect a business to be listed.

I’m retired.  I never thought of listing that as my business. 

I’m not expecting to be “productive”.  I am expecting to be a person of integrity, wisdom, perseverance, love, compassion, justice, mercy and many other characteristics.  In the midst of that, I may be working for the better of others and to help people to see God through what I do.

I remember the story of a group of high school boys from an upper class school.  They were on a “trip” during the school year – wandering around some countries in the Middle East.  At one point they all pulled out their business cards – signs of their expectation for the future.  One young fellow was from the Middle East.  There was no listing of a business.  Just a list of his father and other relatives.

“We are known by who we are and not what we do.”

Maybe I should write that on my business card!

Church at sunrise?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

I’m off to an Easter Tea today.  We’ll judge Easter hats, sing a bit and enjoy tea and dainties.  I’m the entertainment – which means I’ll sing a bit and talk a bit and hopefully keep all of us awake.

I want to chat a bit about Easter Sunday Morning Sunrise services.  I remember a number of years ago attending such a sunrise service.  Later in April.  We really had to get up early.  This year – not as early if you go to a sunrise service.

The sunrise service takes place outside.  The idea is to celebrate the empty tomb (which is what Easter Sunday is about) which greeted Mary as dawn broke on Easter morning.  A pretty simple explanation.

History gives “the rest of the story.”

The first time this happened was back in 1732 (at least this is the first recorded time).  Transport yourself back 300 years.  Put on your warm clothes.  Be a man. 

Now history shows that the tradition ended up catching on to all genders, ages and sizes.  But the first time was men only.

The Single Brethren (unmarried men of the Christian community called Moravians living at Herrnhut in Germany) had been praying all night.  This was the evening before the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.  I can imagine they were quite thankful in their prayers – a few “Hallelujahs” and “Praise Jesus” were probably spoken – although probably in German!

Then they headed off to the town graveyard, called God’s acre (I like that name – God keeps an eye on the places where His people are buried!).  There they really got into it – singing songs of praise to the Risen Saviour.  No guitars – just acappella.

So, we’ll try some singing this afternoon, although we won’t be at the graveyard but in a warm meeting room.  We’ll sing without piano or other instruments.  Probably in five part harmony – 4 parts and my part!

Should be interesting!

Demo

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Well, we decided to demolish a house.  Raze it to the ground.  Flatten it!

Backstory.

We bought an abandoned house that was right across the street from us.  The house was boarded up, had been for a number of years.  The occupant had died a few years ago – in the house, and been found there after a few days.  The family had basically left the place as is, and public health had it boarded up.  Through a few twists and turns, we were able to purchase the property recently.  The community will be glad to see the house go!

We were going to move fairly slowly, but we found elm trees in the yard.  Now, you have only a small window of time in our part of the world to cut and trim elm trees – between October and March. 

The date was drawing near, so we decided to get moving.  Or at least move the elm trees out of the way of those who will be demolishing the house.  Today we are awaiting people to fell the trees (which may take a few days – there were more trees and bushes than we had anticipated). 

Then, on with the whole permitting, and waiting, and arranging, and finding waste sites, and contractors, and waiting. 

We should be getting good at this building thing fairly soon.  I wonder if God needs some help building our mansion up in heaven?

Sunday slips soon away

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

As I prepare for this Sunday, the schedule is full. 

I’ve become a one, or possibly two, item person in my retirement.  That means that putting one thing on the schedule per day is a sign that I am still alive and well.  The other serendipities of the day are a blessing sent from God.  And I have many more serendipities than I have scheduled items.

Today is an exception – my scheduled items are crammed full.  I begin with a Sunday School class I attend, a worship service I participate in.  Then I will take a quick lunch.  The next item is an Easter choir concert in which I will sing.  Then to a quick supper with the choir.  Then an hour drive down the road for another Easter choir concert in which I will sing.  Then a quick meet and greet and off for an hour’s ride home.

I am not impressed with full schedules.

I am impressed with opportunities to see God.  And opportunities to speak about God and to God.  And to serve God.  That is a “rest” that puts my trust in the right place and my activity in perspective.

Today should be one of those days.  A true Sabbath to God’s credit and my humble opportunity to serve God.

Now that’s what I call a Sunday!

Quitter strips

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

My friend reads books.  His daughter does as well.

My friend uses quitter strips.  His daughter doesn’t!

They both try to finish their books.  The father finishes over time.  The daughter likes to finish right away. 

Is a book worth reading if you can’t read it all in one setting?

There is the question of the hour. 

You see, most of us put a quitter strip in our books.  We most often call them bookmarks. 

