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What did I miss?
- Forever and ever/ One or Two Evers? curlingupwithgod.com/2019/01/03/for… https://t.co/GjR5ndJ9KK 1 week ago
- A Scary Time youtu.be/N34hehRgw9g via @YouTube 3 months ago
- 5 of 5 stars to Flowers in the Snow by Danielle Stewart goodreads.com/review/show/25… 4 months ago
- 5 of 5 stars to The Dark Citadel by Michael Wallace goodreads.com/review/show/18… 4 months ago
- 4 of 5 stars to A Cry of Honor by Morgan Rice goodreads.com/review/show/18… 4 months ago
- 4 of 5 stars to Sweet Masterpiece by Connie Shelton goodreads.com/review/show/24… 5 months ago
Tag Archives: choices
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.
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.”
My sister and I just got back from a trip to Cancun. We had been there before and planned to mostly sit in the shade and read books. We did decide to visit Xcaret (esh-ca-ret) which is one of the biggest parks in the Cancun area. There is so much to do there that we will need to go back several times to cover everything. Our biggest adventure was definitely when we decided to go ahead and try snorkeling through the cenotes (underground rivers).We hummed and hawed considerably, but eventually packed our things in a locked waterproof bag to be taken to the outlet area next to the sea. Next we got in line and picked up flotation vests, goggles, snorkels, and swim fins. We set off to the entrance spot.
Our swim in through a cenote began with gingerly stepping into the cold water in a brightly lit and beautifully clear pool. Once acclimated to the temperature it is quite beautiful and little effort is required due to your flotation device. A little practice breathing with the snorkel and we were off…
Faces down in the water and breathing through our snorkels we headed off down the river. We were a little nervous, but reassured by the idea that it was a river and would head directly to the sea. What could go wrong with that? Well, it sounded good! We quickly moved from this swim in the sunlight, into…
the dark. While you were able in the darker underground areas to see a glimmer of light up ahead, this was only the case when you had your head above water. When you swam into these areas with your face down you were frequently unable to see anything. It is here that the trouble began.
There were two main problems; staying together and finding the right path. With my sister in the lead not lifting her head at any point I was aware when we took our first wrong turn but unable to catch up to grab her swim fins there was no way to get the message to her. When we came to the next open area, which had no outlet, I explained about our wrong turn and we headed back around. Eventually we ended up behind the group who had entered after us and came out into another open area where a man who worked for the park wanted us to pose for a picture. Somewhat dazed, we complied but didn’t strike any happy thumbs up pose at all and in the end we didn’t manage to find and buy the picture which would have been our only proof that we had really gone on this excursion.
We left that area, headed downstream. I led this time and all was going well, I thought. We came into the light in another spot but it seemed that we shouldn’t have been there. With a picture of the map of the park in our heads, it seemed that we had somehow gone in the wrong direction again. We made the decision to go back to the start and get out.
If you have been paying attention, you will know that this decision meant that we would be swimming upstream the whole rest of the time in the cenote. Did I mention that I am a middle-aged, not terribly fit individual? We only made one more wrong turn in our adventure but the struggle to keep up and stay in contact was considerable for me. Very often I felt that as much as I used my feet to propel me, I was going nowhere. I had to use my arms most of the time just to keep up.
How did we end up getting out of the cenote? My sister, in the lead, stopped frequently to make sure I was still with her and encourage me, and I followed her bubbles which, under water, is the same as following her breath. So long as I was near the bubbles, I knew that even if we were lost, we were lost together.
The steps, when we found them, were a welcome sight. We were not just climbing out of the water after a vigorous swim, we were climbing out of the dark and uncertainty, and we were together!
What lessons may be taken from the story of our adventure?
1. If you have to go into the dark, take a friend.
2.When you are leading people don’t forget to lift your head up to stay on track.
3. When you are in the lead, stop frequently to be sure those behind you are still there, and encourage them.
4. Stay together in dark as well as in the light.
5. It is harder work getting back on track once you have taken a wrong turn, but do it anyway.
6. Like your life vest, God will keep you afloat come what may.
7. There is no substitute for a good map (Bible) or a guide (Jesus).
8. No matter what, keep the bubbles (the breath of God or the Spirit) in view at all times.
The following is a primer on the best ways to lose a volunteer. You need not employ all the methods, many people will quit after only one strategy. Remember, volunteers are individuals so you may need to experiment before you find an effective method for each one.
Perhaps the best way to lose volunteers is to fail to recognize them. People do not, as a rule, choose to volunteer to get credit, recognition or attention. People choose to volunteer for various organizations because they believe in the cause or the need of the people for whom they are working. That being said, there is a limit to how long they will continue to be engaged if nobody says thank you at some point. If you look you can find blog posts, and even books on the topic of how to keep volunteers and the top of the list is usually acknowledgement of their efforts.
You can actually lose volunteers before they even start! To do this, do not return their phone calls or emails in which they express interest in being of help and or place a lengthy complicated process in place (especially if you call it an application process).
Select one volunteer to do a task that really requires several.
Give several volunteers the task of doing something simple which would be better and more efficiently done by one.
Fail to listen to their suggestions for improvement. Treat them as though they have no education, background, or expertise.
Hover over them as though you don’t trust them to be competent.
Get a volunteer started on something and then never check in to see how things are going.
Expect that they will stay forever/ make it a life sentence.
Arrange times to meet with your volunteers and then cancel without notice, “Because something important came up.”
Stop thinking of a volunteer as a person, once they are on board they are just one of the numbers.
Hopefully it is clear to my readers that I do not actually advocate any of the above actions. Indeed it would make an excellent list of what not to do when you are working with people, either employed or volunteers.
I just came out of a restaurant with my parents having finished a great meal and, of course, feeling over-stuffed! Even having ordered the “mini” plate of liver and onions I was unable to finish all the fries. Don’t get me wrong though, I still had carrot cake for dessert!
A few days ago a friend sent me the following email which included pictures of families with the food they would eat in an average week on display.
“Quite a powerful story in pictures. What is eaten in one week around the world? Very interesting assortment. Note the large amount of drinks in some pictures.This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting e-mails I’ve ever received. Take a good look at the family size & diet of each country, and the availability & cost of what is eaten in one week.
Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide, Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina(Sure hope most American families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family.)Food expenditure for one week $341.98
Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily, Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca, Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna, Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo, Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo, Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village, Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp, Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Don’t know about you, but right about now, I’m counting my blessings!”
It is a pretty stark picture of the plenty with which most of us live, while others are smiling and proud to display what we would consider to be barely enough. Growing up many of us were told to consider the starving Armenians when we didn’t finish all our supper. Obviously our parents were hardly planning to send our left-overs overseas, but they were on track with their mention of the need to stop and think about the lack of balance in food distribution worldwide.
If you look at the Revised Common Lectionary listing of Bible readings over a three year period you will notice that while in theory it covers the whole Bible in each cycle there are parts you may never hear preached. Thankfully one section in this category includes most of the book of Numbers which contain seemingly endless lists of genealogies. One of the most curious things is that even with the Psalms there are frequently parts of the Psalm which are not designated as a part of the reading. For example; two of the Sundays in June had small pieces removed from the Psalms in the RCL. On June 5 we read Psalm 68 but left out verses 11-31. On June 12 the reading was Psalm 104 and we left out verses 1 -24 and 35A.
If you read these Psalms responsively in your worship service, these skipped sections can lead to confusion for the congregation as well as the minister, unless you print them out. What could be so wrong with Psalm 68 verses 11-31 that would deem it unusable in worship. It is a part of the Bible, that is not denied, the planners of the lectionaries, though, presumably thought it best to skip them.
11 The Lord gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
12 ‘The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!’
The women at home divide the spoil,
13 though they stay among the sheepfolds—
the wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings there,
snow fell on Zalmon.
15 O mighty mountain, mountain of Bashan;
O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
16 Why do you look with envy, O many-peaked mountain,
at the mount that God desired for his abode,
where the Lord will reside for ever?
17 With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands,
the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.
18 You ascended the high mount,
leading captives in your train
and receiving gifts from people,
even from those who rebel against the Lord God’s abiding there.
19 Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.
21 But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
22 The Lord said,
‘I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23 so that you may bathe your feet in blood,
so that the tongues of your dogs may have their share from the foe.’
24 Your solemn processions are seen, O God,
the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them girls playing tambourines:
26 ‘Bless God in the great congregation,
the Lord, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!’
27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
the princes of Judah in a body,
the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.
28 Summon your might, O God;
show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings bear gifts to you.
30 Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample under foot those who lust after tribute;
scatter the peoples who delight in war.
31 Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.
I assume that in the case of the above verses there were a couple of concerns. In many of the verses God is portrayed in a very militaristic and vengeful light. God’s army is huge, will shatter the heads of the enemies, there is talk of feeding the enemy to the dogs and the victors bathing their feet in blood. Yuck! One of the things that is most disturbing about reading in the Old Testament comes from this sort of portrayal. This is not the loving God with whom we grew up in the mainline churches! The other thing I noticed was how much God’s desire of a mountain top abode, receiving of gifts etc. reminds me of what I have taught for years in my unit on Mesopotamia and other ancient civilizations. This is not surprising exactly, but in early days it would have been very important to distance Christianity from pagan practices.
Would the reasons be the same for Psalm 104?
God the Creator and Provider
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honour and majesty,
2 wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3 you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
4 you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.
5 You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
6 You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8 They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
11 giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
15 and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19 You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.
23 People go out to their work
and to their labour until the evening.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!
As you could see, Psalm 104:1-24 had none of the more disturbing elements to it at all. Paired in the lectionary as it is with the creation story from Genesis, I think we can be fairly certain that this shortening was done for time. The Genesis reading is long and covers all the same ground as in verses. Verse 35A however consigns sinners to be consumed (one assumes by fire) which seems contrary to the concept of Christian love.
I wonder if we do too much of this covering up, or brushing aside, the uncomfortable parts of the Bible. I certainly understand that one might not want your five-year-old repeating lines about feeding their enemies to the dogs, or bathing their feet in blood. My concern is that it is a little like issues of family violence. People didn’t ever talk about family violence. It was something to keep behind closed doors. Neighbors might be somewhat aware that things were happening, but would never think to ask or offer help. What ends up happening, in the case of the Bible, is that we educate Christians while side-stepping the issues, and then later when they come across these verses in their own study they are ill prepared to deal with them. I know I wasn’t prepared the first time I seriously sat down and read the Old Testament!
I’m not sure what a solution might be. Perhaps we need to be offering Bible studies on the unpalatable parts, but then, being so unpalatable, who would attend? I do feel, however that it is important to get the verses out of their plain paper bags, and into the open.