Many But One: The Final Countdown

If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Many But One I encourage you to do so soon.  Many But One is a Lenten devotional blog being written by seven pastors (6 from the east coast area and me in the Midwest) and is scheduled to end by Easter (at least that is when we will stop posting devotions).  We have been using texts from the daily lectionary, commenting on the chosen text and then finishing with a prayer.  It has been a joy to be part of this blogging team.

To those who have stopped by…I hope Many But One has been a blessing to you.

Praise be to God!

-edh-

Periscope up

I know I said earlier that I would be keeping a low profile for a while…at least until after Easter, but I feel the need to raise the periscope a bit and see what is going on.

For a month or so I have been submerged in life as Lent hit me like a ton of bricks…but in a good way.  I know a lot of pastors sometimes lament how busy Lent is; saying it is their busiest time of the year, but I think most would say that Lent is a very energizing time of the year (in a weird sort of way).   Even though I have felt drained from time to time I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.  I think part of that thinking is realizing that it is not my energy that sustains me but God’s.  As Luther says in his sacristy prayer, “…if this were left up to me I would certainly bring it all to ruin.”  And I have felt that way many times.  And…at times…I have even tried to do it myself almost bringing myself to ruin.  But fortunately I have faithful friends, family and parishioners that have reminded me of who is truly in charge.

Part of this “ton of bricks” has been leading a small group based on the Book of Faith book “40 Days with the Lord’s Prayer” (I say this simply because I have never lead a small group study during Lent before.  Sounds strange, I know, but we are in the process of revamping our education here at Salem).  Seventeen people signed up to take this journey together.  We work through the daily devotions each week, focusing on a petition of the Lord’s Prayer, then meet on Wednesday to review our week.  So far it has been an enjoyable experience to hear people share their faith.  Everyone has contributed to the discussion and we have learned a lot.  I look forward to leading more small group studies.

There have been other things that have been parts of this “ton of bricks” but I won’t go into all those details.  I think the main point for me is that these bricks haven’t crushed me because God is in control.  God has been faithful.  God has given me strength.  All of that is encouraging as I face a week of preparation before Holy Week hits.  Over all, Lent has been a blessed one for me…and I hope for others as well.  God has been faithful.

So with that I lower the blogging periscope and return to the busy world of Lent.  I thank those who have offered encouragement to me.  I thank those who have been understanding.  And I am grateful I have an outlet like this to share my thoughts and open my heart up to anyone who would want to take a peek.  God bless you this Lenten season and as you prepare to recognize and celebrated the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God, always and forever!

-edh-

The Heart of a Pastor update and pondering

No doubt you have noticed my absence from blogging.  It seems that has been happening more often recently.  I go through “sabbatical” times where I am discerning whether or not to continue and then I come back strong…blogging a few times a week.  Now I have been gone for a while and I am still trying to figure out if this blog has run its course or not.  Maybe Lent has gotten the best of me (it has been strangely busy this year).  The last two weeks have been extremely overwhelming for me (and Holy Week isn’t even here yet).

So where does that leave us?

I do not know.

I have been spending a lot of time doing ministry via Facebook and Twitter.  And I have been putting a renewed focus on education here at Salem (things are really taking off there).  Part of me is thinking I need to put more focus on writing lesson plans for here and shift some focus away from blogging for a while.  Part of me is reluctant to pull the trigger on this blog.  So I am still left wondering what to do.  I know some people have gotten sick and tired of waiting for me and I understand that.  I just don’t know what is next.

This blog has been up and running for nearly 4 years now and that fact completely blows me away.  How have I had that much to write about?  In any case…I am still around.  I am doing well.  And I still don’t know where this blogging is going next.  Maybe the time down after Easter will give me some clarity on the direction of this blog…who knows (God knows).

I thank you for your understanding.

So in the mean time I hope and pray you have a blessed Lenten and Easter season…celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Praising God…always and forever!

-edh-

A Lenten blog – Many But One

Happy Monday!!!

Today is February 8 and in 9 short days Lent will begin with Ash Wednesday.  So much happens during this time of the year (especially for pastors) that sometimes we don’t have time or don’t take the time to really take in all that Lent has to offer.  For us here in the Jackson, MN many churches will be participating in a Lenten round robin preaching rotation where us pastors “take our show on the road”.  It’s a time I really enjoy for I get to share Lent with 5 other congregations.  What a blessing.

