Category Archives: Pastor

Gun Control

This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately, maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. So it’s a very, very – a very difficult situation.” President #DonaldTrump (Fox News – https://fxn.ws/2JtWNFe)

I read this quote the other day and shook my head. Guns in places of worship? Seems to be the popular answer to our mass murder crisis. Maybe some places need armed guards but guns do NOT belong in church. It is antithetical to the teachings of our Master Jesus. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards, crucified by armed soldiers and never resisted.

A few months ago Beth and I visited a church, found our seats, and began to people gaze. I spotted a man carrying a gun in plain sight. To my dismay, when the service started, he led the worship. Singing about trusting Jesus, going to heaven, loving people, all while strapped with a sidearm. At the middle of the service, ushers came forward. Two of them had guns. Finally, the pastor got up to speak and was packing as well. I told Beth; “We will never be coming back to this church. Even if a gun-toting person with evil on their mind busted in here we would probably be shot by the church posse!

A long time ago a menacing, sword and ax-wielding, warrior entered a town to terrorize the people. Everyone fled except the priest at the town church. The warrior made his way to the holy man’s location, kicked open the doors, and stomped to the altar where the priest was praying. He screamed at the humble servant of God, threatened him with his sword, grabbed the priest by the throat and snarled; “Don’t you know I am a man who can kill you without giving it a second thought?!?!” The priest looked into the eyes of the warrior and softly responded; “Don’t you know I am a man who can be stabbed by you today and not give it a second thought?

The church is called to love, pray and live like Christ. We can’t do this with armed guards, guns, or by any other violent means. To live like Christ is to also die like Christ; humble, prepared and showing Christ with our last breath.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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You’re Forgiven, You’re Free

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You’re Forgiven, You’re Free

Woke up with a bad headache this morning. After finishing some work I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. As I rested I thought about the Kavanagh/Ford dueling testimonies yesterday. An image based on the Gospel, According to Saint John, Chapter 8:4-11 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A4-11&version=NRSV) came to mind.

In the story overzealous, law-abiding, religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery. They want to know what Jesus thinks should be done. Instead of quoting statutes, arrogant platitudes and taking sides, he instead bends down and begins writing in the sand. (Legend states he was writing down the sins of those who stood around demanding justice be done.) Jesus, never looking up says; “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He hears nothing but the thud of stones as the accusers leave. He then stands asks the woman where her accusers had gone, she didn’t know, and he told her to; “Go and sin no more.” (You’re free.)

Between dreaming and thinking I saw in my mind Jesus going in to the Senate Confirmation Hearing yesterday. There’s no sand so he brings a White Board. Everyone’s bewildered and irritated at this man causing a scene and taking up their precious time and those watching. This is important! Cameras are flashing, capturing it all for the world to see. The protest gets louder and then Jesus begins writing. First the White Board is facing the politicians, then the reporters, finally the seated crowd behind the two victims and accusers. He finally looks away from the board to the crowd and says: “Let she or he who is without sin be the first to judge.” He turns to the Judicial Nominating Committee and adds; “Or cast a “yes”, “no” vote.” One by one the politicians, reporters, onlookers, and anyone else in the room leave. Now Jesus stares at the two people, human beings, who are both being used one way or another. He speaks in a calm, loving, voice; “You are free. You are forgiven. Both of you go and sin no more.

In my dream, I can’t see which one he says what to but I’m sure he’s speaking to us all!

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more thoughts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Three Surpises

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Three Surprises

In a recent conversation that included a range of topics including heaven, I told a friend what had been said to me many years ago. “There will be three surprises when we get to heaven. People will be surprised who made it. People will be surprised who didn’t make it. Lastly, people will be surprised we made it!” It’s a humorous yet true statement about the afterlife and Heaven’s membership. There will be surprises aplenty so don’t be so convinced in your beliefs, ability, and acceptability that you lose the mystery of a God who knows more than you, sees more than you, and is bigger than you can imagine. Heaven mirrors God’s nature and love not ours.

Wisdom teaches us that our ways are not God’s ways, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. In the Benedictine tradition, we are to keep our; “eyes tilted toward the ground.” We are to keep our sin and shortcomings always in front of us. Not as a burden to bear but a constant reminder of God’s goodness and a reason to rejoice.

Several years ago I was leading a Bible study and we were talking about God’s grace. I made the statement; “Without God, no matter what we said or did, we had no true goodness or love.” A man in our group spoke up and asked; “If we don’t have anything worth redeeming why does God love us?” “That,’ I answered, ‘is why they call it grace.

For more posts, reflections, poems, and other writings, please visit:
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Waking Up

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Waking Up

A blessed Easter to all.

