Today’s GODWORD is Birthday

The daily GODWORD is a daily text or emailed blessing daily. There is more information about the GODWORD and its history in the next post on this page

You can receive it by sending your cell or email address to revavanhooser@ or click the follow button and read it here. No personal info. is ever shared! See the next post for background information.


Your daily GODWORD is birthday

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Tomorrow never comes. Live every day like it’s your birthday. God gives this day to go, grow and share with JOY! Alan van Hooser

Previous GODWORD’s

Your daily GODWORD is Weekend

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”

May this weekend divert your routine and give you rest while magnifying Gods constant healing. Be Joy-Full. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Wonder

Luke 5:26 “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”q

This declares the wonder of God at a fishing trip. Be seized by the simple miracles of God happening all around you. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Variety

Psalm 24:1 “A Psalm of David. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”

Spring is busting out. Look at the rich variety of ways that glorifies God. Take time to breathe an look around. God is always near. Alan van Hooser

Ecclesiastes 12:7 “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

This day is precious, don’t waste a breath. Each second is from God and if invested well, moves us closer to God. Create joy today. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is transparent

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

You can’t fake faith for long. Faith in Jesus shines from within, not just on the skin. Show your light to those in your life today. Alan van Hooser.

Your daily GODWORD is generous

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Be spiritually generous today. Share your time, Interest, attention and witness today and change someone’s world. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is re-enlist
Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Come to a new week with a new heart. Re-enlist in the army of God, let go of the old and move in a sweet new spirit today. Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is distraction

Psalm 119:16 “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

Take 20 minutes to ponder this verse while you pray for God to re-focus today. Distractions are not optional, but we can choose to how much power they have. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is children

Matthew 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

Blessed are we when we are in the presence of children. They teach us how to keep things simple. Praise! Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is fear

Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more. I’ll show you whom you should fear: fear the one who, after you have been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Indeed, I tell you, that’s the one you should fear.

Keep your heart fearless of people that torment. Fear those who subtly turn your head. Seek God all-ways

🌀! Your daily Godword is Patience

Roman’s 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

“Patience”literally means “to suffer”. Patience in trials is God’s classroom for faith. Hang in there, find joy in troubled times knowing that God is there with you. Alan van Hooser

Louis! Your daily GODWORD is urgent
Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Prepare urgently to slow down daily life. Intensely pay attention because God is at work just as urgently. Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is discernment

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Discernment is listening, testing and then taking action on what God desires rather than what we like. What does God want in your day?

Your daily Godword is certainty

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Move through life with certainty only by holding onto an unmovable God who loves and leads you. Anxiety is optional! Alan Van hooser

Todays GODWORD is Strong
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you will go.

Prayer is portable. God make the bold strong wherever they go. Pray large today and let God be large. Alan van Hooser

Alan! Your daily GODWORD is seasons

Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

We did not invent trouble. It is not new and only lasts for it’s season. Pray, don’t fret. This too shall pass. Alan van hooser

Ecclesiastes 7:8 “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. “

Every project, day and life is in transition. Do not fear the ride but enjoy it instead. You are a work in progress. You will get there! Alan Van Hooser

Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Prayer Power

Your Equipping Skill: Praying powerfully for others

Prayer is our spiritual lifeline and the mortar that holds the brick of the Church together. Praying for others is true ministry-Intercession.  Intercessory prayer is a gift to the Christian and a gift to the church.  What happens when we just can’t pray?

We all have spiritually dry times. We have seasons when sin, shame, hurts and many other things can shut down our spiritual breath, which is prayer and cut off our conversations with God. This is deadly. We need someone to “stand before God in the gap” for others. (Ezekiel 22:30) We either need or need to be an intercessory prayer warrior.

The Biblical Greek word for intercession is ὑπερεντυγχάνω, the phonetic spelling: (hoop-er-en-toong-khan’-o).  This is joining of two words.  First, “huper” which beans to benefit, and “ent’-yook-sis” which is to plead, hit the mark, to make a petition in prayer.  Joined together, it is translated “intercede” or to plead with God in prayer by faith for the benefit of others.

