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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.


Monday, September 29, 2008
Have you ever heard the term Pack Rat? No, not THAT kind of pack rat - although they would be a challenge if discovered in your home!

I'm talking about the OTHER kind of Pack Rat, which is also referred to as Compulsive or Pathological Hoarding...
...the acquisition of, and failure to use or discard, such a large number of seemingly useless possessions that it causes significant clutter and impairment to basic living activities such as mobility, cooking, cleaning, showering or sleeping.

Okay, so most of us are not at the pathological stage just yet, (although I do know at least two people who are), but it still seems that we like to keep useless stuff - to the point where we will even store junk someplace else if we don't have enough room in our house!
As of year-end 2007, a total of some 52,000 self storage facilities have been developed in the United States on industrial and commercial land parcels, usually on three- to seven-acre properties. There is more than 2.2 Billion square feet of self storage in the U.S., or a land area equivalent to three times Manhattan Island (NY) under roof.

The U.S. self storage industry generates more than $20 billion in revenues each year.

[ Wikipedia ]

My parents have lived in a modest duplex for... EVER! In fact, my dad (who is 77 years old) was raised in the house. A hundred years ago the house had four apartments but was later renovated into two - one up and one down. I grew up in the downstairs apartment which had 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an office. This month we moved my parents from this house into a two bedroom apartment.

The plan was to only bring some of my parent's "stuff" to the new place. But my wonderful cousin, (who volunteered to pack up the house since me and my siblings live out of town), ended up packing ALL of my parent's belongings / house contents before we could tell her what we DIDN'T want!

One hundred (or so) boxes of "things" arrived on Friday. Today is Sunday. I have been to the garbage dump 3 times and have made 2 generous van-filled donations to the local Goodwill. The van remains full with the 4th dump drop.

Last night I really understood what Jesus meant when He said,
Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

[ Matthew 6:19-21 ]

(I think I'll clean out my closets when I get home.)


Thursday, September 25, 2008
Years ago I decided I liked the name Corban after reading it in Mark 7:11:
But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.

Last week I went to a Waldensbook store (which is now owned by Borders) that is going out of business. All of the books are marked down between 40% and 75%. As I was searching through the Christian section I noticed a series of Bible study books, including a Bible dictionary. As I leafed through the dictionary my eye caught the word Corban. The definition was interesting to me so I looked it up again online when I got home.
What is the "Corban" mentioned in this passage, and how does it tie in with Christ's words? According to Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Corban is "a word applied to a gift or offering in the Temple which declared that gift dedicated to God in a special sense. Once a gift was offered under the special declaration of Corban, it could not be withdrawn or taken back; it was considered totally dedicated for the Temple's special use. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for encouraging the people to make such gifts to the Temple while neglecting their responsibility to care for their parents . . ." (1986, "Corban").

The same website goes on to say...
The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia adds: "Anything dedicated to the temple by pronouncing the votive word 'Corban' forthwith belonged to the temple, but only ideally; actually it might remain in the possession of him who made the vow. So a son might be justified in not supporting his old parents simply because he designated his property or a part of it as a gift to the temple, that is, as 'Corban.' There was no necessity of fulfilling his vow, yet he was actually prohibited from ever using his property for the support of his parents" (Electronic Database, 1996, Biblesoft, "Corban").

Jesus taught that proclaiming something as Corban as an excuse for refusing to help one's needy parents was a violation of the Fifth Commandment, "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12).


Easton's Bible Dictionary says:
Our Lord condemns the Pharisees for their false doctrine, inasmuch as by their traditions they had destroyed the commandment which requires children to honour their father and mother, teaching them to find excuse from helping their parents by the device of pronouncing "Corban" over their goods, thus reserving them to their own selfish use.

Excuses, excuses.

