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, January 31, 2010

Lego Theology

A pile of Lego blocks, of assorted colours and...Image via Wikipedia

LEGOS ARE COOL! Whether one is constructing a simple brick house from a box of miscellaneous pieces, or assembling one of the newer StarWars kits with over 5,000 specially designed items, Lego blocks are a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. There is nothing quite like creating something from nothing.

But wait, am I really creating something from nothing? Hardly! Theology has a phrase for creating something from nothing, its ex nihilo, and what I am doing with Legos is definitely not something from nothing. That kind of creative power is left to God alone.

It’s quite amazing, God said, “Let there be light…” and there was. God didn’t reach into His box of Legos and say, “Hmmm, let’s see what we can make with these.” Nope, He just spoke it and it was! Never once have I been able to do that. Why I can’t even yell at a box a Lego bricks and get them to do anything. It is only God who has the power and the authority to speak creation into being.

So, next time you go and create something, be it a Lego tower, a Thanksgiving dinner, or even a P.B.&J. sandwich, let that simple act remind you of the greatness of our God, and give Him praise!

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Friday, January 29, 2010

A Man For Our Times

Here is a message by the Rev. Billy Graham, given to a technology conference, which speaks to the issues of today. Of the power of our technology and of its limits, and of the unlimited power and grace of God to truly bring an answer to the greatest need facing our world today.

Once again, Rev. Graham is proven to be God's right man for the right hour.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

WHO CARES!?

OVER-HEARD ON THURSDAY MORNING: “There was an earthquake? Where? Haiti? When? Three days ago? Wow, that’s sad. Got to go, my latte is ready, see ya.” Other conversations have centered on Haiti? Where’s Haiti?” or even sadder, “Well, they’re into Voodoo, so I guess they had it coming.” Yikes! Considering what Santa Cruz is “into” we had better watch out!

Haiti is not the only crisis on my radar right now. There is the religious/political upheavals in Malaysia, the child-trafficking in Africa and Asia, the rebel out-breaks in Congo, not to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add to that our own crisis’ at home as we grieve with those who grieve and suffer with those who suffer, it can be thoroughly overwhelming.

When we face these overwhelming situations there are two responses that can arise. One would be to run and hide, hunker down, and maybe lift up a simple prayer for mercy. The other response could be to reach out with compassion and seek to express the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ in the world through His Body, the church. I strongly suggest we do the later.

That compassion might take the form of going to sit with someone who is hurting. It might take the form of opening your checkbook and providing for the much needed relief supplies through agencies like TouchGlobal, again which some of you did. It might even take the form of expressing God’s love and presence by offering food or a blanket to one found homeless within our community, some of you did that too. The truth of the matter is there are those who care; those motivated by the compassion of Christ.

Who cares?

God cares.

So must we.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TRUTHFUL MOVES

ONE FALSE MOVE AND I’LL SHOOT! I have heard that phrase used in any number of cops and robbers shows, but this week it got me thinking; if the criminal made a “truthful” move would the policeman still shoot? And, what determines a “false” move from a “truthful” move? Would any move get you shot in those circumstances. I believe the phase, “DON’T MOVE!” is more appropriate.

In reality there are three possible options: 1) making a false move, 2) making a truthful move, and 3) making no move at all, and in light of having a policeman’s revolver pointed at you I would personally opt for #3.

Sadly, I too often choose #3 when it comes to living out the Christ-like life. It seems so much safer to not move. There is that underlying fear for so many of us that we will somehow make the “false” move and get shot, and who wants to get shot by God?

This is not the life that God desires us to live. He has created us to move. The question before us is, “How then do we move with truthful moves?” I am sure there are numerous ways in which we could move forward truthfully for the Lord, here are three that have come to my mind.

First, move forward humbly, that is remembering that it’s not about you, but about the Lord. Second, move forward honestly, that is to speak God’s truth wrapped always in God’s mercy and love. Third, move forward helpfully, that is always seeking ways in which you can meet the needs of those around you. I would then add one more, move forward with hope that comes from knowing you are loved by God. God’s eye is on you, but it is with the desire to watch over you. For as God reminds us in His Word, “How precious towards me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

So let us move forward in faith.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

JUST LIKE NEW

NOTHING IS “JUST LIKE NEW.” It’s either “new” or it’s not. We can take a “used” item and clean it up, fix it up, dress it up, but if it’s not new, then it’s just something made to look like it’s new…but it’s not.

Here we are entering a “new” year. It’s not an old year that has been cleaned-up, fixed-up, or dressed-up, it’s a brand new year. The days that lay before us have never existed before, each minute is unlived, each opportunity brand-new. 2010 is not ‘just like new,” it is new. It is unspoiled and unvarnished, it comes just as it is, waiting to be experienced, waiting to be lived. The question is; how will we choose to live it?

To be honest this “new” year does bring with it some heavy baggage. There is the unfinished business of 2009; economic woes, wars, the personal battles we have fought with illness or struggles in our relationships. There are things we wanted to accomplish and yet were left undone. All of this we bring with us into this new year. It can seem daunting at best and thoroughly discouraging at worst. Yet, let us not lose hope. It actually can be pretty exciting.

We do have before us a new year and with it the opportunity to deal with this baggage in new ways. We can choose to live in the past, wallowing in what was, or we can choose to clean up the old year and make it look like something new, or we can choose to truly live in this new year in a new way. How? Allow me to share one idea with which to begin.

Begin new with God. Start fresh in your relationship with Him. That may mean pursuing that relationship in new ways and not just repeating that which you have done in the past, but stretching your horizons. Maybe a new adventure in studying God’s Word, or a new time of day to set aside to pray, or a new area of service in God’s kingdom. I don’t know, but instead of dressing up the old, embark on something new. It may be exactly what you need to make this year truly new.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Back to the Beginning

Would you like to go back and live your life over again? Let’s face it, there are some things I would like to try to undo, and some events that I would like to re-live, and maybe even some different paths I would like to travel, but to go back and do it all over again? I don’t think so. That is unless I could live it without mistakes and with the wisdom that time and experience has provided, but even with those caveats I would probably make the same mistakes, or maybe even worse ones! No, I don’t think I want to go back and live my life over again.

That being said, there are some good reasons to take time and go back and remember the things that we have learned and in doing so bring our present into sharper focus. There is a danger that comes from continually moving forward without taking time to reflect on where we have been. Without times of reflection it is very easy to forget where we are and to lose track of where we are to be headed.

In 2009 I found myself looking back quite a lot. As Trinity began her journey to serve in Rome with ReachGlobal I found myself taking stock of the years that brought her to that point, and as Krista moved back to Burkina Faso, Africa I found myself amazed at the changes that had taken place in the previous years that made her comfortable at being so far away from family. As I watched Lizzie move into high school I pondered my own tenuous years in high school and stand amazed at her accomplishments. Then my eyes turn to Jordan, ever gaining height and experience and I wonder what God has in store for this young man. And of course, I take time to look back upon my 32 years of married life with Linda and I am humbled by her love and grace. Pondering the changes the years have brought causes me to look forward to what God holds in regards to our future. Looking back does help us to look forward.

One thing that 2009 taught all of us is that nothing in the future is certain, expect for God and His plan to bring all His children safely into His presence. We have learned that economic security is any but secure. We have learned that of all the people and things we place our trust in the only true security is in God alone. I suppose this is one reason why God constantly told the Children of Israel to recount His good works among them was so that they would constantly be reminded that there only hope was God. Not a bad thing for us to remember as well.

With this in mind I am working on a new series of messages for the New Year taken from the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis. The purpose of this series is to get us to look back and remember who are God is so that we can move forward into an uncertain year with a faith securely placed in the God who as not only seen us through, but will see us through for His glory. So, I invite you to continue with us in the journey of following Jesus as we look back so that we can move forward in building God’s Kingdom.

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