All prayer is a personal connection with God, but Intercession is also a ministry of the Christian community. From its foundations, the church has shared its burdens and prayed for one another. We print lists, make announcements, engage social media, and organize various other ways to connect emergency needs with the community. Text apps like REACH, WHATSAPP and others are incredibly effective to rally teams of intercessors.

BE CAREFUL! Medical information is still covered by HIPAA and confidentiality must be protected. It is so easy for these prayer tools to betray privacy or become a dumping ground for prayer requests that never make it to actual prayer. Worse yet, they can lead to gossip. Prayer lists and so forth require leadership and discipline.

Intercession is an important part of everyone’s walk as a Christian.  Count it as a privilege to pray for someone else.  Here are some basic truths. 

  • Ask for a trusted disciple to pray when you need intercession
  • Be a trustworthy disciple that prayer when others need intercession
  • Use prayer lists, call and text trees, and other media as Church-tools. However, lists aren’t prayers. Pray obediently and faithfully bring this need to God
  • Pray in the name of Jesus-the name above all names.
  • Pray by faith-expect God to move for others.
  • Pray with humbleness-Praise God for answers, remembering that we just carry His mail.
  • Pray with perseverance-intercession is never once and done.
  • Pray with discretion-Intercessions that aren’t confidential are opportunities to share our prayers but keep confidences.
  • Pray as a ministry-engage your local church family! Identify gifted intercessors and give them opportunities to care by sharing their gift.

How do you use your church’s prayer list? Our congregation has a primary prayer list printed in the paper bulletin. this is further reinforced by dedicated prayer ministers who receive emergencies and updates by text/email through the reach app. These are individual texts and not received as a group. Pastor and the prayer team leader are the contact points. This arrangement keeps responses personal and focused on the ministers praying rather than conversing. We do not put any detailed medical information in our texts Or on social media.

Our bulletin is arranged in three panels. One for has calendar events, another worship order and a third the prayer list. Some tear out the prayer list and put it in their Bible. Another prayer minister takes a picture and refers to on the telephone throughout the week. Updates and additional prayer requests or texted back and collected either as items for the prayer list or private intercessions.

A significant resource! “How to Pray” by Pete Greig is a practical and rich read. This book of basic skills is a prayer course with Youtube videos connect the reader to a larger world of “24-7” praying. It is also much more than the administration of a list! To pray for others from obedience is powerful for the faith of the sender too. The readings are accompanied by free online resources at Click on the “Tool Shed” and download number 10, “How to Maintain a Prayer List” for suggestions.

This post comes from a small group meeting of prayer ministers at Friendship UMC of Porter Texas. Here are some key verses collected by our prayer ministers. Pray for us and leave a comment so we can pray for you! May your life in Christ be rich, deep and rewarding with faith enough to share.

Bible Verses for Exploration:

1 Timothy 2:1 and following.  Check out the balance of the types of prayer

James 5:13-16 A call to prayer for one another in suffering

Ephesians 6:18 A call to pray for all the Saints

Acts 7:60 Thomas praying for his murderers

Ezekiel 22, especially verse 30.  God calling to those who would “stand in the gap”

Hebrews 5:7 Jesus himself offered prayers for others. 

Isaiah 59:16 The prophet’s lament that there was injustice and no one to intercede

Matthew 18:19-20 Praying in agreement together, especially for sin issues.

Joshua 1:9 God is with the courageous wherever they go.

Ephesians 4:26 Don’t lose your power to anger

Hebrews 4:16 Pray confidently for mercy to find Grace at the Throne of God

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is central to prayer

1 Peter 5:7 Give God your anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 You cannot pray from anxiety. Balance your prayers.

Psalm 3:3 God is your shield in prayer

Psalm 37:8-9 Don’t let evil people get into your prayer and make you angry

Psalm 55:22 Prayer to God sustains you

Psalm 120:1 Yes! God answers a distress call.

John 14:13-14 Pray in Jesus’ name!

Hebrews 1:3 Jesus is God’s radiant and forgiving light for us

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Prayer is a powerful weapon for the obedient disciple.

