Tag Archives: Martin Melville

Business as Ministry: Fostering Transformation & Hope at Work

Tuesday, June 30 2020, I’ll be a panelist at a Friends General Conference workshop with the above title. You are welcome to join us:

Event day and time: 6/30 Tuesday 4:00-5:30pm(Eastern)
Zoom meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/82594186992

Capitalism is much maligned these days, not without reason. Sometimes it seems that the race to see who accumulates the largest pile of bones (money/assets) brings out the worst in people, and by extension, their corporations.

I believe that as both business owners and employees, we have a responsibility to conduct our work ethically. What does business look like when it’s guided by religious ethics, i.e. the Holy Spirit? Can it be a force for transforming society at large, and the individual lives it touches? I think the answer is Yes!

The outline follows. I hope to turn it into an essay.

Work as Ministry: Creating Transformation & Hope Through Business

  1. A bit about me.
  2. Function of business/ work
    1. Provide product or service
    2. Make money (profit), keep body & soul together
    3. What else?
      1. Be part of community, care for employees, environment
      2. Ministry? Nothing in the contract that says we can’t.
  • Importance of questioning status quo, i.e. world as we observe it
  1. What if… (an important question)
    1. Life is communion, actions are sacraments
    2. Part of the function of business was to do the work of the Spirit
  • Even the task is incidental, a substrate for something larger: Work
  1. The function of Work was the actualization of the Kingdom, doing Spirit’s work here on earth?
  1. What, exactly, is ministry?
    1. Evolution of my understanding
      1. Man in a black robe telling us how to live, what a wretched lot humans are
      2. Spirit is accessible to us through worship. Limited to MFW
  • Spirit is accessible to ME through worship. Still only in MFW.
  1. Fox: HS not confined to buildings. Worship can happen anywhere.
  2. I can be (I am) a minister => messenger of the Word. That old thing about telling us how to live.
  3. HS as a spectrum of light: IR => visible => UV
  • Let your life speak: vocal ministry is only a small part of where HS is active. How, then, to speak?
  1. What does a life lived in the Presence look like & how do we practice it?
    1. Fruits of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22 But thefruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
    2. Jesus as role model/mentor. Acceptance of Church teachings not required to live as He taught
  • Individual as a tool or conduit for the activity of the HS
  1. Ministry reaches outward and inward simultaneously.
  1. In this model, all of life presents the opportunity for ministry.
    1. In being faithful, our own needs are met. Able to let go of need for control.
    2. Expand the concept of “neighbor.”
  • The search for “that of God” in customers & neighbors.
  1. Firewood: a co-product. Burdensome. Offer to people in need, or if they pay, pay it forward.
  1. What does this look like? What are the possibilities?
    1. “audience:” employees, customers, public, and of course, yourself (ministry as a 2-way street)
    2. Witness (traditional language). People notice “something different.”
    3. Mentorship, empowerment, agency, self-image
      1. Victims of abuse
      2. Released prisoners
  • Recent graduates
  1. Modeling life lived in response to Spirit/ “Let your life speak.”
  2. Even as an employee, there are subtle, and not-so-subtle ways to influence the culture at work.
  3. Conflict resolution, listening, helping others achieve clearness
  4. Work is relational.
    1. Customers are often looking for a relationship as much as they are to get a specific job done.
    2. Testimonies address this: integrity = “my yea is yea, and my nay, nay.” AKA “you can count on me. Anchor point in a world where so much is beyond control.
  5. Helps address uncertainty. Plan A to plan ZZ. All in a day.
    1. Roll with it.
    2. All will turn out as it is supposed to. Not fatalistic
  • John Esh. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
    1. The power of brainstorming
    2. HS “thought” processes are often different from ours.
  1. And how do you do this?
    1. Life as communion, actions as sacraments
    2. Power of intentionality.

 

 

Whistling

Masters of Musical Whistling competition is in Pasadena this August. I had to submit an audition to qualify. The song is “Movin’ On,” by Gary Moore, formerly guitarist with Thin Lizzie. I’d highly recommend the album “Still Got the Blues” (1990).

Not perhaps my best work, sort of dashed it off this afternoon. My best stuff is impromptu acapella jamming, which isn’t a good fit for this competition. Let me know what you think. Posted at

Night

The hours slipped by

Soft and thick as velvet

No lines between them

They blended together into timeless

Blackness.

