Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Arriving or Journeying On?

In our congregation's grand adventure of reading the Bible in one year a theme that comes up again and again is God calling people to set off on a journey. Whether it's Abram being sent to the Promised Land or Moses leading the people into the wilderness or the flights of the fancy that David endures before he finally becomes King of Israel or Jesus wanderings all over the Holy Land or Saint Paul's adventures on land and sea journeying on in faith is a constant theme in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

The question implied in the title, though, is whether our faith is more about arriving or journeying on. There are some who seem to think that being saved, accepting Christ into your heart is a matter of ultimate arrival. But if we consider the brought scope of scripture, it seems to me that accepting God's grace and love in Jesus Christ is just the beginning of the grand journey of faith.

Of course, that can be a little scary, can't it? I mean, if there is not arrival are we just wandering aimlessly through life? To which I maintain that we aren't so much as wandering, if we have and can rely on Jesus as our constant traveling companion then, no, we are not just wandering but rather its more like we are engaged in a wonderfully fantastic road trip. With Jesus as our co-pilot and sometimes allowing him to take the wheel for us, we can enjoy the scenery, we can know that the stops and detours and forks taken are, if not always guided by him, then at least we won't find ourselves too far off course in the journey.

So where are you in your journey of faith? Have you arrived and you are just going to sit back and watch life pass you by? Or have you loaded up with the resources and companions for the journey ahead? Or are you at a rest stop waiting for just the right moment to get back into the flow of things? Or are you in some faith-based airport terminal waiting for just the right flight to get on board?

Wherever you are on your journey, I hope and pray that you will rely on the love of God that we can know most clearly through God's Son, Jesus Christ, as our ever ready road trip companion.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Single Parenting

Well, Eric and I are nearly through in our adventure of being without Kathy/Mom for half the month of October. She is in Orlando and will be home late on Friday, October 24th! Being without Kathy has made me appreciate the overwhelming responsibility and need to acknowledge, pray for, and seek to reach out to those whom we know who are parenting without the benefits of a spouse.

Typically Kathy gets Eric up and my responsibility is to put him to bed, when I am at home. Not to mention, that when he is not in Kindergarten, every afternoon, Kathy is there to parent while I am being a pastor. Then on weekends I typically spend more time with Eric while Kathy gets a little "time off", but she is not far if my skills become insufficient. All in all--it works!

But for the last three weeks, minus a few days and twelve hours, it has just been
Eric and me AND I AM POOPED! Not only do we both miss Kathy/Mom, but I find myself in awe of single parents and have been moved to be more mindful and prayerful on behalf of those single parents that I know. For no matter how good of a kid Eric is, he is still quite a handful by myself with no relief.

All of this is to say or to reiterate, if you know someone who parents alone, give them a call, offer them a helping hand, or just offer a prayer to God for their patience, sanity, and love.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Higher Loyalty

Yesterday morning I continued my odd calling in life to stand up, just about every Sunday, and share a few words about what God says to us through the Bible. Yesterday's reading was Matthew 22:15-22, the story about Jesus being asked whether or not taxes should be paid to Rome. The line that Jesus speaks, that stuns his listeners probably as much today as two thousand years ago is, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."

As yesterday's sermon was delivered on Stewardship Commitment Sunday, the focus of the sermon was on our financial commitments for the year to come, both as members of FPC, Twin Falls, as well as in our lives in the wider world. Another way to pursue the same wisdom of Jesus would have been to speak about the quickly heightening negative rhetoric being splashed over the various media outlets covering the national election. That is, by giving to God the things that are God's we are called to a higher loyalty than merely our own opinion of who is right and who is wrong in any election.

What I mean to say is, if we take seriously the need to give to God the things that are God's, then we have to remember that the greatest commandment, at least according to Jesus, is to love God and then love our neighbor. And in the current political environment where accusations of socialism on one side and being out of touch with reality on the other side are being thrown around by both campaigns, perhaps a healthy dose of Christianity should be thrown into our considerations of these issues. For, if you are a Christian, and you engage in such damaging rhetoric with your friends, family, and acquaintances, then you are not living up to the higher loyalty to God of loving God first and because of God's love, in turn loving your neighbor even if they don't agree with you politically.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that you can not have a robust political opinion or even an uninformed political opinion. Rather, if you are a Christian and call on Jesus Christ as your guide in life, then how you express those opinions does matter. It is not a matter of political correctness, instead it is a matter of correct living as a follower of Christ and a beloved child of God. That is, no matter who is elected 15 days from today, if your ultimate loyalty is to God, then you are going to have to think and pray long and hard about how you are going to be in relationship with those friends and family and complete strangers with whom you disagree.

