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Archive for September, 2014

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.Proverbs 25:11 (NASB)

I just finished my morning chores, one of them is taking care of my daughter’s horse, and one of the horse chores is dealing with horse pucky. In German horse doodoo is sometimes called “Pferdeaepfel,” which literally means horse apples (road apples). It seems that horse has a knack for depositing his apples liberally and right where he shouldn’t. He is not at all like his predecessor who was nice and tidy. I can tell you this, dealing with horse apples is not my favorite, it is a stinky unpleasant chore.

There is something worse than Pferdeaepfel, rotten verbal apples. They not only stink, they sting, they hurt, they wound. Careless words, angry words, ugly words, discouraging words, mean, malicious, manipulating words, devious, destructive, deceptive words, false, lying, bitter, gossiping words. Stinky road apples carelessly or deliberately dropped in the wrong circumstances, at the wrong time, for no or the wrong purposes. Words that someone has to muck up, deal with, and overcome.

God’s word instructs, encourages, and commands us to do the exact opposite, to deposit apples of gold into the circumstances, the situations, the lives of others. Words that need no mucking up, words that are true and loving, words that bless, words that encourage and enlighten, words that help, words that can be trusted, words that care, words that refresh, that have no need to be deodorized and be disposed of, words that that are welcome to linger, words that can be treasured.

So what are my words? Apples of gold or apples originating from the backside of a horse? Words that cheer or words that corrupt? Words of value or words of vitriol? Words that heal or words that hurt? What does my mouth deposit into the lives of others? Do my words bring smiles or do the hearers need to grab shovels?

You and I can deposit words that are like apples of gold in settings of silver into the circumstances, the struggles, the pain, the confusion, the hopelessness, the bitterness, and the hardship of others. To do so we have to care, to empathize, and to want to make things better. We have to give as much thought what we shouldn’t say as to what we should say (saying nothing at all is still better than horse pucky). We have to consider what God would want us to speak into the lives of others.

There is one more thing even better and more glorious than we have sense enough and a heart loving enough to speak apples of gold. It is when God himself speaks into both the circumstances of others and our own, when the eternal Word deposits his words into our ears, into our heart and minds, and into our circumstances. And sometimes He uses our mouths to just that.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Peace Beyond Understanding

We like for things to make sense, to fit, to work out. But things don’t always make sense no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we strain our minds. Even if we find some logic our hearts might not buy it, because in order for something to make sense it is not only the mind which has to be convinced.

It is because things don’t seem to make sense that we worry, get anxious, and fret. If bad things only happen to bad people and good things to good people it would be a lot easier to make things fit. If the innocent were protected and the evil were apprehended it would be easier. If we would only reap what we sow it would be easier. But disaster, tragedy, evil, injustice, hardship, disease, suffering, pain, and even death are not evenly distributed, strike with unpredictability, mangle our understanding. So we try hard to make life as safe and predictable as we can, we try hard to protect ourselves against pain, especially if it has already injured us. It doesn’t work. Even if our worrying, our anxiety, our fretting has some success they in themselves afflict us, twist us, pain us.

Senselessness, not being able to understand, hurts, carries no peace, continually assaults the mind. Its casualties are too numerous to count. “What should I have done?” What did I do to deserve this?” “Why didn’t I recognize …?” “Why me/us?” “Why would God do this to me/us?” “If only I …!” “How come …?” “Why?” Endless questions, endless second guessing, real and imagined regrets, the absence of soothing answers, an inner bleeding spins and dizzies us like clothes wrung out and stuck in the spin cycle of a washing machine.

We try to cope the best we can, life does go on. Some drink, medicate. Some cling to tighter control, ever greater carefulness. Some surrender to senselessness cynicism, or some other ism. Some remain shattered and broken. But what we really need is peace. We can’t conjure up peace no matter how hard we try, we know immediately when it is fake. No, for some things we need peace that “surpasses all understanding,” peace that exceeds the capacities of our minds, peace that it is able to wrap its comforting arms around our emotions, peace that returns strength, courage, hope, and joy.

Where is that kind of peace found? With God alone, with him who is infinitely wise, infinitely good, whose purposes are not upset by the evil and arbitrariness of our existence, who knows how to hold and fully comfort a child – you and me. We are invited to come to him, broken, confused, hurting, angry, despairing, afraid, exhausted,  torn and worn. We are invited to cry, to wail, to sob, to shout, to scream, to pour it all out. We are invited to ask, to request, to address the fullness of our needs, of our pain, of our fears, and of our sorrow. We are invited to come without any confidence of our own and yet be confident that in God, through Christ we can find real peace for our hearts and minds. “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 Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV).

