Archive for February, 2013

Pies

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Our church annual meeting has a tradition of pies. 

Not throwing them.  Eating them!

Each year we ask people to bring a pie.  In previous years I sat back and let Jill pick and choose our contribution. 

This year, I was left to consider what I might do.

My choice?  Use up some more of my freezer contents.  There was a two-pack of pie shells.  Surprisingly, they were in fairly good shape (although they had been moved and cajoled more than once in this past year).  Another packet held peach pie ingredients.  And a further packet had frozen raw pumpkin.

With a little help from the internet, I was able to prepare two pies.  I have left them in their baked state (in other words, I haven’t tasted them yet!).  Tonight I will place them before an adoring audience.  And I will soon find out what ingredients were left out, or what more could have been done.

All for the sake of learning to bake!

Believe it or not, I’m loving it!

As the day ends

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I am thankful for a day.  Each day.  That phrase – this is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it – rings in my ear.

Today I had friends sit in front of me and ask life questions of me.  I attended a funeral of a friend’s mother.  I culled files (a good archival thing to do!).  I rode two hours in a car.  I exercised and prayed. 

And now I am reflecting on the day.

I firmly believe that God calls us to His work.  That means that the tasks of a day should require power that only He can give – whether we feel we are strong enough to do the work or not.

There are many doors that are open in front of me.  The more I pray, the greater the opportunities seem to grow.  Somehow God is increasing my faith and with that my horizon for serving others.

Here is the new horizon – instead of praying that God would open a door, I’m praying that He would close doors.

Now the question is, which door does God want to close?   

The retreat that is/was

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

So, I’m thinking words are always interesting.   You sort of get into that mode being around pastors whose stock for their trade of preaching is words.

I looked at the word retreat.  I am at a Pastor’s Retreat.  Most people think of a retreat as leaving the battlefield.  Some have decided to call their “retreats” by another name – an “advance.”

Maybe we need to reclaim the word retreat.

To “re” something often just means to do it over again.  When we remember we put back together the members (memories) of the past.  When we restore we gather together the parts that would usually have been in our store but have been scattered. 

So what would retreat mean.  How about getting another opportunity to have a “treat”.

That is exactly what these last few days have been.  We have had plenary (talking) times where prayer and sexuality have been discussed – such an interesting combination.  I have sat at meal with old and new friends.  Exercise and discipline has been enjoyable – and the food is fantastic.

And God is here in ways unexpected.  I love it!!

Security or death

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I’ve been reading about prayer.

People realize that we have a need.  A need to pray.  We realize we can’t do it all.

Our prayers tend towards being comfortable.  We like security.  We want our cancers to be healed.  We like the idea that we will be prosperous. 

The further I walk in a journey with God, the more we realize those prayers should not be primary in our lives.

Imagine taking the prayer – God, let me die – and praying it each day. 

If I was dying I would inherit humility.  I would inherit service of others.  I would inherit the reality that I am not really all that I think I am.

I think I like that inheritance.  I’m not so sure I like the prayer to die!

Live Lessons Learned Living with Jesus – 001

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Before the miracles!

When Jill died, life changed. I was given an opportunity to reshape life. In those first days, I continued to awaken at 3:00 in the morning. I wondered, at first, should I get up. For more than 15 years this had been my habit. I would read the Bible and journal and pray over my previous day’s journey. Over the years, Jesus spoke to me in these times, and my own life was put into perspective.

When life brings a new normal, the easy thing is to forsake the harder disciplines in your life. Would I slouch into the day and leave aside my morning physical exercise? Would I isolate myself and never entertain again? Would I quit seeking the advice of others and steer life selfishly?

These and many other long-time disciplines came into question. I wanted to move immediately into a new dimension of life! But Jesus kept calling me to be faithful. In one early morning session with Him, He seemed to say to me, “Trust yourself.” Take all that I had learned from Jesus over the past six decades, continue doing what I was doing to seek Him, and then do whatever came to mind.

I am finding my excitement with this new thrust in my life comes from reliance on Jesus. Regardless of what life puts in front of me, as Paul says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

I want to be faithful in the small things, the disciplines I have developed, in order to see greater things from God. And in these past few months, I have seen God doing amazing miracles, including personal physical healing. Now I awaken each day wondering what Jesus has in mind. It just might be the impossible!!

To the wild, blue yonder

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Or is that the dark, unknown East!

In a tradition of our denomination, I am headed off to a Worker’s Retreat.  The days are filled with rest, speakers, food and joy.  Of course, you can end up talking about worries, people who are cantankerous, or even the things that make for stress in a pastorate.

For me, this will be a new experience.  I am going as a single.  For years I have been accompanied by my wife.

That meant that activities always had someone else there.  Meals were shared with a known person.  Feedback from sessions was just part of what happened.

Now, the people I will see are also known.  The activities will be with friends.  And there will be feedback times around tables. 

Not quite the same. 

As I have been learning, God often places us in new places.  Not to cause worry and stress, but to help us grow.  Growth is not forgetting the branches that have already been formed – they will still be nurtured.  Growth is growing new branches and enjoying their leaves and the shade they bring.

So bring on the new and may the old continue to shade us with grace and goodness!

F2F

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Being face to face (F2F) is much more enjoyable than long distance calling and even such modern conveniences such as Skyping.

These past few days I spent with Cynthia, my fiance, in town.  We sat in on a ministerial discussion, attended a hockey game, had meals with others and even went to a floral shop.  In between we spent a little time with each other.  We would have liked more, but the day is only so long!!

Wedding planning was one of the things on the agenda.  My first marriage was a whirlwind of planning – mostly done by Jill.  I have officiated a number of weddings so I have seen the terror and the joy of wedding preparation.

Now, its my turn to see things from a whole new perspective.  Listing of attendees, flowers, decor, meals, accommodations – the list seems endless.  We will get through it all – the day will come and go – memories will be implanted and vows exchanged.

Then comes the true opportunity that life affords.  Sharing life together.  One day can initiate, but many days create life.

These last few days of F2F have been enjoyable.  I look forward to many more days to come in the future!!

Life Lessons Learned Living with Jesus

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

If I had met Jesus in the second decade of my life, and had the opportunity to be his friend for the rest of my life, what would that look like? 

Quite literally, what would that look like?

Or more accurately what does that look like?  In many ways this blog is just that experience!

As the church calendar goes, Lent is that space where Jesus’ life is lived between childhood and the week before he dies (OK, this is a generalization, but a good way to look at it).

We have asked our church family and friends to write two to three paragraphs on Life Lessons Learned Living with Jesus.  The easiest way is to zero in on one life lesson you have learned.  Only 2 – 3 paragraphs.  One life lesson (OK, some are able to squeeze in a few more lessons in just a few short paragraphs!).  Something that has stuck.

We’ll publish (make public) these lessons over the Lenten season (which begins on February 13th).  I’ve seen a few of the short thoughts arrive in the church office.  I am amazed and excited to see this collection.

What would you put in your paragraphs? 

Further on initiative

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Continuing to read in McManus – Chasing Daylight

[Henry Blackaby’s] insight that we should look for what God is doing and then get in on it has moved us to greater obedience.  Yet I think it’s important to add that while God has been working in human history since He breathed life into Adam, there are many things yet to be done, and beyond this, many things yet to be begun. 

There may be another question that needs to be asked beyond “What is God doing?” and that is this this:  “What is God dreaming?”  Is there something that God wants initiated and He’s waiting for someone to volunteer?  In Isaiah the Lord said to His people, “Open your eyes! I am doing a new thing.  Will you even be aware of it?”  (Is. 42:19)

In every movement, no matter how big or small, someone went first.  Isn’t the essence of spiritual leadership someone who is willing to follow God first and closest?   (p. 53)