Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Entering the iPod World

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend, and my parents surprised me by giving me an iPod for a present. I will admit to having been slow on the pickup when it comes to iPods, but let me just say: I love it! I have already signed up to receive a podcast of one my favorite talk shows each day that I can listen to whenever I want. I have begun to put some of my music on it. And it has games! Wow!

Just a couple of weeks, there was a story in the local newspaper about the use of technology by churches. The article touched on the idea of "podcasts" of sermons. I think this would be an interesting idea. I also think it would be good if there were devotional material out there available for download. If somebody is reading this and knows of some good stuff, please let me know!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Agony of Defeat and the Thrill of Victory

Did you see what happened in the Browns-Ravens game yesterday? Cleveland, down by 3, lined up for a 51 yard field goal attempt that would tie the game with no time left. The kicker kicked the ball and watched it bounce off the upright and seemingly off the crossbar back into the field of play. One official signalled "No good." Game over. The teams began walking out onto the field. The Cleveland coach was comforting the kicker. Some of the Ravens players went on into the locker room. The Baltimore radio announcers were celebrating an important Ravens victory. All the while, the officials huddled together talking. A few minutes later, the head referee announced that the officials had determined that the ball had bounced not off the cross bar but off the support behind the cross bar. Video replay actually confirmed this decision. The game was tied. The Browns went on to win the game in overtime.

Talk about life changing in a moment. The image I haven't been able to get out of mind is that of the Cleveland coach comforting the kicker who thought he had missed the kick. You can't take back comfort, even if it is not needed. I am sure that the kicker felt a lot better to learn he had actually made the kick. However, I'd like to think the coach's words and actions bridged the gap until things worked out. I wonder, how many times does God comfort us, knowing that He will ultimately work all things for the good (Romans 8:28)? It would be easy for God to just say, "Hey, don't worry, it will be alright." But those are not really words of comfort. God promises comfort, comfort that carries us through until we can see how he works for our good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lord Teach Us To Pray

I am really looking forward to prayer meeting tonight. Tonight I will be beginning a new theme for our Wednesday night services - "Lord, Teach Us to Pray." The theme comes from Luke 11:1 and the disciples' request of Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." One of the insights I got from my sabbatical was our need to conform our lives to Christ. Prayer is one of the greatest tools for this conformation, but sometimes we limit our understanding of what prayer is, how we pray, what we pray for, etc. My hope is that this new emphasis on Wednesday nights will be a time for all of us to sit at the feet of Jesus and have our view of prayer expanded in new directions.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Substitute for a Sacrifice

I found this really interesting passage this morning that got me thinking. The passage is Numbers 3:5-7, 11-13.

"Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, so that they may assist him. They shall perform duties for him and for the whole congregation in front of the tent of meeting, doing service at the tabernacle ... Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: I hereby accept the Levites from among the Israelites as substitutes for all the firstborn that open the womb among the Israelites. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine; when I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both human and animal; they shall be mine. I am the LORD."

What I am thinking: The tribe of Levi was set aside to be the priestly tribe. God also identifies them as a "substitute". For what? Rather than sacrificing the firstborn living creature, human and animal alike, God substituted the consecrated life of service of the priests. The priest was a substitute for sacrifice.

God desires service, not sacrifice. How often do I say, "Look what I have done for you, God", and how often do I say, "Look at what I have given up for you God." Is there a difference in the attitude that comes with each of these statements?

All this has gotten me thinking about my identity as a pastor. What am I a substitute for? Do I give my life in service to God and His people in order that others may know life and know it more abundantly?

Just a few questions rolling around my head today.