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Showing posts from May, 2012

Death and Joy

Two blogs in one day!!!!  That must be a record.  There's a reason for this though.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go visit an old friend - Bill Howitt.  
Bill was one of those truly amazing individuals from my past.  Garrison Keillor talks about Norwegian bachelor farmers.  Well Bill was not Norwegian, but he was a bachelor farmer.


I met Bill as a young Pastor...First Congregational Church in Randolph had all of 30 people in it when I began...Bill was one of them. 
He was a quiet man...I never heard him once raise his voice beyond normal conversation.  He was a gentle man...when gentlemen seem to be lost in our world today.  
I never did figure out why he didn't marry; except for the fact that he didn't ask people for anything, so perhaps, he just couldn't ask a woman to go out?  
We met together for several years one on one - at his country house, for breakfast...he would cook it for me.  Coffee, eggs, toast, bacon, juice, potatoes...it was always bountiful.
We would ta…

Sorrow, Loss

Psalm 90:10 (NIV)
10 The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Hang around people long enough and you cannot help but feel the pain of sorrow and loss.  Pastors are suppose to be people who know how to enter into someone's sorrow and help them find their way out....that seldom happens in my experience.  The risk, and danger, of pastoral guidance is that it is often too "soon", and the person is not ready to make the changes necessary to go on.

Life at times is like walking through a marshy bog.  Every step lends itself to the possibility that the boots will get stuck in the ground and trying to pick up one's foot will only result in a wet, boggy foot!

How to do forward?  How to get one foot in front of the other.
Reading Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he writes about things that are important in the area of sorrow and loss.

2 Corinthians 7:1-1…

Eat the Book - Some More

Psalm 115:1-8 (NIV)
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
2 Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?"
3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.
5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see;
6 they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell;
7 they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.


Eugene Peterson is one of those unusual writers that makes each word count.  Some writers are like people who love to hear their own words - an endless litany of words upon words, none of it leading to anything worth thinking about.

One commentary on reading:  "If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?...A book …

Receiving the Word

It's not too often that I blog on a passage of scripture I'm soon teaching.  I suppose it's my way of making sure I don't use the blog site as a preaching site.  Still, there are times when it seems worth it to "muse" a bit about what I'm also preparing to teach.  Here's one, and it's sort of a continuation of what I began yesterday to say in that post about "Eating the book".

Luke 8:4-15 (NIV)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:
5 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.
6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When …

Eat The Book?

Reading through Ezekial is a chore.  He received a lot of his messages before and during Israel's exile to Babylon, around 580 b.c.
Ezekiel 3:1-3 (NIV)
1 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel."
2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 


Interestingly, this same thing happened later at the close of the bible in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 10:1-2 (NIV)
1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,

Revelation 10:8-10 (NIV)
8 Then the voice that I had heard…

Hope in the painful times

I have never quite understood what to do - as a pastor - when people are in pain.  It is times like that when you want to come alongside, say something encouraging, pray, even see the healing occur and the pain go away.  That is what I want to have happen.  Yet that is not my experience.  For the most part I walk away feeling quite useless.  I pray...and I know that this is good to do.  But the pain still remains.

Reading through Jeremiah I find a man of God who "lived" in a place of pain.  His country was falling into ruin.  The captivity was soon coming...Jeremiah saw it on the horizon, and warned of it - only to have his fellow Jews deride him for being a traitor.  He was living in the pain of rejection while knowing that God's judgement was soon to fall...
SO, where does hope appear in times of pain and suffering?
I ran across these words in Jeremiah this morning.

Jeremiah 33:1-3 (NIV)
1 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the …

Context, Context, Context

One of the first rules of Biblical interpretation is "what did the text mean in it's original setting".  It's all too easy to take passages of scripture out of their context.  For example, I recently received a note from someone where they quoted from Jeremiah, and the wonderful words:


Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What is to not like about those words.  They are hopeful promises that seem to say "hang in there, God will make it all ok...he's on your side."  Now, it's not as if I believe God is against me...it's just that this is not the main purpose of those words in their context.

Jeremiah was writing to a group of people who had been taken into captivity by the Babylonian armies - date, around 590 b.c.  What's interesting is that Jeremiah is writing to these people because he had previously written to th…

Sabbaths - More Needed

It's been a couple of weeks since I've blogged (April 19)...not an excuse, nor an apology...just a fact.
There's been a lot happening of late and so life has been fairly packed full and busy.  We arrived back home from our trip to England with a flurry of activity.  Linda keeps child-care for our granddaughter, Iris.  Which is a pure delight to see and have around two days a week.  Along with that we kept our grandkids, Jack and Leo for the last weekend...again, a great delight; but I bless all of you parents out there - I forgot how tired one can get in a normal day of children.

Along with these things life in our church fellowship is never dull.  Our church - New Life Fellowship - is to me a joy, and even though pastoring is a job, I enjoy the people I get to see week in and week out.  As I currently teach through the Gospel of Luke, I get to dive into the scripture with them and be honest about what works for me and what doesn't.  The level of grace that allows anyo…