The Shopping Cart

Do you remember riding around in the shopping cart as a kid?

OK, that’s probably not allowed anymore, or at least it’s frowned upon, but I remember clearly doing so. I know my kids all have had the experience as well. I can remember doing so until I was probably too big to do it. Maybe we have all had that experience as well. Mom or Dad refuse to lift you up anymore, or you climbed in and almost flipped it over. I also discovered that you could stand on the front, and lift the back wheels. Pretty awesome transition in my life as I look back.

Not so awesome to my mom. I remember that clearly as well.

Today at the grocery store I reflected upon these moments as I watched a few young couples shopping ahead of me. Actually, it was at the till that their mannerisms struck me. The couple in front of me seemed to be unsure of the whole process, took a long time unloading their groceries, and were not sure where to go next once they had filled the entire conveyor belt ‘checkerboard’ style. Had it not been right before closing I am sure everyone behind me would have expressed more patience, but alas, we all decided that 10-minutes before closing was the best time to shop. The clincher for me was when it came time to pay.

“Do you take cash?”

Yes, you can pay the balance in cash.”

They had not added up what all these items would cost as they shopped. So, the hunt for the right card and the right amount of cash began. Once they were done they stood in shock beside the bagger searching through the receipt, clearly trying to find where things went wrong. (Mature shoppers usually wait till the parking lot or block the doorway to the store expressing out loud their dismay with the price.) This was all new to them.

It wasn’t until I was in the car that I considered how this moment related to modelling the skills or assets we desire for our children and youth to have as they grow into adulthood. If the ‘just watch me’ model to life is failsafe, then the moment I detailed would almost never happen in reality. Why? Because as a kid you were in the cart while someone went shopping, and eventually, around that time you almost tipped the cart, you would start to get a clear sense of how to shop. Or you would acquire your parents’ bad habits and develop the same workarounds they employed to make it through life.

I grew up with a watchful eye and a keen sense of a dollar’s worth. But it came with all 3 elements of life skill acquisition working in harmony: Watching, Telling, Experiencing… and eventually the 4th: Reminding/Debriefing. I liked buying my own candy, and hoarding it. (I was the youngest, which may speak to my evident distrust) I remember learning a bit about money at home, but one of the best experiences for me was putting the candy on the counter and having the cashier (my neighbour) tell me bluntly, “You don’t have enough money for all that.” Instead of figuring it out for me she told me to figure out what I could afford. (There was also a lineup of people behind me, which was a great experiment in small town socialization.)

Good lesson in life. And if you’re wondering, I still ‘wheelie’ the carts and like to think my mom is reprimanding me from heaven for it.

 

The yeah, yeah, yeah’s #listening #communication

Active listening is important.
But our brains get bored with our surroundings.
I think of how often I am describing a specific order of events, or detailing a story, and the listener interrupts to complete the list.
This can be endearing if it’s a bunch of friends remembering an awesome time together.
That can also be irritating if you are a mutual friend with this group hearing half details as everyone laughs through a list of interruptions and gestures that signify moments shared.
We all do it, and we all grin through it when it happens to us.
I hate it when it happens at a place like a busy coffee shop. The person working the till wants to look capable and aware, so as they quickly make a mental note of your details, they interrupt with what they think you said. It sounds right, until they place the order. Yeah, yeah, yeah…
And it’s completely the opposite.
I had that scenario happen today and the person realized it after they hit print on the receipt, and I politely ask if they just did exactly what I did not want them to do. I relish in moments of personal clarity, but am mature enough to be polite about it when it is not mine to own. He asked if I wanted him to redo everything, but for the sake of everyone behind me, I said no. He looked embarrassed, and I did my best to make sure he understood it wasn’t a big deal.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
That’s one of my favourites, because it speaks directly to my own weaknesses. What I hear, what I want to say, and putting me first. Parenting can be plagued with these moments, and we wonder why our kids develop bad emotional and communicative haits. Marriages are filled with them because we know each other so well that somehow have permission to treat the other person like crap, because we are used to them. And they should know how irritating they are by now, right? (Or is it that you are a self-centred prig who gets irritated regardless? I can never get those straight.) Anyone else in community can be added to this list, including the guy at Starbuck’s. We expect more of the other when we think only of their actions towards us, and not how we affect them inversely.
Watch how often you fall for the ease of the “yeah, yeah, yeahs”. You might surprise yourself.

Wonder Women shout out

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”
(Proverbs 31:30)

I was originally going to shout out to 1 person in particular, but then realized I had encounters with 3 pretty amazing women today. I don’t think we praise women of character and godliness enough in our society, and I was reminded of that today. And I happened to capture them in the moment…

My niece Erika Dueck. God uses her to touch the world through her amazing gifting as an artist, and people have noticed. She draws attention to the spaces we may easily ignore. Her latest piece was being showcased at the University of Manitoba’s Artlab.

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My daughter Ariel. Good has been using her to minister through food at Roseau River Bible Camp, as the kitchen coordinator. I was reminded of how amazing this is, and in turn how amazing she is in taking on such a big challenge. And succeeding.

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My wife Melinda Friesen. I’ve raved about her before, and with good reason. She’s amazing, and continually does amazing things. As if authoring wasn’t enough, she also brought life into the world. And shaped those lives to shape society, making God real to them in the process.

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I’m blessed to know you ladies!

church growth business rant

Enough with the business language for church. Just stop selling Jesus.

Love this ministry, but this comment got another my skin.

Love this ministry, but this comment got under my skin.

It seems we have been talking about church using ‘missional’ language for a while now. That can be difficult to put into concrete terms, but does not mean we need to go back to the ‘Jesus bless my church math’ era of growth and development again. It presents a problem for understanding the purpose of both the average believer and our theology of church.

 The mission of the believer as an individual does not break down easily.
“To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Those verses stand out to me powerfully, both for their meaning in my life, but also for the time they were impressed upon me. Living these truths is difficult, as is any meaningful mission in life. They stretch me beyond my own ability and temporal vision for each and every moment. But they always bring me back to the original mission for each believer, which He gave to those who desired to call them his:

 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Jesus’ response to a teacher of the law regarding the greatest commandment; Mark 12)

 There is plenty about sowing seeds, harvesting, not losing your saltiness or lightness, and being reconcilers of people to God, but those are all after the love relationship with God. All of which is impossible to quantify.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

 Jesus said this to his disciples. Somehow the answer to the world’s problems would be derived from how a ragtag group could live as Christ told them to live. Out of his love, his spirit, they would share. No math or skill testing questions are listed.

The mission of the church does not break down into numbers and formulas.
Why? Because it is presented as a living being in a relationship Christ. How does one explain in economic terms how this relationship grows and develops?

“Go into all the world and make disciples…”

 Love. Then go. Sounds simple.

Selfish reading? #books #creation

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Kim Kardashian Selfish

This originally was going to be a quick Instagram post. How ironic.

As I hangout with my awesome wife at the bookstore, encouraging her as she promotes her book, I also browse. I love books and bookstores are like my flypaper.

Then this item pops into view. OK, they aren’t really hiding it, because it’s sure to sell a lot. I giggle at first because somehow Instagram posts can now be turned into published works. Then I think and take the picture. I wanted to put something derogatory in the caption like “Me write book too.” But the situation is already bad enough.

This book represents a highwater mark for many.

The ironies abound…
My wife working tirelessly to sell the intelligent work she spent a lot of time creating, just a few feet from this steaming heap.
This item located next to other intelligent works, all sure to acquire lower sales due to shelf placement.
The fact that this is taken seriously, in an age of awareness and hopefully higher average intelligence.

That last part was wishful thinking.

Flesh sells.
Celebrity is based on our insecurities.
Grasping that we are fearfully and wonderfully made stops us from trying to create a lesser image than we were ever designed to be.

Becoming selfish is easy. Just take a picture and lose focus.

Different is Wrong

“Sacred Sacrament of Secular Fundamentalism…”
Rabbi Daniel Lampin on ‘The Glenn Beck Show’ podcast, Dec. 18/14
People being proud of being Jewish or christian, the same way they are proud to be a Democrat or Replublican. What separates them?
Extremism not for what you believe, but for the fact that you DON’T believe something else.

Agile culture has enabled us to be tribal, blocking out what or whom we cannot hold in balance.
Now we take it one level further. Opposition is wrong.
Being different is an offense. That hands a lot of power over to everyone who does not hit the ‘like’ button on our lives.

We have formed such strong tribal allegiances that we have difficulty keeping them straight. It doesn’t matter that they contradict one another, just so long as we know what we oppose in each separate category. This is the next level of ‘like’ and ‘favourite’ in an era of social media. We are raising children through young adults who are OK with the paradox of life, but each of those paradoxes can be argued vehemently as polarized issues. A person enjoying an opinion that in the past would not have sat well with another held opinion, is now the norm.

For example, a conservative evangelical Christian espousing right-wing political views would have been ‘normal’. The profile would have all matched. If one aspect was out of sync it was considered abnormal. Now we are far more open to seeing mixed views and opinions on whatever the topic of the day happens to be. Each item is up for grabs and open for public approval, rather than a profile of items needing to be true. The problem here is obvious: it is difficult to balance countering thoughts and beliefs, let alone defending the ones that do not fit well together.

Agility provides distance in this way.

If everything you say or believe is a quickly stated opinion, strongly defended by a ‘tribe’ online, there is no long winded conversation or discussion possible. It is only a list of comments and other quick shots from other tribes, or defenders of the same, quickly lining up binary thoughts in the moment they receive them. Intelligent dialogue would be the opposite of this, as a ticker tape of commentary hidden in the background does not bode well for people who actually desire to discuss nuances and perspectives on an issue.

Keep in mind this has to happen between cat videos and wishing everyone in your social media life a happy birthday…and liking pictures that you like because the only comparison of good moments to approve are the ones you are scrolling through this very moment. Tomorrow they will be even better!

There will be another photo album.
There will be another meme.
There will be another blogpost.
There will be a better clever infographic showing more statistics from another quickly issued paid for study.
And there will be yet another contentious issue which effects many lives personally and requires deep thought thrown to the masses seeking immediate stupid commentary.

There can be a lot of good in fluid profiles. We all have one. I know I do. I am perfectly fine with having some divided opinions living in my headspace, largely because there are different perspectives on each item, and real life situations which change how each one plays with other contrary thoughts. God allows a lot of space to grow in this way. If I was forced into a profile through all my adult years I would have to question at which stage of life I would like this profile to resemble.

My problem is not so much with having different opinions in your head. It is your quickness to respond to each one with the same level of fortitude. You might want to look back and re-evaluate how many plowshares you have converted into swords.

Reviewing Christian Leadership

Generalizations, missing references, chapters leading somewhere but ending up somewhere else, conclusions to chapters that don’t necessarily line up with what was said in the chapter… I gave it 3 tries, and now I’m giving up.

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Too many self proclamations amidst researched material. Meant for conclusions before concluding, and ending each chapter with more pontification than summary. Waxing philosophical without saying what you intended to say, and no footnotes to follow. Plenty of references, but many suspiciously missing when a point was made in reference to another’s point.

Current approaches? Not really. Contemporary yes, but I think you would be better suited to searching the interweb for a better description of current approaches, by those who espouse said approaches.

There are some good points made, but my arms got tired from panning for gold in this creek.

#reviewingleadership #review #leadership #Christian