HUMILITY ability……

“I pray that I should die”,  Al said at dinner.

He was a newcomer at the Senior Living Residence were we lived for 1 1/2 years. People often moved there because of physical problems; they had no nursing care, but plenty of social activity and services for the basically ambulatory.

Al was a serious Catholic with some heart problems that called for regular oxygen intake. His ego (he says) did not permit him to bring oxygen into the meals. He made the long trek to the elevator and struggled, breathing hard, down the hall to the dining room. His exit was even tougher, because of the effort to carry on conversations at the table. When he left ; he was out of there, breathing like he had just swum the channel.

I have tried to understand the nature and focus of his exchange at the table. He was an attorney for many years. This suggests why he might appear a bit more confrontational, posing  questions to which he knew the answers. I reasoned that it was to determine the level of a persons intellect as soon as possible. Then he would indulge in a sort of demo of himself by quoting poetry, other recitations, and a travelogue of his extensive travels. It was not that he wasn’t personable, but rather, pretentious. and a lot of work to keep up with.

I  noted that his voluntary dining partners would move away frequently. In fact, I also needed a breather from time to time.

I’m sure that, in some ways, he is like many of us. We “are” what we were, what we have done, and where we have lived. There is a kind of tedium that results from that kind of qualification. We can soften things by inquiry into other peoples background, but too often the demo is done and people have made a negative judgement.

In Al’s case, he may have been just composing a kind of mental obituary. He must have just surrendered all to eternity in all of this recitation.  His recall and response was impeccable.

As for me, if you want my best answer for anything; secure it before 3:00 in the afternoon.

Other than that; (cast not the first stone)…. I will try hard to be humble (a huge task in it’s self).

I will leave it to others  to write my obituary…. but, they are just going to have to wait ’til “my cows come home” to deliver it.

Ask another old person what that means  Don’t ask  Al……….. He didn’t care to wait!

 

 

THE ” WHATCHA MACALLIT” SYNDROME

Liz turned to me with a serious smile and revealed; “I lose at least two nouns a day.” To which I replied,quite earnestly; “I wish I could lose two pounds a month!”

As you can see, we were not on the same page; but as you might imagine, living in a “Senior Residence”, we could not crudely conclude; “different strokes for different folks”……certainly not!

As our failures to recall things may only be missing for the moment; we often remember them on the way down on the elevator. or the minute the door slams. We could later send a thank you note to to the questioner for waiting, but we would probably forget; “Where did I put that pencil?” So, we move on.

Even back in my young days… when Mrs. What’s-her-name, my teacher, would warn:”Never let a participle dangle”… Much less; “Split an infinitive”. I don’t recall ever doing either, but there you are.

People never have to say to me; ” I wish I had your memory”… I would have been compelled to say; ” Silly… men do not have mammaries !

In all, the kindest thing we can do is nod politely to the comment that we cannot hear, about the unfortunate loss of  that persons whatcha macallit… which is, of course, her walker. It’s hardly lost; perhaps just split to infinity, or is just participlely dangling somewhere.

See , I did remember!  You just forgot.

 

 

WHAT TO BE…when I grow up

How many times has this question been posed (by ourselves and others) thru the years?

It would seem that we believe that we have a mission…. even a destination to reach. We might break it down to those times in early school years when we take things in small bites… learn to spell; multiplication tables and the like; into the assimilation of technical skills..

Just prior to our wage earning years, we look for “the right job” and the best way to prepare for it through education..

While we wait for resolution, counting it as an arrival point, we may often neglect the truth, and think we  are the the main determinant of what that destination will be, and when we will arrive there.

You may be aware;  if you are an elder, and see those works in your children, that there is one destination and no arrival time that has been factored into every being at the time of birth.

We will be a work in progress up to and through eternity.

You might respond then; ” That’s just some kind of Christian concept that has no basis in reason .” My response would be; ” You are absolutely right.”

I would speak then to those of us who have children and family who have arrived at what they believed to be their life’s objective; retirement. They have planned and saved and set forth their plan for a good life, only to move into it and find that somehow  “purpose” disappeared.

