Friday, September 18, 2015

Which King?

This past Sunday we witnessed a teachable moment gone awry.  The pastor called the children to the front of the church to pray with them before dismissing them to “King’s Kids” (Sunday School) classes.  Before he prayed he asked them what they were learning about in King’s Kids. 

One little guy piped up, "The king!”  Clearly thinking this was a teachable moment the pastor responded, “Which king?”  To which the little guy responded, “Burger King!”

Gales of laughter ensued from the congregation and pastors.  A prayer was said and the kids were sent off to their classes.  I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “There’s got to be a blog post in there somewhere.”  So here we are.

It’s been at least 15 years, possibly more, since I ingested a fast food burger!  Generally they wreak havoc with my digestive system.  However, in the interests of blog research, further investigation was required.  I had to google “Burger King” to find out where they were located in Edmonton, and ended up hitting on $2.49 Whopper Wednesday; a whopper, fries, and a bottle of water for only $5.25.  Who knew!

I remember the Burger King “king” as a fairly cheesy (no pun intended for those who like their Whopper with cheese) branding character.  Apparently their marketing people felt the same because there is no hint of the “king” anywhere in the restaurant.  The closest I could find related to kingship was a crown on the wall and one on their paper cups.

So apparently the burger “king” no longer exists as a character but the legacy of Burger King lives on in $2.49 Whopper Wednesdays and in the mind of a child on Sunday morning!

Where am I going with this?  Well, aside from actually enjoying my grossly unhealthy lunch, I got to thinking about kings. 

In that little guy’s life the king of choice at that particular moment was Burger King.  Maybe he’d been promised Burger King for lunch.  I’m fairly sure the answer the pastor was hoping to extract from this little guy was Jesus.  (After all isn’t that the answer to any Sunday School question?)

As Christians, Jesus is our Lord and King.  What’s sad is how often we put things ahead of Jesus.  Soon He becomes downgraded from King to commoner.

We end up treating Jesus no better than a fast food order window.  We absent-mindedly toss up prayers, expecting short order answers in five minutes or less.  Then we wonder why we feel disconnected and dissatisfied in our Christian walk. 

How much better would it be if we spent time getting to know Jesus, who He is, and what He did to save us from our messed up lives; giving us eternal life with our Father in Heaven?  How close a relationship would we have with Him if we spent daily time in prayer and bible study?  Start today and renew your relationship with our King.

Things To Think About
Have you downgraded Jesus’ status from Lord and King to something else?  Are you in the habit of making “fast food prayer requests”?  What steps can you take today to re-establish Jesus’ kingship in your life?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” below.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Infidelity - A Rising Tide

A couple of weeks ago I was in BC for a conference.  I had an hour before dinner and couldn’t resist the ocean just across the street from the hotel.  It invited me to come and explore.

I strolled along taking time to crouch down to examine tiny marine ecosystems left behind in tidal pools on the beach.  As I squatted beside one I realized the pool had expanded slightly, now lapping at the toes of my shoes. 

Thinking the pool was flowing into the depression left by my shoes in the sand, I backed up, continuing to examine the pool.  Before I knew it the tips of my shoes were surrounded again.  I moved on to another pool.  Before long that one too expanded to encompass the soles of my shoes.

After a few minutes of thinking about this I looked up to see the broader picture.  It wasn’t just the tidal pools expanding to fill the dents left behind by my shoes.  The whole beach was inexorably being consumed by the ocean.

This wasn’t a tide coming in with big crashing waves like I’ve seen on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  This was water, steadily creeping over the sand and drowning every particle.  I had never seen a tide come in like this.  It had an eerie feel to it.
Within an hour the entire sandy beach was ingested by ocean and all the life in the tidal pools returned from whence it came.

Watching the relentless flow of water reminded me of how insidiously infidelity creeps into our marriages.  It starts out innocently enough.  A brief stop to glance in a tidal pool. 

The “tidal pool” might be a friend request on Facebook, or a lunch with a colleague.  A pleasant on-line conversation ensues, one lunch leads to another.  You crouch by the “tidal pool” enjoying the different world into which you are drawn.

Soon you realize your feet are getting wet.  The Facebook conversation turns into a face to face meeting and then a “date”.  The innocent lunch at work becomes regular “business dinner meetings” that last a little longer and become a little less innocent each time.

