On the #MyWritingProcess Blog Tour



I was invited by Justin Bessler  www.justinbessler.com to join this whole writing process blog tour and, at first, I felt as if I wouldn’t have time to do this…but then I reconsidered and gladly accepted this task.  I am passionate about writing and this is just something that I couldn’t pass up.  

Listed below is my writing process thus far…


1) What am I working on?


Last year I wrote a little book about my experiences as a Missionary kid entitled “Just another missionary kid” Just Another Missionary Kid – Book.


I began this blog – http://www.pastorsponderings.org about two years ago with the intent of hashing out my own ponderings and thoughts…little did I know that the response to my little blog would be so immense.  I have truly been blessed while on this journey thus far.  In a matter of two years I have seen over 30,000 people come through the proverbial doors of this site.  The pursuit of life, the consideration of things that contain a spiritual emphasis are still relevant topics still today.  

Recently I began a collaboration of writers (and I’m still looking for more along the way) to write for a monthly contributor’s column called “Perspectives”.  Below of are those contributors for the April’s edition of this column.  

What is “Perspectives”, you ask?  It is a column of contributors writing on many various topics but have one singular aspect – Everything has a spiritual context.  check it out for yourself!  








2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Perhaps I differ in my approach to the topics of life, spirituality, Christ and the Church in that I long to have a conversation.  This isn’t about preaching at you.  My approach is mainly conversational and objective.  I want to get to the bottom of things, but it is also “Okay” to leave the question hanging if there is still “meat” on the bones and no way of gnawing all of it off.  

What is my genre by the way?  Perhaps it’s a cross between existentialism and philosophy with a little sarcasm thrown in for good measure.  All that I know is that I still have much to learn on this journey and I would love to have companions journeying with me, exploring life, love, and faith together.   


3) Why do I write what I do?

As my blog title reads, this is a pastor’s pondering.  I write because if I don’t I might spontaneously combust…is that even a word?  I have a passion for the written word and for this craft.  I desire not only to better myself in the process but to help other sojourners out there do the same.  I am neither a “know it all” nor am I a fool.  I write what I do because I know others are searching for meaning and purpose in life too.  I write what I do because I know I am not alone.  I write what I do because I desire to live life serving a God who sacrificed everything for me…and I want others to know this amazing Creator as well.  


4) How does my writing process work? –

I made it a goal on this blog to write one meaningful blog entry a day…I seemed daunting at the time, but it has worked thus far.  I don’t want to simply put something on this blog site, I want to add thoughts and questions as they come to me.  I plot out my weeks.  I write down my plan.  I implement my weekly plan and then make adjustments.  What started out as a haphazard experiment has kind of blossomed into a full fledged daily routine with a mission and purpose.  

Currently my most read blog article has been a prayer called “A Prayer for passion and re-ignition”  found here: https://pastorsponderings.org/2013/11/14/a-prayer-for-passion-and-re-ignition/

Every day people from all over the world check out this one prayer and once again I am floored by how small the world has become.  I am honored and humbled by the support of other writers and readers alike.  The writing process that has blossomed couldn’t have happened if not for the reader base that this site has generated over the last two years.  With that being said, I pray continually within this weekly process for the Lord to continue to bless and give me (and my other contributors) more insight and opportunities to reach readers for Christ.  Coupled with that prayer that we may all find a deeper faith within that relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

I am excited to introduce you to a couple of people who have agreed to join this writing process blogging tour next Monday on May 12th.  

The first fellow blogger and friend is Timothy McPherson – Tim’s Blog Site
The second fellow blogger and friend is Jeff Carter – Jeff’s Blog Site

I look forward to you meeting them next week and I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity to blog on this tour and for the slight chance to get to know you along this journey!  


“Finding the Melodies of Life” (a metaphor of holiness) – Chapter 2 “Finding your voice”

Need to catch up? Here are the previous chapter(s):


Chapter 2

Finding your voice

“I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.” –Ray Charles


In brass instruments and in even woodwinds the requirement for practiced embouchure is one of the most pivotal lessons a new beginner can learn.  Embouchure is the application of one’s lips or mouth onto a mouth piece or reed in order to create the desired sound or vibration that leads to music.  The facial muscles are applied in such a way that to a beginner it can cause discomfort jaw ache.  The momentary ache felt by the new beginner pales in comparison to the music that is created out of such discomfort.  When the lips are properly applied to the instrument there is a connection that is made, there is hope and a glimmer of what can become of this instrument.  You see, playing music isn’t only about looking the part, holding the instrument in the correct manner, but it requires the musician to sacrifice something of themselves for the purpose of performance.  


I remember holding that instrument up close to my face, then being taught to pucker my lips into the formation of a strange grimace while making a small hole within my lips so that the air could exhale from my body.  I was giving something of myself into that lifeless instrument for a greater purpose. 


The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.Genesis 2:7 (NIV)


Picture it for a moment, creator God, the artist and conductor of life, breathing the essence of life into the lifeless; He was giving something of Himself into his creation for a holy purpose.  God looked at the world He had created, the animals, the trees and oceans, and finally our first parents, and He said “it was good”.   God breathed life into the very fiber of human kind and in that moment this symphony of life began for us all.  Notice that before God poured the breath of life into man, he wasn’t a living being, man was dormant and still.  Just think about that for a second, ponder it…soak it in…is your mind blown yet?    Without the very life breath of God, the entirety of our existence would remain and always continue to remain just dust.  The Hebrew word for breathing life into us is;  nishmath chaiyim, meaning “the breath of LIVES” which implies not only life but intellect as well. While this breath of God expanded the lungs and set them in play, his inspiration gave both spirit and understanding to mankind. 

When we apply ourselves to the everyday tasks of life, what we are doing is exercising the very breath of God in our human existence.  Our intellect – God breathed, our temperament – God Breathed, our sense of identity – God breathed.  When we come to the understanding that we were created to be intricately connected to our Creator God, our worldview and sense of purpose begins to change as well.  With this higher understanding, it then becomes all too clear how pivotal and vital God views our part in this life.   We were created with Divine intent not some cosmic accident, when we understand that this very breath of God exists within us, the appropriate response to this knowledge is to exhale into our world love, exhale into our world hope, exhale into our world purpose.  When we play the music God has called us to play, the end result is transformation from fallen creation to restored creation – reconciled to God. 

But there is still something missing in our relationship to the Great Conductor of life.  What is still required of us in order to exhale or to breathe the breath of God in our lives?  When we pick up the instrument God has handed us to play and place it to our lips we must apply muscles, we must strain, learning new principles…spiritual embouchure.  Another word for it is spiritual discipline. 

Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Disciple: The Path of Spiritual growth, writes;

A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground, he plants the seed, he waters the plants, and then the natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain…This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines – they are a way of sowing to the Spirit… By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.” 


In our giving, in our application of spiritual embouchure, there is pain and sacrifice.  What drives us to sacrifice?  What motivates us to keep going when we face and encounter discouragement and frustration?  Faith.  Faith must be our motivator, the oil in the valves of who we are in God’s symphony.  We prepare ourselves; we pick up the instrument or gifts of God, placing them to our lips with the knowledge that we will most likely fail before we succeed.  Spiritual embouchure is risky.  We are essentially putting ourselves out there for God and for the music that He desires us to play.  Finding our voice is not easy; we have to give something of ourselves in order for us to reach that discovery.  Just as God breathed life and inspiration into our bones so too we must give something of ourselves in this life that we live.

Notice the words of the Apostle Peter, he understood what it meant to give something of himself for the purpose of God’s symphony: 
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Because that breath of life exists in us, which urges us to play the music God has placed in us, we then must enact our spiritual embouchure which will be painful, difficult and it might cause our hearts to ache…but when we do so, we are participating and we begin to catch a glimpse of the performance of Christ in us so that others might be saved.   Give it a try, exhale deeply, let His presence permeate our lives so fully that the pain we encounter along the way only strengthens our resolve to play His music in our lives.  

“Finding the Melodies of Life” (a metaphor of holiness) – Chapter 1



Chapter 1


(Music 101)

 “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.” -Michael Jackson


 I remember at the age of around seven years old, my father forced to me learn an instrument.  Now I say forced, but in his loving way, he convinced me to pick it up for the first time…but I would have to say he forced me to practice that instrument.  Before I could become a musician I had to become familiar with the instrument I was to play.  I can still recall picking up that cold metallic brass cornet for the first time.  It felt foreign in my hands.  This instrument, similar to those that I had heard great musicians play was now placed in my hands, and I had no idea how to play it.  The first thing I had to do in order to play it was to become familiar with how it felt in my hands.  I had to learn how to place my fingers over the valves in the proper manner, while sitting with correct posture, which I had a great deal of trouble learning.  These were things I had never considered to be important much less required of me in order play a musical instrument properly.  The orientation of the instrument is of the utmost importance for proper implementation for performing music.  

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3 (NIV)

If we are to become oriented with the music that God has placed in our very souls, we have to become oriented with the very God who created that music in the first place.  But it doesn’t stop with knowing this creator God; it then becomes all important to know how God has made us.  Our personalities, our temperament, our peculiarities are all vital to the orientation process.  If our desire is to fool ourselves or convince ourselves of something that is not true then we will never learn the true music of our souls.  In Romans 12:3, Paul reminds us of how important it is to have a sober judgment of ourselves.  In other words, look carefully in the mirror, be honest with yourself.  If we ever want to grow up in our faith, then true maturity begins with becoming familiar with who we are – faults and all.  Only when we begin to take a long hard look at who we are now, will we then begin to see who God wants us to be.   God has a whole different melody for us to play; it’s a new environment to explore and to learn, and if we never learn to understand who we are and who God has intended us to be, then we will never learn to play the music of our souls. 

Turning over that cold brass instrument in my hands so many years ago…I have a confession to make, I never thought I would ever be able to learn to play it.  The task seemed too daunting, my perception of myself – too limited, and if I had refused to become familiar I would have never learned to play the music. 

Many of us are like this; too limited.   Perhaps we never had someone to cheer us on or encourage us.  Maybe, our self-confidence is so small that even imagining God wanting us to play the music for Him seems too good to be true.  Some of us even think our abilities and our gifts will never amount to much, or are so insignificant that God won’t even notice if we don’t play.  But the fact of the matter is, God will notice, He DOES want you to play the music and He has been there from the beginning encouraging you to pick up your instrument of gifts and get oriented.  This experience requires faith, faith in our performance, faith in the music we’ve been created to play, and faith in the conductor (God) that He knows what He’s doing.  This, above all else, either propels us into the ultimate performance of our lives with faith in hand; or causes us, through doubt and fear to create sounds and noises that in no way reflects true music at all. 


God’s purpose for all of us is to be joined together, fitting perfectly into his symphonic masterpiece and once we are oriented and understand His will for our lives, we can begin to play, but first we have to know what we’re playing.


Orientation begins with the instrument…and it begins with you.   If music is to be played at all, an instrument has to be selected.  God has given us so much by way of gifts, abilities and talents, but if we don’t explore them we will never be able to master them.  Exploration into the instrument is vital.  If I had, on that instrument orientation day, picked up my brand new cornet and tried to play it from the wrong end it would have looked rather foolish or even downright embarrassing.  I had to first explore, touch, feel, hold and finally position the instrument properly in my hands.  When I understood how the instrument was to be held, how each valve coincided with the fingertips on my right hand and finally how my left hand was to hold the instrument firmly for balance and posture, then I was ready to move on to actually putting the cornet to my lips.     


