I wrote this on Monday and (silly me) I thought I had posted it. My friend Dee left a comment about my last post "chiding" (mildly- thanks Dee)me for not having posted anything new. So I looked and sure enough - I had it all written up but hadn't sent it out. I now realize what happened -- I wanted to put in some pictures so I uploaded them and did some other things and then got distracted -- etc. etc.
My sister has been visiting all week -- she and I are the "middle kids" and are the "bridge" or the "anchor" (interpret that as you may) in our family of 8 - (there are 3 older than me and 3 younger than her) --and we are also the closest in age with a scant 14 months between us.
She is staying at my Dad's place and along with my other 2 sisters has done a pretty thorough clean-up and "clean out"of his apartment. He is 91 now (the picture is at the family gathering we had for his 91st - my brother-in-law Morris is in the background). We (2 brothers and 3 sisters who were here) also spent a lot of time in conversation looking for how we could best support Dad in living a safe, health, happy life.
So the week has been very busy and perhaps that explains the "mind gap" that lead to me thinking I had posted this when I hadn't.
I originally published this without pictures but I have now added them and did some minor editting.
** Written Monday February 18 2008
We have made trips south for the past 3 winters. For 2 years we left in February and, while we had a taste of winter, 2005 & 2006 were quite mild and had very little snow – especially during December & January. Last year winter was pretty well over when we left April 1 – but 2007 was a very mild winter with very little snow.
The winter of 2008 has – despite the sputtering start (we had 2 major starts of snow & cold – one in December and once in January that we followed by a complete meltdown. But since mid-January it has just been cold or snowing – we had the winter storm of a century about 2 weeks ago. (The picture looking out our driveway taken after ourlastbigstorm will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. The bank at the road tops 7 feet (2 metres) We haven't seen snowbanks like this for at least 10 years.)
Now this is a winter playground – snowmobiling, sking, snowshoeing, skating, sledding – you name it – this is the place to be – except when it is mild and there is no snow. So this year those who enjoy snow fun are in their glory.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons Linda & I aren’t into snow sports anymore. (and as you can see in the picture she finds it a bit chilly at times). Clearing the snow from the driveway nearly everyday gets a little “old” pretty fast. So for us “it’s no fun” in the snow .
I have finished my course and we had thought we’d be headed south soon. But it seems God has had some other plans. Both Linda & I have been involved in some local ministry (service) activities that we just couldn’t see ourselves walking away from.
In addition to the counseling and teaching related to specific situations, Linda is using her nursing skills to help Barb who has just had a knee replacement. My Dad has required extra attention and care this winter. Linda’s mother was hospitalized with congestive heart failure last week – although it appears to have been treated and she should be home today. I spent a day last week helping with some drywalling at the church building (and my back is still telling me about that).
I have just completed a series of lessons on the nature and purpose of our church assemblies. Mainly trying to “re-calibrate” away from the emphasis that we seem to drift into where we stress “going to church” rather than seeing that “being the church” means that we will assemble for various reasons, at various times for various purposes. As I see it, -- for Christians -- all of those assemblies are a part of our “life worship” and are necessary to meet the “one another” “encouraging, building up and equipping” that is so frequently mentioned in various New Testament scriptures. I don’t think we do it deliberately but it is clear to me at least that we have often equated “attending church services” with proving that we are Christians -- whereas (and I agree this is maybe a subtle distinction) , I believe we assemble because we are Christians. To make a it clear I’ll express it the way I saw a fellow blogger express it a couple of months ago. “An apple tree doesn’t produce apples to prove it is an apple tree – it produces apples because it is an apple tree”
Trying to express this shift in emphasis to someone who is ingrained in “going to church to worship God” thinking is difficult. I’m not pointing fingers at others when I say this because I I know this is true for myself. I have intellectually understood for a long time that “going to church” wasn’t what “church” was all about”, however, this emphasis on “going to church” was the reality of my behavior and speech for many, many years. And I’m not sure I’ve completed overcome the reality of that ingrained “habit” (similar to what I mentioned last time about overcoming bad habits – it’s a long way from knowing to changing – or so it seems with me).
In a lot of ways – what ‘ve expressed in this posting seems to be similar to what on the surface might seem to be contradictory statements made by the apostle Paul in writing to the Phillipians --
On the one hand, he says “I’ve learned to be content whatever the circumstance”
Phil 4: 11-13:“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
On the other hand he says (paraphrasing) “I’m never satisfied – I keep pressing forward”
Phil 3:10-12: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Of course these aren’t contradictory because he is speaking of different things.
In the first case – he’s telling me to be content rather complaining that is “s’no fun”. God has placed me here for now and I should be content in those circumstances—even if we do decide to head south in a bit so we can be content in other circumstances – where we are we can be content if we are in God’s family.
In the second case he is saying that we will never achieve a perfect understanding or perfect behavior but we need to forget whatever level we have come to in the past and keep forging on looking to Jesus to continue transforming us towards the perfection that will be ours in eternity.