What are your guiding scriptures? Add them in a comment

(C) 2022, Rev. Alan van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”. All rights reserved. Including original photos.

Intentional Healing: Forgiveness

Your Equipping Skill for this post: living in Forgiveness

Now what? The deed is done. You have either been wronged or wronged someone else. Perhaps this is a life changing injustice or maybe a small matter that will fade quickly away. All create pain. All need forgiveness.

North American Indian lore tells of wars between tribes coming to an end with a ceremonial burying of the hatchet. Burying this implement of war signified that fighting had ceased, all was forgiven, and the matter was left to rot in the ground forgotten. Whether this is historically accurate or not, it paints the picture of what forgiveness should look like in daily living.

Forgiveness is a lot easier said than done. How do we do forgiveness. Regardless of your faith, life is not healthy with injustice weighing it down. Yes, it is as easing as giving this to God…the following step could give you an idea of what this looks like. The holy Bible teaches us to be forgiven forgivers. It is neither easy nor optional. Also, forgiveness is spiritual, not merely intillectual assent. It is both learnable and teachable. This is a skill for all people and particularly for the Christian.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Following are 12 comments on how to live in forgiveness. These do not excuse abusive behavior or injustice But offer a way for us to live without the weight of unforgiveness crushing us.

1. Commit to the process of forgiveness personally

Before you attempt to start this journey, know what it is. Be a craftsman of forgivness. Learn how and grow in your skills. Forgiving doesn’t mean that approve, accept responsibly for or deny what happened to you. ESPECIALLY IF ABUSE, ADDICTION OR OTHER HARM IS PRESENT.

Forgiveness is making the intentional and conscious choice to release yourself from the burden, pain, and stress of holding on to a wrong, God doesn’t withhold forgiveness and neither should we. Forgiveness is the healing of yourself by God through Faith. Jesus held NOTHING back for your forgiveness. It is at the heart of our saving relationship with Christ. He forgives while knowing we are going to mess up. Forgiveness allows the possibility to keep the relationship right, even when faced with wrong.

2. accept that forgiveness in not pain free

Pain stinks but it can be effective teacher. Hurts can run deep, even if at first glance they don’t seem to make a big impact. It’s important to give yourself permission to accept the inevitable pain while working to get rid of it. It is real, it isn’t fair, and it it only for a season. It is physical, . Notice where you feel it in your body and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” perhaps you need sleep, or to get up and go. However, the real healing is spiritual.

3. Be Specific: Know exactly what needs to be forgiven.

Whether you’ve hurt yourself or have been hurt by another, allow yourself to be honest and simply name the feelings that are there. They might include guilt, grief, shame, sorrow, confusion, or anger. As you consider the act of forgiveness, any of these feelings can arise. Create time and space to forgive this specific thing and not let it get lost in free floating, vague, anger and anxiety. Being specific keeps healing from getting lost in the crowd and leaving you fealing overwhelmed.

4. Find healthy ways to express the pain.

The pain is going to leak out. Keeping hurt feelings bottled up only causes additional stress to your mind and body. Watch for habits that change to overdoing or underdoing. Healthy habits inlude, sharing how you’re feeling to a trusted person, writing about it in a journal, dedicated prayer, worship or talking about itwith a mental health professionsl. Sharing with a small group, especially in a church setting helps you expand your perspective. Ultimately, faith is born and grows as you work through the process of forgiveness in positive ways.

 5. Detach, Find a positive to this experience

An event that is very wrong can still have a positive side. Take your focus off of feeling like a victim and look for it. This hurt is not who you are but how you feel. Look for the possibility of positive outcomes-strength, maturity etc. Your life can take a different trajectory altogher as a result of this process. You are not taking away the guilt by finding a benefit for yourself in the journey of healing. Recognize the pain, take a stand that this isn’t who you are and replace the hurt with positive spiritual habits. Live in the present moment and let faith grow through this .

