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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking off your Mask

Good morning.

Thank you for asking me to return.

Is everyone finally all shovelled out?

Everyone here knows what day last Thursday was…right?

But who knows what special day is coming this week?

Valentine’s Day.

It has been a while since I was in school...but we had Valentine’s Day back then

Do schools still permit you to do things at school on Valentine’s Day?

What will you be doing at school for Valentine’s Day?

Do young people still hand out Valentine cards to friends?

Or is everything done by e-cards these days?

When I went to school, we actually had an E-card, but this was the only E-card we had. The letter E printed on cardboard.

Anyway…in the olden days at school…we used to hand out Valentine cards, to friends, and some times to others who we wished could be our friends.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you really liked someone at school… secretly of course…and you wanted that person to be your friend…but that person has always acted as if you don’t even exist?

Valentine’s Day was the one day when you could secretly give that person you secretly liked a Valentine card…but of course you would never sign it…because you don’t want anyone to know.

A few days before Valentine’s Day, the teacher would usually appoint someone creative to decorate a box, place it at the front of the class, and then during the week when we were sure that no one was looking, we would stuff our Valentine cards into the box.

In creative moments we would write crazy verses on the cards…something like this:

Roses are red, Violets are blue,
I would’ve made you some cookies,
But I ran out of glue.

Now if you were a guy in grade six, who would you send this card to?

Easy…you would send this to the girl that sits on the other side of the class… anonymously of course…because she is the girl you secretly like but don’t want anyone to know…including her.

Here is another card.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Do you like me? Because I really like you.

Again, if you are a guy in grade six, who would you send this card to?

You send this card to any other girl in the class…but…you put your friend’s name on the card as the sender.

On the big day…Valentine’s Day of course…the teacher would choose one or two volunteers to open the box and then hand out the cards. Some classmates would receive a lot of cards, others, only a few.

Of course, you’re waiting to see what happens when that other girl in the class sees that card with your friend’s name on it. Some things don’t turn out the way you think they will.

There’s an interesting verse in the bible, where Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Luke 12:2)

What do you think? Do you think this verse is true?

Even though I didn’t put my name on this card, my signature is still here.

Handwriting; everyone’s handwriting is different. I’m sure you recognize your own handwriting. Some of you may recognize your friend’s handwriting. So don’t be surprised if your friend recognizes your handwriting…it’s a good thing to remember.

Anonymity is a mask and I think that a lot of people like to hide behind the Mask of Anonymity…but this is not the only mask.

Today’s message is “Taking off Your Mask” …but what is a mask?

My dictionary defines a mask as:

A covering used to conceal all or part of the face.

To assume a disguise.

The “Phantom of the Opera” is probably one of the most well-known stories about hiding behind a mask.

People today use different types of masks…the telephone to call chat-lines…or the internet to visit chat-rooms…or e-mail just to chat…people today can spend a lot of time talking to people they may never meet and may never really know, but at the same time  never speak to people they see almost every day and should take the time to get to know.

I just learned that you can even make your own personalized mask on the computer…but what would you use that for?

Who knows what an avatar is?

I didn’t even know what an avatar was until last week. I didn’t think there was any such a word in English, but I found it in my dictionary. What an unusual name for a disguise.

Avatar: In Hindu mythology, the incarnation of a god.

Incarnation means taking on the human form.

There is danger when someone starts to believe he is an incarnation of a god.

The Bible tells us about Herod, “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23)

I have wondered why the angel of the Lord struck down Herod so suddenly, but in His second commandment, God says, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:4)

How many of you here have seen the movie, “The Mask”?

I’m not asking about the Hollywood movie though; I’m asking about the Chinese move.

The movie is a story about an elderly man in China who is a master of telling stories. As he tells his stories, he can suddenly change the masks on his face. The secret of course is the method which the man uses to suddenly change masks, and this secret skill has been passed down from generation to generation in his family. The man does not have a family though and he travels from place to place, trying to earn money from his story telling.

In time, the elderly man wants to adopt a boy as his son so he can pass on his family mask secrets and skills to someone else. So the old man arranges to adopt a boy after paying someone some money.

We learn that the boy is really a girl who has been disguised to look like a boy, because in China, no one wants to adopt a girl…but the old man does not know he has been fooled.

The irony of the story is that the elderly man, who is the expert at masks, was so easily fooled by a young girl pretending to be a boy. You would think the mask expert would be the last person who could be fooled by someone wearing a mask.

