The Pondering Pastor

These "Ponderings" originally appeared as articles in our church newsletter or bulletin or just as the musings of one bald pastor. I place them here to encourage you, my fellow blogite and maybe to help us all in our pondering.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's T...
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I BELIEVE THAT HOBBITS AND CHRISTIANS HAVE MUCH IN COMMON. After watching the movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit it is easy to note some of the similarities, at least among the Christians of the West. They like to live together in sheltered beautiful areas, away from the messy stuff of life. They enjoy keeping their things in order, and when hospitality is called for, even when unexpected, they at least begrudgingly offer the warmth of their homes. They love a good story and are good at keeping long developed relationships. But, they are not much for adventure, at least an adventure that they feel duly unprepared for and which can end in seemingly unpleasant ways. No, Hobbits, like an awful lot of Christians of the well-protected western world, would rather stay safely among their own and carry-on as usual.

But every once in a while you meet a Hobbit like Bilbo Baggins. He loves the comfort and order of his own home and life, and yet there is something within him that calls him to an adventure, one in which there is no guarantee of return. As the story progresses (warning spoiler alert ahead) we discover some depth to Bilbo, one that is being a man with a home can understand and sympathize with a people whose home has been taken from them and who are seeking to gain it back, even when those people are very unlike him in so very many ways. Our Mr. Baggins is not of the bravest sort, nor does he possess skills needed for a dangerous journey, but what he does possess is a desire to help others find a home to enjoy and live at peace, just has he has in his own little shire.  Well, enough about Hobbits, what about us?

Last year we invited you to join us on a journey, a journey that we prayed would not allow you to return unchanged. The journey was the adventure of reading through God’s Word through the course of the year. Some of you ran with gusto into the adventure longing to find new and exciting vistas. Some of you came along begrudgingly, not wanting to be left behind, or to be judged as lazy. Some of us found the journey daunting at times, the passages were difficult to understand, there were names that were nigh impossible to pronounce, and we seemed always in the process of catching up. I dare say some of you gave up, but many, I dare say, continued to push on through names and places, laws and legislation. There were times in which the words came alive, and your soul was touched, maybe you even felt called to action. There were times that you just could not stay within the bounds of the daily suggested reading and pushed ahead desiring to see what truth lay around the turn of the page.

For those of you who ventured out into this adventure, I commend you, even if you did not finish, for you see the goal was not to just say we read through the Bible in a year, but rather that the Word of God got a hold of us and changed us and pushed us to do that which we felt we were unable to do. You, like Bilbo, struck out on a journey and in the process found yourself desiring to help others find a way home; the home which the Lord created all of us to enjoy. You may have found a new courage in you. You may have found yourself surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you. You see, that is why we are to be in the Word of God, not to gain simple knowledge, but rather to be changed by the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the journey, He is the One who knows the way, and who brings the weary and beaten down soul to the home they so need and desire.

This year I want to call you to join me on another journey, one that once again will call us out of the safety of the sanctuary and place us in the midst of a world that desperately needs to know the Savior and King that you know.  The journey will be rough and challenging at times. There will be times that I am sure you will fall behind, desire to give up, settle on living the life of relative safety and ease within the household of God. Yet, for those who determine to join the adventure, I can guarantee that your life will be changed, and changed for the good. You will be drawn to the Lord in deep and new ways. You will be challenged to do things that are new, maybe even strange sounding to you and yet if given the opportunity to follow these new paths, you will be drawn to new vistas that may very well take your breath away and leave you longing for more of the Holy Breath of God to fill your lungs, enriching your spiritual blood with holy oxygen which will enliven every sinew of your spirit, (and maybe your physical body as well.)

The journey I am asking you to join with us in is a Journey from Ashes to Fire. It is a daily walk through the Scriptures and spiritual writings. There will be times of prayer and the practice of other spiritual disciplines. There will be times for you to respond in word and in deed. It is a journey with a cost. It will cost you in time and discipline. It will cost you in the experiences of trying something new. It will cost you as you seek to deepen your relationship with God and with His people. It will cost you financially as well.