 

Somewhere in the night

Maybe between Hartford and New Haven

Landmarks blended and blurred, location not sure

The sodium lights flashed by

And the baby woke

Hungry.

 

She howled her displeasure

The only words she knew

Language uncomprehended by us

So we rocked and cooed and sang and shushed

To no avail

Answering all the wrong questions

In those timeless hours of

Night.

Smokin’ Rats

Smokin Rats

Note: no rats were harmed in the writing of either this story or the song. Some events in this story are actual. Others are fictional. I apologize if anyone is offended. The attempt is to bring into view the absurdity of daily life through humor.

Smokin’ Rats is the song. I’m no professional musician… still, I think it works. Through the miracle of technology, I can both whistle and accompany myself. Smokin Rats Story is an audio version of the following essay. Friends seem to enjoy hearing the stories.

It’s been many years at this point, since we bought our first house, just mom & dad, Elise and me, Jenny. It was over the mountain, in Milroy, an was an old grey farmhouse we bought from Matterns. I don’t think its goal in life was to be grey. It started out as a drafty plank-sided house insulated by old newspapers. Then I guess, in an attempt to reduce the draftiness, Matterns put blue aluminum siding on, but the blue oxidized to grey and that’s how it stands today.

The house had a dank basement with rows and rows of shelves for canned goods. The foundation wasn’t dry-laid, but there were more chinks between the stones than there was mortar. It was the sort of pace that was terrifying to my sister because, as John Prine sang, “The air smelled like snakes[1]….” It wasn’t the cucumberiness of copperheads. It was more like the sleek blackness of rat snakes, an impression given all the more credibility by the 5-foot long pair seen slithering gracefully up the Keefer pear[2] tree just off the corner of the back porch. Where there be rat snakes, there be rats. Equally terrifying for a six year-old sister. Fascinating for a nine year-old me. The imagined rats (for we knew of their presence only from the presence of the snakes. Everybody knows that the snakes are there because the food’s not far away) were the basis of little stories I made up about their families and how the daddy rats went off to work in the morning and how the mommy rats fed us kids breakfast and sent us off to rat school while they stayed home and watched rat TV and crocheted a new throw for the back of our ratty couch. There were other stories where the mommies went off to work and were moguls and stuff like that, too. They were an endless source of inspiration.

The upstairs walls were horsehair plaster, and I used to imagine the outlines of countries following the cracks in the walls and on the ceiling as I lay in bed on summer mornings, waiting for the alarm to go off. My sister, Elise, on the other hand, imagined armies of spiders emerging from the cracks. The steps creaked when no one was on them, and sometimes when the winter wind howled in the eaves the whole house seemed to moan. She was sure there were ghosts. Even if I thought I knew better, these were notions I did my best to bolster. After all, what are sisters for?

Dad always told us to treat each other as people, not sisters. It wasn’t until we became adults that we would have any inkling what he was driving at. We did understand, however, that he wanted us to quit digging and jabbing each other. For instance, we’d be going somewhere in the car. “Da-ad. She’s in my space. She’s touching me. She’s making faces at me.”

“So ask her to stop.” And some words were said to that effect in a sing-songy voice and the period at the end of the request was a stuck-out tongue. Ah, the subtleties of internecine warfare. Follow the form for peace-making while continuing the provocation. The tongue was returned by a kick to the shins, which in turn was rewarded with a bop on the head. Howls ensued. Dad gave a look to mom that said ungracefully “shut them up.” She turned around, burned a hole through the back seat with her gaze, and proceeded to calmly, in a measured voice, to inform us that we’d best behave or we’d find ourselves walking home. It was her most extreme version of the old saw “don’t make me stop this car or there’ll be hell to pay,” and usually it was sufficient to at least lower the level of poking and prodding to some liminal amount. There was, I have to admit, the time we united as sisters there in the back seat and escalated the conflict into a full-fledged nail scratching, hair-pulling full-howl brawl. The car stopped. We were ordered out. The car drove away. We looked at each other in disbelief. After some recrimination concerning whose fault the present situation was, we both had one of those moments of revelation. We knew on some level that mom & dad were not prone to making idle threats. Sometimes it is best not to play “poke the ogre,” or at least recognize when it’s time to quit. In the best played game of “poke the ogre,” the time to quit is while clemency is still available, just before they stop the car. We had found out what happens when we “made them stop the car.”

