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, September 28, 2007

The Caffeinated Life

CAFFEINE AFFECTS DIFFERENT PEOPLE in different ways. Some are able to drink it by the gallons with seemingly no effect, while others walk by a brewing pot of caffeinated coffee and they start to get “the shakes.” I fall somewhere in-between.

A couple of cups of tea (no coffee for me) and my motor gets warmed-up, but much more than that and it becomes a lesson in the “law of diminishing returns.” Caffeine after 8:00 at night? Well, let’s just say falling to sleep is no problem, it’s staying asleep that becomes the issue.

The problem for many in our culture today is that we seem to ingest so much caffeine from so many different sources that many are running on a perpetual caffeine induced stupor. A situation that we often feel powerless to stop. The caffeine craze not only affects the inner workings of our bodies, but we feel “naked” if we don’t have a coffee cup in our hands. Desire as we might, it seems impossible to change.

I often feel this way when it comes to my life as a follower of Jesus Christ. I get so “jacked-up” on the caffeine of this world, that it seems near impossible to slow down, let alone stop, and to spend time with my Lord. I want my spiritual life served up like my Earl Grey tea; waiting for me at the counter at Coffee Cat as I walk in the door. I don’t want to sit quietly, or to wait for an answer, or to mature. I want it now!

But, this is not the life to which we have been called. God has made us for work, yes, but He also requires us to rest. The Lord desires for us to experience the blessed gift of time unrushed with Him. Take a breath, relax, rest, and be blessed in His presence.

God created the Sabbath for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blessed Are the Hands

I GREW UP HEARING THE PHRASE, “Many hands make light work. This past week I saw the truth of that statement played out once more. Those many hands came in the form of 32 individuals (ranging in age from seven-years-old, to those over eighty-six-years-old), who joined hands in packing 125 World Vision Caregiver Kits. In less than 45 minutes we loaded the orange boxes with gloves, soap, cream, flashlights, medication and other items that will help the care-givers provide tangible expressions of mercy to those suffering the ravages of AIDS. Most importantly each box also contained a card of encouragement from a Vacation Bible School attendee and was prayed over by the one packing the box. It was a great evening of many hands making light work, and of many hands doing the work of prayer. Blessed are the hands.

This past Tuesday evening, at our AWANA kick-off, I once again saw an answer to prayer as many came not only to lend a hand, but also their hearts and voices as we began to once more reach out into our community with the love of Jesus Christ and the message of the His Good News. Honestly, we were very concerned that we would not have the staff needed to care for the children that would arrive, but God graciously and abundantly answered our prayer. What a joy it was to watch and listen to our leaders share the Word of God with the kids and to help those kids begin to hide God’s Word in their hearts. Blessed are the hands.

I was reminded that God has given us hands for a reason. First, to fold in prayer as we seek His face and grace. Second, to be lifted before Him in thanksgiving and praise. And third, to stretch out in service as we seek to offer God’s mercy and compassion to those we encounter.

Blessed are the hands.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lessons from an Olive Tree

IN OUR FRONT YARD STANDS AN OLIVE TREE. Apart from spring-time pollen, I like olive trees. Their branches intertwine and have, as my wife would say, character. During my recent vacation I took some time to give the tree a much-needed trim, and in the process learned a lesson or two.

To take a look at the specimen in my front yard you might guess that it’s a tough old bugger. The bark is rough, and craggy; rub up against it and it will leave a light abrasion on your skin. But put your foot against it to climb up its trunk and you will quickly discover that craggy old bark is very thin, and hidden just under it is a softer, greener, skin.

As I contemplated the bark of the tree I thought of those I know who seem rather rough and craggy on the outside, much like our olive tree. And, like our tree, that craggy and rough surface is very thin. Underneath they are people who are vulnerable. To put it another way, their roughness is only skin deep. The problem is that we can believe that their scruffiness is really who they are and in the process never really get to know the person who lies just beneath the surface.

I suppose that is why the Lord gave us the directive to love one another as we have been loved by Him. (John 13:34) Jesus knew what we all needed, no matter what kind of bark we show to the world around us, we need to be loved.

So, let us love.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

You Don't Knead This

AT THE FIRST PASSOVER the Children of Israel where told to make their bread for the meal, and the subsequent journey, without yeast. It was to be unleavened bread. The reason for this command was because they would not have the time needed to let the bread rise, the kneading and rising activities would take too much time. They needed to be ready to move at moment’s notice.

For the children of God today, the need is still there; the need to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. We need to travel light. As with those moving from the captivity and bondage of Egypt to follow God toward the Promised Land, so it is with us. For them there was no longer the need to knead their bread, for us there are most likely some things that we no longer need as well.

To follow the Lord toward the “Promised Land” we too are called to travel light, to be ready to move as the Lord directs. I know that too often I hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling me to move this way or that, but my obedience is hinder by the things I think I need. The things hidden in my larder (as yeast was kept in the dark recesses) slow down my progress for the Kingdom. The Lord calls me to move out and I respond to the Lord, “I will go, but first I must wait for my bread to rise.” Sadly, the things I need slow down my progress.

Like the Hebrews of old, I believe it is time to sweep out the corners of our homes. To rid us of the yeast that causes what we need to be more important than obedience to the call and command of the Lord. If there is anything that needs to rise, it’s not our bread…it’s us.

Let’s rise up. It’s what’s needed.