The Journey from Ashes to Fire, is an adventure that will find its beginning on Ash Wednesday and will continue through the period of the Christian calendar known as Lent. We will walk the path with our Lord as we remember His journey to the cross. But it does not end there: No, this adventure will take to that glorious day of His resurrection and on until the Holy Spirit comes upon the church with His fire.

The Journey from Ashes to Fire will be a journey which will include our Sunday morning time in God’s Word. It will include daily time with the Lord, and for those who choose the adventure, will be heightened through our Community groups.  This is a journey for all ages. A journey for the young and the old, for seekers and for those who have been found. I am praying that we will walk this amazing path together. We will need the encouragement of others along the way. I pray, that even now, you will ask the Lord to prepare your heart and soul for the adventure. I know that lives will be changed, maybe even yours.

Will you join us? Keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open, and ready yourself for a journey that will bring us home again, and even might bring those we encounter along the way home as well.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 21, 2012



QUESTION: This is not directed to the general public, but more to my evangelical Christian friends (Which also includes myself). Why is it that I have heard more talk and excitement about the possibility of seeing the fly-over of the space shuttle than I ever hear about looking toward the skies for the returning of the Lord and Savior of the world? (Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

It's just a question mind you, but one that has given me cause to wonder just how much I really expect His promised return?  (Acts 1:10-11) Maybe it's time to up the anticipation level.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


DIFFERENT CARS have different idling speeds. That’s the speed at which the engine is running while it is waiting at the traffic light. It’s the minimal speed the car needs to keep the ancillary equipment running, but not enough to let the car do any real work, like moving forward.
     Many of us here are reading through the Bible this year, and the past few days we have found ourselves in 2 Chronicles. As we read through the successes and failures of the various kings and the nation Israel, we see that different kings had differing idling speeds (Idol worship would be the proper term.) When you buy a new car the idle speed is set by the manufacturer. It used to be you could adjust this setting pretty easily, but with the new cars you need a PhD in computer science. The reality today is, the manufacturer doesn’t want you messing around under the hood.
     This got me thinking. Does God create us with a preset idling (idol) speed? The answer to that question is, “Yes!” When God wrote out the operating manual for us He made it very clear that we were not to mess around under the hood. We do have a preset idol speed, and that is no idols. In the words of the Manufacturer, “You must have no other gods but Me. You must not make for yourself no other idol of any kind … you must not bow down to them or worship them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affections to any other gods.” (Exodus 20:3-5) In other words, no messing around under the hood! God has set our idol speed and it is ZERO!
      In our reading we read over and over again about the kings who worshiped other gods and the destruction it brought about in their lives and in the nation. We also read of those good kings who tore down the false gods, some removed all, some removed some, and to the extent that they worshiped the one true God was the extent to which they enjoyed the blessings of God.
     How’s your idol speed? Have you been messing around under the hood, trying to reset that which God, our Creator, put in place for our own good? The truth is when we keep our spirits running by the Manufacturer’s design, we run our best. That will save us much wear and tear, and keep us running at our optimum.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 22, 2012


