Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nothing but a Hound Dog

This week Rebecca and I have adopted a new member of our family. Duke is our big, brown, three year old Plott Hound, and he is making himself at home around here. We are learning quickly what Duke does and doesn’t do, what he likes and what he dislikes. As with most big hounds, his booming voice both startles and amazes. He eats his meals in about twenty seconds while we keep our hands and feet a safe distance away. I wanted Duke to go running with me this morning, but actually I went running with Duke as I struggled to keep up with his long hound dog gait. I guess I’m going to have to pick up the pace. And so far, Duke has a perfect record, answering nature’s call in nature and not in the family room. Way to go, Duke.

Our new family member started me thinking. Is getting a new dog anything at all like calling a new pastor? I wonder. Maybe there are a few similarities after all. 

First, a new pastor, like Duke, is a little anxious, just a little nervous coming into a new place, new surroundings, and lots of new people. It takes a little while for strangers to become friends and for friends to become family, but it will happen. It just takes time.

Also, a new pastor, like Duke, is more than ready to love and be loved. The nice woman that introduced us to Duke last week said, “He just needs a family. Everything will be fine for him when he has a family to love that will love him, too.” I guess that’s true for all of us, isn’t it? Pastor and people, we all need the love of a church family, a place to believe and belong.  

Finally, a new pastor, like Duke, is ready for new adventures. With a big hound like Duke, it’s better not to hold the leash too tight. He needs to explore, to run free, and hopefully to find the right path to follow. I pray that as a new pastor I will always be able to pick up the sweet scent of the Spirit and follow wherever He leads, while barking loud enough that our whole church can hear and follow after. Who knows where we might go together. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Friend Is Your Friend

One of my new friends and partners in ministry has started a blog of her own. Katie McKown serves as Associate Pastor here at Memorial. You'll enjoy her thoughts and reflections along with her great sense of humor. You can find Katie's blog here at http://hermeneuticsinhighheels.blogspot.com.Stop by and get acquainted.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summertime

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Summertime.
The days heat up and the pace slows down.
Time to get together. Time to get away.
Drop the kids at the pool. Drop a putt in the hole.
Little League games and major league moments.
Drive to the beach. Drive to the mountains. Drive Mom and Dad nuts.
Tend the yard. Till the garden.
Fire up the grill. Cool down the house.
Stifling cars and sweaty clothes.
Shade trees and cold lemonade.
Summertime.

Life begins again with the summer. Let it not be a sleepy lull, but a launching upward to new heights, moving into unexplored territory, going where you've never been before, even if you cannot leave your house. Summer, it seems to me, is the season to grow like gangbusters - bigger hearts, wider vision, deeper faith, and limitless hope. So, let's make the most of it, shall we?  

Do you remember the words of the old gospel hymn? "When Jesus shows His smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friends Are Friends Forever

"Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends."
- William Yeats 

Having lived my life these past fourteen years in one town, one house, and one job, relationships run deep, multiplying with the passing of time. I have been so blessed. I'm thinking about my former staff, pastor friends, golf partners, basketball buddies, and a church full of brothers and sisters, missing them all and missing them all at once. Too many goodbyes. I feel diminished somehow, like a big piece of my life is missing, leaving a gaping hole that needs filling in. And hopefully that's what happens and is already happening for me.

Every friend I leave behind takes with them a little piece of my heart. This is the bane that comes with the blessing, no way around it. But on the positive side, with every new friendship I find, something wonderful is added to me, filling in the void. Close friends can never really be replaced or replicated, we all know that. Yet, new friends ease the pain of our goodbyes and help us embrace the future with hopeful anticipation. 

So, these first few weeks and months in Virginia are all about missing and meeting, losing and gaining, grieving and celebrating. It's all about relationships - those we reluctantly leave behind and those we enthusiastically embrace. It's all good. It's all God's purpose and plan. And best of all, it's all temporary. Friends are friends forever.
   

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Are We Going to Grow Up?

I came across this interesting and yet troubling article this morning. I think the author is on target as he describes the problems and the challenges confronting the church in our present culture. See what you think. 

When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction