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Archive for September, 2012

The Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church Mouse is dead! Of all the ways a mouse could find its demise in the end this true Baptist rodent drowned in the baptistry. However, the jury is out whether or not this was one final act of religious devotion gone wrong or simply a life of heathen rodency catching up.

If it was the former then this mouse was seriously deficient in its theology. A good Baptist mouse would have not just gnawed on Bibles but actually have read the scriptures. Then it would have understood that baptism cannot save you. True repentance does not lead one to religious rites but to confession of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins, because he alone has conquered both sin and death. This mouse would have known that baptism cannot wash away sins but rather is a public confession of faith in Christ, who grants forgiveness of sins based on the sacrifice of himself, his own blood (Hebrews 10:19, 1 John 1:7). This mouse would not have trusted in religious performance but in the mercy and grace God offers everyone through Jesus Christ. And finally this mouse would have been clear on the fact that it was a mouse and not a person, that mice don’t need a savior but that people like you and me do.

If it was the latter, which I am inclined to believe (except for the “heathen” part), then this mouse services as a reminder of several truths. Carelessness can kill you, cost you your life, and religious labels offer no protection against it. Stupidity is not confined to just those outside of the church. God gives us one life to live, live it wisely. Being careless with the things of God, or God Himself is dangerous. Death stinks, all of creation yearns to be delivered from it, and Jesus Christ is the only hope for that deliverance (Romans 8:19-39).

In 28 years I have seen many things in the baptistry of the Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church, various bugs, an assortment of arachnids  (spiders), ants, scorpions, puppeteers, kids hiding, equipment, and one solitary and very dead church mouse. But the very best that has been in our baptistery has been men and women, young and old, who through Jesus Christ found forgiveness of sin, went from death to life, from darkness to light, and were transformed from being enemies of God to children of God. Glad and grateful women, men, young people, and children who were gloriously saved by the love and power of God in Christ. It might be that God is calling you to be one of them.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

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Wisdom and knowledge, there are few things the God’s written word (the Bible) encourages us to pursue more. On the other hand God warns against all foolishness and ignorance. Thus, if we want to consistently make good and godly choices the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge is indispensible, as is the avoidance of foolishness and ignorance.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10 (NASB)

Acquiring wisdom and knowledge takes more than prayer. A quick cry for wisdom, for discernment, for knowledge and understanding, in the midst of a life of foolishness, of a life that lacks discipline, and is missing any consistent practice of spiritual habits will rarely produce the kind of insight that is needed. Wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and insight have to be learned, pursued, applied and practiced in a consistent and ongoing manner, so much so that they become habitual. Foolishness, shortsightedness, impulsiveness, ignorance, lack of discipline, and bad habits don’t just magically disappear simply because we pray. They have to be avoided, abandoned, replaced, so much so that they will become distasteful, un-natural, foreign to us. But don’t just take my word for it.

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments. Psalm 119:66 (NASB)

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:1-7 (NASB)

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.
Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
Proverbs 2:1-11 (NLT)

There is no future, no blessing in dumb decisions and ungodly choices. Decide today to become a lifelong learner, a pursuer of wisdom. Reading the “Proverbs” (a chapter a day) and the epistle (letter) of “James” over and over is a great place to start. Surrounding yourself with wise and godly people is another essential practice, as is staying away from all foolishness and ignorance. But start today, not tomorrow. Fools always start tomorrow, wise men and women pursue and practice wisdom today.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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After finishing Bible College, after being out of work, surviving on food stamps, odd jobs, and the generosity of others, finally a church in Rancho Cordova offered me a job as an assistant pastor. On the way home from that second interview Susie and I were silent for a long time. This was an open door, this was the kind of opportunity we had been praying for. Finally Susie asked me what I thought. “I have no peace about this,” I answered. “I don’t have any peace either,” was her reply draped in a look of gladness and relief. When we got home I called the pastor and told him we would not be coming. He asked me to think about it, but I told him we would not go against what we were not at peace with.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (NKJV)

What is “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding/comprehension?” Is it a feeling? A difficult to describe inner disposition? An absence of worry? A state of mind? A conglomeration of all of the above? Maybe even more important, when can I trust inner peace? When or how can I be certain that the sense of peace I have is from God? How much room for self-deception is there in using a sense of inner peace to discern God’s will and make decisions? And why so many questions?

Our sense of peace is influenced my many factors, such as: our values – it’s tough to be at peace with things and decisions that transgress our values; our culture (both larger and sub culture) – it impacts our values and our sense of what is and isn’t permissible; our conscience – it is shaped by both our values and culture as well as by a God-given inner sense of right and wrong; our experiences – they impact how we handle things, stress over things, deal with things; our attitude – it impacts our hopefulness, outlook, and so much more; our desires –we are prone to legitimize our desires regardless of whether they are godly or not. This means it is entirely possible to have a sense of peace and be far from experiencing “the peace of God.”

If we want to rely on “the peace of God” in coping with life, discerning God’s will, and making godly decisions we need to take all of Philippians 4:4-9 into account, otherwise we will make feeling some kind of peace another way of self-directing our lives and decisions. Paul assumes some preconditions to experiencing and knowing “the peace of God”:

  • A God/Christ-focused life in attitude, disposition, and behavior.
  • An awareness of the presence and return of Christ.
  • A commitment to life by faith not fear and worry.
  • An ongoing practice of prayer, gratefulness, and reliance on God.
  • A dedication to good and godly thought and speech (we talk about what we think about).
  • A determination to follow the word of God and godly examples.

In the practice of the above we shift from simply wanting some kind of peace of mind to resting in God and evermore desiring only that which God is at peace with. It is then we can completely trust “the peace of God, which passes all understanding.”

After I turned down the job and hung up the phone our lives did not get any easier. Things didn’t just get magically better, in fact in some respects they got worse, but as to that decision the peace of God has never left us to this day.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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