Unfortunately, we are all like this, Christians included. If we are not certain about what we believe, then we can very easily be fooled.

Paul knew this problem when he wrote this to the Galatians, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” (Galatians 3:1)

The Bible tells us, Jesus was crucified, Jesus died and Jesus was buried. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible is very clear about this. Jesus was not just unconscious and in a coma. Jesus was dead. While on the cross, a spear was thrust into his side and blood and water came out.

Jesus was the Passover lamb. The shedding of blood is the only means God has provided for the forgiveness of sins; our sins. This may sound very harsh and severe, but this is the truth of God’s requirement. Jesus paid that price for me, and for all of us who believe.

The Bible also tells about the power of God. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead and he was seen by many.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.  And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

This is the question Jesus asks all of us, “Do you believe?”

My answer is yes, I believe this. This is the reason I am here now to tell you this.

I have asked this question here before but I am going to ask it again. How do you know what you believe in, if you do not know what you believe in?

Be certain about what you believe in so that you know what you believe in, and will not be fooled.

Today’s Bible verses warn us in a similar manner.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)

This is a very strong statement…but what does it mean? What was Jesus telling the Pharisees and teachers of the law?

What does woe mean? Woe means overwhelming sorrow; disaster.

Who were the Pharisees and teachers of the law?

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the two groups who knew Jewish scriptures and Jewish laws more than anyone else. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the defenders of the Jewish faith. With all their knowledge and education the Pharisees and teachers of the law should have been the first to recognize the arrival of their long-awaited messiah, yet they refused to accept and acknowledge who Jesus was. They were blind to the truth.

Jesus is warning the Pharisees and teachers of the law that they face overwhelming and unbearable sorrow, even disaster, because they teach God’s laws that are right but do not live by what they teach.

Jesus wasn’t really talking about cups and dishes. Jesus was looking beyond the masks of respectability that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were wearing. They may have appeared to be very respectable, wearing the right clothing, saying the right things at the right time…very good at church-speak…but inside they were evil.

Today’s subject may be titled “Taking off your mask” but perhaps we also need to take off the whole uniform.

The Bible warns us that wearing masks to deceive can be dangerous…even fatal.

The Bible tells us “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the disciples called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostle’s feet.” (Acts 4:36-37)

The Bible also tells us about another man, “A man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece or property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostle’s feet.” (Act 5:1-2)

Here we have two men who have each done the same thing; they both sold a property. Here is where they differ: Barnabas brought all the money from the property he sold and Ananias brought part of the money from the property he sold. Both men put the money at the apostle’s feet.

Let’s read on, “Then Peter said, Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:3-5)

What did Ananias do wrong? Ananias lied to God.

Keeping a part of the money he received for the property he sold was not wrong, but lying about the amount of money he was giving to the apostles was wrong. Ananias was wearing a mask…a mask to look like a genuine Christian.

Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1)

What is yeast? Today, many people don’t really know what yeast is or does because most people don’t bake bread from scratch.

So let’s change the word yeast to something more familiar. Everyone today knows what a virus is and what it can do. Viruses make you sick. Some viruses can ruin your health or even kill you. Another type of virus is the electronic form. Have you ever had a virus get into your computer? You know if a virus gets into your computer, the virus will ruin all your files, and possibly your computer as well.

Be on your guard against the viruses of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

What is hypocrisy? Saying one thing and doing the opposite. Acting like one person, but really being a very different person. Perhaps someone is pretending to be your friend, but in reality, is ready and waiting to hurt and destroy you.

Jesus also said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” (Luke 12:14)

Was Ananias greedy because he kept back part of the money? Maybe, but I don’t think that money was the only reason. I believe that Ananias was greedy and wanted to receive the praise of other men. He wanted other Christians to think he was doing what was right.

The story’s not over yet, “About three hours later, his wife came in not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her out beside her husband. (Acts 5:7-10)

The Bible warns us about wolves in sheep’s clothing. We usually think of men as being wolves, but wolves are females as well.

Counterfeit Christians are wolves in sheep’s clothing waiting for the unsuspecting. Watch out for people wearing these masks.

Message for the young people
February 10, 2008
The Oddblock Station Agent

Friday, November 11, 2011

Interracial Christian Marriage... A few Thoughts and Reflections on the Subject

To parents:

As a parent, how will you react if a day comes when your son or daughter comes home and tells you about a special relationship that has crossed racial boundaries?

As a parent, how will you react if a day comes when your son or daughter informs you that he or she intends to marry someone of a different racial background?

