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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

READING FOR LOVE

I LOVE TO READ. Books, magazines, newspapers, commentaries and yes, even the Bible. My favorite reading is the true stories of adventurers. The stories of men and women, young and old, who have climbed tall mountains or crossed the open ocean in a small boat, or have ridden their bicycle around the world.
     I love to read the stories of people attempting feats at faraway places that I will never attempt or most likely visit. The truth be known, I am very much a homebody, so even though I’m enthralled by the accounts of these adventure seekers, I would most likely rather read than do.
     I once heard (or maybe I read) that “leaders are readers and readers are leaders.” If we desire to grow in this life and to have a positive effect on the lives of others, then reading is a must. And what we read is just as important as how much we read. Wasting my time reading the latest celebrity gossip rag is most likely not going to increase my leadership quotient. As in all endeavors in life, reading wisely is tantamount to reading well.
     I am excited with the read-through-the-Bible program in which we have invited the church to participate. I don’t know how many are following the daily reading, but I do know lots of the reading schedules were picked-up that first day, and I am praying that everyone who has joined the journey is discovering the blessing that comes from reading God’s Word. As we move forward as a church family in reading through the Scriptures, allow me to offer two thoughts: First, if you get behind don’t worry about it. This is not a race, but a journey, and sometimes on a journey we get sidetracked. Just pick it up and start where you left off.
     Second, let’s covenant to read for love. Reading the Scriptures is not meant to be an academic endeavor, it is meant to be an opportunity to listen to the heartbeat of the God who created you and loves you. I read this past week that the Bible is a “thin place through which the presence of God breaks into this world and bursts with unpredictable consequences into our lives.”  (The Fire of the Word, pp. 30-31.) This is my prayer for you as you read through the Scriptures this year: God will break through and you’ll know Him with a deeper love.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The FIRE of the WORD

I don't often post my book reviews to my blogs, but seeing how I was asked to read and review this book by IVP Books, I thought I had better make a posting, and in truth, I am happy to do so and to recommend this book to you.

Here is my review as written for Goodreads:

To ask a pastor to read and review a book about reading the Bible is about as smart as handing an Formula One race car driver to read a book about learning to drive.

Oh how wrong I was (nothing new for those who know me.)

This new book, "The Fire of the Word: Meeting God on Holy Ground," (IVP Books, 2012) truly awakened in me a deeper desire to not only know the Scriptures, but know the One who both wrote the Scriptures and about Whom the Scriptures are written. I heartily recommend this book to all who desire to know the Word of God better, and even more importantly, to know God better.

Some quotes from the work may best attest to the gems that are to be discovered within its pages.

The Bible is "a place where the boundary of heaven and earth has been worn through."(p.61) And therefore the Word of God becomes a "thin place through which the presence of God breaks into this world and bursts with unpredictable consequences into our lives." (p. 30-31)

The author, Chris Webb, is constantly on the task to draw us away from seeing the Bible as a book written for "theorists", but rather it is a book for lovers. (p. 68) We are encouraged to see the Holy Scriptures as the medium of the Divine kiss, a way into the very presence of God. (p. 77)

The author helps us to see the Holy Scriptures in a way that brings forth its deep riches and encourages us, his readers, to plumb the depths. Even providing a week-long journey in the Scriptures at the end of each chapter.

I would suggest reading the book through, and then go back and read it again taking that week between chapters to unearth the precious gems contained within its pages.

I also appreciated that the author moves the reader to see the Scriptures in the broader arena of the spiritual disciplines.  The Bible is not an end in itself, but part of the discipline of drawing close to our Lord and the Lover of our souls. Webb's challenge to us is to see that we are not just to be Bible-believing people, but rather, to be God-believing, Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-empowered people.

I thank you, Mr. Webb, for re-igniting my heart for the Word of God, and in that process re-igniting my heart for God. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ALL SOHLS DAY


NO, I DIDN’T SPELL “SOULS” WRONG. Today is SOHLS that is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is the Sunday closest to the infamous passing of Roe v. Wade has been designated as the Sunday where we stop to remember the sanctity of human life. All human life!
     The focus in churches around America today will be on the importance of speaking up and out for the little lives that cannot speak for themselves. It is a day for us to remember that we are all created to bear forth the image of God, and it is that truth that demands that all life is sacred.
     Sacred are the lives of the unborn and of the aged.  Sacred are the lives which society says are “perfect” and of those which society says are disabled. Sacred are the lives which can add to the community and of those which seem only able to take from the community. All human life is sacred, even the life of your enemy.
     This truth is made alive in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1:21) Yes, we were enemies of God and He loved us still. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” (Romans 5:10)
     Not only were we created by God, but we were rescued by Him as well.  It is because this great salvation that we the church are to be about the work of saving lives. That saving is not just getting people forgiven and into heaven, but it also includes working here to see that all those created in His image come to know God’s sacred call upon them.
     Therefore, on the All SOHLS Day, let us recommit ourselves to carry forth the ministry which Christ Himself called us, the ministry of reconciliation, (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) and let us daily proclaim in word and deed the sanctity of life!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

