Monday, September 28, 2009

blessed be the hands

one of my favourite blogs to read is Subversive Influence because he's right here in the same town that i'm in, we run in some of the same common circles and yet we've never met (that i know of) so there's still some mystery attached to him. Brother Maynard runs that blog and regularly inspires me with the stuff he puts up there.
in this situation he's got me thinking about hands and i've always been fascinated by hands because they do so much. i long for my hands to be blessed in the things that they do and i pray that they are. i'm rendered speechless by stuff like this because i know that it'd give me pause and probably make me weepy if we did a blessing like this in our community.
we should probably do that though.

Blessed be the work of your hands — Holy God.
You hold us in your hands.

Blessed be the hands that have touched life.
Blessed be the hands that have nurtured creativity.
Blessed be the hands that have held pain.
Blessed be the hands that have embraced with passion.
Blessed be the hands that have closed in anger.
Blessed be the hands that have planted new seeds.
Blessed be the hands that have harvested ripe fields.
Blessed be the hands that have cleaned, washed, and scrubbed.
Blessed be the hands that have become wrinkled with years.
Blessed be the hands that are scarred from doing justice.
Blessed be the hands that have reached out and been received.
Blessed be the hands that feed those who are hungry.
Blessed be the hands that comfort the dying and touch the dead.
Blessed be the hands that greet strangers.
Blessed be the hands that guide the young.

Blessed be these hands — for they are the work of Your hands.

Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

the smallest member of the family

my dog's name is Maddie and she's very predictable. when we got her she wasn't predictable at all but after 9 years under our roof we can see some definite characteristics that she's taken from our family, ok she's taken them from me. we named her after my wife's favourite author, Madeline L'Engle.

she's so scared she should be a cat.
any big truck that goes by will cause her to go darting under a table, a chair or between your knees if you happen to be standing in the neighbourhood. most of the time that isn't an issue since most of the truck traffic happens while i'm at work so i don't have to worry much about getting taken out by a low bridge tackle by a 40 pound mutt. however, this issue is the most problematic whenever its stormy outside. she's deathly afraid of thunder and lightning. as a general rule she doesnt come upstairs to the bedrooms in the house so that we don't have to worry so much about dog hair all over the place but when it storms she slinks upstairs because the fear is palatable and can be seen in the way she holds herself. the general rule is that when it storms, Ian sleeps in the basement with the dog. that way she has someone to comfort her and everyone in the house can still get some sleep. our basement is sheltered enough that she can't really see the flashes or hear the roars anymore.
she gets that behaviour from reading me i suspect. when i'm in a bad spiritual space i tend toward fear and depression. i'm a worrier. Maddie serves as a reminder to me that i myself have a buffer from the scary things of life and Abba is willing to go sleep in the basement with me too. then when the thundering stops i can return to my proper place and know that i'm protected throughout. that lightens my heart sometimes so i don't really mind it when i have to go sleep in the basement with my dog, i really need that sometimes too.
i remember how much of a support Maddie was to me when i went through a winter of depression not so many winters ago. she thought we were just going for long walks along the river but i knew that she was supporting me through a scary time.

she can tell time.
we feed Maddie her supper at 7 pm and regularly she shows up wherever i am at 7 pm and she places her head on my knee as if to say, "know what time it is? i do." she's very cute. other times when i'm away at 7 pm so that Wendy feeds her then Maddie still tries to convince me that she hasn't had her supper when i return. we've developed a little phrase saying, "she's had her supper so don't let her lie to you."
i'm a slave to my schedule too. i like things the way that i like them and i don't like to be delayed more than anyone does. structure is comforting to me like it is for many. Maddie likes structure too. we go for our walk in the mornings and we have suppertime at 7pm sharp. she's a master of the puppydog eyes approach to getting what she wants. sometimes i'm a master of that too.
how often do i do things spiritually because that's the way that i do them. i find comfort in keeping it the same and when it's not the same i break out the puppydog eyes to God and i say "uh, do you know what time it is? i do." i'm thankful for the daily graces in my life and for an Abba that really does know what time it is.

she's a popcorn fiend.
i made popcorn this afternoon as i watched some football and my dog turned into a Pavlovian drooling machine as the popcorn popped and later we enjoyed some of it together. there's no way that you can ignore a drooling animal as she leaves little puddles (literally) on the floor next to the couch. don't worry i cleaned it up.
i'm a slave to my own desires too. i'm also a popcorn fiend but there are more things that i can substitute for popcorn in that sentence.
everything in moderation puppy (or Ian). there is much freedom available but don't be a slave to anything. one batch of popcorn is a nice treat but popcorn as a meal won't get you very far at all. i really do believe in freedom for the Christian and i think that Acts 15 is a pivotal moment in church history as a battle between the law and grace caused a turning point in people's lives. i don't want to be a slave to anything so i just have to find some of my own moderation of my freedom amidst all the drooling for my own desires.