Will your first reaction be simply to see only the differences, think only about the differences and focus only on the differences between race, skin colour, culture and language? If yes, then just pause and reflect for a moment. Your reaction may not be any different at all from what would probably be going on in another home, the home of that other family. Yes, that family of another race, a family with a different skin colour, a family with a different culture, a family which speaks a different language, but nonetheless a family which would be grappling with exactly the same issues you would be. So, in spite of the so called differences, the differences would not be very different after all, would they?

To parents and children:

What follows of course are my personal opinions, observations and conclusions, however, God has wonderfully blessed me with many truly wonderful years of experience to ponder upon and from which to draw upon.

First, I do not believe that interracial marriage is for everyone, nor can it be for everyone nor shall it be for everyone. From a Christian perspective I can only repeat this statement.

As far back as I can recall the subject of interracial marriage was never discussed by my parents while I was growing up. In fact, I never even thought about the subject until I was an adult. In most cases I do not believe that interracial marriage is a concept or value that is learned at home from within the family. If the subject is at all discussed at home, it is usually quickly discouraged. Why then, do some individuals choose to cross racial boundaries and enter into marriages with a partner of a different race and culture, most probably, with a different skin colour who most likely speaks a different language? My belief is that interracial Christian marriages are a spiritual calling from God.

A barrier is an obstacle which we cannot overcome or an extremity which we cannot go beyond. Crossing that barrier, therefore, is overcoming what we first believed we could not overcome or going beyond where we first believed was as far as we could go. Some barriers are self-imposed. Other barriers are imposed upon us by society and mankind. Other barriers still are imposed upon us by God. Interracial relationships demand the crossing of barriers. Crossing the cultural barrier is to begin to understand how our neighbor lives. Crossing the racial barrier is to begin to see our neighbor for whom he or she is rather than seeing what he or she looks like. Interracial marriage, I believe, is more than crossing these barriers. It is living beyond these barriers.

A Christian marriage should never be viewed as anything shorter than a lifetime commitment. An interracial Christian marriage should never be viewed any differently. Any person thinking about an interracial relationship which may eventually lead to marriage must consider and search for his or her innermost answers to at least the following questions. Are you prepared to face prejudice? Are you prepared to face prejudice from possibly your family, or from your friends, or from your co-workers, or even from complete strangers? What about your own prejudice? Are you also willing to live with the consequences? A Christian contemplating an interracial relationship which may be leading toward marriage must, therefore, consider the answers while prayerfully searching for God’s wisdom and guidance.

Prejudice and racism are not problems or traits particular to any one race. Prejudice and racism are insidious destructive traits of human nature and both traits are equally pervasive throughout all races and cultures; either viewed and experienced from the perspective of a minority or as viewed and experienced from the perspective of a majority. No one is free from either racism or prejudice and this includes individuals who have entered into interracial marriage. Just as a racially homogeneous marriage does not and cannot solve personal problems, neither can an interracial marriage be viewed as a solution to racism and prejudice. My belief, therefore, is that racism and prejudice are rooted in sin. Jesus is the only answer to sin and Jesus is the only answer to the sins of racism and prejudice. Jesus taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves. If we cannot love our neighbor of a different race and skin colour across the street, then how can we claim to love our neighbor of a different race and skin colour across the ocean?

Racial differences are very real. To say differently is to avoid and deny reality. Questions about racial, cultural and language differences between individuals will not all be settled at once or fully resolved prior to marriage. Some differences, as small or as large as they may appear to be, can only be genuinely understood and truly resolved after marriage and some of the differences may only be possible to come to terms with many years after the wedding day. One of the difficult concepts to learn in an interracial marriage is to recognize that most marital disagreements are simply differences of opinion between two unique individuals because of who they are as opposed to differences between race, culture and/or language. Of course, race, culture and language largely define who an individual is and what an individual believes but, surprisingly, I have discovered that these issues as are rarely what marital disagreements are about.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, the Bible exhorts born again Christians to marry born again Christians, however, the Bible does not speak against interracial marriage. 

Numbers 12:1 records for us that Moses married a Cushite woman, a woman believed to have been black. Numbers 12:1-2 also reveals that this particular interracial marriage created division with Moses’s own family. Verses 2-10 further reveals that God heard, intervened and punished Miriam with leprosy because she had not been afraid to speak against His servant Moses. 

Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” An interracial Christian marriage is not a house divided against itself, but a schism between parents and a son or daughter is definitely a house divided against itself.

