Archive for December, 2014

Zechariah, Elizabeth, May, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, King Herod, chief priests, scribes, the people living in Bethlehem, rich, poor, powerful, insignificant, educated, not learned, men, women, Jews, gentiles, they all got an invitation to be part of God’s story of redemption. You and I are invited as well.

They didn’t all handle it the same. Most were afraid or troubled, many were apathetic, a few were curious, and some had their doubts. The problem is we are busy writing our own story and when God invites us into his story it feels like an invasion, an interruption. Stepping into God’s story requires trusting him beyond our comfort level, it cannot be done without submission to his will. That’s why most declined the invitation then, and most still decline the invitation today.

We are all born into a story, maybe you were welcomed, maybe you were a surprise, maybe you were an inconvenience. Maybe you were born into a beautiful story, but maybe it was a lousy one, a terrible one, or just a boring one. It can be really tough to get out of story you don’t want to be in. Some of us have been sucked into stories, gotten into stories one way or another but really wish we hadn’t. You can get trapped in a story. That’s why we so like, or at least dream of writing our own story. We yearn to be free to write our own story.

Can you imagine the story an engaged couple dreams of. I bet you it includes lots of hope, lots of happiness. Why did Mary and Joseph agree to join God’s story? It changed the whole scenario. It created more stress not less, more hardship not less, more challenges, not less. But it also gave their lives significance beyond anything they could write, and it made them part of more than a short story, it made them part of God’s eternal story of redemption.

No one who has taken up God up on his invitation to join his story has ever regretted it. God knows how to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28 (NASB). The regrets do not come with God but by excluding God, the regrets are with those whose hubris has them choose their own story over God’s, regardless of how remarkable their story might be. Our stories never end well, they all end in death, even if it is noble death. God’s story ends in life, even if we die. You and I cannot write that story as much as we might like to. In and through Jesus Christ God has invited you and me to join his story. What is your response? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” John 3:16-17 (NASB).

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Love you, Pastor Hans
















Read Full Post »

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17 (NASB)

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21 (NASB)

God loved, God gave, God sent his Son. I like that, I amazed by that. God is easy when he is loving, when he is giving, when he sends his Son not to judge us but to help us. It is the kind Christmas we like, when we can laugh about naughty or nice because it really doesn’t make any difference, when we can, for however brief, suspend the ugly realities of life. The very realities God did not ignore in his love but instead chose to address them head on because his love could neither ignore nor bypass them. He didn’t just wrap up the gift of his Son so we would think, “Maybe everything will be okay after all,” so we would not give up on human kindness and some timely generosity, so we could have some good memories. No God loved, gave, and sent in the face of our brokenness, sinfulness, and impotence. We deserve judgment but we need redemption, that is why God, compelled by his love, opted for giving and sending his Son.

Let’s keep it superficial, not just Christmas, but also God, and the truth about us. Let’s do some timely charity, some serious family and friend gift-giving, and add some Holiday niceness. Let’s send out some cards (preferably with a religious tone if you are serious about being a Christian). Let’s hope the preacher stays upbeat, we are not after conviction, spiritual indictments, and twitches of guilt. Come on! It’s Christmas, a designated time of cheer, a season of joy with decorations and beautiful lights. Yup, the preacher should be peppy, lead the holiday cheer. This is not a time to talk about senseless killings/mass murder, lies, the abuse of political power, or about those for whom we can find no room, or spiritual emptiness and apathy, and certainly not about perishing.

I wish Jesus wouldn’t have said that, “As the Father has sent me so send I you.” He said that to those who had believed in him. He is saying that to me, I have believed in him. God sent Christ to redeem, to save. Christ submitted himself to be the gift of God to people, to address that which is most broken, most desperate about humanity. In being sent Jesus fully embraced God’s love for the world, he completely submitted himself to God’s will not for his own good and peace but for the world, and he totally committed himself to be God’s servant, not seasonally, not occasionally, not when convenient, or only when it was appreciated. How much did being sent cost Jesus, not just in the end, but upfront? How much will it cost you and me? How much of me am I willing to let God wrap up to give for redemption’s sake? How much will you?