Now a number of us want to share Lent with you in another way.  Starting this week there is a Lenten blog that is up and running called Many But One.  Seven pastors from various points in this country will be taking a particular day of the week to share some Lenten thoughts with you from the daily lectionary.  This week we are each submitting a post on our assigned day (mine day is Tuesday) that will introduce us.  Then, starting on Sunday, February 14, the Lenten devotionals will begin (I know, Lent doesn’t start until the 17th, but work with me here).  Each morning we will each submit our post that focuses on a text assigned for the day and follow that up with a prayer.  Feel free to leave comments and/or questions.

For me…I am looking forward to sharing Lent with 6 other people from around the country.  I hope you will join us on this Lenten journey as we walk together to the cross and celebrate at the empty tomb.

The blog is up and running so go and check out…and…happy Lent everyone.

Praise be to God!

-edh-

(Blogging) Sabbatical thoughts

It has been a while since I have posted something, but I guess that goes with being on a blogging sabbatical.  Throughout this time I have been checking in from time to time and have been pleasantly surprised with the comments people have still left and the traffic still coming through here.  Thank you for hanging with me.

I am not sure if I am back in full force yet, but I am beginning to think that I am about ready to, at least, slowly ease my way back in (kind of like slowing slipping into a hot tub).  I have missed writing even though it has felt nice to step away for a while.

Now that I am working my way back some may be tempted to ask “what did you learn on your sabbatical?”  I am not sure how to answer that.  It wasn’t so much a learning time than it was a time to recoup; rediscover and re-energize.  Those things I have accomplished…and it feels good.

I do have much to tell you.  And…I have comments to respond to.  I will get to all of those.  So in the mean time, have a very blessed All Saints Sunday as you remember and celebrate the saints that have gone ahead of us; as we celebrate the saints militant (the newly baptized) that have joined the journey and as we celebrate our saintliness that we have been granted through Jesus Christ.  It is indeed a day to celebrate and give thanks.

So as a close friend/mentor used to greet his congregation with: “Good morning sinners…good morning saints“.

Praise be to God always and forever, Amen.

-edh-

New links to check out

I have added some new links to my left side bar that I want to call your attention to.  With so many over there it is easy for news ones to get missed.  So here they are:

(1) Pretty Good Lutherans:  Susan is an award winning journalist and Christian writer.  I was introduced to her through Twitter and have thoroughly enjoyed following her tweets.  Check out this quote from her site:
“Susan Hogan believes 21st century evangelism demands a new model for congregations to remain relevant. Jesus demonstrated a grassroots approach based on storytelling. He listened and observed people wherever he traveled. He told stories that related to their lives. He didn’t seek the advice of public relations experts; he told the truth with compassion and love.”
I am looking forward to reading more from her.

(2) Enter the Bible is a link I just added to my favorites websites.  This is a Bible study resource from Luther Seminary.  When you sign up for a FREE account you get access to commentaries, study plans, notes, etc.  I have found this helpful in sermon prep and personal Bible study.  It’s worth a look.

(3) Greg Boyd (Christus Victor Ministries): Greg Boyd is a very insightful and passionate author, speaker and pastor.  He is the author of the books:  Myth of  a Christian Nation and Letters from a Skeptic (among many others). You may not always agree with him but he will make you think.  The following is a quote in the “About” section of his site:
“Christus Victor Ministries (CVM) facilitates Greg Boyd’s ministry outside of Woodland Hills Church, where he is Senior Pastor. Greg believes that challenging both believers and non-believers to think critically will lead them to a well-grounded and coherent faith. Through books, sermons, speaking engagements, debates and this website, Greg continues to encourage people to embrace a vision of God and the Kingdom that is intellectually compelling and spiritually fulfilling.”

Stop by and check these out.

Let me know what you think about them.

And…if you have some other sites worth checking out, let me know that too.

Take care and God bless!

-edh-

Spammers…”WOW…”

On Monday I wrote a post titled “Swinging on Monday, Aug. 17”.  I was making a reference to baseball; about getting back into the swing of things and hoping I don’t strike out, but spammers out there did not get that message.  Later in day my spam software caught 3 spam messages (waiting for approval) that were about swinging sex toys…unbelievable.  And now by just typing that phrase I am probably inviting more spam (at least the WordPress software catches these before they are posted).  I should not be surprised by these attempts.

On Twitter as well, key words in Tweets I post will trigger some questionable accounts to start following me in hopes I will return the favor and follow them (and maybe even buy their product).  Yeah…right.

I guess they can keep trying and I will keep blocking them.

-edh-

#499

I have been watching this number climb towards 499 for a couple weeks now.   And I have been thinking what I would write to commemorate the occasion of this number.  But I really don’t have anything sharp and witty to say other than it’s hard to believe that I have had so much to say (some sharp and witty…and some not so much).

Why in the world am I highlighting #499???

Well…as I thought about this I realized that it is selfish for me to think about how to commemorate #500 or any post for that matter.  For me to glorify any “special number” would take away from the real purpose of this blog.  I don’t write this blog to gain popularity, attention, fame or a large number of followers.  If those things happen…well then…great, but that is not my point…it can’t be the point.  It was my point early on…about 3 years ago…but that only led to frustration and burn out when I did meet those objectives as fast as I wanted.

But God kicked me in the butt and things began to change…my focus began to change.

You see…God has given me so much.  God has blessed me in so many ways.  And for me to write to gain popularity would be stealing glory away from the one who deserves all glory and honor…and attention…God our Father.  So I write…and as of fairly recently I write with a renewed passion and excitement.  I write as if God pulled up to the local gas station and filled the tank.  I feel ready for the long haul when only a couple months ago I seriously pondered whether to continue blogging at all.  So I write…I write because…

I enjoy sharing thoughts about scripture.

I enjoy sharing thoughts about current events from a faith perspective.

I enjoy sharing “God sightings” in my life and in the world around me.

I enjoy sharing discoveries from books I am reading.

I enjoy sharing about this amazing God we have.

I enjoying sharing…

…all to the glory of God.  So I continue to write and post and share.  I thank you for joining in the conversation and I look forward to continued conversing.  And…as #500 comes and goes I will treat it as any other post…I will thank and praise God.

God bless you as you continue to serve the Lord through your individual vocations.

And…as always…PRAISE BE TO GOD!

-edh-

“New” blogs and websites

O.K…they’re not really new sites but they are fairly new to me…in any case…

…I thought I would highlight a couple recent additions to my blogroll and my favorite website section on the right side panel of this blog.

First my blog roll:
(1) Angry Lutherans is an interesting site I came across through a new website I will mention in a bit.  It is worth your time to check out.

(2) Augsburg Fortress: One Mission Blog obviously is the blog for Augsburg Fortress.  This is a great way to read about new publications coming out or things going on in connection with Augsburg Fortress.

Favorite websites:
(1) Lutheran Central is a website I stumbled upon through someone else.  It is a site that has a bunch of Lutheran information, resources and links.  They are currently updating some links but what they do have is neat.  My blog is also featured on Lutheran Central (hence part of my motivation to return the favor here).

(2) Working Preacher is a great sermon prep resource.  Each week there is an in depth write up about each of the lectionary texts.  There are also various other preaching resources and even a discussion board to chat about the upcoming texts.  I have found this sight to be very helpful in my sermon prep during the week.  Even if you are not writing a sermon you can still find some helpful insights into scripture.

I hope you find these useful/interesting.

God bless.

-edh-

P.S.  It is VBS week here so hence my relative lack of posting anything recently.  I am checking back to see if any comments need to be responded to though.  Hopefully I will have a “meatier” post coming up soon about the Sunday texts and maybe even some thoughts/highlights from VBS.  So I will catch ya later.

Absence

You have no doubt noticed my absence on this blog the past couple weeks.  It is not because I am losing interest but rather it has been some soul searching on my part.

I have been writing this blog for 3 years (which is hard for me to believe) and feel I need to step back for a short time and reevaluate things and maybe take a little vacation.  I still enjoy writing this blog and as of now I intend to keep it up.  My hope and prayer is that you will be patient through this time.  Check back to see if I have updated anything; read old posts (which there are a lot of them) and feel free to leave comments (as always).

I am still trying to stay caught up with other blogs so don’t think I have abandoned those.

Right now the one thing that I have been really enjoying is getting caught up with my reading.  Reading is something that I often let fall by the wayside in the busyness of the program year.  So far I have read a book on the Lord’s Prayer and now am reading a book called “Christless Christianity” by Micheal Horton (a great book so far).  I have a few others on my list and am still looking for suggestions.

Thanks as always for stopping by and for being part of this community.  I enjoy every visitor and every comment.  May God bless you and I look forward to continued conversations with you.

Take care.

-edh-