Monthly Archives: August 2011

Anyone can flip a light switch but it is the quality of light that really matters!


I took this photo about a year ago after having a lunch out with my husband at a local restaurant. We didn’t sit at the table in the picture, but I have in the past. I took the picture inspired by the quality of the light provided by this creative fixture.

The light falling on diners at this table is not the classic bare bulb used in interrogation scenes in the movies. The light is filtered through the hanging crystals.

The light of life, of Jesus, shines the same on everyone in the world but the filters through which it passes makes a huge difference in how it is felt and received by individuals. As Christians, we are those light fixtures through which Jesus’ light shines for our friends and neighbours. On our worst day we may have an angry red filter making the light show menace. Some days we may just hide it under a blanket (basket) so it can barely be seen at all.

Le us aim to be beautiful, creative, and inviting fixtures so that people will want to sit at our tables!

Ready Or Not: Here It Comes


Weather Forecast

As most people on the Eastern seaboard know, hurricane Irene has been developing and then moving northward for several days now.  In her wake she has been leaving destruction, cancellations, power outages and deaths.  They have been broadcasting warnings to prepare for emergency survival for days now.  In areas used to hurricanes and tornadoes I imagine everyone takes the warnings very seriously.  In New Brunswick, where the storms are almost always downgraded and getting tired before they reach us, I think a lot of people talk about the upcoming bad weather but then don’t really do anything much to prepare.  Boaters take precautions to ensure their boats are neither smashed against the docks, nor set loose from moorings.  One of my friends on Face Book said we are supposed to be making 72 hour survival kits and practicing escape routes,  but I only heard of one person actually stocking up on water and groceries.

This reminds me of the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9).  God had warned people that they needed to make changes, repent and live according to His laws.  They didn’t.  He warned of consequences.  They ignored Him.  Only Noah listened and took the directions God gave to prepare for surviving the storm.  Everyone else went about their everyday lives, taking time out to gossip and laugh about Noah and the huge boat he was building in the middle of dry land.  As you know, however, Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood of which everyone had been warned!  Why didn’t the others listen?  Why do most of us still not listen when we are given advance warning?

Clearly Irene is not a storm of the magnitude of the one which caused the Great Flood!  It is not going to rain for forty days, and forty nights.  If we are ignoring the warnings about this storm, though, what greater warnings may we likewise be ignoring?  Are we so comfortable and complacent that we don’t realize the dangers our souls face in the midst of our modern societies?  If you have been hit by hurricane Irene (or tropical storm) I pray that you are safe and unharmed and surrounded by your family.  For those still in the path, take reasonable precautions and then maybe take some time to watch the rain and the trees swaying in the wind, remember that we have been warned, and pray that we are ready to hear and heed your warnings about upcoming storms in our lives so that we may, like Noah, be prepared and, with God’s help, survive! 

As The Sun Sets on Summer


For teachers in New Brunswick, today was the last day of summer vacation.  Monday morning we will all return to our schools for meetings and preparations for ten months of duty, lesson planning, marking, teaching and running extra-curricular activities.  A week later the students will also return and it will be as if we had never left.  Our days will have routine again, and the daylight hours will gradually get shorter and shorter.  I love the fall, the crisp air, the fun of shopping for school supplies, meeting a pile of new students and time with my colleagues!  Soon we’ll be going to the exhibition to eat dippy dogs (fresh made corn dogs), carmel corn, and cotton candy, and see the beautiful handiwork on exhibition and the animals in competition.  This is the sunset of summer.

 

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m not looking forward to being back at work!  I am ready to go back. Today, at our final day of Vacation Bible School, our Bible story was the parable of the talents.  The servants who put their talents to work pleased God, while the servant who was afraid to lose the gift and buried it was a disappointment.  All those people whom God has gifted with the ability to teach will be back at it, putting the gift to use just as the students will be using their gifts to get their education and set the path for their lives.

I would like to beg your indulgence to add teachers, and students alike to your prayer list for the coming week. 

Of Cords, Cables, and Adapters


You wake up in the morning, get cleaned up, dressed, and eat breakfast (at least drink coffee) and then you look for your cel phone, laptop, or mp3 player before you head out the door.  You check the usual places and find what you need, only to discover that the power is low!  Now what?  Now you start that far more taxing task of trying to find the charger cord for the device. 

The advent of the rechargeable batteries to operate these devices was great, but brought along with it a myriad of cables, cords, and adapters.  There are very few of these that work with more than one of our devices.  Apple things have a totally different interface than do Black Berries, and different again from e-readers.  Even within one range of device, the Nintendo DS series, the adapters are different depending upon which version of the hand-held game device you happen to have.

