Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Camel's Nose

From Gleanings by D. Appleton

I love this poem!

An Arab Fable
Once in his shop a workman wrought
With languid hand and listless thought
When through the open window’s space
Behold! – A Camel thrust his face.
“My nose is cold,” he meekly cried,
Oh let me warm it by thy side.”

Since no denial word was said,
In came the nose, in came the head
As sure as sermon follows text
The long excursive neck came next,
And then, as falls the threatening storm
In leap’d the whole ungainly form.

Aghast, the owner gazed around
And on the rude invader frowned
Convinced as closer still he pressed
There was no room for such a guest,
Yet more astonished, heard him say,
“If inconvenienced, go your way,
For in this place, I choose to stay.”

Oh youthful hearts, to gladness born,
Treat not this Arab lore with scorn
To evil habit’s earliest wile
Lend neither ear nor glance nor smile,
Choke the dark fountain ere it flows,
Nor even admit the Camel’s Nose.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Nuts and Bolts of Conflict

As I look back on this morning, I notice that several small squabbles took place in our home. They were nothing serious; this level of quarrel-lite happens frequently, I must confess.

1. I was reading my Bible on the couch. My daughter wanted to watch the morning news. My dear wife was trying to talk to me over the noise of the TV. I experienced frustration. I didn't listen to her, telling her I was reading. I took my laptop, exasperated, and went off into the reading room to avoid the TV and to finish reading in silence and solitude. A voice whispers in my head, "Aren't I the holy one this morning?"

2. We have three cars in the driveway, all in a row. My wife needs to leave for work, but her car was at the top of the driveway. All three of us have a different agenda and schedule. Again, the tension levels rise, as everyone's different agenda comes to the surface and manifests itself. One is in the middle of applying some makeup artistry to her face in the bathroom, the other (me) is lost somewhere in Israel's theological problems in the book of Isaiah. The third agenda needs urgently to leave for work if she is to be punctual. We all reluctantly plod out to our cars, grumbling to ourselves, start our engines, and exit the driveway in order to let Carole get to work on time.

I go back to my Bible reading after moving my car and this is on McCheyne's reading schedule: (I read with the immediacy of that all too familiar mirror effect.) "1. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2. You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

Two things were driven home to me. One was personal: i.e. Although we were a long way from fighting, the serious conflicts are made out of the SAME STUFF! Having conflicting desires.. and when one party will not sacrifice their agenda for another, we have a serious problem.

The second one applies to our church. This underlined the necessity for all of us to experience the SAME DESIRES in the church. We have read recently that the problem with churches is not the lack of Vision, but rather too many visions. When everyone has their OWN desires of how things ought to be, or if everyone has their own set of expectations from the church, and if their expectations are not based on Scriptures, we will experience quarrels and fights and conflict.

As we all learn (through prayer and communing with our God) from the same Source what He wants us to be passionate about, we all, slowly but surely, arrive on the same page. And we will begin working in unity, with one heart and mind for the sake of the Gospel.