Sunday, 27 September 2015

He really said that?

"She said that?"
"And then what'd she say?"
"No way!"
"And then what?"
"K. Tell me more when we hang out together."

If my teen children ever spoke on the phone with their friends, I'm sure that's what I'd be hearing on my end...or something like that. I'm sure though that their texts to each other bear resemblance to phone conversations my sisters would have with their friends when I'd occasionally (read: rarely) eavesdrop on them. (C' you never did that! Unfortunately, only those who had multiple phones on a single land line know what I'm talking about.)

But that's how it would go in my home when I was growing up in the '70's and '80's. The black rotary phone would ring - 2 shorts and 1 long because it was a party line - and usually 2 or 3 pairs of legs would run spastically to answer. Each pair's owner yelling progressively louder "It's mine. I got it. I got it." And finally, in an equal mixture of shame and disgust, the triumphant answerer would embarrassingly hand it over and whisper with disappointment. "It's for you" and slowly walk away. And, if you were in ear shot, or if you could pick up the upstairs phone without the distinctive 'click', you would hear a conversation very similar to the above one-sided dialogue.

Anticipation. Excitement. Thrill. Eagerness. You pick the appropriate descriptor. That's how these phone conversations always - well, usually - started. We didn't know who was going to be on the phone and we wanted to be the first to answer, especially if we were waiting for some news. Body checks. Hip checks. Tripping. Pushing. Shoving. It was a free-for-all. It was a roller derby sans the skates, pads, and helmets...and track!

Anticipation. Excitement. Thrill. Eagerness. What if that's how we went to church on Sundays? What if we would race (not speed!) to get a front row seat to hear what God has to say to us? What if, when we were seated, we would be so out of breath because we ran to hear the voice of God? What if everyone came and was seated thirty minutes early because they didn't want to miss a thing? What if there was a silent, restless hush while we all thought about the impending greeting from God? What if?

That's what I was questioning last week while reflecting on the current series on Leviticus that our pastor has begun. Last Sunday, he opened the series with an explanation, almost apologetically, (I say almost) because he knew that many listeners would be less than eager to hear about God's instructions to the Levites. He knew that ancient directions on sacrificial giving, temple building, and clerical dressing would have a high propensity to fall on disinterested ears. And, it saddened me to hear it. Not because he felt he had to give reasons why he chose to preach on a book that is difficult to draw parallels to today's world - but because I, too, was one of those who quietly said, "Leviticus. Really?"

So, why don't we race to church or impatiently grab for the Bible? Why don't we repeatedly say to a fellow worshipper, "What'd he say? What'd God say?" "Really? Tell me more when we hang out together." I suspect that's what the travelers to Emmaus felt when Jesus explained to them the past events after his resurrection in Luke 24:13-35. I suspect that's how Phillip's guest felt when he was invited into Phillip's chariot to hear more on the words of Isaiah in Acts 8:26-40. I wonder if that's how the thief who was promised eternal life by Jesus felt as he hung on the cross awaiting his own physical death in Luke 23:43. Might he have pleaded with Jesus..."Tell me more Jesus, tell me more. What else did God say? I only have a few more minutes left before I meet him face to face. Is he really as gracious, loving, and forgiving as you say?"

The Bible is God's holy word - in printed form - from Genesis to Revelation. It's not just inspired. It has life and breath as if he was sitting next to you. Don't wait any longer. Find out what he has to say to you. He just might be saying, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."

Watch out! Get out of my way! I'll trip over anyone, anytime, anyplace just to hear those words spoken to me! 'Cause that's what I'm praying for...eagerness, hunger, and anticipation for his word.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Her raspberry stained face gave me a glimpse into heaven