THE TRUTH IS NOTHING IS SIMPLE, at least not in the world in which you and I spend our days. Life in the 21st century is complicated, in fact there is even an option on Facebook when relating about a relationship that simple states, “It’s Complicated.” Is it any wonder that at the end of the day we drop into our beds, plop our heads down onto the pillow and stare blankly at the ceiling which stares blankly back at us and wonder, “What really happened today? Did I really accomplish anything of meaning? I dare say most, if not all of us, increasingly find ourselves in that situation.
     Along with the many things that crowd my life I have enrolled in a self-enrichment course hosted by Willow Creek Community Church. The course is entitled, The Leader’s Soul, and as the title clearly represents it’s about how we can increase the health and well-being of our soul. The course is a discussion about spiritual disciplines (prayer, solitude, fasting, journal-keeping) and seeks to help us put them into practice. I was moving along quite nicely in the course until this week’s focus on simplicity.
     The theme of simplicity deals with removing some of the clutter of our lives, things that clutter our time and our space, and the effect that this clutter has upon our soul. When our lives are filled with too much stuff and too much activity it makes it difficult to find the time needed for the deep development of the spiritual disciplines.
     I was challenged, OK convicted, by an article entitled, “An Extreme Simplicity Makeover.” The article dealt with the stuff that many of us keep, refusing to throw away. You know those closets, junk drawers, back sections of the garage. The author wrote that most often the reason we do not get rid of the clutter (junk) is because of two overriding fears. The fear of what if I need that thing later and the fear of regret that stems from not completing certain projects or maintaining a certain hobby or interest. This second fear is the fear that people will see that I am really not the person I claim to be. Let’s make it personal. I have tons of fishing stuff that I refuse to get rid of because if I do the men would see that I really don’t care that much about fishing. So, instead of simplifying my life by getting rid of the fishing equipment, I keep it in order to project the coolness that comes from being a fly-fisherman, but the truth is I’m not. But I dare not get rid of the stuff…well, I think you get the picture. Thus, the rafters of my garage remain cluttered with fishing paraphernalia.
     Many of us have lives filled with clutter. This clutter can keep us from experiencing the peace that comes from a life of truth and rest. The simple truth is; to simplify our lives can open the space for the Spirit of God to speak and for us to hear.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, July 08, 2012


Lego Church Complete with Pipe Organ
BEFORE LEGOS THERE WERE LINCOLN LOGS and Erector Sets. They allowed me create for hours on end, but they never matched the creative flexibility that Legos allowed. Lincoln Logs and Erectorsets are items of a by-gone era. (Well, not really gone, but overrun by so many other "Build" items.) Walk into a Lego store and you can see that the sky is the limit. With the right amount of blocks and gizmos you can build just about anything.
     In 1 Chronicles 22 we encounter King David acquiring the right building supplies for his son, Solomon. He not only gathered the needed supplies, but also the needed craftsmen, so that his son would have all that he would need to build the very thing that King David could not; a dwelling place for the Most High and a place in which the Ark of God’s Covenant could rest and where the needed sacrifices would be performed.
     As I read through this short chapter I was drawn to the question my own preparation work upon which my children could build a temple for the Lord. Was I providing the needed supplies which they could use to build the temple of God that now dwells within them? I found it challenging that King David not only gathered the needed supplies, but he also passed on to his son the command to build. “David said to Solomon, ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God.’” David went on to tell Solomon that the LORD would not allow him to build it because the bloodshed in his own life, but rather the temple would be built by a man of peace. He told his son that he would be that man.
     The sermons within this chapter are manifold, but the one which struck the greatest resonance within my heart was how was I doing at giving my children the supplies and stipulations needed to build a house in which the Lord to dwell, especially with Lizzie turning 18 (Happy Birthday, Bean!) this past week and getting ready to head off to Biola University? What legacy of word and work am I giving to those given to me by the Lord?
     May the Lord grant us hearts filled with the desire to see His dwelling place formed within our own children and the children who make Felton Bible Church their home. May we all provide that which is needed by the grace God supplies.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


