It’s About Time

Pondering God Podcast -Episode 40

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “You should become a Pastor” I would be retired on my own island somewhere. They are not saying that anymore listen to episode 40 and find out what they are saying now!

 

Recharge

What recharges your batteries?

One of the first pastor’s I ever served with Rev. Elmer Scheck was religious about his afternoon “power nap”. I was fascinated by the simple fact that he could take such a short refreshing nap and wake up full of energy and resolve! I always thought that the term “power nap” was just a way to justify catching a few winks on the job. That is until I started taking a post lunch “power nap” most days.

There is something wonderfully recharging in this 30 minute retreat into the easy chair in my office. I turn off the lights, and give the nap commands to my echo dot, “Alexa, play some John Michael Talbot, and set an alarm for 30 minutes. The rest as they say is history.

But there are times when we need to be recharged on a deeper level then a power nap, deeper even then a good night rest. There are times when our very soul  needs to be recharged from our toes to the top of our head. There are many ways that I have found to recharge my soul.  One of my favorite is to get away for a couple of day alone, with just my Bible and something to write with. (Well, plus a little food, coffee, and chocolate)  It takes a couple of days for the rumble of my mind to calm down and then…. ah the refreshing recharge begins as I spend time alone with the Word.

The strange thing is that as much as I enjoy this get away, I rarely find time to take it. So I look for a more functional deep recharge. Tomorrow mine begins, as I fly to Phoenix for the 2017 Best Practices for Ministry Conference. This is one of those conference that make you rejoice in what the Lord is doing in His church. A collection of 2000+ like minded missional thinkers who are able to see that God is not in any box at all, but works in a new and exciting way each day.

For 3 days I will soak up the son and some Arizona sun, be challenged to think differently about the Call of Christ for His church, and to be encouraged and recharged by fellow Lutherans. I hope that you find ways to recharge your soul, and would love to hear what recharges you. Share you ideas in the comments below.

<>< Craig

“I Hope I Can Poop in Heaven?”

Just when I thought I had heard everything

The other day in Confirmation Class I used a set of “Faith Talk” cards that I picked up many years ago.  After dealing out the cards, I invite students to pick two cards that they are willing to share with the group.  The cards include a wide variety of topics, from early faith memories to questions about their own view of the world.  One of the students picked a card that asked “do you believe there would be animals in heaven, why or why not?”

After giving his answer, and he is an animal in heaven kind of guy, he added an under his breath an extra thought. “I hope I can poop in heaven?” I must admit after teaching confirmation for more than 30 years there is little that catches me off guard. But he accomplished it.  Contrary to the rules of “faith talk” in which we ask students not to respond to others comments, but simply listen and learn.  I had to ask…”Did you just say that you hoped you could poop in heaven?” A little red faced, he answered, “yes, you know that great feeling you get after a good poop. I hope I have that in heaven.

What a simple request it was, to have that satisfied feeling that comes only from a good BM. Of all the requests I have heard over the years it was refreshing to hear such a simple request for the life beyond. I reminded him that he could aim a little higher for the bliss of heaven.

It got me pondering after I stopped chuckling, What would I hope to find in heaven? What joy of the earth would I hope to find in eternity. I don’t think I ever looked beyond German Chocolate Cake. But if I had to pick a “Feeling” I would love to have that feeling that comes when I am lost in a time of prayer. That moment when I am in the presence of that powerful prayer warrior who just seems to walk into God’s presence, and you feel a complete lifting of any burden. That feeling of holy release…that is what I long for.

SOMETHING TO PONDER: What about you? Which of your earthly experiences would you like to take with you into eternity?

Now before I get all the email about heaven being so much greater than all we can imagine, I get that! It will be an experience and a presence with my King that I can never anticipate…But I can still hope for German Chocolate Cake.

Time to Move The Wisemen

Pondering God Episode 39

EPIPHANY My favorite day of the year – Time for another installment of Pondering God Audio. Enjoy – No real show notes this time so just kick back and listen!

The Day My Deer Lost It’s Head

Pondering God Episode 38

PodcastLogoWhile I love Christmas lights, I am not a big fan of putting them up. This year I put my decorations out early to beat the snow. I discovered this year a mystery with my light up wire deer, Listen in I’ll tell you about it!

LINKS FROM TODAYS SHOW

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Worship House Media 12 Days of Christmas – Freebies

Light Stock – Free Weekly Graphics

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3 Lessons I learned from a squirrel

Big Three Series

big3setAs the owner of several Bird feeders, squirrels have so many times been a real pain.  They can be destructive and messy as they chew through your sock thistle feeder or the plastic on your “squirrel proof” feeder.  I have also gone to great lengths to keep them from my feeders. In order to effectively do this I have watched them closely, and in doing so I have learned three things from the squirrels at my house.

Squirrels Do Not Quickly Give Up

thebig3_1When a little frustration comes their way they do not quickly give up. When you cut down the crab apple tree they used to get to your feeders, they discover they can get there from your bird bath. When you move the bird bath they continue to try over and over again until they convince themselves that can not do it that way anymore. Instead of finding a new feeder when this happens they find a new way of attack. They will continue to try 50 different ways that don’t work until they find the 1 that does.

