Thinking Out Loud

July 12, 2021

Spelling Counts

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:48 am

Clarke Bunch at The Master’s Table posted this today. He found this plaque in the discount bin at Hobby Lobby, marked 70% off.

But should it be sold at all? And how many were produced?

During my two short stints helping the Canadian Bible Society get product out the door (because I had worked as warehouse manager at IVP) any Bible which had the least defect was placed in a room within the warehouse. These were occasionally taken home by staff and at least one staff member removed pages and mounted them as wall décor. You might argue that yes, Bibles should be in a different category.

But this one? At least it wasn’t someone’s tattoo.

It’s not the worst, though. That honor belongs to Abbey Press, for its “You have blessed the work of his hands” series of Father’s Day products, including a pair of work gloves we still have. The text is taken from Job 1:10

“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.”

Good verse for Dads? It’s actually the devil speaking. Christian bookstores all around North America selling products containing a verse the writer of Job says is unmistakably the words of Satan.

Abbey Press was contacted twice at the time, and did nothing to remove the product.

 

 

June 29, 2021

Bible Was Once Held by Man Who Perished in the Titanic Sinking

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:19 pm

We’re not setting any speed records in going through boxes of things once belonging to my parents. Every so often, when inspired, a new item surfaces. While the significance of this Bible was probably pointed out to me by my father a few days ago, my wife cracked open the cover and read the inscription and started considering all the ramifications involved in its journey.

The woman named Bertha in the inscription was my paternal grandmother. If that name brings some stereotypes to mind, she wasn’t your typical Bertha but was a rather petite, soft-spoken woman.

My youngest son Aaron, whose writing we’ve featured both here and at our sister blog Christianity 201 before, has the heart of a poet and looked at this differently. For me it was about seeing the thing, but for him it was about holding it in his hands. He wrote on Facebook:

This handsome metal-bound Bible was given to my great grandmother by one F Smith who was later a casualty of the Titanic. Doing a little digging, it seems my great grandmother’s friend served on the ship as a pantry assistant (the “Victualling crew”). Kinda strange holding an object that was once held by hands now at the bottom of the Atlantic. Rest in peace, Frederick. Your gift is is in good hands.

“…Once held by hands now at the bottom of the Atlantic.” I would never think of that way. Except now I do. It’s interesting that we were talking a day earlier about degrees of separation and because Aaron knew my dad, and my dad knew my grandmother (his great grandmother) and she knew the man who gave her this gift, I think that’s considered only three degrees of separation.

Information about people who perished in the Titanic’s sinking is widely documented online, so as mentioned above, Aaron was able to find a picture of the man.

So Frederick Vernon Hilton Reeves, or Frederick Smith? Which was it? That was the challenge Aaron faced at the outset. He explained it to me: “His mother remarried a Smith, so outside of official documentation, he went by his step-father’s last time.”

He was 20 years old. His body was never identified and the lists that Aaron found only included identified bodies, which also slowed the search for more information; a search which, I need to say for the record, I would never have taken the time to embark on. Smith may have been “Body #216.”

His hopes and dreams were never realized. Did my grandmother fit into those dreams? It looks like it would have been a fairly expensive gift for those times. Unfortunately my grandmother and my father aren’t exactly around to ask, and previously, I was caught up in my own exploits and wouldn’t have been as interested as I am today.

So thanks, Aaron, for taking a second look at the inscription and being wiling to go the extra kilometer to learn more.

For the rest of us, don’t rush to donate books and Bibles to charity which belonged to parents and grandparents. Take an extra few moments to consider the inscriptions or dedications pages.

You never know what you’re holding in your hands.

Or who held it before.

 

June 28, 2021

The Christian Book of the Year for 2021

In 25+ years in and around Christian publishing, I’ve seen products come and go, but this is one time I think that a forthcoming retelling of the gospel story is going to be significant both in terms of sales and ministry significance.

The First Nations Version (InterVarsity Press) is just what the name implies. The term first nations is commonly used in Canada to describe the indigenous people and the term is catching on in the U.S. and other parts of the world. More than two dozen tribes had input into the production of this New Testament, which the authors claim is a dynamic equivalence translation containing additional words and phrases added for clarity as was found in The Voice Bible. However, I think of this as a contender for “Book of the Year,” and not “Bible of the Year” because it is simply so very different from other translations, particularly in its treatment of proper nouns (people and place names) that I expect that outside the communities for which it is intended, it will be studied more as an artifact of contextualization in sharing the Bible’s message. To that end, it belongs in a category with The Kiwi Bible or The Street Bible which we’ve covered here in years past.

