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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

So Jesus Loves Me! Show Me!

HOW DO I LOVE YOU? LET ME SHOW YOU THE WAYS. Love, by its very design, was meant to be experienced. Not just talked about amongst wizened philosophers. Not just expressed inside a flower embossed, glitter-dribbled Hallmark card, but expressed in down-to-earth, need-meeting ways.

Years ago I came across a pretty decent definition of love. It went something like this: “Love is not simply an emotion, but an act of the will which is in response to a true understanding of another person’s needs.” This definition works pretty well for a group of us heading down to Covington, Louisiana at the end of this month to help with the continuing clean up and rebuilding of the greater New Orleans area.

For those of us who are making this trip, emotion had something to do with our response, at least early on. Our emotions of deep shock and sorrow motivated in us hearts of responsive compassion. A compassion that drove us to take action. And to be honest, for some emotion is still playing a role, but now it is an emotion that asks, “What in the world are we getting ourselves into?” Heat, humidity and the risk of the rising hurricane season, have led us to wonder if this is really such a smart idea. But, though our emotions are, let’s say, “given to emotion,” we are finding ourselves motivated by that true and deeper love. The love that sees the real need and acts in response to that need.

On July 23rd 13 of us are traveling to Louisiana and will be part of a larger team from various parts of the nation working hand-in-hand with the Compassion Ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America. We really don’t know all that we will be doing, but we know they will work us hard and we are going to serve our Lord by serving the people in need. We would like you to be a part of this mission’s trip.

On Sunday July 9th we will be receiving a special offering to help the team get to Covington, LA. The cost per person is running about $800.00, and team members have been contacting family and friends to support them with prayers and finances. But, we have a larger goal in mind as well. We have set a “gold” goal of raising $25,000.00, which would be used to cover our costs and would allow us to leave the remainder with Trinity Evangelical Free Church and the Compassion Ministry of the EFCA for the ongoing needs of the people devastated by last season’s hurricanes.

Our prayer is that you will prayerfully help us to meet this goal, and to join us with your prayers, as we seek to express the need-meeting love of God to those in desperate of it. I am thanking you in advance for your willingness to be part of the team.

God bless you real good!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blessed are the Feet

Today I lost my pastor, mentor, and friend. Pastor Arvid Carlson answered the call today to "come home" to be with his Lord and Savior. I will miss him, but I do rejoice in the knowledge that he is with the Savior he loved and served all of his life.

I believe of all the titles that Arvid bore, the one that fits him best is "pastor." Yes, he was a great preacher, and I can truly say, "they don't make them like him anymore." Yes, he was a wonderful and accomplished teacher of the World of God. Yes, he could pray with the best of them. Yes, he was a good administrator and leader. But most of all he was a shepherd of the Lord's flock.

Whether you were "part" of the church he was serving, or just a member of the community-at-large, to come in contact with Pastor Arvid was to be shepherded. He cared for people, sensed their needs, and sought to bring the presence of the Lord into each person's situation. I dare say he raised pastoring to an art form.

Was Pastor Arvid a perfect saint? No, and he would be the first to tell you that. Was he a great saint? Yes, and I would be the first to tell you that!

I met Pastor in 1977 when my new bride and I answered the call to serve at the church where he was Senior Pastor. (He retired within the first two years, and I wonder if I drove him to it. ;o)) He allowed me, as a young wet-behind-the-ears youth pastor to try and to fail. I know I pushed his comfort zone at times, but he was always gracious in dealing with me. He taught me what good preaching sounded like. He taught how a good prayer meeting is conducted. He taught me to "not be the first by which the new is tried, or the last by which the old has died." He taught me that preaching the Word of God is the first and foremost and highest calling of the pastor. And he taught me that Swedish is most likely the language of heaven.

It has been an honor to sit behind his desk and serve in his position here at Felton Bible Church for the last almost nine years. It has been an honor, to in some way, serve as his pastor in these last days. Humbled and honored.

I promised him just a few days ago that I would do my best, by the Holy Spirit's power, to honor his memory and his shepherding by preaching the Word in season and out, and by shepherding the flock to the glory of God.

Pastor Arvid, thank you for faithfully executing the high and holy office of the undershepherd. Your legacy shall continue in the lives of those whom you served and shepherded.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7)
Pastor Arvid must have had some beautiful feet.