The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ask A Pastor: How Can I Recharge My Spiritual Batteries?

August 5, 2007

from Ephesians 5:15-20 and Psalm 73

"Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time... Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is... Be filled with the Spirit... sing psalms and hymns... giving thanks to God at all times...." – Ephesians 5:15-20

My sermon outline:

• Sharpen your axe story: lumberjack hired. Record was 7 trees. Day 1: 6. 2:5. 3:3. 4:1. How often did you sharpen your axe? “Sharpen my axe? I didn’t have time to sharpen my axe!”

Sharp axe, charged battery... Sometimes our lives fill with discontent. Sometimes the demands on our time pile and pile and pile up and we break under the pressure. Sadly during those times we tend to not sharpen our axes because we don’t have time.

“Be careful how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time.” – Eph 5:15-16

Making the most of the time may very well mean stopping what you’re doing, analyzing and evaluating your priorities, and then making some changes in your actions.

Sharpening an axe, in the short term, takes away from productivity: you’re not making progress. But it is part of the progress, a vital part of getting things done. Like Martha (Lk. 10:38-42), some of us are busy doing so many good things we do not take time to discern what things are needed.

Take time to analyze your schedule, for the week and for the month. What are you devoting your time to? What things really matter? What activities have eternal consequences? Determine what things you can leave out of your schedule without harm to yourself or others. Choose to neglect those for a period of time. After that time period has expired, look back and see if it has made any difference in your life.

• Perhaps stopping what you’re doing will require a fast, breaking the pattern of what you normally do, so you can determine or understand what the will of the Lord is. Break the pattern because even spiritual discipline can turn into mere routine into empty ritual into boredom, losing the meaning and dishonoring God. Break the pattern by changing when you devotion, where you worship, what you wear... see it in a new light. Fast from food, from ego, from TV computer radio, from speaking. Remove yourself from distraction so you can take the time to listen to God. Write a prayer, paraphrase a scripture passage, journal your griefs and your woes (blog). Empty yourself before God Find a trouble tree if you have to.

• Some rechargings are simpler: take a break. Practice good bodily self-care (my theme).

• Psalmist wrote that it was in comparison to others that he stumbled in life (all unhappiness comes from comparison; but you whoever you are are fearfully and wonderfully made) and he nurtured envy until it consumed him and distorted his view of God:

When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant; I was like a brute beast toward you. (Psalm 73:21-22)

• Whether discontent or overwhelm there are a few things we can do to recharge the batteries. Paul tells us to seek the Lord, to be filled with the Spirit, to join in communal worship, singing Psalms and hymns, giving thanks to God all the time... Psalmist confessed that it was when he went into the sanctuary that he regained proper perspective... into the sanctuary for worship, to be in community, to share strength, to receive nurture...

In addition to keeping Sabbath, keep a jubilee. 7 wks set aside a sacred time, a down time, not chore time or activity that requires recovery. Do something like before (Write a prayer, paraphrase a scripture passage, journal your griefs and your woes). Pray a passage or a newspaper or a hymn.

Step away from yourself by doing something for someone else. Volunteer at hospital (nail painter in a wheelchair!). Visit a shut-in. Help out at a blood-drive or a race. Contact a school or a church, see if they could use help. Write a letter.

• Above all give thanks. (Ps 73:23-26) That is the literal meaning of eucharist.

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 47 in worship. It's hot. Communion Sunday.


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