Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Matthew 4:19 "...and I will make you fishers of men."

Deep Sea Fishing... for?
On the pier getting ready to head out!
     This past weekend I joined 41 other men (most of us members of a family fitness gym, where Diane and I have connected for 3 years) on the annual fishing trip. This was my 2nd time, having missed last year due to furlough in Canada.
One of the 3 boats
     As things would turn out both times the group was divided up on 3 different boats, which leads to a competition to see which boat can bring in the most/biggest catch. 2 years ago my boat 'won', and this year I was also on the 'winning' boat. Both times I have been 'accused' of cheating! It has been suggested that I have an unfair advantage - being connected to the 'boss upstairs'. I have responded to that comment by suggesting that that connection is available to all of us.
The winners... with our catch... a Marlin! I'm 2nd from left, back row
     More to the point of my participation. As a follower of Christ, someone who really wants to be a disciple, to have my life reflect a relationship of obedience to Christ, I care about the people I have come to know and become friends with. It could be said that, in many cases, my lifestyle is quite different than that of some of the guys I connect with. BUT, I'm reminded of Jesus' willingness to reach out to the world, a world of hurting, broken, and less than righteous people. It can get messy at times, but if you need safety you may as well not get out of bed in the morning! Or, don't leave the safety of your church sanctuary. I believe that we are called to be 'in the world' but not 'off the world'. That can be a tricky balance to maintain, but it seems to suggest connecting without contaminating.
The entire team... lunch after fishing
at the villas where we stayed for the weekend

     As you might guess, this isn't an environment where everyone would be comfortable. Often these events feature excessive drinking, language, and 'un-sanctified conversation'. BUT, is this not also where the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) are needed? My prayer is that my life will reflect Christ to others, with the intent of drawing them to Him. That also means that I need to be 'different', while at the same time showing love and true friendship...

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Life is better ...

I often look through my photos on my phone or iPad.  Mostly because, in looking through them, I walk down memory lane.

One thing I've noticed often is that the best memories are shared memories.  Pictures filled with friends and family.

While I am browsing through my pictures I often think about my life.  Pictures are different during various times of my life. What would my pictures look like if I was in Steinbach now rather than Guadalajara?

Well I wouldn't have a swimming pool at my disposal, so I wouldn't necessarily have a pool party.  But we do get together to swim back home, mostly at the lake.  That I have done countless times with family and friends.

The food might look a little different.  I have not had a wiener roast since I have been here.  Not something they do here.  It is usually meat frying on the grill, with quesadillas, green onions, chilli, etc.  But, the camaraderie is the same, its rich and rewarding.

One thing I have noticed about Mexican people, maybe most Latin's, is that they LOVE to get together for whatever reason.  They celebrate everything, and everything they celebrate, they do loudly! Never without music either.

We have been blessed to make many friends here in GDL.  We feel very included in events.  Maybe we get invited to more things because we are foreigners?  Or we just landed ourselves in a very wonderful group of people? Hard to say, but they sure don't leave us out.

So, as we have been making Ernie's birthday party (not a surprise) guest grows and grows and grows.  Ernie is known as the person who knows everybody and is everybody's friend.  He often leaves the gym saying that he met someone new.

He is a good example for me to follow, given that my tendency would be to stay home.  I only need a handful of friends to his large group.  However, not everyone needs 200 friends, but we do need to have some!  We need to reach out to be a blessing to others.  Or let them reach out to us and be open to receive. Because ....

If you have a lot of pictures, or even if you have only just a few, browse through them, remember when...  Look what good times you've had.  It never hurts to look at the sad times either.  But then, take a chance, get outside of the four walls of your world, and be a friend to someone.  

I may be living here for only a season, and could thus say, why risk my heart? But as I risk it, knowing how painful the good byes will one day be, I smile because I will have wonderful memories of wonderful people.  Relationships are worth the risk. Reach out and love someone today!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Finishing well....?

Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

     IF the average length of our days is 27,375 days (70-80 years), according to Psalms 90:10, then I have "spent" 21,862, which would leave me 5,513 days. Obviously no one has even a single day guaranteed, but...

