Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fit to be Tied

So Mom and Dad came to visit today and at some point Mom says something about how one size 9 shoe by one manufacturer isn't the same as another size 9 shoe of the same manufacturer and how frustrating that can be.  Which reminds me...

So now that Carla is the full time employee in the house and I'm just a part-time bum, I'm doing the lion's share of the housework.  Most of the time, I enjoy it, but let me just get something off my chest.

In this country (the country from which I'm writing is the USA so when I say this country, that's the one I'm talking about.  So many of my readers are from other countries...I don't want there to be any confusion.) we have som'n called the ASTM.  Now that's a bunch of letters meaning that somewhere in a cave or something there are "standards" for stuff.  Like there's a piece of metal or something one inch long.  Like for real.  So if you want to make a tape measure that measures an inch, you compare your inch to the "standard" inch to make sure that the inch you're selling is a real inch, or something.  (Note: this also works for tape measures that are longer than an inch...simply use the same inch and multiply it by the number of inches on your tape measure!)

So I'm thinking the other night as I'm making the bed after doing the laundry, why don't we have an ASTM fitted sheet?  Now just wait, imagine with me what it would be like if a fitted sheet would fit?!  Crazy, eh?  I mean like one fitted sheet doesn't fit one way and another fitted sheet doesn't fit another way and I'm throwing a fit and fit to be tied and all that, but the fitted sheets don't fit.  None of them.  Ever.

So I'm thinking we should have like an ASTM fitted sheet, made out of titanium or something, in a cave or lock box or vault where they control the temperature.  Then when someone wants to make a fitted sheet, they can compare it to the ASTM fitted sheet so it will fit.  Then I won't have to throw a fit, or be fit to be tied...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Well, one is a city, and one is anything but!  However, I am concluding that there are lots of similarities between the two. The place on the left is Salix, PA, the little town where I grew up.  The whole zip code of Salix has less people living there than just a few blocks of the area of Pittsburgh where we now live.  And yes, the place on the left is, the Northside of Pittsburgh.  Now that we've lived in Brighton Heights for a few months, I've observed some striking similarities between life in small town America and life in the city.  

One thing that is similar is the fact that people know each other.  In the suburbs, everybody pretty much leaves everybody alone, and you don't really get to know many neighbors.  But in Salix and in Brighton Heights, you know your neighbors.  You talk to them, every time you see them.  You share life a little...the joys and the struggles.  You talk from your back yards or on one another's porches.  The biggest difference is that you don't have yell as much in the city because the houses are so much closer together than in places like Salix.

Another similarity is the use of streets.  In the city and in the small town, you walk and play in the streets.  The obvious exceptions are the main throughways, but the side streets are play places.  I remember our life on "Center Street" in was a place to play.  Same on Brandon Road in Pittsburgh.  People walk their dogs on the streets, play ball in the streets, ride their bikes in the streets, and you simply yell "car" in the rare times when someone is driving through the neighborhood.

A third thing that strikes me as similar is the sense of being somewhat self-contained.  Oh sure, there were the trips to the "big city" (a.k.a. Richland...a suburb of Johnstown) when we were kids.  Things like clothes and big groceries and such couldn't be found in Salix.  But you bought your gas, your main staples, got your mail, went to church, did your banking, and got your car fixed right there.  So it seems to be with city neighborhoods.  Oh sure we venture to Target or Walmart or, God forbid, Ross Park Mall when it becomes a necessity.   But we mostly live in our zip code.  We buy our meet, our groceries, go to church, do our banking, and even get our hardware supplies in walking distance from our front door.

There are differences to be sure, but I'm not sure we have felt this "at home" since we left Salix (or New Paris, another quintessential American small town that we love...).  Life in the suburbs, at least for us, has been the odd man out...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blogger's Block

You're probably wondering why I've been remiss in updating my blog.  The truth is, I have blogger's block.  It's  a fairly serious condition wherein the blogger can't think of anything meaningful to say.   The only known cure is a several month hiatus to the US Virgin Islands.  See ya.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Final Report Card Installment

For those of you tiring of my "report card" series (not the least of which is me...I get bored easily!), I am including here my final "grades."  
  •  Don’t worry about opposition…
  •  Ignore criticism…
  •  Don’t expect immediate results…
I admit I failed a lot on the first.  I think that is perhaps my greatest struggle and subsequent failure in pastoral ministry.  I was too afraid of people opposing me.  In other words, I caved in to the pressure to be a "people pleaser" far too often.  At times, I should have been more bold in my stance and not worrying about those who might oppose me.  If God is for me, who can be against me?
As for the criticism, I was able to ignore it well at different seasons of my ministry.  I have honestly never been in a position in my life, nor can I imagine one, where one is more apt to receive criticism.  I was criticized on nearly a weekly basis for things I said in messages, in prayers, how I responded or didn't respond to situations, you name it.  To be faithful in leadership, one must learn to ignore criticism.   Never is this more true than as a pastor.

And this last one has always tripped me up, although I hope I'm learning in time.  I love to work with my hands, and one reason is because I like to see what I accomplish.  In ministry, that can be a very tough thing.  Results are seldom immediate and are often difficult to see for years and years, if ever.  

I've enjoyed reflecting with y'all.  My prayer is that I, and you, can learn from Jesus and His way of dealing with others to raise up workers and witnesses for and in the Kingdom...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Some Friends, huh?

