Monthly Archives: October 2015

Learning The Law

I once rented a car from Jesus.  No really.  That was the name on his card.  Of course he pronounced it Hesus.  We were in Merida, Mexico on the Gulf Coast.  The little house were staying at was about an hour away of just outside of the port city of Progresso and the only way to get there was to rent a car.

I had heard all the horror stories about how there aren’t any rules when driving in Mexico.  So I was slightly apprehensive.  And to make matters worse the rental place was right in the middle of the city.  So after carefully plotting our route and Wendy in the navigator’s spot with map spread out on her knees, I cautiously eased into traffic.

At first it seemed rather chaotic.  The lines marking the lanes were apparently mostly a suggestion, and even then signalling seemed to be on a need to know basis.  In Canada we generally only use our horns if we’re mad at someone, but there honking was a normal and frequent means of communication.  But I figured they were honking in Spanish because I didn’t have a clue what they were trying to tell me.

After a tense twenty minute commute, where thanks to the grace of God and my navigator’s directions we didn’t make any wrong turns, we made it out onto the relatively orderly flow of traffic on the open highway.  But after a few days and some trips into the smaller city of Progresso I began to understand the different rules that governed Mexican roads and even began to appreciate some of the efficiencies of their system.  And they weren’t honking in Spanish after all.

In hindsight I’ve realized that by getting to know the laws or rules that govern a foreign culture I gained a greater understanding and appreciation for that culture.  I’m convinced this is why over and over in the Psalms David expresses how much he loves the law of God.  In Psalm 119:97, for example, he says “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

Now he’s not just talking about the Ten Commandments, but all the writings of Moses, which make up the first five books of our Bible.  By studying and meditating he is getting to know God better because the scriptures are an expression of God’s nature and character.

So I encourage you, start reading your Bible.  Maybe even find a small group to study it with.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you know and understand God.

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Keep Checking Your Heading

Back in the “olden days” of farming I didn’t have the capabilities to program my GPS.  With the current model I just type in the heading I want and it sets it up for me.  But in a bygone era I would have to line it up by sight, press a button to set the first mark, drive as straight as I could till the GPS established my heading, and then press the button again to lock it in.  I know, pretty primitive huh?

Normally this wasn’t a big deal, but if for some reason I had to work a field that had already been started I would try to line myself up with the already established pass that I knew was true and go through the process hoping to get the exact same heading as the original.  This was almost impossible.  It may have looked very close to lined up as I began the field, but by the time I reached the far end there was almost always a gap between what I just worked and the original.

A degree or two off didn’t make a noticeable difference in the first fifty yards or so, but a mile down the field it became very clear that I’d missed the mark.

This is how a person drifts away from God.  We allow things of lesser importance to take priority and our alignment with God gets thrown off a degree or two. These things may be “small” sins or even good things that we allow to consume our time and energy. It’s hardly noticeable at first but a month or two or a year down the road something comes up and we realize our intimacy with God is missing.

I’ve found I need to check my alignment with God even more than daily.  I need to start every day with scripture and prayer, and then often through the day be in connection with him and consciously dependant on his provision for each situation.

When a person lives this way, not perfectly but consistently, the unthinkable can happen and though everything else in life is shaken, their foundation is not.  Please don’t think I’m suggesting life’s heartaches are felt any less intensely.  There are dark days where the “if only’s” and “I should have’s” assail and tears are never far away.  The empty spaces are acute, and the “why!!??”  screamed skyward hangs unanswered in the air.

But in the midst of all that and far more than can be described, a person who has been living in alignment with God will be sustained and still know to his core that God is sovereign, God is faithful, and God is good.


To Wave or Not to Wave Revisited

I first posted this blog a couple of years ago, but with some recent experiences we’ve had here I thought it timely to revisit it.

One of the cool, cultural quirks about living in small town Saskatchewan and Alberta is that when you pass an oncoming vehicle everybody waves.  It doesn’t matter if they know you or not, and it’s usually just lifting a finger or two off of the steering wheel in a sort of red-neck salute, but everybody waves.

I can remember as a new driver being eager to visit my relatives in Neilburg, Saskatchewan so that I could finally be the one in the vehicle to do the salute.  And when we moved to Golden Prairie it was very natural to fall into the habit.  In fact on trips to the city it would take me half way to Calgary to get out of the habit, but it’d only take me a couple of miles out of Medicine Hat to pick it up again.

When we moved to Falkland, BC one of the first things I noticed was that nobody waved.  I had assumed that small town Western Canada was small town Western Canada regardless of if you were on the prairies or in the mountains, but I was wrong.  I decided I would make it my personal crusade to change the culture of that little town.  It didn’t work.  I got a finger salute alright, but I’m pretty sure that guy misunderstood my intentions.

Hindsight has taught me a valuable lesson in this.  The subtle message I was carrying in my well-intentioned but misguided mission was that they needed to change to be more like me when I should have been doing everything I could to become like them.  I’ve come to realize that this was a hindrance in my true mission of expressing Christ to that community.

It’s true that in 1 Corinthians 4:16 Paul urges the people to imitate him, but what he’s talking about is the way in which he showed them Christ-likeness in day-to-day circumstances.  He challenged them on issues of sin, but did not try to oblige them to conform to his culture.

We in the church have a particular culture and we need to pray for discernment to be able to boldly and without compromise convey Christ to the culture around us without at the same time imposing our own culture.  In fact we need to make an effort to in every way possible identify with and embrace the culture around us.  Our message should not be “change your culture to be more like me,” but “let Jesus change your nature to be more like him.”

Come to think of it, we could use that message inside our church culture a little more too.