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Archive for January, 2013

Susie and I were awarded the rank of “Grandparent” last Tuesday. Shaheed Jr. greeted the light of day at 8 pounds 1 ounce, and 20 inches in length. Dad already claims he looks like him, and by the way Mom is okay. There is just one problem – Susie and I are way too young to be a Grandma and Grandpa, an Oma and Opa.

How in the heck did this happen? It seems like just when you have somewhat figured things out things are changing. I think Moses must have felt like that. His life is marked by three sets of forty years. In each set he had to adjust, make decisions, take on different roles.

The last big adjustment came when he was eighty, yup 80. He was very reluctant, even when he knew for certain that God was talking to him. He came up with all kinds of objections and what ifs, and finally he told God to give the job to someone else, Moses said, ‘Please, Lord, send someone else.’ Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses, …” Exodus 4:13-14 (HCSB). He ticked God off, He thought this was up for discussion, but it wasn’t anymore than becoming a grandparent is. God doesn’t come to us like He is working for Gallup Polls. He doesn’t reveal his will to us to see whether or not we like it. Moses didn’t realize what privilege it is to be called on by God to carry out His will. The question for Susie and I is not whether or not we like to be grandparents, the question is what kind of grandparents will we be.

I am wondering, has God been calling on you and all He is encountering is reluctance? An unwillingness to change, to adjust your life to His will? Have you been telling God to assign the responsibility to someone else? Are you in danger of ticking God off? Or have you already made him angry?

Moses could have written a book covering the first eighty years of his life, and it would have been great story. But it was the surrender, the adjustment to God’s will he made at eighty that made it a bestseller.

Looking back years later, I wonder if Moses just shook his head at his own foolishness when he thought about the time he told God, “Send someone else.” I wonder what advice he would give to you and me? Then again, I don’t think it is too hard to figure out if you read the story.

My prayer is that you and I will drop any reluctance, that we will see beyond the what ifs, and that we will rejoice in being called on by God?

To God be all glory, love you, Grandpa Hans

 

 

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In the end they all wished they had kept their mouths shut. His friends kept trying to figure out why things had gone so badly for Job? How he could have fallen so fast and so far? “You reap what you sow,” “What goes around comes around,” “You can’t fool karma,” “Your sin has found you out,” was their conclusion.

“No! No! I did everything right, I don’t deserve this,’ was Job’s adamant reply. “If God would just give me hearing this could all be straightened out,” was his plea.

So, round and round they went, until God spoke. Then they wished they had been silent. Job’s friends were plain wrong, their theology was faulty. Job’s expectations were misguided, he thought as long as he did everything right he was insured against calamity, disaster, and suffering.

When God finally spoke he told Job to look around, to consider the universe and all of the physical creation and pay attention to what they say about God. They should inspire us to be in awe. They should cause us to consider the greatness, the wisdom, the inscrutability, the sovereignty of God (Job 38-39). “Job, do you think you are on par with me?” God wanted to know.

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to God, when it comes to trying to figure out why bad things happen to good people and bad people seem to get away with it. The problem with opinionating is that lacks any awe, it reduces God to the size of our minds, it breeds the hubris that puts us on par with God, and causes us to be blind to the fact that, “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV).

When it comes to God we had better pay attention to revelation, to what God tells us about himself. Our opinions about God will cause us to end up in trouble, render us worshipping false gods, or denying God altogether. When God told Job to look around he called him to consider revelation, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” “… the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge” Psalm 19:1, 50:6 (NIV). Theologians call that general revelation, it should inspire humility and awe. The Bible (God’s written word) tells things about God that go beyond what the universe declares about him. It also informs us about what he thinks about us and how we should live. Theologians call the scriptures special revelation, we should give it special attention and it should inspire faith and trust. The greatest revelation of all is Jesus Christ, God’s son, who was literally God in human form (in the flesh), he should inspire us to worship, follow, and imitate him.

Are you still talking, opinionizing? Maybe it time to be still and consider God, not as you want to think of him, but as he has revealed himself in the physical world, the Bible, and through Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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Have you ever been told something you didn’t want to hear but you needed to? Those are the conversation we don’t really want to be part of. So if you don’t want to hear something we all need to hear, if you don’t want to engage into a conversation that really needs to happen, don’t read on.

Last week, in the wake of Detroit’s homicide numbers for 2012, Mayor Dave Bing said, “We’ve just lost respect for each other; we’ve lost respect for life.” The number he was lamenting was 411 up from 377 the previous year.  What a sad statistic, Mayor Bing had every reason to lament it. However, it pales in light of the fact that in 2012 approximately 1,200,000 (1.2 Million) pre-born little boys and girls had their lives snuffed out through abortion. Indeed we have lost respect for human life.

It is even sadder because we can no longer claim ignorance. One no longer can argue about when human life begins, modern science can now identify human being from its first cell on. Following conception are merely stages in the life of a human being both in and outside the womb. It is even sadder because these killings are legal through all nine months of pregnancy, even right before a child slips through the birth canal. It is even sadder because we build an entire money making industry around the taking, the destruction of little human beings. And it is sadder still that we don’t want to hear about it, we don’t want to be exposed to the ugly truth that since the Roe vs. Wade decision rendered by the highest court of the land, which has a responsibility to uphold justice and liberty for all, well over 50, 000,000 (fifty million) pre-born babies have died. We have acquiesced to stripping an entire group, the pre-born, of the rights each American holds dear: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We do not want to hear of morality (although the taking of innocent life is an immoral act). We do not want to hear of responsibility past a condom regarding sexual behavior. We don’t want to think about having to take responsibility for acts of unbridled (and unprotected) acts of passion and lust.

Mayor Bing is right, “We have lost respect for life,” and I wonder if he included all those little boys and girls who lost their lives via an abortion pill or the hands of an abortionist in the city of Detroit. We cannot devalue human life anywhere along its entire life span and hope to maintain respect for human life. We cannot engage in a conversation about respect for human life while stripping an entire class of all its fundamental rights. We cannot maintain respect for human life if we do not want to talk about responsibility regarding our capacity to create life. We cannot hold on to respect for human life if do not reckon with the reality that we will answer to our Creator, God Almighty, for all of our decisions and acts.

Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness are indeed a great endowment and great values as long as we choose them for all.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

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“…  Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious (radiant) church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and (blameless) without fault. Ephesians 5:25-27 (NLT, parenthesis mine)

Jesus loves his church. He knows she is not perfect, that’s why He laid down his live for her. He is working at perfecting her and bringing to light all of her glory. In the end she will be holy and blameless. Not everyone shares the love Jesus has for the church, in fact many have no use for her at all. I am not just talking about those who are adamantly opposed to Christ and Christianity, or religion in general. I am talking about many who identify themselves as Christian and yet have no love for and no involvement in the church. This has always puzzled me. How can I say I love and follow Jesus Christ and yet not love what He loves and gave his life for?

I confess, the church, churches have made and still do make messes. It is especially grievous when church leaders make messes, act irresponsibly, say things that should not be said, or do things that are outright evil, even criminal. There is no justification and excuse for church leaders and Christians in general to act ungodly and unloving.

Why does Jesus have to cleanse the church? Why does He have to work on making her holy and blameless? And why does He continue to pour out His selfless sacrificial love on her? Because she is made up of people, sinners saved by grace, spiritual bastards and orphans who have to learn how to live godly, how to be Christlike. Men and women who often take one step forward and two back. I often wonder why He has not thrown in the towel. And then I am so glad He didn’t because of how I have benefited from this relentless love of Christ, this passionate pursuing of His bride.

My family and I have benefited immeasurably from being part of and belonging to a church. This community, this family of faith has shaped us, kept us, prayed for us, supported us, helped us, and blessed us. It has challenged us, stretched us, encouraged us, and anchored us. Could I write a long lost list of flaws and complaints that stretch over the twenty nine years of being part of this church family? Absolutely. Do I want to? Absolutely not. And if I did it would not change the love Christ has for His church, and this church, and it would not outweigh what I have received from being part Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church.

How I love my church, being a representation of Christ’s body together with you, and Christ’s passionate pursuit of us collectively.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

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“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”– 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Someone observed, “Toes are for finding furniture in the dark” –  Ouch! Some years ago Susie and I were driving home from Merced late in driving rainstorm when our alternator decided to quit. With still about thirty miles to go I tried to conserve as much of the battery power by driving with just the parking lights. About 10 miles I out turned off all the lights and had Susie hold the flashlight out the window to light the way – as we rolled into our driveway the car died – Whew!

I don’t know about you but darkness isn’t much fun unless you’re an owl or a bat. It certainly is no fun to be in the dark when it comes to life. It is hard to orient yourself in the dark, so easy to get turned around, get lost, hurt yourself.

Have you ever thought about how many nasty critters operate in the dark? Cockroaches, mice, rats, and worse. And how much stupidity, how many bad decisions, how much evil and sin takes places after the sun sets, the lights are turned low or out, the shades are drawn, and the doors are shut?

“…: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5 (NIV). God calls us to live in the light – His light, “… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV). “… you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” Ephesians 5:8 (NASB).

God calls to, offers us a life where we don’t continually stub our toes, a life where we do not have to hide things, or manipulate, make excuses, pretend, cover up and lie – a life in the light, a life of blessing, simplicity, and goodness.

Can you imagine if our cars wouldn’t have lights? If our homes were without lights? I bet you we would do something about it, pronto. I am encouraging you to install God’s Word/the Bible into your life, your way of thinking, your decision making, your activities, your habits, your responsibilities, your roles, and your values. I am challenging you to make 2013 the year you can proclaim with the Psalmist, “ Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 119:105 (NIV).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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