sometimes when Maddie is doing something weird i say to my wife, "that's YOUR dog" even though i know that dog belongs to me. there are just so many things that Maddie does that reminds me that we are the same, she and i. they say that dogs and owners begin to look and dress the same, we're opposed to little outfits for our dog but i certainly get that beings living under the same roof begin to show characteristics that bleed directly from the lifeblood behaviour of the alphas already in the home. i've looked for a pic of our pup and unfortunately i have failed to find one, you'll just have to believe that she's a beautiful thing to behold ... she gets that from me too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ok, everybody to the back of the bus

hat tip to holy heteroclete for this idea.

how does that change how you view the world? i'm a product of my own North American education which ... well ... it's ethnocentric. i had to look around to get used to the idea that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this picture.
i was reading some other links that stated that maps used to have East at the top until navigators started keying on the North Star. most maps put North at the top of the map now because of that.
this look is different though. it forces one to look at places that you don't think about. if Asia, South America and Africa are prominent then how can we ignore the billions who live there in poverty. no more of this hiding faces behind the tilt of the globe, no more of this hiding in plain sight.
what if the majority also had the most money? where's that put me?
what if the ancient Asian cultures had explored the world the way the Europeans later did? how's that change how we view our maps? how's that change how we view our culture? how's that change how we view our economies?

i'm still ethnocentric. help me learn to throw more things on its head and look at it all from a completely different angle.

there are more versions of maps that you can find here and again here (thanks to Joel Stainer for the 2nd link).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

what's out there?

as i read this my heart leapt because there was so much here that i was vigourously nodding my head in agreement. i used to but now i ... and it is SOOOOO good.

September 21 is the International Day of Prayer for Peace and this particular blog is also very fond of labyrinth-ing.

this is a recent find. there's just some funny stuff on here that i'm enjoying, you will too.

the internet monk asks why doesn't the church talk about domestic abuse? it's naive if you think it isn't in the church. and let me also add this little baseball related post that brings together a bit of a father's grace.

this kinda thing didn't happen in my day. uh, yeah it did.

things i heard during worship today

Romans 8:19

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

in song

And all creation's straining on tiptoe just to see,
the children of God come into their own.

and again in song

Take good care of the land and water, take good care of the creatures too
Take good care of one another, I'll be taking good care of you.

there are all sorts of thoughts that i've had on this topic all week, in particular as an addendum to my "i want to be a better man" post from earlier this week. i'll undoubtedly want to add another post related to a question i was asked this week, "what do the words 'i love you' mean to you Ian?" my answer delves pretty deep into some real stuff for me.

blessings to you on this Lord's Day. take good care of one another and take good care of this wondrous creation. that's what i heard and i still hear it ringing in my ears now, hours after it was spoken to my heart.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


hat tip to Graceful.

this spoke to me today and went pretty deep. listen to it.

John O'Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i want to be a better man

we had seed group last night and Wendy and i led the group in a Mark Heard tune. we played our guitars and i was nervous. i'm the Mark Heard fan among the two of us and Wendy humours me on this topic so that we went with something that i enjoy. she allows things like that often and we do what i enjoy more often than we do what she enjoys.
i've been thinking about my marriage a lot today and i've decided that i want to be a better man. don't get me wrong, i basically like me and i'm not depressed, i just want to be a better man. i want to be more attentive, i want to hang out more and do stuff together. i want to invite friends over and play a game and i want to go for bike rides just as soon as i get my wobbly back tire working again.
i want to hear her. i want to see her and be enthralled with whatever has her attention. i also don't want to annoying, i want to be cute and playful and that can be a fine line sometimes.
i just want to be a better man, a better husband, a better friend. i love you Wendy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

a little child shall lead them

let me tell you about Em (not her real name). she's a special needs girl in our worship circle. she's 10, and she speaks volumes to me although i've never heard her utter a word.
she's enamoured with beeps from my watch. she loves to watch the piano player do their thing during worship. she strums at the strings of any guitar left to stand while the service isn't going on. she dances. she blesses. God uses her mightily.

i love it when Em decides to go wander around a bit during worship, because she does this little 2 step as the music moves along and the people praise.
i once saw her stand right behind the piano player and put her little hands on his shoulders as he played, i actually got a bit weepy as i prayed with her and blessed our piano player. it doesn't matter to me that she probably just wanted a better view of what was happening, that moment shoved me to pray for our people and i wouldn't have done that in that moment if i hadn't been "spurned on" by a little sweetie.
i firmly believe that God uses little incidents like this to speak to His people. Em works mightily in our ranks as we are sensitive to the little things that God is doing in our own hearts. i've worked with people with special needs in my employment history and there is no doubt in my mind that certain people see much more easily through the veil to God than others do. it could very well be that Em has a connection to God that i'll never have, and so i'll definitely be watching this sort of stuff to see if there might be something behind the veil that is brought to me by a different angel.

i've been considering this for some time now and this past Sunday morning Em came into worship with Mom and Dad in tow and as she sat down she was tapping her temple with her finger like she was saying, "are you thinking about what's going on here?" now i'm not saying that every little innocent move by an innocent child should be dissected for spiritual truth, i'm just saying that what if God is trying to get my attention and he's using a little one to do it? am i open to that? you bet your bippie i am.

Father i pray a special blessing on Em, let her life be filled with joy, and peace, and love. let me be as open to blessing, as open to beauty as she appears to be. let me take time to 2 step, to strum a guitar, to watch whirring numbers and listen to beeps on a watch. teach me to stop and enjoy. i pray this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
bless you Em and thank you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

walking with a limp

thanks to Broken Saints for the germination of this blogpost.

Jacob wrestled with God and wouldn't let go until He blessed him. they grappled, they rolled in the grass, he struggled while God held on to him. Jacob would not let go and finally God dislocated his hip ... but also made good on a promise. God blessed Jacob. He was faithful.

i wonder what that experience is like for God. we call it wrestling with God like it's a struggle but at the same time, we're grappling so God is RIGHT THERE. oh to be so close as to share the breath of God and feel the awesome power as we struggle against him.

i will not let you go until you bless me. i will grapple. i will wrestle with this and i will look for your answer, seek your blessing.
what did that get him? it got him a limp for the rest of his life ... but it was a knowing limp. every twinge in that hip would've been a knowing twinge. a knowledge that God is there. God is faithful. God will bless.

i too walk with a limp, although, i don't. my limp is seen in the knowing scars and the hard knocks over time.
God is faithful. i have grappled and He has blessed. there is a knowing smile across my faith as i examine my scars. God is there in that scar, He's there in that limp. i am blessed and i still have not let go.

is that God giggling as i exert all my might against those monstrous arms? why doesn't this full nelson hurt that he has on my heart?
thank you Father. i will not let you go and i'll just keep this limp with a knowing smile.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mighty Healer Faithful God

i got to read scripture during worship this morning. i love reading scripture, it always seems to be talking directly to me and i regularly get a bit choked up as i read. we have an OT reading, and epistle reading and a gospel reading during our service and today, i got to read from the Gospel of Mark (Glory to you God).

Mark 7: 31-37

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus* ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord (Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ).

after the reading we sang this song,

Mighty Healer Faithful God
written by Anne Marie Shrehan

Mighty Healer, faithful God, You are the Lord of the nations.
Mighty Healer, faithful God, Come heal the heart of the nations.

Lord, you are gathering, the suff'ring, the poor
the lonely and broken hearted.
Lord you are gathering the maimed and the crippled,
the blind and the weak and hard hearted.

Mighty Healer, faithful God, You are the Lord of the nations.
Mighty Healer, faithful God, Come heal the heart of the nations.

You will reveal your compassion and glory,
You will place smiles where frowns are.
Your Holy Spirit will come with annointing,
to wash clean and bring joy where tears are.

Mighty Healer, faithful God, You are the Lord of the nations.
Mighty Healer, faithful God, Come heal the heart of the nations.

We see your great love as shown in the gospels
when you healed the eyes of the blind man.
You cared for sinners and freed them from darkness
and opened the ears of the deaf man.

Mighty Healer, faithful God, You are the Lord of the nations.
Mighty Healer, faithful God, Come heal the heart of the nations.

Lord we will praise you, and give you great glory
for healing the heart of the nations.
Lifting our hearts we shall sing of your greatness
Glory is our salutation.

Mighty Healer, faithful God, You are the Lord of the nations.
Mighty Healer, faithful God, Come heal the heart of the nations.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

what matters more to you?

i had a pretty interesting discussion about Christian music on this blog not so long ago and it's generated some extra traffic as other blogs linked to it.

have you listened to this tune? stop reading and go listen to it if you haven't.

this song is being censored and the label didn't release it with his album, he had to release it through his website. wanna know why? he uses the word "damn" in the song. honestly, that's the reason. the subject matter of the tune talks about Christians who hate on others because of their sexuality but it's getting censored because of the "D" word?
damn, damn, damn.

first of all, Christians need to stop with all the hate. i saw this one blog post at Emerging Thought in Montana where this one pastor was advocating that all gays be killed and my reaction to that, this is what someone thinks is Christian? this is not Christian. Jesus isn't a hater, and neither should you be.
let me go a little further though. this tune is an excellent tune but ... it won't get into the hands of as many people of faith because it's being censored for using damn. people who need to hear this sort of message won't hear it because we're a bunch of Puritanical PRUDES.
ease up brothers. let him (or her) who has ears, let them hear.

so what matters more to you? your hate or your faith? because the two are in opposition.

Friday, September 4, 2009

what's out there?

one of the great things about blog surfing is that you come across some REALLY cool things. there's some great stuff out there and if you're just willing to take some time then you can really pick up some great knowledge gems. i'm planning to highlight some great blogs during this go around of what's out there?

St. Aidan to Abbey Manor has been doing some interesting stuff including the vid that is just below. it's a 10 minute vid but i'm sure that you can take 10 minutes to discuss the problem of evil. it holds your attention too. i'll be looking for part II on his blog after he puts it up and i may even link to it again when it goes up (no promises however since i never know just how busy things get).

i guess i'd like my own blog to be a combination of the 2 blogs that i link to below. i want to be fun, practical and theological all at the same time.

i have been perusing Stuff Christians Like of late and i'm just astounded whenever i see a blog that has the readership that Jon has at this one. he regularly gets 100 comments on a blog post and that says to me that he's writing stuff that Christians actually do like because they keep coming back. his blog is very practical and quite humourous on a regular basis. i sent him an email this week and he was kind enough to go check out my blog and reply to my email. he's a busy guy so i appreciated the encouragement he fired back. he's worth the read.

i've also been perusing the internet monk on occasion for the same reason as above. his observations are much more theologically based but he's also getting like 100 comments on a blog post. he goes a lot deeper into theoretical thought, philosophy and theology than i would ever be able to go but he's also worth the read.

this post just plain made me misty. grace is a beautiful thing. i love it when people are sensitive to the whispers of the spirit, even when the whisper works situations so that it's like getting hit over the head by a sledgehammer.

as a guy who has struggled with an anxiety disorder through some of his adult life i followed a series of posts at The Christian Monist with some interest. it's about his own journey through this issue and how he came to get some help. Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. Part V. and Part VI.

it's different for everybody.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

the Kingdom of God is like a referee who gets it all wrong

that's me, 3rd from the left, and i'm receiving an award from my football official's association a couple years back. i was a medalist at one of the linesman positions.

i recently started acting as the referee for football games. i've been a linesman and an umpire in the past but i had never been the referee prior to last week.
my first experience went poorly. my timing was wrong, my signalling was wrong, i was out of position and well, it just didn't go well.
i had a series of discussions with an evaluator and i managed to express my desire to have some discussion about how to do this job properly. in the end it was suggested that i contact some of our veteran refs in the association and see if they'd be willing to sit down to a chat while watching a game. i soon fired off emails to Dale, Adam and Jim and within some small amount of time i had made arrangements to meet both Dale and Adam to sit with me and answer my questions (Jim was willing too but he's out of town right now). none of these guys has any real obligation to do any of this with me and yet they were enthusiastic in their support for me. the responses were peppered with words like, "don't worry Ian, i got your back", "we'll figure this out and it'll all be good", "it's going to be fine, i'll be there at 5".

EVERYONE is in a search for community, a search to belong. these men are willing to take part in relationship with someone who needs their help simply because ... we belong. special interest groups of all kinds like to call themselves "communities" and in some sense they are, but the analogy falls apart if there's no depth to the relationship.
is community more than "being there" for someone in need? yes it is. it's nice to have these guys supporting me through a frustrating situation but the depth of relationship still isn't there. i'm not planning on discussing a person's inner desire for God, we won't be discussing ways to combat sin in our lives, we probably won't even discuss budgeting problems in a typical household. we're meeting for a particular purpose within our own little special interest group.
don't try to tell me that being neighbourly, friendly or supportive is being community. you need to go deeper to get my attention in that area. now if our discussion goes to deeper things other than the importance of recognizing Intentional Grounding versus an Incomplete Pass then that's a bonus and i'm on my way toward changing my mind.

this is just an analogy and analogies break down, they fall short. isn't that the point though? we use analogy, metaphor and parable to point our way to God. if i had started this post like Jesus started his parables, "The Kingdom of God is like a referee when he embarrasses himself in public ..." would you have kept reading? actually, you probably would've because few can resist the embarrassing moments when they're happening to somebody else. the point of the parable is this though, you have to go deep if you want deep relationship.

so ... The Kingdom of God is like a referee who gets nothing right over the course of a 3 hour game. He searches the rule book for ways to understand how to do the job and he calls his compatriots for help to understand where it is that he went wrong.

i'm grateful for the support but i think it's just because i want to avoid looking like an idiot again. i know that there are neighbours who come alongside to assist in carrying the load.
i don't think i'm talking about football anymore.