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Archive for June, 2014

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

There was one policeman in my hometown of Heiningen (at that time population 2,500), yup, just one. When our grammar school teacher took us on a field-trip to the Rathaus (city hall) we got to meet him and he showed us the two jail cells. They were full of boxes and paper. I don’t think they were used very much. I liked his uniform, which he filled out nicely, but I was especially impressed with his gun. I don’t know what all he did, but he did a lot of patrolling, when we rode our bicycles around he seemed to be all over the place, he kept watch.

We were on vacation camping when severe weather hit. So in the middle of the night my Dad piled us all into the car to drive to our Great Uncle’s farm to sit it out there. On the way a fierce lightning bolt split the sky and hit the far corner of the roof of one of the large old farm houses in the distance. It was instantly on fire and my Dad wheeled the car around and raced to the farm, jumped out, woke up the sleeping family, and began helping with getting the animals out, while my Mom tried to restrain us in the car. It wasn’t long before fire trucks arrived and they were impressive. My Mom finally relented and let us go out into the rain to watch the fireman do their work. In the end everything living was saved but the farm house was lost.

Why am I telling you these two old memories of mine? For one because my entire life I have thought of both policemen and firefighters as a positive and not a negative. Wherever I have lived things were not worse but better because of their presence. I don’t imagine life to be better without them, I am glad they are among us doing their work.

I don’t know how it is that so many want to tell some horror story about how “the cops” did them or someone they know wrong, or how the fire department was too slow to respond and didn’t know what they were doing. It’s kind of like most everyone is always ready to tell some medical horror story, but boy when they are sick they are more than glad to visit a doctor. A few weeks ago I checked my facebook page (something I don’t do very often) and someone was complaining about how the “cops” had cramped their style at a weekend party, followed by are more general rant against law enforcement. I commented that I am not their camp. How many of us have to put on a bullet proof vest to go to work? Generally if I police myself I don’t have much to worry. In fact I don’t get up worrying about “the cops” (I don’t even like the word “cop/s”, to me it lacks respect). They have not cramped my style, but they and the fire department were there when my daughter wrecked her car. They were there when people acted stupid during fire season, when people were dying or died, when things got out of hand, and they have continually kept watch.

However I have observed a trend over the past thirty years. We are increasingly shifting the responsibility of “watching” away from ourselves. A healthy family rarely if ever needs police intervention. Why, because in a healthy family each person takes responsibility to police themselves. The same is true in a healthy community, responsibility to watch isn’t shifted to just a few but is shared by all. Think about it, how many incidents, accidents, and emergencies involve irresponsibility, drinking, drugs, general butt-headedness, and outright evil.

And since this is a “pastor’s note” I venture to add what few are still willing to recognize, namely, where godlessness increases self-centeredness and lawlessness increases (Matthew 24:11-12, Romans 1:28-32). In the absence of God we exalt ourselves and deceive ourselves in our sinful arrogance. The Apostle Peter in his first letter hits the nail on the head when he reminds followers of Christ specifically as well as anyone willing to listen to, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV). And servants of God major on loving God and loving their neighbor, they focus on the things the Spirit of God would have us do and be, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV).

I am fully convinced we will have better lives, a better community, and even a better country if we dare to practice the wisdom of God’s word.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Cooper Stanley Frei was born on Wednesday June 18, 2014, at 4:10 PM, all 20 ½ inches and 7lbs 10 oz of him. Is there anything as soft as a new-born? Is there anything as precious as that first cry?

Cooper Stanley entered this world as a gift of God. For the rest of his life his parents get to unwrap him. Susie and I talked about it, you get that precious bundle of life handed to you but you have no idea what that little life holds, and there are times when you ask God if it is too late to exchange that gift, or get some store credit. But they come without a receipt (except for the hospital bill) and so the exchange idea usually doesn’t fly.

Cooper Stanley came into this world blessed. He was wanted, not dreaded. He is a dream come true, not an interruption or inconvenience. He had grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousin, and friends show up to cheer his arrival; and they are already fighting over babysitting rights and holiday privileges. His parents have been preparing the “nest” for months. He wasn’t born into poverty but in into plenty as well as into freedom and opportunity. He has a Mom and Dad who follow Christ, worship, pray, and strive to please God. Yes, little “Mini-Cooper” is blessed.

