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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

I HAVE SEEN THIS BEFORE...but it is worth the re-posting.  Watch! Enjoy! Laugh! Live it!

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

IT CAN'T BE THAT DIFFICULT

A new current event icon in the Ambox styleImage via Wikipedia
SEVEN MINUTES OF SILENCE WITH GOD, that can’t be too difficult. Well, for some of you I spoke with this week it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Some found it difficult to find the time, while others found it difficult to shut off all the “voices” in their head.  Needless to say, many of us have a difficult time with the practice of silence.  Why is that?
     One reason is that our lives are filled with a cacophony of noise. Television noise, computer noise, cell phone noise, iPod noise, and for some we can add the noise of the workplace, or children or drinking coffee at Starbucks or even the daily grind of highway noise. Our lives are filled with noise. True, not all of it bad, but noise nonetheless.
    Another reason is that we are not in the practice of being silent. There is a constant conversation going on inside our heads. Even as we sat and tried to focus on the passage from the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13,) we found any number of “voices” competing for our attention. Shopping lists, prayer requests, and questions about why is it so difficult to spend seven minutes quietly before the Lord, even the voice of condemnation for not being able to sit silently. I could go on, but we all get the picture.
   Prayer, especially prayer of the listening sort, is most definitely a spiritual discipline, and like all disciplines it takes time and practice to develop proficiency. It’s much like my running, the more I do it the easier it becomes and the longer and farther I can journey. In fact, I have returned to running again and I now look forward to lacing up the shoes and hitting the trail.  It is no longer that I have to run, but I want to run. Crazy, I know, but that’s what can happen as we seek to develop a new discipline. Therefore, let me encourage you to keep striving, don’t give in to the noise.  Seek to grow in your Sabbath of silence and listen for the Lord, for He is speaking.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TRANSITIONS!

THEY CHANGED MY STARBUCKS! And without even asking my permission, the nerve of some folks! Honestly, I am a person who functions best in a stable and situated system. Some may call that being stuck in a rut, I prefer to consider it part of my religious mindset. The difference being that a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out and a religious mindset sees the world under the direction and stabilizing force of some One greater than I.
     I have come to realize, while sitting in my “new and improved” Starbucks, that right now the whole of my world is in a state of transition. Every member of my immediate family is either in or preparing for a major transition in their lives.  Even many of my extended family are facing major transitions in their lives. As I look a little farther out there are ministries around me that are going through periods of transition (three or more pastoral co-workers are leaving their places of long-term ministry.)  We here at Felton Bible are also in a state of transition as we look back and celebrate God’s 50 years of blessing and as we seek new ways of extending God’s blessing to our community both near and far.
     It is at times like these that I find comfort in the truth of God’s Word, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:7-8) And of course in the Lord’s wonderful promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  (Hebrews 13:5-6; Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 118:6-7)
    In the transition of our lives may we all find that comforting security that comes living in the One who does not change. (Malachi 3:6)
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RUNNING UP-RIGHT


ONE OF THE LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED from running is that it is better to run up-right, the main reason: it allows you to get more oxygen in your lungs. Breathing is an important part in running. No breathing, no running.
     One of the little “tricks” to running up-right, especially toward the end of your run when you’re most worn-out, is to imagine a string tied to the top of your head and someone pulling that string up. I know it may sound silly, but it works (unless you have no imagination, then you’re out of luck!) Running with  good posture allows you to breathe more deeply and as I stated above, that’s a good thing, especially when you’re tired out.
     The same is true for the race we are running as followers of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3) Not only are we to fix our eyes on Jesus, but we are also called to run up-right, that is to live righteously. Now, let’s be clear, we cannot work our way into heaven, all the up-right running will not get you there. It’s by God’s gift of His grace in Jesus and our faith in receiving that Gift (Ephesians 2:8-10) that gets us into a forgiven relationship with God and opens the Door to enter into His wonderful Presence.
     That being said, we, as believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ, are still called to run well the race set before us. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)  We are called to run righteously. That is, we are to put away the things that can trip us up and do the things that will help us run with endurance and win the prize. (Galatians 5:13-26)  We are called to run up-right, so our spiritual lungs can be filled with the wind of the Holy Spirit.
     Time to lace up those running shoes and hit the trail.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

MY FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL


WE ALL CAN LOOK BACK AT OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL days with some mixed emotions. For some it was a time of great adventure. The anticipation of learning something new was almost too much to bear, and for others, the anticipation of learning something new was almost too much to bear. It all depends on where you place the emphasis. As for me I was in that second group, learning was almost too much to bear.
     I was one of those who thought the best subject of the day fell in the magical learning time of lunchtime recess.  What could be better? A baloney sandwich followed by Hostess cupcakes kept safe within my metal super-hero lunch pail followed by an extended time of free-play out on the blacktop? Yep, that was the best time of learning…though I hesitate to write what some of those learning experiences consisted of…I’ll leave that to your own imagination.
     The truth of the matter is that school is for some a grand adventure, and for others it becomes another in a series of bad encounters. Some children come ready to learn, from homes that are for the most part secure and loving, while others arrive on campus from homes that suffer from any number of woes, be they economic, social or physical.  As part of our FirstSunday Fellowship, we had the opportunity to make some bad situations a little bit better.
    Following our fellowship meal, we had the blessed opportunity of filling school backpacks for kids whose lives carry the extra weight of a poor home situation.  That is not to say they come from home devoid of love and encouragement, but that they come from homes that are often starting at a deficit. This little bit of blessing may go a long way to help a young boy or girl look forward to going to school with greater anticipation and joy. It was such a blessing to watch our church family stuff the backpacks with not only with pencils and paper but alas with love and prayers…and God’s Word. (You can see some pictures by checking out our church's Facebook page.)
     Once again, it was such a blessing to be a blessing!
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Friday, August 05, 2011

A LITTLE VIDEO WITH A BIG STORY

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

GREAT DAYS IN FATHERHOOD


AS A FATHER THERE HAVE BEEN SOME GREAT DAYS. Being present for the birth of each of my kids is one of the best. Hearing each of my children profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is right up there, too. Then there are the times when they make a decision that is selfless, even costly, for the benefit of another person.  I suppose I would classify that as one of their steps toward maturity.
     This past weekend at the men’s campout my son took one of those giant steps toward maturity, and gave me the gift of once again allowing me to be one proud father (Each of my kids have done this at one time or another.) Allow me to quickly explain.
     Saturday provided an opportunity for a few of us guys to take what we were told was going to be a 6 mile hike (turned out to be over 8.5, with a net elevation gain of over 1600 feet in a little over 4 miles).  Jordan and I voted to go at least part way. After about a couple of miles, a couple of the guys went on ahead (Pastor Ron and Dave) and another stopped for some fishing, (Tom). Jordan and I went a little further and stopped creek-side to enjoy our lunch. We were soon joined by part of the Thornley clan (will not list all their names here!).
     After our lunch Jordan and I headed back to the car. About 100 yards back down the trail Jordan stopped and asked me, “Dad, what would you do, go back or finish the hike?” I told him that if I were there without him I would probably stay with the guys and finish what was going to be the tougher part of the hike.  After a couple of moments of silence Jordan replied, “Well then Dad, I think we should give it a try.” It was there that Jordan made a selfless decision to put is own desire aside in order that his dad could finish the hike!  It was a step toward maturity.
     It was to prove to be some tough steps, but we did it! It was a time of encouraging each other to keep on going and of enjoying some of God’s beauty. Yes, it was one of the great days of fatherhood. Thank you Jordan for making my day! (P. S. Thanks to all the guys who encouraged Jordan in his reaching the summit! You guys are great!)
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