So you need the cord with which your Black Berry can charge in the car.  Well, obviously it must be in the car right?  Not necessarily.  You may not have used it there yet, or perhaps you were travelling with a friend and stuck it in a purse or piece of luggage incase you needed it.  Your kids may have borrowed it, or it may be in your spouse’s car.  How about the USB cord for your I-Pod?  I’m sure you put it someplace safe, but where.  It is truly amazing how these little bits of electronic accessories can hide between couch cushions , between bills in the stack, in pockets etc.  They usually turn up shortly after you have given up and paid a princely sum to get new ones.

Just as the improvements of computers did not make our homes and workplaces paperless, our wireless devices do not actually leave us unplugged.  At some point, without the cords, cables, and adapters our devices just become cute paperweights.  We have become even more dependant on electricity than we were fifty years ago.  So, for folks in my area, as you prepare for the oncoming hurricane Irene, don’t forget to get a full charge on all your “wireless” devices.

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fifteen


Fifteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #54

My song forever shall record

Psalm 89
St. Petersburg
Paraphrase: Psalter 1912
Music: Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyanski (1751-1825)
 
 

 My song forever shall record
the tender mercies of thte Lord;
thy faithfulness will I proclaim,
and every age shall know thy name.
I sing of mercies that endure,
forever builded firm and sure.

Almighty God, thy lofty throne
has justice for its cornerstone,
and shining bright efore thy face
are truth and love and boundless grace.
The heavens shall join in glad accord
to praise thy wondrous works, O Lord.

The swelling sea obeys thy will;
its angry waves my voice can still;
the heavens and earth,|by right divine,
the world and all therein are thine;
the whole creation’s wondrous frame
proclaims its Maker”s glorious name.

With blessing is the nation crowned
whose people know the joyful sound;
they in the light, O Lord, shall live,
the light thy face and favour give.
Their fame and might to thee belong,
for in thy favour they are strong. 

I really like this hymn.  It is new to me, that is it hasn’t been used at my church or at least not often, but I think it deserves to be used more often.  The lyrics are nicely paraphrased into singable poetry which match the phrase lengths and rhyme nicely.

The melody is lovely and lilting and has a nice little switch-up at the end of the second phrase to transition into the third which is different.  It ends up being A A’ B in form.  The harmony parts are interesting to sing and add to the overall appeal of the piece.

 

Theory On Why We Tend To Sit in Back Pews


At a service today in an historic Presbyterian church, which is one of the buildings at local attraction King’s Landing, I noticed that the wood stove which would have provided heat for the building was back in the second-last row. That would be the place to be on a cold Sunday morning!

Yard Sale Mentality: Cheap or Wise?


Have you ever noticed that people who will gladly pay five dollars for a smoothie at MacDonald’s, if transplanted to a yard sale, balk at the idea of paying the same price for a bicycle which needs an inner-tube?  A one-time fast food fruit drink wins over a bike which with only a little investment would give years of exercise and enjoyment.  It is hard to get past the fact that in order to buy an equivalent bike now would cost over one hundred dollars, to even listen to a person dither over spending five.

For the most part, when I find I am no longer using something I have purchased or been given, I don’t even consider a yard sale.  If I don’t know someone who would like the item, to whom I can give it,  I donate the items to Value Village or some other similar agency.  They in turn sell the things for reasonably low prices and give some of the proceeds to charities such as the Diabetes Society.  When my church is holding a yard sale I give any items I can to them and go and help out with sales.

Spread out over tables in the front lawn of the church were hundreds of items which at some point seemed vital to the people who bought them.  The crock pot, the set of dishes, the book on learning Korean, at some point in time all passed the test of worthiness and got us to wedge open our wallets to make the purchase.  Even worse, some of them probably went on credit cards so that years later we may still be paying them off.  At the time we were convinced that those items were going to make our life better, more interesting, or easier.

Stuff…Comedian George Carlin has a famous routine about stuff and its vital role in our feeling of well-being.  You may like to watch this routine/rant at  http://youtu.be/MvgN5gCuLac but be aware that there is a little iffy language.  His point, that we are obsessed with our stuff, is a good one.  He calls our houses piles of stuff with a roof on them, and makes reference to storage rentals spaces as a whole industry based on guarding the stuff we no longer have room for in our homes.

What does the Bible have to say about stuff?  We are warned to avoid storing up riches on earth (Matt 6:19), encouraged to sell all we have and give to others (Luke 18:22) (hopefully at prices greater than at yard sales), that we can not take our stuff with us (Psalm 49:16-17).  (maybe that is why we fear death so much)  Jesus tells us that we don’t need to worry about what we will wear or what we will eat because God will provide for us just as he provides for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air (Luke 12:22-31).  If you don’t believe that you can be happy with almost no stuff at all, watch some video footage of children in a refugee camp or other poor area playing soccer with a bunch of plastic bags tied up to form a ball and see the smiles!

I will not pretend that I am not as adicted to my stuff as the next person.  Not only that, I am constantly tempted by ads, flyers, and catalogues of more cool stuff I could add to the stash!  A new Costco just opened in our area and I was there the first day drooling over the stuff which appealed to me and snickering at some of the stuff for which other people would spend their hard earned or even borrowed money.  It is a struggle with which we all deal to some extent and would take an entire cultural overhaul to reduce, let alone eliminate.

Maybe the people who didn’t want to pay five dollars for the bike are actually on the right track.  Where food is a necessity, though not necessarily from MacDonalds, the bike may actually end up just sitting in their garage as it ended up doing in ours for the last eight years. 

Unrequited Love: When What We Love Isn’t Good For Us


It is August, and in New Brunswick that means it is corn season.  I love corn season!  There is nothing to equal the taste of a freshly boiled corn-on-the-cob rolled liberally in butter and salted to perfection!  Let’s pause and give thanks to God for creating such an amazing food!

OK, so my problem is that some years ago I began to have problems digesting corn.  I love corn, but corn doesn’t love me.  I won’t gross you out with details, suffice to say that I am now at the point where I know for a fact that I will suffer significantly if I even eat a tiny serving of niblet corn and a fresh cob is really out of the question.  But then I start to think or say, “it is sooo good !”…”maybe this time it will be ok”…”what is a little pain anyway?”  The end of this story is probably quite clear to you already.  Of course, I end up eating the corn and I enjoy it so much at the time.

My village has an annual corn boil at the community hall around the corner from our home.  What I should do is not even drive by the hall on corn boil night.  Most of the year I don’t have any real problem avoiding eating corn.  The only other challenge is the corn chowder at the fall bazaar.

We all have our issues like this.  Things that we enjoy so much even though they’re not good for us.  Of course many of those issues are a fair bit more important, dangerous, unethical or even illegal.  That is why in the Lord’s prayer it is so important that we have the line, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” 

The Down Side of the E-Reader


Hundreds of Books In My Hand

Hundreds of Books In My Hand

I don’t know if I have mentioned my Kobo e-reader in any other posts or not, but it came up today as a topic and, as I’m not swamped with good ideas, I decided to go with it.  I love my Kobo!  When I went away on vacation I had around 130 books with me in my purse, from which to choose reading material for when I was on the plane, in the airport, laying out on a chair on the beach, or getting ready for bed at night.  The last time I took the same trip I just squeaked within the weight limit for checked baggage and most of the weight was from the books I had with me.  This, along with the relatively low-cost of e-books, is the up-side to using an e-reader.

The down side, at least for me, is that when I come across a really classic quote which may spark a blog post I don’t have a good way to mark it for later.  I know that some of the e-readers do have the opportunity to put tabs on various pages, or to highlight important lines of text, but even then you just don’t have the same way of flipping quickly past the pages to find the good bits.  I have on occasion written down the chapter and page number for the quote, but even that can be mucked up if I read it in one font and size and then go back to find it with the font changed.

I’m going to stick with my Kobo despite this snag because it is so easy on my hands to hold it, and so convenient to carry it.  I can also read in bed with my hands tucked under the sheets, only needing to shoot one out at the end of each page to push advance.  Maybe I’ll get a case for it that has a little notepad attached.  Very old school meets new!

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fourteen


Fourteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #51

There where the judges gather

Psalm 82
Munich
Paraphrase: Henry Zylstra (1909-1956)
Music: Neuvermehrtes Gesangbuch 1963; arr Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
 
 
 

There where the judges gather, a greater takes the seat;
“How long,” God asks the judges, “will you pronounce deceit?
How long show special favour to those of ill repute?
How long neglect the orphan, the poor and desitute?

Deal justly with the needy; protect the powerless;
deliver the afflicted from those who would oppress,
but you are surely blinded; you do not understand:
therefore foundations totter; injustice rocks the land.”

God speaks: “I named you rulers, to serve the Most High God,
but you shall die as mortals and perish by my rod.”
Arise, O God, in judgement, your sovereignty make known,
for yours are all the nations: the peoples are your own.

I don’t really like the flow of the lyrics for this hymn.  The Psalm itself is far easier to follow and is not divided into even length stanzas which fits better with the meaning. 

Munich is a good tune, though not very familiar in my church.  Another suggestion given is St. Theodulph (214, 115) which is quite familiar.