To children:

In Exodus 20:12, God commands, “Honour you father and your mother.” God’s fifth commandment has not changed; therefore, my advice to any couple entering into the lifetime commitment of marriage is to win the consent and support of your parents. My advice is exactly the same for a Christian couple considering a marriage which may cross racial boundaries.

True, your parents may never fully understand your reasons for your decision, but you may be surprised to discover that your parents may learn to accept your choice of partner and choose not to oppose your decision. (Having said this, I urge Christian parents to read Ephesians 6:12; Acts 10 through Acts 11:18; and the Book of Ruth) I can assure you that my parents did not understand my decision, but in spite of this, my parents did not oppose or discourage my marriage to Kie. Likewise, Kie’s parents also did not discourage or oppose our marriage, in fact; a wonderful wedding was prepared for us by Kie’s family.

To all:

Christ Jesus our Lord bridged the chasm of sin which separated mankind from God; therefore, no chasm on earth is too wide that it cannot be bridged. Surely then, through Christ Jesus our Lord, the chasm between racial boundaries can also be bridged. For a few of the chosen, but not all, God’s call to go beyond racial boundaries may be through interracial marriage.

Yours in Christ.

The Oddblock Station Agent 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peer Dependency versus Obedience to Parents

Good morning. Thank you for asking me to return.

Did everyone enjoy their extra hour of sleep this morning?

Our topic this morning is Peer Dependency versus Obedience to Parents.

This sounds like a rather deep subject for early in the morning...well it is!…why do you think you got that extra hour of sleep?

But note this word in the middle – versus

Peer Dependency versus Obedience to Parents…versus…sounds like a battle brewing. Like David versus Goliath… or Jet Li versus Jackie Chan…or the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Montreal Canadians.

What does versus mean? 

In law and sports it means against.

This word is one of those examples of a homonym…well almost…two words that sound the same but mean two different things.

Versus and verses.

Now here is the trick question…I’m telling you it’s a trick question so you don’t’ get tricked…if I read from the Bible, am I reading versus or verses?

At home I have another interesting book. It lists all the words in English that people spell wrong…it’s called a dictionary.

I know it’s still early in the morning but I’m going to start with a few questions…so I’ll make them easy ones.

What was last Friday?

What did you do last Friday evening?

Were you here at MCBC?

Or did you go out for “trick or treats”?

When I was young, I used to get dressed up and go out for Hallowe’en. My brothers and sister did also. All my friends did the same and in fact, everyone in the neighbourhood did…but we never asked why we were doing what we were doing.

My brother Ted and I didn’t know what Hallowe’en was about…we weren’t interested. All we wanted to be sure of is that Mom was going to have our costumes ready by the time October 31st evening came, different costumes of course…no one wanted to be caught dead wearing the same costume as someone else.

What my brother and I did know was that we did not want to be the only ones in our group of friends not going out.  We wanted to fit-in, we wanted to belong and we wanted to be accepted. This is what peer dependency is; the need to fit in and the desire to be accepted and belong.

At the place where I work, all week long people were decorating the office with Hallowe’en stuff. All week long people were reminding everyone not to forget to wear a costume on Friday…and on Friday almost everyone was wearing a costume.

Some people even brought extra costumes for those who didn’t. I was one of the few who did not wear a costume…and I felt like I was missing out some of the fun…I felt like I did not fit in. This is what peer pressure is; conform and fit in or be rejected.

I noticed that all the decorations always had to do with dead things: skeletons, coffins, grave stones, ghosts, blood, and all sorts of creepy stuff.

Why do people want to celebrate that which is dead? I don’t know. But I do know this: Jesus told us that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. (Matthew 22:32)

Jesus did not always say nice things to the important people, but Jesus always spoke the truth. Listen to this, “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)

That’s like saying, “You look normal on the outside but inside you look like Hallowe’en decorations... full of skeletons and everything creepy.”

Unfortunately, the world has many people like this and the Bible also describes them as “Wolves in sheep’s clothing waiting to devour the unsuspecting.” And they are dangerous because you cannot always tell who they are.

I work for a transportation company that moves containers all over the world, including Canada. Most of the stuff you buy in stores is imported from somewhere. Two weeks ago we had two RCMP officers come into the office…they were interested in one of our containers and wanted to know who was bringing it into Canada.

We arranged for the person to come into the office to pay his bill and we were really surprised – he was 82 years old and looked like he could be anyone’s grandfather. The RCMP officers were waiting and followed him when he left. Several days later he was arrested here in the city for smuggling in $30 million dollars in drugs.

