They’ve started already. Actually, they’ve been arriving for quite a while already. We received our first “Holiday Gift” ad in the mail the first week of October – a full week before Canadian Thanksgiving. One local retailer had Christmas displays up the same week they put out their Halloween displays. And it has not been without effect: two of our kids took it upon themselves to pull our Christmas decorations out of storage and liven up their bedrooms with the seasonal decor. Twice now, another one of our kids has turned on a selection of our Christmas music. And in the interest of full confession, I have already purchased and (mostly) consumed the first 12-pack of candy canes. Continue reading
James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
It was one of those extended arguments that we couldn’t let go of. We had only been married for a couple years and it seemed like every conversation we had over that particular three or four day stretch would result in one of us choosing sides against the other. One of us would see the bright side of the cloud, the other would point out the grey. One of us would want the window open, the other would walk past and close it. Yes, it got that ridiculous. The tension permeated everything. Though I no longer remember what we were really fighting about, I can still recall that sense of anger and disbelief and frustration and self-righteousness mingled together. Continue reading
I remember making that nerve-racking phone call.
Me: “Mr. H., I have a question to ask you.”
Mr. H. “Hold on. I think Mrs. H. better be on the other phone for this one.” Mrs. H. picks up the other phone.
Me with trembling voice: “Okay. Mr. & Mrs. H., I would like to ask your permission to ask your daughter for her hand in marriage?”
Mrs. H. “You only want her hand? What about the rest of her? Don’t you want all of her?”
Yep. That was my (now) mother-in-law’s quick-witted response to my nervous fumbling over how to ask them for their blessing on our plans to get engaged and married. “Don’t you want all of her?”
How do you respond to that?! I am sure I stammered out some sort of response – though even now, I’m not sure that it was even halfway intelligible – and they graciously helped me finish the conversation and gave us their blessing.
My mother-in-law’s question “Don’t you want all of her?” has stuck with me. And though the context is somewhat different, I have found myself reflecting on it quite a bit lately.
Sometimes, a disclaimer is needed right up front. So here it is: I am not a youth pastor or a specialist in youth ministry by any stretch of my imagination. I suspect that some who read this post will be smerking knowingly because whether through personal experience or through professional training, the thoughts and questions that follow are all too familiar. My thoughts and questions on young adults – which at 40 years old, I can no longer rightfully claim to be – and faith emerge both as a parent of teenagers and as a pastor of an “established” congregation. What follows is an extended version of questions and comments I raised in our congregation’s spring 2013 Family Ties newsletter. Continue reading
Abandoning the industrialized approach to discipleship and embracing an organic approach to discipleship that Bryce Ashlin-Mayo is calling for (see yesterday’s post) is not an easy transition to make, if for no other reason than we are a people who like numbers.
We are convinced that to make something count it needs to be counted, particularly financial numbers. We look for them in our entertainment industry. Nowadays, the quality of a movie is often simply depicted in terms of how much money it grosses in its first three day weekend. The content is secondary to the perceived popularity determined by how many millions of dollars the movie grosses. We watch numbers with our celebrities: who was the highest paid actress last year? How many downloads has an artists new video or song had? Where does a person rank on the list of the world’s richest people? Our economy, likewise, is healthy or not based largely on the number of job losses or gains in a given month. We constantly poll the popularity of government leaders and of government itself, determining whether they’ve done their job based on whether the people answering their phones have a favorable impression of our politicians – an impression that is shaped primarily by the most recent sound bites the media, spammed email, or a boisterous talk show host has fed them. The quality of their work is understood by popularity polls. Continue reading