Cooper Stanley doesn’t know it, but he was born into responsibility, “to whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). All this love, all this privilege, all this opportunity, all of the freedoms that greeted him when he popped out can be taken for granted or even be claimed as a birthright, or they can be recognized as precious gifts that call for giving thanks to God. They can be used for indulging self or an enabling to be a servant; they can be used for the pursuit of good or bad.

Cooper Stanley was born a as a creation of God, as a son, as a grandson, as a nephew, cousin. He already has roles assigned to him. Hopefully he will have lots more of them, and hopefully he will embrace the roles assigned to him. Hopefully he will choose to use his roles to glorify God and bring joy, blessing, goodness, and positive influence as a son, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, ….

Cooper Stanley came into this world exposed (quite literally). He, like all of us, came into this world that is filled with brokenness, corruption, disease, pain, injustice, violence, accidents, disasters, and death. He too is exposed to the decisions and the sinfulness of others, the workings of history, the machinations of evil, and above all the sovereignty of God. These will shape him. These can break him. But may they cause him to rely on, to lean on, and to trust in God.

Cooper Stanley, 1000 times cute as he is, was born a little sinner. His Mom and Dad will not have to teach him how to sin or to embrace sin. No, in fact they will spend much of their parenting to keep that little sin nature from running amuck. God in his greatness and wisdom not only gave this little boy life and breath but in his mercy has already provided for him a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is able to forgive him, liberate him from sin, and give him eternal life. May he above all else come to know, love , and follow Christ, God’s Son.

To God be all glory, one proud Grandpa/Opa, Pastor Hans

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Waiting

Have you ever been tired of waiting? Like when you are on hold on the telephone for the “next representative” (I think there really is only one who does lots of different voices)? Or maybe at the fast food joint where the food is so fast they can’t catch it? Or at the airport security line when you are pressed for time? Maybe it is for that tool, book, or GPS you loaned out? Or how about that apology, thank you, or a little help? Maybe it is for that break, that fortuitous change, that streak of good luck?

Most Germans are not good at waiting (This German excluded). Next time you are at the airport look for a bunch of people wearing sandals and socks who sound like they’re arguing when they talk (and they might be). You can almost read their collective mind as they scheme, jokey, look for the passing lane, and quite literally will run you over if you don’t watch it. The goal is to be first, to outwit everyone else, to win, to be able to sit in your seat and watch all the losers dejectedly file in after you and try to find some space for their overhead luggage. Maybe you have observed people other than Germans behave in such a way, or maybe you strangely find yourself being described by the above. This can only mean two things: 1. you are more German than you think, 2. a bunch of Germans have bypassed you and you have not moved for an hour, so you have decided if you can’t beat them, join them.

Being tired of waiting is often accompanied by desperation. Time is the most irreplaceable resource we have. While we wait we lose life, opportunity, and depending on what we are waiting for, hope. After all we don’t have forever. It feels strange that the scriptures encourage us to learn to wait. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD”
Psalm 27:14 (NASB), is King David’s advice when life pushes us to be desperate.

Being tired of waiting is often the stage right before giving up. At what point do you throw in the towel, hang up, check out, cut your losses. You can’t wait forever, can you? There comes a time to move on, to no longer wait. Right? Yes and no. Some things we are waiting for we might actually need to let go, while some things we never meant to let go of, especially faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Nobody is better at waiting than God. This doesn’t mean he always waits forever, nor does it mean God overlooks things, but his patience, his long-suffering, his kindness, his mercy, his grace, and his love are amazing. In a way we will run out of life before God runs out of patience. If you have breath it is clear evidence that God hasn’t thrown in the towel on you, given up on you, hoping to save you, change you, grow you, and use you for his kingdom and glory. It is a glorious and gracious reality, God’s waiting, even on our worst day, when we are tired of waiting, desperate, and even ready to give up, God has waited for you and me to engage us with his love, hope, strength, mercy, and grace.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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