Great Weekend

My sister was in town – with her husband.

From Oregon.

Saturday night we joined with the “crazy aunties”, another sister and a cousin for an uproarious time.  The talking filled all the space in the room for all the time we had together. 

Then Sunday we had three sets of pastors, their spouses and some of their families for dinner.  We talked about knowing yourself, church and God.  As though they were not work related but rather life related!

And that was the weekend that was.

I’d do it over again in a heartbeat. 

And yes, that type of weekend does make my heart beat!

Things I do for love!

I’m working on two sermons right now. 

Being retired, I get to do many things which I love – or am coming to love!

Such diverse things as renovations, cooking meals, washing clothes, organizing things (OK, that’s been just plain fun since I was in grade school), and write.  My sermons are just my way of writing what I’m thinking – except organized!

The first sermon stretches me – the topic is “What should I boast about?”.  From Jeremiah 9:23-24. 

Boast in knowing God and obeying God – not power, riches or wisdom.  The last one is the hard one – I’ve always liked the thought, now that my hair is gone up top, that I still have something else up there that is worth it (whatever “it” is)!

The other comes from the narrative of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel.  When I read a story, I get all sorts of ideas.

Off the top, there are such topics as:  Names they kept, food they ate, loyalty they demonstrated, friends they chose, God who rescues, place for everyone.  Not a bad set of thoughts when you consider they were the oppressed/conquered ones.

Any other thoughts – feel free to comment!

A year later

Well, we have our approval for occupancy of our renovation!

Us a year ago.

Now the siding is done. No exposed holes in the basement. The hardwood floors are all redone. Makeover of the inside – gutting both floors and installing a basement (ICF – 9 foot tall). Refinished doors (not quite done – we figure with labour included we have some doors worth thousands of dollars).

All Good!

Kinderlsey Alliance Church

Just thinking about the rural church I am a part of – Kindersley Alliance Church in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, CANADA.

I was “born into” the church in 1953, my dad sold the farm in the mid 50s, I came back for four years as youth pastor (1976-1980), left for 25 years then back as Senior Pastor (2005-2015), and now I’m retired in this beautiful prairie town.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about rural churches at Ambrose University in Calgary – in the 3:30 – 4:30 time slot – admission is free.

One of the former pastor’s sons is expected to be there (Paul Warnock). Another of the former pastor’s sons lives just outside Calgary ( RobinRod House), another pastor’s son lives a bit north of Calgary (Bob Keith – son of Dennis Keith – who was himself an attender at Kindersley Alliance Church when he was a kid). There are others whose parents pastored the Kindersley Alliance Church (OK, there are a lot of “kids” out there).

And then some of those who have gone into vocational ministry – ones that I have been around over the years include (but not restricted to) – Laura Kornelson, Wayne Neumiller, Richard Reinhart, Mark Bergen, Mark Francisco and more. If you go back to the beginning of the church you find some Crockers, and Ruffs, and Grahams, and Thorntons and . . .

And then there are those that are active in their local churches – I won’t try to name them all. Some of them have been active over the years in the Kindersley Alliance church – others have moved into other places around the world.

BTW – I’m hoping to write a history on Kindersley Alliance Church in this next while – any anecdotes you can provide would be helpful.

Interesting what comes out of small town Saskatchewan.

The devil’s got all the good music?

Here are a few lines from a song written by Hoozier (2014 – From Eden).

A comment on the song from “The point of view is of the devil looking at something innocent and seeing it as a missing part. The song tries to woo a woman while admitting that the relationship would be deeply flawed.”

Some great word pictures – maybe a little too close to how the devil pictures the world.

Idealism sits in prison,

Chivalry fell on his sword

Innocence died screaming

Honey, ask me, I should know

I slithered here from Eden

Just to sit outside your door

Moving on

The past few months have been resource filled times. I’ve read more articles and drilled into books more than I do in summer (which is to say that my summers tend not to be about research, but leisure).

Of particular interest has been the whole area of “the rural”. This includes ministry, including the stereotypes of rural people. As I have delved into the myriad of thoughts out there, I am saddened.

Put in one sentence – the rural has been left out.

I have to praise Trudeau for implementing a ministry that deals with the rural. And I praise various church denominations who are looking seriously into their own abandonment of the rural.

My question today – what are your thoughts on the rural?

Why bother?

I read a weekly email posting called “The Galli Report”. Mark Galli works with a publication called Christianity Today – begun by Billy Graham.

This past week, I have been considering things such as pluralism, apologetics, identity politics, inclusivism, rural church, and much more.

Then, as I was reading, here is this short paragraph from the most recent Galli Report email (February 22, 2019).

I’ve been involved in many interfaith dialogues over the years. And when I’m with Muslims, for example, who begin the conversation by saying that all religions are different paths to the same end, I lose interest immediately. On the other hand, the most meaningful and energetic conversations I’ve had are with Muslims who think I’m going to Jahannam, that is, hell. I mean, why bother to be a Muslim, or Christian for that matter, if it doesn’t really make any difference in the end?

Identity, Common Good, and living today

Our world today is all about self-identifying. And we fight tirelessly for that identity.

Thus, the new(er) term called “identity politics”. Communities fight for their approach to life, affirming those who agree and excoriating those who don’t. Individuals may fight to do whatever they want, feeling offended if someone disagrees with them. In the extreme, individuals isolate themselves, preferring to affirm their own identity by accepting themselves as “god”, knowing that whatever they do is the most important thing in the world.

We are left with a great amount of polarizing when we self-identify. This can be an individualistic identifying -” I am who I am. Don’t try to make me something else. Your rules are irrelevant.” This can also be a collective identifying – “We are who we are. Don’t try to make us something else. Others rules are irrelevant.”

What brings about this identity crisis?

Dare I say that a desire to be recognized, respected, and accepted fuels this trend. I remember the song of the sixties that talked about giving me a number and taking away my name. We wanted to be something, to amount to something, to make a difference. Cynically speaking, we also wanted to be left alone, to do our own thing without shame, and to be comfortable.

Again, daring myself to say this, a true identity finds solace in the faith that they are right. There is also a solace in finding a group who supports a common good that your faith agrees with. The culture (in the social science sense) is shaped by the individual – who is respected and listened to. At the same time the culture shapes an individual, as the interchange of ideas and action explore the common good.

All that to say, the common good is achieved only by finding the source of good. If you cannot say you have found that source, your identity is lacking that good. If you cannot say you have found a true faith, you are lacking a faith worth living for.

The shade of death cannot overcome the light of life

Humans desire more than small pleasures in the routines of life. We seek great challenges in the face of death.

It is not the desire to be heros that holds us back from expansive life. Rather, that we claim to be the creator’s of our our own heroic status, instead of embracing the true creator, Christ.

In light of death, we are called to come to Christ.

To die.

To live.

Mere self-effort or heroism will not overcome death.

Through Christ and in Christ, we already are conquerors, overcomers in this life.