Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Change is difficult--sometimes brutally so-- and the older I get the more reluctant I am to make changes. I guess that's because there is a certain amount of comfort in how things are. We get accustomed to a daily regimen and as proverbial "creatures of habit" fall into the surmised security of routine.

Interestingly, the life of a minister is predictably unpredictable and offers unplanned interruptions every day that would seem to argue against any presumed routine or schedule but even that, with all of its nuances, becomes an expected part of the daily fare.

My life is about to change and the direction I am going is unclear though cast in the alluring backdrop of semi-retirement. There are a myriad of options to evaluate and as I consider these I have begun to feel the accompanying emotions of grief (leaving the familiar) and apprehension (facing the uncertain).

What I have decided to do each day--and especially this morning early at the office--
is to give each day to the Lord. That may have the misleading scent of super-spirituality, but it is the only way for me to navigate these waters. I offer myself to God, as Paul challenges us in Romans 12:1, and ask God to help me live in the moment. I don't want to be so focused on anticipated changes that i miss the opportunities before me today in the unpredictable schedule of a pastor's life.

Today there is sermon preparation, a small prayer gathering, preparation for a funeral, a meeting with a personal friend, and a basketload of administrative work typical of my mid-week regimen.

So for this day I find comfort in starting my day once again anchoring myself in the certainty of my confidence that God knows all about my future and because of that I can trust Him with the unique challenges that await me today.

In the meantime, the transitions I am contemplating are somewhere between what I know about today and what He knows about tomorrow; in any case, it's a comforting place for me this morning.

Friday, October 14, 2011

the morning after

The transition from vacation to the "real world" is always a challenging one. When Beverly and I get away by ourselves we live life at a more leisurely pace, enjoying hiking(Palm Desert area has lots of places to explore), playing games(we love "Rummy-Que"), eating out (inexpensively), and dreaming together about the future (as uncertain as it is). Since we will be "retiring" soon (I will still have to work part-time), it is fun to contemplate what God has planned for us next.

Things change when I we return home. The "morning after" there is unpacking, washing clothes (thankfully, Bev does that), reading mail, responding to e-mails, scheduling the week's work, responding to the work that is an unavoidable part of ministry. I returned to prepare for two funerals in addition to the regular regimen of pastoral life.

While we were on vacation, one of our extended family had a serious heart attack and almost died; thankfully, she was at the hospital when it occurred and after successfully inserting three stints, is home, doing well, and preparing to return to work. We were reminded again of the shortness of life, the uncertainty of tomorrow. James 4:14 asks us, "What is your life? You are a mist (vapor) that appears for a little while and then vanishes".

"The morning after" a vacation, when we have enjoyed a and restful week unlike our normal routine, jolts me back to reality. Sometimes that is accompanied by a sense of dread and a penchant for complaining. But I am asking God, four "mornings after" later to recognize the value and importance of each day--whether resting or working--and to heed Paul's admonition in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Saturday, October 01, 2011

a sobering week

This week I experienced what happens in pastoral ministry sometimes--a proliferation of tragedy. A close friend lost his healthy wife to a sudden catastrophic stroke. Days later a young friend, diagnosed two weeks ago with glioblastoma (malignant tumor of the brain), died yesterday morning, his wife and son by his side. And, tragically, a depressed young man took his life leaving a wife and teenage daughter stunned and shattered

All of these were believers. All of these were members of a church I pastored. All of these were more than just congregants. They were my friends.

It is sobering to think of the shortness of life. It is sobering to be reminded of our own mortality. It is sobering to imagine eternity without God.

As a pastor and Hospice chaplain, death is a frequent occurrence in my daily regimen. The closeness of these three relationships makes their passing especially poignant and sobering for me.

I am thankful for the hope of the gospel, the promise of eternal life for those who put their faith in Christ's work of grace for us.

A sobering week...but a time to affirm my faith.