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, December 18, 2011

MY CHRISTMAS GIFT TO MYSELF!


I REALIZE THIS SEEMS A LITTLE SELFISH, but I am getting myself a Christmas gift this year. The reason is that I deserve this gift, dare I say I need this gift and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no one is going to give me this gift, not this year, not ever. If I expect to get this gift my only hope in receiving it is to give it to myself!
     The gift I desire so greatly is the gift of uninterrupted time to study God’s Word, be available to others and to spend extended time in communion with the triune God.
    Again I have discovered the great need I have for this uninterrupted time. This gift is one that comes specially wrapped. It is wrapped in the turning off of the television and other extraneous media input, it is tied up with the ribbon of disconnecting myself from my computer for an extended period (maybe even one or two days a week).  It is going to require that I limit my access to the glut of information that bombards me moment by moment. It means I am going to have to purposefully create space for uninterrupted time with God. And it means I am going to have to refuse to run my life at the speed of light that our present internet-driven culture demands.
     Does this mean I am going to miss out on some of the hottest new sites on the world-wide-web? Yes it does. Does this mean I am not going to answer your emails, and voice messages within a 15-minute window? Yes it does. You see, I really am developing a taste for deep knowledge rather than superficial information. I am hungering for a relationship with people that allows me to be present with them, without feeling my cell phone vibrating in my pocket, or worse to answer it in mid-conversation (which has been done to me more and more lately).
     Yes, this year I am going to give myself the gifts of simplicity, contemplation, and order, rather than the world’s gifts of complication, distraction, and chaos. I can’t wait to begin to unwrap this wonderful, multifaceted gift. The neat thing is that it is a gift that you too can enjoy, but it has to start with you. I want to say thanks to John Dyer for his encouraging and empowering book, Fromthe Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology, for challenging me to go out and give myself this gift. Thanks John, your words hit home, thanks for the gift!
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Friday, December 16, 2011

CHRISTMAS IS CALLING


ALL AROUND THERE ARE THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS. Not just the noise of Christmas that invades our senses, but the sights and sounds that call us deeper.  They are there, if only we care to listen.
    The Advent of our Lord 2000 years ago was a time of calling. God, the Living Word, was soon to enter our world, Emmanuel, God with us. It wouldn’t be a noisy arrival with the fanfare of trumpets, the ringing of bells, and shouts of acclamation, but it was still a time when God spoke, when He called, and people had the opportunity to respond.
     Consider those to whom the call of God came and how they responded.
  • God called Mary. She responded with, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.
  • God called Joseph. He responded by obediently doing what God said to do.
  • God called the Magi from the east. They responded by embarking upon a long and perilous journey.
  • God called the inn-keeper. He responded by offering all he had left to give.
  • God called the shepherds. They arose and went to seek the Messiah, their Savior.
  • God called God, the Living Word. He left His throne in heaven, and meekly slept in the manger’s hay.
     Two-thousand years ago, God called and people responded. Today God is still calling. Christ is calling. 

     How will you respond?  
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Monday, December 05, 2011

PEACE!


I BELIEVE THAT ALMOST EVERYONE in the world is desirous of living in a world of peace. Even those who find themselves having to fight for family, faith and fatherland, are desirous of living a life of peace. Most of us in the world just want to love and care for our family and friends, we only want a safe place to call home and some food to put upon the table. Fathers and mothers throughout the world just desire to know that they can tuck their children into bed each night in a place that is peace-filled, knowing that they can awaken to a new day with new possibilities.
    Sadly, we live in a world where peace seems to farther from us than in days that have past. Every day we hear of wars and rumors of wars. Gang warfare fills the streets of our cities, large and small, urban and rural. All over the world we hear of the skirmishes  between tribes, villages and even families.  Our own military travels the world over seeking to ensure peace only to leave the war zones wondering if things are better or worse for our being there. If ever we needed peace it is now.
     At the Advent time of the year we remember the One who came as the Prince of Peace, seeking to bring peace to a world in desperate need of it. Our Lord, Jesus, the Messiah, came to re-establish peace on earth by re-establishing peace between God and those created in His image. The astonishing thing is, the peace could only be restored through the death of the Son of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 
     Peace has a cost.
     Jesus came to bring us His peace, not the world’s idea, but God’s deep abiding peace. (John 14:27; John 16:33) A peace that is beyond what we would comprehend (Philippians 4:7) And we, who choose to know this peace, called not just to live in peace, but to be peace-makers (Matthew 5:9). It is the ones who make peace, not just seek to live in it, that are called the sons of God.
     How will you make peace this Advent season?  What a grand gift to give! Check-out Advent Conspiracy for some ideas of being a Peace-Maker this Advent season.
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Friday, December 02, 2011

THROUGH NEW EYES

EVERYONE NEEDS TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH A PRE-SCHOOL CHILD during the Advent season. Their wide-eyed wonder, coupled with their easy belief in the mystery unfolding before them and their simple faith expressed in prayers and wishes, can open a cynical and crusty heart to the joy and wonder of the season. 
     I believe that at this time of the year the prophet Isaiah’s prophecy that, “a little child shall lead them,” comes alive with new meaning. (Isaiah 11:6) Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, told His followers, that unless we become like little children in regards to faith and trust, we cannot see the Kingdom of God. (Mark 10:13-14; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:16)
     In my own journey of faith in walking with Christ, I have benefited often by seeing things through eyes and understanding of others. Those who were raised in a culture different than my own, or have lived a life harsher than my own, have provided for me the deeper understanding of the grace and love of God. I have learned from the old and the young. I have learned from those who have walked with Jesus for scores of years and from those who have just commenced the journey of faith in Jesus Christ.  Seeing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit through the eyes and experiences of others has deeply enriched my own life and I pray that my faith-story has enriched theirs as well.
     During this Advent season, as we look back to the birth of the Savoir, I encourage you to seek to see it with new eyes.  That may come in the form of sitting down with someone older or younger than you, (physically or spiritually). It might come through encountering the Advent story through those of another culture than your own. It could even be as simple as reading the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Christ-Child in a different Bible translation.
     To help you see things through fresh eyes this Advent season I will be presenting four first-person dramatic monologues. I invite you to join us as we see the birth of God’s Son through the eyes of the angel Gabriel, Joseph the carpenter, Saul the innkeeper and David the shepherd. My prayer is that during this time of joy and laughter, hustle and bustle, family and friends gathered, you will also experience the reality of Emmanuel, God with us, in a deeper way. I pray, along with the Apostle Paul that, “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
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