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Nov

1

When Can I Have My Life Back?

By pastorbillwalden

Editor’s Note- God disciplines His children for their good. Any loving parent knows this. When a person turns from their sins, God forgives immediately, but their full return to life as they knew it before might take a while, or, may never happen. That doesn’t mean that life after discipline and repentance can’t be good, indeed, it will be good….but may we not dictate to God what that ought to look like or when it should happen.  Rather, may we believe that God will do what it right and good, and that He will do it at the perfect time.

Psalm 85
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

1 Lord, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
Lord, you have been merciful to us.  We were in Babylon because of our sins.  I was away from my good life, my family, my friends, everything that I loved. I lost my job.  You have disciplined us in your love, and now that time of discipline is over.  Thank you.

2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah
3 You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
You have forgiven us. You no longer see the sins that caused us to be taken away. Thank you that that season is over.

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Jan

18

But Still You Loved Me

By pastorbillwalden

As I look back upon that night, I see myself again
I am there among the twelve, pledging my love
You had said that we would turn away, every single man
You had said that we’d would forsake the one we love

And then it was night
And then there was darkness
And then I was sleeping
As you poured out your soul

Oh how could it be, and how was it then?
How could you love this master of sin?
I turned away, just as you said
But still you loved me

You knew I would fail, you knew I would lie
You knew you would look deep into my eyes
You knew I would weep, hating my sin
But still you loved me, still you loved me

That dark day passed and then the next, we hid for fear of death
That the ones who hated you would come for us
And the third day came, but the shame remained, my life just seemed to end
For the faith I thought so strong had turned to dust

But then there were voices
Then came the story
They said that you lived again
Calling my name

Oh how could it be, and how was it then?
How could you love this master of sin?
I turned away, just as you said
But still you loved me

You knew I would fail, you knew I would lie
You knew you would look deep into my eyes
You knew I would weep, hating my sin
But still you loved me, still you loved me

Aug

7

Hide The Beer, The Pastor’s Here

By pastorbillwalden

I think that that is a funny, slightly clever saying.  I have been “that” pastor more than a few times.

It’s a weird feeling.  I walk into a gathering, such as a reception after a funeral, or something. People are “doing their thing”, and when I walk in I hear things like, “Oh, excuse my language pastor, or, I know I shouldn’t smoke, or….they look at me and look away sheepishly, imagining that I think they are horrible or something.

I always feel weird.  I am “there” artificially. I am not part of their world, except when someone dies, or gets married, or some other “un”usual reason.  I’m glad to be there, but it is awkward to be the one who changes things simply by being there.  I know that as a Christian, I am to be salt and light, etc., but sometimes I feel like a parole officer in a drug house.

Sometimes I respond verbally. Something like, “Hey, it doesn’t bother me if you smoke”, or, I just smile back sheepishly. It’s weird for me.  I’m trying to be invisible, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

I am not a choir boy.  I actually had a very different life before I was a Christian.  I’m not shocked at a lot of stuff.  I don’t cover my mouth and gasp at the sight of such things. I know…it’s hard to believe.

I appreciate the respect and deference that people show me because I’m a pastor.  That’s a cool thing.  I might try to dodge their smoke, not get any alcohol on me, and sit down and hang out with them, and get to know them.  It rarely happens that way, in those kinds of gatherings, but it’s all good. Sometimes I get to connect with people, but often times, folks don’t wanna be seen with the likes of me.  ;-)

If I could say a few things to them (and sometimes I do), it would be something like this:

“Thanks for saying that.  I appreciate that.  It doesn’t bother me.  Actually, I’m not the one you need to worry about.  I’m not your judge, God is.  He loves you, and he is the one you need to think about, not me, but thanks”.

Somehow, many people have gotten the idea that drinking and smoking are deal breakers with God. I recently told one guy to not quit drinking or smoking unless Jesus inspired him to. Just come to church, listen, and be open, and then make up your own mind.

Gosh, I know a lot of Christians, including pastors, that were drinking and smoking and doing other stuff when they came to Jesus.  It seems like some of us have forgotten that.

Anyway, to all my future acquaintances: don’t worry about me.  If I don’t like what you’re doing, I’ll leave the room.  But honestly, Jesus is the One you need to think about.

Cheers!  Where’s the Martinelli’s?  ;-)

Dec

26

When The Words Don’t Come

By pastorbillwalden

With the advent of the internet, blogging, and social networking, much of humanity now has the ability to share their thoughts and feelings almost instantly.  That is not news to most of us. 

On a humorous and slightly sarcastic note, someone wrote, “Just because you have an internet connection doesn’t mean that you have anything important to say”.   I suppose “important” is in the mind of the writer, and not always the reader.  I’ll leave that statement alone.

I find myself in a season of life where the words are not coming easily or clearly.  There are different kinds of concerns on different fronts.  There is instability from the human perspective.  I am wondering about the future of certain people and not sure what to think or say.

I am purposely not going into details to try to explain things, because sometimes the words just don’t come.  I am learning not to be bothered by that. If you know me, you may know some of what I am talking about, but I am not really looking for people to understand me.  Please don’t feel that you need to respond.

It is a strange sensation for us humans to feel things very deeply, but not be able to clearly understand those feelings, or be able to communicate them.  If we are fortunate enough to gain some clarity of thought, we then have the challenge of trying to express clearly what we are thinking, and then having the right person to share those thoughts with.

When we are struggling with the issues of life, though there can be people that are sympathetic, some dear people actually make life a bit harder for us.  They try too hard to fix things.  They give off the cuff advice without thinking.  They offer up a quick “prayer of faith” that is more confusing than healing.  We can appreciate such intentions, but sometimes we find that we avoid such help.

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Jul

11

Moving Sand Around On The Beach

By pastorbillwalden

Recently, the college ministry from our church went to Stinson Beach, and my wife, daughter, son in law, and their two kids (2 of my 3 grandchildren) also went.  

Our oldest grandchild is Isabella, or Bella, for short.  She is 2 years old, and as smart and alive as they come.  She came equipped with a variety of tools for moving sand from one place to another, and soon after we arrived, she went to work on re-arranging the contours of the beach.

I thought it would be the grandfatherly thing to do, so I took her by the hand and walked her down near the water where the sand is wet, all with the mindset of helping her build a sand castle.  That’s when the God lesson began.

Apparently Bella didn’t understand my superior plans for building a sand castle, and instead, chose her inferior plan of just moving sand from here to there. With each shovel full of sand that she moved, I began to lose interest.  I looked south down the beach, wondering what was “over there”.  I drifted off into thinking about the books I had brought.  I went from being an active, interested participant to being a passive, somewhat indifferent, duty bound bystander.

I looked back to where our group was seated, and saw my wife and daughter relaxing.  “They deserve a break”, I said to myself.  I instinctively knew the rightness of watching Bella so that they could relax longer. I knew that I ought to give my complete attention to Bella.  I knew it was the “right” thing to do.

Being the godly man that I am, ;-) I caught myself, and with deliberate intentionality, I re-focused.  “Get down to her level” I told myself, so I plopped down into the sand and got eye level with Bella.  With renewed purpose, I forced myself to pay attention, and it helped.  I reconnected with Bella, and it got more interesting.  Each time my mind drifted, I purposed to stay on task, and enjoyed some wonderful moments with my granddaughter.

God began to speak to me.  What I was doing was good, but it wasn’t natural.  As with every Christian on Earth, we have a divided nature.  There is my “flesh” of which the Apostle Paul declares “in which dwells no good thing”.  (Romans 7:18)  Also within me is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, conforming me into the image of Christ.  (Romans 8:29)

On a positive note, I realized that God was leading me to be selfless, and to pay attention to my granddaughter.  (I am a bit ashamed to even confess that I needed help with that.)  On a negative note, I once again realized how absolutely absent agape love is within my heart, apart from God’s Spirit.  I thank God that I struggled through it, but I was suddenly re-amazed at God.

God never struggles to pay attention to me and love me when I am “moving sand around on the beach”.  When I am doing something relatively unproductive for His kingdom, He isn’t thinking more of himself than me.  He doesn’t wait until I am doing valuable Kingdom work to turn His eyes toward me. He doesn’t ignore me until I am doing something that he is interested in. Whether I am preaching the Gospel, or “moving sand around on the beach”, His heart consistently and perfectly loves me.

I often have to struggle to extend agape love for others, but God’s nature IS love.  (1 John 4:8, 16) He cannot do anything other than love me selflessly, regardless of how insignificant my thoughts, words, or deeds are.

I sometimes struggle to “do” the right thing, but agape love is also often “feeling” the right thing.  I know that agape isn’t just about feelings, and that it can be extended even when the flesh fights against it, but this beach episode reminded me that God always “feels it”.  His heart towards all of humanity is always full of love, ready to give, and paying attention.  He never drifts off into selfishness, or has to talk Himself back into a right frame of mind.

Only God can say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love”.  (Jeremiah 31:3)  There is never a time when God doesn’t love us.

“God, help me to love like You do.  Deliver me from my natural instinct to focus upon myself.  Help me to see the value of people, even when they are doing nothing more than ‘moving sand around on the beach’.  Thank You for Your perfect love for me”.