You back up thinking it’s nothing serious, but you miss the steady flow of water surrounding you.  Once the tide of infidelity starts it doesn’t stop until it consumes everything in its path; your family, your marriage, your faith, your friendships, your job, your self-esteem, your reputation, and your emotional and sometimes mental health. 

When a tide comes in, it sweeps over everything in its path.  When it goes out it leaves debris scattered behind on the beach.  Washed up bits of refuse on the sand and tiny ecosystems struggling to survive in pools of brackish water. 

This isn’t much different than the shattered lives left behind by infidelity in a marriage; each affected party struggling to survive the aftermath. 

Infidelity is easy to fall into.  Watch for the warning signs in your day to day activities and stop it before the tide consumes you.

Are you hiding a Facebook “friend” or relationship from your spouse?  Do you enjoy the attention of a co-worker more than you should?  Are you telling your commuter “buddy” things you should only be sharing with your spouse?  Do you complain about your spouse to someone of the opposite sex so they’ll flatter you and make you feel better?  Do you hide texts you receive from a “friend” from your spouse?

You’re on dangerous ground if you find yourself doing any of these or other questionable activities.  It’s time to take steps to stop an inappropriate relationship before it turns into an affair.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Crucial Conversations" Book Recommendation

The last few weeks in Alberta have been lovely and hot.  I say that from the perspective of someone who is comfortable with +30 C weather and no air conditioning!  The only issue I have with the heat is running in it.  It's then my stamina gets up and goes home, where it waits patiently for my return.

I outsmart it by getting up early and running before it hits 20 degrees and by making sure I stay hydrated along the way.  This past Saturday held all the promise of a day when every sane person holes up in the air conditioned mall until the cool of evening descends.

To beat the heat I was up and running by 7:30 a.m.  At the moment I’m running an hour in 10 minute intervals; run 10, walk 1.  All was good. 

I was into my second run cycle when I felt something trickle down the back of one knee.  This was odd.  My brain launched into identification mode, “I wonder why the backs of my knees are sweating so much.”  

Another trickle, “They don’t generally sweat this much.  I’ve run in hotter weather than this.”  

A trickle down the back of my other knee was followed by an alarming longer stream that reached the top of my sock and ran down onto my foot.  “Am I peeing a little?!?” (I know all you women of a certain age have asked yourselves this question at one point or another…don’t deny it!)  Quick inventory of bladder.  “No, all systems holding steady there.”

Another long trickle into the sock.  “Maybe I’m bleeding.  Should I stop to check?  But my run’s going so well.  I don’t want to mess it up by stopping now.  There’s no pain.  If I was bleeding there would be pain.  I'll keep running.”

Finally the 10 minute run cycle ended and I had a minute to assess the situation.  No urine, no blood…good.  I pulled my water pouch out of its holster at my back and squeezed it for a drink.  Water jetted from a pin-sized hole in the seam at the bottom of the pouch.  Well, I found the source of the mysterious knee sweat.  Now I had to figure out how to get through the next 40 minutes of my run without my water draining away.

My minute was up so I got creative.  It can’t leak if no water gets to the hole.  I flipped the pouch upside down and crammed it down into the holster.  I was off and running…literally!  Problem solved.

Problems come our way all the time from places we don’t understand.  We can ignore them and hope they’ll go away, but that’s like FEELING the water leak out of the pouch and doing NOTHING about it.  Which I tried for a bit, but if I continued to ignore the problem I wouldn’t have had any hydration for the remainder of the run and my strength would have leaked away faster than the water in my pouch.

Occasionally problems are simply opportunities to make a situation better.  But sometimes they’re bigger and require more effort, more strength, and more time to solve.  Not only that, they’re quite often associated with lousy communication.

I know very few people who actually welcome the tough conversations it takes to resolve some of the BIG problems in life.  So I thought I’d share a book I read this spring that helps navigate those tough conversations.

The book is called “Crucial Conversations”.  You can find their website at . 

I’m one that runs from conflict faster than a turkey flees a Thanksgiving dinner table, but this book helped me identify how I respond in some of these situations and what I can do when I recognize these responses; then how to move forward and address the conversation head on.

There are a number of on-line tools for assessment and practice that can be used in a team setting or individually.  We can all get better at problem-solving through better communication. 

