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, June 26, 2011

EARLY DATING


I CAN STILL RECALL THOSE EARLY DATES. Where we went was much less important than just being.  Maybe it was a day at the local park, or an evening at a favorite restaurant, or maybe it was just a long drive to nowhere.  What mattered was not where, when and how, but rather that we were together. Whether in vibrant conversations or comfortable silence, just being together is what mattered.
     Now, after 34 years of marriage, I can honestly say I still enjoy dating my wife.  Sure time changes things; four kids, a mortgage, and bodies that are not as young as they once were, but I still love spending time just with her. I believe that keeping the dating life alive is one of the keys to keeping a marriage alive and growing. What is true in marriage is also true in our relationship with Jesus, the Messiah.
     In Revelation chapter two, the Lord admonishes the church at Ephesus to return to the love they had at first, a love for Him and for His Body, the Church.  Jesus was calling His beloved back to those early days of dating. This is a call we need to hear today, for if we are not taking the steps to keep our love relationship with Jesus alive it can quickly become simply one of form and function. It can become one where we do all the right things, but to put it in the language of a failing marriage, “the spark has gone out.”
     So, this begs the question, “How does one return to doing the things one did at first?” I believe it starts with priority and proximity. We must make time with Jesus (as with our spouse) a priority. We must remove that which robs our time with Him (TV, internet, hobbies, over-work, even some relationships) and take time just to be with Him. Second, we need to stay in close proximity to Him. That means placing ourselves in places where we can be close to Jesus. This includes His Word, His Body, prayer and worship where the focus is upon Jesus, rather than ourselves.
     I believe Jesus is longing for that dating relationship, why not make a date today?

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WHAT I LEARNED TODAY...

WHILE AT THE FIRST WORSHIP SESSION of the Evangelical Free Church Leadership Conference I was reminded that, 
 "A DONKEY CAN DO MY JOB." (Numbers 22:28; 2 Peter 2:15-16)
The truth is I need to stay attentive to the voice of the LORD. We were reminded by Chris Brown of Northcoast Church that we must not confuse giftedness with spirituality, to which I was say, we must not confuse giftedness with godliness.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

KEEPING COUNT

HUNDREDS OF COOKIES, BROWNIES, CUPS OF WATER and numerous other goodies where consumed at Vacation Bible School this past week by over 300 kids and 127 staff. A plethora of songs were sung and verses recited, and I am not even going to venture to guess the gallons of water splashed on “Water Day.”
      Let’s not forget to add to the count the thousands of pennies, nickels, dimes, etc. counted as the kids brought in their mission offering. (At the writing of this Shepherd’s Staff over $4,000.00 was raised for our “Every Drop Counts” clean water project for Haiti!)
     Of course there were the countless prayers that were lifted prior to and during this year’s VBS, not to mention a massive amount of hours in developing the sets, crafts, snacks, lessons and drama sketches all so that “God’s Road Trip,” would be a successful journey.
     “God’s Road Trip,” was a place where the kids took a journey through the Scriptures starting with Creation, and moving through the wilderness with a young Hebrew nation.  They heard the Nativity story and witnessed Jesus’ trek to the cross and triumphal resurrection, and heard of the future Promised Land of Heaven.  All in all it was quite a trip.
     But of all the things counted, the best number in my estimation was the number eighty-one.  That number represents lives marked out for eternity with Jesus!  As we have been stating all year long, we here at Felton Bible Church have been “blessed to be a blessing,” and this week we were blessed to witness eighty-one children make a public profession of faith in the Person and completed work of Jesus Christ. For each of them they have just embarked on a journey of a life-time, an eternal life-time, with their Lord, Savior and God, Jesus Christ.
     Here’s another amazing number fact: just think about how those eighty-one lives can multiply over the years as they grow and share their faith with family and friends. Only God knows that final number, and it shall be all unto His glory! So, let’s keep adding to it!
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

HOW MUCH LONGER?


IT’S THE PROVERBIAL QUESTION throughout the history of road trips, “Dad, how much longer until we get there?!”  I personally believe that question was even asked millennia ago from the back of an ox cart. The more things change the more they remain the same. Whether it was an ox cart, or the rumble seat of a 1931 Model A Ford, or a DVD-equipped Dodge Caravan, the question still gets asked, over and over and…well, you get the picture!  And what is our parental response?  Well, mine tends to be either, “We’ll get there when we get there,” or “We’re closer than we were 10 minutes ago!” Needless to say, it all gets a little irritating.
     Our Vacation Bible School theme for 2011 is “God’s Road Trip.” We are taking the “travelers” through a whirl-wind tour of some of the great stops along the journey God has laid out before us. Starting with creation, and then through the wilderness of Sinai, to a manger in Bethlehem to the hill of Calvary to heaven’s glorious gates, it’s going to be quite a journey!
      Last week we began our journey through the Book of Revelation, and it too is going to prove to be quite a journey, with some amazing stops along the way. One of the questions that is frequently asked of the prophecy found in Revelation is, “When are we going to get to the end?” and I am not talking about the end of the book, but rather “When is Jesus coming back?  That’s a fair question especially when we read in Revelation 1:3, “The time is near,” and later in 22:10, “…Yes, I am coming soon.
     Not unlike the kids in the back of the mini-van we ask of the Lord, “How much longer?” The truth is, we really don’t know, but like my response to my kids, “We’re closer now than we were 10 minutes ago,” seems appropriate.  The real question is, “Are you ready?” For as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11) So, get your socks and shoes on kids, because we’re getting closer!
     Maranatha!
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

THE HEROIC ORDINARY

ROCK CLIMBING IS NOT IN MY SKILL-SET, but this past week I gave it a shot. I must start with an honest disclosure, the rock climbing that I and a portion of my family did this past week, would not classify as “real” rock climbing by anybody in the rock-climbing community. What we experienced as a test of our “skills” I am sure would be considered less than interesting, let alone exciting to “real climbers.

Last Monday our family took a little trip up to Castle Rock State Park (another confession: first time there for any of us.) We found ourselves in the company of hundreds of other tourists, strolling families, day-hikers and yes even some serious rock-climbers. We thought we would just be taking a little family stroll to see the waterfall, but along the way we encountered some rocks that, though less than ordinary to the serious climber, looked enticing to us. So off we went to attack these rock outcroppings. I don’t know if you can say we accomplished anything of greatness, but to us these rather simple scampers were truly heroic, or at least memory-making.

While finishing my reading in Running Scared, (Edward T. Welch, New Growth Press, 2007) I came across an important reminder. Welch writes that often, “The ordinary is not good enough for us; our hubris wants something grandiose. But the ordinary
done in obedience in Christ is beautiful, inspired, and oftentimes heroic.” (p. 303) Too many of us fall into the trap that if what we are doing is not climbing Everest in our spiritual lives, then we are in some way failures. Put another way, there are spiritual giants, and then there is the rest of us failures. Friends, this is a lie of the Evil One.

What we are called to do as members of God’s family is to simply walk the trail that is set before us. To be obedient in the daily happenings of life, knowing that obedience to our Lord is itself the reward. And maybe, just maybe, every so often, God will allow us to climb, to tackle something heroic and enjoy the sense of greater accomplishment, and to enjoy a greater view.

Keep hiking!
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