Thursday, July 13, 2017

How did we get here?

I’m a baby boomer.  We were the generation who were going to be free from all the constraints of life.  We would have free sex, free love, free from authority.  Life was to be a party!  Woodstock be praised.

We are now into our retirement years, or coming close. 

I’m not so excited about where we ended up.  Our culture has a desirous supreme leader who understands entertainment only too well.  And the church???

Our worship services are about entertainment – and too often about ourselves.  Our children are non-attenders of spiritual gatherings. 

The idea was to entertain to attract.  The idea was excellence in the entertainment to rival the culture’s best.  The idea was that felt needs would attract people. 

And I feel like we won a community and lost a vision.  Perhaps we are perishing – from entertainment, felt needs, and selfishness.

Where is God? 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On being OCD

I recently took one of those internet tests to determine my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) quotient.  The test determined ability to see perspective, color saturation and general misalignment in three “equal” images.  I scored 100%.

I then went on to another test which determined my ability to see a letter hidden behind various strings of colour.  This one was much easier.  I again scored !00%.   I was told I had a 167 IQ – in the top 1% of the world.

So I’m brilliantly obsessive?  Or should that be compulsively intelligent?

And my OCD immediately kicked into gear!

I began to question whether the originators of these test had researched with due diligence (ie. – were obsessive compulsive) and were broad ranging in their research (ie. – were smart enough) to have truly provided an unbiased test.

Ah, such is the true burden of an OCD person!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mercy Me

Our church has a fairly free form type of service order.  The general idea is laid out, the songs listed and perhaps a few special events.  We seldom have phrases or prayers recited weekly.

Perhaps we are the worst for this omission?

I have attended a church lately where they have a Christ candle.  This reminds us that God is with us during the service.  And the church attenders can say this phrase off by heart. 

Another phrase is “Lord, have mercy.”

At first I thought this was blasphemous.  My own background teaches that God has brought us mercy in Jesus.  As one phrase states, “Mercy kissed justice.”  And love was fulfilled – God has forgiven us and we are his children.

Until I realized that day-by-day the unfolding of life requires “existential” mercy.  We pray, not perfunctorily or out of only duty.  We pray because God hears and answers.  We pray because we recognize that, given our current circumstances, our stupidity would merit the consequence of punishment. 

And we want mercy.  So we pray for mercy.

A phrase to remember – “Love, have mercy.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tribute to Perry Graham–passed away June 19, 2017

This morning, Perry died.  Ushered by God into a better place, yet we are still mindful of the loss.

Perry was a good friend for 41 years.  We had probably met years prior (we both attended the same church when we were babies and toddlers).

In 1976 I moved to Kindersley, Saskatchewan to take up an assistant pastor position at the Kindersley Alliance Church.  Perry, a year older than I, was an active member of the church.  He was also a good fit for a new young pastor that needed encouragement, support and words of wisdom.

In the fall of 1976 I headed to Ontario to get married.  Perry and a few friends decided to take vacation time (harvest was pretty well done) and travel the 1600 miles to witness the wedding.

For four years we worked together as friends, both in church work and as fellow journeymen on life’s path.  I watched as he courted a young lady and officiated their wedding in 1980.  Meanwhile, I returned to studies and ended up 25 years away from Kindersley.

Not that we didn’t converse.  We did.  Our children were close to the same ages.  Our ventures to Kindersley were often at the “Graham Hotel.”

And then we returned to Kindersley in 2005 to pastor once again at the Kindersley Alliance Church.  My first officiating of a wedding in my new/old place of ministry was for Perry’s son.

This past decade has seen shifts in both of our lives.  In the end, we both retired about the same time.  For me, Perry’s diagnosis of cancer was unwelcome news – I had looked forwards to coming years continuing to strengthen our friendship. 

His last breath was this morning around 7:00 am.

I will greatly miss a friend, a spiritual mentor, a loving father, a devoted churchman, and a friend of God.

Rest well in God’s hands!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tied to the land

Ever speak to, or listen to, those who were first adopters of a country?  By that I mean, those who are often called natives, aboriginal, or first nations.

I tend to think they are tied to the land.  To the dirt.  To the place that harboured them for centuries and even millenia.

This was, and is, their home!

We are a homeless generation.  Many of us, even the first adopters, are not people of the dirt.  “From dust to dust” – but we don’t want to be dust in the in-between time when our lives are lived on planet earth.  We would rather ignore the physical.  We are becoming people of the virtual. 