And to get a real in depth look at this passage (and I mean, deep) you need to check out the Matthew Henry Complete Commentary. Here is just a portion of that commentary:
(Jesus) reproves them for laying aside the commandment of God... (and) he gives them a particular instance of, and a flagrant one--God commanded children to honour their parents, not only by the law of Moses, but, antecedent to that, by the law of nature; and whoso revileth, or speaketh evil of, father or mother, let him die the death, Mark 7:10. Hence it is easy to infer, that it is the duty of children, if their parents be poor, to relieve them, according to their ability; and if those children are worthy to die, that curse their parents, much more those that starve them. But if a man will but conform himself in all points to the tradition of the elders, they will find him out an expedient by which he may be discharged from this obligation, Mark 7:11. If his parents be in want and he has wherewithal to help them, but has no mind to do it, let him swear by the Corban, that is, by the gold of the temple, and the gift upon the altar, that his parents shall not be profited by him, that he will not relieve them; and, if they ask any thing of him, let him tell them this, and it is enough; as if by the obligation of this wicked vow he had discharged himself from the obligation of God's holy law; thus Dr. Hammond understands it: and it is said to be an ancient canon of the rabbin, That vows take place in things commanded by the law, as well as in things indifferent; so that, if a man make a vow which cannot be ratified without breaking a commandment, the vow must be ratified, and the commandment violated; so Dr. Whitby. Such doctrine as this the Papists teach, discharging children from all obligation to their parents by their monastic vows, and their entrance into religion, as they call it. He concludes, Any many such like things do ye. Where will men stop, when once they have made the word of God give way to their tradition? These eager imposers of such ceremonies, at first only made light of God's commandments in comparison with their traditions, but afterward made void God's commandments, if they stood in competition with them. All this, in effect, Isaiah prophesied of them; what he said of the hypocrites of his own day, was applicable to the scribes and Pharisees, Mark 7:6. Note, When we see, and complain of, the wickedness of the present times, yet we do not enquire wisely of that matter, if we say that all the former days were better than these, Ecclesiastes 7:10. The worst of hypocrites and evil doers have had their predecessors.

Yes, deep. But awfully profound. Suddenly Corban means a lot more than simply a gift to God. I mean, Corban in itself it not a bad thing, but how we use that gift dedicated to God is. Especially if it effects our family, and our parents particularly.

Traditions, ministry, gifts, excuses, obedience, neglect, hypocrisy, obligation, commandment. Those words shouldn't be in the same sentence. But often they are.

So what does that mean for me? Or for you? It may be simple... don't let your gifts get in the way of your obedience to God's commandments. And for goodness sake don't proclaim something as Corban or offer your gifts to God while neglecting your responsibility to care for your parents.

The States & Canada

Monday, September 22, 2008
I am a citizen of the United States that lives in Canada. My immediate family lives in the States and whenever I visit my homeland I am intrigued by the subtle differences between the two countries. For example, freedom of speech is alive and well in the USA. Not so much in Canada. You hear "God", "Jesus", "church" and "Christian" mentioned everywhere in the States - and you can purchase Christian products almost anywhere. Not to mention that there is an actual church building on just about every corner. There are 6 "Christian" churches within walking distance from my sister's house - all within about a 1/2 mile.

And the media in the States can talk about Jesus. Not so much in Canada.

But there have been a couple of differences that I've noticed on this particular trip south of the border that have really perplexed me. They involve recycling and the handicap.

It amazes me that the United States doesn't recycle very good! I mean, my parent's new apartment complex has 64 units and they DON'T offer recycling! They have one large garbage dumpster for the people who live here but no blue boxes or recycling pick-up! Plus, if you are at the mall or a fast food restaurant... NO RECYCLING CONTAINERS! Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

That is so weird to me.

Secondly, I am learning a lot about being handicapped and the obstacles people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Both of my parents suffer from Parkinson's disease and mobility is a significant issue for them. They use walkers and have a handicapped sticker for their vehicle which gives them the right to park in a handicap parking space. In Canada it seems that every building now has automatic doors - malls, restaurants, etc. Not so much in the States! And the doors they DO have on their handicap bathrooms are so heavy, I (as a non-handicapped person) can barely open them! Plus, the so-called ramps that restaurants in the U.S. build to "aid" handicapped people were obviously NOT constructed or researched by a handicapped person. Some of those ramps are down right dangerous for handicapped people!

