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Archive for April, 2012

 “…, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT).

“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 (HCSB).

Without Susie we would have fewer plants around our place. She brings home trees and shrubs, her friends give her trees and shrubs, and even our kids think giving Mom plants is a great thing to do. Once a new plant or tree arrives it becomes my job to find a place for it, and since I have been trying for years to get off the hose-dragging system and to a buried pipe (my dogs would shred things above ground) automatic watering system you can imagine that makes putting in a new tree much, much more work, especially in the hard and rocky soil of Don Pedro.

A few minutes ago I ate a delicious homegrown orange, harvested off a tree I actually bought myself a few years ago. In fact we have eight citrus trees and four of them are mature enough to bear (much to our delight) a significant amount of outstanding fruit. It really doesn’t matter who got the tree, who planted it, who watches over it because the joy is in seeing the tree grow and harvesting its fruit.

When it comes to the vegetable garden all I do is prepare the boxes. I add the manure, the compost, whatever else to improve the soil and then rotortill and level it all. That’s when Susie takes over, she’ll plant it and water it. But just as with the trees the joy is in seeing that little garden thrive. Is there anything like a fresh homegrown tomato right off the vine with a little salt on it?

As a church our calling is to make disciples, it doesn’t matter who does what. One invites, the other welcomes, someone makes the coffee and cookies, another teaches, some preach, others pray, and … What counts is that unsaved people come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, believe, and follow him. The joy is seeing people grow in Christ and bear fruit to the delight and glory of God. It doesn’t matter who plants, or who waters, the important thing is that disciples are made.

It is my hope and prayer that we as church, every group, every ministry, and each one of us personally participates in and commits to making disciples. That the making of disciples is our core passion, what we get excited about, what we delight in, and what dominates our conversations, our dreams, and our service. So bring in some new plants, let’s make the waterers sweat, and watch God grow people.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Springtime in Don Pedro is incredible, it seems as though nature is putting on a concert, and art exhibit, and a commercial for a deluxe vacation all at the same time. The beauty surrounding us is stunning, the temperature is perfect, and everything seems to be overflowing with life. Early mornings on my back deck are spectacular, just birds singing, the smell of fresh cut grass, the blossoms of poppies, wildflowers, and fruit trees slowly waking up and getting out of bed, warm sunshine peaking over the horizon.  It doesn’t matter if you love going on walks and hikes, ride your bicycle, hop on your Harley, drive with the top down, go fishing, do some gardening, hit the golf balls, barbeque, ride horses, or play horse shoes, this seems to be the perfect time for it all.

There are other things about spring that we are wise to notice:

  • Spring is about planting, reproducing, thinking ahead. A man reaps what he sows” Galatians 6:7 (NIV).
  • Spring invites us to live to the glory of God. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples” John 15:8 (HCSB). “Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created” Revelation 4:11 (HCSB).
  • Spring is about growing. “…, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen” 2 Peter 3:18 (NLT).
  • Spring is about praising God and His Son Jesus Christ. The birds do, the flowers do, as does all the rest of nature. They don’t get dressed up for us, they don’t sing for us, they don’t live for us. We simply benefit from what God has created them to be. The old hymn is right, “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise; the morning light, the lily white declare their Maker’s praise” (This Is My Father’s World, by Maltbie D. Babcock).
  • Spring testifies about God, that He is the author of life, that the beauty surrounding us is a reflection of His beauty, that all of it has sprung from His mind and His heart, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken, And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
    Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth”
    Psalm 50:1-2 (NASB).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength” Psalm 96:1-7 (NASB)

Can I encourage you to take a half an hour and take the beauty of this spring as an invitation from God and the Lord Jesus Christ to think about Him, and life, and how He would have you live it.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

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the look

The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” Luke 22:61 (NASB)

We’d all be in jail, if looks really could kill.

If you want to be a good parent you have to be able to both recognize looks:

“Don’t you give me that look young man!”

“You had better not roll your eyes behind my back young lady!”

“That’s about the daffiest face I have ever seen.”

“I can tell you’re lying just by the look on your face!”

“Those puppy eyes worked when you were three, what do you want.”

“What’s with the sad face, what’s going on?”

You also have to perfect your own “looks” as a parent. Your repertoire needs to include glares, stares, beams, as well as the looks of:

“You’re in so much trouble, you don’t even know it!”

