Weather

Today began at below freezing temperature. In fact, below, below freezing.

Now, in terms of cold, I’ve seen worse.

In fact, in our neck of the woods – or more rightly, our hand of the prairies – we have been blessed this year.

Most years, I have the plugin for the car our of the engine compartment before Christmas. Yesterday was the momentous date – the cord came out and the block heater was plugged in (for those of you from other than the northern climes – a block heater keeps your engine warm so the oil can flow and the sparks can fly when you start your car).

Two of us were shoveling walks yesterday. Our conversation was short as we greeted one another. At another time, and in a warmer clime, we will rehearse not only the weather (which is a good topic this time of year), but probably the state of crops, the welfare of children, the progress on renovations, the need for rain, the . . . But not today.

And so, I’m sitting inside, writing about the outside, enjoying fossil fuels and farmer food. How good is that!!

Toxic Masculinity

There have been a number of assaults on men’s masculinity lately.

Or, perhaps, more rightly, we are trying to figure out what masculinity means. Which drives a number of questions about gender. Our society has now determined that your sex (that which distinguishes you anatomically from birth) is different than your gender (that which is fluid).

This appears to be a sign of discontent, of selfishness and disregard for a created order.

  • Why are we discontent?
  • Why do we think our way is the best way?
  • How does a creator explain the order of creation?

Questions I have been pondering.

Constant Updates

I’ve just spent time trying to figure out how to do things. On the internet. New program updates keep popping up (no, these are not pop up ads that need pop up blockers – although, that is an idea . . .).

I liked the old program – I knew where things were. Sort of like in the grocery store.

Now I understand if you need security updates. Or programming that hastens the work of the program. Or even new colors.

It’s just when I thought I had figured out where things were, they move. I guess we call that the interface. Of course, if you saw my face, you would not want to be interfacing.

And what of the new ads that keep showing up. Yes, I have a strong ability to disregard ads (in fact, in principle, I do not click on Google Ads when they appear in my search). I wonder if the program were stripped of ads, how much faster it would run.

And of course, there is the argument that you need to update and change things to keep my attention. I’m using the program because you have my attention already – you don’t need to overdo the attention thing, otherwise you will lose my attention – did that get your attention?

There, my rant hath been completed!

Misreading ministry in a rural context

My official title for a research paper I am planning for Ambrose Research Conference 2019 – March 27 at Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

In one sense this is really about rethinking rural ministry. Here is my description I have submitted:

  • The rural has been misread over the years. A core element of Donald Trump’s victory as President of the USA in 2016 – this demographic has been characterized as simple minded, out of touch with current reality, and anathema to progress.
  • Recent books have begun to explore rural church essentials. These essentials are not what you think!
  • In a world of increasing isolation, the rural church tends to breed community. This is DNA, not introduced incentives or strategic planning initiatives. A broader definition of North American Church Growth includes the rural, sparsely populated areas of the continent – not characterized by highly attended service times but rather as closely-knit invitational discipleship communes.
  • Those approaching ministry in a rural setting need to consider this: rural ministry is not a problem area of the global church, neither is rural ministry to be considered as the ultimate and only approach to ministry, nor is this an excuse for laziness. The flourishing rural church will be strategic, purposeful, visionary – uniquely positioned and unhindered by a consumeristic approach.

Meeting the missing

A few quotes from an obituary!

“. . . three children who may have at times taken the example of their mother’s self-assurance and impulsive contrarianism a bit too close to heart.”

“. . . dislike of plain walls – plain anything – was visceral. All of creation was filigreed and swept through with inexhaustible beauty – to respond to this universe of delights and terrors with a determined plainness was to spit in the Creator’s face.”

“. . . belief that family, with its existential lifeblood of conflict and imperfect reconciliation and yearning for better, was the nearest model we had of humanity’s relationship to its Creator.”

Now that’s a woman you want to meet! Her name was Lois Laverna Reimer (nee Peters), born May 23, 1938 – joined Jesus January 15, 2019. And yes, she was a relative!

Violence, sex and girdles

The armour of God (Ephesians 6) strikes me as most interesting. One of the first phrases is about a girdle around the reproductive organs, composed of truth. BTW: a quick aside – with very few exceptions, the context for this description of armour deals with a male army. I would love to be inclusive, and the principles are transferable – but . . .

Now, at first glance this seems preposterous as armour. Is there an offensive tactical posture that is taken up by having a girdle (the image of violence and sex and girdles may be offensive in and of itself)? What do the organs of reproduction have to do with war?

As I cogitated on this line of inquiry, I came up with the following catch phrase: Embrace your passions with truth. The girdle covers up a vulnerable part of the body, but also keeps the activities of that area of the body within control – there is no place for rape and pillage. A soldier without self control is bound to strike out – quite literally – into a far riskier part of the war than is needed. A soldier without self-control will generate illegitimate ideas that will come back to haunt him/her. A soldier without an effective girdle leaves the sensitive area of the body open for attack

Think on this. If all the soldiers were harmed because they did not wear girdles, then there would be no future generations to fight for.

I know I tend to think outside the box, but perhaps I need to put this back in the box?

Concluding from the News

I’m becoming more aware each day that current news reporting is disseminated with a bias. My son dropped mainstream news when he was in his teens. In my teens I was told that newspapers were prejudiced towards a particular perspective.

Still, I stood with some naivete in the hope that credibility would win out. I still hold to that desire. I desired for news outlets to give both sides (or at least more than one side) to a news event.

Perhaps that is where credibility is being lost in my view. When we carry back (report) a situation to another person, we can merely emphasize our viewpoint. Or we can graciously accept that there are other viewpoints – and include them.

This is where storytelling and reporting differ. Both are essential. A well told story, building upon accepted principles and explained actions, leads to a conclusion. A well reported event, based on a broad understanding and generous sighting of events – helps us glean a conclusion.

Perhaps we have moved from reporting news to having news stories.

Fine . . . as long as we can distinguish between them, and gain our conclusions accordingly.

Mindfulness – Meditation, Concentration and Focus

I mentioned mindfulness meditation to someone the other day. They have greatly benefited from the movement towards disrupting their lives from distractions.

Now, I go back a ways – to the days when Christians were disturbed by Transcendental Meditation. The idea that was most disruptive was that you could look within yourself – abandon yourself to yourself to know yourself. We really were worried about the devil in all this – he would fill our minds with unclean and senseless counsel.

I think we missed something. Abandoning ourselves to ourselves lets us run rampant – we don’t need another “being” to disturb out thoughts about our being. Yes, other beings do play a part, but our self-deception starts down the trail without needing a lot of push from someone else.

So, with the return of mindfulness meditation, and the many branches that come from this idea, I’m once again a bit skeptical and quite optimistic.

Intentionality is the keyword that is being used. To leave this to merely breathing exercises is intentional. I would go a step further. Be intentional about a bigger picture – or more rightly – about God. A flow from the mountain top is much more lively than gathering a bit of dew from the morning sunrise.

Some quotes that hit home

I’m reading . . . short articles in the midst of home renovations.

Here are two quotes you may find interesting – along with the link to the article.

If humans are going to find God, it will not be where he has chosen to hide but where he has chosen to reveal himself. It is not in quantum uncertainty or statistical analysis that God is discovered. We will not find him in a gap but on a cross.

(Shayne Looper)  www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october-web-only/atheism-where-is-god-physics-revealed-in-christ.html

More people are going to come to Christ today because they know they are broken in need of a healer, than because they know they are sinner in need of a Savior.

Page 45 (Rob Reimer) of Connections online magazine – issuu.com/cmacanada/docs/alliance-connection-fall-2018-pages