A drug-dealer who looks like an elderly grandfather – and as Jesus described, “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)

But I was wondering, are costumes mentioned in the Bible?

Actually yes, and the first account has to do with this second part – obedience to a parent.
The first account is found in Genesis and tells us about Jacob being obedient to his mother Rebekah in order to deceive his father Isaac so he can steal from his brother Esau.

Yes, you heard that right. Jacob was being obedient to his mother Rebekah in order to deceive his father Isaac so he can steal from his brother Esau.

The Bible does not hide the truth…and honestly tells us about a family with problems. And this family had problems! These twin brothers were fighting each other before they were born. Let’s hear what happened.

“His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say.” (Genesis 27:13)

“Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins.” (Genesis 27:15-16) So here we have the costume and Jacob made-up to appear to be Esau.

“Jacob went to his father and said, “My Father.”
“Yes, my son,” Isaac answered, “Who is it?”
Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your first born.” (Genesis 27:18-19)

Isaac, who is now blind, is not completely convinced that Esau is really the one speaking to him, and says, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not. Jacob went close to his father Isaac who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau.” (Genesis 27:21-22)

Up to here is the deception and lying to his father

“So Jacob went to Isaac and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of the clothes, be blessed Jacob.” (Genesis 27:27)

And Jacob steals Isaac’s blessing from Esau.

Was Esau upset?

The Bible tells us that Esau said, “…I will kill my brother Jacob” (Genesis 27:41)

What is a peer? An equal – as in social rank.

Who are your peers? Your friends, your classmates at school, those who are sitting beside you right now.

What is dependency?

My dictionary defines dependency as: to be dependent upon; in need of...which means the opposite of independent.

What is the difference between “Peer Dependency” and “Peer Pressure”

How many of you think you follow the lead of the crowd?

How many of you think that maybe you are leading the crowd?

How many are not sure?

If you did not raise your hand, then you are probably following the crowd

Peer dependency is internal, from within ourselves: wanting and needing to fit in and desiring to be accepted and belong. We can’t always achieve this.

Peer Pressure is external, from outside: the world telling us to conform and fit in or be rejected. We can’t always achieve this either.

Surveys reveal that more than 95 percent of people would change something about themselves if they could. This implies that most people do not accept the way God made them. If we reject our design, then we will have difficulty trusting our designer. Every relationship in life will be affected by how we view ourselves.

This leads us to the 10 Unchangeables – 10 things about yourself that you cannot change.

1.                  Parents
2.                  Time in history
3.                  Race
4.                  Nationality
5.                  Gender
6.                  Birth order – Jacob and Esau
7.                  Brothers and Sisters
8.                  Physical features
9.                  Mental capacity
10.              Aging and Death

Outward beauty is not related to inward happiness.

The Bible tells us to obey our parents and the Bible does have some interesting examples.

“On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (John 2:1-2)

So who do we know was at the wedding? Jesus, the disciples, his mother.

“When the wine was gone, Jesus mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” (John 2:3)

What was Jesus answer?

  1. Send one of the servants to the LCBO to buy more wine
  2. Oh Mom! Why me?
  3. Dear woman, why do you involve me?
  4. Do whatever I tell you?

The Bible tells us, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

We don’t know what Jesus mother may have said to Jesus afterward, but the very next verse tells us this, “His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

The Bible tells us that changing water into wine was the first of Jesus miraculous signs, and interestingly enough, this was because of Jesus mother, and because of what she said.

The fifth commandment is the first commandment that involves relationships between people, “Honour your father and you mother.” (Exodus 20:12)

One thing we Christians must never forget is that Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was born into a Jewish family and into the Jewish people because he is the promised Messiah. This also means that Jesus was brought up with all the Jewish customs and traditions.

The Bible tells us, “Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he (Jesus) was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.” (Luke 2:41-42) Remember his age; it is important.

And then things started to happen that were not part of Jesus parent’s plans. “After the feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.” (Luke 2:43)

Now doesn’t this sound like the plot line of a movie…instead of Home Alone, we have Away Alone.

Do you think it is really possible to forget someone and leave them behind? Well it does happen. My son’s name is David and some of you may know David from Big Kid’s Fellowship. Years earlier David was in the Junior Fellowship and then the Way Fellowship. One Friday night after fellowship, the young people and others were all invited to meet at Mr. Tee’s home for a birthday party – David’s birthday. At Mr. Tee’s home we were all ready to light the candles on the cake, but we couldn’t find David. No one could remember bringing David from MCBC to Mr. Tee’s house…and after making a telephone call to MCBC, sure enough David had been left behind and was waiting for a ride.
Let’s read on, “Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.” (Luke 2:44-45

How old was Jesus?

“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:46-47)

“When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48)

What two things was Jesus doing when his parents found him? Listening and asking questions.

What do you think Jesus did after listening to his upset parents? He asked more questions.

The Bible tells us, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

Again, how old was Jesus at this time?

A Jewish boy reaches religious maturity when he is thirteen years and one day old according to his Hebrew date of birth. At that date he is called a Bar Mitzvah, meaning a son of the commandments, and he becomes fully responsible for his religious conduct. A Bar Mitzvah is a big celebration in a Jewish family. This is also an important day for the Jewish Father, because the father is no longer responsible to receive God’s punishment due for a son’s deficient religious observance.

Jesus at twelve years old meant that his earthly father was still responsible for Jesus conduct in the temple.

The Bible tells us, “Then Jesus went down to Nazareth with his parents, and was obedient to them.” (Luke 2:51)

This is the only verse in the Bible that provides us with definite information about the relationship between Jesus and his parents. Jesus obeyed his earthly parents.

Parents are not perfect and they never will be. You probably know this already. But your parents do want what is best for you.

My parents are still living. I am still obligated by God’s commandment to honour my father and my mother, and also obligated to obey my parents.

Remember, peer dependency is internal and comes from within ourselves: wanting and needing to fit in and desiring to be accepted and belong. This is normal but reality is that we can’t always achieve this.

Is your need to fit in and desire to belong leading you to disobey your parents? If your answer is yes, then maybe it is time to examine what you are trying to gain.

Is it really worth what you may lose?

 Message for the young people
November 02 2008
The Oddblock Station Agent

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who? What? Me Worry?

A Flood Might Come

Don:    What’re you all sitting here for? We've gotta go and get ready?

Kie:     Get ready for what?

Don:    The flood!

Kie:     What flood?

Don:    The flood that’ll come if Etobicoke Creek overflows its banks.

Kie:     Etobicoke Creek?

Don:    Yeah! Etobicoke Creek.

Kie:     You mean that little creek in the ravine behind those buildings across the street?

Don:    Yeah – that creek.

Kie:     Are you serious?

Don:    Of course! Do you think I would stay awake half the night planning for something that wasn’t important?

Kie:     It wouldn’t be the first time.

Don:    Well I’ve got this all figured out.

Kie:     What figured out?

Don:    How to prevent the flood from affecting our church.

Kie:     We aren’t going to have a flood.

Don:    How many times do you think Noah heard that?

Kie:     Well you’re not Noah.

Don:    We’ll just fill enough sand bags to build a wall around the property

Kie:     How will people get in and out of the parking lot?

Don:    Maybe a few bugs still need to be worked out.

Kie:     Has Etobicoke Creek ever been known to flood?

Don:    Not that I know of.

Kie:     Then I really don’t think you need to worry about Etobicoke Creek flooding.

Don:    But what if…

Kie:     Don’t worry about what if… I think you need to pay attention to what you are supposed to be doing this morning?

Don:    What’s that?

Kie:     Talking to the young people here about worrying.

Don:    Who? What? Me Worry?

Kie:     I think you should put the umbrella away.

Don:    What if the roof leaks?

Kie:     I give up.


Good morning!

Thank you for asking me to come back again.

This is the first weekend of June…and that means the end of the school year is coming soon.

How many of you are looking forward to the end of the school year?

Do you have any plans for your summer break?

I haven’t been to school for a long time and I’m sure some things in school have changed over the years – do you still have to study and write final exams?

Do you like writing exams? Or is that something you just have to put up with and get through?

Do you ever worry about passing or failing?

When I was in school, I used to eagerly wait for the last day of school and the long summer vacation that would follow.

But in between the first weekend of June and the last day of school was this long dark valley we used to go through…called final exams.

At exam time, one particular verse from Psalm 23, always seem to take on a special meaning...something in the Bible that I could really identify with, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)

Exam time was just like that…an approaching valley of death and destruction.

The second part, “I will fear no evil” is the part I didn’t understand. How could David write that? Did David mean to say “I will not worry about it?

What the Bible really says is, “I will fear no evil, because you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
That is a comma after evil, not a period. David could write that because he knew that God would be with him.

Looking back now, I think I actually dug part of that valley of death and destruction…with my shovel of worry… making the road deeper into the valley than it needed to be – making the route longer than it could have been.

