22 Jul

The Problem For You May Prove To Be No Difficulty To Others

Last week Ed, my neighbor next door, had a good laugh at my problem. I had laryngitis and my voice was no higher than a whisper. My neighbor was certain that it was no problem to others if they couldn’t hear me. He was convinced many would see it as a welcome relief. When he learned we were leaving for camping at Thunder Bay, Ontario, he had another laugh. He said that I would be a quiet meal for starving misquotes and that I wouldn’t be able to yell if a bear showed up at our campground for supper. I whispered to Ed that the Saskatchewan misquotes have been so thick and greedy I have no blood left to give to their Ontario cousins. I also said that when it comes to facing a hungry bear in camp, I’m pretty confident that my breath could scare a bear off, as I’ve been told that my breath is like being sprayed by a skunk. Ed said that it was too hard trying to listen to me with laryngitis, but he always likes to see me go away. When I said, “Do you mean you like to see me go away for holidays?” He said, “Okay sure, then too,” as he left for his house.

Laryngitis is a small problem compared to the many folks in our community burdened with flood clean up and repairs to their homes. How good it is when we can view our problems as being resolved in a matter of weeks or days or months. When one reads the Bible, problems are often long term with no relief or resolve quickly. When Joseph brought his father and his whole family to Egypt, they enjoyed the blessing of welcome from the Pharaoh as they settled in Egypt.  For a time, the Israelites prospered and times were good in Egypt but after Joseph’s death and other Pharaohs were ruling time became awful for the Israelites with centuries of being enslaved and treated harshly. The people of God came to have slave masters over them, and their lives were bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar, and all kinds of work in the field. Things went from bad to even worse when the Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to throw every baby boy born to them to be thrown into the Nile River. Only, if they gave birth to baby girls could the baby live.

Talking & Listening

14 Jul

Little Guys or Big Folks, They Would All Rather Talk Than Listen

Ed, my neighbor next door, noted that I was leaving the house each morning at eight a.m. last week. He was hoping that I was back to work at Walmart. Disappointment replaced his hope, and his indifference surfaced, when he found out I was going to V.B.S. or Vacation Bible School each day. Ed’s claimed if it is vacation time then there should be no school, and he isn’t a fan of the Bible either. When he heard I told Bible Stories to children at V.B.S., he had great sympathy for the children. He was certain the children would experience my story time, as a disturbed nap time. I told Ed that adults might fall asleep easily in church, but children just get restless and squirmy. I told Ed that whether it is little folks or adults they all want to talk rather than listen.

Jesus never seemed to have an issue with folks being willing to listen to him. The stories he told and things he taught were clear and direct. Not only did people listen, but his stories taught folks some lessons they did not always want to hear. Often the hero of the story wasn’t predictable or satisfying to the listeners. One of Jesus’ uncomfortable stories is called the parable of the Good Samaritan, which answers the question – “Who is my neighbor?”

Thanks For The Help

7 Jul

Say Thanks to Those Willing To Lend a Helping Hand in Trouble

Ed, my neighbor next door, tends to take bad circumstances, as well as, the good ones in a futile manner. One of his frequent sayings is, “Don’t be quick to say thanks for anything or anyone, as you never know how valuable or worthless they may turn out to be.” Life according to Ed is like a see-saw ride which always goes up and down endlessly. He says that the year your harvest is up to a bumper crop, it will be brought down by a give-away price per bushel when you go to sell your grain. He admits that there are lots of great things that happen in a person’s life, but also enough miserable events to cancel the good, so it is best to wait and see rather than waste your thanks.

The recent flood and evacuation of the nursing home here resulted in Ed and I having a lengthy discussion about thankfulness. Ed said that the flood proved it was both a waste of time to pray to God or say thank you to God. I replied that a thank you had to be said to the countless volunteers who were ready and willing to sandbag or help at the Credit Union Center. I was thankful that during the situation, so many folks worked tirelessly to the benefit everyone and that I was thankful for the good city we live in. I felt the folks at city hall acted in an excellent response to a natural disaster, and deserved our thanks as well. Ed was certain I will not be thankful for city hall when I have to pay my taxes. I told him that I would be thankful when I get my taxes paid as it means we have a home to live in rather than being homeless as too many folks are in our world. Ed challenged me that he doubted the homeless are thankful. I argued that perhaps they are more thankful for shelter from bad weather when they can find refuge than we might ever be in our comfortable homes. We may take our homes for granted instead with thankfulness. 


29 Jun

Don’t Give Thanks For Things That Didn’t Happen?

Ed, my neighbor next door, has been like a wet blanket lately. The stretch of wet weather we have been having has soaked into his attitude and mildewed his patience. He challenged me on Sunday as I was coming home from church and into my house. “Did you pray for dry weather or thank God for all the rain nobody wants?” he asked accusingly. I confessed honestly that I hadn’t prayed about the weather in the church prayers. This led Ed to the statement, “Easy to see you are not a farmer and you cannot see where God needs to act in this world of ours.” We had a discussion over coffee about the awareness of God in all areas of life that left Ed unconvinced.

First I mentioned the poem by Mary Stevenson called, “Footprints in the Sand.” Ed reluctantly let me read it to him. The poem pointed out that often in anguish, sorrow or defeat we cannot not find God’s footprints beside our own. The poem accuses God of not being there for them when God is needed most. In the poem, the Lord says that when we could only see one set of footprints in the sand it is because He is carrying us.      


21 Jun

Weeds Will Overrun the Field During Days of Rainy Weather

            Ed, my neighbor next door, hates weeds. He has absolutely no tolerance for any of them. “No self-respecting farmer will even taste dandelion wine,” Ed claims. He says that the only good weed is a dead one. With so many days of rain the last while, Ed has been unable to get his spraying done. Each day the sprayer cannot move adds to his conviction that the weeds are swallowing up his crops.

I told Ed that weeds are just like sins they both spring up naturally and relentlessly. They grow and spread so rapidly, that it is a constant battle to try and keep them from taking over our lives. Ed believes that I have a fanatical view of sin, and sees sin as mostly harmless behavior that most people ignore. When I told him that Emerson claimed that a weed was a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered, Ed said that Emerson must not have been a farmer.

Hair Cut

16 Jun

Cutting Your Own Hair Proves You Are Both Bald & Cheap

Ed, my neighbor next door, saw me with a fresh haircut. He is aware that I have been buzzing my own hair. He tells me that I can get away with cutting my own hair because I’m already bald. I have offered to buzz his hair for him for free, and for a donation to the Red Cross. “Why in the world would I give a donation to the Red Cross?” Ed demanded.

“Because at home and around the world they help people in trouble,” I told him. So he told me that it doesn’t matter because he would not trust me with hair clippers on his head even for a buzz job. Ed made it clear to me that he wants a haircut that makes him look good, not like he needs a wig. I told him some of us look better hairless. He is certain I need to get my eyes checked. I told him that often we only see what we want to see. I did warn him that he needs to notice when his wife gets her hair done or he will be in serious trouble with Ruby. He assumed I was speaking from experience and he was right.