There are still a few weeks of summer left.  Why not add “Crucial Conversations” to your summer reading list.


What problem or conversation have you been avoiding that you need to address?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Very Hairy Berry Hibiscus

Every now and then we need a good laugh.  There’s nothing better than sharing a giggle with great friends. 

If you’re lucky what starts out as a giggle morphs into a guffaw, followed by a chortle.  Then it happens…somebody snorts!  At this point it’s all over.  One snort leads to another.  On rare occasions, you might get to witness the ever elusive triple-snort!  Soon you’re doubled over, holding your sides and roaring with laughter while tears stream down your cheeks!

People don’t laugh enough.  I know I don’t.  I tend to take life rather seriously, but periodically something appeals to my bizarre sense of humour. 

Case in point….

A few weeks ago I was on my way back to the office and decided to pop into the Starbucks drive thru.   It was a warm summer day, so I decided to have one of their berry refreshers.

You all know how complicated ordering a drink at Starbucks can be.  All I had to get out were the words “Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher”.  Four words.  Easy right?  Apparently not.  I pulled up to the speaker, confident in my linguistic ability and proceeded to order a very HAIRY berry hibiscus refresher.

My ever helpful brain immediately conjuring up a graphic mental image of a Starbucks cup, personified complete with Duck Dynasty beard, and green eyes peering out from beneath scraggly fur-like hair.

I completely lost it!  My whoop of wild laughter quickly dissolved into hysterical giggling.  A long pause emanated from the other side of the drive thru speaker.  I made another futile attempt at gasping out my order between fits of giggles. 

I finally managed to choke out the words, “that pink berry drink”, then gave up, driving up to the window instead.  The person at the drive thru window was doing her best to keep a straight face, but seeing me hanging over the steering wheel, gibbering helplessly about the “hairy berry drink” was too much for her.  The two of us had a good laugh!

I suspect my little verbal faux pas made her day.  I know it did mine.  Every time I thought about it I giggled hysterically.  Hopefully you are by now, too. 

Remember the next time you go to Starbucks it’s a VERY BERRY HIBISCUS…hold the hair!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Proud To Be Canadian

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  As a result I spent Sunday afternoon basking in the sun watching an air show with the Rocky Mountains as a back drop.  What more could you ask for?

The line-up included a variety of planes doing aerobatics, parachute demos, and a body-vibrating demonstration by the CF-18 fighter.  The Canadian Forces Snowbirds brought the show to a graceful close with their highly skilled, nine plane flight demonstrations.

The CF-18 was painted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle of Britain.  The thing that amazes me about this plane is you don’t know it’s there until it’s gone.  The angry roar of its engine vibrates through your body and you look up to see its tail disappearing in the distance!

The noise and vibration of the fighter exhilarates me, but I close my eyes, trying to imagine what it’s like for someone who sees it, not as a demonstration on a relaxing Sunday afternoon, but as an enemy bearing down on them, ready to belch out the deadly cargo in its underbelly.

The mental image shakes me more than the snarl of the fighter on its return pass and I open my eyes, watching as people flock to the runway to take pictures of the now grounded jet as it taxis toward the display area.

I look at the Canadian flags fluttering bright red and white against the afternoon sky.  How blessed we are to live in a country where CF-18 fighter jets are heard only in demonstration flights at air shows, and not at night as we lie in bed wondering when the next attack will come.


The Snowbirds take to the sky and I’m awed by the beauty and grace nine Tutor aircraft can display.  Flying at a speed of 600 km/hr they maintain a tight formation with only 4 feet between them.  The Snowbirds are a Canadian icon and I feel my Canadian patriotism welling up.  These are some of the best of the best in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

We live in a country full of freedoms other cultures only imagine or dream about.  We have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world right in our own back yard; the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes, the flat, grain covered prairies, and the pounding surf on the East and West coasts. 

Canada is an amazing country and I’m proud to be Canadian!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What To Do About Jesus

“What shall I do, then with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  This is the question Pilate asked an unruly crowd many years ago.  The response to this question led to the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; a series of events that has caused people around the world to ask themselves the very same question.

I went to church for years without asking myself that question.  I believed in God and prayed to God, but Jesus was just kind of there in the background.  I couldn’t really articulate what I believed about Him, and I was OK with that.