Time 'spent' and time 'left' measured....
     I like to use the illustration of the tape measure, to calculate time 'spent' and time 'left'. So, someone getting ready to celebrate their 15th birthday would have 'spent' what I might have left, and would have 'left to spend' what I have already 'spent'.

     Getting ready to celebrate your 60th birthday is an opportunity to reflect, to look back, as well as to look forward. Sometimes Paul Simon's song comes to mind. "Slip sliding away..." Life is like a vapour, here today and gone tomorrow.

     To live is also to make choices. There are many choices to make, and an important question, at my age, is that of 'finishing well'.

     Scripture is littered with examples of great men of faith that lost their focus and didn't finish well! I don't want to be part of that statistic. It's important to stay the course.

     In Western society some men go thru a 'midlife crisis'. In a society known for its machismo that seems even more pronounced. And often poor choices, with devastating consequences, are the result.

     Another thing that happens, for some, when you get closer to retirement, is the potential of worrying or experiencing anxiety regarding the future. Will I have enough resources to be able to live in retirement? Will I be able to afford housing? basic necessities? what will I do with my time? etc. etc.

     Scripture (Matthew 5:19-34) has a lot to say about not worrying, and also about our priorities, regarding possessions, and storing up 'treasures'. Certainly it seems that absolute and complete trust and reliance on God, our creator and sustainer, is required. This is foundational, BUT, it doesn't recuse us from being good stewards, planning ahead, and using our time and resources wisely.

     So, these are the thoughts rolling thru my mind, as I get closer to the 'big 60'. Now, as always, I want my life to count, to make a difference. To be marked by obedience to Christ, and love for those that I rub shoulders with along the way!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Random Question

The Fitness Fact to the left does not surprise me; well, the global number does, as it makes it so huge.

I clearly remember the first time I bought my husband a gym membership...did not even go once! Good thing it was only a three month trial membership.

To add to this fact is that I know many people also think it is cheaper to just buy themselves a treadmill or an elliptical machine.  I am surprised at how quickly it becomes a place to hang clothes on!

But, my mind is a scary place sometimes... well, often.  So my random question is this, "how many people are 'members' of a church and rarely, or never, go?"

If research (Gallup Poll) was done on this I wonder what the stats would be? Because I know that our membership lists in church rarely are fully reflected in the pews.

Taking this thought a step many of us want the perfect sculpted body but don't want to do what we know is required to achieve it? I have been attending a gym for over 3 years now and I still have excess fat, not to mention that I still can not find the six pack abs!  I am doing some things, but not others, like I know eating is 80% of the battle, and only 20% is exercise.  While I enjoy the exercise I also enjoy eating, and less so when it is healthy.  What I know I should do (eat healthy) I don't, and what I know I shouldn't do (eat tacos), I do.  Sounds like a scripture verse to me (Romans 7)...

Well, the vast number of people who are 'members' of a church do so because they ascribe to a faith. I grew up in the church, and so I have no excuse. I KNOW what I should do, but once again, I often do not do those things.

Just like I want the countless posts I see on my Facebook health pages to be true - "lose your belly in 30 days" - I also want sanctification to be instantaneous.  And, just like you can't get perfect abs in 30 days (even if you do countless crunches or planks), you can not become like Christ over night.

I get told here often by people that they are 'bad' Catholics.  They refer to themselves as such.  They mean that they believe in God, and identify with the Catholic church, but they don't go to mass, they don't confess, and they don't take the Lord's Supper.  How is that different from owning a gym membership but never going?

I enjoy the gym, and even love feeling wiped after my 1 1/2 hr. work out.  I love feeling sore muscles, as they remind me that I used them.  That I pushed myself.  I love noticing new muscles form.  I love the results.

What about my spiritual muscles? Are they being pushed? Am I straining them? Do I put the same effort into my spiritual strength as I do into my physical strength? Sadly I do not.

I ask myself why that is? Why can I give 2 hours daily to my physical body's betterment but struggle to give 1/2 hour to my spiritual growth? (Hebrews 12:1-3; Philippians 3:12-14)

I don't want to be someone who works on the 'outside' and neglects the 'inside'.  I don' want to be a member who has never benefitted from the privileges of membership.  How about you?