[10DEC2011] Advent – Week 2: Readings, Reflection, & Prayer
♦ Psalm 30, 32 ♦ 42, 43
“Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’ So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” (Psalm 32:1-2, 8, 11 NLT)
“Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!” (Psalm 43:3-4 NLT)
Joyful, joyful… we adore Thee.
Tonight we had a Christmas concert at our church. We have been practicing songs since August when Laurie and I joined. In the most recent couple of weeks since the season of Advent began, I have been meditating and praying through the lyrics of many of the songs from our concert. I cannot express with words the wonderful blessing I have experienced through these prayerful reflections over the songs. Each song has been so inspired with the fullness of God’s Good News of the coming Christ; the story full of hope, promise, and incredible joy! When God would come to earth and make a way for fallen and broken man to be remade, reimaged, and rejoined into holy union with his Creator! What a mind boggling story! This is joy! This is joy. As I was singing tonight with the choir, I experienced moments of inexpressible joy as I heard the words bubbling up from my heart as they made their way up into the air chambers of my lungs and passed through the vocal chords, rolling onto and off my tongue past my lips with Kerygmatic proclamation announcing the Story of Redemption as God became man for the sake of His Name and our reconciliation. Joy! Joy! God and man joined again as Creator and created, Father and sons, Savior and friends; One… The Father in the Son and the Son in us, his followers. “I have given them the glory you have me, so they may be one as we are on. I am in them and your are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:22-23) Joy. Unspeakable inexpressible incomprehensible joy. Wow. This is our promise and this is our gift. It is ours now and it is why we look to this season with such hope and joy. God is here, God is in us and our joy is complete… while we wait for his ultimate return. Joy. Joy. Joy.
Book Review: The Pastor-A Memoir
Author: Eugene Peterson
Publisher: Harper One ISBN: 9780061988202
I had wanted to read this book, The Pastor by Eugene Peterson, for awhile. I’ve actually had it on my bookshelf for some time now, but had some other books I needed to read for some courses I was taking. I was not disappointed. The book is slightly over three hundred pages, but it read incredibly fast for me. It was as if I were sitting in the Peterson’s living room listening to “Pastor Pete” talk to me personally about his path of ministry through the years. This scenario wasn’t too hard to imagine. A couple years ago I had the very real privilege of meeting Eugene Peterson and his wife, Jan, and share a meal with them…sorta. I was in an airport in San Antonio, TX following a conference by Renovare’ and had stopped for a bite to eat. As I was looking for a place to sit down I spotted the Petersons. Probably acting a little bold, I asked if I could join them and they graciously said yes. They had pretty much finished their meal, but were kind enough to allow me to hang out with them for a bit while we waited for our respective flights. The point of this “name dropping” isn’t to boast about my meeting the Petersons, but to share what happened during the meeting. While I visited with the Petersons, Eugene and Jan, both acted as pastors to me for the short time that I shared their company. And, this is what the book is about.
In this memoir, Peterson shares the arc of growing into his vocation as Pastor. The theme that develops and follows his life is “Every step an arrival.” What he means by this every step… is each moment, if we are alert and aware, is a moment that God uses to speak to us and speak into us about who we are and what we are created for. I think Pastor Pete caught on to this reality early in his ministry and development as a pastor. I think this because he opened himself and surrendered himself to the reshaping and molding that was necessary for this vocation to become rooted in him and actually becoming him in an inseparable distinction. Eugene Peterson is a pastor, pastor is not what he does it is who he is…even now he is still a pastor because he is pastoring and mentoring me (as well as thousands of others as well). The book and the man who wrote it are as real as it gets.
I mentioned the book being a fast read, the reason for this is not only because the movement of the story is engrossing, but also because most of the chapters are fairly short. Peterson writes about the events in his life that shaped his pastoral formation. Most of the events are small snippets and vignettes from his past that he doesn’t go into a lot of detail about…simply sharing the portions that are pertinent to his life becoming a pastor. I like that. This manner of recounting his life and spiritual formation was helpful to me, urging me to reflect and take notice of the events, milestones, and situations where I could recognize God’s hand and gentle intervention in my own life trying to get my attention and shape me into the person He had created me to be. This, in my opinion, is the sign of a great book and probably the reason I enjoyed it so much. I don’t know if everyone who reads this book will connect with it as I have, but I will say the man who wrote it is authentic and that says a lot. Eugene Peterson is The Pastor.
