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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Come Back! All is Forgiven!

IN THE FIRST DAYS FOLLOWING CREATION, we are told that God and Adam would walk together in the cool of the Garden. God is about relationship. The Trinity is God in eternal and holy relationship. The work of creating “man in our image” is about relationship. The whole of the biblical story is about God seeking to restore the relationship He had with His creation. The Cross of Christ dynamically proclaims relationship broken (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) and relationship restored (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” and “Today you shall be with Me paradise.”)

The crucifixion and the resurrection are about God seeking to bring us back into relationship with Him. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of that which broke our relationship with God, namely our prideful, self-promoting sin. His broken relationship with the Father, that was because of His taking on our sin, opened anew the possibility for a positive relationship with the Heavenly Father. In addition, the resurrection demonstrated, in powerful fashion, the restorative nature of Christ’s death upon the cross. Yes, in the death and resurrection our gracious God declares, “Come back! All is forgiven!

A relationship, at its very center, demands reciprocal action. God, in Jesus Christ, reached out to restore the relationship that was broken, and we must respond to that act of love. Inherent in receiving the forgiveness that God offers is for us to “come back.” We must return to Him. We must open ourselves to His redeeming and restorative work in our lives.

This “coming back” will require leaving some other “relationships’ behind. Relationships of sin that hinder the relationship we seek to have with the Lord. “Coming back” will mean making time for God in your daily life, it means entering into relationship with others who are also walking with the Lord. It means, “coming back” to the family, God’s family.

Have you been living in a broken relationship with the loving heavenly Father? Come back! Have you been out of fellowship with the family of God in its local expression as the church? Come back! This month, as we celebrate the events that restored our relationship with God why not take the steps to come back, for all is forgiven! And bring a friend with you!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sinkhole Theology

LONG STORY, SHORT. My neighbor has a sinkhole in his backyard caused by the failure of a culvert buried nine feet down, the culvert that carries water from the drains in our street.  Needless to say, there was a lot of water in our street during Sunday night’s storm!
     Monday a group of us tackled the task of digging a nine-foot deep hole.  We accomplished the digging and there found a concrete culvert (placed circa 1947) separated from the rest and filled with dirt.  With the culprit culvert below us we set to work to make things right, and by late afternoon it was repaired, just in time for Monday night’s rain!
     Besides the soreness which comes from hours of digging and slopping around in cold mud, there was another lesson I learned, and it is this:  Once you find the broken pipe it does very little good to talk about all the reasons this “could have happened.”  None of us would ever know, the blasted pipe had been nine feet down for almost 60 years!  What we could do was get to the task of fixing the break and making it functional again. And with the crew I was honored to work with, I would say it’s better than new.
     Our spiritual life can sometimes be like that sinkhole.  We can see a problem, and then endeavor to uncover the cause and once we do we stand there talking about all the things, from the past, that could caused the problem, instead of just getting down to fixing the brokenness.  
     I am reminded of the encounter Jesus had with the woman caught in adultery. He did focus upon all the things that brought her to that point, but rather He spoke non-condemning truth and told her to sin no more.(John 8)
     So, are you facing some sinkhole or culvert catastrophe in your life?  Maybe it’s time to grab some help and dig in and with God’s gracious help, be restored to use.  Why wait until the next storm?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

BUILDING A THREATENING CHURCH

SEEKER SENSITIVE. USER FRIENDLY. PURPOSE-DRIVEN. These phrases have driven the church in America over the past 20 years or more. To list I would like to add one more, Satan-Threatening.
While attending the 2006 National Pastor’s Convention I was challenge with the question of whether or not Satan would see the church I pastor as a threat to him? A challenging question to say the least. Does Satan see the beliefs, lifestyles, and activities of Felton Bible Church as threat to his kingdom, or does he not even worry about what we’re doing? In sad fact, as I thought about these questions, I wondered if there were not even some churches that Satan would “bless?” Scary thought, eh?
So, you may now be wondering, “Well, Pastor Randy, what is you’re answer?” To be completely honest with you, I am not 100% sure. I realize that may not be very comforting to you, but that’s my answer. The next question is then, “How do we become a church that is a threat to Satan and his work?” The answer to that question is at the same time very simple and very difficult.
I believe it starts with taking Jesus at His Word. Putting into faithful practice the life and teachings of our Lord. As our Lord said, blessed are you if you do these things (John 13:17). During the convention, I was privileged to have lunch with a pastor from Columbia, Maryland. This pastor hails from the Wesleyan tradition, and shared with me their spiritual formation model of Head, Heart, and Hands. That is, they seek to impart doctrine (head) in such a way that it affects the spirit (heart) and then expresses itself in service to church and community (hands). This is what I believe Jesus is calling His followers to as well, yet too often, the teachings of our Lord get bogged down in that journey from head to hands to heart. There are numerous reasons for this from poor teaching methods to a true lack of desire in the part of the disciple, but whatever the reason for such a disconnect, it leads to an ineffective Christian and an ineffective church, and thus a church that is not a threat to Satan and his work.
It is my desire that I will be, and thus the church that I shepherd, a threat to the devil’s work. Thus, my call for all of us to draw closer to the Lord, to grow deeper in Him and to serve Him and His kingdom in a wider way. It is why I am continually calling you to concerted prayer. It is why I seek to preach unashamedly the Word of God. It is why we are developing new community groups to be places of learning, fellowship, prayer, and service.
I share these ponderings with you to ask you a favor, would you prayer for me? Would you pray that I would not grow weary? Would you pray that I would be protected from the temptations of sin and the prowlings of Satan? I ask not for selfish reasons, but for the sake of you, the flock of God, and for the sake of my Lord, and the glory of His Name. For I desire to shepherd well this little flock as we seek to be a threat!
And I will pray for you.