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, April 29, 2012

WEDDING PLANS

I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A CAKE TASTING party before, but last Sunday afternoon, as the father of the bride-to-be, I was invited to a cake tasting party held in our home and provided by and watched over by the top baker at Brianna’s Bakery. (Well, OK Brianna doesn’t technically have a bakery, but she should!)
     At the tasting we were treated to three different flavors of cake which came to us in the form of cupcakes (Guinness Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Vanilla Almond). Set before us were a number of fillings, frosting and other tasty items. Our “job” was to mix and match the various cakes with the various fillings and see which one was the best. We could assemble them anyway we liked, mixing different cake flavors with filling flavors, all I can say is that our dining room table turned into a mess of yummy goodness. (My favorite was the hollowed out the dark chocolate, stuck in a big ripe raspberry and topped it with a cream cheese frosting. I didn’t win, but it was sure good!)
     Later that afternoon as Linda and I went for a walk to burn off a few of the calories, I started to muse about the approaching wedding and the cake that will be made and all the various people that will have added to the wedding cake’s creation. This is much like how we all, as the Body and Bride of Christ, have a part to play in the wedding gathering that will take place in heaven. (Revelation 19:7) We, like the various items that will go into the creation of Trinity’s wedding cake, bring our various gifts and talents to the table. We mix and match to come up with the perfect combination of ingredients which will form a glorious gift to bring before the King of kings.
     I know I have been mixing some metaphors, but my point is that the Holy Spirit has gifted each of us so that as we mix together we provide a delicious offering to our Lord. Therefore, it is imperative to know our gifts (flavors?) and to add them to the mix according to the recipe of the Master Baker, so that we can be an offering unto the Lord of glory.
    I invite you to discover the flavor (gift) granted you by the Holy Spirit, and become part of the yummy goodness that God is creating.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WHO DOESN'T LIKE A GIFT?!


LET’S BE HONEST, we all like to receive gifts, especially when a gift is not expected. Someone gives us a gift and we are warmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity. Even if the gift the wasn’t quite our “style,” we accept it as a token of friendship.
     When we ponder unexpected gifts our minds should run to the greatest of all unexpected gifts, the gifts of faith and grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) In Christ, God gave us the gift of His redemptive love and made it possible to enter into a relationship with Him that we were created to enjoy from the beginning. This gift of love from our heavenly Father only grows in depth and wonder as we continue to unwrap it.
     One of the amazing aspects of God’s gift to us is that it is a gift that keeps on giving. It is a gift that did not stop at the point of our salvation, but it continues to sanctify us. This sanctifying is manifested through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is within us to help us grow into the Image of Christ, and also to help us help others grow as well. He does that through the special gifts we refer to as the spiritual gifts.
     Spiritual gifts are given to us so that we can help each other become conformed to the Image of Christ. These gifts are given so that we can give to others. These gifts are part of what it means to be the Body of Christ. This is why we have been encouraging you to discover your gifts, (See the Spiritual Gifts Assessment tool for our Church Family) and share them with each other.
     I personally encourage your to discover, develop and deploy the spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit has given to those who surrendered their lives to Christ. These Holy Spirit given gifts are meant to be unwrapped and then shared with the larger Body of Christ.
     Another way to share the gift of love today is through sponsoring a child through Compassion International. It is a personal and powerful way to express the gift of God’s love in a tangible way to a child who is not expecting it.
     Remember, those who are given much, should give much. How much have you been given?
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

RENDER UNTO...

TaxTax (Photo credit: 401K)
AT THIS TAX TIME OF THE YEAR I would like us to consider the difference between paying our taxes and offering our tithes. I know bringing up either of these issues often causes people to cringe and close their ears, so I thought why not really jump from the frying pan and into the fire and hit both hot topics at once?  Here are my thoughts and please remember I know I am dealing with these hot topics in a rather simplistic manner, so I indulge your gracious forgiveness.
     Taxes are what we pay to gain and keep our “freedoms.” Tithes are what we offer because of the freedom we have already been given. Taxes are what we pay so that we can live in this land of promise. Tithes are what we offer because we have already been granted free access to the Promised Land. Taxes are what we are required to pay for services to be rendered. Tithes are what we offer because of the great sacrifice that has been provided. Taxes are what we owe to “The Man.” Tithes are what we offer to the One who became man so that we might be restored unto the One from which all good things come and to Whom all good things belong.  Taxes, paid to the nation, like the Old Testament sacrifices, need to be repeated each year. Tithing is what we offer every day to the One who has given us all we need (and then some!).
     Therefore, as we pay our taxes, let us remember their limit and the limit of the system to which they “belong.”
     Therefore, as we offer our tithes, let us remember to Whom they belong and the limitlessness of His grace.
     Therefore, let us pay our taxes faithfully, and let us offer our tithes with faithfulness and with great thanksgiving!
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Sunday, April 08, 2012

OH WOW!!!

Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2010Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
RECENTLY, WE TRAVELED TO YOSEMITE. Our two youngest children had never been, and it had been years since I last went. It was an eye and heart opening experience for each of us. From the time we broke though the Wawona Tunnel until we were heading out past the towering El Capitan, each bend in the trail and each new vista elicited an “OH WOW!” statement from one or more of us.
     Seeing Bridalveil or Yosemite Falls from a distance brought an “OH WOW!” moment, and then standing close enough to feel like you were standing in a rainstorm, forced another “WOW!” Whether it was getting close enough to almost stroke the velvet of a young stag’s new antlers, or to marvel at the construction of the man-made Ahwahnee Hotel, we were constantly declaring the wonder of what we were witnessing. To hear others declare the majestic wonder, or to even have gazed at the magnificent photographs of Ansel Adams, could not prepare a person’s first-time view of one of God’s most captivating wonders. And to think we only saw a very small portion!
     As we drove home late Monday night my mind shifted to the wonder the first witnesses of the resurrection must have experienced. Was theirs an “OH WOW!” moment?  Maybe not at first, but as time went on…”OH WOW!” did things change. An empty tomb, “OH WOW!” Touching the risen Savior, “OH WOW!” The Lord’s appearance into the locked room, “OH WOW!” Touching the nail pierced hands, “OH WOW!”  What about those two travelers on the way to Emmaus, who did not realize they were traveling with the risen Lord? He breaks bread before them and then disappears from their sight, “OH WOW!”
     I don’t think I could ever tire of going to Yosemite; it will always be an “OH WOW!” place for me. And what about the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, the one who paid the price for my sin and restored me to the Heavenly Father, that reality must always and forever cause me to declare, “OH WOW, what a Savior!” For He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A SABBATH FAST #6


THE LENTEN SEASON IS ALMOST OVER! Our Lenten Fasts are soon to be completed.  How did you do? Was it difficult? Did you keep to the rigors of the Fast without fail? Well, for the sake of honesty, I messed up a couple of times. I did stay away from Starbucks, and the television was not watched, except for a couple of glances as I walked through the room. The Thursday fast was the hardest to maintain. Breakfast and lunch were not the problem, but my family did want dad home for dinner and so I capitulated.
     Overall, the Lenten Fast was a positive experience for me and I hope it was for you, too. We must recall that the Fast we entered into was not to curry God’s favor or to gain some extra blessing, but to take steps to purposefully give-up so we could look-up. I do believe that the Lord honored the Fast I endeavored to keep. Our gracious Lord loves to have us give-up so we can look-up into His wonderful face.
     I know that I did not really “suffer” during the Lenten Fast, but there were times that I had to purposefully make a choice.  I forced myself to stop and think and choose rightly, and that is a good habit to form in all of life. Maybe some good spiritual disciplines were born in us. The reading of God’s Word on a daily basis, or maybe more time in quietness before the throne of God in prayer, or maybe it was in choosing to serve others rather than ourselves. All these steps of discipline are good for us to take.
     So, where do we go from here? I suggest we embark upon a Resurrection Challenge. As the name implies it is founded in the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. The Challenge consists of focusing on a new spiritual discipline that will help to bring life. Its power is found in the new life we have because of the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within us. It is about bringing new life to you or to someone else. It may mean increasing your time in silence and intercessory prayer. It may mean getting involved in a ministry that serves those less fortunate than you, like adopting a child through Compassion International. It is about taking on a lifestyle change that will point to Jesus as we seek to depend upon Jesus.
     So, what do you say? Up for another step of faith? Come on, let’s walk it together. I assure you the journey will be worth it.
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