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 30, 2011

LESSON #4 from the BIRDCAGE


MY TIME IN THE BIRDCAGE IS JUST ABOUT OVER and I will soon be back to the real world weekly pastoral endeavors. I can honestly say that I am going to miss my little sabbatical hide-a-way.  A HUGE thank you to Marci Beth Maple and the gracious family at Redwood Christian Park who made this little study spot possible.
     One of the activities that I did the most while at the Birdcage was to read Scripture out loud. If you try doing that while at Starbucks people either give you a funny look, tell you to be quiet or give you a strong indication that leaving their fine establishment would be in your best interest. Having a place like the Birdcage where one can read out loud was quiet the blessing.  I came to realize, much like Paul Simon song of 1964 mournfully declared, there’s something missing in “The Sounds of Silence.”  I have come to hear that the Scriptures were meant to be read out loud. Yes, Paul wrote letters, but those letters were written to read in the midst of those gathered.  No copy machines or mass emails, or blogs to disseminate his information, it was written to be read. This reality brings a whole new meaning to Hebrews 4:12, that “the word of God is “living and active.”
     Reading silently, especially familiar passages, allows one to skip over the words, but when we take the time to read aloud the words as written new life seems to emanate from them. Truthfully, it is something I would encourage each of us to do on a more regular basis. I know it is something I will be continue to do, so if you walk by my study and hear some “murmurings” feel free to come on in, but also be ready to join me in reading aloud.
    
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CONVICTION & CONFESSION

I HAVE IT UNDER GOOD AUTHORITY, that confession is good for the soul.  So, here goes.

As I was reading Psalm 101 this morning I came across verse five, which states,
Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart
I will not endure.
Well, truth this last week I spoke out against Harold Camping numerous times with people, and as I look back my words were either slanderous, or at least bordered on being slanderous.

Yes, I realize that his theology was questionable, and his prediction wrong, and those things should be dealt with, but I think I attacked the man while at the same time seeking to debunk his prediction. And that is wrong.

We can disagree over theology, we can even part company with those we think preach a different gospel, but I do not believe I am allowed to attack the person.

Therefore, I stand convicted in my spirit, and I offer this confession publicly.

We must always seek to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). For even our Lord did not slander His accusers and those who crucified Him, but rather He sought God the Father to forgive them. (Luke 23:34)

And His is the model I must follow.
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Monday, May 23, 2011

LESSON #3 FROM THE BIRDCAGE

I CONFESS, I LIKE IT HERE, at the Birdcage, that is. If you don’t know me, I am an introvert by nature. I am seldom lonely being alone. This sabbatical month has afforded many opportunities to be by myself for extended periods of time, though I realize that I am never really alone, for my loving God is always here…wherever that here tends to be.
     This past rainy week allowed me time to get cozy with God’s Word and a warm fire, while nestling in at the Birdcage cabin at Redwood Christian Park and yet as I sat reading through the Revelation of Jesus Christ my mind was grabbed by just how “un-alone” it is going to be in heaven. Truthfully, it got me a little worried how an introvert and lover-of-my-own-space would make it in a place filled with people from every nation, language, tribe and tongue (Revelation 5:7-14), not to mention myriads of angels, 24 elders and four amazing creatures! What’s a guy like me going to do?
     The answer came to me as I thought back over the past weekend. BING! The light went on in my little noggin, and here’s what I came to see. When you’re with the people you love (and who love you), and you’re doing the thing you were created to do, then being in the midst of the multitude will be just fine, in fact it will be blessed!
     This past weekend I got to spend an evening out with the love of my life as we celebrated our birthdays.  Dinner, a movie, a night alone with each other, it was wonderful!  Then, the next day we gathered with friends, old and new, as I was blessed to help join Michelle Jensen and Christopher Castaneda in the holy union of marriage. It was a special time before the Lord and His people, recounting God’s love for us, and was followed by a fantastic time of celebratory fellowship around a table with some of the people I love the most.  Some might say it was a little bit of heaven on earth.
     Considering the wedding feast that awaits God’s people (Revelation 19:6-9), I guess it was!     
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