And, was it ever ours to own and forfeit?

God would say “no” to everyone regardless of their level of belief in His fatherhood.

All of those “accidents”( happy or not) that have formed us into who we have become.  Those seemingly simple events, have been His considered interventions to shape and remind us that “WE ARE NEVER FINISHED WITH  THE JOB OF BEING WHAT HE INTENDED”

The level of our “success” and happiness depends upon if and when we come to know that.

You would say; “So now He tells me ?”

He would say yes… If your life’s end be only one day forward…..you will  continue growing up “In Him”;  Mankind’s Father; yesterday, today, and forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEING HUGE in small ways

Today, our attention is drawn to things done “the big way”. We respond to ideas planned by media people to gain our attention; often by being outrageously overstated, or elaborately visual.

There is no doubt that it works for many things. My focus for this writing is to look at churches and their changes over the years. One would think that churches would continue to lead, as they have for centuries, in the way that God had declared “The same yesterday, today and forever”. And, the Word, while subject to interpretation, is in no need for revision.

Today revisionism has taken over much of our society. The reference to our Constitution being ” A living, breathing instrument” has allowed for major changes in original intent. This would lend to the thinking that fundamental religious principles may be likewise subject to possible review of God’s intent and their inviolate nature be tempered.

If the Bible were framed in the same manner as current legislation, with endless verbiage, it would fill an entire library. Yet, it is a relatively small book. In the way that government has become too large, it may well be that churches are going down the same road. Their attempt to reach out and grow has pushed them into the “entertainment business” where they are rated, by some, in terms of their showmanship and their efforts to keep pace with contemporary values and objectives.

While early church outreach focused upon neighborhood and fairly static membership, the “church” today feels committed to a broader outreach in the form of missions, and is more susceptible to turnover. Some have dropped their branch designation, moving to a more universal image that define the church as conservative, or orthodox, or whatever.

One cannot fault churches who would expand their outreach, but the level of accommodation can be bothersome for some…especially the traditional mindsets who love the predictability, even ritual, in the services.

Other churches find the balance between the two. One might use a hymnal and feature a choir. Another might adhere to “Sunday dress”…. others might dress, even patronizingly, in jeans and shorts.

God may not be into any of these distinctions, but people are, and it affects their choices; even their continued attendance.

There is no question that dress and music style have changed to mimic the age and interests of the bigger market. The music is louder and more repetitious. The lyrics and biblical references are posted on the big screen. The hymnals have been set aside.. Some of these changes have engaged new and younger visitors and members. Those changes have caused some ‘traditionalists” to seek other options.

Because of my travels in business, and with my Witness Group ministry, and my commitment to attend church wherever I am; I have experienced many different church services, mega and mini.

We would ask, as the most important inquiry: “Where might God’s heart lie?” Certainly the works of Jesus were largely one-on-one. He found it difficult to deal with huge crowds, opting to build disciples and witnesses to carry His message.

Those churches who choose to try to be effective in their own neighborhood have my respect. I attend a “Mega Church” having watched to grow for many years.

More and more I find the small community pastors work to be compelling. Their hands-on approach as they watch God work more in their own neighborhood has to be fulfilling to all. While they may have missions, their charity begins at home. Heaven knows it is more cost effective and easier to judge results.

One day I will dress up, hymnal in hand, ready for responsive reading and go back to my roots….. but that’s  old me……. you know what works for you.

In any case, God will be the same size………..

Won’t He ?

 

 

 

BIG is not always better

What is the case for country schools?

I came from the big city of Denver where; for many, size was a source of pride. Big choices and big programs were the order of the day.

When we moved to a small town and  attended a a small school; my first few months were a big shock. This tattered old building outside of Lexington, Kentucky ministered to every age ranging from Kindergarten to High School; some 200 students in all. Tired old hall bells clanged loud and off-pitch; the stairs and hall floors creaked at every step;

All of the wood elements were scarred and worn. Smells of cabbage, kraut, and sausage often filled the halls at lunch time.  Real spankings were often administered (an art form often lost on my younger brother) for misdemeanors.

