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, October 30, 2011

DOORKEEPER OR DOORSTOP

OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS we have been journeying through the eighty-fourth Psalm. This week our path leads us to the doorway to God house. The psalmist writes,
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
                                                        Psalm 84:10
The psalmist declares that he would pass up the assumed blessings of being somewhere else just to spend one day in the courts of the LORD. I am sure there are lots of perks that might come from living in the tents of the wicked (just let your mind wander a little…OK, now reign it back in!), but he would rather stand as one who watches the door, making sure that those coming into the temple courts were ready to enter in.  I suppose there was more to be a doorkeeper in God’s courts than being a greeter at Walmart. So, what was the psalmist telling his readers?
     Rather simply he was stating that there is no better place to be than in the presence of the LORD. Even though the world has so much to offer, he would give it all up just to spend one day close to the LORD.  The good news is, we can spend our time there 24/7/365.  What a blessing to know that we are never out of His presence.
   I don’t know all the responsibilities of being a doorkeeper in the court of the LORD, but I do know that we can make it easier or more difficult for someone to enter in. In realty, as a follower of Jesus, we have the opportunity to make it easy or difficult for people to come into the presence of the LORD.
     It begs the question; are you a doorkeeper or a door-stopper? By your life and words do you make it easier or more difficult for the person next to you to enter into the presence of the LORD?  How about opening the door for them today?  It’s as simple as lifting a prayer that God would bless them today, and the door will swing wide open. Wide enough for both of you to enter in!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

A REAL THANKSGIVING SERVICE

THROUGHOUT MY LIFE I HAVE ATTENDED a number of Thanksgiving services.  Some took place on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, and some the morning of the day of turkey and football and of course the pilgrims and the Indians. I have even attended some on the Sunday before or after at churches that would rather not bother their congregants during the middle of the week. (It seems to mess up the cooking time of the turkey and pumpkin pie!)
     This year I attended a wonderful thanksgiving service on October 22nd, the day just happened to be the day my second eldest became Mrs. Krista Tankoano.  Now, you might think I was giving thanks for my daughter getting married (I am), and you might think I am giving thanks for my new son-in-law (I am), you might even think that I am giving thanks that we didn’t break the bank to fund the celebration (I am), but thanksgiving service I most witnessed was in the gracious, thankful, helping service of a number of individuals who gave so freely to serve our family on that very special day. I could name them all, but they know who they are, and how they gave so freely of themselves. I can say they truly modeled the attitude of Jesus Christ of which the Apostle Paul wrote of in Philippians 2:1-5,
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”
     They cooked food, served the guests, washed dishes, provided flowers and ambiance. Some helped with make-up and hair preparations, and others simply were ready to do anything that needed to be done. And all did so with gracious and I even dare to say, thankful hearts.  Their selfless service allowed Linda and I to more fully enjoy the day filled with family and friends in celebration of God’s gift of love wrapped up in marriage.
     I was struck by a recurring phrase I heard numerous times as I sought to thank those who served so graciously.  I would say “thank you…” to which the person would reply, “No, thank you for allowing me to serve in this way.” To them it was a service of thanks-giving, and in such an act of service my own heart overflowed with gratitude to God and to each one who so freely gave of time, talent, and treasure. It is as Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, so freely give.” These dear brothers and sisters truly followed the Lord’s message and model, and for that I am thankful.
     Their selfless service shall now always be a constant reminder of how I am to give; freely and with a grateful heart. It’s a lesson we all would do well to focus upon not just in this month of Thanksgiving, but all the year through. Always being reminded of what motivates our thanks. As the songwriter Henry Smith composed,
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ, His Son.
Give thanks. Give thanks.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HOPE ASSURANCE


MANY OF US HAVE FIRE INSURANCE on our homes. We purchase this insurance with the prayer that we never have to use it. The same would be said of those like myself who have flood insurance, it costs a lot, but I hope never to have to use it, but it does provide a modicum of peace…just in case.
     Hope Assurance is acquired not because we pray something will not happen, but rather because we hope something will happen.
     Over the past few months I have been pulling out my hope assurance policy that I keep in one of the drawers of my heart. This specific policy relates to what I hope happened yesterday (note I am typing this on Wednesday morning.) That event was the marriage of my daughter Krista Lee Kay to Soantieba Didier Tankoano. The journey to this wedding day has been one beset with detours and postponements and yet we have moved forward as if all things were certain. At this moment, invitations have been sent and RSVP’s received. Flowers and dresses ordered and the celebration meal planned. Yet, the marriage is not complete until the pastor (me) says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” So, right now we carry in our hearts Hope Assurance, and our hope is that by the time you are reading this, the policy we hold so dearly to will be no longer needed.
     This Hope Assurance is the same sort of policy we hold as followers of Jesus Christ. We, too, are waiting for the Wedding Day, the day when the Bride of Christ, the church, will be united with the Bridegroom at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation19:9) It has been a long time coming, with often what seems like detours and postponements. Yet, we hold on tight to our Hope Assurance policy. We find encouragement with the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
     Have I seen my daughter walk down the aisle dressed in white? No I have not, but I have faith that produces hope, and I am certain…even of that which I have yet to see.
     Even so, Lord Jesus, come! (Revelation 22:20)
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SEEING IT AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME


FOURTEEN YEARS AGO I RETURNED to Felton Bible Church after being away for about 15 years.  I left after 5½ years as Youth Pastor and returned to serve as the Senior Pastor. The journey that took me away and returned me home, I could not have planned if I had tried.
     Returning was a fearful moment for me.  I had changed in the 15 years I was away and I was sure that the church had changed as well. But, much to my surprise it was much like I had left it.  Sure, there were new faces, and new programs and new ways of doing things, but what was most thrilling to me was to see many of the people I had grown to know and love during my previous years on staff.
     It was exciting to see some of the “kids” from my youth group now serving within the leadership of the church. My heart was warmed to hear the many stories of how God had blessed both church and family. I was encouraged to see those from my youth pastoring days, with kids of their own who loved Jesus and were an active part of the Body of Christ.
    Of course, my spirit was lifted as I saw so many that were “old” when I left, still here, actively serving God and His Kingdom. The church I left was still a church that loved God’s Word and sought to obey it. It was a family that cared for each other and for the community around us. It was a fellowship of believers who desired to pray and praise and see that God’s gospel was spread throughout the entire world.
    My “God-Sighting,” as we celebrate 50 years of being blessed so we can be a blessing, is YOU! – The family we call Felton Bible Church. I see God in YOU, and what a blessing it is to pastor such a wonderful flock!
     God bless you one and all!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

LISTEN UP! PONDER THIS!

Folio 91v - Psalm XXIVImage via WikipediAS I TYPE THIS SHEPHERD’S STAFF the Worship Team is practicing in the sanctuary. They are practicing the song “Our God,” which we will sing this morning. The chorus states,
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!
     As I was looking at Psalm 84, which I have been walking through with you over the past few weeks, I came to the next verse in our journey, Psalm 84:8, where the psalmist writes,
Hear my prayer, O LORD, God Almighty;
Listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah.
That final word, selah, has never been truly understood. It’s meaning has been lost over the millennia, but most Biblical scholars feel it means something close to, “Stop! Think about what you have just said.  Ponder its depths.” So, let’s do that just for a moment or two.
     The God who created all things by the word of His mouth, allows us to call upon Him in prayer. The God who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, the God who is love, peace, holy, just and merciful, hears and get this, responds with His eternal wisdom to the prayer which we bring before Him. Selah!
    The God who turned water into wine, walked on water, fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fish; who died on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins and rose triumphantly and now sits crowned with glory and honor at God’s right hand, intercedes with us as we pray. Selah!
     The sovereign Lord of all invites you to speak to Him from the depths of your heart. We can say with the psalmist, “Listen to me, O God of Jacob.” Selah!
     And He does! Selah!
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THE ART OF JOURNALISTIC HYPERBOLE

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...Image via Wikipedia"STEVE JOBS REMADE THE WORLD AS COMPLETELY AS ANY SINGLE HUMAN BEING EVER HAS, but he had no business doing it" ("The Inventor of the Future" Lev Grossman and Harry McCracken, Time Magazine, October 17, 2011)

I guess the key word in this quote would be "human." I mean, honestly, he remade the world as completely as anyone else? I guess that means we leave out Jesus, the unknown Hebrew from a little town named Nazareth. Yeah, I guess you're right nobody as ever completely changed the world so much as Steve Jobs.

Seriously, my few word rant here, has nothing against Mr. Jobs, (I have prayed that his eternity is as productive as his past) it's against those who raise people to positions that they themselves would never take. Credit to whom credit is due, but let's try to keep things in perspective...I would even say that the invention of movable type and the harnessing of electricity would have to take the spot away from Mr. Jobs, I mean really, where would computers be without somewhere to plug them it?  I believe that even the "famous" Apple batteries, with a great running time, have to be recharged once and awhile.

