Holy God, Advent is a season of preparation (like I need to tell you that), but I feel so unprepared.
There are so many people that need to hear the Good News of the Christ child.
There are so many hurts that need your healing touch.
There are so many lonely people that need to know your presence.
There are so many misdirected people following secular holiday idols.
I think of all of this and feel overwhelmed and therefore I feel so unprepared to meet the demands of ministry. So I lay it out on the line for you this morning:
~ I fall back; trusting that your Holy Spirit will catch me.
~ I let go; trusting that your Holy Spirit will guide me.
~ I will wait; trusting that you will do something absolutely amazing.
So maybe it is a good thing that I feel unprepared because that leaves room for you to do something through me. So I lift up to you those who don’t know Jesus, those who are hurting, those who are lonely and those who are misdirected. Prepare me to minister to them; that they may know the true joy that is Jesus Christ our Savior born to us.
And may I continue to feel unprepared.
The pastor -|—
Don’t judge me when you see me seemingly doing nothing:
~ Sometimes I just need to sit and reflect.
~ Sometimes I just need to savor the Word just read.
~ Sometimes I just need to talk to my Savior.
~ Sometimes I just need to slowly sip my coffee.
~ Sometimes I just need to daydream about the ministry before me.
~ Sometimes I just need to mull over a conversation.
Sometimes I look lazy, sometimes I look lost but whatever the case don’t judge me because it’s in those times I can be the most productive. Many people don’t understand how a pastor works because how a pastor works can be so different from how we saw our parents work. But a pastor’s work can be just as taxing thus the different kind of work we sometimes engage in.
Today I sat in the corner at my favorite coffee shop for an hour or so; holding my Google tablet, sipping coffee and nibbling on a cookie.
And that was work.
My finger nails didn’t get dirty and I don’t have sore muscles as you know them but the pastor does feel the effects of ministry thus my coffee shop work.
And as I walked back to my office; breathing in the cool winter air, I felt refreshed and ready to do some more “traditional” work; work that doesn’t draw the ire of some.
But now you may say, “Work? You’re writing a blog post. How is that work?” To answer that fully I would have to write another blog post but I’m not going to do that. So what I will say in response will have to suffice for now:
Sometimes I just have to write…
And that is work of a different kind; one that exercises the mind. But now I’m off and ready to go; thankful for the “work” I did today. May God be praised in all I do and say; and not just sometimes but always.
The pastor -|—
Happy Pentecost Sunday!
May the Holy Spirit rush into your life and lead you to boldly speak the name of Jesus without holding back.
May the Holy Spirit give you courage to face the world as the world is so much stronger.
May the Holy Spirit remind you what Jesus taught that you may teach others.
May the Holy Spirit lead you to places that you would never dream of going.
May the Holy Spirit be your guide as it did for those first disciples.
Let us pray…
Holy and Mighty God, it is difficult to admit that we are powerless and weak. It is scary to think we are nothing but sheep in the midst of ravenous wolves. Oh God, restore our hope in you through Jesus. Strengthen our faith that we may know your peace. Open our eyes that we may see your power. And send us forth in your name. May we not rely on our ingenuity, creativity or intelligence but may we seek your wisdom in order to bring your peace into this world. Loving God, you are the restorer of creation, not us. May we be your instruments and give glory to your name. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Oh God, our Rock, Redeemer and Restorer, Amen.
God bless you this day and always
The pastor -|—
I tell you…this adoption journey has been an incredible faith journey. The longer we wait the more fervent my prayers become. The more money we spend the more I turn to God for the faith to be patient and to trust. The more we prepare our home for a child the more excited I become. The more I talk about this the more I wonder what kind of father I will be.
In my last post about my adoption story I mentioned that I was a little hesitant about diving in; which was the complete opposite of how my wife felt. I worried about this or that. I had a hard time with trying to figure out how we were going to pay for this. I was nervous about some of the logistics. Now…I can hardly wait until the day that I can be referred to as dad. Even to type that word, “dad”, seems strange when it refers to me. There’s a part of me that thought that it would never happen. And even though that part of me was saddened by that potential future I was starting to grow accustomed to it. But now…I can’t imagine traveling another road; I can’t image a future where I am not called dad.
And that feeling; that confidence that God has chosen a child for us out there…somewhere…makes this an incredible faith journey. I keep praying and asking God “When?“; “How long, O Lord? How long?“; “How will this be?” I lift up my fears, questions, concerns; and eventually I feel this sense that God understands and gives me that comforting embrace that says, “Be patient my child; be patient“. It is something that I can’t adequately describe but maybe you know what I am talking about.
And maybe this wait is part of God’s plan in shaping me; in refining me; in preparing me for fatherhood (Wow…really strange to type “fatherhood”). Whatever the case, I can’t imagine going through this process without my relationship with God through Jesus. I can’t imagine trying to navigate the plethora of paperwork and phone calls and planning and applications without God. I can’t imagine trying to plan and figure out every last detail without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I can’t imagine not having God to lift my voice to.
So the waiting continues and this potential father is super excited. My life will change in countless ways but I am so ready to face those countless changes. As scary as it is going to be I am so ready to be called, “Dad”.
Praise be to God!
The pastor (and potential father) -|—
We tried something new yesterday at Salem. Shocking…Lutherans trying something new. Wow
Anyway…what we did for the first time was have coffee fellowship time BEFORE worship. I know that this is not a revolutionary thing as I have experienced this at other churches in the past, but it was new for us. And from what I heard from a number of people this was a big hit.
[By the way...I take no credit for this idea. I wish I could.]
When people arrived they seemed pleasantly surprised by the crowd in our small narthex. When I told them about the coffee time a smile quickly formed on their face Many people grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to visit. Before long there was a holy buzz in the narthex. People were talking and laughing. One of the cool things I noticed was that there were people participating in this holy buzz that normally don’t stay after worship for coffee fellowship time. That put a smile on my face
At about 10:10 a.m. (worship begins at 10:15) I began to wonder how I was going to break up this holy buzz. I almost wanted to have worship out there in the narthex (but there were people in the sanctuary waiting to begin). So I walked inside; waited for the organist to stop playing; and I starting talking. People quickly filed in as I shared the morning announcements. It was a smooth transition.
As worship continued I quickly noticed something else (something others shared with me later). There was a different kind of “energy” in the sanctuary. It’s hard to explain but that pre-worship holy buzz drifted into the sanctuary and something happened. One person said, “It felt warm“, and I would agree. Following worship some people continued to hang around in the narthex for another cup of coffee and another quick treat.
More holy buzz.
All in all it was a great morning.
I think it is so easy to take Christian fellowship for granted. Worship, scripture reading and prayer are important and essential but so is taking time to visit and listen to people. I know we can not recreate last Sunday but I think it is safe to say that pre-worship fellowship time is going to continue…and definitely with my blessing.
It never fails.
Every year at this time in Lent I hit “the wall”.
Every year I begin Lent thinking I am going to be fine…I have this under control.
And every year God humbles me.
On Monday I hit the proverbial wall. I maybe got an hour of sleep that night as my brain was running wild. I had very little energy on Tuesday that no amount of coffee could fix. I was experiencing stress related aches and pains. And I had a hard time concentrating.
It was not a good day
Mid-afternoon on Tuesday I made the difficult decision to cancel my Tuesday night small group at Belmont and cancel confirmation on Wednesday. I was ready for my Wednesday small group and almost ready for Wednesday night worship. So I after I got the word out about the schedule changes I went home to lie down.
God help me.
I prayed and prayed. I confessed my sin of self-confidence in my ability to go through Lent on my strength. Not that I totally ignored God, but I was happy with MY plan to get everything done. I scheduled everything out. I felt I could just plow headlong through Lent and then rest for 2 weeks after Easter. But I ran out of MY energy.
God defeated me…and I thank God for that
I got a solid 8 hours of sleep on Tuesday night and felt better on Wednesday. It felt good to sit and relax…and reflect…and pray. It felt good to take my time to prepare for release time and then small group and then worship. It felt good to have fellowship with God and rely on God’s strength through the Holy Spirit.
It felt good to be defeated.
One of these years I am going to figure this Lent thing out.
One of these years I am going to remember who is truly in charge.
But in the mean time I am going to cherish this feeling of being defeated and enjoy the power of the Holy Spirit working through me.
God help me
I had a great time at the Desiring God 2012 Conference for Pastors. There were about 2000 pastors there:
and engaging in fellowship.
and energized to be better pastors and leaders.
I attended with 3 other colleagues/friends. It was so edifying to be able to process with these Christian men about what we were taking away from this event. I also came home with a lot of resources; a stack of books of which I only bought 4. Not too bad
Much of what I learned I am still processing. The fear I have with these conferences, though, is that I come home so fired up and energized; thinking I am going to change the world RIGHT NOW, but often times I cool off. So my prayer is that the Holy Spirit keeps this fire burning. My hope is that the more I process and talk about this event the better. Last night I shared with my Worship/Music Team an idea and we are already at work trying to implement that idea (more about this will be coming soon I am sure).
I am so thankful for my wife, Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches for giving me these opportunities to get away and grow in so many ways. Now…it’s time to return to life and see what the Holy Spirit does through me.
Dear God, please keep fanning the flames that were ignited in me these past few days. Help me to not forget. Help me to be a better pastor, husband, leader, friend, son, brother, etc. May you be praised in all that I do; that all may see your loves in my words and actions. May my life be a reflection of you. Amen.
Loving God - because your sheep NEED to be fed, grant me strength.
Grant me the words to say this morning as we mourn the death of Gene.
Open the hearts of those who have not heard of you that they may hear the Good News.
Comfort the hearts of those who have heard with the hope of the resurrection.
Strengthen us as we go through these days, weeks and months that lay ahead with the promise that in Christ there are no “good byes”.
May our time together this morning bring you praise, honor and glory as we are FED with the awesome story of Jesus Christ crucified and risen FOR US.
Thank you, God, for your faithfulness.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Something weird happened to me when I was at my synod council meeting this past Saturday.
One of the synod ministers was talking about networking; trying to connect people’s gifts and talents with others. It is a very good idea and am glad we have someone on the synod staff whose job is to do that.
But that’s not the weird thing.
As she was showing us the list of people she has in the data base I was scanning for people I knew and what was listed as their “talent”. For the most part I was not surprised with what I saw.
Then my name came up. (by the way…this is where the “weird thing” begins)
After my name I saw “writing”. I have never considering “writing” a talent or gift. Sure…I have been blogging for 5 1/2 years or so but that doesn’t mean I am a gifted writer. But don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t upset with what I saw, I was just surprised. (This is not the “weird thing” yet…that was just the beginning of the “weird thing” story)
The weird thing that happened was that after I saw “writing”by my name I got inspired. You see…I hadn’t written a blog post since Dec. 12. With the Christmas season and an increased emphasis in communicating through Facebook and Twitter, I just kind of drifted away from blogging, but on Sunday I wrote.
And today I wrote…
…and now I feel inspired to write some more. (But don’t worry ramble on and on here)
It is funny/weird how the Holy Spirit works. And it WAS the Holy Spirit at work that day; kicking me in the butt. I guess there is more ministry to do done through my so-called “gift” of writing. Weird…huh?
Praise be to God!
I had issues this morning.
I have been a pastor now for just over 7 years. I have presided over communion for just over 7 years. I have known the Words of Institution for just over 7 years (even longer than that because I knew well before seminary). But today it was like I have never said those words before.
I was standing up front at Belmont this morning leading worship. I had just received the offering and the congregation was standing. I turned around holding the chalice and began the Words of Institution. The problem is that we start with the bread and then go to the wine (at least that is what I normally do). I found myself lost as I realized that I had the wrong element…so I had to wing it…trying to make it look as if I meant to start with the wine.
I stuttered and stumbled through the Words of Institution like I didn’t know what I was doing. I was totally frazzled and my rhythm was totally gone. I even saw someone out there smile at his wife as he knew I was struggling. I think part of the problem was that I have become so accustomed to the Words of Institution that I found myself relying of the words themselves and not on the proclamation.
That is going to have to change.
My hope and prayer is that people still heard words of promise regardless of my failure. My guess is that they did hear words of promise ~ thanks to the Holy Spirit. I trust that God still used me in some way ~ for you see ~ when I preach and lead worship it is not about what I do but it is about the Holy Spirit working through me. One reason why I am certain of this is because if it were about me; if it were about my speaking ability; if it were about my so-call talents; I would have been fired long ago. But as it is God can use a poor sinner like me to proclaim the Good News.
Praise be to God!
The other explanation of what happened this morning could be that I need a vacation ~ something that will be happening very soon