I'm sure that I will be more aware of the handicap accessibility that Canada offers when I go home, because I'm thinking it is far superior to the systems in place below the border.

Plus I'll be sure to thank my landlord for providing 6 separate recycling bins at the back of my apartment building, right next to the garbage dumpster.

Priority Sequence

Friday, September 12, 2008
A couple of months ago I blogged about some great customer service I received from Virgin Mobile. It was a rare experience and the last 2 weeks has proven to me just how rare good customer service is.

Because my parents are moving from one state to a new one all of their documentation, bank accounts, medical plans, utilities, etc., need to be notified of their new address. In addition, things like cable and telephone have to be cancelled at the old address and ordered for the new one. To complicate matters even more my parents are selling their house and moving into an apartment. This means insurance has to be changed (you cannot hold regular mortgage insurance on a house that is vacant) and policies need to be updated.

So far I have been in contact with 21 companies regarding these changes. And after 2 weeks of online chats and phone calls with customer service reps I loathe the phrase...
The next available representative will assist you shortly.

The new telephone company kept me on hold for 45 minutes. That was after I had an online chat with an agent that helped me place my order for new phone service. Once I finally reached a real person on the telephone they had to place a second order because they couldn't locate the one placed online.

I have spoken with 6 different CSRs from the cell phone company. It's simple. I want to port my parents old house number to their cell phone. You can do this now in the States. That way they can keep the phone number from their house that they've had since I was born. The first 2 reps couldn't find my parent's cell phone account. The 3rd and 4th rep said they placed orders for the transfer. The 5th rep had no record of their cell phone account existing OR the orders placed.

Here's hoping that the 6th rep got it right. I will know on September 17th - the day that the transfer is scheduled to be completed. (I won't hold my breath.)

I'm learning through this adventure that there is nothing priority about you or the help you get from a customer service representative.


Family Matters

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If anyone fails to provide for his relatives,
and especially for those of his own family,
he has disowned the faith
[by failing to accompany it with fruits]
and is worse than an unbeliever
[who performs his obligation in these matters].

[ 1 Timothy 5:8 | Amplified Bible ]

Fall Down Go Boom

Tuesday, September 02, 2008
It is hard to see someone fall down, even harder if they are related to you, and horrible if the faller has been assigned to your care! I did a road trip with my parents this week. We (siblings) are relocating them so they are closer to family that can care for them. About an hour before we reached our final destination I was assisting my mom, who uses a walker, at a highway rest area. I didn't want her to fall down. And neither did my dad. Unfortunately HE lost his step and hit the ground behind me.

The first thing he said was, "I hit my head." Great! I am taking care of my parents and I let him fall down and hit his head! Oh my. There was blood. Not a lot, but blood nonetheless. As I helped him up and over to a nearby bench a woman came by and said, "My husband is a doctor. Do you want him to come over and help?"

Ummm. YES!

Doctor Paul was amazing with my dad. Asked him all sorts of questions, bandaged him up using a first aid kit that another passerby supplied and was generally polite and extremely helpful. My dad was fine and wouldn't require additional medical care.

My nerves were shot, on the other hand, and I think I NEEDED meds!

Let me back up. Both of my parents suffer from Parkinson's disease - which is why they need assistance walking. Both of my parents are 77 years old. The house we moved them out of is where my dad grew up. Huge changes for both of them.

Which is why I need to find some Schick Injector Blades.
When you have lived as long as my dad has lived you get used to things the way they are. Or the way things have always been. And my dad still uses injector blades - on the same razor handle he's probably owned for 50 years.

I bought him an updated razor today, the kind with the replaceable cartridges, but I'm not sure he will use it. So later today I'm going on a hunt for injector blades. I even Googled them to find out if they were still available. After all, with the changes my dad has had to endure (new home, new city, new razor blades) I need to keep him as comfy as possible.

And I need to help BOTH my parents land on their feet.