Froehliche Weihnachten. Love you, Pastor Hans


Read Full Post »

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NIV)

What gift for whom? What color? What brand? What price range? By something or make something? Give something that makes the person laugh, or something they could use, or something they need? How many choices did you face, how many decision did you make about the gifts you will be giving this Christmas?

We love the freedom to make decisions, to have lots of choices. It is one of the reasons we love money, the more we have the more choices we have. Most of us are familiar with wanting to buy something but being unable to do so because our wanter was bigger than our funds.

Christmas is about God giving all of mankind a choice we did not previously have. None of us has the resources to acquire eternal life. None of us is able to extricate him/herself from God’s judgment. We don’t lack the want to, most of us do want to have God on our side, most of us do want to go to heaven, if for no other reason than to be united with those whom we loved but who have died.

I was standing in line at In & Out Burger with a little boy in front of me. When it was his turn he plunked down a handful of coins and asked for a chocolate milk. “We only have chocolate shakes,” said the girl at the cash register. He decided that‘s what he wanted. She counted his change, “$1.27. Sorry, that’s not enough for a shake.” He just stood there. All his wanting was not going to get him a shake, he did not have that choice because he did not have the means to make that choice – unless – someone was willing, someone was gracious, someone cared. “A chocolate shake it is,” I said, and plunked down a couple of bucks. When I had sat myself down, he looked over at me and said, “Thank you.”

Spiritually we are in far worse shape than that little boy at the counter: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (NIV). “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, … But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV). God sent his Son, not because the world needed one more religion, but because of our total helplessness. In him, in Christ, we have a choice we would otherwise not have. That’s why the coming of Christ is such good news, that’s why he is the most incredible gift. Will you believe in Him?

Merry Christmas, Pastor Hans


Read Full Post »

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NASB)

God loved, God gave, God send his Son to save – that is the reality of Christmas, it is the essence of the Good News, the Gospel. Out of all the messages you and I get throughout our lifetimes that’s the most important one.

Maybe you are the kind of texter whose thumbs move as fast as the wings of a hummingbird, but I am dismally slow, keep hitting the wrong keys, and frequently manage to send my texts before I am ready. Ready or not, once the send button is pushed there is no stopping it, it is unleashed. Christmas is about God pressing the “send” key.

Love made God do it, his love recognized the need, his love compelled him to give, his love pushed the “send” key. Real love is not blind, God’s love is not blind, it recognized that we are indeed perishing. Our mortality, our finiteness, our imperfection, and our sinfulness all testify to the reality that we are perishing. We are completely powerless, utterly impotent to change any of them. God could have sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to judge the world, you and me, but he send him to save us. The judgment we deserve the saving we need, his love made that decision.

Maybe you are among those who think that you do not need Christ, that you have no need to be saved. Maybe you have decided that all of this is just a bunch of hogwash, religious baloney, or outright #^@#*! If so, that puts you at odds with no one else but God himself; it has you defining spiritual reality in complete opposition to God. It is vastly more probable that you are wrong and God is right. What is amazing that, in spite of our arrogance, denials, and outright rejection of truth and God himself, he still pressed the “sent” key; he still addressed our need, our helplessness, our perishing, by giving his Son.

How many Decembers have you lived through? 10, 20, 30, 50, 90, or more? Did December ever have just 28 days, or 30? In my 54 Decembers it has always been 31 days? And nothing has changed about both our need to be saved and God’s love willing and able to save us through Christ. He pressed the “send” key, not accidently, but deliberately, and out his unfathomless love. All that remains is for you and me to receive the message and believe in his Son. That’s the wonder of Christmas. “But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” John 1:12 (NASB, parenthesis mine).

Merry Christmas, Pastor Hans



Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: