Thursday, June 06, 2024

Back in the Saddle

Well after two weeks of vacation, I am back in the saddle and in my office here in the church, looking at what has to be done before Sunday. Feeling a tad, overwhelmed. Trying to prepare for Sunday, trying to visit, trying to connect with people, trying to prepare for meetings, and answering emails and requests, getting videos ready.  

I liken it to having a treadmill that's already running at speed, and I'm going to try to jump on this thing and get to speed pretty quickly.  

And so I am writing this post instead. I am hoping it helps me move past staring at a blank screen phase of work. 

I need to get the sermon started. I need to prepare for a meeting. I need to…  pray and be still. Which really is kind of the opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish here.

One way is the way of the world and the way it does work. Another way is the way of God and how he does work. 

Which way will I have faith in today?

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

They thought I was kidding.

This morning I was at the dentist for a couple of fillings. Two of the technicians were working over my open mouth. 

The one asked me if I was still a pastor to which I replied yes. Oh he said where do you Pastor? I told them at a small country church about half an hour to the southeast. 

It was quiet for a minute when, tongue in cheek, he said to her; "You know you should go to church. You need forgiveness." They both giggled and she replied that she thought he had more that needed forgiveness than she did. They laughed and went back and forth, convinced the other needed more forgiveness. 

Finally through their cajoling they asked me, "What about you Pastor, who do you think needs more forgiveness?" 

With their hands in my mouth I mumbled "I think you both need help!" To which the room exploded in laughter. 

They thought I was kidding.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A Prayer For The Day

Psalm 19 

For the director of music. A psalm of David. 

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 

12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Jupiter in the Southern Sky

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lenten Reader Prayer Devotional

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
1   Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem!
    Raise the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let everyone tremble in fear
    because the day of the Lord is upon us.
2 It is a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of thick clouds and deep blackness.
Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains,
    a great and mighty army appears.
Nothing like it has been seen before
    or will ever be seen again.
12  That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.
14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
    sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
    to the Lord your God as before.

15 Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem!
    Announce a time of fasting;
call the people together
    for a solemn meeting.
16 Gather all the people—
    the elders, the children, and even the babies.
Call the bridegroom from his quarters
    and the bride from her private room.
17 Let the priests, who minister in the Lord’s presence,
    stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar.
Let them pray, “Spare your people, Lord!
    Don’t let your special possession become an object of mockery.
Don’t let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say,
    ‘Has the God of Israel left them?’”

There are times when life with God becomes so mundane.

We believe there is more to be experienced with him because we’ve heard about it, and we’ve read about it in the scriptures. But we don’t know how to get from there from here.

So we try changing things up to try and improve. We might get up early for devotions. We might volunteer down at the food bank. We might try to memorize some verses. We might join a small group. All good things yes. But all the kinds of things that fit nicely into a New Year’s resolution.

Our passage from Joel today tells us that there is something we can do, but we might not think it’s written for us today. The prophet Joel gives us ample warning that the day of the Lord is coming. A day of sober sadness, a day of darkness and gloom perhaps unknown in our lives. It may be THE day of the Lord, or it may be a day of the Lord’s visitation in our lives. Whichever it< might be, it is a message of warning that Joel was called on to deliver to his generation, and to us.

What if this Lenten season we received his warning, and began to act on it as he instructs us. What if we would turn towards God with a sorrow filled heart? What if we were to call our hearts to a sacred assembly, a holy meeting with God, and repent?

Oh, we may say we have nothing to repent of. Our relationship with Christ is good.

Yes, I know it is. Mine is too. However, I found when I started to heed His warning, and I intentionally stopped and turned towards Him, and I asked Him what I should repent of, He showed me my selfish acts. My acts of pride. My incidents of self righteousness. He showed me my moments of anger. He showed me my envy and my careless attitude. On and on He showed me. I began to repent, and it has led to more repentance, and its turned into a season of repentance.

It turns out I do have things to repent of and to clean up between Jesus and me. (And if I run out of things to repent for, I can start repenting on behalf of my nation.)

And you know what? Life gets a little clearer, and my step gets a little lighter and gladness takes the place of what was once mundane in my relationship with God.

Amazing how that works.

Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada 2024 Lenten Reader