This morning during worship service the preacher told a story about a woman who was the pianist at a local church. She had mistakenly not set her alarm and slept through Easter morning services. She was apologetic and everyone forgave her. The next year, on Easter Sunday morning, her phone rang very early and on the phone was the pastor of the church. She answered the phone blurrily; “Hello?” “Jesus has risen sister!” he said loudly, “and maybe you should do the same.” Laughing, he hung up the phone. Needless to say, she was on time for Easter services that year.

After the joke, I leaned over to my wife and exclaimed; “This is how I’m waking you up for Easter next year!” She smiled and patted me on the leg. Her and I both know it would take more than a phone call to rouse Beth if she didn’t want to get up.

Easter is about waking up to a new day, a new normal, a new reality, a new truth, a new understanding of God and a new discovery of ourselves. The veil of illusion has dissipated and we understand life differently. This is wisdom. This is connection. This is relationship.

May this Easter find each of us woke.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How’s Your Aim?

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How’s Your Aim?

This past Sunday morning the Mrs. and I went to our neighborhood church. It’s a small country congregation who meet in a small white building complete with steeple. We arrived as the service was starting and were quickly noticed by one of our neighbors and invited to sit with them. As with most small churches guests are welcomed profusely and it seemed as if every person in the worship room wanted to shake our hands and to tell us how happy they are to see us. This is one of the reasons I love small churches.

Finally, we were able to sit down and the music minister asked everyone to stand. We sang a few hymns and then the pastor stepped up on the platform to preach. As he was walking up to the pulpit I noticed he was carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. I began looking around and noticed the music minister, and two ushers also were packing heat! Four guns in a group of about 30 people in a room no bigger than 25 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t feel safer and whispered to my wife; “There are 4 people with guns in this room. If someone comes in and starts shooting there will be bullets coming from every direction. Get on the ground and stay as low as you can!” The pastor spoke on; “Guarding your thoughts” but I must admit my thoughts were on all the firepower in the room and what would happen if someone’s gun fell out their holster and start going off!

This isn’t an anti-gun post it is simply surreal that guns in church are now an acceptable casualty of our culture. It also begs the question; “What would Jesus say about guns in a place of peace?”

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus, The Master; The Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 14

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grace and Work

 

Grace and Work

Someone asked me today; “So, is it grace or works which get us into heaven?” My answer was; “Yes.” After a moment to let the words sink in I went on to explain that grace is God’s “unmerited favor” or “God’s love for us is absolute even if we never love God in return.

Grace is given to us and then we give it to others. This is the ‘work.'” We are blessed to receive God’s spirit of love, forgiveness, and kindness and in return, we give it to others. When grace touches the deepest part of us our worldview, the reason for living and being, come into focus. We are placed here, at this time and place, to give God’s love, forgiveness, and kindness to others.

Too often; “work” is made out to be dogma, discipline, dutiful acts of trying to be good and acceptable to the God who alone is good and has already accepted us. “Work,” should be a celebration. We freely give to others what we have freely accepted.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Borders

“If, as adults, we are only preoccupied by the security of our borders we have not matured as human beings capable of real freedom, of seeing the happiness of being citizens in the world of virtue – goodness, kindness, humanity, compassion. In this world of grace there are no borders.”
#LaurenceFreeman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Freeman)

Borders

Above is a portion of my morning reading this Lenten season devotional of 2017. It speaks to one of the most difficult battles we fight as people, a nation, and a community of faith.

It’s easy to separate ourselves from the world. To erect borders, laws, litmus tests, even vote for silly ideas such as a border wall which also includes 800+ miles of the Rio Grande river. We pull away from strangers and those different from us because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of losing things, being infected by things, having our normal lives disrupted and changed forever.

The last couple of months I’ve been on a Jars of Clay binge. In the house, on the lawn mower, in the truck, it’s all I’ve been listening to. Moving from one album to another, no particular order. This week it’s been; “The Long Fall Back to Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Fall_Back_to_Earth)” The album is a unique one for the group as they experiment with a break from their usual sound. There is a song entitled on the album; “Headphones” that speaks to the temptation to stay in our own world as the rest of the world goes to hell. Its poignant and has resonated in my spirit the last few days.

I awoke this Palm Sunday to the news that cowardly suicide bombers had killed at least 50 people in two different attacks as they worshiped this last Sunday before Easter. My heart hurt for my brothers and sisters. There are no borders when it comes to pain, empathy, hope and help.

In the world of grace there are no borders.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Can’t See

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I Can’t See –

This morning, in a worship service, Beth and I picked out our chairs, made ourselves comfortable and joined in on the song the praise team was singing. A mom with a boy was in front of us also worshipping. I wondered if they were new to the church we most often attend because I had never seen them before and oftentimes parents who are visiting a new church are hesitant to leave their child with the unknown folks who teach Sunday school and Children’s Church. A few songs into the worship team’s set her husband joined her standing directly in front of me. She was petite he was tall, at least 6’4, broad-shouldered, a mountain of a man.

A few moments passed and he bent down and picked his son up so he could see the worship team which means I now couldn’t see most of the stage. It wasn’t the end of worship but it was different not being able to see the team and the screen with the words. So, I closed my eyes and listened to the words being sung, allowed the music to direct and guide me. It’s always interesting when, for whatever reason, you are quiet in your spirit and simply listen, allowing a song to resonate in your soul. You move from performing in worship and it becomes something more.

“O’ Lord, may our silence be your praise,
and our stillness dancing.” #BrianLoging

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Our Purpose

The lawn caretakers for the church next door came early this morning, before 7AM. Luckily I was already up and taking the dog outside for his morning routine. As I stood there, in my bathrobe, I heard a noise over the sound of the zero turn lawn mowers. At first I couldn’t make it out but as I focused on the sound it became clear someone was singing. It was one of the men on the mowers. He had headphones on and whatever song was playing he was singing along with it. I began to smile. He hadn’t seen me and continued for a while bellowing at the top of is lungs. Before long he noticed me, quieted down until me and the dog went inside.For a lawn jockey he was a decent singer. He didn’t need to be any more talented than what he was because his purpose was to mow grass, take care of lawns, not entertain folks with his musical abilities.

The incident reminded me of a professor I had in college. I asked him one day; “How can we, who are so frail, weak, selfish, short-sighted and sinful, so human, ever please a God who is so good?” He smiled and took a pen from his shirt pocket and pointed out the scratches, dings and dents, faded color of the imitated gold casing and asked me; “What is the purpose of this pen? Is it to look good? Impress by its shine? Cause awe to all who behold it? Or, is it to write when pressed on to a piece of paper?” “To write.” I said. “Then it is a perfect pen because it fulfills its purpose. As long as it writes, its perfect no matter what it looks on the outside. In the same way our purpose is to love and be loved by God. Oftentimes we aren’t much to look at but if we desire to love and be loved by our Heavenly Father we are fulfilling our purpose and His love is what makes us perfect.”

He was a wise man.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Support

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This morning an elderly man chose the pew in front of me for the worship service. His choice of place was based on it being near one of the large wooden decorative beams located in the sanctuary. He had great difficulty sitting and standing so he used the beam
to steady himself. The church building itself was supporting him. When it came time to go to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion he slowly raised himself and made his way forward. The older gentleman couldn’t bend his knees at the railing as the priest served the body and the blood so the priest reached out to him to make sure he was served, included.

As I watched and reflected on the scene it was a beautiful reminder of what the community of faith should be, what we’re called to do. There are hurt, broken, scarred people who we encounter both inside and outside the church. We aren’t called to heal them, only God can do that. Our purpose is to include, support, serve and love them in every way possible.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What We have in Common

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Earlier this week a neighbor invited my wife and I to, “friends day” at their small, rural church close to our home. We have a regular place of worship but, as former campus pastors, we also have a special place in our hearts for spiritual families of diminutive sizes whose leaders, usually of the older generation, are trying desperately to identify and anoint new, younger members, who’ll run with ball after they’re gone.

Small congregations have the difficult task of not losing sight of the past and finding a vision for the future. They don’t have the budgets, staff or volunteers to compete with the large (and want to be larger) churches. The entertainment, programs, and culturally defined approach to ministry doesn’t usually work for churches living Sunday to Sunday, offering to offering.

We entered into the brown paneled sanctuary with a ten by ten stage up front complete with podium and a bouquet of flowers. We were welcomed graciously, found our seat and soon the service began. We sang; “gasp!” out of hymnals. “It is Well with my Soul’ and ‘How Great Thou Art,” were some of the known ones with others I’ve never heard before sprinkled in. The pastor preached a short and to the point message, communion was given and received, a benediction song, prayer was said and that was the end.

Overall a nice service and a loving and welcoming people. I’d never been to a church of this denomination before but was struck with the thought; “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

I also reflected on the words; “friend‘ and ‘friendly.” I hope and pray every church who dares to open it’s doors will never forget that unless the known one and the stranger are loved equally we aren’t living our purpose or obeying our Master’s greatest command.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Drive By

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Earlier this afternoon I took the dogs outside and noticed an elderly couple parked in a church parking lot that is adjacent to our house. The man was changing a tire while the woman stood over his shoulder watching, supervising (insert joke here). Several cars were leaving their church parking spaces at this time but none of the ones I saw stopped to offer help.

Once the pooches had done their thing we went back inside and I went out the front door to see if I could lend them a hand. However, by that time someone had already pulled over and was assisting them. The person helping looked as if they were headed to a lake or pool.

I was thankful for the good Samaritan but concerned by the perceived apathy of the “Sunday morning crowd.”

The last several weeks I’ve seen plenteous Facebook posts, listened to loud complaints, witnessed brothers and sisters in Christ speaking and acting in non-Christ like ways as they’ve lamented gay marriage, attacked Planned Parenthood, berated the Muslim faith and lambasted politicians on both sides.

Some of these issues are worth our concern, prayer and action to be sure but if we drive past folks who obviously need our help, without even a second glance, I just don’t understand what we’re doing or who we’re actually doing it for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Good Shoes

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This morning I put on my “good shoes” for an important presentation to a group of highly respected people. These are my shiny, black, fancy dress shoes that I wear with one of the few suits I own. I’ve had these shoes for several years but they still hurt my feet because they’re not worn enough to get broken in. Mostly they’ve taken me to weddings, funerals, other important services and events. I’d much rather wear a pair of tennis shoes or flip flops but there are occasions when only my “good shoes” will do.

As I reflect upon my journey over the last year and the places my “good shoes” have accompanied me I realized most have been painful, even heart breaking. I wore them to a service when I said; “goodbye” to friends I loved. They were on my feet when I laid my dear friend Mary to rest.

No one’s ever promised an easy journey and sometimes “good shoes” are required.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Odd Couple

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She was a conservatively dressed, hat wearing, gray haired elder. He was an earring dangling, boot stomping, faded jean sporting country boy, a cross between a hipster and Kenny Chesney. They made an incredibly odd pair. Yet, this morning, I watched as he gently helped her up from her seat and walked her down the aisle for morning communion. I couldn’t help but smile and wonder if they were related, this strange mix of people. Then it dawned on me, of course they’re related because we’re all family, one, human.

It’s easy to forget we’re part of the same species. Our differences in skin color, political affiliations, cultures, languages, geographic locations are used by those in power to rip us apart by trying to get us to focus on what separates us.

Wisdom, however, speaks amid the fractious voices and reminds us that what we have in common is far greater than what divides us. The question, as always, will we listen?

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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the Power of Kindness

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Being kind… So simple, so powerful. I met some kind men today. They helped me and Beth unload a moving truck with all of our stuff….a lot of stuff. Almost twenty five years of co-habitating has generated a large amount of furniture, boxes and memorabilia of our adventures together. The guys showed up early and quickly unloaded all the contents, set up our bed and did it with humor and grace. This enormous act of kindness was greatly appreciated.

Not everyone can move a heavy couch or has a truck to take a left behind entertainment center to the dump but each of us can do something nice, impactful for someone.

Being kind to one another changes the other and changes us…both for the better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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I Love the Me I See in You

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What a fantastic and indicting quote by Thomas Merton…

To love others for who they are not for what we want them to be or for the self reflection we see in them.

I remember when first starting out as a pastor and the image I wanted to portray. I longed for my parishioners to see me as the perfect pastor. It even extended to my wife. I had a picture in my mind of what a perfect pastor’s wife should be and of course it was an image that made me look wonderful.

The problem was two fold. One; no one ever suffered from the illusion I was perfect and two; I made my wife and myself miserable. Neither one of us fit the image of perfect pastor or pastor’s wife. Once we stopped trying to be people we weren’t were we able to love and be loved.

Too often we love others for the us we see inside them or we try to force them to live up to our image of the perfect spouse, parent, sibling, friend, co-worker and end up making everyone miserable.

Only when we allow others to be themselves, find their path, choose to love them for who they are not who we want them to be, will we have true, healthy, and lasting relationships.

blessings,
bdl
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Pastor in Work Clothes

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(Thomas Merton’s advice to a priest in 1968 reflected his own evolving sense of his monastic and priestly vocation. It also strongly mirrors my own.bdl)

“Couldn’t you be a sort of ‘underground priest’ in lay clothes? In other words it seems to me that you might be called to a kind of hidden service in the sort of unofficial and informal life you desire.

In short, be like a layman, live like a layman, but do some of the priestly work and service along with it… All the more reason to get out of the ordinary patterns and yet to be a priest nevertheless, and work in a quiet, relaxed relationship with people you can relate to without too much difficulty. After all, you are always going to have to relate to people.

See your priesthood not as a role or an office, but as just part of your own life and your relation to other persons. You can bring them Christ in some quiet way, and perhaps you will find yourself reaching people that the Church would not otherwise contact.”

-Thomas Merton

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