Why? Well, my guess is that from God's perspective, none of us are perfect or completely correct or as loving as we ought to be and yet God loves us still. And maybe, just maybe, its time to treat those with whom we disagree with some of that amazing grace and love as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Second Home

Granted, the title of this blog might speak to a dream home at the beach or one in the mountains, somewhere where an individual or a family can escape the trials of life. And those certainly are nice for those who can afford them, but I'm thinking about a second home that many families and individuals can find right in their own communities. I'm speaking about church as a second home.

Last night while I was at LOGOS, after a busy day and trying to get a lot done, a feeling came over me of contentment that some might find in a second home which is an escape from daily life and gives them the energy to go on with the rest of the week. Yes, I had seen many of the same people on Sunday morning, but as pastor, and I suspect for most church goers, the Sunday morning event does not allow for the same depth of relationship that a meal or common task affords.

But mostly, for me, the sense of a second home came after dinner when I sat down with two senior high boys for Bible study. We are watching the "Lord of the Rings" and then talking about how ideas in the film connect with the Bible and life. While we were settling into a clip about Loving Relationships, a dad and his preschool daughter joined us for some movie watching and then consideration of how the Bible and a popular film talk to us about being in relationship with God and one another.

It struck me in that space: how different, how removed from regular life, and yet how valuable it was, what an opportunity for relationship building to have two senior high boys, two thirty-something dads and a preschool daughter listen in on a conversation that God started a long time ago, about what makes for loving and lasting relationships.

Having that time apart from the crush of deadlines and expectations and goals and concerns is vital for the life of both the individual and the family. And it is a joy to be part of forming a second home for the people of First Presbyterian Church in Twin Falls, Idaho. I hope you, too, will continue to join me in building this second home, as well.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

30 Days

I've just finished watching my weekly dose of "Meet the Press" and it is hard to imagine, that after 18 months of candidates, debates, ads (negative & semi-truthful) that we are about a month away from this all being over--we can only pray.

Do you realize that a month from now we will wake up and one ticket or the other will have won? Regardless of your partisan feelings, we all can pray God that there are no recounts with their hanging-chads and court cases, don't you agree?

Won't it be a little strange to turn on the TV or go online or talk to your friends, family, and acquaintences and realize that the spectre of partisan politics will be relieved, if but for a few weeks?

Can't we all, in spite of our personal politics, pray that the campaigns of both respective tickets remain respectable? Can't we all pray that Republicans and Democrats, both, remind themselves to think before they (or their surrogates) speak? Can't we all, call on the name of God Almighty to bring a little civility and reality to this national contest?

Hopefully--prayerfully--we can all look back on these 30 Days between October 5th and November 5th and see that we all prayed; we all spoke truth in a spirit of love; we all loved our neighbor and considered not only what to say--but just as importantly--how to say it, before we opened our mouths. Hopefully--prayerfull--we will be able to look back on these 30 Days to come and see not just victory, but more importantly a coming together, that is worthy of the American Spirit and the Spirit of God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pooped, but Proud!

Our first night of LOGOS is complete and I am pooped, but proud!

I am pooped because it takes a lot of energy to get ready for LOGOS. Personally, I am involved in three of the four areas of the ministry: Worship Skills, Family Time and Bible Study. And, although I am not involved in Recreation I did a lot of running around the building last night. Between taking pictures, and running errands for teachers and leaders, and making sure kids were in the right place; I nearly got to every corner of our 30,000 square foot church. But it was more than worth it!

Why was it worth it? Well, seeing children, youth, and adults growing in their relationship with Christ and because of His love, they in turn were growing in their relationships with one another, makes all the energy spent well worth it. That and seeing upwards of two-dozen adults making a similar effort in their preparations certainly makes a pastor proud. And even though being prideful can be a sin, I do believe that the pride I feel towards our congregation, towards those who are working and praying to make LOGOS ministry a success for Christ, is a forgivable and understandable kind of pride.

May God bless our ministry with children and youth and help us grow in our understanding of the love of Christ and the compassion of the Holy Spirit in our midst.