What I should have done was leave this behind (umbrella)… and studied instead.

Have you ever watched those construction guys who fix the roads and highways? There is always a big guy on a steam roller… rolling back and forth over the same bit of pavement to flatten it… back and forth… back and forth... making it smoother but it never seems to get any smoother… and then you wonder why he doesn’t go over there and do that part over there, so you can go around here and get going.

Well worrying is a lot like that…. your mind becomes just like a steam-roller that goes back and forth over the same problem… again and again… but whatever is causing your anxiety just doesn’t seems to go away and leave you alone. You wish you could think about something else…and get rid of that cloud of worry… and then get on with your life.

Exam time was like that… this cloud of worry that would hang around as the start date came closer. I did learn one method for dealing with exam worry though… it was called procrastination.

Who knows what procrastination means?

Procrastination: putting off doing something today, for some date in the future.

Actually opening a book and getting started studying was hard… and I would finally choose to start tomorrow instead… hello procrastination and good-bye worry.

Wrong! The next day meant twice as much to do and even more to worry about.
Procrastination really does not work… and there is no guarantee about tomorrow. “Jesus said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42)

At exam time I was always very good… at getting the right wrong answers. Who knows what a right wrong answer is?

I learned this from one of my math teachers: if you ask students the same math questions, the wrong answers are often the same… so he called them the right wrong answers.

And students quickly learn what the right wrong answers are… these are the other answers you see on multiple choice exams.

Here’s an example:

2 + 2 =

a.)    22 – everyone knows that 22 is two and two
b.)    1 – is that a plus sign or is that a division sign?
c.)    4 – this is the correct answer – but some don’t know or recognize this form
d.)   \sqrt[3]{-8} – maybe you’ve never seen this before but…what if it means something divided by...???
e.)    None of the above – I hate this choice… because what if it's a trick question and the above are all wrong?

If you are seeking answers about life, then don’t be fooled by the right wrong answers.

Jesus warns us, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Christ, and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5)

Jesus also said, “At that time if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Christ!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” (Matthew 24:23-24)

Jesus also gave us an example of having the right wrong answers when he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “When evening comes you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,” and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”  (Matthew 16:2)

What Jesus was saying to the Pharisees and Sadducees was, “You can look at the sky and forecast the weather…but you are unable look around you, see what is going on and understand what is happening.”

Are you like that in your life? Are you like that at in your life at school?

I was like that… I didn’t understand what was going on in my life at school.

In school I was what you would call a D student… but this didn’t mean that all my marks were D… but sometimes they were.

Here are my definitions of a D student:

D – Disinterested
I wasn’t the least bit interested in school. If some of you here today aren’t the least bit interested in school, then I can understand how you feel.

A verse in the Bible says this: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

My wish for you is this… that one day you will have a teacher who will inspire you to develop a genuine interest in one subject… so that you will do well in it, and find a real satisfaction in it… because that interest or satisfaction will be from the hand of God to you.

D - Distracted
My mind was usually on other things except the subject on hand… mostly on what I was going to do after school… and on Sundays, what I was going to do after church.

The Bible says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1)

Drift away - if you fall out of a boat and drift farther away, your chances of being rescued become less. If you fall away and drift in school, the longer you drift, the harder it will be to come back and catch up.

D - Discontented
I didn’t like being in school and I didn’t like a lot of the stuff I had to learn in school. School was like a jail sentence… and the time had to be served.

“The Bible says this, “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning.” (Philippians 2:13-14)

This is a tough one… even now for me… this is a really tough one.

D - Defiant
In French class I would openly refuse to do my homework, and then not do it.

And the Bible warns, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

D – Denial
Learning French isn’t important and if I don’t learn it, nothing’s going to happen. Anyway, the teacher’s probably not going to check to see if the homework is done.
How many of you have made this gamble… and then lost?

One example of denial in the Bible is what Jesus said, “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” (Matthew 24:38-29)

Some of what you will learn in school is useful and is necessary to prepare you for the years that follow.

D – Detention
Detention was real - I was forced to stay after school the next day to do the French homework that I didn’t do the night before…and of course my mother would want an explanation why I was more than an hour late getting home.

The Bible says, “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” (Proverbs 19:19)

D - Discipline
In the evening my father would lecture me and then end up telling me that people who don’t finish school end up being ditch diggers. That was a common analogy when I was young. Anyway, I didn’t know what my father was talking about – he never finished high school and he didn’t dig ditches – what he was telling me didn’t match how we lived.