 6. Do something small to move forward every day

Whether you are forgiving yourself or another person, taking action can help to facilitate healing and make you feel more empowered. It’s best to start with smaller misdeeds to get into practice and feel what’s possible. Writing a letter or having an uncomfortable conversation can be difficult and even scary, but often a sense of empowerment emerges. Show self-compassionate action by listening to yourself and doing something that supports you. Little things done daily keep you from becoming stuck and being overwhelmed.

 7. You are not alone in this

When you’ve been hurt, it’s common to feel like you’re the only one who has ever been wronged in this way. Remembering you are not alone in experiencing this kind of pain can help to loosen the grip of your resentment. Keep your faith and surround yourself with people of faith. Distance yourself from negative places, people and habits.

8. Forgiveness takes time , no short cuts

Forgiveness isn’t a quick-fix. It’s a process. Be patient with yourself. With small offenses, forgiveness can happen pretty quickly, but with the larger ones, it can take years. Be kind to yourself, take the time, be patient rather than settling for vbs immediate or unhealthy habits.

 9. No one wins the blame game.

Misery Does NOT love company. If blaming would fix anything,, we wouldn’t have any problems. Blame does not heal,it k. Faith Casts it away, Blame clings to it with the lie that you can do it yourself.

10. Pray for yourself and others

Intentionally and with mindfulness pray for healing and forgiveness for yourself and for others, including THE other. . Forgiveness is a spiritual skill. You and God can do this. There is nothing more healing than serving another from a hear that Jesus has filled.

11. Find purpose in your pain

How will this time strengthen you.  What positive things will come from working through this forgiveness.  As you practice working with the pain that’s there, you grow key strengths of self-compassion, courage, and empathy that inevitably make you stronger in every way. As psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

12. Maintain your healing.

It takes faith and discipline to keep the historical from returning as hysterical. You have removed this pain’s power. An old saying says, “when you bury a mad dog, don’t leave his tail sticking up”. Beware of reminders that let it sneak back in.This matter is forgiven and given to God. It needs to stay buried. Your best revenge is having a peace filled and positive life.

Let it go. Keep it gone. You don’t need it any more. Let it rot in the ground. Done. Live your life now.

Some further resources:

Two study resources that I use everyday: as an app, and -a wonderful help arranged by topics.

Embodying Forgiveness, by L. Gregory Jones

Think like a Monk, by Jay Shetty

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster

Forgive what you Can’t Forget, by Lysa TerKeurst

Forgive for Good, by Fred Luskin

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Please add your comments and resources in a comment!

(C) 2022 All Rights Reserved by Alan van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”


Listening to the Holy Spirit: Finding Your Faith’s Ear

Seven ways to start or re-start your discernment skills. God speaks. How will we learn to listen?

Your equipping skill: Listening Prayers of the heart and growing in discernment

Listening to the Holy Spirit is Central to a living Faith.

What “listening to the Holy Spirit” means

  • The Holy spirit testifies to Christ, guides, inspires and motivates us.  Listening to the Holy Spirit means prioritizing God’s word above other sources.
  • Too often we worship our preferences.  This leads us to blind and deaf spots where we cannot hear what God has to say. 

What this does NOT mean

  • This is not divining the future
  • This is not “Fire Insurance”, insuring a financial or other success.
  • This does not put you or I in charge. Servant Leaders are First Followers
  • This is not manipulating God to do our will.
  • This is not prayer per se, but prayer is the vehicle by which we listen. It is God doing all of the work while we work at listening.

Equipping with Authority

  • This article is focused on the Concrete more than the theorhetical. God is the speaker and will use your preferences to find your listening ear.
  • Central to listening for God is Having an intentional plan. This post should not imply that teaching a mechanical skill-is all that it takes. These 7 actions are ways to intentionally equip yourself to listen
  • Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience are all tests for The Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture, tradition changes to meet the day but gives us context and community, truth makes sense by faith-Fod gave us a mind to use. Finally, all experiences teach something. Pay attention and listen carefully to all four of these as you do these activities. Keep it simple-listen.

1. Disciplined Time with God through Bible study and prayer.

  • God has already spoken through His Word. The more time you spend with God through reading His Word and through prayer, the more familiar you’ll become with His voice.
  • This is important because God will never tell you to do anything that contradicts His written Word. The more time you spend time with God, the more familiar you will become with His voice.