Spearheading the project is Terry Wildman. As early as 2013, he published Birth of the Chosen One which was marketed for teens and described as,

A book for children of all ages. This is the story of the birth of Jesus retold for Native Americans and other English speaking First Nations peoples. The text is from the First Nations Version project…

In 2014, he released When God’s Spirit Walked Among Us, which was

A harmony of the Gospels combined into a single narrative. It retells the story of the Gospels using words and phrases that relate to the First Nations People, then also for English speaking indigenous peoples from all nations, and finally to all who want to hear the story in a fresh and unique way.

In 2017, he published Walking the Good Road: The Gospel and Acts with Ephesians. It was in delving into the annotation for this title that I found more information about the project:

The First Nations Version was first envisioned by the author Terry M. Wildman and with the help of OneBook.ca and Wycliffe Associates has expanded into a collaborative effort that includes First Nations/Native Americans from over 25 tribes. This book is the introductory publication of the First Nations Version of the New Testament. A translation in English by First Nations/Native Americans, for First Nations/Native Americans. This project was birthed out of a desire to provide an English Bible that connects, in a culturally sensitive way, the traditional heart languages of the over six million English-speaking First Nations people of North America. The First Nations Version Translation Council has been selected from a cross-section of Native North Americans-elders, pastors, young adults and men and women from differing tribes and diverse geographic locations. This council also represents a diversity of church and denominational traditions to minimize bias.

But who is Terry Wildman? It was only in the information provided for the forthcoming complete New Testament that I was able to learn more:

He serves as the director of spiritual growth and leadership development for Native InterVarsity. He is also the founder of Rain Ministries and has previously served as a pastor and worship leader.

The information above is on trade (book industry) pages I can’t link, but the website for Rain Ministries provided more details.

Rain Ministries is the home of RainSong Music and the First Nations Version translation.

Terry and Darlene currently live in Maricopa Arizona on the traditional land of the Tohono O’odham and the Pima. Terry’s time is divided between mentoring staff on Zoom for Native InterVarsity and working on the First Nations Version translation.

As RainSong Terry and Darlene travel North America and abroad, teaching, storytelling, sharing their music at First Nations gatherings, on Reservations, and also at Churches and Conferences…

Terry and Darlene founded Rain Ministries, a non-profit corporation based in Arizona in 2001, and have been actively involved in the lives of many First Nations people since 1998.

Their biography indicates they got their ministry start with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and given their current connection to Wycliffe Associates and OneBook (both arms lengths organizations of Wycliffe Bible Translators) and their involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; I am led to believe that this is a well-anchored project theologically. Besides, I trust IVP to vet their books well.

Still there are going to be people who find things like the chapter titles (names given to the books of the Bible) and people names somewhat different. I would assume that, as with so many Christian endeavors, the people who might object the loudest are the people who are not the intended audience for this New Testament retelling.

I’d like to get into more stylistic details, but my exposure to the project is based on a sample booklet which only contained 19 pages of actual text, and was lacking the go-to chapters I look for in doing passage comparisons with new translations. I suspect that’s because so many people are asking for an advance look, they’ve decided to limit who gets what. Disappointing. I was also going to include an excerpt from the book at Christianity 201, but without a proper review copy, I decided not to discuss the actual content, and so you’re having to settle for this copy-and-paste presentation of information related to its publication so that you can keep your own eyes and ears open. Sorry I was unable to do more.

The book is being published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback editions. Where First Nations communities are nearby, I expect the FNV to be a popular outreach tool and as stated at the outset, perhaps the most significant title to be released this year, at least in North America.

 

 

June 17, 2021

My Pessimistic Rant on the State of Humanity

Filed under: Christianity — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:21 am

Two weeks ago I went for a walk around the longer block where we live. It should have been stimulating and inspiring, but ten minutes and a few snapshots of people doing things outdoors later, I came back mourning the state of the world.

I wrote down three things on a piece of scrap paper next to the computer.

People are stupid

Not very nice, I realize, but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that people have no particular desire to better themselves or become better informed. Opinions rank higher than facts. Individual tribes outrank global consensus.