All that aside, I was (mostly) daddy’s girl and Elise was mommy’s. I loved the outdoors. I helped him with the firewood and building sheds and mowing the grass and the vegetable garden. There were rocks to flip over searching for newts. The compost pile was a great place to dig for worms to go fishing in Coffee Creek, a quarter-mile from our house.

There was the abandoned house next door. Sometimes Elise did play out doors. She was sure the house was haunted. The game was to demonstrate nerves of steel as follows: burrow under the bottom strand of the rusty barbed wire fence that separated our houses, sprint to the house and touch it, and be back on our side of the fence before you could say “boo!” or the ghost got you, whichever came first. Elise watched, but no amount of dare, double dare, double dog dare or any other kind of insinuation and character assassination was motivation enough for her to even burrow under the fence, much less touch the house. She was sure I would “get mine,” and was more than willing to let me take the risk. On some level, it was the nonchalant game of “kick the chick out of the nest,” with the intent of getting more devotion from the parental units. I wasn’t afraid of that old house.

You just never knew what sorts of adventures lay waiting on summer mornings. The rooster might be out. The goat might be standing on top of mom’s car. The pigs, well you can read about the pigs elsewhere. That’s a whole ‘nother story. The neighbors might be burning their trash which was a time-honored tradition and competition (competitive trash burning. Next Olympic sport), which doesn’t sound all that adventuresome, except they tended to include the aerosol cans with the trash. When the cans blew up (as the inevitably did) the formerly smoldering trash erupted into flame as it gasped enough air while soaring across their back yard. It was pretty harmless fun. I think the worst I ever saw come of it was when Jones caught his compost heap on fire.

Daddy told me that different animals have different ways of showing interest in what the news man would call current events. Horses put their ears forward. My aunt’s cockatoo raised its crest. So, one Saturday morning I was riding around on the lawn tractor with daddy when our ears went forward and our crests went up. Jeff Shockley, our other neighbor across the alley had a dog kennel that sat next to his garage. He worked at the fertilizer plant over in Burnham. He had a good beer belly going. If he’d have been a woman, we would have called him frumpy. But really, we were what you’d call “waving neighbors.” Dad knew Shockley enough to wave at him. I knew him less. I never knew the dog, never even saw it in the kennel. He’d take food out in the evening, and in the morning it’d be gone. This morning he was on some sort of mission. Apparently he had a rat problem, and not enough rat snakes.

What put our ears forward and raised our crests was this: He was walking around the outside of the kennel with a gallon can of gasoline. Every so often, he tilted the can and poured out some gas. What was he up to? Mot wishing to gawk too much, we mowed the same patch of grass about four times. His rats had burrowed in from the perimeter of the kennel. Sort of a reverse Hogan’s Heroes, where they burrow into prison instead of out. When he tilted the can, the gas went down their holes. We figured that he figured to “gas them out.” We were correct in a way. However, we misunderestimated his determination in the matter. His next step took us both (all?) by surprise. He lit a match. He tossed it. The fumes ignited. The holes, as we soon found out, emerged under cover of doghouse. Bawoom! The ground shook! The collective oomph from all those holes underneath, lifted it more than a foot off the ground. As the dog house returned to earth, the explosion vented itself in the other direction, around the edges of the kennel. We congratulated ourselves for our patience in mowing and re-mowing that patch of lawn for the reward of such a show. It paled next to the finale.

As mentioned, it was not uncommon to see flaming garbage sailing across a yard. This finale was both horrifying and entrancing. Like tracer rounds or contrails, a dozen or so smoke trails arced across his back yard. It took a moment to comprehend. We looked at each other quizzically. What was that? From whence cometh the smoke trails? Realization dawned. The human cannonball of circus fame, in multiple, rattine form.  Smokin’ rats.

The lead story (memorialized in song) on rat TV News at 5: Explosion at Relief Mission Kills Twelve. Investigators have determined that a gas leak was responsible for the deadly explosion at the Dog House Kitchen….

