Thursday, January 28, 2010

Anything you can do I can do Better!

I don't think I'm better than anyone else... But I find that thought becoming disgustingly prevelant in my generation and that's what I want to tackle...

First of all, we need to be careful what we say about others.  The opinions we form based on a person's choice in any given life situations not being "the same" (which really denotes the decision not being as good or being incorrect) as the decision we would arrive at given the same circumstance has got to stop... After all, we are not in the same circumstances and cannot possibly understand the battle waged on that person's mind...  We can't be given the same circumstance as another, without going back in time and reliving our life with the same people, places and thoughts as the person we are judging (I know we are getting really great at candy coating everything to make others think we are not judgmental but, unless our conscience is seared, we know that is exactly the way we are acting at times.) So let's just be honest, if only with ourselves (don't worry this is not something you have to voice outside your own soul) we are innately judgmental, it doesn't make you a horrible person, it makes us human... But the fact "it's human nature" doesn't excuse the behavior and we need to become aware of it so we can fight against it in our own lives. If you remember this scripture it should help... Call it Karma if you want to, it's all in God's word - Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." - NIV.

I saw a challenge/quote on a friend's FaceBook status today, I'm going to do it and I challenge you to try it as well!  "There are two types of fasting for the tongue. One food and the other criticism. Try fasting one day from saying anything critical." -TF Tenney

Another issue I would like to write about is if someone is doing what you deem to be unnecessary in their relationship with God, unless it's harmful to others or that person, "BE QUIET!!" Seriously, if they are wrong and they really don't have to "go that far" in serving God, if he really doesn't care about a particular issue, they will still come to the same end result as they would if they had not followed through with that particular habit.  If an action is not taking someone away from God who are you to tell them not to continue going a possibly extra mile for Him? Let's say you refuse to listen to reason and you tell them not to continue going that "extra mile"...  What if they end up coming short in the end?  Are you prepared to take responsibility for your words?  I'm sure there are things I do for my family that aren't necessary for me to earn their love but that doesn't mean I should stop "going out of my way" for my family; most times it's more about me wanting show my love or to make them proud rather than things I believe I "need" to do to earn their respect and acceptance. 

We are a generation obsessed with the lives of others.  Some of the personal moments we watch on TV would get us arrested if it were our neighbors window we were watching... And I'm not bashing "reality TV,"  trust me, I can keep up with the best of them!  But in our own reality we have got to get the common sense of when things are "none of our business" back and react accordingly...  It's ok to back away from a conversation, thought or action if, even in the middle, we get that familiar whisper of "should I?"   No, we've silenced our emotions and conscience to make us stronger but instead of the desired result it's only lead to our attacks within our own camp...  We lose friendships, morals, respect, reputation and for what?  So we can "get it off our chest" and pillow our head on regret?  Maybe you don't feel regretful at this point, maybe you've passed that stage but there was a time, remember it, those moments tried to save you from the place you've now arrived.  Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  So let's stop the insanity and let others be.

Each person is at a different stage in the same existence. I am very lucky to have been raised in the way I have been and equally as lucky to be part of the family I am.  I've chosen my friends carefully and had to make choices to lose relationships that once meant a lot to me so that the people I'm surrounded with are more likely to build me up and help me through rather than tear me down and drag me out. It's taken many hard choices and moments of surrender to get me to this place; I'm now surrounded with people who posses characteristics I desire to cultivate in my own life. If I (and you) choose to listen there is much to gain from every relationship in life. Because of the people I've chosen to surround me being supportive and trustworthy the life decisions I've been faced with have been made much easier.

After everything I've written here I come to the conclusion that I'm not better (and neither are you if you come from a "good background" or have an amazing heritage and have had "good sense" poured into your mind) but I am blessed! If you're reading thinking "well good for you" I'm only telling you of my blessing for you to realize it's not just designed for me, the opportunity presented to me is now presented to you... I'm "paying it forward"...  I can't tell you it will "come easy" and "sometimes the cross gets hard to bear" but make the right choices (even when they are the hard choices, which they usually are) and then think of where you were (or could have been) to where you are just a while down life's path you will know it's worth every struggled step.  Another point: being blessed has nothing to do with who I am, who you are or who either of us try to be:  it has everything to do with who and what we choose to serve, follow after, give our time to and try to be close to!  Let's make our decisions count for our own lives and while hoping others do as well not judge the painting by one stroke on the canvas, we cannot know the future or the past of another, give the benefit of the doubt and offer any support and love you can but, it must be without judgement or criticism.

