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, September 27, 2010

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

ROBERT, ROSE, RICK & RANDY; the four “R’s” that made up the Kay household. Saying all those names together kind of had a nice ring to it. We even discussed that the names of any of our pets would have to start with an “R,” fortunately that rule was not enforced.

I was comfortable with our name, especially my last name. It was pretty easy one, though many people always asked how to spell it. Names are important things. They set us apart from other people, they might even explain who we are, and they can give us a link to the past, especially if we were named after some relative. In many ways names give us a home, an indicator that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. So, when you find out that your name is not really your name things can get a little unsettling.

I don’t know when I first discovered these facts, but I do remember feeling a bit taken back. It was sometime in grammar school that I learned that my name was not Randy, but Randal (with one “L”). It was my official given name, my legal name. I was happy with one name, now I had two, and I still get frustrated knowing when to use each one.

Then there was the time I found out that my last name was not Kay, but Koslowsky! (Prussian background) I can honesty say I am thankful that my grandfather changed our name when he came over from the old country. But lately, having discovered more about my family heritage, I am more drawn to that name. It was sometime after I learned of my “real” last name that I found out that my mother’s name was not Rose, but Olga!

She never struck me as an Olga, she definitely fit the name “Rose.” Everybody knew and loved her as Rose. Dad called her “Po” (as in Posey, a little flower) And by many, both family and friends she was know as “Aunty Po.” Her name fit.

As we consider our own names and whether they “fit” or not, it causes me to contemplate whether or not I fit into my other name I have taken on, the name of Christian. When people hear that is my name do they respond,“Yep, that fits.”? I pray so!

How’s your fit?
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BAG O' CHIPS

THE PRIDEFUL PROUD. When our family witnesses someone who is too into themselves our usual response has recently been, “He thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips.” I guess it’s another way of saying they think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. (Which of course begs the question, “What was the best thing before sliced bread?”)

Pride is an insidious thing. Just when you believe you’ve reached an acceptable level of humility you realize that the fog of pride has once again enveloped you. We can be prideful in our greatness and we can be prideful in our smallness.

Pride, believing that we really are “all that and a bag of chips,” is a dangerous place in which to live. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) it was pride that brought forth Satan’s dismissal from heaven. It is pride that can keep us from responding to the grace of God, and it is pride that keeps us from growing in that grace.

So, how do we protect ourselves from this destructive force? It starts with actively taking a position of humility before the Lord. (James 4:10) It can be maintained as we rightfully worship the one true God. (2 Chronicles 26:16-18) It must be a daily choice to faithfully remember Who it is that has blessed you and to keep all of His commands. (Deuteronomy 8:10-17)

To combat this ongoing onslaught of pride we must keep our focus clear and on the Lord. We must remember that there is a God, and we are not He. If and when we boast, we must boast as the Apostle Paul challenged us, “But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (1 Corinthians 10:17-18) For God alone is all that, and so much more than a bag of chips!
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PAYING ATTENTION

SOMEONE ONCE WROTE, “I’m so poor I can’t even pay attention.” That may be true when it comes to economics, but when it comes to spiritual attentiveness I believe the opposite to be true. It is when we are rich that we have a harder time paying attention. It is when our hands, homes, and hearts are filled to overflowing with things and activities that we find it difficult to listen to the voices around us, especially God’s.

The Biblical reality is that when God desires to speak to us as individuals He does so not in bombastic thunder from heaven, but through the whisper of a gentle wind. (1 Kings 19:12-13) Surely God is seen in the midst of the power of His creation, but His words come to us in ways that demand we stop and listen. Even the living Word of God, Jesus, the Messiah, came as a baby, and lived as a man who sought to bring no loud glory to Himself, but to lovingly communicate the truth of the Father.

If it is true that God speaks to us in this still small voice, then it is imperative that we are paying attention, or we shall not hear Him at all, and to not be paying attention can lead us into some very dangerous situations. There comes a time when we must turn the cell phone off, put the DVR controller down, turn off the music, close the book, step away from the computer and listen.

Sure it’s hard! Paying attention costs you something, but the dividends are worth it. Are you listening?

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Monday, September 06, 2010

LABOR & DELIVERY

THIS WEEKEND WE CELEBRATE WORK. Funny thing though, is that we celebrate labor by ceasing to labor. We celebrate work by taking the day-off. Kind of seems a little backward to me. Oh well, I guess nobody was really asking my opinion.

As so powerfully exhibited by the process of giving birth; labor’s desired end is delivery. I remember my dad telling me, “work is its own reward.” I guess that meant that just doing a good job is reward enough, you shouldn’t have to get paid for it. The “Protestant Work-Ethic” it has been called. To work hard for the sake of work, for that is part of what it means to be created by, and in the Image of God. Really?

Does God really create (work) just to create? Does He truly not had a grander plan in mind when He goes to work on something? Is there not a plan, an item, a desired end to be delivered? I believe that there is more to laboring than just labor. All our labor is so that we can deliver a finished product whose final end is the glory of God. This is what the Word of God states through the pen of the Apostle Paul, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) It is when we understand that all our labor, not just that which is religious in nature, is to be about bringing God’s glory, then we can find the strength to work diligently, even when things are tough.

When we understand the true purpose of our labor, then the Apostle’s encouragement brings us that hope which draws us forward. He writes, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

In that truth, let us labor on!

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

PATIENT IN AFFLICTION

ALL THE DAYS I KNEW PETER DIXON he was under affliction. Yet, he never gave into that affliction, rather he and Cordy lived out the truth of God’s Word found in Romans 12:12-13, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Peter’s faithfulness, even during times of great pain and suffering, was made possible because of his “joyful hope” which was his because of his faith in Jesus Christ, his assurance of the forgiveness of his sins, his knowledge of being loved by the heavenly Father and his security in the promised home in heaven.

Not only did Peter “suffer well” but his own personal suffering seemed to ignite his heart to show prayer-filled compassion to others. Both he and Cordy shared with others and as many of us can attest, were recipients of their true gift of hospitality. What a blessing it is to be able to know people who are living examples of the Word of God.

As I ponder the years I enjoyed serving with Peter one of the greatest joys came to me when after having surgery to remove cancer on his tongue and losing his ability to speak clearly, and after months of “patient affliction,” he returned to play and sing with the Worship Team. Sure, it was not his clear and wonderful voice of years past, but it was a voice of praise to his Savior. The reality was there was nothing that was going to keep Peter from praising the Lord!

Thank you, gracious Lord, for allowing us Your gift that lived through the life of our brother Peter. Grant each of us to always be “patient in affliction” so that we can live for Your glory. Peter ran the race set before him, he finished the course, and now is enjoying the full joy of his Savior and Lord, and in this we can all find peace.

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