I like tomatoes. This year, however, I put in only one plant. I placed it in one of the older gardens next to the fence thinking it would be unobtrusive and the flowers and shrubs would out-shine it. It wouldn’t really be noticed in such majestic company. Several days (weeks) of rain later, the plant stood over six feet tall! I had to add another thick bamboo pole to support it and I may soon have to add a third. So much for unobtrusive! At last count, it had 14 tomatoes growing on it and I was doing the happy dance. Let me tell you, doing the happy dance in Crocs on mulch is not easy. I love fresh tomatoes! Continue reading
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
A few years ago, I visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Massachusetts with my family while on vacation. It was amazing to see many paintings and illustrations on display that I’d seen in the Saturday Evening Post and other publications throughout my life.
My favorite Rockwell painting is Norman Rockwell’s own self-portrait. It’s anything but serious. When we visited his studio, I was happy to see the same helmet hanging on the top of his easel that appears in his portrait. Rockwell bought the helmet in 1923 from an antiques dealer in Paris France. The dealer said it was a military relic. As it turns out, it was a modern French fireman’s helmet. He kept it close by to remind himself of his own foolishness.
Many other famous artists, including the likes of Durer, Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Dali painted self-portraits. If you were to do your own self-portrait, how would you do it? How do you see yourself? Serious? Comical? Winner? Loser? Hero? Clown?
As I arrived this morning, one of our volunteers told me we had five new families today for our food pantry at the church. A trip downstairs revealed that chairs lining the hallway were full and children were quietly playing on the floor as their families waited their turn for food. We’ve been getting busier lately. From July of 2016 to December, we distributed over 6,000 pounds of food—that’s three tons in six months! In an average month, we are helping to feed about 100 people out of this little church. How happy we are to be able to provide this service. How sad that the service is needed.
In the early stages of my journey to pastoral ministry, I was an intern in a mid-sized country church in Ontario, Canada. I don’t remember how old it was exactly, but the church was at least 100 years old and had witnessed many of the cultural changes that came to our denomination over time. One of those changes was the introduction of musical instruments.
I first heard the story of the “organ battle” from Chris, an elderly member of the congregation who told the story with a heavy helping of gentleness and grace. It wasn’t until 1955 that the General Conference of the Brethren in Christ authorized the use of instruments in the church for those that desired them. When interest in having an organ installed at the Rosebank congregation developed, the church essentially divided into two factions, those who were for it and those who were against it.
I’d been pushed, prodded, and poked plenty over the past few days but being body-shaved by a nurse at 6:30 in the morning was a whole new level of dignity loss. I’m a very hairy man. My hairy chest is one of the things my wife says she finds especially attractive about me. How she narrows it down from so many choices I don’t know but that particular attraction is now gone. So is the hair on my belly, legs, and… other areas. I didn’t really look at the whole effect in a mirror until I was three days post-surgery and on my first full day at home. I looked like a tide-beached whale, only not as attractive as that.
- I need to pray. Prayer is essential before all major decisions. Don’t leave Jesus out of your choice.
- I need to consider more than just the personalities involved. Consider the issues carefully and pray over each one. Issues that concern Christians greatly such as abortion, those that affect religious liberty, and social justice concerns require serious consideration.
- There are more than two candidates running for office. I’m not advocating for third party voting (yes there are more than two parties running) but rather am reminded that there will be more on the ballot than a simple vote for the next President of the United States. Candidates for Senate and Congress, for various state offices, and a ballot measure will all be up for consideration and are worthy of prayer.
- My election choice is not an indication of moral superiority. I am reminded that people choose political affiliations for a wide variety of reasons, some of which are deeply seated and difficult to articulate. I will still love and befriend them after the election regardless of their choices.
- I need to consider my witness for Jesus. Regardless of which party I choose to support, aligning myself too closely with a candidate, because of personality issues, can reflect badly on people’s views of Jesus and His church. I need to walk carefully and not crow too loudly.
- I need to remember that God is still God. Jesus is still Lord and God did not cease to be God simply because it is an election year. He is still sovereign and loves every single one of us, regardless of our affiliations or choices. He will still be there for us on November 9th and forever.