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Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Way I See It #198

“You can shower a child with presents or money, but what do they really mean, compared to the most valuable gift of all – your time? Vacations and special events are nice, but so often the best moments are the spontaneous ones. Being there. Every moment you spend with your child could be the one that really matters” — Jim Russert Journalist

I found the above on my Starbucks cup this morning. After thouroughly enjoying my usual white chocolate mocha (for the low, low price of $5.09), I was prepared to toss the iconic white paper cup when the quote caught my eye.

I was reminded of my evening yesterday. Not one to have much patience for loud, screaming children, I had retired to the “kid-free” room of the house. All my siblings, their spouses and children had graced us with their presence to celebrate my brother-in-laws birthday – strangely, he was the only one not present at this moment in my memory. The kids were in the family room playing with a plethora of balloons left over from last week’s baby shower. My siblings were gathered around the table playing Space Beans. I sat quietly in the living room with my parents and one month old nephew. Above the obnoxious noise of sqeaking balloons and stomping feet, I heard my brother and his 7 year old daughter singing a little annoying ditty together. Now, the morning after, I can’t even remember what it was about, only that I made a comment to my mother.

As much as I have a hard time dealing with all the kids at once, it did my heart and mind a world of good to hear such a ridiculous tune. This proved to me several things. One was that my brother took interest in the world of his children. Not only did he know what they did and liked, he had an in-depth grasp of it all. Two was that he cared. He gently encouraged my niece if she got mixed up on the words and laughed along with her at the end of each verse (and there seemed to be many). Three was that, whether he realized it or not, he was making a moment that mattered. When that little girl grows up, she will look back and remember that Daddy used to (and hopefully still does) sing with her. Daddy cared about her world and Daddy loved her enough to learn a bunch of silly songs so that they could sing them together.

In a world where most children are left to raise themselves, my brother proved to me that functional and loving families still do exist. I’m not sure I’ve ever told him, but I am proud of him and his family. I love to see them love each other. I love to see the kids well-behaved, well-loved and well-adapted to this crazy thing we call life. In a world where parenting is a lost art, I praise God for the love and discipline that my brother and his wife have graced their children with and can only pray that they will be a great example for all those who surround them.

Can we ever get it ALL right?

In my quest for new worship songs – new to our church, that is – I found a list of the most popular songs in the country. Topping this list are songs like “How Great is Our God”, “Here I Am to Worship” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. There is, however, one song on this list that I am disturbed by: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.

By title, most would wonder what my issue is with such a heartfelt and biblical statement. It is not the title of the song I am disturbed with, nor the majority of the song in fact. What disturbs me is one simple line that most people pay very little attention to: “You give and take away, You give and take away”.

I myself have been swept up in the moment and the glory of this song, seen congregation unashamedly lifting their hands in worship crying out, “you give and take away, you give and take away”. Wait a minute here… Didn’t we just sing “Open the Eyes of My Heart”? My eyes were opened. I don’t know about you, but I serve a God who gives life and life abundantly at that (John 10:10). If I recall the verse correctly, it is the devil who has come to kill, steal and destroy. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t it a contradiction for God to say at one time that He gives abundant life and in the next breath say He takes away?

“But it’s biblical!”. I’ve heard this argument more times than I care to admit. Let’s do a little research before we open our big mouths, here. Job 1:21 says, “…the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away…” Yes! This is in the Bible, surely it is something we can sing about! You can sing about whatever you want to, but I refuse in a time of worship to tell my loving, giving, nuturing God that he has taken away from me!

In four years of Bible school attendance (perfect attendance might I brag!) I learned many things, one of which is to look at the context in which things are said before we make it gospel truth. (Yes, yes, I know that the whole of the Bible is Gospel Truth, but hear me out.) Let’s take a look at what’s been going on in Jobs life up to this point:

– all but one of Job’s servants in a field were slain by the Sabeans, who also took all his oxen and donkeys
– again, all but one of the servants in another field were burned up along with all his sheep
– yet again, all but one of the servants were killed by the Chaldeans who also took all the camels
– once more, all but one of the servants were killed when a strong wind came causing the house to collapse. All his children were killed as well.

So in a matter of minutes it seems, Job has lost everything he had in the world. It is at this point where he shaves his head, tears his robe and cried out, “…the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away…” The next verse says, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Here is where most people would say that they have made their argument and rest their case.

Let’s back the Mack truck up. In Job 1:6 Satan comes along to have a chat with God. Job’s name comes into the conversation. God tells Satan how loyal Job is. Satan asks God to strike everything Job has. Satan’s goal: to get Job to curse God. God gives in and tells Satan that everything Job has is in his (Satan’s) hands, but he cannot lay a finger on Job. Satan then takes his leave of God’s presence.

