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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Well-Tended Garden


I LOVE WALKING THROUGH THE NATURAL SPONTANEITY of the redwood forest. Trees, bushes, sorrel, mushrooms, all growing as God had intended them to grow.  All the pieces working together in what seems to the uneducated eye as random happenstance, but in reality seeking the harmony by which God created.  It’s all so “natural.”
     I also thoroughly enjoy walking through a well-tended garden. Meandering paths through rows of specifically chosen plants, all planned by a master-gardener for the enjoyment of all. Mulched, weeded, trimmed and well-watered, this well-tended garden is brings a joy to all the senses.
     Both garden settings show forth the diversity and unity of plants “working together” to bring out something grander than just one plant could accomplish upon their own.  One garden, that of the redwood forest, depends upon the Master-Gardener, while that well-tended home garden depends upon both the Creator and His faithful steward-gardener. One seems to happen with little “work” at all, the other takes knees bent and hands dirtied. One is watered by heaven’s rain, the other by hose and sweat of the brow.
     God has given us both to enjoy. Much as He has given us His Word, our Bible. In one way the Scriptures are like the forest, given and maintained by the Creator, all we need do is walk through them and enjoy their richness.  On the other hand, the Scriptures are like a garden to be well-tended.  For us to enjoy their deep beauty means times on our knees in prayer, and hands set to the task of unearthing it’s glorious truth.
     I encourage you, has our hearts turn toward thoughts of spring, of walks in the woods, and digging in the garden, that we use those reminders to enjoy the beauty of God’s Word. To both stroll through its grandeur and  unearth its depths.  Let’s make it a well-tended garden.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MUCH GIVEN! MUCH REQUIRED!


BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING. This phrase as not only been adopted as our 50th anniversary theme, but is also one of the plumb lines that define who we are as Felton Bible Church. For the past almost fifty years we have been witness to God’s manifold blessings.
     We have been blessed with a great church family. We have been blessed with great pastors and teachers and leaders.  We have been blessed with a wonderful location and functional facilities. We have been blessed to see young and old come to place their faith in Christ. We have been blessed to see some of our own “kids” grow up and move out to serve the Lord in both the secular and sacred arenas. We have been blessed by God’s protection in the midst of floods, fires, and earthquakes.  Yes, we have been blessed!
     But like God’s blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12) we know that the blessings we have received is so that we can be a blessing to others.  God has blessed Felton Bible Church so that we could be a blessing to our community. So that we could ministry to the needs of our neighbors, as we have done especially during times of community crisis like the floods of 1982 and 1997, not to mention the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
     We have also been able to bless those far from our local community through our ongoing support of missionaries and mission projects throughout the world.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed, people have been fed, clothed, encouraged and lives have been transformed by and through the grace of God.
     Yes, God has greatly blessed us, and with those blessings, both tangible and spiritual, we seek to be a blessing to those around us.
     Today, take time to count the many ways God has blessed you and determine to use those blessings to bless someone else today! For to this we have been called!
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PLUMB LINES -- PRAYER IS PRIMARY


PRAYER IS MORE THAN JUST folding our hands, bowing our heads and speaking in a language that is other-worldly. Prayer is more than just presenting shopping list of petitions to God in the hopes that He’s not too busy, and that He might just be in a merciful mood to answer our request. Prayer is more than just reciting a prayer from a book someone wrote 200 years ago
     Now, those prayer styles I wrote of above each have their place within our life of prayer, but they are not the end, in fact they are not even the beginning. Prayer is not something we do as much as it is something we live. The Apostle Paul implores us to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Logically we know that cannot mean spending our entire life with hands folded and heads bowed. I believe what the Apostle was seeking to communicate is that prayer is to be a lifestyle, not just a religious activity.
     A wise old wag once told me that prayer is to be like breathing. It’s something we do all day, everyday in order to live. The ironic thing is we hardly even think about breathing unless we are in the midst of strenuous activity or suffering from a cold or allergies.
     Living a life of breathing prayer means that we are to constantly aware of and reliant upon the Presence of God in us and around us. Sure there will be times when prayer will be more noticeable; like when ministry and life is strenuous or when life is beating us down as when we have cold. Breathing prayer is the activity that seeks to be in constant contact with God, aware of His Presence and dependent upon His help and thankful for both.
     This breathing prayer, unlike our regular breathing, is not something that comes naturally, it is a learned discipline. It is something that must be “practiced.” The more we do practice it, the more natural it will become. Therefore, as you sit in today’s worship service I invite you to take some deep breaths of prayer…and then just keep on breathing.
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Boxing God


IN WHAT SIZE BOX DO YOU PLACE GOD? Oh, you don’t put God in a box, you say? Well, I beg to differ with you. I believe that we all place God in a box from time to time, if not all the time. It’s our very nature to do so.
     Ever since that terrible day in the Garden of Eden we have endeavored to make God fit into our scheme of things. Millennia ago we failed to understand the deep reality of who God is. We thought we could actually become like Him.  We believed the lie that obeying God was truly an option without consequences. How tragically mistaken we were, and have been ever since.
     Even for those of us who have come to the point of acknowledging our sin and falling upon the grace of God expressed in Christ Jesus still seek to put God in boxes of our own making. But the truth is that God is bigger than anything we can say about Him. 
     Yes, we might get close to comprehending an aspect of God’s nature or character, but to truly think we can know the depth of the One who spoke all creation and time into being, well I believe we are deeply mistaken.
     Yes, we can know some things about Him, and yes, we can trust Him to respond according to the truth of His nature, but to believe that we can manipulate God by our worship or our prayers, or to say that we know truly how He will bring all things about, well that is putting God into a box. I believe me there is no box big enough or strong enough to contain Him.
     Now, to some this “un-box-ableness” of God is a scary thing because we like being in control (it’s one of those results of mishap in the Garden!)  But to me it is one of those things that keeps me seeking to walk humbly before God. It is the reminder that I don’t know it all. It is the reminder that God is God and I am not! And truthfully, that’s a safe place to be. I bet ol’ Adam would agree.

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