LESSON #2 from THE BIRD CAGE

LOTS OF LESSONS BEING LEARNED during this sabbatical, some planned others a little more serendipitous.  (If you need a definition of “The Birdcage” you can read my previous blog about it) This week’s lesson was on keeping the right thing in focus.
     On Tuesday we got to go to San Francisco International Airport to pick up Trinity as she was arriving from her first year of service as a missionary in Rome. Of course we arrived with enough time to watch lots of people coming off lots of different planes.  Sometimes I would find myself watching other people go by that I would forget that I was supposed to be watching for Trinity.  I guess you could say I lost focus on the right thing.
     As I have been reading daily through the book of Revelation I find that my thoughts get pulled in all sorts of different directions. Amazing scenes, weird creatures, powerful events, all work to grab my attention.  But this week I was drawn to the realization that that Book of Revelation is first and foremost about God.  Yes, all the other events and creatures described have an important part to play, but the key point of focus is God.
    That point of focus was also made clearer to me through another passage we often look at when thinking about heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where the Apostle Paul is describing the return of Jesus and how we will meet those who have died in the air, and together meet the Lord. I have used this passage at numerous memorial services to bring encouragement to those who are grieving.  Paul even ends with admonishment to “encourage each other with these words.” But, like me at the airport, we can lose focus.  For our eyes are not to be upon all those gathered with us in this rapturous journey to heaven, rather the focus is on Jesus, the One coming to get us.
     So, let’s keep our eyes open and our hearts ready and our focus steady as we await His promised return.
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Monday, May 09, 2011

Lessons from the Birdcage

I AM SPENDING SOME OF MY SABBATICAL IN A BIRDCAGE. Well not an actual birdcage, it’s the name of a small cabin that the good folks at Redwood Christian Park are graciously allowing me to use as a place for quiet study.  Let’s say it is a hidden away place…been going to RCP for over 10 years and never knew it was there!  It is a nice place to sit, be quiet, listen, read, and pray and plan.
     Over the next few weeks, while on my sabbatical, I want to share with you some of the lessons I am learning while at the birdcage (and no, there is not newspaper on the floor!).  If you desire to read some of my actual sabbatical study thoughts I will be posting some things to my blog. (http://pastorsstudy.blogspot.com/)
     One of the books I am working through during my sabbatical was a gift from our missionary family, the Dangers.  It was a book that ministered to them through their own sabbatical over the past year, and their sharing it with me was extremely timely. The book is entitled, RunningScared: Fear, Worry & the God of Rest, and for one, like myself who is fearful at many levels, this book is proving to be an eye-opening blessing!
     One of the lessons I learned this past week was the importance of the testing which God provides. The authors noted that God tests us not to see if we will pass or fail, He tests us so that we will discover our own hearts.  This is what God did with the Children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 8:2 we read, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
     Tests are for our benefit, and with that we can receive them as the gifts that they are. When seen in that light our perspectives can truly change.
     May we all test well!  Blessings to you!
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

SCOUTS' HONOR

TRUTHFULNESS IS NOT EXPLICITLY stated in the Scout Law, but I believe it is certainly implied therein.  Therefore, I must be truthful when I say that not all my remembrances of my scouting years are fond ones.
      I remember hiking a steep, dry, dusty fire road through the chaparral covered mountains of southern California so dead tired, with sweat stinging my eyes and all I wanted was to go home. Honestly, I was a very poor hiker, the other scouts loved it though because they always got to stop and wait for me to catch up.  There was even a time where my Scoutmaster carried my backpack for me. Being a Boy Scout in southern California was not an enjoyable experience for me. I actually believe our Scoutmaster purposefully chose places to hike and camp without shade giving trees.
    There was a time when I discovered that I forgot to pack an extra pair of shorts and when was questioned, by my Scoutmaster, I told him I had intended to, but forgot. His response to me was, “Scout, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  I remember turning around, with head hung low thinking, “What does THAT mean?” Whatever it meant, I knew it couldn’t be good.
     Scouts honor, the above stories are true, and I could go on…but I will save you the gory details. The truth is that even though I felt pretty bad at times I sought to do my best. I did try to honor God and Country (even got my God and Country Award). I tried to obey the Scout Law and to help others. Keeping myself physically strong, well that left something to be desired. Yes, Scouting for me had its ups and downs, but this one thing it did teach me was to honor those around me whether older or younger, parent or peer, and that lesson has served me well.
     It’s not unlike what the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) Honor, it’s something we all can give. It is the gift that lifts others up. It is the act that can restore. It is the work that builds strong character.  It is Christ-like.
     Scouts’ honor!
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