2. Memorize Scripture in context

  • The Bible is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you, transform you, make you more receptive to hear God’s voice.
  • It’s not enough to simply read the Word. Search the Scripture and “Hide it in your Heart”. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Many times the Holy Spirit will use the Word to guide you. This becomes so much easier if you actually have the Word in your heart.

3. Create a balanced life of prayer: ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (Requests).

  • No one like to be around someone who does all of the talking.
  • Don’t just run into prayer with your checklist in hand and pray, “Dear God, please help me here, bless this, bless that, protect them, help me have a good day. Amen.” Spend time listening.
  • You may not hear anything, but it’s important to remember that prayer is a conversation with God, not a list of needs and desires. .

4. Seek Silence Every Day

  • Look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and you’ll see that God chose to speak to Elijah through a gentle whisper. God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice, and not a shout! Faith beckons us to listen in order to hear.
  • God wants us to remove all the distractions from our lives and focus on Him. Find a consistent time and a dedicated place to be silent before God everyday and hear God’s gentle whisper.

5. Have a Spiritual Director and wise counselors

  • God doesn’t speak exclusively to you. He also speaks to those around you. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about the necessity of seeking wise counsel.
  • When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, seek someone wise to be your prayer partner. Carefully and prayerfully seek the wise counsel of those around you. Pray for God to bring these human resources.

6. Intentionally Listen for God in Daily Decisions

  • Don’t just do something, Sit there
  • Practice makes perfect. We have been given a spirit of discernment by our Father. The Holy Spirit is God. God wants us to know the difference between God’s voice and the many enemies competing for our own thoughts.
  • It takes discernment, and the only way to figure it out is to start practicing. This does NOT legitimize procrastination.

7. Be obedient

  • Don’t just sit there, Do something. 
  • Listening to the Holy Spirit requires obedience. Search through the book of Acts. It is a diary of the Holy Spirit speaking to the early church. The “Spirit” is used in Acts 67 different times. The reason the Spirit is still leading and motivating the church today is because the church obeyed the Spirit when Jesus’ Church heard His voice.
  • Do the last thing God told you to do.  If God hasn’t spoken to you, perhaps it’s because you didn’t obey the last thing God told you to do. God may be silent until you finish what He started. When the Spirit speaks, it’s not meant as a suggestion. If you want the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you, obey God when God speaks

NOW WHAT?  What transforming change will you make today? These “Doing” activities can and will point you to “Being” in Christ. The point of this excercise is to strengthen faith and create a more intimate relationship with God. Listen well and hear God’s loving and still small voice.

Some resources for further study:

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

Anatomy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer (Praying together)

When God is Silent by Barbara Brown Taylor ( The Section on Silence)

The Once and Future Wesleyan Movement by Scott J. Jones ( The Holy Spirit p. 57)

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Ask 4 an Intentional Faith: A simple habit for life’s complex answers

The equipping skill: creating and strengthening good and intentional faith habits.

A recent health scare forced a month of isolation and reflection upon me. This created time to take stock. I realized, reluctantly, that I was living much of my life on auto-pilot with Body mind and soul. After much reflection I’m making this response, I am beginning a “Year of Intentional Living”.

Join me and see where we might go together. Add a reply at the bottom and share your journey.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” James Clear, from his book Atomic Habits

For better or worse, we are the sum of our habits. I want to be and become a person of intentional faith in Jesus. People of any faith have faith goal goal. I take this journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. I want to be intentional about faith. My daily habits should include actions that lead me to an INTENTIONAL, thriving faith.

One daily habit is to test yourself. Ask four simple questions at the end of each dlay to test the intentionality of your faith-building. I am journaling my answers nightly. A reminder card is taped to my bedside lamp to cue me to stop and think. Weekly I share my journey with fellow church members and a trusted small group, for accountability. The reward is to go to sleep at night knowing that I truly lover each moment of the day. Here is how it might work for you

Printed cards provide the “Cue” to act. this one stays folded up in my pocket. More than anything, the card is a constant and intentional reminder. Write down your answers daily. If you don’t have an answer, intentionally do better tomorrow. Here are the four questions.