So tomorrow night I was supposed to have a couple of "friends" over to hang know, play guitar or whatever.  Well one of them says in some baby, whiney voice that he can't come because he owns some business along the Mon river and he has to stay and defend it against flooding.  What?  That's what insurance is for!  You've been wanting new digs anyhow, right?

So then the other "friend" says he has to reschedule because his daughter is going to be recording a song this weekend.  Say what?  Your daughter is young, bro.  She has her whole life ahead of her to record.  But you, you're getting old.  You have to learn that you're first priority here!  But no...he says in some baby, whiney voice "family first."

So, I guess I'll just be hanging out by myself installing our new dishwasher...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Report Card - Part 3

So the next things on the list are:
  • Go slowly
  • Spend hours in solitude
 I think I've done pretty poorly on these two counts throughout the majority of my pastoral "career."  I tend to have a lot of energy and I find it difficult to go slowly.  I get impatient sometimes and move on to the next thing before I've brought something to fruition.  I think I'm finally learning to do this in my new life as a civilian...
As far as solitude, I've always spend my time in solitude.  The problem has been that I've been too active during those times.  By doing so I have at times negated the truth of "being still and knowing He is God."   I love to spend time alone at times, but I'm learning how to be still at the same time so that God can speak His truth, love, and grace to me.  Then He can best speak it through me!

Stay tuned for the next installment soon!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Another Interruption!!!

I'll get back to the grades soon, but I must take a commercial break for a word from our sponsor.  OK, he isn't our sponsor, but he is one of the coolest things in our neighborhood.  He is Tom Friday from Tom Friday's Meat Market in Brighton Heights.  He is an old fashioned butcher with hanging sides of beef and fresh cut stuff right there in front of your eyes.  He wraps it while you watch and has the neato-ist freezer specials.   We can walk there from our house and he offers free deliver to our door.  Now how cool is that?  Life is good!  Check out his site and drop in to get some good meat when you stop to visit us!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Report Card - Part 2

So in part two, we look at the next few items on the list:

  • Teach truths that none of your disciples can grasp at the moment 
  • Avoid crowds
    Now I think I have done a fairly good job at challenging the people God has placed within my care to grow.  I love to teach.  I think one of the reasons why I have seen some fruit from my teaching over the years is because I have tried to teach truth at a level that challenges people to grasp truths that require some wrestling!   Whether they're five or seventy-five, I love to see people "get it!"

    The next trait of Jesus in His leadership was avoiding crowds.  I think I am getting a little better at this as time progresses.  I have always been one to throw myself into my work and the people I'm with.  While this is fun and exciting and stuff, it can also drain you emotionally and spiritually.  I have, at times, paid a pretty high price for my unwillingness to avoid the crowds sometimes!  Also, when we spend too much time with crowds, we tend to follow them.  I think one of the characteristics of Jesus' ministry that made Him such a leader was His commitment to avoiding crowds.

    I'm looking forward to sharing my next "grades" soon!

    Monday, March 01, 2010

    We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Report Card Blog...

    On the first day of March, how could I fail to pay tribute to the famous  Weekend Update skit of the first SNL season when John Belushi rants about March coming in like a lion and going out like a least that's the way it works in the United States...

    I tried to find a video clip but could not, so I'm posting the transcript here.  Enjoy!  (BTW, if you know where I can find this video segment online, by all means let me know!)

    Chevy Chase:
    Last week we made the comment that March comes in like a lion and goes out
    like a lamb. Now here to reply is our chief meteorologist, John Belushi,
    with a seasonal report.

    John Belushi:

    Thank you Chevy. Well, another winter is almost over and March true to form
    has come in like a lion, and hopefully will go out like a lamb. At least
    that's how March works here in the United States. But did you know that March
    behaves differently in other countries? In Norway, for example, March comes
    in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus. Or, take the case of Honduras
    where March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.
    Let's compare this to the Maldive Islands where March comes in like a
    wildebeest and goes out like an ant. A tiny, little ant about this big.
    [holds thumb and index fingers a small distance apart]
    Unlike the Malay Peninsula where March comes in like a worm-eating fernbird
    and goes out like a worm-eating fernbird. In fact, their whole year is
    like a worm-eating fernbird. Or consider the Republic of South Africa where
    March comes in like a lion and goes out like a different lion. Like one has
    a mane, and one doesn't have a mane. Or in certain parts of South America
    where March swims in like a sea otter, and then it slithers out like a
    giant anaconda. There you can buy land real cheap, you know. And there's a
    country where March hops in like a kangaroo, and stays a kangaroo for a while,
    and then it becomes a slightly smaller kangaroo. Then, then, then for a
    couple of days it's sort of a cross between a, a frilled lizard and a common
    house cat.
    [Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]
    Wait wait wait wait. Then it changes back into a smaller kangaroo, and then it
    goes out like a, like a wild dingo. Now, now, and it's not Australia! Now,
    now, you'd think it would be Australia, but it's not!
    [Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]
    Now look, pal! I know a country where March comes in like an emu and goes out
    like a tapir. And they don't even know what it means! All right? Now listen,
    there are nine different countries, where March comes in like a frog, and goes
    out like a golden retriever. But that- that's not the weird part! No, no,
    the weird part is, is the frog. The frog- The weird part is-
    [has seizure and falls off chair]