Eventually I realized if I was going to call myself a Christian, I needed to make a decision.  Did I believe Jesus was the Son of God, crucified and risen?  If I did what were the implications of that?  And what if I got it wrong?  It was a decision only I could make and it was time to choose what I was going to do with Jesus.

I started on a faith journey, searching for answers to mysterious questions.  Everyone’s faith journey is different.  Mine happened over the course of the last few years and I’m still on it.  But early on, after reading and reflecting on the gospels in the Bible, my decision about Jesus was made. 

I do believe Him to be the Son of God.  I believe He voluntarily died on the cross so I can be forgiven of my wrong doings.  I believe He rose from the grave and is alive in me in the form of the Holy Spirit.  And I believe that one day I will join Him in eternal life.  That’s my choice.  I believe.

There are many different opinions about who Jesus was.  Even when He was alive He was controversial and people had varying opinions.  Some listened to Him, saw Him perform miracles, and chose not to believe.  Others, never having met Him, chose to believe He was the Son of God.  And some were swayed one way or the other by popular opinion, or the influence of religious leaders.

I think of the Roman soldier who watched Jesus as he died an excruciating death by crucifixion.  I wonder what he saw in Jesus' death that made him exclaim “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39; Matthew 27:54)

Where are you on your faith journey?  Have you answered the question, “What will you do with Jesus, the one called the Messiah?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The New Testament - Stuff I Never Knew

I have four weeks left in my New Testament Introduction course.  It’s scary how quickly it’s gone by, but I’m really enjoying it.  I thought I’d share a few interesting facts I picked up along the way. 

1.       Phylactery – You know when you read segments of scripture that say something like this, “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads”?(Deuteronomy 11:18)

This wasn’t just a figure of speech.  Pious Jews actually wrote down scripture, mounted it in small cases and wore the cases on their foreheads or left arms.  This was called a phylactery.

2.       Apparently we’ve gone away from using the terms BC (before Christ) and AD (anno domini or after death) as designations when referring to calendar dates.  The terms BCE (before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era) are now used, at least in the world of academia, when referencing dates.

3.       I now know the difference between Pharisees and Sadducees.  Pharisees were based in rural areas and factored greatly in Jesus’ ministry in the Galilean region.  They were associated with the synagogues and were primarily teachers.  They focused on maintaining Israel’s relationship with God through strict obedience to the law and believed in resurrection of humans to life after death.

Sadducees were the upper class, mostly residing in Jerusalem, and were associated with the temple.  They were primarily priests and were committed to maintaining Israel’s relationship with God through the sacrificial system.  They did not believe in resurrection to life after death.  They were primarily responsible for the plot to have Jesus put to death.
About the only thing the Pharisees and Sadducees had in common was the fact that they both believed Jesus was a threat.

4.       The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Jewish Bible and is abbreviated as LXX.

5.       The letters from Paul in the New Testament are arranged from longest to shortest.

6.       An amanuensis was a secretary or scribe who was trained in letter writing.  Most people in the Roman Empire were illiterate so the process of letter writing generally was designated to someone skilled in that area – an amanuensis.

7.       There are four different “Herod’s” in the New Testament:

Herod The Great – ruled all of Palestine on behalf of Rome and was in power when Jesus was born.

Herod Antipas – Herod the Great’s son - ruled the territories of Perea and Galilee.  Was in power during the time of Jesus’ ministry and death.  Had John the Baptist beheaded.

Herod Agrippa I – ruled Judea and Samaria.  He is the Herod mentioned in Acts 12 that persecutes the believers and kills the apostle James. 

Herod Agrippa II – The last ruler of the Herodian dynasty.  Paul appears before him as a prisoner in Act 25.

8.       I now know what eschatology means – the study of “last things” like the return of Christ, the final judgment, and other things associated with the end times.  I’d heard the word used, but didn’t know what it meant.

9.       I didn’t know all the gospels were anonymous documents.  We are able to track back through historical documents to support various authorship of each gospel, but the original documents were anonymous.

This is probably not new information for some you and I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve been living under a rock.  When it comes to historical knowledge, yes, I have been living under a rock.  But I’m loving learning all this information and getting a better understanding of the New Testament.
Things To Think About
Is there something in the bible you've been wondering about?  Ask your pastor to help you figure it out.