(You can have a card by request-contact me or enter a reply. I don’t share your contact info. )

When did I Pray today? Read Mark 11:15-26. When did you Thank, listen, speak and then move in prayer. Can’t remember? Make an appointment with God for tomorrow.

What did I learn today? Read Matthew 7:9-13 and find a familiar starting point. Poke around the scripture for a few minutes. Can’t remember? Make an appointment with God’s word tomorrow.

What did I teach today? Read Romans 12:1-8 and seize an opportunity to be a living sacrifice. Don’t TELL, SHOW your faith. Can’t remember? Think of a way to live what you learn from scripture and show someone.

What did I leave behind today that mattered? Read Romans 12:9-21. Where did you Love, Encourage, forgive, comfort, or do other meaningful things? Can’t remember? Watch closely for a God size opportunity tomorrow.

For added punch, share your victories, or opportunities for improvement, with a trusted friend. The journey of faith is always better with a co-traveller.

Where could Faith make your life richer? what do you intend to do about it? Take this cue and “Ask 4”! Make a bold and intentional step for yourself.

For additional study, read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, Avery Press, 2018. A sensible look at creating positive improvements in life-including your Faith Journey.

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

The reluctant art of waiting in faith

Your equipping skill:
Waiting in faith-persevering in prayer

I love being a pastor. My life is filled with amazing people and their stories all tangled up with my story. Today my chin is on one pillow with my forehead on another, 4 inches above my phone. As I try to speak this post into the blog, I take sips of my tea-that I couldn’t brew myself- through a straw without raising my head. I will never again take for granted the ability to sit on my little bench in the back porch enjoying my tea. I am waiting.

On the last Wednesday of August, the retina of my right eye suddenly detached. Three weeks into recovery a piece of scar tissue came loose and then a second surgery. I started all over. Four days after that, a third surgery. At this writing, 5 weeks after that first terrible tear inside my eye, I am still laying face down and waiting. The eye is stable but the ultimate outcome is uncertain. I have another 10 days to wait and, I pray, See.

Hardly the trials of Job but I sit here waiting for unseen healings, relearning how to live as I wait. From a scriptural perspective, waiting is essential to faith. From personal observation, waiting sucks.

Luke4:3 “For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.”

Type “ 40 days Bible verses” in your search bar and you will Find someone in sucky surroundings waiting for that waiting to do God’s work. Even Jesus was not exempt. This post should take minutes, but may take days. I am being reinvented. There are no options. I wait. Waiting in Christ is never a waste! What is God teaching you in your dark night? Here are Some of the Truths that I found during a season of waiting. Try these-add your own in a reply.

Relearn to pray. Cry out to God And struggle through To find new intimacy through prayer search the psalms. An fearlessly pray the words of people that have been there.

I’m unashamed to have cried out with these words.

Treasure those people close to you and tell them often that they are appreciated and loved. Accept their help. It’s hard for me and humbling BUT the hand of a friend may be the hand of God. Simply say yes and thank you. It’ll be enough for now. You can contact them later.

Fight with all of your might against self-pity and dark thoughts. Your life depends on it.I’ve been listening through the Psalms over and over. It reinforces this very Important thing.

Live life and shorter increments. I am living An hour at a time , I get a five minute break each hour. And for hours at a time, when I stop and put in eyedrops, this makes time manageable

Occupy your mind. I could not watch TV! Recorded books for free from the library. The Bible Can be read to you by some nice person on the Internet. (Thank you Biblegateway).

Never miss an opportunity to encourage a person in need. Don’t compare wounds, just be there for someone else. You experience connects you to the injured. You have been there. I had much weakness revealed and personal darkness challenged. Share you healed heart.

I have been in the dark and now see the possibility of a greater light. I love with a pastors love and I have been strengthened through this time of waiting, some of it with reluctance. Faith has taught me that this season will not last forever. When my faith was so fragile, Jesus kept a tight grip. I am a grateful disciple.

