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Archive for July, 2015

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” Proverbs 13:22a (NASB)

We are going to leave something to our kids, it is not a matter of if but of what. Leaving them something good and worthwhile requires we recognize how important that is and the determination to do something about it, that in turn requires the determination to be good ourselves because we usually produce what we are, or as Jesus put it, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” Matthew 12:35 (NIV). It is tough to hear it that bluntly, isn’t it? So what will your children inherit? Not just financially but culturally, ethically, intellectually, and spiritually? Are we passing an inheritance of blessing, of how to think, how to be, how to act, how to care, and how to worship?

Good doesn’t just happen; you have to work on good. Ordinary, mediocre, messes just happen, but good takes concentrated and sustained effort. You have to want good, practice good; excellence and blessing rarely just happen. You only get an inheritance if someone didn’t spend it all, if someone was smart, if someone saved, if someone cared enough to pass something on. To a good man/woman that’s important, to good parents and grandparents that’s important.

To be good, to do good, to pass good things on you have to know what is good, good has a definition. Good was good before we came along and good will still be good after we are gone. Good is not arbitrary, it is constant, it is eternal, it finds its roots in the reality and truth of God. We, the parents, the grandparents, our children, and grandchildren have the ability to alter the meaning of good (which far too often renders good no good) but ultimately we will be held accountable to God’s definition of good. Thus the wise man, the wise woman, wise parents will be careful to pass on a spiritual inheritance even more than a material inheritance. Our kids are not blessed if they are rich and godless, if they are wealthy and wicked, if they have the “good” life but are immoral, if they have opportunity but don’t perceive it as a means to care about others and to glorify God.

A good and sizeable inheritance enables, it gives future generations a head start, that’s why good men and women work on leaving one to their children and grandchildren. This is why we should care about politics, the national debt, justice, hatred and bigotry regardless which flag it hides behind, violence, education, personal responsibility, wickedness, freedom, education, values, morality, and our responsibility before and accountability to God.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4 (NIV).

“For what does it profit a man (woman, child, son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 (NASB).

Let’s leave our children and grandchildren an awesome inheritance, one that God would applaud.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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The kitchen faucet was leaking. It shouldn’t do that after only 10 years, don’t you agree. After several short-lived attempts of fixing the problem I faintly recalled that said faucet had a life-time warranty. So I looked in the file drawer where we keep manuals and warranties and sure enough there it was, a life-time warranty with the original receipt, and that’s when the fun began.

Actually fun is entirely the wrong word, more like run-around, frustration, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” The first live person, after navigating the automated menu which supposedly is to make things easier, informed me that there was no such thing as a life-time warranty. I read her what was printed on my life-time warranty, only to be accused of making it up. I figured this would be a good time to ask for someone with more authority and tact. This request got me thrown back into the automated menu which ultimately disconnected me.

The next live customer service representative did take down my personal information but didn’t think that she could help me. She was, however, willing to connect me to someone who might be able to help. This put me on hold where I was forced to listen to some really bad music, until I got disconnected.

The next customer service rep did confirm that my personal information was in the system and managed to connect me to said person with higher authority. The higher authority informed me that they did indeed did not have life-time warranties on my faucet, so I read from my printed warranty. He was unwilling to take my word and but would consider my claim if I would send in the original warranty and receipt. I informed him that I would not send in the originals because I wanted to hang on to my warranty for the future and that I would gladly fax him copies. He wouldn’t budge, so I thought that this would be a good time to ask to speak to someone with more authority than him. He didn’t like that idea, and I found myself on hold listening to more bad music. After a while he came back on to inform me that copies were okay but to not get my hopes up. I told him that my hopes were not anywhere near being up but that I thought life-time should mean just that. He thought that at 10 years I pretty much got my money’s worth. I obviously disagreed. A few weeks later I installed a new faucet.

My garden hose reel broke, having learned from the past, I checked whether it had a warranty, it did, and life-time at that. I called the phone number, “no longer in service.” Took it to the store where I bought it and found out that the company went out of business and that my warranty was worthless. (To that store’s credit they did give me a new reel because they wanted me to know that they stood behind what they sold).

I know of only one whose guarantees are hassle free and eternal (which is a significant upgrade from life-time). God’s word, God’s principles, and God’s promises are rock solid, they are as good and trustworthy today as they will be 100 or 10,000 years from now. And they cover things much more significant than faucets, roofs, power-trains, and such. They cover matters of the soul, of destiny, of salvation, of blessing, of conscience, of happiness, and of success.

Warranties are great when things break but God’s word and promises hold guarantees that are not only good when things brake but keep things from braking in first place. But don’t take my word on it, read and rely on the Bible (God’s written word) for yourself His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ… Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” 2 Peter 1:3-8, 10 (NIV).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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I am sitting on the balcony of my brother’s third floor apartment on the Westside of Stuttgart. It’s early Sunday morning and few people are up and at it, which is not the case for the swallows circling over the courtyard busy catching breakfast. I am reminded of, Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” Matthew 6:26 (HCSB).

