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, May 27, 2012

IN MEMORY

THIS WEEKEND WE ARE CALLED TO TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER those who have given their lives for God and country; these men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy the benefits of freedom.
     My father did not pay the ultimate price upon the field of battle, he was one of the fortunate ones who went to war and came home to family and friends and a grateful nation. Yet, he did not return unscathed from the battle fields of Germany. My father was one of the wounded (shrapnel to his leg) and earned the Purple Heart for his service. I knew that he led a group of fellow soldiers into harm’s way not only to fight the enemy, but also with the goal to bring “his men” back home safely.
     Growing up I heard some of the battle stories; stories of sleepless nights, of battles fought and even of pranks performed to lighten the heavy load each soldier carried. To hear my dad tell it war was pretty bad, but we got through it. It wasn’t until just a few years before my dad’s passing that I began to hear the other side of his encounters. Today we have letters for it P. T. S .D. but my dad just knew it as nightmares and waking up in cold-sweats. It was then that I personally began to see the stress my dad had carried for over 50 years. Yes, war was hell, and it was a hell from which my dad did not fully escape in this life.  The freedom I enjoyed cost my dad’s his.
     So, this weekend I, like many, will stop and remember and honor those who gave their lives to accomplish our freedom, and as a Christian it is also a time to remember the greater cost that the Son of God paid to accomplish my eternal freedom.
     Too often the cross I hold in my mind’s eye is smooth, well-cared for, and in some sense set off in the distance of my life, much like the one you might lift your eyes to see before you in this sanctuary. I rejoice in the freedom it represents and the glories to which it points, but I often fail to recall the horrendous of the death of the Savior. The pain, the agony, the cost of a perfect life for one that was deserving of God’s wrath.
     As we maybe have taken time  this weekend to remember, as we attended parades and celebrations, even standing to salute Old Glory and those for whom she waves, let us take time to kneel before the cross of Christ and give thanks to Him who died for our freedom and who lives (HALLELUJAH!!!) so that we too may live. Let us remember and give thanks!
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

REFLECTING REFLECTIONS

IT’S AS PLAIN AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE, or so the saying goes. I was contemplating that phrase while out on a run in the Redwoods this past week, (Strange things fill my mind mid-run sometimes) and I realized that you cannot see your nose on your face; at least not the whole thing. It also makes you crossed-eyed when you try, which is not a good thing to do when you’re running on the trails at Henry Cowell State Park, trust me on that one!
     No, in order to plainly see the nose on your face you must be looking in a mirror. Even then what you are experiencing is a reflection of the real thing…there’s room for some heavy metaphysical discussion at this point…but I digress. The point is if we want to see who we are the best way to do so is through reflection.
      This past week I had the blessed opportunity to spend a few days with my lovely wife at a little get-away planned by our daughter and her husband. It was a time of driving with the roof down (rented Mustang!), the enjoyment being pampered at the Clear Lake Bed and Breakfast, times hiking and just being together. It was in many ways a time of reflection; a time for Linda and I to look in the various mirrors that God provided us, like His Word, His creation, the gift of being husband and wife and best of friends. We saw the reflection of our relationship in each other, in times alone, in meals shared and in the quietness of just being together.
     In many ways our little retreat was truly a Sabbath experience for us: an opportunity, granted by God, through the generosity of others, that allowed us to stop and reflect on the Lord’s manifold blessings. In reality, that is what Sabbath is to be; a time to stop and reflect and maybe to see what is plain as the nose on your face; that you are loved, accepted, and cherished by the One who both made you and redeemed you and is in the process of restoring you to be what He created you to be. If that’s not reason enough to practice taking a weekly Sabbath, then I don’t know what is.
    As the Word of the God says, “Come away with me, my beloved.” (Song of Songs 2:10) I encourage you to accept His invitation and to rest in His great love.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

I HAVE BEEN BLESSED IN MY LIFE that I have had a number of places to call “home.” I am not only talking about the places where I have lived, but places where I have felt like part of the family.
     Growing up I had at least three women that I referred to as “mom.” They were the moms of some of my good friends who brought me into their homes and welcomed me as one of their own sons. From each of them I received love and acceptance, and if I got out of hand, I received rebuke as well. They cared too much to let me get away with things that were wrong, and the loved me too much not to forgive.
     There were other places too, where I felt at home. There were the homes of my youth pastors, and those who volunteered in our youth groups. These men and women took me under their wings to encourage me, challenge me, and yes, even correct me. As those mentioned previously these too were ones who cared too much not to overlook correction as well as commendation.
     Of course there were places that did not look anything like a home. Places with altars and crosses, place of ministry and service. These places where I worshiped with my brothers and sisters, where I grew in my knowledge of the Heavenly Father, were also places to call home. Some were constructed for worship with stained glass and pulpits and others designed to hold screaming hordes of young people, but all were places I call home; not because they looked like a home, but because they felt like a home. They were filled with my spiritual parents and my spiritual siblings, sometimes we even had squabbles like a “real” family, but we got through it. Why? Because we were family.
     So, as we celebrate Mother’s Day today, be sure to stop and give thanks for the moms (and dads) in your life. Give thanks for those places you could call home. My prayer is that you will find a place to call home right here at Felton Bible. A place filled with some great moms and dads and brothers and sisters, too. Most of all that you would find a place to call home in the presence of the Heavenly Father, the One who has proven His love for you in and through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

JUST A MINUTE

JUST A MINUTE.” IF I HAD A DIME for every time I have said that to someone, or when someone, like my kids has said it to me, I’d be a rich man. Whether it’s calling your kids to dinner, responding to a request from a co-worker, or promising your wife you’ll get to it, our common response is, “Just a minute.” If an alien from outer space would hear this response and take note of our action, they would be wise in assuming that on Earth time is in fact relative.
     The reality is that the rate of our movement toward the completion of a request is directly proportionate to the personal desire and/or satisfaction we will derive from completing said request. For example, if mom is cooking our favorite meal and its aromas are wafting through the house and we haven’t eaten for hours, we will be at the table before she finishes the declaration, “Dinner is ready!” But should the house be filled with the smell of our least appreciated food (fill in the blank here) then it might be the longest minute in history before we drag our sorry selves to the table.
     The true issue at hand though, is not whether we like what is being asked or not, but whether we choose to be obedient…or not.  When a fair request is made of us, there lies before us the opportunity to respond quickly to meet the need of another, or to respond by our own time table, that is, putting our present activity and mindset over that of the other person.
     This “Just a minute” lifestyle also affects our relationship with God. God invites us to join Him in His Word and we respond, “Just a minute.” God commands us to accomplish a task, and our response is, at best, “Just a minute.  God implores us to meet the need of another person and once again we respond with, “Just a minute.” Now, I realize that God is eternal, and a day is a thousand years to Him, but I know when God calls us to listen, to respond, to act, He expects us to do it now.
    Oh yes, I am convicted by this as well. And yes, I must learn to respond with quick obedience to the directions of the Holy Spirit. I am very thankful that when that day comes when I stand before the sovereign Lord of lords and King of kings, He will not say, “Just a minute.” Rather He will already be there waiting with arms open to receive the one He loves.
     The Table is set. Will you come?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

HEY KIDS!

Come to church this Sunday for a Play-Date with your Friends and your Heavenly Father!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

PERSISTENT PATIENCE

FOR THE SECOND TIME IN ONE YEAR I have a beautiful wedding gown hanging in my bedroom. A year ago it was the gown to be worn by Krista as she and Didier spoke their marriage covenants to each other. Now, another gown hangs from the same brass hook this one awaiting a wedding whose date has yet to be set. That’s the way it is when you are persistently, patiently waiting for a visa to be granted. At least we have been this way before and have a better handle on the process.
     This process is one that does demand persistent patience. The government, no matter how much you prod, moves at its own speed, and add to that the government of a foreign nation…well, I am sure you can figure out where the patience is required.
     Any of my readers who has been part of planning a wedding can imagine how your life can be put on hold as you seek to deal with all the needed wedding arrangements, while at the same time knowing you can’t move too quickly because you never know when the green light will be given and the fiance visa will be granted, but once it has been granted and the groom-to-be arrives on U.S. soil you have three months to get married. Did I mention this can be nerve racking to all involved? Therein again, comes the need for patience.
    As patience is demanded, so too is persistence. There is much to be worked on, while we await the paperwork to be completed. You cannot just sitting around waiting for things to happen, thus the wedding gown hanging in my bedroom patiently awaiting that special day. It’s much like a Rube Goldberg Machine, there are hundreds of pieces all set in place awaiting the final OK to put the whole thing in motion and once that motion is started you hope and pray this thing really works as planned. Happily, at least for the first wedding things all worked out even a little better than planned, in my humble opinion.
     By now you’re probably thinking, “OK, pastor what’s your point? Or are you just pondering upcoming wedding plans?” Well, actually I do have a point and it is the persistent patience that is needed by those of us who are called the Bride of Christ, more commonly referred to as the church. We too, have been waiting, planning, hoping and wondering when the wedding will take place. When is Jesus coming to get His Bride. Sometimes it seems like it’s not even going to happen because we have been waiting so long. This is why we need to develop that persistent patience.
     As the church, we know that the Lord is returning someday, and that day is closer now than when we first believed, (Romans 13:11) and we must be about the work of getting ourselves ready for His appearing. The invitations ready. The gown carefully prepared. Even diets adhered to so that one can fit into said gown. The waiting is not a time for sitting back and day-dreaming about the delicious cake that will be shared or about the wonderful honeymoon at some overly gorgeous location, no we must persist in getting ourselves ready, because maybe, just maybe, those visa papers will be completed before we are ready.
     You see, the one huge difference between my daughters’ weddings and the Lord’s coming, is that we are assured that He will come when we least expect it, and whoa to the one who is not ready. (Matthew 25:1-13)
     So, how are those wedding plans coming? Are you ready? I pray that we will all be persistently patient as we await our Groom’s glorious appearing. (Titus 2:11-14)
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