The circle of people with which I associate generally do not demonstrate this. I often meet people who are clearly committed to the idea of lifelong learning. But it does crop up. About twenty years ago I met a pastor who told me that in seminary he had read all the books he was ever going to read, and now he was done. Can’t remember my response, but today it would be, ‘That’s just so sad.’

People are selfish

There’s a similarity here to the first point, in that the individual (‘me’/’my’) takes precedence over the greater good. An awareness of what is taking place as the world turns boils down to one simple question, ‘How does this affect me?’

I’ve also said elsewhere that in all the places in the Bible where sin is mentioned, we could easily substitute selfishness and it would work in 90% of the sentences. Yes, sin involves those things which grieve the heart of God, but many of these involve failing to get the big picture. Six of the four Ten Commandments involve our relationship with other people and the inter-twining of our lives with those around us.

People are godless

One of my favorite definitions is from finedictionary.com, “Lacking the presence of God; removed from divine care or cognizance.” This isn’t exactly news.

The thing that amazes me is how people who have rejected God have also rejected the good things God has placed in the world. I’ve mentioned before my next door neighbor who hates trees. He has removed all of them from his property, and any branch on our side of the fence within his reach comes under the blade of his clipper. I’m not sure but I think his beef is with creation in general and maybe with God in particular.

So…

…I’m left as a somewhat intelligent, altruistic, God-focused person, living in a world that is often neither one of those three things. I long for conversation and fellowship with like minded people. Fortunately, the Church, consisting of people centered on Jesus, provides that opportunity, but sometimes there just aren’t enough of us, and very people I know in North America or Western Europe have the option of living in a Christian community.

The onus on me is to thereby learn how to interact with them. Scriptures teach I ought to love them. Dang, that’s difficult. But God places us situations that aren’t monastic communities separated from the world.

He places us in families, schools, workplaces and yes, neighborhoods.

I wish I was doing a better job.

June 13, 2021

I Have Become a Senior Ageist

I realized this morning that I have become an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms when it comes to which voices I look forward to hearing preach and teach each week.

For the record, an ageist is someone who is “Unfairly discriminatory against someone based on their age,” and while this usually is applied as working against the elderly, I suppose that reverse ageism is also popular.

Also for the record, I’ve reached an age where, when it comes to Bible teachers and authors I should be resonating more with the “men in suits” crowd. But I don’t. I gravitate toward younger communicators. John Mark Comer recently introduced me to Tyler Staton, and as an egalitarian, I will always tune in if Danielle Strickland or Tara Beth Leach is teaching.

I get what it’s like to be on the opposite side of this issue. A local church where we spent many years buys into the philosophy of, “Never put someone older 40 on the platform or picture older people on your website.” At least, they buy into it theoretically (and selectively) but both their own leadership and congregation is aging as well. Another local church member commented that he has a hard time picturing his church bringing back many of the younger families they had, because the Sunday morning services are planned and shaped by an older mindset.

And yet a third local church has now encountered a pastoral vacancy. In my heart, I keep hoping they can snag someone mid-to-late 30s. It would be a breath of fresh air. But then I ask myself why someone that age would want to move to the small town we’ve called home for the past several decades. True, we’re an hour from Toronto, but I know that many younger leaders want to stay close to the city and all the networking and potential it appears to offer.

So I am an anomaly; some type of reverse-ageist. But I’m not alone. I remember being a much younger person in churches in Toronto where the teens and twenty-somethings would grab all the front seats and the older individuals and couples would sit further back cheering them on. Okay, not literally cheering; maybe praying is more accurate. It was good to see. These churches had an enviable demographic for preachers.

If your church happens to have a younger teaching pastor, or lead pastor, you need to cheer them on.

I think the Bible’s word for that is encouragement.

 

June 10, 2021

The SBC: Breaking Up is Hard, But Necessary to Do

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:56 am

If we have an appliance that stops working, we face the decision as to whether we’re going to repair it, or if we are going to discard it. The surrounding questions include, “What are the costs of repair?” and “What are the advantages of starting from scratch with something new?”

To me, this analogy applies directly to the state of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. “If it ain’t broke…” goes the saying, but in this case many would argue that it is most certainly broken in many ways and that even as a loose affiliation of churches, its sheer size and media influence suggests that presently more harm is being done than good.

