I had to write four papers for a course that I was taking while our city evacuated because of the “Beast.”
At the same time of writing these papers, I was privileged to walk with a dear friend through her stroke, intensive, then palliative care. She eventually succumbed to her illness. Sadly, I will be conducting her memorial service tomorrow.
All this happened while I have had a regular work schedule and also a somewhat ‘ramped up’ pastoral schedule again, because of the Fort McMurray Fire.
Now that the smoke of this course has cleared, I am excited to concentrate on this blog and the official launch of this site.
Very shortly I will be able to provide details of a new book that I have written, “Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl.” I will make it available here, and I am looking forward to the help that it will offer for those who are continually dealing with the issues, the swirls of ‘yesterday’.
It’s going to be a great Fall. I look forward to moving ahead with you.
We live in a culture consumed with pithy sayings that fit on coffee mugs and t-shirts.
I’ve got to say that I love a well-placed thought/epiphany maybe more than most. A saying that will provoke or inspire, or provoke and inspire is a welcome addition to most days. Occasionally I will meander through Pinterest just to see who is quoting whom and posting what.
What probably isn’t all that useful is a cupboard full of mugs and t-shirts that sit there, a compendium memorial to a moment of, well you know, a moment.
Here’s a thought, ironic, why not take the next worthy ‘pithany’ and engage it. Allow it to seed and germinate. Maybe water it with a muse here or there and enable it to inculcate its way to your sub-auto level. Remember I said worthy.
Let me help you get started. “…love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
When it comes to life and faith, which is more important, ‘For’ or ‘In’? Huh?
Both of these words carry a huge impact with regards to how you process your life and your faith.
The ‘For’ part:
It occurs to me that we need the executive level provision. What do I mean? We need a provision, a place, an opportunity made available. We need a pre-arranged set of circumstances to facilitate our next step.
Let me explain.
I have spent my last couple of weeks in Camp. Because of the “Beast,” the Fort McMurray Fire, my work has been provided and dispatched from a Camp setting. The camp exists because of those who have initially set it up; by those who manage its facilities, and the company I work for who has accessed the facilities and finally whoever pays the bill, fortunately not me.
I have full access to the entire facility, within the rules of its use. It is actually quite amazing; the food; the room where I can have the quiet to write a piece like this and where I can peacefully sleep; all the amenities. All of this provision is ‘For’ me and a few thousand others.
The “In” part:
How I use the provided facilities is entirely up to me. I can choose to eat at the times provided, the food has been fantastic, or not. My choice. I can use the Common Room for recreation or not. I can walk/run the track or play basketball or badminton in the gymnasium. Or, I can decline.
For some, Camp is just a place to be, to endure for the next period of time. I have chosen differently.
I decided that if I have to be away from family and my regular life, if I have to be displaced by the fire, then why not make it pay?
I have been daily hitting the gym and work out area. I have been eating well and healthy and walking upwards of 10k a day. Really.
What have I done? I have chosen to apply, to use, to leverage what has been provided ‘For’ me and make it work ‘In’ me. My choice.
The spiritual parallel:
There has been a provision made for everyone. God has provided, an executive decision, for all through Christ.
There you have it; it is there for you with all of its amenities.
He looked straight at us then he stood there and waited. I think he knew I had a busload of tired workers that were just ready for a thrill. He posed and my bus went wild.
The passengers got to see and photograph a real black bear in its original habitat and not even fifty feet away. I can almost imagine the conversation and picture sharing that happened around their table tonight.
We can dream again. We can be thrilled again. I think there is something inside of us that wants and waits for the spectacular. We look for the thrill so much so that sometimes we try to manufacture it. But isn’t it better when we are just plain old taken off guard and thrilled? I saw and heard some of that thrill tonight.
Now think with me for a moment.
God has Amazing good, Amazing love, Amazing grace, and Amazing surprises just waiting for the right time when it will ‘blow you away.’ How much better when he gives it, and when he astonishes us?
“Since before time began no one has ever imagined,
No ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4, Message.)
W-a-i-t for it!
Wait for Him.
I’ve seen frazzled from quite a few different angles and vantage points this last week to 10 days as our city of 88,000 had to flee their homes and jobs to save their lives.
As I sit here to write, I find my focus and concentration are somewhat challenged. Things have changed.
I saw my role as ‘Helper’, and so I did. I started helping from where I was.
We weren’t in the evacuation because we had already left a few days earlier, but our son was, we felt helpless and watched as the stories and reports came in. My family was displaced and scattered. I wanted them together with hugs. So, I started doing what I could with Facebook, email and texting, tracking other people’s safety. More than a few onlookers immediately responded as I confirmed their loved one’s safe exodus. Everyone was on pins and needles. Conversations, phone calls, words of encouragement, all flowed from heart, phone and keyboard wherever I could.
Then the second night it hit. I lay down at the end of a long day and all of a sudden it dawned on me, “I am a refuge.” I was ready to help others and see perspective for them, but I wasn’t prepared to be one who himself wondered worried or needed help.
Now several days later, in the hub of activity, I have spent the last few days helping connect people and resources. Tomorrow I’m leaving. I’ve been called back to work so I have to help once again from a distance.