Some children wore funny clothes with little worry about ridicule; they were warm in their often ill-fitting hand-me-downs.

Daily prayer was as normal as recess.

How was it then, if big is good; that when we started there from the big city, I was almost held back a grade (and my brother was). It was hard to keep up! Who ever heard of diagramming sentences; where a group of words were lined up like and organization chart? There was “old math” (new to me), and Latin that nobody ever spoke. My experience was the same all the way though my Junior year, having moved to an all- male High School in Louisville, Kentucky;

And, how is it that when we finally moved back in my senior year to the big city of Denver, everything was so easy… even lacked challenge. And, the required things that I had missed were stupid things like hygiene…. that I already had nailed?

I forever thank these old schools for their early lessons that I still try to use; respect, discipline… and fundamental thinking.

And, most importantly …..reverence.

Stitching ……in time

There is an amazing selection of sayings that offer an approach to the training of young ones. The bulk of them understand the need to be proactive rather than reactive.

The most astute of which is found in Proverbs 22; 6….. “Train up a child in the way they should go and they will not turn from it”.  There is always hope…….. but no recipe other than”The Word”….which is the “fundamental yardstick..

As I research the many other ways of doing this, I find a range of very debatable  suggestions;

Among the more reliable ( in my mind) would be; ” A stitch in time saves nine” and ” As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

It is really difficult to wrap up a complex task like child rearing in one recommendation; here are a few offerings that are debatable:

“Everything depends on upbringing ”

“Parents can give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands”

“The best way to make children good is to make  them happy”

“Children have to be educated, but they also have to be left to educate themselves.”

“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.”

“The most important thing a parent can teach their children is how to get along without them.”

One might add.. “They are known by the company they keep.”

My title suggests the value of timing for any input. We assume that we are primarily shaped by our immediate family…. some rest on the influence of genetics.

A great deal of credence is given to idea that the influence of our peers, at our mot vulnerable stages of life, can be a major determinant. It would be a mistake to not continually assess that possibility; even the presumed brief encounters.

We find ourselves, during much of our children’s lives, occupied by our work and interests. It would seem wise to have an abiding interest in their comings and goings at every stage of their development’

While God teaches us about the need for Hope, He treats responsibility at a comparable level. As in Deut 6: 7;

“You shall teach them (life lessons) diligently, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

At the awful risk of repeating ourselves…. That’s pretty much all the time!

We may be sure that God would declare it to be “Our most important job”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOOKING BACK IN CELEBRATION

What has the past told us about ourselves, our preferences, our dedications, our mission in life?

Can we build a future on what this reveals? Because we are all a work-in-progress, our focus is dependent upon what we discover in ourselves that might be commendable. We will always find something we will regret !

I suspect that is the foundation for depression that many might feel, seeing themselves having traveled the wrong road, or having made bad decisions. It would be unlikely that anyone would find a perfect performance. And,  they often are unable strike a balance.

We are judged by ourselves and others all along the way. Those assessments have resonated and are accepted or pushed aside. It is the size and resolution of that inventory that may well determine our future choices.

We are told not to dwell upon the past. Perhaps not even to be the first to say that 1000 years ago, was Omar Khayyam who wrote: “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. Nor all the piety nor wit, shall live it back to cancel half a line; nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

Obviously. Omar was speaking of negative experience. That would leave us to the  issue of our common interest in remembering, even recreating, certain positive ones. What is to be gained by that?

Remember another quote that goes something like; “Remembering the past is fine, but be careful not to take up residence there.”

I would say in agreement, that we cannot live in the past. Our Father God invites us to become a new body and soul in our commitment to Christ through our own delivery from who we might have been,,,,,,, but for His Grace.

I think He calls upon us not to forget past things, but be encouraged by the promise that the same comfort and forgiving Grace is ongoing. We must always “take up residence” in these blessings.

Add to this from the promised future in heaven, which is secure for the believer. Our task is to make the very best of the present that we can, and use our Gifts to Witness to others………. celebrating His gifts of the past that are destined to shape us into a “Good and Faithful Servant” of the future.