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Tag Archives: glory

Succession and New Beginnings

The center of Christianity is endings and new beginnings, death and resurrection, leaving and launching into new unknowns. I have written and preached it. Now I am living it in a new way. Tonight is the Celebration of our 26 years at New Life Fellowship Church. This Sunday I preach my final message as Senior Pastor on “Lessons Learned in 26 Years at NLF.” I then officially transition to a new role within New Life under the new leadership (i.e. Rich Villodas and the Elder Board) on October 6th. I am continually asked by leaders around the country: “Really, Pete, how are you?” My answer: “I am thrilled and excited beyond words. I could never have imagined such a gift. Yes. I have some normal apprehensions, but this has been one of the highlights of my life. I would recommend it to every senior pastor!” This is the culmination of a 4½ year succession process.. Read more.

Learning to Lament – Newtown, CT

The painful images of the funerals of the children from Sandy Hook elementary school is an invitation from God for us to learn to lament. David not only sang this lamentation; he ordered the people to learn it, memorize it and inhabit it as their experience. After the terrible, tragic deaths of Saul and Jonathan, we read: David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow: “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights.  How the mighty have fallen!…Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon….O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul …How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 2 Samuel 1:17-20; 24-25 Eugene Peterson says it well: “Pain isn’t the worst thing… Death isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is failing to deal with. Read more.

The Hidden, Invisible Presence of Jesus

Yesterday, at our NLF staff Christmas party, I led a devotional around Bruegel the Elder’s Census at Bethlehem painting from the 16th century. Using Juliet Benner’s guide in Contemplative Vision: A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer, I shared out of the overflow of how God met me in this portrayal of Luke 2:4-5. As Mary and Joseph approach the village to register for the census (See her on a donkey on the center right), we see a crowd of people seeking to get into the inn. We also observe many others carrying heavy loads burdened by the harshness of their lives. Each is so engrossed and absorbed in their own affairs and activities that Mary, Joseph and Jesus are invisible to them. Would I have turned to Mary or Joseph and asked about their story if I were there? Probably not. I suspect I would have been too busy. God is so close. Read more.

Our Ache for Happiness and God!

Joseph Pieper (1904-1997), German philosopher and theologian, wrote Happiness and Contemplation in 1958. In this short work, he summarizes much of the theology of Thomas Aquinas.  If you are willing to read slowly and thoughtfully, you will encounter rich, life-transforming spiritual food on these pages. The following are a few of the quotes I noted in my journal: Every human being, without exception, is called to eternal contemplative happiness with God. The human craving for happiness may be distracted by a 1000 small gratifications but “one sweet fruit is sought” (Dante). The ultimate satiation of man’s deepest thirst takes place in contemplation. Many joys in the course of everyday life come to us. They are a foretaste and beginning of perfect joy. The whole good cannot be quenched by anything less than God!  It cannot be found in realm of created things.  What then is the drink known as happiness that can ultimately suffice. Read more.