Years later I learned that my father worked in a job that he really hated, but he could not go and find work somewhere else… because he did not have the education credentials to find a better job… so he was in what he often called a rut… which is really just another word for ditch.

Therefore, if you think your parents like to lecture you too much, then chances are that they may really know what they are talking about.

This is what the Bible tells us, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)

D- Determination
I developed a determination not to fail in school… only so I would not have to repeat a year of the stuff I disliked.

The Bible tells us, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” (Ephesians 6:7)

If you knew you were going to fly out of Pearson International Airport early tomorrow morning, would you want the people doing the maintenance work on the aircraft engines tonight, to do 45 percent of the work wrong?

Would you even get on that aircraft?

Then why would you settle for low marks in school?

But not all of the D words are negative.

Develop – develop an interest in something useful at school
Direction – do something constructive to find or change the direction of your life
Drive – that is something you will have to discover within you… but it is there.
Discover – search out for yourself some of God’s promises for you in His word

 What is the difference between worry and fear?

My dictionary defines fear as this:
a.)    An uneasy feeling that something will happen contrary to one’s desires
b.)    The possibility that something dreaded or unwanted will occur
c.)    A continuing state or attitude of fright, dread, or alarmed concern

My dictionary defines worry as this:
a)      To be uneasy in the mind; to fret
b)      To pull or tear at something with the teeth
c)      To bother; to pester
d)     To mangle or kill by biting

Fear and worry really don’t sound very different from each other… could this be the reason why the two often go hand in hand?

What does the Bible tell us about worry?

How many of you here would describe yourself as someone who worries or frets?

You don’t have to be very old to know how to worry.

I can remember a time when Kimberly was very young, and we had moved her from her crib to a new bed. On the first evening in her new bed, she was all tucked in and ready to go to sleep.

A while later we heard Kimberly whimpering. When we went in to find out what was wrong, she was worrying about a bump in her new bed.

When we figured out what that bump was, we tried hard not to laugh… we explained what the bump was but she just would not believe us… until we finally touched the bump and Kimberly knew the bump was her toes under the blanket.

Jesus had something to say about worry, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

We ask, “If life is important, don’t we need food and drink? If the body is important, don’t we need to clothe it?”

The answers are yes, and this is what Jesus is saying, but Jesus is also saying that we should not be focusing on these things alone, Jesus is reminding us that God already knows what we need – and who would know better than God who made us?

But right now you don’t worry about food, drink or clothing…these automatically come from your parents.

Have you ever argued with your parents about what you want to wear to school? Why?

Do you ever worry about what you can or cannot be “Caught dead being seen in” at school, or anywhere else? Why?

Have you ever not eaten something because of what you think it may do to your body…such as give you zits? Why?

We all worry about these things in different ways. Age doesn't matter.

But Jesus tells us, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus also said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6”34)

Will Etobicoke Creek ever flood? I don’t know. I really don’t worry about it.

But if it does flood, then maybe I can help to fill sand bags.

But I do know this: God is in control… and God truly does care about each of us.

Message for the young people
February 06, 2007
The Oddblock Station Agent

An Introduction to Trains

Mom's idea of an introduction to trains.

Grandpa's idea of an introduction to trains.
Are we going on that? 

Yes, we are!
A new rail rider about to embark on her first real train ride...all the way to downtown and back.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fascinating World of Odd Blocks

One constant problem with woodworking is the cut-offs and leftover pieces.

A project may start with one board, or many boards depending upon what is being made, but the end result is always the same. Every board starting out will always, and I do mean always, become many smaller pieces.

Wood has become more expensive over the years, especially the hardwoods, which means that scraps have become expensive scraps. I hate to throw these away. The result is many bags and boxes of blocks that I do not know what to do with. Now you know where the name of the station came from.

My grand-daughter already has a few hundred of these to play with. She really does like playing with them but her mother has said, "No more blocks!"

I wonder why?

Below is a small assortment of odd blocks from the accumulation.

The cast in order of appearance:

Starting from top left and going down: yellow pine; eastern white pine; white ash, piece of dowel but wood unidentified; Brazilian rosewood.
Continuing on left across back row: padauk; white ash; hickory; black ash
Continuing from left across front row: eastern white pine on top of yellow birch heartwood; red oak; elm

The stage is a wooden crate-box made from leftover pieces of eastern white cedar.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum August 13, 2013 

Someone who knows what to do with odd blocks.