And yet . . . it seems our greatest sin relates to the environment.  We feel like we can’t do enough to preserve, restore or cradle the land.  In fact, as some point, we begin doubt the need for our existence, since we are taking up space, breathing air and even stepping where we should not tread.

Purity of life would be a desire to have dominion over the dirt that leads to the best for all that inhabits this earth. 

A purity that respects the sustenance that our earth provides us.  A purity that accepts with gratitude the gift of breath, the community of creatures, the interconnectedness of the food chain, the beauty of physical manifestations of life. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Refronting the front of the house

Our renovations on our house have come along quite well.  A bit more sanding of floors and touchups and the inside work is done.

Now for the outside.

We had a professional landscaper over the other day.  Discussions ranged from driveway to decking to under-tree treatment of the ground.

Yesterday I took down a few branches that would be obstructing a deck.  Sometimes one step at a time signals the beginning.

Our hope is to have an inviting front yard by year end.  All a part of our desire to provide hospitality and gracious space.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A new word for the English language

Chatting with my brother today. 

At one point I was talking about my passion in life.  He mentioned that the word “passion” is so passe.

So I said maybe we could coin a new word!  Strong emotions come from the gut so I said we could be “gutrified”.  Didn’t work for him.

Being the teacher of biblical Greek that he is, he mentioned the word “splanchna”.  Since he lived in Germany for a number of years he added a bit of a German twist – which meant I didn’t understand him at all.  Mixing languages makes for strange syllabic bedfellows.

Having straightened that out, we went onwards. 

If we are looking for that intense desire, that deep passion, then a combination of “strength” and “splanchna” was in order.

So, the new word for the day is SPLANGTH. 

I have a splangth for writing.  I have a splangth for ice cream.

And so this warm day finishes with splangth!!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Forgiveness – an introduction

I remember studying biblical theology in my younger years.  At that time the machinations of scholars were often portrayed as unfinished (of course they were – they were just dipping their feet in the water of discourse with other academics so you didn’t want to proclaim the “truth” without first checking it out with your peers). 

The title for books included the following – “an introduction”.  So, here is an introduction on forgiveness.

The Christian viewpoint is strong on forgiveness.  In fact, so strong, that if you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven.

Below I have outlined in my own language some definitions of forgiveness that I have run across.  I’m not sure I agree with them all.  After all, this is just “an introduction”!

Some initial thoughts on defining forgiveness:

Give totally – as though your loss was actually not a loss – you gave it to the other freely.

Give as though nothing has happened – consider things to be as they were before, as though the most recent incident had not happened.

Don’t take offense – refuse to take account.  Actually pre-omit the sin perpetrated against you before it happens.

Don’t receive what is given – instead of wearing a velcro suit attracting offenses, you wear a teflon suit that sheds offenses.

Don’t judge in the first place – there are no offenses where there is no wrong.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dwelling on the street

We all have a place we live.  Homelessness is not without a dwelling place.

We may not call it home.  We may not call it comfortable.  We may not even call it good.

Our real response to homelessness is based in a desire for human dignity.  Dignity is about sensing a greatness within each person that cannot be denied.  We degrade dignity when we shame others – expecting them to live within our standards.  A person degrades their own dignity when their own standard is not reached.

Let’s throw into this mix a far greater standard.  Let’s consider that there is a God who fixes a standard for humans.  To be like God would be the greatest goal – for surely a created being fashioned after God would be at their best, their most glorious, when they are most like God.

With that in mind – a person can be homeless and live with dignity.  A society can be oppressed and live with dignity. 

When we seek to live up to the glory that is God’s. 

Just a thought for the day!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Life is More Than Ethical Culture

Yesterday stirred up in me a return to research on A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  Here is an interesting excerpt from his magazine “Living Truths” (a magazine that ran for a few years in the early 1900’s).

Practical righteousness is a fruit of life, but it is not life, and to cultivate it apart from union with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is just as unsatisfactory as it would be to try to cleanse a foul river by putting disinfectants into the body of the river rather than the fountain head.

Morality may exist without life, but life cannot exist without morality.  There is a good deal of reform abroad today without spiritual power, just as we fear there is a good deal of religion without righteousness.  Both are wrong.

Living Truths, Vol 7, No. 3, March 1907, p. 122.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »