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Archive for May, 2013

My 33 old Montgomery Wards riding mower finally gave up the ghost, went kaput, died. It came with our house when we bought it and although it looked pretty good it didn’t run. At some time before it became ours it was parked in the garage and sat. When I took a closer look at it a found three main problems: 1. The battery was deader than a door knob, 2. Somebody had tried to mow rocks and busted one of the mower blade mounts, 3. Both the gas tank and carburetor where gummed up with old shellacked gas. Once I took care of those three things the orange beauty ran like a champ, made my life easier, and helped my son earn a lot of money mowing around the neighborhood.

I would say 33 years is a “ripe old age” for riding mower. I attribute this to three main factors: 1. God answering my prayers to make my things last, 2. Proper use, 3. Regular maintenance.

Now let’s pretend your and my life is like a riding mower. If we are going to run like a champ, last, and be a blessing we need to pay attention to three things: 1. God, 2. The written Word of God (aka the Bible/Manual), 3. The ways of God. That’s the instruction given to a new mower/young person, How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your (God’s) word” “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:9&11 (NLT, parenthesis mine).

Somebody designed that mower for the purpose of mowing, and they wrote a user manual so the eventual owner would know how to use the mower and get the most out of it. Can you ignore the designer and all the included instructions? Absolutely, you can ignore its purpose, use it for whatever and however you want to, and never do any maintenance. But don’t be surprised if you get hurt, beat it up, be frustrated, have to spend money to fix it, and wear it out way before its time. Of course if you have enough money you can just go and buy another one, but that doesn’t work with life, no amount of money will buy you another one. So it might be smart, wise, to recognize that God made us, designed us for a purpose, and has written a manual so we would use our lives properly and know how to maintain them.

Maybe you are reading this and you no longer qualify as young. Maybe you are like a broken down mower, maybe you abused your own life, maybe you never changed the oil, mowed rocks, were stupid, and more than just your gas tank and carburetor is corroded. Does that mean the instruction of God’s Word you read above is not for you? I suppose not if that’s what you want to settle for. But what if you were to pay attention to the designer, to God? What if you were to start reading the manual, the Bible? And what if you were to start doing what you read in God’s Word? What if you were to let God use his knowhow and tools on you? What if you learned to look out for rocks, change the oil, and keep the blades sharp?

Was it only important for me to seek God’s blessing and pay attention when I first got the mower? Of course not, it is important throughout life, a mower’s life, but even more importantly your and my life.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. If you wondering where to start reading your Bible I suggest you start reading the Gospel of Matthew and one chapter of Proverbs a day.

 

 

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Worrying, being anxious, fretting, panicking.

More than once I have witnessed men and women who lived through the Great Depression save everything, every Cool Whip bowl, every rubber band, every bread bag twisty, every old nail, every old tooth brush; cup boards full, boxes stacked high, bags and pails in the attic or deep under house. It is tough for us to understand, us who live in a throw away culture, us who are collectively and chronically overweight. Worry inspired by hunger, anxiety induced by the hollow stare of your hungry children, fretting over whether or not you will eat is different from fretting over what you will eat.

Every baby should come with a warning label, “This precious child will give you cause to worry, produce anxiety disproportionate to his/her size, is guaranteed to rob you of sleep and replace it with fretting of all sorts, and it will bless you with moments of mind blowing panic. This child’s health, disposition, friends, and decisions all have the potential to drastically increase all of the above.”

Every leadership position, in business, government, and even church has its own bag of worries, anxiety producers, fretting, and panic buttons. Life is unpredictable, people are unpredictable, and kids are, as are economical climates and political realities.

Of course there are worry, anxiety, fretting, and panic enhancers. Try stealing a car, or robbing a bank (I am not actually encouraging this) and then check your worry and anxiety level every time you see a police car. Lying, cheating, violence, illegalities, and such will increase your worries, your anxiety, and reasons to panic. But these will not only increase your anxieties and worries but also of those around you. How many kids fret, worry, panic, and are anxious because of their parents’ drug use or constant fighting? How many wives and children worry and are panicked at the slightest indication of a temper ready to explode again? How many work places are pits of worry and anxiety because of the bad decisions and lousy behavior of ownership and management, or even coworkers?

One of the great benefits of the Christian life, of walking through life with God, of building your life on the wisdom and truths of God’s word is peace. Peace instead of worry, anxiety, fretting, and panicking. Not because there is all of the sudden nothing to worry about. Reasons for worry, anxiety, and panic sprout new every single day, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” Matthew 6:34 (NLT). Nor do we have to minimize or deny real issues and circumstances. No, the peace comes from knowing that in the midst of my worries and fears God keeps me. In the midst of what is out of control God is in control. In the midst of overload God shares my load, even takes my load. In the midst dark storms and drowning waves God is in my boat unfazed and able to bring me through, one word of his is enough to bring calm and peace (Mark 4:35-41).

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 
 

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My Mama has been with Jesus for over 24 years and I miss her still. This July I will be back in my hometown, Heiningen/Germany, visit her grave, and wish she was still among the living. I would love to eat some more of her cooking, for her and my children to know each other, to sit out on the veranda for Kaffee und Kuchen, to laugh and sing together, to reminisce and bask in that incredible love between us.

My Mama’s love, my love for her has not waned. It is as strong, as precious, as wonderful and beautiful as it has ever been. It has not ceased to blossom and bless. It is not a relic, not just a memory, but it is alive. I think it is so because her love was real, uncomplicated, constant, free of manipulation, and sweet – so very sweet. This love she lavished on us, poured into us, and cultivated in our hearts was not fragile, or fickle, and above all it was without fear, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, …” 1 John 4:18 (NIV).

I know this is not everyone’s Mothers’ Day reality and I know my Mama was blessed with terrific Mom and Dad herself, but the loving has to start somewhere and if didn’t begin with us we have to decide to continue the love we received. Life, health, my Dad, and we her sons did not make it easy for my Mama. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, become bitter, complained, repaid evil for evil, decided that it was time to make life about herself. But she didn’t, she chose to love, and love some more. She believed that’s what God would want her do, what following Christ meant. She was right.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). My Mama’s love was healing, just the memory of it is like aloe vera on a burn. It brought sanity into insanity, perspective to chaos, forgiveness to bitterness and hate. She refused to add to the sins, she wanted to be part of the crew who made the pile smaller, cover up the stink, and grow flowers on the wasteland of sins. And she did, I still get to pick them every day. Thank you Mama, you bless me still.

Happy Mothers’ Day, to God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

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