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way                   2 Thessalonians 3:16 (HCSB).

Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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Turning water into Wine

“Whatever He says to you, do it” John 2:5 (NASB), that’s how water got turned into wine, that’s how God provided after they ran out, that’s how they got something better than what they had, that’s how they ended up with more than they started with.

Jesus didn’t ask them to do a complicated thing, but it took some work hauling over 150 gallons of water. Jesus asked them to do something that didn’t make sense; you get wine from grapes not water. They had no idea what Jesus could do, although his Mama seemed confident, she made the statement you read at the top.

I know I would have been skeptical; for sure I would have been skeptical. How many people are there whom you can trust with everything they tell you to do? The party continued because they did whatever Jesus told them to do. If you count five regular bottles of wine per one gallon then they ended up with the equivalent of around 750 bottles of finest wine. It doesn’t sound like they didn’t start out with that kind of quantity or quality.

You ever wonder for how much less we settle because we are unwilling to whatever Jesus tells us to do, God tells us to do? How much of what Jesus/God tells us to do seems too trivial, too ridiculous, too much work, too much in the realm of faith?

God can turn curses into blessings (Nehemiah 13:2b), mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:10-11), death into life (John 5:24), darkness into light (John 12:46, 1 Peter 2:9), and water into wine. The best I can afford is not better than the best God can provide. How often do we let our lack, our embarrassment, our stubbornness to believe and act on “whatever” God says stand in the way of us experiencing God at his best?

What needs turning with you? What have you run out of? What simple instruction of God have you not been willing to do? Where do you lack blessing? Where have you settled for less, for curses, for a quality of life that lacks the excellence and ability of God? Maybe it is time to realize that Jesus Mama knew what she was talking about when she said, “Whatever He says to you, do it”? But will you?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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My Little Big Brother

I have two older brothers. One is my big big brother, Michael, and the other is my little big brother, Andreas Paul. Andi, is the little big one, little because size-wise he was the smallest of us five, big because other than his size there really wasn’t anything little about him. He was big in his influence, certainly on me. He was big in faith, big in heart, big in generosity, big in smarts, skill, energy, people skills, and huge in will power and tenacity. He was big enough for someone to model their life after him, big in true friendship, big as Dad, big as a husband, big as doctor. Like I said, he is my little big brother.

 

In my opinion everyone should have a little big brother like that because you if you have one your life is so much better, so much richer. A LBB (Little Big Brother) is great to have if you want someone to ditch Kindergarten with for the very first time. A LBB is an excellent companion to sneak out of the house with in the middle of the night to do stuff you shouldn’t do. But an LBB is not just good for doing stupid stuff when you’re young, you learn of his real value as you go through life you can talk with him, pray with him, worship with him, and lean on him. A LBB gives you all kinds of reasons to be proud of him, you can brag on him and it is not really bragging because it is true (mostly, except when you get carried away – but no one will blame you).

My LBB is down to his last few breaths, too soon, much too soon. Soon he will be buried; fortunately he began digging a long time ago and buried things in my heart, in my mind, in my memory. It is treasures he buried there, it’s what LBB’s do, they make you rich, they leave inspiration, they leave life, they never leave things empty. But have to warn you, it’s hard, very hard, to say goodbye to your LBB. I think it is because they are so precious, so irreplaceable, so darn easy to love, but that too is typical of my LBB.

Faith, faith in Christ changed him, challenged him, keeps him. You would have a completely false picture of my Little Big Brother without his faith. When he surrendered his skepticism he also surrendered himself. When he drank from the cup of God’s grace he didn’t just sip and so he anchored it all in Jesus, his soul, his marriage, his family, his giftedness, his work, his passions, his days. When towering flood waves overran the shoreline of his life and swept out to sea his health, his career, his speech, and so much more, that faith remained. In the struggle to reclaim, to rebuild, and in the relentless pounding surf of “Why? Why? Why?” that faith remained. And so my LBB is not just leaving behind precious memories but real hope, the hope that comes when you can call Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the one who lived, and died, and rose again, your brother, “So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” Hebrews 2:11 (NLT).

My Little Big Bother’s last words to me were, “Liebe dich sehr” (love you so).

To God be the glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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