Month: March 2006

Working out and working it out …

Friday I made my usual trek in from an early morning of basketball. My pick-up team went 1-2 that morning. Every game was close. Paul, an unlikely hero, sunk the winning shot in the final game so we would not go home thrice defeated.

On mornings Lyle was not at the station we would work out after I got back to Tuttle. I thought about going ahead and working out. I decided to wait until Monday (today). The drive was reflective as I considered my normal routine. I turned the little car up Highway 4 (Mustang Road) and headed toward the house when the radio played Rod Stewart’s, “Have I Told You Lately that I Love You.” Daniel had put a video together for the memorial service using that song – a favorite of Lyle and Evette’s.

Rather than head home, I drove the little car to the barn where we would normally work out. I thought I would just go in and sit a spell. I opened the door and found CB and Janet (Lyle’s parents) working out. I walked in and sat down on one of the three benches. I could hardly speak. I wept. We all understood. Janet went to the house. CB and I talked for about 30 minutes. The conversation was enjoyable and may have been just the work out I needed. CB encouraged me to continue to coming to the barn. I assured him I would.

This morning I made my way over to the barn/shop. I worked out for about 45 minutes. CB showed up not long after I had arrived. We worked out together. Some of the time in silence (actually to the dull dialogue of the television) and some of the time in conversation. We talked about dads and their boys. CB reminisced of days spent playing tennis on the very spot we were now exercising. He talked of the need for dads to spend time doing anything with their boys – he enjoyed doing so with his. CB had missed that with his father. He made up for it with his boys.

We talked about trees and driving ranges. You see some trees will need to be moved to make Nathan (Lyle’s son) the driving range about which Lyle and CB had talked. I think our conversations will continue to be a way to work out.

CB reminds me of my dad. My dad and I still enjoy doing things together. CB was right. It is important for dads and sons to spend time doing things together. For a brief spell we were dad and son, albeit of others, thankful for time to work out.

Pervasive … Getting your mind around life …

Lyndl, Tyrone and I met for prayer yesterday morning. We could only talk of one thing – the loss of our friend Lyle. I asked Lyndl how he was doing. He graduated with Lyle’s brother, Randy. They grew up in Tuttle and as kids spent a great deal of time together. In fact, I learned last night that Randy and Lyndl roomed together in college. Lyndl responded to my question by saying he could not think of much else on Monday. The thoughts of Lyle were pervasive. I suppose that describes my own state.

I shared with someone over the past couple of days, my apologies if you read this as these days have been a bit blurry, my experience with those who have died. I recall in Milford receiving a call from a funeral home asking if I would perform a graveside ceremony for a very young couple who lost an infant. I did not know them. They did not live nearby. They had no one. I recall the services in which I spoke of my grandpa Spears and my dad’s twin Dick. I thought of Miss Thelma in Milford who had played the organ there more than 50 years. I thought of Shane at 18, Zachary at 7 and Cameron at 3 – all within nine months.

Getting my mind around the ebbs and flows of life and the reality of death is not so difficult. When it comes so close, that is another story. It is not that I doubt the Triune God in whom I trust. I think it is simply the recognition of my own limitations. Try as I might to come up with something soothing and satisfying, something to help it all go down, the normal trite responses increasingly make it more difficult. I have confidence in the place these I have mentioned now are. I have just come to realize the life of faith is about so much more than where you end up. The relationship is now the location of our eternity is a product of that relationship. We have too often made the destination the point of it all. I see God working in his world to have a people in relationship with himself. Certainly that extends beyond death but we make it all about what happens after you die.

I am still trying to get my mind around life, around the loss of those we love. And that includes, my friend Lyle.

Friend …

Posting will be light, as you can already tell. Our church lost a fine man late Sunday evening. I lost a good friend

Denny Crane … Walk the Line … and the narrative that changes everything …

“Denny Crane,” blurts William. I admit it a leap from Captain of the Starship Enterprise to Crane of “Crane, Poole & Schmidt.” Denny really believes the mention of his name stirs fear in opposing counsel, awe in potential clients and longing in all women. He can be a cad of a character. Other commitments have kept me from the weekly indulgence in another show always willing to tackle some of the more controversial socio-political issues of our day under the guise of a “legal” series.

Denny takes the case of a man accused of electrocuting a burglar. The prosecuting attorney grabs the media spotlight claiming his client is an “everyman” figure. Startled at the attention Denny says, “He stole my story.” Denny hires a PR specialist and explains the move by saying, “The narrative changes everything.” He goes on to say they will need to take the story back because in the end, lawyers are storytellers and the better story wins the day. Maybe a bit simplistic when it comes to trial law and obscures what occurs behind the scenes. But, consider high profile trials and just see you find something of what Denny describes as true. It is important to see which story wins the day.

While at lunch today, Greg reminded me of a similar thought from the movie, Walk the Line. Johnny asks his brother why he is always reading the bible. His brother, who planned to be a preacher, responded by telling Johnny he will only be able to help people when he knows which stories to tell.

Many want to take those to task who look to emphasize the narrative of Scripture. Yet, it is the “old, old story” we tell mediated by the Spirit of God that changes everything, including a person’s understanding of reality. Denny was right, “The narrative changes everything.”

Dashing the threat to the Gospel … Converging storms and exciting opportunities …

What can we learn from other cultures? For some time conservative evangelicals point to the decline in church attendance in Europe as reason to avoid perceived cultural and ecclesial mistakes. Attempts to avoid what someone else faces without properly understanding their culture is risky at best and culturally arrogant at worst. If we could find a commonalty with a comparable culture would we be willing to listen to the self-critical analysis as well as thee hope filled voices of those who speak? Darryl Dash, who pastors in Toronto, offers some thoughts in a recent article titled, “Navigating the Church in a perfect storm.”

Some blogs and blog comments I have read recently think we can somehow relocate a form of Christianity from another day without recognizing the cultural contextualization of that era. What’s more, there is a postulation today is no different that yesteryear. There well may be merits and elements of those expressions of the faith valuable for us today. To dismiss the differences between a “then” and “now” under the pretext there is “nothing new under the son,” may well miss a small reference in the Scriptures to the “sons of Issachar” who understood their times.

Darryl Dash appears to capture some of the trends found in both church and culture in Canada. Sharing the North American context with Darryl and those in Canada may well offer a “comparative civilization” from which we can learn. (Due to the nature of such pieces you would understand the inability to tease out all of the nuances of Dash’s assertions.) He concludes thee hopefulness toward which we could look forward as he concludes the article,

The end of Christendom is not a threat to the gospel. In fact, the gospel first took root in a society much like ours, in a secular world at a time of massive change. According to the book of Acts, it did very well. The soil of post-Christendom Canada may be more fertile than we realize.

Culture has shifted, but some of that shift is good. Some of the old culture of modernity was bad, and some, but not all, of the new culture is good. After all, the gospel transcends culture. Our challenge is to learn the skills of a missiologist right here at home.

Churches are struggling, but weâ??Ã?ôre learning to depend on God in new ways, and to rethink what it means to be the Church. New churches are starting, and some older churches are learning what it means to be faithful in a new context. We are learning through experience that God is more than equal to the challenges we face.

The odds are stacked against us, but itâ??Ã?ôs a good time to remind ourselves that God has never paid much attention to the odds.

If the Church can sense the spiritual longing of culture, think like missiologists and depend on God in new ways, there is every reason to hope, even in the middle of this perfect storm. It is not the easiest time to be a Christian leader in Canada, but there has never been a better time.