 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)


Our orientation with God and what He has done for us is the most pivotal moment in our lives.  It can become the turning point, or the moment of clarity in which we decide that God, the great conductor, has a composition of complex melodies and harmonies waiting for us to play, if only we become oriented with what He has given us.  King David knew and was familiar with the ways of God.  He also recognized and acknowledged the way that God had made him: “Fearfully and wonderfully”.  When we become familiar or know them “full well”, as David states, we too then have begun our orientation of the part we are to play in this symphonic life. 


So don’t hold back, take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  Recognize who you are, and who God desires you to become.  It can sometimes be painful when we see our glaring failures along the way, but these pains are necessary even vital to our growth.  It’s orientation time…take a look, I dare you.  

Finding the melodies of life (a metaphor of holiness) – Introduction




“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.”  -Ronald Reagan


The band begins to play.  Moments before, the sounds of their tuning and dissonant chords filled the theatre with broken parts, and sour notes as tuning slides, timpani, and valves are oiled and adjusted.  But as the music begins to be played by each musician, the notes that were once discombobulated and disjointed become unified, harmonious and beautiful.  The auditorium is alive.  Music is ignited!  The bandmaster, with baton waving erratically in the air, guides the musicians through the movement reminding them all of accidentals, dynamics, and key changes.  His role is no less important than that of the musicians he stands before.  Slowly and melodically the masterpiece, made up of notes on a page, reaches its climactic ending; and as the last notes are played, held out and released, there is brief moment of silence.  Within that brief moment, resides all of the work, all of the practices, all of the blood sweat and tears, and just as the last notes are released so too is the passion and love that the musicians have contained for so long for this musical composition.  It reaches out from the finale on stage, ever so slightly touching the listener, caressing their hearts and in turn drives them from their seats to their feet in accolades of fervor and joy.  This…is music!


Music is like breathing air, one needs to keep breathing in order to survive.  That is what I know about music!  Music is a part of me; it is sewn into the very fabric of who I am.  If one were to take out the stitching of melodies, harmonies, key changes, and accidentals; one would in some way begin to take away a very intrinsic part of who God has made this person to be.  Perhaps music doesn’t resound in all of us in the same way, but let me offer you an experiment in music for just a moment.  Have you ever experienced an epic moment in your life where you heard a composition of music, in any genre, that automatically pulled you back in time to another moment within your history?  One solitary second you are driving down the road listening to the radio, then this very specific song comes on and Bam, you are transported back in time to a point in your life where this very song is tied ever so tightly to an emotional or physical response.  Have you been there?  So have I, and this is how intrinsic music is to our very heart and souls.  It speaks to us beyond our hurts, beyond our joys, and calls us to take notice, to remember and to always embrace the melodies that God has placed inside of us all.  These melodies are so much more than mere songs heard on the radio or in music videos on Television.  They are the melodies we were created to perform in our lives, conjured up in our souls and in the very fabric of our being.  God has called us to sing or play the music of our souls on the stage of this life, not only for our own amusement or enjoyment alone, but because He revels in our creativity, He celebrates with our inquisitive hearts, and He wants us to play the music that we were created to play.  But the question that begs to be answered and hangs in the air like the last resounding notes on a page is this: do we know how to play the music? 

Some say that we can learn as easy as riding a bike, but what if no one ever taught us to ride that bike?  What if that parent wasn’t behind us pushing and cheering us on?  If you have ever wondered what melody God has called you to play, then this book, these prayer thoughts are for you.  If you have not wondered what tune has been placed in your heart, perhaps this is THE moment to begin exploring and plumbing the depths of your heart.  Believe it or not, God has planted that seed in your life to perform the tune of your lifetime for the world to see and hear.   We are called to play the music.  But how do we find our tune?  Do we even know how to play? 


This is where it all begins…Music Orientation 101 for the soul:


Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me
.” -Heni Nouwen

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