March Pastor’s Pen

March Pastor's Pen

When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. Acts 2:1-2 CSB

 

I didn’t sleep well last night. I fell asleep without a problem. Staying asleep was the challenge. Finally, at 3:00 a.m., I got out of bed and sat at our dining room table, listening to the wind roar over our mountain retreat.

 

At daybreak, when I went outside with our dogs, our lawn was littered with fallen branches. The lighted tree on our deck was resting at a 45o angle. The dogs paced warily because of the continuing sound of the gale. No doubt about it, the force of the storm was one to be reckoned with.

 

Wind can be disruptive and destructive. I swerved several times on my drive to church in order to avoid downed trees. It is powerful enough to turn 120-foot turbines in order to generate kilowatts that will illuminate a city. It can alter a familiar landscape in a matter of seconds and drop the temperature by 200 in a matter of minutes. Yet it also is an agent of cleansing by which seasons of refreshing will come. Acts 3:19

 

On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples experienced the sudden onslaught of a violent rushing wind from heaven that filled the whole house. It came unexpectedly. It came as a gust, strong and forceful like the blowing of breath on a birthday cake. It filled the room to capacity, literally like the surge of flood waters. This was their introduction to the power and presence of the Almighty.

 

The Greek words pneuma and pneo are used to describe both wind and the breath (spirit) of God. Not a gentle breeze that delights on a warm spring day, but more like the gust in the down draft of a violent summer storm, pneuma can alter and disrupt the landscape of our lives while offering seasons of refreshing in times when it is desperately needed.

  

How powerful is this gale of God? Author Annie Dillard wrote,

 

“We should put on crash helmets in church. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews…for the awakening God may draw us to where we can never return.”

 

A windblown encounter with the Holy of Holies can rend our world topsy-turvy with reckless abandonment and we will never quite be the same. That’s why the proverb says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But you know, I welcome it.

 

Most of you know I am retiring in September and the landscape of 2022 is going to significantly change for Kathie and me by then. Far from quitting the ministry, we prefer to think that we are being “windblown” into a season that will have both its rewards and challenges. And I wish no less for each of you.

 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think – to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever!

Let it be!  Eph 3:20-21 ESV

 

Joel Nogle

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November Pastor’s Pen

November Pastor's Pen

I guess it all started on Sunday morning. I began my prayer time thanking God that I was alive another day and thanking Him for all the things that He gave me the day before.

 

When I arrived at church I was initially greeted by Harold and LaVerne, Judy, and Linda. I thought to myself, “I love our church family.” And again I was thankful.

 

I was thankful for a good church attendance; I was thankful for the sermon the Lord gave me and for the presence of the Holy Spirit as I stood before the body.

 

Later that afternoon, Kathie and I left for my spiritual retreat and the vibrant autumn colors of our road south caught my eye. The traffic was even and our trip uneventful. Our car was dependable.

 

We had a good night’s rest and Kathie and I awoke in time to drive to the shoreline to watch the sun rise over the roar of the Atlantic. While our two dogs played in the sand I couldn’t help being humbled that, after 39 years of diabetes, I still have good eyesight to take it all in.

 

And that’s when it occurred to me, I’m basically a thankful person at heart. Sure I have my moments. But 80% of my prayer life is an expression of praise and thanksgiving.

 

President Lincoln reportedly said most of us are as happy as we make up our minds to be. There is a degree of truth in his words. I find if I discipline myself to keep a thankful heart, my day goes better and my outlook is where God wants it to be.

 

The Apostle Paul encouraged us to give thanks in all circumstances.  He didn’t tell us to give thanks because of all circumstances. We can learn something from every circumstance and we can grow because of it, but not every circumstance is, by definition, a source for thanksgiving.

 

Still, if we can keep a thankful perspective, we can begin to see the brighter side of life. More important, we can be that brighter side for someone else.

 

There is a Facebook meme that suggests when Halloween is past, Christians should make a strident effort to let November be a whole month of thanksgiving. December and all it offers will be here soon enough. How would our lives be transformed if we heeded that counsel?

 

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being a huge part of my life and patiently giving me the opportunity to be your shepherd and servant. And thank you, God, for making it all possible.

There… I’ve said it again.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  

 

Joel Nogle

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