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Archive for October, 2014

It had the face of an ugly old man and hung on the wall next to my father-in laws recliner. When you pulled on the string protruding from the bottom that ugly old man head broke out in a wicked laugh and squirted you with water coming from its mouth. The first time Grandpa held his grandson, my son, up to the face and told him to pull the sting it scarred the peediddles out of him. In fact it scarred him so much that whenever we drove to Grandpa’s house all he could think about is “the man” and whether or not he was there. Eventually Grandpa had to take the thing down.

Little boys are not the only ones who get scarred, who get preoccupied with fear, who become afraid. Fears abound, parents have lots of them, so do politicians, business owners do, as do employees, healthy people are not exempt, sick people have them, the rich, the poor, the strong, the weak, none of them are without them. Life is unpredictable in so many ways, it is impossible to find a truly save place. Violence, disease, senselessness, injustice, stupidity, disaster, tragedy, evil and the like are relentless, unpredictable, often unannounced, not just a prank, very real, and lethal.

Sick as I am I liked scaring my kids, still do, and the grandson had better get ready. My youngest daughter used to just collapse when I would jump out from a behind a tree when she had to feed her animals in the dark. Even now, as a young adult, she is leery to go out and feed them after the sun goes down if I am around, but she no longer collapses to ground instead she has transitioned to punching me, hard (I am kind of getting scarred of her punches).

FDR said, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” It was his first inaugural address as president and the US was in the midst of the Great Depression, people were facing hardship and were riddled with fears. He was right in that fear, being afraid, can be utterly paralyzing. I remember asking my aunt why the German people did not rise up against the atrocities perpetrated by Hitler, “You don’t know fear” was her reply. The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy not to let his fears paralyze him, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT). Solomon reminds us, If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” Proverbs 24:10 (NKJV).

President Roosevelt was also wrong, we do have more to fear than fear itself, namely God. It is when we fear God that we maintain the right perspective on all of life. It is in contemplating and acknowledging his power, his sovereignty over life, death, right, wrong, and us throughout all of eternity, that we become truly wise, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” Proverbs 9:10 (NASB). Jesus warned, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him (God) who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28 (NASB, parenthesis mine). And it is when we trust in his love, when we are transformed by his love, that fear is finally defeated, If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:15-19 (NIV).

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives (souls). The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NCV, parenthesis mine)

It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1 (NASB)

How open are you to change? If you want rest for your soul, if you want to be a man/woman of prayer, if you want to be wise, if you want your finances not to be a mess, if you want to be a better husband/wife or a better father/mother, if you want to please God, be used by God, and be blessed by God then you have to be willing to learn and to be taught, which also means you have to be willing to change.

Change is hard, in part because it involves giving something up, learning something new, doing things different, acquiring knowledge, wisdom, habits, and skills we do not have. Change is hard because we are already doing or not doing something that needs to be changed. Generally we would rather have someone, especially God, bail us out rather than do engage in the hard work, diligence, frustration, and effort of change. We much prefer to just shed some tears and then have someone else, preferably God, respond to those tears without us having to change.

Repentance, living in the Holy Spirit, holiness, love, godliness, spiritual growth, living by faith, renewing your mind, submitting to one another, seeking first God’s kingdom, storing up treasure in heaven are all part of the Christian experience and they all involve change, a willingness to change, to be taught, to learn. Not just once but throughout our lives.

Want rest? Want rest for your soul? Want to be great at praying? Want God to bless you? Want your life to bless God and others? Want your life to count and make an eternal difference? Then you have to change, first of all by coming to God/Christ who is both able to change the unchangeable (make sinner clean and acceptable to him through the blood of Christ) and help us change; secondly you have to be willing to learn new ways, adopt new attitudes, develop better habits, acquire new skills, seek wisdom from above and knowledge, and let God use you as he sees fit.