Joshua 24:15 "But if you think it evil to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you're living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you'll worship their gods. I won't. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!" - CEV

Monday, January 25, 2010

I've been Kicked to the curb - and I LOVE IT!

Ok, this is probably not what you're thinking, but there's a whole new meaning to this expression after Pastor Woodward and Leaman's messages on Sunday!  I wanted to share it with you because it's important!  I am glad to be "kicked to the curb" and will never go back inside again!

In Luke 10:2 Jesus said to His followers (which now includes us) "What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands."  And that's usually where we hear it stop... It's almost an excuse we use to pray and not go.  But the very next few words out of Jesus mouth were "On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You're like lambs in a wolf pack."  So are we?  Are we on our way in reaching?

In Acts 1:7 a few "churchies" (disciples) asked Jesus if He was going to bless their church (Judaea) in order to show the world around them He was the one true God and to draw those people in... In essence, to show the rest of the world they were right all along (and yes they probably would have held themselves in high regard for being right).  Jesus' response was quite "in your face" and definitely to the point of where the question had originated...  It's as if He heard them saying "Listen those people are dirty, low, they are uneducated in your ways and if we actually move out of our comfort zone to try and reach them we may get pulled into their disgusting culture!"  I'm not quite sure what they were thinking by asking Jesus this question in this particular way, probably trying to sugar coat and make it sound innocent as we so often do.  Jesus always sees the reason behind the question, there is no use pretending something comes from a pure heart if you're really just trying to justify your own actions, or lack thereof...  Jesus responded to the "churchies" by saying "GET OUT!  YOU go be a witness, that's what I called you to do in the first place!  Stop asking if I will bless you and draw people into my own church, are you drawing any in?  You say I am the most important thing in your life and I should be lifted high, but you don't even lift me high enough for others to see me, you only lift me high in the church building and what good can that do for anyone who needs me other than yourselves?!  I came to show you how to witness and give you power to witness but you're refusing to use it!  It's your calling to lead people to me, you are directed to go outside this building and into their territory, yes their "dirty, low, uneducated in my ways, disgusting" places and follow my example. Love them!" (Suzie paraphrase)

John 4:3-4  "He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.  And he must needs go through Samaria."  Must needs in this phrase indicated urgency... Samaria was considered to inhabit the lowest of low, people who had been just like the "churchies" but had married pagans and mixed cultures and religions with them, defiling God and themselves... But Jesus wanted to go there, and more than that he stopped to rest at a well where he met a Samaritan woman who was now with her 5th man, he talked with her, cared for her problems and even allowed her to give him water from the well (which in those days would be unthinkable and would be considered as defiling Jesus)...  

Matthew 9:10 "Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them." (Message paraphrase) We can conclude that Jesus was happy to eat with these people, if not he could and most likely would have asked them to leave, and if they did not he certainly would have; it was common practice for the kind of people Jesus was sitting with to be ostracized...  Those kinds of people would not even think of trying to associate with "churchies" but somehow Jesus made them feel comfortable enough to crash his dinner party, sit beside Him, eat and talk with Him...  It would stand to reason they only felt this comfortable after Jesus extended His hand to them (more than likely on many unrecorded occasions).  We also know the "churchies" were upset by the next verse Matthew 9:11 "When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers.  "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" (Message paraphrase)  But Jesus' answer was quick and cutting... Matthew 9:12-13 "Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." (Message paraphrase) He made no bones about the fact that He was here to do the work of God and that the "churchies" were not doing their work...  I wonder what He would have to say about our work...

Back to the same story line of the disciples' question and Jesus' response... Acts 11:20-21 happens after the discussion of them asking that question and Jesus telling them to go... They did go, well, sort of...  Most witnessed to the one percent of people most like them...  But in verse 21 there were "a few reached for the rest, the whole world, anyone, no matter their color, culture, look, status, standing, lifestyle or creed...  And The Lord was with them, helping them and blessing their efforts." (Suzie paraphrase, again).  God loves people, all people, so we mustWe must LOVE them, REACH them, HELP them, BLESS them...WE MUST!!

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If you're wanting the attention of God to be on you, His ears listening to your words, His eyes on your situation and His spirit moving in your life... Then get your attention on His heart beat!  They say if you truly love with someone and spend time with them, eventually your hearts will beat in sync...  If you want His attention make sure you really are in love with Him, spending time with Him and that your heart beats in sync with His...   His heart beats for them, He loves them so we must!  Show your love and commitment toward Him through loving, blessing and REACHING for them, those,  ALL He loves (and He loves ALL).  Matthew 25:40 "Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'" (Message Paraphrase).  2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent."  (NLT)

"The mission field doesn't start at the airport, it starts at the curb." - Rev. R. Woodward.  I have been "kicked to the curb" by God because that's where I can be of most benefit to others... I am doing these things for Him, and to Him therefore I am blessed and more than happy to be "Kicked to the Curb!"  Are you?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Never Catch Up

I'm a very practical, "hands-on" kind of girl. I look for solutions. I like to always be striving for something. I'm always aware of how I, personally, need to be made better and I work toward becoming better everyday. I specifically try to keep my relationship with God on solid ground (probably the most difficult to keep on a practical level) and search for practical things I can do everyday.

I treat my relationship with God as if he were living in the same house as me (which, by the way, he is), I find it helps me to communicate my thoughts and feelings to a God I would otherwise not have the courage to approach... It reminds me, he wants to be here as much as I want him to be with me. Also, I can't live in the same space as someone without talking to them regularly. I don't treat God as if he can read my thoughts (although he can.) I don't treat him as my "911" call (although he has been.) Most of all, I try not to take him for granted just because I know he loves me and he's there, I try to take steps, on my own, to get closer to him... And when I get that "why do I have to do all the work, can't he take a step" thought running through my mind, I think of the Cross, it doesn't take long to realize he really would not have to take another step and I would still never "catch up."

But I try to express my gratitude...

"God, I just want to take a couple of minutes out of my hectic day to thank you for being everything I need and for reasons I can't even imagine loving me in spite of me!  You are wonderful and I don't tell you that or other people about you half as much as I should. So let everyone who reads these words know YOU ARE the One and Only God, My God, the One who reigns over all, All Mighty, All Powerful, Uncomparable, Undeniable, Beautiful, Purest One, Lamb that was Slain, Risen Savior, Everlasting God!  The Great I AM, Life Giver, Soul healer, Heart Mender, Striped healer, Wounded transgression Forgiver, Comforter, Strong Tower, Deliverer of Israel from Egypt and my soul from Bondage, Addiction Breaker, Chain Breaker, Way Maker, World Shaker, Storm Calmer, Light Giver!  There never has been, is not now, and never will be One that can come close to your Magnificent Meekness and Pre-Eminent Power!  Thank you for being my father and friend!  I love you always!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 Ways to Say "I Love you!"