But for many of us they are as far as we get.  We become distracted.  We decide the content wasn’t that interesting.  We set the book aside and forget where we put it.

If you read the book all in one sitting, you wouldn’t quit!  You wouldn’t end up paying for a product that wasn’t used fully.  You might even get past that first few pages of  information overload and find the heart of the book is on the last page.

Or, you might read War and Peace and find out that, no matter how much coffee, you fall asleep.

The reverse driver’s test

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Over the years I have dealt with seniors whose memory and reaction times are in question.  This is particularly noticeable when they are driving.  Their children often become alarmed at close misses and small fender benders.

A visit to a doctor often ensues.  The senior is asked a few questions and the testing begins.

This time the driver’s test is in reverse.

With a driver’s license in hand, the senior is entitled to drive.  They must be proven unfit in order to rescind the license.  A doctor is often the one given the jurisdiction to start the testing.  They are often the first to notice a deterioration in a person’s health – physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual.  Any one of these areas can seriously affect response time.

And so, testing begins and sometimes licenses are revoked.

The seniors I have worked with find the loss of independence further accelerates their health issues.  Most often, if you have been able to outlive others and you are still alive (redundancy still lives!), independence has become a byword for you. 

Until one of the greatest transitions in life begins to happen.  You can’t do it all any more!  You have to ask for help to shovel the walk.  Vacuuming becomes too much of a chore.  One calendar item is enough in a day.

When your license is renewed, denial loses its hold on your life.  The choice is to accept others help – and realize how many friends you have.  Or you can chose to shrivel up and die – not the best option!

As friends, be open to help others.  As one whose independence is now restricted, be open to others help.

A word with you

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

The room is crowded.  Your boss says, “May I have a word with you.”

Your response? 

You are probably not expecting just a word, and that the “word” is not going to be one that you like.  You will be headed to a private area and the day turns to other words – review, criticism, disappointing, reprimand, and a myriad of other terms.

One of the management approaches in our society attempts to balance productivity and privacy.  An interesting combination.

Productivity requires cooperation.  That means that people work together, talk together, advise each other and generally live public lives.

Privacy requires exclusion.  That means that people work alone, talk to themselves, research for themselves and generally live private lives.

When the boss sets your work standards based on how well you perform, the performance review is often given in private.  Some well intentioned performance reviews include peer feedback.  Often in anonymous format.  Not that helpful.

Just a management thought for this morning’s blog.  How can we more effectively provide words of encouragement towards productivity?  I wonder if a more public encouragement process would be in line, rather than just “a word with you.”

Music Festival weeks

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Our community hosts a music festival competition every year.  The platform for young musicians is well worth the effort the organizers put forth. 

Once again, I’ve been attending the sessions.  The audience is made up of mostly parents and relatives, and the music teachers.  Oh yes, there is an adjudicator as well. 

I sit at the back and take in the talent.  And there is very real talent!!

We are blessed as a community.  The teachers are superb, the musicians are definitely well prepared (OK, most of them!), and the adjudication has been on a level that allows students to learn.

To showcase the talent, the final Friday night (this week) is a concert.  A long concert.  With highlights of musical pieces that have been played during the Festival.  Well worth a donation.

If you are around Kindersley this Friday night at 7:00 pm, drop by the St. Paul’s United church and join in on the talent!

Revisiting refugees

Monday, March 14th, 2016

A friend of mine was recently in Greece.  Not to see historic sites or ancient wonders.  He was there to see present day treasures washed ashore.

The refugee stream from war-torn and oppressive regimes has become ancient news.  We are almost immune to the tragedy.  We are oversaturated with information.

My friend felt the fear and the thankfulness face-to-face.  The little that he was able to provide in way of humanitarian aid was eagerly accepted.

We come with fear to the refugee crisis.  We wonder if terrorism will enter our shores if we bring refugees here.  We disguise our fear by saying that we cannot possibly accommodate an influx of people, nor can we possibly assimilate that kind of workforce in an already beleaguered economy.

We miss thankfulness that comes with a refugee crisis.  A refugee, by definition is looking for a refuge, a safe place, a harbour from storm.  Their joy in living in safety is contagious.  Their eagerness to build up the foundations of their adopted society is unrelenting.

My friend spoke to both my understanding of our society’s fears and missing of joy.  He took me into the Christian Holy Week that is now upon us.  He related that Jesus joyfully washed the dirty, path torn feet of Judas.

His betrayer. 

A terrorist to the safety of Jesus’ community.

That community has survived and thrived.  And we are worried about our small patch of dirt?