This Day At the Vicarage 9-2-20

It rained this morning. I left the laundry out last night. Go me!

Laundry on line in rain Stock Photo: 4551198 - Alamy

Oh well. Little foxes may try to spoil the vine, but I am not letting a few wet tee shirts ruin my victory over my schedule.

Back in January, God told me I was walking through a brand new door into a place I had never been before. He told me that I would be “entering” in January, February and March. He said I would be “Settling in” in April, May and June. He told me I would “begin accomplishing” in July August and September. Then He said I would “Be finishing” in October, November and December.

I naively thought this was all about my book. I think I may have alluded to that fact here on “Notes From the Vicarage”. I realize now it was bigger than that. It was about a radical change coming to my life. The first quarter was revealing the scope of that change. The second quarter saw me accepting and settling into that change. God used the pandemic to create my new life-rhythm, but by June I realized I had accepted the change and I was determined not to go back to the old rhythm of life, even if the rest of the world did. These last few months I have been learning how to become accomplished in the new rhythm of slow, constant, intentionality (the words aren’t new to me but the practice has taken on a much deeper meaning).

I have kept a schedule for years. I have modified it into my own secret shorthand.Here is what I have done this week. As I look at these tick marks and numbers I am realizing a huge difference in what I am accomplishing.Here is what my schedule looked like in January when I was just beginning.

You might not see much of a difference, but as I have been working with this schedule over these months I see a marked change in how I am utilizing my time. Just look at the first number on my agenda (that is the physical activity goal). Back in January I was lucky if I was doing thirty minutes of physical activity a day and that included walking the dogs. Today I am generally hitting the goal and going over my physical activity number.

Part of that success has to do with me being home more. As Mom’s need for me here at home grows, I am finding that I am actually gaining control of my schedule even as I become more housebound. I am not yet what I shall be, but I am surely more than I was.

Well I have blathered on long enough….

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends…

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-31-20

Yesterday I preached at Cornerstone Church in WInchendon, A message called “A Message For the Moment.” After church one of our parishioniers came over to the Vicarage to look at the dormers atop the house to see if he might be able to fix them for me before winter. The meeting took all of 15 minutes making me right on time to fix lunch for Mom.

After lunch the sabbath slump hit me. It came as it always does, a sudden rush of weariness that left me able to do almost nothing but lay on the couch sliding in and out of sleep. At three I walked the dogs and then took a short ride with Amanda around the area to see sites. We stopped by the mountain to take a few pics.

When we got back I had just enough energy to make supper before my body crashed once again. The rest of the night was spent watching TV on the couch. I rested. I practiced sabbath.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have long had a love/hate relationship with this discipline called sabbath. I think I have struggled with it because of what sabbathing requires of me….because of what resting requires of me. Most of the people around me approach the Sabbath and the act of sabbathing as a day off, a day to have fun. They get to their day off. They go to the beach. They rake the lawn. They have friends over for a barbecue. They go and visit gramma. They go to Maine for the afternoon…..Meanwhile I crawl into bed and sleep for twelve hours. A really active sabbath for me is to lay on the couch and watch TV for eight hours after my nap, like I did yesterday.

Now there is a piece of me that is good with this. That piece of me knows I need this if I am to function the rest of the week like a normal human being. But there is a piece of me that really struggles to be like all the people around me. I want to be the guy who gets out of church and drives to Lynn to have lunch with my daughter and her family. I want to be like my sister who got done with her responsibilities at church yesterday and then drove to her friend’s house forty five minutes away and then painted canvas until after dark.

Here’s the thing. I can do all those things on Sunday. I can push off the Sabbath slump for a bit as long as I am prepared to slump on Monday. I cannot escape it. If I schedule myself so busy that I can’t Sabbath one day a week, I become this crabby Zombie monster who cannot function in any form of godliness. I revert to my old sinful self.

History of Zombies - HISTORY

I watch other people and think how weak I am because I can’t seem to do what everyone else does. Then I think maybe their not really doing it either. Maybe they really are just better at hiding their sinful zombie monster selves than I am.

Let me ask you dear friends….HOW DOES REST LOOK IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T REST THE RIGHT WAY?

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-29-20

I awoke this morning with one of those leg cramps that make you scream yourself awake. You know the kind I mean, the kind where you are mindful enough to know that if you could just get to your feet the pain would stop, the kind which is so painful you cannot move out of the position you have contorted into.

What are Muscle Cramps and How Can They be Treated Naturally

After a minute of deep breathing through the worst of the pain, I swung my feet off the bed. I realized the day was dark and rainy, a reminder from God that I was in my current situation probably because I had let myself get dehydrated yesterday.

I pushed myself off of the bed. I thought back to yesterday and remembered that the Lord had changed up my sermon for Sunday on me. I was working in Psalm 84. Then, in my afternoon devotion the Lord had pushed me into Isaiah 8:11-20. When one sermon supplants another the sensation can be sort of like an emotional earthquake, especially when the supplanting comes on Friday afternoon. My new sermon prep got as far as reading the new verses to my sister after an evening ride around the area. Then I settled into an evening of wrestling internally with what I was to make out of the new passage given me. I went to bed with no more idea of what I was going to preach than when I first got the new verses in the afternoon.

This morning, as I paced about my bedroom trying to get my right calf muscle to release, the brain fog of sleep dissipated and I began to realize God had downloaded all the points of my new sermon while I was sleeping.

HAS ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

MIND BLOWN - Imgur

Well you know I hobbled to my computer, and set the new outline down. I sent it off to my technical director so he could create the powerpoint. Then I heard the Lord say. “I have given you rain. Allow it to pace you. Allow it to slow you down to the place of prayer you need to be ready.”

So I have slowed down. I have hydrated. I have stretched. Most importantly, I have prayed and now I can say.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings dear friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-27-20

My sister read something on the internet that said there would be two moons tonight, or that Mars would be as big as the moon, or some such nonsense. For just a moment I got really excited. I thought perhaps we would see something no other mortal had experienced for hundreds of years.

I grabbed my phone, as she put on her shoes, and out we went, two amateur astronomers ready to view history.

Sadly there was, as usual, just one moon. We had been hoaxed.

“Hoax” is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days. One would think by the amount of hoaxing being reported that the whole world is under the influence of a powerful hoax or something…..Wait a minute! It seems I’ve read something about that somewhere…… Yes this is it…

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thess 2:5-11

In today’s polarized society I do not think there are many people bringing us news, who are being totally honest about anything. I am taking everything that comes to me with just a little more than a grain of salt.

mountains of salt - Picture of Salinas d'Es Trenc, Campos - Tripadvisor

I have to admit I like to listen to certain storytellers (aka liars) more than others. With me it is more about form than substance. I like my news to sound like a news report, not like an episode of Jerry Springer. And I also like to listen to a new-person who sounds like a news person rather than someone who trained under Steve Erkel.

Image tagged in steve urkel - Imgflip

All this to say, there is precious little in the world I am trusting right now and that even seems to include the Constitutional Republic I grew up in. BUT each day I become more certain than ever that there is ONE I can trust in. The promises of JESUS CHRIST are sure and immovable.

While the powerful delusion seems to be breaking our society apart, while it seems to be causing certain people a great deal of consternation, it is driving me deeper into the ONE I can trust. Further, what is going on in the world is driving me further into a place of peace, a place of abiding in Christ. It turns out, that is where I was supposed to be all along.

If you are finding yourself anxious about what is going on in the world try pulling back a little. Try forgetting about the world and its promises and problems for a moment and just press into Jesus. He is the only one who can save us now. In His presence alone is fullness of joy and only at His right hand are pleasures evermore. I’m sorry….If you thought you could find peace, joy, or pleasure in someone else, you’ve been hoaxed.

OK that wasn’t exactly what I planned to say tonight, but it will have to do for now.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, my Dear Friends!

Pastor J