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Archive for June, 2015

I don’t know how the small cardboard box ended up at the youth yard sale raising money for camp, but it did. Cristy brought it to the office; it was leaking ashes, someone’s ashes. No urn, no burial, not even a deliberate sprinkling of the ashes at some meaningful or beautiful spot. They just got picked up in the standard box, were stashed somewhere, and finally where scooped up with a bunch of other no longer wanted stuff and taken to the yard sale at the church. No takers though, some stranger’s ashes are not what people are looking for.

What a contrast it was to Lodgie’s memorial service held in our church’s sanctuary while the yard sale wrapped up in the parking lot. People came from far and wide, wept, gave glowing eulogies, played beautiful music, sang their hearts out, gave praise and glory to God for her life, her influence, her contribution, and her love. Brought together by her death they lingered long afterwards to reminisce, to remember, to comfort each other. There was no obscurity here, no carelessness, to Lodgie’s family and to us our church family that would have been unthinkable, she was too precious, too valuable, too much of a blessing.

I knew Lodgie. I have nothing but speculation about the individual in the cardboard box. However, I think the chances of your remains ending up in a dusty, uncared for, standard box at a yard sale are greatly diminished if you live a life that pleases and honors God. We reap what we sow, Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” Galatians 6:7-10 (NLT).

Death, our mortality, should cause us to think, should cause us to make better, wiser, and eternally significant choices, “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born. Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time” Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 (NLT). I don’t think the family of the person in the cardboard box heeded the advice Solomon, it might have been because of what s/he did or did not sow, but we really don’t know. What we do know is that you and I have limited time to do good, to love, to bless, to please and honor God, and then we face the reality of Hebrews 9:2728, “Just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (NLT). Where and how we end up depends on our choices, whose wisdom we follow, and whose power we trust. Lodgie left no doubt, the person whose ashes were in the cardboard box at the youth yard sale, who knows. I know where and how I want to end up, that’s why I trust and follow Jesus Christ.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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For as long as have had the awesome, God-given, privilege of being a Dad I have wondered about the best things a Dad can do for his kids. My motivation was that I did not want to screw up, hurt, or negatively impact the lives of the children entrusted to Susie and me, instead I wanted to be a source of blessing, a contributor to my children’s success, a source of joy, and an example of wisdom, integrity, faith, and godliness. Thus I have observed, picked the brains of Dad’s I admired, read books, contemplated, attended seminars, and studied the God’s word (the Bible). Here are a few things I have learned:

Don’t

  • Be stupid. Stupid is never funny, kid’s pay a high price for parental stupidity.
  • Be absent. You can never be a good Dad if you don’t show up.
  • Be drunk, high, or addicted, unless you want to curse your children.
  • Be violent or abusive. A strong and good man does not hurt or abuse his children.
  • Be a jerk, you’ll make your children angry.
  • Think that giving your kids stuff will make anything.
  • Live your dreams through your kids.
  • Chase the American dream, have a kingdom of God dreams instead.
  • Break your word or lie. Let your children be able to trust what you say.
  • Sin, sin is always corrosive and destructive. And if you sin do don’t cover it up but quick to repent.

Do

  • Get involved in your children’s lives, you they will be the richer for it.
  • Show your love in as many ways as you can. There is safety in love.
  • Affirm your kids in who they are, help them to be all that God has made them to be.
  • Laugh, have a great sense of humor. If your kids make fun of us in front of us they’re not afraid of us. This will also help in not making mountains out of mole hills.
  • Have a plan, a clear picture of what you want your kids to be like. Great parents don’t leave things up to chance.
  • Have standards when it comes to conduct, character, courage, commitment, chores, community, charity, quality (working hard and doing things right), compromise, and compassion. Make sure you model them or it will be a tough sell.
  • Love their Mom, openly, constantly, and beautifully. It sets a tone. It exposes your kids to something rare and precious, it will also undermine their efforts to divide and conquer.
  • Earn and require respect. Respecting Mom, siblings, other people (even those who you don’t like or disagree with) is not an option.
  • Make room for expressing anger, but never let anger be expressed in sinful ways. This means you have to be really good at it yourself.
  • Apologize when you messed up. Eat crow when you need to. Model how to take responsibility and not make excuses.
  • Encourage your kids to dream, to try things, to not be afraid of failure.
  • Use your mouth to bless your kids, to sow good things into their hearts and minds, to cheer, to encourage, to be kind, to build up, to be straight forward, to set a beautiful tone in your home and your relationship with them.
  • Love all the things God loves: Jesus Christ, people, the church, the Bible, generosity, justice, compassion, creation, doing good, sinners being found, worship, praise, blessing others.
  • Pray yourself, as a family, with their Mom, with others. Pray constantly, pray bold, pray with your mind and heart engaged. Ask for big and important things regarding your children and family. Pray beyond everything to merely be smooth and effortless in your children’s lives.
  • Strive to be consistent in your conduct, discipline, and behavior.
  • Shoot for being the godliest Dad you could possibly be, for your kid’s to be able to call you a man of God.