Dissolving the entire enterprise seems appropriate. End the capital “C” Convention and the small “c” conventions. Allow each church to go their own direction and find an accountability structure (denomination) with which they can identify in terms of doctrine and structure. I’m betting that each and every church now, if forced to, could name a denominational body for which a significant number of their leadership and parishioners have at least some admiration.

But keep the Department of Missions. This is the part of the SBC that even its fiercest critics admit “ain’t broke.” Give it a new name and allow it to continue to flourish in the various countries it presently serves. Keep those mission workers on the field and sufficiently funded and resourced.

But don’t call it Southern Baptist. My wife, who can be quite cynical, reminds me that if the status quo is maintained, all you are doing is going to other nations and “making more of them.” I did warn you she was cynical.

The analogy I wanted to work with here was Bell Telephone. Wikipedia explains,

The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point… The breakup of the Bell System resulted in the creation of seven independent companies that were formed from the original twenty-two AT&T-controlled members of the System. On January 1, 1984, these companies were NYNEX, Pacific Telesis, Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Southwestern Bell Corporation, BellSouth, and US West.

Is this a model that is applicable? It breaks down in several respects, and some question how effective the breakup was. It should also be said that the SBC is large, but nothing close to a monopoly — though perhaps it as a monopoly on political influence — but returning to my original analogy, it is broken. Smaller regional SBC-related associations already exist which could continue without a connection to the larger body; or again, each local congregation could be freed to chart its own course.

When the Ravi scandal escalated, there were questions as to the organization continuing to use his name, or continuing at all. If the SBC brand is tainted, I would say both questions are pertinent. Should the entity continue at all, and if it is deemed worthy of continued existence, should there be sweeping changes in hierarchy, policies, centralization, and branding?


Caveat: Assuming the premise as stated, many believe that in the past decade, Reformed or Neo-Calvinist doctrine as become the SBC theological default. If a significant number of churches moved toward those bodies, then you’ve just simply the concentration of ecclesiastic power and influence to a situation that I honestly believe would be worse.

Postscript: The appliance analogy is ironic. As I was typing this the motor in our table saw stopped working.

May 20, 2021

The SBC’s Old Guard | The GOP’s Old Guard

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:14 pm

Forgive the generalizations today.

Living one country removed from all the action means you form certain opinions and stereotypes without physically interacting with the people concerned. It also means that news and current events are distilled to their basic essence. True, we can tap into the legacy U.S. networks just by turning on the television, and we can find hours and hours of recent broadcasts by the U.S. cable networks just by doing a quick search on YouTube, but I think that if Americans really want to know what their country is up to, they should see how they’re covered by the BBC (U.K), CBC (Canada) or ABC (Australia).

These days, when I hear about Republicans, I immediately think of Mitch McConnell. If I found myself seated next to him on an airplane, I would not ask to change seats; I would ask to change planes. To view him on my screen casually, matter-of-factly proclaiming that black is white is usually more than either my brain or my spirit can tolerate.

Or the guy who said that the January 6th ransacking of the U.S. Capitol building was just some families out for a walk in the park. Okay, Andrew Cylde didn’t say those exact words, but it’s not much different:

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall, showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. If you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from Jan. 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,”

But later a picture surfaced showing him and others frantically trying to barricade the doors so rioters couldn’t enter. That’s the trouble with a lie, sooner or later you get caught.

I also get my U.S. religious news one country removed. Sure, the blog you’re reading right now has a 75% American readership and with American spellings and the use of words like freeway instead of the more common Canadian highway, I’ve blended in to the point many readers assume I’m writing from Dayton, or Sacramento, or Springfield (not that one, the other one); I still have stereotypes and caricatures of what the Evangelical landscape looks like when having those after-service conversations in the lobby (again lobby not foyer) and lunch at Cracker Barrel.

And in those terms, my mental image of Republican leaders ends up eerily similar to my mental drawing of Southern Baptist (SBC) leaders. I’m not saying that they would stand up and tell you that January 6th was just a walk in the park but rather … okay … that’s exactly what I’m telling you.

Their unwavering support for a recent leader of the free world, in spite of overwhelming evidence of a character that would disqualify the man from ever being hired by one of their churches, shows their willingness to disregard both facts and logic for the sake of … tell me again … what was it they chose to gain by backing him? Oh, right: Power.

[For those of you who disagree reading this by email, the unsubscribe prompt is at the bottom. I don’t mind at all.]

