Holy rest: A Prayer

Holy God; gracious and merciful…

Through Jesus Christ we find rest for our souls.
Through Jesus Christ we find peace for our hearts.
Through Jesus Christ we find hope for the future.

And this is all despite the fact that we are unfaithful to you, O God.

Almighty God, the depth of your love is unsearchable and the wideness of your mercy is unimaginable and the joy of your peace surpasses all understanding.

Oh Lord our God, how we desire to see you face to face and to soak in your majesty.  How we desire to behold your beauty and gaze on you for all eternity.  How we desire to sing with all your saints a song that never ends.  Mighty God, you are worthy of all worship, praise and honor.

May we rest in your promises on this Sabbath Day and forever more.

In Jesus name I pray,  Amen.

May this Sabbath Day be more than just rest from a busy week, but rather, resting in the promises of Jesus.  In the words of Jesus: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

Enjoy your rest; now and forever more :-)

The pastor -|—

Idiots

As I journey through the Old Testament in my daily Bible reading I just can’t shake the thought that those Israelites were idiots. I mean think about it.  Over and over again they had to be reminded of what God did for them:

~ His mighty acts over the Egyptians
~ Parting the Red Sea
~ Water from a rock
~ Manna from heaven every morning
~ Quail every evening
~ A pillar of cloud and fire guiding them
~ Sandals that did not wear out

Mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness after mighty acts of power, love and faithfulness.  All of this and they whine and complain when things get tough.

Really?!?

Idiots

What does it take to convince them that God is awesome and powerful and faithful? What does it take for them to remember that God is not going to desert them?

All I can do is shake my head and roll my eyes.

Wait a second…

…don’t we do the same thing?  When times get tough, don’t we question God and wonder where He is?  Don’t we forget about God’s love and faithfulness?  I mean, we too run after other gods.  We too chase after idols.  We too whine and complain.

We too are idiots.

But praise be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is faithful.

People ~  Remember, remember and remember.

Our God is awesome
Our God is love
Our God is power
Our God is our God

Praise be to God and Amen!

The pastor -|—

Summer Top Ten List

Yesterday (May 7) was the last day of confirmation for the school year; and what a great year it has been.

The following is a top ten list of things I gave my students, at the end of class, to do over the summer. Not requirements but things to think about as they continue their faith journey; a journey that never ends.  And as I read through this I thought I would share this with you.  They are things that apply to all of us and ones that I will be posting in my office as a constant reminder for me.

So here you go (in no particular order)…
(10) Worship (God the Father, almighty, Creator of heaven and earth)
~ Worship is not a requirement but something that flows out of your faith. We don’t worship because we have to but because we get to.

(9) Read your Bible
~ Bible reading should also be a joy.
~ If you want help staying on course find a partner to read with and hold each other accountable. Talk about about what you read and explore together.

(8) Pray
~ You can’t have a vibrant, healthy relationship with someone if you don’t spend time together.
~ Know that I will continue to be praying for each of you by name.

(7) Make the most of opportunities to share your faith
~ I dare you to ask God to give you an opportunity to share your faith with someone. I have found that God is more than happy to give you opportunities. What you do with them is your choice, but remember, it could be a matter of life or death for that person.

(6) Memorize scripture
~ And not just your “required” memory work. I challenge you to memorize Bible verses as a way of life. You just might be surprised by how God will use those verses in your life to bring Him glory.

(5) Do random acts of kindness
~ Mess with people’s heads (in a good way) by showing the love of Christ.

(4) Deflect praise
~ When someone praises you for something, remember who gave you the ability to do the thing you are being praised for.  Instead of saying “thank you” say, “praise be to God”. I am willing to bet that you will catch their attention; and what a way to share your faith.

(3) Quiet time
~ Take time out of your busy schedule to just think about God, talk and listen to Him, journal and enjoy God’s company.
~ When you are day dreaming about God you are never wasting time ~ but be careful about this if you are supposed to be working :-)

(2) Be brave
~ When your faith is challenged, stand strong. You have the God of all creation by your side. Even if everyone around you is against you and says your wrong; be brave. God is not wrong.

(1) Remember
~ Remember that God loves you beyond anything you can possibly comprehend.

Blessed be the journey :-)

The pastor -|—

Off your butt

In a few moments I will be leaving this closet I call an office and heading out into the community to do something I thoroughly enjoy…

Visit people.

My first stop will be The Pines (the assisted living facility here in Jackson).  On the first Tuesday of every month I meet with the Salem members living there to bring them communion and to visit.  Next, I will go to what many people call my second office: Coffee Choices (I think the title of the place is self-explanatory).  In addition to getting my afternoon coffee I hope to run into people to visit with; if not customers then the staff.

And after my coffee stop I will see where the wind blows me.

To some, this may look like I am being lazy and not working, but on the contrary, this is extremely important work.  To be a minister of the Gospel; whether a called pastor or a lay person, you need to go out to where people are at.  You need to engage people in their context.  You need to listen to people and relate to what they are going through.  And to do this ministry you need to get out there.

You can’t just sit and wait for people to find you; you need to find them. You need to take the initiative.  You need to take advantage of opportunities that God gives you. I am not saying that as a Christian that you need to have a sermon ready to preach to everyone you meet.  What I am saying is that you need to be ready to show love to everyone and to do that you need to get off your butt.

It’s really simply ministry when you think about it; you get some exercise and maybe a cup of coffee or two.

So here I go.  My butt is leaving this chair. Will I see you out there?

The pastor -|—

Sabbath rest

I thought I should come back today and write something a little more intelligent than the “May the fourth be with you” post from last night.  I guess it just goes to show that no public writing should take place after 10 p.m.  Actually, it is a little questionable now since I haven’t consumed my morning pot of coffee yet, so forgive me if things get weird :-)

For 12 sermons now, I have been preaching through the Gospel of Mark.  Yesterday was Mark 2:21-22…

Yes, 12 sermons and I am not through the second chapter yet.

…But coming up this Sunday I will finish the 2nd chapter by proclaiming the Good News in verses 23-28 concerning the Sabbath Day, with the following verses capturing my attention this morning:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath was made for me.
The Sabbath was made for you.

That is Good News.  I mean, think about it ~ the Sabbath was made for you to slow down and enjoy rest.  And I am not talking about sleeping in after a late Saturday night or enjoying a nap on the couch in the afternoon.  The rest that we are being given is rest in the promises of Jesus.  When we make the Sabbath Day about physical rest we miss the point.   Jesus’ death and resurrection frees us from the toil of justifying ourselves in the eyes of a holy God.  But through faith in Jesus, we are made right in God’s eyes and thus we can find holy rest through fellowship with God in worship, study of scripture and communion with other believers.

Sure, you can find rest for your bodies on the golf course or the lake or watching your children play a sport (on Sunday), but rest for your soul is found only through Jesus.  And if that is the case for you, then why wouldn’t you want to worship the King of the universe in the presence of other believers as the Good News is proclaimed TO YOU.

The Sabbath was made for you to enjoy the promises made to you through Jesus Christ.  May you enjoy a holy rest made possible only through the awesome and amazing grace of God.

The pastor -|—

The force

I was glancing over my calendar for the week and noticed that on this day, 8 years ago, “The Heart of a Pastor” was birthed.  Yes, I actually wrote that in my calendar and yes, I am a nerd.

But 8 years, though…8.  The big 0-8.  A second grader.

Wow!

I can’t believe I have been writing that long.  So many times I thought I was going to give up writing on this blog but then something clicks and off I go again.  But then again, as a “second grader” I get distracted easily with other things.

Now I am approaching the 10 year anniversary of my ordination and my ministry here in Jackson.

10 years…10. The big 1-0. A fourth grader.

I can’t believe that one either. And what makes that number more amazing is that this is still my first call. But maybe I should be more impressed that my congregations haven’t run me out of town yet.

Or maybe my longevity in Jackson and in this little corner of cyberspace is because the force is strong with this pastor.  I mean, it can’t be a coincidence that I started this blog on this day 8 years ago; on Star Wars Day.  You know what I am talking about, right.

May the fourth be with you :-)

I guess the fourth (I mean the force) is strong in this one.

Happy “The Heart of a Pastor” Day AND Star Wars Day.

The pastor (a.k.a. ~ A nerd who needs more sleep) -|—

You and You alone

Holy God…

Today we gather to hear Your Word.
Today we gather to confess our sins.
Today we gather to sing Your praises.

But what ever the reason, may we gather to worship You and not the gods of this world.

May our sanctuary be where other believers are gathering around the Word and not around some sport or activity.

May we find our joy and rest in YOU.

May we be driven by the desire to praise YOU.

For You, O God, are our hope and salvation through Jesus Christ.
Nothing else can compare.
Nothing else can give life.
Nothing else can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.

Holy God, may all people seek You and You alone.

May You be praised always and forever.

Amen!

The pastor -|—