The Music Captured My Attention

Music has a way of capturing your attention and putting you in a mood. I guess that’s why the soundtrack of a movie is so important.

If you’ve ever watched a movie with no soundtrack and just the actors’ lines, you really feel like there is something missing.

The background music draws out the emotion in you that the scene is trying to create, whether it is tension or laughter or joy or sadness.

A scene with a car cruising down a beachside freeway will boost the emotions when the music is something like the first 20 seconds of Steppenwolf’s, “Born To Be Wild”.

You can instantly imagine yourself in the car, taking those curves, looking out at the waves crashing on the beach below you.

Well, the other day my wife, Lily, was watching the opening song for the country music awards.

I wasn’t watching but from the other side of the room I said, “That sounds like … like … like (it took me a while) Hootie.”

Then it came to me. It was a song by Hootie and the Blowfish and the lead singer – who is not Hootie but Darius Rucker – was featured in that all-star cast rendition of “Hold Your Hand”.

It was a fond memory and the song was so good it hooked me in.

I spend the next hour or so on YouTube listening to different renditions of that song and others by Darius Rucker’s band.

I can’t really explain it, but listening to that song highjacked my evening and got me in a mood to listen to more of the same.

That’s what songs do. They capture your emotions and reel you in so that you feel something you weren’t feeling just minutes before.

When you think about it, music has a great power.

When Lily and I went on our honeymoon, we drove to our destination at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, about a 16 hour drive away.

We had lots of time in the car and there were a few songs that really captured our attention. We can both still remember those songs today.

That was 32 years ago, yet when we hear those songs now we both look at each other, smile and remember that drive.

Music has such a profound impact on emotions that you can find it being used everywhere to put people in the right mood …  whether it is in an elevator, a department store, a commercial, your car, or even at the hockey arena.

A few years ago, I think the rink where I played hockey was experimenting on us. They pumped happy, easy-going music into the dressing rooms and the arena.

I think it was to see if it would calm us down and keep the altercations to a minimum.

I never did find out the results of that study … if it was one.

Music is around us most of our day; we are rarely without music in our lives. We wake to it, fall asleep with it and it is a soundtrack to our day.

Here’s the thing: God created music to move our emotions. And some of the time our emotions should be moved towards God. Don’t neglect ensuring that your emotions are stirred towards the God who loves you, cares for you and has given His precious Son, Jesus to die for you. Whether secular or spiritual, your music on a regular basis should draw you to give God glory and worship Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What song stirs up your emotions? Leave your comments below.

I Wouldn’t Say You Can Never Go Back

They say you can never go back, and I would say that is only half true.

Recently I had a chance to go back to a place from my childhood. I got there alright, but it wasn’t the same.

When I was a child, my family used to go to Muskoka (Ontario, Canada) to a Christian conference centre. It was a summer resort for people who liked to go to church at least once a day … just kidding, but half serious.

The place was called Canadian Keswick Conference, and it was in the heart of the Muskokas on Lake Rosseau.

If you know this area it is an amazing summer cottage paradise.

And Keswick was an amazing place: it was luxury in the heart of astounding nature.

On a lake that is deep and large, Keswick was situated on a point that led into a bay. It had a swimming area with a big slide in the middle of the bay and a large boat house with those old wooden inboard boats … though they weren’t all that old back then.

The main building was a large hotel with a fancy dining room. You had to dress up just to eat in there. On the bottom level was a tuck shop.

The name “tuck shop” didn’t really do it justice. Sure, you could get ice cream and candy there, but this place had rows of crystal and fine ornaments that kept kids like me on our toes so we didn’t break anything – besides, it was my aunt who ran the tuck shop; I had to be good!

In the early 70’s Keswick fell on hard times and the bank took it over. For many years it just lay vacant.

But last week my wife, Lily, and I happened to be going to a retreat near there so we decided to make a detour to try to see the property.

When we got there the gate was closed. We drove a little further and found a gate that was open, so we decided to drive in. I thought it might be part of a private golf course or something.

There was a crew there working on the property, clearing tree limbs and blowing leaves. We drove around the property like we owned it and no one stopped us or asked us any questions.

We got out, walked around the swimming area, and then along the dock. Everything had changed so much I was slightly unsure this was really the right spot.

I walked up and around where the old main building had been, now replaced with a beautiful, palatial structure overlooking the lake.

I took pictures and video and then we got back in our car and drove up towards the gate that was locked. As we approached, it automatically opened for us.

That was cool.

To confirm that we had found the right spot we stopped at a real estate office in Port Carling. We inquired and found out that the property is now a private summer cottage.

The palatial structure we saw was the cottage … more like a multi-million dollar mansion!

The real estate agent was very surprised we had gotten in. Well, getting in was nothing; we had walked all over the place, taking pictures and video.

It was great to go back to Keswick, even though the landscaping had changed, the appearance was different, and all the buildings had been replaced.

I went back, but it wasn’t the same.

Here’s the thing: When you find faith in God, you might have occasion to go back to things that held your gaze before. But they won’t have the same sparkle or provide the same emotion as they once did. God has made a change in you.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What past thing no longer holds your interest like it once did? Leave your comments below.

I’m Not Sure I Should Be All That Comfortable With Comfort

All of us like to be comfortable; we all have an idea of where our comfort zone is.

Maybe more than most people do, I like comfort … like with the clothes I wear. I don’t want to be wearing something that pinches and is so tight I have difficulty breathing.

… Except maybe with skates. I do wear very small skates – about 2 1/2 – 3 sizes smaller than my shoe size. I will put up with some discomfort there if it will make me feel more in control on the ice … but that’s another issue.

Before we go outside, we check the weather in order to put on the appropriate amount of clothing so that we are comfortable.

Lily used to make fun of me years ago when I lost some weight because I wore a fleece jacket in the house and at work; I hardly ever took it off. … Well, I took it off when I went to bed, but most of the day and evening I had it on.

I wore it because I was cold all the time. That fleece jacket kept me in my comfort zone.

We like to be comfortable with people as well. That’s why we tend to gather with people we know rather than introduce ourselves to people we’ve never met before.

When you are with your friends, that’s your comfort zone. Your blood pressure is down; you are relaxed and engage in conversation without worrying about what the other person is thinking about you.

When you meet someone new, your stress level goes up, your hands may get sweaty, and you have a harder time thinking on your feet because you just aren’t comfortable.

We also have things we like to eat that we label as comfort food. For some people that’s ice cream. When they are down, or lonely or sad, they grab a big ‘ole bowl of double fudge ice cream and go at it.

For me it’s hot wings, particularly with Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

Now that’s comfort food!

We like to be comfortable in our surroundings, in our office or our home. So we buy a house that fits our idea of comfort and fill it with furniture and accents that make us feel comfortable there.

A year ago, when my wife, Lily, and I were looking for a car, one of the biggest things we were looking for was comfort. We wanted a car that would be quiet on the highway, with seats that were comfortable for long drives.

We were looking for comfort more than performance or what the car looked like or what make it was.

Comfort is a big deal. We want it, and we like to stay in that comfort zone when we’ve got it.

Here’s the thing: I was listening to a message this week and I was challenged about my comfort zone with God. We can become so comfortable with our relationship with Christ that we stop following Jesus where He wants to lead us. Our comfort keeps us relying on our own strength and keeps us from relying on God. It’s comfortable, but it makes for a boring life. Do you want more than comfort in life? Do you want to experience more than you can do on your own? Break out from your boring existence. Step out of your comfort zone and follow where God is leading you. Trust Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: In what way do you need to break out of your comfort zone? Leave your comments below.

This Time Change Is Really Affecting My Rhythm

I never really noticed how the time change affected me before, but my sleeping sure has been altered in the last two nights.

I like the fall change because you get an extra hour of sleep … or at least that’s the theory.

In reality, it’s a license to stay up an hour longer … but even that turns into more like two hours.

So I actually get less sleep but only half as much less sleep than if I had stayed up two hours later the night before the time change.

I usually like to get to bed early on Saturday night because I have to preach the next morning. I don’t know why, but this Saturday night I was wide awake, so I stayed up a little longer than I should have.

For some crazy reason, however, I woke up way earlier than normal – at 4:30 a.m.! And I’m not that guy who gets up by my internal clock. I need an alarm or I would keep sleeping.

I just lay there going over my sermon in my head. By the time 6 a.m. rolled around and it was time to get up, I had basically rehearsed my whole sermon in my mind.

If you’re doing the math, no, I don’t preach for an hour and a half; there were gaps and times I struggled to remember what came next.

Surprisingly, when I got up, I didn’t feel tired or like I hadn’t gotten much sleep that night. I did, however, take a rather long nap Sunday afternoon.

I thought it was a fluky thing until this morning. Again I woke up very early, and again I rolled around in bed, this time without a sermon to keep my mind occupied.

I thought of random things for about an hour until my alarm went off and it was time for me to get up.

Now I’m thinking that the time change has affected my sleeping patterns and I hoping it won’t last too long.

I also found out that this time change is a lot more dangerous than I ever imagined it would be.

It turns out there are more accidents on the roads the Monday after a time change.

And then there are the physical problems! Apparently studies show there are more heart attacks, strokes are more frequent, and cases of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also rise.

… Not to mention headaches for those who suffer from them.

They say it all has to do with our circadian rhythm being disrupted. Your circadian rhythm regulates your 24-hour internal clock and it does it based on light.

I don’t know much about all that stuff but I want my rhythm back before something disastrous happens!

Here’s the thing: There are many things that can disrupt your walk with God. It might be sleep, it could be sin, or it could be some distraction that you are focussing on. My advice is to stick with a routine of meeting with God, continue to confess your sin, keep praising Him, keep looking into the scriptures for what He’s saying to you. You will get your rhythm back. Check out what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message by Eugene Peterson); its all right there:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What gets you out of your rhythm with God? Leave your comments below.

Resisting Temptation Is Proving Difficult Right Now

This is proving to be a season in which it is difficult to resist temptation.

I’ve done pretty well for about eleven months at cutting down my sugar intake. In that time I’ve lost some weight, I’m feeling better, I’m enjoying participating in sports more.

Physically everything is good; I think my health is also good. I have an exam coming up and then I’ll know for sure.

So with all that’s going well for me right now, it’s surprising that I’m having a hard time staying off the sugar.

Since about the middle of October I’ve had a greater urge to indulge in the sinful pleasures of candy, sweets, and all things sugar.

I’m a pretty disciplined guy when I decide to do something, but the temptation just seems greater right now.

I’ve wondered if there is some crazy gene in me that wants to store up some fat so I can make it through the cold, harsh winter months.

I don’t think I’m getting ready to hibernate until spring, but I’m having to keep up my exercising to ensure I don’t start looking like a bear!

I think the problem is we are entering a really dangerous time of year. Halloween is happening today when this blog is published.

About a week ago, my wife, Lily, bought two boxes of candy to give out. She opened them up and said, “Take what you want.”

Well, I have and I hope we don’t get too many kids trick-or-treating because the candy stockpile is getting lower.

Right now I’m just sampling the candy I like best. But after the big night I will be forced to eat the bonbons that I don’t really like as much.

And the problem with Halloween is that by the time you finish off all those mini chocolate bars that get left over from October 31st, you find yourself gearing up for Christmas.

And Christmas has its share of candy AND the added bonus of cookies and baking and really fattening food.

You can see my problem: the temptation is all around me, urging me, calling me, begging me to reduce the sugar in the world by consuming it myself.

I might save one or two children’s lives by eating this candy … well, at least keep them from contracting diabetes.

All year I don’t think the temptation to chow down on a good old stick of licorice has been as great as it is right now. In fact, I can imagine the smell of that strawberry licorice and it’s only 8:30 in the morning.

Though the temptation is strong, I have to be stronger, more disciplined. I have to get Lily to stop putting things in my way that will lead me to fall into temptation.

Maybe I’ll have to put a big box of candy at the end of my driveway on Wednesday morning with a sign that reads, “free” on it.

Here’s the thing: All temptation to sin is not the same. Sometimes the intensity of temptation is greater than at other times. To stave off temptation, first identify what your big temptations are. Then put action steps in place that keep you from being exposed to that particular temptation. Thirdly, practice those action steps consistently. Focus on disciplining yourself to maintain your action steps rather than trying to discipline yourself to keep from the temptation.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What action steps do you need to put into place? Leave your comments below.

Don’t Get Tired Of The Routines Of Life

Routines – some people have them and some people don’t. They can be a blessing and sometimes a curse.

In my home, one of us has a number of routines while the other one is not very routined at all.

It may surprise those who know Lily and me, but it’s me that’s the routined one and not Lily.

It’s not like my life is completely scheduled or set up to flow a certain way. It’s more like I have several things that I do the say way, or that I do at certain times on a regular basis … things like  when I get up in the morning, how I go about making my breakfast, or my weekly wings night.

It also goes way beyond that to when and how I study for my sermons each week, when I write for my blog, and making sure I exercise each day.

In some ways it drives Lily nuts that I have to do things a certain way.

She just wishes I would do something different instead of being so predictable … like maybe not have wings on a Saturday night, and instead sit down with her to a nice, leafy arugula salad with delicious oil and vinaigrette dressing.

On the other hand, she takes comfort in those routines because she knows what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, and for how long.

What freaks her out sometimes is when I break a routine … like the other day.

She was in a panic when I got home from hockey, and wanted to know if I was alright, if I had heart pain or something.

After Saturday morning hockey, I usually get home around 8:20 am. This week I was talking with one of the guys when I left and we kept talking in the parking lot for over 20 minutes.

Lily was worried that she would get a call from the hospital that I had had another heart attack.

Now on the other hand, I don’t say too much but I can see how Lily could be a little more efficient if she had a few routines in her life.

Routines take the thinking out of what you do next. They give you tracks to work in. For example, I know the first thing I’m going to be doing Tuesday mornings at work; I don’t have to ponder where I’m going to start or what I should do next.

The routine thing for me has developed over the years because I did not grow up being very routined at all. But I have come to learn that having some routines in life helps you plan and schedule better, and ultimately keeps you moving in the right directions.

Some people see routine as being boring but, in reality, routines help you have more time to be creative because routines open up space and space is what you need to be creative. Did you hear that, Lily?

Here’s the thing: When we don’t have routines, things get squeezed out of our lives in favour of other things – maybe some good things, but not best things. One of the best things you can do is create a routine for your time with God. The space you create there will become an amazing environment to develop your relationship with God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What’s one routine you try to stick to? Leave your comment below.

No Way Your Streets Are As Bumpy As Mine

The Beatles sang about the long and winding road; I’m singing about the long and bumpy roads … but my song is not a happy one, filled with cheer and merriment.

The song I sing is more of a dirge, like you might find being sung in a funeral procession down the streets of New Orleans.

At this time of year, I notice the conditions of the streets more. Now that fall has come, on a weekly basis I make my way down to the K-Rock Centre hockey arena. Getting there takes me down Queen Street, which arguably is the bumpiest road in Kingston.

But it’s not the only one.

I’m concerned as they put in new sewers and things to update the city’s infrastructure. They are digging up roads or portions of roads and then just patching them back up.

I don’t like the time and trouble it takes to pave these roads, especially when over the long-term, the only ones who seem to benefit are the mechanic shops in town.

When I drive down Queen Street I feel like I’m in downtown Toronto many years ago, with its cobblestone streets and trolley car rails.

You come away feeling much like a James Bond drink – shaken, not stirred.

I understand that you can’t repave all the roads at once, but this street has been a mess for as long as I can remember.

When we got our new vehicle last fall, I thought the ride down to the arena would be a lot smoother.

Our new car is bigger, the shocks are firmer, but it hasn’t seemed to matter at all. The road has us bouncing around like a carnival ride.

I now know what it’s like to live in a Hutterite community and take your vegetables to market. I don’t have to ride in one of their horse-drawn buggies; I just have to drive down Queen Street in Kingston and I get the full experience.

Maybe that’s what they should do … There are some turn-of-the-century historical homes and buildings along the route. The city could turn the street into a pioneer village tourist stop.

They could add big windows to the fronts of buildings and we could watch a woman in period costume stoke the fire in her kitchen, or watch as the children milk a cow by hand in the yard.

They could put a toll booth at the top of the street, and we could just throw change into big receptacles as we turn onto the street, as a charge to ride the bumpy road and see the village people do all their chores by hand.

It would give us all a fresh appreciation for the conveniences we have in 2017. It could be a real teaching moment for parents with their kids.

You wouldn’t even have to get out of your car. It would all be drive-by learning.

Oh, and what they could do with all the money they collect from this fabulous pioneer village ride is PAVE QUEEN STREET!

Here’s the thing: When we experience inconveniences in life, interruptions to the good life we live, we should remember the inconvenience God willingly took to come to earth as a man to rescue us from the path we are on – a path that would take us to a place we would never want to go if we knew what it was really like. Be thankful for what Christ has done, with a new appreciation for the inconvenience you are experiencing.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What inconvenience really has you exercised? Leave your comments below.

I Wanted To Have A Better Memory

Most people would probably say they’d like to have a better memory.

And in speaking with people in the second half of their lives, most feel having the ability to increase their recall of information would liberate them.

In the spring I read a book on improving your memory. When I sat down to write this piece, I thought I might have written a blog post on my first gleanings of the book, but I can’t remember for sure … ha ha.

How’s that for a memory?

But I have applied some of the principles in the book to my preaching and I’m surprised at how well it works … though I can’t say I know how it works.

Everybody has their way of preparing a talk. I happen to manuscript what I’m going to say, and then go over it several times so it doesn’t come across like I’m reading it.

I usually speak for just over thirty minutes, so that’s a lot of words on a page … it would be difficult to memorize them all. But for a few months now I’ve been using a technique to put a lot more info from my sermons into my brain.

In the book it was explained that we have long-term memory, short-term memory and mid-term memory. They are all used for different purposes.

Long-term memory involves things that are locked in your head, which you don’t even have to think about; you just know them. They’re things like your phone number, your address, your way to work, where things are in your house, etc.

In your short-term memory are thing that are current. For instance, when you read something, you can spit out some facts from what you read for the next few hours or even days. But good luck trying to recall that data a week or two from now. It was just short-term.

Often the names of people we just met go into short-term memory.

For example, you remember a guy’s name for a little while, but later that day when you’re telling someone about the person you met, you can’t remember his name any more.

It’s no big deal. You can just ask him his name the next time you see him … if you’re not too embarrassed that your short-term memory is so bad!

Then there is the mid-term memory – being able to remember something in that gap between long-term and short-term memory.

Sometimes we need to remember something for a few days or for a certain event, or until we write our exam. Then we can forget it.

That’s what the mid-term memory is for.

… This is going to be a two part post so I will keep you in suspense until the next one (read part 2 here).

But the key to remembering something for a specific time and place is combining your long-term and short-term memories together.

It’s like combining the colours blue and yellow; they produce green.

You combine long-term memory and short-term memory and what you get is mid-term memory that you can use for a particular purpose.

Here’s the thing: God’s memory is pretty complicated as well. On the one hand, He loves you with an everlasting love – that’s long-term; he’s not going to forget that He loves you. On the other hand, when you repent of your sins, He forgets about them like they never happened –  that’s great news for us.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What could you use a better memory for? Leave your comments below.

I Just Finished Three Weeks Of Ribs

I thought it would take a week, but it’s taken three weeks for my ribs to feel better.

Usually when I get hurt, a week will do it and I’m back to normal – but not this time.

Three weeks ago I had a nasty fall off my bike and bruised some ribs (read here). I naturally thought I would be back on my bike in a week.

It’s taken a lot longer!

In that time I’ve slept mostly in another bed; in that time, I also had a short bout with a cold. But all the while I still managed to get a half hour of exercise in each day.

A couple of years ago we got a new mattress. Lily preferred an extra firm one, whereas I liked one that had some cushion to it. … It turns out that a firm bed isn’t so great when your ribs are sore.

I ended up spending a few nights on the couch because it was so much softer. Then I moved to our spare bedroom. That bed has a memory foam topper, which used to reside on our old mattress.

Wow, I’d forgotten how nice it was to sleep on that thing! Even with wrecked ribs, it was so nice to sink into it again.

… I think I stayed there an extra night before I moved back to our bed.

The cold I got was unappreciated, and it came courteous of Lily. She had picked up a cold about a week into my rib ordeal and hacked all the way home from our cottage – that’s five hours of recirculating germs flying around the car while I was trapped inside.

How could I not catch something?

But man, did I ever pay for it! With every cough I needed to hold onto my ribs for stability.

And sneezing – that was the worst. It felt like my heart was on fire, and the burning in my chest resonated for about ten seconds after each sneeze.

It was a good thing that cold was short-lived.

The only setback I had – other than sleeping in my own bed the first couple of nights – was one exercise session.

I found that riding my stationary bike didn’t really hurt my sore ribs. It’s mostly a leg workout and I could always bike hands-free when I felt some pain from stretching out to hold on to the handlebars.

It was the treadmill that was the killer. I got back on it way too soon. I started slowly and at first it wasn’t too bad. But by the end, I was holding my ribs because they felt like they were bouncing around inside me – not good.

… That’s all in the past now. It’s been three weeks to the day and I’m not only pain free walking on the treadmill (even jogging), but I just pulled off ten minutes on the rowing machine.

Today, I’m going back to the trails and hopefully I’ll stay on my bike this time.

Here’s the thing:  For many of us, staying consistent at something is not easy. There are all kinds of things that can disrupt even the best routine. When our routine of spending time with God is interrupted, we can get discouraged, frustrated to the point of giving up. Don’t give in to defeat; don’t dwell on the interruption, whatever the cause. Get back to your time with God; with Him you can pick up again like it was yesterday.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What unexpected thing has interrupted a routine you need to get back to? Leave your comments below.

It Was A Second Thought That Got Results

My second thought produced success. You know, that’s when you had decided against something, then changed your mind, and it turned out to be the best decision you made.

Recently I bit the bullet and bought a new MacBook Pro. I was about due since my last one was eight years old.

Once my new computer was in my possession, the big task was to transfer all my files, applications and information from my old mac to my new one.

Luckily, Apple has an easy way to do that. Basically you hook up the two computers together and clone the old one on to the new one.

In the end, everything is there – passwords, logins … there’s virtually no other set up to do.

Sounds nice and easy … except my old mac is so old that hooking up the computers is a little more difficult. To make things worse, the new computer has a connection that is not common yet: USB-C.

So I went on a search for the connection I needed. I went right to the store I purchased my new laptop from. I searched the aisles and then had an employee search the aisles. The connection was nowhere to be found.

I tried a second store that was close by and, though the employee was very helpful, he was unable to locate the adaptor that I needed to connect my two computers together.

So I tried a third store. This time I was fairly confident I would find what I was looking for.

This store is not an official Apple Store but it’s the closest thing to it. It even looks like an Apple Store in its set up. And like the official retailer, this place only sells Apple, and Apple-related products.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the adaptor either. Not only that, but the employee didn’t even know what I wanted to do.

The one place I thought would understand my need offered no help or even knowledge.

I questioned the clerk, “You’ve never heard of Apple’s migration processes?”

He replied, “I’m a law enforcement student.” … interesting information about his future plans but his answer had nothing to do with the question I asked him!

I left the store discouraged and ready to give up my quest for the day.

There was one other store within walking distance, but I figured since they specialized in PC’s they weren’t going to have the adaptor I was looking for.

Besides, if a Mac store didn’t have it, what were the chances?

I started walking in the direction of my car.

But then I had a second thought: “I’m so close to this place, why not just go in and see?”

I walked the three blocks up the street, went in, and within about 30 seconds, spoke to an employee. I told him what I was looking for and he walked me directly to a shelf, reached up to the very top and then handed me my adaptor.

Amazing! … On second thought, I was super happy.

Here’s the thing: When is it the right time to give up on seeking something from God? You may have been asking Him for direction, or a solution, or even a miracle, but so far you’ve received nothing. Is it time when you’re feeling hopeless? … On second thought, your answer might be just around the corner.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you almost given up on? Leave your comment below.