Enough said, with deference to the two authors mentioned above and to Time Magazine.  I am still going with Jesus Christ as the One who completely changed the world...oh yes, and please forgive my myopic view point, but I am one, as are many others, who believe Jesus not only completely changed the world, He created it, too. (Colossians 1:15-20)

P.S. And lest my Apple friends think me unkind, please note I have included a few positive tributes to Mr. Jobs below.
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Sunday, October 02, 2011

REFRESHMENT


HAVE YOU EVER MET WITH SOMEONE, and after your encounter was over you thought to yourself, “Now, that was refreshing!” There have been a few people in my life that always seem to be a refreshing stream in the deserts of life. They are the ones who seem to fulfill the psalmist’s words in Psalm 84:5-7,

Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
They make it a place of springs;
The autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength
Till each appears before God in Zion.

   Oh, to be that kind of person. I desire to be the type person who adds to another's life rather than to be what I often refer to as the “joy-suckers” of life.   But how do we become streams of refreshment rather than a “joy-sucker?”  I believe the answer is found within the words of the Psalm we have been addressing over the past few weeks.
     First, our strength must be in, and come from, the LORD.  This is not something we can muster up on our own. Second, and related to the previous statement, we must be on a pilgrimage with the LORD; that is, we are constantly and consistently following Jesus. It is only when we ourselves are sitting below the flow of living water which comes from Jesus (Isaiah 55:1; John 7:38) that we can hope to be those that bring refreshment to others.
     So, which will you be today? A stream of refreshment, or a joy-sucker? Honestly I am going to work on being the former, sounds so much better for everyone involved…including you!
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Saturday, October 01, 2011

PATIENT ENDURANCE!


IT HAS BEEN A LONG DRAWN-OUT SUMMER IN THE KAY HOME. We have been waiting, not always patiently, for news that Krista’s fiancé, Soantieba Didier Tankoano, (Yes, you guessed it, he’s not from around “here.”)  to receive his passport and visa so that he could/can leave the land of his birth, Burkina Faso, and come and join our family here in California. As for the process, let me just say it’s been a lesson in patience and bureaucratic mayhem.
   The good news is that, as of this writing, Didier will arrive in the States on Tuesday October 4th and a small intimate wedding is planned for October 22nd in our family’s backyard. (Graciously known as “The Back-Forty) It will be an answer to many prayers to finally have this fine young man here and for us to move forward in seeing Krista and Didier united in marriage. But, if that is not enough, my oldest daughter Trinity will be moving back to Italy about a week later!  Needless to say, this has been quite a summer (and now fall!)
    On most Friday mornings Pastor Ron and I meet for a time of extended prayer for each other, our families, and of course the church family in which God has blessed us to serve. Last Friday as we were praying through Isaiah 55 my spirit was grabbed by how much the relationship between Krista and Didier is like our relationship, as the church, with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
   We are told in Holy Scripture that we are the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7) and we are awaiting the day when we shall all be joined together at the wedding feast of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9) We long and plan for that day, but the wedding cannot take place until the Bridegroom arrives for His bride. As I prayerfully pondered these thoughts I thought of Krista “patiently” waiting and also how Didier was doing all he could to get here.
     One thing that troubled my heart was all that Didier was leaving behind; all that he has known from the day of his birth. He is leaving family and friends, foods and special celebrations, even sights and sounds that will no longer be part of his daily life.  He is paying a huge cost in coming here, just as we are called to leave all for the sake of the Master. (Luke 14:26-27)  And yet, we know he is gaining so much more. (Mark 10:29-31) I am sure he will be completely overwhelmed by what we deem as normal here in the States. It will be a place of new family and friends, of new foods and celebrations and certainly of new sights and sounds.
     We know it is a place of great blessing and opportunity, but for Didier it looms before him as the great unknown. I am sure that for Didier some of the opportunities that life in the United States will afford him may actually cause him a little anxiety. I assume it may be a little of what awaits us in the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:1-4) We are anxious to get there, but it will be so much more than we could possibly imagine that it might even cause a little fear to arise in our hearts.  Yes, we long for it, but like Krista’s fiancé, even though it is something we long for, fear still finds a dwelling place in our hearts. Yet, over time that fear will be washed away and we shall rejoice in our new place and our fulfilled relationship in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
    I wonder what it will be like to finally see our Bridegroom?  What will it be like when we, the glorious bride, gaze into the loving eyes of our Groom? I wonder what the sights and sounds of the new heaven and earth will afford us?  What joy shall fill our hearts! What a great day it shall be when we, who have “patiently endured” (Revelation 13:10, Revelation 14:12), see our Savior face to face. And until that time we shall join with our brothers and sisters of ages past, who for the past two millennia have cried out, “Maranatha!” Lord, quickly come! (Revelation 22:17-21)
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