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, March 25, 2012

A SABBATH FAST #5

ONE THING THAT FASTING SHOULD DO is give you more time to ponder the things of life and hopefully the spiritual things of life. Our times of practicing our Lenten Fasts provide us with the opportunity to sit back, kick our shoes off and rest in the presence of the Lord; at least that is what should be happening. If it isn’t, then I might suggest you need to reconsider your stated fast and allow for opportunities of rest and reflection.
     When we develop an ongoing spiritual discipline of fasting (even beyond the stated Lenten season) that time will become more and more comfortable for us. If we are giving up a meal or two our stomachs learn to adjust and our quiet time with the Lord has less gurgling with which to contend. If we have chosen to give up watching television, we soon find ourselves not really caring who is progressing on American Idol. In reality, the longer we practice a specific fast the more that fasting time becomes home for us. Rather than facing fasting with the specter of fear, we look forward to it as a time to spiritually come home, even in the midst of the busiest of our days.
     I believe we all need a place to which we can come home. A place where we are welcomed as we are, a place where honesty is expected and grace poured-out. Truly, we all need “A Place to Call Home.” A home that is a place of love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, encouragement and at times even a little exhortation and challenge.
     Over the past year or more the Ministry Team has been prayerfully at work seeking the Lord’s leading and guidance in regards to how we, as a church family, are to move forward. Out of those times of prayer and study arose the 10 Plumb Lines of our church, which are now posted throughout the foyer and fireside room. Those Plumb Lines describe the distinctive design of the Felton Bible Church. They help to remind and guide as we seek to “Love God and Make God’s Love Known.” (Our Mission Statement)
     Recently, the Ministry Team has wholeheartedly adopted a simple, yet encompassing Vision Statement which drives our Mission and Ministry. That new Vision Statement describes our desire that Felton Bible Church will always be “A Place to Call Home.” And with the great family that is already here, I believe our place is already home to many.  Let’s keep the Door open and the Light on!
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

A SABBATH FAST #4

AT THE RISK OF SELF PROMOTION, this week I would like to share with you part of an email sent to me from the EFCA HQ (Evangelical Free Church of America Headquarters in Minneapolis, for the uninitiated.) The email went into much greater detail, which I will be happy to share with you, but here’s the gist of “A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons.”
1.       Expect God to speak
2.       Admit God knows better than you.
3.       Check the preacher says what the passage says
4.       Hear the sermon in church
5.       Be there week by week
6.       Do what the Bible says
7.       Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!
So, there you have it. If you would care to read the details under each heading I just happen to have printed off a few copies, but the “BONUS” section: “Seven Suggestions for Encouraging Great Preaching.” (Send me an email and I forward you a summation)
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A SABBATH FAST #3

THIS PAST WEEK KNOX ROOFING (an unpaid endorsement) has been installing new roofing material on our home. Of course, as in any remodel there are “surprises” to be found.
     On day one, after all the old shingles and roofing paper had been removed, they discovered some of the roof that needed some extra work. It was a portion where an addition had been adjoined to the original house. As they tore off the roofing material they discovered some rot, and also discovered some of the original roof and its shingles still lurking below. It seems as though this had led to the lack of good ventilation and thus the noted rot. The foreman determined that all that needed to be replaced was a few sheets of plywood. Whew! That wasn’t so bad…then I was shown that many of the slats that made up the original roof were coming loose and it was determined that it would be best to re-nail the entire roof. (Let’s hear it for pneumatic nail guns!) All that was completed in the first day.  Quite a crew!
     As I was musing over what was discovered under the old roof I was reminded that when a person goes on an extended fast often the Holy Spirit uses that time to peal back some of the layers of our lives to help us see areas below that need some work. Sometimes the work needed is extensive, other times it’s just a few nails here and there. The lesson for us is that it is better to take these times of reflection and prayer more often so that needless damage does not occur. No need for spiritual dry-rot in our lives.
    Therefore, as we fast during these days of Lent leading toward the remembrance of our Lord’s sacrificial death and life-bringing resurrection, let us ask the Holy Spirit to show us any areas that need to be pealed back, where restorative work needs to be done, and let’s welcome His work in our lives so that we can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Thus, we can weather the storms which life blows our way. (Matthew 7:24-25)
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Sunday, March 04, 2012

A SABBATH FAST #2


LET’S BE HONEST some aspects of the Lenten fast that many of us have undertaken have been a little more difficult than others. Skipping Starbucks has not be too difficult, not watching television has actually been a blessing (getting some reading done), but missing those few meals, now there’s the rub. Come meal time and the old gastric juices start flowing and if you’re anywhere near the aroma of food…well you get the picture and it isn’t pretty!
     Ah, but today is Sunday, our official rest from the fast (or not, if you so choose). Once again, let’s be honest, taking a “Sabbath’s rest” is a difficult thing for many of us to do. Often it becomes another day of work. I have even known some who have trudged down to the office to catch-up on some overdo work. Alas, there seems to be no rest for the weary…or was it for the wicked?  I suppose both are true.
     As I was running around the loop at Henry Cowell this week I came up with (inspired?) an acrostic for REST, that hopefully can help you and me to make better use of the day the Lord has given to us as a day of rest. So here goes:
            Relax – find something to do that you enjoy and releases tension.
            Engage – take time to engage with God through His Word, prayer, and worship.
            Surrender – give yourself afresh to the Holy Spirit. Listen for and to His voice.
            Talk – share with a loved one or friend about what God has been teaching you.
     So, there you have it, four things that you can incorporate into your time of Sabbath. You might even try coming up with your own acrostic for REST, or if you’re really feeling creative, for the word SABBATH…just as long as you don’t wear yourself out trying.  Enjoy your Sabbath rest, God created it for us. He knew we would need it.

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