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.

I Was Stuck At This Red Light Forever

The other night I was stuck at a red light for an inordinate amount of time.

I was on my way to our cottage for my yearly planning retreat. On one stretch of highway, that is only one lane in each direction, there was work being done on a bridge.

I don’t know what it is with little bridges but they seem to be the hardest things in the world to fix. It takes months and months and, in some cases, years to repair them.

This bridge is no exception., I think they could build a huge suspension bridge over a vast canyon quicker than completing the repair work to this bridge.

With the work being done on the bridge, it is down to one lane … That’s it! – one lane for traffic going in both directions.

This bridge is maybe only 30 feet in length, but it completely controls the traffic flow.

When I got to the bridge, and saw about 10 vehicles ahead of me, I naturally thought we would get our chance to cross the bridge in no time.

At first I didn’t even put the car in park; I just kept my foot on the brake. I didn’t think this would take long at all.

Boy was I wrong! The cars coming the other way just kept coming. The worst part was there were breaks in the traffic.

Seven, eight or nine cars would pass by going south and then there would be nothing. Every time there was a break, I thought, “Okay, the light changed and now it’s our turn to go.”

No. Just when I thought it would be time for us to start moving, I would see headlights coming from the other direction and another 10, maybe 12 cars, would drive by.

Ten minutes we waited with no sign that we were going to get a green light in the next little while … or month!

But there was a sign of hope.

Just a few yards ahead of me was a gravel road. I quickly looked at the maps on my phone and made a real fast decision to cut out of the line and take a detour.

No one else was doing it but I thought, “Someone has to start it up.”

I cut out of the line and made a break for it. The detour took me about 10 minutes but I came out well beyond the traffic interruption.

When I got to the crossroads to join up with the original highway I had been on, there was a stop light and I had to make a left turn.

As I waited for the light to turn green – because, of course, there was no way I would get a green light when I approached the intersection – I noticed a truck pass by.

I had a suspicion that I’d seen that truck before.

After I got back on the highway, and caught up to the traffic, I was sure it was the same truck. … And I was in the exact same position behind the truck as I was when we had been stuck at the light.

I didn’t gain one inch.

Here’s the thing: Impatience gets us to act, but sometimes our actions don’t really do us any good. When we are impatient with God, our impatience can lead us to take action that just gets in the way of what God is doing. It might delay things further or worse, it could set us back. Wait on God and don’t let your impatience cause you to try to circumvent God’s plan.

That’s life!

Paul

Question: What delays have caused you to be impatient with God? Leave your comments below.

When A Project Takes A Long Time To Develop

Sometimes you wait a long time for something to develop, then in a flash it’s done and it’s completion takes you by surprise.

It happened to me this morning. For what seemed like several weeks, the leaves on our maple tree were budding.

But we’ve had some pretty cool and rainy weather for the last while and it seemed that the leaves’ progress from bud to full grown was stunted.

I’d look out our living room window and see the little leaves still shrivelled up, not wanting to open. With every day of rain and coolness, it was like they just wanted to stay curled up to keep warm.

After a time I wondered if they would open up at all this year. Maybe they would stay in this dormant state all summer.

But this morning after an early hockey game, as I drove into my driveway, the sun was shining, creating highlights and shadows on and around our tree.

The leaves had opened up; they were big and full and dense.

Up until this morning, though all the leaves were on the tree, you could still see through it … not this morning.

The leaves have now created a beautiful rustling wall to the other side of the street.

It took so long for the leaves to get to this point, but when it happened, it took me by surprise.

You kind of forget about the incremental progress that was being made, now that the tree is in its full glory.

… I’ve been working on a project at work that is developing much like how our tree came alive this spring.

There have been many steps to the project, and many different people involved. It seemed that each step, however, was dependent on someone else do some little thing so that we could progress to the next step.

There also seemed to be one person who was in the middle of the progress or the hold up – just like the weather was the hold up for my tree.

We would get one thing done and then we would sit, not really knowing what to do next but having to follow up and nudge this person to move the project along.

After numerous phone calls over three days, I finally reached him in person. I explained our progress and asked him for his input. All he could say to me was, “I’m just the middle man.”

There were three parties that were involved in bring this project to completion. He worked for none of them. He was just the middle man.

We all needed him but the speed of the project was dictated by the speed of his response to each completed step.

I think this project right now is at the stage where the leaves are almost ready to unfold.

All I can hope is that by early next week this project will be fully complete and I can forget about the incremental progress that we’ve made along the way.

Here’s the thing: God’s plan for us, at times, may seem to be developing slower than we would like. That can be frustrating. We might want to try to get in there and hurry it along on our own. But there are many parties involved in a plan, and there may be a middle man who is slowing things down. Just be sure that you are not that middle man.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What project is God working on in you that you would like to speed up? Leave your comments below.

How To Get The Pie You Really Want

Most people like pie. In fact, if you ask anyone, they will tell you what their favourite pie is.

Classic-Raspberry-Pie-2

We all have a favourite.

When I was young, my aunt took me to a restaurant and for dessert she ordered me a piece of lemon meringue pie.

That immediately became my favourite … but I was young and impressionable at the time and I did not have a lot of experience with pie.

I learned over the years that there were many pies that I could consider as dear to my heart. But there became one pie that stood out from all the rest …

Raspberry pie.

You see, we had a large raspberry patch in our backyard and we enjoyed raspberries for a good portion of the summer. Every year my mom would make one or two pies from the fruit of the patch.

It takes a lot of raspberries to make a pie … well, to make a real pie –  it’s just raspberries and sugar. (My mouth started to water as I wrote that last sentence.)

I would savour that pie and, if I was lucky, I would get two pieces. They were so good I had to lick the plate! I know that’s not polite to do, but when something is that good you can’t let any of it escape your taste buds, can you?

Since that time, when I’m looking for a piece of pie, I’m always on a quest for raspberry.

I remember one time stopping on the side of the road in the country. A little old woman was selling pies and she had a raspberry one. I was so excited I bought it and couldn’t wait to get it home to eat. But my joy turned to disappointment at the first bite.

I couldn’t believe a grandmotherly, farm lady would make her pie out of jam! There should be a law against that.

You get the idea that raspberry pies are sacred to me and they need to be crafted in a purely natural way, without foreign additives.

So you can understand that at our church Christmas dinner, where the men were requested to bring pies for dessert, I kind of put a plug in for raspberry pies.

I had good intentions. I figured that since I was usually near the end of the line when it came to the meal, if there were a few raspberry pies, I might have a chance to get a piece.

Well, yesterday was our church Christmas dinner, and I guess I pumped up the raspberry pie pretty good because someone told me there were about six!

I shouldn’t have been worried. I should have been patient, but when I saw the lineup for dessert, I couldn’t help but eat faster.

I was one of the last to go through the meal line, and many were finishing their dinner when I was starting. So when I finished my food, I snuck to the front of the dessert line and snagged me a piece of my precious!

I’m not proud of it, but it didn’t sour the taste of that delicious raspberry pie going down … with a little whip cream on top too!

Here’s the thing: We go to great lengths to get something that we really like or want. We don’t let obstacles get in our way. We need to be that way with God. We should not let anything get in the way of our relationship with Him. Let nothing stop you from spending time with Him … that”s how much we should want God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What lengths have you gone to to get your favourite pie? Leave your comment below.

Is It Really Time For A Change?

Apparently it’s time for a change in our country. That’s the mantra floating through the air in Canada this last month.

Time for Change clock

I hear it in every commercial for the Liberals and NDP. It’s either time for a change or it’s time for real change. Even the media have been telling us the voters want change.

I’ve heard people say the Conservatives have been in power too long so it’s time for a change. The government is not doing enough for some people; certainly they want a change – a new government who won’t do enough for a different group.

Sure, this election seems like it’s all about change, but is change really what the election should be about?

When I go to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac instead of a Quarter Pounder, I might say that I feel like a change. I might not even have a reason for the change; I just want something different.

But that’s called a craving; I don’t need a reason for a craving.

It’s fine for hamburgers, but is it good for an election? Let’s face it, the parties who want change, who want us to vote for a change, just want us to pick them.

For the opposition, change is good because it gets them what they want. They may try to disguise it to look like they really want what’s best for the country, but the bottom line is they just want to replace the government with themselves.

If they can get us to believe we want a change, a hankering for a new party to lead the country, that works in their favour.

But hey, it’s not like we’re all pregnant with whimsical cravings for pickles and ice cream or a minority Liberal government with an NDP opposition on top.

Choosing a government means we have to think of what’s best for the country as a whole. That also means it won’t be the best for every segment of the country. Some groups will not get what they want.

The bottom line is the government has to do what’s best for the country at large.

That’s why I question the Liberals wanting to run a 10 billion dollar deficit. Sure, the arts will get more money, as will other groups, but someone’s got to pay for it. It won’t be the richest 1% either, because they have lots of ways to reduce their income.

It will be the middle class … it’s always the middle class.

The NDP think they can spend their way to a balanced budget. They will take care of the environment, pay for daycare, fix our medical system, and give you what’s behind curtain number three (hint: the car is never behind curtain #3).

So that’s why some parties want us to believe it’s time for change. Because if we thought about what they really want to do, we wouldn’t want to change.

There isn’t a perfect party, and there is no government that will make everyone happy. But if we focus on what’s best for the whole, a stable and secure country is what we all really need.

Here’s the thing: Every day we’re tempted to do what’s wrong over what’s right, and choose bad over good. When we give in to our whims and our desires, we’ll give in to the temptation to sin. We won’t consider the consequences, or the pain it might cause, just anticipate an immediate gratification. If we think through about the temptation instead of reacting to it, we will choose not to sin more often.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How are you going to think through your decision this election? Leave your comment below.

When Thankfulness Goes From Oblivious To Reality

In raising children, it’s easy to get the idea that your kids are oblivious to what you do for them. This week I learned that, despite the exterior finish of being absorbed in one’s self, underneath there is a high gloss coat of reality.

money:toilet

I think what gets parents believing that our kids are not in touch with reality is because they start with a warped, small view of the world around them.

At first their world consists of just Mom and Dad. It’s years before they go off to school and begin to expand their understanding of how the world works.

Time is all about them … and they can’t even tell time. They do slowly learn the notion of hours and minutes and get it eventually – especially if you give them a digital watch and don’t try to confuse them with the big hand, little hand concept … let’s not even mention that sweeping hand!

Distance doesn’t compute with them either. They don’t get that something is far away.

… I remember when we moved from Edmonton to Kingston. It took us four days of driving to get there. You would think that being cooped up in a car for more than eight hours a day for that long would be etched upon the little minds of children. No!

A week after we arrived in our new city, our five year old wanted to have his best friend over for his birthday party. That best friend now lived 3700 kilometres away, but our son thought we should just pick him up and drive him over. When we said it would take too long, he said to fly him over.

Which brings up another concept young children don’t appreciate outside of their world of want – money. Kids have no clue of the value of money. To them the value difference between a quarter and a loonie (dollar coin) has to do with the size and sparkle of the coin and not its purchasing power.

When we commented to our son, who was three at the time, that we couldn’t afford to get him a certain toy, he promptly said, “Just put it on layaway”.

We had never done that before, so we questioned him on where he got that idea. He heard about it on TV and had no idea what layaway was except it seemed to him that he could get what he wanted, if we did that.

After years and years of living with your children’s concept that the world revolves around them, it’s difficult to perceive them understanding the bigger picture. You wonder if they will ever get to the place of appreciating the world outside of themselves.

Well, I got a Father’s Day card yesterday that proves they really do have a grasp on reality.

The front of the card read, “I finally found a Father’s Day card that really captures the experience of raising a son like me . . .”  On the inside, as you opened the card, there was a toilet with a $20 dollar bill sliding into it. The caption read:

“Amazing, isn’t it? Don’t think about it, and have a great day.”

Thanks, Son.

Here’s the thing: God gives us so much, and we so often forget to think of how much comes from Him – things like family, provision, health, possessions, work, rest, relaxation, abilities, skills, spiritual gifts, etc. Take some time to think about all God does for you and thank Him. It really is amazing.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What are you most thankful for today? Leave your comment below.

All Time Is Not Equal

We live in a world that tries to convince us that everyone and everything is equal. Don’t try to tell me that! It’s just not true … time isn’t even equal.

balance-time-and-needs

Time is all measured out; we use it to be exact, to track things. But I’m beginning to believe that all time is not equal. For instance, we have 24 hours each day, and though every hour has 60 minutes in it, not all those hours are equal.

You can’t accomplish the same amount in every given 60 minute period of a day. You can’t even equally enjoy each 60 minute time frame in a day … nor can you control what will take place in any hour.

So when you complain that you’re short on time, and someone says we all have the same amount of time, technically he may be correct, but his statement is rather cliche with very little thought behind it.

This week I was in Toronto for a conference. One night we went to the Blue Jays baseball game. At 5 pm it took us over an hour to get down to the ball park. After the game, and a few more hours spent downtown, the trip back only took us 25 minutes. The difference was mostly traffic.

You naturally have more energy in some hours than others. You can have more interruptions at certain times or a deadline to meet before you can take a break and relax. … I don’t want to be trying do something that requires a lot of thinking when my energy is low or when there is a great chance of interruptions.

The other day I tried to plan accordingly. My intention was to write my blog early on Monday morning, but I had stayed up late the night before and didn’t get up as early as I had hoped to.

I had a short window in which to write my blog because I also had to phone to make an appointment to take our car to our mechanic. When I called, he said he could take the car right then.

Because I got up late, I didn’t start writing my blog early enough and then had to leave it to take the car in. All this took place before 9 am – prime quiet time when I have good mental energy. I lost out because of a bad decision the night before and an appointment which was out of my control.

I never did get a blog written that Monday.

It takes some planning and strategy to coordinate your day into the hours that best suit the things you want and need to do.

You just can’t go into a day without a plan or you won’t be very productive. And if you string a few of those days together, you’ll feel like you will never get out from under the backlog you find yourself in.

Here’s the thing: If you are going to spend time with God you need to plan it. And you need to plan it for a time when you will be mentally alert and you won’t face interruptions. You can’t guarantee all that but you can plan for it. If God is important to you, then plan to spend time with Him when there is the greatest chance that you will be mentally and emotionally able to meet with Him, at a time when you won’t be interrupted by things, people, emails or phone calls.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What time of day are you at your best and least distracted? Leave your comment below.

My Free Time Got Fried!

Why is it that when time is freed up from one thing, it is so easily filled by something else?

Cool-Polar-Bear-Photos-Im-not-lazy.-Im-just-highly-motivated-to-do-nothing.

When you get a break from a regular task or project that gives you all kinds of freedom to work on something else. But what invariably happens is other things and people come along, take bits of that freed up time and leave you with nothing.

I’m not sure anyone else experiences this phenomenon but it happens to me every time I get a break from preaching.

The last two weeks I haven’t had to speak on Sunday which freed up a large amount of time I would spend studying and writing sermons.

That freedom was welcomed because I have some extra events around Christmas, some planning for early in the new year and a sermon to have ready a couple of days after Christmas.

So, though I did not have to preach, I had lots I needed to work on – the freed up time was something I needed.

However, now that I’m at the end of those two weeks, I didn’t get done nearly what I needed to and the hopes of having an easy, no pressure, leisurely Christmas is kind of out the window right now.

There are a few reasons why this happens to me, and I can pretty much predict it to happen every time I get a break from sermon prep.

First, I feel a little freer than normal. Without that thought in the back of my mind of needing to have a message ready for next Sunday, I kind of let my guard down.

I don’t protect my time as much as I do when I have to write a sermon. I will chat with people longer, and be open to making appointments at times I never would if I was working on a message for Sunday.

Secondly, I find that I am less focussed. I might be working on something but then become aware of something else that needs my attention. I will drop what I was working on and start plugging away on this new interest.

I’ll know that I shouldn’t be spending the time on this new project, but my lack of focus keeps me drifting from one thing that catches my fancy to something else.

Thirdly, I find I’m just not as motivated as when I have a sermon to produce. There is something about having the pressure of a deadline that keeps you moving in that direction. But when the pressure is gone, sometimes the motivation is missing too.

What it all comes down to is discipline. When I let my guard down, or am less focussed, or not very motivated, what it really means is I have not disciplined myself to use my time in the best possible way.

Man, next week is going to be busy!

Here’s the thing: When you get out of routine with God, whether that is attending church, spending time with Him alone, serving Him in some capacity, or learning more about Him by yourself or with others, what you find is that time gets used up by other things. If you don’t discipline yourself with God, you will find that you let your guard down to other things, you are less focussed on Him and you lack motivation for God. Stay disciplined.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What gets in the way of your routine with God? Leave your comment below.