It is after this conversation that Job loses everything he has. Hmm… coincidence? I think not. God allowed Satan to do his thing to make a point. (Let’s remember that when Adam sinned in the garden that Satan was given dominion on the earth, he does have the rite if we let him…) It was Satan who took the cattle and killed the servants and children. Job cried out in his anguish.

So here is what we know. It was a mere man who spoke the words, “the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away”, this man had just lost everything he owned and God and Satan had already had a discussion about Job’s earthly belongings. It was God who gave, but not God who had taken away.

All of this just to explain my beef with a song. I cannot justify raising my hands while crying out the lyrics “you give and take away, you give and take away”. The God I worship is a God who provides, the God of complete wholeness, the God who is more than enough. God is love and wants us to love Him. What kind of person, when seeking the love of others, takes something from them?

Sing what you want, but remember to take the time and think about the words that leave your lips. Who are you praising and why? Do your words reflect the one you worship?

Stay tuned for another beef with another commonly misquoted verse…

The Story Behind the Name

For those who know me, I am a face that goes by many names – a never ending stream of nicknames and abbreviations. Why Joda? one may ask. My response is simple, really.

Some time ago – long enough to be a while, yet still close enough to avoid the label of eternity – a friend of mine was making a feeble attempt to create a new nickname for me. Unfortunately for him, when I mentioned the fact that I had a plethora of nicknames already in my posession, he didn’t believe me. After tossing several ideas on the table only to have them immediately discarded, this friend had to spend some time in real thought. A new nickname must not only be original, but fitting.

When Joda came to the table, I must admit that it was very nearly a hastydiscard. But I took the time to ponder it, roll it over, swirl it about in the recesses of my mind. Being the world traveller that I am, I thought it through with various accents I’ve heard abroad. One in particular rose above the rest in regard to this new name I was trying out.

I was in Estonia and recall being amused that none of the nationals could pronounce my name correctly. It always came out Yordan. Jordan – Yordan, Joda – Yoda! Hey, this could work! So, Joda with an Estonian accent becomes Yoda.

This appealed to me for several reasons. None of them being a desire to be a small green man with a voice comparable to that of Kermit the Frog. However, many moons ago, the idea of being green did indeed appeal to me. As a child, I was every parent’s dream eating all that was green – cucumber, broccoli, peas – in order to become green myself. Stan, the blind man living in my grandmother’s basement had embarked upon my quest as well, stating that he, too, carried the desire to become green (it was only later in life that I realize he had only humoured me with this comment because, being blind, he knew nothing of what green really was). So, becoming Joda (remember the Estonian accent here) would cater to my long lost desire to be green. The second reason is obvious. The original Yoda is know for his infinate stores of unmatched wisdom. “Do or do not, there is no try”, “Ready are you? What know you of ready?”, “Named must your fear be before banish it you can”. Who wouldn’t want to be Yoda?

So, Joda I have become if only for these few precious moments a day, week or month.

Good Intentions May Not Produce Good Results

So I started a blog with every intention of continuing my quest to be heard (er, read) whether what I had to say was worthwhile or not. We all want to be loved, don’t we?

Today’s entry springs from a ridiculous article that showed up on my iGoogle this morning. (What blogger hasn’t personalized their iGoogle?) Janine had been indulging on Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries cereal for over four years in order to improve her health (and who wouldn’t chow down on a sugary cereal as part of a balanced diet?). Janine was so distraught over her discovery that Crunchberries aren’t actually real berries (only sugary corn cereal balls) that she filed a class action lawsuit against Quaker Oats for deceiving “reasonable” people. My question is, what is her definition of a “reasonable” person? Any child knows that Crunchberries are not real berries. Did Janine not question the fact that Crunchberries are not readily available anywhere but in Cap’n Crunch Crunchberrie cereal? Has she ever wondered why no one ever planted Crunchberry trees? Did she never read the ingredients on the box?

“Corn flour, sugar, oat flour, coconut oil, salt, sodium citrate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, natural and artificial flavours, strawberry juice concentrate (this is the one that should give it away)…” [www.capncrunch.com/#/parentsparadise]

I sit in awe of humanity. What has the world come to when a grown woman, old enough to go through the proper channels to place a lawsuit, can’t tell the difference between fruit-flavoured corn cereal and real berries? I am no less than greatly concerned for the state of our general population if these are the kinds of issues the flies on the walls of our courtrooms have to listen to day in and day out. Heck, I’d be willing to bet that those flies can tell the difference between a real berry and pink corn cereal.