“One more word and you’re grounded for life!”

“I told you so.”

“How could you?”

“I’m so proud I think I’ll pop.”

“That’s MY boy/girl!”

Jesus had a lot of looks, looks of compassion, concern, grief, anger, peace. John 8 even records a non-look; it says something too, doesn’t it. One of Jesus’ looks has always fascinated and puzzled me. Peter, who had promised Jesus that he would die with Him if need be has just sworn up and down that he never knew Jesus. He has completely disavowed any association with Christ. What’s more is that Jesus had told him that he would do so before the roster would crow. Before the words of his last denial leave his lips a roster does crow, and at the very moment Jesus in His hand cuffs turns and looks across the courtyard. He looks Peter right in the eyes (Luke 22:54-62), He doesn’t speak a word, a look is all that’s needed. What look did Jesus give him? Wouldn’t you love to know? I sure would. This much I know, Jesus’ look didn’t keep Peter from repenting and returning. It also broke him. I think he remembered that one look for the rest of his life. He must have told Luke about it.

I can’t prove it, but I think that look Jesus gave Peter, when Peter was at a minimum both scared and confused, reflected the depth of relationship Jesus seeks to have with you and me as well. Most people do not know God – Jesus like that, but gloriously He invites us to know Him like that. Do you?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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“… the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection …” (Philippians 3:10)

Sooner than later everyone runs into it.

The elderly gentleman whose path I crossed last week did. You could tell that he used to do most everything by himself. He used to repair his own vehicles. He built the barn behind his house. If the tree that had fallen on the side of house five years ago he would have cut it up himself. But now he could just watch and cheer me on. I thought, “Someday that could very well be me.”

The young woman lying in the hospital bed did. Young and sick just don’t seem to go together, at least they shouldn’t. There she was hooked up to monitors and IV lines, at the mercy of the disease and the doctors and nurses trying to fight it. When I left I thought, “That could very well be me.”

The parents who asked me to come over did. Their daughter is making bad decisions. She is on a straight path of ruining her life, hurting herself and others in the process. Mom and Dad are at their wits’ end. When I started my car I thought, “I have kids. That could very well be Susie and me.”

The faces on the TV screen did. In a way they are almost interchangeable. This was a documentary about refugee camp that has become a place with no way out, but it could just as well have been a documentary of people caught in a deadly drought, or of a crime and drug infested neighborhood, or of victims of a natural disaster. I thought, “I am glad that’s not me,” but it very well could be.

The family gathered around the bed did. The no longer conscious, shrunken shell of their Mom, Grandma, and sister was still breathing, barely. But it was just a matter of time. No one was going to stop the inevitable. We all wished it would come sooner than later. I couldn’t help but think, “One day this will be me.”

The man in the casket suspended over his grave did. The Honor Guard had conducted their ceremony, fired the gun salute, and carefully folded the flag and presented it. I spoke the benediction. Mourners laid flowers on the casket. Then we stepped back and watched it disappear into the ground. As we were walking away the grave diggers started to cover the grave. I thought, “Whatever was left death took it. Took it from everyone laid to rest here, every last bit. It doesn’t matter whose marker I read, or how fancy the grave stone is, all here have been rendered powerless.”

The feeling and the reality of powerlessness is as inescapable as it is dreaded. It diminishes us. It is both humbling and humiliating. Human dignity is lost. Fear and helplessness are its companions. It challenges the slightest glimmer of hope. And it doesn’t matter, in the end each one of us will lose the fight. Whatever power was ours it will not be buried with us under that last shovel of dirt.

There is, however, a grave that has been gloriously empty for the past 2000 years. Not because someone has dug it up, or because tomb raiders invaded it. It is empty because who was laid there walked out. Evil, the brokenness of this world, Satan, sin and death all tried their best to render Jesus Christ powerless. All of them failed. He rose from the dead. He alone can help us escape the condemnation of sin and the curse and power of death. You and I can live and be buried in real hope if we trust in and live with Jesus Christ. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (NASB)

This Easter, if you have never done so, make a beginning with Jesus Christ – believe and follow.

This Easter, remember that power of Jesus’ resurrection calls us more than comfortable holy huddles behind church walls, but to go where evil, sin, injustice, lostness, suffering, disease, fear, worry, darkness, hopelessness, powerlessness, and death prevails.

Jesus is risen! Love you, Pastor Hans

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