Life has been big for a lot of people this past week. No. Life has been huge for people. It’s been huge for those who have lost and are displaced; it’s been huge for those who have realigned their schedules to take them in. Life has been huge for those who help. Everyone is trying to cope and help.
So? Pray. Pray for those around you. Pray for those you know here and at a distance. Pray for their situations and challenges. But, don’t forget to pray for yourself. Don’t just cope, pray. Frazzle starts to dissipate and settle when you pray.
Let me help you start. “Lord I’m frazzled, I need your peace…”
Due to the fact that in the last three days a fire has ravaged our city, and around 80,000 people have been displaced, I wanted you to see this.
-And, considering the that in the last three days we have become homeless, for at least the foreseeable future, I think that this scripture from the Old Testament is amazing.
Look at the application of this scripture in Isaiah, 61:1-3, (NIV.)
From this text, I think that our best days are ahead of us.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Will you believe with me for this? It can happen for you. I want to see for everyone, “…beauty for ashes…” What an incredible hope?
Recently I went back to College. (When you are fifty-six anything less than five years is recent). My intention was to complete a degree as I only had a diploma for my years spent in college. The idea of going back into a controlled way of learning was, to say the least, a bit intimidating. I engaged, and I did well, but my learning didn’t start or stop there.
Years ago I committed to myself to be a “Learner.” I decided to grow and as much as depended on me to increase my learning. I’ve done it formally with certificates and courses as well as informally with books and online courses. I’ve experimented in business with success and failure and, taught by both. Probably more important than anything formal, I have taught myself how to learn.
One of the best questions I have learned to ask is, “Why?” As I try to figure out the answer, I’ve added to my learning.
So, have you stopped learning with your formal education? Has your quest for understanding ceased? I hope not.
Why don’t you commit today, maybe once again to process and understand this beautiful thing called life?
Why not engage again to be a life long learner?
Dr. Paul Brand, leading doctor in the breakthrough study of Leprosy in the 70’s and 80’s credited the absence of pain as one of the main contributing problems of this disease. A lack of sensation causes a leprous person to damage their body unwittingly.
It occurs to me that some of us may have removed pain from our emotional docket. Because of incredible, at the time insurmountable hurt we thought it best to not ‘pain’ anymore. For many, that would seem to be a logical decision. Close off to hurt, close off to pain. It’s the childhood vow. “I will never let anyone get close to me again!” After a rape or abuse or extreme humiliation, who would?
Leprosy has done this in the ravage of its disease. It has stopped the pain mechanisms in the body over time of those affected and thus enabled the damage that we have seen in the pictures. Medically it has been battled and has dropped from worldwide millions in the 80’s to hundreds of thousands today. But I wonder how many millions perhaps billions of people have emotionally stopped feeling. How many impenetrable walls erected? How many blockades placed?
At the time, these looked like protection but have proved to be tactics of isolation and loneliness. Eliminating pain can be so damaging and destructive, life altering and sometimes ending.
Today, just for the moment, would you be willing to feel again? Would you be open to taking the path out of your past to begin new?
They looked with wonder and anticipation; they were not certain what they were looking at or for, but they knew they had a promise.1 Like the image of Kilroy, they were here and desperately wanted to know, but there was a fence of their future that we now know as our history. They had the details, marked locations, and moments, but they didn’t, or rather weren’t able, to connect all the dots; they weren’t able to see it with our 20/20 hindsight.
Paul writes and calls it, “the mystery kept hidden for ages.”2
This mystery crafted the resolute joy in Jesus’ heart, so much so, that this is the reason Hebrews says he went through with the brutal, inhuman torture and death. It was, “For the joy that set before him.”3
Joy wasn’t just reuniting with the Father; that was his rightful place.
The joy came as he looked into the future, now our history. He saw the exponential outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, (4+5) the mystery of God accomplished. He had to die and rise again to get the job done. He saw an intrinsically thorough, life-transforming work that would happen everywhere all at once and would happen through anyone who believed, because of the price of his sacrifice.
That motivated him to the core. You and I are part of that motivational joy.
As you muse on the price paid, so that you can live in relationship with God, think about the joy that moved Jesus to accomplish his task.
Maybe it will motivate you to accomplish yours. Maybe it will commission you for your task.
You Don’t Have To; You Get To!
1) Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
2) Colossians 1:25-27 (NIV)
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness –the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
3) Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
4) Acts 2:16-17a (NIV)
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…”
5) Acts 10:44-45 (NIV)
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.
“…the way of peace they do not know.” (Romans 3:17, NIV)
This quote is from scripture that says that those living by their own dictates don’t know a lasting peace.
When I think about this, I believe I need to be okay and at rest on the inside.
I don’t want to be clumped in with those doing their own thing; so I want to find this ‘way of peace’ that I can know. Not just a pause of peace, a singular momentary event, but a lifestyle; a way of living out peace, as a constant, something I can know and practice.
Is it possible to live experientially with that repose every day?
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, “I live in peace, and I am at peace?” Can you imagine for just a moment what that would be like having peace as your norm?
Living in peace would be like being in your family situation with an internal calm even though buttons get pushed all around; you are unfazed. Possible?
It would be like going to work in all that overwhelming stress and just being personally collected.
It would be like going on a boat excursion with everyone freaking out because of the high waves and violent wind while you are asleep in the back rocked by the same waves that intimidate the others… Wait a minute…