Anything that you’re going through can be over come. God is with us all. We have never been left alone but sometimes we can only see this by looking back on this time.

I am a better person for this month of darkness and changed forever. My eye will always be at risk for injury-I trust that Faith will be there when it is needed.

You are stronger than you can see while the battle rages. Don’t give in and don’t give up. Faith is real. God is with you and so am I. You are the beloved of God.

(By the way: Glory and thanks to God and Friendship UMC. Also, Thank you Dr. Shawn Kavoussi, his assistant Catherine, and the Houston Methodist hospital. You went far beyond what you had to do. Through you all, I can see )

(C) Alan van Hooser, “thethoughtfulpastor”, 2021, all rights reserved.

Every Day is Labor Day, God is near

Labor Day 2021, from Houston Texas The Equipping Skill: Make your workplace a place of Spiritual Growth.

Labor Day is and should be more than a Monday off. Labor day began in 1894 to celebrate the American worker after many, public riots and other atrocities took lives on both sides of the management/worker struggle. At this time the workplace was often a dangerous and soul-less place where the worker’s needs were ignored. Children were cogs in the machine and workers of all ages were used up and discarded. Things have certainly improved, but we must never forget that our nation was built by thick handed craftsmen (and women), who grabbed their tools and invested themselves in their work. This is the way that families were fed, children educated, and our society built. Faith, in my case a Christian’s faith, teaches that our vocation is an integral part of a living faith.

The work of your hands matters to God. This verse from Colossians is an answer to the question, “how does work fit in to faith?” They were trying to make sense of bad bosses and back breaking labor even back then. The answer begins with knowing that God is ultimately your boss, regardless of who signs your check.  May we remember the People who built their lives as a foundation for us to build ours.  May we pick up our tools and build well on their shoulders, remembering that we also build faith, on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Work is not separate from faith. The word “Vocation” from the Latin “vocare” means to call. Your work should be spiritually inspired-whether glamorous or not. There is no WORK-LIFE or FAITH-LIFE. You can be a God-called plumber just like you can be God-called as a preacher. The source of the calling is the same. Bloom where you punch-in. You matter and your work matters.

Work is not punishment but a privilege At least when you see it a a gift from God and a stepping stone to building your life. In Genesis 2, people were put to work in the Garden before there was sin. The world is our garden. Whether you wear a suit, mom clothes, waitstaff aprons or shop uniforms, what you do builds the world around you. Work it with all you have. We have more choice that we think about selecting or changing our work. Any vocational move comes with a price, so be careful. Choose your calling well and don’t settle. Pray when you are stuck. Change comes with pain but it can be made.

Work or Faith, Learn your Craft. Jesus worked. He was a man of skilled trade, a carpenter. He knew about farming in the hot sun first hand. Being a Christian disciple is an honorable trade. The difference is the tools you use. You equip yourself as a disciple when you pray. From there all manner of witness-service, worship, Bible study and casual conversations become trade school and build you up. This makes sense out of life when work doesn’t feel like a good life. It doesn’t matter the color of your collar

Managing work means managing your life. Know how to do things that others will pay for. Choose honorable things and don’t settle by cutting dark corners. There is no way to get rich quick. Manage your money, tithe, help those in need and save for retirement. Have an educational goal, whether it comes in a classroom or someone teaches you. Have insurance, take care of your body and your mind. These are your most valuable tools. John Wesley said, “Make all you can, save what you can, and share what you can.” This defines a real life

It takes a lifetime. Work is more than a check. I am committed to a life of growth in my faith. In my job as a pastor, my church is a place to equip those who build God’s kingdom. What’s in your toolbox? Find those tools and relationships that fit your soul.  Its not about doing things, even if they are good things. Its all about growing closer to Christ Look and your passions, those things of the spirit that energize and interest you. Then, look for new opportunities to use your tools to grow in faith.  FOLLOW YOUR CALLING to your workplace!

The new focus of this blog is common sense equipping for the thought-Full Christian. Watch this blog for sensible equipping resources and challenges. I’m always up for suggestions.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.Colossians 3:23

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2021 all rights reserved.