From a distance I saw her canopied stroller parked near my neighbour's bountiful and mouth watering garden. The chair was turned so her face was hidden from me. But as I got nearer I could tell the stroller's occupant was straining her neck to see me atop my tractor. Finally, I was in her full view and when I waved she returned my wave with such enthusiasm that I felt compelled to stop, dismount and say 'hi'. I was surprised when I got closer - her face was covered in raspberry juice! Her two tiny teeth were fully exposed as she smiled and welcomed me with her eyes. She had been eating berries as she watched her 'grandmother' harvest the patch's bounty.  There was a peace - a certain contentment - that flowed from her eyes. And she was only a toddler.
This little girl is my temporary neighbour - she is in the foster care of a couple who have been given special appointment by God to nurture and love her while a permanent home can be found. Lydia (not her real name) arrived as an infant at the home of this couple, (whose children are now adults and living away from home), and is being raised as one of their own. While under their care affection is rendered and correction doled out in ways any parent would give their child if he or she were one of their own. Lydia isn't their first child whom they are fostering - she is one of many that have been blessed within the walls of her 'Oma and Opa's' (Dutch for Grandma and Grandpa) century old farm house.
Content to sit and watch while Oma picked berries; she patiently waited for a berry (or five) from Oma's outstretched hand. Eagerly, she shoved them into her mouth and savoured their sweet taste while waiting for just one more. Without a worry in the world, Lydia was enjoying a feast of berries under the watchful eyes and protective hands of one who loves her unconditionally. It was Lydia's messy, smiling face - her nose, lips, and chin smeared with raspberry juice - combined with the loving foster care provided by her substitutionary Oma that gave me a glimpse of what I imagine heaven to be like.
Here's why. Leviticus 23 records seven feasts, such as the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of First Fruits, and the Feast of Tabernacles. David writes, in Psalm 23:5, about God preparing a table or feast for us. Jesus uses the occasion of a feast at a wedding to perform his first miracle in John 2. In fact, the Bible has 170 references to feasts - 140 in the Old Testament and 30 in the New Testament! And, the Apostle Paul refers to our being adopted as sons and daughters to God through Jesus many times in his letters, such as in Ephesians 1:5. Two important and recurring themes - feasts and adoption by God through Christ - run unmistakably clear the Bible.
So, the next time you need to wipe your face after eating a rack of ribs, a juicy watermelon, a melting ice cream cone, or even when you have to wipe a child's face, remember the feast we'll enjoy for eternity in heaven. Together, you and I as adopted brothers and sisters fostered with God's infinite love, our brother Jesus, and God - our adoptive father - we'll eat an unending course of raspberries, pineapples, grapes, and nectarines! Just hold the cantaloupe (or musk melon). I can't imagine that it will taste better... even if it's on heaven's menu!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

I regret to inform you, but I have a...

cartoonMan cold. Or that's what my lovely wife of almost 21 years calls it! It doesn't matter that I sneezed what felt like a thousand times in a row, or that the section between my upper lip and nose, in other words: the philtrum or the infranasal depression is a rosy pink, or that every time I swallow I'm convinced that a razor blade has taken up residence in my throat. Nope. I have a man cold and my Mom's phone number has been mysteriously added to our speed dial list! got me to think. If I have a man cold, what's a woman cold? And, more importantly, can a man have a woman cold? Can a woman get a man cold? Or, when a woman gets a cold, is it just a cold? I mean, with equality and such, I think I'm entitled to have a woman cold from time to time, too. Like I said, after almost 21 years of marriage, I'm feeling bold enough to take a shot at describing a woman cold! If you can say yes to at least 3 of these items, then in my estimation you have a woman cold (or just plain cold): you have a life threatening fever, your body's two primary exits have been conspiring together against you for at least 48 hours, it feels like your head is lodged in a bench vice, you're in desperate need of an iron lung, and all the tea in China won't make your throat feel better! Anything less than 3 of these items - I'm sorry to say - you have a man cold - as defined by a woman.
sick catI don't know where in history colds became defined by gender. Maybe, 'man cold' was coined when Alexander the Great delayed his trek into Syria in 333 BC due to in "Poor Alex. He's got a man cold. Syria can wait." Or, maybe it was because Napoleon was unwell on the day of the Battle of Waterloo and that's why he lost. (Some historians even claim possible hemorrhoids!) Even more likely, it was Winston Churchill's pneumonia in 1943 while leading and inspiring the Allied invasion that the term man cold was coined. But... then I imagine it was used with a very complimentary tone - no sarcasm inferred! But, society, in its twisted fashion, has changed the meaning of the word. Just like the words - sick, bad, and gay have changed meanings over time. I think if you had a man cold pre-1945, you could hang with the likes of Alex the Great, the Little General, and The British Bulldog. Now, if your wife explains your absence using the descriptor man cold, she gets sympathetic nods from her female compatriots and shameful, blank stares from those of the male persuasion.
I don't know about you - and by 'you' I mean my male readership - but, if ever my cold is described as a man cold by my wife, I'll envision myself among the ranks of the greatest leaders of all time. There I'll be: Alex, Napoleon on my right, and Winston on my left. Ahh...misery loves company.
Psst...pass the Kleenex...ACHCHOO...I'm going to bed. Oh, and where's the Vics Vapour Rub?

A stumble, a tear and a rainbow

Greeted by a surprise rainbow on Mom's birthday! It was at a dressed up gravesite that 40 or 50 people gathered around last Tuesday,...