Sunday, October 7, 2012

Settling In

Angela got home on Thursday night and we are still settling in. The kids love having their mom back, but are having to adjust to a Dad who is adjusting. Angela's pain is livable and she is working on getting her digestive system up to speed. Every morning I get to give her a shot, which I enjoy a little too much.

Angela spends most of her day resting, eating small amounts, and watching the kids play. I am trying to figure out Angela's schedule... between getting Ruby ready for school, Charlie's hockey, picking Ruby up, Ruby's soccer, meals, and everything else, it's a steep curve, but I'm up for the challenge. So far my meals have been limited to toast, grilled cheese, and beans and wieners, but I'm tackling a turkey dinner today! Hoping to milk the leftovers for a long time.

Angela's recovery will be about another three weeks and then she'll be able to do most things except lift objects over five pounds. Charlie and I went to Willow View Farms yesterday with some of his friends and we picked up some pumpkins for the hallowed front door decoration. Apparently my decorating isn't sufficient so Angela has invited her mom to come over and do it up right.

We haven't made any decisions about future treatment options. We'll wait until she's recovered and then prayerfully consider our options. Many thanks to all those who have prayed and fasted for us. God's peace and strength have been evident. Your kind words have lifted our spirits.

Again, both of our moms have been rock stars. Angela's mom was with us in Calgary for most of the time and brought Angela home on Westjet. My mom watched our kids for two weeks and to top it off our dishwasher broke so it was back to the old days of washing dishes by hand! Charlie only lost one tooth under her care due to a bike crash, so she's feeling pretty bad, but we think he just looks cuter. He enjoys sticking his tongue through the gap and I like the look when he puts on his hockey helmet and grins.

Angela was really excited to get out of the hospital. All the private rooms were booked with quarantined patients so Angela was in a room with three old men who either had colon cancer or prostate cancer... yeah for sharing a bathroom!? Because the surgeon did less than expected she only needed to be in the hospital for a week. The first couple days were pretty rough, but each day got better. One of her highlights was watching me paint her toenails. That was a first for me, but after six toes I started to get the hang of it.

We'll have a low key Thanksgiving weekend and then begin to get back into the swing of things on Tuesday. Even in the midst of everything, as I was washing dishes by hand this afternoon, I couldn't help but think how blessed we are. God has given us a home, two amazing little munchkins, a loving family and Church family, and hearts that know and love Him.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Wait" by Frank Partnoy

Sorry for all the short book reviews, but sitting in a hospital room for 14 hours a day gives lots of time for reading. Last week, Ang and I stopped by Chapters and I am dangerous in there… I could walkout with thirty books in less than five minutes. The danger in my excitement is that I sometimes pick-up books that are a waste of time. This book was one of them.

The book is called, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy. Its attractive cover and glitzy byline sold me. The nature of the book falls into the same category as Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin books… quirky observations of human behavior and cultural/corporate success.

The basic premise of the book is set out to combat the time-oriented cultural value of our tireless pursuit of efficiency. Our culture looks down on procrastination, but Partnoy argues that in certain contexts procrastination is a great thing. He uses elite athletes, fighter pilot techniques, and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War approach to defend his observation. His premise is that more successful decisions are reached when one delays a decision to the last possible moment. This delay allows one to observe, adjust, and then act/decide. Successful people are able to determine how long acting on the decision will take and then subtract that time from the deadline, allowing them the beginning/remaining time to observe and adjust. This process of delaying a decision can be done in milliseconds or years (depending on the context/deadline).

In another part he discusses the importance of latency or slack in complex systems. From a Biblical perspective this sounds like “Sabbath”. He then responds to Gladwell’s observation of “thin slicing” and noting the danger of basing our perspective of others solely on first impressions. When it comes to public speaking he addresses the use of delay in powerful speeches and comedy. He also reflects other nuances of waiting as it relates to stock investments, relational success, and other areas of application.

Overall the book is a waste of time and could have been a tenth of the length. The majority of the book is an overuse of storytelling and social experiments… fluff. Even the physical size of the book is awkward as it’s a touch too big.

I find it funny how so many of these kinds of books back up God’s truth and wisdom as revealed in Scripture, but because the world doesn’t see the Bible as Truth, it finds the need to spend millions of dollars and hours on social research only to discover what God has already told us.

"since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:19-21 (NIV)

Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Lord's Supper" / Gordon T. Smith

Just finished reading The Lord’s Supper: Five Views edited by Gordon T. Smith.  It features five views of what our Church calls “communion”. The five views represented are Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, and Pentecostal. The format of the book allows a spokesperson of each viewpoint to write an essay and then have the other four writers give a short critique.

I found this book helpful for clearing up misconceptions about the various views. There is in each view a passion on a certain aspect of the Lord’s Supper that I can appreciate. However, the passion is, in many of the views, the very thing that causes division over what was ordered by God to be a unifying experience.

As with most disagreements there is usually some truth in each side. People generally aren’t that stupid and the angle for their view often has merit. That being said, it breaks my heart to see Christians denying fellow brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity to share in the Lord’s Supper.

Coming from a Pentecostal perspective, I believe the bread and the “wine” are symbols that when shared through obedience and faith becomes a meaningful experience by which the presence of the Spirit points to the past, present, and future work of Christ. This pointing to Christ isn't just an intellectual exercise, but an experiential one where Christ's presence by His Spirit, impacts us not only on a personal level, but also on a corporate level. In this process our being (both personal [mind, soul, and strength] and corporate [unified body of Christ]) is nourished in Christ. In doing this we experience Christ’s reality and power. In doing this we remember and proclaim His death. In doing this we are humbled before Christ and one another.

I don't have time to reflect on all the views presented, but I did think it important to note that Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine actually change physical properties to become Christ's actual flesh and blood. They prefer to describe it like this, "Externally, the bread and wine retain their appearance even after consecration. Yet at the same time the whole Christ is sacramentally present in them--the whole Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity." (p.17). Because the whole Christ is present in the Lord's Supper (as far as Catholics believe), Catholics see the Lord's Supper as the source and summit of the Christian life, because the Lord's Supper re-presents the very Christ. It's easy to see why Catholics get criticized by other streams of the Christian faith as this view makes the Lord's Supper look like another appearance/need for Jesus to again do the work He did on the cross, instead of pointing to His once-and-for-all work on Calvary. It's often interpreted as idolatry (the elements are looked upon as divine). Catholics will argue that this is not what they believe, but it is easy to see how the optics and language of their practice make it look otherwise. My summary is not sufficient so if you want a greater look, buy the book.

This is a good book for those in, or interested in, pastoral ministry. It’s a quick and fun read.