Over the years I’ve added book after book from Pastor Eugene to my library. His pastoral series and his spiritual theology series are always some of my most recommended books to others who aspire to grow in the grace and ministry of spiritual direction and leadership. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet him and I’m glad I had the opportunity to know him better through his memoir. I’ll bet you’ll feel similarly after reading this book too.
LENT—Day 31: “Fifth Sunday” [2011APR09]
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
But he who raised Christ up from the dead will raise us up also if we do his will and walk in his commandments and love what he loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness, “not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,” or blow for blow or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in his teaching. –Polycarp
Concluding Thoughts For the Evening:
- God is Sovereign…
- He (Jesus) has been given “all authority” in Heaven and on Earth…
- Everything seen and unseen was created by Him and for Him…
- God knows our needs before we do…
- God does not give “bad” gifts to His children…
I think that we often lose sight of the fact that God has one primary object; that His children be reconciled to Him for eternity. We are quick to lose sight of the primary objective and too often distracted by the “shiny distractions” of life. We think bad things happen because we lose favor with God; we think God “removes His Presence” when we make choices counter to “His Will” for our lives…and all the while—God’s will is that we be reconciled and drawn near to Him. Everything occurs as a result of God’s Sovereignty and God’s Sovereignty is drawing us to Himself with one purpose, to be transformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, so we might reflect His Glory to all of Creation…resulting in “bearing fruit that lasts for eternity.” It makes little difference how far I have strayed or closely I follow Jesus, the objective of God’s destiny for my life is the same; He wishes to conform and transform me to the nature and character of Jesus. The sooner I embrace the “gifts” He showers upon me, the sooner and more effective my transformation to the person of Jesus will be. (jb)
Christians are meant to be “spiritual” in the sense that they are meant to be “led by the Spirit” and to “live by the Spirit.” –Simon Tugwell
O Lord, we beseech thee to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by thy grace to love and fear thee only, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
I found this on the www.outofur.com blog from the www.ChristianityToday.com website. It features Brian McLaren in a brief segment sharing his ideas on preaching curriculum for the pastor. While I don’t advocate the theology of McLaren, I have been stirred to think from his books and blog. In this video I find myself in agreement with is suggestion. I have a number of thoughts on the current culture of our weekend worship services. I have spent much of the last five months visiting a number of different faith communities and find teaching, instruction, meaningful engagement with the Church universal, and practical discipleship to be lacking in substantive measure.
10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Frequenters of this blog know that I have a certain affinity for a special group of “R” words — Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration. I’ve written about these words, studied them, meditated over them, and allowed them to become a part of the fiber of my soul. A couple weeks ago, I was able to preach on one of the points of redemption. This Sunday, I was able to teach and share my heart on some elements of the restoration. My sermon audio is included here along with my outline, sermon notes, and small group questions.
Please feel free to leave any feedback or questions.
We are sharing a teaching series as we approach Resurrection Sunday (Easter) in our church called “The Road to Redemption.” I was honored with teaching the installment on the “Redeemed: Humans are Broken” yesterday. I have included with this post the outline, small group discussion questions, and my teaching notes as well as the audio of the message. We used a video to setup the teaching which I have also included here which adds some context to the first part of the sermon… As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.
Installment #7 was my assignment for this weekend’s worship services. My title for this message was “Preventative Maintenance: Creating and Maintaining a Healthy Biblical Community.” As is my custom, I have included the manuscript, sermon outline, and small group discussion questions along with the audio file. I am always interested in constructive critique and feedback.
download manuscript (.pdf file)
download outline and sm.grp. discussion (.pdf file)
Installment #4 was my assignment for this weekend’s worship services. My title for this message was “Rules of the Road: God’s Way of Loving Ourselves and Loving Others.” As is my custom, I have included the manuscript, sermon outline, and small group discussion questions along with the audio file. I am always interested in constructive critique and feedback.
download manuscript (.pdf file)
download outline and sm.grp. discussion (.pdf file)