Matthew 6:19-34 (Can I encourage you to get out a Bible and read that passage before you go on reading this pastor’s note) is about wealth, masters, worry, anxiety, and trust. Whom or what we trust has a big impact on our worries, our anxiety levels, our attitude toward and the handling of wealth, and who or what our master is. Jesus is saying, “You can trust God, the birds do, the lilies of the field do, so why not you?” Maybe you’re objecting because after all we’re not birds. None of those swallows checked on their investments last week, none of them had bills to pay on the first, they don’t have a boss, or job, or career to worry about, they’ve got it easy. Yes, all of that is true, but like you and me they do need to eat and drink every day, they have young ones to raise, and all kinds of things beyond their control affect the circumstances and wellbeing of their lives. Yes, they do not have human capacities, but they are like you and me creations of God, they like you and me have life, today, and if God wills tomorrow because God has granted it.

We are more prone to trust in money, it can do so much, but it is never free of worry. Before you know it is your master, it will dictate your decisions, your attitudes, the very issues of your heart.

We are prone to worry, to be anxious, so much is beyond our control and life is so precarious. Before you know it worry is your master, it will influence your decisions, your attitudes, your outlook, and the very condition of your heart and mind.

Only God is completely trustworthy and completely able all of the time. It might seem strange to totally trust in someone you cannot see. But if you and I could see him he would be far too small to trust him with all we have and are. We yearn for God’s immanence but it is transcendence that displays his greatness, that invites us to trust in him and no other. He doesn’t just feed the few swallows in my field of vision, no, he feeds them all, all over the world, every day. He commands the universe and all that lies beyond space and time. It is He, Creator, God Almighty, omniscient, all-wise, holy, awesome, present everywhere, whom Jesus encourages us to trust. It is when we trust the Almighty instead of our wealth, when we rest in his control of things and not our capacity to figure it all out, when we “seek his kingdom and righteousness” (verse 33) that we experience the closeness, the nearness, the immanence of God along with peace, true riches, and life.

All of this is not just fancy preacher talk, it is a promise of God, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” Matthew 6:33 (NLT).

Is it time look at the birds of the air? To take a look at whom or in what you trust? To examine why and what you worry about? To seek the master of the birds? To really rust God? To live according to his promises? – Jesus clearly thinks so.

To God be all glory. Love you Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.
Psalm 2:1-4 (NLT)

Independence, freedom from tyranny, liberty, free to do as you please, free to believe what you want to believe, free to be who you want to be, free to go where you want to go, and do what you want to do. The anarchist wants no laws, the atheist wants no gods, the capitalist wants no restraints, the communist wants no inequalities, the fundamentalist wants conformity, the activist wants change, the _____ wants _____. No shortage of wants, and the more people want what I want the greater the chance that I will get what I want to get at someone else’s expense. Freedom and independence is wrought with conflict.

Everyone who loves independence, liberty, and freedom should be in awe of God. He alone knows true independence, complete liberty, and uncorrupted freedom. We can learn more about liberty from him than from anyone else, and yet by and large and throughout human history he has been thought of as the greatest obstacle to true freedom, “Let us break the chains of God and his anointed, Jesus Christ.” Or God is highjacked for some religious tyranny, for someone’s particular definition of freedom, to bring about what someone wants. Neither is interested in learning from God.

Don’t bring God into school or to the university, he’ll adversely affect academic freedom. Don’t bring God into politics he’ll infringe on all kinds of liberties. Don’t bring God into art and literature he will stifle artistic expression. Don’t mix God with business that will mess with the bottom line. Don’t bring God into discussion of morality that will introduce limitations and absolutes. Don’t let God into your free time, night life, and high life, he will hurt the fun. Don’t include God in your plans you might have to change them. Keep God out of your conscience he’ll make you feel guilt. What we need most is God off our backs, out of our minds; we are better freed from God. Right?

Striving for freedom from God, declaring independence from God, denying the existence of God does not bring us into the promised land of ultimate freedom, it accomplishes the exact opposite, it propels us into the wastelands of human depravity. The notion of liberating yourself from God is both the greatest form of self-deception and the ultimate expression of hubris. Real liberty is not about the escape from reality but the opportunity to live better in reality. Real liberty is not about freedom from responsibility and accountability but the awareness that our lives count. Real independence is not about indulgence but about service to my neighbor, my country, the world, and above all God. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law (of God) is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV, parenthesis mine).

If we are to get independence, liberty, and freedom right we cannot define it and pursue it in a way God laughs at. No, we must do so in a way that acknowledges him as the author, protector, authority, perfect example of independence, liberty, and freedom.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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