 

Ancient King David is near the end of his life. He is busy organizing everything so his son Solomon is set up for success, and then David prays, “Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations” 1 Chronicles 29:19 (NLT).

To God be all glory. Happy Fathers’ Day, Pastor Hans

 

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“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart,” is what Rufus H. McDaniel penned. He restated what is true of everyone who opens his heart to Jesus Christ and follows him. “Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” Luke 5:27-32 (NLT).

Levi had traded one form emptiness for another, he had left the morally bankrupt form of Judaism that he grew up in for the morally, though vastly more lucrative, empty world of tax collecting. And he couldn’t point fingers, although he probably did, it does deceive and ease the conscience when you can indict someone else’s corruption, failure, and sin. I it also leaves empty.

He had his own booth, he wasn’t sitting in someone else’s booth. He was in charge here, we like to be in charge. But how much was he really in charge of? More than some, and not much in the big scheme of things. We are good at forgetting how little we are in charge of.

Wonder what Levi was listening to there in his own tax booth? Conservative talk? Probably not. Liberal talk? Maybe. Religious stations? Nah. Jewish country music? Roman rock? Classical from the time of David? Whatever he listened to it wasn’t along the lines Rufus H. McDaniel penned.

He wanted change, he needed change. Chucking God was not the answer, great money wasn’t either, godlessness and the love of money don’t just leave you empty, they suck you into the darkness of evil. It wasn’t just that others were dishonest, he was too. It wasn’t just others who were self-righteous he was too.

Then Jesus, the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), walked by his tax booth. Levi had heard about what he did earlier that that, healing a paralytic, forgiving his sins. Now he was standing at the counter of his tax office, looking him straight into the eye and invited him to follow him.

How long did it take for Levi to make up his mind? Not long. How long is it going to take you reading this p-note to make your mind? Levi got out his keys, put the money in the safe, locked the front door and followed Christ. He was changed right there, in that moment of making up his mind that and stepping out in faith to follow Christ he was changed, though not finished. I wonder if he would have agreed with Rufus H. McDaniel’s words? Undoubtedly.

He couldn’t wait to introduce all of his tax collecting buddies and the people he cared about to Christ. So he invited them and Jesus to his house, they needed him as much as he did? That’s what happens when Jesus changes you; it’s too good to keep to yourself. You can hoard money, you won’t hoard Christ once he looked you in the eye and you took him up on his invitation to follow him, when he has forgiven your sins, when he reconciles you with God, and when he imparts to you new and eternal life. Levi had not been physically ill, but he was spiritually dead, like all of us, and “a wonderful change in his life had been wrought when Jesus cam into his heart!”

I hope this true of you as well.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)

Who do you consider the enemy? Who are your enemies? Who do you treat like, talk about, and emotionally react to like they are the enemy, your enemy? Is it the terrorists, the jihadists, Muslims in general, illegal immigrants, gays, LBGTQs (Lesbians, Gays, Transgender, Queer), the politically conservative, the politically liberals, the religious, the atheist and humanists, the theologically conservatives, the theologically liberal, the rich, the poor, those that hurt you, cheated you, abused you, mistreated you?

Can’t we hate them, dehumanize them, ridicule them, belittle them, seek their demise and destruction? Can’t we just join the choir that loves singing imprecatory psalms like: “Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave”(Psalm 55:15). “O God, break the teeth in their mouths”(Psalm 58:6).“May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28).“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow”(Psalm 109:9). “How blessed will be the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Psalm 137:9). Can’t we at least not care to what happens to our enemies?

Whomever we regard as our enemy, whomever we talk about, treat, and emotionally react to like they are an enemy, there is a Christlike standard that applies. If our attitudes, words, and action do not reflect love, mercy, doing good, and prayers that seek more than vengeance and demise, then we are still far from Christlikeness.

You have to figure it out, that “love your enemy” mandate, it is not easy, it puts responsibilities on us that we don’t really want. It just might make us struggle more than our enemy. Hatred does not care about restraint but love does. Hatred does not care about its object, love does.

So how lax are our attitudes, how lose are our lips, how missing are our actions, how empty are our prayers, and how cold are our hearts when it comes to our enemies or those who talk about, treat like, and emotionally respond to like our enemies? Are we sticking with the “You have heard that it was said,” with what’s the norm, with what is accepted and practiced the world over, or are we fully embracing the teaching of Christ and dare to walk in his footsteps?

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful Luke 6:27-36 (NIV).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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