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, November 23, 2008

Familiar and Friendly

I DON’T DRINK COFFEE. Not that I wouldn’t like to, it’s just that it does not agree with my “sensitive nature.” J I am more of a tea guy. Yet, I really feel that I am missing something in not drinking the “Cup-o-Joe.” I feel like I am being left out of an exciting part of life. Case in point? Take note of the new advertising at our local Starbucks.

On the placards before me are the clarion calls for their varieties of coffees from around the world. These coffees are “Familiar and Friendly(Latin America), “Extraordinary and Enticing(Africa/Arabia), “Adventurous and Assertive(Asia/Pacific), “Sturdy and Powerful(Dark Roast), “Interesting and Complex(Multi-Region Blends). Wow, I never knew I could gain so much from a cup of coffee. Truth be known, I do feel richer just “being in the vicinity” of these all empowering beans.

So, Randy, where are you going with all this musing about roasted beans? I haven’t the foggiest idea, just thought it interesting. Just kidding, I do have a thought or two, so here goes.

All these adjectives of advertising should describe the life of the Body of Christ, the church. Go ahead, reread them. Can you picture a group of people that could be described in the manner of the coffees of Starbucks? I would suggest that there would be people lining up out the door to experience the flavor and drink in the aroma. And maybe, just maybe, this aroma would rise before the Lord, to be holy and pleasing in His sight.

So shall we put the coffee on?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pushing 55

COMMUTERS, A BREED APART. This past week I entered the commuter life and drove to Fremont and back during the morning and evening commutes. Those who do this on a regular basis must be especially adapted to this lifestyle. I did it once and it took me a day and a half to recover. Maybe you have to build yourself up to it.

One thing I learned (again) is that if you’re going to obey the speed limit, you had better get out of the left lane! Actually, it might be better to get off the road altogether! I note that the speed limit on the “hill” is 50 MPH, and seeking to obey the law, and to not get stressed out, I sought to keep to the speed limit. Well, OK, the fact that I was driving my four-cylinder Toyota might have had something to do with it, too. J

Every so often, while seeking to pass a fully-load 18-wheeler, I would find myself in the “fast lane,” and a quick glance in the rearview mirror remind me to get out of there fast or that BMW would be in my trunk. It’s a stressful life indeed. So, what do you do when life is bearing down on you? Pull over and do the speed limit. Let the other guys go racing past. You’ll get to your destination in due time.

Speed limits, whether man-made, or God-designed, are given for our safety. God has designed His limits for our good, not to hinder our fun. God has created us to maintain a certain speed in life, exceed that limit and you are asking for trouble.

So, when you find yourself speeding through life and its pressures are bearing down upon you, it’s time to engage your turn-single, pull over to the “slow lane” and let life whiz on by. Or, in the words of Scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Not-So-Empty Cross

SITTING IN THE SANCTUARY, our eyes trained forward, we lift our eyes and see before us a large empty cross. Empty, to remind us that Jesus, who died their for our sins, did not remain upon the Cross, or in the grave, but He rose from the dead and reigns today as the resurrected Lord. A grand reminder indeed, the empty cross that looms before our eyes.

As I contemplate that empty cross I realize that in many ways is emptiness, it’s “cleanness,” makes the cost of the cross somewhat removed. It is easy to forget the pierced body of my Lord Jesus, the Christ; the blood which flowed from His wounds, that blood which purchased my forgiveness. It is no longer an implement of death, but simply a symbol of the faith I call “mine.”

In some ways, this empty and clean cross makes it easier to think about following my Savior’s command to “take up my cross and follow Him.” It is easy to forget the cost of our salvation, and the cost of following. We see no pierced body of Jesus, we see no suffering Son. Our faith is clean. Our faith carries little cost.

But, today, on this day we have “set aside” to pray for the persecuted church throughout the world, I am humbly reminded that the Body of Jesus Christ still finds itself pierced. Today, around our world, our brothers and sisters who are part of the Body Christ, find themselves pierced, beaten, bruised, raped, imprisoned, murdered, because they have chosen to pick up the Cross and follow Jesus.

As we look toward the empty Cross today, let us not forget its cost, and let us pray for the Body of which we are a part.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night Thoughts

The Rolling Stones, may have struck the right cord with their song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." That's going to be how lots of people feel as they watch the unfolding of the election results this evening. It does really matter how you voted, there is always going to something that didn't quite go your way.

This morning I was reading in the Old Testament book of Daniel. In the second chapter we find King Nebuchadnezzar struggling over a dream he desires to be both told and interpreted. When none of the wisemen of Babylon can give an answer to the King, he threatens to kill them all. This great crisis brings forth an even greater opportunity. The opportunity for God to work through Daniel and his three friends, and to bring glory to Himself, even from the mouth of a "heathen" king.

Some say we are facing a great crisis (no matter who wins and what passes), I would rather prayerfully submit that we are also facing a great opportunity. An opportunity for the people of God to once again humbly, hungrily, and desperately seek our Abba God, as Daniel did. And in that seeking see God glorify Himself through the might of His gracious power.

When we do seek God and see Him work, we too, may exclaim as did Daniel,
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

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