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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

SURPRISED by GRACE

GRACE IS GETTING WHAT YOU DON’T DESERVE, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Last Sunday I personally experienced the reality of those two maxims. Last Sunday I reveled in undeserved grace as the men (and women) of Felton Bible Church graciously handed me the keys to a 1994 Ford Ranger Truck. A truck purchased through the sacrificial giving of many and then lovingly “spruced-up” for my enjoyment! What a wonderful surprise! What a great gift! What a powerfully expression of grace.

The mercy part comes in the fact that I did not get what I deserved. In the words of my dad, what you deserve is a sharp stick! I am thankful that the men of the church erred on the side of grace and mercy.

Truth be known I did not have any inclination at all that this was coming. In fact, Linda wondered if I was really happy or not with the gift, I told her that I think I am just in a state of shock. The scary aspect of this is that so many people knew about this and kept it such a great secret for months, makes me wonder what else they may be keeping quiet? Guess I had better watch out for that sharp stick.

So, there was a story being written without my knowing over the past few months, a story of grace and generosity. What a joy to have this story unfold last Sunday, and what a greater joy to watch as this story of generous grace continues to unfold as I am able to recount over and over again about a great church family and the great God they love and serve. Yes, God is being served through the graciousness of His people.

You know, that’s the way it is with grace; once it’s experienced its story must be told. Thank you for your generous grace, prompted by the generous grace of God in each of your lives. Thank you, and to God be the glory, gracious things He has done!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GET CONNECTED: NURTURE

AS PART OF OUR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION this past week, Linda and I visited the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose. The park was filled with row after row, planter after planter of a huge variety of roses all displaying their spring time finery. The sight of the roses, their beds and the manicured lawns were proof of the care which these plants received. They were well nurtured.

Over the past few weeks I have been using the Shepherd’s Staff articles to address the issue of what it means to be an engaged part of the church family here at Felton Bible Church. One of these aspects of connected is that of nurture. Last week I wrote of the need to be nourished through such things as regular involvement in the study and application of God’s Word. When we talk about nurture we are looking at the importance of helping others to be nourished.

Just as the roses need someone to water, feed, trim and care for them so that they bloom as God created them to, so we need to help each other grow, and that growth happens best in an atmosphere of nurture. It is more than just flooding the soil with tons of water, or hacking the stems to their roots or applying copious amounts of fertilizer. Nurture is about giving the right truth at the right time and in the right way. Nurturing is an act motivated by love.

Here at FBC we desire to create just such a garden. We desire Felton Bible Church to be a garden where the Truth of God is lovingly applied so that each person can grow in the grace and mercy of the Lord. It is our belief that this nurturing is not just to be left to the few; those appointed as pastors, teachers, youth leaders, ministry team members, but it is the task of each person in the Body of Christ.

So we invite you to help God’s garden grow by lovingly and prayerfully imparting God’s truth in word and deed to those who daily cross your path.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

GETTING CONNECTED: NOURISHMENT

BANANA SPLITS WERE A FORM OF NOURISHMENT in the home in which I grew up (and grew “out” as well!) My mom, bless her heart, was a woman who expressed her love for her family through the meals and desserts she provided. And by the size of my girth growing up you could say I was “well-loved!” My mom was a great cook; lasagna, pork chops, banana bread, even liver and onions, along with those Sunday night banana splits of course, made sure that we were well fed, if not always well nourished.

It is obvious that quantity cannot be exchanged for quality when it comes to a healthy diet. Nourishment is not about stuffing ourselves: it is about eating the correct foods in the correct amounts coupled with correct activity. When this takes place our bodies become well nourished.

Now, my mom really did want me to be well nourished, and my ever-increasing size over the years had less to do with what my mom cooked (I continued to “grow” even after leaving home), than with my own selfish desire to eat what I wanted and to live at the activity level I desired. Both of which led to an unhealthful state. It was only later in life that I saw the destructive path I was on and began to make changes in both diet and daily activity. And let’s be honest, that continues to be a daily battle.

The third word in our acrostic, CONNECT, is Nourishment. Nourishment is the combination of the proper intake of the food that brings health to our spirits: the diet of regular intake of God’s Word through personal and corporate study and the regular exercise of our spirits through worship, life lived in the Body of Christ and service.

The discipline of diet and exercise is vital to living the nourished life. Eating well and exercising often is crucial to our health, be it physical or spiritual health. It is key to a vibrant life.

So, what’s for lunch?
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

THE NEWS IS OUT!

THE PASTOR HAS ANNOUNCED A CHURCH-SPLIT, is being prayed for! Yes, you read that correctly, the pastor (that’s me) is praying for a church-split, but not for the purpose of getting some trouble-making parishioners out of the pews, but rather for getting some of God’s called and anointed out to plant a new church in our community.
The prayer is being formulated in this manner: I am praying that the Lord will cause such growth in our church family, spiritually, emotionally and numerically, that we will have the opportunity to start a new church. Rather than adding services and programs here at FBC, we are praying that the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, will bring about such God-honoring growth, that we will encourage those called and gifted by the Spirit to venture out to reach new segments of our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that this would be one of the most God glorifying events that this church has been part of throughout its almost 50 years!
So, here is your part. I need you to join me and the Ministry Team as we seek the Lord on behalf of His church, and on behalf of our community. I am praying that this vision of planting new and growing congregations within our valleys will be one that will ignite your heart to prayer, and to action. For you see, we are both the ones praying and the ones who can bring the answer to our prayer. This prayer demands that we humbly come on our knees before our gracious Lord and that we boldly and graciously reach out with His love to those in our community.
I don’t believe we are quite ready for a church-split. There are things for us to learn together. There are gifts to be discovered and put into practice. There are relationships to be furthered and strengthened, and of course there are those who need to come to know the Lord. We have some cultivating, sowing, watering, weeding, and growing to do before the harvest is complete. Will you join me in praying the Lord of the harvest to send for both growth and workers? Will you pray with me that many will respond to the message of God’s grace? Will you pray with me that God will cause growth beyond measure for His glory? Will you pray with me that you and I will have hearts that will answer the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples?”
Thank you!
And AMEN!
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GETTING CONNECTED: OBEDIENCE


FOUR-LETTER WORDS! My mom told me too be careful about the four-letter words I used, I sometimes wondered if that maxim would apply to the four-letter word, obey? Needless to say, my mom corrected me in that regard. The word obey, and the actions attached to it, was to be a very regular part of my vocabulary, and my life.

What was true for me growing up is also true for us as followers of Jesus Christ who are seeking to grow up into the mature children of God that we were created to be. (Ephesians 4:15-16) Learning to obey the Lord is what it means to be His follower, and it is why we have included it in our acronym: CONNECTED, by which we are seeking to describe what it means to be an engaged part of the body of Christ here at Felton Bible Church.

My mom and dad also taught me at a very young age that obedience required both word and deed. It wasn’t enough to say, “Yes, mom” if I was not going to follow-up that “Yes” with obedient (read that: quick and precise) behavior. Though my mom never quoted the Scripture to me, she definitely lived out James 1:23-25,

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

So, to be connected, to both the Lord and His Church, and to be growing in His grace, demands that we not only hear, but that we act upon that which we hear. In doing so we gain a rich and deep blessing, for the Lord Himself said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28) So shall we live!