 

The song…. Smokin’ Rats

There was a man

Who had a dog

That lived behind his house

And every day he’d take that dog

And bring him out some food

And every night them rats come out

And steal that doggie’s food

‘the man got mad and one day he said

I’m getting rid them rats

 

Smokin rats, O smokin rats

Shootin’ ‘cross the yard

Smokin’ rats them smokin’ rats

Life can be so hard

Smokin’ rats them smokin rats

All they’s tryin’ ‘do

Was eke them out a little livin’

Just like me and you

 

Well one day that man came from in his house

with gallon can of gas

He poured it down those rattie’s holes

And touched it with a match

The boom was a loud, and then the ground shook too

The flames flew out, the man just smiled

And out came smokin’ rats

 

Refrain

 

Now the dog house leapt up off the ground

At least a foot or more

From that ‘splodin’ gas-o-line, like I said before

And the rats left little trails of smoke

As they sailed across the yard

The man knew then full, good & well

Those rats won’t steal no more

 

Refrain

 

Now in this life there’s lots of folks

Who’ll try to steal your bread

And you might be one of them

Just remember what is said

There’s some who think that eking out

A living is plumb wrong

But when the ground shakes and the flames fly out

You’d better be long gone

 

Refrain

 

Alt. Last verse:

Now in this life there’s lots of folks

Who’ll try to steal your bread

Or you just might be one of them

Remember what is said

There’s some who think that stealin’s wrong

And those who just get by

When the ground shakes and the flames fly out

Your judgement day is here.

 

[1] John Prine, “Paradise.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vC65_cq0Js

[2] Known as a “winter pear” because they could be stored for the winter. When they fall from the tree, they’re hard as rocks and not very sweet, but they get a little tastier as the winter goes on. Mostly they get raked up & fed to the livestock or thrown in the compost heap today.

Mom: Theater of the Absurd

It’s a fact of life. We grow old and die. There are a lot of ways to do that. I think they all involve some degree of grieving. My mother passed away in the spring of 2016, a month short of her 97th birthday. Here are some reflections.

The phone rings and rings. She’s hard to get ahold of. It’s not that she’s not there. She sleeps a lot. More even, lately. Maybe because it’s easy. No permission required. No one to interact with. Besides, she’ll tell you, there’s nothing to do. Her friends are dead. The activities the retirement community puts on aren’t to her liking. So she sleeps a lot. More, lately.

But when she does wake up, she calls my brother, John. He’s her anchor. I’m the baby even though I’m almost 60. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t call me. He lives closer, too. He can be there in an hour if she needs him. He’s her window to the world, the one bit of certainty she remembers. He has the answers. She’s sure of that.

Her world is becoming like the tunnel vision of a glaucoma patient. There are shadows in the periphery of her vision. Those shadows, the people and things she used to know. My father, her husband. Died in 2006 at a ripe old age. Is he out of town? I haven’t seen him recently. Do you know where he is? My grandmother, her mother. Died in 1970. She says John, I want to go visit her, but she won’t answer my calls. My brother Bob. Died in 2010. Have you seen him? I need to talk to him about the farms. She calls him, the one thing she can count on. Maybe she doesn’t call every day. The questions, though. They’re the same. It’s like when the kids used to watch the same Sesame Street episode again and again. It drives him nuts. Like the two-year old who’s learned that “why?” elicits a response, she calls. It grinds his gears.

My father’s sister took care of their mother. When I was a teenager, I’d visit grandma in Worcester, MA. I’d do yard work. She’d regale me with tales of the past and make pancakes without any baking powder for me as a special treat and then be sorry she forgot the baking powder. I told her not to worry, the intent was good. They were made with love. She still had her own house up on the hill then. It was a few years later, she moved in with my aunt. And drove her nuts.

When’s the news on? She’d ask. How long until the news is on? My aunt professed Episcopal piety, but apparently that piety didn’t extend to the water torture of how long until the news is on. She could be pretty nasty about it. The news was my grandmother’s window, looking out into a world that had become the image presented by a pinhole camera. When the news was on, she still felt connected. (this was before CNN). When the news was over, it was like it never happened. The questions resumed almost immediately.

11-29-15. It was a raucous Thanksgiving, the kind my brother characterized as “a bunch of introverts sitting around ‘socializing.’” That pretty much nailed it.

Mom’s 96 and not as sharp cognitively as she once was. Her hearing isn’t all that great, either. She still enjoys conversation, and she’s still trying to make sense of life even as it becomes more remote. She no longer lives at home. The County got involved somehow and edictified that either she had to move out or she had to hire a live-in caretaker. Being of the 7th stage of man (everybody’s trying to rip me off), she couldn’t find a way, even when confronted with the choice of hiring a person or being moved to a “home,” to hire anybody. So she lives in a “home.” It’s a nice place. Not cheap. It sort of reminds me of a automobile junkyard, filled with shells of people who lived lives and had families and love and loss, shells like the skeletonized leaf I saw the other day. Transparent. Frail. A sketch of its living self.

She dispassionately says she hates the place. Maybe she does; maybe she’s reaching out, trying to evoke any reaction from the world so that she can still feel alive. I don’t want to go back there, she says. Conversation, like a 2-year old asking why, to get some response- -any response. In the words of Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there?”

John brought her over to dinner. They were having Thanksgiving there at the home, he said. Who would want to have Thanksgiving there? He asked, with a note of disgust in his voice. The question was real. There was doubt, angst, trepidation, maybe even a little fear behind it. Disgust is too simple a word for what his voice carried. Sadness? In the next breath, he detailed the adventure that had constituted getting Mom into his little, low-slung car. Each month when we take her to the pancake breakfast at the Methodist Church a mile or so from the blessed, berated home, it gets harder and harder to get her in the car. Her strength is fading. Entropy is harder and harder to resist. I don’t know. Maybe there will come a day when we can’t get her over here. We could still have dinner with her there. She likes the company.

Dinner in 3 acts.

Judy and I agreed to take her back to Kensington Park, the home. The conversation runs a lot like dialogue in a theatre of the absurd production. As with such a play, there’s no point in getting upset with the characters. They may (or may not) see life as the enterprise it actually is. After all, who’s to say what constitutes reality or delusion.

“Where are we going,” she asks.

“Back to Kensington Park, where you live.”

“I hate it there. Does this road go near Melwood?” Sometimes the world encroaches through her fog.

“Yep. We’ll go by Melwood.” My sister worked there for several years. Mom was an active supporter of the place, though not without friction in the later years of the engagement.

“What road is this?”

“Route 4.”

“Why are we going this way?”

“It’s the way back to your place.”

“I don’t seem to be able to get a hold of Mother.”

“That would be because she died in 1970.”

“Oh.” (Puzzled silence. We take the ramp onto I-495). “Is this the right way?”

“Yep. This is the way to Kensington.”

“Look at all the people.”

“Yep. They all had their Thanksgiving dinner and now they’re headed home. Lots of traffic.”

“Does this go to the Beltway?”

“This is the silly circle.”

“The what?”

“That’s what truckers call the Beltway on the CB radio. So, yes, this is the Beltway.”

“Oh. Look at all the people. Where do you think they’re going?”

“Like the wind, they’re going from someplace to someplace else.” (this was what she told me when I was little and asked what the wind was. “Lots of air going from someplace to someplace else,” she’d say) “In fact there are so many going the same direction that they cause a whirlpool, and all the rubbish settles out in the center, which is about where the Capitol is. No wonder the government doesn’t work very well.”

“Hmmmph! I don’t like sycamore trees.”

“Why? Their bark is pretty.”

“I think they’re plotting to take over the world.”

“Well now. It’s all about market share, isn’t it. Just because they want to make more sycamore trees doesn’t make them inherently bad, does it?”

“I still don’t like them. Have you seen Bob” (her eldest son)?

(with resignation, implied patience). “No. He died a few years ago.”

“He did?” (surprise in her voice). “How?”

“Well, he got the cancer, and he up and died.”

“I miss him. But boy could he be an SOB. Where does this road go?…”

Pope to Visit Myanmar

I like to string words together in unusual sequences, modifiers next to nouns or verbs where they wouldn’t normally belong. For instance, in Higher than my Nose there’s a line about how a particular school “exacerbates learning.”

This evening, I jumped in my wife’s car. She keeps it tuned to NPR. The story was about an ethnic minority in Myanmar called the Rohinga. The Pope, always favoring the oppressed, spoke on their behalf in August, and is planning to visit Myanmar soon. This sentence pegged my meter:

“The Pope was advised not to even mention the Rohinga for fear of reprisals by Buddhist fundamentalists.”

WHAT!?! To quote Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others.”

I have to admit, I hadn’t considered the possibility that there might be such a thing as a Buddhist Fundamentalist. But OK, so there is. And what should they be about? There’s a nice .pdf that does a pretty good job of summarizing Buddhism  

Bottom line: there is suffering in the world, and by faithfully following the 8-fold path, you can do your part to alleviate it. And first on the list is

1. Do not kill. This is sometimes translated as “not harming” or an absence of violence.

OK. That’s fundamental. And a fundamentalist Buddhist, I suppose, is one dedicated to following these 8 precepts as closely as possible. So maybe “fundamentalist” and “Buddhist” can coexist in the same sentence without the sentence bursting into flame.

I don’t see any room for “reprisal.” The radio story definitely intoned “violence towards the Pope.” The goal of this Buddhist board game (think chutes & ladders) is to live the 8-fold path diligently enough to end up in Nirvana. Maybe these guys gave up on that and are planning to come back as pond scum. Go figure.

Pray for peace!

Jephthah’s Daughter

This is the last of the bits I wrote for the Midrash class. I apologize for its length, 2,800 words. It was my final paper. The Biblical story tells us nothing about Jepthah’s daughter: not her name, nor her upbringing (Jepthah was an outlaw, remember?), nor what went on while she and her maiden friends were in the wilderness. I have to admit to liking happy endings. I’ll only say that she does not get sacrificed. Follow the link above to find out how that happened.

Peace, friends. Thanks for reading.

Perspectives in Forestry: Roy.

Roy currently runs a one-man sawmill. Has been a logger. Is ordained and serves as a bishop in the Mennonite Church (Conservative). In conversation with a friend who is a forester, we came up with four loggers (or sawmillers) in a 2 county area who are in some position of ministry within their church. Even though my class is finished, I hope to continue to post podcasts of conversations with various folks in the wood business.

What is a conservative Mennonite? What is it about logging that nurtures faith? Should faith and work mix? Give this podcast a listen. Let me know what you think.

A logger’s life in story

i phone 6 2013 083

In the podcast, the logger tells a story about how these machines, originally intended for harvesting sugar cane in South Africa, were adapted by loggers in the US. The claw on the front flips up. The operator uses it to grab the tree, and a hydraulically powered chainsaw (in the square part you see just in front of the big tire) cuts the tree off. The operator can pivot, and/or drive forward or backward to make the tree fall in the desired direction. I have one myself, and though they’re kind of archaic by today’s equipment standards, they function well in PA’s forests. They’re hydrostatic: one pedal for the left wheel, one for the right. You can literally turn on a dime by making one wheel for forward & the other backward. I tell folks it’s sort of like riding inside a video game. There are numerous videos on YouTube if you search for “bell feller buncher.”

Needless to say, the names have been changed to protect whoever it was that needed to be protected. “John” provides a window into the joys, the ins & outs of life as a logger. It’s hard work, but there’s something special about it that gets into a person. Listen & find out for yourself.

Men’s Group

Men’s group: I was in the middle of writing my final paper for the class I took during Intensives. I got a text from my sister in law: can you speak to the men’s group Thursday evening about treework and logging? The scheduled speaker had a death in the family.

I was planning on going anyway. Judy’s brother, John, is a member there and Dennis often attends. Sure. Why not.

Main points: 4 more years, I’ll have been climbing professionally for 50 years. Today they’d tell me to sit down, shut up, be still & give me a scrip for Ritalin. What we’ve lost in the search for security.

I explained that tree work is just applied vector physics. I said “imagine a pulley on the ceiling. If we run a rope through it and tie it to this end of the table, that end will hang down. And if we tie it to that end, this end will hang down. And if I tie it in the middle, the table will hang flat, balanced. Depending on where the rope is tied on the branch, the same things apply. Now imagine if the pulley is over here on this beam. The table will want to swing so that it hangs directly under the beam. It’s all vector physics. All a vector is, is a force in a direction.

 

Then I opened to them the idea of being in conversation with the Holy Spirit. Paul entreats us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). It is the glory of God to conceal things; it is the glory of kings to seek them out (Prov. 25:2). Finally, Ask and you shall receive. (Jn. 16:24). Using these statements as practices, the world is transformed. Worship is no longer limited to church on Sunday morning, but becomes a perpetual practice. I have cut trees for several of the men who were present. I said that if there was a grace and ease observable in the way I work, it is a reflection of the Presence in my life, of this ongoing conversation.

 

Then I showed a video from Youtube about how to cut a tree down. John & Dennis joined in with tips & pointers.

After the presentation a fellow named Dalton approached me. He said I really should consider being a supply preacher. Dennis has noted in our supervisory sessions that he was dragged by the Spirit, “kicking and screaming,” to the pulpit.

 

That part about being a preacher is eerily similar to my call to seminary. Continual nudges. It has been said that one of the marks of a true leading is persistence. But God, I don’t want to be a preacher. Writing is so much safer. I can hide in the anonymity of my words. OK. So writing is a Kind of preaching. God, You know what I mean. Moses, can you help me out here?