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, October 28, 2009


REDS, YELLOWS, ORANGES, such are the colors of our fall foliage here on the central coast of California. Some might say that we really don’t have a change in the seasons here like they do in the Mid-West, or on the East Coast, but we do have some changes. Ironically, some of the most vivid change shows up in our perennial favorite, poison oak.

It is at this time of year when that pervasive plant shows its true colors. It is that one time of the year that you can actually see what you’re getting into before you get into it! The rest of the year it can blend into the mass of green that blankets our hillside, or as in the winter months it hides as innocuous looking sticks. But no matter what the color or form it’s still poison oak and it can still wreck havoc on the unsuspecting hiker.

As I contemplated this invasive plant my mind was drawn to the masquerading presence of sin. Sometimes sin hides as in the dry sticks of winter waiting for the unsuspecting to brush by. It can also meld into the surrounding environment looking like so many benign green and leafy plants. It can even display itself in vibrant colors, drawing us in, softly saying, “pick me, I would look grand upon your harvest table.”

No matter what form it takes, this plant of sin is nothing but pure poison. Its desire and plan is to get under our skin and when it does it presence is known full-well to the infected and the bystander as well.

The Apostle Peter wrote, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) I think sometimes it is easier to account for the roaring lion then is the veiled danger of poison oak. Both demand that we be aware, for both seek to do only harm.

So, let us walk with care as we enjoy the colors of fall.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saying, "Fair-Thee-Well"

YEARS AGO A CHRISTIAN BROTHER said goodbye to me with the words, “Here, there or in the air.” For the follower of Jesus Christ it truly is a fitting benediction. For those who have been redeemed by the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross, and through that reconciling act have been brought into God’s family, we never really say “goodbye” for very long. The truth is we shall all meet up again, and in light of eternity, it will be sooner than later!

Even though the above is true for the family of God, the reality of “leavings” is still difficult. Whether it is our kids heading off to college or friends moving across the country, or even the passing of a loved one, these departures hit us all hard. That is why it is of vital importance for us to remember that these leavings are not terminal. Our journeys in life may take us on different paths and to different stops along the way, but our destination is the same.

There is a peace that comes from knowing our final destination. When we know where we are going it makes the journey much smoother. We can even enjoy the extra stops along the way if know where we are headed, and that our arrival is guaranteed. When I travel I like the assurance that my hotel room will be waiting no matter what time I arrive. This knowledge removes the stress of traffic jams and detours that hinder my forward progress. There is peace in knowing our arrival is secure and that things will be prepared for us when we arrive.

For the Christian this is the journey we are on. We are headed to heaven, our arrival is expected, and our room is ready. Knowing that gives joy in the journey, no matter where life takes you. And thus we can say, not a final “goodbye,” but rather a hearty “see ya later!” For whether it is “Here, there, or in the air,” we shall meet again.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Privileged Life

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE HAS ITS PRIVILEGES. This past week I have enjoyed one of those privileges. The privilege of praying with someone. Not just praying for someone, but praying with someone. Not just sitting in a circle with a number of other praying people praying for “God’s will to be done,” but specifically, personally praying with another person for “God’s will to be done, and for God’s mercy to be known.” Those moments of prayer have not always been “fun” but I still count them one of the privileges of the journey of following Jesus Christ.

As I reflected on those times of prayer, and upon the intended sermon passage for this week (John 17:6-19) I realized that our Lord Jesus also counted it a privilege to pray with His disciples. I am sure there were lots of times He prayed for them (and boy did they need it), but this time He was praying with them in ear-shot. In fact, in the other Gospel accounts of that evening’s prayer we read that Jesus invited three of His closest to come and pray with Him. (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46) I know this was not the best of times for Jesus and His disciples, yet to hear the Lord pray specifically for you, wow, that’s got to be pretty amazing.

The amazing truth still keeps coming because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus not only completely saves those who come to Him in faith, but He also “always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:23-25) Our Lord, Jesus the Messiah, is constantly before the throne of God praying for us. He counts it a privilege to do so. Thus, as those who are to be conformed to His image, (Romans 8:29) we too are called to that high and holy calling of prayer. Not just for, but also with one another. It is truly one of the privileges of the Christian life.

So let us pray!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Is this The End?

FLOODS! EARTHQUAKES! FIRES! TYPHOONS! Each day this past week I watched as events of Biblical proportion ravaged land, homes, and lives. Even people who are not regular students of the Scriptures are wondering what in the world is going on? Is this the beginning of the end?

Add to these “natural disasters” the increasing wars, genocides, international saber-rattling, as well as ecological and economic uncertainties, and it does look like the world is either falling apart at the seams or ready to blow-up from the inside-out.

When faced with this onslaught of bad news we tend to do one of two things: stand and scream, or run and hide. Neither of these are positive responses, especially for the follower of Jesus Christ.

For those who have placed their trust in the Savior Jesus these events call us to do two possible responses. First, to look up, that is to remember that our Lord told us that these kinds of events would point to His soon return. (Luke 21:10-28) But remember these events have been taking place since He left, His point being, it could be anytime, so be ready!

Second, we are called to look out, not is the sense of watching out for ourselves so as to not get hit by flying debris, but to look out with compassion and care to those around us. To reach out to those affected by the crisis of our world, and to those who have yet learned the peace that comes from looking up to Jesus.

Is this The End? I really don’t know…could be…and yet it might just be the birth pangs of a world in labor. (Matthew 24:8) What I do know, is that God has granted us this time, by His redemptive patience (2 Peter 3:9), in order that we would live out the Gospel message of Christ’s reconciling death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

So let us live!

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