There have been and are still some exemplary SBC leaders. Billy Graham was a member of the party, er, denomination and so is Charles Stanley. But it’s others who make headlines and give Christianity a bad name, and wannabees of their ilk who pick all manner of fights on social media and constrain their subjects, er, parishioners with all manner of legalistic limitations.

And that’s the thing: I don’t understand how one actually does this. How do you look into the camera or stand up on the floor of the Senate Chamber or the House of Representatives and say things which your six-year-old grandchild would recognize as patently untrue?

I’m not saying that all Southern Baptists are Republicans or that all Republicans are Southern Baptists. From this perspective it simply appears that there are immense similarities — again in terms of the distilled images of America we see — that I would think a Jesus follower would want to distance themselves from; that a Christ follower would want to work tirelessly to compensate with extra doses of agape and hesed and shalom and charis and tov.

May 19, 2021

Denominations Losing Internal Influence

Saddleback Ordination Service; Screenshot via Baptist Standard; click image for story

In the last several days we’ve witnessed two serious breaches of denominational policies and protocols, both involving large, significant denominations and both involving gender issues.

In one, Saddleback, a California megachurch, which is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) ordained three women earlier this month. Albert Mohler, who just yesterday announced his resignation as President of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Committee, was quoted earlier by Religion News Service saying, “Saddleback has taken actions that place itself in direct conflict with the stated doctrines of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

In the other, members of the progressive wing of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in Germany have defied a Vatican edict forbidding the blessing of same-sex unions. A Jesuit priest there told Associated Press, ““I am convinced that homosexual orientation is not bad, nor is homosexual love a sin.”

As denominations lose influence over their congregations, and an entire generation of Millennials and Gen-Z reject affiliated churches in favor of house fellowships or independent congregations, the open defiance is a serious crack in the denominational fortresses. Though the RCC and SBC are very different on many issues, the RCC is very hierarchical, with The Vatican seen as the supreme authority, even overriding scripture on some points.

By contrast, the SBC has always been a much looser network of congregations, though continuing to use operate under the SBC banner has always required absolute adherence to its statement of faith, which includes the position that women cannot be pastors.

In both cases, there are semantic elements, such as whether the role of pastor implies the title of Senior Pastor or Lead Pastor or whether the blessing of same-sex unions is the same as approving of same-sex marriage. The words marriage and pastor create both theological and emotional responses from people on both sides of the issue in SBC and RCC congregations and leadership.

May 4, 2021

The Church: Before and After

by Ruth Wilkinson

This is something I’ve been thinking about. See what you think…

There’s been a lot of discussion about what ‘church’ will look like after Covid-19, having experienced so much time away from in-person weekly gatherings. Previously, Sunday morning services were the hook on which many other programs and activities hung. It was where we started getting to know new people, and finding our place in the faith community. It was the forum in which we crystalized our shared identity.

Right now (with a very few exceptions) local congregations are operating without that centerpiece. We’re doing everything we did before, but in new ways. We’re building new relationships without necessarily making in-person contact. Some ministries are doing quite well online or in lawn chairs (weather permitting) which is an indicator, I think, that many churches are more healthy and organic than we might have given them credit for.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years. Will our music and other creative arts continue to grow into the rest of the week, and online? Will we have board members and elders who seldom if ever sit in a pew? Will programs and ministries continue to be financially supported by people who never meet a Sunday School teacher, but who pitch in at the soup kitchen? Will we need to adapt our policies and practices to allow for this evolution?
I guess we’ll see

April 30, 2021

Change: Resisting vs. Embracing

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:25 am

A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend…

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 – The Voice Bible (selected)

A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
a time to keep, a time to throw out;
A time to tear apart, a time to bind together

Ecclesiastes 3:2-9 – The Message (selected)

I am creating something new.
There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts,
streams in thirsty lands.

Isaiah 43:19 – CEV

I think it was Skye Jethani who I first heard use the phrase, “The Myth of Continuity.” The meanings I just looked up are above my pay grade, but I believe he was referring to the more common state of believing that things will always continue just as they are. This can be true in both a micro and macro sense.

In my lifetime, I’ve known people who seem to thrive on change. Perhaps you know them also. People who have had several quite different careers. People who have lived in very distant cities. People who can re-invent themselves at the drop of a hat to adapt to new challenges and new situations.