ON JULY FOURTH I PLAN TO RUN in the annual Santa Cruz Firecracker 10k that starts at Harvey West Park and climbs through Pogonip and back again. There is a pretty good elevation gain at the mid-point of the race and so I have been running (OK, plodding) up some local hills to get ready for the Pogonip climb. It would be much easier for me to stay on the level paths, but come race day that 400ft. + climb would be my undoing. I would like to run this race faster than I have in the past, and the only one to make that happen (besides God giving me wings) is I, so uphill I go.
     To accomplish anything greater or even different, than what we are presently doing and used to, demands that we change the way we are doing that thing. For example, if we are constantly wearing our tires down because we are not keeping them properly inflated means we need to change the way we do things, or in this case, not doing things, like keeping our tires properly inflated. If we merely stay the course, then we can only expect much of the same results. If we want things to be different we need do things differently, and sometimes that difference-making comes at a high cost.
Cover of
Cover via Amazon
     One of the books that I have had my nose in recently is entitled, Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading (Linsky & Heifetz.) The authors write about the cost, even that of one’s life, involved in bringing about the needed, and often radical, change required to bring about a different outcome than that which regularly occurs. Some changes, like keeping your tires inflated, can come about with little cost, but other changes like getting out of debt, or changing the disciplines of your life may demand a higher cost and sadly it is a cost we often are not willing to incur.
     The church in America is in a place of needed change.  I believe we need to take a hard look at how we can consistently and confidently build God’s Kingdom within a culture that certainly does not pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6:10) How can we as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:16-21) communicate the grace and love of God to a community that does not believe in the One, nor see the need of the grace and love He offers?
     Part of the answer is to be found in our willingness to not only count the cost, but also to be willing to pay it. Will we be content to do church to the exclusion of being the church?   
     Why is it we can shout “GOD’S NOT DEAD!!!” with arms lifted in a show of grand assurance of that fact during Vacation Bible School, and we can barely raise our voices and surely not our arms, when we sing that same grand truth on Sunday morning? Is it because we fear the thoughts of the one next to us, rather than the heartfelt praise to our Redeemer? Is it because we seek to worship decorum rather than the Divinity? Is it because we are more concerned about self than the Sovereign God? I pray that none of those are true for me.
     What is the cost we must pay? I am not sure. Are we willing to pay it once it is made clear? I am not sure of that either. Is our God worthy and worth whatever the cost? Of that I am sure! The road before us is steep and rough and strewn with rocks, but it is a hill that this church must climb if you want to finish the race. We may not be able to run up that hill with reckless abandon, but climb it we must! Our legs will strain, our lungs will gasp for air and sweat will pour from our pores, yet as we near the top of that hill there will be One there yelling, “You’re almost there! The road is easy from here.” So, dear church, let us run the race that is set before us, not to gain a crown that fades, but one we can present to Him who is truly worthy. (Hebrews 12:1-3) The race was His to win, we must follow His course.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 29, 2012


THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO MY FIRST DAUGHTER entered the world. Her arrival changed everything and each of the next three kids changed everything, AGAIN! I guess that’s the way it is when you have kids; your world is never the same. You are forced to see things differently, hear things differently, do things differently, and yes, even say things differently. It’s not bad…just different, and I am pleased to say, most of the “different” has been good.  I have been blessed with great kids! (And no, Trinity, we shouldn’t have stopped with you!)
     Raising children has its ups and downs. It has its times of moving at light-speed, and times when things are moving slower than molasses in the wintertime. It is really not so different than the way we are called to live as God’s children. Sometimes we are moving forward with reckless abandon and at times it seems like all things have come to a stop.
     In our reading-through-the-Bible program we have found ourselves in Psalm 119 (it’s a long one, that’s for sure.) I was drawn to Psalm 119:166, and it’s seemingly contradictory phrases. The psalmist wrote,
I wait for your salvation, LORD,
and I follow Your commands.
Waiting and following, or as I wrote in the title of this piece, “waiting & walking.” Both are part of our life as a child of God. Not unlike the raising of children, we wait nine long months, and then all of a sudden they are here. We wonder if they will ever utter an intelligible word and then they never stop talking. We are sure they will never walk on their own and before you know it you’re chasing them through the supermarket. Life is waiting and walking.
     Our Christian life is much the same, and it’s normal. Sometimes we are waiting and sometimes we are walking, and I suppose sometimes we are doing both simultaneously. I guess all I am trying to say is, it may be your time to wait. Then wait with patient hope. It may be your time walk. Then walk in humble obedience. Wherever you are and in whatever you are doing, waiting or walking, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Oh yeah, by the way, happy birthday, kid!

Labels: , , , , ,