THE MESSES

BEING A PERSON WHO LIKES to have a place for everything and everything in its place, I don’t take to messes around the house, or the church for that matter. But, if there is one thing I have learned after years of parenting and pastoring, things get messy, no matter how hard you try to teach and keep things neat.
     Life is messy, there’s just no way around it. No matter how hard we try to keep things in order life will find ways of messing things up. Make plans to go somewhere and events will take place to slow your arrival. Seek develop and maintain an open and honest relationship and something will take place to hinder trust and growth. Come to church hoping to be comfortable and ministered to and they’ll sing all the songs you detest and the sermon will call you to love the person you hate the most. Yes, life is messy.
     It may be that this messiness of life is what prompted James to admonish the church to be careful of the plans you make and the steps you take. He writes,
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:13-17)
     What does this passage have to do with my need of orderliness? It is found in the sentences that deal with pride. My being upset is often more about the infringement on my space. It becomes an issue about ME and MINE, which supersedes YOU and YOURS and more critically leaves out HIM and HIS. That is never a good place to be.
     Messes happen, the question is how are you going to handle them? Your way or HIS way?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

ACTING OUT OR ACTING UP?

A PASTOR HAS TO ANSWER LOTS OF QUESTIONS. The majority of them do not come from the faithful who sit in the pews and serve within the ministries of the church, nor do the questions come from those outside the parameters of our faith. Most of the questions which a pastor has to answer come from deep within the pastor himself.
    Personally I have discovered that most of the questions which continue to rise up within me have to do with one major issue, divided into two general areas. The major issue is: what does it mean to be a Christian and how is that best lived within the culture in which I presently live. The two areas in which this issue is divided has to do with how this affects me personally, that is what does it mean to be a follower of Christ. The second being how does this issue affect the corporate organization we call the church, or the Body of Christ.
     The longer I walk with Christ, the more I see that there is so much I do not know. This does not mean that I have doubt or have lost any measure of faith, but rather the longer I walk with Jesus the more aware of the deepness of who He is and to the relationship to which He calls me.  In regards to the church, there too I discover an ever increasing evolution to what it means to be the Body of Christ. Again, this does not mean that what the church is doing and we need to reinvent the church all over again, rather it means that there is a depth in both relationship and call in regards to being the “called out ones.”
     I believe that 2012 will be a year in which we here at Felton Bible Church, will grow deeper in our love and knowledge for the Savior, personally and corporately. How all this will work out, I am not 100% sure, but I do know that Pastor Ron and I have been praying diligently toward this end as well as discussing how we can be the church that our Lord desires us to be.  This has also been the prayer focus and program focus of the Ministry Team.
     One step we will be taking as a church body is in studying together the Book of Acts.  We have spent months walking through Genesis, our study of beginnings, and we have just finished twenty-four weeks of walking through the Book of the Revelation, our study of the direction in which God is leading His creation. Now, we are going to embark upon a journey through the Book of Acts, that book that describes the first days of the Spirit-filled and empowered group of individuals who became known as Christians. It was the beginning of the church, and thus our beginning as well.
     The goal of our study is not to try to become like the first century church. We live in 2012, in a new and ever-changing world, a world that is changing at the speed of light. In fact, just recently it has been discovered that there is something faster than the speed of light. We are not called to live like it’s AD 100, but we are called to live as the Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered Body of Christ, and I believe a thorough study of the Book of Acts can help us discover what it means to follow Jesus the Messiah personally and corporately in 2012 and beyond. I am praying that you will join me on this road to becoming the church that Jesus, the Messiah desires us to be.  I believe it’s going to be an exciting journey of growth and experience.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 02, 2012

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF doing the same thing you’ve always done? Do you ever get the feeling that your life is like a broken record, or to give it an up to date spin, you’ve hit one of those endless web-page loops, always coming back to the same page again and again? Yes, I believe most, if not all, of us have experienced that, “here we go again” syndrome.
     I suppose that is one reason we like New Year’s day, it is another opportunity to start afresh. It is a chance for a new beginning, to say to ourselves that from now one things are going to be different.  I am going to eat less, exercise more, watch less television and read more good books.  You might even say, I’m going to start that new hobby, or be more regular in attending church, or reading the Bible. Yes, this year is going to be different!
      Well, in order to help you accomplish your new life of living off the merry-go-round allow me to offer you some sage advice, not sagely from me but from others, I haven’t quite reached the status of a sage.
    First, speak out the desired change. Write it down, tell someone you live with, get it out in front of you. In other words, make yourself accountable to someone.
    Second, get yourself a workable plan. You want to run that marathon this year but you don’t go out on January 2nd and run a 20-miler, when the most exercise you have been applying yourself to lately is pushing the computer mouse around the table. Start slow, but start!
     Third, don’t take failure as an answer. Chances are you’re going to miss a work out or two. If you do, get back in there and start again. You might not finish that book you started, maybe it was too b-o-r-i-n-g! So, find another book, or maybe a good monthly journal, the articles are shorter.  Whatever it may be don’t stop just because you blew the plan once or twice or three times.
     This year God is going to call you to rise up to some new challenges, they may be tough, or seem impossible to you, so rely on His strength. For nothing is impossible when God is in it for His glory!

Labels: ,