Then there are those who are happy for each day to be somewhat the same; somewhat predictable. They take the line in the poem attributed to James Francis Allen, “One Solitary Life” which says that Jesus “never traveled more than 200 miles from the place he was born” as prescriptive, as a model for life.

In Greek culture there were four different concepts of love. Growing up in the church I heard many sermons that helped me remember philia (the love we have for a brother and maybe the hobby or activity about which we are most passionate); eros (the sexual love that the kids in the youth group were told to save for marriage); and agape (the unselfish love which when lived out places others above ourselves.) But I heard rather varied definitions of storge.

Storge (stor•gee) is described in the things I’m reading as I type this as a love between parents and children, but although the usage isn’t common, I was taught it can also mean the love of things familiar. And we all see that. The familiar, the routines, the rituals, the personal traditions. It’s that feeling you get when you attend the family reunion each year, or that particular sequence of events on Christmas Eve that start with the eggnog — that’s strange, I seem to have set my glass down somewhere and now I can’t remember where — to the reading of Christ’s birth narrative and the opening of gifts.

The enemy of storge when used in that sense would seem to be change and disruption. The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory takes the events one might encounter in a lifetime and gives them a stress rating from 11 (receiving a minor traffic ticket) to 100 (the death of one’s spouse.) Even seemingly positive events like an outstanding personal achievement (25 points) or taking out a loan to purchase a new car (17 points) or the birth or adoption of a new family member (39 points); each of these can be stressful in their own way.

Personally, while (for example) I love to travel, I don’t think that overall I relate to change well. Especially the unexpected kind. Or the changes that bring with it an entry into the unknown. I want to be in control.

My first roller coaster ride in my life was Space Mountain at Disney on a day that they were doing a fuller “lights out” ride through the darkness than what they provide today. (I should also add that nobody told me ahead that it was a roller coaster.) I don’t care if the coaster jerks or drops but I want to be sitting so I can see the track or see the car ahead. I want a road map. I want a copy of the program for the play.

Changes are inevitable, however. Heraclitus (you remember him, right?) said that “The only constant in life is change;” and commenting on this Plato added, “Heraclitus, I believe, says that all things pass and nothing stays, and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says you could not step twice into the same river.”

On our trips to Cuba, the tour guides will often remind the Canadians and the Europeans that Cuba doesn’t have the seasons we know: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Rather they have the “regular” season interrupted by the “rainy” season and “hurricane” season. When I was in California the first time, it was strange to see the Christmas decorations being placed without the atmospheric and meteorological markers I associated with them.

But at least Cuba has some variance. I do suspect there are parts of equatorial Africa where every day is truly the same. Still, people who have moved to these type of climates will tell you that after a certain number of years, they began to miss winter; they began to yearn for some snow, not in the storge sense, but in terms of needing the escape from the sameness; from the too easily predictable.

Sometimes we need things that get our adrenaline going, and while the stimulus may not be positive at the outset, much depends how we challenge that energy; how we choose to dissipate the stress.

Which brings us back to the concept of seasons. In the Evangelical milieu in which I find myself, seasons of life is a phrase often repeated. Something ends, and the conclusion is that “it was for a season.”

The question is, do we embrace such changes of season or do we resist? I think our personality types (God-given personality types, I should add) determine that outcome. 

From Christianity 201:

If God uses seasons to prepare us, then I believe that you can be fruitful no matter what the season is in your life. You can glean from each season of your life things that will grow you and produce fruit for the future. You may be looking at your life right now and see a desert wasteland, but Isaiah 43:19 says that God is about to do something new. He’ll make rivers in the desert so that you can produce fruit and grow. No matter how dark life gets or how abundant your blessings are, God has a design and a purpose to grow you through this season.
– Chris Hendrix

From an older article here:

You can’t go back and re-live seasons gone but you can learn from them. You really don’t want to fast forward to future seasons because when the ones you are in are gone, like flowers when they have flourished, they are gone for good. The key for us all today is to carpe (seize) the one you’re in! So choose today to learn from seasons gone, love the one you’re in and, with faith and expectancy, have excitement concerning the ones yet to come that are promised by your God. Every season has something for you so make sure you harvest it out!
– Andy Elmes

If we really believe that God is moving us on to the next stage of life, we’ll thrive on the challenge, even with its short-term pain. If we’re really trusting Him, we’ll see where the next chapter takes us.

Today’s blog post is dedicated to … well, you know who you are.

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