How open we are to change will determine how much we will actually change. How open do you think God wants you to be changed, to be taught, to learn?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

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I think designating October as Clergy/Pastor Appreciation Month was the idea of H.B. London when he led the pastoral care division of Focus on the Family. Without a doubt that emphasis has blessed a lot of pastors and preachers, myself included. H.B, who himself was a pastor for many years, knew that although pastoring is in many ways like any other job it is also very unique, with pressures and challenges of its own. Churches, life, and the spiritual battle have a way of chewing up preachers almost as quickly as the NFL does football players. Too many pastors don’t last very long at a particular church and in ministry itself.

I am a blessed pastor because your appreciation goes far beyond some special emphasis, you have made it part of our church’s life year round. I am a blessed pastor because I have so much to appreciate when it comes to you, my church family, this flock Jesus has entrusted to me, my brothers and sisters of the Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church. I am constantly amazed at all the loving, caring, kindness, serving, and generosity I get to witness and be part of.

Let me highlight some things and people I am especially appreciative of this year.

  • I am deeply grateful for all the slack you have given me over the past 16 month. It has been one of the most emotionally trying and draining periods of Susie’s and my life. You have been gracious and supporting even when I was reeling and less than my best. I especially thank Paul, Davidmark, Marilyn, and the deacons for their support and filling the gap.
  • Our facilities needed a whole lot of care and repair this past year and can’t imagine what we would have done without the dedication and hard work of Russ, Tom, Bud, Ty, Christie, Robert, and many others. Thank you, thank you.
  • Every ministry needs good leadership, dedication, and people willing to work or it won’t function well or even exist. This means that everything that is going well in our church is a reflection of many serving faithfully and cheerfully. It means people stepping up, filling in, taking on more responsibility, and being dedicated. Russ and Cindy took over the Clothes Closet, John now leads the Food Basket, Troy has taken on the sound and multi media. How blessed I am/we are to have them be part of the Ministry Team.
  • The water pipes that were springing one leak after another got replaced this week – can I get a Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! In that process Russ and the plumbers discovered some pipes and valves no one knew what they were for. They were remnants of the past, things that served their purpose in their time. They were paid for and put there by people of our church’s past who served God’s purposes in their time. Someday we will be part of that group. It thrills me to see you being dedicated to leave behind blessing that will enable others in the future to serve God’s kingdom here in Don Pedro.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4 (NIV)

I appreciate you and thank God for you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Bucket Lists and Prayer

Do you have a bucket list, a list of things you want to do, places you want to see, things you want experience before you die? What’s on it? Climb the highest peak on every continent? Drive a race car? Swim with the dolphins? Cruise around the world? Play golf at Augusta and Saint Andrews? Run with the Bulls? Dive on the Great Barrier Reef? Build your own airplane? See the great pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China? Write a book? Visit all of the great art galleries? Run a marathon? Sky dive? Train a horse? Travel with your family? Buy a ranch? Learn an instrument? ….? What would be the two things you would put on top of that list? The two things you absolutely hope to experience and come to pass before you die?

Someone’s bucket list is very revealing, both for what’s on it and what’s not on it. It gives insight into your interests, passions, and dreams. It shows what you care about, what gets your juices flowing and what leaves you cold. What you would be willing to spend your time and money on (Bucket lists seem to take time and money, that’s why many have two bucket lists, the one they can afford and the one they would have if money were no object)?

Self-indulgent they are for the most part, our bucket lists. They are about what the “I” wants, the “me” likes. I wonder if Agur, the hireling, the gatherer, the collector, was working on his bucket list before he crumbled it up, tossed it in the trash, and replaced it with a bucket list prayer? “Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV). What are the chances you and I would have put something like that not only on top of our bucket list but also our prayer list? Integrity, honesty, genuineness, submission to God, the honor of God, how important are these to us? How much do we want to experience them? How much do they influence our desires, our dreams, our prayers? Maybe your bucket list is already what Agur petitioned God to keep him from: an exclusion of God from our desires, our dreams, our plans; God is not needed nor wanted? Maybe it is time to rewrite both our bucket list and our prayer list? Maybe the two should be compatible? Maybe we are lying to ourselves when they are not?

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

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