I read an article today entitled "64 Ways to say "I love you!"" I was surprised to find inspiration of practical ways I can let God know I love him and I thought I would share them with you! 
  1. Embrace the present moments without fear or guilt.  This is a hard thing for most people...  We aren't like God, in that, even after we say sorry and sin is "taken care of" through repentance; we still remember.  Remembering our past can cause both fear and guilt... God doesn't want us to feel either which means you immediately know those memories aren't coming from him (not to mention the Bible tells us God forgets repented sin... So if he can't remember them himself would he bring them to memory in us?  Retorical, he doesn't!) Here's something you need to write down and next time your repented past is thrown in your face you can fight back (and this only works if we have already repented)... 2nd Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." - KJV
  2. Live by the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).  It's funny how people aren't aware this "Golden Rule" comes from God directly in fact it's a little more in depth Leveticus 19:18 " your neighbor as yourself..." So treat others with the same regard you would treat yourself.
  3. Toast each other over breakfast or dinner to say I love you.  This one I need to work on... I always forget to pray before I eat and I've never thought of it as being a way to tell God you love him before but I suppose it can be!
  4. Read books aloud together.  Bible reading, enough said.
  5. Do nothing together.  We always say "a mark of a great relationship is when you can 'just be' together.  Comfortable in a silence."  I think meditation on God is a lost art... How can we hear what God wants to say when we never shut ourselves up while in his presence?  I truely believe that there are some moments, even in our relationship with God, that no words need be spoken... Acknowledge he is with you and 'just be' with him... You will be surprised at the effect quiet moments have on you!
  6. Be lavish in praise!  This one is pretty much self-explanitory... But how often do we miss it in a service or conversation... In a service God is sometimes lucky to see a hand raised because "it's not my personality." or "I don't want people to look at me."  I don't know who else is looking, and frankly I have learned not to care, God is pre-eminent and if He's looking I'm making sure He sees me being lavish for Him!
  7. Trust your partner enough to cry together.  Trust is a HUGE issue in all relationships and for me it was, even in my relationship with God... I always said I trusted him but I found myself putting the same situations in his hands every time I prayed... And it made me wonder how they god out of his hands after the first time I put them there... Truth:  At a young age I learned to control my surroundings as a protection from hurt so I was always giving it to God then messin' with it myself and the fact is, he won't share credit, if he's gonna fix it you can't help... Even harder to swallow, if I'm messin' with things I supposedily gave to him to look after it's because I don't trust him to do it...  I don't know how to tell you to start really trusting God, only that if you pray for trust he will teach you... It may take hardships (and I could change that "may" to "will") but it's worth it and it works!
  8. Act silly together!  One of my favorite quotes "Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly." - Rose Franklin.  I know you're thinking I've lost my mind with this one, but allow me to explain... God made you with many aspects to your personality and you should share all of them with Him...  If you think something is funny, tell Him about it and laugh like you would with anyone else... He's not all serious you know (just look at the nose he put on... some people lol!)
  9. Ask questions about opinions, feelings, thoughts.  Don't go makin' your own decisions before you ask for His advice, it's kind of like coming home with a surprise new car and expecting your spouse to foot the bill.
  10. Encourage adventures and risks!  This is another doosey!  Sometimes we feel God wants us to do something, "move out" as some people call it, but it's a risk and we aren't adventurous enough to try it... Advice?  Get over it!  If God wants it and we do it we can only benefit! So pretend I'm standing behind you, close your eyes and feel the kick on your hinder parts I'm giving to get you moving in the direction He is calling you to!
  11. Take pride in them. -- and show it!  I think most of us have been in a relationsip with someone who treated us well in private but seemed to almost ignore us in public... Whether they're embarrassed or just so taken up with the other people around doesn't really matter, the fact is, it makes you feel unimportant and eventually destroys the relationship if the behavior is not corrected.  Don't do that to God; if you wouldn't do something with him standing next to you, don't bother because he is, after all, standing next to you...  Plus, it's comparable to making an obvious overture toward someone else while your significant other is standing next to you. Don't ignore him in conversation, tell people about your loving relationship!  I get so (yes I'm going to say it even though I know I shouldn't) jealous when people talk about their relationships because they have something wonderful that I, at this moment, do not... Maybe more people would want a relationship with God if they heard about yours...
  12. Spend time with them.  This one is pretty easy to understand... I know life can be crazy busy but if God is losing out on your time all together, flat out, you need to cancel something and spend that time with him.
  13. Ask for hugs and kisses.  Obviously not literal... But Part of loving God is knowing he loves you and it's ok to ask him for good things in your life!  Remember Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." and it also says in Luke 11:9-10 "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."  So ask.
  14. Take vacations together.  I am medaling here and I realize it... A vacation out of town is not a vacation away from God... Remember He's like a spouse and unless you're having an affair, He should be on vacation with you, so act accordingly.
  15. Practice forgiveness. - Forgive others, not because the Bible says "if we don't forgive others God won't forgive us." but because he loved us enough to forgive us and give us a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 22nd, and 49th (...etc...) chance and us forgiving others shows respect for Him and trust in what He can do in the lives of others.
  16. Don't gossip or judge.  Self-Explanatory, and I have a blog that deals with such issues in more depth coming up...  But really, the thing we have to remember is we may not particularly fancy a certain person and what they do (it's especially hard when they are doing wrong to Him) but let it be His decision to judge them or forgive Him, respect Him enough to keep your nose out of it!
  17. Go dancing!  Haha, that's right, I did!  I know it can seem strange and possibly embarrassing but He loves it and will dance right along side of you!  Swallow your pride, He thinks your beautiful even if you "ain't got no rhythm!"
  18. Keep your promises.  It goes without saying to keep the promises made to Him... But also to others... The Bible says to give your word only and not swear by anything else, but in order for your word to mean anything you have to keep it... Here's advice I was given once that I always follow "if you aren't sure you can keep a promise, whether it's to keep a secret or it's an action you are promising to take, don't make it in the first place."  I've learned that people usually respect you more for saying you would rather not promise something you can't carry through beforehand rather than finding out you broke the promise afterward.
  19. Learn ways to rekindle the romance.  It's inevitable that we will mess-up some part of our relationship with God (and most likely more frequently than we would like) however, if God was looking for perfection he would have stopped before creating the world and all the people in it... He had perfection in heaven with all the angels worshipping, but he wanted something more... So what is it that we can give him that he's longing for? Love, commitment and choice... Relationships are not a one time choice they are a lifetime of work and everyday commitment.  He's intelligent enough to grasp us making mistakes so just push pride aside, say your sorry and repent (which is more than an emotion, it's an action...) turn away from the wrong and turn toward a better direction!
Please remember you're not alone, we all have questions and that's why I share some of the answers and suggestions I come across!  God loves you and if you're good enough for him to love you (which we all are) then you're good enough for anything and anyone!  He has big plans for you!

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - NIV

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hotel for Dogs!

I love my pup! Miss him when I'm away, take him with me whenever I can... Actually, I snuck him into a hotel last year... It was a new hotel so when we booked the room I had assumed it would be pet friendly, most are these days, but my aunt asked the lady at the front desk and it wasn't...

I decided it would be too mean to leave the pup outside, in the car, all night and snuck him in... Well, in reality I bribed my mum to carry him in with a baby blanket over him and I would walk behind to make sure his head stayed covered, (which didn't actually work out so well anyway) good thing no one stopped us and asked to see the "baby," ha! There were also had HUGE "no pets allowed" signs posted everywhere as we were sneaking to our room through the back. 

Sneaking a hairy little baby in the back door late at night was the easy part; in the morning there were people everywhere and not as subdued as they had been the night before... Plus, since I had bribed mum the night before to by telling her it was "too cold for him to stay in the car, not to mention he would be scared all alone in the dark, and what if someone stole him!!??" Her response was telling she would not be helping me sneak him out in the morning...   I had to come up with a plan, some way to conceal him on the way out, I didn't dare take him with a baby blanket over him after thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong with that process the night before. 

The dog likes tooth paste.  I know that's strange but he loves anything minty and I found out about his weakness for tooth paste when he was a pup; the veterinarian told me to brush his teeth and at the point I didn't know they make doggie tooth paste so... I only had a few tools I could use (I definitely feel like MacGiver while describing this ha!) After contemplating my options I decided my cloth over-night bag would be the safest for the pup to be carried in, at least he would be able to breath...  I emptied my clothes out of the over-night bag and squeezed a little bit of toothpaste in.  The pup hopped in the bag and I quickly zipped it closed.  Thankfully, no one seemed to notice the bag moving as I was rushing down the stairs and out the door and even better, the dog didn't bark at the voices in the hallways! When I finally got to my car there was a man and his son playing tetris getting their luggage in the trunk of their car (which was right beside mine)... I could see they would be a while fitting it all in and there were also a few people just walking around the parking lot I'm not sure if that always happens and I just never noticed it before but really, why would you just walk around the parking lot of a hotel?  Hello, they have a gym INSIDE, people!  Then again, it could have just been my conscience making me feel they were just lurking around, haha!) To make sure no one suspected anything was going on while opening the car door and carefully placing my puppy bearing bag on the floor in the back, I loudly, in a tone as if I were speaking to a young child, said things like "oh!!  Good boy for staying all by yourself in the car all night!! You're a brave little puppy!!" Then I unzipped the bag grabbed his leash and hooked it to his collar to take him for a little walk and washroom brake. 

Just an FYI in case you're sneaking your pet into a hotel some day, toothpaste in an over-night bag that you then have to pack your clothes back into may not be such a good plan... Oh and did I mention we were staying at a hotel because there was a wedding that weekend so the clothes I got to pack in the now tooth paste covered over-night bag were really dressy clothes... Niiice!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Watch the Sunrise

I have only watched the sun rise once.. But the story was like something out of a movie...

My mum and I were in Ontario for a wedding.  On our way to the City where the wedding was to be held we stopped and stayed with my great aunt and uncle. My aunt (who we will call B for the purpose of concealing her name) had a stroke and couldn't get down stairs to clean anymore. There was a man boarding at B's house just before her stroke, he was quite a dirty man (not in the sense of a dirty magazine but as in a pig pen!) Mum and I were to sleep in the boarders old room.

It was very late and dark when we headed down the stairs to our bedroom and we couldn't see enough to find the light switch for the stairway or hall so we literally felt our way straight along the walls to the bedroom turned the light on and that's the point I started freaking out... Quietly, of course, so as not to offend my family. I begged mum to come to a hotel with me; I didn't want to go in a cab alone because I have had bad experiences in my little city so I couldn't imagine what it would be like in Ontario! I promised to pay for the cab, hotel and for the cab ride back in the morning, to no avail... (I should mention at this point that I'm not even a girly girl when it comes to dirt, I camp in tents sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag, I fish which means putting a worm on a hook with my own little bare hands and taking the fish off the hook, I am also the person who gets to clean the guts out of the fish and cook them up for everyone else to eat, having a pup means I am the one who cleans all his messes up... I'll spare you the details of what his messes consist of!) but that room was more than I could handle!

Mum refused to leave and come to a hotel so I sucked it up and started "getting ready" for bed while some stained and dirty super-model in what you could barely (no pun intended) classify as a swim-suit stared down from her poster on the wall. It was summer so I only had a t-shirt which meant my arms would be exposed to the stained bedding I was looking at with horror... I braided my hair in 2 braids in case of lice and covered the pillow with a half-slip for the same reason (of course that meant I would have to attend and sing at my cousins wedding in a light skirt with no slip, but hey, I would rather let strangers see my silhouette than get lice and you would too so don't even pretend! ha!) I folded the stained bedding down so it wouldn't touch me and made my mind up that even if I had to shiver my way into hypothermia (not probable in the summer, even in Canada! ha!) I wouldn't be covering myself with those blankets... I then checked for all the bugs that, in my mind, would likely be creeping around the half empty (or half refilled) beer bottles, glasses and ash trays with my shoe in hand ready to strike. I put my capri pj bottoms on and I thankfully found a pair of socks in my luggage that would pull up and stretch enough that I could tuck my capris into so my legs would be covered and not touch the yellow and spotted sheets. I found my way into the washroom and washed up then carefully lay on the bed with my arms on my slip-covered pillow and began to cry while mom began to laugh... I told her it wasn't funny and my uncle Morton would never, in a million years, force his daughters to stay in a such place but she had no mercy...

After about an hour of mom sleeping and me laying terrified to move I realized there was no use, I couldn't possibly sleep there, I tip-toed back up the stairs to the parlour (or sitting room whichever you prefer to call it) and sat... All night... On a firm sofa... Awake... with not one thing to do other than regret I was not sleeping. My uncle came out of his bedroom at about 5:00 am; he was awake to start the day. We chatted and of course, when the obvious topic of why I was awake came into question I simply stated "I couldn't sleep and it must be the excitement of seeing the family" and my uncle accepted my explanation without question. While chatting about life we watched the sunrise, together. It was beautiful and not just because of the majestic, warm, red, pink and purple tones in the sky but because I was able to become completely enthrolled by my great uncle's stories of life and how he became the man he was.

Oh, I almost forgot the one of the best parts of the story! I heard mum stirring downstairs in the morning so I rushed back to get dressed in order to get on the road as early as possible for the rest of our drive... At the bottom of the stairwell and a bit to the left there were beautiful, white french-doors. I'm a curious little kid so I opened them to find a newly renovated tv room which still had that new carpet smell and a brand new soft blue sofa that looked like it had never been sat upon... I called mom over to see the new room and we both stood there laughing ourselves silly now knowing we could have slept just fine in the clean room a couple of feet away from the boarder's old dirty bedroom!  Fantastic!

All in all, I am glad the room was dirty so I could make and keep the memory of a sunrise, and more than that an uncle I might otherwise never really known.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Most Important Part!

So I just had a friend ask this question "At church after worship was over and it was time for the sermon, an old lady went up to the pulpit and said, "Now it's time for the most important part of the service: the sermon." Do you agree that the sermon is more important the the worship during a church service?"

Here is my response, and I thought maybe we all should think about this: 

I don't really know that any part of a church service is more important than another... I have heard that the sermon is the most important part; I think because God's word is supposed to be communicated during the sermon... But, I am an artsy person so I am usually touched by lyrics in a song very quickly and deeply; plus I believe songs communicate God's word, at least the ones we sing in church (after all, the majority of them are at least based on scripture if not paraphrased scripture.) The alter service is when we get to talk to God through prayer (or at least when the a lot people start talking to him during church service) so I would say that's a relatively important part...
I think it's like anything else, different people pick up different parts of a situation to be deemed important...  We did an experiment in college where you take 5 people out of a classroom and into another place where they can no longer hear what is being said; the professor then reads a story to the remaining students.  Once the story is finished the professor brings one person at a time back in the class and and different students retell the story just read to them... Every one of the students picked out different details of the story to be important and left out what they didn't think was significant; no two were the same and you could pretty much tell how they processed the story whether they were visual, factual or artsy etc...  We all process information differently according to how we are intellectually wired.

Sometimes I talk to my mum about "important topics" after work, sometimes before work and every once in a while I'll call her from work...  Sometimes I send a facebook message, leave a voice mail, talk on the phone or in person..  I can't say that I only talk about the "important things" on the phone or in person or that I only bring them up after work as opposed to before...  I talk about important things whenever and however I think the other person is going to hear what I am saying, process and interpret the information in the right context...  I talk about the important topics when and how I feel neither of us will be too busy with or focused on other cares. 

Also, I speak to different people using different tones of voice, expressions, vocabulary, sentence structure, etc. based on who I am communicating with. Some of my friends get texts with abbreviated words (or misplaced words because of T9,)  I'm sure each person thinks the way I speak to them is the most important but that's not necessarily the case... Paul said "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might win some."  (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23) and that's what we all do so why wouldn't God be smart enough to speak to each of us in different ways and at different times according to our personalities, education, intellectual capacity, etc..?  Retorical question because he is smart enough and he does do just that.
So, I think the most important part of any given service is different for each person... I'm just crazy enough to believe that if a certain part of a service doesn't necessarily "interest" me or connect with my way of thinking that it's because God is connecting with someone else and furthermore I love that he is!  I would say "that song was life changing, that moment was so awesome, God really spoke to me!" While you may say "the sermon really touched my heart, so glad I got to hear it!"  An elder may say "I can't believe he read from that text today, God has been dealing with me all week regarding it and he just confirmed it."  Yet a newer person sitting in the same service we're in may say "Thank God that pastor explained what everyone was doing; jumping around up front like they were in a mosh-pit, everyone speaking other languages with their eyes closed, then going around touching each other foreheads and yelling!  Not so bad once you understand."  To each person attending the same service the most important part can and most likely will be at a different point.

In my opinion, humble as it may be, choosing a certain sliver of time to be the most important overall is silly. Why would I (or anyone else for that matter) want to limit God to getting "what's really important" done in just a few minutes of a church service?  And, if we do limit Him to one portion of any given Sunday church service should we even bother staying for the rest of it?  No, and I am decided, I will not be the one to try and limit God's work, in fact I want to do the opposite, don't you? If so, let him know, eh.  "God, you can use any time during any day, not even only when I'm sitting on a church pew, to talk to me!"