I with I had their spirit when it comes to spending time with God. Sometimes due to schedule change or some other change in my world I cant seem to complete my quiet time. Maybe the time is wrong, or the room is too distracting, or my favorite Bible was left at the office.  It doesn’t matter, I just need to find another way.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7

Don’t Stop Here There is MORE>>>>

Change is not easy

My search for a new coffee shop

We are all creatures of habit, we like things the way we like things. You might want to write that down, that was profound. Now that I have made the decision to return to full time church work at New Creation Lutheran Church I need to find a new coffee shop.

And the need is even great since the heat in my current office is out of control, most days it’s about 92 degrees in there. Yes they are trying to resolve the issue, but with a boiler that was built 50+ years ago it takes time.

monkabeansSo back to my search, I need to find a space that allows me the freedom to be comfortable, is not a “big box coffee shop” and has good wi-fi. I guess a good cup of coffee would be a good thing as well. Today is my first day on the hunt and I may have found it first try. Monkabeans is a local coffee shop about 5 minutes from my office sauna and so far their wi-fi and coffee are both good!

The other determination of the quality of a coffee shop is who gathers.  There is a nice mix of people 2 men were discussing Scripture when I came in – always a good sign. There are two tables dedicated to local business people, a place to put your business card and let people know who you are. I will have to remember to bring some next time I stop in.

I often feel that our churches should have more of the feel of a good coffee shop. A comfortable place which has a home like feel, good wi-fi and a good cup of java. A place where people just like to hang out, a place where people can just bring a good book, (even better – THE Good Book) and relax. Maybe we should have some tables out where people can leave information about who they are, and how they enjoy serving. Some quiet music in the background some occasional fresh baked goodies and I think we would have it made.

I think it’s time to put the computer away and grab a good book and kick back for a little time “in the Word”.

SOMETHING TO PONDER: How could you church become more like a coffee shop? Share you thoughts in the comments I would love to hear from you.

 

Waiting is Hard

Pondering God Audio Episode 37

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Waiting is not something we enjoy doing. In fact, I’m not good at waiting. If I buy a gift for my wife too far in advance, I often can’t wait for the event to give it to her. Maybe that’s why she encourages me to shop early… so I can shop often!

Today’s Podcast centers around the season of Advent and something you can do to help pass the time for you and your family. You can also hear about my 30 year wait to receive my….guess you will just have to wait a little longer.

LINKS IN TODAY’S SHOW

www.worldservants.org

45 Day 2 Minute Challenge

Pondering The Aftermath of Thanksgiving

How quickly we forget

dinner-1060352_640Nothing can take the meaning out of Thanksgiving like Black Friday.

Wednesday evening I gathered together with my congregation for a Thanksgiving Celebration. It was a great service, a chance to reflect on the many blessings God has given to us. We sang those familiar hymns of Thanksgiving, “Come Ye, Thankful People Come” and “We Gather Together to Ask The Lord’s Blessings”. I shared about my obsession with writing instruments starting with crayons, through 4 color click Bic pens to Magnum Sharpies and how we all seem to struggle for contentment.

We read Scriptures that remind us of our need to be thankful, and the need for contentment:

 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.
 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Philippians 4:1-23 (NIV)

We went home from worship feeling truly thankful.

On Thanksgiving day we gathered with family around a table laden with good food which the Lord so richly provides. As a family we heard about the origins of Thanksgiving and read the proclamation from George Washington in 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

first-thanksgiving-proclamationWhereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

We enjoyed like so many a filling meal, and even took the opportunity to share what we are thankful for in the past year. We even watched a little football, even in our divided home there was peace through the game.

photoblog-006BUT THEN…Black Friday.

There are many stories behind the origin of the Black Friday.  Some suggest it came from the days of slavery in this country where slave owners would sell their slaves the day after thanksgiving at a discount to help the plantation owners get ready for winter, extra wood to cut and preparations to be made. While others suggest it started in the 50’s to describe the people calling in sick after Thanksgiving to take a long weekend.

It’s also been suggested that it was first used by Philadelphia police, in response to all the mayhem and headaches caused by all the people and traffic created by hordes of shoppers heading for the city’s downtown stores on the two days after Thanksgiving. The latest use of the phrase began in the 1980’s as people claimed it marked the first day that retailers began to go from the “red” of cash losses to the “black” of cash profits.

I propose yet another reason for the name Black Friday.

It is Black Friday for it is the day that so many seem to have lost sight of their thankfulness from just hours earlier and we leave our prayers of contentment and replace them with our desire for bargains and our greed for the latest and greatest toys! Now we and many retailers are not even content to wait until Black Friday to cast off our thankfulness and cash in on the frenzy of our self centered greed.

Makes me wonder what will happen to our thoughts and prayers today (Sunday) come Cyber Monday… sure am glad I didn’t preach today, Thanks pastor Don!

<>< Craig

SOMETHING TO PONDER: What strikes you in the contrast from Thanksgiving to Black Friday? Share it in the comments below we would love to hear from you.

 

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Lectionary for Google Calendar

No more Thrivent Desk Calendars...

desk-calendarThe main use my Pastor’s desk calendar received was looking up the lectionary readings throughout the year.  Now I gound a way to add them to my google calendar and I would love to share them with you!  Hey it’s free and Who Doesn’t Like Free!

screenshot_2016-11-14-10-49-17Simply visit http://craigmccourt.com/ponderinggod/lectionary-series-a-for-google-calendar/  and we’ll send you the info you need and the formatted spreadsheet needed to import the series into Google Calendar.

GUESS WHAT I JUST GOT IN THE MAIL TODAY – 2017 Thrivent Desk Calendar??? Who knew.